Thursday, August 30, 2012

Time stands still just when I want it to move!

Now that I have made up my mind, time seems to crawl. 12 years have passed so quickly, but this year seems to drag. I want to start living the dream, but reality here and now is standing resolute in my way. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Have some sentis human y'all!

Me: Aloka, you shouldn't say things like that. It's rude.
Aloka: Mom, what's wrong with you? Don't you have a sentis human?
Me: I don't have what??
Aloka: Don't you have sentis human? SENTIS HUMAN.
Me (after a few seconds): Oh that! That I have. What I don't have is a sense of humor.
Aloka: Huh what's that?

Here is a video of a conversation to discuss this concept further. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Loudest of All

There are some topics I don't want to write about, but they are so persistent in my mind that I can't ignore them. If I ignore them, the creative process shuts down, as it did all of last week. One of these topics, the loudest of them all, is about death.

I am acutely aware of my mortality, not in an abstract way, but acutely, concretely, like something I can touch and feel. I feel the fragility of life every second, every minute. I am not anxious or paranoid about it; in fact I feel calmer than before.

Constantly seeing death's shadow from the corner of my eye changes the way I see other things. It colors everything. I question everything I do, or not do, from within this circle of awareness. Things I used to take for granted as part of life are now questionable. Often, in the midst of busily solving a seemingly serious problem, I hear this clear voice say "Is this it? Is this why you are alive?".

It's not as if I have never heard these questions before. Like all people who seek, I have heard them before, but never in this concrete real context, never without consciously seeking answers, never so pointedly, never so loudly.

These questions, and the way they are asked, are so new that they stop me in my tracks. They are so new that I have to rewire my brain to answer them. Sometimes, I just listen to them wide-eyed, not even attempting to answer, awash in the wonder of this new way of thinking.

Strangely, this voice that stops me in my tracks is steering me in directions I always wanted to go, but was afraid to. Oddly, this voice that talks of human limits and insignificance is helping me break my shackles and stretch my limits. Ironically, this voice that talks about pain and sadness of parting is showing me a new way to happiness. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Grey on Grey

When it comes to e-learning, there are FOUR adjectives that have been so overused that they convey nothing anymore. They stand out just about as much as grey stands out on grey. I see them in every website and every proposal about online learning and feel my eyes glazing over as I read them. And I am not a mute spectator either. When I am writing, these four slip out of my fingers onto my keyboard, slithering and sliding, and claim their place on my documents. I tell you if I never see them or write them again, it will be too soon.

Can you spot the overused four in this graphic?

Now tell me, did you find this post interactive, engaging, compelling and visually appealing?

No? Thank Gawd! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Own Your Failure

Last week, I heard from a friend that an acquaintance is having a tough time finding a job. Then my friend mentioned that the person in question blames her past job role and lack of exposure for her inability to find work. I was completely taken aback by that statement and it set me thinking about my experience last year.

I was in a similar situation last year when I couldn't find the type of job I wanted. It was a tough rough patch during which I questioned a lot of things about myself and became quite depressed too. But never even for a minute did I blame my past employers or bosses or job roles for the situation I was in. How could I? I am not a helpless creature dependent on others to make me employable!

At every stage in life, I have felt empowered to create and develop myself regardless of the situation I am thrown in, be it personal or professional. Even in a bad marriage, I felt empowered to be a good mother and a decent person seeking a deeper meaning in life. Even under poor leadership and with no guidance whatsoever in the last few years, I learned new skills and polished myself as a designer and leader to the best of my abilities. Battling a severe illness until just a few years ago, I didn't act like a victim and, in fact, learned most of the skills I have today during those terrible years of non-stop suffering.

The onus of developing my skills and becoming what I wanted to become has always been totally mine. This empowerment wasn't handed down to me by anyone- no husband or organization or or even circumstances showed me the way or made it easy for me. In fact, there were more spokes in the wheel than I care about. But instead of blaming anyone for the opportunities I lost along the way, I took ownership of my failures because I take ownership of my life, and aren't failures a part of life?

No doubt if you blame others for your failures, it does feel good for a while. It's so much easier to say "Hell, I gave him/her/them the best years of my life and got nothing in return, or it's because they did such non-creative work that I didn't get a chance to hone my skills" than saying "Hell, how could I have been so short-sighted all these years, why didn't I expand my horizons when I had the time, and what is this weakness in me that shows up as poor self confidence"?

However good it may feel in the short term, blaming others makes you a loser because in effect you are admitting that you are powerless and it's the environment and people around you who get to decide what you learn and what you become. The problem with that logic is that if you do get somewhere in life, it's also all because of others, not you.

Sister, it's only when you own your failures that you can own your success!

(Completely resonates with the Buddhist principle of oneness of self and environment. Ever since I understood this brutal powerful empowering principle, I live by it every day.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Look Who's Talking?

The other day, I asked Mallika if she remembered when I started cooking seriously. She took a minute and then claimed that I took over the kitchen only since we moved to this house, which was two and a half years ago. At first I couldn't believe it because it seems I have been cooking forever, but then it seemed plausible- I don't recall spending any time in the Bukit Timah and Newton kitchens. I do remember cooking pasta and croquettes in the Braddell house, but rarely.

Two and a half years is not a long time to master cooking, but if you cook almost everyday like I do, it's not bad. It is my belief that you haven't really mastered a dish unless you have cooked it at least ten times, and ruined it at least twice. Yes, it's important to ruin the dish, because it's only then that you know what makes it really work. I learned that my simple looking roast chicken is tasteless if I do not put enough ginger paste, that croquettes will fall apart if I mash the potatoes when they are still hot, that my absolutely amazing meat sauce will be a total waste if the lasagna overcooks and dries out at high temperature. These are lessons learned the hard way. Of course, it helps if you have people like Atreya eating your food- he forgives every mistake and enjoys everything I cook.

Lately, I have noticed another thing. Instead of my planning meals meticulously as I used to and looking for specific ingredient for them, I tend to have a blank slate at the start. At the grocery store, or when I just open the fridge, vegetables and condiments as if start talking to me. No kidding. I pick vegetables and cheese and meat and spices because they call out to me. Not only that, they also seem to suggest how I should cut and cook them. Sounds crazy even as I write about it but it happens and is changing the way I cook. For example, after years of chopping capsicum, mushroom and asparagus really fine for my pasta sauce, you will now find chunky pieces in my pasta dishes. My roast chicken now has roasted pumpkin and onions as accompaniments instead of the usual roast potatoes. And my tagine dishes are totally experimental. These unplanned experiments don't always work, but cooking like this has a different type of pleasure.

I am pleasantly surprised by this new development for another reason. It shows that the journey is not over- more twists and turns can be expected along the way. I can't wait! 

Five Unforgettable Office Bloopers

Today, while writing a design document, I made a funny typo and was reminded of the crazy ones I have come across while at work. Here are the top five bloopers I have seen first hand at work- in storyboards, in emails and in IM chats.

The first one is not an uncommon mistake in e-learning storyboards and I have seen it a few times in my past life as a reviewer. The second one was the case of a spelling mistake in an email auto-corrected by MS Office. The sender of that official mail was a colleague who says she is still haunted by that episode! I was responsible for the third one in an IM chat with a young male colleague. No friends, it wasn't a Freudian slip- it was purely a case of fast mistyping because c and x are right next to each other on the keyboard. Since then, I have replaced the word sec with min in my IM vocabulary. The fourth one is also common in our e-learning world and sort of apt when you are creating training material for software applications that keep changing. The last one is precious. It happened in an internal email between two of my colleagues working on a proposal. He has never let her forget that typo.


What it was supposed to be: Click on the button to learn more.
What it turned out to be: Lick on the button to learn more.

What it was supposed to be: Sorry for the inconvenience.
What it turned out to be: Sorry for the incontinence.
Super urgent matter!

What it was supposed to be: Give me a sec.
What it turned out to be: Give me a sex.
Be subtle girl! 

What it was supposed to be: The screen shots will be updated later.
What it turned out to be: The screen shits will be updated later.
I can't wait! 

What it was supposed to be: Here are the screen counts.
What it turned out to be: Here are the screen cunts.
Hell they are everywhere!