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Lets Dance

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back – no manuscripts to store away,  no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold.. Nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.” – Merce Cunningham

When I was in primary school I asked Ma for dance classes after school. Few of my friends were going and I was quite enthused watching them practice in the free hours in school. I too wanted to learn and enjoy that art.

But Ma said learn to Sing instead. Dance is of no long term enjoyment. She said you can break out singing any time, you can’t do so for dance. After you get married you will not be able to continue dancing. No good home would allow their daughter in law to go out for dance programs.

I didn’t quite buy into that but didn’t push this further. Like any other child I got distracted in other curious things in the unfolding universe.

But that “naacher poka” (dance bug) stayed somewhere in me. Through College days and also MNC job days I believed only ppl with long training in dance could dance. I would feel my body wanting to move to the beats of a song but I wouldn’t give in worrying about the hilarious scene it may create.

But then we moved to Mumbai in the ADDA journey.

Here we got introduced to the fact that everybody who wants to dance can dance! The 9 days of Garba/Dandiya in my apartment complex was probably the best eye-opener where every family member – child to grandpa would participate in the dance. Nothing complex – just coordination over simple beats.

I was so impressed by this coming together of a family over a dance, probably also one of the secret sauces of the gujarati family business successes, we created a new tradition in the ADDA Office – Garba around the cubicles – GATC. All 9 days of navratri, 10 minutes before lunch hour the entire team dances around the cubicles.. The team’s coming together as a family and celebrating our workplace. This has been continuing since last 3 years – with both Mumbai and Bangalore offices adopting the ritual.

Garba around the Cubicles in ADDA – 2015.

After relocating to Bangalore I discovered this little dance club in my own Apartment Complex. A group of dance loving super enthusiastic ladies, some of them are fantastic choreographers as well as teachers! They participate in the culturals as well as dance competitions around our neighborhood and luckily there was opening in that team! More luckily quite a few of them work so practice times are in the dead of the night :)) Now there’s no stopping me…!

Here are two dances I participated in.. Far cry from my pro peers but Oh I loved every beat.. Here’s to you Ma, I think you would have been proud how your daughter grabs on to every bit of life!

Bollywood dance at Oasis Breeze Onam Celebrations – 2016 (yours truly enters at 1:22)

Folk Dance for Nrutyotsav in Mahadevpura, Bangalore. 2017

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Posted by on April 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Kaun kehte hain Bhagwan aate nahi..

Heard this song on Radio today morning while making coffee and assembling TRG’s lunch box. The lyrics were so full of pure and divine love, and about achieving the impossible with that love, it just stuck in my head..

Kaun kehte hain Bhagwan aate nahi

Tum Meera ke jaise bulaate nahi

Kaun kehte hain Bhagwan khaate nahi

Ber Shabri ke jaise khilaate nahi

Kaun kehte hain Bhagwan sote nahi

Ma Yashoda ke jaise Sulaate nahi

Kaun kehte hain Bhagwan naachte nahi

Gopiyon ki tarha tum nachaate nahi

Coincidentally all these go-getters are Women..;)

Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ9FxkTR7Ew

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Allow Women to make Enemies

An SAP ex-colleague who has joined another company wanted me to speak in her Company on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

I asked her what topic do you want me to speak on.

She said Innovation/Starting Up/Disruption, that stuff.

I told her that stuff is gender neutral, why talk about it to a Room Full of Women, on the occasion of Women’s Day.

If I get a room full of women I would want to talk about REAL issues that keep Women behind.

I also warned her that I could get brutally honest, and you need to make sure your audience can stomach it. Obviously she said she will think about it and come back.

Our Marketing Head let me know he was unhappy for me not grabbing a PR opportunity. But by now he is used to it.

Here is what I would want to talk about.

I was following the Gurmehar Kaur issue. My opinion on it aside, what I noticed is the worst threat given to her was she will be raped.

If it was a guy in her place, the threat would be he will be murdered. And there won’t be so much noise about it.

To make the threat noticeable it would have to be his Wife will be raped. Or his Mother will be raped. Or his Sister will be raped. Or his Daughter will be raped.

Then there will be a lot of noise, the threat has some value, some REAL damage.

Are you cringing reading such emotionless mention of Rape?

Am I slighting Rape?

No.

What I want to know is why is it worse than Murder? Or any other form of Physical Torture? Like gouging out the eyes?

What right do I have to talk about Rape in such academic manner? Have I faced the trauma of it?

No and Yes. No in that I am not a Rape survivor.

Yes in that I have been safeguarded all my life – a lot more than a man my age – probably with that ultimate fear in my wellwishers’s mind. That someone will rape me.

And that’s the truth of every Woman.

She is held back from being outdoors late, from going to remote places to work, from choosing a career dominated by men, and “from making enemies”, because the world is unsafe for her. And the crux of this lack of safety is that one word – Rape.

In this Article, I want to face that unknown fear. Won’t that fear be killed if we face it?

Let’s assume a man gets into big trouble – a result of a risky venture. And a woman gets into the same big trouble.

They have created a serious enemy who wants to inflict the maximum possible damage on them.

The enemy ties up the man and stabs him with a Knife. He goes for the eye. Both eyes.

The enemy ties up the woman and stabs her.. with his Penis. He goes for the Vagina. And any other opening in the body that picks his fantasy.

The Man remains alive, loses his vision. He has suffered tremendous psychological trauma

of that torture aside of the extreme physical pain.

He has to learn a whole new way of living life. If he has the willpower to spring back the whole Society will rally behind him, praising his willpower to spring back from such heinous crime and then they will let him be. His children will proudly talk about their father being a brave survivor of a heinous attack on him and is leading a normal life now! They will show him as inspiration. His story will be that of bravery.

The Woman remains alive, loses no physical ability. She has suffered tremendous psychological trauma of that torture aside of the extreme physical pain.

Left to herself she recovers from the physical pain and has the willpower to overcome the disturbing memory, and she is ready to move on.

Can she?

Why not?

We all know what will happen to her.  She will be shown as an example to more girls and women why they should not make enemies.

Now I ask, do you know of any serious “Innovation” which was taken up and executed to DISRUPT something without taking some big risks. And big risks can also mean some serious enemies. Enemies among people who are “disrupted”.. Your Innovation may take away someone’s livelihood (e.g., taxi drivers?), your innovation may dislodge a strongly established corruption practice, your innovation may stop drug dealing altogether, your innovation may stop wars? Can you imagine the kind of enemies you will make?

How do you ask women to DISRUPT if they are not allowed to make Enemies?

How do you allow Women to make Enemies until the worst Case is supported by the Society?

You know what will make Women Equal to men?

The day “Rape Survivor” can be worn as a badge of honour like “Cancer Survivor” or “Kidnapping Survivor” or “Eyes Gouged out Survivor”.

She will truly Disrupt the day she can walk out in the Deep Dark Night and speak out Loud – Kya Kar Lega? Rape hi to Karega Na? Chal Kar le. 

 

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 Photo Courtesy: Pexels.com
 
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Posted by on March 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Never without a Playmate!

I have never lived in an individual house.

I was born in a joint family – a house with 3 families – ours, jethu’s and kaka’s. Each of our families had one room, one kitchen, and one shared bathroom. Our Dadu used to occupy the topmost floor room adjacent to the terrace. People lived here together in this crowded old ancestral house purely due to sentimental reasons.

I loved playing with my cousins on the unfenced terrace, organising saraswati puja together with chanda collected from these 3 families, listening to rajputro stories from Dadu in the afternoons, paying him back by plucking his shiny grey hair.

In the summer loadshedding nights, our families put bedsheets on the terrace, laid there and gazed at the stars.. someone would break out with a song and others would join in..

This lasted till my 5th standard when my father got transferred to Delhi. Here we lived in CPWD quarters, on 2nd floor. I had a little sister and no brother. During Bhaiphonta I missed my cousin brother, my Ma said we could give phonta to the little punjabi boys who were on the floor below ours! In the large quarters gallis 10-15 of us played pitthu, we made so much noise but no one complained (may be they did but those don’t register in the memory 😉 ).

After a year of living in Delhi we came back to Kolkata. The joint family fell apart and we moved out to Saltlake – again CPWD Quarters, ground floor. Being in my early teens I made very strong friendships there.. One of my closest neighbor friends who was also in my school, committed suicide. I didn’t know the cause but I went into a mini depression, assuming everyone was grieving for my friend and for the lonely me.

In 11th standard my father got transferred to Chennai.

Again we lived in CPWD quarters, 3rd floor (no elevator in any cpwd quarters, all are ground plus 3). First thing I noticed here was the rice cookers whistling at 6 in the morning! Aunties all fresh and active coming out of their flat, putting white rangoli outside their doors! Some similar sounding tamil/sanskrit shlokas played out from some flats (now I know those were Suprabhatam or Vishnu Sahasranaamam). This whole early morning culture was exact opposite of my kolkata experience, and I loved this. Again I made some great friends in the neighborhood! Almost became a pro badminton player thanks to the common badminton court. Ambika Mani my block friend introduced me to P G Wodehouse which helped me with a sunny outlook through some of the most stormy years of my life. Whenever I visited her home her mom would pamper me with yummy murukkus – something very new to a Bong girl.

From this Quarters I graduated my engineering, worked on my first job and then went to USA. There too we lived in condominiums! Student Quarters, and then 2 other condominiums. Being part of a newly married couple establishing the first household I had no time to make friends in the neighborhood. My partner also didn’t seem very particular on socialising. So this was quite uneventful apartment life.

Then in 2006 we got back to India. Since then we lived in 2 different Apartment Complexes in Bangalore and 3 different Apartment Complexes in Mumbai! My first Apartment Living experience in India as the adult of the family rather than the child, I got more involved in the volunteering, as a Cultural Secretary then Treasurer and then just an active Resident.

So in the 3-4 decades of my life on this planet I have lived in about 12 different Apartment Complexes!

I cannot imagine my life outside Apartment Complexes, without those neighbors,  without those different cultures just outside my door, without those neighborly squabbles, without those boisterous Holi and Diwali with Neighbors, and above all without the cacophony of children in the evenings and holidays!

So it is little surprise that I ended up making Apartment Complexes my life’s work!

I believe the World will become a better place if more people choose Vertical Living.. I have a Dream for it, but that would be a different post!

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Rain. Again.

Today evening we stepped out in the first rainy day of Mumbai monsoon… Had some school stationary to be gotten.

In front of me walked Venkie, wearing Baba’s chappals and holding Baba’s umbrella, both bought last rainy season…

Immediately I remembered this was the exact time when we moved to this flat with lot of glass windows, so that Baba could get a sunbathed room all to himself..

And of course that lovely view of rain all monsoon..

It is rains again, but this year that room is empty. Prithvi plays games there, and Venkie does meditation..

We reached the shopping place and those thoughts disappeared behind those colorful umbrellas and raincoats and schoolbags..

On the way back my mind again meandered to that thought – it’s rain, and i’m missing someone..

But i didn’t feel the same pain.

That pain was lived..

And i remembered this thought i saw on a facebook forward, and realised how damn true it is:

“Emotional pain lasts for 12 minutes. Anything more is self-inflicted.”

(yes that 12 min is arbitrary in all possibility, but that’s not the topic)

So I do a quick chatup with baba in my head – baba, you aren’t going anywhere.. you, just like ma and bubsie will be around in my mind, there will be at least 10 moments every day when i will be reminded of you..either memories of inspiration or love or loss or anger or inspiration.. you are going to be with me forever…

So I am not going to self-inflict any emotional pain. Because it will happen naturally anyways..

So, be there, every rain and every shine.. not 12 minutes but all those minutes of my life where your memories belong..

Oh, and I will never tire to share with you how smarter I get with this emotional pain thingy.. I’ve got 2 grey hair by now, and I’m damn proud of the wisdom they hold together!

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

7 reasons why Mobile-ONLY failed

Innovation means bold experiments. As an Indian Entrepreneur I am happy that Flipkart has done it – with making Myntra a Mobile-ONLY offering.

By doing so, it has taken a hit on the Revenue, and gotten loads of mixed reviews. But above all it has created a wealth of learning for us Product StartUps.

So if you are wondering if you should keep your offering Mobile-ONLY, consider the below.

Then see if your target Users and what you Sell, will fit in any of these pitfalls.

NOTE: Comparison here is between Mobile and Desktop Web.

1. People Share links

If on a fashion site I come across a Jacket that’s exactly what my sis was looking for, I immediately share the link with her. Can’t do this on Mobile app so easily.

2. People are not yet comfortable Paying via mobile

Flaky 3G connections. You don’t want that nightmare of your card debited but product purchase incomplete.

3. Limited Viewing Window

For categories like fashion, “Viewing” the product on the largest screen with highest magnification is important. The next best to holding it. Mobile screen cripples that experience.

4. Interruption while transacting

That phonecall, that whatsapp or retweet notification, that retweeet notification.. all while you were about to complete a purchase transaction, or making the critical decision between the taupe and the light purple..

5. Comparing between competitors is difficult

If the demographic is the typical cheap-and-best shopper, they hate to be unable to compare between the myntra and snapdeal and jabong and the-newest-guy-with-highest-discount

6. Targeting User is tough on Phone

We think the Phone knows all about us because it is always in our pocket. Wrong. Can’t store cookies on apps.. Other than a few information like location and maybe what time we wake up, there’s very little information on basis of which intelligent targetting can happen.

7. Sneak shopping at work not possible

Nothing wrong with that.. Most of us multi-taskers do finish off that ticket booking, or bill payment or shoe shopping in between creating two complex pieces of code..

As long as I am poring at my computer, my boss in the open office doesn’t quite notice such quick breaks. But if I’m visibly fiddling with my phone, when the boss knows my coding studio is definitely not on the phone, it is no longer fun!

Evaluate the above, and then choose if your App should be Mobile-First, Web-First or Mobile-Only

Credits: Post created from the brainstorming session with ADDA Marketing team.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Whisper to the Cup!

Once every month I have this moment I hate – handing over my black garbage bag with used sanitary napkins..

I know what happens after it goes out of my doors, it is put together with all other garbage, and then the garbage collectors have to segregate garbage by opening all bags, so they can separate out wet waste, dry waste and bio waste..

Then it goes to the landfill, and stays there for centuries. It does not decompose easily because of the plastic lining present in it which gave me that carefree active 4 days that the Ads rightly boast.

Any positive contribution to this planet that I have, I often wondered if it is being over-written by this negative contribution I am forced to make every month..

But now, NO MORE!

I found the SheCup – a silicone cup that you insert, just like a tampon, to collect the menstrual blood!

The best part of it, is it is not use and throw – it is use and re-use! It’s an Asset and not an Expense! You just wash it well and re-insert every 8 hours!! One cup you can use for 5+ years with good care!

So there I go – no more guilt of heaping my bodily waste on the planet packaged in plastic!! Assuming I have 15 more years of menstruation, I just saved 1440 soiled napkins from going to the landfill!

I sure wish I knew about it before.

While I started using it (just 2 months back) purely with the environmental impact in mind, the comfort I found using it was an unexpected and a kickass bonus!

No diaper-like obstruction, zero doubt of spotting due to pad displacement, I almost forget I am menstruating! I understand swimmers use the cup as well, and they don’t have to take a 4 day break from their practice!

Oh, did I tell you I travel a lot and often stay in friends’/relatives homes.. I don’t have to go looking for the right garbage-bin any more! And yes, I have used the cup while staying 14 hours in an Airport.

The cup costs around Rs.700 and I bought it from here.

change-your-life-quote
For a any question you have on it (e.g., is it suitable for youngsters, spinsters, do you have to sterilize it etc.), and stories of brave women (my personal favorite is this superwoman who used the cup while traveling on a train alone with their toddler!): https://www.facebook.com/groups/sustainablemenstruation/files/
(As of the date of writing this article, the above group is women’s only)
Cheers to your Cup, Lady!
For Further Read:
Blog on the cup from Niharika very useful if you are wondering if youngsters can use it too.
The Kachra Project listing every alternative present today!
 
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Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Uncategorized