Sunday, 8 March 2015

Empowering Excellence on Women's Day!

When all the buzz and hype spread across about this ‘Women’s Day’…When all were going around wishing every woman a ‘Happy’ Women’s Day, trying to make them feel special and enjoy “womanhood”; even I thought that I had to do something to make myself feel special on this day; or that is what the norm asks me to. So, when I was contemplating on a way to adhere to this standard, our renowned Institute came out with the idea of a wonderful seminar on ‘International Women’s Day’, exclusively for women members. At first, I was a bit sceptical about it. (Yes. Incidentally, this day falls on our hard-earned Sunday!). But all these doubts faded away as I scrolled down the invitation mail. CPE Credit hours, the valuable gift pack, coupled with the word ‘free’ alerted my senses (Don’t frown. This word alerts the sense of every known, rational and sane Indian. Remember ‘3 Idiots’??) and I jumped to register for it. And the fact that I am not going home this weekend further substantiated and justified my decision to attend it.

But I should say that the day turned out to be a very inspiring and memorable one, to be etched to my memory for a considerably long time. So inspiring that I am forced to write about this before this special day comes to a close.

Though we were informed that the registration would start at 8.30 am; I had not anticipated anyone coming at that hour especially on a lazy Sunday morning. So, I reached there half an hour late. But, I was taken aback to see that the registration was already half way through, given the commendable ‘punctuality’ with which our professional conferences usually commence. The big hall at Hyatt was getting filled up and before it was 9.30 I could turn and see that all the chairs were occupied and many members were standing!  The hall was house-full!

Yes. The house was full with women. With powerful women across all age groups; practising Chartered Accountants, women retired from high positions, newly qualified lot like us, women who had temporarily taken a break from the profession and who were planning to come back, and women who had even come with their little babies, to attend this function organized especially for them. What I could understand from this unbelievably huge audience was the commitment to the profession and the sense of belongingness they have towards the Institute.

Though I wouldn’t want to delve deep into the topics that were being presented on the day, there are a few points that struck me strong.

That there is absolutely no need to ‘empower’ women. Because, they are already empowered. Just that we need to accept this fact.

Yes. Women are indeed conquering greater heights and have already broken the glass ceiling. Numerous examples of women holding positions in toughest of governments, finance sector, banking and what not! Like one of our speakers asked us, ‘Can you please let me know which area is that you women haven’t gotten into?’

Yeah. All that is right. But, the ‘empowerment’ that I could easily relate to, is something more simple. But which I think is no less powerful. It is what I see every day. It is what we all see every day, almost every hour, but never have either the patience or the time or most importantly, the heart to acknowledge it. Acknowledging doesn’t mean saying ‘thank you’ or wishing on a day like this. It means just being a little more understanding. It means just observing the woman in your home effortlessly managing multiple activities with ease, without carrying this title of ‘empowerment’.

And there were also talks (for and against, in a subtle way) about a woman’s capability to multi-task. To be able to prioritise her career or her family in an appropriate manner in which she wants and not to try to be the best in all the roles that she plays.

That is when I was telling my friend amidst these discussions. ‘Arey…They’re talking so big about all these multi- tasking and stuff like that…Aren’t our moms doing the same thing? Managing office and family…Without creating all these hue and cry about the huge task of striking a balance between home and work…Absolutely Yes…Obviously without even asking for the tag of an ‘empowered woman’.

We were shown a video clipping of an interview of Indra Nooyi…She says ‘If you ask my daughter, if I am the best mom, I’m not sure if she would say yes’. She meant that it was absolutely impossible to be the best in all the roles that you play. To be successful in your career, office should come first.

And then we were told about the importance of being focused, having a goal in life, being ambitious, and also not to focus too much on your kids because they’ll anyway grow up and go away…

A bit contradictory discussion was going on amidst all these suggestions among a bunch of women. Yes. I overheard the rest of their conversation during the lunch break.

“ It is all good to say. To set up priorities…When we all qualified before 20 years; the situation was not this”.

“Yes. The youngsters nowadays are very clear about their goals”.

“If one has to advance in her career to this extent, someone else in the family has to take a back seat.”

“All this talks about bringing the women to the forefront would be only for a day. From tomorrow, everything will go back to normal as usual.”

“To balance both home and office is not that easy as they say”.

For me personally, empowerment was not all that was talked about. It was the very fact that these strong women were powerfully discussing about this. The clarity of thought reflected in their voice, their urge to unleash their talent shone in their eyes and most importantly, their maturity to digest what was actually real and practically showed up crystal clear on their faces.  

I do not know about the big career goals or being at the helm of affairs in a huge organization. What I know is a mother who; though not in such a huge position in office, even though very much capable of it (Yes. She sacrificed it for us.); but still in a work environment that we all can perceive to be reasonably ‘busy and tough’, effortlessly strikes a golden balance. And the fact which I admire most about her is that she never even mentions or thinks about it as if she is doing some herculean task (though it very much is!). For me, obviously, she is the best mom!

There are million women like this, who, as our Chief Guest said, ‘don’t wear their gender on their sleeves’…What they need is not a single day of ‘recognition’; but a lifetime of a little bit of acceptance…..      

Monday, 2 March 2015

Uncertainties...

‘I have finished all the work ahead of the deadline...But what if my system unexpectedly crashes? Or I inadvertently press the delete button? No… Recycle Bin won’t restore. What if I had pressed Shift+Delete???’    

‘Yeah. The climate is good for a long walk…But what if it rains suddenly?’

‘Yes. I am perfectly happy now. But what if all this ends abruptly?’

There can be no possible explanation or humanly comprehendible reason as to from where and when all these impulses of doubtfulness started ruling our lives.  And why these ‘what if’s eat up a major chunk of reality in our everyday lives…

Being a poor victim of this inexplicable syndrome of embracing the highest probability of seemingly impossible combinations of future occurrences, I myself have tried to figure out why  I think so much about troubles that I know would never happen. People have helped me with various analytical reasons.

‘It’s because you are not ready to take risks!’

‘You are too conservative. For God’s sake, Change yourself!’

‘I’ve never seen a person with such a negative attitude in my life…”

But personally I have derived my own conclusions about why I (not only me..I like to believe that at least there are a handful of people like me..) do this…Like one of my friends who used to tell everyone that she is going to fail in the term end exams when she herself knows that there is not even one in a millionth chance of her not passing! This goes to such an extent that she even starts faintly believing that. One day I asked her why she did this…She told me an answer which I felt was very logical. She told me “If I start believing that I’ll fail and suddenly the result comes and I pass, do you know how happy I’ll be?”

At first I didn’t understand what she meant. I thought what the hell of a difference does it make, anyway??? But later on, I understood. Perhaps she wouldn’t have been this happy if she had expected herself to pass. Yes. She wanted the paradoxical gains of a positive shock! May be for the sheer purpose of enjoying the ray of light, we switch all the lights off.

I think that we do this because we are facing an extreme dearth of happiness in our lives today, But our mind, being a cunning master of designing anything that helps it get what it wants, even goes to the extent of painting everything around black ( still knowing that it is white) just to enjoy the false happiness when all the paint fades away and white shows again.

It is very similar to the idea of a man who went  to a footwear shop hunting for a shoe of size ‘7’ even though his size was ‘9’. When the shopkeeper got amused and asked as to why he is intentionally struggling with pain to walk with these awfully tightfitting shoes, the man retorted angrily, “What’s your problem? Will you not let me at least experience the happiness and relief when I remove these shoes every day?”

Here comes a man who intentionally chose to suffer just because he was so desperate to get the sense of happiness, even while knowingly fully, that it is just fake.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if I even say that the virtual world, in which we are hovering on every day, yes the beautiful cyber domain where we race amongst ourselves to establish our presence, is simply a deceitful replica of the real life. Still we resort to it, because we try to escape from the reality of life where there is rarely any true happiness.

Now, isn’t this enough explanation as to why we turn doubtful most of the time?

Absurd it may seem, but it is to be noted that we are rushing towards a tomorrow of pseudo-happiness…

That day is not too far when  your friend calls you up to tell you that he’s had a major accident; just to see you jump with joy when you run to see him perfectly fine; as healthy as a horse.
That’s when we advance to the level of spreading this pseudo joy  to our dear ones around…

Ya it really feels good if my work file doesn't get deleted; rain doesn't disturb the long walk or if my perfect happiness gets here to stay...

Now, what if these doubts turn out to be really true?

A Simple Message...

A Simple Message...