Saturday, 2 December 2017

-| understanding is hard work |-

Sometimes, we're so eager to have an opinion that we skip the step of working to understand. Why is it the way it is? Why do they believe what they believe?

We skip reading the whole thing, because it's easier to jump to what we assume the writer meant.

We skip engaging with clients and stakeholders because it's quicker to assert we know what they want.

We skip doing the math, examining the footnotes, recreating the experiment, because it might not turn out the way we need it to.

We better hurry, because the firstest, loudest, angriest opinion might sway the crowd.

And of course, it's so much easier now, because we all own our own media companies.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

-| Last Impressions |- 

Forget what you’ve heard about first impressions; it’s the last impressions that count. Last impressions — whether they’re with customer service or a date — are the ones we remember. They’re the ones that keep us coming back. But there’s one kind of final impression that people seem to forget.

Were this 1904, according to A Dictionary Of Etiquette: A Guide to Polite Usage For All Social Functions, standard conclusions were: I remain sincerely yours, or, Believe me faithfully yours.

The email signoff — that line that you write before you type your name — has been all but forgotten. Go take a look at your inbox: you might be astonished at how little attention people pay to the closing lines when writing email. This underrated rhetorical device is so frequently disregarded that many people have the gall to simply attach an automatic one to their email or mobile signature.

Closing lines vary from the possibly self-conscious (“My warmest regards,”) to the often charmless (”Best,“). They, at least in my inbox, revealed the following:








Take care

Feel better

All the best

Safe travels

Love you all

Super great

Best regards

Get well soon

With gratitude

Your weary friend

Thanks in advance

Thanks, all the best

Don’t work too hard

Hope to see you Thursday

Hope to hear from you soon

Warm regards right back at ya

It seems there are patterns in closing line types. If ordered another way, they look like this:

Expressing gratitude:

  • Tnx
  • Thanks
  • Thanks family
  • Thanks in advance
  • Thanks, all the best

Expressing general sentiment :

  • Best
  • All the best
  • Best regards
  • Word
  • Later
  • Laters
  • Cheers
  • Cheery

Expressing affection :

  • Love
  • Love you
  • Love you all

Expressing state :

  • Your weary friend
  • With gratitude


  • Feel better
  • Take care
  • Safe travels
  • Get well soon
  • Don’t work too hard

Wishes :

  • Hope to see you Thursday
  • Hope to hear from you soon!
  • Warm regards right back at ya

With all of these, the intensity and — dare I say — sincerity varies depending on punctuation. A warm “Thanks!” can have quite a different sentiment than a flat “Thanks,”. We can’t be expected to neatly tie up every email every time. But once in a while, it would be delightful if we applied the same sincerity to the last impression that we do to the first.


Thursday, 21 September 2017

-| Random thoughts on a Thursday |- 

1. The best thing about writing journals is you can write anyway you want. All the tools and rules are yours to use at will or to ignore with abandon.

2. No kid dreams of selling credit cards for a living.

3. Everything on this earth is self-centered, the difference is the radius. 

4.  Theory: our desire to use the buzzwords of the day keeps us from talking about the things that matter. We use these buzzwords innocently enough in the beginning. But then, they become the litmus test for evaluating others. If they do not like those buzzwords, we judge them based on this. And then we find ourselves not able to talk about the things that matter.

5. My favorite items of the last week were reading on my bed on a rainy weekday afternoon and making breakfast for the family on Saturday morning. 

6. We are paying a lot of money for entertainment when the night sky is free. 

Friday, 4 August 2017

- | Silence in workplace |- 

In worklife, we earn to equate silence with doing nothing, and doing nothing is rarely valued as an effective application of professional skill. Since silence is not widely valued, it is not widely developed. Worse, it's sometimes knocked out of those to whom it comes naturally. I have seen in the best people - be it lawyers, architects (or family members), the ability to sit back, observe carefully and listen intently. Whether applied to yourself or to others, the rare skill of creating and holding silence is worth developing. 

The 'Aha' moments that spark brilliant unexpected solutions tend to crop up when our minds are quiet. If neuroscience is now showing the value of silence for delivering creative solutions and for integrating the neural circuits linked to goal focus and social focus, then every organisation that seeks to collaborate and innovate should prioritize the development of this skill.  

At another level, silence is a gift - a luxury service. The pace of the corporate world doesn’t typically allow time for a walk around the park, for introspection, for mind-wandering. Focused, deliberate silence permits us to stop for long enough to remember what’s important—and to prioritize and pursue that. In a world where so many are overwhelmed with everything there is to do, that silent pause is critical for real efficiency.     

When you turn off the noise, the quiet, unassuming, obvious answer has the space to say, “Here I am”. 

Saturday, 3 June 2017

-| Write first, think later |- 

Woody Allen recently:

What people who don’t write don’t understand is that they think you make up the line consciously — but you don’t. It proceeds from your unconscious. So it’s the same surprise to you when it emerges as it is to the audience when the comic says it. I don’t think of the joke and then say it. I say it and then realize what I’ve said. And I laugh at it, because I’m hearing it for the first time myself.

Whenever I find myself in a bout of non-writing (not writer’s block per se, but an extended period of non-writingness), I know it’s this. Not a lack of ideas, not a lack of the right space to write, the right drink, the right order, the right methods, the proper instrument, not a deficit of time. It’s simply my conscious getting in the way. I would be better off saying things more wildly, then looking at what I’d said. Do first, think later; many things can benefit from this method — falling in love, taking your first job, speaking up for what you believe in. Write first, think later. Repeat.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

-| Friendship theory |- 

I read an interesting piece on friendship recently : 

No matter who you are, you need two kinds of friends in your life. The first kind is one you can call when something good happens, and you need someone who will be excited for you. Not a fake excitement veiling envy, but a real excitement. You need someone who will actually be more excited for you than he would be if it had happened to him. The second kind of friend is somebody you can call when things go horribly wrong—when your life is on the line and you only have one phone call. 

Years ago, a friend said she keeps a short list of emergency contacts in her head—a trust of three people she can count on, day or night, no matter the circumstance. This week, I’m especially grateful for both types of friends in my life. Who is it for you?

Saturday, 22 April 2017

-| For the love of books| - 

In his unending wisdom, author Umberto Eco reminds us that there is wisdom in what is not done, wisdom in what is not finished.

Eco is allegedly the owner of a large personal library of 30,000 books, and separates visitors to his library into two categories: 1) the large majority who visit asking “how many of these have you read!?” — the impressed — and 2) those — a very small minority — who get that books are not for show, but for research. And that unread books are far more valuable to us than read ones.

As such, our personal libraries should contain as much of what we don’t know as what we do. They should contain the possible. The aspirational. They should contain the future.

In other words, the unfinished is far more valuable than the finished. The "un-figured out" far more valuable than the "figured out".

Eco called this concept the anti-library.

People don’t walk around calling themselves anti-entrepreneurs or promoting their anti-CVs. We don’t promote our anti-knowledge and our anti-degrees. But maybe we should.

The love of books is much celebrated; the love of reading too. Yet the love of not reading — the letting of books pile up around us — is a quiet pursuit.

Let’s celebrate the stories of people we thought we’d once be; stories of languages we thought we’d once learn; places we thought we’d once visit; hobbies never learned; pursuits never pursued. These need not be stories of what wasn’t, but stories of what was instead.

Let’s celebrate books owned, but never read. Pages unfolded. Chapters unfinished. Marginalia unwritten.

And celebrate lives lived.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

-| Collecting things|-
I am a chronic collector. Every few months I develop a new obsession, rounding up as many of a thing as I can. I inspect, catalog, and adore each item for months, then truck it off to a pawn shop or antiques vendor to make room for the next thing.
Here are some of the collections that filled our house over the years, not in any particular order: key chains, antique buttons, snuff boxes, vintage photographs, Daguerreotype photographs, carved wooden and stone figurines, watches, perfume bottles, coins, antique and foreign currency, stone and most recently indigo pottery.
The first choice of what to collect was made for me when my mother, who too loves hand embroidering, gave me a few similar but yet different needles for my school project. Some had eyes bigger than the shaft, some had round eye with a very long shaft with a sharp pointy end. In awe of seeing the fabric change its texture and 'look' with different needles, I was caught up in the romance of my life. I wanted more. 

We spent Thursdays sweating under the brutal humid Bombay sun, scouring dusty flea markets and haggling at roadside thread shops. If we got an early enough start; by the time we arrived home for lunch we'd usually amassed a decent amount of treasure. We'd spread our finds out on the coffee table, pull the appropriate fabric, threads, needles and got settled for a quiet creative afternoon where the light was best. My grandma would settle next to us overlooking our work and reminiscing her days when her eye-sight allowed her to embroider as well.
Collecting plays a huge role in shaping who I am. It has taught me to love history, enjoy myself, and value the experience of the elderly. I’ve learned to appreciate small details and craftsmanship. These experiences also revealed the introverted, nerdy girl I am at heart.
As the story tends to go, once I turned 14 I stopped collecting buttons and started collecting friends, books, and illicit experiences. I’ve since rediscovered the nerdy girl I was before. I love collecting and treasure hunting, and nothing is more precious to me than sitting in companionable silence with someone equally obsessed with details.
I started this post because I was thinking about collecting things, and wondering why I treasure my buttons, dozens of hoops, piles of old photographs, and rows of broken figurines. Each appeals to me for different reasons, and each requires their own post. But I love that sitting down to write about the things I have collected really means writing about my mother, my favorite childhood memories, and who I am.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

-| Library |-

I don’t like to study in coffee shops. I want to be in a library. Or bookstores. But I prefer libraries.
Libraries, because there are no people there. They talk but are not there.
There are books in libraries. They are silent but are there.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

-| God is in the mundane  |-

Perhaps I am missing something. It is possible.
Most of life seems to be pretty ordinary, mundane even. Mundane tasks liter our days and swallow our hours. We open our eyes, close them again, rub our faces and look in the mirror. Shower. We all dress every morning, undress every evening. And throughout the day, regardless of sun shining or rain drenching, we must do mundane things over and over. Usually without thought we take on these tasks.
And I have not even mentioned the decisions, moral and practical coming our way in every lane we drive in and desk on which we answer the phone. None are earth shattering. Telling the truth here, a kind word there and on any given day not losing your patience with parents, children, boss, colleagues, and neighbor gets no press. No one will notice the steadiness – the victory over the rebellion we all know lies within. More than likely after not losing your temper, you will look out the window of your kitchen/office/train window and long for something beyond the mundane.

It is hard to imagine you are being spiritual in the midst of all this mundane stuff life throws your way. How do you feel spiritual when you are balancing on one leg to avoid stamping someone else's foot and trying to hold the handle with a finger in the 8.20 Churchgate bound fast local train? My guess is you prayed God would give you super-human strength to target your foot in that exact space between two polished shoes and not start a vocal brawl. 

Brewing coffee and writing emails and making design are what you get paid for but it feels terribly unspectacular and rarely spiritual. In fact, it feels small, mundane and far afield from the radical lives of the biographies you started to read.

It appears the current religious climate is one of faithfulness and spirituality measured by the eventful and the big – the bombastic. If the waves are not huge and the shifts are not seismic then we assume a kind of carnality. We have redefined radical to the point where the only radical people in the religion are those who have sold everything and gone…well, anywhere. But for everyone who does not sell everything, you know, those who shop at local markets, go to the mountain for vacation and grab some pao vada weekly – is there a spirituality for them that can be called “radical?” What of homemakers and tellers, clerks and customer service representatives, doctors and lawyers – is there a spirituality for them in the midst of just living a mundane life? Is there a God for them?

We know there is a God for those who are pundits, clergymen and religious leaders; they are living lives of obvious spiritual and eternal consequence. But what about everybody else? What about those who are not paundits and do not want to be?

Am I alone in worrying there is no God for the mundane? You know for those who, in the name of Shri Krishna or any God they have belief in , are simply faithful spouses, honest in business, love their children well and enjoy the world they live in while waiting for the next – is there a God for them?

I think we have gone awry somewhere along the way. It is no longer enough for a husband to love his wife as Krishna loved the cows, s/he must now agonize over whether to give up everything to dedicate our lives to service. In many ways it is really hard to stay where you are. It is hard because no one celebrates the day-in and day-out faithfulness that goes unseen by the wider world by those who toil in obscurity. No one puts pictures of a mom on their refrigerator so they can pray for her. It is hard because life is not easy anywhere, there is no idyllic paradise in India where sin is not pervasive and the devil is not crouching outside of custom-made doors. And it is probably hard for a few because of the guilt heaped up on them who stay and are made to think they are unspiritual/carnal/unfaithful for doing so.

Right now, someone is questioning whether I care about vaishanavism/shivism/etc. at all. You see, that is the problem. We have elevated what is seen as being spiritual and what is radical to the point where all other activity (or seeming lack of activity) leads people to think one may not care. That may be damnable. We must assume there are untold numbers of men and women spreading the love quietly throughout their community and making it possible financially for others to go without making a big deal about it and telling everyone on facebook they are doing it.

It is almost like a new legalism is emerging. “Quit your job. Do something crazy. Pick up and move." If you do not or are not thinking about doing it then you are suspiciously lacking in the necessary requirements of what we deem ‘spiritual.’

The rock-star preacher thing isn’t helping either. Life seems so mundane after watching them, reading about them and then listening to them. Changing diapers and paying bills on time and being generous and holding the hand of your spouse and caring about your aging parents and having deep friendships and being committed and crying with those who hurt – well, its just not crazy enough. It is so absolutely mundane. And I fear that for most, they do not worship a God who can be glorified in the mundane.

They worship a God who acknowledges only those lives described as crazy, radical, extreme and extraordinary. So not only is there no God for the mundane parts of their lives but there is no God for ninety-percent of their life. He works in the great deeds of great lives alone.  No wonder we try to buy his affection with our acts of sacrifice and the forfeiture of our dreams. Or just give up on him altogether.

Is there a God of the mundane? Is there a God who can give meaning to the mundane duties of moms, the mundane tasks of those who clock in and clock out? Is there a God in heaven giving meaning to the mundane lives most everyone leads?

I think there is.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

-| Resolutions |-

One week of the new year has passed and today I decided to write down my new year's resolution.The past week was filled with things I love - spent time with family, caught up with friends, went on a site visit (and caught a terrible cold - not something I love but well...), cooked, read and sketched. The cold in question made me bunk office which allowed me to recover, reflect and ruminate.  

I had a very short list of resolutions last year. Mathematically speaking, 7 points over a period of 365 days should have been easy.Only, I was able to satisfactorily tick off 4 with yeses, 2 with partially achieved and 1 was a flat no. Not bad, if  I say so my self. 

This year I have increased my list to 8 points and I hope to stay by it. I am aware that I will slip up here and there but I will be a better person than I was today. 

Happy Healthy Year All!!!!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

-| Random Thoughts |- 

1. The older I get the more comfort I find in the things I don’t understand about God. When I was younger I wanted all the blanks filled in. The pages full of explanations. But as my hair grays, I am content with mystery. Not knowing reminds me now that I am not God and my frustration at not understanding is a kind of reaching for the wrong  fruit in a garden full of what is freely offered. This is a kind of sober worship, I think

2. I just finished Henry David Thoreau's book, Walden. It is a truly wonderful book. The writing is superb. But what I can’t get over is how unique it is. 

3. Our culture creates enemies out of every opinion. It makes love harder than ever. True Sadness by Avett Brothers is an album of profound insight – seriously, really profound – throughout each and every song. But the song “No Hard Feelings” is a song I needed to hear over and over. I’ve included the video below.

4. Last night we watched an old black and white movie and there were no gross scenes, no explosions, and no gritty language and it was exceptional. Weird how that’s possible.

5. I have basically given up on reading music critics. Amazon reviews are worth far more. I care more about what housewives and plumbers think than experts.

6. I miss sitting in a swing under badam tree. 

7. Leisurely enjoying a good meal makes us more human.
8. Stars are prone to fall.
9. My neighbour's kid was wound up as he talked about going backing to school and I felt for him because of Sunday nights.
10. Applause is addictive and deadly. Especially when you receive it in one area of your life but not in another. 
Happy 2017