When You Know Your Worth No One Can Make You Feel Worthless – Because You Really Do Matter.

I’m Grateful For…

Past year was thinking about myself, my success, my up-gradation and wanting to do more, more,  and furthermore. I hardly appreciated what god has given to me and didn’t take time to enjoy the largesse I already have in life. My approach was always glass half empty and I constantly trudged to fill the glass to the rim. My brain stormed with questions and quandaries why I’m not happy! No matter how much I performed better and reaped heaps I quested for something unknown.

I ticked my “I have” checklist: I have a good house to live, I have a sweet  family, I enjoy excellent health, I have great friends to support,  I have a car and my own office, I’m financially comfortable, I’m competent, I love my career – the list went on and all the answers were positive. Then what else!

I switched to “I don’t have” list: I scratched my chin, cheek, and head; I rolled my eyes in all directions; pouted and pursed my lips; checked my wardrobe and kitchen cabinets; took a walk around the house and made some phone calls; stood in front of the mirror and did a mini catwalk; picked my daughter and sister’s brain; talked to my pet dog Coco.

Honestly friends, I couldn’t even lay the tip of the pen on the wants list. What a shame! I didn’t know what I need but I’m so dissatisfied with myself.

But I desperately wanted an answer and resolution for my problem. I wanted to be happy and enjoy what I had. I rummaged through my brain.  There you go, like a splash of ice-cold water on a thunderstruck face, the quote of Mahatma Gandhi “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” tapped me hard to wake up.

That’s it, I got my answer. Thanking and sharing was missing on my task list. Everything was all about me and having it all and gratitude was absent.

An attitude of gratitude changed my life into enormity of happiness. Gratitude is my religion now and I practice every day various ways to show my gratitude. .

I renewed and reset my thought process and included others in my realm. I quit living for myself, and live for others also. Communication has become my medium and tool to understand and help others resolve their issues.

Today I found a meaningful life. I’m happy. I’m happy by sharing my success and spreading the joy. Being a mentor, counselor, communication coach, and a friend I enjoy,  much more than a professional lawyer.

I’m  so fond  of Zig Ziglar’s quote “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for”.

My way of showing gratitude is sharing my success and spreading the joy to others.  My foundation Niskrti is up and running for  protection of women  and children welfare and socio-cultural, political and economic empowerment and to promote gender equity, access to quality services and opportunities for building an equitable society through convergence and partnership with other constituents of society. I serve the community and enjoy my profession as well because I care to share and I’m thankful.

In the rat-race I missed so many small but precious pleasures of daily life, like not pursuing my passion for writing. I haven’t posted on my blog for an year.  My apologies. I missed you all and your wonderful comments.

I have a lot of small and big things to share with you all because everything matters in life. I will be in touch.

My mantra for 2015 is to share the success, spread the joy across,  and be thankful. 

Wish you all a very happy, healthy, and peaceful new year.

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For the past ten months I have been transitioning career wise and family priorities wise. There are many changes in work schedules, at home, and handling relationships within the extended family and outside. During this course of time I developed a habit of juxtaposing the time I spend on everything with productivity level. I look forward that every task should have a worthy output. Too bad! 

Right now I’m, vacationing this summer,  in Southern California – one of the most beautiful places to live in – which is also my other home. After a big chunk of time I’m taking a break.  Otherwise a very busy person I’m handling two different demanding careers, a corporate lawyer and a law professor, is not that much at ease by doing nothing of that sort and just relaxing all the time. My mind and physical being are traveling in different directions and I miss my work schedules. There is this guilty feeling of doing nothing and wasting precious time  sink me in discomfiture.

What a slug you are”, say my mind.

Hey I’m on vacation – get off of me,” chide my heart.  

And I’m, chewing my nails, standing in between these two forces. Well,  I have to put an act  of enjoying my vacation in front of my family and dare not utter a word about missing my work to them lest I’ll be mocked to death.  

“Why can’t I take life easy and cool when things are conducive to do so!”  I shrug walking into the kitchen.

Yesterday,  a silvery morning, we went to the beach – again I warned my heart and mind to stay away from  each other and headed to the beach.  I mechanically walked behind my husband and daughter. They both rejoiced the radiant Saturday morning. It was a low tide day and the pacific was calmer than mother’s lullaby. We walked along the shore pressing the wet sand.  

My husband and daughter did whatever they wanted to and I sat on a table-top rock dangling my legs in the water. It was quite a view from there. The toasty spring weather gave an opportunity to everyone to have a share of fun.  The sailing boats cruised along; surfers were desperate looking for even a small wave to glide along. Joggers and walkers were at their best.  Couples and young lovers ambled clasping their hands whispering sweet nothings. Seagulls feasted on the small sea-creatures that washed upto the shore.    Families chose the best spots to set-up their picnic events. Babies cooed looking at their siblings jumping into the water or kicking a ball into the water.

The beach was cosmopolitan with tourist and local crowd. It was a real circus with everyone doused in their own world of fun.  

A cluster of tide pools around the rock that I sat on was full of life. The low tides lapped the shores steadily filling water in these tiny dents on the ground. Scurrying Hermit Crabs competed with Black Turban Snail.  Barnacles, Rock-weed,  Mussels, Coralline Algae, and Kelp Snail owned their  small dwellings in the tide pools which reminded of the cosmopolitan neighborhood of the metro cities. I couldn’t draw any difference between the human world on the beach and the sea-creatures world in tide pools. After all the Creator is the same and He sure is impartial in giving the best to His every creation.  

I was the only one, with my sunglasses on, did nothing but panning my eyes across the shores. Lately I noticed that peace and calm prevailed in my mind. It seemed truce between the opponents…mind and heart. I rechecked the guilt feeling of wasting time that tormented me since I took off from my work and boarded the flight. I saw no traces of that and rather it was replaced with delight at the moment. My feet in the cold sea-water was pacifying and chased the heat of tension away from my head.  The buoyant atmosphere around me broke the shackle of compulsion – the compulsion of being productive all the times.

“Can’t I sit for a while enjoying “me time” doing nothing?”

Yes, of course. I can.” I boldly answered to myself.  

And I spent three enormous peaceful hours sitting on the same rock distilling the happiness I didn’t find in whole year of slogging resulted in many awards and rewards. I seldom felt that had I spent these three hours consulting my clients I would have converted the  chunk of intangible time into a tangible big check amount.  

Seriously, I don’t remember spending ten minutes in the backyard/terrace watching sun, moon, or stars. I don’t remember sitting at one place enjoying my  food – it’s rather stuff-the-mouth-and-run or eat-in-the-car routine.  My unrelenting nature to work deterred me from sitting with my child and playing a board game.

What an awakening! The way it’s OK to make mistakes and learn from it, it’s OK to sit doing nothing or wasting an hour and being unproductive. Not the end of the world. There is always a next hour or tomorrow to catch up.   I’m so happy with the mental renaissance I attained in these three hours.

If I have to stay away from work to watch a silly movie with my silly friends  – I have to do this. If my daughter wants us to go for shopping on Monday – I’m game. Or if  my mother wants me to take her to the temple on a busy day evening – I’ll make it.  The best is  I’m  gonna have a frequent  “me time” slot  doing nothing,  no matter how busy my schedule is.

Lots of pending work disappointing my boss and losing remuneration for the time spent having fun during the work  hours and making less money – no big deal. I will make it up some other time.   

I’m a “me time” lover now.

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Looks like it’s a Friendship Day season around the world. Colorful wristbands are changing  hands and relationships are born and mended on this day.

I don’t remember nor do I think much about my childhood friends with whom I grew up until I was fifteen. We all talked at the lunch tables, on streets, temples, and whenever and wherever we met. But still my mind doesn’t strain to think about them.

But that’s not the case with my neighbor Rei in Horten, Norway. The painted wooden ladle she gifted me (eight years ago) is still hung on my kitchen wall and reminds me of our wonderful language-less relationship.

We both were tenants in the multiplex owned by a Norwegian lady. I joined my husband, along with our daughter, on his business trip to Horten. We rented a portion of this yellow building with white trims. Rei, a fifty-five something plump and pleasant lady, lived in the other portion behind my bedroom. I didn’t speak Norwegian and she didn’t speak English.

Our friendship started with exchanging smiles and ended with tears in our eyes when we gave parting hugs. I stayed there for about four months. She mostly stayed indoors with her cat, dog, and a few fish in a glass jar. We met in the grassy front yard where we hung our clothes to dry while my daughter and Rei’s granddaughter Amy played. Like us, the children didn’t have a common language to talk. They played communicating in gestures, chasing, and laughing at each other. Later my landlady told me that Rei was a widow with some health complications and her daughter lived a few miles away. Whenever her daughter couldn’t find a babysitter, Rei took care of Amy.

Initially we just smiled at each other. Then we moved on to letting our kids play. She sat in her rocker in the porch and I sat on the stairs in the front yard and waved bye when the kids were done with their play. During the second month, I longed to place calls to my family in India. But I had no telephone at home. I called them on the pay phone whenever I went to downtown with my husband. I felt lonely and desperately wanted a company. My husband suggested me to buy a calling card and go over to my landlady’s house and use her phone instrument to call. I raised this topic to her. She said I didn’t have to walk three miles to her house every time I wanted to make a call. She said she would talk to Rei and I could use her phone. That worked out. I started to visit Rei frequently.

I used gestures to explain her in English that I wanted to use the phone. She respectfully cleared the space for me in the couch next to the phone. I couldn’t go beyond God morgen, Tusen takk, Ha de bra, Ja, and Nei in Norwegian but with a thick Indian an accent. She nodded for everything with a beatific smile.

Her house lingered with apple, cinnamon, fish, herbal aroma laced with cat smell. I wanted to thank her for helping me with the telephone. I began bringing some vegetarian Indian dishes for Rei. I feared her misunderstanding me that I’m feeding her all unknown things. I planned ahead what to cook next time and took my landlady’s help to write the ingredients in Norwegian and read in jerks to Rei so that she could understand what all I had put in the dish. After tasting the food she used to say something in native accent which was totally alien for me. But her face and smile spoke the truth. The message was as clear as a bell that the dish was delicious. We graduated from meeting within the housing complex to walking down the street to a small shopping center. We both and the kids walked together. I have always been a Miss Chatterley and spoke continuously to Rei in English with gestures. I didn’t know whether or not she understood but she seemed to be acknowledging and listening to me keenly.

Four months passed with we exchanging food, goodies, walking together, smiling at each other, and me using her phone. But we didn’t understand one word we spoke to each other. I tried hard to learn and talk some basic Norwegian but I might have sounded like a quaking duck to Rei.

Once Rei became sick with viral fever and her daughter’s family was on vacation. I made some tomato and peppers soup, baked some warm bread, and rice pancakes for her. She enjoyed every bit of it. Her hug told me what a real feeling of “Thank You” is.

Few weeks later, I tripped on the stairs and sprained my ankle. I couldn’t move for more than a week. Rei did the grocery shopping for me, took the girls out for playing and dried my clothes in the front yard. That’s when I understood compassion and friendship really didn’t need a spoken common language.

My days in Horten were over; I had to pack my things and leave. I invited my landlady’s family, my husband’s colleagues, and Rei for lunch at my place. Rei couldn’t make it that day and came for lunch some other day (two days before my departure) and spent three hours with me. This time I could understand her much better because I listened to her heart. I think she was telling me that her husband passed away five years ago and after that she felt very lonely. Her cats and the dog became her family. At the end she started to sob and hugged me tightly. We both cried in each other’s arms and understood the meaning of our friendship. She gifted me the ladle and a small lantern. The lantern broke in the transit but I still have her ladle.

I didn’t see her after that. I went to say her goodbye on the last day. Her house was locked. I kissed the door and the roses bloomed in her garden and asked them convey my hearty love to Rei.

I wrote to her but didn’t receive any reply. I couldn’t re-establish the contact. But I’m eternally in touch with Rei.

Happy Friendship Day to all of you.

“The language of friendship is not words but meanings.”
~Henry David Thoreau

To lose a child … was something that could end one’s world. One could never get back to how it was before. The stars went out. The moon disappeared. The birds became silent. ~ Alexander McCall Smith

The incident at Chardon High School, Ohio has shaken the nation once again. My profound condolences and prayers for the families and friends of those three boys who lost their lives and the rest who are still in the hospital struggling.  I don’t know any of these kids and their families, but I couldn’t stop my tears trickling down when I saw the news on TV. A knot in my throat throttled my breath when I read the news periodically. I couldn’t concede that it’s another bad news out of a deluge of bad news we listen to and read every other moment.

I’m struck with enormous grief losing the sense of  my daily routine.  Abandoning  my “ tasks for the day list”, I just sat back and let the tears flow down my cheeks. Why am I feeling so attached with this incident?

No. Probably not just this incident.  There are some other deep reasons that are pushing to connect myself with these victims and their family. Yes.  I felt as though I lost somebody from my own family. Now I know why I’m feeling so.  I’m a  mother, too. Someone’s sister. I have close friends who are part of my life. I wouldn’t want my parents to endure this kind of pain. I’m, in my subconscious mind, placing myself in those relationships with these kids and their families. Sitting in California I can imagine how these Ohioan families could be going through this gruesome phase. What if I’m in their place one day? 

I send my child to  school every day and long to see her back home safely.  Don’t all other parents feel the same – of course they do.  I love to see my daughter’s happy face when she takes a carousel ride in the mall. Will I be able to see that happy face forever without any fear?  Will schools, malls, playgrounds, parks, and play dates be considered   safe places for our kids to enjoy their childhood?

Do we, as parents and custodians of the society, have strength and courage to empower our society to help our kids grow healthy, happy, educated, and good citizens? May be we can – if we all try together and put our best foot forward in playing our respective roles. After all school and mall shootings are not natural calamities which are under the control of supernatural powers.

Don’t we have resources to show the right direction to our kids?  We don’t have to reinvent the wheel or research for a new technology.  Adults, as a parent, teacher, mentor, employer, social worker, we  are the role models for the children.  If this role model mechanism fails, our society will collapse. The inventions, industrial development, winning wars, and wealth creation are the structures standing on the foundation of human capital that is our children who are our future. When the foundation is deficient, lacks essence of life, the materialist structures will be standing on emptiness and will implode without any notice.

At this point who, why, what, when, and how these things are happening and who is responsible for these children’s confusingly destructive future is immaterial. It’s absolutely not a time for a blame game. God forbid, we all may have to undergo this kind of a situation.  All adults have a collective role in straightening our society and guiding the children in the right direction.  We adults bring the children into this world and we have a duty to show them the right path. Empower them with the tools to battle the hidden demons. 

Only we have the ability, resources, and strength to prevent from another Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now Chardon happening in the future. We merely need a mindset and courage to undertake this mission for  our children to lead a fearlessly peaceful lives. 

Children are the keys of paradise ~ Eric Hoffer

Godspeed.

New Year Means…


Doing the right thing without fear

Being there for my near and dear

Wiping anyone’s drop of tear

That’s what means to me a new year

Planting saplings in the spring

Enjoying the process of aging

More happiness I could bring

New Year for me is peace-building

Feeling the grass under my feet

Sharing with others what I eat

Spreading the smile that’s sweet

Without these my new year is incomplete

                                                            ~  By Priya Iyengar

Wish You All A Fabulous New Year 


“Driving was not his only priority,” NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said. “No call, no text, no update is worth a human life.”

“Driver sent or got 11 texts in 11 min before crash…” I read it. I saw it. I heard it. This piece of news is the talk of the town.  Nobody is bothered to follow the rule and the meaningless cell phone law.  Perhaps, discussing  the business lunch and lipstick color is more important than the silly law.

Let me share a story that my friend told me about her cousin, Joe.

Joe glanced in the rear view. The driver in the back car was yelling in the cell phone going occasionally hands free; not with the cell phone, with the car steering.

Joe grew cautious because of the driver. He invariably remembered the accident that almost killed him two years back. The reason of the accident wasn’t speeding; not jumping the red light; not a DUI; no automobile failure; not even a cell phone conversation. It was just love for one’s own looks. The beauty in the car didn’t want her lip-gloss to dry, even while driving. She wanted to frugally use the time gap between red and green light to dazzle herself.  She took care of her lips but drove through the red light causing a four-car collision. The beauty broke the fate of everyone involved in the accident. Joe’s car was the primary victim. He also suffered several fractures over his body and a jawbone displacement which completely changed his looks for lifetime. He physically recovered after nine months but he was still repaying those huge loans that he borrowed from several resources for the treatment. The medical insurance he had couldn’t cover the bills and dealing with insurance companies was another terrifying story.

He once again glanced back; the driver’s conversation on the phone seemed never ending. To reduce the tension the driver was puffing a cigarette. Joe wanted to change the lane and waited for the chance. While he was attempting to change the lane ensuring nobody was coming from behind, the irate car driver suddenly swerved his car and in lightening speed hit Joe’s car from back.

There was no further information about the culprit and I don’t care to know.  But do you want to know what happened to Joe’s family?  Without Joe, his family is left in the lurch. Joe’s wife, a single parent with three children, toiled to make both ends meet and made a collage of pink slips. Regardless of the compensation Joe’s family got, they suffer an irrecoverable loss for the life time.

Is there a compensation for those children for losing their father forever?  Is there any compensation for losing a beloved spouse? And what about a compensation for agonized old parents who lost their young and only son in a brutal crash caused by brainless selfish species!

Can’t the call or texting or make-up wait for another few minutes, until reaching the destination? Well, everyone has an option of pulling into the nearest parking lot and taking care of all these activities, in case it’s an emergency and must be done immediately.

Is it not time to do the right thing – saving our lives and others, too? Nothing is worth than our lives. What if we aren’t there to enjoy the fruits of the call we made or to get admired of the make-up we did put on!

Humans are mines of knowledge and innovation. For sure, we’ll make it to Mars and beyond and reach the pinnacle of success in every field we step in. But these revolutionary changes also give us a complimentary baggage of concerns and perils.The red, orange, and green light system – Stop, Look, and Proceed – is not only good for traffic control but is essential in everything. I think the term “Slowing Down” is gone or going out of fashion.

I want to say so much. Pour my heart out. I want to share many stories on such accidents that left  families devastated and ruined beyond repair. But sometimes less is more.

Turning Mirrors Into Windows


Two week ago I happened to bump into my old friend Linda. I met her four years ago in some social event. A very voguish executive she was then. She had a bachelor’s degree from a mediocre college and was a very talented person and worked in the HR department  of a company.  She had a good paying job, looked pretty, and enjoyed every bit of her life.

The current story she told  threw me off. She got laid off three years ago because their HR department was combined with admin to cut the cost to the company. Companies wouldn’t  hire her for the lack of  a degree from a recognized university. She thought maybe getting a PG in HR from a good university would make her more qualified and pique the interest of the recruiters.  She took a big loan and went back to school and got her PG and some other additional specialization certification. She embarked on her journey of serious job searching wearing an invisible crown of Master’s degree embellished with a jumbo loan to be repaid.

She never left a stone unturned in applying for jobs but didn’t even get an interview. The tanking economy claimed her husband’s job, too. Both sat home digging into their savings to eat, pay the bills, and continued to apply for jobs. When their savings wiped out they had to depend on the unemployment dole which also came to an end one day. Like the last straw on a camel’s back, they fell way back on their rent, and they got an eviction notice from the landlord. Her husband went back to Chicago in search of a job and she remained in California all alone struggling to survive.

“Whatever we saved as a down payment to buy our own house was spent on our medical bills, grocery, insurance, and in paying  my student loan installments and I still I have a lot more to repay,” she looked around to hide her welled up  eyes from me.

In the last three years her talent and positivity dropped to penniless, paranoid, and sickness. Her cheeks were tucked in so deep that all I could see was her pointy nose under a dry and wrinkled forehead. Her, otherwise very pretty oval, face shrunk to a square making her look thirty years older.

Her excellence in academic, talent,  and experience couldn’t help her with buying food, cloth, and shelter. She rather lost her sleep thinking about repaying the loans.

“Every time I thought about our future my diaphragm stops functioning,” she pulled her arms together.

Is that all we have to expect from our education and degrees? Is it just a token piece of paper to show we can read and write? Except for big loan repayment installments until we retire, can we attribute any value to it? Don’t we deserve a reasonable job as a reward for the hard work we put in and sacrifices we make to wear that black gown and the cap and wave the rolled paper with an optimistic and proud smile we flash at our parents? Do we really have to have credentials from premier institutions to prove that we are  smart and be eligible for a job?

As a part of my Human Resources studies, I remember studying a chapter which insisted the values of talent acquisition and recommended that HR managers and recruiters should have a talent acquisition programs as a part of their hiring process. I have hardly seen that being a part of hiring practices. It just remained a theory for me.

There are many candidates like Linda who are very talented, adept in learning new applications, and hard working as well. Resume is a just façade of a candidate giving a basic profile of how he or she is suitable for the job. An extremely skilled worker may not be able to write a killer resume. 

Engineering, medicine, fashion, construction, and textiles everything perfectly existed in Indus Valley and ancient Roman civilizations, too.  But there were no Yale or Harvard or Cambridge then. People developed their careers putting their talents and flair in best use. In fact we the denizens of a modern era learned quite a lot from those geniuses who hardly went to a school. We built our empire on their foundations.

The qualifications and certifications which can’t award us three meals a day, shelter over our head, and some savings for our old-age, is it worth coughing up so much money and burning hours of midnight oil to own that piece of paper? Please don’t get me wrong – I’m surely not saying to quit schooling or suggest not sending children to school. What I mean is the convergence of education, skills, and experience should place a person in a better place – not in  starvation and or living in a fright of losing our home.

Out of the box thinking, enterprising attitude, and a vision will make us invincible in our efforts. There are no certifications and GPA count required for this. These are the qualities many of us may have but may not have GPA of 4 and degrees from Ivy League schools. Many modern entrepreneurs are geniuses without any college degree. They have an absolute vision and a drive to make that vision a success.

If our precious time, big money, and our seamless efforts are put in to gaining academic skills, it must be rewarded. If the corporates and governments are not in a position to reward us, we have to reward ourselves and others who are sailing in the same boat like us. Become self-employed. One self-employed person can not only create an opportunity for oneself but for many others as well.

No empirical evidence is needed to say successful entrepreneurship promotes industrial growth which in turn will strengthen the country’s economy. A healthy economy can invest money and resources in free or less expensive education, innovation and technology which will open up markets with new jobs.

Placing all the eggs in one basket isn’t a right move. Simply slashing and adding  skills to  the resume according to the job description and clicking the submit button several times a day is just a mere waste of time. Disappointment plays mostly a step-mom for our expectations.  Spreading the efforts in thinking innovatively, exploring the entrepreneurial opportunities, rather than raising loans to pay for the same run of the mill courses –  investing money wisely in more prospective fields of education  will never fail anyone. Look around there are so many examples and role models within our knowledge.

 Need  a proof ? Watch this: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/bunker_roy.html

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