Updated: May 11
When I close my eyes and think about what makes me happy, I am instantly reminded of the round verandah or “Gol Baranda” as we call it, from my childhood house in a small village called “Dahighora”, which is situated around 50 km from Jamshedpur city, in Jharkhand. It was our go to place, especially during those long warm summer evenings, when the clear sky dazzled with millions stars. They looked like tiny fireflies under a large sieve, whose brightness doubled whenever there was a load shedding, which was pretty common during summers. During those hot and humid summer nights, we had so much fun, sleeping on the terrace, under the stars and counting them. Missing the counts and starting all over again.
Childhood in the East:
I had so many fond memories with my parent, sister, cousin, uncles, aunts, grandparents in that place. I lived in a joint family. Me, mom, dad, my sister, uncle, aunt, two cousins, my grandmother, grandfather, his brother and family. Every year I looked forward to spending time during summer vacations. When our already large family would grow even larger, with my extended families visiting us. When we all walked on the road, there were hardly any place left for vehicles to go. Since it was a small place, we escaped the traffic police easily. Shopping had a different meaning all together. A small bottle of red nail paint, one rubber band, one clip and we were already on cloud nine. We received new clothes only once or twice a year during “Durga Puja” or “Diwali”. Those were the days when little joys of life were of utmost important.
I predominantly had the influence of my mother, father and my grandmother. My mother is a very pious lady, my spiritual inclinations are stirred by her. My father is a giver and would go to any length to help the needy, my passion for helping others most likely have come from him. He is a person who profoundly believes in karma. An avid sportsman of his time, he also played football at a nation level in “Durand Cup”. Last but not the least, my grandmother, also known as “The Indira Gandhi” of my locality was very particular about following a routine in life, and from her I acquired my preference towards leading a structured and routine life. This of course I realized at a later point in time.
Journey down south:
After finishing my school I went to Vishakhapatnam, also known as the port city, for my further studies. My father was influenced by his close friends from south India. For the first time in sixteen years I was away from my parent, in a place where I couldn’t even understand the language. The first few weeks were dreadful. I would have probably, for the very first time, experienced depression without me realizing it. But later was rescued by my new found friends from the hostel. We had loads in common, most notably, we were all from Jharkhand and spoke the same language. With that I started my South Indian journey. After completing my Intermediate in Vishakhapatnam, I traveled further down south and reached Chennai, Tamil Nadu for my engineering. Had some fun-filled memories of engineering college and met wonderful and jovial friends. Chennai treated me very well and I was able to pick up Tamil as well as Telugu languages. While learning new languages, I always intended to learn both the dialects as well as the style of delivery. Speaking local languages makes a huge difference in terms of acceptability in a place which is culturally so different. Moving to Bangalore, Karnataka for my first job as a test engineer, was a stepping stone towards leading an independent life. I joined along with sixty other freshers, it was like going from one college to another. Life has its own unique way of compelling you towards your purpose. After shifting a couple of companies and changing multiple roles, I joined BOSCH. Even today, after spending almost two decades, my love for south India knows no bound. Humble people, great love and affection towards India and Indian culture. Believer of simple living and high thinking. Seldom have I come across people, who considered living a flashy lifestyle.
I got married to my childhood sweetheart. First met in class two, we officially dated for around nine years. My husband studied in Cochin, Kerala and he could speak some Malayalam. Eventually we as a family were well versed with all the four major south Indian languages i.e. Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. Couple of years into marriage, we welcomed our son and with that the journey of a mother began. Motherhood is a beautiful experience. When you become a mother you are faced with different emotions which you never thought existed. I thoroughly enjoyed my two years of maternity break. It happens very rarely that you get such a long break and for that I am grateful to my company. I wanted to give undivided attention to my son at least until the first eighteen months. Although I was a full time stay at home mom during this period, I tried my hands in different things like home based cooking service called “Maa ke jaisa Khana”, where my husband used to come back from office and did the deliveries. Then I opened a home based preschool or play date for my apartment kids called “Maa n Me”. It was also a way to engage my son and introduce him with other kids, since we were in a nuclear family. It was then I realized the importance and the benefits of staying in a joint family. Both my husband and I grew up in a joint family. We never really felt the need to go outside and play with other kids, as we had so many cousins growing up along with us. Later I also started an online Saree Business called “The Belladonna’s Collection”. To sum it up, I was never a person to sit at home and always wanted to try out different things until I found what exactly was my passion.
The Turning Point
When I joined back from maternity after two years, I was insecure. The backlog of two years haunted me every time I entered the office premises. My career always had a good progression until now and I knew this break had hampered the same. I was ready to take up any projects which would help me grow up the ladder quickly and bridge the gap. And so it did happen. I joined as a test lead and in a span of nine months, moved from being a test lead to test manager to project manager and there I was leading a group as an engineering manager. I thought I was doing very well, but never did I realize that the stress of handling one of the toughest project of my department, spending ten to twelve hours on a daily basis in office, was actually destroying me from inside, slowly and steadily. There was no work life balance, and I could hardly give time to my two years old son. My mother sacrificed her four years staying away from my father, here in Bangalore and helping out with my son. I am indebted to her for my entire life. The environment at house was never cordial. I was not fair enough to any aspects of my life both personally and professionally. My health had already taken a toll by then and I was diagnosed with a polyp in my uterus, which my doc said had to be operated. It generally happens because of hormonal disturbances caused due to prolonged stress, not having good lifestyle, exercise and food habits. Then the dreadful happened. On the day of my birthday, as usual I was waiting for my father to call first and wish me, but to my surprise, I did not receive it for a very long time. We were busy discussing on the project which was under strict deadline, when abruptly my phone buzzed and it was from mom. I disconnected it a couple of times and then got back to work, when a call from my brother in law came. I stepped out of the meeting room to attend the call and was stoned to hear that my dad met with an accident and was admitted to the hospital. I suddenly felt that I was losing grounds to hold myself up. I rushed out of office, leaving everything behind and took the next available flight and reached my native along with my mom and son. Life brings you to sudden unexpected circumstances, which makes your world Topsy turfy.
Finding my IKIGAI:
After the incident I decided to take a break and slow down a bit. Once viewing the situation from a third person’s perspective, I decided to introspect to know myself a bit more. As suggested by one of my manager, I performed SWOT analysis to identify my strengths and weakness, opportunities and threats. Well along, found out my most dominant intelligence by undertaking multiple intelligence test. What I realized astonished me. I discovered my instinctive quality of helping others. Now that I was aware of my strength, it was time for me to take actions. I was never a voracious reader, and hence thought, why not develop the habit of reading at least ten pages on a daily basis to start with. I read a variety of books from self-help, to fictions to love stories to spiritual. Started to apply my learning on a day to day basis. Took time out and finished few long pending certifications like PMP, Scrum Master. Being aware of my strength, I was looking ways to put it in good use and stumbled upon the profession of Image Consultancy. I joined a professional course and became trained Image consultant, also started giving soft skill trainings to my team, group and department as well as across departments. I found solace in unleashing my creativity in social media. Started writing smalls blogs in LinkedIn. When people started appreciating my articulation skills, it gave me confidence and encouragement to pen down my thoughts more often.
It took me quite some time to get back on track. I decided to leverage most out of my failure and scrutinize each aspects and understand the reason why I failed. After about three years of introspection and self-analysis I wrote down a list of aspects of “Why I failed, What I Learned”. That’s a story for another time.
Tools and techniques used for self improvement :
1. SWOT Analysis : https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_05.htm
2. Multiple Intelligence Test : https://personalitymax.com/multiple-intelligences-test/
Books referred to :
1. Who will cry when I will die: https://www.amazon.in/Who-Will-Cry-When-You/dp/8179922324
2. Emotional Intelligence: https://www.amazon.in/Emotional-Intelligence-Matter-More-Than/dp/0747528306
3. The Power of habit : https://www.amazon.com/Power-Habit-What-Life-Business/dp/081298160X
4. Life and Philosophy of Swami Vivekananda : https://www.amazon.in/Life-Philosophy-Swami-Vivekananda-Banhatti/dp/8171562914/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Life+and+Philosophy+of+Swami+Vivekananda&qid=1589081619&s=books&sr=1-1
5. Upanishad – Vol 1 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : https://www.amazon.in/Upanishads-Vol-Ishavasya-Katha-Yogasara/dp/938757895X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Upanishad+%E2%80%93+Vol+1+by+Sri+Sri+Ravi+Shankar&qid=1589081561&s=books&sr=1-1