Darkness to light …

 

 

Every festival teaches us some life lessons. I was wondering what the Festival of Lights can teach us. First we need to understand that it is celebrated across India by the name “Deepavali” but it has different folk lores. In the south of India and parts of west and east of India it is celebrated for the killing of demons called Narkasur & Mahisasur by the Gods. On the other hand in most of north India, it is celebrated as the return of Lord Rama from the forest after serving a 14 year deportation term.

Either way it is celebrated with the bursting of crackers , creative expression of design forms on the entrance of homes called rangoli and lighting of lamps to decorate homes. In the south of India it is celebrated at dawn and in the north it is celebrated at dusk. Either way the decorative lamps and the bursting of fire crackers transforms the environment from darkness to light.

Diwali or Deepavali as it is called is the Festival of Lights, colourful rangolis and bursting of crackers. It signifies the victory of good over evil and the return of a popular king to his people. While most of the traditions of the past continue with festive fervour, the lessons of this wonderful festival is forgotten in some way.

In my view one of the best learnings one can carry from the Festival of Lights is cleaning your home and your mind. Every household spends a lot of time in cleaning their home, painting them and decorating them much before the festival arrives. It may also be a good time to clean our minds of the unwanted memories stored in them. While we may be superficially cleaning our homes today, it is a great opportunity to make our environs more hygienic and our minds clearer and more peaceful.

Another important lesson one can learn from this festival is to enlighten ourselves and bring light into the life of others. This is an opportunity to transform ourselves. We can sit back and reflect on our own lives. We can bring fresh thinking into our minds and let our inner selves to get more illuminated. This festival also gives us an opportunity to bring light into the lives of other human beings by being of some help to them. In a way, we can illuminate the life of others through our deeds.

The third and the most important significance of this festival is to drive away evil thoughts from our mind. The bursting of crackers today may be polluting the environment due to the chemicals used in them. But, the spirit of this practise was more to drive away the demons and welcome the good in us. While we have fervently continued to burst crackers, we have forgotten the purpose of it and the spirit of this ritual.

We tend to remember the physical part of the rituals and practise them. We conveniently forget the spirit and purpose of these rituals. It may be time to reawaken ourselves. It may be the right time to kindle our spirits. We need to enlighten ourselves by living the rituals in letter and spirit.

It is time to clean our environment as much as our minds. It is time to think afresh and forget all the bad memories of the past. It is an opportunity to forgive the people who have hurt us and befriend them again. The joy of forgiveness is to be experienced to be believed. This way we can enlighten ourselves as much as bring light into the life of others around us.

Time to enlighten ourselves is today.

S Ramesh Shankar

7th November 2018

Best kept secrets of HR

We recently had a annual HR strategy meeting in our organisation.  This year there was a suggestion given by a young colleague of mine.  It was to request all employees to name one family member of theirs, who have made a lasting impact on their life and career.  They were advised to give this information well in advance to the organisers.  The organisers on their part printed a nicely worded letter of appreciation signed by the CHRO.

I was touched by the idea and the way it was implemented.  Almost all employees had tears in their eyes, when they received this appreciation letter along with the token gift from their respective managers during the course of the conference.

This was not the end of it.  After the conference, we got emails, messages and letters from their family members for this thoughtful gesture.  I was overwhelmed by their response.   What started as an innovative idea by a young colleague ended in stirring emotions amongst hundreds of human beings across the organization and their families.

The lesson we learnt from this idea was that gratitude and recognition are much more valuable than monetary rewards.  In our daily routine, we tend to forget these simple deeds,  which can make them feel cared for and appreciated.  We always have to remember that what we are today is the outcome of the toil of many unsung heroines and heroes in our lives.

S Ramesh Shankar

End of a century


In cricket, if you hit 100 runs, it is considered a century and a milestone for a batsman.  In life, if you live for hundred years it is indeed a landmark of your life.  Not many people live up to that age and not many survive to live that way.  What significance is it for me if I say that this is my hundredth blog.  It could signify that I do not have enough to do at work and in life that I have started writing blogs.  It could also mean that I have enough to share based on my learnings in life.

I was always wondering what to write on the hundredth blog.  Its a question for which I have no answer.  I can only state that the journey of writing blogs began a year back.  It has been an eventful journey.  Every time I get to reflect and think, the words flow as water from a tap.  It could be a summer evening watching the sunset or a long haul flight.  The words flow as if there is no gravity.  It is joyful and reflective.

I also post my blogs on my company social media platform.  I get a lot of feedback wherever I travel around the world.  People have encouraged me to write more and given me ideas on what to write.  They have commented on my blogs and made me think differently.  Words are a great expression of feelings.  What we cannot express in person can sometimes be better expressed in words.

As I look back I realise that my life has been a great learning workshop.  It has had its ups and downs.  But every experience has taught me something.  Even writing blogs has been one such experience.  So, I have dedicated this blog to sharing my learning.  As I pen down my thoughts, I learn from it.  It also helps me pour out my feelings on issues, beliefs and values.

In the history of a nation, a century of existence could mean a lot.  It could mean heritage.  It could mean its richness of civilisation.  It could mean the culture and values of the organisation getting institutionalised.  Similarly in the life of an individual an event could mean something.  For me writing my hundredth blog is one such event.  It has brought out something in me.  It has enabled me to express myself in more ways than one.

I am grateful to all the people around me who have made this happen.  My family members, my team members, my readers and my mentors.  All of them have encouraged me to write and share.  I may not be perfect in my writing but I promise that I try to be authentic.  I try to narrate my experiences of life in my own way.  I try to put myself in every readers’ shoes and narrate events as they would experience it.

Just as the historical building above is more than a century old, this blog signifies my completing the hundredth piece.

I hope this energy within me blossoms.  I hope to live up to the expectations of my readers.  I hope to reflect realities of life.  I hope to share what cannot be shared easily.  I hope to bring in positive change in society.  I believe that even if one person changes there could be an impact of my writing and it is worth it.  I do believe that change begins with me and hence this first step.

Do you believe it ?

S Ramesh Shankar
November 2016

Joy of writing


Almost four decades ago I used to write a bit of poetry and a few articles for our college magazine. Then as I grew up and got into work, this habit of writing almost disappeared.  It was just left to a few articles in some company newsletters or professional magazines.  My commitment to work took precedence and this art of writing faded into memory.

About a year back, I took my annual vacation with my wife and went for an Ayurvedic rejuvenation camp for three weeks. This hospital was in the backdrop of the western ghats amidst a rural landscape.  As I spent the day in my treatment, the evenings were spent in long walks along the country roads by the mountains, lakes and green fields. This sojourn with nature rekindled the writing spirit in me and I started writing blogs.  

Since then I have been writing blogs whenever my thoughts flow through my mind and my soul is tickled to express myself in words.  Today I publish a blog every week and God willing intend to publish a booklet of every hundred blogs I write.  This will enable me to share my reflections, feelings, thoughts and emotions with others and learn from their reactions too.

Today I experience the joy of writing.  As I sit down on my Ipad to express myself in words, the thoughts and feelings flow like the tributaries of a river.  It starts with a thought and then flows like a river.  Normally, I jot down every feeling I get and also the thoughts, which pass through my mind at different times of the day and night.  Then I start pondering over that thought or feeling and words flow through my fingers like the water wading though the rocks on the river bed finding its way downstream.

Words expressed in writing gives me joy.  Some people are good in sharing their feelings and thoughts by speaking about them.  I do share it the same way but the ease at which I can express in writing is more than what I can speak.  Normally, I prepare for my speeches and try to be spontaneous rather than reading from a script.  But, when I sit down to write, the emotions in my heart pour as words on the tablet as I try to express myself.

It is easy to share joy with others.  Sometimes it may be necessary to share sorrow too with your near and dear ones so that you feel lighter.  But I find it easiest to write down what I feel and then share it with everyone who is interested in reading my expressions.  This way I feel lighter, fearless and free flowing in my life.  Each of us have our own way of expressing ourselves and sharing our feelings and emotions.

As in the photo above, if you have the vastness of the sea in front of you and the mystic of the setting sun, then words flow through your pen like the waves on the sea shore.

Some of us like to be left alone and like to meditate.  While others like to read a book or listen to music.  My way of relaxing is to write and express myself in words.  It is this habit, which has helped me  de-stress myself and sharing my emotions with others.  Each of us have to find our own way of enjoying life.  There is nothing right or wrong about any hobby or habit. 

Let us discover our joy in life and enjoy it to the fullest.

S Ramesh Shankar

The ‘Aha” moment


All of us go through various experiences in life.  Each moment is a unique one in life.  However, there are some moments, which we may call as ‘Aha’ moments,  when you suddenly feel that you have arrived in life or something special has happened to you.  These moments may be small events in life but have a lasting impact on you throughout your life.

Let me try to illustrate through some real life experiences.  I was vacationing near the western ghats of south India during summer of this year and suddenly I took out my IPad and started writing a blog.  It was a moment of revelation.  A moment to cherish – as words started flowing as if water was flowing through the river bed down the valley.  It was natural and unplanned.  But the joy within me was unique.  I shared this experience with my spouse and since then started writing a blog every week without fail.  This was indeed a “Aha” moment in my life.

Another interesting incident, which happened in my life was when I joined my current employer.  I had till then lived in Kolkota and worked in Delhi and Chennai.  After moving to Bangalore in 2005, I never dreamt of moving out of that city to work.  But, suddenly in 2011, I got an offer from my present employer and moved to Mumbai.  This was an “aha” moment since I always felt like living and experiencing this dream city in my life.

My wife had passed out of college and was working as a counsellor before we got married.  After we had our second child, I encouraged her to write the National Eligibility test (NET) to become a teacher in college.  She reluctantly agreed and gave the exam.  When she cleared it at the first attempt, it was a ‘Aha” moment for her.  She had lost touch with academics but even without much preparations, she cleared in the first attempt and hence was overjoyed. 

My daughter always had a desire to study mass communication.  When she completed her graduation in journalism from Delhi University, she started to apply for many colleges to pursue her masters in mass communication. Suddenly, one day she got a call from the most prestigious institute for mass communication in India and this indeed was a “aha” moment for her.  Her joy was boundless.

My son was always a automobile enthusiast from childhood.  He dreamt about cars and bikes even during childhood.  As he grew up, this hobby became a passion.  Then he went for his higher studies in marketing.  On return, he was applying for jobs and out of the blue, he got an opportunity to work for one of the most coveted brands in the world car industry.  This was a “aha” moment in his life since he got to live his passion every day.

All of us have our “aha” moments in life.  It is up to us to enjoy the moment and share the joy with others.

S Ramesh shankar