Shimla

Visiting a new city is like meeting a new person. From the moment I land, I am in conversation with everything I see or encounter. To me, it’s more than just checking off something from my bucket list. When I am there I want to make the most out of each moment. It feels like the city says to me, please don’t go, not yet, there is still so much to see and talk.

Shimla! Was always on my wishlist. And finally getting to visit was a dream come true. Sharing a few pictures from my recent visit.

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Bloom 🌸 🌷 🌹 💐

Last month I got an opportunity to participate in several events organized as part of our company’s Community Impact Month.

One of which was a session for the budding women entrepreneurs from rural background. The objective was to provide them an overview on the ways they could promote their products through e-commerce. There was an overview on Paytm, Netbanking etc. Post introductory session we dispersed into groups with each volunteers leading one and showing the practical aspects of the session.

I sat down with a group of seven to eight women from different age groups. This was my first experience of this kind. I took my phone and assuming they know about smart phones, started showing them the different apps.

Before I could go any further they all had a reason to share why this learning wasn’t fruitful for them – some didn’t own a smartphone, some didn’t even had their bank accounts, some belonged to traditional families that didn’t allow girls to go out fearing the society, no one knew how to create an email account or access the internet.

So what was supposed to be a practical session for them turned out to be a motivational speech. Instead of showing them the apps, I convinced why it was important for them to invest in themselves. All the women came from different backgrounds and had their own struggles and thus it was important to let them know that it is ok to spend some on self to buy a phone. At the end of the day it makes you feel independent, more confident and connected to the world.

To all my comments they repeatedly said it was not in their budget. I just had one question for them, “Where do you manage to get all the money on your child’s wedding day? Isn’t spending on a phone much less than that?”

They were dumbstruck. They did not have an answer and agreed that I was right. All of them promised to take these learnings and bring them into action.

I spent almost an hour with two batches. I don’t know where those words of wisdom came from. But when they blessed me while leaving, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I came back energized and content with what I managed to give back to the society in a simple form.

So here is what happened next

If you have read my recent post, “It’s a small world“-here is a continuation to that story. 🙂

So I did write a review of the book and it was published by the writer on his page.

Get your copy today! 🙂 Happy Weekend.

It’s a small world

“What can I give?”. I had finished reading this book somewhere in later part of year 2016. This book was published by Srijan Pal Singh in the memory of his most loved teacher and India’s most loved personality, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. When Dr. Kalam left us in July 2015, I really felt sad for not having got the opportunity to meet him at least once in my life because I knew he was one of his kind, a scientist, a successful former President of India, a teacher, a writer and above all a great human being.

Thus, when I heard first about this book, without wasting much of time I ordered myself a copy. Probably within a day or two of the receipt of the book, I had finished reading because it was so captivating and so much about a common man and his teaching for the people like us. Inspired by Srijan’s mention of the Kalam Library Project in the book, I was all energized to do something and be a part of this overall project and make a difference for the under-privileged kids. I had already started following Srijan’s page on Facebook so I could stay updated on the recent projects of the Kalam Center.

Once, I sent him an email inquiring about how I can contribute to their mission. He was kind enough to respond to me and provide me further contacts to get additional information. For some or the other schedules I didn’t get a chance to reach out to these individuals.

In one of the following weeks, I went to a cafe to have my breakfast after my French classes. As I was looking for a table, an individual who was seated at the corner table caught my attention. I stopped and thought, “Isn’t this Srijan Pal Singh?” I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was still confused and wondered,”What could he be doing in such a small cafe like this?” But I was confident that it had to be him. Since he was talking to an elderly lady who was sitting along with him, I thought I should just take my seat and order my food. Also, I thought I wouldn’t be a great idea going and talking to him.

But once again, I thought – this was a lifetime opportunity to meet the writer himself and who knows if I ever got this chance again. So I decided to talk to him and introduce myself. As he was leaving, I reached out to him and confirmed if he was the person I thought. He smiled and said yes. I introduced myself and asked how he was here. He said this had been the place where he used to hangout the most as he completed his studies at IIM- A. I told him how much I liked his new book to which he requested if I could write a review of the book as well so he can share with people. We exchanged few words and he left.

For me this was an experience of a lifetime. Out of nowhere there was this person whom I was recently talking to, in front of me.

If you haven’t read this book yet, you can get your copy here.

Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan is my favorite time of the year just like Christmas, Easter or Diwali. No. No. I’m not disclosing my faith here. I’m just about to share my story with one of them.

My love for Azaan began when I was in school. Next to our school, was a big mosque. It stood tall and colored with a blend of dark and light green.

As everyone probably knows Azaan, is a call to prayer five times each day. A reminder for everyone to stay connected to the Divine.

During the class it would happen, when the Azaan would start at the mosque, as always they sounded like music to my ears. I felt so connected spiritually and this holds true even now though years have passed.

My love since then has only grown deeper 🙂 and I’m always excited during the Ramadan season. A season for self-denial, fasting and the acts of charity. The season of togetherness and being with family. Even though I am not the one observing, it’s always a bliss to be into it.

With that sharing a picture of my favorite place all decorated beautifully for Eid.

Ramadan Kareem to all.

An Instrument of Peace

At 8.00 a.m. in the morning, we had to be ready for the assembly that started with prayers followed by announcements, news and prayer requests. I remember being dropped by our school bus half an hour early to the school time that allowed us to take copies from our friends to finish our homework before the school day started. There was always a sense of urgency to finish them on time as we never wanted to get those red remarks in the school diary. 

At 8.00 a.m. in the morning, the entire school stood still because it was time for prayers. From a very young age, I was always attracted to a conversation with the Invisible, but standing alongside 60+ students with joined hands never gave me that feeling of being prayerful. 

“Make me an instrument of your peace”, used to be a frequent song played during the prayer time. I loved this song, I still love this song – but probably I never understood the deeper meaning of it until later when I heard it on YouTube recently. It took me back to the memories of my school. Looking at where the world is heading into – constant chaos, hatred, destruction, and distrust – each of the word adds so much meaning. If there would have been something called a “World Anthem”, I would have proposed this song for the same.