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Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie.. Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... I Am crazy about music,books,friends and my doggie... :)

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Never a dull moment around friends..

When a group of friends meet up, there is talk about everything under the sun. Ranging from relationships [whether you are in one, yearning to be in one, or confused about the one you are in now], the weather, the latest movie you saw and even a new technology you came upon.

We were four of us , catching up after a few months , the chat moved from whatsapp to the phone and we finally decided to meet at a coffee shop midpoint to all of us. After the initial round of hi hello, how are you, hows your mother-in-law, dog/kitten, wife/ husband, child, divorce proceedings, etc etc, we settled into a rhythm and began yapping about other fun aspects of life. One guy was telling us about his not so new job [it was nearly a year since he joined the company] and moved to a different city.. He was telling us how crazy life had been the past two months. Trying to find a house seemed to be have been top of his crib list, but then his tone changed and he shared with us news about his new found apartment and how awesome it was...

He was working for a leading IT company and had just moved from HR to handling ops, CRM specifically. He said this Salesforce platform was the coolest one he had seen, considering he had endured a full day session on it. But he was yet to use it and was quite worried about how he would be handling the same.

Since I had done some reading about it recently, I gave him some insights to the same. Also suggested that he sign up with a Salesforce CRM training in Chennai since he was going to be working from here for a month or more...

From what I have read, Salesforce is a cloud based CRM platform that infact has some similarities with the social networking platforms.. Being cloud based, it allows users to manage and stay connected with their customers at any given point of time. Today, with so much competition around in every possible aspect of the business, when it comes to CRM systems, it is best to take on one like Salesforce as it adapts to all needs and preferences. The most important of it all being user friendliness.

I told my friend about how the information gathered about customers can be fed into the system, changes can be made online and one can stay connected from anywhere in the world. He could be in Antarctica reaching out to his customers, or pulling out some data, it would be possible.

He was telling me how his company had a meeting few days back where they were told the business has been growing but slowly, and they need to work together to ramp it up. I agreed... Today businesses want to grow, does not matter if they are small or large sized, and so having a good & effective cloud-based data management system that can provide real time data is most crucial. While the company had only recently shifted to using Salesforce platform, the employees were given time to get a hold of it and figure their way around it.

Once again, I stressed on how important it is to sign up for a course, a Salesforce developer training in Chennai, become a certified developer or even a consultant and get hands on experience using the same. Went on to tell him that the platform can be used to
1. Compare and study how the company is faring as against the competition.
2. Manage & Maintain customer data from anywhere in the world
3. Plan migration and transition
4. Monitor and manage orders or product enquiries
5. Automatic report generation that allows you to track your own progress over a period of time..

We were so lost in our discussion that we forgot two others were sitting at the table. They were staring at us with a funny look, as if to say "woah, what just happened here..." Luckily our coffees arrived and we resumed chit chatting about other aspects of life, including a quick chit chat on a trip we have been meaning to do. We wound up and bid good bye, promising to stay connected and to give updates on whether we were in for the trip or not... I walked home, with one thought on my mind "damn, i got real lucky in the friends department... "

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Where did basic etiquette and courtesies go?

I got off the cab & said "Thank you" to the cabbie before shutting the door.... 
My friend looks at me in wonder and exclaims- "what was that?" 
Me- What was what?
Friend- Why the "Thank you"?
Me- Well, he drove well, and got me to my destination without any hiccups.. I always say Thank you at the end of a ride.. Heck, I even say this to auto drivers, or anyone who does anything... the cook, the maid as well
Friend- Hmmm... Interesting
Me - It is basic courtesy 
Friend- *Shrugs shoulder and walks ahead* 

Sometimes I wonder if I am born in the wrong era.. I believe in basic etiquette & courtesies, I believe in thanking people, apologising  and saying Please when I want favours... But then am surrounded by those who don't seem to follow these norms and that irks me. Yes, call me a prude or weird, but that is me! 
  • When am in the movie hall/play/concert/performance space, I do not take calls, I will send message and call them during Interval, or get out of the hall if it is an emergency.
  • I also don't check my phone when on a date... infact, the phone is away in my bag in silent mode... 
  • I don't watch videos or listen to music aloud, it is always with a headphone [be it on the phone or laptop].. especially when in the metro train, or in a space with others in it. 
  • I also hate gossip and back stabbing.. Infact, that is one reason why I quit my corporate job and did not climb up the ladder as fast as few others did.. 
  • I am never/rarely late to a meeting, be it work based or catching up with a friend. I would rather be early and wait than be late and tardy..
  • I keep my word- I will never ever leave a person hanging after making plans. Even if I am just not in the mood, will send them a message and tell them it isn't happening. 
  • When heading out somewhere I always keep people posted about my timeline.. Giving them updates on my location and how far off I am.. 
  • I mutter an "excuse me" when I sneeze/cough.. cover my nose/mouth.. Dont pick my nose or fart/burp/barf in public... 
I guess I am one of those who grew up developing these habits and manners with time and expect them from others as well. I believe in the whole "treat others the way you would want to be treated". And so I don't understand the whole "Me" behaviour these days. 

It pisses me off when people make plans and then flake out without a word. And they dont apologise for it later as well. Dont they understand that people have lives, might have plans and they hold them back? 

Recently, someone I connected with made big plans- lets go watch the match together, and then go out for ice cream. He had said he got tickets through a friend! So, the next day I waited for him to message about where to meet, or what the plan was. But nothing till 5ish.. And then came a message that said "If Dhoni isn't playing we chill at home, else go watch". I replied saying "Dhoni is playing, just got update" ... and that was it.. Silence from his end... I even called, but no answer to the call. Anyways, after a few minutes I gave up and got into watching the match from home...  

I got a response from him next day around 10am saying he saw the message at 5am, had slept off cos he was tired. 
I told him -"well, wish I had known, could have atleast picked up the ticket and gone to watch the match"... 
He- "I get no notifications , only when I open message app will I know you have messaged". 
I said "Well, I have notification for select few who matter..."
He - "I know its weird, but that is me.. cool na?" 
I said -Yes, very cool... 

How would you classify this behaviour? Is it being cocky, or aloof or just "I don't care about anyone but myself" or am I reading too much into it?!

It is perfectly fine to do what you want, when you want provided it involves none but you. But the minute you involve someone else, you should keep them updated.. Agree or no? 
Am the kind who does things on my own 90% of the time- eating out, movie, concert, travel, shopping, cricket match etc etc.. There have been days when I would be done with work, look for some events, and just up & go. I have had friends tell me "you should have told me, would have come".. "Oh you sneaky you... went off and watched it ".. I am not being sneaky or selfish, it is just that I am so used to it, I just do it out of reflex.

Many a times, I ping friends telling them of my tentative plan.. They come back with a "oh no, cant do it today, maybe on friday or monday...".. But then if that works for me, we make plans together, however if otherwise I just do what works for me. I might redo it with that person when it suits them [more to give them company] 

That is me~! 

Even at home I follow these rules. I thank our maid, driver, cook, paper delivery lady or whoever else comes to do repairs when they are done! It does not matter if they were rude, shody or incompetent... I thank them before they leave the premises...

So, today when family/others just assume am gonna be doing something cos they demand it or when a friend just sends a msg asking for x amount of money or a favour, I hesitate.. I think twice, and then take a call. I have turned down people cos they just assume am gonna be available at their beck and call. Even if am just home chilling, with nothing to do I tell them otherwise. 

We need to learn to respect each other, value each others' time and be appreciative when people take the time out/ do things for us! Say what you will, if you don't do these, am sorry the respect I have for you goes down a notch... 

I guess when the parents don't know these basic etiquettes , how are they going to teach them to their kids? Or why would the child follow even if taught at school or by others..? They see their family/parents doing something inappropriate and getting away with it, they are gonna follow suit.. and hey, you cant shout at your kid later on that what they did was wrong!! It wasnt, according to them!! Hmpfh... 

Am sorry if this post was too long and I kept you from whatever you were doing!! Have a fabulous weekend and week ahead.... 

Toodle doo...

Friday, April 19, 2019

Battle with the body - XVI -- The Age..

We are all different.. This extends to physical, emotional and mental frameworks! The sooner we accept this the happier we will be.. I get that we are all in some race, not sure what awaits us at the finish line, but all are racing towards it. Along the journey, sometimes we lose sight of the important elements and start following the crowd, giving in to pressure.

Even though over the years, we have changed a wee bit, listening to our mind, paying attention to what is around us, there are some aspects that haven't changed. One of them is the importance given to appearances.  The most dangerous of them all, if you ask me! From an early age, we are taught to conform to the norms, pay attention to those around us and look like them, fit in, else we shall be ridiculed and mocked endlessly. 

And this mocking and ridiculing just goes to our head, haunting us for the years to come. Over the years, I have learnt to not let that happen and taken charge of my mind.... But something that happened few days back shook my world, taking me back to my young years and thus was born this post... It hit me.... Body shaming starts younger than you think, I should know!! And of course, it only gets worse as we grow older..  

I have written and shared stories from adults who have been body shamed, have issues with how they look, and the things that have deterred them from moving ahead in life. This time it is about children,  those under the age of 15/16 who are subjected to body shaming- not just by their classmates/friends but their own family, their mother no less. 

Having grown up in small towns, I know how painful it is when other kids and adults mock you for your size. Oh my god, look at how big & tall she is.. Well, that sentence doesn't sound so bad in english, but when you hear it in tamil [regional tongue] all you can do is bite back tears and run home.. Well, there you are welcomed by a parent who continues what you thought you dodged... Goodness me, the uniform has gone tight already...

I have a question to ask the parents-
Aren't you the ones feeding us, telling us what to do till we are like 12/14yrs of age?
Aren't you the ones who get clothes for us and groom us till then ?
So, how is it that suddenly one fine day you look at your child and question how they turned out the way they did..
It's not like the child went away on exile and came back to you after a long gap, right?

Recently, I witnessed a woman body shaming her 10 year old son saying he was fat and that he needed to literally like stop eating. I gasped and shuddered, suddenly all memories that I thought I had beaten came flooding back. But this time, I did not cringe, but I found my voice and told her to not do that. She wasn't helping anyone and more so by doing it out in public, in front of us friends and other kids...

Here too I know for a fact that the mother is also on the bigger side but she has lost oodles of weight by going on xyz diet... She is also someone who loved her pasta, cheese and sandwiches and coffee, but now suddenly they are all frowned upon. Alright, well, that works for her! But then when you continue to get your kids things they love and enjoy, be it mac & cheese, pizza or shakes, you have no right to shun that child... Well, genetics and DNA play a big role in our body shape, metabolism etc... And I have seen kids go from chubby to lean or continue to remain chubby.. Again, there are more than one factor in play and it is not always food driven.

For example, I have never been a big eater, and was never into cheesy deep fried stuff... But genetics and body composition is such that I am big built and have been struggling to lose weight forever. On top of it , I have PCOD, so it is a never ending battle..  Apart from growing up with body issues, I also grew up wearing baggy clothes, a good way to cover up, the only way people will not see the real me. Until recently when things changed, when I discovered I too can carry off a shirt and trouser/jeans, dress and even sleeveless clothes. But it took me a decade or so to get over all the childhood trauma, body shaming and build self confidence...

What am saying is that we grow up with what we see around us, what we hear and if all the time we are told - you are fat, you are ugly, you shouldnt eat this, you shouldnt wear this, you shouldnt go out much cos people will mock you, that is what is ingrained in our brains... It affects us so deep, it will take years of therapy or unlearning to tide over..

Oh and if your child grows up either completely withdrawn /silent or becomes a bully, you are the one to be blamed... You CANNOT blame the child for their behaviour because this is their defence mechanism, the only way they have learnt to deal with life.. 

Few interesting articles I read about body shaming kids...

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Shifting gears & professional life...

This post is one of those thats been sitting in the drafts for years... There are some that need a lot of push and nudge before they make it to the "publish" status.. 

The journey began back in 2007.. Yes, that long ago, a decade plus right? What did I do? Well, I quit my corporate job and became a freelancer. It wasn't really some major plan I had or a growth chart I had written down somewhere in the back of my cupboard.. Circumstances and life happened and this became a chosen path~, even though I technically did not choose it ! Heck, never thought I would be a freelancer, and what do you know, a decade later, am loving it, have changed directions a couple of times but the main focus remains the same... Yes, there were days when I thought I should give it up and go back to a full time job, but then life has a way of showing you the path ahead... There is no turning back now~!! :-)

Those who know me, know that I am not driven by money, never have been and never will that ever change.. Yes, i did say "never" and in this case, I know I mean it! Why is it so? Cos I am one of those who believes in enjoying what she does and does not chase after money... Infact, right after quitting my job and taking on freelance writing project, I made three times of my salary and then that continued to grow. Not because I was taking on more and more work, but because I had learnt that i had skills and capabilities that was attracting good projects.  There are months when I exceed expectations[my own] and then others when am swatting flies, and just doing random stuff that I love. That is freelancers' life for you- we are either busy all the time, all 7 days of the week or jobless and chilling ..

While many think a freelancers' life is so fancy and dandy, let me burst that bubble right on.. As mentioned above, there are times I am jobless [literally with no projects on hand or even in the near future, which can leave me restless and disgruntled] but over the years I have learnt it is alright to go through this phase, cos then the tide changes and am flooded with work [sometimes it is seasonal, there are clients with whom I work only on certain projects and they come into play only at specific periods during the year and so during that time, I am completely swamped] ... 

During this whole learning process, one thing I learnt early on was being professional. Being on time, delivering on time and then chasing after clients for the payments... lolz..  Yes, I have slipped up here and there on certain aspects, but do make it a point to keep the client posted on what why etc... Cos I wouldn't want someone to do the same to me! 

One other thing I learnt, not with ease was the whole professional tax payment. While it doesn't make sense as to why I need to part with my hard earned money to the Government, at the end of the day, it does come back to me in the form of infrastructure and facilities.. So, in that sense, it is necessary! One that needs to be done on time and all it requires is a few minutes.. Infact, this professional tax is applicable for those who are salaried and for those running their own businesses as well, with the only difference being- for salaried people the tax is deducted by their employers. 

While I was figuring this out my way- doing a lot of reading on the internet, talking to people, seeking help from professionals, I came upon this site -Vakilsearch. One that gives not just an overview on what Professional tax online payment system is but they literally hand hold you till you close out the process. What I discovered was that the the slabs, the percentage is different for different states. 

The slab rate that one pays is determined by the State Government only and the amount paid can be filed as  deduction under Section 16 of the Income Tax Act. And the first step one needs to do is professional tax registration. Once I am done with that,I was assigned a number which I use when filing tax returns online. Similarly, there are different forms for different professionals. I know it can get overwhelming, but with the help of Vakilsearch I was able to get this all done with ease. They just took charge, guided me through, stuck with me patiently till I was done and had clicked the submit button on the tax forms... Yayy~ !

Their services are a blessing for all, especially those who are overwhelmed or dont have the bandwidth to do it all and need an external arm to help them along. Have a friend who is in a similar state, she will focus and put in 200% on work, and get things done, but when it comes to professional tax payment, she gets stuck, almost like she freezes. So, these guys were able to ease out her dilemma and ensure she completed payment on time and did not have pay penalties. 

Now, I am a smooth sailing freelancer with no worries, at least not in this front~~ How about you?! 
[Psst, you can also refer to this article for some additional reading-]

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Women and Power.. go for it~!

I am constantly fascinated by the things we humans do, more so women. Especially how things have changed over the years. There are days when I sit and talk with gramma about how her life was before they came to Chennai, what was the family life like, and so on. She used to tell me her father was quite progressive, he made sure she studied, fared well in school , played sports and was ok with the fact that she had a friend from a different caste. But then, like most kids back then, gramma too got married early, right after her 10th standard [ if I remember right] and moved to Chennai, to a joint family no less.

But then, going beyond gramma's life, we talk about women across the world who were in leading powerful positions.  I shared my experience of visiting the Jhansi fort & Ahilya Holkar fort during my Madhya Pradesh trip.  Both these women are revered even today. Similarly, women who are in top positions in the Civil service are considered above others. The first woman IAS officer of Independent India was Anna George Malhotra, born in a small town called Niranam in Kerala. She went on to marry her batch mate, and since then many others have held this position. 

Recently, I was scouting the Internet looking for articles on women who had made an impression, or left a mark in the world and saw there were quite a few in high paying jobs and powerful positions in the Government- from Kiran Mazumdar, Indra Nooyi, Leena Nair, Padmasree Warrior and many others.... . That led me to dig around on various Civil service based training centers, which is when I found Chinmaya Academy Civil Services [ CACS], one of the best IAS coaching center in Chennai

What sets Chinmaya IAS Academy apart from others? 

1. The in-depth knowledge shared by experts in the field along with extensive coaching classes to prepare students for UPSC (IAS/ IPS/IFS/IRS) and others.. 
2. Flexible batches that allow students to pick the one suitable for them.
3. Focus on imparting a detailed understanding of the syllabus covering all subjects to the core
4. Helping personal development as they study, which will ensure not only are they academically sound, but also as a complete human being 
5. Mock exam papers to practice on 
6. Online round the clock support for queries or clarifications
7. The opportunity to interact with faculty and mentors to receive necessary guidance to excel in exams and life.
8. They have talks, workshops and events on a periodical basis- attending these will be insightful, informative and interesting to say the least...
9. Finally, they also have a blog where you can read articles around the civil service arena, posts that include tips on how to prepare for the exam, how to actually answer the questions and so on... 

Events listing..

Batch options

Well, it is therefore no wonder that many students are coming to Chennai to enroll with this top IAS training Academy in chennai.  It also gives them hope that they can go beyond their comfort zone and gain a position that will have them inspiring others and making a difference to the country! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Of Names, Numbers & Angels ...

I have this habit, yes I call it a "habit" cos I do it quite often.... But it is not one of those I want to let go of or change ever~! 

During my childhood days, I remember the family piling into the car[s] and us kids would be told to look out the window so we are kept occupied, that is when I wasn't carrying a book. I guess my habit of noticing things, number plates and names began then. I would have my cousin at times, but mostly it was just me around a bunch of adults. 

I tend to notice number plates of vehicles moving around me, and I also read out sign boards/names on shops/offices/hotels etc as we pass them by. 

The Signboards 
It is such a thing that the minute we get on the road, friend[well, certain friends] will make a statement "get ready , she gonna start anytime soon"...  If you look at it from my perspective, this has helped me hone my memory, which is quite sharp as it is [not bragging but that is a reality]. 

Therefore, if at any given point of time you were ask me directions to a place, or where a particular shop is, I will 99.999% be able to tell you the exact location, if not the street name or locality atleast- all without looking at the Maps or taking to Google assistance. Another thing I noticed was even if a place has gone through a makeover, or been replaced with another, I would remember what was there earlier. Have noticed some quirky name boards as well.. :-) 

Over the years have developed my observational skills [as mentioned above] & I can pretty much remember anything- details, faces, conversations and more....Yes, I do wish I could erase certain things, but so far thats not happened...

A clothing store in Baroda

The Numbers
This continued over the years, today when am in a cab or in the metro, or in any other form of transportation, the first thing I will notice as we hit the road are the number plates, and start looking for ones with common numbers [its like a little game I play inside my head], and I get excited if I see one with my birthday digits on it [4-9-77].. lolz.. 

About a year or so ago, I started noticing plates with the same digits - 4558, 3977, 1132, etc... you get the drift? I let it slide, but then began this habit of seeing the time everyday at 14:47pm. No matter where I am or what am doing, I will look at the clock at that time! Over time, I started doing this at 11:11 as well.  During a conversation with a friend, she mentioned there could be more to it than just a coincidence. I started digging around on the net, and discovered these numbers [either two of the same or just one number that you see repeatedly] are called Angel numbers and they each have their own significance. 

The number you see correlates to something you are going through in life or a sign from above. Call it whatever you will. The Angels who are looking down on us are sending us a message, or an indication through these numbers.. I get that it is too far fetched to believe, but then some things are that way , right? 

I did not believe in Tarot till I got a reading done, with a girl who was far far away and did not know me at all.. And that changed my perception about Tarot.. Similarly, it is all about what you choose to believe in~! I also believe in the whole "Send your wishes out to the Universe and it will happen or visualise your life as you wish it to be & it shall come true... "

Interesting links on Angel Numbers

Do you have any such quirky habits? Do share... 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The joy of writing...

“How wonderful it is to be able to write someone a letter! To feel like conveying your thoughts to a person, to sit at your desk and pick up a pen, to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvelous.”  Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

Some of the cards received 

The very first postcard I got was from an Uncle [Grandpa's brother], a few days after I was born.. He was travelling and sent a card as soon as he heard the news. I found this years later, and apart from this, there are so many cards that were sent by various uncles and grandpa [mom's dad] during their travels abroad..They used to go abroad often on work [ leather business] and have sent cards addressed to me or mom to wherever we were [ I grew up in Coimbatore, Madurai, Tirunelveli before hitting Chennai]... Today I have almost all the cards and letters sent by them, some were sent to others in the family, but well I got my hands on them. There were also a few from Japan and Korea, new ones which granpa had that belong to me now :D

I also have an uncle in Delhi and another in USA who have sent cards almost regularly, for birthday & new years, which I have with me.. Infact, my uncle in USA continues to send cards even now and I get one just for me :-) Like this uncle, I collect stamps as well [ when I remember, else I just save the entire envelope]

I also have friends with whom I have exchanged letters, back in the day when we did not have phones and lived in different towns, letters were the only way to keep in touch. Blessed to have friends who wrote, long detailed letters- some would be filled with updates on their family, others would just be rants about what they were going through.....It did not matter, I enjoyed reading and responding to them all. Another thing I love is to put stickers and little quirky colourful text on the letters and cards. Infact, I recently put one in a card to a baby cousin...  

So, if I were to look back at all these, my love for the whole "writing" as a hobby was something I got from my family. I love sending out letters and cards, be it on their own or with gifts to people I care about. Infact there have been times when my uncle from USA would visit and the day he leaves I would drop a gift with a letter into his hand baggage which he would discover sometime during his flight. I have done similar stuff for friends as well. Guess, I am all about surprises and heart felt notes... :-)

Today, whenever anyone is travelling, the only thing I ask for, or sometimes don't even need to ask for is a postcard. Some post it from the destination, others bring it back and hand deliver or courier it across with other stuff.. It fills my heart with such joy, I fail to find words. And then there are those that get lost in transit.. Sigh! Recently my sister asked me if I got the card she had sent from Spain, alas its been few months and no sign of it. Similarly, another card that a friend sent from Europe never made it to me. But the fact that they did send me one makes me smile. 

Know what, I started this habit of sending myself a postcard whenever I travel [ done it 8/10 times].. It is fun visiting post offices in the town, learning about their system and picking out stamps etc [ esp in USA].. 

Few years ago, I discovered this website called Postcrossing- it is like pen pals, except here you are assigned a random address [6 to start with] and you send them postcards [no personal details but a ID number assigned to you], but then over the years I somehow dropped the ball on that one, but I did make a few friends through the Facebook forum on "postcrossing" and I do exchange cards with a few of them. 

I do collect stationery- stickers, pens, pencils, notepads, bookmarks, washi tapes, and just about everything else that comes under this category. Well, must say this whole habit has been toned down a bit since I moved to "minimalism" way of living but I do get tempted. During my entire 1.5months of travel across USA, all I bought were pencils across cities I visited. :-) 

Few weeks back when I was cleaning out my room, I looked at the box of postcards- some received through postcrossing, some from friends, others from family and many new ones. That is when I decided that this year I was going to send out New year cards and letters to people who matter- friends , family and others...  Some got gifts and a postcard, others got greeting cards with a long note in them... And when they tell me they loved what they got or it was a pleasant surprise, I smile and hope they pass it forward to someone else.. Send a note or a card to someone they care about.... 

Well, if you would love to get a note/letter from me, leave me a comment and send me your address to Happy to write and don't be surprised if it comes with a quirky sticker :-) 

Happy writing....