Thursday, 15 March 2018

Moral Compass

I recently finished the book 'Mightier than the Sword' by Jeffrey Archer. This book is the 5th in series of the Clifton Chronicles. Jeffrey Archer is one of my ALL time favorite authors, a master storyteller who consistently spins magic. This book once again, was a masterpiece and true to Archer's style of writing- complex, fast-paced, utterly thrilling- from a foiled IRA bombing to underhand boardroom takeovers to Russian prisons to betrayals to complicated love, both unattainable and unrequited.

Two dialogues in this book stood out for me and left an indelible impression on me. One was when Sebastian Clifton asks Samantha's father for his blessing to marry his daughter.
'Does that mean I've your blessing'? asks Sebastian Clifton.
'It most certainly does. But never forget that Samantha sets standards, like your mother, that the rest of us mortals find hard to live with, unless, like your father, they're guided by the same moral compass' said Mr. Sullivan.
Another time, when Sebastian goes undercover into investigating a shady deal by one of the directors, he meets an old man who has a wealth of insider information on this deal but was reluctant to divulge this. When he learnt that Sebastian was Harry Clifton's son, he said 'That's good enough for me'.
Later on, when Sebastian recounts what happened to his mentor, Cedric, Cedric asks Sebastian 'What's the one thing you learnt today'?
Sebastian replies 'The importance of Reputation'.
It reminded me of my father's words. This is something he tells us regularly even to this day. Reputation can get things done for you, doors opened for you by people who don't HAVE to do it for you, but WANT to do it for you.
A good reputation takes many encounters and sometimes years to build, but it takes mere seconds to be destroyed. Reputation stands on the 3 pillars of trust, credibility and likeability. Once someone has lost their trust in you, it's very difficult, almost impossible to get it back. Of course, all of us as human beings, make mistakes from time to time but the tolerance for mistakes can depend hugely on the 'Moral Compass' of the other person.
As I'm flying through life and becoming older (and wiser hopefully), I'm realizing a life truth. I think that when two people are in a 'relationship'- this could be anything from personal, business, work, familial- the moral compass and core values of both the parties has to be aligned precisely to the same latitude.
If one person's compass differs from the other, then eventually it's going to put a strain on the relationship and it's not sustainable to keep it up and the two people start drifting away.
If you look deeper into most of your happiest and most fulfilling relationships, it's those with people that are exactly aligned to your core values.
So surround yourself with people that are aligned exactly to your own moral compass and invest hugely in those relationships. It is also wise to invest hugely into relationships with people whose moral compass is higher than yours, as this will strive to make you a better person.
But do not waste any more time investing on relationships that have a lower moral compass than yours, as ultimately you will be let down.
If you find yourself someone, anyone, from the entire gamut of relationships, who is making you a better person, where you actually care what they think of you, then hold them tight and do not let them go and do not give up on that relationship. You will be a better and happier person just being around them!

Image Courtesy: Times Free Press

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Glimpses into my Heart

I stand 
In the darkness
The street lamp throwing a spotlight on me.

I stand 
In the sunshine
The light filtering through the trees
Throwing a halo on me.

Through uncounted shared laughs
Knowing smiles, frank conversations, heated debates, partaken meals and long walks,
I let you see glimpses into my heart.
Unfettered, unrestrained, unchecked, unfiltered, uncensored glimpses.
Of who I am, what I want to be, what I could be.
My dreams, my aspirations, my fears.
What makes me happy, what ticks me off.
Something as trivial as my favourite drink of the season,
Or the color of my curtains at home.
Trivial, but important to me nonetheless.

Sometimes I think, wonder
Am I letting you see too much? 
Isn't it better to erect a wall, a barrier
And hold my innermost thoughts to my own?
The fear and the uncertainty of what you will do  
With this new found knowledge of me.
The scraps of information, the missing pieces to you
That will let you piece together the enigma of me.

Will you use this to allay my doubts, 
help me grow 
and make me stronger and better.
Or will you leverage all my weaknesses
And use it in ways that neither you nor I understand.

Do you know that at this point in time, at this stage in my life, in this part of the world
You are one of the handful of people that I spend a lot of my time with.
Many of my friends, the people that I've known, 

have been left behind in the past, 
separated by distance and time.
You, on the other, hand are here in my today, in my present.

So use your power wisely my friend.
When someone opens up to you,
Know that you are one of the few people that are interwoven into their current, their present.
In small ways maybe but connected nonetheless.
And privileged enough to let you see
Glimpses into their Heart.

Still from Evanescence "My Immortal", 2003

Sunday, 7 January 2018

The Thin Line

The thin line is a very narrow division that sets apart two very different realities.
Based on which side of the line we are on, it can alter our perception of the world.  
Or where and when we cross the line,
It can irrevocably alter our reality as we know it.

To the individual, his side of the thin line feels right
And he does not know (or does not want to know) if it's the right side of the line or not.

The thin line between Attraction and Infatuation.
Between Infatuation and Love.
Between Love and Desire.
Between Indifference and Rejection.
Between being Alone and being Lonely.

The thin line between Trust and Naivety.
Between Assertion and Arrogance.
Between Submissiveness and Bondage.
Between Living and being Alive

The thin line between Patriotism and Xenophobia.
Between Religious and Fanatic.
Between Just Activism and Extremism.
Between Pragmatism and Idealism.

The thin line between Dignity and Impropriety.
Between Sobriety and Impracticality.
Between Tipsiness and Intoxication.
Between Experimentation and Addiction.

These lines keep shifting, changing
Like patterns on the sand dunes.
Depending on which way the wind blows,
and what's accepted by the society, the collective conscience.
But there are a few individuals whose inner voice is louder than the voices outside,
And it's these individuals that perpetually battle with oneself to be on the 'right' side of the line.

Image Courtesy:

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Don't be fooled

Image Courtesy: Deviantart

Have you ever been fooled by sunshine?
When you thought the day was going to be bright.
But there was a dark thundercloud lurking,
Full of hail.
Just when you decided to leave your armor behind and bare your soul
To sunshine,
Suddenly you find yourself inundated by hailstones,
And you are left wondering 
Why didn't I see that coming?

To judge the average climate of a place,
Or a person's soul.
Don't be fooled by bouts of sunshine,
Or bouts of storm.
For the storm could be just a passing thing,
That hides the real sunshine 
Of a place,
Or a person's soul.

True averages are calculated over a long period
That's how you judge the true climate 
Of a place,
Or a person's soul.

Don't be fooled 
By first impressions
Or the second
Or the third
Or the fourth or fifth.
Don't be fooled by bouts of sunshine,
Or bouts of  storm.
Give it a chance.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Two Sides


Every story has two sides.
Every disagreement has two sides.
Someone's music is another's noise.
Someone's fight for freedom is another's war on terror.
Someone's paradise is another's hell.

Every person has two sides too,
One that is the public persona, the joy and sweetness and light.
The other one that houses our deepest darkest fears, our insecurities and all that goes against our might.

It's been taught to always bring your 'best' side, out of the house, to work, to society
Now the norm is to display your best side on social media too.
The compelling Instapic that tells your story,
The post which shows your interest in certain causes,
The perfectly crafted Linkedin profile to showcase your skill,
The intelligent tweet/ retweet that reiterates your intelligence to your followers.

Is anything in our lives really true anymore in the true sense of being?

We have reached a heightened state of being 
Where there is no scope, no leeway, no latitude to consider the other person's point of view.
Why is that? 
It's because we are so unaccepting of our own flaws that we cannot bear to see the cracks in someone else.
We are so sure in our knowledge and so utterly convinced that what we do and think is right,
Then that must mean the other person is wrong.

Never before has a generation been so obsessed with perceived 'perfection' in all aspects of our lives.
Never before has a generation constantly been compared to how everyone else is doing, thinking, feeling, saying.
Never before a generation been put under so much 'perceived' stress.

How does everyone in this interconnected web of deceit get out of this? 
For starters, learn to show and share your true feelings. Start with your loved ones, your work mates, your friends.
It's okay to disagree, it's okay to have a different point of view, it's okay to have a bad day.
It’s okay not to be perfect all the time.
Perfection as we see it, has two sides too.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Of Showers and Songs- From the Diary of a Bathroom Singer

The key to being a good bathroom singer as any bathroom singer worth their salt will tell you, is to master the art of being un self-conscious and give into total abandonment. It is not the quality of your voice, no sir, it is the decibel level that counts.The louder and more shriller your voice, the greater the joy. To you, that is, not to the neighbors.


While growing up, even though we lived in an independent house and not apartments, the bathrooms had a special kind of acoustics and ventilation which meant that if anyone sang in the shower, it could be heard from 2 houses across. This was a matter of great enthusiasm and pride for us kids and generally, bath time meant crooning to the latest hit, only to realize that someone else is singing the same song too, somewhere down the lane.

My parents after years of banging on the bathroom door demanding that I shut up eventually gave up and let me get on with it.This was a momentous parenting decision by them as I was totally tone deaf.

I don't remember when my singing in the shower started dwindling. It was maybe when I started working. Showers then started to mean introspection time, thinking about what I did or didn't do at work, or crossing off chores to be done in my head or thinking about groceries and what to cook. After the birth of my baby, showers became a place of haven where I could go in and rest for a few minutes away from feeds and dirty diapers. It was also a place of litmus test to see if the new dad and baby could manage without me for a few minutes.

When I came back to my parent's house, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia when I stepped into my old bathroom.I could hear the rhythmic swish of the broom of the neighbor's gardener. Birds were gently chirping and I could hear the cat chase a bird. I could also hear my baby gently cooing and talking to her grandparents As had become a habit, I started brooding and fretting and thinking about the long list of things that had to be crossed off. Then from a distance, I heard the notes of a young bathroom singer down the lane. It was like I was instantly transported to the days of my childhood. A bit hesitantly, I opened my mouth but then realized in horror that I had forgotten how to be a bathroom singer. I realized I was feeling self-conscious, a strict no no! I swallowed and tried again. Voila! The notes got stronger and stronger and slowly the decibel level started increasing. With each passing second, I could feel the pent-up tension dissipating. My version of Adele's song reached a roaring crescendo and finally, when I stopped it was to total silence on the street. The cat had paused midway in its chase, the gardener stood rock still, the birds were silent and I think my baby stuffed his little fingers in his ears but I was beaming.

 A wise man once said – There are very few problems in the world that a good night's sleep, a glass of wine and a hot bath cannot solve. I'm going to add singing in the shower to this list too.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Snakes on a Plain - Part 1

To set the record straight about my hometown, Mangalore is NOT a village. 
Not even a town , it’s a large CITY with buildings and our very own Municipal  City Corporation.Which does not explain why my house and garden, located in the heart of the city,  has been the favourite haunt to many  species of wildlife including different varieties of snakes, mongoose, monkeys, bats, vultures,  Asian palm civet a.k.a  Marapatti in Malayalam( )  ..shudder shudder.

Our neighbours had well tended gardens too but I always failed to understand why the said species always seemed to take a detour from the main tarred road and visit us , without fail every other day . These sightings caused huge panic and excitement, depending on which sibling saw the wildlife  first. If it was my younger sister, she would excitedly yelp and set about following it to observe it in its natural habitat. If it was my brother who spotted these, he would put on a brave front . ( I know he was scared shitless of snakes and after a few years he stopped all  pretence at being brave)

Whereas if it was me  who spotted the snakes , all the neighbours could hear,  was a piercing shriek followed by birds flying away from the tress and a resounding thud , as my unconscious body hit the concrete floor.

My mom has a standing account with Saint George, our patron saint . He was our go – to saint to protect us from all things snake related. And it works, none of us so far have been bitten or injured by a snake till date. 

Not even when I opened the garage door one night and found a gigantic python coiled and hanging down from the roof. I just stared at it and started bawling so loudly  you would think I was swallowed whole by the python .

Then there was a  10 foot snake found hiding on  the coconuts in our kitchen. All I remember of that day was flying from one sofa to the next , without touching the floor and then running out the of the door crying to my neighbours house , declaring I would never set foot in my house again .

My stories could go on and on about Mangalore.  Then my wedding got fixed and my fiancĂ©e was from a big big city like Mumbai  . I had never been to Mumbai before and I always had this vision of Mumbai with tall skyscrapers set amidst a concrete jungle. Surprise Surprise, my husbands company quarters was in a beautiful lush green land spread over  300 acres in the heart of Mumbai . It is the only large green area remaining in Mumbai now.

My heart sang with joy at the sight of the trees and birds. As a newly married bride, I stepped out onto the balcony in the 4th floor, sipping my tea and feasting  my eyes  on the greenery . Other ladies were out on their balconies too and they smiled and waved as they did their laundry and brushed their kid’s hair.

Then I looked down and saw not one but two gigantic snakes slithering away . I screamed and the  tea cup fell from my hand and smashed on the concrete below.
The ladies , not seeing the snake below , nudged each other and whispered “See I told you ,these new generation  modern brides – they are not like us . It’s just the first day of the marriage and she is already fighting with her in-laws and throwing their crockery.Tsk tsk”

Hearing my scream, my father – in law came running out to the balcony .”What happened beta?” When I pointed to the snakes below , he said consolingly , “Don’t worry , they are just baby snakes”. “ Baby Snakes !! Are you kidding me I thought , If these 6 foot ones are babies , then how big is the mama snake ?

Don’t worry '' said Papa again , “You are  safe because we are on the 4th floor. We need to be on our guard in two months as we are shifting to the ground floor apartment shortly''

Faint , thud as my body hits the floor

( Part 2 out soon)