Monday, February 29, 2016

Shelly peeps in…

Sure… it is not a typo no no it is not poet Shelley! It is the shell collector in me! The sea shore seems to have more shells now! The ones that were hidden under the sand are showing up; if they are not on their own, shell collector digs them up!!

It is interesting to see how human mind plays its games to throw these shells up in the air, make them glitter, flash in multicolors, make them look catchy / resonant with other things. In about 10 minutes of to-do revisit, 20+ shells were thrown into the list. If I was not careful, they would have stayed there and pushed my baskets out of my truck probably!

Here are a few examples… I was pruning my plants this weekend. I realised that my Indian spinach, yam, alocasia (or elephant ear - சேம்பு  ), ginger, turmeric, fenugreek, Bishop's weed (ஓமம்) and coriander have all gone; I am left with just a balcony full of silver vines, a single butterfly pea creeper and a pinwheel jasmine shrub! Of course none of my pots are empty as the silver vine has generously encroached all pots! But I was wondering if I should spend just 30 mins a week and get back to my ginger, fenugreek, coriander!

Too many blog posts / articles started running in my mind - my pongal visit to my hometown, my reflections after watching Goddess Akilandeswari performing puja to Shiva in Tiruvanaikaaval temple, my trip from 31 degree Celsius to 31 degree Fahrenheit, my irritation with the so called "tolerance" & people's urge to classify humans into tags etc..

Not only that, I wanted to buy a few books! Wanted to respond to some "WhatsApp" messages :-). I was thinking of joining music class (vocal)! If that does not work out, can I do it online? And then possibility of a yoga class and was wondering if I can really withstand it now! Why not replace the yoga class with a dance class if that does not work out! The list was on and on and on... This is in spite of a fairly large set of items in my essentials list! Fortunately, within 10 minutes, I realised that my "Shelly" is back and she wants to rule the to-do list like how my silver vine took over the entire balcony in no time!!

Hmm… I was thinking earlier, if at all I end up writing in a self-assumed soubriquet, it will be "தாக்ஷாயிணி"…. Now, I am thinkig if Shelly is the best suitable name :-) Only thing is, people should not expect any similarities between me and "Percy Bysshe Shelley" ;-) :-D

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Life is beautiful!

Some days are exceptionally beautiful! Many things fall in place, oh I should say, everything sets into a harmony like a lovely song!!

I was listening to a collection of songs today!! This is a set of songs I have been thinking of listening to fully for about five months now. For various reasons, I could not get to it!! I am so glad that I remembered to play it as my background music today! Though I was only listening to most of the songs, I happened to watch one of the songs - Fly away home by Mary Chapin Carpenter - (it is a youtube collection) and I was so pleasantly surprised "Oh! some one could think exactly like me!". What is even more surprising is, if I had just listened to the song and the lyric, I would have imagined a totally different story line and scenes! I don't know what made me watch it!!! 

As I watched the song, I was reminded of my blog "One more" where I expressed my distress about a fallen tree and the impact on the birds nesting in that tree! I was reminded of my parents who motivated / continue to motivate me to do anything I want to do irrespective of whether it seems feasible or not! Oh! it is a nice feeling! I am sure all of you have experienced this... Realising "someone else is also as sensitive as you are to other beings & they have thought of a solution and the rare support you got was available to someone else too & they are appreciative of that" gives such a satisfaction!! I could not stop smiling for a long time!! I was thinking of the little girl in the song! She was a parent to the geese! She protected them, fed them and taught them to fly high and live!! Hmm... any one who protects, feeds, teaches to fly and live is a parent right, irrespective of their age, gender and the relationship with you!

As I listened, I was reminded of my school that had tall trees behind and then my teacher Mrs. Sundarambal!! And wow, she called me this evening!! She still remembers to check what I am learning new and checked the progress of my research, career and writing :-) How many teachers will remember the students and track their progress even after about twenty years! When she said my smile has not changed in so many years and she sees it when I speak over phone, I could not control laughing merrily! And she joined the laughter happily! Blessing in deed!!

Oh! Life is beautiful!! Some days are more beautiful!!

Friday, February 19, 2016


Ladies! I really do not feel like writing a follow up for the "estimation" part ofshopping! But I do not want to disappoint you by not sharing my views on the same!! This is going to be the last article in that series!! "Dressing" is the last factor I would like to consider when I think of women's improvement.

Because I do not want to write another follow up later, let me state my reasons for this stance before we get into the "estimation" part of the article :-) I am sure all of us will agree that for someone to be empowered, they need to be independent. I believe the way a woman dresses has nothing to do with how independent they can think and act. I am taking my role model women as examples for the right side of it! These were the women who could think independently, act on their own will and fight for the cause they believed in but they all wore only or mostly sarees, of course, sarees of their choice!! I also know women on the other side. These were the women who wear western clothing or north Indian clothing most of the time. But their thinking was so out-dated, conditioned by society and easily influenceable! In fact, I know a few of them did not wear sarees because their close family members did not allow(?!?!) them to!! So I do not count this as a factor at all! It is more important for us to make people (both women and men) think independently and stand by what they think as right for sustained empowerment. I really do not care what someone is wearing; it is a negligible factor compared to what they can think and how they act.

Let us get into the "estimation" business! Please note, I am not talking about shopping for groceries or vegetables. In Indian context, the choices in that space are almost fixed and most of us just go by our list. I am mostly referring to clothes and jewels where the choice is more and we have to decide what to buy. The argument put forth was, most of the stores  have fitting room / trial rooms these days so you can have 100% of information needed for estimation. This is where I disagree! Here are my three main points - a) for you to have higher level of data you should try out all the clothes that are there in the store & you should not get tired in the process so as to look the same through-out the trials b) you should have all the accessories & your hair style, glow / confidence on your face etc. should all be the same, the lighting of your environment should be same as the trial room c) your own expertise with dressing.

Can you guarantee the first two? Theoretically speaking, let us assume that you are able to try out all clothes. Can you even attempt the second point including the items that seem to be in your control - like glow of your face or confidence level you radiate on a day? Just a bad argument that morning or a sleepless night can change the whole thing! How will you estimate that? How will you even account for that while estimating?

How about your expertise with dressing? There are a lot of parameters you will have to consider like the colour combination, which colors look good on you in what kind of lighting, what kind of fabric texture is suitable for your body type etc. It also includes things like fitting and style of an attire - where should the shoulder line be, where should the sleeve end for a casual attire, formal attire etc.. You will have to consider the accessories that will go with and if the entire package is suitable for the occasions you are considering. Please note, the parameters will be simpler when you consider South Indian scenario where we have bright sunlight all thru the year and the background looks almost the same throughout the year. If you have to choose clothing for colder countries, where the background is bright for half of the year and pale for the rest of the year, your choices will be influenced by that too!

You may argue that considering all this, the time taken is going to be higher. My point is, knowing all this upfront is going to be very difficult for anyone who is not fashion designer. It is easier to learn on the job :-) Buy a few clothes at a reasonable time, wear it, see how you look and feel in them, change your strategy next time based on your learning. I am suggesting inspect & adapt cycles because it is impossible to learn all these in one go! And you are not going to buy clothes for your lifetime in one round of shopping, anyway!!! So, why waste energy when you can save it for better things!!! Why to go big-bang when you can iterate!!!

To me, the logic that applies in business applies in life and vice versa! If I can inspect and adapt the business strategy, I can do that personally too. In business, if I can plan continuously for shorter duration by spending shorter time, I can do that personally too!! If I allow myself to learn iteratively in business I can allow the same at my personal life too! If I can do capacity based budgeting and be flexible with scope that is aligned with the business vision, I can do that with my clothes too - after all, my vision for clothing is simple - look professional and good! 

What do I do to reduce the time taken to estimate while improving my estimation effectiveness? I go to stores which have a) good sales people with expertise and care for the client for obvious reasons b) good large mirrors and lighting so that I can do the first round of filtering without accessing the fitting rooms c) good comfortable fitting rooms so that I do not get irritated while trying out clothes. I do not shop in malls because personal attention is limited!! I wear the same style of clothes I want to buy that is, if I have to buy sarees or salwar, I go in a saree or salwar respectively; for buying western wear I go in western wear.  This makes the sales people understand what kind of clothes I will like without me explaining it much. Mostly my shopping is done in the mornings when I am fresh and the sales people also are fresh. If not, I go right after lunch when there is no one else in the stores; this is to get exclusive attention. If a clothe does not catch my attention at my first glance at it, I do not even let the sales person open it - it is a waste of time for me and more so for them. Once they understand that you are conscious about their time & effort, and once they get the hang of what you are looking for, it is easy for them to be on your side!! I reduce the time taken to get into this state. If I realise achieving this state is not possible and I am also not able to locate the items that I like at my first glance on my own, I walk out of shopping! It is better to use the time on something more productive. Also there is no point in buying something half heartedly and build unnecessary / unused inventory at home!!

Sure, I too check if the item is affordable or not. But, I reduce the time spent on other aspects of estimation as much as possible. Capacity based budgeting does not depend too much on estimations! Such a business can not afford to spend (rather despises spending) a lot of time estimating!! I too can't / don’t want to spend time estimating!! If you can and if you want to, you are free to do so!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bitter follow up.....

For the first time, I am sad to write a follow up article for my previous article!! It is follow up of my article for the mothers not to be!! I was not planning to write any article till mid February as I have quite a number of higher priority deliverables. But then, I got so upset that I had to write this!!

I had to console a sobbing girl on Sunday over phone. This article is dedicated to her and all the other women who are in her state.

To give a context to other readers, my friend I am referring to in this article does not have children and decided not to adopt. She was asked not to play with a couple of kids by their mother as the mother was worried that my friend will try to adopt her child(ren)! The mother was so outright, explained her concern in simple and sharp terms. My friend was stunned by such a reaction! When she spoke to me after a week from this incident, she was still crying,  I could hear her cry sitting so far away, about 10 hours behind her!  I wish I had nine thousand miles' long hands to hug her from here!

I had to go thru the same pain about 7 years ago. Maybe, I didn’t cry for that long but it hurt me like hell. In Kamba Ramayanam there is a line which says "first a spear went thru the chest and came out thru the back and then a ball of fire at high temperature went thru the same passage". I understood the real meaning of this line when this happened. What hurts me  now is, in the past 7 years, technology has improved so much, our lives got simplified so much but the human mind has not improved any better!! Another woman who is 10 years younger than me goes thru the same hurt 7 years later. It is a shame on human kind!! Connected Vehicles, Internet of Things, conferencing and communication tools, In-flight internet - nothing of that sort has any meaning to me from the time I heard this girl crying to me on Sunday morning! If one can not relate with a fellow human being, what is the use of being so very connected with the help of technology!!

My friend had read my earlier article and she was trying to follow my suggestions. She used to discuss her progress with me every now and then. Until early 2014, I was not open enough to discuss this topic very often with others even if they have the same challenge. But since 2014, I have been giving my ears to her once in a while and suggesting her to take up something of interest to her. Like me, she also decided not to adopt a child and was focusing on other ways to contribute back to the society. She also started being happy and played with other kids whenever possible. And now, she has got such a nasty reaction!! When she said, if she had not followed my suggestions, she may not have played with kids, I felt even more responsible for this. She was not looking for a solution from me fortunately, though she needed a shoulder to cry. I decided to be with her till the time she finished crying though it meant me slipping on my other commitments. The call went on for a few hours. I don’t recollect for how long… it felt like for a lifetime though...

I am thinking about what makes people come to such conclusions and reactions. If my friend wanted to adopt, there are several easier, straight forward ways to do that. For the kind of money she has, for the kind of support systems she has, she does not have to impress these kids and lure them into adoption. Though, genetically mammals may be inclined to start a family with and adopt ones who share their genetic make up to increase the possibility of passing on their genes to the next generation, psychologically, it is hard to adopt one of the two known children. There is going to be a comparison in the minds of those who adopt and who gave their children for adoption whether they took or gave away the better one of the two - even if they decide to stay far away from each other!! When there are so many children in the world looking for good parental support, why get into such a difficult situation? Is it not easier and nobler to give support to someone does not have the care than supporting someone who has the care already and is part of another family? If someone is kind enough to adopt in spite of all the challenges it can bring, why would they break an existing family? Wont it be harder to turn the child around towards the new family if the child already knows what it feels like to be with a mother? Given all this, it is logical to adopt younger kids (maybe infants) from a trusted source but not from very close associates. Why was the mother not able to think about it?

What kind of insecurity the mother should have had to come to this kind of conclusion? Any one who is confident of being a good mother, being a caring mother would not have reacted this way, I feel. Only those who are not sure of the love they have, the care they show, the attention they give, the guidance they give, the support they give to their children and the time they spend with their children can get worried assuming their children do not love them enough and may go away from them!!

For almost all children, their own mothers are the most beautiful and most caring person in the world even they are not in realty. How can someone forget that and make such a poor judgment?  Even if someone wants to adopt the child, is there not a better way of saying no? Should it be as cruel as this?  Why was the mother not able to think about any of this? Is this only her insecurity about her own motherhood? Is it exposure? Is it sensitivity towards fellow human beings or the lack of it? How does the rich react to poor even when they are not interested in the money? How much can perceptions ruin human relationships? Why are we not thinking about all this frequently and correcting ourselves?

I am not sure if animals have this problem. Maybe not. Maybe, humans are the worst form of animals on earth! We have been killing animals, destroying forest and killing people from other countries, races, religions, languages etc.. Looks like we don’t even mind killing the minds and hearts of those very close to us for protecting our own egos and for our own insecurities. Are we all really from a culture that knew the meaning of " தீயினாற் சுட்டபுண் உள்ளாறும் ஆறாதே நாவினாற் சுட்ட வடு" about 2000 years back?

Hmmm… I wanted not to express my dissatisfaction in 2016, as part of my Karma Clearing Program! But I can say that the dissatisfaction level is so high that  I feel the bitterness all thru my body and mind!! It is as if, I drank one whole neem tree!