What I learnt?

5 things common in my Squash game & Startups!

SportLessons_BOWEB

I have been learning Squash since the last 5 months – a new skill to learn in the ‘serendipitous ME-time’ I have got. But as I pursued this hobby, I realized that lessons learnt in Sports are so similar to those required to successfully run a startup.

  • Quality is always better than quantity

Initially, I set ‘time played’ as the factor to judge getting better at my game. Consequently, I thought I was improving when I moved from, playing for 20 minutes without a break to 45 minutes. But when I played with others, just the ability to be on court for longer time didn’t help me win. This forced me to analyze, find mistakes & then work on improving them

In a startup: In every literature & case study I have read, consistently people have said it is better to have 1000 loyal/regular customers than 1 million signed up customers!

  • Importance of setting the right benchmark

Well, let’s say I identified that my left court serve sucked! How do I make it better? Learning Squash without any coach, I did the next best thing. I YouTubed! So, there was this one tutorial about how to do it & I decided that I should be able to replicate that at least 80% of times before I move to my next area of development

In a startup: It is so easy to have visits/pageviews as metrics to judge the popularity of the business. However, the success of the business is dependent not on visits but on parameters like revenue, retention & repeat business etc.

  • Lowering the benchmark

With almost 80 serves consistently, I failed to meet that benchmark I initially set for myself. Oh, how many times I felt like revising it to 75%! Much to my consternation whatever my rational sense seemed to tell my heart – it just wouldn’t budge. So, I continued serving till the serve reached at the desired level

In a startup: As you continue working, investor pressure / revenue pressure adds up. This may often result in short term measures like take on ads, spam the users, monetize database etc. It is easy to make things better in short term doing this (much like my 75%) but in the long term – you have gone wrong on the promise you made to the customer (the most important stakeholder in this equation)

  • Time versus productivity

I always play for a fixed duration. And as time to go home approached, I would have so many errors because of trying too hard to achieve that day’s benchmark. Result, all necessary parameters like my stance, the place of impact, timing of impact etc. were all ignored because half of my attention was on the clock & the other was desperately counting serves to get that 80% mark. I think in those last 15 minutes, I was better off stopping the game than these shoddy attempts

In a startup: Doing a product launch, executing a campaign or any timed deliverable will always come with costs & associated deadlines. Important thing is never should there be a situation where you launch/campaign with basic user experience missing. At these times, it is better to delay the launch/campaign than roll it out with sub-standard process

  • NOT QUITTING

I think that has been the biggest & the most difficult thing to do. Since I have started following YouTube tutorials – the fun quotient seems to have lowered (even though the quality of game has marginally improved). When I retrospect, I realize that is because it is very difficult to fail innumerable times & still feel the need to try again with same vigor? At this point, the conviction & strengths of the individual make all the difference. I have always been perseverant & so, this currently isn’t an option I give myself

In a startup: This is one point I needn’t stress. So many successful examples (angry birds, Air BnB, Instagram etc.) are all examples of how the founders stuck through the worst of the phases & pulled through – sticking to their convinction & not compromising on their customer promise!

 

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What I learnt?

Such is Life!!!

Rains through your window, greenery everywhere, cool breeze and a warm “cheese” maggi… You have snuggled up in a shawl, all by yourself in the house and its a weekend afternoon where you can do whatever you want…

I have to admit such moments have been very rare in my life… Work – office or ghar ka, Catching up – relatives or friends OR movies have just made this time impossible to attain… The last time I was this chilled out was in IIMB!!!

So, what would you do/think during this time? Most people would take a deep breath,exhale away their worries (temporarily) and become calm to get absorbed in the spectacle called “nature”… I chose to get my IIMB laptop and notes/letter out and read… The history lesson of my life people; and the only learning from it was C’est la Vie! (Such is life!)

YOU LOSE ONE:
A note written about me said, “The coldness in her fights is only matched by the warmth in her care. You have to understand her to know her. And then you get addicted!!” My first thought after reading this was who shoulders a greater burden? Is it the person who chose to leave OR I for driving this person away? The answer came when I was discussing this situation with a VERY dear friend… He said such a situation arose because I chose to not stick to the ONE motto I live by “Live and let Live”!!!

YOU GAIN SOME:
You dont know what you have until you lose it… But before it came to that extreme scenario lemme thank God for digital cameras… Some pictures speak a thousand words! And these I saw made me realize that I am among the few lucky ones who is pampered left, right and centre!!! There exist people in my life who have vowed to make me happy as long as they know me (which means for the rest of my life)… One took a silly scribbled note given to him 3 years ago and promised me to take care of me – whatever happens… One who gave a shoulder whenever I needed one… One who patiently waited till I stop fussing… One who discussed every issue I had… One who made me smile when my insides were crying… Its a “happy” bunch – we have shared everything from notes to talks and the dreams of future!!!

YOU CHANGE YOUR STANCE:
I have innumerable notes which prove I love to be “child-like” (definitely not childish)… I sat back and reflected how, of late this has been just impossible… The child in me is being forced to grow up… Call it nature of work or the expectations of people around… Net-Net – The child fights at time, thus being childish and sometimes it gives up, thus fading into oblivion… The important thing is knowing when you can switch between these two!

YOU RESIST:
A note which stated the incident of making a choice between career and personal life made me think why is this being asked of every woman! Why dont men have to have to answer this? And if say a man did make his choice, why is it frowned upon if a woman makes career as her first priority? At such times, I resist… Does that make me a rebel without a cause? Quite frankly, cause or no cause – I would continue to resist!!!

YOU ASPIRE:
I had started to write my new year resolutions on paper… Silly I know but there were so many things I thought I would do by now and I haven’t done them… So many things to do and I cannot shake the feeling of “Time is slipping away”! Things when you want to do something about your dancing, about your game, about your painting or about your music… About those goals which an immature youth had written years ago…
While I kept thinking of how many things I have to do in life, I was reminded of my meeting with this 38 yr old CEO… His struggle, his conviction and his place in the society/market today made me question – would I be anyone significant in the value chain – 10 years hence – professionally? I do not have answer for it but I know what I would like the answer to be…

YOU DOUBT:
And when you think of all the thoughts above, of the success stories of others around you, you doubt! You question where you have come and what you have become till date… There is always someone who is better off than you… That’s my problem – I always find people better than me… And when you feel you are coming last in this race – you are faced with a series of “What have I done in life?” questions…

Its scary to have such free time… Time when you have nothing to do… It makes you think of what you could have done differently… Could you have prevented people from walking away from you? Could you be more happy with yourself? Could you do something to lose people dear to you? And the more you think – the more elusive the answers get…

So, on a rainy saturday afternoon with nothing to do – spend your time looking out of the window… Watch the merry kids getting wet in rains, the water-logged streets, the vehicles dashing water on all pedestrians! Taking a trip down memory lane alone may not be the best thing you do…

What I learnt?

…Is there any answer?

In standard two, I learned about a particular property of water…. It takes the color of the thing it’s mixed in and it takes the shape of the container that holds it…. Very mundane, very simple and very common sensical isn’t it…. And imbibing this very property makes life slightly complex, if not entirely complicated….

This property of water is nothing but one quality that I can safely say, is common to everyone “living”: Adaptation…. Proven beyond doubt by Darwin’s theory of evolution and tested easily when you changed a bit of you to get accepted into a group. We have thus, evolved and adapted in varying degrees to become what we are today…. The level of adaptations could range from linguistics adaptation (where you use the slang that group uses often) to behavioral (where you tend to alter your behavior to give “acceptable” reactions to certain events)…. Every group you were a part of throughout your life would have been distinctly different from each other…. And as a result, you would have modified yourself over and over again….

Some people weed out the unwanted qualities through these adaptations and become better individuals while others go to an extreme and become clones of the most influential person in the vicinity completely losing themselves…. The net result is that there are many aspects – which are not completely you – that now form a part of your personality….

At this point, I wouldn’t dare generalize but just talk about how I have adapted in due course of time (may be some people identify with it)…. During the first few years of schooling, I was with this guy who was creatively “gifted”! While I did have some potential, my association with him made my “drawings” good…. Not stopping there, I went on to take both the state level exams and clearing them… During the later years at school, my gang was heavily into sports…. Net result, I was a part of athletics teams and the football team of school…. At this point I wonder, had my group been the studious, teachers’ pets kinds or the culturally inclined kinds – would I have done these things? Is me becoming good in drawing and sports – intentional or associational?

In junior college, my group was this simple living, high thinking sort of a group…. It was with them that I was exposed to giving back to the society bit and I started to teach at an NGO…. College was primarily about sports (again my group had elements very active in it), debates (one of my closest friends was a studess in this field and I actively took part in such events) and technology (very good friends who were bonds in coding, robotics, programming)…. So, after 4 years when I joined the corporate world, I was a tomboy who was not technically challenged and a decent conversationalist (if not debater level)…. Later, my association with my roommate resulted in me going out for parties, movies, shopping extensively and becoming brand conscious (if not crazy like she was)…. My manager was heavily into history and gymming and just like that our conversations were converted into 2 hour gym sessions and reading about Roman mythology…

IIMB came and I was placed with the crème-de-la-crème as everyone puts it…. With such high standards, came a serious jolt to my personality as well. I became intensely competitive (everyone was just so good, that becoming better needed constant reminding), was prey to the hunger to make my mark (wanting to play drums, sports, dancing, FashP, writing cases, debating, making B-plans, having a good CG, being in different clubs – I seemed to want to do it all and do it well)… But the most prominent was becoming immensely practical bordering on callousness about things… My parents and siblings are still bearing the brunt of this change…

As I write this today, I am reminded of this conversation with a very old friend. She asked me for some advice and when I proffered she exclaimed, “What kind of advice is this? Sharmili I know would have never said something like this”.

I was forced to think that while I have adapted every time to find myself in this “grey” zone (sort of acceptable to all), is it the case that I have lost my “blacks” and “whites” (the core which defined me). Is it that in process of weeding out and becoming better, I have just lost what “Sharmili would have said/done”? Is it fear or is it not knowing yourself?

What I learnt?

Life goes on!!!

As you grow older, you realize one thing – you may whine, crib or celebrate but LIFE just moves on!!! While there may be many opportunities you don’t convert and many that you just crack, as you move on, all these past experiences fade away into oblivion… They serve as those anecdotes you share with your friends on a reunion or with family when you give gyaan…. On a contradictory note, till date I always thought that everything we do in life contributes to a bigger picture…. So, if I am going through a rough patch, I was led to believe that it is that black border of a bigger beautiful portrait – not pleasant by itself but very necessary to bring out the beauty of the portrait….

As you must have guessed, I have not figured out what life is all about… I always grew up in a competitive context so, Life to me means feeling that I am not a failure and thats all… No! – it moves on, no! – there is light beyond the tunnel etc. theories. And herein lies the core issue. Success for me is relative…. It does not matter what I achieve unless in a context I am better than most. Thus, what life means to me ironically, is determined by others. Strange isn’t it!!! Therefore, while I have been an athlete, a dancer or a club president, it does not matter if I have not handled one aspect of my life well…. ‘Coz when I pit against my peers at IIMB, my peers from VJTI who are in completely different setup (its like comparing apples and oranges) or anyone who can be remotely connected to me, I always tend to find people many times better than me…. Thus making me feel “Life Sucks!!!

And once I get this into my head, no other rational thought has any space to make its presence felt… Then comes a teeny voice in my head (after days of incarceration) saying C’mon Sharmili, Move on Woman!!! And just like that, I am back to being my bouncy self…. Emphemeral as it is, this stage lasts for sometime till one more comparison – and I am back to the “Life Sucks!!!” mode. Point of this post, there are many things in my life to make me feel happy, lucky and on the top of the world…. There are many times the rational thoughts mentioned above enter my head…. Yet, I find myself in bouts of low confidence, self doubt, lack of faith etc. I am waiting for a moment when I actually practice what I preached here (in the first paragraph)… Not for the sake of being proper but ‘coz, that I believe would be when I actually graduate to the next level of maturity!!!

What I learnt?

Beauty and the Beast!!!

Its been a while since I saw an animated movie with an underlying message… I love animated movies… I know I am too old for them but still its my favorite form of movies… I can cry after watching a senti scene in an animated more easily than what I can when say the Rang De Basanti senti scene is shown to me… They connect more easily – dunno y, dunno how…

So, while I was watching the movie “Beauty and the Beast” it just occurred to me, our life soooo needs to follow this principle in practice… We did learn in school that we shud not judge the book by its cover but we do that inevitably… Now, I am certain EVERYONE knows what this movie is all abt but my parallel is not so much on the same lines… Although the underlying thought is the same…. In this movie, it took display of a selfless, lovable heart of the prince through his actions to make the girl fall in love with him… And these actions were good enough to overlook the hideousness that his appearance was… How many of us do that? And our judgements are not only based on appearance…. Grades, Job, Societal Status, Manner of Speaking, Fluency (accents), Company of people, etc. all are used… How many parameters do we use to evaluate a person??? How many people actually think of actions of the person before writing them off or making them friends???

It doesnt make sense to talk about the world in general, so I will take myself as an example to prove what I am trying to say…. How many people who have met me will think I have a good heart??? That I am a good person??? I know of instances when people have adored me for something… But at the same time, I know of instances when they hated me – to the extent of saying “Sharmili, your friendship is not worth preserving!” What baffles me is that if its the same person and if no “bad deed” is done then why would there be these polarised views???

I have often been accused by my friends that I have this huge,unwanted urge to be liked by everyone…. My reaction to this statement is – why not??? Why cannot I expect this small thing from myself? I mean after all I do not know of any concsious incident of malice and anything happening unconciously should be pardoned in any case…. And if its not a characteristic flaw, then isnt this “hatred” an example of judging a book by its cover? Am I getting judged or disliked coz I am too outspoken? too extroverted? too insignificant? too dumb? too intimidating? And if these are indeed the reasons then what have we learnt from the messages we have been taught since our childhood?

If now as a student, we judge a peer – how are we sure of objectively evaluating a person during our corporate life when the stakes are actually very high? You will learn from experience – people say! But wont it be easy to just not make these hasty judgements now? I know of a person who doesnt really judge anyone – always believes that there is a positive to everyone’s thought and action… Who always thinks from the “other person’s perspective”… I have myself made fun of this person at times – saying he goes overboard trying to “NICE” to everyone but isnt that something we should do… Not be nice but atleast form judgements only on some substantiation…

Can we really look at the beauty within – beyond the very visible “beastly” traits? Do we give people a second chance?

What I learnt?

Happiness is a mirage! People keep chasing it but it still remains unreachable!!!

The topic was my gtalk status message and in about 15 minutes after I put this message I had a huge argument with a friend of mine…. He is a very dear friend and though we did not reach any conclusion per se, strong personalities that we are – we were stuck on our respective POVs. Pasting the snippet of the conversation and let you decide – which side are you on!!!

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Sumit: why do you say its unreachable?
Sharmili: coz it is
Sumit: i totally disagree
Sharmili: ok
Sumit: its all in the mind
Sharmili: u r entitled to ur view
Sumit: you can be as happy as you want to be
Sharmili: hmmm… u DO agree no one wud want to be sad
Sumit: yeah
Sharmili: so then when u want to be happy and u arent
Sumit: you WANT to be happy
Sharmili: due to external factors say
Sumit: but you are not ready to work towards it… as in you is not you… there are always external factors to make us sad but knowing how to content oneself with small hapinesses is what most ppl are incapable of…. look at you and me ppl die to be where we are, ppl die to be us….
Sharmili: no they dont… trust me..
Sumit: i know a lot of ppl wud die to go to iimb…. 1.5 lac ppl take the cat every year…. 10 times that number dream of going to the best engineering insitutes in the country
Sharmili: dude its high time we stop patting our backs for one stupid break which got us here
Sumit: im not at all pattting our backs…. not at all…. im telling you to appreciate that stupid break…. when we get stupid bad lucks we get sad then why dont you get happy with stupid breaks?
Sharmili: its been done with and gotten over with…
Sumit: yep! i knw all that
Sharmili: its like saying when u were 2, u rocked
Sumit: ive lived 3 yrs of life after iimb and i hardly call myself as an iim person anymore…. but thats not my point…. my point is not patting my back and resting on laurels…. my point is that you are being unfair…. you look at external factors and get sad but you dont look at the good factors and get happy and what you are is the same as what everyone else is
Sharmili: wht if there R NO current good factors
Sumit: cmon…. are you dying of hunger? did you have a rotten childhood? have you been lucky in love ever?
Sharmili: sumit, i am eternally glad i have had this life
Sumit: then learn to appreciate it and learn to be happy
Sharmili: thats not the point
Sumit: it IS the point
Sharmili: stop getting philosophical
Sumit: you are better off than 60% of the world population…. this was a philospohical question i thought… sorry if i misunderstood
Sharmili: its all relative… ur universe is 60% les happy than me…. mine is 40% above me
Sumit: and being better off as compared to 70% or more than the world’s population is reason enough to not crib
Sharmili: u get happy by looking at ppl less fortunate… i get sad by lookin at 40% above me coz i feel that i am a good person and I dont deserve this
Sumit: no i don’t…. you dont get it do you? by looking at them I don’t get happy abt me…. i realize how lucky i have been… this is a response to the external factors that you talk about when you consider external factors then you should consider them fully…. consider all external factors – your family, your socioeconomic background etc. on any level matierialistic or unmaterialistic i find it unfair that someone like you shud be unhappy and i find that you dont appreciate what you have got
Sharmili: u r HUMAN… u cant be bubbly all the time… u cant be all chirpy all time… its forced and u would still want to do it for SOMEONE
Sumit: no you can be! it might be forced for you…but dont generalize…i know ppl who are not that way…. i live for myself and im v v happy
Sharmili: well good for u… i live for myself too and i DO GET bouts of sadness – external, self inflicted, concocted – I dunno
Sumit: i do have times when im down but i wudnt say im unhappy then and i wouldn’t say happiness is unreachable… im able to get out of them easily…. Being low is a state of mind- happiness is an attainment….
Sharmili: wht makes u think WHT U AS A PERSON do others will
Sumit: no im not saying that…. you passed a statement that happiness is unreachable…. i thought you were doing exactly the above… generalizing for the world what you feel and i disagreed so i pinged you
Sharmili: i dont get whr ill see this getting attained… yes i have happy times…. yes i have awesome ppl arnd me…. yes hajar ppl caare abt me… but rite now i think its unattainable…
Sumit: are you happy overall? forget the current low state…. i honestly think irrespective of whatever your current state is you shud have attained happiness
Sharmili: its not everlasting dude…. i havent said i never attained..
Sumit: it is not acceptable- knowing what all you have got that you are unhappy…. but i know your past and what you have possessed all along
Sharmili: past is passed… its a feel good factor for those who want to dwarf their current under achievements with past achievements

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What I learnt?

Contradictions? Double standards?? Stupidity???

I am writing after a hectic day and an even more hectic week. Ideally would have slept but just cant stop thinking…. Considering I do not have anyone to talk about this right now and that no one will have the bandwidth to hear the blabbering mind, I am relying on readers of this post (imaginary in case no one reads this) to just hear me out….

So, I effectively believe in and strongly implement in no expectations policy but then I just think I am deluding myself…. I mean a small thing like “Sharmili – you sing horribly (which is a fact btw)”…. If it comes from a certain person, I will take it but when it comes from someone who I expect to appreciate (despite the harrowing time of listening to me), I would go at lengths to make them feel miserable about not being “nice” to me….

That’s the deal with me, I would make a person feel miserable, and ya – this works only for those close to me – if they bug me…. I mean how ironical is this…. Would you actually trouble a person closest to you??? I can understand taking them for granted – yes, that does come with proximity with a person – but troubling them…. I wonder if anyone reacted in a similar fashion with me, would I be in a position to take it???

Even the smallest thing like talking to me on phone…. If say someone is talking to me on phone, I would expect UNDIVIDED attention and would actually get offended when s/he talks to anyone other than me…. But, then countless number of times the “hassled” me has hung up on people or fought with them for calling at a wrong time…. Suddenly the change of rules is OK!

I am a victim of “being the hub” of the relationship as well. What this means is that say there are 3 friends with me being one of them and others A and B…. So, friend A should tell me and I would then tell friend B. It cannot work if B comes and tells me something about A without A telling me… I get mad – as childish as this sounds…. IT DOES!!! But what is interesting is that if I were a spoke in say another relationship, I still would want the hub to tell me directly and not another spoke!! I am not sure if I am making sense?

But, in essence what I can tell you is that I am famous for making things complicated :(((

So, at this point you know what my natural reaction is? It is to wonder – if there is any good left in me – if there is ANY reason why people should still like me and consider me as a friend!!! Or how much more time will pass by before they just give up on me?? Some have, Some wont and some may be…. Its all about a PUSH!!! Which direction would that push be in, will be determined by how insecure I behave in a relationship!!!

Strange – you would think I would NOT know this and therefore react in a certain detrimental manner…. But, what do you tell a person who knows and THEN doesn’t bother???

What I learnt?

Connect???

How do we connect to people? Is it a conscious process we use to weed out the undesirable and select the ones we connect with or is it a completely “i think itll work” process? Is it a process where I look for someone who is LIKE me or someone who is completely UNLIKE me coz I need variety in life? Why this random blog and even more random questions is because I have time on my hand and recently dont seem to connect the dots of connect with people….So, till date my theory was I like people who completely dont like me. There is this need to impress on them that I am quite likeable and haveable as a friend. Yes! call it this stupid need to be accepted or this stupid need to prove others wrong. So, a person P and a person S hated me while in junior college and engineering college and I made sure I am good friends with them. How did I make this happen? Well, when you ARE with the person ALL the time, they rarely dont like you – considering I am not all that obnoxious. I have to also give in to the fact that YES, there were circumstances which made me be with them and hence the “Connect”…

Then as time progressed it was more of a conscious decision… My gang in VJTI though just happened. I try and see what was the common thing that connected us but guess what – there aint anything! We had the most serious of people (A’s, Y, N, Vy) and the most chillest of people (B, J, S, A, H)… A who I loved and S who I hated.. we had Ash who would arrange lectures and we had Arch who looked for reasons to bunk 🙂 Beside this, there was a gang of seniors… Nothing common between Sum, Sud, P or others… But consciously was with them… Y? Not a clue! Then there was V with whom I went about a complete circle… From the most conscious decision to be or not to be with him and a completely unconscious one of having him in my life or not… So, except for V, I think we had mostly narrowed down to a conscious process of “connecting” with people… Qualities of people were NOT even considered…

At Infosys, it was pretty much – who I was working with and who was nice enough to talk to me 🙂 But frankly, D, K and S that I think are my friends from Infy are completely unlike me and YES, consciously I am friends with them… So, there goes we still maintain the theory from college…

Then came IIMB where this S – from the point I met him there was this huge urge to be friends with him… Y? Well he was EVERYTHING I was not… He was elegant, intelligent and an orator who would floor people by the first word he spoke… Yes! for a social embarrassment like me – this was a BIG thing! We indeed are friends but at this point I dont know if there was this conscious decision or unconscious one. And I dont know if it was the first impression that did the trick or just the kind of person he is? Then there was this gang of seniors I was with and as expected we just happened… Nothing spectacular done on either side to be with each other… Emotional bonding grew by being beside each other during trying times and I believe that was it!

Now, I am a senior at B-school… There is this S I connected with. Now, she is NOT like me. I mope, she laughs.. I hug to show care, she kicks to show affection! Despite this, I always thought I will connect with her but I dunno why we dint become good friends in the first year. “Connect” took 2 drunk girls blabbering to each other 🙂 So, there is this move from conscious decision without person qualities to unconscious decision considering person’s qualities to unconscious decision not considering person’s qualities… Then there is this N who I am friends with. More so its mollycoddling her, protecting her and just making her feel comfortable.. I dote so much that at times I think I overdo things. I HAVE been warned by people that I do this but I cannot help it. “connect” here was that SHE IS LIKE ME!! I would go to the extent of saying that she is like my Alter-Ego! So, somehow I feel this urge to protect her – like my seniors did to me 🙂 I want her to not make same mistakes I did, like one of my seniors (G) wrote on my wall. So, there we move back again to conscious, considering qualities of the person and wanting it to be similar to mine.

So, I still dont know what makes me like a person but what IS clear is that once they are in my circle, I stand by them with the same ferocity as I would stand by my family 😀 Should they evaluate being with me? I LEAVE IT TO THEM!!!

What I learnt?

Its all about loving your parents!!

As sidey as this Karan Johar movie line sounds, it is something that I would want to use to dedicate this 50th post to my parents!! Like every milestone (big or small) wouldn’t be possible without them, similarly this inconsequential one (reaching 50 posts) would not have been possible if they hadn’t tolerated the late night lights kept switched on (that’s typically when I write my blogs), given me a broadband connection only coz I asked for it (when there were more pressing matters they had to attend to) or say gave me awesome education, supported me on every decision I took etc. So, YES I am writing this post about those 2 MOST important people in my life (mind you NOT one of the most important BUT MOST important).. There is NO man in this world who would measure up to my father and NO lady who would be as gracious as my mother is… When they show in these teen flicks, how these kids are ashamed of getting their parents to a friend’s place or embarassed to hug them in public – I often get confused coz NEVER was I ashamed of my parents and I’m hoping never were they to have me as a daughter… It was with them that I did not experience the concept of “GENERATION GAP”. Their adaptability to everything that is thrown at them is one of the reasons why their life stories and what they do now becomes so inspiring for us, the reason why we have good friends but they still remain as one of our BEST friends.
Talking about my father first, he comes from very humble beginnings… He was the youngest of the pack (4 brothers, one sister) and had to fight it out for everything… His family’s financial condition needed him to work instead of studying but HE knew the importance of studying so fought with his brother (my grandpa left us when my father was just 10 years old) and completed his education till std. twelfth… He wanted to study further but then had to give in to the pressures of his family and start working… So, in his inheritance – all he bequeathed was responsibilities, hardships and loads of criticisms for not listening to his elders… So, from a small village in Nanded he landed in Mumbai to make it big here… I have seen the earlier places where he used to stay… One room which served as kitchen, living room, bedroom and dining room… One room which held my grandma and him (mind you! inspite of not being well settled he took the responsibility of looking after my grandmaa – of course she did help him in terms of taking care of household chores etc.). Before this house there were instances when he was alone and had to stay on the platform, bench in park etc. while he hunted for a job (he could put up with his brother but he would get cold stares or some nasty remarks about not getting a job and he had a lot of self respect to take this). So, before he got a job in MTNL in 1973 this is the list of things he did… Sold cards on the road, sold cricket match tickets, worked in the a steel factory, founded one steel factory. This is really an inspiring story. My father and his friend started this company called A to Z steels as partners… He saved on all the money he had (money was saved by say not having evening tea, walking till his house to save ticket money etc) and executed his first order. From then on he worked for 3 years where the company grew from its first order of 180 bucks to an order of 30000 bucks… At this point in time, he applied to this government job and got selected… There is a rule in India that a government servant cannot have another job (not even part time) and therefore he had to dissolve his partnership… This company – a fruit of his labor and hardwork – still exists and has a networth of crores… Sometimes he still wonders if he should have fought with his brother (who believed a secure job is better than a risky business) and continued with the business… It makes him sad at times but he is very satisfied with the levels he has attained in his life… Of course, he still remains very ambitious and at the age of 55 he is more ambitious than anyone his age!!! He bought his first house in 1980… He married my maa in 1981 and had 4 daughters in due course of time… Not once has he faltered to give them the comforts which he dint get… He has never once undermined the importance of education and ensured all of them get quality education… He was far sighted enough to start saving at an early age to now meet the expenses of the family of 6 (he has one daughter doing his MBA, one an architect, one doing medicine and one in standard 12th)… I have no clue how he manages every June to pay these exhorbitant fees for everyone and yet manage his household expenses… Our house is entirely a ONE MAN’s show… From necessities to luxuries – EVERYTHING is managed by ma paa… Strong believer in neither be a borrower nor lender be – he has NO liabilities or debts… He has helped all his siblings – monetary or physical help – whenever they needed… He took care of his mother from the day he came to Mumbai till the day she left us… As cliched as it sounds – my father is really like a coconut… Huge temper so would say the nastiest things to people who mean a lot to him, be extremely tough in dire circumstances but if any of his loved ones are in pain – HE cannot stand it… I had a fever of 104 when I was young and both my parents dint sleep till it came down to normal… My sister had this small lump at the point where her nose started… Docs said its a tumor and needs to be operated.. He was ready to bear all the expenses but when he took a second opinion – he realised surgery wud not help… He went barefoot to Pali (a famous Ganpati temple lies there) and fasted for many days… Today there is no lump and she is one of the better looking sisters… The architect was a premature baby – wasnt going to survive on delivery – my father ensured that she gets the BEST in Mumbai.. She was under observation, in an incubator with many docs monitoring her condition for almost 5 days after which she came out… Now, she is not only healthy but also his favorite (when I say this – I am sure he will not agree but his attachment to her is VERY visible). There are many such instances where this man that I know as my father did exemplary things… I dont know if, as parents, I would be able to do for my kids but I am certain their grandpa would do EVERYTHING to make them feel the most amazing grand kids on this planet :)))
Behind every successful man lies a woman!! And my father’s exemplary achievements would not have been possible without the unstinted support of my maa… There are times when I get super bugged with my father (read – the tough exterior part) but my maa NEVER leaves his side… She gets dragged a lot into these daughter-father fights and poor thing strives hard to not take sides and solve the issue… She will defend my case in front of him and his in front of me… This lady who comes from a similar background as my father (father expired soon, lived with her brother, could not study despite being so bright and got married to come from a village to a huge city like Mumbai) never once let me down. She was my friend when I wanted to discuss something and a mother when she had to guide me. In true sense – She is ma FRIEND, PHILOSOPHER and GUIDE. Her story also truly inspires me and probably is the reason why I am the way I am. My mum in std. tenth lost her father. She moved from one city to another. In std. tenth she changed schools. She did not have books to study from. So, she would borrow them from this friend of hers – study while she was sleeping (and in the street light – since her family could not afford electricity or more oil to let the lamp burning whole night) and then return the books in the morning while attending school… Despite this she secured above 60% which was a big deal then. When she bore 2 daughters, she went and completed her B.A. Going to classes in the evening all the way in Ruia, Dadar (and this was after cooking lunch, taking care of her in-laws and daughters, preparing dinner) to come back in the night – study for sometime (if we dint cry and bug the hell outta her) and then get up in the morning to continue her routine again.. All this only made the importance of education instilled VERY strongly in all of us. She became a housewife to ensure that her daughters get personal care and attention during their formative years… She balances everything so beautifully – her house, her family, her relationships with dad’s side/her side/friends etc. Even my uncles and aunts praise her a lot (these are the people who are generally sitting to point out faults in others) and we cannot but feel the pride of being her daughters. What she means to me is completely cannot be expressed in words (though i have tried to write something in this post – http://sharmiliphulgirkar.blogspot.com/2007/04/mothers-you-can-never-predict-their.html)
I can go on and on about them but I still would not be able to do justice neither to the hardships they faced nor the perfection with which they have brought up their family. When I do start my family I hope I learn a great deal from them. With the amount of hardships in my life reduced by 90% (thanks to their efforts) I still have a lot to learn. I am still not sure if my kids will grow up to learn, respect and behave the RIGHT way like we do thanks to they instilling those values in us. When you have a child – his/her entire life depends on you – you have a great responsibility and one wrong move can ruin his/her life. And yet this odd couple (they are as opposite as it can get) in their twenties from a small town in a huge city managed to make their 4 daughters responsible ladies with a class who have been given the freedom to do whatever they want and who know to bear the consequences of their actions.. I believe even a standing ovation cannot give them due credit for this feat :)))
I will put an end to this blog with a thought that I will implement till the day I live – I hope ma and paa that WE ensure that NEVER again in your life – would you face hardships again!! Love u so much!! Thanks for everything!!!
What I learnt?

Mothers – You can never predict their reactions!!!

No!!! this is not a blog on the mahanta of mothers… It is definitely not to impress the importance of mothers in a person’s life… Coz, there are no words that can do justice to that… And there is not a single article that can cover all the points of the greatness of the beings called ‘mothers’… This blog is about how inspite of living with this person for about 24 years of my life, I have not been able to foresee her reactions!!! This is about how ‘Mothers’ can surprise you with their actions – right when you feel that you know her and can predict her reactions…. Inspite of having being born from within them, inspite of knowing them all your life, despite confiding in them as a friend, philosopher and guide – they continue to amaze us… I know many mothers in my life (my friends mothers, aunts etc) but mine is the queerest of the lot :))))))) (Well most kids would have the same opinion, I believe)

So, Mrs. Shital Phulgirkar became a mother of this terror called Sharmili when she was just 22 years old… And from that point on, not only has she guided me thru the 24 years of my life but has been my greatest strength and my closest aide… When I was 22 I threw tantrums and was as immature as a school kid – but my mother, at that age, ensured that I was groomed well… She made me learn – taught me – helped me transform into a socially responsible, intelligent individual… During these years, I have also tried to understand her…. I have known her to be a mature, sensitive person who cries when someone dies in a movie…. I know her as a very reasonable person who is extremely adaptable to change… Thus I never had to worry about generation gap when it came to her… I know her as a person who respects the value of education and the value of her values… A person who knows when to give space and knows when it is necessary to encroach on it… And most importantly, one who always kept her family’s well being above her…. Thus, knowing these characteristics about her should give me a fair idea of how she would react to a situation right… But sadly, it doesnt!!!Coz, this lady continues to amaze me with her responses…

I was in school and I wanted to join Karate classes… No reason why she shouldn’t allow me right!! But she refused – reason – I might get hands on practise of Karate moves on my sisters… A valid concern – yes – but would I really do it? And even if I did (kids at that age are dumb) wont she successfully stop me??? But “NO” was all I got… During my tenth standard I was supposed to go for a 3 day camp with other girls.. Now, tenth standard is a crucial year so I had expected her to refuse directly… She asks me if she sees this as something that can affect my studies… Eager to go to the camp, I assured her that it wont… And she agreed.. Just like that… In college, I wanted to go to a movie with my friends after the exams… Not a big deal I thought – may be she would give me time constraints, type of movie constraints… But she refused… Whatever were her reasons then, but it was a very small thing and she surprised me by refusing… It was a reaction which I hadnt expected… After about 4 years, around the same time, my sister who was in tenth standard (still in school) asked her permission for going to a movie with friends and she agreed… I guess on some level she opened up to this concept – realised that she was being unreasonable or a tad bit overprotective (and thank God for that)… A trip to Goa was planned… 5 days!!! 20 people which included only 6 girls… I was sure that my mother, who did not allow me to go to a movie with guys, would never concede to me going to Goa… But guess what, she was one of the first mothers to agree to send me there :))))))

I am now a professional… I am independent and she respects that… But she still is an integral part of my decision making process…. So, I wanted to taste Breezer (translated to Alchohol for her inspite of chintu percentage of alchohol in it) on the eve of International Women’s day!!! There was a Pajama Party in my house and I just wanted to be a good hostess by giving my guests company… Of course, before asking her I had told my friends that I would not be drinking (anticipation of her reaction)… You cannot possibly go and ask your mother – “Mom, we have a pajama party and I want to indulge in drunken revelry (which would be her interpretation)…” But I still dared… I mean when you expect a NO already, it becomes easier to handle responses… Atleast I would have been happy about the fact that I tried… So, I dailed the number and asked her – only to be stunned for whole 2 minutes… She agreed… She said, “so long as you know your limits – I do not have any issues…” HOW COOL IS MY MOM :)))))))))) Of course, I did not get drunk that day – just tasted a lil of breezer and then slept off… But the fact that she agreed makes me respect her immensely….

And a final thing that made me write this entire blog… That incident would require some background knowledge… My mom never allows either of her daughters to travel alone.. She gets paranoid… becomes a worry-wart till the person reaches the destination or back home… So, I was 90% sure that she would disagree and reject the proposal of me going to Singapore alone to meet my friend… Undeterred, I did not try a round about approach but a direct question “Should I go?”… And by now you guys must have guessed what she said… She said “Of course, you can… If you think you can handle being in a foreign country and get all the formalities done before the time you can go?” this was like an icing on the cake… A person who dint allow me to go to Shimla alone, allowed me to go to Singapore… Of course the trip is still in the offing but its a great feeling that my mother actually took a decision that agrees with me :)))))))))

So, I present people – my mother… Who sometimes acts as if she is from the 22nd century and is all liberal… And sometimes as if she is from the 14th century and is parochial in everything she does… But, inspite of all this I adore her (everyone adores their mothers)… I love her immensely and I do not see anyone who can meaure up to her persona… If I am even one tenth of what she is; my daughter/son would turn to me as I turn to her and be as proud of me as I am of her…

It takes one mother to know how any other mother would function and decide… As a daughter, I have a tried to understand her and predict her actions… I am not 100% successful but may be someday in future, I would do that successfully (after I become a mother myself)!!!!!!!!!