From Disaster to Power

When I first became a manager I had an insatiable urge to be liked by everyone. I was a “Yes” person and struggled to integrate the morale of my teams with the “results oriented” demand. The workplace was becoming hard to manage and I felt like a disaster.

My manager then (and now), and mentors continued to coach me, especially on my situational leadership skills. I took what’s apt on what they excelled at and made continuous improvements. And took tangible actions on self-improvement which was a big investment unto itself.

First, I had to revolutionize in my head that I wasn’t in any popularity contest. Everyone that reports or works with me, does not have to like me. They just had to form an ethos that helps derive a productive work environment that brings the highest business value.

While it is a plus that most love working with me, there were always one or two that would be misaligned because of ideological, creative and ethical differences. In such cases, I equipped myself to insulate the functionally superior team.

Second, in order to get things done and done right, I learned to say “No”. This newfound power gave me the edge to help prioritize motivated team members and collectively remain focused for highest return on investment.

Last, and most importantly, it took me years of practice to let my gut mingle with my inner voice. For the last few, which I consider the finest of my boss years, I’ve had immense joy in instigating teams to their true, best and incredible potential. Nothing can beat that feeling!

A lot is written these days about bad managers, yet there is a gargantuan to be written about my kind and better, that continues to create rewarding organizations, setting a vision for good employees to execute, translating leadership guidance in an inspiring way, and giving a chance for the unskilled to adapt!

Occasional (In)Equality

On my recent trip to Hyderabad, I had experiences probably very unique to the general perception. As a result of which, I felt a certain way. These feelings are neither positive nor negative but very matter of fact on how it was for me. Not for anyone else. So any preachings about me looking at this in better light or resolving my angst by act of meditation can be saved for a later time.

There was a lot of progress around in terms of real estate, quality of life, and spending power. But what I found didn’t progress much is how women are treated. There was growth towards equality and equity regardless but it was all relative for me. And I prayed fervently that those that I went through are isolated and not applicable to any other woman but just me.

I am not sure why I am being so apologetic but any chances of sharing my ‘feeelings’ prior to here were minimized with gush of toxic buoyancy which is detrimental or worse than defeatism. Nevertheless, it does not stop me from getting my dose of therapy. Everything else is on the reciprocation of the reader if they choose to read this wholly.

My mother needed me to attend to her ancestral properties. And for all those who know how hard it is to pull that stunt together and ensure no one has already snagged those for lack to frequent attention. It was not bureaucracy or red tape that got to me, but certain engrained behaviors. And in the following instances, I was baffled how mean those neighbors were.

Despite assuring to support our endeavors and and that they would be there to help where needed, the moment our contractors would follow through, they would ask for exorbitant paybacks in cash or kind, otherwise which they’d stall all previously promised. And upon probing, their response was that they don’t speak money matters and certain dealings with women. Bummer! Here I thought, they gave me the dignity and seriousness I deserved.

All this while I thought we are all equal in eyes of God and especially humans who have carried forward God ‘s wish, or as they say. When I visited a certain place of significance, there was a huge sign-board on what women cannot wear when stepping into its threshold. There was nothing that reflected what men cannot wear unlike in many other places of faith where ‘what not to do’ is specified for both genders.

I wore brand new black jeans and a fresh off the laundry kurta, that too white to denote the purity and symbolism of visiting this place.My midrif was modestly covered just like the rest of my body. I was stopped at the door while men in ragged, dirty, most repulsive jeans and unclean attire walked right past me in hoards. No one stopped them. I might start a storm if I go into specifics but it was not the discrimination I was expecting in a place of worship.

Even though the battle for equality and equity for women has been largely won, there are traces of misrepresentation from individuals and institutions who refuse to acknowledge the progress in the community, embrace the change that will make them better, and perhaps even make them deserving entities. As always there is hope that through expressions like mine, we are able to change the world we live in.


This was the moment I managed to smile after many days. I was tired from the 12-day Hyderabad trip, slightly defeated but proud of myself for accomplishing the impossible, even though I was only able to do the most critical tasks, met very few, didn’t eat at home at all, and had the most hectic schedule starting at 8am and ending past midnight most days.

I don’t know why, “Jaane woh kaise log the jinke pyaar ko pyaar mila,” was ringing in my head while I reminisced to the contrary on how fortunate I am to have found affection in the most unanticipated places, kindness from strangers, and true love that only few are fortunate to experience in their lifetime.

There were times when I thought to myself how such hardships only happen to me, but I quickly corrected my inner voice that it could have been worse and it was only going to get better. A lesson I learned on this trip is that I can only control what happens in my life. Not anyone else’s.

I stopped worrying about what’s eventually to happen to me or those that I love and just live in the moment. While I can’t influence someone else’s behavior towards me, I realized I have complete power over how I let their words and actions impact me. That epiphany was utopia. A state of mind I dreamed of being.

My Hyderabad Trip – A Prelude

It was utter madness. I didn’t make any plans for the first time. And I thought I’d be okay and I jumped right in. There were so many bloopers because things were not the same. I was not the same. None that I went there for were the same. We all wanted to give it a try for old times sake.

For the most part, it was memorable. There were few instances and places I wish I never went to. Well, some were by choice and some were inevitable. But 12 days was not an ideal timeframe to go back to 21 years of missing my roots and where this sapling was born and raised.

Just like any part of the world, the immigration in India was not conducive for short people like me. The biometric was so high up that no matter how much force I put, the ghosts of my fingerprints were not getting captured. My constant pleas to the immigration officer to press them with my approval turned into declines but with smiles. There started my journey of where I left. Precisely, in similar circumstances.

Did I say, I changed and people there, changed. I was proven wrong quickly. Some things did not change. In my excitement to relieve myself of the 15+ hours of not peeing, I had the luck of going to the lone floor toilet and being confused on what to do with the bidet. It is not being posh but it was simply a paradigm shift that I had to revolutionize in my head.

From what I learned later, that was the only toilet on that side of the airport that was not changed to Western. For the uninitiated, floor toilets are good for your gut health. Now that I was quickly re-trained, I imagined everything else would be a cake-walk, like I never left. This girl was in for the wildest ride of her life.

I was in awe of the expansion of the city, the infrastructure, but still dumbfounded at the traffic. Apparently, if a flyover or an underpass even if it has been completed (for ages) cannot be opened for public use until a certain KTR inaugurates. He happens to be the IT minister. What has he to do with the department of transportation is a mystery to me! Tuglak phenomenon anyone?

The old city as usual lies in the very neglected state as it was 20 years ago. But who am I to visit in eons and make these comments unless I want to do something about it? And I will. I just don’t know how yet. If only the elderly can vacate their seats for public office and make way for the young who really want to make a difference. Did I also hear the local government is going to come back for the third time?

May be, someone like my Akhil and his group of friends who selflessly took on my legacy tasks. If he can do that for a complete stranger like me, I can only imagine what he can do for the community. These group of youngsters were my pillars of strength in my entire 12 days in Hyderabad. “No segment in the society can match with the power, idealism, enthusiasm and courage of the young people.” Is anyone listening?

And, I’d be selfish if I didn’t thank my doctor and Attorney General cousins, my friends of nearly 30 years whose affection remains irrefutable, my mom’s neurologist, My co-sister and brother-in-law, a mischievous Hungover and a dear Rosarian for standing by me during the lowest and last 2 days. There were many others I wanted to catch up, mend relationships but I couldn’t. Yet, there were some that I carefully avoided.

I added few funny occurrences too for my stand-up routines. At a second immigration stop, the officer refused to acknowledge that it is the same person in the passport and that standing in front of them. I had to pull multiple state issued IDs before they started to mention how pretty I was in person and even that I’m 50 kgs (not lbs) lighter. They could tell it all.

There was this visit to the “Statue of Equality” where there was nothing equitable. I saw the sloppy inconsistency where women were not allowed to wear jeans into the temple, while men walked right past in the most ragged, torn, dirty and despicable jeans. I intentionally wore jeans so I can stand there and argue. Alas, those with me didn’t let me! I’d rather not go into any temple whose representation of God is nothing but a deceit.

This post comes as a prelude to many more memories that I am yet to pen. I did what I could for those that mattered. My mother seems to be dealing with the rumblings of many disgruntled but my choices were sturdy. I’m very proud of myself for taking charge of unguarded moments and enjoying those that were frivolous.

Just when my book “Black Canopy” the English form of “Kala Dera”, the slum I grew up across is taking shape, I am reminded of Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again”. How I wish I can rediscover my birthplace with newborn love and hope, and perhaps not wait another 21 years. At the end of the entire trip, I was just glad to enjoy the white throne at a place I call “home”.

Where it started….

After nearly two decades, I had the chance to visit the place where my life story started. Up until then, my focus was on the hardships we faced, the open drains I had to cross while going to school, or how the street dogs would come after me at dark, and how I was flogged by eve-teasers that I never figured why or who about.

When I stood for a picture in front of the ‘apartment’ we lived in before I embarked on my journey to the States, it dawned on me that those run-down conditions taught me to be prepared for life ahead, the hurdles that awaited, my character formation, resiliency in personality development and overall to exhibit the basic empathy that all humans need to.

Despite degrading conditions of the community and that part of the city, I was ecstatic to see that our home has been aptly turned into a library. I still don’t have any answers from my mother on why we didn’t live better because we could have instead of availing those government quarters.

But maybe, it is now the right time to stop asking such questions that won’t ever be answered and look ahead, find the courage to let go of what I can’t change, create the happiness I deserve because I’ve learned grace from the worst of my times, and keep the ugliness memorialized in my book of lessons so I can mend my beautiful heart!

Mera Bharat – Day 1 Note

What a humbling experience it has been traveling for pleasure this time after 21 years; 13+ if I were to count the week in between when my only job was to attend to my father in the hospital and help Amma.

Ram and Amma were nearly petrified on how I would re-adapt but I stunned them by being the girl who never left in the first place. The US does spoil you and I could see those stark differences clearly.

I created garbage, more in a day than Amma did in three months. If you ever wondered how a country with 1.42 billion survives without landfill problems, because it doesn’t have people like me!

I thought I’d freak out with the changes but it felt just the same. More traffic but no incidents on the road like when I used to drive. Perhaps, the city sent people like me overseas so they can live in peace.

Last but not least, our driver is not one in the sense I knew about, at least until now. He is a self-employed, rising business tycoon who wowed us endlessly with his resourcefulness.

I couldn’t have asked for a better Day-1 except for the jet lag kicking my butt at 8pm IST despite fighting it for the better part of the arrival and the morning.

Who cares about generational trauma or abuse if only I knew before how to have fun and live on my own terms. Now that I do, I look forward to many stand-ups that are in store for me. Maybe an alternate career is in the works for real this time


Last Minute Wonders

The days, hours, and minutes leading up to the finish-line of a project whether be at home or work are magical. It is a mad rush, chaos, arguments, and sometimes objects fly too.

We’d often know when a guest arrives weeks in advance or even if we didn’t, the storm to clean, cook, compose and get it all together before the door bell rings is awe-inspiring.

On the work front, sans the method of delivery and the precision to when and how things get done during the course of the project, none can deny the wizardry that happens at the end.

I’ve lived those remarkable moments just like many of you and continue to with greatest appreciation. Some call it procrastination or laziness and frown upon that kind of productivity and its existence.

But I’ve realized how high my creativity is, how I somehow figure the best alternatives of doing the same thing I’ve dragged on for weeks / months, and how I am most cheerful despite the “stress”.

By no means I am suggesting that we delay or stop doing things in a planned manner. But “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” Cheers to all such moments that make our accomplishments, exemplary and our life, animated!


There were times
When I’d rejoice
More than I do now
It hurts a little more
Each time they wither
Changes that happen
To the mind and heart
A piece of me is gone
And I become different
Sometimes what I’m not
Or what I shouldn’t be
Outpours of sympathy
‘Move on’ they all say
But how to tell them
The turmoil within
People that we touch
Those that talked
Few we loved more
Leave without a bye
An enigma of life
Makes me wonder
Who’s next in line
If it is going to be
One that I’d die for
Wondering again
How I’d even go about
Another loved one
Fading into eternity


Writing is cheaper than therapy and who else but me to validate time and again. But then, there are perceptions that always plague my writings. And many who have enlightened themselves or have been protected that they perhaps wouldn’t understand why I put my words on paper. Even though I come from a highly educated family, there have been topics of taboo, that are cringed upon and unspoken even today.

I was twelve. I had gone to a relative’s place for lunch with my parents. Everyone had a scrumptious meal, the adults including mine got immersed in neverending conversations and I remember getting bored so I wandered off. They had much older kids, all probably in their late twenties and early thirties. I was about to go into a room with a television, and was stopped by one of their sons to exchange a few words. It was sweltering hot and that explained why he was in a ‘baniyan’.

As a child I was sharp tongued – no surprises there. I regret not keeping my mouth shut that day. He was stinking and I unmindfully said, “Yuck ‘Anna’, why don’t you take a shower.” I didn’t realize how swiftly he reacted to what I said, that I didn’t stand a chance to escape the situation that was to dawn on me. That incident would eventually besmirch my mind with fugacious thoughts for the rest of my life.

There is possibly no remedy besides self-healing. And that takes its own time. I can never forget the visual, the smell, and the contact. Hind sight is 20-20 and it wasn’t anything that could leave me in physical or mental pain but the nightmares from that instance haven’t stopped. He brought his full haired armpit into my face, the sweat touched my nose and the stench was so intense that I puked. I don’t know if this is any kind of abuse or not but it was definitely detrimental for my fragile mind.

The visceral reactions were immediate and prolonged. The repulsion to untidiness, the disgust for salt, nauseousness at the smell of stench have continued through my adult life. My cleaning compulsiveness is neccesaily not a bad thing but I tend to take it to extremes at times when I have a recollection of the unfortunate flashback. To make matters worse there is nothing to be forgiven but a lot to be forgotten.

For those in similar ‘pain’, while each of our coping mechanisms may be different I do find comfort in avoiding my triggers, intentionally trying to overwrite that trauma with ‘clean’ memories such as indulging in delicate, refeshing scents, frequent showers, cleaning my own home that also helps with cardio, talking through with my husband and mom on what not to do on my bad days. It is hard but I not only have a supportive family but a strong set of friends who never misunderstood my idiosyncratic behavior.

Those that are of the understanding that people like me should shake it off, be positive and meditate must also learn that unlike physical hurt, the cracks to the mind don’t manifest and the healing is not standardized technique. So, please be kind with your sermons. “There is no timestamp on trauma. There isn’t a formula that you can insert yourself into to get from horror to healed. Be patient. Take up space. Let your journey be the balm.” – Dawn Serra

Say ‘NO’ to Celebrities

I am very fortunate to have served on cultural organizations here. Considering I’ve been away from India for vastly more years, there is definitely a noticeable disconnect in my mannerisms. Simple courtesies that I was taught especially for celebrities seemed to have vanished. I mention celebrities in terms of those that are associated with acting in cinema or their inheritance for being part of families whose heads have been holding onto patriarchal legacies or those who’ve made a niche for themselves because of their connections and some talent. I am not including the other diaspora associated with cinema because somehow I still seem to revere those fine arts.

Nearly half a year ago, I had the rare opportunity of interacting with two despicable such and their managers. At the onset of the assignment I was thrilled imagining I could network and partake in their philanthropic efforts one way or another. It was exhilarating to have been interacting with them for the first time in my life. Otherwise, I am not that kind of a fangirl that is gaga over their sneeze or twerk. This seemed like an opportunity at a different level especially now that I understand the impact of brand on community enhancement efforts especially at the grassroot level.

Alas! They were not what I had imagined. I was stunned beyond wits on how undervalued someone like me and other committee chairs would be for them. They assumed that we were dispensable labor dedicated to their whims and fancies. That they could just instruct anything and we’d bend backwards to please. While one manager ordered around drastic updates to the visuals at the conference few hours before start, another left ridiculous tens of voice notes asking to be served one on one in his hotel room. Everything they demanded was so beyond comprehension that I wondered if they even belonged to this planet. Perhaps not.

The sham that comes with some celebrities, and please note I don’t mean all, is unfathomable. Nothing that is shown on the screen is worthy of believing. You’d never know when someone claims to be a vegan but orders Wagyu steak in secrecy. Few of the many things that were ludicrous with these celebrities and managers, was their audacity to skip on program commitments if the crowd was lean and ask for ‘mobs’ to throng on them when they arrive at the venue. And they wanted only the opposite gender and younger crowd. One thought that she was so esteemed that she wanted highly accomplished panelists who are self-made billionaires to get off the stage if she were to speak.

At one point I had to make it obvious on how successful each one of us here is, our self-made legacies and a certain unparalleled individuality that they could never achieve even if they tried. One’s manager asked to me stand up in reverence when ‘madam’ walked in and I refused, much to his dismay. My respect is meant to be earned. I just couldn’t overlook her snobbishness and how she made me feel. When I went to receive this ‘diva’ at the airport, she shoved the bouquet because her VIP protocol couldn’t take effect. Systems were down that day and everyone had to pass through the same immigration lines. Even when help was offered, she refused.

Not only was this one a racist but openly asked for a ‘local white chauffeur’ and not the conference provided Desi! Despite our best effort to provide a luxury vehicle for their joyrides, thousands of dollars were wasted in hiring an additional vehicle from the concierge. I pray to God that some day these dimwits experience hardships just for a day. Throwing celebrity tantrums is one thing but to display innate disrespect for fellow Indians especially those that are not a penny less than them is blasphemy!

I don’t know how many read my post but it is my earnest request to all cultural organizations in the United State to stop this craze of bringing moronic celebrities to grace our events. And especially those who have forgotten basic respect. When we have abundant unsung heroes around us in the fields of education, literature, music, and dance, why should we degrade ourselves by signing up for this insanity. Heck, we even have our so called local beauty queens and influencers who are much tolerable than these fake biggies. Let’s remind ourselves why we came to this country in the first place. Enough is enough!!