Sunday, July 31, 2011

What I did not do

Making lists tells you what you have got to do. And there is a satisfying finality in striking off Job-Done from the list… burp. Making lists also tells you what you did not do.

Look at tasks left pending on 10 different to-do lists. Watch for a pattern. Sometimes without being aware of it, we tend to put off a particular category of tasks. Looking for a pattern makes us more aware of our thoughts and fears.

tasks left pending

What tasks are left pending on a regular basis? What always gets left out, postponed, forgotten, dumped?

Is it personal pampering like visits to the beauty parlour, coffee with a friend? (are you neglecting your needs?)
Is it family time? (do you need to re-look at your work-life balance? or attitude?)
Tasks that are too tough? (do you need a knowledge upgrade?)
Or too time consuming? (do you need someone to share work with you?)
Or too strenuous for you? (do you need a medical checkup?)
Social commitments? (are you not interested?)

I wish I knew all this 20 years ago!!
Lists are like mirrors. They say what is, leaving no escape routes! 


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Make a to do list

About a note pad and a pen

The soothing aroma of roasted rava cooking with green chillies, ginger and fried onions wafted into the air as the lid came off the frying pan. I tenderly spread grated coconut and stirred it to perfection… like Sanjeev Kapoor (I like to imagine)
Not AGAAAINNN …. The twin alaap of my daughters broke into the faultless TV moment. You always make upittu. Every DAY we have upittu.
Hey! I say and march them to this list stuck behind the door ... 

organising the kitchen
Look! I make rava only on Wednesdays… and last Wednesday you had rava halwa with hirekai-bondas…so don’t you…
Whaaat? You made a list for this too? They look at me like I have developed two antennas or sprouted purple hair. But yes. I adore making lists…
Why I like making lists:

  • It brings tasks into immediate focus making me aware of what I can do with the day.
  • I can prioritize them
  • I can assemble things required to complete a task ….. And if I need to make one more list for that, yippee!
  • There is a satisfying finality in striking off Job-Done from the list … burp!
  • When plans are only in the head I fail to see the shortcomings (in time allocation, material, skill, information) and the flaws crop up at inopportune moments leading to stress and discomfort. Andrey only if you have planned baby-corn pakodas will you buy the baby-corn…. else you make do with bread.
  • I can consult others if their cooperation is required … I am coming at 6, are you free?
  • When a list is made I cannot cheat. I can see what remains pending.
  • Come to think of it…the last Advantage is actually more of a Disadvantage!
  • I can see that nowadays it takes me longer and longer to fill the Things-To-Do note pad! I am pathetically under-worked.
  • On a more serious note, making lists requires concentrated planning. It demands my complete attention.
  • It gobbles precious minutes from an over loaded schedule (Well. It used to when I was working and my kids and mom were at home)
  • One can get quite ambitious and put a lot more into the list than can be done in a day. That can get pretty stressful…!!

Making a list

To tell you the truth, I am a big fan of making lists. shopping list, to-do list, where's what list, wish list, topic list .... and list of what to list!!
Are you a list-fan too?


Saturday, July 16, 2011

More on Manali

Manali is a small market town in the Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh, India. Spring takes a wee bit longer to wind its way up to Manali. It is the 22nd of March and the apple trees in this orchard stand like stripped mannequins trapped before they are ready for display.

apple trees waiting for spring
 Like batsmen who play on front foot, we drive down to Manikaran to catch spring on its way up. Spring, a playful child, lingers at the hill slopes.

hill slopes
  We drive past an apple orchard happier than the one in Manali. We soak in the emerald, lime and sap brushstrokes that Spring is making here.

green apple orchard

Two days later we leave Manali and see that Spring works her magic fixing opals and pink pearls on the cherry trees near the bus stand.

Spring finds her way to Manali afterall....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Adobe walls

I am in Mexico with Anita Desai as I nestle in my armchair turning the pages of her book- The Zigzag Way. The arid scenery reminds me of the long drive from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. My imagination can only match my experience.

There is a repeated mention of adobe walls in the story. So I Google. Adobe walls are made of sun-baked bricks fashioned out of locally available mud and straw. Essentially - munnina-maney - as we say in Kannada in our villages. I saw some very lovely homes in Gundlapet. Adobe walls are very strong and stay for years if not centuries.

Manali has these quaint old homes in the undisturbed villages of Goshal and Barua. You see them during your drive to Manikaran or Solang Valley.

ancient home
Walls are made of stones of varying colours and sizes packed tightly like kids in a class photo.

stone wall
 Slate tiles on the roof protrude at varying angles like the teeth of an old woman.

slate tile roof
 No shortage of fresh air in this wooden shack.

wooden shack

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Decisions and Outcomes

The outcomes of all decisions are 
in retrospect

A hundred ants eagerly make their way up a fat tree trunk. Juicy flowers and red berries are at the top branches. Itni and Mitni  move along in single file following everyone else before them. And suddenly it is a moment of decision!

Two stiff branches fork out. Which branch to take? Itni chooses this one and Mitni chooses the other. Ten minutes later ... Itni is munching a juicy treat. Mitni is floundering, running at full speed, but going nowhere. 

branches of the tree where Itni and Mitni part ways

We make a decision and move in a direction. Many things make us choose a particular course of action. It is difficult to pin down the exact reason. 
What prompts selection of action?  

  • Tradition? ... this is the way it is always done
  • Instinct? ... my sixth sense says
  • Experience? ... Bittu's mamaji did it this way
  • Bravado? ... nothing ventured nothing gained
  • Random option? ... OK this one

On hindsight both success and failure look so logical. 
We look at outcomes and say, How could he be so foolish. or we say ... See that is why he succeeded
I mean didn't Mitni see the pollen grains on the branch? He should have smelt the fruit! … He should have just followed Itni !!

juicy treats at top branches

All outcomes are O-S-O …. Oh-So-Obvious in hindsight.
But decision making belongs to that moment. 
We select a branch and move on. 
And yes, everybody around us is moving as well. 
So the scenario is changing even moments after the decision has been made. We pick an outcome in the life of a country, a company, a family, a national hero or an individual. 
We shake our heads and frown with wisdom and say…how could he!!! 
We pick an act the we ourselves have made and sigh with regret and say, how could I?

When we are evaluating the outcomes of decisions let us be gentle...
towards ourselves and towards others
All outcomes are O-S-O - Oh so obvious -  in hindsight. 

Mitni slid off the wet leaf and landed on a squashed berry... mmm yummy!! And that too was O-S-O ...Oh so Obvious ... the squashed berry was right below that wet leaf.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mails for the Family

Trriiinggg the door bell rings. A flurry of footsteps greets it. The door flies open. A wide grin brightens the lady’s face. 6 letters lie on the door mat.
Dakiya dak laya…dakiya dak laya

letter at the doorstep
 Sumannn….your friend Robert in London has written
Appa, Mangalore inda mava bardidare (Dad, Uncle from Mangalore has written)
Kittieeee letter for you. That company you had applied for… they want you to
AMMMMMA how many times do I have to tell you? Do not read my letters… and do not announce it to everyone like this

This is India in the 1960s and 70s. Everybody knew what mails had arrived and to whom. Everybody who lived under one roof had the same address you see!

Now with multiple email IDs, Social networking sites, and twitter … We might live in the same room but we have different addresses. And we need not share even who we correspond with if we do not want to. Even husbands and wives mail to each other!

Somewhere with all this privacy and individuality…the warm family scenes go missing.

But then
One day Jyothsna introduces me to (locked-in or secret) facebook groups where membership and viewing is limited to select persons only.... and group mailing where multiple conversations among members of the family are visible

And again we have these exchanges within the family
Meena says Suman – urgent… post your capsicum raita recipe
Suman says Busy now, Putti do it pls
Punita says Why am I always picking up your stuff?? Here posted capsicum raita recipe…but brownie points are for me…OK?
Suman says recipe correct …only - use red chillies not green
Punita says – I am quite sure u had told me GC only…

Aaah! The fights are back.

So nice


Monday, July 4, 2011

Two times on the same day

I don't do this often
I can say I have never done it
it happened on Saturday
watched two movies back to back!!
Achu offered to buy tickets online and we went and watched Delhi-Belly....
Sh!t Happens is what they say...well prepared for the bold and brazen we four went and watched it. and really enjoyed it.
Jokes are fresh
Situations absurd
and dialogues HILARIOUS
Topic-bathroom is something all kids love, and adults use it to generate kid laughter. The movie is like that. You wrinkle your nose at the gross scenes but you dissolve into helpless laughter.
like they promised..its bold, its street humour, and story line is simple Tinkle stuff.
Watch it.

We had an awesome dinner at Yo China
We returned and watched READY!
that is awesome HILARIOUS too. I mean its a total Salman Khan film... with crazy one-liners, stunts and funny-fights. Asin provides the necessary support for this purely Salman Khan film.

O yes, this weekend was good. and we are happy to be back at home in Delhi.