What a Sunday!!

Monday morning – absolutely the most wrong time to write a blog. The moment this one is published, my CTO friend is going to call me to say those 3 magical words – What The Heck!!! I have so much work pending on me to do and yet I am typing this up because I feel compelled to do so.

This past Sunday on 16th April’17 , I over committed my time with a couple of events on a weekend – a time which is exclusively owned by my kids otherwise. I was afraid I will feel guilty at the end of it.

I had been invited earlier to this event that was coming up but couldn’t make it then; And since it had a very interesting name – FeministMohalla, I was curious to try it out atleast once. Add to it – it was an initiative by a dear friend Swarnima Bhattacharya and her partner Rachel – So I had to do it!

As I reach the Humayun Tomb, which is a recognized World Heritage Site – I did not really know what to expect. I saw a group of people surrounding lovely Swarnima in yellow- the storytelling had already begun – yes I was late by few minutes.
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The discussion started with the real meaning of a harem and went on to de-mythify a lot of our impressions about the status of royal and ordinary women and their role in the administration and ruling of various lands -in those times. I had heard of Humayun, Babur and Akbar but I had never heard much about the women around them.

The first lady I heard of, was Aisan Daulat Begum – Babur’s maternal grandmother. She was wife of Yunus Khan of Moghulistan (in today’s Afghanistan). A sternly bought up woman herself- she had tremendous influence on Babur’s bringing up and his rule across and thats how the entire lineage was called Moghuls here in India.

There after, we heard of many names, many of them unheard of before.

1. Aisan Daulat Begum- Babur’s maternal grandmother
2. Gulbadan Begum- Humayun’s sister
3. Bega Begum- Humayun’s chief queen
4. Hamida Banu Begum- Humayun’s wife -Akbar’s mother
5. Mahchahak Begum -Humayun’s wife and governor of Kabul
6. Jahanara- Shah Jahan’s eldest daughter

Each of them had such beautiful stories of courage, love, loyalty and a display of tremendous talent and amazing administration abilities to their credit. The one that stayed with me was Mahchahak Begum (incorrectly known as MahChuchak Begum)- threw out the then Naib Subadar and ruled Kabul on her own. She lead her army in person and defeated Munim Khan at Jalalabad. She chose to rule in her own name not in the name of her 3 year old son Mirza Muhammad Hakim (whom Humayun had appointed as the governor) – a clear sign of courage to oppose blind patriarch.

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Besides the women warriors, rulers and queens , I also understood a few things about Mughal architecture. It never occurred to me that the water bodies around every monument could be there for any reason beyond beautification. And then there was light thrown on the fact that the people who came from the deserts had a thought that  heaven is a place where there is water in abundance and hence the water fountains and water columns around the monuments. This made sense.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the monument and the story telling. A very honest attempt to dig out genuine details of history. Well done team! I am absolutely sure, I am registering for the next event asap. Follow the #FeministaMohalla on twitter for more updates!

I had to miss the concluding story and rush back to my place since there was another event I had to go to and in between had to pick my daughter / get my son going for his studies for the Monday test.
Started back for Innov8 for the  Google Women TechMakers event being held in conjunction with the Google Developers Group, New Delhi for International Women’s Day. I did expect some tech enthusiasts and knowledge sharing. But the energy I felt there was unmatched to any tech event I have attended before. A group of 40-50 odd college going young girls and a couple of trail blazers like Neha from JSLovers and Sanya Khurana. What energy and passion at show!! So many technical resources and forums discussed and bought to the front for both young men and women to learn technology. They had so many questions and all they wanted was to build something meaningful and reach their dreams!!

So proud of each of the girls in the event. True gems – precious ones. I am so looking forward to see each of them build a legacy for their self and the world.

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I was lucky to have as enthusiastic co-panelists like Dolly Bhasin, Tarusha Mittal, Ankita Gulati and Rohini! We had some awesome time – getting to know each other and sharing our experiences.

As I was heading back home from the event – I couldn’t get over the fact that since history,  women have had  active careers and yet, we were still struggling to accept that women are able decision makers and still dont allow them the freedom of choice. Though we need a lot more societal changes for that day when its just a TechMaker event and we dont need a Women Tech Maker event – a lot is happening and changing and until it does happen as we want it to be – our salute to all the resilient women out there. Keep going. And our dearest men – thank you. Thank you for being by our side and fighting it out together.

Happy Sunday for me- it was worth it, out and out. And a Happy Successful life to all of us!!

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Continue, Change or Let it go…

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I often hear my daughter sing – Let it go (the Frozen song) and I enjoy it as a beautiful song in young voice. And she truly enjoys singing it.
Recently I saw an update from a dear friend and a professional who has my truest respect – Pradeepa Narayanaswamy. Her update had her site that mentioned her aspirations and achievements so far, as a life coach. That got me interested, because the Pradeepa I knew, was more of a technology person, teaching teams to work together and getting truly agile. On going through her work, I landed on her blog post Let it go, Let it go…
That article talks about letting go of those relationships that end for reasons you may not fully accept or understand. And it got me thinking about work and personal relationships all around us. Yes, when the relationships end – you have less choice but to accept it. And even though it may be a bitter end or unexplained, its in your interest to let it go. It made me think of relationships that have not ended but have lost its original sheen and meaning. Relationships that give you more pain than pleasure.
What do we do when it is simply not working out between the 2 and its becoming a daily nightmare to carry on with it? And neither of the party is giving up either. What does it truly mean? And think about it in terms of not only husband-wife, girl friend – boyfriend, or with ones in-laws but also between and with co-founders, investors, advisors, team, managers – why is the relationship so difficult?

More often than not, when money or kids are involved- it could offer a very straight forward insight into why the painful relationship still exists. However, let’s also get this understanding – that in such cases, though the official name of the relationship still remains what it used to be- the relationship has now evolved into meaningless forced bond.

At first, a relationship is conceived because 2 individuals or entities found something in each other  they needed. It continues to be pleasurable if they are happily deriving what they need and are happy to give what the other needs. Its universal truth hidden from none that you can’t have everything in the world and that forces one to have their priorities clear. Because very often one has to trade off 1 benefit for another. Now if both the parties have the same priorities for the benefits and willing to do the required trade offs – the relationship continues to work. Occasional hiccups are a sign of a healthy relationship – exceptions prove the theory.

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But when the priorities of the 2 parties are not clearly defined or do not sync , then how difficult the relationship will be shall depend upon how far are the trade offs and core objectives of either one, from each other.
If you find yourself constantly misunderstood, having trust issues, backstabs and constant complaints of not doing enough in the relationship, then you probably are going through this. Specially more, if you feel helpless in getting your point across and for others to not see your point of view. And, if you do find yourself stuck in such a situation – what are your ways out?
1. Continue – until you physically give up and your body shows signs of ageing and being sick . And one day either of you will be dead. And so will the fight. But it won’t keep you from feeling incomplete and having tons of ugly memories to live with. And substantial loss of reputation (for all the things you do to show the world a perfect picture). In a way, this is easiest to do and pretend like all is well, when everything inside you is breaking and crying for help – because it keeps you in your comfort zone wrt the outer world. This is very draining emotionally, everyday. Keeps you from achieving your true potential in life.
2. Try something new. Change your stand, if you can. If you are going to apply the same solution to the problem over and over , and it didn’t work for so many times why do you think it would work now? Can you try changing your stance and giving in and if the relationship is truly worth, can you realign your priorities to the other party and see if that brings you closer to the larger goals. It may not be a perfect win-win situation but it will save your relationship and maybe, just maybe – you realize that for the longest time you were holding on to something non-critical, just for the heck of it. Weigh in your trade offs and priorities.
3. Let it go – Now, this is the toughest part. Not only because the world sees it and that makes you uncomfortable with “what the world would think of this”. But also if we are insecure and having difficulty imagining the other individual or entity in another relationship or yourself living by just your own self (technically single). If having the possession of the relationship is more important to you than the relationship itself – you could very well be trapped here. But when you are in a situation where you can’t continue anymore or have tried everything you can to realign in order to keep it, then it’s officially the time to “let it go”. Keep in mind that the same body (as sick it may be) feels heavier post death. And the longer you carry a weight , the heavier it begins to feel.

Choose the way forward carefully – pause, get your head and heart sorted and then charge ahead – remember – being happy and healthy is most important!! Focus on leading a meaningful life that matters.

Get healthy in 1 step…really!!

I am going to share with you my biggest mistake regarding my health that I committed and am now trying to fix it. I have begun to feel better ever since I took that 1 step towards my health and am hopeful this will help you to identify if you are falling trap to this mistake/myth/habit/illusion – whatever you may call it and if this could eventually pose a health challenge to you too.
Here is my story – I have forever been a slim person and was one of those people blessed with magical metabolism that would digest the right things and detox my body of unwanted things.
And I am pretty sure, a lot of you are blessed with good health that you take for granted. Well, there are reasons (beyond hospital bills & insurance premiums) why its said that Health is Wealth.
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So lets hear it- straight from the horse’s mouth – what is my point that I am driving you to?
Slim is fit: This was my mistake – I believed that I am fit since I was always a slim person and with not much extra flab to shed. Well, the truth is Fit is Fit. Slim is NOT fit. Slim is not as dangerous as obese but being slim doesn’t signify the status of your health in anyway other than that you are not obese.

I realized this more as I stepped into my 33rd year as human on the planet. Until then I abused my healthy blessing to no ends by eating wrong….eating at wrong hours…. Countless chocolates, softdrinks as much as I pleased. I seriously didnt have any fixed timings for food. If you are thinking I am going to say – Nothing can be more wrong than this, here is the worse thing – Even with what little meals I ate – I never ate what I should. I ate mindlessly.  And for a long time I was okay (like I said – for 33 years) – my body could handle all the abuse and kept releasing digestive enzymes on my command and never acting like it was upset at me for being a complete mismatch for its expectations and needs.

And then I slowly saw the signs. I started to get tired, used to feel irritated, started to look dull. I still didnt care as much. Specially since I wasnt particularly suffering from any specific disease. I knew I could someday reverse these “temporary issues” with healthy eating habit and fitness regime and having a routine. Something I knew but I never did. Soon, I fractured my right leg quite effortlessly with just a not so jerky twist. I began to have pains in my bones. I couldn’t wear high heels as much as I enjoyed them.Yet – I didnt pay heed. I was as ignorant as one can be towards ones body.
But then I started to have massive hairfall. And this was heart breaking. I couldnt take it. I also knew – it might be something that has reached out of my control and I cant easily reverse it. This was when I started to regret my doings.

On SOS basis – I put my health on priority. I made sure I dont skip meals – as busy or angry or mad I am due to any reason – I will have my minimum 3 meals a day and at as fixed a time, as I possibly can work around. But there is something I did that truly had a midas touch effect on me.
milkAny guesses what is that one thing that can help you fix most of your health issues, besides having a fixed routine for eating and exercises? MILK. Seriously. Specially if you are pure a vegetarian like me, you have to have a glass of milk everyday. Its funny I am writing this blog at a time when people around me are talking about Women’s Horlicks -because I started taking women’s horlicks regularly since last year. And I am strictly NOT endorsing them. But it has worked for me.

My hair loss significantly reduced- milk protein and calcium has visible benefits on skin and hair – and body overall. My body pains have almost vanished. Even my toothache has reduced – not sure if its related but other than increasing my milk intake, I havent changed anything in my diet, hence building the inference. And I think better calcium intake could have helped my teeth too.

I can’t reverse or stop my aging or the health issues that will come with it. But I am glad I took charge of my health while things were still in control.

Take that 1 step in your life. Add a glass of milk to your diet. If you are one of those that dont like packed milk, go farm fresh -try Farmagic. I love the taste of fresh cow milk they send.Its a feel good factor, if i take it with health supplement (more of calcium, which my body needs) – you can take it with any health supplement you like. Eat regularly and exercise.
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Test your fitness

  1. An average adult should do 30 minutes brisk walking, or walk 10,000 steps daily. Try doing this – you will know how good your health is.
  2. Look at your hairfall – is it normal?
  3. After your day long of office or household work – when you lay down – how does it feel in – your knees /  your lower back / your shoulders. Do they pain noticeably?
  4. Frequent Heartburns / Acidity?
  5. Fatigue / impatience/irritability

I do not wish to act as a health professional but I strongly believe that health science evolved based on human experiences. So the basics of health lies in us being able to hear what our body wants to tell us. Listen to it. Take rest, if it asks you to. Eat / sleep / work – as per your body’s expectations. Put yourself in a routine.

Take care of yourself. Stay healthy. Stay blessed. Dont forget your glass of milk tonight before you go to sleep!!!

Please do share your experiences – specially if you start drinking milk today onwards and comment on what effects you see on yourself.

A memorable visit to Maha Kumbh : Largest gathering on Earth

Finally, I am back to my blog. Just so you are not confused, I came back from the MahaKumbh way back but I just never came back to post my updates. So here they are.

I had originally planned to write so much about it but now I think I wont write my thoughts. Instead – let me show you what I saw there and let you find your own like or not for it. I may, if time permits, write more in detail about my experiences but for now – enjoy some visuals and let me know if you like these.

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Maha Kumbh Pics

Honestly – just like its difficult to express in words – any of your favourite places where you realize you breathe also, it will be difficult for me to describe the feeling. Did I like it – yes. Will I go there again – very likely. Will I recommend others to go – Yes, but only with proper preparations.

Overall, it was a pleasant experience. I enjoyed it. But I do realize that I was amongst the few priviledged ones to enjoy it the way I did. It can indeed be a little pain for those who have no local connects or know how of in-roads.

Feel free to enquire for any details about the visit. Will be glad to help.

Maha Kumbh : Largest gathering on Earth

Finally, tickets booked and gathered strength and am all set to visit the largest gathering of humans on earth. Precise Location: Allahabad, India. I hear numbers as high as 100 million will be there. At this moment, I am not sure how scientific is the method used to calculate or predict these numbers. But even with a margin (read huge) error of 50%, I am excited to be amongst the spectators of this huge gathering.

I really don’t know how it is to really be there – since this is my visit to a Kumbh Mela and have heard very few first hand experiences so far. I have been to crowded places before and they seem scary to me. I don’t like them one bit. But even the largest crowd I might have witnessed in my life may only be a percent (1%) of what I am about to witness. I really had to think through the possibilities of stampede, mass violence etc to finally gather the courage to “just do it”.

Originally, Kumbh Mela is a religious festival celebrated by Hindus. And followers of Hindu religion go for a dip in holy water to cleanse themselves of all the sins they have committed in this life. At least this is what I thought until, this festival got me interested in it and I tried to find out what it is. Though the act of dipping still remains to be the main activity people go there for, the essence of it seems to be very different.

More and more people are visiting Kumbh Mela, and have claimed it to be a life changing experience. People come to the river sides and stay in camps for the entire duration of the festival, which is roughly a month and a half. Its statistically proven, that even with so much of crowd, and the (mis)management typically associated with such huge crowds, these people return healthier. This has probably been taken a serious note of. This year, a team from Harvard Business School is studying the festival to understand ‘How on earth is an event of this size possible’. They also want to look at environment and tourism and health clinics and sanitation arrangements – that make it possible.

As an Indian, I sure am proud of the business practices followed by the collaborative PPP (Public Private Partnerships) model, probably much needed for any gathering of comparable to this scale. To me, PPP – Public departments (Govt bodies), Private (private agencies, service providers), People (Me, Thou and Thee). It takes real people to implement any good practice to be a success.

I am so looking forward to be part of the largest congregation of the human kind on this planet!! Will share more when I return!! Pictures and experience.

P.S: For those – who don’t know what Kumbh Mela is and want more details of its origin and auspiciousness as per the religion – feel free to Google it out. There is enough written there to know theoretically what it is. However, I will be writing what it is to me , once I comeback – from a Life Changing Experience.

Obituary – 2012

As we witness so many unnatural deaths across the globe, lets mourn the death of few noted ones who were blessed by our Gods for Eternal lives. However, we humans, managed to kill few of them brutally and some of us, are making sure that every attempt to revive their lives are also crushed down.

Lets pay our homage to the ones below and finally accept the reality, that they are dead and are no more amongst us. All of these surprisingly belong to the one big family of Humanity:

  • Humanity – Brutal assault in our so called civilized world is really not something humans can do.
  • Shame  – We killed shame when we molested and raped our beautiful and innocent women.
  • Courage – We killed our courage by letting our fellow citizens suffer.
  • Fraternal Love – Non tolerance of one race or religion by other had long threatened to kill the fraternal love. But was insignificant while a handful were involved – Political leaders, terrorists etc. Now when civilians open fire on other communities , we know we lost the battle.
  • Love for children – When 3 yr old is raped by a man in 30s – husband of the play school owner where the tiny tot used to go to learn to be a better human and when we open fire and kill 20 little lives of 5 to 10 yr olds, we know we murdered our love for children. We failed to protect them and give them a life (am not talking about a better life – I am talking about basic surviving).
  • Chivalry – Chivalry was long dead – seriously – for as long as I can remember, I never experienced it though occasionally, we came across some chivalrous men.  But , with recent events of leaders of the highest ranks from important offices of IMF or PMOs of diff nations or Presidents or sports leaders doing what they are, treating women as commodities and sex objects – And with the common man resorting to domestic violence (physical and mental) tells us , chivalry has breathed its last. Chivalry is not trying to own the lives of others it is more of being generous and respectful and caring.
  • Souls – It will take a generation to  recover – that is if we did recover. We have stigmatized victims instead of criminals and pushed women to compromise with the very people that have hurt them. Women who pampered their sons way too much and grew them into insensitive men and taught their daughters that they are lesser than their brothers and husbands have eventually killed the souls inside us.

Any more deaths that we need to mourn?