Monday, December 30, 2013

Ab Aayega Parivartan - AAP

The new craze in the market is that of AAP. I am sure if not anything else the sale of jhadoos (broomsticks) must have shot up significantly resulting in cleaner (at least literally if not figuratively yet) neighborhoods. I am very optimistic about the possibility AAP brings to the Indian political equation. Their stupendous victory in Delhi assembly elections is an evidence of a changing India, resulting out of mass uprising on increased awareness against corruption and black money.

The 2014 national elections will definitely be fought against this backdrop and probably for the first time in election history more points will be earned on how honestly the elections are fought rather than the free bounties or boozes which had started deciding election outcomes.

AAP for me represents the beginning of a change or parivartan and have just spiced up the dynamics of Indian politics...

Monday, December 09, 2013

The Great Indian Democracy

The beauty with which Indian democracy just reinvented itself is going to go down the history pages as transformational. For long Indians were so convinced that they had in them the 'chalta-hai' (let's-just--move-on) attitude so deeply embedded, that it was unbelievable to anybody that somebody could come up and challenge this in just a span of 12 months. Instead of choosing to sit on the fence and criticize the 'system' for any failings (which we did so often that it had become our second nature), one man with the help of a strong group of like minded people decided to get hands dirty instead. The 'aam aadmi party' (AAP) truly stands for being a party of the people, by the people and for the people. In only 12 months of its existence, it used all the unconventional ways of connecting with people (unconventional as they had been long forgotten by the established parties) and made a huge impact. They communicated their election agenda clearly, went into the homes of people and connected, raised donation for election through transparent means, brought honest candidates with clear records to contest etc. The beauty of Indian democracy is that the people of Delhi (the national capital from where this party fought elections) showed overwhelming support - so much so that they completely uprooted the incumbent government (Congress) and have given a touch fight to the single majority party emerging from the state (BJP).

Now the problem is that the ideological differences between AAP, Congress and BJP are so great that no coalition can be formed. Working as a minority government is neither BJP's nor AAP's preference and they want to sit on the opposition instead. It looks like there will be presidential rule and a reelection, but I ask if the situation is going to be any different then? I suspect we will still be in a deadlock situation post reelections purely because these three parties will again get seats which will not easily form a pure majority and bring forward a similar question.

I think some sense should now prevail and taxpayers money should not be wasted on a reelection. BJP with its stunning victory in the other three state elections of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattishgarh have proven that it has people's mandate and should therefore proceed with government formation in Delhi. By 18th Dec the way forward will become clearer, but for now I just can't stop but feel proud on the whole turn of events. Having a multiple party structure democracy makes Indian democracy very versatile, vibrant, dynamic and unpredictable thereby making it very strong.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Waiting for a Change to Happen

Today (Saturday) has been a sluggish day... I redesigned a website I had been wanting to since some time... helped my brother with a business Modus Operandi write up (actually intention was to help, but ended up doing the whole thing myself), spent some time contemplating about life... and now waiting for the next change to happen in life.

I have never accepted monotonicity in life. Either by changing jobs or by changing houses I have kept my life dynamic and constantly challenged my comfort zone. Of late when both these things are seemingly becoming quite stable, last month I went and got myself a dynamic hair cut. This was at my usual hair salon and the hair dresser knowing my usual hair cut, just would not cut them the way I wanted this time. My demand was an extremely short bob cut with even shorter flakes in the front. I had in the recent past started keeping slightly below shoulder length hair, and for her this was such a drastic move. I was insistent and she had to bow down. I loved my new hair style, although the shorter flakes in the front are still having to be pinned up. It is quite irritating to have hair come onto eyes (a move I am slightly regretting, but obviously they will grow back soon). Anyways, my hair did draw all the attention at home and work and brought some freshness to my life.

The 2014 assembly elections in India have been catching my attention. Some time my heart beats so strongly in anticipation of what India is going through. The election temper is quite high and the incessant Modi attacks are not doing anybody any favours. I have always been in the favour of knowing who the prime-ministerial candidates are before the elections, and I congratulate BJP for having the courage to declare one. There is a learning phase for everyone, and clearly Modi too has some to do (specially some history lessons would be good). Change is always a good thing, I hope India has the willingness to accept it.

The episodes of Asharam Bapu and his son and the media overhaul on the more recent Tejpal story only make one thing clear to me - beware those who still continue to think of women as objects. India is no more tolerant to any abuses to women, however small. It is a country where women were considered as powerful Goddesses and the Indian media is playing a strong part in bringing back that glory. However, as women we also need to be play our part and not misuse this new power we have been bestowed upon by the democracy of India. I just hope all this turmoil changes the society for the better.

I am waiting for the next change to happen - in my life, in Indian politics and in Indian society.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

happiness...

Popping bubble wrap, laughing at nothing, good hair days, playing a good song over and over, red wine, a book you can't put down, watching another stunning sunset.

Fresh air, everything in balance, the weekend, chocolate, flirting, watching a trashy feel good film.

Catching up with an old friend, a long hot shower, slow dancing, swimming in the rain, days off, your favourite jeans, lying on grass with the sun on your face.

Fridays, pay day, driving with the wind in your hair, walking on the beach, finding money, free stuff.

Meeting new people, the smell of rain, setting the clocks back an hour, the crunch of snow underfoot.

Walking barefoot on warm sandy beaches, climbing oak trees.

Getting lost, dunking biscuits in tea.

Your last clean t-shirt.

Just now I noticed the above text printed on my t-shirt that I have been wearing since ages. The text is printed such as to create a spiral depicting the circle of life. Really amazed to realise that before today I never paid any attention to read what was written on it. In life we keep ignoring the little things which can give us immense happiness and joy - like this small discovery that I just made. We complain about life without putting in efforts to feel the small pleasures that we are already surrounded with.

Look out for molecules of happiness, and in such pursuit you will find abundance of joy and serenity!!

Saturday, October 05, 2013

The Lunch Box

Don't know how many of you have already seen this new Bollywood movie - The Lunch Box. I feel privileged to have been able to see this today. Privileged I say with a huge amount of respect to the concept and creation that I saw today. It is a must-watch for all the people who have loved reading my blogposts so far. This movie makes you think at all levels. Obviously it is a serious matured cinema, may not go well if you are in a weekend light hearted mood.

I am a very emotional person and can easily relate to the pain of others. This movie though works differently. It is no where loud on the pain element, the characters are just leading normal lives... The director leaves it to you to identify pain and relate to them at levels where you can connect. Apart from the strong story line, a very strong star cast - who to me are truly seasoned actors - adds icing to the cake.

I am not going to give away any of the story here as I don't like it myself when movie reviewers get carried away and divulge all the fun. Watch it for yourself.

You know, in this big universe each one of us are such small elements, however still everyday we think of ourselves as some big shot. Each day we struggle to make  ourselves known. Each day we forget about all the good things we have and run after things we don't have. Each day we feel that God is being unfair on us and have given us the worst life. Other's life always seems better than ours. A long time ago I had written a post called 'Mine is Bigger' - the movie brought home the concept for me. We always feel that my pain, my suffering, my experience is the worst, the biggest, bigger than everybody I know. This movie makes you rethink this, without being preachy at all.

I have always believed that cinema is a powerful method of social work, and this movie just explores that aspect so beautifully. Just talking about a simple life of two individuals - to whom you can relate yourself so well - the movie gives away important messages of life.

I am glad that not all film makers and actors are running after making commercial cinema - 200 crore rupees club is the new buzz word in tinsel town. Obviously I am not saying that light hearted cinema is not useful, sometimes you don't want to watch a miserable life on a 22m screen and fantasy world seems a perfect way to getaway and unwind. But the so called 'parallel' cinema is what kicks me after a tiring day at work. There is so much pain in the world, mine cannot be the biggest!

Therefore, every day thank God for everything you have got. Thank your country for everything it has given you. Thank your family for everything they have helped you with. Life is too short and we are too little in this cosmos - therefore, just be happy and spread happiness around!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Indian Youth

I just came back from a birthday party of a friend's son. The little son has turned one today and his proud parents had thrown a party to celebrate that. Obviously as you can see such things don't particularly excite me. What was exciting was to meet a big gathering of Indians in the party and find out what was up in their lives. Most of it was about raising kids in London and long work hours causing hindrance in achieving work life balance. However it all sounded under control and more towards being the usual moaning Indian mentality... I have only seldom come across truly optimistic Indian crowd and today's was no different.

Well this blog post is not about this. What stood out for me was the conversation I had with my friend's brother, who has, a couple of days back, come from India. He used to live in Gurgaon (satellite town of Delhi) with his wife, owned a house (on mortgage) and both husband wife were working. On the outset, it would sound like a perfect set up. Young couple, so still have some time to plan for kids. For me they would classify as an average middle class nuclear family trying to live in big metro cities and making a living on their own. I saw no apparent problems with that and immediately associated him with the new India. However, as we started talking more, he revealed that he has just sold his house, his wife has stayed back in Gurgaon and is living in a paying guest with a female friend and he himself has moved to Ireland to complete a Masters course. A perfectly settled life now suddenly started sounding too unsettled. This major step was not taken in any hurry. The couple had long thought about it and they both felt this to be the right move. Going out of the country, no matter where just seemed the right thing to do. He is frustrated that even with two salaries and yet no dependents, they are not saving enough. The tax structure is flat and the infrastructure is not at all good to justify the high taxes they pay. So here I had, a bright hard - working honest couple who would regularly pay their taxes eager to leave the country asap and throw their lives into uncertainty.

The plan is that the husband will study in Ireland, the wife will join in due course and start looking for a job there and eventually they will settle there bidding adieu to India forever. Obviously I am nobody to comment on whether this is right or wrong being myself a person who left the country for a year but has stayed out for longer than five years now. But I at least do definitely want to go back. I have not, in my heart and soul, yet been able to bid adieu to India. I want to go back at the next available opportunity, just don't know when that would be. This story of a first hand experience of an Indian youth troubled me. I could see India as a push factor - where people like him are being pushed out of the country, where is the pull factor - so that people like me can return to the country?

Clearly the current government has failed. Ten years is a long time to shape a country and India has completely lost shape in this time. Shall we not be definitely looking for a change??? I don't know who is the best alternative, all I definitely know is that the track record shows that no further chances be allowed to the incumbent. Else we will be caught in his infinite loop of pessimism, anxiety and social unrest which will be very difficult to come out of.

An ordinary story like this has caused a lot of pain in my heart. India is under global watch and the next elections are crucial for the country. I wish I was in India to contribute to the turning point of the country, but can I request all my friends and well wishers to go out and vote in the next general elections and contribute towards the change. I believe in change and I desperately want to see a change. India has all the ingredients to become the next big thing, therefore let's just create the right dynamics to achieve that goal!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Media and Debates

Sometimes it makes me really think the huge role media plays in creating and changing perceptions. And therefore such a role needs to be played responsibly. The Indo-Pak coverage, the Modi saga, the scams, the countdown to the elections - everything should be sensibly broadcasted. Indian media is no more restricted only to Indian audiences, it is global. Watching TV talk shows is very frustrating when people who don't know what is the concept of debating are invited. People use loose languages, speak as if they are in their living room discussing those topics. They need to understand that they are on air being watched by millions of Indians and non-Indians at home and abroad. The language needs to be professional and the debate needs to be more organised. I find people talking over each other all the time.

In British culture if you talk over the other person even by mistake, you profusely apologize. And in debates broadcasted on Indian media I find the participants and the host all talking over each other relentlessly. Same point being discussed over and over again, and sometimes really trivial matters made to look big. I do believe that there is a requirement for debate, something that has only recently found a place in Indian democracy. Unlike American democracy where the quality of debate has matured over the period of time. However it is important to understand and acknowledge that we have at this stage is very immatured and unfinished and embarrassing if I may say so. Please please and please let's talk sensibly when we are on air no matter what the topic of discussion is... Let's respect each other's opinions and objectively counter when given a chance to do so. I wish there were some personal development courses that can be made available to politicians, something that is very common in corporate culture. Debating will be the first skill they need to learn before coming on air to discuss their thoughts.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Paisa paisa paisa

Aao sab mile bhed bhao mitakar,
Purani ranjhisho mein aakhir rakkha kya
Kuchh tum apni sunao, kuchh hum sunaye
Kyunki zindagi na milegi dobara!

Kehta hai mera dil mujhse ki tum achchhe ho,
Duniya ke bhatkaye raste par bhatak gaye ho,
Paise ki lalach chhodo, paisa to maya hai
Jeewan mein khush rehna hai to milkar jiyo.

Mujhe nahi woh din yaad jab tum pehle aise the,
Kya hua aisa ki tumhe sabka pyar dhikhta nahi ab
Baki sab jaise the waise hi hai, par tum badal gaye
Pehle wale tum bankar laut aaoge kab?

Jeewan ke har padao ko samaan roop se jiyo,
Apno ko dookh dene wala sookhi rehta hai kya,
Jaise karoge aaj waisa aage khud bhi to bharoge
Itni saral baat samajhna itna kathin hai kya?

Samajhdar ho tum padhe likhe bhi ho,
Dikhta nahi kya tumhe kaisi galtiyan kar rahe ho?
Apno ka saath to kismat walo ko milta hai
Uski paise ke naam par aahuti chada rahe ho?

Paisa paisa, hai paisa, kaisi banayi insaan ne aapda,
Na ho to dookh, jyada ho to pareshani,
Sari samasyaon ki jad hai aaj paisa
Jiske peechhe bhaag rahi yeh duniya bani diwani!!!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

And once again

Every year around the time of my birthday I make it a point to write a new post. The whole idea is to document how I am feeling around this time. I believe that life is only as exciting as we make it for ourselves and one would expect that birthdays are a good time to take stock of how exciting I made my life for myself in the last year. I have never felt too upbeat around my birthdays, all my previous posts are an evidence of it. Does it mean that my life is not exciting or I am not enjoying my life? No. I love every day and every moment and thank God for all I have today - great family, good colleagues and caring friends. Though I may not have said enough to these guys as to how much they mean to me. I love everybody I know and want everybody to do well in life. I believe in collective growth... If all of us are doing well, there is only more scope that we all will do even better. A person is great when he has a great company. Some people only want to see others not doing very well, but this way are they not just making their company unsuccessful? Try to stay away from such people, they are in the southwards path and will only pull you downwards.

Being a person not too driven by achieving material goals, for me success is more defined around how I have been able to contribute to the long term purpose of my life. And with every birthday gone, I feel pressured as I get closer to what I define as long term goals. Material goals can be short term and easier to define as accomplished... Long term qualitative goals defined to achieve purpose of life are more difficult to assess for accomplishment. This is what causes the not too great feeling during birthdays.

It has been just over 3 years running the charity Friends of Salaam Baalak Trust (FoSBT) and I feel happy with the regular stream of donations we have been able to generate for street and working children in India. I don't feel satisfied though as I know that there is a lot more we could do. Please help me in spreading the word amongst people in India and abroad who feel for such causes and want to support. Your time spent in talking about such issues can be as useful as raising money. So please spread the word!

I want to live in a world where all of us have equal opportunities. I don't want to wait for it to happen, I want to make it happen. If we all do our bit towards this, there will surely be a birthday when I will truly and deeply feel happy celebrating it!!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Hay Fever and Yoga

Warm Sunday afternoons would normally be the weather one craves for England, however this year's summer has been different for me so far. Some of my friends are telling me that this is a sign of having become purely "british" now as I have managed to catch what is called "hay fever". It has been more than 5 years that I have been living here, but this is the first of its kind experience for me. Constantly running nose, itchy eyes, mild forehead ache, coughing and sneezing - all this comes with being allergic to pollens. During summers when the rest of the country craves for hot weather, people suffering from hay fever crave for cold and wet weather as that reduces the pollen count in the air. Therefore, today (warm Sunday afternoon) whilst the rest of the Britian is out under the sun in the parks playing or getting sun-tanned, I am sitting in the house with windows as closed as possible (don't forget that we would normally not have fans or coolers in England) and typing this blog post. Sigh!!

Most of my work colleagues have either themselves or their spouses suffering from this annoying condition (it is not a disease and therefore not communicable). Last week, a colleague sitting beside me had to rush her husband to the hospital A&E due to him being coughing incessantly. It was then diagonsed as chest infection (caused by stored cough from hay fever which he did not manage to clean out of his body). My routine at home has been that of either cleaning or blowing my nose or sneezing. Poor nose - I have been making it suffer so much! But this way at least I am making sure that all the cough is coming out instead of getting stored inside and jamming other organs.

There are some Indian yogic remedies that can help sooth and to some extent also cure this allergy. Some of them are listed below for those who are able to do them (I should myself follow them instead of preaching, just that they need the discipline which I am currently lacking) -

Pranayam - Pranayam are some breathing yogas which strengthen lungs. They therefore help in reducing coughing and sneezing and keeping your nose clean and clear. I have learnt some of them from the Indian saint Baba Ramdev's shows on TV channel Aastha. A simple Google search will land you to those videos teaching how to do them.

Kunjal Kriya - My husband has been insisting that I perform Kunjal Kriya. In this you are supposed to drink like 2 - 2.5 litres of warm salted water in one go and then forcing yourself to vomit to bring it all out. He says that this vomit of water then brings out all impurities from the stomach and also will help me clean up my cough completely. I agree with him - I have tried it twice and it has helped me a lot. It does need a lot of strength though and I have to relax for some time after I have done this. It is not recommended to be done on a daily basis.

Jal Neti - My brother has been insisting that I perform Jal Neti. This is the yoga in which you take in water from one nostril and take it out from the other nostril. You need a tool to do which my husband can use perfectly to perform the act, however I have miserably failed to get the water out of the other nostril. It needs a lot of practice, and my attempts so far have failed. This will further help to ensure that the passage in my nose is clean and therefore any allergens would not be able to titillate my senses to cause sneezing.

Being a person who prefers natural remedies over allopathic medicines, I intend to religiously start trying the above three yogic remedies. They do not have any side effects (though I urge anybody reading this and attempting to first make sure that they have understood the process from a professional) and can cure multiple ailments.Yoga is a powerful tool which we hardly use to cure ourselves of all ailments. And not just curing physical ailments, but the discipline, patience, calmness and energy that it instills also helps in keeping our mind sound and serene.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Secret admirer

This weekend was about cleaning... destroying items that have not been used for years (as most likely they will not be used in future also) and shredding items from old document folders. I stumbled upon an envelop addressed to me (with slight misspelling of my surname). This was at a time when I used to live in DU post-graduate hostel during 2005 - 2006. I opened the envelope and found a short poem dedicated to me anonymously. I have some vague memories of receiving this when I was in the hostel and discussing about it with my close friends. Don't think I paid much attention to it that time, but reading it after so many years, I am finding the text quite cheeky! I have jotted the content of the note below verbatim:

My words dedicated to you... 

When you get close - I get weak 
Still feels good - still runs deep 
I want to know you deep inside 
Hear every thought and see every dream 

Anyway - I just want to say 

I love the way you looked that day
With your hair hanging down on your shoulders 
The way you do everything but talk
And how you stare at me with those eyes 
And your breath on my body makes me warm inside 

A memory - to ignite me for ever 
I think about you all the time 
Can't you see you drive me out of my mind
Yes I never want this dream to end 

stranger329@hotmail.com

Friday, March 22, 2013

Attraversiamo

Attraversiamo is an Italian word meaning "let's cross over". The title of my blog is "Dynamics of life - change is always welcome". And I do welcome change in life. My close friends and family know me as a person who is never scared of changes. To keep growing in life, change is imperative. But today as I sit down and type this, I feel nervous with changes in life. Changes that bring new commitments with them. On my birthday every year I have moaned about having grown one year older. The happiness of celebrating my achievements of the last year get shadowed by the thoughts of the new committments the new life will bring to me. In my mind I have loved living like a free bird. I love those whom I feel like loving and not love people just for the sake of loving. My way of expressing love is also similar - effortless, should just happen naturally. But with new commitments comes the responsibility of showing love and care. I want everything to be natural, is that always possible?

I was watching the movie "Eat, Pray, Love" starring Julia Roberts. The movie makes you think. It makes you question if you are ready for the big cross over in life. Should I bow down to life and accept new commitments just because I can't stop time? 

Your mind and soul can be ageless, but certainly your body is not. And the thing is that you can go against the will of time, but hardly can it be sustainable. The rational mind is too powerful and will manage to reason with your heart. So then you wonder if at the end you had to come to accept those commitments, why try to escape them at the first place. Why delay them and make things harder for yourself. 

So with a deep breadth accept that as time passes by, you will need to prepare yourself for new commitments, new responsibilities. It is all a part of life and there is only how long you can escape all this. Attraversiamo may be difficult, but is not impossible! Smile with your eyes, heart and liver and you will see that things will happen naturally and become a part of life. "God dwells within me as me", Liz (Julia Roberts) says in the movie. So if you remain connected to the God within you, then any such transition would just look like another day in office - hopefully!

Friday, March 15, 2013

What do we want from life?

I have always dwelled upon this question - what do I want from my life. Actually the picture of the vending machine below will set the scene well of what I am trying to focus on this blog. 

On the head of the machine read "Forgotten Something?" and below that you find pretty much everything you can think of needing while travelling with a price tag. This made me think - can we make such a list of things that we need from our lives? Additionally, we also need to think of at what cost will we achieve it. Because if I simply ask you this question, then I am sure you can jot down a hundred things you desire in your life, but asking to add the price tag to those desires immediately helps you do the reality check.

Sometimes I think we get too carried away by desires - some of those feelings can stem from a genuine concern of securing our future, some may be pure indulgence and some may just be stupid wants with no basis whatsoever. We need to know where the check point is and what defines the fine line between wanting and desiring. Even though dictionary may write them as synonyms, for me "wanting" is more definitive than "desiring". So I may "desire" a lot of things for which the price tag may be beyond my affordability, but I will "want" only those that have a reasonable price tag and are achievable for me. For example, I may "desire" a helipad on the terrace of my house, but I first "want" to own a house.  

Therefore, I want you to create a list of "wants" and not "desires". Have a price tag to your wants - given you have only filtered out those that come with reasonable price tag, this list of your "wants" will end up being reasonable as a result. You may or may not decide to put a time tag against them. The kind of person I am, I like defining timelines to achieve things, else they never happen for me. A relaxed attitude never takes you anywhere, your "want" has to be desperate enough to allow you to achieve it. And a time tag will ensure that desperation all the time. Our mind should be relaxed, but our approach should be desperate. Again there is a very fine difference between these two things, so you need to be careful.

I think this method will help us keep a check on our wants and desires. I am all up for dreaming big, but if you have to become big then you have to have an approach.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A trip to Windsor

I had some holidays carried forward from last year - these are those holidays for which your company tells you to "take it or loose it". February being one of the chilliest months in Europe, we decided not to go too far and end up spending a lot of money. The choice was quite limited to seeing some place within UK which does not hurt the wallet a lot as this was during the Valentine's day weekend (16th Feb to 18th Feb 2013). The best thing about being in UK is that if you know how to use the internet, you can really save a lot of money - use key words like discount vouchers, evouchers, coupons, discount codes etc on Google and you are bound to get a deal that you cannot resist. I had a lucky day and managed to find 2 night weekend stay in a 4 star hotel close to Windsor at a throw away price of £55 per night from Travelzoo. The room was a superior plus room with complimentary wi-fi, leisure facilities like steam, sauna, whirlpool, swimming pool, car parking and full English breakfast for two included.
We took a fast train just after noon from London Paddington to Slough (£8.60 per person) and reached Slough in 17mins. From Slough station we walked down to the hotel - a nice short 30 mins walk with Google maps assisting us with the directions. 

Given the idea of this trip was only to relax, we checked into the hotel and threw ourselves on the bed. The hotel room was very comfortable with all modern day amentities one could hope for. Even before we had stretched ourselves, it was evening. We went for an exercise session in the gym followed by long swimming, steam, sauna and zacuzzi sessions. After a hectic week of work in London, going out to the country and relaxing in a spa is the best thing to do, it completely unwinds you down. 

For dinner, there was a restaurant inside the hotel which we decided to try. Being vegetarian does not give us too many options anywhere, so we ordered the most predictable options Fried Noodles with Mixed Vegetables and Fried Rice with Mixed Vegetables along with Steamed Tofu for main course. We went a little innovative with out dessert of Banana Fritters and Chocolate Spring Roll with Raspberry Sauce.

The noodles were the best noodles I have ever had - I tried to get the recipe from the Chinese waitress who was having difficulty in speaking English. All I could get out of her was that these were Singaporean noodles and were therefore thin. Rice noodles are thin too, but I don't like them as much as I did these. The dessert was a bit of a let down, but after this outstanding main course, I could not complain too much. 

The next morning, we got up early to visit Windsor castle. Being somebody who is not too much into historical buildings, we decided only to click a photograph from outside and move on. 
Don't forget that Windsor castle is the official residence of the queen. An extract from the royal website provides more context - 
Windsor Castle is an official residence of The Queen and the largest occupied castle in the world. A Royal home and fortress for over 900 years, the Castle remains a working palace today.
The Queen uses the Castle both as a private home, where she usually spends the weekend, and as a Royal residence at which she undertakes certain formal duties.
Every year The Queen takes up official residence in Windsor Castle for a month over Easter (March-April), known as Easter Court. During that time The Queen hosts occasional 'dine and sleeps' events for guests, including politicians and public figures.
The Queen is also in residence for a week in June, when she attends the service of the Order of the Garter and the Royal Ascot race meeting. 
This was February and the queen will not be in the castle anyways (not that you will get to see her if she was). But anyways, what interested us more is a "long walk" between the Windsor castle to the Windsor Great Park. It is 2.65 miles (4.26 km) from George IV Gateway at Windsor Castle to The Copper Horse. We decided to do the walk by foot and see the Copper Horse for ourselves. The picture below taken from the internet was taken in 1930s. 

Whilst it may not look a lot to walk just over 4 kilometers, the vast expanse around and the long road with no sight of an end in front of you can make the journey longer in your mind than it actually is.

The weather was brilliant so we did not mind the walk at all. The icing on the cake was when I spotted a sole car coming towards me (which would be towards the castle as we were walking towards the Great Park). Wondering who would dare to bring a car on a walk that looked very private with one royal guard I spotted at a doors on the side, I realised it was no one else but the queen herself on the driving seat and her husband accompanying her. She must be on a private visit to the castle to spend the weekend. Something that hit me was the unassuming character of this experience. The royal highness, Her Majesty the Queen out on a private weekend driving her car down on her own with no show. If I become a famous social celebrity in my life ever, I would really love such a lifestyle - where you are allowed to completely switch yourself off and have those moments of a normal life. Honestly I just really loved seeing that!

Okay back to our "long walk" from the philosophical discussion, we were back with freshness after the little distraction. It took us around 50 - 60 minutes to complete the walk, but the prize was worth it, we indeed had come a long way. 
 
I dozed off for a while below the copper horse. Then we had our packed lunch on the grass under the beautiful sun. All I could now see around me was a vast expanse of greenery. I could not see any park gates and realised that to reach to one I may be on a journey of not knowing how much to walk. In comparison I at least knew how long I will have to walk on the long walk to reach some habitation. So I chose the easier option and went back to the city centre via the long walk. The return journey felt shorter than the onward journey somehow (may be because I now know how long it really was whilst on the onward journey it just looked like a never ending walk).

We came back to the hotel by sunset. Had our usual routine of the leisure facilities and had almost the same dinner as last night. The next day was all about packing, checking out and the making the journey back to hectic lifestyle of London. 

Such outings give you time to look at the bigger picture of your life from a distance like a painter does once in a while during his painting. It is very important to do such contemplations, trust me. If you have not taken such breaks, do so now without fail.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Modi - The New Hope for India

I am generally a very optimistic person. At work, I am known as a person who brings positive energy into the team. And because of who I am, I like similar people around me.

Today I heard Narendra Modi speak - the chief minister of an Indian state called Gujarat. He was addressing a young and bright crowd of under grads at one of Delhi university's colleges. What I liked about him and his speech was the optimism he brought. Very logically he argued why his optimism for the future of India can become a reality. 

To put his message across he picked up the glass of water he was drinking from and said - the optimists in you would say that the glass is half full and the pessimists would say that the glass is half empty. However, I would go one step ahead and say that the glass is completely full - half with water and half with air. Therefore I am very hopeful about India's future, all we need to do is to change perspective.

And I say indeed, change perspective about the way we look at our lives and at others. I went out with a few friends for dinner yesterday to a not-so-cheap Indian restaurant. It was hurting me to see a couple in the group had left over so much of food on their plates. It is a lot of hard work to earn money and we should be thankful that we are getting to eat good food. It is easy to blame the government for everything on a dinner table eating good food - but really what are we doing that we can atleast do in our capacity?? Nothing I would say. At least stop wasting food. If the sum total of all cosmic energy remains the same in the world at all times, then the food we just wasted in some form would have been more useful for somebody else.

Let's do the little things that we can to make this world a better place please. And let's provide our full support to those who are hopeful about this. This speech gives me a lot of confidence that he could just be the thinking that India needs at the moment.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

All by myself

Can we do everything by ourselves? As managers, we trust the team who works for us for the accuracy, reliability, relevance and consistency of the work they do. And as a manager comes the accountability of accepting the work that they have done – good or bad.

I am a precision freak, I like work being done with close attention to details. Generally I check the work I do so many times that there is very little scope of error. However, with the limited time you get in the corporate world for delivery of projects, it is more often that you split the work to your team members so that the timelines are achieved. As such then, there is not much time to check the work others do for you to the same level of details. And I said earlier, you trust that they will do a good job.

It has just happened with me that I spotted a mistake on an old project I was responsible for. I realised that it was somebody else who worked for me on this project who committed this mistake. I talked to this person to understand why the issue happened. There was no blaming, could have happened with anybody else. However, I feel bad because the piece of work that I had given to this person was a piece where I would have trusted the judgement of this person more than mine on any day. Therefore, the shock is even greater.

Anyways, what is done is done. As somebody who is responsible for this delivery of that project, I take full responsibility of this oversight. I quickly checked to see the impact this would have on the overall project, and it seems quick minimal. Sigh of relief! However, what this teaches me is that I need to be more careful from now on when I use pieces of work done by others for me. But then what is the purpose of having people work for you if you have to check everything all over again? Or you just keep moving on thinking that such situations will occur and as long as the impact is minimal, it does not matter.

Bottom line is you cannot do / check everything yourself. If the CEO of the company does not trust anybody who works for him and decides to do everything himself, would he be able to run a company? In an interview, when Richard Branson was asked how much time he spends on philanthropic activities, he said 90% and added that his company does not need more time than this from him, there are strong people to take care of it.

However, who constitute strong people is really difficult to define. The person who did this work for me was somebody whom I trusted more than I would myself for such work. May be this was just a one-off mistake and I should not take it so seriously. Or maybe there are more such mistakes that will unravel with time. Who knows! But what I know is that we can’t stop trusting each other and we can’t do everything ourselves. There is always going to be team work in this world and human beings will always err. It is down to the individual to decide their error appetite and survive in this world.