Google+ Consumer Psyche: November 2011

Leader

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tell me its done

A post from November 30, 2008. God I miss being a student.


Being a student is never easy.

Especially when you play cricket every single night, watch movies, blog, Orkut, check mails, eat, do assignments, exams, fights, pranks, birthday parties, watch TV, have serious enlightening debates about life, terrorists, rain, try to read on the bed (sorry all other stuff like mags, novels are at the table) and then sleep when all the civilized world is waking up around 4 AM. So its not a big deal when you don't sleep, I mean in the night.

Its OK until you go to class and try to concentrate your sleep deprived brain, stressing on what the faculty is trying to say, read the alphabets on your book, scribble something on the paper. And after what seems to be at least 4 hours of non-stop logic, you want to see if the prof has exceeded the class time and try to give a quick look at the watch.. Its then that its hits you. Its hardly 15 mts since the class started. So what you do is pull up your chair stop leaning back on the featherlite chair and look at the prof as if you have some magical laser in your eye that would drill a hole in the prof or may be make him catch fire or disappear in to thin air with a whiff of smoke and you are left alone to doze off happily. By this your eyes are strained so much from the last nights movie that you cant hold your eyelids up any more and they act like they are made of wax and exposed to fire. They come slowly down, like a rain a blessing.

Ah! the feeling can't be expressed or explained. You need to FEEL it. Its so relieving, so soothing and beautiful that you seem to have reached such heights that you forget everything. All the world around you comes to a standstill and it becomes so silent and don't want to disturb you. Some rude push/punch/thud/elbow jerk wakes you up. Some people even pinch and you can't even yell. You are back to square one.

This time you try something different. You try to look at the prof who looks at you directly. No he looks through you and you don't know what is being discussed. You could be pulled up and questioned as to what was being discussed. The prof gives you the Do-you-want-me-to-pull-you-up-and-mess-your-life look and you give the look of a puppy that just spilt the coffee on your new blazer on the day of your interview. But the problem is that there is no where to run or hide. May be you could just disappear. Wow, isn't it a great idea. Disappearing. Puff and you are gone. Gone without a trace or may be you could leave a small smoke behind just to show you are gone or may be a dazzling flash of light. Light would be brilliant. It would be surprising and no one would know what happened. It would be sudden and fast like what Batman does in the movie. Hmm.. I remember the scene. Katie Holmes was looking too good in the movie. The dark background, her dove like eyes and what was the color of the dress? Need to re-watch the part when I get back to my room. Did you see Phonebooth? Oh! How I wish I was in my room, on the soft bed, hidden under the warm blanket where no one could disturb me, with my lappie, my iPod headphones plugged into my ears, going through the ppts, google and sleeping without realizing it. After all you need to be updated and stay ahead of the competition. Some one reduce the speed of the fan please. PINCH. Oh! did I sleep? No I didn't. I was just thinking as to what color would the smoke be when I disappear!

NO nonsense this time. Its hardly 30 mts since the class started and look at me! I need to concentrate and listen. I have a feeling that all the profs in common have something magical in them, some technologically advanced version of time-stopping-device or technique that makes 10 minutes like eternity and forget the full class of 105 mts! Its scientifically prove that the human concentration span is just 20-40 mts but still no one cares. So now how many more minutes before I leave this room That's 105-30, sorry 105-32 mts. Some 73 mts. Or is it 71? Who cares my mind has stopped working and demands rest right now and can wait no longer and the slides on the screen are Purple, Dark Purple. Hmm.. sounds like Bond, James Bond. How come they didn't use this phrase in the new bond movie Quantum of Solace? Is it a strategic decision or just a gimmic to attract attention? What a movie that was? The print I saw was bad but it was not exciting. What stupid story? Did I blog about this? I think I did. Ouch! Somebody pushed me! I swear I wasn't sleeping. "Not sleeping? You were snoring", comes the reply.

Oh! So I am think-sleeping (reached the advanced stages of insomnia like Al Pacino!) now. I should blog about this and should do some nice blogging and concentrate on management topics like Prof. Ray and Prof. Mark J Perry. Hey did we do the assignment that we were supposed to submit today? Who was doing it? Let me ask my team mates. Where are they? I give a quick glance at the prof who is explaining some concept to the class (Oops! Even I am a part of this...) What is he talking about? His hands are drawing something in thin air! Its a four-dimensional figure and I have missed the starting so I cannot understand the rest. Ok lets find the team.

Sitting in the first bench has its own advantages. You can sleep off, dream and with one turn look at the whole class. The disadvantage is that the whole class stares back at you as if you are some exhibition item which fell and broke off. There they are, the team, sitting in 7 separate locations like shattered glass and we are all united in not doing the assignment. I signal about the ppt and the report and they don't get a word. By this time half the class is looking at you and the prof, who gave you up, invariably looks at you and you nod your head in assertion as if you are agreeing with whatever he has just said and try to scribble in the paper. Oh! Where is the paper? And the pen? the paper is missing, the pen fell off long ago when you were dreaming about Katie's eyes and you try to pick it up. Look back at the prof and then the watch. Hmm.. 45 mts! Yes only 60 more to go. I know only doesn't make it any more easier. The thought alone sickens you. By the way it took just 1/100th of a second for you to calculate the remaining time.

I think I should SMS them and find out. There is no network. No one follows you here. Where is the pug? and Rahman? Lets see about the assignment later. There is a pause the lecture. Some one raised a point or may be its an objection and it is being discussed. May be I would understand if I start listening from here so that I can get the conclusion of the concept. 38 seconds later I get the feeling that the lecture is boring. Will I stick to the concepts and framework in the book or will I write creatively? You are expected to tread the text book, reference books, and gather all the information you could to have an in depth knowledge.

This is the time you are should learn and fill yourself with concepts, knowledge, information that would be useful to face the harsh world. Make good use of it.

And be thankful



Gratitude is a positive emotion. Well, you knew that part already. For years psychologists have tried to read what goes in your mind when you are thankful or givig thanks. Some interesting results have come up and it is in tune with what you think - giving thanks can change your mood and stop the emotional train from going in the wrong direction. Not just that being thankful can even reset the life button and change yoru attitude to being positive. Even when you think things aren't going your way. Especially when things are bad.

Being thankful works wonders in taking your brain from the junk place to a happy place. Away from the chaos that is gaining on you and your emotions. Stopping and giving thanks can help you stop the vicious cycle and help you come up with a potent positive emotion that will stimulate victorious and incredible joyous feeling. Your thinking gets clearer and better.

Heartfelt thanksgiving would not just reduce whinig but cut down on your complaint-flags your brain would raise and help you look at the warm light beam in the clouded valley of sorrow.

Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California and feels that it is more important to focus on people you are grateful for like parents, spouses, siblings or even your dog!

This will not just help you feel more alive, alert and interested but also help you be more enthusiastic. Gratitude is often called the most-neglected emotion and there is a huge impact of gratitude in your social, personal and developmental behaviour.

It's important to remind ourselves that the world doesn't always suck. Also remember the people who make you feel precious, happy, confortable and cared for as those are the people who actually love you and help you perform better in whatever you are doing.

If being grateful actually helps you to be a better performer, a better leader, a better sudent and a better person, then why not be grateful?

As St. Paul writes in Colossians 3:15: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Your text messages = the real you!


Show me your phone inbox and I will tell what kind of a person you really are. And I don't need to be a rocket scientist to do that. Anyone can. Texting is wonderful area to study and helps in understanding what a person is doing or can be doing. I know about some researchers who are interested in this phenomena and that proper studies are being done about the texting habits and how it can influence a person and his/her behaviour but here are certain points that you might find useful and see if it is the same in your life as well. If you are a parent or want to watch out younger ones in your family falling into this trap, think about these.
  • We love love love love and love our text messages
  • Texting is often used as an alibi to look busy, to ward off boredom or to just look cool
  • You tend to say more direct, curt and personal stuff while texting, most of what you would never say in person
  • More people use texts or bullying, sexting and undesired not-so-great things
  • According to a study, 13% of the kids engage in sexting sending suggestive messages and almost the same number have taken part in exchanging nude or explicit photos
  • The same study also showed that sexting can be fun but almost always leads to not so positive experience for those involved
  • Texting can be really addictive and become twice more tough to quit than smoking!
So how can you tame this addiction and get out of situations where you send out a text and feel bad?

Do not send out a hate text or mail in the first place. Save it to drafts and revisit it later. Edit, delete and rephrase all the hate content if you actually want to send. A call is always better than a text. It saves a lot of time and emotional baggage.

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." -- Oscar Wilde.

Camera found under water: Is SanDisk listening?


That’s right, you read the headline is correct. Over the weekend a diver, Markus Thompson, found a camera at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of British Colubmia. He salvaged the camera, poked around a little bit (determining that the camera had been dropped into the water in August 2010), recovered the data off the card and, using Google+, found the owner.

Markus’ original post and updates here. The social web doing some good, a photographer getting back some property along with some thought-to-be-long-lost images… But… I’m guessing that all you really want to know is the brand of the card, right?

Funny, although I don’t blame you. Apparently this was a SanDisk Extreme III but, not that it overly matters…regardless what type of card you use, it’s true that many cards/types/brands can survive total submersion in water… now we just know that at least some of them can hang out in salt water for year(s). What an excellent opportunity for SanDisk to come out with a good campaign!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Blues: Sow more than you reap

 


"To really lead is to "judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant."

- Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday Blues: 5 Quick Productivity Tactics


From Robin Sharma's notes.
  1. Work in 90 minute bursts of productivity then take 20 minutes to recover and renew. Then work 90 minutes. Then renew. The clients I've helped to install this practice have reported off-the-chart results.
  2. Take a full day off from technology every week. Non-stop stimulation prevents you from doing your deepest thinking and achieving your greatest results.
  3. Block out negative influences so you stay at your best in uncertain times
  4. Learn to elegantly and politely say no (to unimportant activities)
  5. Exercise first thing in the morning for a day of peak energy and fierce stamina

Friday, November 25, 2011

Education is fun... if you want it to be

7 Traits Managers Find Irresistible by Steve Tobak

Sarah sent me this and it applies.

1. You do what it takes to get the job done. This is, or should be, number one on every manager’s list of things they value most in employees. This was one of the first lessons I learned early on and it made a huge difference in my career.

2. You meet your commitments. When you say you’re going to do something by a certain date, you’ll find a way. When you say it’ll cost $x, your boss can take that to the bank. You hold yourself accountable so your boss doesn’t have to. Just knowing you’re there reduces your boss’s stress.

3. You’re brave. You realize that business is a full-contact sport and you’re going to take some body blows. You can take some punishment. Competition doesn’t freak you out. Confrontation doesn’t scare you. You don’t shy away from visibility. Rather, you get a charge out of it.

4. You challenge the status quo. You’re genuine, direct, confident, and comfortable in your own skin. You tell it like it is and say what’s on your mind. You don’t drink the Kool-Aid or sugarcoat the truth. You don’t BS; when you don’t know, you say so. Authority doesn’t scare you so you don’t treat your boss or the CEO like some demon from the underworld.

5. You’re an innovative problem solver. You look at things from different angles and turn problems on their side to come up with unique solutions. The harder the problem, the greater the challenge, the more you dig in to find the answer. You live to solve problems.

6. Your razor-like focus. You don’t lose it at the first sign of trouble or complexity. Instead, you’re calm and steady. You stay focused when everyone else is running around like chickens with their heads cut off. You’re an island of order in an ocean of chaos.

7. You’re low maintenance. You don’t whine and complain. You don’t need to have your hand held for every little thing. You don’t take things personally. You’ve got reasonably thick skin. Folks don’t have to walk on eggshells around you and worry about offending you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Have you shared too much?

With ever increasing global presence and growing population base that chooses to be online, it is important to stand up and take notice of what you have posted and what you really want to post. Not that I assume someone would stalk me but it is good to be diligent. What do you think?

Customer Service: Do It from the Inside Out

The sun beat down on the back of my neck. It was a scorching heat most people in Brazil have learned to accept, but I couldn’t bare it. I had just finished making a presentation to a room full of executives at an annual retreat. I couldn’t wait to jump into a taxi, rip off my coat, and breathe some cool air conditioning. A line of taxis were waiting; some looked new, others a little worse. One stood out like a beacon of pure refreshment—a shiny coat of sparkling blue paint made it appear perfectly maintained.

I jumped into the taxi and asked the driver to crank the air conditioning full blast. He did, but only hot air and dust came blowing through the vents. Then the engine sputtered and clunked as warning lights flashed on the dashboard. The driver explained the air conditioning didn’t work, and he nervously turned off the fan. I had been wooed by a shiny coat of paint.

Now let me ask about your company’s service. Is it just a shiny coat of paint that looks good on the outside but sputters and clunks when you really need it?

TIDYING UP THE SURFACE

Ask any doctor to cure a disease with a bandage. Ask any accountant to make bad numbers look good. Or ask an advertising agency to create beautiful packaging for a horrible product. It seems silly, a waste of time, a false and futile effort. Yet, as I travel the world meeting with some of the largest companies, I find that many approach their service with a shiny coat of paint.

They seem to be thinking only on the surface. Isn’t service what the customers see—the smiley faces and polite gestures? Can’t we just tell the front lines to do a better job and raise their level of service? Or can’t we simply hang some big posters with slogans that tell everyone we’re really committed to service? The answer is no.

Many organizations want to be service leaders. They want to turn their customers into evangelists. They want people to tell legendary stories about their service. They want referrals, recommendations, repeat orders, bigger market share. Yet too many of these would-be leaders try to fix their service problems or build a service culture by simply slapping on a fresh coat of paint or placing a meager bandage of advertising over the truth. Well, that’s not going to work, and that’s not how the companies recognized for outstanding service got there in the first place.

Consider this. Amid a crushing economic recession, while many famous names in finance collapsed, a client of mine in Singapore became the largest insurer in the country for life, motor, and health insurance. How did they do it? They transformed their approach to service starting from the inside of the organization and working out. Before asking their agents, brokers, and distributors to give customers and prospects better service, they built a stronger service culture inside the organization.

How do you boost your service from the inside out?

1. Declare Service a Top Priority: A business has many objectives: Sell more, cut costs, go faster, ship now, beat the competition. But all these can be sustained only if you satisfy those you serve and they come back for more. You must declare service a top priority and keep it there, especially when it might be forgotten. Make your declaration publicly to those you lead and keep it at the forefront in all that you do.
2. Everyone Serves Someone: It doesn’t matter if you lead a front-facing sales team, a back office operation, or a shared services function. Your purpose is to serve someone else. If you don’t make that clear to everyone on your team, you’re enabling a breakdown in service. All employees must understand who they serve and how to create value for colleagues or paying customers.
3. Enable Service Leadership from All Levels: If you’re going to ask people to give better service, you must empower them to become service leaders. Leading service from all levels means every employee takes personal responsibility for providing better service in every situation the position empowers him or her to reach. Service leadership must come from the top—but it can also be embraced at the bottom and encouraged and enabled everywhere in between.
4. Don’t Be Wooed By Shiny Things That Don’t Work: Building an uplifting service culture from the inside out is not an easy or overnight task. And although you may find it alluring, especially in the heat of the moment, to leap into a short-term solution, jump on a new mantra, or approve a new advertising campaign, you must do the real work of educating yourself and those around you, ensuring you have the tools to build a successful service strategy for the long haul. Otherwise, you’ll end up like I did, asking the taxi driver to turn around so I could start the process all over again.

Ron Kaufman is a global consultant who specializes in building service cultures. He is the author of UP! Your Service and 14 other books. His firm, UP! Your Service, has offices in Singapore and the U.S.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lessons In Forgetting: A book review



What happens is that if she a woman starts asserting her individuality then the transition (from something else to her own identity) is easy. But someone who subsumes herself into the identity of her husband and allows her other roles to contain her will find it difficult and wouldn't even know how and where to begin.

I know so many women in their mid-30's and sometimes even in their late-20's who start getting this restless feeling and think 'what have I done with myself and where do I begin?' Some of them are even forced to start afresh, alone, like Meera.

I want to be honest with you here. I was knocked out of my slumber when I read Lessons in Forgetting and once I finished reading, I felt I was in the same room as Meera. Never in the recent times have I been touched, amazed, met not imagined as strong a character who remains to be cheerful. I had to re-read certain passages to actually understand if what I felt was true or not.

Anita Nair has a charm for writing and am very impressed with the range of topics she chooses to write about like female infanticide, widow remarriage, empowering women which are a strict no-no for the modernized Indian who loves to stay out of the so called avoidable areas. It takes guts to stand out and write such topics and address them to the audience and yet be commercially successful. It takes a tremendous commitment to come out with such a wonderful rendition to make the characters acceptable in all their blemishes and past and yet be endearing.

Lessons in Forgetting starts with Meera and how her life is set to a timetable, a calender that involves a methodic phase of setting to and how it revolves around the characters in her life her mother, granny, her daughter and son and husband who seem to take her for granted. Now if you think the character of Meera is very similar to a typical housewife whose life is resigned to socialite principles, then you are mistaken. Meera is like the sea - calm, composed and proud but just like the sea, there is a huge chaos of emotions and commotion that is concealed in herself. All hell breaks loose when her husband leaves her for another younger woman and her children start blaming her for it.

At another junction is Jak or J.A. Krishnamoorthy, a professor and expert in cyclones who is in search of some answers about his paralysed daughter who is just a shadow of the cheerful Smriti who met with a near fatal accident. All that JAK knows is that his daughter met with a freak accident in a remote coastal town in Tamil Nadu called Minjikapuram. Police and doctor’s investigations all point fingers at Smriti.A determined JAK decides to trace his daughter’s path on the days that lead to her accident.


Thus starts JAK’s journey to know his daughter which leads him to three of her best friends, friends with their own confused understanding of this girl who outwardly looked confused yet had her own stand on everything. Smriti comes across as an very strong opinionated individual who joins a small theatre group and in all her naivete looks towards changing society and its mores which her friends could never come to terms with. But then, at one point JAK’s search for truth reaches a dead end.

If you are strong enough to realise life isn't as rosy as it looks and can get turbulent in a jiffy just like the sea, then you got to read Lessons In Forgetting. May be you would be able to look at the warnings and predict the cyclone and be better prepared if not prevent it. Or is it all just a myth and you cannot do anything? Lessons in forgetting is not a sad story. It celebrates human spirit and shows how you can be victorious even in life's worst cyclones. All you need is just a cajoling support, few kind words and a determination not to let yourself give up. Life may not always be as colorful as you dreamt of but all you need is just a tinge of white hope to paint on a dark canvas.

Rating: 4/5.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why this kolaveri kolaveri kolaveri di?


Tamil music directors amaze me time and again and I have to agree the world is dancing to their tunes or at least humming in sync. Ever since RA.ONE decided to go the Tamil way it is quite obvious that the Tamil music industry has a lot of sympathizers to its dance and fast numbers across the world. Here is another gem. Even before the film 3 is released, this song is a rage on Youtube and other social media sites.


Releasing it on Youtube is an excellent marketing game and having Danush sing the catchy tune with some excellent screenplay and mixing the song seeps in to the viewers and have them humming. Did they anticipate this? Don't know. But this was a good try and if it is a hit then why not! Having a good product is the least of your strategy. Having a great marketing plan is the ace. The combination always manages to hit the chord.

Don't listen


That is a negative title to start with and the post if very positive :)


Click on the image to enlarge and it is from Dr. Dave's site.

Done is better than perfect

Done is better than perfect.

Think about it. Done is better than perfect. Most of the times I see work being postponed is because people tend to say that they would come back to it later as they aren't satisfied with what is there. I realize the need for accuracy and perfection in what I do and I would always love to be proud of what I goes out of my inbox. I have seen meetings get postponed because the designs aren't as perfect as they should be. But the fact that deadlines are to be met and seeking perfection, if it delays and stretches the deadlines, is defeatist. There are several things that might lead you to believe you need to relook at the work, but I suggest meeting the deadlines as more important. For if I don't meet a deadline, the beauty and perfect piece of work I create is of no use! A medicine packed however well is of no use if the patient passes away as the doctor was busy to create a great effect while forgetting the basic need of the medicine itself. Not though that is just a analogy I am talking about the presentations and mails that you read and re-read and make alterations before you send it out. Before you look at the mails, ppts, etc., and some times to an audience that just needs to get an update, just think if all the editing you are going to do is of any value to the content in the message.

Now I will take it one step further.

Perfection is the enemy of completion! Now ponder.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Let your light shine


Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine,
we consciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Let your light shine by Marianne Williamson

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thomas Suarez & funding local schools


Found this via MJ and it is worth a watch. I like his spirit and motives. Making a change isn't easy. But the first step is the will to do.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What is the real value of service education?


From UP Your Service.

Richard Whiteley’s blog post – ‘Six reasons why ‘customer centricity’ initiatives fail’ – highlights how often initiatives fail due to inadequate education.

He wrote: “While mindset matters, great service needs great skillsets too… Proper training is required”

This stirred up memories of my early experiences working in a retail company.

Most new frontline staff joined the company with a very positive mindset and uplifting attitude – but as they regularly encountered situations they were not prepared for, their enthusiasm started fading.

They got stressed and frustrated when they were caught unprepared and uneducated in new situations.
Confidence levels dipped.  It was hard to ‘feel good’ about a job when they didn’t know how to do it well.
I vividly remember one particular young lady I hired and trained – let’s call her May.  She did not have any prior retail experience and seemed very quiet and shy. My colleagues didn’t think she would last more than a few weeks. But I felt she was more like a rough gem waiting to be polished – and I believed the right education would help.

However, when May was in my product and service training class, I wondered if I had made a mistake in recruiting her after all. I asked her if she thought she was a good fit for a frontline position in a retail outlet. She was not sure herself. She told me she just desperately needed the job for financial reasons. She was then sent to an outlet where further training would be done on-the-job with the store manager.

When I walked into this outlet two months later, I wasn’t expecting to see her there.

Yet, there she was – attending to customers, speaking confidently, demonstrating products, etc. There was no semblance of what I remembered her to be. The store manager told me he was very pleased with May’s performance – sales had gone up and customers regularly complimented her.

I congratulated May and reminded her of our last meeting. She shared how her store manager had played a big role in coaching her, developing her skills and appreciating her achievements. She said she had been well-educated, and the more she learned the more assured and confident she felt. She even sent notes of appreciation to everyone who had trained her, sharing how their attention and support helped her discover an aptitude she didn’t think she had – to be of service to others.

Many such examples remind me daily of the uplifting value of service education. It is myopic to view training and education as ‘nice-to-have’ or a cost-center with no clear Return on Investment. Of course it is important to measure and ensure a strong ROI, but the benefits of continuous education, and the value of developing life-long learners in your organization, are beyond mere financial calculations.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What can cat videos do for your business?


The title of this post says 'your' business because they can't sell my products. Given that some of the products I help sell include sexual enhancers and weight loss supplements. Looking at the loops of Catvertise on Youtube last night I couldn't stop but watching the videos and some of the brands have made their way to my mind. Looks like a good idea to me as of now. At least the early brands ones to come out with ads should benefit. What do you think?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Are you hungry?

There are good ads. Then there are ads. Then there are worse. It doesn't matter which ad you are going to make until it manages to grab my attention and convey the brand or message you want me to remember. Here is one that stretches your imagination to a different level altogether.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Me and MY kids


(I write this on the recommendation of Vamshi Krishna and am indebted to him. It didn't occur to me that I should simply pen my feelings regarding this but when I did, it felt very nice)

"Didiiiii, Didiiiiiii.......hum aa jayein?" [Sister, sister....can we come?]

Every Saturday and Sunday, the doorbell of my home starts ringing since 4:00 PM. The time when I teach these kids is 5, but they are always so high on energy and excitement that it doesn't really matter what the needles in the clock say. Probably coz they feel, if they get that extra time with me, I can show them some videos on my laptop or talk to them about their careers.

Before I start, let me introduce these kids to you. They are (starting from the eldest) Pooja, Soni, Anshu, Komal, Shikha, Nisha, Anu, Amit, Shivam, Mukesh and Bitto. The 7 sisters (pooja to anu) belong to the same family (yeah, we all know why). Their father is a tailor and mother works as a maidservant. while Shivam to Bitto belong to another family. Their father is the Chowkidar (colony security guard). Amit belongs to a different family. I don't know what his father does because his occupation keeps changing. Amit works at a shop from 10 in the morning to 4 in the evening (7 days a week). And yes, Amit is mere 9 year old. So basically, I teach 3 families.

So how did I meet these kids?

There is a huge tree outside our home on which these kids had put a Jhoola (swing). They used to play on it when I used to come back, they would smile at me and I used to smile back. One day, while I was returning, I randomly asked one kid..."Padhai karoge? Agar main padhaaon to?" (will you study, if I teach you?) And in 10 mins there were 8 kids at my door.

So, did I have to convince my parents?

A big YES. The sentences I got to hear were" You can't teach", "they will get attached to you", "Don't act too benevolent, you anyway have no time for home", you leave at 7:30 in the morning and come back at 9:30..when will you teach?"...followed by a big NO. My mother was still soft but papa and dadi were very clear. Do you know what melted their hearts? The smile of these kids.

As I went back to the gate to shoo them away, my father and grandmother saw them from our balcony. The kids looked up and said "unclejee, namaste...hum padhne aayein hain". And the job was done (btw, my father is like a coconut...harsh on the outside and too soft inside)

So, how do I feel?

I don't feel anything....but I just looooove spending time with them. As I teach them on the blackboard, they randomly get up to write something on it. Not because they want to show their knowledge but they want to hold the chalk and write on the blackboard. Komal is always standing next to the blackboard. When I scold her to get back to her seat she says..."Didi..pleeeeeez. Mujhe yahaan acha samajh aata hai" :D:D

My class is dominated by girls, and Oh! they DO dominate the boys big way. There are some stories (which are too odd/painful to narrate here) I have heard from their innocent mouths which make me shiver. But all in all, my class has recitation and currently we are studying division. It's a hard task to teach them multiplication tables but they oh-so-love watching animated nursery rhymes on my laptop. They once showed me the dance on desh rangeela. The song describes India with its various colors and watching them dance on that song made me feel nice (when was the last time you danced on a patriotic song? :D:D )

Every weekend, when they come and go, they enthuse me with such energy that my mother tells me calm down. I am jumping around with them, laughing like them and telling mom what all the kids taught me today. (like having "OM" sign tattooed on your hand saves you from evil spirits) :P:P

So, why exactly am I doing this?

Frankly speaking, I got tired. Tired of so much of artificiality, competition, comparison. I wanted to be happy... just happy. Not the happy where my neighbours think I am happy or my mother thinks I am happy. Not the happy who shops for branded clothes and then grins at the mirror (though on second thoughts I wont mind that). And not the happy which you get sitting in a big car thinking about the job you've bagged. Tomorrow, if everything is taken from me.... My job, my branded stuff, my status.... I will still remain. My beliefs, ideals, thoughts, experiences will still remain. Me and my kids love each other. There are so many times when Nisha or Shikha have held my hand and said "Didi....aap humein bahut ache lagte ho" (Didi, we really like you). Trust me, when a 7 year old tells you this, your day gets made. And I am lucky to hear this every weekend. I have given them books, pencils, erasers and sharpeners. My boyfriend (and soon to be fiance) encourages me a lot and has also provided financial help and I respect him for this.

I don't know what will happen when I leave from here. Who will teach them and whether they will become a doctor or pilot like they want to become. They had once asked me, when will I get married...and when I get married, will I keep coming on weekends to teach them. I had no answer. All I could say was, keep your spirits high and don't let anyone tell you that you're inferior. If you work very hard and study hard, you can become anything you want to. All I hope is, they do achieve their dreams. Amen.

Know-ember!

I love November or Know-ember! You are almost at the end of the year and lots of celebration for Christmas and new year. This know-ember at Consumer Psyche, we look at learning a lot of things, at least 30 things which are new and can help you and me to be better human beings. The first is a post by Niyati which speaks about the joy sharing your knowledge can bring to your life. I love the concept of blackboard and how simple it is to transform someone's life just by showing some care , compassion, love and extra-time. These kids might not grow and become a pilot or a doctor as they aspire but definitely they can be better than destined because of Niyati. YOU can make a change in someone's life too and guess what it will make you better and happier.

If you think you know something that would fit in here, feel free to mail or add. Keep reading, watching, learning or stay stale!

Adapt