It is often believed that in a relationship if both parties are busy, it can lead to the relationship not getting enough time to sustain and grow. People often recommend that at least one party should take the back seat, take things slow and be available for nurturing the relationship.

I disagree. In my experience with my immediate relationships, not only spouse but others as well, it is very important that both sides of the relationship are equally positively occupied. “Positively Occupied” does not necessarily mean having a full time professional career. It just means that the individual has enough in their own life for personal nourishment, and not completely rely on the relationship as the only source of sustenance.

When someone is so completely dependent on one single source for love, entertainment, time pass, happiness, sadness, gossip, sense of achievement, food, water, air as well as money, it is a big strain on that one source (read relationship). Might sound crass, but I can only visualize a Leech as an apt representation of such relationships. There is nothing to gain by being in such a relationship.

It is for each individual to find their own direction of being positively occupied and indulge oneself in that. It is for the partners to support each other in their personal directions.

P.S. – This one is a solid piece of advice not only for others but for myself as well. Pavan, remember to show this to me in one of my bad days. 🙂

Project Manager Mother

Being a project manager is very similar to being a mother. When your child commits a mistakes, gets a bad grade, throws a tantrum in public, you just have to accept it in the face of the public. There is no point in trying to justify to the teacher, or the society on why he/she committed that mistake. Mistake happened, end of story.

How you handle your child, behind the scenes, is up to your style of parenting. The world doesn’t need to know how you do it.

Similarly, as the project manager, you just have to own up the mistakes committed by your team. No client or program manager is interested in hearing you point fingers at your own team. Mistake happened, end of story. Work forward on resolving it. There is no point in working backwards trying to assign blame. Please remember, any day you show your team down, you are actually showing yourself down.

Shit in Life

Some days, life throws shit at us and we let that shit stink our clothes, our body and our souls.

And then there are days when life throws shit at us, we neatly catch the shit, make organic dung cakes, package them and sell them at 100% profitability to those whom life has not gifted as much shit.

Given these two scenarios, can we blame life in any way?


Most first time parents have this fairy tale vision about parenting. They have seen enough spoilt brats in their circle of friends and family to create their own rule book of what not to do with their own children. I, of course, was no different. When I was expecting my first child, I vowed to feed him the healthiest of foods any child had ever eaten. I vowed to have him sleep on his own, through the night. I vowed that my child would never throw a tantrum in public. I was dead sure I would be the perfect parent and my child would be THE PERFECT child.

I started with this optimize when my daughter was born, nine years ago. I created this fairy tale rule book for her. I decided how much she would eat, sleep, read, play, drink and be naughty. J Sigh!! Most parents would be smiling at me by now. Yes! I failed miserably. Of course, there is nothing perfect about parenting. There is no rule book that works for 99% of the babies. There is no parent on earth, that I know, who wants their child to be sick or temperamental. Of course, every parent wants the best for their children in every possible way. And of course, every parent will do the best of the best to make it happen.

Then where do we go wrong? Where did I go wrong? I found my answer when I had my second child one year ago. Having failed so miserably at creating my fairy tale the first time round; I only vowed one thing this time. This time I would not fit my child it my own fairy tale. This time I would find out which fairy tale my child was coming from and fit into that. With my mind and heart open to any possibility that we might come across, on the way, we set forth one day at a time. My son was barely days old but he could tell me when he was hungry or sleepy. As weeks passed, he guided me on how to make him crawl, to stand, to walk. All I had to do was watch for the signs and he guided me on the rest. Life has been much simpler and happy, as close to a fairy tale as can be.

Some parents would be frowning and thinking that I have no idea how temperamental and fussy some children can be. We definitely need to put controls in place. I completely agree to that. Each child is undeniably different in temperament, food taste, inclinations and sleep habits. Which is the biggest reason why we can never succeed at fitting the child in our rule book.

My children have taught me that fairy tales do exist. In our fairy tales, fairies have magical powers but they also cry when they get caught or hurt. They wear the best of gowns but they don’t hesitate to roll in the mud when playing. They live a long long life, but one day, they too will die.

I have learnt that there is no such thing as The Perfect parent. Because parenting is actually about discovering the Perfect Child within you and letting it loose once more.

A Letter to Toyna

Dear Toyna,

I write this letter to you today, as a reminder to you (and to all those who might ever stand in your path) of the extraordinary courage and will power you possess. I don’t say this because you are my daughter and I am blinded by my love for you. I say this because I have witnessed it first hand when you were just 9 years old. I know you would have already forgotten about that day. I also know that going ahead, life will seem extremely difficult at times. And lastly, I also know that there will be multiple times when everyone around you will believe that you cannot make it work. Dear Toyna, remember to read this letter then. If there is anything that I can ever leave behind for you, to ensure your well being; it is this letter.

I write today about the day we went together on a rough trek in the hills of Tapola. Your father, me, Aartee masi, Tanish and you, all went deep into the jungle, up the steep hills, in the hot sun. Our goal was to reach the temple about 6 hill tops away. None of us were physically or mentally prepared for the rough hike. We were exhausted mid way and you, dear one, were literally in tears. A few more steps up and I could sense that you wouldn’t make it till the end of the climb. I offered to stay back with you, while others went ahead. You would sit down every 10 minutes or so and with each pause, I would think that maybe now you would not want to continue. But some thing inside you, just kept you climbing higher and deeper into the jungle. We crossed leech infested areas where you were terribly scared. But the fear, instead of making you retreat, pushed you to go foward even faster.

As parents we were terribly concerned about you. We could see the fear and the exhaustion taking its toll on you. We told you it was OK to give up and head back. You would sit down, for a while, shivering with pain but then would stand up again and head forward. After a while you stopped crying. It was clear that you had made up your mind to get to the top. I held your hand and guided you forward, while your dad was always two steps behind, to catch you in case you slipped and fell.

You guessed it right. Aftet hours of moving slowly, stopping, picking ourselves up together, we made it to the temple. I crashed on the steps of the temple, taking a moment to collect myself before my rendezvous with God. But you were the first one to run straight up the steps and proudly ring the temple bell.

More than the thrill of the climb and the scenic surroundings, all of us were dumbfounded with your courage and resolve. None of us had ever thought that you could complete this hike. No one forced you to move ahead. We were even ready to carry you back, if the need arose. But you kept moving on, determined to make it till the end, on your very own.

Dear Toyna, try and remember this day whenever you feel you can’t make it forward. Remember this day, when no one believes in you. Remember that you made it till the end, just based on your resolve. Remember that you squashed any leeches that approached you with the sharp tip of your boots. Remember that when the sun was high, the water fountains were close by. And lastly remember that we, as parents, will always be there to support you in your decision. Even when we are no more physically around you, we will still be there to catch you if you fall.

Dear Toyna, go ahead, the temple bell awaits you.

Love, Mama n Papa

The Mystery of the Dysfunctional Machines

Since the last few days, I have been struggling to uncover the mystery behind the strange behavior of electronic machines in our house. Some examples here to show how frustrating life is: I switch on the washing machine when I leave home, expecting it to be done by the time I am back for lunch. At lunch time, 4 hours later, I am surprised to see it stuck mid way. The inverter always refuses to switch on automatically when the electricity goes. The grinder automatically starts on when we switch on the plug, many a times leading to a huge spill. The lights, I keep on at night, mysteriously switch off on their own, sometime during the night.

Exasperated by these weird proceedings in our house, I have been trying hard to find out what the heck is going around. From lecturing maids, to double checking settings, I have been trying everything to resolve this mystery. Someone even suggested that maybe our house was under some kind of spell and I  consult a Tantrik to get help.

Today morning, as I got ready for work and put on the washing machine just before leaving, Yog followed me till the machine area. He helped me load all the clothes in the machine, close the door of the machine and put the detergent in. I then switched on the machine, double checked the settings and turned around to clear the buckets from the way. With my back still to the machine, I called Yog to come with me so I could put him to sleep. Couple of seconds later, I still did not get any response from him. I turned around, to see Yog busy adjusting all the buttons on the machine. The poor machine, tried desperately to cope up with Yog. It groaned, jumped a little and then was finally stuck in a limbo. I quickly intervened, redid the settings and started it again. Just as soon as I was done, Yog quickly redid his own settings and had the machine stuck again.

I sighed, picked up Yog, removed him from the scene and adjusted the machine one last time. It didn’t strike me at that time, but later as I was putting him to sleep, I realized that I had uncovered the mystery of our haunted house. It was the enthusiastic spirit of Yog that was ordering all machines to behave so erratically. Come to think of it, as long as I have these two spirited spirits in our house, any other evil spirit cannot dare enter it.

P.S. – Yes, childproofing all electronic machines is on my immediate next agenda.


What’s in a name anyway!

Whenever I meet a stranger, I usually introduce myself with my name , “Hi, I am Shilpa. Nice to meet you here…… “

On the contrary, I am always pleasantly surprised at how Toyna meets strangers her age. She never starts the conversation with telling her name or asking their name. The conversation is always straight to the point, “Do you want to play with me? I like to play badminton. Do you?……”

Many a times, she comes back to me after spending significant time playing with a friend, not even knowing his/her name. This is how conversation goes thereafter:

Me: Who is she?
Toyna: A friend
Me: But what’s her name?
Toyna (with a shrug of her shoulders, indicating it couldn’t care less to her): I don’t know.
A number of simple questions later, I realise she doesn’t have any information about the friend, except for what both of them like to play together.

Coming to think of it, how does it matter if we know the name of the person or not. What is more important is whether we understand the person for who the person is. Usually we start the conversation with names, places of origin, profession, etc. to help us put people in buckets in our minds. Oh, his name is David, so he must be a Christian. He is a Software engineer, so he would have no work life balance, and so on. These buckets help us in quickly forming opinions about people without even trying to understand them.

Children on the other hand, are oblivious to buckets. For them, there are just two categories, “to play with” or “not to play with”. Anything else, just does not matter. If only, we too, could keep life so simple, maybe we could discover the innocence and beauty of life that surrounds us.