Thursday, August 28, 2014

An eventful trip

The last Bank Holiday of the summer got over on Monday. We had planned a trip to Belfast with Mummy and Papa. It was marked with lots of events :)

1. The morning flight was at 0835. K is not a jittery traveller. He is a VERY VERY jittery traveller - the kind who can spend the night in the airport if encouraged. He said we were going to reach 2 hours before. That is 0635! Since the airport is in a city that is 1 hour away, we had to start at 0530. ( It was not necessary since it was a domestic flight and we did not even have any check in luggage.) But K ko kaun samjhaye?? We had booked a cab. To add fuel to fire the cab driver messaged and said he could come early. K was ecstatic . He advanced the ETD much to my chagrin . Which principle of project management recommends you to do this? Like people of Pompeii fleeing the lava we scurried and got into the cab.
The driver seemed like a Kumbh Mela bichda bhai of K. He asked us to hide the kid since traffic cameras might spot us with a child on the lap which is illegal . Try hiding a toddler who is as slippery as eel. The hour long journey seemed an eternity after which we all heaved a sigh of relief.

2. The name of the hotel in our booking reference was Hilton Belfast TemplePatrick. Since we were totally new to the city, we said the name to the cab driver at the airport. He said it was a 25 mins drive. It seemed a bit strange since we were sure, it was some 10 minutes away. Well, we could have been mistaken. So we went ahead and reached the hotel. All the while, we were totally buying the cab driver's offer to take us on local tours. We reached the hotel and our booking was not to be found. Weird. We searched our printouts, the lady at the desk searched her records, there was nothing to be found. Ultimately we realised, we were supposed to be at Hilton TemplePatrick while we had been deposited at Hilton Belfast. Urgh. We had to back track 20 minutes, not to mention the money lost and the time wasted. The cab driver also lost some future customers. Hmpf! 

3. Most of our trips post Chiyaa revolve around her. So the first stop was a zoo! I was very keen for the zoo, since it housed elephants. We have been to a lot of zoos but never seen one with the pachyderm. We decided to give it a go. It was very thrilling to watch all the different animals. Penguins, giraffes, elephants and flamingos particularly appealed to Chiyaa. Papa was especially excited to see giraffes and sea lions. So the zoo was a resounding success. We decided to book our return cab by the same company whose cab had ferried us from the incorrect hotel to the correct one ;) They estimated the time of arrival at 30 minutes away. We started winding up our tour as we neared the 30 minutes deadline. 40 minutes gone, no sign of the cab. 60 minutes gone, no sign of the cab yet! It was getting colder, windier and evening was setting on. Chiyaa's susceptibility to cold worried us. K rang the company and there was no response. The zoo was not in the middle of the city either. It was on top of a hill and coming down on foot would have been a challenge for Mummy and Papa. At long last, 70 minutes later, we got a call informing us the cab slated for us had met with an accident and a backup was on its way for us. The back up reached 1 hour and 45 minutes after we had placed our initial call! It was really a tiresome wait, trying to keep the kid engaged while battling the cold and the wind.

4. We reached our rooms and we did not need anything more than Mummy-made-room-coffee. She can breathe life with the bare minimum elements. It had been a really long day. All we needed was some shut eye. 

5. We spent most of the next day roaming the coast of Belfast in a cab. It was a very picturesque drive . Once we reached the hotel, Chiyaa seemed to be having a temperature. It had come from nowhere. We were worried sick. We applied lots of menthol balms and hoped and prayed that she got well soon. 

6. By God's grace the temperature had receded the next day. It was mostly tours of the city in an hop in hop off bus . Now the little birdie was not very happy being seated in the bus for long durations. She kept singing twinkle twinkle little stars at a volume such that stars could also hear it! There were moments when the tour guide had to stop talking till her voice receded ;)  She went on her singing spree. We tried to keep her a bit quieter by giving her a sticker book. She loves stickers!!! She was engrossed for sometime till the driver had to brake suddenly . She hit her head on the front board. She let out a wail. And kept crying for a good 15 minutes. There was nothing that could pacify her. The guide literally hushed for the while duration. The poor bunny tired herself and slept off after that :(

7. We retired early the next day too since as usual we had an early morning flight and as usual K was the panic cat. I had set the alarm for 4 since we were checking out at  5. Around 0420 there was a loud knock at the door. Guess what? Yes we had slept through the alarm . We did not have any check in luggage. And we had managed to carry a toothpaste which was more than 100 gms on weight. It was dumped by security on the onwards flight. Papa's toothpaste had survived since it was a smaller tube. So we were sharing that . Since we had not gone to their room till 0415 they inferred we might be sleeping and came to give it to us! Imagine if we had our own toothpaste and Mummy Papa had assumed we were on with our morning chores till the 11th hour!!! Oh the horror !! Dekha jo hota hai insaan ke bhale ke liye hi hota hai!

We are all back home and the normal routine has resumed as the brilliant holiday with those wonderful experiences never happened. But the heart holds such wonderful memories that it can barely be uttered in words! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Papa here

I feel blessed. Big Touchwood. I have both Mummy and Papa with me now! Its temporary, but having them close to me, I am speechless.

Mummy has been here for 3 months now. I had planned Papa's travel a bit later, since there were tasks at home which need him. We were doubtful whether Papa should travel, but I thought, he needs to see his grandchild who is growing up so fast. Papa has a deep rooted liking for kids. He loves them. In fact he is a kid himself. My maternal grandma says, he is still the same as he was when he got married 32 years ago! I did not want him to be bereft of the pleasure of being with a toddler who drives you crazy ;) 

His travel was not meant to be straight forward. We had the initial jitters because Papa had never travelled by air all by himself. We were worried about travel sickness. He is also very absent minded. The whole journey involved a domestic flight and then an international with a transit in Abu Dhabi. We were concerned whether he would be able to manoeuvre through all those transfers. Him raising questions like 'Will I be able to identify my luggage?' and 'Where shall I keep the luggage if I need to visit the washroom?' were not helpful at all. To add fuel to fire, he is not very keen to take advise and information either. My sister literally gave him a lecture on how to go about things. At the end of it he exclaimed 'Lets hope and pray I reach' *rolls eyes * Imagine the utter exasperation of my dear sister.

There were road blocks all through the time. Some or the other outage kept happening at home. Every issue seemed like it was going to take a while to get resolved. That added a question mark to Papa's travel plans. 3 weeks before Papa was slated to travel, my sister got very sick. She started having severe abdominal pains. We were very concerned. She went to a hospital and they took her at once for a colonoscopy and MRI scan. The doctors gave indications that she might need a surgery. Mummy was beside herself with anxiety. I assured her, that I would make arrangements for her to go back. My mom's sisters assured her that they would take care of everything, and Mummy need not return since Chiyaa was dependent on her care. Papa's travel was kept on standby, if things took a turn for the worse, we would cancel his tickets. I was worried for my sister and hoped that all was well with her. The reports suggested that she had an abscess in her lower intestine. Surgery was the preferred route but the doctor opted to try medication first. It was a very slow and painful recovery. 2 weeks later, she was not totally fit, but definitely better (Thank God for that) Papa's journey seemed highly likely.

That's when his elder brother was hospitalised with renal failure. Being diabetic, things were not looking very promising. It was rapidly deteriorating with uncle suffering a stroke and going into coma. The next day, he passed away, leaving Papa crestfallen. He was able to participate in some of the ceremonies before setting for his trip. In spite of all the trials, he was able to finally board the flight was a miracle in itself. When he reached UK , I was thrilled and excited. It was beyond comprehension to see the joy on his face when he entered home, picked up Chiyaa and started jumping. That was the moment I was waiting for! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Business Sutra

I have been ignoring this space :S I have also not been reading my favourite posts :( Which I feel bad about, but can do nothing much.There is only one person to blame for this. My mother :D Yep always blame the mom :P In this case it is really the case. Details about the hows and whats in a separate post maybe. This post is about the book Business Sutra.

I love everything Indian! I love mythology too. Reminds of the lovely train journeys we used to undertake when I was a kid and the stories of Panchtantra were such a pleasant company. I also want to do an MBA one day (someday in the not so distant future when I have the time and money *sighs*) . This book hence is a double whammy. It amalgamates theories of management with stories of mythology. It also has some really well drawn illustrations and 'points to remember' sort of sections which are very catchy. 

The book is a slow starter. The writer draws out some ideas about what is 'Indian' and what is not. He contrasts the 'Indian' attitude with the 'Western' and the 'Chinese'. I personally do not see them building in any way to the topics further on. Or maybe I was missing the point. There is a case study after every tale which is very interesting. I am not sure whether the author meant the book to be used as a curriculum book and hence left the stories and the case studies as he did. As a lone reader, I wish he had elaborated both the instance and the case in question. It would have been a much fulfilling experience for me that way. 

There is lot of usage of Sanskrit and Hindi terms. He does beg his pardon for the number of non English words used, but claims English is limited in conveying all the Indian  ideas. I understand that. But I feel Hindi is not known all over India either. By attaching so many non-English words, he has unknowingly antagonised a very big clientele. There is a glossary of the meanings which I feel a non-Hindi reader might find useful. I personally find it a bit annoying switching between pages to get the meanings of words.

The book as such is a very wholesome reading experience. Leaving the management concepts aside, it is quite enjoyable. There are ideas on how to be a better person and a better professional which makes one contemplate. The author does reiterate his theory that reflection and thoughts focused towards the way ahead (which he claims is 'gaze')should be what propel us. Instead of mundane material, social or physical gains. Some people might find it a bit biased towards the Hindu way of life. If we chose to take just the content rather than the context, it is very valid. The writer has claimed that critics have dismissed the book as 'religious mumbo-jumbo'.  Being pretty irreligious, I did not find it so.

I will not be able to give excerpts from the book since it is best read in the words of the author. But let me ponder on some of the interesting thoughts :-

He distinguishes between 4 types of people :-
Duryodhana  - The rule upholder, one who has adhered by rules always. But his motive was his own gain.
Ravan - The rule breaker, who has always broken rules for his dominance.
Ram - The rule upholder for the good of others. He is a success as a King (professional life) but fails as in his personal life (as a father and a husband)
Krishna - The rule breaker for the good of others. One who grows and has made others grow. 
This clear distinction makes one think, which category one belongs to and why. It also makes one think, which way of life is worthwhile. The author does not judge any  of the characters or evangelize. He just urges us to contemplate and gives case studies which make us put them in context.

He states there are 3 different types of hunger :-
For Lakshmi - resources to nourish our physical body.
For Durga - or power which makes us feel secure.
For Saraswati - or identity to nourish our mental body.
Only when the mind expands, we are able to stretch our vision to see what actually matters. We are able to invoke our deep rooted potential rather than concentrating on limited goals.

While hunger can be of the aforementioned types, different people can have different take on hunger. One can be a  :-
Shiva - Who has no hunger, who neither gives nor takes.
Indra - Who is driven by pleasure, who never gives and always takes.
Daksha - Who is calculative and gives and takes in equal measure.
Vishnu - Who has no hunger, but always gives and never takes.
Again, the author wishes us to think how we are as individuals, what we hunger for and what should be the best and sustainable way to achieve it.

There is a wonderful piece on an organisation being merely a set of people (I have always agreed with this. I believe every industry is end of day a knowledge industry with the people being its USP.  Once the people are gone, everything can crumble.) I really admire the way the author has driven home this thought. He states, an institution is made of of innumerable Taras - isolated people with talent. They in turn merge to form a constellation of Rashi/Nakshatra. This is when groups of people start to matter. Grahas are talents whose individual personalities can make an effect on the organisation. What matters most in all this is the relationships between all these celestial bodies (or personalities) which etch the path of a firm.