Monday, April 30, 2018

Z- Zeal

What helps us grow as an individual or professional is our zeal to improve, something everyone should have. There is indeed no end to learning. We should be open and ready to accept it if we do not know something, and learn.

Of course, we should be able to judge ourselves and identify the areas we lack. It could be enhancement of one’s skills or aspiration for better quality of life.

Having said all of that, allow me to admit that I am someone who lacks this zeal. It is not as if I don’t put my best effort in whatever I do. Or that I do not have aspirations. But I am someone who loves to be in her comfort zone, and am unwilling to take risks, such as changing jobs, etc. I would try to make the best of what I have, and try to carry on life the way it was.

If I were to achieve something big, I would plan for it, albeit slowly – save money (or credit card points or whatever). It happens often with me that when I have managed to save enough, either the price of my desired product would have increased, or it would no longer be available in market or it would have lost relevance in my life because of changes that have happened in my life in the meantime.

Are you like me?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEF, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, XY

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Y- Yield point

Have you ever wondered when you tend to lose your cool? You would rarely find me fretting.  I try my best not to get angry or frustrated about any situation, and try to think with a balanced head about the available alternatives and decide the next course of action.

Initially I was not like this, and would get worked up at the slightest provocation. But much to my disappointment, I realized that the impact of my screaming on someone was little and shortlived, whereas a lot of my energy had been invested. What is worse, the same points could easily be conveyed in a normal voice, albeit firmly.

There are no doubts about the ill effects of losing one’s temper. Your blood pressure rises, you may end up speaking unkind words, and more. “Anger is just one alphabet short of Danger”, remember that.

I have stretched my yield point deliberately. It saves me from incurring lot of stress, and has helped me create the impression of a level headed person. Also, people take serious note of me when I eventually cannot take it anymore and blast it out.

Can you manage your temper well?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRS, TUVWX 

Friday, April 27, 2018

X- Xenophobic

Are you xenophobic?

Before you answer that question, let me share with you its meaning. If not literally, it means one who is anxious of what others (sometimes from foreign cultures) think of him. Such a person would invariably try to go out of the way to please others, so that his impression remains positive. Now answer the question.

To a large extent, I am like that. On the surface, I would strongly assert, “I don’t care who thinks what”, but deep inside, I am concerned. I may go to the extent of dressing in a particular way, or trying to raise the correct topics, etc just to please someone, whereas the recipient of this attention would neither notice, or make any such effort to please me.

I don’t want to hurt anyone intentionally. So even if I am feeling not very excited about it, I tend to comply (sometimes to desires that have not been expressed at all). As a result, I tend to be taken for granted and my opinion is sometimes overlooked.

I am trying to do some self-counselling even while I write this. Are you like me?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRS, TUVW

Thursday, April 26, 2018

W - Wardrobe

Let us begin in flashback:

A friend of mine had come over to Delhi and was staying at her cousin’s place. She invited me over, to which I readily agreed. We enjoyed the evening thoroughly but when it was time for me to leave, we found it was stormy. Soon began incessant rain. We waited and waited, but the weather would not settle, until it was very late at night. My friend’s cousin came forward as a good host and offered me to stay over, and also offered me a T-shirt for me to change.

When he opened his cupboard, I was left open-mouthed – it was so neatly arranged! Clothes were ironed and segregated in an orderly way. So far I used to think that men of all ages are essentially lazy, and their wardrobes are likely to be untidy. When I could not hold back my surprise, he told me, “It takes so much lesser space if you keep things properly and finding anything becomes easy too”.

A lesson learnt well.

Even today, I try to keep my belongings neatly. I admit it gets messy over time, but I take time out to re-arrange my stuff periodically. A neat wardrobe is the sign of an organized mind, I tell myself.

Do you have a neat wardrobe?

Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRS, TUV

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

V- Venturous

I am somone who is willing to take a few risks. Although I may be sceptical initially, I would take a try. Some of these (ad)venturous steps have worked for me in reality. Thinking out of the box and stepping out of one’s comfort zone is the key.

Our Sports Teacher had asked me if I would be interested in joining the School Rowing Team. They needed someone who knew swimming. I didn’t know how I would fare at the sport, but I agreed to go for selection. And not only did I row in the tournament, I enrolled myself in the Rowing Club and went on to win many competitions.

My decision to study Architecture was also one such venture for me – no one in my circle had studied the subject, and I had very vague idea about the different roles I could play. I had taken the selection test thinking my good handwriting and fair sketching skills would come in handy. I couldn’t believe my ears when I was informed that I had been selected!

I may be working as a Transport Planner presently, but my training facilitates my visualization of a project better and also enhances my presentation skills. Today, I have the experience of teaching many students, guiding them to design their projects with practical knowledge and also taking examinations as external faculty.

Have you taken some risks in your life that have worked for you in the long run?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRS, TU

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

U- Umbrella

One thing that is permanent in my bag is my umbrella, whichever season or time of day it may be. Can you guess the reason behind this?

It is a habit that has stayed with me since childhood. My hometown, Kolkata (earlier known as Calcutta) enjoys a very balanced climate. It is usually sunny, and whenever it gets too hot, the city gets rain. Thus, an umbrella would be the companion of most citizens, especially the women, as it comes in handy both when it is sunny or when it is pouring.

As children, we were possessive about our umbrellas to the extent of embroidering our names on the edge. Also I remember stitching frills around my umbrella as a child, just to decorate it.

That reminds me of a disaster which very few people know about. Encouraged by the appreciation received for the frill stitching initiative, I decided to go experimental with my creativity. My Dad’s umbrella was a boring black one, and had a big diameter. He rarely used to carry it. So one day, I punctured neat holes in it in different sizes, stitched patterns in some and made it look very innovative.

I was disappointed to see the horrified look on my Dad’s face! I told him it would create different patterns on the road when the sunlight poured through it, and he asked me in return, “What about the rain?”

What is your constant companion?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRS, T

Monday, April 23, 2018

T- Tailoring

Do you know that I can cut up a piece of cloth and stitch a dress? There was one time when I used to design and tailor my own clothes.

The interest in tailoring was ingrained by my Granny, who tried to teach some basics of stitching and knitting to both me and my brother, telling us that this knowledge could come in handy anytime. However, I was the only one who took interest. She owned an old sewing machine and the sheer pleasure of operating it and watching the cloth move through the machine captured my awe.

During a fairly long break in school, my Dad sent me to learn tailoring from a lady who gave classes near my home, just to keep me occupied. I showed considerable flourish in the art and learnt different ways to cut cloth. However, I couldn’t pursue this talent of mine much as studies came in the way. I could help my Mom or Granny at times only.

Years later, when we had shifted to a new home, my husband gifted me an electric sewing machine on my birthday – such a sweet gesture! However, there was a secret intention – he made me stich all the curtains, pillow covers and likewise that you can see in my home!

Do you have a hobby?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRS

Saturday, April 21, 2018

S- growing Senior

“With great power, comes great responsibility” is a popular saying. So can be said as we become senior by age or grow in our careers.

Time flies by and we gradually traverse the journey from our childhood to adolescence, adulthood and

finally old age. Give it a thought and you will realize the way we interact with the rest of the world also changes.. from a cuddly baby we become a sweet old person.

I remember the day my manager asked me to dictate a letter to our secretary. Till then, I had been drafting letters myself and never taken assistance of a stenographer. I actually re-verified from my senior that I was eligible to ask someone to work for me. It made me feel as if I had risen one level up.

Yes, as we have grown from the grass root level, our roles have gradually transformed to a managing role – we receive instructions from our managers, delegate work to our juniors, finish the work received from them, and again transmit the final result to the source of the requirement. This is no easy task. Those of us in the senior management face challenges such as accomplishments in line with the company’s growth, something that can be achieved by someone with relevant experience and necessary qualities.

What is your take?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQR

Friday, April 20, 2018

R- Routes

There are many words suitable with my theme that start with R, but if we pinpoint one around which my life revolves around is Routes.

I plan operations of bus routes as my job, and needless to say, they hover in my subconscious mind all the time. Thanks to this job, I have travelled to different parts of the city which I would not have gone to under usual circumstances and also have drawn them out on a map of Delhi.

Our bus routes have all been digitized in a GIS map with every bus stop located on it, for the purposes of monitoring of our services. I am often required to refer to these maps to take decisions. – the city map has thus got ingrained in my memory. As a result, I can give you directions to a colony you may have never heard about before, but I shall refer it like I see it in a map – north of X place, west of Y road.

My team also constantly monitors financial performance of routes, temporal and directional variation of travel pattern of passengers, etc. Each route has its own peculiarities. For example, a route serving the Airport shows a sudden splurge of demand around the shift change timings. 

Are you a working professional? What is your job profile all about?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQ

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Q - Quality

Are you a quality freak? Do simple things such as spelling mistakes irritate you?

In today's times of texting, I observe the growing popularity of abbreviations, sometimes to the extent that one cannot make out the actual word.

I was always someone who is obsessed about correct grammar, spellings and all minute details. My schooling had ingrained this in me, wherein the correct formatting and punctuation was given a lot of importance. Today, when a document produced by me is applauded for its overall appeal as well as its content, I silently thank my teachers who drilled many qualities in my mind.
My training as an architect enhanced this inclination even more. Not only does every line have a meaning, their thicknesses also vary with their relevance. I remember working with an architectural firm which made me draw 26 sections of a kitchen of a small apartment, to explain all the necessary details, architectural, plumbing and electrical.
During my teaching days, once I was examining answer scripts of Architecture, I had to try hard to control myself from deducting marks for careless mistakes, and focus on the technical aspects.

I always tell people whom I can influence, such as my friends, juniors and students to put in their very best shot and try to not give anyone the opportunity to criticize. It may or may not meet the requirement or achieve the desired result, but at least, you have the satisfaction of having given your best. Also one must observe and learn from mistakes to improve.   
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJKLMNOP

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

P- Pressure

What does the word “Pressure” remind you of? Force per unit area? Work pressure? Blood pressure?

As I pose this question, it intrigues my mind wondering about different kinds of pressures we operate under on a daily basis, some affecting us subconsciously. Can we release all of it just like the whistle of pressure cookers in our kitchens?

I see children being pressurized to study harder and harder, take tuitions, etc leaving them with very limited time to play or engage in other activities. What are they being made to run after? Cases of students committing suicide are on the rise, mostly just because they cannot handle the burden of studies, and peer pressure.

We being social beings, are often guided by what others may think. However, we tend to forget that we have no obligations to satisfy the so called “others” and in truth, we really cannot do so. It is actually an art to politely face questions about when one wishes to get married or have children, career options, and likewise.

As professionals, we have to operate within tight deadlines and also manage different responsibilities. The work environment also plays a critical role, affecting our productivity. Coupled with age and gradual degeneration of our general health, adapting oneself to changes and keeping things going is a very big challenge.

Have you ever thought about this?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJKLMNO

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

O- Options

I am someone who wants options for almost everything I wish to go for, be it shopping, investing money or choosing a career, preparing a dish, etc.

One should always check out the choices available before making the final decision, isn’t it? Sometimes, just by trying out alternatives, you discover that something you had never thought of venturing would actually work for you. For example, it is usual to assume that a journey by flight would cost you much more than that by train for the same pair of origin and destination, but it is always a good idea to check out both, especially in today’s times of dynamic pricing. There have been times when flight journeys have cost me less than by train, and because the time taken is much less, it has worked for me very well.

However, it is not always a good idea, because often I may be able to close in on my shortlisted alternatives, but cannot pinpoint what would be best for me. My husband hates me for it.  He refuses to join me for shopping because he says I end up buying much more than what I had initially planned for.

What about you – Can you choose from your options easily?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJKLMN

Monday, April 16, 2018

N- Numbers

I always had a strong numerical aptitude. This does not mean that I was good in mathematics – but numbers get imprinted in my memory very easily, especially phone numbers and birthdays. So in days before contacts could be synced with Google accounts, when losing one’s phone or diary would mean havoc for most people, I would not be affected much. I knew most numbers by heart, and anyways was not dependent on any kind of record.

Once I lost a smartphone too – but I did not know about syncing with Google and all my contacts were gone. However, I could manage reasonably till the time I could restore my phonebook.

And this is not true for phone numbers alone. Let me share a story: While preparing for an exam, my friends and I had gone through a mathematical problem with randomly assumed values. While revising, I said that I had grasped the process till the value came out to be 4148.43 and requested a friend to explain after that. Much to my surprise, I saw they were looking at me critically. “Why would you memorize random values?”, they asked. I couldn’t convince them that figures get imprinted in my mind effortlessly.

My mind can process simple calculations easily as it can almost visualize them. This is useful even today, and comes in handy at times.
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJKLM

Saturday, April 14, 2018

M- Month End

Do you look forward to the end of the current month? Or do you hate it?

Well, maybe there are good and bad sides to everything. The good side to the end of a month is that it’s pay day – the message from our bank informing that salary has been credited brings a smile to our faces.

However, for most of us, this also means that we should allocate amounts for various heads, such as rent, monthly instalments, credit card and phone bills, fees, salaries of our domestic help, etc. What is left behind is what we have to survive the next month with.

For me, at the end of every month, since I am the operations manager, I have to review the performance of bus routes in detail. Also, I get reports from various sources which tells me the number of complaints received in a month and also the pendency. Thus, the first few days of the following month means a lot of work for me, as my usual responsibilities also have to be attended to during this period.

Needless to say, operation of public transport services throws up most unexpected challenges and surprises, and most need immediate attention. Can you imagine my state when these situations arise around a month end?

What are your month ends like?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJKL

Friday, April 13, 2018

L- Letters

Letter writing has become an obsolete art with the growing popularity of e-mails, texting applications, social media and more. But this has been part of life since my childhood.

I have grown up watching my Granny write letters to my Uncle who lived in England, and waiting for his replies. When Granny was ill, I would be her scribe – she would dictate, and I would transfer the spoken words verbatim to the letter. When I was in Delhi pursuing higher studies, Granny would send me letters full of guidance and love. I still have most of them preserved with me.

I also developed a fondness for letter writing – I had few pen friends. I had never met them, and we would not be able to recognize each other had we crossed paths ever. But we used to pour out our hearts, perhaps because the fact that the other person would not be judgemental provided a comfort cushion.

Letter writing is not only about writing few words on a paper. A friend of mine used to write amazing letters, mostly in graphics – creating tiny sketches depicting each aspect. As children, we had fancy for writing letters in code language, sometimes in invisible ink, etc.
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Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJK

Thursday, April 12, 2018

K - Kitchens

Sounds strange, coming from me, is it? I am someone who is unwilling to devote too much time in the kitchen and would prefer doing all other housework other than the regular day to day cooking. I am fairly good at preparing certain dishes and take interest in trying out new recipes, but it has to fulfil the sole criteria of requiring optimal time and effort.
Other than  I am an architect and the design of a kitchen interests me much. If I visit someone, I would seek permission to visit the kitchen, to observe how it functions and look for new ideas. [I have done this in some restaurants too!]

Say what we may, do whatever we want, our kitchens are the most important part in our homes. Especially for me, because my day begins from there – from the very first glass of water in the morning to checking the gas connection for the last time at night.

Nowadays, modular kitchens have become popular as our utensils and related accessories can be stored in a neat and organized fashion. Dining spaces are often an extension of the cooking space – so that food can be served hot. Even new colour schemes have changed the way kitchens integrate themselves with rest of the apartment.
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHIJ

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

J- Jack of all trades

You must have heard of the popular phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none”. This was actually used to convey that one should attain expertise in one subject. If he tries his hand in everything that he comes across, he would not be able to specialize in anything and would have little value.

However, I have never been able to agree to this idea – my personal view is that one should have working knowledge of many aspects to be able to survive. Let me explain this. Isn’t it enough  know how to cook, although I may not be able to churn up exotic dishes? There are some preparations which are my forte, and that has come with time through rounds of preparations, improvisations based on feedback, etc.

Similarly, in today’s world, with changing technology, to keep oneself abreast with the industry, we have to quickly upgrade ourselves – we have to know important aspects to keep ourselves updated, although we may not be experts.

I am not denying the value of being an expert at any particular profession, but there is no harm in knowing little bit about other ways of life as well.

Would you agree?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGHI

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

I - If

I hate to crib about any situation saying “If only things had happened my way..”. When in crisis, my attitude is that “Ok, so now I am in a (major) fix. What can I do from here?”

Only until a few years ago, you would have found me saying similar stuff as the former statement. I would blame my crisis situation to external factors, such as economic recession or unpredictable traffic conditions. However, one day, I just asked myself, “What could I have done better?”

For me, this was a big realization. I almost felt like a person who could go around counselling people, helping people face challenges thrown up by life.

On a serious note, thinking deeply, I realized that there have been indications of trouble long before the situation actually happened, and I had ample opportunity to respond to those signs. For example, I was aware of high traffic volumes on certain stretches and I should have started with cushion of some time in hand. It is alright to reach early rather than being late.

From fairly simple to complex situations, I don’t say “If..”, even if the externalities are out of my control.

What about you?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFGH

Monday, April 09, 2018

H- Holidays

Amidst our busy daily lives, a thing to look forward to is an upcoming holiday, isnt it?

It could even mean the weekend. On weekdays, I am running against time right from getting up in the morning to dropping back to bed at night, after a tiring day at work, travelling, etc – it seems there are so many tasks so much to do and such limited time. Weekends are mostly synonymous with lots of housework, but these are the days I can catch up on missed sleep, find time for shopping and doing things I like.

Because my parents and most of my relatives live away from me, I look forward to taking a break and going home from time to time to catch up. I love being in my hometown, Calcutta (nowadays Kolkata) and hate coming back.

And if we are not going home, my husband and I plan trips where we can relax and rejuvenate ourselves.  Preparing for such trips is also so much fun – gathering information, evaluating options, preparing itineraries and more – the excitement begins right from the day both of us arrive at a consensus of destination.

How do you prefer to unwind?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEFG

Saturday, April 07, 2018

G - Glitches

My Dad’s favourite phrase is “Man proposes, God disposes”.

How true this has been in my life. Life seems to go on smoothly when I do not plan, and go on with the natural flow of daily activities. But much to my disappointment, things would go haywire when everything appears to be in place and I am sure that I have it all sorted out.

Just one example will tell you this. We had planned a weekend getaway in August, well after the monsoons in Delhi. But it rained so much that day that my co-passengers could not reach in time. I cancelled the tickets, learning the hard way that Plans do flop ! (Do read it)

I have experienced and witnessed many tales of missing flights, absolutely-made-in-heaven-marriages being called off, data not showing during important meetings, etc. etc. .. mostly for reasons completely out of control and completely unexpected.

How does one deal with glitches??

Its not as if I don’t plan. I still prepare, to the best of my ability. But now I have accepted that the most immaculately made plans may go wrong too. I try to have a Plan B too, if my plan A goes wrong.
What is your strategy?
Read previous posts on Theme: Things my life revolves around: A, BCDEF

Friday, April 06, 2018

F- Failures

Scene 1: I sat staring at the score against Mathematics on my Grade V report card, wondering what to tell my parents.

Scene 2: About five years later. I hold up a marksheet, smiling broadly, pointing at the score against the same subject. A perfect 100/100 seems to shine over all the other subjects.

It sounds as cliche as ever, but it is so true. Failure is indeed the pillar of success.

People narrate their success stories, I tell tales of my failure too. These are experiences that stay with you, and let you think over, realize what you did wrong and try to correct it.

However, let me confess, things don’t always work that way. I am someone completely in love with myself – In retrospect, when you are supposed to be truthful to yourself, I tend to  glorify myself to my own soul, telling myself that “whatever I had done was the best I could do, and the most sensible thing to do. If the situation did not work out in my favour, it is unfortunate and not really my fault.”

What about you? How do you cope with failure?
Read about the things my life revolves around: A, BCD, E

Thursday, April 05, 2018

E- going Electronic

E-mail, E-payments, E-Commerce and more - our lives revolve around these nowadays.

I still remember the day my friend told me about Electronic mail, and how sceptical I was to accept its utility. Nevertheless, she dragged me to a cyber café, which was rare those days, and made me create my very first e-mail account.

The Indian Government is also oriented towards making transactions digital, which has had a very strong impact on my life.

Today I seek for electronic options for everything I do – be it paying bills, shopping, booking tickets, hiring cabs and more. It saves so much of my time and allows me the flexibility of multi-tasking – I can take care of many responsibilities through few clicks. If I have to make a payment, however small, I’ll go for the electronic option if available, use my credit card or e-wallet.

The very mention of credit cards makes me realize that making payments has undergone a paradigm shift in my life. The use of credit cards, online transfers, apps and likewise rule the way I choose to complete my transactions.

Also, my work profile also essentially revolves around e-mails and meetings over video conferencing.

I have gone very electronic. Have you?
Read about the things my life revolves around: A, BC, D

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

D - Durga Puja

A year in a Bengali’s mind is typically from one Durga Puja to the next one, irrespective of exact dates. This is the biggest festival of West Bengal and Bangladesh – mythological background being when Goddess Durga visits her parents on Earth.

It signifies the overpowering of good over evil, wherein the Goddess is usually portrayed in a pose slaying the mighty devil, Mahisasura. Along with her, her four children (Goddess Lakshmi and Saraswati, Lord Ganesh and Kartik) can also be seen.

Creativity of artisans is showcased in beautiful idols, pandals and overall decorations. Would you believe it that preparations start months ahead of the festival, and watching the city get decked up gradually in anticipation of all the fervour is an experience in itself. There are many awards to recognize such amazing skills, given by various companies. These add to the excitement!

Only one leave in my yearly leave plan is fixed – my visit to my hometown, Kolkata during this ten-day festival. This is the time to catch up with family and friends, go around the city watching the decorations, eat, drink and create many fond memories. Not to mention, a complete overhaul of my wardrobe!
Read about the things my life revolves around: A, B, C