Monday, 19 March 2018

When an Uber Driver Teaches Me Acceptance

So, some of the most interesting conversations I have had are conversations I have had with Uber drivers and my co travelers in shared and pooled cabs. These have been conversation around society and politics (yes, you may wrongly thing that almost all Indians are politically aware people). These have been conversations around work, around the ecosystems, financial implications of companies like uber, ola, oyo and more.

However, the most impactful conversations, most raw stories, and most emotionally moving and empowering stories are those of these people themselves. I am learning to listen better, not just because my mentors kick my ass to do so, but because these stories, these personal truths are so profound, that there's nothing else one can do but hear them without missing a beat.

A driver telling me how his wife died 8 months ago because she didn't get good treatment in a hospital, doesn't just give me the shocking reality of the medical system in the country.My heart breaks as I say sorry to the man for his loss and  he responds with a gentle, sad smile, trying to make light of what he has been through:

Bhagwan Ki Ichchha ke aage kisi ki nahi chalti madam. Wo bahut achchhi thi, bahut sundar bhi thee , shukar hai mera beta uske jaisa lagta hai. (We humans are helpless against God's will. She was very good, also very beautiful madam. I'm glad, my child goes after her, rather than me )

He smiles with such gentle emotions in his eyes as he talks to his 6 year old son on a whatsapp call and goes on to tell me that the child now lives with his family in the village. He goes on to explain the intricacies of the marital system in India and the fact that his child isn't entirely unhappy because he lives with his uncle and aunt and double cousins.

The serene, calm, sad acceptance of what has disrupted his family, chokes me. I wish I had that grace and that acceptance for so many things which are far less significant and not worth cribbing for.

I am humbled and honored by his authenticity, respectful openness, vulnerability and the ability to still look beyond his personal grief. And I whisper the serenity prayer in my heart for him, for myself and for everyone:

Thank you my Uber Driver, for sharing with me and reminding me another life changing truth, your personal truth.

© Anupama2018

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Maan Kehti Hai....

माँ कहती है सुन मेरी रानी
तुझे सुनाऊँ नई कहानी
जो कहती थी दादी नानी
वो तो अब हो चलीं पुरानी।

न तो तू कोई राज कुमारी
न परियों की तू शहज़ादी
तू वो हिस्सा है दुनिया का
जो लगभग आधी आबादी।
नहीं ज़रूरत तुझे भीख की,
छीन के ले अपनी आज़ादी।
जी ले खुल के तू मस्तानी...माँ कहती है...

मैंने तुझे कोख में पाला
ये कोई अहसान नहीं है।
तू मेरी औलाद हमेशा,
तू कोई सामान नहीं है।
तेरा मालिक परमेश्वर है,
और कोई इंसान नहीं थहै

जा छू ले आसमां दीवानी... माँ कहती है...

© Anupama2018
I'd love to hear what does / did your mother tell you?

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Currency Change in India

The decision to account for the 500 and 1,000 Rs. note, the new counter-feit control measures in the new currency, the entire set of plan, the obvious and the not so obvious is all welcome as a national and political decision.

However, pessimistic as I am, here is what I feel about the very compromised state of democracy in India, in general and I do not think any currency reforms can change this.

Chand kaagaz ke tukde the,
Suna hai ab bekaar honge.
Kya fark padta hai yaar,
Pehle 1000 the ab 2000 honge.

Mujhse poocho to lagta hai,
Sirf dhandhe ki nayi tazveez hai ye,
Pehle chhote khareedar the,
Ab mote dukaandaar honge.

Dhandha to tab bhi chaalo rahega,
Imaandaari ka, neeyat ka, ehsaas-faroshi ka.
Kya hua gar kuchh log,
Kuchh gaahak imaandaar honge.

Ahle-hukum koi bhi hon,
Aur faisla kuchh bhi karein.
Ghulaami barkaraar rahegi,
Koi na koi to sarkaar honge!

 चंद कागज़ के टुकड़े थे 
सुना है अब बेकार होंगे । 
क्या फ़र्क पड़ता है यार 
पहले 1000 थे अब 2000 होंगे ॥ 
मुझसे पूछो तो यूँ लगता है 
सिर्फ़ धंधे की नयी तज़वीज़ है ये । 
पहले छोटे गाहक थे 
अब मोटे खरीदार होंगे ॥

धंधा तो तब भी चालू ही रहेगा 
ईमानदारी का, नीयत का, एहसास-फ़रोशी का । 
क्या हुआ गर कुछ लोग, 
अब की तरह तब भी ईमानदार होंगे ?

अहल - ए - हुकुम कोई भी हों, 
और फैसला कुछ भी करें । 
ग़ुलामी बरक़रार तब भी होगी, 
और कोई न कोई तो सरकार होंगे ॥

© Anupama 2016 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Questions, answers, Shikwa and Jawab-e-Shikwa

Kyun Ziyaankar Banu, Sood Faramosh Rahoon?
Fikr-e-Farda Na Karoon, Mehw-e-Gham-e-Dosh Rahoon?
Naal-e-Bulbul Ke Sunoon Aur Hamatan Gosh Rahoon?
Hamnawa Main Bhi Koi Gul Hoon Ke Khamosh Rahoon?
Jurr'at Aamoz Meri Taab-e-Sukhan Hai Mujhko!
Shikwa Allah Se Khakam Badhan Hai Mujhko!
(Muhammad Iqbal)

The first time, I ever heard a musical rendition by Tina Sani; of this beautiful piece of poetry by Iqbal and also the story behind it from a friend of mine, I instantly gravitated to read the whole text. Since I cannot not read Urdu, I read translations after translation, only to find myself getting attracted to this profound dialogue between the man and God.

I could relate. I felt betrayed after a series of accidents, a lot of debt, careers gone for a toss, family scattered, drinking sinking in me. I felt desolate. I felt deserted. The God that I believed in, had prayed to, for years, suddenly felt non-existent.

Iqbal seemed to be asking the same questions as I had, in different context though. Jawab – e- Shikwa seemed to be answering the questions the same way, as I answered my own. It sounded hollow, it sounded fake, it sounded incapable of providing me with the much needed solace.

It just wouldn’t get fixed, until last year. However, accept it or not, even when life wasn’t turning around, I was apparently constantly dropping pins all over; dots that I now seem to be connecting slowly. Life is slowly turning around and it seems that finally answers to my questions are coming through as well.

Over years, I have also realized that the ways to find answers to questions are varied, diverse and specific to each individual. For some answers come through meditation, for others through activity, for more through chanting, deity worship, astrology, art, science and what not. I still don’t know what helps me find my answers, it’s such a mess at times. As long as I find them though.

I have further realized that everything in this world must be questioned. If it is meant for you and if you ask the right questions, the answers will come. As I ask my questions, I hope you ask yours too and find answers to those questions that really matter.

And of course, in the meanwhile, here's the Tina Sani rendition that got me hooked to the beautiful verses above. Enjoy!

© Anupama 2016 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Latest Achievements and Projects

It is interesting how life has taken a turn in an unprecedented direction. This blog was originally meant to be a journal, then a place where I could collate all my writing as a central platform and now it seems to be that one space where I share with the world a summary of all those bits and pieces I keep sharing at all other places.

A lot of good changes have happened over the last few months. This post is meant to count blessings :)

  1. I managed to publish 3 books in the alternative lifestyle space. I am working on three more.
  2. I also managed to quit a full time job and sustain for six months while working on some extremely exciting projects.
  3. I continue to ghost write and build my writer portfolio, but I finally have a vision and a clear sense of direction.
  4. I am taking up a few new projects and once they reach their first milestone, I will love to share them with you all.
  5. Most importantly, I'm able to make a living through writing and also able to be with my loved ones. I am able to pick up my life where I left it almost a decade ago :)

A big thank you to all of you who have stood by my side in solidarity. A big love you to all those who've stayed on the fringes while still watching my back.

Do keep reading and sharing feedback. DO keep requesting for what you would like to read.

© Anupama 2016

Sunday, 8 May 2016

5 reasons a socio-culturally messed up nation like ours should not celebrate mother's day!

"Happy Mother's day Mom ! Is there a small gift I can give you today please?" 

My mom hugged me, smiled in my eyes and shook her head. Next I knew we were playfully bantering about how it should be me getting gifts for being her first child and thus causing her to be declared a mother once I was born. Dad, brothers, all of us busy teasing her. I digress, I will return to this at the end of the post again.

Later that night, I wondered if it really made sense? All this mother's day hullabaloo everywhere. I'm not going to go all fundamentalistic, only because I know I would be judged, but here are a few questions:

  • Indians celebrate two navratras and Durga Pujas. Do we really need an extra mother's day? Even symbolically, I feel more connected and more child - like to the divinity that a lot of us Hindus call 'Maa'. We have The Yashoda Ma, The Sita Mata, Mother Mary, Mata Parvati, Maa Saraswati. But we also have Maa Lakshmi, who does not have a mythological son. What does that indicate?
If not symbolically, what exactly is it that we do to feel entitled to celebrating Mother's day? We're socio-culturally messed up as a nation! I wonder if we even deserve to have mothers and if we do, then have we earned the right to call them parents. For those of us who ARE mothers ourselves, are we the mothers that deserve being called mothers?

I see facebook pages swarming with mother's day posts; I see various organizations with a mother's day theme, I see businesses trying to sell me pizzas, cakes, flowers, cards, food, clothes, interior decoration, health check ups and what not for my mother; I see friends flaunting how their kids cook for them. I mean serious ladies? A lot of us used to cook AT LEAST 3 days a month for the whole family in tier 3 cities, even if our moms did not let us cook the rest of the time.

Even beyond all this, I personally feel that as a community, a nation, a people, a society, we've lost the right to celebrate mothers and motherhood, here's why:

  • We do NOT WANT or DESERVE mothers to begin with.
With female foeticide and infanticide rates still on a high, do we really want mothers in our society? I mean keep killing potential mothers even before they are born, and then go around selling to me the concept of 'Happy Mother's Day'! And don't even get me started about mothers who abort their own girl children! Hypocrisy much???

  • We do not want to talk about how girls actually become mothers.
We do not talk about sex, periods, menstrual cycles and pregnancy. We do not prepare our girls to be mothers. We believe in - 'bachchha to time aane pe ho hi jayega'! With that sort of hypocrisy, a lot of women are not even prepared to be mothers. Forgive me, but no matter how happy motherhood maybe, unplanned, really?

  • We HAVE FAILED our mothers by our inability to provide proper maternal health.
Oh, I wish I didn't have to mention this one! There may be costly nursing homes, doctors, experts on prenatal, neonatal and postnatal care, but what percentage of women actually have an access to the maternal care before, during and after their pregnancy? Read a report here1 But so what? We're better than Pakistan! Yo baby!!!

If businesses had SOME shame, their products would be around cheaper sanitary napkins, easy access to medical facilities, provision of transportation in rural areas for pregnant women (do you hear the Ola and the Ubers of the world?) I don't think so. We claim we respect mothers? Like, really?

  • We discriminate against our mothers!
Oh yes! We do that all the time! I've seen caregiver discrimination of this form for so long. We want women to be machines producing babies, taking care of them AND performing the best at work. Yet, we continue to be prejudiced against working mothers.

Oh the child's skirt isn't the best pleated? 
"Iski maa ko naukri aur office se fursat mile tab to!"

There's food to cook, homework to finish, bag to pack, lunch to make AND a job to do.

Maa to Main hi hoon na!
And at office?
"Kya madam, apko itni chutti kyon chahiye? Abhi last fortnight to PTM tha na! "
"Please make sure we don't end up hiring someone who's planning pregnancy or is returning a short while after their maternity break!" (Internal hiring discussion)
"Oh you've just returned from your maternity break? Wonderful!". After 3 more rounds of interview - "Sorry, but the Ops manager has rejected. Better luck next time!" 

I mean woman, was your ops manager not capable of reading the CV when she'd applied?

  • Most heinously? We discriminate among our mothers!
Widow mother? - Bechari dukhiyari!
Divorced Mother?  - Pati ke saath rehti to bachchhe to nahi bigadte!
Single / Unmarried mother ? - Saali Besharam! (oh and do grind your teeth and grunt a bit when using this language)
A working mother ? Kya ghar ka dhyaan rakhti hogi yaar!
A woman who doesn't want to be a mother - irresponsible, selfish bitch!

I mean wow! Perhaps I'm pessimistic. I have loads of happy friends, happy to be mothers! All power to you ladies! However, a batch of 100 women I know isn't sufficient percentage for me to celebrate mother's day !

I told you I will return to my family banter again at the beginning of the post. Here's what happened...

Me: Dad, is it not hypocrisy to be celebrating mothers' day when we as a society are so messed up.
Dad (sigh): Unfortunately, yes it is.
Me : I am sorry mom, I took so much time to actually realize your value in my life. Now that I do, will you be happy if I still did not wish you a 'Happy Mother's Day!"
Mom (with a smile) : I'll be happier if you wish me after earning that right like you say. Go change the world, talk, write, do something. Do your bit and then come and wish me, I'll be happy!

With this thought, on this day - A Very Happy Mother's Day to All the Struggling Mothers out there! May you shine and May you help your sisters shine!

©Anupama Garg 2016, May

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Writing Update

Hello Lovely People! I know I've been away for long now and a big warm thank you to all of you , who read my posts, waited around for me to write again.

I've been very caught up with a new work situation, travel, home, family, festival, my book writing and much more.

I'm yet to give you part 3 of the Uber Exchange program.

But I've also been writing a wee bit on Linkedin. Here are the links:

Lessons Taken and Discarded
The power of 120 seconds - Pitch off your ideas
Explain to me like I'm a four year old - My acid test for recruitment 

I've also been working on a few poems, a few audio scripts, a few books and soon I should have loads to share. Till then, please watch this space !

Lots of love.

©Anupama Garg 2016 April

Monday, 14 March 2016

Thuan Pham, Uber CTO - "Don't take Anything for Granted" - at Uber Exchange Invest India

I know this post comes after a long time, but I've really been occupied with work, my books, family, festival and so much more. Life is good and I'm grateful.

Now to the main story that I want to share....

It was an extremely empowering and enlightening experience to hear Thuan Pham talk about so many practical challenges that I have faced in a lot of my previous jobs with smaller setups and startups.

I won't get into any further introductory details of the venue, etc. But let me tell you how I got an opportunity to listen to Thuan mentor a bunch of startups. I was representing  Projects for School  at the Uber Exchange Invest India in the month of March.

To begin the interaction, 3 questions from the startup scenario were given, startups had to begin the participation by answering any of these questions and then Mr. Pham would share his insights / inputs. Eventually it was to become an open questionnaire.

The input questions were as follows:

1. How do you continue expanding / scaling in line with profitability?
2. How do you hire and / or develop external and / or internal leaders?
3. How does a startup ensure that they do not over hire?

Someone began with the second answer and shared their HR and office politics woes. If I understood it correctly, Thuan gave a very insightful, almost flowchart like answer. Seemingly very simple in its approach, it looked like the one thing almost all business leaders in the startup ecosystem constantly deny.

The steps are:
  • Identify your skill / talent need.
  • Do you have an interal leader fitting that bill?
    •     If yes - problem solved.
    •     If no - Is there someone who can be groomed? How long will it take to groom them? Can my business wait that long?
      • If no - Hire the next best fit
      • If yes - You groom, those who potentially fit in.
If I understood the gentleman correctly, he said, do not  take anything or anyone for granted.

Your people are the key resource you have. While they are dispensible, do not take them for granted is my learning from the whole event.

A business can only continue to scale in line with their sustainability and profitability if they do not over hire. As a result, it is important to know when you may be over hiring. For that matter, it is important to know when you may be overdoing anything which amounts to investment. The only way around is - Titration. The only way is to evaluate every thing and "Don't take Anything for Granted". Interesting that very soon we all heard Leonardo De Caprio say the same words in an entirely different context and from an entirely different platform though.

Launch your plan on a small scale, measure impact against the effort, scale up a bit, retitrate, rinse and repeat. The more capability a business has to do this, the better it is and the more sustained growth they achieve.

Thank you for the insights, Thuan.

©Anupama Garg 2016 March

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Uber Exchange Invest India - Part 1 - Inaugural Session

I recently attended one of the Uber Exchange Invest India Programs in Delhi, combined with IIT Delhi’s e-summit. Uber CTO, Mr. Thuan Pham interacted with around 20 shortlisted startups and his session was followed by a fire side chat with Anand Chandrasekaran, CPO , Snapdeal.

In my new and exciting role as the CCO for a young startup ProjectforSchools, my social and business networking activity has recently increase manifold. As such, I look forward to a lot of learning opportunity all the time and am always full of questions, taking copious notes as my questions are answered.

This series of blog posts will primarily focus on my learning from the interaction with Mr. Thuan Pham, Mr. Shankar Aggrawal, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, India, when Ms. Shanno Beghum, one of Uber’s first women driver partner/s and Anand Chandrasekaran, CPO , Snapdeal.

I must make it clear that I am going to focus on what I learnt as a young female aspiring / acting CCO without a technical background from at least 3 of the most technical brains of the industry and bureaucracy. Also, that the more consolidated versions and focused write-ups around these lessons can be found on my LinkedIn profile.

Inaugural Session:

In the inaugural session, Thuan indicated Uber’s visionary approach towards building a technology platform / market place to create entrepreneurial spirit and empower young startups and entrepreneurs, to invent things together.

It was heartening to see Mr. Aggrawal, talk about the commitment of the Indian government to empower the market and change the overall employment landscape. Together, they also demonstrated the National Career Service Centre portal which is a one stop shop for job seekers, job providers, career counselors and entrepreneurs together.

The change was certainly evident, when Ms. Shanno Beghum, Uber’s driver partner shared her story of empowerment facilitated by the disruptive market leaders.

However, my question to Mr. Aggrawal was as follows:
“I hear a lot of woman empowerment, I see it happening too, I also see the evidence in ladies like Shanno Ji. But I also realize that this empowerment is focused on the lower and middle socio-economic strata of our women population. On the other hand, we have very few role models as successful women entrepreneurs, CXOs etc. more so in technology – driven setups. Does this portal, at some point aim to address specific needs of people like me – the young, ambitious, woman entrepreneur?”

It was very encouraging to see Mr. Aggrawal openly admit that the portal as well the visionary program is young at this moment. While specific needs for young, ambitious women like me may not be addressed today or in immediate future, they certainly look forward to my generation paving the way for our successors. An honest, transparent and yet encouraging response. Thank you Sir!

Reference Link on The Economic Times

Look out for part 2 on specifics around Thuan Pham's talk and interaction with the selected startups.

©Anupama Garg 2016 March

Sunday, 27 December 2015

5 Reasons books are worth their cost

Disclaimers: By this post I am in no way trying to demean, insult the or devalue the sacredness in this universe that's called books. Why I consider books as sacred may well be a subject for another post, for this one let's find out 10 reasons to discourage those who say books are costly.
  • They're cheaper than sex toys
That they are. Totally. Any day. Books are cheaper than sex toys. Even a pirated dildo will come for at least 400 bucks in a  market like Palika bazar. A majority of books (even non-fiction) will be  way cheaper than this. I have almost 1000 books in my collection that have cost me less than this amount. And second hand books are cheaper and you can use them very very safely unlike being worried about secondhand sex toys ;)
  • They're cheaper than a pizza
 An average Dominos  / Pizza hut pizza costs around Rs. 400 at the bare minimum. The other day brother and I together paid Rs. 950 for our meal delivered by Dominos - a meal we could have done amazingly well without. And ironically, a book of Saki's best (H.H.Munroe) cost me Rs. 150.

Priority shift?

My Dream Room - Chodd Aaye Hum Wo Galiyaan

  • They're cheaper than a night in a hotel
How many of us have run away to friends' place or at times even hotels, only because we wanted to escape from our day to day mundane life? I certainly have. And much as I appreciate the value of time away from my own house, I think buying 500 Rs. worth of books is any day better than a Rs. 999 worth of Oyo room.
  • They're cheaper than a movie ticket and a tub of popcorn combined
A discounted movie ticket - Rs. 150. A tub of popcorn - Rs. 300. Travel expense - Rs. 200 minimum to and fro.

The Art of War - Rs. 250.

Simple Math. No? :)

  • They're cheaper than a full bottle of alcohol
A lot of us drink at least once a week and even at home, a quarter of any day - to - day variety of alcohol costs at least Rs. 300. And Let me not repeat the math, stats, or count benefits of books, the point boils down to the same.

Books are always going to win the game for me, come what may !

And if you feel the same way, come let's throw a books party one of these weekends ! :)

©Anupama Garg 2015 July

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Gratitude Journal Day 11 - 15

Day 11 -

1. The hanger pangs I get, for they help me learn self - control.
2. The spilling of water on some things and hopes I'm really looking forward to, because they make me think about other avenues to things I want to do.
3. The availability of information I have around me because it helps me look inwards and tap the untapped potential
4. The air I breathe for I know I'd otherwise be dead.
5. The cool water I drink when I'm thirsty for without my muscles would ache, my body would eventually die.

Day 12 -

1. Thankful for having a job and enough opportunity to explore different roles.
2. Grateful for having a job that pays me well enough to make both ends meet with ease and comfort and allows me to pay my loans / save / plan.
3. Thankful for staying close to work, and taking so less travel time so I can find more time to invest in work / other constructive activities.
4. Thankful for being able to look reasonably attractive when I smile. Makes people like me wink emoticon
5. The blessing of coffee !!! Keeps so much stress away smile emoticon.

Day 13 -

1. Thankful for strangers who are happy to share families with me.
2. Thankful for family being able to visit me after 2.5 years.
3. Thankful for people who believe in me, my dreams, my passion.
4. For People who push me through my depressed moods, mood swings, lows and highs.
5. People who trust me despite being strangers and let me create memories for them in my own way.

Day 14 -

1. People who believe in me and second chances, third chances and more.
2. People who want to see me grow, not necessarily in ways I understand.
3. People who share their vision with me and allow me to be a part of them.
4. Admiration I receive for simple things as my smile and for larger ones as my perseverance.
5. Being adored by different age groups alike.

Day 15 -

1. I'm grateful for the ability to bounce back after being hurt.
2. The sensation of fear which keeps me careful.
3. The sense of occasional fearlessness that helps me take the leap of faith.
4. The faith in basic human goodness, which allows me to trust people.
5. The ability to dream, envision and the aspiration to fly one of these days.

©Anupama Garg 2015 December

Gratitude Journal Day 6 - 10

Day 6 -

1. Random strangers, who enter my life and become precious. They allow me to embrace and acknowledge love, affection, camaraderie.
2. A long weekend in sight for it will bring me the much needed relief and relaxation.
3. My artistic, mildly creative, and expressive tendencies because it gives me a reason to feel like I can create value.
4. My faith in a power above because it keeps me sane in stress.
4. My faith in a power above because it keeps me sane in stress. it, should I be tempted and later realize that it wasn't a wise decision.

Day 7 -

1. The fact that I am able to sleep so much that I even forget to thankful. The gratitude is for the gift of deep sleep.
2. The fact that there are some people junior to me who trust me enough to learn from me and allow me to teach them - reviving my passion.
3. There are people who push me away from the mediocrity I sometimes start giving in to thanks to the struggle.
4. People who won't let me give excuses to myself and would constantly encourage me as enablers to my own growth.
5. My mind that challenges me every moment and pushes me to search solutions for seemingly overwhelming problems.

Day 8 -

1. My inner conflicts, between desires and taboos. They help me grow.
2. My love for pain, makes me more sensitive for other people and also makes me strong enough to suffer it for higher goals.
3. My interest in writing, gives me one thing to truly work upon.
4. My ability to spend some money when I'm depressed.
5.I hate my inability to overcome chronic depression, but I like my strength that keeps me going and am thankful for my insights that help me identify and remove trigger conditioning.

Day 9 -

1. Being able to express myself, even if not that succinctly.It makes me feel less worked up.
2. Someone chastising me for mumbling, it helps me express myself much better than I usually would.
3. The confusion and ability to see that I am confused empowers me enough to acknowledge my shortcomings and working on them.
4. The fact that I don't have to worry about having just 100 bucks in my wallet anymore and not knowing about where to get money for paying next month's rent anymore.
5. Being able to pay off loans even if bit by bit.

Day 10 -
1.  For honest people in this world, make life so easy to deal with.
2. For liars, they help me value the honest people better.
3. The people who remember what I do, how I do it and why I do it and open up windows to the world that I deserve.
4. People who give me wings to fly through reference, recommendation, mentoring, love, affection.
5. People who kiss my foreheads and give me warm bear hugs.

©Anupama Garg 2015 December

Gratitude Journal Day 1 - 5

So, I haven't been able to write for quite some time now. Writer's block, maybe. Perhaps energy block as I usually think of it.

A few months ago, I did a 15 days gratitude exercise and tried to count my blessings. Things , people, situations I was grateful for. The idea was to have a long list of everything that made my life beautiful than it could have been. That's where I'm going to begin with.

Day 1 -

1. For being able to breathe. If I wasn't breathing, I won't have a life and then everything else would be inconsequential.
2. For my body (even though broken), if it wasn't intact, whole, healthy, I'd be either sick, or dead or forever dependent on some charity to feed me(trust me I've seen some really non-functional, under developed physical bodies and I know how humbling the knowledge was).
3. For the fortune of being able to think, to speak, to express. Or I'd be so suffocated inside.
4. For the five senses and fully developed faculties, or I could have been entrapped with so much in this world, which I would be unable to feel, to learn, to show, to express.
5. Coming across the very idea of expressing gratitude, otherwise I'd be spending this time in some more negativity and bitching of people.

Day 2 -

1. The lesson I learnt yesterday - Appreciating your blessings and ignoring what wasn't good are mutually exclusive. I had a wonderful day with a very upsetting ending. And does that mean all is not well, because the end is not well? No. It doesn't. Thank you life for giving me this insight.
2. My work, which gives me an opportunity to learn, share, work, do new things.
3. My Boss who provides me the necessary support, resources to work and learn to grow not just professionally but also personally. I have personally grown immensely in regards to my patience, my control on what I speak or how I react emotionally. In a lot of ways, it's because of the place I work at and the people I work with
4. My colleagues who support me, receive knowledge and share theirs with me. These are people who I work with and who I spend almost 10 hrs a day who constructively criticism me, who give me a chance to constructively offer them criticism.
5.People who have not worked with me, or who have quit but have been bullies, extremely judgmental, critical, hypocritical and negative towards me. I need to thank them, because they make me look good in comparison, they make me feel stronger to fight bullies. They make me value the support systems even better. They make me value even people who are neutral to me by the virtue of comparison.

Day 3 -
1. Thankful for friends who are capable of mentoring me, supporting me through my ambitions, the tough journey everyone calls life.
2. Thankful for people who have given me an opportunity to love them, share my affection with them and care for them, irrespective of whether in a personal or a professional setting.
3. Grateful for senior people who treat me like equals, and share with me what they've learnt from their experience.
4. Grateful for the opportunity to interact with people, meet so many of them not just at work or in social life but also through so many online forums and lots of other avenues. The emotions they share, the secrets they confide, the love they shower.
5. Thankful for the food and the nourishment that I receive through so many different sources, and the various people who feed me and serve me the meal so lovingly.

Day 4 -

1. People who skeptically ask me - what do you get out of wasting time on activities like this? Because they make me think about why I do whatever it is that I do.
2. My ability to think, rationalize, challenge and question my own aspirations, actions and beliefs. It helps me discard those that I find of lesser use and it helps me strive more towards the ones that help me grow.
3. The technology existent in this world that I so thoughtlessly use as if it's a given because it makes my life simpler.
4. The fact that I have had to request for help. It taught me that humility is necessary. It also taught me, that no one is ever fully self-sufficient.
5. People who helped me, because that made me believe stronger in inherent goodness, kindness and loving nature of the human soul.

Day 5 -

1. I am thankful that I have a job that pays me well and helps me sustain. Lots of people do not have one.
2. I have a family that lets me work. The feminist might claim that my right to work is mine, but then there are so many people, women, who are not let to work because of the people who live with them. I count my blessing of a loving, liberal and supportive family.
3. For the education and the teachers I received in life. My education is what has led me to my work life and my teachers are the ones responsible for imparting it. I have had SO many teachers both in and out of the system and I am grateful for each of them.
4. The upbringing that makes me sensitive to other people's needs because it helps me love and appreciate this world better.
5. The understanding of religion and spirituality that I have now slowly over the years come to and will continue to have.

©Anupama Garg 2015 December

People - Him and Trident

Counting my blessings always makes sense to me. In this post, I will not mention his name, nor any recognizable character about him.

He's a friend ! In every sense of the word. I've written another post years ago on him, a post on my old blog. And I can still find it in me to write more about him.

What matters is that the friendship has stayed. What matters is that there was this one incidence:

I had known him for a brief time through internet and through sparse phone calls. I knew he was married to his love, successful, highly qualified from the best institutes in the world, happy, someone so not my league! Or should I say I was not his league? Oh but then I wasn't really looking for an affair with him either :) In fact, the image I've selected is not even the closest when it comes to how I feel about him even today. If we could grow younger, some day this is what I know he'll be like :)

Trident and Him

It so happened that we both traveled - to Delhi and NCR. Separately. From different Cities !

How scared I was, naive as I am, someone who did not know how to go sit alone in a restaurant, didn't know that straws came packed in their covers, someone who chose the cheapest drink without alcohol on the menu (I couldn't choose preserved juices even then though :P).

I waited and waited and waited and his meetings kept on getting late and delayed. Every passing minute bugged me to no end, making me jittery, nervous and making me doubt his intention to meet me.

I had imagined a paunchy, balding man (knowing his age was what he claimed it was). And there comes a dandy, without any airs and absolutely no haughtiness :) I'm talking of a man whom I hugged while reaching his chest at the max, when I first met him, with so much trust. A man who hugged me back with uncomparable warmth.

Even today, when I am nervous, fidgety, jittery and impatient while waiting for someone, I remind myself that patience is worth a hug like that and effort is worth a friend like that. I am no longer the woman who gets nervous going anywhere to any establishment anymore. The meeting with you was the beginning of it all.

Thank you for meeting me in Trident that day !

Thank you for being who you are!

©Anupama Garg 2015 December

Monday, 14 September 2015

Guru Gobind Dou Khade...

So interestingly, this teacher's day coincides with The Janmashtami. And that means that the Supreme Teacher of the Godhead and the teachers in his day to day existential world are going to be remembered.

I don't remember a combination as this in last 31 days (calendar experts would be able to advise better). And that means today is ACTUALLY literally the day when the Guru and the Gobind are being celebrated together.

And.... what better day to remember Kabir's famous saying, than on a day when Janmashtami and Teacher's day fall together.

गुरु गोबिंद दोऊ खड़े, काके लागूं पाँय
बलिहारी गुरु आपने गोबिंद दियो बताय

In fact even God, the Guru of all Gurus goes and surrenders to a Guru Himself. He who gives Arjuna the Guhyatamam Gyanam or the most secret knowledge and then leaves it for the world to benefit from, for millennia, also learns.

The original post I had planned was way different than what's in my head right now. The original post was about how I feel about the teachers who retired from school in my early school years, teachers who retired around 5 years ago (my college years) and teachers of my generation. I was originally thinking a lot about the similarities as well as the differences among all of them.  However, right now, I'm thinking about how Gurudom is a facade. How Acharya TulsiDas is So SO SO true when He writes in his Ramcharitmanas :

" गुर सिष बधिर अंध का लेखा
एक न सुनहि, एक नहीं देखा ।"

And this has been proved not just once, but ample number of times. This has been proved in the cult religious movements; in the "cram and score marks" educational culture; in the "I'll charge X to teach Y". Not just educationally but even spiritually, today's world is full of fake bogus gurus and equally insincere bogus students.

I wonder what would happen if Lord Dattatreya was charged a tuition fee by his 24 Gurus?I wonder what would happen if Gauranga Mahaprabhu, Acharya Tulsi Das, Swami RamSukh Das Ji Maharaj would have sold their books rather than giving their teaching out of their nature and compassion? What would happen if Waahe Guru Ji or Kabir had charged for teahcings? I wonder what would folks like me do?

Here's the thing. This Teacher's / Janmashtami, I thank the ParamGuru (Lord Supreme) for blessing me with such awesome teachers who were also Gurus in their own rights.

And then, this teacher's day, I've also resolved for the following :

I will be more observant. Before seeking a Guru, I will first teach myself to be a good disciple. I have to train myself before another can train me or before I can surrender to another for training. 

This Janmashtami, may I be blessed to be a good disciple. This Janmashtami, may I be blessed to yearn for my Guru and somewhere in this whole universe, may a Guru be yearning for my surrender as a Disciple!

This teacher's day, what's your resolution, what's your prayer?

©Anupama Garg 2015 September