2017! :)

If you are what you eat, 2017 you were a McDonalds order –
Fast, tasty, unhealthy, self-involved, crowded at every corner!
Goals reached, some broken and new ones made,
Here’s to your movement 2017 –
Before your tombstone is laid!

I’ll begin just like you did – without much prelude
It’ll make sense in the end – just stay clued
On my gyan, don’t plis frown –
Fill that glass and grab your snack,
The ride’s fast, dirty and DOWN!

The stops in January were Pune, Ahemdabad and Cochin,
Seva Café, Nemo Patel, inner work and kin!
The Biennale art inspired deep thought,
P and R – your company made bearable the hot!

Destination wedding of Design and training in February,
Learning was served twice Hyderabad’s collaboration curry
A date to Lepakshi made sure we met again to do a jigsaw puzzle,
Cochin again – the details of which are slightly muzzled!

In March, look out – Zebras, Giraffes and Lions were spotted,
Nairobi and Masai with the best co-traveler, I was sorted!
And then came Dehradoon with Mahavari and period taboo,
Sukhibhava – to you and the boy there, love and thank you!

April – we halt in rainy Bangalore for job hunt,
Long distance relationships, mangoes and the heart burnt
Startup ideas, choices and a familiar tussle
Adventure or stability – stay mindful in the bustle!

Chuk Chuk Chuk Chuk – May saw the Trissur stop,
Pooram, elephants, Bharath hotel with roots hop.
Then came the big move – a job in Mumbai i got too!
Long held dreams coming true – anticipation with time flew.

By June, at 180kmph, settling into the new city,
Finding feet, discovering the job, adjusting my beat.
Mentorship, children, leadership, communities and letting go –
F&F thank you for being the rock, watching me grow!

In July, folks board the train for roots, moving to Trissur for sanity
I saw closely ‘House Hunting’ and ‘Economic disparity’
Santa Cruz, Bandra, Khar, Mahim, Matunga, Dadar and Parel –
Faces everywhere – resolute, tired, free and frail!

My first rains in Mumbai through the Carter glass,
August – so beautiful the rain; agnostic of caste and class,
Fundraising, meetings, fancy dinners and being the ED
Squeezing time for Pune with Soul sister, being Didi!

The September route had a stop I had been dreading for a while –
Wasn’t too bad, turning 30 in Trissur – growing old in style!
Srilanka, my best – Galle, Colombo, Whales, Turtles and Elephants,
The best stop so far, the mindful co-traveler always raising the bar!

October with Diwali brought some stress: homesickness and much rush,
A campaign, work risks, data, questions and the fuss!
An Engagement i dealt badly with – confusion and THE funny saree slip,
My Bangalore peeps i missed most.

Chugging along in November, homeless but taken care of
Thank you, S, P and Aunty for all; much cough, more laugh!
Blocked calendars, culture, flat feet, improvement and impact –
Filter coffee and a space of mine is all I lacked.

Come December, the stopover was at Belgaum for shaadi,
Old friends and new beginnings – kurta and saree!
House hunting, retreat, falling sick, culture and strategy,
A much-deserved holiday in Java and Bali.

Phew! What a colorful ride it’s been,
Much learnt, gratitude felt and growth seen;
Pulled in many directions – yet, not becoming lean.
My thank you list follows – pure and clean:

Mumbai, you complicated one – only extremes with you
Heat, rain, poverty, love, fun, crowd and hue;
Making me tough and my reality amends
I truly hope next year we become better friends!

To my Mumbai friends and all the homes, I call my own,
What would I do without you?
Board games to Carter road at two – my love to you!

To the wonderful people with whom i could do work,
This year was tough, but beautiful times ahead lurk,
Gratitude for every conversation and lessons of fingers burnt,
Culture eats strategy for breakfast is what I most learnt!

To all my peeps in Bangalore – I miss you –
That’s all I’ll say.
Next year, I’ll be better at being in touch,
Don’t hate me plis, I love you much!

To my little girl who watches over all of us,
Planning holidays, surprises and no fuss!
Some gyan from me: you are meant for greatness, see see!
Be the leader that you are to be.

Of some things with stomach and butterflies I did not talk,
The nuzzles, puzzles, origami lilies, drives, runs and walks.
Thank you for all the laughs and conversations dear one,
We’ll do this adulting bit well, I promise – it’ll be fun!

2017 was a crash course in commitment for me,
Commitment is no longer the opposite of free.
Commitment is a mindful choice –
Listening to the gut, sticking it out; despite the noise!

In 2018, the commitments I make,
To my work, I commit all of what i got
Live by all that i once taught.
A commitment to my people –
Friends and family – with no difference between the two,
I’ll be there, I promise, for you!
To the boy with a coy smile, I commit trading first dates
to the loyal stability of co-running many miles.
A commitment to learning, adventure, smiling and being me –
I commit to building, equity, dignity and being free!

2018, many changes you are going to bring,
I can see it – growth, ambition, learning, wedding rings!
As exciting as it is, I sometimes still fear the uncertain,
But the gut tells me to trust – the universe has a goodness curtain.

I can see you smile there like a mischievous little one,
Be kind, be full of laughter, travel, learning and fun,
Teach us to live a life of purpose, mindfulness &
generosity of spirit,
Bring more opportunities and be fair,
Leaving it to you, 2018 –
Let’s make it count, with love and care!

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Posted by on January 2, 2018 in Uncategorized


Love is a 4 legged word, and more!

A while back a dear friend told me in context of love for dogs, “Love is a four – legged word”. I smiled at her, wondering if I will ever understand what she meant. I have always been scared of dogs, rationalizing it to anyone who was curious enough to ask – I do not know what the dogs are thinking thus being around them made me uncomfortable. Over time, I used this as an excuse to stay away from anything that did not walk steadily on two feet.

Little did I know that I would fall in love with a four legged one, who will help me understand nuances about fear and love, by demonstration. Olive, aka Oli came into our home when she was 2 months old, with us being totally unprepared to have her. But she has managed to make herself a part of our household like she’s always been here. I cannot imagine a time without her, and to think it has been just two months. With her curious eyes and extrovert nature, she has made me wonder about this rather irrational feeling of love, and that’s what this post is about. Olima and all that she taught me about love!

Oli ma curiously exploring the world out there!

Love is commitment

One of the things Oli reinforced is love’s linear relationship with commitment. While falling in love is easy, staying in love is a process that requires effort, no matter which relationship. A LOT OF DULL EFFORT! From missing the post 6:30 AM sleep, to sacrificing Saturday nights, spending time playing, tending to her food needs – there is a ton of work that needs perseverance. It is time consuming, needs commitment, sacrifice and patience – like daily operations tasks. There is no romanticizing this part! It is easy? NO! *my sister is testimony to it* Worth it? On most days, yes!  🙂 To anyone who watched Karan Johar, and said pyar dosti hai, that is only for the start. For continuity, love is commitment! Rinse, Lather, Repeat!

How much love are we capable of?

When Oli came home, I was not sure if we would have enough love for her, would we/I get bored of her, will she get bored of us? I believed love to be a finite resource that needs to be distributed among various priorities. I wondered what if I de-prioritize Oli at some point?

Turns out, I was wrong in my foundation of love! Love, apparently, is pretty much an infinite resource, which like the induction motor goes on working as long as the magnet and the electric coil retain their individual property! I think once the process of giving love selflessly begins, there is little to fear about it ending or deprioritizing – or what next. I wonder if we realize how much love we actually are capable of giving and receiving, how much we hold back rationalizing it several other ways. Just if getting the induction motor started did not require so much effort!


Pyar kia toh darna kya!?


Oli makes no secret of her love. She will lick and play with her involuntary tail wag as a testament of her excitement! Such a beautiful feeling to be able to declare your love to the world, and being able to understand that there are as many kinds of love as there are people. The only reason I did not want to engage in pet conversations with dog lovers, I now realize, is because of the stories I told myself and my solid definition of love. Oli ma made me see the convoluted meaning the word ‘love’ has; and the simplification of it that I used to see; because seeing it as a whole takes time and effort to engage and understand.  I was at a Pride march recently, a beautiful day with colorful people with much love and acceptance, fighting to be able to declare their love openly. And this thought kept coming back to me. How does one define love, and put it on boxes? How does one decide a certain kind of love is stronger, is more valuable, is ‘acceptable’, ‘legitimate’ or ‘natural’? How is one expression of love superior to another? How many types of love there can be and by trying to define it would we be able to do justice to all its forms?

As I watch his girl sun bath in the cold winter in the balcony, I cannot help but think about how her friends on the street – the scrawny pup who her age, possibly malnourished sunbathes on the streets, but full of the same love as her. I think of Oli’s mother, Pipa, and her story of being rescued by two wonderful people (possibly my favorite couple!) I think of how they took care of her till she delivered the little babies, how they painstakingly found loving homes for each of Oli’s 8 siblings, patiently, committing to the two months’ long interview process. How much love you are capable of! How much love are we capable of? You were right P, one of the many definitions of love is it being a 4-legged word. I wonder how many more are out there, already defined, left to be defined, experienced and discovered!

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Posted by on December 18, 2016 in Uncategorized


It’s all about learning!

Very dramatically, on my birthday I decided to put in my papers at current work place. Some way to spend a birthday – typing up a resignation letter! Much like love letters, typing resignation letters are tough; one does not know to what details the letter should go. As I was on my third draft, teachers I am working with called, and I wondered if I was doing the right thing.

The last two years have been insane learning, it’s not just the organisation, but several other factors contribute to making it so. From managing a team alone, to developing and facilitating sessions on topics I never thought I could, dealing with the disappointment of “idealism” in a rather practical world, thinking about quality and scale, equality and efficiency, juggling multiple roles, having weekends blocked in advance, and exponential growth in tolerance to taking non sense(!)- the stretch has been immense. I was thinking about how much this stint taught me and how best I could organize the learning. Here is an attempt – in concentric circles, one each for self, team, organisation and sector. As always, this is just the surface, I am sure there is so much more that I haven’t realized yet and some internalized that they seem natural. Nonetheless, here goes!

Learning #1: (About Self) Do things before you are ready.

Right after a training at Srirangapatnam piloting a new English programme, the super boss called me in for a debrief and offered me a position to take on a bigger role – one that I had never done before, but always wanted to. One that involved operations and people management (erstwhile most feared domain) and meant no personal life. This was huge. It was flattering and scary. Good scary. I knew I was not entirely ready. I would have to learn on the job and teach on the job. I agreed and haven’t regretted it one bit!

I lost a lot over the year of fitting into the role, but I gained so much more! Definitely a turning point. All of us need that one person who believes in (or at least fakes it!), and pushes us to do things before we are ready. And while I promise to emulate the belief for folks I engage with, I also realize in the absence of ‘that one’ person, I need to push myself to do things – even when I think I am not ready! Entrepreneurship, going on that been- planning-forever trip, having a difficult conversation, marriage, having kids, filling out the application for the dream job, changing the world – however big it looks, however unprepared you are, just do it! 

(I am not there yet, and fail to follow this often, but here is something that truly inspires me. And if you are wondering how I performed in the role, let’s just say my learning curve was steep, not sure if I stayed long enough to ‘perform’)

Learning # 2: (About Team) Delegate, delegate, delegate.

We were organising a rather important training program for the trainers, the first of its kind for me and naively I took it on myself to do all the sessions. For four days. It was in the middle of day two when I showed signs of burning out that I accepted a colleague’s offer to help out. I learnt something very important about team management through this (more about self actually!) – as a friend put it well, when it comes to teams, control the output, not the process. Leading a team is not just about wanting to be liked(rookie mistake) or worse, abusing the power(advanced level mistake). It’s about letting go control, delegating, trusting people, working on a common language and culture, mentoring, playing bad cop and good cop, being self-aware, getting mentored, being okay with mistakes – and so much more! But this also means more laughter and joy at work, more creativity, fun, growth and confidence. I finally understand why at interviews they ask about number of people direct reporting into, no greater learning! If Karan Johar’s domestic life melodrama of Kabhi Khushi, Kabhi Gham, is “..all about loving your parents”, professionally, it is all about trusting your teams! Kabhi Khushi, Kabhi Gham!

Learning # 3: (About Organisation) Culture, Values, Vision and Mission are not just words

A few years back, in a conversation with a mentor, he asked me what I was looking for in a job, I unblinkingly said top priorities in no order – money, should be in a city of my choice, and education sector. (The point is, while these are important, I missed out the most important filter criteria!) He went onto ask me, if I thought the people and vision of the organisation mattered, and I wasn’t too sure. Now I am. Speaking to folks from various organisations and from own workplace, I have begun to realize:

1. An organisation breathes and lives only because of its values and vision.

2. Culture is everything, and one needs to take deliberate effort to build and maintain it  – classroom, family, training room, team, school or organisation

3. With great power comes great responsibility – especially with building a culture envisioned.

4. Values will make decisions, not decision trees

5. As an organisation grows, it is imperative to acknowledge that processes, structures and data are a means (and very important ones!), but not the end. The vision is the end, and every task performed should be in service of realising the vision.

Learning # 4: (About Ecosystem) There are no easy answers. Keep calm and be awesome.

Over the last two years I have struggled most with gratification. Being away from the zone of action everyday, impact seems like a long shot. The dichotomy between the ‘sector is too big for you to change’ and ‘each one’s in the chain is critical’ is the sweet spot to act in. No one has the right answers – least of all you! Sometimes there are no right answers 🙂 Everyone is trying and each one’s guess is driven from the same recipe of good intent and information asymmetry.
Note to self: Be patient, very very patient.

A month from from putting in my papers, as a part of the processes, i return this laptop. I cannot help but think about how typically this represents the role of work in my life. Just like this laptop, which integrated into my life, taking over my ‘personal life’, the work here too was personal. Though I have moved on and prepare for the next adventure, I silently mutter a thanks for the path so far, and hope the future will hold an equal amount of learning, more earning and much more adventure!  It’s as JRR says,

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say

What next?

I find my conflicts, realisation and questions in the ‘organisation’ bit pretty fascinating, and have been thinking about how to create ‘great’ organisations in the impact space. What would it mean to have one such organisation? How much would one have to trade-off for it I wonder. And these are questions I am armed with as I make the next move. Wish me luck universe!

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Posted by on October 21, 2016 in Uncategorized


Dear 20 year old, from the 29 year old.

Dear 20 year old Shruthi,

Hello from the 29 year old you 🙂

I know you will not believe the life path we have taken so far! At 29, when I look back and see the 20 year old me, I can only smile! One thing that hasn’t changed of course is getting dramatic on birthdays. And 29, that’s been the most difficult one so far. I read somewhere that the birthday years where one turns 19, 29, 39, 49 etc. are the most difficult of birthdays, and I could not agree more – it signifies the end, end of the teens, 20s, 30s, 40s. But don’t you worry about that now, 20 – 29 will see so many inflection points and will become a steep learning curve – oh you will so love it  🙂

You will achieve those super important milestones – the first job, living alone, undergo that heart break, fall in love with teaching, cry at things you thought you never would, figure out values and morality, meet some amazing people and think some brilliant thoughts, listen to songs that melt the heart, get angry at world affairs, read and listen to stuff that make no sense (read and listen anyway), save a few turtles, make some surprising and some disappointing decisions, and so much more.

But in all of this, there are many things that you learn, and it will keep coming back to you. Several people will tell you this in many ways, but you will not understand till you are ready to learn. Nonetheless, if it is possible to, remember to remember the following, one learning for each of the 20s –

  • Trust – You know how it is important for you to want to do it all? Well, many will tell you “You are not God”, “You cannot do it all” AND you will hate it – but it’s true! You are not God. You cannot change the world… alone. But you can change the world by joining hands with a community. Join those communities. Trust the collective. At work, trust people’s abilities, intentions and skills. Learn to trust early on, it will help delegate; freeing up a lot of time for more important things in life. When you are feeling alone, trust that friends and family will be there; call someone. Trust them to not judge. Above all, trust yourself and your abilities.

            Trust people; trust yourself; trust the world; trust that it will happen.

  • Invest in yourself – I cannot tell you how much time you will waste on social media, try not doing that. Spoiler alert: Facebook will run an experiment to control our mood and that will take faith off corporations for a while, but remember lesson # 1. Get a hobby. Pursue it. Be the best version of yourself each day. Make sure the person in the mirror is who we want to be – emotionally, physically, intellectually and spiritually.
  • Question, always with curiosity – Why did you say something? What are the underlying factors of any decision? What are those 5 things that can never be compromised? Why is the other person reacting the way they do? Is there a better way to do this? Why was this done?
  • The answers are never in the extremes, find the balance – Profit or impact? Roots or wings? Personal life or professional life? Money or happiness? Sometimes, these choices are not as linear as they are put. It is a complex ecosystem, many a times one leads to the other spiralling in ways we cannot fathom. You will want both in varying measures at different points of time. Be aware of what is being given up for what is being chosen, be aware of the trade-offs and do not get passive aggressive about the consequences. Find the answers in the balance, careful about the extremes.
  • Be confident, be open – There will be times your neck will be on the line, and sometimes you will be the messenger delivering bad news. Do it anyway. Make those mistakes and own up to them – there are buffer resources for on the job learning. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Be open to ideas different from yours. Be open to taking help. No one has it figured it in totality, if they did, the world would be a very different place. Rely on experience and ‘do something’ with an enthusiastic heart.
  • Invest in relationships – As you get older, you will realize, it gets more difficult to make friends, or make time for friends. Be a good friend, invest your time in building those relationships. This is all you will have on a rainy day. Sometimes this is all you need on a rainy day! Celebrate birthdays, attend weddings (and you will miss many), be a part of celebrations, grab that coffee, pick up the phone and call, ring that door bell – however difficult or stressful. It will make all the difference!
  • Be disciplined – If ever there is a choice to gamble a resource – money or time, choose to play with money. Time is the game changer – try not to mess around with it. There is only one way to maximize it, build discipline. It is the most difficult skill to master, but also the one with highest return!
  • Show up and move out (at the right time): Difficult conversation? Show up. Blind date? Show up. Scared of consequences? Show up. Want to stand up for something? Show up. Sometimes the world in our head has over thought it so much that showing up is all it takes to prove it wrong. And when you think your job is done, move out. The best policies, as a mentor will tell us, are the ones which have an expiry date and exit strategy. If you owe it to confidence to show up, you owe it to compassion to walk out at the right time.
  • Be professional: No matter what. Don’t miss deadlines. Return those phone calls. Respond to the emails. Don’t gossip. Manage the team with the best intention of the team in mind. Be trust worthy. Be professional.

And while I know this is cheating, I am going to give you one last big learning, and the most important of all – have fun. The 20s will be phenomenal, I hope you learn much more than I did. Take care of us.

Do much, love much and learn forever.


29 year old Shruthi


Posted by on September 29, 2016 in Uncategorized


April and Endings

April – probably one of my most favorite months – it brings so hope, with flowers blooming all over, start of a new financial year and academic year, start of the mango season for the year, start of a new year for farmers, and so much more. It is also the month of the Ugadi, Bihu, Edmyaar, Maha Vishuva Sankranti, Vaisakhi, Puthandu, Pohela Boishakh – celebrating new year in so many homes.

For me, the New Year in April is Vishu, celebrated by Malayalees. Lost between Tamil speaking and hailing from Kerala identities, Amma and Appa have made sure, no matter where we were – Delhi, Calcutta, Pune, Mumbai or Bangalore, we wake up early on Vishu to see the Vishu Kanni. The fresh fruits which will be well arranged will include the first Chakkai and Mangai of the season. There is the ritualistic ‘search for fresh konnapoo’ the previous evening. And then is the sadhya, waiting for Shobhana’s dance in Manichitrathazhu, every year. Start of a new year – April! According to Wikipedia, The traditional etymology [of the word ‘April’] is from the verb ‘aperire’, “to open”, in allusion to its being the season when trees and flowers begin ‘to open’. April could have not been more apt!

I often wonder, while openings are celebrated with much vigor and joy, endings, closing and partings are less spoken about. They fill me with all sorts of emotions, varying from gratitude, sadness, happiness; thoughts that leave me with many more questions. As we end this April, I can think of many ‘endings’ in April that left an impact on me – people, places, phases etc., and I am thankful for many of them. This is to the April Endings!

  • My kids and 203B: Four Aprils ago, i entered my first classroom as a teacher and two Aprils ago, I said goodbye to it,  but I miss it just as much. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I have to say, leaving the first cohort of children I taught and many unfinished tasks has been one of the most difficult things I have done. But, as much as I miss 203B (the school I taught at) I am not sure if I want to go back. That was a beautiful chapter, was amazing while it lasted but now it’s over. I am happy it happened, and will continue to go back to it in times of need. Much gratitude for this closure!
  • Fear: I know this sounds really silly and is a cheating point because fear can be conquered any month, but April with its beginnings have always been the end of a fear. From fear of leaving the comfort zone of a corporate job, to fear of singlehood, fear of loneliness, fear of dogs, fear of people management, fear of conflict, fear of dealing with emotions – overcoming most of these in April, (or beginning to) makes it significant. Getting over a fear opens a whole new world of possibilities! Clichéd as it is, “Darr ke aage jeet hai!” I have also realized, most times, identification, facing the fear and wanting to overcome it is the biggest challenge. The actionable ‘overcoming it’ is a mix of being in the right place in the right time with the right people and right thoughts which magically happen when one is ready!
  • Old Bangalore: Yes, this is a parting, and my least favourite one. Loss of Old Bangalore. Something I haven’t come to terms with yet. Each time someone complains about Bangalore’s climate or the traffic, I get irate. I am angry because it is true, angrier because we let it become so and I cannot defend it. I was riding in Ejipura, on a hot April weekday, on a road covered with filth and garbage, around a slum, stuck in a jam for 15 minutes. I have/we have, accepted this as status quo. The roads free from jams lined with trees of yellow, purple, white and pink flowers, which existed till about two decades ago seem a dream. What are we doing to my city? What are we doing to ourselves? Where is the balance? Has the swalpa adjust madi become a bane? I am not saying we should stop development, and I obviously do not have the answers, but I am saddened to see my city – my home – my identity being devoid of all that it is known for. An ending I don’t want. This April has been the worst summer Bangalore has seen so far and if reports are to be believed, in 5 years my city will become unlivable. If every ending is a beginning, the loss of old Bangalore is the dawn of realization that sustainable development is the key. People, planet and profit – in that order.

Unlike new beginnings that are events, closures are a process that take time, often working in the background. Closures and endings are hard; they make the ride bumpy, disrupt the comfort zone, bring more confusion, and sometimes make a disarray of things. They make ME write long posts as these but they also make me humble, smile with satisfaction and gratitude. To the necessary partings, good riddance; as for the hard ones, I am reminded of Winnie’s saying, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so difficult”

To many more Aprils… and endings!

#latepost #April #reflections

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Posted by on June 26, 2016 in Uncategorized


Gratification? Nah! Learning.

4 AM on a Sunday; ready to drive down to the small town of Haveri; 400 kms from home – for a teacher led conference, I was beginning to question the whole idea of what I do, and if really makes an impact, if it is all worth it. I have been suffering from lack of gratification/satisfaction for a while. Being in the impact sector, but working, as my manager once out it, ‘out of a laptop’, I seldom ‘see’ impact. It probably was the need to satiate the instant gratification part of me that I was up for this on a holiday.

350 teachers whom I work for, from villages spread across the state – some not even on Google maps, all gathered together to share, to talk and to learn. In my ideal world, I would have put down the story of each of these women and all that they do – (Insha’Allah, someday!) but for now I will stick to the two that stayed with me:

STORY OF GRIT: Beginning of the academic year 2015 – 16, in a little village called Yeriyur near Mandya, South Karnataka – what must have been a bright sunny day – a little 3 year old boy with blue- green eye balls enrolled into Nandini’s class. For some reason, the blue-green eye colour was considered unlucky and associated with ill omen. Nandini took no heed of this, and included the boy into the class. Of course, that is the right thing to do, but standing up against mind-sets and being a change agent is not easy. What happened to Nandini and the other children was expected – the other children ostracized the boy, and Nandini’s co teacher and Nandini had a tiff around this.  The co teacher finally quit, leaving righteous Nandini to handle 45 crying three years old alone. Nothing dramatic or visible took place after that– except change, slow (invisible!) change. Nandini did all that she could to get the children to start accepting the blue eyed boy – play together and share food, involved him all conversations and create a space of inclusiveness. Now, as Nandini proudly told me, our little friend is as much a part of the class as anyone else. I wonder, as a 22 year old, would I have had the courage to stand up so firm and strong for what I believe in. For sure the little boy does not realize what happened just as yet; but someday he will and thank her. Like I did.

STORY OF POSSIBILITY: During the mid-term parent teachers’ meeting at Badrawathi village, the parents brought to the teacher, Sharadha’s notice that the children were not eating. Sharadha could have easily dismissed this as a parents’ issue, given a list of to-dos and moved on, but she decided to help the parents address it – by being a part of the solution. Together, the parent and teacher community decided one day a week, parents would volunteer to come to the class and feed the children. The children were divided into 3 three groups, and parents assigned to each group, ensuring that no parent fed their own child. On each Saturday, since then, the children sit in a ‘happy circle’, with a parent who engages the children in a story and feeds them, just like they eat at home. As a result of this, children have been demanding that parents tell more stories to them even at home. The community driven solution worked wonders, making Sharadha a true solution driven leader.

(This story for some reason reminded me of market dynamics – the market will move toward finding the optimal solution for itself if left without any intervention. The job of the government is to merely facilitate this, not intervene!)

Nandini and Sharadha’s stories hit me on the face and made me realize something very important. When I design plans and interventions, often I am faced with decisions which lead to answering, “Can they do it?” But each time I go to the ‘end customer’, I am happily convinced that I am asking the wrong question. I can now surely say, this dilemma has less to do with others’ ability, but more to do with doubts in one’s own ability. Can I communicate the need and value of the intervention? Can I, like Nandini, stand up for what I believe in, even when no one else does? Can I like Sharadha go beyond my call of duty when the going gets tough? Do I have what it takes to stand for right and not what is easy?

When these teachers were presenting their stories, people commented, appreciated, condescended and some gave suggestions as to what can be done better. Both Sharadha and Nandini, proud of what they had done, did not dismiss any of these. I am not sure if I found my ‘gratification’ at these events, but looking at them smile and deal with the ‘free gyan’, I did realize that gratification has to come from within me. And while that’s easier said than done, it’s a struggle that each one has to go through – to look on the inside for barriers and outside for solutions; not the other way around. It will take time, and maybe its not as ‘instant’ as some of us want it to be. Like the song in my playlist currently said, “Jhaank apne maan ke andar, wahin kahin chupa hai kala bandar” – the devil lies within you and me.


Posted by on April 17, 2016 in Uncategorized



Orrey excitement to start my #YearEndPoem,
2015 time to move your bum,
Made me fat, and overstayed your welcome!
Thought and brooded over it of days three,
Tears and whining, complains and cribbing – uff and chee!
Before we shrug it to move on, the traditional verbose picture must be drawn.

#AnnusHorribilis it was on the relationships and personal front
Apologies I ask later, it was a horse that I decided to mount!
Bans and scams, ISIS and attacks, cyclones and earthquake, lost and found,
Yen aaithu to my city, why so much pollution – air and water and sound?
A disclaimer thus I give thee: romba sad this one might be.
Please put up with it, tale of breaks ups, closures and fights you will see!

There were highs too- of the hugs and kisses;
For all that paralysis of analysis #MirabilisAnnus!
Cycling, economics and writing gave much needed bliss,
Dates and accidents and promotions, insights one shouldn’t miss!
The #drama is no kum, the story shall now hum,
Get your seat belts on, pai lago to Murakami and Chekov, refill #BreezerWithWhiteRum.

#January ticked off the #HampiFest,
Trekking and laughing, boat and luna, adventure and rest.
GRRM you killed my #JonSnow, broken promises of a #Happy365 to overcome the low.
Obama ko bulaya for #RepublicDay, #AIBRoast ko ban kia – freedom they say!
#Startup and impact on the mind; idealism ellam slowly being left behind.
The slow killer of all dreams, Log kya kahenge it seems!

In #February my re-affair started with the do pahiyaan,
Delhi le #AAP took kursiaan, freedom and #biriyani for some miyan!
A closure was long due, pretext of KGAF, in Pune I saw kids few.
No jealously, no crying, no forlorn; we had all finally moved on.
Innocent stories of uski-wali and boys, music, and crushes and random noise.
I wish I could explain to you kids falling in love is not easy; what? 36 questions, really?

Activity filled #March mess, the world went crazy over a #BlueorBlack dress!
To Kunigal and some hallis I made a few trips, #hope and field reality never let slip.
The #FirstAccident when I fell off the bike, Bannerghatta road, blood, bruises – eikye!
Again Pune; first marriage of the generation- Blue Lotus – may you be an inspiration.
How to be sorted, why so much confusion and what next was a bloody flurry,
A thought was – maybe we should study? Aren’t we too old buddy?

Hard lessons I learnt in #April, real life relationships are seldom the filmi fable.
“I don’t have the time”, blatantly I said to many;
We all must slow down and have some #fenny.
So many squabbles over matrimony, opportunity cost it was dear family!
Modi said in India we must try and make,
I’d say give me the to-do steps, and please start with cleaning Bellandur lake.

Of #May I have fond memories, madness ellam appuram.
Back to the classroom, in hot summer of Srirangapatnam!
Teaching teachers was no joke, in a village with little company for #rumandcoke.
#Forts, #SchoolsinMosques, Rahim and Ram; Kaveri amma always happy, forever so calm,
Why can’t one be all the time like this, subah and shyaam?
When in Nepal the ground shook; listen, stop, reflect, love, take a look!

Then came more work at work; thoda sa I should have put a roke,
Birthdays celebrated in #June, #InDino, long drive and light from moon
Of policy, geo-politics, economics I did much suno.
A cycling ‘date’ with a friends’ mate, Alumni meets saw successful fate!
A hard parting at work, the second bloody fall on BG Road made me berserk!
#SameSexMarriages got a sheri, #GreeceEconomy not too merry.

#July was about #DigitalIndia already, thoda policy I learnt in Delhi.
More I heard, I knew hard core #Pacifist I be, #Gratification I need to see.
Midnight conversations on leadership and roots and haven,
Kojum #kadhaltalk with the lovely boy in best looks unshaven!
A teacher we all know as APJ moved on, a nation-wide mourn.
Start of a new job for few; Economics IS the real rush, time to take cue!

Management is what we should learn in school –
People, time, change, relationship, conflict and risk miniscule.
#August was about the struggle with all of this not sans –
#MrIndia for 30 years ran, #PornBan, Pachai and his #TamBramFan.
Thank God for writing, pulled through it all, relationships needing an overhaul.
The only good from strain, over canines I no longer pain!

#September being the annoying one, #Onam with thathi thatha was fun!
First Teachers’ Day without any kids, is this all worth the bids?
Correctaa painful wisdom teeth grew as I turned 28,
None of my yearly goals reached, little practice of what I preached.
All long distances and short still a mess; I wish we spoke more, and felt less.
Sapio and Demi sexual antha discovered, more truth uncovered!

Mark of many closures was #October, a break up and a break down;
Much time I need off, and some time out of town.
To Mysore and Mumbai I went – my ultra, super favourites – much mood amends!
A wedding I missed of a dear one in Guwahati, not intentionally, kasam of Dokarthi.
End of a blue book in which I usually write, marking the end of a phase tight.
Transactional relationships make me sad, this was soon becoming a fad!

One more ban in #November, #intolerance shambar on shambar;
Delhi Heritage walks recommend to all, good company – and it’s a ball!
The unexpected trip to Kashmir brought perspective more,
Fox paw prints, Chinar, snow trekking, #Kahiwa, kesar and IQ84
You are right Appa, slowing down is not really so much of a bore!
Another wedding I missed; Karthik Iyer, so much admiration and shor!

Fear of world war 3, attacks and natural calamity;
#December weekends spent in coordinating Chennai relief,
Diaspora, operations, skeletons and reflection – so much drama and grief!
My two favorite women, finally taking the plunge-
Change is not the easiest to handle, unless it has Vodka during lunch!
By the white sand beach it is easy to see, the resistant devil is within you and me.

Realization of a thing or two; stay excited in the ‘processes’, ‘events’ might be few.
Relationships take and need time, not everyone will always get your rhyme.
Learn to say no, people understand; we move on, we all grow!
Leadership is about clarity and keeping expectations in limelight,
Good intentions are not all enough, hard skills be in sight, ask the question right!
Insight and information are both a must, collective intelligence please trust.
An outward fight harnesses an inward demon and that’s all my sermon.

For all the events I skipped, calls I missed, and for all the times I sat tight lipped.
For all the times I have been late, for all the bad mood meetings and dates;
I apologize – biriyani on me in #Paradise?
This one is for all you bright spots; all our lonely tears for the right reasons,
I know naught when or how or which season,
Together with Elma and Hulio we will stop the treason.

Lovely sister, there is a need to send you a big hug–
For things many, you are my inspiration; so much poise, stay smug!
To the Chithis and Chitappas who are #TooCoolToBeTrue,
More laughter over stories of Guptas – perhaps over more music, vodka, and suttas?
It will all be fine dear and near ones, you and me are made of the same mettle,
Much all I have to do, swipe left: not JUST settle!

Butterflies in my stomach, and a grin on my face as this poem I close,
2015 – You have truly been a ‘coming of age’ one, konjum laughter and nariya remorse.
Tamizh music always made me blush sunny, Pudhya Mugham and OK Kanmani.
Books, travel and movies I did very few, greatest regret – must take cue.
Of some things I made no mention, dating apps and remaining tension
And a thank you to inspirations at work – you are all my happiness ration!

So much to look forward to this year – changes, not easy ones I fear.
Best to accept and let it sink in, illai na, #ShawarmaRoll and #Gin!
A few promises I make, please hear:
Photos of beauty I promise to take, not just MoMs and items fake.
To clear the wallet of bill and fetters, I promise to store only love letters.
A separate speed dial I will have for work, on Saturday evenings no longer lurk.

#SoulSister, lets follow your rule of thirty three – professional, personal and me.
Writing, reading, health, wealth, love, power, passion, art, humour, achievement,
Dreams, hope, independence, confidence, travel, postcards and conversations,
Trust, data, realisations, clarity, heart melts, surprises and skill fix
– Bus itna porum, now for all of us just make a good mix.
A very weepy wet kiss to welcome you; two-oh-one-six!


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Posted by on January 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

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