Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Still... I love you !

One of my short stories ... If you like it do write your comments ...

Still I love you

Rana walked towards the escalator of the Kalighat Metro Station. As the home bound stream of people jostled past him, Rana put his hand in the trouser pocket to re assure himself. The feel of the three crispy one thousand rupee notes made him strangely elated.  Instead of  taking the usual staircase, he got on the escalator today.  As he slowly went up, he smiled. Today he felt different.

And he will make sure that Neeta and Anu too felt different today.

He walked out of the Metro station exit and walked towards Rashbehari Avenue. There were makeshift sari shops on the footpath on both sides of the road. There were shops selling pretty frocks and suits. But Rana did not even look at them.  Today he will buy from KC Das and Sons.

While shopping for Durga Puja a few months back, Neeta had looked longingly at the display of KC Das.

“The red and black Dhakai is so beautiful !”  She stood in front of the mannequin and then looked at Rana excitedly .

“Shuncho, should I go and ask the price ? I know you will not be able to buy it , but I am curious… !”

And without waiting for an answer, Neeta and Anu had walked inside the shop. Neeta had touched the saris on display, looked at the price tags and made a face. Both mother and the eight year old daughter had walked hand in hand towards the kids section and admired the colourful , fluffy frocks and dresses.

Neeta had the salesman show them to her. After touching, feeling , looking, she said “No… somehow I do not like the colours and the cut … !”  . She walked out of the shop with a stoic face, and clutched Rana’s hands and went into peals of laughter.

“See … how I fooled the salesman … !”

But that day and on many such days , Rana could not laugh with her.

Rana worked as a reservation clerk in the West Bengal Tourism department. He sat at the reservation counter in the Chowringhee office from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm,  booking bus trips to Sundarbans, Murshidabad, Bishnupur and Shantiniketan. During lunchtime he took out his small alumunium square flat tiffin box and ate three parathas and alu bhaja.  Beginning of the month, sometimes Neeta would pack luchi for him accompanied with egg curry.  As the month progressed, the tiffin would get frugal , with maybe just 4 slices of scarcely buttered bread.

Neeta could not be blamed.

She had to manage the monthly bills of the household of two adults and a kid with Rs 25000, which Rana handed over to her dutifully at the beginning of the month.

Every month, after handing over Rs 3500 to the landlord , Neeta said “Can we shift to a different locality ? This place is too expensive !”  

But Rana could not make her understand  that this two roomed 400 square feet flat in the  interiors of Behala was the best they could get within this budget .
And their lifeline … their little Anu was going to an English Medium school. She was a big girl now, studying in class 3.  She was her teacher’s pet. But the tuition fees, the text books, stationary …fish, occasional mutton and chicken , vegetables ,  everything had to be provided out of the Rs 25000 !

Last month, when Neeta’s cousin sister got married, Neeta said “What do we give her as a present ?  I am her elder sister … can’t give her just anything .. “

“What about a sari ? “

“A good silk Sari will cost around Rs  2000 … ! We cannot give anything less than that … … you are his elder brother in law … !”

“Don’t worry I have a fixed deposit of Rs 10,000, I will break it tomorrow and then you can go ahead and buy !” Rana offered.

 “I am fed up of living under such tight budget !  Why can’t we be like others ?  I too want Anu to wear nice dresses, pack  pastries in her lunch box and watch a movie in a multiplex ! I am fed up … really fed up !”

“Tell me one thing,  Mr Mondal also works in the same office ,same post as yours , how come I see Mrs Mondal  wearing new saris every day ? Yesterday I saw her son  Montu in the park,  flaunting  his expensive sport shoe … !”  Neeta’s voice was taut.

Rana did not say anything.  Neeta knew the answer , didn’t she ? During such conversations, he always remained silent. And that irked Neeta even more.
“Fixed deposit ! You know that we have kept that for Anu’s admission to St. Teresa’s after 3 years . … !”

Anu opened the almirah and took out the peacock blue golden bordered silk sari which Rana had bought for her a year back when he had got bonus. Peacock blue was Neeta’s favourite colour. 

Her face had lit up when Rana gave it to her …

“But … I bought it for you …. !” Rana whispered.

“That’s OK … ! “ Neeta said gruffly. “You can buy me another one next year … “ She tried to smile.  “This sari will surely make my little sister very happy and  …it will save our prestige too … without breaking your fixed deposit …. “

Incidents like these, a sentence here, a word there , an untoward glance , a slight inflection in Neeta’s tone ,  small unfulfilled demands of  the little one, somehow filled up Rana’s mind and soul. He felt incompetent and incapable .

Was he foolish ?  As they say, should he be more “worldly wise” ? But he too did his bit did he not ? He had cut back on his cigarettes, the occasional buying of second hand Agatha Christie novels from the pavement of Theatre Road … !

So, today when a customer surreptitiously offered him Rs 3000 for giving him two tickets for the Sunderbans package tour,  he could not resist it.

“Dada, I have promised my wife “ he said “please do something ... “

“But there is just one seat left  !”  Rana said. He glanced at the register… there was another seat left … one passenger had just called up to cancel his reservation .

“”Please do something… “ the person pleaded and extended the two notes towards Rana.

Rana looked at him sharply… he looked around him and slowly , involuntarily, took the notes and kept it in his pocket.  His senses were numb. He acted as if in a stupor. Just like in the movies … in slow motion ….

But now his pace was extra fast as he approached the big and brightly decorated shop. He did not waste any time and walked out after buying a white fluffy frock for his little heartthrob Anu and a deep pink silk sari for Neeta. 

He wanted to see their excited and happy faces after they opened the packets. Ahh ! His soul was parched . It needed drops of their happiness . He will revel in their emotions of joy and exhilaration. And hopefully … his scorched  soul will become green again … with the musky , heady smell of their elation … !

He still had about Rs 500 left. 

“Taxi … !” Rana hailed a yellow cab.  He felt like a king .

Neeta and Anu were standing in the little balcony overlooking the road . Neeta was surprised to see him get down from the taxi. Rana looked up at her and smiled.

He swiftly climbed up the stairs. Neeta opened the door for him.

She looked so beautiful. She was wearing a simple red and white striped cotton sari. Her long, black, oiled hair was neatly folded in a bun. Sindoor on the middle parting of her hair, a small red bindi on her cute forehead … she looked like a goddess.  She deserves a better life .. Rana thought.

“Today is just the 25th of the month … have you got your salary already ?  How come you have come home in a taxi ? “ Neeta beamed .

Rana sat on the sofa cum bed to open his shoes. He kept the packets beside him. Little Anu came bounding up to him.

“Baba … Baba.. “ She was clutching a piece of paper in her hands .

“Anu … Let your Baba relax a bit … “ Neeta faked the admonishment towards Anu and smiled at Rana. 

“She has been so excited  since coming back from school … !”

Rana looked at their happy and glowing faces. 

They looked so content, satiated and thrilled !

“Baba … ! Look at this … I have got the first prize for my essay … You know , it will be published in the school magazine !! “ 

Anu squealed and thrust the sheet in Rana’s hands and put her arms around Rana’s neck.

“Go on … Read it … !” Neeta smiled and rolled her eyes up !

Rana read the title of the essay . “Honesty”.

Anu had described Rana in the essay. How he worked hard and how he was the most respected person in the colony as well as in his office due to his trait of honesty. In simple staccato, child like  sentences,  she had described her father and his lessons of honesty which he always taught Anu.

Rana looked at Anu’s face. She beamed at him expectantly. Rana embraced her tightly and wept. Neeta sat beside him and held them tight.

“I love you” she said in his ears. “Always remain like this…”

Neeta glanced at the packets.

“What are these ?”


Thursday, 7 July 2016

Teeny Weeny : Extract from a Memory

Today , I was rummaging thru my old documents and I chanced upon the following excerpt from an e Magazine which I used to run in one of my previous organizations .

There we had this concept of awarding a silver plaque on completion of 5 years and 10 years in the organization. Ashish Mathur had completed 10 years and had contributed this piece of poetry for the magazine.  I as the editor  had given him a reply ... with a poetry ...

I have removed the name of the organization for anonymity's sake ...  Hope you enjoy .....


Ashish Mathur completed 10 years on 1st November 2006 in XXX.  Find out his what he has to tell us on his journey so far …..

Ashish says :

The year was '96, it badly needed scratching, that itch...
10 months at a place? Enough - t'was time for a switch!
Right next door, with rarely a coming & hardly any going,
Was (I thought) quite oddly named - NetBase Computing!

Messers Rajiv Gupta and Ajay Sharma on Noida location
And Pramod Joshi manning in U.S. the sales function,
For well nigh a year we tried our level best with NGI
Prevailing in court when they refused to see eye-to-eye!

Followed projects like HPP, MOVE, eRetail, CXO, Syrius and Steton
Working with worthies like Gurmeet, Mohan*, Tarun*, Johns and Yamin,
(I could name so many more, but
Gentle reader, you just wouldn't know!)

There was the offshore boom, followed by the dot-bust,
When increments became scarce, but never so the trust.
Not a single layoff, never one on bench, lotsa hard work & honest toil,
Salutations Mr. Joshi, to all the naysayers you were the perfect foil!

Up sprung the SEPG, Ananya taking the helm, the goal a 3,
AMS framework founded by Arvind, meetings & action items by Rajiv;
Projects to be assessed whittled down to just eStore & BRG,
Suspense fueled by the ATMs, but success was our destiny!

From once-a-day email on dialup to an always-on broadband,
From 3 guys to 3-score and more everyday joining the gang;
NBI thru Syncata, then PQBS and now Snap-On
Man, what a ride - can't believe, just 10 years on!

Ananya, on behalf of everybody at XXX says :
Just 10 years on and still going strong,
I am sure  Ashish , the ride did not seem  long !

The number five made you jive
But the number 10 is so much fun !
From MOVE to Steton and now PlanView and EPC
We want you to do more , can’t you see ?

Eleven , twelve, thirteen , fourteen , fifteen

Wish you all these years in XXX and many more after the teens !


Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Importance of Team Leading

I have talked a lot about Leaders in my blog, mainly the people who are higher up in the organization. 

But I am sure that my readers understand that leadership is a quality which is not role or position specific.  Though I have written many posts which do depict the same - The little girl in the Mall (click here to read the post) being one of them - which one of the most popular posts of my blog. 

But in this post, I will write about a specific role which is a very very important one. The role of a Team Leader. And what makes a good Team leader. 

The definition of the team is : 

     A Team is a group of people with complimentary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. 

   And a Team Leader is the glue who keeps the team together :

·         Contact point for communication between team and management
·         Assists the team by immediately implementing changes that are within the bounds of the team

A Team leader MAKES a team and a team is made only when : 

  • Every member should feel that they are contributing
  • Every member should feel that others are contributing
  • Every member should know his/her responsibilities
  • Every member should do all types of task
  • Every member should know the other members of the team
  • Every member should work towards the common goal 

I have seen many team Leaders trying to do all the tasks themselves.
Please understand that you can’t do everything yourself.  

Take charge.

Lead . Don’t drive. 

Do not be a dictator.

The main responsibilities of the team leader :

·         Trains team in group problem-solving techniques
·         Infuse team with a sense of their own identity
·         Helps team choose their own targets and goals
·         Monitors and assess peer performance appraisals
·         Monito and assess the peer discipline process
·         Help the teams expand their responsibilities
·         Foster innovation in teams
·         Monitor team competition to prevent overzealous behaviours
·         Refocus teams when necessary on team goals

A few Do’s :

·         Share information
·         Build on ideas or proposals
·         Acknowledge ideas
·         Respect and acknowledge emotions, be patient
·         Deal with negative in a firm but friendly manner
·         Break down conflicts, confirm agreements, clarify areas of disagreement, aim for consensus, if not total agreement, in the team Improve the way your team members interact
·         Improve their ability to solve problems
·         Improve morale
·         Improve support and trust levels
·         Develop healthy inter-group relations
·         Reduce unhealthy conflict
·         Reduce stress in your workplace

 A few Don’ts :

·         Delay in taking needed action
·         Work too hard at being liked
·         Insensitive to others, abrasive, intimidating, bullying style, cool, aloof and/or arrogant
·         Betrayal of trust
·         Over managing or under managing
·         Unable to adapt to people who have different styles
·         Behaving inconsistently 

Team Leaders, Hope this Helps !!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

8 best ways to handle Difficult Situations

We all have learnt in our childhood about "Do unto others as you would like others to do unto you".  But in my years of experience in the corporate world, this does not hold too much of ground. Specially in highly political organizations, when people say something to you but is retold in a very different light to other people. 

So what do we do in such situations ? Do we fight back ? Hold a grudge ? Quit ? Let me tell you this, none of the above works. the harm done is always on you and no one else. 

I have burrnt my fingers several times and I can tell you this. The best way to tackle such situations is to have some responses ready for such situations so that the offender thinks twice next time . 

So, here goes ....

  • When your efforts are undermined : This is a very common situation and can be very upsetting. Instead of frontal attack or sulking, the best way is to state firmly what your contribution has been and say "Fortunately, I’m not easily offended, especially by one-off situations like this ”. 

  • When someone sparks a disagreement or says something offensive: In such situations, give a chance to the other person by saying "Did you mean what I think I heard ?"  An intelligent person will alter his/her course. 

  • When you are stuck in an argument with someone with whom you have had positive interactions before : Well, sometimes this does happen. And before things become more unpleasant, you can intervene by saying "We have a good track record working together. No reason to change that now.”

  • When you think you have reached a dead end :  You can restart the conversation by saying "I am committed to make this work for both of us" or Can we take a timeout? Perhaps we could discuss some ground rules for this negotiation?

  • When improper words are spoken : Offensive words really puts me off. And I am sure same goes for most of the people. In such situations, we should reframe the words in such a way so that the offender realizes his action For example, if he says "I really don't want to fight with you ! You just cannot comprehend what I am saying. Leave it !" You can say that “This is a debate, certainly not a fight. And you’re a good debater, as I recall."

  • When the conversation becomes too loud and offensive : Sometimes it is a good way to take the offense on yourself and say  “I’m getting loud and aggressive. I’m sorry. I don’t want this to be a competition." or “I don’t like where this is going. I’m guessing you don’t either. Can we try a different track?”

  • When someone accuses you of being too aggressive : If you feel that you are on the wrong, then you can say the lines mentioned in the above point. But if you feel that it is a way to put you down or shut you up, you can say "I am not loud but I am passionate about this " or " When something is as important as this, I am very determined to put up my point". And I am sure there will be silence there after .

  • When things are moved very fast : This induces panic and threat.  Slow it down by saying "Can we go a bit slow please ? Can I pause for a moment and point out what we both agree on? " or "Lets take a break and come back with a cool mind"

Hope this helps !

Monday, 25 April 2016

Your Greatest gift to the next generation !

Yesterday I saw a very thought provoking play and in today's blog post I am going to write about it.  The name of the play is "Yudhisthir Babu". Yudhishthir is a famous character in the Indian Mythology "Mahabharat". 

Yudhisthir (Wiki Link) never lied. The main protagonist of the play, named Yadav Chandra too never lied .

The storygoes like this ....

Yadav Chandra - will call him YC evoked wrath from his colleagues, wife and even his children because he never ever lied. His wife had cajoled him to apply for transfer by putting up a fake certificate of her  illness ,a police officer had instigated him to own up some jewelry which he had found during a raid and a middleman had tried to entice him about getting a cut in a contract which he was inspecting. 

But under no circumstances YC complied . He held his head high and refused to give in to the provocations. He was a man of principles. For him there was no compromise on truthfulness , honesty and integrity. 

After his retirement, YC spent his time by teaching the poor and underprivileged children of his colony.  He turned down several offers of highly paid tuitions. His dedication and method of teaching changed the outlook of these children and they began to shine. They became curious, thoughtful and bubbled with ideas and enthusiasm. They loved to study. Thanks to YC. The people in the colony worshiped him. The police officer and the middle man later became his greatest fans. Such is the power of principles !

The colony club invited him for felicitation . For his Honesty , integrity, service and truthfulness.

"But this does not need any felicitation !" YC had exclaimed. "These are the basic qualities which any human being should possess !"

"No Sir... please do not turn us down. We want to felicitate you ..."

"I don't know ... let me think ....!" YC said.

One day he was checking the answer book of one of his students. He was engrossed in reading the Geography answers. 

The little boy had flunked in Geography the previous year ( class 6th)

He asked YC "Sir , what marks did you get when you were in class 7th "

YC absent mindedly said "91%"

The boy was motivated . He touched YC's feet and said "Sir ! I too will get no less than 91% in my exams ..."

The boy left. 

But YC sat there paralysed. 

What had he done ! How could he ??

As if in a dream he saw the scenes flitting in front of his eyes . 

He standing infront of the teacher wtih bowed head, tears in his eyes. 

"YC ! You have got 17% in Geography ! I cannot promote you to class 8th "

"Sir... ! I don't know what happened. I knew everything ... but while writing somehow everything was jumbled up ... Sir .. please promote me ... else my father will not let me study further ... please sir ..."

The teacher stood there with an expressionless face. 

"Sir... another thing ... from today , I promise to myself that I will NEVER lie ..."

His sir had promoted him. There was something in YC's voice which had made him change his mind. 

And after that there was no looking back. 

But ....

Today .... YC broke his promise ! He lied to the kid !

YC was broken. It seemed as if his life was shattered.  His wife and son could not understand the big deal. 

YC refused to be felicitated. 

"I have lied . I do not deserve the felicitation..." he kept on repeating, much to the distress of the function organizers. 

"Sir... all the arrangements have been done ! The political leaders have been invited.. If you don't go , we will land in a soup ... it is just a small thing sir... please ..."

But he did not budge.

His family tried to cajole him, force him and even threaten him. But nothing worked. 

Then YC's son had a brilliant idea. 

He went to the kid's house and had a heart to heart discussion with him. He bribed him with toys, chocolates, books etc. 

"You just have to say that your sir did not say that he had got 91%... That is all..."

So, when the club organizers were trying to persuade him for the last time, YC's son said " Father ... you did not lie ! I talked to the kid ... he said that you said that you had told him that you had obtained 17% and not 91% !"

"But ... It cannot be ... I remember clearly... I cannot be mistaken ... "

"Father ... you are also human, you are mistaken ... see the kid is here ... he will tell you ... come on son ... talk ... say that your sir had told you that he had obtained 17% and not 91% ... talk kid ... "

The child sat on the chair , looking at the floor. He did not utter a word . 

YC came closer to the kid.  He stood up. 

YC said " Son ! Look at my eyes and without fear tell the truth ... !" 

The child looked at YC. He was silent for a few seconds. 

Slowly he said  "Uncle gave me toys , chocolate etc to tell you a lie. But looking at your eyes, I just cannot say those untruthful words.  ... Sir, You told me that you had got 91%  .... "

YC was silent. 

The kid spoke again 

"Sir ... ! Another thing ... I promise that from today I will NEVER lie ...." Tears flowed down his  cheeks

YC had a beatific smile on his face. 

He looked at his wife . 

"Give me formal clothes, I will get ready for the felicitation ...!"

Everybody was stunned. 

YC smiled... his eyes brimming with tears ... 

"Yes... I will go to the function ... my job is done ... I have passed the baton to the next generation ... ! "


You will be remembered for your values and principles. Money and  fame come and go. But the values stay with you forever... ever after you are long gone from the earth... 

We have to lead...

And pass the baton to the next generation ! 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

For God's sake... Just Shut up !

I don't know about you, but sometimes I find it very very hard to keep my mouth shut. There have been many occasions when this bad habit of mine has put me in a soup.  And invariably, after a few minutes of my blurting out, I have regretted it. 

But now that I have burnt my fingers several times, I have become cautious.  But still it takes a lot of effort to restrain myself

Take the incident which happened a few days back . A backstabber sent an email to the senior management complaining about some fictitious thing. In fact, in the email , he had called the other person/s liars and non co-operative. It so happened that the reply from the boss was marked a copy to all the relevant people.  The person who had been called names had the instant reaction to retort to that email. Thankfully he came up to me to discuss before doing so. 

He was very upset 

"Pack of lies against me ! How dare he call me names ? I too can call him names and complain . I am writing a reply to this email where I will give proof in my defense and call spade a  spade ....

"Shhhh... Just close your email box , have a glass of water and relax for 15 min, then come and talk to me "  I cooled him down. 

Since he held me in high regards, he complied with my suggestion. 

After 15 min, he was much better composed. 

"Ok" I said "Is the email by the boss directed to you ?"


"Rule no. 1 - If an email is not directed towards you, you should not reply to it"

"But he has called me names ... I want to justify ... "

"Hmm.. you should ... but this is not the right time. For now you should just ignore it ..."

"Ignore it  ???!!!!!??"

"Yes.  Just keep your mouth shut. If you reply to that email, call him names etc. what is it that will differentiate you from him ? And anyways most of us know that he is a whiner and a gossip monger. If he really wanted to solve the problem, he would have talked about his inconveniences with you before complaining to the boss !  In his heart of heart he knows that he is wrong and that is why he did not mark copies of the communication to you or the relevant people".

"But ... "

"Understand the  power of shutting up ! This way , you will score a point over him and at the same time , your silence will be a good snub on him !"

"But I need to explain !"

"Yes, right.... But email is not the best way to put forth your explanation. You should ask for a face to face meeting with the boss and discuss. And definitely you should show your displeasure . You should be well prepared with your points and put it forth with data and facts ! "

"When ?"

"Good question . If the boss calls for a meeting then that is it, else wait for 2 days and then ask for a meeting. That way the other person will be very discomfited . He would be itching to know your reaction . And your stoic face and silence will perturb him even more ... ! That is the beauty of silence !"

He went away and two days later, came out of the boss's room with a smiling face. 

Remember why God has given us two ears and one mouth ? So that we can listen more than  we speak. 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Never Ever lose a deal - 3 tips

All of us have gone through it sometimes or the other. At work, at play , at home ... everywhere.  

We are always encountered with negotiations.  

Here are three amazingly cool tips to help you win a deal. Here you go : 

  • Boogie-boogie : You are in a middle of a deal. Start pushing for a particular item which is really not so important for you. Almost at the end of the negotiation, you when some trading is happening, you agree to give it up ! This will surprise the other party and they will feel that they have scored a point. As a trade-off for that that point, you can then push for the thing which is really important to you !

  • The last nip :  This has to be done right at the end of finalizing the deal. Just when the deal is being signed, ask for a bit extra. This generally generally gets granted since the other party is busy looking at the bigger picture and is eager to complete the negotiation .

  • The invisible man : Suppose you want to halt the negotiation and want some time . Then the favourite "I will have to talk to my boss and get back to you on this " works really well. Afterwards, you can say that you have had your discussion and only a 5% discount instead of the 15%,  which was being discussed earlier. The other party has an invisible "boss" to deal with !

Cheers !