Stepping into the unknown

6a00e5537b38b688330168e4b366c8970cI love to write! I just want to state it again today because this is a special post..more as a memoir. I am writing this post as I am on my way back from the much talked about Jaipur Literature Festival. The fact that it was one of those events that leave a mark on you forever could either mean I don’t go to enough of these or that I was probably at a stage of my life when I was so ready to receive what the event had to offer.

Having recently published my book, The Possibility of Balance, I was, of course, curious to know what it is like to be amongst authors and publishers. It was unimaginable to think of the names on the books we buy, as real people who are there, somewhere, like you and me. Each of the names have a life, a story, and are accomplished in many things other than what they are known for.

It got me thinking of how we all define a world for ourselves and live in our small bubbles unless another world catches our fancy or we step in it accidentally.

Stepping into an unknown world is somewhat like a trip to Mars I think. The rich getting a glimpse of what life is like for the poor, by staying in villages, or a programmer who has learnt the art of coding an application for the first time or a child stepping into a wonderland like Fun City for the first time – all of these offer the thrill of discovery. So much so, that for a fleeting moment, one might be tempted to shift one’s reality and change one’s world for good.

Some of us have probably experienced a change of worlds in the past, though it might have been with an anchor to get back to where we came from, whenever we want. It is like having a safety net. It is strange how this behavior of ours has deep implications on how we form relationships or meet people.

I am reminded of the beginning of the Bollywood movie Tamaasha, which appealed to me far more than most movies I have ever watched. When we meet someone, we choose to keep one foot in our existing world and only offer half or lesser, to the other person. In the movie, the actor, Ranbir Kapoor challenges this way of being. He states that he has chosen to not follow the norm. In fact, he is totally unaware of the person whom he is meeting, so decides to create a new world altogether. He makes a brilliant point, that, in that moment, he can choose to be anyone he pleases. The fact that he was in a different country and had no anchors holding him back, other than himself, perhaps made it easier for him to make that choice.

Do you remember meeting someone amd being totally fascinated by what they do or who they are? It is, perhaps, a desire you have, to experience their world, to step into it, even if for a moment.

I propose that the more worlds we experience, the wiser we become, the happier we become. This has many implications, depending on how long you choose to dwell in the worlds you step in.

Bored of life? Step into other worlds unknown to you..stay there for a while..or create a new one..wherever you are. What fun it would be!


The journey

2Often times we find ourselves thinking of the past and wondering what prompted us to do what we did or what could possibly justify our actions in the past.

Every time I have caught myself thinking that, I try and steer my thoughts towards what I might have missed out on had I made a different choice. What if..this…or what if…that..?

We can continue to dwell in a world of what ifs or we can instead, move into a realm of acceptance. We can choose to accept the fact that like most people, we are, most of the times, thinking, rational beings. The choices we made in the past, were, hence, a result of the thoughts that transpired at that time. This does, however, pose a danger, in the sense, we can then use this to justify any ‘wrong’ that we might believe we have done. It is, hence, important to also trace back to the thoughts that led us to make those choices. If this is what I thought and that is the choice I made, I was left feeling so and so about it.

What happened was important, as without that, we would never know how we would feel. If we do intend to not feel that again or if we wish to change the outcome, we need to replace our thoughts with other thoughts and see how the related outcome changes.

In essence, nothing that happened in the past was not intended to happen. Can you accept that? Nothing in life is a coincidence nor does anything happen by chance. We are where we are, thinking what we are thinking, doing what we are doing, because that moment is meant to teach us something. Once we have learned what we were meant to learn, we move on to the next moment and create a different outcome.

Many religions and philosophies, including Buddhism talk about infinite possibilities in every single moment of time. If we think about the number of choices we have every single minute, we might feel overwhelmed. Hence, the way things unfold, it seems someone is making that choice for us. It is, in fact, we, ourselves, who make that choice. We make that choice by default by not acknowledging that other possibilities exist.

When you say hello, there are so many possibilities of how you say it. How loud, how soft, how energetic, how engaging, how detached, think about it. Even that one word has an impact on the resulting possibilities that get created in the environment around us.

It is convenient to not think about these as this means more work 🙂 The point is, we are all living our lives for a purpose..if some of us haven’t found it yet, we are unlikely to find it unless we recognize the choices we have every moment.

So how do you want the rest of your journey to be? Would you like to continue in the greys, blissfully ignoring the possibility of colors around you or would you like to paint each moment with a color of your choice?

The Match

maxresdefaultBefore you read ahead, let me clarify, this is not a blog about sports  🙂

I was reflecting today on what makes people differ in opinion, in values, in ways that leads them to disagreements and almost pulls them apart. It all really boils down to different people operating in different planes.

Let us say, one person wants to go right, the other wants to go left. They meet and they start walking. Oh..but..I! What just happened? It was all going well until, they started walking. That was the beginning of awkwardness.

What really happened was that two people, wanting two different things, never really discussed what they wanted. Leave alone discuss, never thought it important to articulate it, to state what they wanted.

The result – a mismatch. The root cause of a mismatch is not stating what is on your mind. Multiplied by many instances, it leads to broken relationships and irreparable damages which take eons to reverse, if they ever do.

How does one avoid it? The thing is we do not live in a homogeneous world. We will always have mismatches everywhere, with everyone we meet about something or the other.

If we could only find a way of sharing what is on our minds. Talk more. Really talk…connect…despite the distractions of the environment around us. Share with people what you want often…what makes you happy…what you are looking for…what you are not ok helps minimize mismatches..helps reduce stress and heartburn…and eventually…makes for a happier life.

So, what DO you want? WHO should you be sharing that with? WHO else needs to know that?

Go on..get started…the list of MATCHES that results keeps growing..and you will see, so does your happiness 🙂


When Plan B fails

quotefancy-106928-3840x2160People who know me might smile reading the title of this blogpost. I am known to be a planner and I almost always, have a plan. Sometimes, I also have a plan for when I cannot have a plan. I know it sounds absurd but here I am, like so many of you out there..who had a plan A that did not work. It happened again with me recently. I had a plan B, that did not work. While my unconscious mind kept working on Plan C and Plan D, I had a lot of trouble accepting what made my plans not work. Stephen Covey has talked about it one of my favorite books – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. There are things in our life that are in our control and then, there are things in our life, which are not. The things that are not in our control, should they even be a part of our plans, in the first place? No easy answer, this one, but usually, these are the things that make my plans fail. No matter how much we might be able to anticipate something not working, what we might never be able to fully estimate, is HOW wrong something could go. HOW much delay can something cause? HOW bad can it be? HOW low will this person go? It surprises me HOW so many times, it is that HOW that I am unable to estimate. It might be attributed to my belief that people are in general, smart and out to do the right thing. What happens along the way, is sometimes, best left a mystery. What is important, however, is learning how to cope with these failures. Over the years, I have tried many strategies – from my early years of writing nasty emails to giving people a piece of my mind to talking to other people about how something or someone is so not worth it. However, none of these really have made any difference to my state of mind and in fact, have only added to my frustration levels. The only thing that has worked, each and every time, is to productively redirect my energy into something that is of value. When I was young, I used to sometimes wash utensils in the kitchen when I was very angry. Today, I run down the stairs from my 15th floor apartment and take a long, brisk walk. These are only good to dissipate the negative energies that are brewing inside. What works, finally, to get oneself back to a positive state of mind, is a lot of self talk. In coaching parlance, this is referred to as self-coaching. I often find myself reminding myself of the larger view of life, of how insignificant that one instance or interaction might be and how grateful I am for everything else that is going right. So what works, when all plans fail, is just your intention to make things work. Just keep that and see how things fall into place. They take time, but they make the wait much easier and less stressful. Have you experienced failures of your plans? What have you done in such cases? Share with me, I would love to know! P.S. I have written a blog after ages! I feel as if I had never taken a break. I was working on my book, which is finally done. I hope to write a blog about it soon 🙂

Be your own hero

tumblr_n9hyq59Eg91t8bb9go1_1280It is not for nothing that Bollywood movies play up the role of a woman in distress and how most times, the man comes to her rescue. While this trend is changing in current times, what seems to have stuck is the ‘victim’ mindset of the woman, most often, the homemaker.

It is almost like we, women, are inherently able to play the victim’s role and in order to snap out of it, we have to fight an uphill battle with the world and most of all, with ourselves. We often find the woman in the house making statements like: ‘I need to do all this housework’, ‘Nobody listens to me’, ‘The least you can do is…’, ‘Maybe I should also start working and be out of the house all day’, etc.

Think about it. Many of these are self-created perceptions. Why do we believe that we need to do all the work in the house? Have we tried delegating or hiring additional help, truly believing that we are, really, the key decision makers as far as how we spend our time is concerned? Have we tried letting go of things that bother us to make space for things we want to do?

The worst victims, of course, are the modern day career women. Highly qualified, highly ambitious, wanting to do it all, not wanting to compromise, living amidst increasing stress levels, increasing body weight and oblivious to their unhealthy lifestyles. You might hear some of them saying things like ‘I think I should quit my job’ or ‘I really need to change my diet’ or ‘I am just going to go away for a few days’… but none of that ever really happens.

Whether someone listens to us or not and what someone should do or not do is really not in our control. Instead, if we focus on what is in our control, and share the actions taken after we have taken them, with statements like ‘I have started..,’or ‘I have given the responsibility of…to…’ things have a much better chance of changing. Instead of saying that you will start working, actually start working. Just get into something. Experience the change. Take action and don’t just talk about your intent of taking action. Find out what a different lifewould be like. Is that the life you want? If not, is there a middle path? What is that? Can you get someone to help you find that? If not friends and family, perhaps a coach?

When you have a surge of intent and find yourself wanting to do something about your situation, find someone who will help you get out of your situation. Imagine that the situation has changed and act accordingly. Believe that you have all the permissions and approvals you need and move forward. You will be surprised how everyone is left with no choice but to accept you chosen path.

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (

Take off, travel and grow

o-MEN-WOMEN-TRAVEL-facebookWith the plethora of women travel clubs appearing on Facebook and other media, more and more women are finding solace in the fact that they would now be able to travel in groups.

For many women, especially mothers, travelling for leisure is often considered a chore – especially when traveling with kids, that is. This might be attributed to the fact that more often than not, it is the woman who is responsible for planning the vacation and more importantly, packing for it too. There is also an unstated expectation that once everyone is back home, the woman would, somehow, get the house back in order and see to it that it starts functioning almost immediately.

But, there is good news. What if I told you that it is possible to turn a rather exhausting travel into a thrilling adventure? To begin with, consider planning a solo trip to a place where you might know someone but have never been to. Traveling to an unknown place with nobody that one knows can be a bit stressful and the idea is really to de-stress and have fun.

Here are some tips that can help alleviate the stress. Pick a relatively lesser known place instead of a place which is run of the mill. This has the charm of the unknown, while also making for more interesting travel.

Homestays are much better than hotels and some boutique travel houses specialize in such travels. Participate in rejuvenating retreats set in scenic surroundings as this can prove to be amazingly refreshing for the mind, body and soul.

Visualize the place that one is traveling to, by doing some research, by reading about it and by connecting with some locals. ‘Unplanning’ an itinerary is another good way of keeping the zing. Keep some unplanned time so that you can decide where you want to go and what you want to do on the basis of some impromptu information you might receive.

Dining or fishing or some such activity with the locals might seem a bit extreme to some of us, but it is a certain way of finding out what it means to be living in the place and to soak the environment in. Take pictures and write a travelogue. This is a wonderful way to unwind and to immerse oneself in one’s travel experience.

Traveling on work could also be made fun if it were extended by a day here and there, but it could become more stressful to manage the logistics. Hence, planning a separate travel is perhaps, much better.

When was the last time you took off by yourself and let yourself soak in the place? Just take off!

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (

Good is not enough

is-good-good-enoughFor those of us women who struggled in their life because we wanted to be good and do the right thing, we know we have had to pay a price for it. When stuck in a queue in a public place, the aggressive people might have moved ahead while the do-gooders might have waited long only to miss their turn. If you find yourself thinking – this is so me, perhaps, on some occasion you might have ended up missing the bus or could not get to the dessert counter well in time.

Trying to be both, good and assertive, can be a tough battle for a woman who is working with male colleagues and bosses. Perhaps, it is somewhat akin to climbing Mt. Everest every day. Being good does not translate into being complacent or submissive, unlike what many of us might be made to believe.

The important thing to remember, dear ‘do-gooders’, is that being good is not about being popular and being liked. It is, in fact, a lot about knowing that you are doing the right thing and are able to stand up for it. It is not about being taken for granted or for a ride. That would translate to not being smart enough. It is about knowing when to say ‘No’ to preserve your dignity and perhaps, your sanity.

If you try and list out the top three most inspiring women you know, in all likelihood, they would be vocal about what they like and do not like. While they might respect people around them, they would not start by being afraid of what people might think of them, should they express their opinion. Being able to believe in one self and to speak one’s mind are certainly desirable characteristics of women who inspire us. Of course you don’t have to yell it out, but speak you must.

We do live in the 21st century and while it is important to be humane and loving, if you don’t speak (and this applies to virtual media equally), you might run the risk of not even being noticed and are certain to lose out on the wonderful opportunities around you.

Still caught in the ‘but, how do I…trap’? Here are some tips to help you get started:

Observe yourself everyday : Start documenting your observations about occasions when you wanted to speak up and you could not;

Resolve to speak up: Start each day by thinking about speaking your mind when you want to;

Observe others: You might start to speak up but people might not take well to it. Document your observations of others’ reactions when you spoke. Think about what impact you wanted to make and if you were successful. Most of all, think about how you feel after having spoken. Do you feel good?

The question is, dear woman, who are you being good for? For yourself, to whom you are hopefully the most accountable, or for the people around you?

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column  written for The Goan (