Saturday, March 14, 2015

Giving more and expecting less

Office has been in a funk as usual (as can be guessed from my prolonged absences from my beloved blog). And as always I count on the magical presence of my bestie Riya to pull me out of the misery caused by a torturing boss, an unforgiving work schedule and unbelievably aggressive peers.

It’s difficult to be optimistic all day, each day of the year; and sometimes we need a little nudge to get back on track! This is the time we need to be with the ones we love the most. People who care about us, who love us and tolerate us despite all our eccentricities. People who look at us fall flat on our face and tell us we look cute like that. People who make us believe in the inherent goodness of all people and make everything look so rosy and fantastic.

Riya is my that kinda person.

So each time I’m having a bad time at office, she knows she needs to be at my beck and call. Sometimes with a hug, sometimes with a shared coffee, sometimes with a frozen yoghurt and sometimes with a sharp word at my call for constant attention, she brings me back to reality and how.

This time when I called her and complained about my boss giving me a tough time again, she asked me what exactly happened and I ranted about late-nighters (extending to midnight), working weekends and constant criticism. And you won’t believe what she advised. She said, “Why don’t you give it more than what you’re giving right now?”

I was aghast. I asked her if she didn’t hear me properly. I was dying with the work-load and the boss was still not satisfied. For every presentation, he wanted forty new versions. For every excel file, he wanted to see twenty new analysis sheets. He wanted me to mail him reports at midnight and then join early morning review calls after that. When I told him I was over-worked (ever so indirectly), he advised I finish the work over the weekend.

She said she had heard me. But she could also hear the fact that I was doing everything completely half-heartedly. After every late shift spent burning the midnight oil, I wanted to wake up grudgingly at nine. After every next iteration of the unsavory presentation, wanted a personal bouquet with lots of appreciation. So she asked me, “Why don’t you give without expecting anything back for a change? Why don’t you just savor the joy in what you’re doing at that moment for a change?”

That just left me thinking. Her advice was impeccable and correct. I definitely needed a change in perspective, I needed to stop complaining about everything, I needed to stop being a spoilt brat. But more than the advice, it was her positive and strong company that jolted me. Here was a smart, sassy and positive young girls – my best friend, and she cared about me enough to say it straight without mincing words. I knew she was right. Just by being #together with her for those few hours caused a subtle shift in me, brought out a positive fighter side to me that only somebody as optimistic as Riya could have! Like says, it’s about being together in this journey…

Reinventing myself

They say change is the only constant in life. No matter how much the present seems comfortable and predictable, life only moves forward if
there is change. Otherwise it is just a set of similar days that we live out
morning to evening, with nothing learned, achieved or done. Otherwise it is
just a prototype of somebody else’s tried and tested days that we emulate as
our own and go through till our death. We never take any risks, adventure or
try anything that may reveal something extraordinary.

I won’t claim that I have had many opportunities or
adventurous moment to make a new start in life, take a bold step, and bring
about a big change in my own life but there have been a few that I am very
proud of. The biggest such moment in my life was when I decided to take a job
outside my city. Now this may not seem so groundbreaking to you. But then you
are most likely not like me.

You did not spend your entire life shadowed and taken care
of by your mom and dad, in fact not only your mom and dad but your uncles,
aunts, grand uncles, grand aunts and everybody related to them who thought that
your life is their business, your decisions, actions and movements need to be
signed off by them. I was too stupid in my childhood to realize that and
thought that this was how most children grew up, I thought that pleasing the
entire extended family was normal, doing things to please random people was how
life was meant to be.

Till this strange job in a new place came along. The job was
prestigious and paid well, these were things that my extended intrusive family
cared for. So they decided that it was okay for them to allow me to leave the
city in which I spent more than a quarter of my life and go live in a
completely strange alien land. In fact I was so gullible that I even felt
slightly thankful to them for having allowed me and blessed the next chapter of
my ife.

Off I went.

The next few years can only be called cataclysmic. The first
two years were simply euphoric. While I took time to settle down into a routine
where everything, right from waking up on time to buying groceries were my own
responsibility with no mommy daddy or aunty to take care of; but then the joy
of earning my own living, deciding my own lifestyle, making my own choices and becoming
my own person became an unparalleled joy. My journey to #StartANewLife was exhilarating,
full of learning and satisfaction.

Now I am at a point where somehow this new life’s exhilaration
have become habitual to me and some of the old bad habits seem to be coming
back and tugging at me – I guess this is because adjusting to a new life had
made me so busy and involved that I restructured my way of thinking of living
and thinking but the moment this became ‘normal’, old habits thought surfaced
again. But now I am taking this as a challenge as well and looking at getting
rid of the old habits completely as the next part of reinventing myself. 

Thanks to for inspiring me to do that!

Sunday, March 08, 2015

My favourite story of optimism

My favorite story of optimism happened when I was returning from work a few years back. Bangalore is notorious for its traffic. Getting from point A to point B can take you hours even if walking between them is five-minute job. The roads are narrow and unprepared for huge traffic that the IT industry has suddenly brought in its wake. So all people like me have accepted our fate and resigned ourselves to endless hours of waiting in the traffic twiddling our thumbs.

That day was no different. I was just approaching a main road and hoping that maybe today this lane will surprise me by clearing up faster than normal but it didn’t seem to be happening. So I stopped hoping and cranked up the music. There were cars coming from the other side, passengers crossing along with dogs and cows; and of course vehicles going from the same direction as mine, all at the same time. The lane was so thin that perhaps just a car passing through it without a scratch was a miracle. Everybody was in a hurry as if they were headed to save the world from a meteorite attack. They all wanted to go first and pay no heed to others trying to do the same. Of course this didn’t help the matter as everybody was jointly stuck together in that crazy traffic like every day.

Suddenly something happened that jolted me out of my indifference. An old man in his running T-shirt and shorts stepped out from one of the alleys and took the center stage. He started maneuvering the traffic slowly. At first people didn’t even notice him and continued to do what they were doing but then gradually people started paying attention. He first let most of the passengers get across, then he asked the bikers to cross over and at last one by one he let the cars move ahead. Within ten minutes of his taking over, the traffic cleared up slowly. What just looked like a huge bottleneck was now a free flowing street.

As I drove home, I couldn’t help feeling filled with optimism and positivity. Without hopes for anything in return, the man had helped so many people reach homes sooner and saved them of stress. His selfless gesture in so much pollution, noise and given his age was so touching and uplifting that I felt a lot of good hope for the future.

Soon I would see him at the same cross section often. He would come there and relieve the traffic for an hour and then go home. Many times other people would help him too. even if it was a small action restricted to small geography, it touched many lives with selflessness and hence this is my favorite story of optimism!

Thanks Housing and indiblogger for this opportunity to look at stories of optimism around us!