Friday, July 30, 2010

Life is a bed of roses!


Well, I know life isn't exactly a bed of roses, but once you meet Ammukutty Amooma, you are inclined to believe that it really is. Ammukutty, whom I affectionately call "amooma" (meaning grandmother in my mother tongue), is a flower vendor who comes to our house in Coimbatore every evening. Petite in frame, graceful in nature, always smiling, she reminds me of a benign fairy (similar to the ones I used to read in Enid Blyton's books as a kid.)

Announcing her arrival at the household with a chirpy "Molukutty!!!" (That's what she calls my aunt), I am amazed at her simplicity and humility. Greeting everyone at home with a smile, she quizzes each one of us about our well being. At the same time, she thrusts strings of jasmine flowers into my hands. The first string, she says is for "Swami". In our culture, it's considered auspicious to offer flowers to the gods at twilight. At this time of the day, the air is filled with the fragrance of jasmine flowers mixed with the sweet scent of the incense sticks offered at the altar. The next string, she instructs, is for all the women in the house. The third string is for the next morning.

As she makes her way slowly to the other houses, I cannot help but ponder over the joy with which she does her work. I believe she truly is a "karma yogi". According to the Gita, a karma yogi is one "who performs action by body, mind, intellect and the senses without a trace of ego". A perfect inspiration for all of us! With her attitude, life is really a bed of roses!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Headmaster's Daughter

I slowly walked into the ninth grade classroom, an awful feeling of apprehension pounding hard in my heart- Would I be able to cope with the new environment? Will my lessons be easy? What if I could not make any friends? I had always been weary of moving to a new school, although I had shifted schools nearly five times before.

My mother coaxed me into adopting an optimistic approach, but a scintilla of skepticism emerged in my mind- the spark grew into a fire and all positivism in my mind was erased…. But, I was in for a pleasant surprise. My classmates were really friendly and I did not feel like an outsider. Then, a teacher came to the class. ”Ma’am, there is a new student in the class!” shrieked my excited classmates.

“Yes” the teacher replied “and she happens to be the new headmaster’s daughter. So unless you want trouble, better keep quiet!” The cat had been let out of the bag! This was the moment I wasn’t exactly looking forward to. I winced inwardly, due to a mixture of emotions- pride for my dad’s position, but also, the agony of being identified by this tag.

The days flew by quickly. By the grace of God Almighty, I began to carve out a niche for myself. My peers and teachers soon recognised me for who I was, not whose daughter I was. Nevertheless, I guess the tag always remained. There have been numerous instances where junior students would come up to me and ask if I really was the Headmaster’s daughter. I would nod, not knowing really what to say. After all, it was just coincidence that my dad was the Headmaster, right? Such questions would leave me annoyed because I felt it was not a big deal.

Whenever there was a problem for us students, some of them would say “Can’t you speak to your dad? He’ll surely listen to you!” These comments would make me indignant- As if each problem could be solved just by me speaking to dad! Once, on the occasion of the Headmaster’s birthday, a group of student leaders presented him a birthday card. Later at home, dad joked that he would be the first person on earth to pay for his own birthday card! Thus, my schooldays passed- I tried to move away from the “Headmaster’s Daughter” title and groaned whenever people referred to me by the same. Before I knew it, my schooldays came to an end –I had to pack my bags and move on….It was the first time I ever saw my dad break down.

Now, I am far away from home, from school, from the cosy familiar world. I think of the good old days- Dad teaching me to ride my bike, comforting me over a bruised knee, cracking jokes to make me laugh. He would say, “Inch-me and Pinch-me went for a walk. Inch-me died, so, who’s left?” “Pinch-me” I would say, and he would promptly pinch me, leaving me only to yell away. Dad is primarily responsible for my avid interest in reading- He gave me my first book when I was three. It was the Ladybird Book for Three-Year-Olds. A string of numerous other books followed. We used to squabble over games of Scrabble. (Mom used to be the referee) - On one rare occasion when I won; he got me an abridged version of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” as a reward. I still remember asking dad how wonderful it would be if we all dozed off for twenty years- free from trouble and tension ; an awesome, stress free period. Dad would take us for long walks in the deep green woods of Lovedale and the troika comprising dad, mom and me would spend the evenings that ensued reading contently beside the fireside. Those were serene days of sweets and stuffed toys….

Then, the scenario changed. Simple, innocent pleasures of childhood vanished into thin air. But dad continued to be with me. We would have myriad debates and discussions, ranging from democracy to diplomacy; from Tamil autonomy in Sri Lanka to the trauma of global terrorism; from communism to communalism. He would always leave a powerful impression in my mind, constantly egging me to read and keep myself informed about happenings across the globe. He would tell me, “Read as much as you can and read discerningly so that you will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

He supported me all the time- consoling me over lost marks and lost competitions, advising me to ignore petty comments made by peers, encouraging me to put my best foot forward in all my endeavours. There have been times when he would stay up late at night, just to ensure that I had company while I studied. I remember the quiet disappointment on his face when I did not do my best, and the equally quiet triumph when I made him proud….Dad, I love you so much!

As I try to make my way through the new, unfamiliar, at times turbulent environment, I think of the Headmaster and I realise that I have always been proud to be the Headmaster’s Daughter….

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Waltzing into the World of Work

Well, it's been a long time! I haven't blogged for nearly two months!! So before my blog fades to rust, I decided to intervene finally and brush away the cobwebs. It's ironical that I started this blog on a whim, in the middle of a huge muddle- my semester exams; and chose to ignore it during a major chunk of my summer holidays!
I reached home in Dubai in early May. I spent my May days with mom and dad, pestering my mom to get us a dog. (Mom, if you're reading this, I am still heartbroken over Henry.) Henry, the perfect dog whom we
nearly got, whose eyes melted your heart, who seemed to grin almost like a human...
But I digress.
Towards the end of May, I got an opportunity to do an internship with Deloitte & Touche M.E at their Sharjah branch. And, thus, I took my first step into the world of work. On the first day at work, I was introduced to all my colleagues and the Deloitte audit procedure was explained in detail to me. I was completely awed by the professional ethics, thoroughness of work and simply being a part of the Deloitte team! The next day, a mentor was assigned to me and I was told to proceed to a client's office. I slowly began to put into practice what I have learnt so far at high school and college. Some tasks were simple enough and yet, I found myself making errors. Imagine my embarrassment when my mentor told me that I hadn't punched in the working papers to be filed properly! And thus, I learnt that there is a proper method for doing anything, even if it is just punching working papers to be filed. Most important of all was understanding the huge world of difference between what is taught at college and real practices in the industry. But I shall not bore you with those details. (Partly because I'm still trying to understand!!)
What I find so fascinating about Deloitte is the diversity of the workforce. On a typical day, one can catch snatches of conversations in Arabic, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and even Tagalog! I learnt a few Tagalog words from my Filipino mentor and was utterly surprised when she spoke to me in broken Malayalam!
Most of my co workers at Deloitte refer to each other by their first names or their initials. Being probably the youngest at the workplace, I found it quite awkward to do the same. Not surprisingly, my conversations were peppered with thank yous and pleases to a point that I began to wonder if I was being exceedingly polite. A senior at work told me once," Kochu valare formal aa." (This girl is very formal). I guess, I'll learn as I travel further!!
They say "Experience is a great teacher. It teaches you after conducting the test". Never has this been truer than in my case! My mother must have drilled it into me a hundred times: Never drink your coffee when you're sitting close to the laptop! But, I learnt only the hard way.
It was a normal afternoon at work in my client's office. I was waiting for a few documents from the accountant before I could perform the test of details, so I was relatively free that day. The office bhaiyya came to give us our coffee. I thanked him and had barely taken in a sip when.... The handle of the cup broke and all the coffee seeped into my laptop! And what's worse, it wasn't even mine; Knowing that the duration of my internship was only a month, I was given a laptop belonging to a colleague who had gone on vacation! At that moment, I wished the earth would open up and swallow me. It was one of those excruciatingly embarrassing moments. A few days later when I went to the office to return a few files, I met the senior partner. He asked me, quite jovially, " I heard you gave coffee to your laptop. Is it feeling the Dubai heat too?"
Well, lessons learnt the hard way will remain etched onto one's memory forever. Apart from this unsavory episode, I thoroughly enjoyed my first waltz with work. I may just be 18 and I still have a long way to travel, but I have once again understood that perseverance, preparation and enthusiasm
never fail!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Life is a bed of roses!


Well, I know life isn't exactly a bed of roses, but once you meet Ammukutty Amooma, you are inclined to believe that it really is. Ammukutty, whom I affectionately call "amooma" (meaning grandmother in my mother tongue), is a flower vendor who comes to our house in Coimbatore every evening. Petite in frame, graceful in nature, always smiling, she reminds me of a benign fairy (similar to the ones I used to read in Enid Blyton's books as a kid.)

Announcing her arrival at the household with a chirpy "Molukutty!!!" (That's what she calls my aunt), I am amazed at her simplicity and humility. Greeting everyone at home with a smile, she quizzes each one of us about our well being. At the same time, she thrusts strings of jasmine flowers into my hands. The first string, she says is for "Swami". In our culture, it's considered auspicious to offer flowers to the gods at twilight. At this time of the day, the air is filled with the fragrance of jasmine flowers mixed with the sweet scent of the incense sticks offered at the altar. The next string, she instructs, is for all the women in the house. The third string is for the next morning.

As she makes her way slowly to the other houses, I cannot help but ponder over the joy with which she does her work. I believe she truly is a "karma yogi". According to the Gita, a karma yogi is one "who performs action by body, mind, intellect and the senses without a trace of ego". A perfect inspiration for all of us! With her attitude, life is really a bed of roses!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Headmaster's Daughter

I slowly walked into the ninth grade classroom, an awful feeling of apprehension pounding hard in my heart- Would I be able to cope with the new environment? Will my lessons be easy? What if I could not make any friends? I had always been weary of moving to a new school, although I had shifted schools nearly five times before.

My mother coaxed me into adopting an optimistic approach, but a scintilla of skepticism emerged in my mind- the spark grew into a fire and all positivism in my mind was erased…. But, I was in for a pleasant surprise. My classmates were really friendly and I did not feel like an outsider. Then, a teacher came to the class. ”Ma’am, there is a new student in the class!” shrieked my excited classmates.

“Yes” the teacher replied “and she happens to be the new headmaster’s daughter. So unless you want trouble, better keep quiet!” The cat had been let out of the bag! This was the moment I wasn’t exactly looking forward to. I winced inwardly, due to a mixture of emotions- pride for my dad’s position, but also, the agony of being identified by this tag.

The days flew by quickly. By the grace of God Almighty, I began to carve out a niche for myself. My peers and teachers soon recognised me for who I was, not whose daughter I was. Nevertheless, I guess the tag always remained. There have been numerous instances where junior students would come up to me and ask if I really was the Headmaster’s daughter. I would nod, not knowing really what to say. After all, it was just coincidence that my dad was the Headmaster, right? Such questions would leave me annoyed because I felt it was not a big deal.

Whenever there was a problem for us students, some of them would say “Can’t you speak to your dad? He’ll surely listen to you!” These comments would make me indignant- As if each problem could be solved just by me speaking to dad! Once, on the occasion of the Headmaster’s birthday, a group of student leaders presented him a birthday card. Later at home, dad joked that he would be the first person on earth to pay for his own birthday card! Thus, my schooldays passed- I tried to move away from the “Headmaster’s Daughter” title and groaned whenever people referred to me by the same. Before I knew it, my schooldays came to an end –I had to pack my bags and move on….It was the first time I ever saw my dad break down.

Now, I am far away from home, from school, from the cosy familiar world. I think of the good old days- Dad teaching me to ride my bike, comforting me over a bruised knee, cracking jokes to make me laugh. He would say, “Inch-me and Pinch-me went for a walk. Inch-me died, so, who’s left?” “Pinch-me” I would say, and he would promptly pinch me, leaving me only to yell away. Dad is primarily responsible for my avid interest in reading- He gave me my first book when I was three. It was the Ladybird Book for Three-Year-Olds. A string of numerous other books followed. We used to squabble over games of Scrabble. (Mom used to be the referee) - On one rare occasion when I won; he got me an abridged version of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” as a reward. I still remember asking dad how wonderful it would be if we all dozed off for twenty years- free from trouble and tension ; an awesome, stress free period. Dad would take us for long walks in the deep green woods of Lovedale and the troika comprising dad, mom and me would spend the evenings that ensued reading contently beside the fireside. Those were serene days of sweets and stuffed toys….

Then, the scenario changed. Simple, innocent pleasures of childhood vanished into thin air. But dad continued to be with me. We would have myriad debates and discussions, ranging from democracy to diplomacy; from Tamil autonomy in Sri Lanka to the trauma of global terrorism; from communism to communalism. He would always leave a powerful impression in my mind, constantly egging me to read and keep myself informed about happenings across the globe. He would tell me, “Read as much as you can and read discerningly so that you will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

He supported me all the time- consoling me over lost marks and lost competitions, advising me to ignore petty comments made by peers, encouraging me to put my best foot forward in all my endeavours. There have been times when he would stay up late at night, just to ensure that I had company while I studied. I remember the quiet disappointment on his face when I did not do my best, and the equally quiet triumph when I made him proud….Dad, I love you so much!

As I try to make my way through the new, unfamiliar, at times turbulent environment, I think of the Headmaster and I realise that I have always been proud to be the Headmaster’s Daughter….

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Waltzing into the World of Work

Well, it's been a long time! I haven't blogged for nearly two months!! So before my blog fades to rust, I decided to intervene finally and brush away the cobwebs. It's ironical that I started this blog on a whim, in the middle of a huge muddle- my semester exams; and chose to ignore it during a major chunk of my summer holidays!
I reached home in Dubai in early May. I spent my May days with mom and dad, pestering my mom to get us a dog. (Mom, if you're reading this, I am still heartbroken over Henry.) Henry, the perfect dog whom we
nearly got, whose eyes melted your heart, who seemed to grin almost like a human...
But I digress.
Towards the end of May, I got an opportunity to do an internship with Deloitte & Touche M.E at their Sharjah branch. And, thus, I took my first step into the world of work. On the first day at work, I was introduced to all my colleagues and the Deloitte audit procedure was explained in detail to me. I was completely awed by the professional ethics, thoroughness of work and simply being a part of the Deloitte team! The next day, a mentor was assigned to me and I was told to proceed to a client's office. I slowly began to put into practice what I have learnt so far at high school and college. Some tasks were simple enough and yet, I found myself making errors. Imagine my embarrassment when my mentor told me that I hadn't punched in the working papers to be filed properly! And thus, I learnt that there is a proper method for doing anything, even if it is just punching working papers to be filed. Most important of all was understanding the huge world of difference between what is taught at college and real practices in the industry. But I shall not bore you with those details. (Partly because I'm still trying to understand!!)
What I find so fascinating about Deloitte is the diversity of the workforce. On a typical day, one can catch snatches of conversations in Arabic, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and even Tagalog! I learnt a few Tagalog words from my Filipino mentor and was utterly surprised when she spoke to me in broken Malayalam!
Most of my co workers at Deloitte refer to each other by their first names or their initials. Being probably the youngest at the workplace, I found it quite awkward to do the same. Not surprisingly, my conversations were peppered with thank yous and pleases to a point that I began to wonder if I was being exceedingly polite. A senior at work told me once," Kochu valare formal aa." (This girl is very formal). I guess, I'll learn as I travel further!!
They say "Experience is a great teacher. It teaches you after conducting the test". Never has this been truer than in my case! My mother must have drilled it into me a hundred times: Never drink your coffee when you're sitting close to the laptop! But, I learnt only the hard way.
It was a normal afternoon at work in my client's office. I was waiting for a few documents from the accountant before I could perform the test of details, so I was relatively free that day. The office bhaiyya came to give us our coffee. I thanked him and had barely taken in a sip when.... The handle of the cup broke and all the coffee seeped into my laptop! And what's worse, it wasn't even mine; Knowing that the duration of my internship was only a month, I was given a laptop belonging to a colleague who had gone on vacation! At that moment, I wished the earth would open up and swallow me. It was one of those excruciatingly embarrassing moments. A few days later when I went to the office to return a few files, I met the senior partner. He asked me, quite jovially, " I heard you gave coffee to your laptop. Is it feeling the Dubai heat too?"
Well, lessons learnt the hard way will remain etched onto one's memory forever. Apart from this unsavory episode, I thoroughly enjoyed my first waltz with work. I may just be 18 and I still have a long way to travel, but I have once again understood that perseverance, preparation and enthusiasm
never fail!