Good Morning! (Yawn)

So here is a post about my favourite topic (not). And since it is 9 am right now when I’m writing it, I think it is fair to say that it will not be earth shattering. To put it very bluntly, I am not a morning person. I resent the alarm, I often feel like my entire sleep has been ruined just because I woke up to the sound of the alarm. As if I would wake up singing if my eyes opened up naturally every morning; I rather doubt it. And there is this inexplicable thing that happens where on some days I feel perfectly refreshed with the sleep I’ve had while on other days it feels like mornings are the pit of hell. I don’t like coffee or tea in the morning so I guess there is nothing really that helps enhance the mood. Then there are days like today when my eyes open up unusually early for absolutely no reason. So I decided to see if I could figure out a little bit more about this strange phenomenon but because my brains are addled in the morning, I couldn’t do much meaningful research. But nevertheless, read some inspiring posts here and here. And rounded it off with one of my  favourite morning recharge music. Have a happy weekend!


Routine and it’s friends

The word ‘routine’ comes from the word ‘route’. So sometimes, just changing your route can give you a refreshing break from your routine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of routine. As a child I was quite averse to change of any kind and even though I eventually learnt to embrace the good in any situation, I reveled in the comfort of routine. I still do in fact. And by routine I don’t necessarily mean those that lead to high productivity; there are enough routines in the world that we fall into that do not benefit us in any way. They are commonly referred to as ruts. So spending the entire weekend doing nothing but binge watching TV shows and movies and ordering food is an example of a bad routine. But I digress. So sometimes by literally, physically changing your route, you get a new perspective of life or a situation. Sometimes this change of route can be inspired by a conversation or something you read. But most of the time serendipity doesn’t exactly strike, so we need to have a mechanism for ourselves to know when to break from routine even if for a single evening. I tried that today and found myself taking a long walk and then settling down at a cafe to research and write. After a while, on a whim I decided to try another cafe and treated myself to a delicious bacon and egg sandwich. As I sit here in the glow of lamplight, enjoying the soft music and writing this, I feel a sense of contentment. I wouldn’t choose to do this everyday but I liked it today and that’s what matters. And I hope I remember this feeling so that pretty soon I want to do this again. 

But I should know, as should you, that routine has a few sly friends who like to gang up on us. Apathy is one of them; we don’t even know it’s there – working behind the scenes – till the day comes when we find ourselves exhausted from it. So watch out for this one. It’s typical symptoms include a weird disinterest in all things good or bad, and a general sense of being bogged down. The next one is the all time favourite: laziness. Bad enough though it is by itself, when combined with apathy it can become crippling. I don’t need to define this one; if even the thought of wearing your shoes, let alone going for a walk makes you shudder, you’ve got a bad case of laziness. Ironically, the cure to both is actually to get moving and do something but it’s one of those inexplicably vicious cycles of life. The last one is my personal favourite, the future self syndrome. OK I made up the term but the concept exists. It’s the idea that your future self, be it a day in the future or years ahead will do all the things you cannot do today. But the beauty of this lies in the fact that the future is a mirage. The moment you arrive there it becomes the present and the more presents we waste, the fewer we have left to anything in. So I guess our forefathers had it right when they said we must seize the day. Carpe diem indeed. Let’s drink to that.


What I tell people when they ask me what I do in HR

I watched a TED talk a while back by language historian Anne Curzon where she tells an amusing story in the beginning. She says that when she is at a dinner party and people find out her profession, they usually have one of two reactions; they either (a) get really frightened because they think she will spot every mistake they might make or (b) their eyes light up because they want to tell her about everything they think is wrong with the English language. It is a hilarious and interesting talk and I would highly recommend watching it here. But there is something about this anecdote that resonated with me. Whenever I introduce myself, outside of my workplace, as a Human Resources Professional, I usually get asked one of two questions. It is either, “So that means you are a recruiter?” or “So that means you don’t have much work, do you?”. Now the first question makes me sigh in tiredness but the second one just pisses me off but we’ll get to that later. Let’s focus on the first question for a minute.

There was a time when the human resources department did little more than process payroll and shuffle paperwork and we have come such a long way since then but it still irks me the everyone still thinks its only about the most visible aspect of the function. At this point I must note that recruitment is an extremely crucial step in the entire employee life cycle and I have a tremendous amount of respect for recruiters. In fact, sometimes I wish I was a recruiter so that I could just answer the first question with a resounding yes and then we would move on to more interesting topics not involving work. But I’m not so I usually have to come up with some sort of explanation of the work that I do which more often than not leaves the person mildly baffled and they drop the subject (hurrah!). In recent months, I have amused myself by coming up with some unconventional answers, let’s say. If you plan to read on, please keep an open mind🙂. So here are some of my explanations:

  • I’m like a janitor, I clean up messes when they need cleaning up. I can’t take complete credit for this one as it was inspired by the movie, Michael Clayton but I love this the most as it is guaranteed to leave someone completely baffled if I do not expound further.
  • I talk to people all day long. Another head scratcher, this either invites more questions or leads to aforementioned baffled silence
  • I’m happy to spend the next two hours telling you about my work. Would you like that? This elicits a nervous laugh and then an immediate change of topic.
  • I’m an HR Evangelist. There is such a thing although I’m not one but I just get a kick seeing the stunned expression and the internal battle waging in someone’s head to decide whether to ask or not.
  • I issue a lot of letters. This one isn’t too creative and usually gets a knowing nod as it is very much in keeping with people’s expectations from the HR department. Disappointing.
  • I’m an HR Generalist. This is the truth and if I choose to use this one, I usually have a lot of follow up questions to answer about what it means.

However amusing this may be, it got me thinking. Why is it so hard to communicate about the work that we do? It should be possible to explain every aspect of HR in it’s simplest form so as not to frighten or baffle anyone but just make them ‘get it’. We really need more people to better understand what goes on and in that way we can get their genuine opinions and perspectives on the subject which will vastly improve matters for everyone. I’m going to ponder on that for a while and see what I can come up with.

Until then,


A streak of pink in the blue sky

I refuse to click pictures on vacations. Well sometimes I don’t have a choice because the alternative is my mom pouting and telling me that I’m no fun. But whenever I can manage, I choose not to click any. I’ve been asked often enough, how else will you remember them when you’re old? Well I’d like to rely on my superhuman memory but then I decided that a word picture would do just as well as a picture.

So here’s what I was doing last weekend. 30 of us piled into 2 vans on a Friday night and headed off into the unknown. I only say unknown because I didn’t bother to read the itinerary. If I’m going on vacation, I’m not going to think about details, someone else has to take care of it. Anyway, it took pretty much the entire night to reach said unknown destination. The further away we got from the city, the more blissful I felt. I read my book, slept some and just enjoyed catching snippets of people’s conversations in the dark of the van. Reaching the sleepy port, eating breakfast in a ramshackle old hut and piling into the two boats just helped to rev up the anticipation. Once on the water and you knew vacation was on. We dumped our stuff on the first island and it was back on the boat to head to the ones we were going to spend the entire days exploring. I think a seat on the boat (albeit uncomfortable) was better than any seat in the best theatre of the world. The vista of the cerulean blue ocean spreading out in every direction (isn’t it funny how we humans always think we’re at the centre of everything) while the breeze played on your face (and stole your hat) and the sun shined it brightest (sunscreen!); nothing quite beats that feeling. Each island that we went to had something unique to offer along with a guaranteed spectacular view that took your breath away. Swimming, lazing, sleeping, exploring, drinking coconut water and just letting yourself be were the things on that agenda. And once we had our fill of one island, it was back on the boat to head to the next one. It was anything but repetitive and it was a day well spent. Reaching back to the first island just as the sun was setting, there was a scramble to get the tents set up before darkness claimed us. Shower and dinner done and it was time for drinks around the bonfire on the beach. Needless to say hilarity ensued and a pleasantly lazy evening was spent. As the fire died down and the evening grew cooler, I found myself looking up at the stars and letting my thoughts drift to my favourite topics to think about when I have disconnected. A happy few hours went by followed by a precious few hours of sleep and a 10 point hangover on the Richter scale. In the morning I discovered that swimming helps cure hangovers and then I was informed that any exercise does (sigh, why can’t smelling flowers cure hangovers). A lazy morning and lunch later, we were back on the boat and headed to the mainland. The vacation seemed to slowly ebb away as the shadows lengthened and we got closer to the city. But just as all but the last ray of sunlight had disappeared, I looked up to see a bright streak of pink in the brilliantly blue sky and I just thought it was the perfect end to the perfect weekend….


Of Misfits and Magic Carpets

I just watched this video on TED about the beauty of being a misfit and I found it so poignant. There have been so many times in my life when I have felt like one. In that moment when you feel that way, just a little awkward, slightly out of place, putting on an air of unconcern, there is really nothing to do except to tell yourself ‘this too shall pass’. But it nags you, the feeling that there must have been something you could have done to make things a little easier or the wonder at how others seemed so comfortable. Over time however you learn to turn that into an advantage. Because you don’t really fit anywhere exactly, you start creating your own niche and you become more confident and independent as a result of it. So one fine day, when you are surprised to find yourself in a group where you actually do fit in, you appreciate it more than anyone else could and then you even find yourself at times, stepping away from the group when fancy strikes because you have a part of your life where they don’t fit in. There is a beauty in it, being able to step between both worlds and as the speaker in the talk says, you just need to give it a voice. So here goes nothing.

I hate categories and generalizations but I think that deep down I am an introvert and always have been. I love reading, have loved it from the moment I could read; the thrill of escaping into another world was beyond anything I had experienced until then. This single passion of mine has been my pillar of support through every good and bad time in my life. In every situation, when all else failed, I could always pick up my book again and read. It would always be there. Writing is more of an amusement simply because I enjoy reading. I try and see how well I can weave my words and if I would ever consider my own writing seriously (jury is still out on that). I enjoy my drink and like good conversation; put them together and that makes my day. But I can’t stand clubs with their loud music for too long unless of course I’m in the mood to dance. I like quiet dinners and hearty food but I also enjoy rowdy gatherings with close friends where it doesn’t even matter what the food is. Watching the sunset is a timeless classic and sitting on a pristine beach doing nothing but contemplating the view is proof that there is a God. Daydreaming about a life far removed from my own is also a guilty pleasure. Striking up conversation with new people gives me mild panic attacks unless of course they are one of those super friendly people who make everyone around them feel comfortable. Telling unfunny jokes when I’m nervous or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time are other traits of mine (endearing I hope). I laugh out loud without bothering a damn who it annoys (not so endearing I’ve been told). I also talk too much when I’m with people I know and about subjects I’m passionate about (don’t get me started on food). I can also be quite the obsessive compulsive pain in the ass (took me a while to admit to that) and that’s the end of the list because nothing quite tops it.

All in all, this is what a misfit looks like. If it sounds familiar, that’s because we all have a bit of the misfit gene lurking inside of us. So today is the day to just celebrate it and be proud of yourself for it.


PS # The magic carpet reference was just to make the title seem more interesting than it is. And Robert Downey Jr. is up there just because he looks so good. Maybe I’m a bit eccentric too.

On Reading

When I’m not very sure about how to start writing a piece, I often look up the meaning of the word I’m writing about. I rarely get such a laugh out of it though. So here goes.. when you type in the word “reading” in Google, this is what you get:

Reading is a complex cognitive process of decoding symbols in order to construct or derive meaning (reading comprehension). It is a means of language acquisition, of communication, and of sharing information and ideas.

Who knew huh? Of course it makes complete sense which is the point of a definition really but when I think of my favourite things to read and the joy that they bring me, this definition is not what comes to mind.

Let me try and explain what reading has meant to me. From the moment I read my first book, I have known the incredible power of the written word. It is not a knowledge taken for granted but one that I am reminded of every time I read something that truly moves me. They say that travelling is the best way to experience the world, and I believe that reading comes a close second. Reading opens you up to worlds outside your own, perspectives different from yours and most importantly makes you appreciate beauty.


There was a time when I believed only fiction was worth reading. Nothing, I believed, could parallel the make believe worlds of the books that I read. But over time I have come to realize that the real world can be far more fascinating and that most of the things I loved so much about books were inspired by reality. So I decided to widen my horizons so to speak and try reality reading. The problem was that I did not know where to begin. The logical thought was to start with the news but the problem with that was, in my random browsing, most news articles seemed drab and dull and I spent more time being annoyed at the writing style than actually reading! Then, by sheer coincidence I came upon an op-ed piece by Jug Suraiya and it was brilliant! It concerned the news so it was insightful but at the same time it provided a perspective, which I found so refreshing. Pretty soon, his column along with Bachi Karkaria‘s became my regular reads. But it wasn’t enough and I didn’t really know where to look next. That is when I was introduced to the concept of a news reader that uses RSS feeds. I originally thought they were a dream come true, magic applications that would aggregate everything I wanted to read about and bring them to me in one place. I tried a few of them Google Reader, Feedly, Flipboard and soon gave them up. Something just wasn’t right. It took me a while to realize that it was the readers which were the problem. The problem was that I wasn’t curating the content right. At about this time I started my WordPress blog on and discovered the Freshly Pressed section. It was a collection of the best loved blogs posted on the site. I suddenly had access to a much wider ocean of other writers and their perspectives. Every day, there are so many good posts by so many different people that I could now read my heart’s content everyday. It took me a little more time to realize that Facebook and Twitter are not always a waste of time and if you follow the right pages and handles, you’ve got yourself a very diverse library, very unexpected articles from delightful sources (Thought Catalog is my guilty pleasure)

But the thought that kept nagging me was that I hadn’t found a satisfactory way to organize all my reading and save the ones I wanted to keep. I have been using Evernote for a long time as a sort of diary of notes to myself as well as saving things I wanted to keep but I still wanted an intermediate platform, one between web browser or link and Evernote. I found the answer in Pocket. A beautiful little app to which you can save links and once synced, can even be read offline! After reading the article in question, if I like it enough, I move it to Evernote, else delete. As an added feature, I even get a weekly email with the most popular items that are being saved on Pocket by all its users. Speaking of emails, in the absence of an RSS reader, I have signed up for emails blasts from some selected sites, which once I receive I immediately save to Pocket. Notable ones include: Brain PickingsWait But Why and Quartz. Quartz is a news site that does an amazing job of actually explaining what the news means instead of throwing out facts and figures. I love the whimsical way the daily emails are crafted. I already went out on a limb at the beginning of this year and bought a subscription to The Economist magazine and I have to say it has been entirely worth it. I’ve let my Tumblr account lie idle these days but its a great platform for interesting reads too. My Pinterest account is brand new and I can’t wait to dive into that! I’m also thinking about diving into this site called Medium, I read an article from there which was very interesting. And that pretty much sums up my non-fiction reading habits these days. The search of course will always be on for the next new thing to read. The only thing to remember is that your reading habit is your own. I have spent a lot of time feeling guilty about not reading enough of the serious things, or not knowing enough about current affairs; but ultimately you have to find your own rhythm and whatever works for you. Of course that doesn’t mean that everything will arrive on a platter, it will take some searching, trying out different things until you know what works best for you!

So whats your reading story?

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