Thursday, February 24, 2011

House to home

When you make the foolish mistake of opting for an unfurnished apartment, you find your life being sucked into a vortex of what resembles a spy triller. There are vast sums of money being thrown away, blonde exotic women who speak strange languages ( the Ikea ladies ) and international intrigue when it comes to the stuff that you ordered being actually delivered and installed. May be I should not be so ungrateful. A fellow expat has been waiting for his internet for a month, and Alice, the highly recommended internet provider mucked up his address twice and just did not turn up the third time. The last time he talked to me, he sounded more like Darth than Anakin.

Anyhow, the guys came in and set up everything. Pictures were hung. The dead skins of Shawn, Liam and Betsy were laid out on the kitchen benches and living room floor respectively. The books were up in shelf and the house was 90% in order.

My most favorite place is the kitchen.

The kitchen overlooks an old Jewish cemetery, which is apparently a tourist spot. Every day, I drink tea with my feet on the kitchen counter and watch hordes of tourists walk through the place. Through out the day, the church bells ring to mark the hour, soft enough to meld into the day. Apparently, one of the famous but not too famous German composers is buried under my window. And across the green stretch of the cemetery is the Jewish school .

The days when I work from home, I sit in the kitchen, sipping tea and sitting on the sheepskin. I have started cooking for myself, and the food is not too shabby. My vases are holding flowers, and I found out where the neighbourhood grocery stores are.

I believe my house is slowly become my home.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Last day in Helsinki

Today is my last day in Helsinki. Today is my first day in Berlin.

Being in Helsinki has taught me to:

Appreciate fine wine
Rediscover some friends whom I always had - distance truly makes the heart fonder
Make some new friends
Use chopsticks
Live in a country where English is not the first language
Move homes on my own
Discover Vintage
Be introduced to Opera
Be introduced to Burlesque
Be introduced to Ice Hockey
Get over my cricket fixation
Be a better cook
Appreciate fine graphic novels
Experience snow for the first time
Try out horse, reindeer and moose meat
Discover salami as a source of nourishment
Discover berries
Appreciate rye bread

I am looking forward to the lessons that Berlin will be teaching me.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


On the 15th day from today, I will pack my backpack with my books, clothes and knickknacks and will board an airplane.

It is going to be a one-way trip.

When I started my new job, I thought transitioning into a new team and role is going to be difficult, and moving cities will be easy.

I was wrong. I am touching wood as much as I can when I type this - but the new team, and because of them, the new role, has been fantastic - helpful when needed, and trusts me to do my job and do it well.

Moving cities, is not going to be easy.

It is not about finding a new place to live - I have moved about in Helsinki. But moving to a new city, I have to find a place where I can go for some great salad and occasional food all over again.
I need to learn which way the wind blows, how cold the winters are, and how high to set the thermostat.

I need to learn the public transport system again, the best places to shop for food, clothes and books. I need to scout the flea markets and vintage shops. I need to find the comic book shops that sell English books.

The most difficult part of moving cities is to make the new city look you over, sort you out, and choose to reveal it's secrets to you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I am ambivalent about snow.

I love how it sparkles in the night. I appreciate that it makes everything lighter. It feels like walking on the sand dunes when you walk through fine power, the similarity is remarkable. However, it also smooths over the uneven surfaces that lie just beneath, making you trip and fall when you take a step in good faith. It get dirty after the first few days, and gets grittier. It swallow your trinkets that you happen to drop, to be lost until spring, many months away.

Snow is so perfect, yet so unforgiving.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Back again

Getting back to a blog after a while is a bit like returning home after cheating on your spouse. You know that you should not have stopped caring, but at the same time you feel like you are sticking around because of a feeling of obligation rather than one of passion. However, you do go back in the end, knowing that you need to step up to the plate, and in a long time relationship, there are going to be transgressions, with the opportunity to seek forgiveness.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


We all want to be accepted.

It is just that, we all want to be accepted by different people, for different reasons.

When we grow up, we want to make our family proud of us. This is something that we share with most mammals. The kids in the litter defer to the adults.

What makes humans different is our ability to grow up and develop a want to make us proud of ourselves.

Some of us get it rather early. Some of us reach that stage in our early to late adulthood, even during our twilight years. Some of us completely miss the urge.

We all live our lives out differently as a result. We develop our own tribes and customs to identify and commune with those who think our way is right. In that process, may of us have no problem in turning away from the tribe that we are born into and finding groups where we belong.

And therein lies the essence of all advertising and marketing. It is about making me want to belong to a tribe that I want an admission ticket to. It is also about making stronger bonds within the tribes that I love.

So sell to me - sell to me my identity; sell to me my aspiration - if you will not, I will not buy your product.

Monday, October 11, 2010


It funny that often we spend our lives waiting, among other things.

We wait for shows to air. We wait for work to start and end. We wait for weekends to be here and we wait for decisions to be made.

In summer we wait for autumn, and when autumn invariably moves to winter, we look forward to the spring.

Sometimes it is possible to speed things up, but mostly, the best things in life cannot be hurried, and hence we wait.

And we wait for the day when all waiting will be over.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Miss K and random thoughts

Today was a great day. I met with my friends - Miss K and her mom.

Miss K is all of four years old. She speaks Finnish and Albanian. Her knowledge of English consists of 'Let's go', used creatively. So we talk to each other in English (me) and Albanian or Finnish (her). That however never stops us from having a good time dancing, modelling and singing ( all by her ) with enthusiastic cheering and shopping ( me and her mom).

That was not the first time, when communication happened without knowing the language. I had gone to E's home to spend Christmas one year, and her mom in all her Polish goodness made me put on 3 Kgs in my bones with some of the most amazing carnivoral spread I have ever had. She chatted away with me in Polish, I reciprocated by piling food high in my plate.

There are so many times when you are happy that you have the right words and know exactly what to tell them. But even for the times that we do not know what to say or when to say it, we get by quite well.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

And back.

I have been on a blog sabaabtical for a while.

And I have been looking for a job.

I discovered that it is very very difficult to write a blog when trying to find a job.

However, I was able to make some changes in my life.

After 3 years and a few long months in Finland, I will move to Berlin.

After 4 years and a few long months in HR, I have moved to Marketing.

I am excited to work in an extended team that I like, with people that I like.

I am excited to go to a city with whom I fell in love early this year.

And I will be blogging again.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The two paths to glory

There are two ways in which you can advance in your career.

The first, the Dr. Jekyll method; consists of the following four factors happening in your life to varying degrees.

Privilege : You are have the advantages that your contemporaries do not have - it might be riches, connections or better living and educational circumstances.

Luck : Also called the randomness factor. You happen to be at the right places at the right time.

Talent : You have skills in your chosen field, skills, abilities and insights that put you far ahead of the others.

Effort : You are willing to try twice as fast and thrice as hard as the others in your field.

The Mr. Hyde method is constituted of the following four in varying degrees:

Shamelessness : You have no shame, and will do whatever it takes with whomever it takes to get what you want.

Arrogance: You believe that you are the best, and propagate the belief that you are the best long enough and tirelessly enough to make others believe you.

Thievery : You do not mind stealing - ideas, credit, opportunities, fame, glory from others. In fact, you revel in it.

Selective memory: You remember your personal history in such a distorted manner so as to always think of yourself as the hero, the maverick and the visionary.

Lists created over brunch at a Sunday afternoon with inputs from Adam Greenfield and Nurri Kim.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Signs of times

It is a past time of mine to take photographs of signs and notices. They are often sources of hilarity and some of them even make you want to meet the person who put up the sign. Somehow in my mind, they will have amazing trivia knowledge about comic books, will get all my obscure pop cultural references and we sing songs of merriment through the streets adhering to the standards of bollywood choreography.

Anyways, on to a few that has caught my eyes lately:

This tells me some awesome things about my colleagues. Yep, the sign was on the door of one of the ladies bathrooms in our office.

Somewhere in Nokia House is a chicca who knows her He-Man and has an amazing sense of humour. Future BFF, where are you?

Now, I am not sure if I want to be buddies with this person, but something tells me I better be, or else....
And if you are a Alto University student, this actually might be an innovative ad for a few swimming lessons, but why take the chance? Do the dishes.

However, the person who wrote the above must be good buddies with the person who wrote this one. Or it might be a frazzled teacher from Alto University. Or both.

Now, this is one sign that will always be close to my heart - this was done by a friend of mine on her last day in Helsinki around her neighborhood. You always made me feel mahtava, Candy.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Window Dressing

What to do when you do not have a lot of money to spend on window dressing your shop? What if you want to attract two very different, but equally lucrative demographics to your toy shop?

You mix and match them, hoping that the result would produce a chuckle in the minds of your customers, particularly the second demographics.

And come up with some thing like this:

And this:

I belonged in the second demography of grown-up comic fan, and am assuming the pink loving little girls also found the shop irresistible.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


It is easy to outsource.

It is easy these days to find a company or a consultancy who will come and do what you want them to do, but for a price. But when for larger projects it makes sense to get a dedicated, temporary pool of people to work on it, does it make sense to insource the work.

Insourcing, is much more difficult.

However, insourcing is a surefire way to build more engagement.

May be your best Software Programmer works in your finance department. May be your best UX Designer works in engineering. People take up jobs for many reasons, and develop different skills although their life. Their jobs, however may not really reflect that.

So the next time you are tempted to use pay money to external companies to come and build whatever you want them to build for you, ask around if you can get someone in your company to do that for you.

And if they do a fast and good job of it, reward and recognize them with a fraction of the money that you may have spent on an external solution.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A House and a Home

When I was a child, keeping your home impeccably clean was expected. We swept our house every day, mopped it every other day and made sure that every thing had a place and every thing was found in it's place. There was no excuse for clutter or chaos, and the house was always ready for unannounced visitors, as it is the norm in Kerala.

However, since having my own place, I found that I was not happy with a perpetually impeccable house. I wanted chaos, proof that people are invited and welcomed in. As I live by myself, I invite my friends over to help create clutter, re-branding the process of chaos as parties.

I have had friends of mine, who have never had the chance to break a plate deliberately do that in my place. I have had friends who made new friends, friends who met their soul mates and strangers who became friends during the parties. I have got good advice over a spicy dinner, listened to hopes, dreams and fears over plenty of beer and confided my hopes and insecurities over glasses of white. I have had after-parties and after-after-parties in my apartment. I have had us all drunk and all sober. I have had just one another person and thirty people in these get-togethers at various times.

The logistics of throwing a party notwithstanding, I am very grateful to all my guests whom I was lucky to entertain at home. I learnt about people, places and ideas and used them as sounding boards. But mostly, I just enjoy my time with them as they are lovely human beings.

So if you have ever came to my place for a party/dinner/lunch/game or movie evening; thank you for helping to make my house a home.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Since I was old enough to learn English - which was three years - I have been told that English is my ticket to freedom and opportunities. Apparently, nobody ever reached anywhere just learning my mother tongue. So once I moved to Europe, I did not expect the Indian languages to help me out.

I was so wrong.

I was in Berlin, and one wrong turn meant I was in the wrong street. In my search for the perfect food, I was suddenly in the middle of a residential neighborhood, most of the apartments looking deserted for the holidays. I was not too worried about the dark buildings, as much as I was about the hunger pangs in my stomach. I wanted to eat something good, and I wanted to eat fast.

I walked towards the one source of light, a restaurant which is open at this twilight time, looking like the only place in earth which is open. I went inside, only to stare at someone who only knew German.

Looking around, taking the decorations of the restaurant in, and discounting the nice Europeans who were peacefully dining, I bellowed into the kitchen - "Aare Bhaisaab!" (Hello Brother) - a girl's gotta eat.

Which brought out the owner pretty fast, much to the shock of his German customers and employees. I continued chatting with him in Hindi. A first generation Pakistani from Lahore, he has been in Berlin for the last forty years, his kids married to 'white women'. He questions me on my province, the number of siblings I have, about my parents and grandparents and if I am traveling alone; just like a polite first time conversation in Hindi ought to me.

One sublime chicken biriyani and a free, unasked mango lassi later, I am pointed out my way on the map; and one of the employees is volunteered by the hotel manager to drop me to where I live.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

An Audi flag on the moon

There is art and there is art.

Art can be found anywhere. And often when you strip it down to the basics, it is all the same.

How can this,

which is essentially a painting on the contemporary life of the artist, drawn on a wall, essentially different from this?

We did talk about it on our walk to the Slaughterhouse Hill and reached the conclusion that art is in the eye of the beholder.

Even then, some artists are better than others. They take their surroundings into consideration and create smart art, like this:

Yes, on the first look, it is an austronaut. Now, you have to understand that when the artist started working on the mural, there was ( and still is ) an Audi showroom nearby. And like any self respectable auto showrooms, they did have a neat row of flags in front of the dealership. And of course, given that they also dealt in second had cars which were parked in front of the dealership, the entire space was lit with some very strong lights in the evening.

The artist noticed that the shadow of one of the flags falls perfectly on to the wall. So he painted the autronaut in such a way that he holds a shadow flags with the Audi symbol on it in the night, acting as smart art and a commentary on our wealth focused times.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

TheTurk and the Bishop

Berlin has the second highest concentration of Turkish people after Istanbul. And for the few days that I was there, they seemed to get along pretty well. To be honest, I did not know how well they got along until I heard this story.

So, lets go back in time a little bit, even before 1989. The wall is still up there, and between the east and the west walls, there is a no mans land.

That was when a turkish youngster came to Berlin. He wanted a home to bring his young bride from Turkey to; he was too poor to find one, so he decided to squat - on a tree by the no man's land. He built a little shack, brought his wife over and they stayed their with their growing family.

Once the wall fell, the government wanted him to leave his home and evacuate. They first tried asking him nicely. Once he said yes, they threatened to throw him out.

He retaliated by cementing his outdoor furniture to the ground. The government had it's supporters, but the Turkish man had his supporters too. They did a bit of searching around and found that the property did not belong to the government. Instead, it belonged to these guys.

The German Catholic Church. That is easy, the government thought, and they went to the church to buy the piece of land from them so that they can evict the turkish, muslim man in peace.

However, the arch bishop's residence, by a twist of fate, was situated just next to the no-man's land where the turk settled down. The bishop had watched that family grow and try to survive year after year from his bedroom windows.

Also, this situation had some theological implications. By staying within the church grounds, the turk was technically seeking asylum.

And you don't kick out someone seeking asylum in the 1980s, especially when you have the dark history of world war two on your conscience. No siree. You try your best to be humane.

So, due to a near miracle, the turk got to keep his home. He and his wife still lives here, just across the road from the Archbishop, and their children and grandchildren visit them during the holidays.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Why do I blog?

So that I can transfer my feelings and thoughts into something that I can come back and look at some day.

So that I can move on, from people and places, and look towards the future instead of living in the past.

So that I can rant, rave and be as passive aggressive as I want to be.

So that I will stop thinking about events that happened, did not happen, and got cut short too soon.

So that I can stick a virtual post-it note to remind myself that world is still pretty great, no matter how I am feeling in one particular day.

So that I will not forget the risks associated with certain choices - the self doubt, the heartbreak, the self loathing.

So that even after remembering the above, if I go ahead, I do it without regrets, without expectations.

So that I can look back and do the trendspotting and smile at myself.

So that instead of writing something to my friends, I can just send them a link to here.

So that some stranger from somewhere will come here and turn out to be a good friend.

So that someone will read this and feel a little less alone.

So that someone will read this and feel a little more wiser.

So that I know myself a little bit more, and love myself a little bit more.

I guess that's why I blog.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I hope it rains on Vappu

"I wish it would rain on Vappu". The doctor said to me.

I was surprised. Granted, she made me wait even though I turned up in time. But the face of the girl who left the consulting room made me realize that sometimes good doctors have to run behind schedule for a reason.

For a person afraid of medical procedures, I have always had great times with all my doctors. Many of my close friends are doctors, and I was lucky enough to be treated by some good doctors since my childhood. The doctor, indeed, was not the average Finnish person you would meet on the street. For one thing, she smiled, even on a miserable rainy afternoon.

Throughout the checkup and the procedures, we bonded. We both joked about the weather, we both asked about our cities of origin, we both drew maps of our countries in little post-it notes to show it to each other. And as always at this time of the year, the discussion turned to Vappu.

I wish it would rain on Vappu.

Seeing my mouth hanging open at her comment, she explained further. "Do you know how many kids are found on the streets each year, just children, thirteen or fourteen years old; unconscious and sometimes not even knowing their own names, children who get only their things stolen from - if they are lucky."

"So every year near Vappu, I hope for the rains so that the kids stay home and get drunk, and then they are passed out in their own home or in their friend's home, not in the streets waiting for police and volunteers to carry them into the first aid posts and sometimes into the hospital. "

"I have heard stories, and it is not pretty."

I did not ask her if she was a mother herself, but what difference did it make? She obviously cared for the kids who she had never met, and possibly never will.

So this Vappu if it indeed rains, I will not feel too badly about it. Instead I will be thinking about the doctor who has seen enough to wish for the rains.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Notes from Berlin - III The SS Art Camp

If buildings had a religion, they all would be Hindus. After certain eras, many of them get reborn - some undergo a step down to ruins, while others step up their standing - the Musee d Orsay is a great example. What was once an old railway station has now become this:

Not too shabby, especially if you house some great works of Degas and Monet, among others. However, the one building that really did the turnaround in it's lifetimes is this squatter house is Berlin. The building was one of the old SS offices which stored a lot of documents on how SS systematically wiped out entire families and communities in many parts of Europe.

So, when the Allies won the war, the SS flooded their basement where all the war crime records were kept. I doubt if the documents themselves were called war crime journals though, they might have originally called them 'Glorious Examples of Supreme Race's Ingenuity' or something. However, given that the entire basement was flooded the Allies sealed the basement when they found they could not salvage the documents. The building was left as a ghostly reminder of a past that was both horrifying and shameful.

That was when the artists and squatter groups started moving in. Now this place does not have an inch of space without some kind of graphics on it. People live, work and sell their works here. There are also plans to turn this into an open air movie theater.

Just because your past was shitty does not mean that you cannot have a fun filled future.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lena come back

A city lives through the stories that it's streets tell about them. And in these days, street art ( or graffiti ) is the picture book which illustrate these stories.

I usually like to discover a city on my own, armed with enough reading material to start a traveling library. However, graffiti is not considered as a legitimate art form in many places, so when I heard of a free tour around Berlin which would be focused on street art, I had to sign up.

The tour was lead by a Londoner who stepped straight out of the pages of a Neil Gaiman book and his trusty dog.

And the group that gathered around them consisted of people as different and similar as a group of graffiti lovers could be. Among them were people I would meet again, and have a good time with, but I did not know that then.

So it was our guide who told us the story of Lena. See the pretty girl in the picture below? That is her, and this is her story.

The paintings of Lena appeared on the walls of Berlin one day, all with the same plaintive message "Lena, come back. I miss you." Unrequited love is an all too common and all too terrible thing, so many in the city sympathized with him. As the number of paintings across the city grew, the messages along with them also grew in their sense of loss. As the artist began to tell Lena that he would do everything, anything, to be back with her, the city waited with bated breath.

If you are a romantic who has experienced unrequited love, you would not have been able to stand these messages follow you around the city, whatever you plan to do, wherever you plan to go. So, in a sense of kinship, other people started to put out their own street posters, asking Lena to forgive the artist and go back to him.

If you have a heart, then being on the receiving end of a love that you do not reciprocate can be a terrible thing. Those who have experienced it thought back to their own experiences of the dark side of love, and rallied behind this girl they have never met with counter messages.

"Lena, do not go back to him. It is not going to change" and "Lena, are you safe, if in trouble, call xxx-xxxxxx" with their phone numbers in the posters. Lena became the friend, sister and daughter of people whom she had never met. Women who look like Lena were reported to be seen in different parts of the city. The city was on alert : one half to find her, the other half to shield Lena.

The Berlin radio station picked up the story and one of the RJs invited the artist to make his plea mainstream via his radio channel. However, it turned out to be more shocking than anyone expected it to be.

That day on air, the artist told the world the truth. There was/is no Lena. She was a figment of his imagination, an inanimate piece in his project to check how Berliners would react to a plea of love.

So, if you missed out on the love of your life in Berlin, do not put out posters asking her to get in touch with you. The city is going to shrug it's shoulders and move on, still in shock from the fact that Lena was not real.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Notes from Berlin - I

First bird call, first fresh green blades of grass, first shoots on a tree. I was getting tired of waiting for them in Finland and went to Berlin, Dresden and Prague in search of them during the first week of April. It was in a way, a temporary eloping with myself, away from the cold, grey skies and the dirty snow that became a fixture of Helsinki.

My birthday was just two weeks back, so a dear friend gifted me a moleskin notebook. For the first time in my travels, I stared to capture my journey not just in pictures, but also in words. A picture can show what you saw on the road, but being on the road is also an intensely intrinsic experience when you pause and reflect on the life left behind.

It has taken me more than two weeks to get to the little notebook with the furiously scrawled notes, but I will be transcribing them to the blog, to take them from my head and to put them away somewhere. So, in the order of random musings, here goes:

The Brand

Confession time : I have always felt like I have been to a Starbucks thanks to the many web-comics, tv series and web series that I faithfully follow. But I had never been to one, and when I saw one in Berlin ( derisively referred to as Starfucks by a local guide map to a walking tour ) I had to go inside.

The inside was not an architectural or design marvel. I have been to coffee-shops which were designed with much more love and whimsy, and I have seen food which had looked more mouth watering. I am not a coffee person, so I decided to order a tea from the counter. Tea in hand, I moved to a spot of sunshine in front of the coffeehouse. All around me, hipsters typed on, into their mac books, iPhones and even a few iPads; some of them even willing to rebel within their hipster identity by using HP touch-pads or Sony Wios. The place was intellectually snobbish. I found a free table, and sat down there, inhaling the second hand smoke that was liberally distributed by my coffee-table neighbors. Starbucks was exactly the way it was parodied to be.

Halfway through my tea, I realized that I was using my moleskin notebook in a way as to show off the fact that I am using it than actually trying to use it in a good way, and that I have been a little too careful with my placement of Bad Science, on my table. I had morphed into a little intellectual snob. I finished writing, made eye contact with the hard smoking guys sitting and typing away at a Mac at the next table, reciprocated their tight smiles and felt relief at the sense of belonging. I fit in. I can fake it at a hipster hangout.

The power of branding is very very subtle and very very strong, at the same time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ten Predictable things about yourself

Meme creation time!

We all think we are unique and unpredictable. However, we are often more predictable than we think we are. I realized it about myself after finding these predictable patterns about myself:

So, I always.....
  1. .... want to stop and pet any dog I meet on the street. I do not always do so.
  2. .... want to stand up and dance with jhatkas and matkas if I hear a bollywood song loud. I often don't.
  3. .... order miso soup if I am in a Japanese restaurant.
  4. ... try and collect the corks of any bottle of wine that I have drunk. I do not always succeed.
  5. .... love to eat mangoes. For me, they represent my culture, my good childhood memories, and sublime poetry.
  6. ...... go for the window seat in any form of transportation. I have given my seat up for those younger than 12 though.
  7. .... read the links in my twitter feed which are about animals. Or written by animals.
  8. .... listen to music on my way to work and back, mostly what you would call world music. And if my phone ran out of power, I listen to music in my head.
  9. ... think in English. Sorry fellow Indians, my main language has been English for a while now.
  10. .... love sugar icing. The Krulla bakery near my home has some amazing sugar candy figurines. Guess who is their best customer?

So what is predictable about you?

Sunday, March 21, 2010


It is snowing in Helsinki in bloody effing spring.


Spring, when the rest of the world has green grass on the ground and red shoots on the trees. The time when birds are seen around and flowers pop up everywhere.

So, when it still snows, and, on the rare above zero days, slushes; it is enough to make a South Indian go into La Grumpy mode.

But when you walk back home on a sunday evening with snow floating down in a silent town, it is almost sufficient to make you fall in love with winter all over again.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


This is going to be a difficult blog post to write.

I am going to say NO in this post.

I was raised to say yes, whenever, wherever I can. Growing up, saying yes to someone's request symbolized caring, respect, humility and love. Saying no, by default, meant the opposite of those emotions. I was trained as a child, to always give what is mine to others, even when I was not quite ready to give it, even when the needs of others were not quite that pressing. I was conditioned to be there for those who need help, never mind how they chose to repay you.

In retrospect, my parents raised me to be an angel, but I have to live on this earth. I have, in earlier posts, talked about how blessed I was to have met great friends last year. However, what was unsaid, was that I have also met a lot of dementors too.

According to J K Rowling & Wikipedia, dementors "....feed on the positive emotions, happiness and good memories of human beings, forcing them to relive their worst memories." My closest friends know and have heard of how they had affected me.

So this year, I am going to say NO to every one of them. I owe it to myself, and my friends who helped me through my down time when these people sucked all the positive emotions out of me. I feel that not saying NO to those who do not care about me is equivalent to me not respecting those who want me to be happy. Hence, without much ado...

This year, I WILL NOT allow others to hold me hostage in a place or an activity against my wishes

This year, I WILL NOT friend and follow, both in real and online life, anyone who brings bad vibes to my life without a second thought or a second chance.

This year, I WILL NOT allow anyone to disrespect me, my friends or my country.

This year, I WILL NOT try to help everyone in need. Some people do not deserve it.

This year, I WILL NOT hesitate to call cops on those whose behaviors border on the psychotic.

This year, I WILL NOT worry about what was said and what was broken.

This year, WILL NOT apologize just to resolve conflict.

However, this year, I will

Help my friends when I have the time, energy and inclination to do it, and do it without any expectations.

Stop saying yes when I mean may be, and stop saying may be when I mean no.

Keep trying out new things, but also say no when I feel like it.

I have realized that by saying YES to everything and everyone, I end up saying NO a lot to myself and what I want to do. Life is so short, I have to live it the best way I think it should be lived. I do not have it in me to save the world, but I can make it a happier place for a very select number of people.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Year in retrospect

I have been working on a side project which was stalled for a while. And working on it everyday, putting in at least hundred words whether you like it or not means that blogging really really takes a back seat.

So, what did I do in 2009? In no particular order, some low/high lights of 2009:

  • Fall in love with Helsinki and declare it home despite the tininess of the city, the freezing cold, the high cost of living and ignorance of the native language
  • Enjoy my job
  • Fall victim to common cold
  • Do not fall victim to H1N1
  • Go to Paris and fall in love with the city
  • Donate at least 12 bag loads of clothes to charity
  • Got for music concerts
  • Watch Cirque De Soleil
  • Celebrate a Finnish Christmas
  • Be honorary god mother to cats
  • Do a tai-chi course
  • Shoot a shotgun, Glock and AK-47
  • Go to Dharamsala
  • Take parents on a weekend vacation
  • Be rude to people who pity me for being single
  • Be friends with a 3 year old even though we do not speak a common language ( unless you count shrieks as a language)
And more importantly, made really great friends this year. Yes, the best thing about 2009 are the friendships that the year brought with it. I would never say no to any part of the year, even the bad parts, as it brought a lot of amazing people into my life. I have been very lucky to have an abundance of friends, far away and near, of many years and relatively new, very young and very young at heart.

Enjoy 2010 everyone, and keep smiling!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

If I could revist my past...

I would tell this to my 17 year old self, who was very Indian, very mallu.

  1. Stop being so judgmental. Do not judge a person's morality by checking if they smoke, drink alcohol or have been in a physical relationship.While we are at it, relationships are supposed to be physical.

  2. Love at first sight is a lie. Curiosity, attraction, and the feeling of 'I would like some of that' at first sight are all true. Do not confuse them with love.

  3. Even though you look like the ugly duckling now, one day, you will be called beautiful in a regular basis.

  4. Do not think that anyone over 23 is old. You will be older than that day, and feel younger than you were feeling now.

  5. Do not waste your time changing yourself for anyone. Change as change happens to you.

  6. Friends before gents, any time.

  7. Value the honesty of your friends. Have friends who love you enough to be honest with you, not the ones who want to gloss over the truth.

  8. Stand up for yourself. You don't have to make everything better for everyone.

  9. You will never be cool.But you will be well liked and accepted by people who you think are cool.

  10. You will have the satisfaction of obliquely giving the bird to those relatives who piss you off.

If you could time travel back ten years, what are the 10 things that you would tell your younger self?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Forgetting is a heinous crime

Don't you know about 9/11?

Of course you do. If you are technologically savvy to read my blog, you have heard about 9/11.

Given that I am an Indian, chances are that, you might be from India.

Do you remember the day of the Mumbai blasts? Which one, you ask me? Good question. What about any of them? And I am assuming that none of your near or dear ones got directly affected by it.


I don't either.

It is funny, isn't it? Almost 3000 people died in 9/11, in a country where most of us will not eventually end up living. Still, We all remember that. How many Indians died in terrorist attacks in India? Let us take the Kashmir insurgency also into account, if you will.

I have no idea. Neither does Google.I however, found this little gem in wikipedia.

Fifteen attacks in the last nine years. Which averages to a minimum of one attack every year. Has the frequency of the attacks numbed us? Is that why we do not care?

Is that why I do not care?

You can always point out that the US Government retaliated with brute force, striking out at someone. We did not. But that is no reason for us to forget our dead.

And I plead guilty of the gravest crime - forgetting the shock, forgetting the dead and the living, those who had the misfortune to be in the right places, at the wrong time.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

A step at a time...

Walking is the best way to discover Helsinki.

When you walk, you look around you, and see that behind the bush you pass in a tram is a small urban garden that you have never seen. You see the dogs with the soulful eyes inside cars and outside supermarkets waiting for their owners. You even get to pet them, if their owner happens to come by.

You look up, and you see the architecture of Helsinki. Many have complained about the Helsinki buildings looking too sterile, but they have not seen the peacocks, spiders, mermaids and imps that adorn the apartment buildings. They have definitely not seen the micro gardens that hang on their hooks from the balconies, small rebellions against a space limitation which prevents one from having a garden.

You look sideways when crossing the road, and you see a beautiful sunset on one side and magnificent clouds on the other. You look back and straight ahead and see the sea and the ghosts of hills who fell to the power of machinery.

You feel eyes on you, and you look up to meet the big green eyes of a cat staring at you from a window. You look down and a see a blond, blue eyed little face with surprise written all over it, who just realized that humans come in dusky and black too. You stare back in both cases, share a moment, and walk on.

You get waylaid by dogs who feel entitled for affection. You talk in sign language with the driver of the car when there are no signals to cross and you both need to continue your journeys. You catch men people looking at you, and like it, love it, and sometimes feel creeped out by it.

You press your nose to the front windows of the shops which stay closed, and marvel at the beauty, the uniqueness and sometimes the ugliness of things for sale.

And you realize that, the best thing about walking to your destination is the freedom to stop and enjoy the possibilities of the journey, be it walking alone or with a friend.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Once upon a time in a company...

The more virtual means and ways we have to communicate with each other, the more I love story telling.

Stories are powerful. They are emotional. Great stories inspire and spur you to action. Logic helps you to convince your brain, but if your heart is not in it, you are not going to follow through with your decisions or realizations.

Civilizations nurtured stories that talked about their beliefs and ways of living. Religions use stories as examples of what can and may happen. The movies are popular across the world not just because of the stories they create on screen, but the stories that they build around their key players off-screen too. Games, which are stories which we act out or influence, are also another lucrative business.

So tell stories in your organization. Share and tell stories - inspiring stories of how people risked and succeeded. How people took a stand and it worked for the company in the long run. Of how people looked beyond silos to come together. Of how even the CEO is human. Share the passion. Share the humor. Share the love. Share the doubts, the insecurities, the fears - and go ahead and work in spite of them, anyway.

And share them in the form of stories. Stories about the heroes, heroines, adventurers, healers and comedians who work in the cubicle next to you. You would have just inspired someone.