Raged the husband of a dame in distress
Attired in a flimsy “the in thing” dress
The crowds withdrew
As profanities flew
At gawkers and hawkers of such fashionable mess.

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Teaching Ethics and Values to Kids:


Values

Image courtesy: values.com

Finish your homework, eat your greens, don’t play video games/ watch television for more than two hours a day, excel in what you do……the list of DOs & DON’Ts that parents tirelessly strive to teach their children is endless. Inculcating these habits early in life, is necessary for the physical and intellectual growth of a child.
Equally important is another dimension of development that sometimes gets sidelined. However this virtue has the power to shape not only the future of children but the capacity to change our world. That elusive X- factor is the ethical fitness of kids – the moral fiber of their being.
The ills that plague our society – terrorism, corruption, cheating, fraud, bullying, violence – at the root of all of this is the erosion of good old-fashioned values. Laws, enforcement, defence forces and policing are obviously necessary; they help stop bad things from happening and punish the perpetrators when they do – Big Brother is watching!
Yet, more than all of this what can prevent us from committing misdeeds is more intrinsic – it’s our moral conscience, our inner compass which guides our actions even when no one is watching.
For a society that increasingly puts us under pressure to be successful, rich, young and thin, unwittingly what’s the message that’s getting passed on to the next generation? That appearance is all that matters – what lies beneath is not?!
In our frenetic pursuit of so-called success and happiness, it’s about time we paused to think. Teaching kids how to choose between right and wrong is difficult enough; even more challenging is teaching them to choose between two seemingly right choices. So while telling them not to steal is easy, choosing between speaking the truth versus defending a friend (who is in the wrong) is a difficult & confusing choice even for adults. Loyalty towards those we love and standing up for the truth are after all both commendable virtues.
I teach a course in Ethics to adults and find that trying to teach people in their mid-twenties and above, that success should not be achieved taking “shortcuts” (read underhand means), results in mixed vibes – so while every last one of the attendees claims that they would never adopt unfair means to get ahead, the body language of most reveals that they say so only since they are expected to and probably since they are afraid of the consequences of doing something wrong, rather than because their deeply held beliefs tells them it’s wrong.
A colleague once told me, “it’s easy for you to speak up against something wrong; you are a woman (the implied message being that I am hence not the sole/ primary breadwinner) and don’t have any kids or EMIs to worry about”. Fact remains that this isn’t an entirely accurate picture of my life. My response to him, was a message I had learnt early in life, from my father.
With seven children and being the sole earner, my father still never felt pressured to side with the wrong, so why would I? He was an engineer, a gold medalist who put himself through school & college through scholarships (he lost his father when he was very young). Working in a steel plant (where taking bribes from contractors – there’s a lot of money in coal, iron and steel – was commonplace), he had both the opportunity and the incentive but not the will to do so. Not only did he not take bribes but he refused to sign on sub-standard contracts, in the process taking on the General Manager and Managing Director of the plant who were involved in awarding contracts to contractors who provided low quality goods, in return for handsome “rewards”. My father thus became a bane for management and a delight for the workers – unfailingly standing against wrongdoings of the management when they were too afraid to do so. It being a government job, management could not sack him easily and as he had to provide for us he did not quit the job though he hated it. For nine long years, he was passed over for promotions whereas less capable people got ahead by sucking up to the higher ups. Even as a kid, I felt his anguish, bitterness, disillusionment, but he never allowed this to wear down his indomitable spirit.
Years later he had a serious accident and needed blood donors. Overwhelming number of volunteers turned up, that was the magic of his good deeds. One of them – a blue-collar worker – said to me, “your father is our hero.” I never felt more proud to be his daughter than in that moment. It’s the few good men and women like him that are holding our world together.
My father was not a perfect man, he had his weaknesses like every human-being. Sure my father did not retire as the MD (though he was more than capable) but he did well in life – raised seven children with strong values all of whom are well placed – all this without ever taking bribes or loans or favors. And he did it by doing good. He taught my siblings and me, without preaching & simply by leading by example, that you can win even when you choose the right (and often difficult) path.
There is no greater reward than knowing you had the courage and self-respect to not bow down before something wrong – that you chose to speak up rather than keep silent or look away when something bad was happening.
Actions speak louder than words so let’s walk the talk. If we want children to not litter, we ourselves must not litter; even when no one is watching. If we want them to tell the truth, we mustn’t ask them to lie on our behalf to get us out of an unwanted social situation. If we want them to win, we must teach them to win the right way. Let’s teach them that happiness is not just measured in material success. Happiness is knowing in your heart, that you achieved what you did by doing things the right way.
Even when none knows and no one is watching, our heart knows. That little voice in our head, that little thorn that pricks us and keeps us awake at night – our conscience – that can be quietened only when we are ethically fit.
Money is very important and it can buy us a lot of things – respect in society, position, big cars and houses but it cannot buy us self-respect and self-worth. Only our right actions can give us that currency.
So let’s catch them young and teach our kids to do well by doing good. Let’s start now, before it’s too late.

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Welcoming the Forties – 12 ways to grow old gracefully


Growing Older

Another year gone by. I am 39 years old already and fast approaching the dreaded forties. That’s put me in a somewhat philosophical mood. Suddenly there is this sense of half my life having passed by and so many things I still want to do – boxes to be ticked off on my “bucket list for life”. As the youngest of seven siblings, my childhood days were enveloped in an overwhelming desire to grow up quickly so that I could do all the fun things grown-ups got to do that were forbidden to me as “I was too young for it” – read steamy Mills & Boons novels, watch “A” rated movies, go to college, bunk classes, live away from home in a hostel, be allowed to take my own decisions and not be bullied or criticized………..Ahh, the folly of the young! In hindsight, childhood seems to be one of the finest times of my life – carefree, innocent days with my whole life stretching in front of me. Full of hopes, desires and unlimited possibilities – a time when I still believed I could be anything I wanted to be. Childhood, bolstered by its ignorance of real life, made me feel I was invincible, indestructible and unafraid to try new things. Well, I do enjoy some perks of being “grown up” now and realize that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Sure, I get to do a lot of “cool” stuff (like earning my own money, making major decisions of my life, eating, watching and reading whatever I like) but there are the “unfun” things too – bills to pay, blemishes, warts appearing from nowhere on skin that was earlier problem free, grey hair creeping in, wrinkles deepening with every laugh and frown, weight being a lingering concern after spending a lifetime being a “skinny kid”, knees protesting every time I wear high heels…..urrggghh…so many pressures. Women, I think, tend to agonize even more than men when it comes to coping with aging, perhaps because traditionally we have been expected to be delicate creatures celebrated for our “beauty” whereas men can be bald and potbellied but still be desirable as long as their wallets are as well-endowed as their tummies…lol 😉 I admire people who grow old with grace – those who aren’t desperately trying to hang on to their youth with nips, tucks, flashy, unbecoming clothes and fake, newly acquired accents – hmm….that brings to mind quite a few badly aging celebrities now, doesn’t it?
So how can we grow old gracefully? Here are my 12 ways to cope:
1. Age is just a number: As the saying goes “you are as old as you feel”. I try to remain youthful in my enthusiasm for life. I declare my age with pride and celebrate my birthday by reserving the day for unadulterated “Me” time, doing things that make me happy- this year I took a day off from work, watched a spectacular live show with my spouse, went to the spa, read, lazed.
2. Be comfortable in your skin: I focus on the positives and realize that I don’t have to be a people pleaser anymore. So I don’t envy envy the youngsters their perfect skin and slim waistlines since I recognize the fact that unlike them, I don’t have to worry about grades, boyfriends / girlfriends, college admissions, pimples and fitting in. I am finally at that age where I care less about what others think of me and more about what I think of them!
3. Celebrate your wisdom: Don’t fret over the wrinkles. Each laugh line (and yes the frown lines too) is a testimony to a life well lived and lessons learnt. While gravity is taking a toll on my skin, life has over compensated by giving me much needed wisodm in return.
4. Do not regret the past: The past contributes to what we become. Its our choice to learn from our mistakes, remember the good and work past the bad. For my part, I don’t regret any decision I have taken as I took them with the conviction that they were the best ones at that point in time. I embrace all of it- the good, the bad and the ugly; they make we what I am today. I am wiser, less judgmenetal and stronger as a result of my struggles.
5. Learn something new: Don’t be afraid to try something new- cooking, baking, knitting, rapelling, para gliding, swimming, learning a new language…..anything that challenges you. That’s the best way to feel excited about life and keep your mind and body active. I started my blog a few months before I hit my 39th birthday and I plan to go scuba diving and snorkelling later this year.
6. Exercise: It doesn’t have to be gymming or aerobics if that’s not your cup of tea (I must admit, I hate going to the gym). It can be as simple as brisk walking. It strengthens the body and destresses the mind.
7. Groom yourself: The good thing about being older is that I can now afford some little luxuries that I couldn’t when I had just started working. With some care and thoughtful shopping you can look well groomed and stylish without burning a hole in your pockets. I think I have much better taste now than I did when I was younger.
8. Be confident: Age gives us the advantage of knowing our strengths and being confident in our abilities. I am not so plagued by self doubt as I was in my twenties & mid-thirties. Even if I fail at something, I now have the perspective to know its not the end of the world and it does not define me.
9. Reach out: Ask for help, reach out to people. More often than not people are likely to help if you ask nicely. So if you want to try something new, find a mentor who can help you navigate through your journey. I have many such “informal”, wonderful mentors who guide me on various aspects of my life.
10. Chase your dreams: Don’t wait for “someday” to chase your dreams. Make that day “now”. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, just go ahead and do it. As long as its not illegal or immoral there’s no reason to hold back. My blog is my way to connect and explore my writing abilities- a long cherished desire.
11. Have realistic expectations: Don’t hold others or yourself to some impossible ideal. Be realistic and don’t be too hard on yourself and your loved ones. Life is not a Bollywood movie or a M&B romance but it can still be beautiful.
12. Rock the world: You may not be a celebrity and the world may not know you; but “You” are the world for those who love you. Remember that you rock their world. My family and friends make me feel special.

You are growing older, means you are still alive! Feel young, feel awesome!

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70 Most Overused and Annoying Corporate Jargon:


Corporate Jargon Syndrome
Image courtsey: http://www.creativehat.co.uk

Okay, let’s admit it. Most of us (if not all) have been guilty of using some of the common, pretentious “corporate-type” phrases and gestures. These are often just meaningless, lazy ways to communicate. A nonverbal gesture that I find most annoying is the “inverted speech marks hand gesture” intended to display irony or to demonstrate humor or to emphasize a word. Here are some more phrases I could think of:
1. Actionable: It’s actually a legal term meaning “giving cause for legal action”. Often used in the corporate world to mean something that can be acted upon. E.g. “please work on the actionable from our meeting”
2. Alignment: Build consensus with stakeholders
3. An ask: A request. E.g. – “it’s my ask of this group that they respond by EOD”
4. Ballpark figure: An estimated number
5. Bandwidth: The maximum limit of ones’ working ability E.g. “I don’t have the bandwidth to take on a project right now”
6. Best practices: Process, procedures and practices that have been proved most effective
7. Buy-In: Get agreement on. E.g. “Get stakeholders’ buy-in on this project”
8. Blue Ocean: A slang term for the uncontested market space for an unknown industry or innovation; coined by professors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
9. Blamestorming: Meeting to find the root cause of a failure and decide on a scapegoat
10. Brown bag: Discussing a topic over lunch
11. Cascade: Distribute information down the chain. Disseminate information
12. Chime in: Meek way of offering an opinion. E.g. “I’d just like to chime in to say….”
13. Core Competence: Successful skills that a person or organisation possesses
14. Cross-training: Colleagues getting trained on tasks to serve as backups for each other
15. Circle back: Analyze a topic, that’s already been addressed, at a later time
16. Deep dive: A nautical term used in the corporate world to refer to further meetings to focus on a particular topic
17. Dovetail: Come together in a harmonious manner. E.g. “Our assessment neatly dovetails with theirs”
18. EOD: End of day (another variation of this is COB- Close of business)
19. Empower: Patronizing, condescending verb that someone senior uses when they would like you to do a job of minor importance while they retain the control and take the credit
20. Expedite: To do or process something with speed and efficiency
21. Face time: Chance to discuss in person (especially with someone senior)
22. Forward looking: A slang term for predictions about future conditions (generally business related)
23. FYI: For your information (another variation of this is FYI&A: FYI and Action- meaning please act on this information)
24. Gain traction: Gain public recognition, momentum or acceptance
25. Game changer: New concept or way of doing things that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way
26. Granular level: Going into details
27. Hard Stop: Slang term meaning a defined time at which the meeting must end. E.g. “I have a hard stop at 2 p.m., so let’s go through this presentation quickly”
28. Hit the ground running: To begin an activity immediately and with full commitment. Also a person who will begin work immediately without a period of learning the ropes
29. In-sourcing: Finding a candidate for a job, from within the company
30. In the loop: An idiom meaning “informed” or “up-to-date”. E.g. “the department head is in the loop”
31. Job-ready: Candidate who has the right qualities for the job at the hand
32. Knowledge Transfer: Transferring knowledge from one person/ team to another to ensure business continuity
33. Lean in: Appearing to be engaged and motivated
34. Learnings: Something that’s learned from an experience
35. Leverage: A term unimaginatively used to describe how a particular resource/ learning can be used in another situation or environment
36. Lots of moving parts: Simply implies that the matter is complicated and has many components
37. Low hanging fruits: A target that’s easy to achieve or problem that is easy to solve
38. Matrixed organizations: A grid-like organizational structure that promotes free flow of information and skills between different divisions
39. Mom and Pop outfit: A small home grown business managed mostly by family members
40. Quick wins: Outcome/ result that can be achieved with minimal effort and in a short timeframe
41. Net-net: Refers to the summary or gist of a business discussion
42. On the same page: People being in agreement or having a common understanding of something
43. Paradigm Shift: Fundamental shift in a person/ organization’s thinking or behavior
44. Peel the Onion: To methodically analyze a complex problem, by looking deeper and considering all aspects layer by layer
45. PFA: Please find attached
46. Ramp Up: An increase in a company’s resources/ production in anticipation of increased operations/ demand
47. Reach out to: Contact/ communicate with someone
48. Real time: Implies something that’s happening right at that moment. E.g. “E-mails are not getting us anywhere. Pick up the phone and address this in real time”
49. Reinvent the wheel: Recreate/ duplicate something that has already been created by others
50. Resource intensive: Means requiring many people. Code word for “expensive”
51. Revert: Most improperly used word ever; I grind my teeth each time I read this! Revert actually means “to return to a previous state or condition” (Example: “Ice melts and reverts back to its liquid state i.e. water”). This term has been hijacked by the corporate world and people use it erroneously to imply “respond/ reply to someone”
E.g. “I will revert back to you by EOD”. Are they trying to say they will turn into me at the end of the day?! This one is hilarious so couldn’t resist elaborating
52. Right sizing: Reorganization/ restructuring of business. Code word for “laying-off” people
53. Scalable: Refers to an activity that requires minimal additional efforts/ costs for additional levels of growth/ output
54. Stakeholders: Person or group in an organization that has a common goal or interest
55. Takeaway: Important piece of information to remember from a discussion
56. Take it to the next level: Term implies that there is potentially more that can be done to improve something
57. Take it offline: To talk about something after the current discussion. Most commonly used by a speaker at a meeting when the agenda item gets derailed by an irrelevant question
58. Team player: Person/s in a group who put aside their personal goal/s for the common goal
59. Tied up in knots: To be overcome with anxiety over something
60. Touch base: Get in touch with/ connect/ interact with someone
61. Upside: Positive aspect of something
62. Upskill: Improve a person’s ability for a particular work by additional study/ training
63. Up and running: Implies the person has the necessary skills and resources to do a job
64. Value add: An activity that increases the worth of a product/ service
65. Way forward: To make plans for the future; decide how to proceed
66. Wiggle room: Freedom to make decisions. To have some leeway to negotiate
67. Win-win situation: A situation in which all involved parties gain in one way or another
68. Xerox subsidy: Using the company’s photocopy machine for personal use
69. Your take: Your point of view (POV)
70. Zero cycles: Lacking the time to take on any additional tasks
Please do add your personal favorites.

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The Joy of Blogging


Like most first time bloggers, after working up the courage and getting my feet wet testing waters, I faced a common problem – writers’ block, feeling I don’t have enough time to write with my hectic work schedule and commute….you name it.
I felt lost for a while. The cursor on my blank page kept winking at me wickedly, taunting me. Then I remembered why I wanted to write in the first place – for the sheer joy of it! 🙂
That’s beautifully captured in this quote on blogging (by Scott Adams):
“Blogging is like work, but without coworkers thwarting you at every turn. All you get is the pleasure of a completed task.”

I realized that writing requires discipline apart from passion. I promise to be regular going forward and will post at least on a weekly basis. I hope I can keep coming up with articles, short stories, posts that you will enjoy. I know I will enjoy writing it.

Posted in What do I want to do with my life | Tagged , , | 2 Comments