Inspired by an inspiration: Kiran Bedi

I recently had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Dr. Kiran Bedi, India’s first and highest ranking female Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. Her speech, aimed at career women, was one of the most inspirational that I have ever heard.

While we were waiting for Dr. Bedi to arrive, there was a current of excitement among the audience. And once she entered, her presence was almost tangible; she has this aura of energy and awe surrounding her, and the anticipation mounted.

Her hold over an audience was undeniable, as once she started talking there was not a murmur to be heard among the crowd. Since the lecture was aimed at women, she started by asking us what we really wanted to hear her speak about. She initially shared various strategies that she personally used to achieve all of her professional goals, and then opened the floor up to questions. It was an extremely inspirational and very interactive session, and though it’s hard to recreate that energy in words, I’ve attempted to capture the essence of her talk.

The most important thing she mentioned was to create a mission statement for your life. This, she said, would help you to know what you want, what is important for you. If you’re a person who is focused on your career, for instance, you will need to design the rest of your life in such a way that you are able to focus on your work without being pulled in multiple directions or feeling guilty about not concentrating enough on your home and family. On the other hand, if your family is more important for you, then you know that you don’t really need to compare yourself with the other go-getters at work. Then you know that you need to find a job and a position where you can balance your work with your home, and you don’t set unattainable goals that then de-motivate you. So, creating a mission statement will help you to know what you want — and be true to that.

When she was asked about her career and how she moved up the ladder among the male dominated IPS cadre, she said the answer was “focus.” Focus on what you want and on doing what you have to do — the rest, like promotion, will come. When you are true to what you’re doing, and are focusing on getting what needs to get done, done, recognition is bound to follow.

Another important thing when in the corporate arena is to strengthen your home — that has to be your sanctuary. Then no matter what is happening on the outside, at home, where it matters, you can come back and be rejuvenated. Make friends with your mother-in-law; she can be your best support system, Dr. Bedi advised. If she believes in you and helps you, then you can go to work knowing that your home is well taken care of. But at the same time, she warned women against putting all of their finances into a joint account.”Keep a personal account. You never know what tomorrow will bring, and it’s important to be protected,” she advised.

Her greatest strength has been her own inner strength. “Strengthen yourself from the inside,” she advises. “Be of inner steel, strong and pure steel — be secure in what you are. The security has to come from within. If you are strong inside nothing can shake you. You can deal with anything. Tomorrow if people around you are not there, can you move on on your own? That is inner strength.”

It’s also important for you to be your own friend, she counsels. Just the way you ask a friend for advice, ask yourself for advice. Would you be comfortable choosing a certain path? Ask yourself that. Be in touch with who you are and be true to that, that’s one of the important life lessons she shared with us.

Dr. Bedi is also a firm believer in the power of the mind. “The mind is wonderful — it can enslave you and you can enslave it — depends on your thoughts, which can change,” she says. “Thoughts are powerful. When you’re thinking of something, you’ll get the right kind of books/music that will speak to you, that will help you move in the direction of your thoughts.” That’s why she advises people not to focus on their problems. Focus instead on finding solutions — you’ll get answers in a few hours…suddenly, unexpectedly. Work on your mind; change its pattern from negative to positive. The best way of dispelling negative thoughts is to read inspiring books, listen to inspiring music, meditate…It helps.

Filled with anecdotes from her own life, as well as the problems and solutions she gave to people through her television show Aap Ki Adalat, her lecture was uplifting and thought provoking. It left us with a sense of empowerment and a road map of suggestions that we could follow to be more in tune with ourselves and to be successful in every sphere of our lives.

The mind-numbing cacophony of South Africa World Cup 2010

I’m a huge football fan. HUGE. One of the things that I absolutely love about the game, apart from watching 22 hot men chase a ball across the field ;), is the joyous celebration by fans. Their chanting, cheering, moans, groans and funky costumes are what first drew me to the game. It was fascinating to my 10-year-old eyes. I would laugh and clap and cheer along with those fans, without, at that time, really understand what the game was all about. Of course, as I grew older, my father initiated me into the rules of the game, and since then, I’ve awaited the FIFA World Cup like a fanatic. While I do occasionally get my fix with the English Premier League, FA Cup, Euro Cup, etc., the World Cup is a totally different rush!

So, I’ve been counting the days to 11 June, and five days into World Cup fever, and my ears are begging for mercy…for relief…for deliverance…from the mind-numbing buzzing that is heard around the stadium — the sound of a million vuvzelas.

I think it takes away a lot from the game when you can’t hear cheering and chanting fans. And I really wonder how the fans at the stadium are able to stand the noise, and how in heaven’s name are the players able to concentrate on the game?

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo was the latest World Cup star to voice unease about the trumpet, telling reporters that it affected players’ focus. ‘It is difficult for anyone on the pitch to concentrate,’ the Real Madrid star told a press conference. France captain Patrice Evra has blamed the noise for waking the team in their hotel and stopping the players from hearing each other on the pitch. And Argentina’s Lionel Messi complained they made it impossible for players to communicate on the pitch.

So, is there any chance of the vuvuzela being banned? Unfortunately, it appears not.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter, through a twitter posting, said:

“I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound. I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country.”

And the vuvuzela certainly is central to the football culture in South Africa, with fans comparing it to the chanting, singing — even the wave — done in other countries.

The darn instrument is also gaining a fan following in other parts of the world.

Football fans in Britain are buying vuvuzelas at a rate of one every two seconds. Sainsbury’s sold 22,000 red vuvuzelas in 12 hours before England’s game – one every two seconds. And online retailer Amazon said sales of the horn had increased by 1,000 per cent.

And for those who can’t get hold of a real vuvuzela, there are now virtual versions available at Apple’s iTunes store!

There are around 11 vuvuzela apps available from Apple’s App Store. One named ‘Vuvuzela 2010’ has been downloaded more than 750,000 times, and is currently the most popular free app in the entertainment category, while another, Virtual Vuvuzela, is the seventh most popular free sports app.

So though a large section of fans may complain about the instrument, it looks like the buzzing of the vuvuzela is here to stay.

(Quotes and image from dailymail.co.uk.)

It's a new look!

And I’m loving it! It’s edgier, funkier, livelier than my older, more plain-vanilla looking blog. I’m loving the green, the funky new page counter, more areas to add widgets…and it’s part of my current campaign of doing something new all the time, instead of getting stuck in the same old rut and routine.

Like my cool new haircut! I love what my stylist did with it this time…he gave me a cool fringe and a more funkily layered look that makes me look even younger. 😉 The husband wasn’t too amused, he thought I looked like a teeny-bopper!! (Yeah right, say I! That would be the day!)

With the new blog and the new look, how about a new pass time? For me, it’s going to be more television viewing (I hardly ever watch the idiot box!) It’s FIFA time folks!! Ole, Ole, Ole!! Time for altered sleep patterns, cheering my favorite teams on, and going totally football crazy. Absolutely OTT!

I’m going to be cheering for a couple of teams – Brazil, Italy, Portugal (Go Ronaldo!), Spain (there goes Torres!) and Mexico (watch out for Messi!) – which teams will you be cheering on?

In total control of my life

One of the things that I’ve been wanting to achieve since a really long time, but have only been thinking about, is weight loss. This month, I moved from thinking to doing — I joined a gym! I thought it was going to be boring, that I might have to push myself to go, and was not sure if I would last out a month. But guess what? I’m loving it! (OK, it’s been less than a month, but still!)

Working out, pushing myself and seeing my fitness levels improve is giving me a high unlike any other in a really long time! It’s made me feel even more confident, and most importantly, I feel like I’m finally in control of my life.

Isn’t it strange, though? I just took one action step to change one area of my life (and trust me, there are a lot of areas I want to change), and suddenly I feel like I’m been pushed off the fence and into the driver’s seat. It’s exhilarating!

Now, where did I put that list of Things I Need to Change Pronto?

(Image courtesy everydaypeople.com)

Random thoughts

We’re going to Dharamsala next week…can hardly wait! Our bookings are done at the Norling Guest House at Norlibungka Institue a little way away from McLeod Ganj. The place looks absolutely beautiful! Can’t wait to get there. I’m already thinking of looking up the cheaper options in McLeod Ganj, ’cause I have a feeling that I’d like to spend more time there…maybe at the monastery, or just hanging out…

Speaking of hanging out, Pushkar was a great place to hang out…roam around the market…chill out and just relax. Our visit there last year was one of the most relaxing trips we’d taken in recent times.

With the stress and humdrum of our everyday lives, it’s really important that we find something to do to unwind and relax — it could be listening to music, reading, working out, doing something creative, whatever works, really. Without a stress-buster, things can get really overwhelming.

“He looked normal”

…has to be the biggest cliché in recent times. It’s the phrase that is bandied about the most when anyone talks about a terrorist – be it “baby-faced” Ajmal Kasab, who was given the death sentence yesterday for the 26/11 attack on Mumbai, or Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested today for the failed bomb attempt in New York.

According to an eyewitness,

“I never doubted that he [Shahzad] could be a terrorist because he was a very normal looking guy. He was holding his passport and sitting there, we could never have doubted him because he looked so normal”

Why, I ask, should a terrorist not look normal? After all, a terrorist is a “normal” human being whose mind has been “abnormally” twisted by fanatical individuals. He wouldn’t be roaming the streets with horns and a devil’s forked tongue!

But things certainly are scary out there, ‘cause seemingly well-to-do individuals are being turned by the fanatical outpourings of a handful of individuals who twist religion and spew hatred for “the other,” with delusions of world-wide dominance, at the altar of which innocent souls are slaughtered.

(image courtesy onegoodthing.net)

Resolving to keep resolutions – 4-month check-in

New year resolutions — don’t we all have them? Mine were:

With the start of the fifth month of this year, I thought it would be a good time to do a check in. I’ve been a great one for making and breaking resolutions really quick, but this year, I chose them with care, ’cause these are things that really mean something to me.

Checking in:

Find a creative outlet – This isn’t going all that great, unfortunately. I did put eye to lens recently, but not nearly often enough. I also picked up on my altered books after a really, really long break…but work pressures can really put a crimp on creative juices. But, there are 10 months still to go this year — I hope to be able to devote more time to pursuing my creativity this year.

Never stop learning – This one’s easy-peasy to keep up with! I’m constantly learning new stuff at work — be it industry-related or inter-personal/managerial skills. Plus, I read a lot, so be it a “pulp fiction” book like Michelle Moran’s Nefertiti or literary fiction like Milan Kundera’s Immortality, there’s a lot to learn about ancient cultures and philosophy.

Stay in touch with friends – As usual, this one’s really lagging, badly. It’s not like I don’t want to keep in touch, but more like not being able to find enough time! 🙁

Lose weight and get fit – I’ve been working on this since the beginning of the year, I’m proud to report! Knowing how much I can procrastinate, this is a HUGE achievement. First, I had a personal trainer coming in thrice a week, but I wasn’t too happy with the results (which were zero!) At the start of this month, I joined the gym, finally! Had a one-to-one session with a trainer there, and I was thrilled with him! He was really upbeat and motivating, seemed to understand my concerns, and best of all, told me my goals were very achievable! I have a second session with him on Saturday, when he will give me an excercise and diet plan. Fingers crossed that everything works out this time. The signs, so far, are good! 🙂

Live, laugh, love more – Isn’t that a beautiful thought to live with? Every day, I’m trying…that’s the best that can be done with this one!

So in the final analysis, looks like some things are going great, some not too well, and one’s almost getting broken. But, hang in there resolution! I’m gonna save you still!!

Let your senses come alive!

It’s been a while since I put eye to lens and shot an image purposefully. So when I got some lily blooms as part of my birthday bouquet, I thought it was the perfect time to indulge in some photographic therapy!

The colors of the blooms, the perfection of each flower, each petal, each vein, made me want to create a “vision of perfection.” I hope this effort has been successful.

The perfection of nature can be seen in the perfection of a lily...


...the pollen tubes floating above the flower...


...form an elegant foreground to the perfection of the petal...


...the variagated veins of which stand out against its brilliant orange

This post has been inspired by the propmt at Creative Every Day.

Thoughts on motherhood

A study of relativity

Motherhood. It’s a scary proposition. And one that most people, even acquaintances, bring up in the normal course of a conversation. Especially when they find out you’ve been married 8 long years and still have no children to show for it. Then the questions fly fast and thick: Why not? Do you know what a big mistake you’re making? What’s the purpose of your life? What will you do when you grow old? Who are you earning all this money for?

Well, me, actually.

But I was supposed to want to have a baby. I was thirty-one years old. – Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

Don’t get me wrong — I like children — as long as they are not mine, and I can play with them for a short while before handing them over to their parents. But as I write this, I start to reflect, did I always think this way? The answer’s no.

I remember playing house as a little girl, remember asking mom to keep my favorite clothes safely for my baby. As I grew older, I started looking back at those times and laughing at myself. “There’s a long time still before I go down that road,” I used to think to myself. I thought I’d feel the maternal instincts start kicking in by the time I approached my 30s, once I’d settled down, lived life, and was ready to take on the responsibility of an innocent child. But as the years passed, and as I approached the Big 30, I realized that nothing of the sort was happening! Instead of “settling down” and wanting children, I became convinced that motherhood wasn’t for me — at least not yet.

…I did not want to be pregnant. I kept waiting to want to have a baby, but it didn’t happen. And I know what it feels like to want something, believe me. I well know what desire feels like. But it wasn’t there. Moreover, I couldn’t stop thinking about what my sister had said to me once, as she was breast-feeding her firstborn: “Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.” – Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

The reasons to not have children are many — and at the individual level, they are all relevant — my reasons aren’t any better or worse than yours, they’re just uniquely mine. I have a lot of reasons for not wanting children: I’m absolutely petrified of the entire 9-month process, the labor pains, the birth, the post-natal depression; the thought of the responsibility freaks me out; I need my space…just the thought of having a small baby and then a growing child and adolescent around me all the time makes me feel suffocated; it’s a huge economic responsibility (or should I say liability?); and it totally crimps your freedom. That’s what I think, anyway.

I have had a lot of friends and family tell me that I’m making a mistake, that I’ll regret my decision later in life, that I’m being selfish. I’ve answered them in a lot of different ways, but this excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat, Pray, Love sums up my thoughts really well:

I still can’t say whether I will ever want children…I can only say how I feel now — grateful to be on my own. I also know that I won’t go forth and have children just in case I might regret missing it later in life; I don’t think this is a strong enough motivation to bring more babies onto the earth. Thought I suppose people do reproduce sometimes for that reason — for insurance against later regret. I think people have children for all manner of reasons — sometimes out of a pure desire to create an heir, sometimes without thinking about it in any particular way. Not all the reasons to have children are the same, and not all of them are necessarily unselfish. Not all the reasons not to have children are the same, either, though. Nor are all those reasons necessarily selfish.

I may live to regret my decision, then again, I may not.

I love children, but what if I don’t have any? What kind of person does that make me? – Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

I’d say it makes me a stronger person that those who give in to the pressure to have children, even if they secretly may not want any. It’s just easier to follow the mould and do what’s “expected” of you than to take a stand on a sensitive issue like this one and stick to your guns.

What gives me courage, though, is what my father-in-law said when we told him we were thinking of not having children. “That’s a very good decision, if you can stick to it. Most people end up bowing down to family pressure. If you can stand up to it, and stay firm with your decision, it will be one of the best decisions you have taken. Just remember to have a purpose for your life. For most people, it’s children. If you can rise above that, you’ll need another purpose, so give that some thought.”

Abbuji, I miss you.

A long, lazy weekend

I had a nice, relaxing long Holi weekend. For a change, there were no pressing agendas, and I didn’t feel the compulsive need to go shopping or malling…to be anywhere or do anything.

On Friday, we had some relatives over, and since it was going to be a late night, I cancelled my personal training session on Saturday morning, which meant I could sleep in a little late. Spent most of the morning doing some chores around the house (after a nice, leisurely breakfast and a reading of the entire newspaper!), and then decided to go to Delhi with hubby dearest as we wanted to buy bed sheets, and of course, I had to be involved in the selection process! Normally, I would have gone off to some market or the other while he was at the academy, but I was feeling sleepy and lethargic, so I got myself a coffee from the college cafeteria and stayed at the academy, watching the kids play tennis and reading (The Sign of the Cross by Chris Kuzneski — short review: avoidable).

We weren’t able to hit the stores that evening…had to go drop off some stuff at a cousin’s place…so drove back home after that and ordered in some Chinese.

Sunday was spent much the same way — reading and relaxing during the morning, keeping away winter clothes in the afternoon, and then to the market in the evening to pick up a gift for mom. Caught a movie at the theater in the evening — Invictus, with Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon; excellent movie — and then watched Ben Hur on TV at night!

This had to be one of the best Sunday’s in recent memory — no feeling of sadness at it being Monday tomorrow, ‘cause Monday was a holiday! Spent the day organizing the linens and towels, squaring up the house and just chillin. Didn’t get to strike off much from my to-do list, but totally loved the laziness this weekend!