Internal dialogue, externalized

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  • Pecking order and pandering egos

    Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship. – Oscar Wilde

    At a wedding party I was nibbling on hot, crisp starters; winter weddings are great, you don’t sweat in your Kancheepuram saree I insightfully thought; as I was drifting into my slumber with another paneer tikka in my mouth, my friend’s daughter slipped next to me; after a few pleasantries she asked a question that was bothering her; ‘What should one do when you know at work you are stack ranked by men?’ I said ‘For what? Ask them to focus on their work’. She looked pensive and exasperated, ‘NO! they are stack ranking all women based on looks, fitness, smartness, coolness, oomph, shapes and brains!’

    Well I choked on the tikka I was enjoying; I’ve been working for many years and now I wonder if this is what these stupid guys do? Went back to my girl/women gangs and posted to understand the reaction; they went berserk, talked of how they have heard or experienced or both; ‘Men are so dumb, after few drinks they let the cat out while socializing after work, that is how I know this exists’, ‘Half the guys go around showing their bum cleavages, can’t hold their pant on hip! They are talking about us’,

    Some demeaning/unsavory details got bumped off; in all this mess the question, ‘Does this happen’ got addressed, but ‘Why’ was muddled and up for debate; why objectify and quantify? A regressive thought of looking at a woman as sex object? Fantasy or belief that women are there to serve his lord and master? Is it a gender thing? So, what does civilization and education taught us? instead of groping upfront, do it in your free time and at private places mentally? What does this mean to women? Knowing covertly or overtly of being ranked? Does this make women anxious, competetive?

    Do women in the pecking order unconsciously push to race? Do they come dressed to be noticed, starve to look a size less, spend to stay ahead, fight and bitch each other to be up in the ranking? Its predatory and primitive, a raw sense of animal instinct drives the thought, even if it is covered by a linen jacket or Diesel jean; there is no winning at the top for any woman, remember where the list got generated, in the reeking space between men;

    As for men in their la la land of visualization at that sleazy moment of ranking, for a split second, if one of them looked at himself in a mirror he would probably wake up to a reality that no women out there are even thinking of him or any of them!

    Female gangs when they get together think, talk, laugh and discuss more exciting stuff like food, hopes, dreams, aspirations, family, clothes, fragrance, health, fashion, travel, flowers, diet and in that list, comes last the noun called ‘men’!! Well that is the truth men must live with!

    Tell me a story of who you are, and see who I am in the stories I live. And together we will remember that each of us always has a choice.
    – The Dance, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

  • Black the bottomless Pit

    There is no formula for success except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of the act and what it brings
    ― Arthur Rubinstein

    That black T-shirt!! the all-powerful BLACK tee-shirt, where is it? Hell, I need it, we are having a product launch and without it am like a banana without a peel; err, something as stupid/impossible;

    The tech world’s fashion statement is the black t-shirt, the cool, the awesome, the rocking attire; as I rampaged my cupboard and finally decided to go shopping to pick up one, wondered, BLACK T-Shirt, when did this become the thing of beauty, fashion, coolness? from the day Steve Jobs walked on the stage, with his deadly swag in a black tee to a cheering mob? My guess is that, Job being the king of swag nailed the tech world’s obsession with it;

    The other day was reading an article on how Microsoft launched a product and I squinted my tired eyes, what! Steve jobs photo, have they made a mistake, as I clicked and lo and behold Satya Nadella was there in the cool black tee-shirt, could have mistaken him for Steve Jobs; well that is scandalous to Microsoft or Apple?! So now what? from Vishal Sikka to Sundar Pichai, are we going to witness this craze and standardization for black?

    Why am I bothered? Well, to see some color there on the stage during the mega events; also pondering for all the innovation and creativity we talk of, are we ending up copying style statements of one another, not being able to create one for thyself? playing it safe? the color coding of attire during product launch looks very naïve, predictable and so risk averse; paradoxical for a product launch which is all about innovation, creativity, wanting to see what is out there beyond the boundaries defined!!

    It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse
    – Adlai E. Stevenson

  • The Bronze Talisman on the Brink

    The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
    ― Joseph Campbell

    Ten minutes into the conversation the smart articulate young man slides in the info, that he is from IIM Bangalore; ok! for heaven sake, ‘we were discussing movies!? it does not matter nor do I care from where you have passed out, we are not here for an interview and stop acting as if you are on a permanent job evaluation’ I thought, meandering through the purple haze of irritation/amusement;

    He is not the first, he just confirmed my hypothesis that most students who pass out of premier institute have this urge bordering on ‘itch’ to communicate to whoever, wherever, the celestial information that they are from ‘X institute’, their treasured talisman, however young or old they are; you are not spared even in the washrooms; at the washbasin lathering your palms while drifting to nothingness to escape from the suffocating hand wash scent and lo and behold, your Zen moment can be shattered, if you accidentally looked at the mirror and made an eye connect with a stranger from a premier institute; smile, and few words into the conversation, the talisman is flashed on your face;

    The compulsive obsession to share, the ‘Bronze Talisman’ on the faces of unsuspecting victims – where is it coming from? is it to prove a point, or beat the average crowd, the jantha to submission?! or validation? What is this obsession about?

    Probably a manifestation of constant need for a pat on the back; can also be a problem of assessing self-worth in relation to only the degree and institute, or an obsession to prove he or she is better than the jantha around?! Or the pressure of constantly having to live up to the reputation of the institute? Not sure what prompts them to divulge their credentials or flash their talisman on an unsuspecting onlooker, who is dazed or miffed, depending on where the person is in life at that point;

    Let the institute from its illustrious history give them the conviction to handpick their journey and destination; provide them an ability to choose to fight or not, astuteness to select their pit stops or overlaps; find strength to stand even when they fail or fall; and when they fall to reach into their core and discover that power to dust the embarrassment, tend to the wound, and slowly limp back; let them live life with mindfulness that ‘I am unique and I have choices’; the ability to melt into the crowd and be just another being without labels, badges, is a display of strength; it comes from one being settled and at ease with oneself, not wanting to constantly compete;

    When we accept and cherish self, we also comprehend the fact that everyone is on their own journey; one can be super intelligent and have achieved the best, never taking away the credit for being there, but the guy round the corner with little means to resources managing to float is also great, and the rest like distance, height, speed is incidental and very relative in the relentless world;

    It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.
    – The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

  • Myopic Mindset and Marathon Race

    “Stop acting so small.
    You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”
    ― Jalaluddin Rumi

    Recently traveled to Dubai and I choose this airline, not sure why, might be because they were sponsoring the football team I love or because heard loud screams of how they scored a hat trick for best in-flight entertainment!! Was traveling business class, so was a little full of myself; Well I have arrived in life, so let me be a bit condescending to all and sundry!

    The good news first, the in-flight attenders took excellent care and enjoyed a fantastic service; But! ….there has to be a but! the ground staff of the airline had this frozen expression whenever I approached them be it in India or Dubai, no smiles, no curtsy, to a large extent they were brazenly curt;

    At Dubai on my return journey after loads of over squeezed meetings (the mindset of trying to get maximum out of a trip) I was worn-out; looked like a rat that just survived a tumble in a washing machine with a dryer! at the airport I trooped in and approached a counter of dazzling brilliance, specifically, designated for business class travelers; the staff was smiling and nodding to this cologne spilled white male, as he moved on, I stepped near the counter; she froze seeing me and curtly told to check in at a different counter; she had some reason of how I got to a wrong counter, but the curtness made me blink my myopic eyes;

    At the business lounge, the staff were no different, staring and stiff, I fidgeted from deciding whom to approach as everyone was looking over/through me; finally approached one counter to be brusquely told that trolley is not allowed inside; hesitated for a second, pondered whether I should tell her regarding my shoulder ache; it felt wasted with her already looking over me and inviting someone with more pleasantness; turned around to see a white couple approaching the counter;

    Stooped into the lounge tired, looked for a dark, quiet, unambiguous corner and slouched trying to melt into oblivion; As I slowly drifted wondered what is it that made the staff treat me less pleasant or favorable; why was I on their wrong side or was I imagining?

    One no-brainer conclusion i came up was , perhaps i being an Asian or it can also be that I crossed forty-five some time back and looked my age! Or it might be because I do not color my mop of grey hair, or my unpainted lips or conservative dress or looking very much a working women or my tired looks, it might be any of them or all of them??!!

    When you are on the wrong side of so many molds, it is difficult to say which is the cause, or what/where the trigger is, discrimination, hierarchy perceived, transference, counter transference, projection from them or me?!

    OR……..might be, it just me being prickly, which is the right side when you are on the wrong side of 40!!

  • Beyond action into Burgeoning stillness

    “Be still
    Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity”
    ― Lao Tzu

    So much hyperbole on stillness, ‘where the mind is still, it can see beyond obvious’; not familiar with stillness to recognize or realize the state; have experienced small pockets of quietness, so fleeting that by the time I could grasp, the moment vanishes; am left wandering did that instant exists ?!

    As I drift off to sleep after a long weary day searching inside, outside for stillness – notice my mind, as it wanders to the unanswered mails in the mail box, doctor’s appointment, parent teacher meeting, laundry…as I search for tranquility- million thoughts and zillion tasks run by my heavy mind; as I float into the blackness, confused and edgy, the search for ‘stillness’ goes on as the task list overflows like the old women’s woes or track two diplomacy!

    Should I have to go to Himalayas for stillness, no way, am not getting into planning that one! Need to look for it in the underbelly of my busy schedule, am sure under the old books between the daily tasks, around the toppling files, beneath the dirty linen, it is there, hidden – still and sane;

    As I surrender to my reality, a maze of tasks, deliverables, things gone right, tasks gone bad, and accept the reality and slowly breath, gently felt the weight off my shoulders, a small pause; the misty quietness traversed from the corner, shy, tentative with honey touch, engulf me; in that moment did I see the waft of peace, quietude!!

    “Being still does not mean don’t move. It means move in peace.”
    ― E’yen A. Gardner

  • I am the elite-the educated-the intellectual-the class

    I am the elite-the educated-the refined – the intellectual-the class

    Anything great has to have my approval, it needs to fit in, for, I defined the parameters of who, where , when-I know what is best

    I am the thinker-the innovator, the judge, and the panelist on TV-the jury on the talk show-the think tank and the king maker

    I sit on judgment and I am the jury, the prosecutor, the arbitrator; I send the Napoleons and the Lincolns And then Smriti Irani happened without my knowledge, approval or endorsement

    The lowland, the prairie- such insolence- the aunty, the cuddly mom, the black beads chain wielding next door ‘nari’ – where is the degree, where is the accent and where is the refined class – terrible mistake to have education in her hands –the ‘unpadh’ illiterate, the mob, the mass-all the great scholars till now scripted the nation’s glory-the woman, her cheek, the commoner with no degree – I was not this vociferous earlier, but she made me into one

    I forget everything, The finest in me got sucked out – fight for the dignity of women, I forget to decry the sly remarks on her in the parliament, I wasted the opportunity to fume when someone rode rough on her for she was a TV actor or insinuating remarks

    Coughed, sniffed, and twitted a nasty tweet, in the world of mindless black hole called web few splashes of purple snarl and predatory adaptations-I left for the rest to trolley- pale acidic spleen

    When I put her down, forgot to oppose the slander, rancor; or recognize that discrimination goes beyond color, cast into class, I got lost, bared and drained- wasted and spent

    When I learn to my infamy, education is beyond degrees, every human has potential, nothing to scoff – then there will be no elite-the educated-the refined – the intellectual-the class- but humanity and the million possibilities

    (Thanking Carl Sandburg, 1878-1967 with reverence and admiration for giving us the magic ‘I am the People, the Mob’ and the life lived)

  • Godfathers, Gladiators and Goal posts

    There is no formula for success except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of the act and what it brings.
    ― Arthur Rubinstein

    ‘Do you need godfathers to grow in professional life?’, was loving the Lychee ice-cream melting in my mouth when the question was asked by an young family friend who just started to work; with no such mortals in my career ‘NO, you can grow on your own, on your terms and at your will’; the young friend insisted, ‘It is not about you but the truth’;

    What is the truth? I have seen amazing individuals as my colleagues who have grown and reached pinnacle of success without Godfathers/Godmothers; they stand tall and inspire many to emulate; there are also some who become his/her master’s voice, thus become a Gladiator; if the relationship is in direct reporting then it becomes even more difficult and less acceptable around; at one point the dependency of the Godfather with the Gladiator or Gladiator with the Godfather becomes so interdependent that they become one and the same or even act as alter egos;

    The question is will these envied Gladiators succeed in new, not so friendly, difficult environments; will they negotiate and thrive in unknown, trying territories to reach their Goalposts?

    This takes me to a question my father posed to me and my cousin many years back, we were fourteen full of ourselves and super arrogant; he asked, ‘What will you do if one fine morning you wake up in a new environment not knowing anyone or the place?’ we were not sure whether it would be a ‘fine morning’? But on second thoughts with the nagging my aunt and mother are capable, it just might be! We came up with all the smart susceptible answers; he persisted asking us to ponder over the question longer on how we will survive, what will we do and what will we pursue; this was very difficult at that time, but helped me many years later whenever I had to get past the cold, arduous, grim wall of unknown space as a new team member in a new organizations;

    Does having Godfathers have an undue advantage? What is wrong with a Godfather helping one climb up the ladder or reach Goalposts?

    Well, the freedom of not having a godfather is you will have your achievements speaking than a godfather doing it for you; titles sit easy on your shoulders, more respect among peers; you learn to meander the hierarchies obvious and hidden; learn to navigate and negotiate thus empathize and collaborate while you grow; all this is somewhat difficult with Godfathers shadow casting their magic spell;

  • Confused Identity and Counterfeit Notes

    Who knows truly? Who here will declare whence it arose, whence this creation? The gods are subsequent to the creation of this. Who, then, knows whence it has come into being?

    Whence this creation has come into being; whether it was made or not; he in the highest heaven is its surveyor. Surely he knows, or perhaps he knows not.

    Rig Veda

    Spirituality, religion, rituals are complex and intricate, so is man’s search for GOD the supreme power; ‘God is in you’, ‘God is outside’, ‘search deep and you will find him’, ‘live by the rule book , he will come to you’, ‘you need to remember me ten times in a week’, ‘remembering me on a particular day that will suffice’, ‘you are special because you feed me with delicacies’- countless myths, mysteries and mayhem surrounds religious beliefs or religion;

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  • Bottle to a glass and the broken lives in between

    What is an epidemic? Is it an outbreak of disease or condition? If so, can what I see in my neighborhood be called an epidemic or is it a manifestation of many lives gone haywire at the same time?

    In the past few years, have watched my entire support system at home slowly crumbling; a closer look and it goes back to the same story – drinking, violence and misery; one ‘quarter’ in colloquial language or one peg in the colonized English the substance gives the same results, despair, depression and despise.

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  • Burgundy streaks, platinum jewelry and equality arrived

    Was in a focus group discussion that was called by a premium association body in India; The forum was to discuss inclusive growth around disability, and for some strange reason there were more women than men around the old teak table; tea, biscuits and introductions flowed and crunched, layered deep inside our inhibition and fear of bringing the differently-abled into our workforce – how do I manage, will they deliver, am I doing the right thing for society and organization, where do I draw the line.

    As discussions were doing the rounds on polices and processes on inclusivity, the topic suddenly drifted to gender diversity; am not sure at what point disability morphed into gender discrimination, but my attention was caught by observations and comments from some around the table;

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