Sunday, August 20, 2006

Small Wonders

Everyday is beautiful.. I agree. There are some days when you feel you cannot express your happiness... Yesterday was one such day....

I have always been fond of children, like most other girls. I took an instant liking to my friend's daughter the moment he showed me her photograph taken on the day she was born. I could not stop wondering, (I still have not...) about the little Xerox copy of my friend. She is a 'Small Wonder' to me.

This was the same feeling I had when I myself mistook my Mom's childhood photo for mine. After that point, this kid's photo amazed me... So she and I became friends, really connected and close.

Between the talks with my friend's family members, I spoke to this darling little friend of mine... She seemed to understand some of my takes at things and I seemed to not understand a lot of her points... So you see, she won.

She chose her toy, She knew when to go out for the evening walks with her parents and grandma, She knew to turn to her parents when things were just not right with her, she knew her grandpa is a great friend of hers, she knew there was a guest in the house, she knew when she had to keep quiet, She understood a 'No', She knew that ' A smile is a gentle curve that sets things straight'.. ( If you are the observant kind, U will notice that a child smiles most of the times...and there is no equivalent to that innocence and the 'Joy' that it brings...), She knew to differentiate appreciation, She knew to have fun, She knew to say 'No',She knew to get surprised....

She seemed to know all of these....and a lot more...

What all did I learn yesterday? I learnt to Smile most of the times, Forget things that are supposed to be forgotten, Remember what I had to remember, Know what I wanted, Be a friend, Love unconditonally, Enjoy simple things, Observe unlimitedly, Reach out for the best always...

U will not believe that this little kid reminded me of all these qualities... I guess all of us had these when we were children, but we unlearnt it over the years... Presumably after the introduction of History, Geography and Physics and Chemisty subjects. or after TV,and Internet.... I can't say why..

I enjoyed my evening immensely with the child... Her circle at home is great, I agree....I wish her nice circle outside too, so she gets to maintain all her qualities..Let's hope the introduction of Physics and History has positive influence on this chintu mintu. :)

Some one once told me.. It is important to be child-like... I didn't really understand it then, Now I think I am realzing the meaning of the word 'Child -like' and the joy of making friends with 'Small Wonders'.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Child's mind - WYSIWYG Editor

A child' s mind is more like a WYSIWYG ( What you See is What You Get) editor. What the child sees is what gets into the mind.
Such a WYSIWYG editor in a child's mind carefully edited and saved all that happened in AVM Studio, Chennai about 20 years ago .

AVM Studio was bustling with activity. Superstar Rajinikanth,the famous movie star of the tamil filmdom was busy starring in the shooting of a 'to-be-a-definite-superhit'-movie.
It was not very uncommon for the children of the producers, directors, artists to land up at the shooting spots to just have fun with the movie crew. The Producer's son who had developed a major liking to his father's profession, was also there at the spot. The heros, the stunts, the cameras, the sounds, the lights, the dances, the dialogues, the crowd and the tension, translated into one word - 'Fun', to this six-year-old.

As he stood watching Super star in action that day, he got noticed by the hero. So after the scene was shot, Rajini came over to play with the boy. As the star and the child started talking, the child became friends with the Star very easily. So, after every shot, he started waiting for his friend, the Actor, to join him.

As the most popular artist, Rajini always had thousands of onlookers who wait outside the shooting zone to catch a glimpse of him, to have a picture taken with him, to talk to him, and to get his autograph. On this particular day, there were a number of college students waiting outside the studio.The morning session was over and people were dispersing for lunch.

The two friends were together when the Actor signed the Autograph books and took photos with the students. The little boy noticed an old, poor, and lame man sitting on a wooden plank with wheels. He wheeled his way along the opposite side of the road and tried to use his hands as support to get the wooden plank and thereby himself onto the pavement. With great difficulty he managed to get on to the pavement and positioned himself at the right place so he can see Superstar's face. As the little boy's stare at the scene was intense and as he was too quiet, Rajini also followed his gaze and noticed the admirer.

He immediately walked over to the old man, sat beside him on the pavement and started talking. It seemed that the old man and the Actor were good old friends, for they had so much to exchange. Rajini ordered Non-vegetarian food according to the old man's taste. He called the camera man over to take a snap of the two of them. The old man's face glowed for a minute, the boy noticed.

Later that evening, when Rajini was leaving the Studio, his little friend stood waving 'bye' to him. He watched as the Star stepped out of his car, gave few new sets of clothes to the Old man. He handed over a paper cover with the photograph of the old man and himself taken early that afternoon.
The smile of gratitude on the oldman's face and the sense of contentment on the Actor's face got etched on the little boy's mind.

The little boy grew up to be a software engineer and happens to be my friend. He adores the Actor. When I chanced to talk to him about his 'Hero' one day, he told me this unforgettable incident. I can clearly see the impact this incident has made on him and his attitude towards people and life at large.

Mind is definitely a WYSIWYG editor..........I think it is important to remember the WYSIWYG editor every time we deal with children. A child's mind is a clean slate and it records anything that happens around. Let's contribute to the niceties that a child learns in life by carefully choosing what we talk and what we do in front of a child. Next time a kid is around, handle your words and deeds with care.

Rajini, Madhav,and Me - Part 6

The crux came the last: Do you have a perfect balance between work and home? In a perfect balance, your work does not disturb your home life and your home does not come in between your work life. Do you think his possible?

Rajini says: It is not possible as most of the waking hours is spent in the office and definitely some of the thoughts are carried back home whether or not he wants it. But the best part is he makes it a point not to vent out at home, so it does not really disturb the tranquil in his home. I hoped that there was a friend he confided in. Everyone needs a vent out.

Madhav says: Experience reminds that it has to be possible. Except when the situation is very bad.... He realizes that there is no point in carrying work tension home and home tension to work. He shares concerns and opinions with his folks at home and that seems to relieve him of his constant tension, but the temper related to office tension is always under control at home.
He agrees that the phone calls and mails from office are unavoidable. He ensures it does not disturb his sweet home.

I could very well see that the responses were not made up to please the listener. Still, I had just learnt a management principle:Never Assume.So with great hesitation I managed to ask: Is your response to all these questions honest?

'Yes' came the response. :) I knew it, still asked.

It was 7:40 P.M. The sky was cloudy and dark as we walked out of the eighth floor. I was reminded of the line from Robert Frost's poem: :The Woods are lovely dark and deep... And miles to go before I sleep.... (In the context of Lots to learn in Life.)
Frost is Great, books say...........Yes, and so are Rajini and Madhav, but in a very different and special way.

I think the three of us had a great evening.

Every body should take time to talk, you never know what all you will learn. People are really nice, we rarely take time to understand them.

I had taken this session on 12th July 2006, a Wednesday. Today is 3rd August 2006, Thursday. I wrote this series in scattered concentration but had the hints on paper, the day after the interview.

I have tried my level best to convey what I learnt from my friends in the simplest possible language. I am running this through them to ensure that I have not written anything that they have not told.

I have marked my comments on and off in between the posts, which is purely my interpretation. This series of posts is open to your comments and interpretations.

A gentle reminder to all of you who read this: I really respect the friendship me, Madhav and Rajini share. This interview has been given only based on my questions. Please do not be judgmental about Rajini or Madhav .

I welcome any comment on this article . Just ensure that your comment does not hurt the stars of my interview. I value their time, insights, patience, and friendship always. Thanks Madhav, Thanks Rajini.

Rajini, Madhav, and Me - Part 5

Friends.... Everyone has a friend. Proverb says 'Every enemy has a friend'. What do these people feel about their friends.?

Madhav has a lot of good friends at work. Considering that he spends most of his time at work, he is happy about the friends circle he has. He says he will miss them for sure, if he steps out of the company some day.

Rajini says he had a very good circle of friends back in college. Ofcourse, his work place has earned him a good set of friends too. With less time to have fun and confide, he seems to miss them often these days. Over the years, he has lost touch with most of them. He plans to take steps to renew the friendship and get in touch with his circle of friends. He has signed up on, the latest friendzone.

Your Goals : It was a little difficult for me to take it when Rajini said that he did not have any major goal. Now this is one answer, I cannot take from any youngster. Everyone has a goal, mostly hidden. Till it happens it stays as a dream and when it works out, it becomes an achieved goal. I was determined to get the answer out of him. I promised that I would not laugh.

You will be surprised to know that Rajini wants to Produce movies and act in guest roles in some of them.I was surprised in the beginning, later it dawned on me that work is different from what one's passion is. I wished him every success to reach his goal and have asked tickets for the premiere show of his movie. He should definitely venture out on movie making someday, so the Tamil film-lovers can watch movies with a tint of ethical touch.

One of Madhav's dreams and target goal is to start his own company some day. He concentrates on people-skills to reach his goal post. He says ' The company does not necessarily have to be a software company. A HR consultancy is what he wants to own.

A bill board of the news paper 'Business Line', put up in one of Chennai's main roads says: Cubicles are assigned... Corner Offices are earned.... I am sure he will earn a number of corner offices all over the world.

After all, we know, that Hard work pays.. For both these Gurus, hardwork is a built-in factor. So reward is assured, sooner or later.

The next thought that came up immediately was if the experience in the software industry is going to help my friends meet their goal. Clearly the HR consultancy and production company do not have even the remote links to software programming.They hope that the people skills and situation-handling that they learn in the industry will definitely come in handy somewhere.

'Experience makes a man perfect' a proverb from my chemistry professor's long physical chemistry sessions popped in to say 'hi' to me.:)

Another straight forward question- Are you practical?

Madhav says 'Yes I am mostly practical, when it comes to work.... Personally all situations cannot have practical answers. Emotions creep in and practicality fades especially when it comes to my loved ones.'. It looked like Rajini had the same points to share.

I liked the idea of emotions not getting into workplace. When disagreements happen at work, it is the practicality that helps handle the situation and in turn your temper.

Rajini, Madhav and Me - Part 4

Patience: I have always admired Rajini's patience. It is said that programmers require patience. I asked if these Gurus also thought so.

Rajini says that he tends to get angry and Madhav knows better.There have been times when anger has got the better of him, but since his principle of commitment comes in between often, he appears to be patient enough to handle it.

Madhav says that every walk of life actually requires a certain amount of patience. At work, this is not a major requirement when things are organized. You may not have to get hyper about anything at all if work is process-oriented and if you have certain level of sincerity at work. He admits that there are times when things do not work out ( as it is in most situations, if Murphy's law chooses to trigger off ) and patience becomes a mandate.

To Madhav, the problems with the parking facility and lift breakdowns and other such out-of-context problems cause as much, if not more tension, than the mails, calls, issues, meetings, and the thoughts of all these piling up in the work desk every morning. To cut the long story short, office and environment do matter for a peaceful work life in his opinion.

I have always wanted to know if people felt they are appreciated for what they are or have done at work. So I asked : It is a very important occasion in your office. You are on the dais because the success of a particular project is being attributed to you. Can you imagine this situation?

Yes came the answer.( Felt glad.) Both of them could imagine the situation. The office has not staged a show, but then these people have been appreciated for what they have done. They knew to acknowledge appreciations.

The session shifted out of office topics for sometime. The next question was about their interests. There are times when I have seen them working when I came in at 8.30 in the morning and when I left work place at 8.00 in the evening. The next morning when you come in, you will see these people in the same posture playing with the keys on the keyboard as if they were composing music for the International Music festival or some hi-fi award function. I can't even manage a smile if I were in such a situation. I have wondered if they ever had something called interests in life after college. If they had, did they have time for it?

This question brought instant cheers to the already cheerful guys.Madhav is a great fan of English movies, mostly mysteries and action. Of late, he has got interested in business news and the tips and tricks to handle business.He loves spending time all by himself. He takes time to do whatever he feels like once in a while without any restrictions that he himself or others tend to impose on him. These days getting in touch with people and being a part of friends network interests him. He is a new entrant to recalls that he was into Scouts team as a school boy. Basket ball and Table Tennis are his favorite sports. These days he does not get to play as much as he wants to, partly because he does not have time to, and partly because his brother who is his TT companion is not in Chennai.

Rajini's interests are mostly Research and Development on new technologies that spring up in the software industry. He loves watching Actor Rajinikanth's movies. He adores this actor so much that I chose Rajini as his alias name for this interview post. He did not have much to say about his interests because he does not have time to spend for any of his interests right now.

Hopefully Rajini will change to his own self after a few years, because his work life is just 5 years old. It is said, over the years, people realize that 'Life is afterall more than just Work'.

My weekends are usually packed with lot of things to attend to, things that I never had time to work on during weekdays. I always thought what the weekends of these software industry-worshippers were like. Rajini catches up on his sleep that he had lost all week. For the amount of work he does six days a week , I am not surprised if sleep is his priority over the Sunday.

Madhav seems to manage with less sleep, but votes for a Sunday afternoon nap to start a bright week. His weekends are for his loving family and English movies. Theatre is a strict 'No-No' says Madhav.
Work is always there. It is upto you to cheer up and pep up yourself doing all that you want to do and gear up for the tough week ahead. That is our lesson from this question.

Rajini, Madhav, and Me - Part 3

The conversation was proceeding very cool. I had this clock ticking inside my head saying:"Deeps, you are taking a little too much of their time". Still, I just went on, after confirming if the Gurus were having something to attend to immediately. I am sure they would have had something to take care of immediately, but then the conversation went on .

When asked about the time each of them spent for themselves each day, Madhav said "about three hours roughly". He was surprised when I said I had about an hour and a half only for myself, considering I was less busy than he was. Rajini said, he did not have much time for himself. He had about 10 minutes all by and for himself.

He says he would improve on that when Madhav explained : It is important to take time for yourself, to do what you want to , the way you want to do it. Basically 'Live for yourself atleast once in a while' would be the principle for a healthy, happy life.

Madhav spends time for himself almost every day doing what he likes, movies mostly.These days spending time with his eight-month old daughter tops the list of his likes.

Extended Work Hours: Rajini is sandwiched between work demands and time lines. For him extended work hours is all that he has been going through from the day I joined this office( which is about two years from now). He says the commitment to adhere to the time line, however unreasonable it may sound, becomes important sometimes. Madhav explains that better processes and organized way of planning might reduce this kind of pressure at work. Lot of times there is very less one is able to do on management decisions is what he feels.

I gave them a fancy situtation - Given a choice to swap roles in your organization, whose role would you take up and why?

Madhav quickly and calmly said that he is happy the way he is. Once in a while, it is important to pat yourself and appreciate yourself for what you are is what Madhav believes. As for Rajini, he is happy about the person he is.They clearly do not seem to like imitations.

A thought from my Moral Science sessions back in school came into my mind without knocking:'Understand that everyone is unique'.

Rajini happily puts in if atall there is one swap in life he would even consider, it is to become Actor Superstar Rajinikanth, a role model and most widely hero-worshipped person among the Tamilians..

Given a choice to change your career what would that be?
Rajini wants to become an actor. He says he does not want a hero role. The guest appearances in the last 5 minutes of the movies, or the most unforgettable co-artist roles fascinate him. He says, the movie is good if the guest appearance gets fixed on your mind frame, which I think is true.

Madhav wants to start his own business. His interest inclines towards teaching also. He says, that might be because he admires the teacher in his mother. He recalls that he was lucky to have had a good set of teachers throughout his school and college life.Everyone remembers atleast one teacher who has made a difference. The three of us drifted off to our own worlds for a minute, thinking of some of the teachers who have a hand in our professional and personal life.

When I heard Madhav mention his mother, the next spontaneous question I asked was 'How long do you get to talk to her each day?'.
I find that all software geeks have more time for their computer, their internet connection, their mail boxes ( these days people don't spend much time on personal mails I guess), Research and Development work related to software and references on money-making than spending time to talk to their loved ones.
So just wanted to take a chance to ask these friends of mine if they had time to spend with their 'Amma'.
Madhav spends about half an hour with Amma if she is around and about one hour on the phone talking to her if she is out of town. Rajini spends about ten minutes every day.

I am glad all the same, because I know of people who do not take time for their parents at all. Everything else takes priority I guess, because, everything else if not attended to involves serious threats whereas close relationships do not demand and sadly are often being taken for granted.

I did not want Madhav and Rajini to say they did not have time for their 'Amma'. There are times when you expect some answers and you are glad if you get the same answers. This was one such answer and I was glad I heard what I wanted to.


With new opportunities also comes to fear and self-doubt. How can we navigate these very strong forces in order to reach our fulfillment...