Monday, August 22, 2011

Self-awareness, joy, contentment and learnings

It has been almost a week since I landed in Hyderabad. I did not have plans to come this month, but I think it was a strong 'call" that made me come here. When I was invited by the Director of Vivekananda Institute for Human Excellence, one I could find it hard to believe, a man of such a high stature choosing a young girl like me to share stage with him and give sessions. Yes, why not, he said. You have traveled so much, met many people and you are a journalist. I sure jumped at it and I am thankful to 'life' for many things. Sometimes, things just happen, with no plans or agenda or blueprint..thats how I love and cherish it..

The day I reached here, I was dead tired, but no sooner I reached, I had to recharge myself to give a talk in one college. I went and met the Director. I have given talks, judged events, but this is a huge class and I haven't done one bit of preparation. How am I going to manage it? It is going to be a huge challenge. Go share your experience, don't be nervous, he said.

When I stepped into the college and met the principal, I was quite humbled the way I was treated.I walked into a classroom full of students. I was a little nervous. But then, I started off, quite naturally, breaking the ice and being friendly with the students. Session one on communications skills-not bad. Second session was better, even better. I was able to just pull the students like a magnet. I remember what my college buddy and best friend Prince used to tell about me -you are a crowd puller babe..I used to laugh, but now I know I am..The students were going gaga...and said a big thanks..What did I do...I reflected upon some thoughts..What did I really do and how did all this happen? I just realised many things about myself-I had a strong power ..the power of motivating others, the capability of controlling a huge audience, the confidence to speak up and express my thoughts and ideas, to pass on the energy and knowledge I make them let go of fear..and make them confident human beings...This was self-discovery for me.

I gave more than 7-8 talks, and every talk, I learnt something about myself, the immense power I had..I also did not give up. On the first day, I remember a girl sitting on the bench, shivering, her head down.. I went up to her and said, today, you are going to talk. No way, she said in a low tone. Let me see how you don't do it..For almost ten minutes, i stood next to her, coaxed her, to stop assuming what other would think when she spoke, how others would mock her, react to her..or what if she make mistakes..those things should all be ten minutes, she stood up..i was also persistent..she spoke..and she spoke on for five minutes..end of it..there were claps..she felt a great sense of accomplishment- led me to a point..we all have self confidence, but we are not confident of the self confidence within us..before teaching them communication skills, I had to work on making their fears disappear, make them believe in their own capabilities...and that did the trick..the girl sent me an email to me..thank you for making me over come my stage fear..this was achievement for me..I created a someone's life..and its a priceless feeling..Every session, I went for, the students stood up.,.and spoke..and it was my task to make them do so..the girls would just not cooperate..I also realised giving a sermon never helps..before they learn anything, they should be equipped to know themselves, train their mind and then absorb..I just did that..

The next day, a girl came crying to me because she could not talk in English..but she was actually talking to me in English..You are fine I said as I wiped her tears...You are good, where is the mistake..We are all good, we just dont know how good we are..Never stoop down, you are special..everyone is special...

The past few days there have been great experiences..There were arguments, discussions, questions were thrown and I answered it all..I also learnt from them, I learnt their problems and worked on them to give a common own solutions...from my experiences or learning from life..It was simple as I shared with my students, how it is important to be open and honest in anything you do..Some did say it was not possible in practical world. but why lie I can only when it is life and death situation, not otherwise, it is better to be truthful..and truth is the only thing which actually purifies your soul..I know many people would not agree to me on lying to pass off temp situations...but I definitely do not appreciate it...It puts me off..I know why I can't stand liars now..I am learning about myself...

Today, was an extraordinary day. I went to a college...the girls there came from a totally rural background..I had a very very tough time in breaking the ice. For almost half an hour, no one was cooperating with me..I got angry, but I did not show it. I rather said, I will not leave the place unless you are with me..the next one hour, things changed, I fought with a hard make them break their make them confident and I did it all..

The students were overjoyed. That was it. Today though I thought I almost failed, self motivation helped did..After I left the class, some students went and thanked the principal for bringing me and they said they want to hear more of me..I noticed sparkling smiles, energized faces, confidence...I was happy..The principal called me and gave me a gift..I could not accept, but she justified it...what we could not do, you did..When are you coming next? I was lauded by the department people for my incredible patience (got it from my mother and grandmother).

Anytime, I said. They are arranging workshops for me in Hyderabad and all the colleges I went to wants me now..My students are happy, they are confident, they will go places, I know they will..

For me personally, it was 'mastery on self-discovery'..Last, I told the students..Why fear, we all have one life to live, lets be happy and throw everything that makes one weak..Fear is the greatest Swami Vivekananda puts it..

It is probably one of the most satisfying days of my life..I know I am good at motivating people..:)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hyderabad story..Part 1..

I was standing on the corridor in my crisp white pale blue and white salwar..with the chiffon white dupatta sprinkled in gold..swaying to the wind, and drops of rain trickling on me..I turned around...saw a dashing guy in a yellow t shirt and denims, in a confident walk, a smiled adorned his face...I looked at him and turned away...I soon got to work, I was judging the Youth awards this year in Hyderabad and the director, was so much in awe and respect for me..that he chose to take me in the esteemed panel of judges...

I was sifting through a book and putting forth my questions to grill the students when I was called..Yes, sir, I told the director and walked up to him. As my eyes shifted, the guy in the yellow tshirt was standing right next to him!! For a moment, I became silent. Meet C, he said, he is a HR head in one of the leading companies (I do not wish to name the company). I gently shifted by books and papers to my left hand and shook hands with him..Meet sharada, journalist and an excellent writer, I was, you and C will sit and prepare the questions to grill the kids, he said..He left us then. C and I walked together..Shall we sit here, I asked..sure, so what do you think how do we go about it. I pulled out some chits and placed in front of him, and asked his opinion..Are these okay? He went through them one by one, and said, hey great questions..Lets think more..

For an hour, we exchanged thoughts and ideas...Hey, do you think we should put a question on how society impacts the decisions of students...he asked me..I hmmm'ed...I think its good..For example, and then he went on to voice his views..I don't think I want to get married, because the society wants it..I jumped..exactly..even I think the same..why should I get married..

In between these discussions, I noticed his hand, no ring...hmm..single..I thought..Soon, his phone rang..excuse me, i need to take this call, he said..Sure, i said..Hey S (it was a girl on the other end), what happened to you, are you ok ..Maybe gf I thought..then the conversation drifted to recruitment..Bah! He hung up and said, You know these official calls...Lets get back to work I said..In the midst..he was punching sms after sms, taking calls..It was okay though...

This was great, a GUY thought like me..I just realised..!! As we further explored the questions..he shot, "hey you are a journalist, because you wanted to be one, isnt it?" Yes, I said..But your family sure would have wanted you to be an engineer..I looked at him and smiled..Yes, my brother dreamed of me getting into IIT which was far from what I even imagined..But I chose this and I am happy..See, this is what I want the students to do, do what they want..and he smiled as he emphasised..

What an amazing guy!

After breaking our heads, we took a break and then I asked, you grew up here?
Yeah, he said, hardcore Hyderabadi...We spent the next three hours judging the the time it was 4.30. In the midst of the judging session, he was on phone, smsing all the time. I so badly wanted to snatch his bbb (bloody blackberry) and tell him..concentrate on the talk..Darn! I felt helpless. I kind of didnt like the fact that he was using his phone when something serious was happening, but his smart talk and questions made up for all that..

It was very late, I thrust my total score sheet in his hand and said..I need to run now, my friend has been waiting for long..I was so thrilled by the idea of going to Laad Bazaar to buy bangles, watch charminar, have some nice irani chai and sip it slowly watching the rains...I forgot to even take his email id..

It just happens, you meet some interesting people and there you go..especially when you are single...hey he seems my type..:P

But now, it feels like heck, it was just another bumping into someone..and hey I did have a great time at Laad bazaar...sitting right inside charminar, feeling the towering monument, watching the lanes of colorful bangles with generous amounts of gold and silver, rich broacdes of silk and silver...chandelier ear rings, mehndi, colorful footwear..I could keep staring at my lovely feet..all this was worth it..and about the guy...well, he was just another passerby. Things change and you grow up!! :) ha ha!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cochin tales

It was when I was a kid that I visited Cochin. I have vague memories of seeing the Jewish Synagogue and going in a boat, but do not remember much. I wanted to go and spend time with my friend Ranjini, wanted to take a break from work and also spent some time traveling. I realised I did not want to the rough travel that I usually do. I think I was mentally, physically drained to the core. I went to stay at my friend's granma's house. They called her 'Ammana'. I got her sweets..My mother always says that when you go to a house for the first time, especially when there are elders, you should get something. Ammana was happy, when I touched her feet and offered her sweets. I do not know Malayalam, but yeah I can speak and somewhat manage..I could understand what she said...Thanks to the Palakkad Tamil. She said, she understood english, but she also told me she would teach me Malayalam and as always I was game to learn a new language..

The rice is Kerala is unlike the rice we eat here, huge ones..but after traveling to so many places, I was flexible to eat whatever was offered to me..another thing which travel taught me is to be grateful for having what you have..Ammana cooked authentic Kerala style dishes, like how my amma makes it..and for everything they used coconut oil..She made variety of food and papadam everyday. I just hugged her and told her that she is awesome. Ammana lived alone, but she is a strong willed lady, enthusiastic, cheerful, a great sense of humor and cheeks that you can keep pulling..:) I loved teasing her. I literally asked her to make new things for me..and she made it..and she also appreciated that I ate every single thing that she made, including karelas..I never eat bitter gourd, but for her, I ate. She had taken so much pains to make it.

She used to get me stuff from outside, vadas..and I loved it..At night, she recited Ramayana, and I used to sit and listen to her and then pray and go to bed. She gave me whole loads of tea, and I loved it. Sitting on the steps outside the house, watching butterflies, reading book, playing with the cat and sipping chai. The cat also became very friendly with me and everytime I came back home, she would call me out..waiting to be pampered..

I also got to attend a two day conference for environmental education at Mangalavanam bird sanctuary where I met Anup's mom and dad. After the conference, I went to their house. Aunty made ada..and I always loved it..I had loads of them, shamelessly..aunty and uncle became very friendly with me and I had loads of coffee..with coriander and jeera..I never sampled a masala coffee before, but I loved the taste of it..Anup's house was an eco friendly house and aunty and uncle had a huge garden full of medicinal plants..The next day, we went again for lunch at aunty's place and ended up talking about old scriptures and all that..Suddenly, I heard a tuk tuk sound, and when I looked out, it was a woodpecker..I watched it for a long time before it flew away..I loved Anup's home..I told aunty and uncle I would come and stay with them and sit and write there..they were only happy..they were living by themselves..I hugged aunty before I left..

I met many people in this journey, an auto wallah who was at a roadside tea shop at Fort Kochi..His name ended with Cochin..So, isnt it a created name, I asked..Yes, and he laughed..He said he belonged to Bombay and we started chatting up. Right from the ticket sellers, to people on the streets, everyone was helpful to me and I am really thankful to God for making me meet such wonderful people.

Ammana and valli chechi (next door neighbor) showered so much love and affection that I belonged to that part of family..I was humbled..The day I left, Ammana told me that I should live with her and go to Coimbatore once in a while, I smiled at her and promised to come often.. a promise is a promise..I am gonna take amma and go there again very soon..

I called ammana yesterday and she said, how do you do? English,,hmmm..I am good and how are you I asked..she started laughing..I managed to pull a broken malayalam conversation for 5 mins (big deal for me) and end of it she said..if you cant communicate something in malayalam, say in english..I am glad I could figure that out..I was happy..New families come into my life like this..I love my life!! :)