The weakness of not being able to say ‘no’

Scenario 1

You are the punctual types, and you are generally present at the meeting room three minutes before the meeting begins. People who have occupied the meeting room you are headed to dread your peeking head, when they still have three more minutes to go. But you like to make them conscious, so you trot up and down in front of the meeting room, occasionally raising your brows and looking through the door.

So one day you are headed for a similar ‘meeting’ act, and you stop by to call a fellow meeting goer. He asks you for two minutes telling he will follow. In the same cube is your friend who just came back after maternity leave. You, being your courteous self, say “Hi, welcome back, how’s the kid”. And then the saga begins.

“Hey, thanks for asking. You know what, I feel so guilty leaving my kid in the creche. So what my husband and I have decided is to leave the kid at my mother’s place, which is a few hours drive from here. I go there twice a week, so he is fine.” You start getting nervous, as its not more than 5 minutes for the meeting to begin, and you are still on your way. It will easily take two minutes to reach the next floor where the meeting room is. “So how did you manage dear? Did you have anyone to take care of your kid or you left her in a creche.”? You only hear half the things your good friend has uttered. And you say “Yeah Yeah”, partially stealing a glance at your watch. Your friend is confused, she asks to clarify, “You mean you had someone to take care of the kid or you had to leave the kid in a creche?” “No, actually yes yes, but no”. She is not convinced, and shrinks her brows, and continues. “You know what happened the other day, some mothers in the creche leave sick kids in the creche and my child fell sick too. And in the evening when I got back to the creche, I saw him lying all by himself. That sight just did not go away from my mind and that’s when I decided I will not leave my kid at the creche.”  You totally empathize with your friend, but above all you empathize on your self that you are not able to ask to be excused. You cannot be late to the meeting. Meanwhile, you message the meeting organiser telling that you are held up with some urgent work (a lie that you hate to tell) and that you will join in another 10 minutes. Because, considering the level of details to which your friend is taking you, you make a rough estimate of the time left of the conversation, which you forcedly and unfortunately got into.

Then goes the story, of the nanny stealing your friend’s kid’s biscuits and napkin; and the story of the kid’s habit of shedding mucus being ridiculed. Your tolerance level has reached it zenith and now there is nothing that can hold you from erupting into a “can we have this conversation later” statement. Thankfully, your fellow meeting goer, who just slipped out of his seat to attend to nature’s call is back. “Yes, he will come to my rescue”, just when you thought he will, he becomes part of your conversation, where he shares his experience as a father and bringing up not one but three kids.

But duty comes in between courtesy and you do not want to rudely or abruptly cut the conversation. So you start receding from the cube one step after another and find yourself in the aisle between the cubes. Given a chance, you would just disappear at a blink. Just as your friend turns back to look for her slippers beneath her chair you scoot. And you herald your victory. And lo, you are ten minutes late for the meeting. A lesson learnt the hard way. ” Never say hi to anyone while you are heading for a meeting” !!!!!

Memories unlimited

Creativity is at its best when you are in the worst of emotional turmoil….its amazing how agony, solitude, resentment, and dejection help weave creative thoughts and ideas in the labyrinth of your mind. Its also amazing to see how your present day woes in one way or the other connect with your past memories. The transformation and transportation of the mind is out of bounds to what you can imagine.

Memories you never knew existed flash before your self. You had lived those moments but you never knew you had… at times like these, a pain in your leg reminds you of a similar pain you endured years ago when your grandfather took you on his bicycle to your nursery. You were seated on the thin rod on the front of his Atlas bicycle. Your legs intertwined from either sides of the bicycle rod inclined beside the peddle, at times the peddle rubbed against your legs and you lifted both the legs in the same crossed manner. Then when that position caused discomfort you got the legs back to where they originally were. Its not that he could not afford a tiny seat for you, but the thought just dint go on him.

Every morning you waited for your pink plastic basket bag to be packed. You did not bother to check your books and stationery, but made sure the biscuits and lunch box were neatly stacked. You loved to ring the  bicycle bell for no reason just to be hit by grandfather on your head, and then duck and feel victorious, as his aim would have been lost to the bicycle handle. Although the seating arrangement on the bicycle was not the best of comforts you wanted to have, you did not utter pain as you did not want him to be sad. You did not want to utter pain as the torture of wading through the waters in the tiny natural canal that was formed as a result of incessant rains and acres of paddy fields on either sides, was not rewarding.  The canals that were home to the fish, toads, worms, pebbles, thorns, and occasionally those harmless snakes did not fascinate you much. The drops of water that refused to slip off the huge colocasia leaves, the tiny droplets that fell on those leaves collected in the natural groove formed in the palm of the huge outspread leaves and looked like mercury extracted from a thermometer, always amused you. The reflection of the suns’s rays that refracted through those huge droplets taught you the first lesson of the behavior of light.

After an adventurous morning tread, you were always late to school. Grandfather increased the pedaling speed, when he heard the bell ring from a distance. But you are completely at ease, still trying to comprehend why the colocasia leaves were so fond of the water droplets. Their love fascinated you; the hide’ n’ seek game they played was fun, you thought. The droplets never left a trace of their trail on the leaves. There was such mutual understanding and co-existence in nature. You are suddenly awakened by a push on your back. You struggle to unwind your legs and land on the ground. You free the basket handle off the bicycle handle, ring the bell once again and scoot.

Can love be demanded

I grew up with the notion of one love and true love. As a child, I used to get this dream of my prince arriving on a white horse, the most handsome and divine looking creature on the earth. Robed in white, my prince charming had the most beguiling smile and the perfect features. The white horse gallops in pride and trots around me. The prince alights from the horse and approaches me. I stretch my hands out to feel his, I then slip off the rock I am seated on and land face down on the earth, tasting the mud in my mouth and feeling the pain in my body, I look up to see around but there is no sight of anybody. So my dream was always about my pursuit of the prince who is as close to embracing me, but leaves before I could even feel his finger tips. The picture of my prince was as clear as the water of the purest of rivulets. This often deterred me from befriending anyone in college, as I knew in the most vulnerable teenage years I could have been drawn towards someone else and not the prince of my dreams.

I also believe that whatever happens in our life has a purpose. There is constant learning in every incident, in every breath. Its just a matter of time until when we will realise, what to assimilate and what to discard. Fear and sorrow come from insecurity.

Never give all the heart

NEVER give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that’s lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

WB Yeats

True as it is and nothing else is true than this, that love cannot be perennial. Love evolves and love fades and that’s the way of love. Fortunate are those that have left love incomplete for there is always a yearning for completeness thus leaving a small piece of the heart still with desire….. the circle of love does not complete… there is always some love left if left incomplete and unfulfilled. So, never give all the heart.

Is it all about self-appraisal

I know of an old woman, frail, stout, who walks with a slight limp. Her face, has fine and bold lines that endorse the hard life she’s had. Bringing up two girls, providing them with education, inculcating cultural values, values of compassion, regard, and respect. She was slightly fortunate, in that she had a husband to support her financially, while she took care of the household. They bought a house and rented a portion of it as a means of permanent income. A decent amount of assets in the form of gold and bank balance. But now, all she has is the thaali and the wedding ring that were given to her by her husband 40 years back. No, she has not lost all of that on gamble, nor has she spent all of that on her children. But one by one she has been selling her valuables to provide a few widows with their daily needs in a small village. Those widows who have lost in the gamble of life. I adore her, for her selflessness. Whenever I look at her, I feel so belittled and I pity myself for just showing pity on the widows living a stranded life in a remote village with no hope about tomorrow, I only adore the wonderful woman who is trying to make a difference in the lives of those widows, I am only being inspired momentarily and forgetting about the great deeds an ordinary woman has been doing. No one but I know about this humble woman because she approached me seeking help to sell the few furniture that was left in her house. She asked me if I could buy some. She never told me why she wanted to sell the furniture until I asked her. She was selling them as she felt they were really not required for a person to survive. She only wanted some money to provide for the basic needs of those women. Yet no one knows about her and her selflessness.

I also know of a conceited woman, who cares little about her home, cares more about her looks, her manicure, her pedicure, her hair cut from a particular and skilled hair stylist. Who cares little for the guests at home and orders in food, has two maids, one to feed her daughter and the other to feed her and her husband. And of course, a maid to sweep and mop the house. Who rolls up her window when a hungry child or an old woman stretches arms at a busy signal. Whose arguments revolve around emancipation of rights. Who flaunts a two month executive MBA from an IIM to be something like a four year course with her education status on Facebook being “Studied at IIM”. She also speaks about the change she has been trying to bring about in the society; in reality, something that has been only in her mind. A few of those dreams were piloted for the sake of publicity on a few scapegoats. Starting one venture today and moving on to another that gave her more visibility. Yet she is touching lives. Her circle of friends and a large number of the population knows her as the face of the 21st century woman, a woman who inspires and moves a hundred and more souls. Who’s sacrificed everything and more….. The newspapers have a picture of hers in four columns, the proud face of the 21st century woman, who has been posting the newspaper cuttings of her article that appeared in a regional magazines on different social media sites . Yes, she’s got more than 500 likes, and many an inspirational applause. You get goosebumps when you read about the woman she is, and yes you also get goosebumps if you happen to know her close, for the woman who she is not.

Isn’t it sad that the world has come to nothing but self appraisal and self marketing. Is there anything genuine at all about the hundreds of so-called achievers. Is it all about advertising yourself in social media, hogging the limelight, leading a glamorous life. Are we really giving something to the society. Would a person who is genuinely concerned about the society and wants to bring about change even bother about talking about it? How does it matter?

A blissful pet owner

Recently, a friend of mine gave away her beloved pet to me as they had domestic issues taking care of him. I had been wanting to own a pet for quite some time but given the multitasking I am forced to do, I did not have the courage to add one more task in my huge list. However, the proposal and negotiations happened in a blink that I indeed got my task list longer by a couple of more tasks the day I welcomed the new member into our family.

My daughter, like most of the kids these days, was excited that she is now the proud owner of a cute little pet and could flaunt her new asset to her friends. She would make silly excuses for not being able to take the poor little thing for his potty tasks and would hide in a secret place if asked to clean the scat if ever he lost control and liberally defecated inside the house. So, for her, it was a vanity affair and for me it was a joyful but arduous responsibility.

Altruism saw a true meaning and example in this situation where, I had had to sacrifice my strictly followed routine, including my morning surya namaskaram and a few minutes that I got to spend with myself early in the morning. My morning bhajans on Radio Indigo also took a back seat as I often forgot to switch on the radio in a haste to finish off anything that I may be able to, before I ventured into performing the new role of a pet owner.

The little darling would patiently wait for me to take his leash and head to the door. He is well behaved and has acquired well established habits. He is not a trouble at all and is adorable. Nevertheless, no one, including we humans, has control over the digestive processes, so at times, the fella gets a bit nervous and fidgets in front of the door and jumps and tries to open the door himself.

The fresh morning breeze and puff of air hitting onto my face early in the morning was something I never encountered in the past, as I would be majorly involved in the household tasks of washing vessels, preparing breakfast, setting my daughter’s uniform and preparing lunch and at times, even preparing dinner, before I left for work.

So here I am being led by a one feet tall man into a world I have been missing all the while. A morning where I get to listen to strange and melodious vocal vibrations sent out by little birds fluttering their wings, along our path, people geared with head phones and runnung shoes jogging away in joy, a milk van delivering milk packets to a local provision store, a couple of other pet owners, being dragged by frenzied huge dogs whiffling behind them huge pockets of dust, a ragpicker lady being chased by a couple of country dogs, the sun peeking from behind the coconut tree leaves and dispersing it’s orange tinge towards us. It is a wonderful world.

The most wonderful experience any pet owner can never deny is the moment the faithful chap sniffs around and chooses his spot, assumes position and teeters and gains control of his body. Swoosh goes the unwanted refuse clonking on the earth. The relief, being visible both on the little one’s and my face. It’s a feeling of triumph and conquest that cannot be equated to any great achievements.

I thank my man for opening the windows to a wonderful world that was right next to me but I hardly bothered to acknowledge. I now cherish the morning walks more than my yoga or the bhajan. And I must say, I am still fit, and I continue to be a dutiful mother and human being.


The other day, I happened to listen to T T Rangarajan about certain emotional phenomena of our being. He describes fear so beautifully. He says, when you are facing uncertainty there is fear, and fear defeats you when you do not accept the uncertainty. But, the same uncertainty, when accepted, becomes adventure. What about jealousy? You feel somebody is happier than you, somebody possesses better skills and is more successful than you are; when you accept this fact, it becomes inspiration, when you do not, it becomes jealousy.

Its’s so true. And appears to be a universal formula to understand the ways of the world.

Two most important days in your life

I like this quote by Mark Twain: The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.

Its a very confusing state to be: you think you found out who you are and then you realize you have not…..What do I write.. what if people find out who I am and know whats in my mind.. or do I let myself loose.. at least in my world on letters? Was I born to write, travel, experience, learn, love, hate, avenge, forgive, sacrifice. Difficult isnt it?

I often envy the people who have indeed found out the purpose of their lives and are living up to fulfill the purpose. I don’t have the courage? or have not really found out..

Importance of being energetic

How often have you paused and thought about the holistic development of your workforce, in turn benefiting from the increased productivity? And how often have you been successful in doing so. Or has that never been your priority. Well, if the answer is “that was never a priority”, its time you gave it some serious thought.

Some of the common problems at work leading to lesser productivity are:

  • Mundane routine: Coming in to work, checking emails, attending meetings, chasing deadlines, sipping caffeine, and dragging work back home.
  • Pressure of deadlines: lesser productivity and a restless mind lead to the setting of unrealistic goals and an irrational effort of chasing those goals.
  • Lack of creativity and innovation: a hyper tensed brain is clogged with ordinary thoughts and leaves no space for creative thinking.
  • Increased stress levels: the mind is always on the lookout for challenges and the inability to encounter them leads to frustration and increased stress apart from unhealthy competition in the workplace.
  • Lack of physical activity: in today’s fast paced world, there is not much of a physical exertion apart from a frustrated drive to work, occasional walks to the pantry or rest room, or a walk up to the cafeteria.

A common factor that is a cause to all the above symptoms, is a restless and elusive mind. You cannot fulfil your organizational goals with only a handful of self-motivated and extraordinary people at your disposal. It is imperative that you tap the hidden capabilities of the larger lot who needs an external push.

Are you ready to be a part of a revolution by incorporating a small bit of physical activity in your work culture that is equally rewarding in terms of fun and increased productivity? A tiny nudge is all that it takes for a bigger leap across the puddles of an intricate mind, which is the master of everything in the universe. Organizations have already started recognizing the merits of a motivated workforce and are incorporating fun-filled activities as part of their work culture, and are already reaping the benefits.

Today we hinge our inactivity and ill health to excuses ranging from, deadlines at work, a polluted environment, and pesticide infected food not realizing that the biggest hurdle is our own self. There was an era where work was never dragged beyond the threshold of one’s home. There used to be strict boundaries of working hours and personal time. With these boundaries fast diminishing, we have already begun comparing our unhealthy lifestyle with that of our forefathers’ healthy lifestyle. So, why not bring a part of a happy home to our workplace. Let’s get active!

Exercise and routine

I grew up in a modest town or rather a tiny village so lush and so vast that the eyes would often wonder where to wander. As you step out into the courtyard you are welcomed by a misty morning, the scent of which disseminates into your senses.

The first ritual in the morning was to walk a good 2 kms to the milk society to buy fresh milk that came from the cows in our very neighbourhood. The walk was so effortless and fulfilling that the day unwinds with the thought that you get to do the same thing the next morning. It was during this morning ritual that all dreams would unfurl before you. It’s like wearing a pair of google glasses and stepping into a world of virtual reality. A time that you spend for yourself on yourself, just you and your soul.

As time passed by, I had to let go of the luxuries of a sumptuous and fulfilling life to take on bigger challenges in life. I migrated to a city on the pretext of getting a job and running a family. My whole life was bustling with so many activities that I felt the “this is it” moment; this is what it was all about and all that I strived for in life, not realizing that there was something ugly and disheveled lurking behind me, ready to engulf my aspirations and me as a person. For the first time in life I felt how miserable it was to feel lazy and still be contented with that realization.

I lost the reigns to my true self. I dreaded the new me. That was the point where I decided to get hold of the reigns. With all the goodness of my childhood memories still intact, I decided to act.

The mornings were still divine, the path was still alive, if not lush and vast. I was not completely lost; I could still gather the lost fragments of a happier me.

I took on to a disciplined morning routine, that involved:

  • A tumbler of warm water
  • A brisk walk to the nearby park
  • Friendly chats with fellow walkers
  • Fun-filled laughter sessions
  • A rejuvenated self

There was “Life” outside the life I had confined myself to. This routine made me happy. When I was happy, the people around me looked happy and there was positivity all around. I felt like my childhood days had returned. I felt younger again.

Often in life, it is so easy to lose yourself to factors and elements that are so insignificant and yet most important at one point in time. I had to look further ahead in my life to realize that it’s never too late to take care of yourself. It’s alright to succumb to such fallacies. Life has immense possibilities for us. What differentiates the doers from the rest is the courage to do something so important for our self, in turn reinforcing a strong faith in our self and our capabilities.

Only a sound body can carry a sound soul. So gear up and get set and go. The destination remains intact; but how we walk it up is all that matters