Sunday, September 30, 2018

3 quick fix baby shower games

If you are organising a baby shower in a hurry and cant think of games, here is your life saver. I created and then tried them today and they were a HIT.

1. Sugar and Spice: This is the classic party game with a twist. Everyone writes one sweet and one saucy (not critical or embarrassing) thing about the mother to be. The chits are collected and then read out by someone else (so that handwriting cannot be guessed) and the mother tries to figure out who has written this within 10 seconds.

The variation that we played was just reading out the chits. I took a video of the mom to be's face while the good stuff about her was being read out, and it was a delight!

2. Sing Song: Create chits with situations. Guests are split into groups and they have to guess songs that match the situation. This is hilarious. Some of the situations we thought up:
A. Baby has an upset stomach on date night.
B. Baby goes to sleep to the sounds of drum roll in clash of clans.
C. Baby only wants to play with the toys of the older child.
D. Help me, it is 2:30 p.m. and I still haven't eaten anything!
E. Dad is late at work on yet another parent duty night.
F. Baby isn't burping!
G. Baby spits on my most expensive (silk) party dress.
H. Baby is teething.
I. Baby isn't teething!
J. Not feeding properly.
K. Help, we need to get out of the house!
L. No maid!
M. Daddy's darling!
N. I want to wear nake up!
O. Who do you love more, mom and dad?

3. Objects D'Art: Take everyday objects and put them in any bag. Everyone comes to the bag, closes their eyes and pulls out any one object. Then they have to use it as an infant would. We had everything from rubber bands and Uno cards to ash trays! Just random things around the house.

Friday, September 28, 2018


मेरी दुआ है,
कि तुम्हे कभी समझ ही न आये
कि 'थका-हारा' में
'हारा' क्यों लगता है।

May you never confuse
with failure.


पहले मेरा , सच
एक ही चेहरा होता था।
मिलते गये लोग,
लदते गये,
रिश्तों के नाम,
अठन्नी, चवन्नी उम्मीदें
लोगों की।
बनते गये
उम्मीद से मिलते जुलते
चेहरे मेरे।

पर पहले
एक ही चेहरा था, सच।

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Hindi Poem on Navratri

आओ अब हम करते हैं
तैयारी माँ के आने की
नवरात्रि के नौ दिनों में
पूजा की थाली सजाने की

आओ चलें दुर्गा जी देखें
बड़े पंडाल को शोभित करती
अम्बा मां गर्वी में बैठी
गरबे को आनंदित करती

वैष्णो माता बैठ है आती
शेर की सवारी पर
हर कन्या में रूप है पाती
बिंदी, लाल चूनर सर पर

वहां बने हैं गोलु सुन्दर
३,७,९ सीढ़ी पर
सबसे नीचे भू के प्राणी
देवता विराजते सबसे ऊपर

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What are your skills, exactly?

When a woman comes to ask for work, the recruiters politely ask her "And where do you think your skills would be the right fit?"
That is a polite way of saying - we don't think you have the skill set we need in this office.

This post was a few years in the making - in my head.

What are the skills she brings to the table? A woman returning to work after staying at home?

Presenting, The skills based

Profile Brief
A CEO level talent with incredible view of all dimensions of running an enterprise. A dedicated and mature leader who has proven track record in aligning contrasting stakeholders to a common goal.

End to end budgeting, funds allocation and management of funds, accounting and internal audit for an annual budget of XX LPA. Upto 7-10% YoY increase in the budget every year. Additional responsibility is absorbed with no team augmentation.

Task Scheduling and Monitoring to ensure end to end efficiency in operations. Track record of less than 2% outage/task slippage over x years.
Operations Planning using CPM to ensure non-stop business continuity with minimal time investment.
Maintenance Scheduling and monitoring for all capital and operational assets including perishables.

Inventory Management
Demand forecasting and Inventory Management for 120+ SKUs, panning across Capex, Opex and perishables, with 0 outages and less than 10% forecasting error.

Human Resources
Recruitment, Talent Engagement, Agile Performance Management system with ongoing 360 degree feedback for a team of 5. Annual Attrition at <20 24="" and="" benefits="" control.="" discipline="" exit="" grievance="" hr="" like="" management.="" management="" monitoring="" payroll="" posh="" span="" transactions="">

Stakeholder Engagement
Excellent stakeholder management skills with proven ability to align stakeholders with opposing agendas to arrive at a common ground and collaborate. Ability to deal with a variety of stakeholders across levels, domains and organisations.

Negotiation Skills
Ability to negotiate in 1:1 and 1:M situations and arrive at Win-Win outcomes.

Project Management
Ability to plan, execute, monitor, control and close projects of short and long term duration across travel, construction and education industries. Brings valuable client perspective to the table.

Ability to source on both “L1” and “L1,V1” basis for industries as varied as FMCG, Stationery, Appliances, Construction, Materials(B2B) etc.

Vendor Management
Contract Management, Performance Monitoring, Review Feedback, Payments processing and ongoing vendor relationship management.

Risk Management
Operational and Behavioral Risk Management in operational capacity. Ability to foresee risk, threat, vulnerability and plan accordingly.

Internal Audit
Ability to deduce information from written and unwritten sources and remain an agile internal watchdog. Also ensures organisational preparedness for external audits.

Communications Management
Ability to customise the message according to the needs of the recipient. Ability to be sensitive and responsive to the communication needs of various stakeholders and ensures adequate contact and communication.

Ability to apply simple QA and QC procedures to ensure quality. Ability to train team members on the importance of quality.
PS: This is neither satire nor exaggeration. Every single skill written here is true. It has just been put in a language that you understand.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sanskrit Saying/ Sanskrit Lokokti

न च व्याधिसमो रिपु:

There is no enemy as bad as ill health.

न - There isn't

व्याधि - disease/ill health
समो - like

रिपु: - enemy

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Depression/ अवसाद

जब पहला i don't care निकला था
किसी की ज़ुबान से, उसे
वहीं, उसी वक्त,
एक ज़ोर का तमाचा मारना चाहिये था ।

पीली बेल
पैदा होते ही काट दो,
तभी बचता है पेङ।
ये परवाह न करने की महामारी भी
वही पीली बेल है
धीरे धीरे
मर रहा है पेङ।
घिरता आ रहा है
अकेलेपन का डर
अवसाद का दानव।

मरने वालों के अंतिम शब्द :
"No one cares for me. "

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

That time when i forgot to be politically correct..

Scrolling down the Facebook timeline trying to fall asleep, I'm first amused and then irritated by the non stop political cacophony.
So dear friends of mine:
1. The best place to express your political opinion is inside a polling booth.
2. We can all read and we're educated enough to make our own decisions. If you must do public good in the time of elections, take a walk to the nearest slum and tell people what a manifesto is. Why they must vote on the basis of a manifesto and no...t on the basis of 1500 rs per rally. Gather manifestos and explain each one. If u want a better democracy, create more aware citizens.
3. This is a democracy. The buck stops with the voter. Stop electing criminals and then creating memes on them for the next 5 years. The joke's on us.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Book Review: 54 Reasons why parents suck

I just finished reading this book:

And I am in tears.

The book is a 16 year old Swaraa talking about the pet rants of children against their parents. Compiled in a nice 54 reasons format, each reason is well illustrated and explained - using examples and research studies, without sounding academic or boring.

As I read each reason, I wrote the parent's response to the reason. Then my son and I will compare notes.

Swaraa shows the mirror to us as parents. Come to think of it, there is NO feedback mechanism from children to parents. Parents give feedback to kids like 10 times a day, but how many times a day (lets be honest here) do they listen to feedback themselves?

But the reason I was in tears, is that, she also provides validation to parents like me.

3 years ago, I gave up a corporate role to exclusively spend time with our son. All these years later, I STILL hear this almost on a daily basis:
  • Children grow up anyway. Why did you have to leave such an enviable career?
  • You wasted a seat at an IIM. Why go to an IIM if you wanted to sit at home and raise children?
  • Women should not leave the professional world due to childcare issues. The employer should arrange for a day care.
  • Why couldn't you ask your mother or mother in law to live with you??
Without going into the right that these people have to be judge and jury on my specific case, these comments, and the sheer frequency at which they are made - both to the face and behind the back, indicate, quite clearly, the majority view on parenting in our world.

So, dear Swaraa(and Swati), THANK YOU for validating:
  • You should only be a parent if you want to spend the next 18 years nurturing another human being. If you are not emotionally invested in the nurturing, your child will sense it. It not NOT MANDATORY to be a parent. No one else's opinion matters. You have to live with the consequence of that action, and your child. You must think this through very carefully.
  • The small things matter. You cannot decide when a child will choose to confide in you. It is important that you are present when that moment arrives.
  • The ONLY way to get a child who lives a mindful existence is to be a MINDFULLY present parent.
  • If kids spend too much time on their gadgets, take a good, long, hard look at what you do with gadgets in their presence.
  • Parenting is not a part time job I do after office hours.
  • It is POSSIBLE to have an open, nurturing relationship with a parent, where both are open about their weak spots, vulnerabilities and comfort zones.
  • Disciplining is not outdated. Even children appreciate parents who set limits and help  them grow.
  • Open communication is very vital. Our children are telling us, as straight forward as they can, that they want to talk and be heard. We are not listening!
Dear both: More power to you, for writing this book. I Hope this will encourage, above all else, a feedback loop from parents to children in every house.

PS: If you really want to benefit from this book, I recommend that you also supplement your reading with the Parent-Child-Adult Ego States theory. To apply things that this book hints at, we will have to discover and if needed, alter the ego state we exist in.

Friday, September 14, 2018

On figures, numbers, statistics and trends

मैं उसे नहीं जानती थी साहब.
वो कभी घर से निकलती ही नहीं थी
कोई जानता कैसे?

मैं बस २ ऊंची आवाज़ों को जानती थी,
(जिन में से एक बिलबिलाती थी)
वे घर से निकलतीं भी थीं 
और सबके घर भी जाती थीं। 

उसके कपडे
सूखने के लिए डाले होते थे रोज़
और उठ भी जाते थे
पर न मालूम कब पड़ते थे
और कौन उठाता था
वो कभी नहीं दिखी

उसके बच्चे भी
बराबर स्कूल जाते थे
और वापिस भी आते थे
स्कूल की पढाई भी
ठीक ही रही होगी
क्यूंकि मास्टर
बड़े खुश रहते थे बच्चों से
- हमारे बच्चे बताते हैं.

आप पूछते हैं 
मेरा क्या ख्याल है 
उसने ख़ुदकुशी की होगी 
या उसका खून हुआ होगा ?
मैं क्या कयास लगाऊं साहब 
जब मैं उसे जानती ही नहीं थी। ... 

पर मुझे लगता है 
कि वो 
बच्चों को छोड़ कर मरने वाली औरत नहीं थी 
जो उसका ढांढस 
या नसीब 
साथ देते 
तो उसने 
कुछ बरस और, निकाल ही जाने थे.

I did not know her, Sir.
None of us did.
How could we?
She never got out of her house
Or met anyone.

We did know her screams, though.
They left the house
at regular intervals
and reached everyone.

Her clothes appeared
and disappeared
on and from
the clothesline.
We never saw her.

Her children
were dressed
and sent to school
They did well at school,
our children tell us that.

You are asking my view
on whether this was
a suicide
or a murder.
But how can I guess, sir,
when I did not know her at all?

When this report was published and widely discussed yesterday, I just politely smiled. Depression in women, women dying, has always been inconsequential. If someone had taken action, these numbers would not have climbed the way they have. The rise has been consistent since 2012 at least.

This piece, just wrote itself.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thoughts on Vinayak Chaturthi

Vinayak Chaturthi is the celebration of Shri Ganesha. We know him as the God with the head of an elephant. We also know him to be the Vighna Harta – the God who removes obstacles.
What you may not know is that Ganpati is not just celebrated in India. We find pictures of Ganpati in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and there also, he is the Lord of Abundance.
 You have probably been to a Ganesha temple. But it doesn’t matter. Because Ganpati temple is the first enclosure in any temple. No prayer begins until Lord Ganesha has been venerated. No Yagya begins without a prayer to the Ganpati.
Now, let me ask you a very interesting question. What if you knew someone who had a head like an elephant? Would you celebrate them like the Gods, and their followers, celebrate Ganpati?
Let that be an important question to you today.
If the Gods did not judge one with the head of an elephant, who are you and I to judge another person?
Not just Ganpati, our Gods have taken, wilfully, the forms of fish, a dwarf, a boar, a playful, naughty little boy – and all these forms of our Gods have been accepted, venerated and prayed to. What is that if not the indication that all Life, all of this world, and everything in it, is beautiful, is respectable, and deserves equal celebration.
If I was to tell you that you have to meet a person who has an unusually large head, and has a really big tooth jutting out of it, you are not likely to imagine something beautiful. Yet we have all seen beautiful images of the same person.
Look around you. Who is different? Who has hands that are different?  Legs that are a little wobbly, a rather large or small head, or just doesn’t get stuff when the rest of the class/group does? Who speaks a little differently?
The next time you want to play God and judge, remember that the Gods did not judge on these things.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Pearls/ Moti

ਗਾਨੀ ਟੁੱਟ ਕੇ ਮਨਾ ਲੈਂਦੀ ਹੈ
ਆਪਣੇ ਹੋਨ ਦਾ ਸੋਗ।
ਮਣਕੇ ਦੀ ਕਿਸਮਤ ਵਿਚ
ਟੁੱਟਣਾ ਵੀ ਨਹੀਂ ਲਿਖਿਆ

ਰਿਸ਼ਤਾ ਕੋਈ ਖੇੜੂ ਖੇੜੂ ਕਰ ਵੀ ਦੇਵੇ
ਮਰਜਾਣੀ ਗਾਨੀ ਵਾਂਗ
ਨਿੱਕੀਆਂ ਨਿੱਕੀਆਂ ਯਾਦਾਂ
ਜਯੂੰ ਮਾਲਾ ਦੇ ਮਣਕੇ

माला टूट कर मना लेती है 
अपने होने का सोग 
मोती की किस्मत में
वो भी नहीं।

रिश्ता कोई छिन्न भिन्न कर भी दे 
माला  जैसे 
छोटी छोटी यादें 
ज्यूँ माला के मोती
चुभती रहती हैं
पैरों के नीचे।

A string of pearls
can tear itself apart
to bemoan
its very existence
but the pearls
have no such luck.

A bad relationship
can be forgotten
as if it was
a nightmare
But the tiny memories
of moments spent:
Like pearls
from a necklace.  

Best Rom Coms on Netflix India

If you are like me, you dig rom coms.

Finally, I found some good Rom coms on Netflix. Here goes:

Our souls at Night

If you like old fashioned romance (and I do), then this is the movie for you. An old woman goes to her neighbour and asks him if he would consider putting her to sleep every night, so both of them can draw solace from each other's presence and sleep better.
The man accepts. And what follows is a complete romance. I am not a fan of Mills and Boons. This is real. It has people who deal with a lot. And very few mushy scenes. Their underlying strength as they deal with questions from everyone. Their underlying companionship. The easy camaraderie with Jamie.

I loved every frame in this film. Its not a mush fest. Its intelligence, perseverance and a very good cast. The background score? That's a HUGE bonus. Loved every single track on the OST of this film.

Once Again

One of the BEST rom coms of recent times. The only similarity with Lunch Box is the food connection. Nothing else.

The movie runs at a really slow pace. Every action is deliberate, every expression on every face gets the attention that it deserves. But here is the funny thing - it never gets boring. Not even for a NFS junkie like me. (Ok, I am not really a NFS junkie. But I find slow real boring)

I love Shefali as an actress. Always have. And this movie gives her the stage that she deserves. The cinematography deserves special mention. I love it when light is used to good effect in a film. In this film, it is. Mumbai is also highlighted well. But it doesn't become a glittering Diva from its real personality. You just see some key locations at night.

Qarib Qarib Single

Here is a confession - This movie is special to me because of Gangtok. Because it was shot to show my favourite table at my favourite café in Gangtok. Some day, I am going to sit at that table and write my life all over again.

The story is really sweet. The acting is par excellence. The plot? Not so much. But the whole experience of the film is sooo.. romantic. And so real.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

The effect of poetry on the head

You wrote
a poem once
It reminded me so much
of someone
who could have been

That ended - all of it,
the someone.
The something.

But the words.
And the promise they held out
that day
Like a little angel
the moon.

We both knew, of course,
the Angel and I
that it is not possible
to promise the moon
to a mortal.
But we played along, the Angel
and I.
Like that, your words
have remained
in the head.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

बंद नहीं होते
कल के दरवाज़े

आज की सांकल
लगती नहीं है अभी।