The Butterfly Moment

“Hello Gorgeous!” Someone whispered in the vicinity.

I was so engrossed in my own thoughts that I didn’t even bother to look around. I was staring at the distance which seemed blurred. It wasn’t the distance which caused the haziness but the tears that had welled up in my eyes. I would skip the reasons which made me teary eyed but can confess that  the tears were brought on by some instances from the past, insecurities of the present and ambiguity of the future. I felt like a prisoner to my own self, chained to responsibilities towards family, career and expectations of the society. I wasn’t compelled to follow them, yet I did…. Involuntarily.

“Hello Princess!”  The sweet voice floated into my ears again and this time, with a fluttering sound.

I was taken by surprise. Why would anyone call me by such names? You got to be joking! I was so engulfed in self-doubt that I wasn’t ready to believe the whisper.

From the corner of my eyes, I saw a colorful butterfly perched on my shoulder.

“Were you calling out to me?” I asked her. She spread her wings, took off from my shoulder and settled herself on a flower pot right in front of me.

“Why do you look so astonished my dear?” She questioned me.

With displeasure I replied, “Well, I am not worthy of those names.”

With a rather puzzled look she asked, “Since when did you start believing that?”

By now I was irritated. She had intruded into my reverie and now like many others was mocking me too. How could a gorgeous free spirited creature like her ever empathize with me? She was the epitome of glamour and freedom and I was just the opposite. I could never be like her!

I am not sure whether she had the ability to read my thoughts but after flirting around me for some time she whispered into my ears, “Princess, have you ever heard of the word Metamorphosis?”

Definition of Metamorphosis -The biological process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in two or more distinct stages.

I recollected this definition which I had learnt several years back in school. I even remembered witnessing a pupa converting into a butterfly in my garden. But how was all this related to our conversation?

“Metamorphosis happened only to insects and amphibians, not mammals!” I replied curtly.

She smiled ….“Metamorphosis is not only transformation but also your willingness to change to a new form. Being a caterpillar was not unworthy but evolution was the demand of time. To be able to take off, I needed to undergo a change,”she said.

Now I had a point to counter, my eyes gleamed while I boldly questioned her. “What do you know about change? All you had to do in the name of change was to convert to a pupa from being a caterpillar and after few weeks break open and fly away as a beautiful butterfly. You can never ever understand the pain and struggle we humans have to undergo to change our paths and lifestyles. Even after we decide to remould, the battle continues every day. The pressure to prove ourselves along with the fear of non-acceptance curb us from taking the flight.”

There was silence for some time. I could assess from her grim expression that I had struck a painful chord in her.

“It was neither an easy task nor a comfortable journey for me. As a caterpillar, I dreamt of flying but it seemed too far-fetched. How could someone even dream of transforming from a caterpillar to a butterfly? I dared and decided to take the plunge but the struggle commenced only after that. Staying within the cocoon was not as simple as it looked. My body disintegrated, cells dissolved to form new ones. You cannot fathom the pain I endured.”

“Then came the time, when I had to leave the cocoon.. I had my insecurities, I had never flown before. I was expected to break open the chrysalis, pump blood into my newly formed wings and fly away. What if I failed after all my efforts? No one could help me but myself. I mustered up my courage, spread my wings and took off. It was not miraculous but a joyous moment for me. Was that the end of my struggle? No, no my dear, I could fly but then I needed to adapt to new surroundings, new circumstances and of course new attractive competitors and till date the struggle continues.”

As I heard her speak about her journey, many things fell into place like a jigsaw puzzle.

The caterpillar was complete in herself till the day she had an urge to fly. It was time for me to identify my stage in this life-cycle.

If you dream to fly, you need to transform yourself, be willing to leave the safety of your cocoon and necessarily go through all the pain and struggle. There is no liberation without pain. Metamorphosis demands of us to grow, to change into a new state of being, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

As she stretched her wings to take off, I reached out and asked for her name. “I am Pari” she said. “What’s yours?”

“Princess”, I replied with a twinkle in my eyes.

Pari (Fairy in English) was such an apt name for this winged creature, a fairy god mother indeed!

I saw her fly into the blue horizon and this time it wasn’t looking blurred anymore. I visualized the vast sky and felt the wind beneath my wings, all ready to take off , It was my “Butterfly” moment, the moment when I was ready to make that quantum leap and start my metamorphosis 

Since that day, I have done radical changes within me which has elevated my confidence in different ways. I have a new outlook towards life …. Not sure whether it has made me successful in any ways but the journey has definitely boosted my endorphins.

 

A date with Mr.Skeleton

Skeletons smile, Pumpkins leer

Ghosts clap, Witches cheer

– Rusty Fischer

Here I was, waiting for my physiotherapy session for an ailment which was both profession and lifestyle induced. Located in the basement, the clinic which had limited internet connectivity, restricted my access to emails and social media. There were no other patients in waiting with whom I could strike up a conversation so the only way to while away time was to browse through magazines lying on the table.

As I finished flipping through few of them, I had a weird feeling … that I was not alone, that someone was staring at me intensely. I looked around and was surprised that I had company. A fragile looking guy at the corner of the room, smiling and trying hard to grab my attention. My first impression…”Naah ! Not my type”. He was neither impressive in appearance nor charming enough, for me to give him the attention he was seeking. With due respect to skinny people, I felt intimidated at the sight of his bony anatomy.

Despite my disinterest, he made another attempt to speak before turning away murmuring,  “One day you will realize and repent for not giving me the importance ”  

“O Really! You must be joking!” I glared at his sunken eyes as I walked briskly across the room towards the doctor’s cabin. As if to tease me, he then flashed a smile at me which further irritated me. With an intention to lodge a complaint against him, I glanced at his name badge… freak with a bizarre name, Mr. Skeleton.

My meeting with the doctor was not very pleasant. He confirmed some serious issues in the bones due to which the nerves travelling to my hands were getting effected. This resulted in the lack of strength and mobility in my right hand. He asked me to get a few X-rays and tests done and wait in the lobby for the test reports. I was nervous at the thought of any dysfunction in my right hand and while I waited wondering about the course of action, our eyes met again.

Flashback- Old acquaintance

Travelling back to my Biology classes in school, I recollected reading a lot about Mr Skeleton. He was a multi-talented guy with a framework of 206 pieces of bones, small, big, round, thin, thick all types along with a network of tendons, ligaments and cartilage that connected them. He performed vital functions like support, movement, protection, blood cell production, calcium storage and endocrine regulation — that enabled us to survive.

No, I am not writing an in-depth study of the Skeleton System but even these few lines highlight the quantum of work he did for me.

My thoughts paused, when the doctor called for me to discuss the reports. Along with the diagnosis, he also told that the problem was more to do with lifestyle and lack of exercise. He said  …”You guys are so busy with your professional career and social commitments that you neglect your very personal self. You ignore the problems at the initial stage although your body gives you enough indications. You forget that your bones require more importance than your looks.” After having a short chat with him about the remedial process, I walked out of the clinic with a vexed feeling. I was annoyed at my callous approach and that’s when we cross paths again.

He was still hanging around ? (Of course we would be ! He was a wall poster hung in the clinic lobby)

One hour had changed my outlook towards this guy. With regret and humility, I apologized to him for my past behavior. He flashed the same smile again (with the dentures showing up) and whispered, “I have always been your friend since the day you were born. We have grown up together and despite your efforts to ignore me I will always be there to prompt you when you go wrong. Don’t judge me by my looks “

Ha Ha Ha ! I had befriended a guy with the worst look, a huge attitude and a pool of talent. An uncalled date in a clinic and definitely a memorable evening ♥

Driving back I remembered a joke …

Q: Why didn’t the skeleton go to see the scary movie?

A: Because he did not have the guts!!

But my friend today surely did have the guts . LOL!!!!!

Was this a fizz moment? Not really … It was a fuzz moment converted into a fizz moment. Try and make every moment a fizz one 🙂

Poovar-The tale of friendship

Here I am …in Kerala again, this time in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of the state.

My connection with Kerala dates back in 1994, when I had traveled across the country to the south of India (Chennai) for my higher studies. Away from home for the first time and encountering a language barrier I was extremely apprehensive if I could sustain and complete the tenure of studies. I was pleasantly surprised by the way my Malayali classmates welcomed me to their group. Being different both socially and culturally we vibed well. The warmth that they extended to me still lasts as valued friendships. Possibly this is the reason why I get pulled back time and again to this state.

Mine is a cherished companionship but this narrative is about a different level of friendship . It’s about 3 distinct identities with a completely different set of characteristics, bonded till eternity. Frivolous, Sombre and Wild ….. They don’t match, do they? Yet they have been friends since ages and nothing seems to be able to break this bond.

Foreground

Historians say that Kerala gets its name from Keralam, “Kera” (coconut) and “Alma” (Land) in Malayalam meaning The Land of Coconut. Popularly known as God’s own country, this name was coined during the 1980’s by Mr. Walter Mendez, Creative Director of a reputed Ad agency in India on request of Kerala tourism department with an intention to give the state, global recognition as a tourist destination.

The Journey

Despite being there on work, I squeezed out time and with the help of my friends, set forth to explore a new destination. It was a picturesque coastal village in the Southern tip of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) called Poovar

A quick surf through Google and I gathered that it was named by The Maharaja of Travancore ,Raja Marthanda Varma who was fascinated by the sight of red flowers, blooming along the Neyyar River. The flowers fell into the river making it look so attractive that he ended up naming the river as “POO-AAR” (meaning a stream of flowers) which later became “POOVAR”

The journey from Trivandrum along with my friend took me 40mins during which we covered a 30 km stretch through the rustic village roads. On reaching the boat jetty, we hired a motor boat for one and half hours and set sail  along the Neyyar river towards the estuary. As the boat cruised, the boatman (Cheta as I called him, meaning big brother in Malayalam) took a diversion and steered into the narrow canals. A regular looking ride suddenly looked enigmatic. Dense mangroves, wild trees, shrubs and coconut groves, it was a fascinating world. !! I was told that some scenes of the famous Hollywood movie Anaconda were shot here.

Engulfed in mystery

Cruising into unknown territories

The interplay of light and shade through the thick foliage, the reflection of trees over the clear water and the tranquility of the surroundings made the journey mysteriously attractive. The only sounds I could hear were of rustling leaves and occasional chirp of birds. To add to the plot, Cheta showed us green mangoes and juicy pineapples, which to any onlooker would look like normal fruits but were apparently poisonous. Poisonous? Looks could be so deceptive, you see!

Poisonous pineapple plants

Poisonous mangoes hanging low

Poovar is a haven for migratory shore birds and I sighted a few like the Cormorants, Snake Bird, Strokes, Brahminy Eagle and Kingfisher. Cheta was very patient and positioned the boat closest to the birds for better view and photography but silly me hadn’t carried the DSLR, so had to satisfy myself with average pictures taken on my phone.

Birdie Time

Reflections on clear water

Narrow canal with trees arching and forming a canopy over the water leading on to coconut trees stretching out and kissing the waters… it felt a different world unfolding with every turn. I had never witnessed something so alluring like this.

You don’t know whats ahead ..could be a Anaconda 🙂

Tranquility

The river widened to form a lake before it merged with the Arabian Sea. On the lake were few floating restaurants and Cheta took us to one of them for lunch (guess he had a “setting” here as we were not allowed a choice of restaurants). We were told that food would be made ready by the time we reached back from the beach, which was a great way to optimize time.

King perched on its throne…king of water or sky?

horizons separated by the sandy strip

The Golden Beach as it’s called, beckoned me. Without wasting much time, we sailed towards the sandbar, a thin sandy strip of land separating the calm lake and the restless sea. An interesting sight indeed! At one end of the water channel (estuary), I could see the waves crashing (the boat was not allowed to go till that point due to high tide). On the other side there was a beach overlooking the sea which was clean and quaint.

Waves crashing at the end of the estuary

A quaint Golden Beach Island

Pineapples on the beach..Hope they are not Poisonous 🙂

Golden beach view from one end

We strolled for some time admiring nature’s creation all around us before heading back towards the restaurant where piping hot lunch was waiting. On the way back, I had a view of the huge statue  of a Mother Mary and Elephant rock. We were running late and had to finish the meal in haste before we set sail again but this time on a different route.

Statue of Mother Mary

Elephant Rock

Luxurious floating cottages

Instead of going through the canals, the boat took us straight on the wide river passing the floating cottages. The return journey was much faster and without any halts. In no time, we returned to the boat jetty and  bid good bye to Cheta and set forth for the city.

With Chetta

  Musings

I relaxed in the car reflecting about the day and smiled, I had discovered a new place and a new story. The tale of 3 friends bonded by a quirky relationship in a magical land.

A fun loving and mischievous Neyyar River originating from the Agastya Mala hills in the Western Ghats; a relatively serious and calm Poovar Lake and the boisterous, wild Laccadive Sea (of Arabian Sea).It was the story of Neyyar who left her mountain home in order to explore life. Full of energy she meandered through valleys and forests till she reached the southernmost point of Kerala. There she found herself in a different land, a land she was not accustomed to but was warmly greeted by Poovar and Laccadive who accepted her into their midst. Both were of a different nature, one cool headed and the other was riotous, but there was something that bonded them all together. Was it destined? Maybe!!

They met, they clicked and they still continue this friendship …. Seems like my story which played out decades ago when I traveled across the country to the south of India.

Read about another friendship story on a beach setting Post Cards from KRABI

The Shell Story

Chhai chhap chhai chhapak chhai
Paaniyo pe chhinte udaati hui ladaki,
Dekhi hai hamne, aati hui
Laharon pe jaati hui ladaki

*song from a Hindi movie

I was humming and frolicking on the beach, enjoying the romantic setting that nature had created. With the smooth sand slipping past beneath my soles, cool breeze rustling my hair and the sun preparing to take a dive at the horizon, I was in love with every passing moment. The cool water and sand were both tingling and tickling my tired feet, a sensation I find comforting only at the shores. (The feeling of the ground shifting from underneath my feet is not pleasant in deep waters).

An evening date with the sea shells at Benaulim Beach, Goa

It was high tide and each wave brought with itself a collection of sea shells to the shore. Since my childhood days, I was always fond of collecting them and today was no different. The shapes, designs, textures and the fact that they held a living form within, made them thoroughly fascinating.

Although all this were a natural phenomenon but I would like to believe that they were coming together to pay a visit and say hello to me on this romantic evening. They came, caressed my feet, invited me for a conversation with no expectation of reciprocity and then bid goodbye . Suddenly as they left, I realized my mistake. I waited for the same magic to return but the ones that came back weren’t the ones I so wished for. I sighed on the missed opportunity to collect those beautiful shells and decided to return next morning, though in the heart of hearts I knew the ones which I did let go would never come back.

Shells on soft sands of Benaulim Beach Goa

It was my favorite place Goa, a destination I never get bored of but this time I was there on work. I was invited for a seminar along with 60 other people. An interesting conclave where we would get an opportunity to learn as well as network with people across various domains. For a entrepreneur like me, it was a wonderful platform where I could meet, discuss and crystallize business propositions (guess that was the agenda of the meet). Amongst the 60, I was acquainted only with 2 , whom I had known professionally. They had always been my well-wishers, but the lesson they imparted that day was gratifying.

Mona calls me aside fuming, at the end of the two day conference and says “why don’t you grasp the opportunities that come by you? Why are you not aggressive in marketing your idea?” Rahul seconds her and says “you will never get a second chance to meet these people and collaborate with them”. For the next 10 mins, they cited instances and rebuked me for my foolishness.

Their words were harsh but true. Two days were served to me on a platter and I didn’t use them wisely. I am not sure whether I will meet these people again and revive what I lost. I repented and sighed, exactly the same way I had done at the beach two days back, the evening when I had a date with the sea shells and missed the opportunity of treasuring them.

Read about opportunities and priorities and the tussle between them in “Trust your Instincts” http://www.fizznfuzz.com/trust-your-instincts/

A lovely creation on the beach of Goa

∗My sincere apologies to the shells whom I let go hoping they will reach out to me again the next time.

Opportunity knocks once! Nature has its own way to explain simple things but we tend to overlook most of the times. Thank God we have friends for that, who do the balance 

Thank you Monalisa Sagar and Rahul Narvekar for the strong and powerful dose, it was an important lesson at the right time.

 

“We have an infinite amount to learn both from nature and from each other” –John Glenn

 

 

 

 

 

Ladakh Road Trip-Lessons Learnt

It had been on my bucket list for the past few years but job, family responsibilities and circumstances had kept me away from it. They say “If something’s bound to happen, it will happen at the right time and for the right reason.”

I had to quit my job to pursue my entrepreneurial dream.It was certainly not a cake walk, required a lot of diligence, patience and mental strength to make this radical shift from being an employee to an entrepreneur. More than a lifestyle change, it was the fear of failure and apprehension on sustainability. The road ahead seemed foggy and self-doubt was par for the course. During this time came an opportunity to undertake a road trip to Ladakh. This had been on my list for long, so on the rebound I decided to tick it off.

In the end you will only regret the chances you didn’t take.

2 weeks of bike trip with a group of friends and a bunch of strangers to this picturesque and magical land sounded very exciting but as the rubber hit the road, so did the reality. Staying in metro cities, we took a lot of the luxuries for granted but the journey compelled us to confront our fears and challenge ourselves. Treacherous terrain, extreme weather conditions, low oxygen, altitude sickness, the sheer demand of physical endurance coupled with the absence of basics like hot running water forced to dig into the reserves within us which we never knew existed.

The awe of the mystical land gave me the courage to take up this challenging yet fulfilling task just the way I had embarked on my entrepreneurial career. But little did I know that I would return with experiences which would not only enhance my personality but also provide me with lasting tips for my entrepreneurial journey.

Lesson 1- The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek !

Despite being aware of the risks and the fears accompanied with it, I had decided to step out of my comfort zone, let go of my fears and undertake this trip. The driving force- my passion and eagerness to explore the unexplored.

It requires a lot of determination to renounce the luxury of a fixed salary and venture on your own. But in this era of unpredictability, does your job hold a lifetime guarantee? The answer is no. Then why are you scared to take the risk? If you are passionate about your idea, if you trust your instinct…..just set sail. As Albert Einstein rightly said “A ship is always safe at shore, but that is not what it is built for.”

Lesson 2- Success is a series of small wins !

With all apprehensions, I started the journey and soon realized that the difficulty levels increased with every mile. My body hadn’t gotten accustom to the climatic change and long hours of riding and this was dampening my spirits. The low morale reflected across the entire group. The enthusiasm with which we commenced the journey was dropping fast and we started questioning our ability to reach the final destination. To our surprise, our team leader who would have sensed this began cheering us on crossing every milestone. He made us feel like heroes and winners and we later realized that with each celebration, we were regaining our confidence to ride the next mile.

It’s good to have a road map with a finish line, but in the course of an entrepreneurial journey, you need to be proud of even the smallest achievements. Break down goals into smaller ones and creatively celebrate every success .You are worthy of every step ahead and each of them will take you closer to your destination.

Lesson 3- Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. Keep going and don’t give up !

We had climbed to 18000 ft and it was higher than what any of us had ever ventured before. What kept us going was our determination and our sheer quest to explore. Personally for me, with the first glance of the Pangong lake, I had tears in my eyes … the feeling was worth every adversity I had endured during the journey.

Entrepreneurship is full of challenges and hardships. You need to prove to yourself, to your family and to the society that you are not a failure. Being emotionally and mentally strong is not easy but if you surrender midway you will never be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Stay strong, stay consistent!

Read how persistence & determination can redefine life in http://www.fizznfuzz.com/barefoot-college-a-back-to-basics-journey/

Lesson 4- When you hit a road block, take a detour! You still will reach your destination.

Riding the treacherous terrain is challenging as you never know what lies beyond the next bend. We started early morning for a long day and found a road block after a small distance. There was a landslide and on inquiring with local people, it was confirmed that help would reach only in 2 days. Mountains unfortunately have no by-lanes, its either the road ahead or the steep slope down the sides. We had to choose between the two and our leader decided to go down the slope. With hearts beating fast, we followed him and reached the bottom where we were needed to cross the river. A river bedded with huge stones and gushing icy cold water made most bikers lose balance and take a dunk in the cold water. Yet we all dared, crossed it and finally  reached our destination, cold and bruised but glowing with the satisfaction of beating the odds.

Although you chart out a plan right at the beginning , many a times you tend to fail in the implementations. These could be due to several reasons like your limitation of product knowledge, economic situations or lack of understanding of the market situations. You struggle and your graph nose dives. During this phase you need to analyse the pros and cons, search for an alternate path to reach your goal. Don’t waste time, accept the reality and take a detour. Different routes can lead to the same castle.

Lesson 5- Don’t try to rush things that need time to grow. Be patient !

Its mid-afternoon. We crossed the river all drenched and still had a good 8-9 hours of riding left to reach our next stop. The heat was subsiding and the chill in the air was taking a toll on us. Our leader took a big decision, he proceeded to a nearby village to take shelter overnight. Our riding days were timed, so any change affected our entire trip itinerary. He explained that hastiness would be dangerous for our health we needed to recover before we set forth.

“Set your goals and focus on them”, this has been instilled in us since childhood but real life teaches us that you need to be patient and compromise too.  It’s good to be ambitious but don’t be obsessed with race. In all possibility you will start gasping for air which will lead to burn-out midway. Focus doesn’t mean you should be a slave to time schedules or you shouldn’t enjoy your journey. Striking a balance is the trick.

Lesson 6- Trust is an exchange of faith, be it your road trip or your business. Trust your co-traveler!

Someone who has been on these roads can validate the danger that lurks at every curve. Trust your team and that’s the only way you can survive. I stood there stranded along with my co traveler and a flat tyre, unfortunately separated from the rest of the team. It was getting dark and cold and the integrity of my co traveler wouldn’t leave me alone in the deserted wilderness. I realized that day ,in a world where we are connected by technology, nothing is stronger than your soul connectivity. We received help after an hour but in those 60 minutes, we never doubted that our team would retrace to rescue us. This incident taught me that we need to have confidence on our team, believe that they always watch our back in periods of adversities.

You might have had bad experiences with people in the past but never let those affect your faith-o-meter. When you are setting forth on an expedition you can never reach the destination alone. Your team fuels your growth and also holds the rope when you are about to fall. Never lower your faith! As the saying goes.“If you have to travel fast, do it alone…If you have to travel long do it with your tribe.”

Lesson 7- Success is relative. More success more relatives!

We traveled for 2 weeks and reached back safely without any major causalities. Was our trip rated the best by any organization or travel magazine? Did we get highlighted in the media? Did we set any records? NO ! But what we achieved cannot be measured because for each one of us it was our personal achievement, something which we will carry as a badge of honor throughout our lives.

On the onset of my entrepreneur project, I have been asked this question many a times. What is so different in your idea? How will you succeed when there are others working on the same idea? My take on it …You can traverse the same path but how you manage your journey will define your achievement at the end. You can be a successful venture in 2 years but shut shop in the 3rd . Or you could take 10 years to settle but still be profitable with positive growth prospects. Which one would you rate as successful? You don’t need to have an extra-ordinary idea to create a successful business, Ordinary with extra-ordinary results will do the same for you. So, never let anyone define success for you.

It took us 2 weeks to complete the trip but the lessons learnt during those 14 days will serve me lifetime. I had my share of good experiences,my fizz moments and a few bad ones, the fuzz moments🙁 which hurt me immensely.

The sour ones have made me stronger emotionally and more resilient. The good ones have taught me to respect time, show gratitude towards people, be patient, accept mistakes, keep myself motivated and above all be my own cheer leader.

“The road may be beautiful or ugly, it may be easy or hard, smooth or rough, it doesn’t matter; what matters most is where the road will take you!” – Mehmet Murat Ildan

Barefoot College – A back to basics journey

A lot has been written about Barefoot College, Tilonia across various fora on the internet but today I will be sharing the experience and learnings from my recent visit to their campus which was an eye opener. I learnt from the inmates that one can literally reach out to the stars with their feet on the ground and it left me awestruck.

I had read about the college prior to my visit and was expecting to meet few happy villagers who lived a self-sustained life, but little did I know that I will return with emotions so profound, that it would compel me to pause and ask myself some questions…

Is formal education so important in life?

Should we complain about every small thing?

Should we stop trying after few setbacks?

I started my journey from Delhi by a double decker train (something I had not done before) and after 4.5 hours of travel, reached Jaipur where I spent the night. Next morning at 7.30am, I met my co-travellers at a tea shop near Ganpati Plaza. The inspirational journey commenced right from Gulab ji Chai wala, where we met this amazing gentleman, aged 90. He had started this tea stall 70 years back and it was his sheer passion that even at this age, he was sitting there, dressed in a crisp white dhoti and kurta, greeting people. More than the tea, it was my few minutes spent with Gulab ji, that left me super charged.

Gulabji Chaiwala in Jaipur with the 90 year old owner

The 3.5 hours of drive took us through tracts of semi-arid land with hillocks on both sides, occasionally passing flocks of sheep and groups of women in brightly coloured sarees, till we reached the campus of Barefoot college, located in Tilonia , a small village in Rajasthan’s Ajmer district.

Barefoot college founded by Sanjit Roy (aka Bunker Roy) in 1972, is India’s first and only college built by and for the rural poor working in the fields of education, skill development, health, drinking water, women empowerment and electrification through solar power. The college imparts basic skills to the villagers, skills which help them take control of their lives and requirements without having to depend on outsiders. Strangely this college imparts training but no formal degrees or certificates.

We were welcomed by the administration and given a brief about Rajasthan’s traditional art of puppetry and how this art form is still being utilized by the college to educate villagers about health, education and human rights. After we took a round of their farms, where they grew fruits, vegetable, medicinal plants and even harvested honey , we finally stepped into the Neer jal department and it was the time of the Awakening

It’s a first of its kind of web based water data and information system, at the village level which captures information on drinking water, its source, availability, quality, quantity, ways of preservation and optimum usage.

Zarina Begum in NeerJal Dept

Inside the department, we met a lady working effortlessly on the computer and on speaking to her, she introduced herself as Zarina Begum and told us about her journey since she joined Barefoot College in 2003.She was educated only till the 5th standard,started work at the accounts department and was later shifted to Neer Jal department. It was here when she learnt English for the first time on the computer keyword and today she proficiently works on Tally and Excel. A true example how self-dependence boosts self-confidence.

 

Bhanwari Devi at the Dental dept

Although we geared ourselves for more surprises, but were bowled over again at the next stop. This time at the dental unit, where we met the granny dentist Bhanwari Devi, clad in a bright yellow sari with pallu on her head. Flashing a smile at us, she narrated her story about how, why and when she joined Barefoot, her experiences, and her training under the supervision of an Italian doctor. Once an illiterate, she joined the training at Barefoot in 2009 and today she can fill in cavities, clean plaque, extract rotting teeth and repair broken ones. Till date, she has successfully conducted 1400 tooth extractions.I asked her if she was ever scared of committing mistakes and her response was “I never doubted by competence and was neither scared. You tend to falter the moment you have self-doubt. I was always ready for the challenges.”  A big life lesson ….Never have self-doubt!

We moved ahead visiting the OPD and laboratory and came upon the sanitary napkin mini factory. The unit was run by both men and women and they had absolutely no qualms discussing this topic, which is still considered a taboo topic in the cities. They explained how the napkins were made from paper that came from Coimbatore and packed hygienically under the brand name of “Sathan”. These women went to the villages and educated both women and men on the importance of sanitary napkins and distributed them packets at subsidized rates. Although the manufacturing cost was Rs.10/- per piece , yet they sold a pack of 6 for Rs.10/- so that women were encouraged towards sanitation and hygiene and more girls could attend schools during their periods.

Sanitary napkin manufacturing unit

Amazed?? We were definitely awestruck at the ease in which they were speaking to us (a group of boys & girls) on this topic when we have our Hindi Film industry censor board, clipping off scenes of movies where there was mention about menstrual cycle.

By now, we had got conditioned to the shocks and then we are led to their Barefoot community radio station.

Their own Radio Station!!!??

RJ Gita at radio station 90.4MHz

Set up in 2009, Radio Tilonia( 90.4 MHz)  reaches out to 40,000-60,000 people daily. They discuss about various government programme, socio-economic issues like caste, gender, labor and community issues like sanitation, water, waste  interspersed with the entertainment of music and skits .We met RJ Gita, who handled all the software related issues in the center. She had gone to school for a year or two and now she is trained to handle a radio station. She said, “Nothing is difficult, if you have the passion for learning.”

Towards the end, we are told about the solar engineers at Barefoot. They were mostly illiterate women, who were trained to assemble, install and maintain solar panels. How did they get trained for this complex job? The answer to this is “dedication”, learning the permutation combinations of the wires through color coded charts and after undergoing this training of 6 months, they are skilled to light up their villages. Solar energy offers them immediate health, education and economic benefits, removes the use of the toxic fuel kerosene and allows children to study in the evenings too.

We ended our visit after seeing every part of the campus and were left speechless. In real terms, the community was self-sustained and all this was a combined effort of Bunker Roy backed by the passion, grit and determination of the villagers. These are the people who should be the role models for so called “educated class” like us who complain about every small thing and claim all our misfortune as results of anything and anyone other than ourselves.

The secret of the magic that these villagers have created seems to have come from SELF …. Self-Realization, Self-Confidence, Self-Motivation and Self-Dependence.

“Believe you can and you are half way there” – T.Roosevelt

Trust your Instincts

Image shot in London

“I have finally made it!” Says Jonathan, overlooking the cityscape, with tears in his tired eyes. He was consumed with swirls of intense emotions—pride, excitement, fear, and joy. It had been a long journey, traversed over several years and thousands of miles. But now he stood puzzled, unable to fathom the unfolding situation. The city of his dreams beckoned him and he was scared to fly the last mile?

Jonathan was born in a poor family where his parents had to work very hard for sustenance. They were deprived of the basic amenities, so education was far-fetched. But Jonathan being a dreamer, wanted to fly high. He convinced his father to send him to a school which provided free education. There were hardships on the way but he was determined. Time passed and he moved out of home with a scholarship for higher studies. Project submissions, study hours and an evening job kept him so busy, that his visits back home reduced with every passing year. His parents missed him, but never complained. They were proud of their son and wanted him to live his dreams.

They say “Your reality is the reflection of your strongest belief “. A job with a reputed organization was the turning point in his life. Dreams actualized and he yearned to go new places and scale new heights. Bigger the aspirations, greater were the levels of commitment and he never shied away from them. In his quest, he traveled extensively and finally reached the city of his dreams.

During these years of staying away from home, he had lost his mother and his father’s health conditions had deteriorated. If he took this job, he would be away from his father for a very long time. A tricky situation it was! His mind was turbulent with mixed feelings.

Didn’t he work hard to reach this far? Wasn’t it his responsibility to take care of his father in his old age? Was he ready to give this up now? It was decision making time!

Whatever be the decision, he will win and lose at the same time.

Sometimes our intuitive feelings guide us in a particular direction and we need to stay open to recognize them. We need to remember that it’s perfectly fine to change direction if that’s where our intuition is pointing.

It’s was a big move and Jonathan was ready to embark on a new journey. He spread his wings and took off ………. In a direction opposite to the city.

He was travelling back home!

This could be a FIZZ moment for few and a FUZZ moment for others. Totally depends on your priorities.

Which would you choose?

Read about another dilemma that we encounter in Hit the Pause

Image shot near London Eye

Notes

Instinct – inborn pattern of behavior often responsive to specific stimuli.It is something which you don’t need to learn but happens naturally without you thinking about it .We also call it the “gut feeling”

Magic Bubbles

One windy evening in 2017, sitting beside the Thames, I am trying to plan my itinerary for the next day .There is music and laughter all around me. It’s a busy promenade with kids prancing, lovers walking hand in hand and street artists playing music, a pleasant cacophony I must say.

While I am immersed in the city guide book, a small bubble floats towards me and bursts right over my book, distracting me. I notice that a bubble maker had just started his show and the kids were going frenzy, bursting every bubble that came their way.

While I watch them playing, I observe a little girl dressed in yellow skipping down the path. From between her curly hair, blowing all over her face, she winks at me and crosses over to join the other children. They wave at each other and run towards the bubble maker begging for more. The young man dips his ring in a bucket of soap solution, lifts it up meticulously and jiggles it, releasing a series of bubbles and then the mischievous breeze drifts these soapy balls in all directions. It was a sight to watch! Iridescent globules floating in the air, ephemeral, yet magical.

 

Image shot at The Thames, London

Time machine reversed its gears  taking me back to 1980.The sunflower girl in her yellow dress was merrily blowing bubbles through the wire ring that her dad had made. As she blew, her friends went jumping all around to pop them. The joy of pricking those shimmering balls was the same.

The chill in the wind, brings me back to the present day and I realize it is time to head back. The sunflower girl too has to return. As she turns around, the bubble maker walks towards her, smiles and says, “Mam, it would be great if you can drop a pound as a token of appreciation.”

She is taken aback, in her journey from the 1980 to 2017, the bubble moved from being priceless to a being worth a pound.

She drops a pound in his hat lying on the ground and walks back. That’s when I notice her face which seemed strangely familiar. It dawned to me that she looked a lot like me, laughed like me and was even dressed like me. She was the little sunflower kid within me and I am glad I rediscovered her today.

The fragile bubbles, brought back the FIZZ within me. I gather the hemline of my yellow dress, walk towards the road humming a song from my past….” I am forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air….”

 

Notes:

A soap bubble is an extremely thin film of soapy water enclosing air that forms a hollow sphere with an iridescent surface. They usually last for only a few seconds before bursting, either on their own or on contact with another object. Assembling several bubbles results in a foam.

 

A picture is worth a thousand words

It’s one of those days when I convert the café table into my workstation. While I do the final run through of the client presentation, I overhear a kid’s conversation right behind me, Mom, why did he draw a heart over your coffee? Does he love you?”

I take my eyes off the laptop screen, glance at my steaming hot coffee and smile impishly “Guess, he loves me too!”

The heart, tulip, rosette that are etched on our coffee is a skillful art, popularly known as the “Latte Art”. This art form was introduced to ensure that our coffee looked pretty and sumptuous. It’s like drawing on a canvas, wherein the balance between  elements like height, position, flow and control defined the quality of the art. Intention is to make it visually stunning so that it affects our perception of the flavor in the cup, even before we sip it.

Does the same philosophy apply when we meet someone?

Be it your coffee or the person we are meeting, our mind is programmed to function the same way. It tries to categorize the person/ coffee and generate feelings which instantly impact us. Researchers say that, “it takes only 7 seconds for someone to evaluate you”. According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian’s , 7%-38%-55% Rule, 7 percent of our communication is based on what we say, 38 percent on how we sound and whopping 55 percent is visual.

Our mind unconsciously evaluates the person and forms an opinion in the first 7–10 secs and this judgement gets finalized in the following 30 secs. As the well know adage goes, “First impression is the last impression” and now you know how precious those first few seconds are.

You can read how first impressions makes you fall in love in  A Love Affair

Just like the heart crafted over your coffee needs to be perfect to make you fall in love with it, so has to be your appearance. It’s imperative to be conscious about your personal grooming and body language to be able to make that first and possible lasting impression. As Andrew Grant once said,”You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Image shot at The Coffee shop,Saket,New Delhi

As my mind drifted from these thoughts, I heard the mother explain to the kid Beta, he doesn’t love me but he is making sure that I love the coffee and come here every day for one.”

 

Notes:

Latte art, is presumed to be developed initially in Italy, but the credit of popularizing it goes to David Schomer, who owned a coffee shop called Espresso Vivace in Seattle, United States. The heart pattern was established by Schomer’s in 1989 and in 1992 , he created the rosette . Latte art is a mixture of two colloids: the crema, which is an emulsion of coffee oil and brewed coffee; and the micro-foam, which is a foam of air in milk.

First impression in psychology,is the event when one person first encounters another person and forms a mental image of him/her. Its based on a wide range of characteristics like age, race, culture, language, gender, physical appearance, accent, posture & voice . The first impression individuals give to others, could greatly influence how they are treated and viewed in many contexts of everyday life.

 

 

Hit the Pause

It’s late in the day and I am still trying my best to meet deadlines. Typing briskly on the keyboard, I take a sip of my coffee followed with a deep breath. I am not sure whether it was accidental or destined, but I notice a key on the right hand corner of my laptop.

PAUSE/BREAK, A key which caught my attention and compelled me to think.

If a key proclaiming itself as “Pause/Break” had a pride of place in the modern keyboard, why wasn’t it an integral part of our lives too? In our fast paced lives, we are always challenging ourselves and in the process getting consumed.

We are frustrated with our daily mundane responsibilities and lose both energy and excitement to set new goals.

We are so overwhelmed with our career that we tend to disconnect with relationships which are very precious.

We get hyper sensitive about all kinds of stimuli around us.

We are so mentally and physically fatigued that the road ahead looks blurred.

We are so focused on the destination that we miss enjoying the journey.

Those are the times, when we need to look for this key and use it to Rethink, Reboot, Rediscover, Reinforce and Reconnect.

This brings me to the next big question.

Why does a Pause and Break share the same key?? Is there a deeper meaning to this ?

Keep thinking!!

Notes:

The Pause and Break keys were used in DOS and still function in the Command Prompt today.

Pause key is designed to pause a text-mode program’s output – it still works in the Command Prompt window on Windows. When you press Pause, the output scrolling down your screen will stop. Depending on how the program is written, this may also pause the program’s execution. Press another key after pausing and the program will continue. The Pause key can also pause many computers during the BIOS boot-up process until another key is pressed.

Break key can be used to end DOS applications – pressing Ctrl+Break terminates a DOS application. This shortcut functions similarly to Ctrl+C, which is also used to terminate applications in command-line environments.

 

 

 

A Love Affair

The glistening rays of the sun kisses Lavandula & whispers a soft “Good Morning” into her ears. The cool breeze brushes past her dainty body, tingles her and  makes her smile. It’s a new day, a special day. She believes that something wonderful was destined to happen that day.

She realizes, that time had taken a leap and what she has was in full bloom. Draped in violet and green, she looks stunning. As she smiles at everyone around, her poise and the lingering fragrance sets her apart.

Image shot at Royal Observatory Greenwich

In the crowd, there is this young man dressed in a yellow and black striped suit, watching her through his large eyes. There is something alluring about her that attracts him so intensely. Lavandula feels those big eyes and smiles. Despite being strangers, they share a feeling tender yet passionate, loving yet wild, a feeling they never felt before today. An emotion which was magical. Bombus makes his move,reaches out to Lavandula  and without hesitation looks deep into her eyes and embraces her. It is an uncontrollable emotion on both the sides. Their lips lock, he tastes the sweet nectar and they drift to that point of ecstasy.

It is love at first sight!

It was my imagination of a real time love affair…the FIZZ moment of a bumble bee and a lavender.

Notes:

Love Affair : A romantic and sexual relationship between lovers.

Bombus are large, fuzzy insects with short, stubby wings, popularly known as bumble bee. With over 250 species, they are some of the most social creatures in the animal kingdom. They are the most important agricultural pollinators and release pollen by a process called Buzz pollination. They feed on nectar and pollen produced by flowers. The sugary nectar provides the bees with energy while the pollen provides them with protein.

Lavandula is a flowering plant in the mint family which is known to have 47 different species. Lavender as it’s commonly called, derives its name from “lavare” (Latin meaning ‘to wash’) or “livendulo” (Latin name for ‘bluish’).These flowers yield abundant nectar, making it the favorite for bumble bees.