What Is Your Life’s Calling?


When the Grand-Mamma Bear is Sick


Mom was feeling sick on Friday morning last week. She has diabetes for over 10 years but has been managing it well.

“Mom, please check your blood sugar levels!”, I suggested the obvious.

The reading on the scale, as Mom held the machine, shocked the hell out of us: 534!

And that when she was still empty stomach! Mom felt worse simply by looking at that reading.

I panicked. Deepti, my wife, brings me sanity whenever I lose it (which is every time something unusual happens). I love her for that. She organized things quickly and we rushed to the BLK Hospital nearby.

Within minutes, must have been 6 AM, we were in the emergency room of the hospital. They were quick to do the required checks. Doctor advised that Mom should be admitted.


Get-One Get-One More!

4th Floor


Mom was in the hospital for 6 days now. It wasn’t clear when she would be discharged. While the big problems in life dance around to get our attention, life also presents some smaller, cuter ones as add-ons.

Tanav, my five year old son, hadn’t seen Grandmom for over 6 days. He wanted to see her.

Simple, but not really. They don’t let children in the hospital. But Tanav doesn’t care, “I want to meet Grandmom. Period.

He was a bit under the weather too. Mum felt that his sickness had something to do him not being able to see her. Smiles.


Mission of the Day


I asked Tanav, “Are you up for a mission?” 

“What’s that, Dad?”, he sounded interested.

“Mission Meeting Grandmom!”, I said

Really? Can I..?”

“Yeah, but it’s not going to be easy. You have tried getting in the hospital when Sohana, your sister, was unwell. They didn’t let you in, remember?

“Yes, I remember.” he said with a straight face.

I prepped him up which brought back the smiles.

What’s a mission which is easy. Kids understand that better than us adults. Tanav was super-excited.


Try, Try, Try Again…


Deepti tried to sneak Tanav in from the attendant elevator.

That didn’t work. “Children are not allowed to use the attendants lift.” Wisdom words (as if we didn’t know).

Deepti is a rules person and easy to be said NO to. Except, of course, when I am the one saying NO.  She will argue that I am no better than her in this regard.

One starts to see things differently when the motivations behind the mission are strong.

Tanav and I walked towards the patient elevator.

I noticed something about the way Tanav was walking. A very confident gait! I would have let him in, had I been the security guard. But that didn’t impress the officer on duty.

“He is going to see his new born sister.” I tried acting smart knowing the birthing suites were on the same, 4th floor.

Guard’s reply was, “Congratulations! But I need to see Doctor’s permission letter to let him in.”

The Permission NoteI changed stance, “Please, he really needs to see his new baby sister.”

But, that didn’t work either.

We tried to take the stairs but no luck.

Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.

We decided to go to the Front Desk Manager, Mr. Jitendar. I told him the truth and asked for permission only for 15 minutes.

There’s something about speaking the truth – it works!

Mr. Jitendar started writing a note and I heard him say, “I can only let him in for 5 minutes.” 

Well, we happily accepted what we had got. Hi-Fives followed Thank yous!

Tanav held that note proudly, like a valued possession. He showed it off, even to those who didn’t ask for it.

I let Mom and Tanav have some time together. Seeing them, I realized that the efforts we’d put in were so worth it.

You won’t always have the power to make life fair, but you always have the power to bring some smiles.


What is Your Life’s Calling, Today


Mom is fine now and back home. Thank you, God! And this episode has taught me a lesson. 

I used to wonder what my calling in life was. I have learnt now that it’s okay to just know what life is calling for me to do today. As long as I act on that, I am doing my duty. That, at least until I find my true calling. 

So, what is your life’s calling? .. Oops, I mean: What is your life’s calling, TODAY?

If you like this post, please comment/ share/ tweet. I would look forward to knowing your thoughts.

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Congratulations! You Have a Gift

Saesha, my 8 year old niece, is a born artist. She draws her heart out on paper. I can’t think of anyone else in the family who has this unique ability. Congratulations! We have a gift.

US Department of Education defines Giftedness as the “Children with outstanding talent who perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment.”

These gifts could be in intellect, academics, creative, art or leadership ability.

Every child is special but is your child gifted?  Read the stories of two of my friends who were gifted.

Congratulations! You Have a Gift.
Congratulations! You Have a Gift.

Story of Mukti


Mukti sketched exceptionally well. All her classmates knew that. But when she entered 3rd grade, something happened which changed the course of her life.

That day, Mukti had done a sketch for her new teacher. She handed the sketch to the teacher and waited in anticipation. The teacher examined the sketch and what she did next surprised everyone. She tore the sketch apart and threw the paper bits on Mukti’s face. Mukti has never forgotten what the teacher said, “You liar! No 7 year old can make such a beautiful sketch!” 

Tears came rolling down Mukti’s cheeks. None of the classmates could gather the courage to stand up to her defense.

She never drew a sketch again.


Story of Kshitij


Kshitij, my friend from school, sang very well. I can’t think about him without thinking about him singing. He sang at the school assembly, in the playground and in the bus. Everywhere!

He was once caught singing to the class when the class was supposed to be doing an assignment. Fortunately, the teacher liked his voice and let him finish singing.

She said, “You have a wonderful voice. Class, complete the work quickly if you want to hear another song from Kshitij!” 

Everyone clapped. Kshitij’s confidence knew no bounds.


Fast forward 20 years


Kshitij is a successful playback singer. He has performed at coveted musical shows like “K for Kishore”, “Indian Idol” and “SA-RE-GA-MA-PA”. He has worked with many top playback singers. He has sung for Bollywood movies and has debuted as a Music Director. He is currently off to Dubai for a performance.

Mukti, on the other hand, is doing a standard IT job. She has recently woken up to the fact that she once dreamt of being an artist. She wants to pursue her dream now.


WHAT I LEARNT


1. Tune in!

I need to stay tuned in to my child. I need to keep looking for their areas of giftedness. Okay, agreed, not every child will be gifted. Reality. And that’s fine.

Whether or not your child is gifted, they surely have strengths. That, at least to me, is a gift too!

Tanav, my 5 year old son’s strength is that he really uses his mind. He just can’t cram. Good for him but never an easy day for us. We have to have reasoning for everything we teach him. A small price to pay to further strengthen his strength.

2. Teach Them to Keep Walking…

My child will meet several people along the journey of life. People like Mukti’s teacher or Kshitij’s. I need to keep them prepared for those times when someone tries to shatter their confidence.

Keep reminding them that Good things are coming down the road. Just don’t stop walking. 

3. Do What You Can.

I want to play my part in helping Saesha become a great artist. I am not an expert myself but I can look for opportunities to show her works of Picasso, Michelangelo and other great artists.

4. Treasure the Gift! 

Less than 2% people in the world are truly gifted. I need to treasure my child’s gifts and strengths!

“Don’t caste your pearls before swines!”

Never ever ever ever ever ever let your child’s gift get in the hands of those who don’t value it or, worse still, ridicule or reject it.


WAKEY! WAKEY!


Stay tuned to know if your child has a gift. Open the package. Instill Confidence. Be a Guide. Treasure the gift. Praise. Celebrate. Don’t ever let the gift go waste. Will you rise to the occasion?

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.

If you find this post interesting, please post your comments. I will look forward to knowing your views.

Change Your Whole Life


Teacher’s Note


“24.FEB.14. Please meet me tomorrow in the class at 1:00 in the afternoon. Thank you. M. Grover.” 

Tanav, my five year old son’s teacher, Mrs. Grover, had written this note in his diary.

Teacher's note

Curiosity could have killed us so we sent Mrs. Grover an SMS right away.

“Hello Madam, Good evening. I will meet you tomorrow but why do you want to see us?” 

It’s funny how extra-careful we are with the spellings while communicating with our children’s teachers.

“Tanav’s performance in class!” Mrs. Grover replied.


Background


We had just got free from two close family weddings. The mood of excitement and fun suddenly changed into one of somber.


The Meeting


Deepti, my wife, met Mrs. Grover at 1 PM sharp.

What is also ridiculous is our highest levels of punctuality when it comes to meetings with children’s teachers. 

I expected Mrs. Grover to be considerate.  Perhaps she was. Following messages were driven home:

  • “Students can count up to 100. Tanav can’t even write correctly up to 20!”
  • “Tanav doesn’t listen no matter how loudly I shout!”
  • “Tanav hasn’t learnt anything in Prep!”

This last point added insult to injury. After all, he was just one month away from getting to next grade.

She also said, “I hope everything is okay at home?”

Her question was asked with such a conviction that I was tempted to think,“What was wrong at home?”

Well, all was right at home. We were busy with the weddings. Tanav had missed school. Excitement at home had left no room for studies. That’s it.


Ping-Pong Blame Game


Self-blame soon gave way to blaming the teacher.

Mrs. Grover’s tone could be better.

Is that some kind of joke? At the end of the session, you tell us that our child hasn’t learnt a thing!

If the child hasn’t learnt, that means the teacher hasn’t taught.

 (This last one is my Dad’s favorite. Tried and tested on me when I was in Primary school.)

Well, all that boiled down to one thing. We had to change something and soon.


What to do?


The obvious solution was to make Tanav study long hours. Show him the stick perhaps. We did that for a while and all it led to was more frustrations.

Obvious solutions are usually the least effective.

Our solution was flawed. For one, it was against the law of nature.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished so beautifully.

Second, the stick may or may not lead to success but it would certainly lead to pain.  The last thing I want is that Tanav has good grades at the cost of him being sad.

We learn best in the moments of enjoyment.

We decided to change just a little. 2% perhaps. We identified the 2% which could change the game for Tanav:

  1. 30 minutes of daily study
  2. Friendship with the teacher

We had to work our butts off to make Tanav stick his butt to his chair. He would be thirsty or would need to use the loo. You know the feeling.

Children are turned off the moment they hear the word, Homework. Homework is shown as a villain in cartoon programs they watch. We decided to call it 30 Minutes with Tanav instead.

Studies are boring. Learning is fun.

Have you noticed that the Google servers have slowed down in last few months? It is because Deepti has gone bananas searching online to find the most interesting ways for Tanav to learn.

I’ll take some credit too. See, if I can make daily chores interesting, you can’t even imagine what I can do with learning.


Results


Yesterday when I reached home, I saw Tanav writing something. Being the over-enthusiastic-over-nothing types, I yelled, “Hey Tanav! What’s up?

“Papa, please don’t disturb me. I am doing 30 minutes with Tanav.”

I apologized.

“No problem. I will speak with you after I am done.” He said.

I was glad.

It has been a little over a month since Mrs Grover’s note. Tanav can count up to 100 and backwards. He can write the before and after numbers. He has made friends with Mrs. Grover and that isn’t even the best part. The best part is that he is loving it all.

Sometimes, we think we want to change our whole life. But all we really need to change is the 2%. That 2% which, in turn, can change everything in our life.

For Tanav, it is 30 minutes of daily learning. (2% of 24 hours is ~ 30 minutes). Where is that 2% in your life?

‘D’ for Dance

 

Everyone has heard of the BIG FAT Indian wedding. And it’s even more so, if it is a Punjabi one.

We recently celebrated my brother-in-law’s wedding. There was a lot of excitement in the family and although the parent’s did most work, we thought we were busy too.

Amidst all this, my wife, Deepti, had an idea, “We should do a dance performance for the newly-wed couple.”

I affirmed that this was a superb idea.

Dinky and I-2

A few days passed and then, reality set in. It now appeared like a daunting task. One that would involve so many decisions, – hire a trainer or prepare on our own, which dance form given our body’s (in-) flexibility levels and so on.. 

Besides, we would be working and have two kids to manage. I was very skeptical about being able to pull this off. This idea had every chance of dying prematurely just like most ideas do. 

Thankfully, something changed.

Deepti asked me to take charge. “Manage it like a project and just make it work”, she said. I felt a sense of ownership. Giving up was not an option any more. I started asking, “How to make it happen?” rather than “Whether it would work or not?”.

Ask the right questions, for our questions create a mindspace where we spend all our time

Deepti, of course, helped in every way possible – from searching for the trainers, to doing the cost-benefit, to selecting the songs. We decided that a trainer closer home would suit us better. It was December and it’d be tough to go to a distant place in the chill. Our trainer made it even easier by suggesting that he could come to our place instead. That was so Wow.

But there were several other occasions too when we wanted to give up. It is so easy to give up.

I was not even feeling well at one point and the last thing I wanted to do was practice my dance moves. We still kept going, slowly but steadily. I think it was our motivation that kept us going: We would be so proud to have danced for the couple that is so dear to us. It would make fond memories that we will cherish forever.

There was another roadblock of getting the song clip from our trainer. We had moved to my bro-in-law’s place and were busy with other aspects of the wedding. Once again, our trainer came to our rescue. Then, a techie friend of mine figured a way to carry the songs to the venue where we were supposed to perform.

At the time when we were supposed to shake a leg, we got busy with the guests and having our photographs clicked. I don’t know about Deepti but something kept telling me even then to forget about our dance

  • We haven’t rehearsed enough!
  • What if we forgot the steps?
  • It’s embarrassing to face such a large audience. 

But then, there was a motivating inner voice too, which told me the opposite –

  • Don’t even think of giving up after having come so far!
  • Do everything possible to make your idea a success!
  • Remember your motivation.

It dawned on me that it didn’t matter how perfectly we danced. All that mattered was that we danced and made it entertaining. We were prepared enough to do that.

A good plan today is better than a perfect one tomorrow. 

Our good plan was in place. I mustered some courage (read: gulped down my drink) and whispered into Deepti’s ear, “Let’s do it!”

She said, “Okay!”

It was as if she was waiting for me to ask. We were all set. An announcement was made. We were on the stage, yes, dancing. We were having a lot of fun. I remembered our trainer’s tip, “Just enjoy and sing along and it’ll be easy.”

When our dance ended, we hugged. I heard an applause. We had inspired a few other performances too, including our five year old son, Tanav’s.

Some appreciations followed.

I am not sure if people liked our show or if they were just being nice. But I am sure we will look back at this and it will always bring smiles.

They say that “If you desire something with all your heart, the whole world conspires to fulfill your desire.” That proved to be true in this case too.  

Our best wishes to the newly-wed couple: Your love is beautiful and inspiring and we look forward to seeing it grow. Always. 

How SMART Are You?

Most of us already know the what and the how of SMART goal-setting. Yes, the one that says that in order to achieve goals, one must set Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound goals. A lot has been written about it already. So, I decided to write about taking goal-setting to another level – from setting good goals, to setting great goals.

Good, after all, is not good enough!

In order to set and achieve BIG-FAT-Hairy-Audacious goals, you have to follow a different and smarter SMART rule:

  • Significant: Your goals should be significant. And not just to you, but also to those around you. It must touch lives! One’s definition of significant is tied to the depth of one’s own mind. Significant to one may be insignificant to another. If you dream dreams that anyone can easily find ways of realizing, it’s not really a dream! Ask yourself, “Have I dreamt the heights of heaven?”, “Have I seen the sky?”, “Have I seen the man (or woman) I want to become?” Once you have the answer, then ask, Have I dreamt the ladder to get there?” In the Bible, angels had the wings to fly but they still used the ladder. To connect, one has to take the steps. Every dream has a ladder. People sometimes say that they can see it, but can’t accomplish it. That’s because you must dream your ladder also. Many of us dream dreams without the ladder and then you wonder why we can’t accomplish it. Sleep a day. Dream ladder.
  • Meaningful: Eloquence is a major characteristic of  a leader. What ever you can’t communicate, people cannot follow. Why did people follow Barack Obama? Eloquence. He was articulate. He raised the largest amount of money ever for the presidential elections. He articulated his vision … Articulate yours, make it meaningful, by communicating it intelligently…even to people who seem to have a higher intelligence quotient than you.
  • Attractive: Make your dreams attractive. If the devils are attracted to beauty, good people will be attracted to beauty. Excellence costs money. Pay the price. Who wants to marry a woman that’s not attractive. Who wants to marry a man that’s not attractive. It’s not about how you look, its about what you have made of yourself. Make your dream attractive. Color it. Paint it. Package it. Brand it. Re-brand it. Package and re-package, brand and re-brand. Keep branding or re-branding as long as there is life. Your dreams don’t come true just by doing one thing. It is a process. Input into that process. Pay the price!
  • Record-setting: Who have I came to beat? Who am I comparing myself with? I am successful compared to who? It’s about the depth of your vision, not about comparison or bragging. One must find the record on ground. Set goals that will break records.  Start from the family – Who is the richest, or who is the most spiritual? Are they not coming to you for prayers in your family? If the answer is Yes, then look out. Begin in your mind. These are not things that you tell people. But you know it. You know that they are now looking at you, looking up to you, or looking down at you.
  • Treasure it! In the Bible, Jesus said, “Don’t caste your pearls before swines!”. Don’t waste your time trying to convince those who have already written you off. Swines represent those who ridicule you or reject your ideas the moment you share those with them. Don’t put forth our greatest ideas in the direction of someone who has no other purpose than to trample it or discourage you. You got this with the whole of your heart. Don’t share it with everybody and anybody. This is not about arrogance. You can’t treasure what you have not verified. Verify it with your carefully chosen team, and then treasure it. Aim a place of leadership where you do not need everyone’s confirmation.

They say a tree grows as long as it lives. I wish the same for you. I hope the above ideas will help you along the way. This post should allow seeds to enter your mind that will make your greatest dreams come to you and should guide you in realizing them.

I owe this post to the Nigerian church leader who shared the above ideas in a seminar. I couldn’t catch his name but his words still ring in my ears. This had to be written, because I didn’t find this any where else on the internet.

If you like this post, please show the love by posting your comments below.

What Were You Doing Then?

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

― John Lennon

John Lennon got it right very early in his life. Above everything else we want in life – that luxury car, a dream bungalow, family trip to Hawai’i, or even an appreciation note – is our desire to reach that Destination: Happiness.

“Your days are your life in miniature”. Happy days convert into successful days which over time convert into successful life. Therefore, it is important to be happy.

Okay.. so we all want to be happy, but what does it take?

The best I used to do about it was hope that it would all work out on its own one day, perhaps praying to God would help get there faster, or may be I will need a happiness Mantra.

I did some research to see what successful people did to ensure happy days. And, I found a common theme. They didn’t leave their happiness to chance. Instead, they reflected on one question – “What was I doing when things were working out?” 

It’s so important and yet such an easy one to forget. You have to have your list to be able to repeat those things. That would multiply your chances of having happy days.

I started doing that myself and have realized that I am able to accomplish a lot more things than otherwise. I haven’t reached that destination yet – No way! But at least I am enjoying the journey.

So, here’s what I was doing when things were working out for me:

  1. I was getting up early – at 5 o’ clock!
  2. I was spending time with myself – Reflecting, Exercising, Learning, and Meditating. Everything else I did had a unique difference on days I spent time with myself!
  3. I broke down bigger problems into smaller ones – Call it WBS or lag measures. My five year old son, Tanav asked me a few weeks back, “Papa, do you do big things or small?” The question got me thinking and I replied, “I do only small things. The ones that are BIG, I break down to smaller ones. That way, I only have to do a bunch of small things that are manageable and it gives me a sense of accomplishment as I go along.” That didn’t impress him much though, and he said, “Papa, may be you should consider doing BIG things too!”  
  4. I was spending time with family“Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will. Stay in touch.”
  5. I was present in the moment. I wasn’t thinking about home while at work and about work at home.
  6. I was listening to the best of the best music. I once had a rule to listen only to music that touched my soul and settle for nothing less!
  7. I was planning for growth“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for two things, the people you meet and the books you read.” – Mark Twain.
  8. I was spending time in nature.
  9. I told stories to Tanav. Tanav has become an amazing story teller himself. I really love that because stories create such a lasting impression.
  10. I had faith. I didn’t let the day go by without laughing. I wasn’t worrying: A survey has revealed that 40 percent of things we worry about never happen; 30 percent have already happened and cannot be changed; 22 percent regards problems which are beyond our control; only eight percent of what we worry about are situations over which we have influence. So, why worry. It’s pointless!

The list is not etched in concrete, but for now, this is what it is. It will change as I mature and learn more.

It’s certainly not easy for me to follow it but one thing is certain – if I choose to follow it, I will be successful. After all, this is my personal success mantra.

So, what is your success mantra? Do you have your answer to the question, “What was I doing then?” I’ll love to hear from you.

I hope you liked the post. Please show the love by leaving me a comment.

Don’t Look For It And You Will Find It!

This was about a month back. I had brought a new board game for children, Carrom. My nieces were over and I was excited to introduce them to the game which I used to love playing myself as a child.

But my excitement soon turned into disappointment to hear that kids had lost it’s striker somewhere. Striker is a vital part of this game, you can’t play the game without it.

I asked my niece, “Saesha, where is the striker?”

She smiled and said,“I don’t know. It is lost and we just can’t find it.”

I was furious and this was not acceptable. How could she lose something and so conveniently say she can’t find it.

I said, “Okay, so you have searched for it and can’t find it, right?

She said, “Yes!”

I said, “Okay. Then keep searching for it until you do find it!”

I soon got busy with something and about one hour later, I saw all the kids except Saesha were watching TV. I asked and they said she was still in the playroom. I went there and found Saesha still looking for the lost striker. Her eyes full of tears just waiting to come down. I asked her what was wrong and she said, “You had asked me to keep searching until I find it. I still can’t find it.”

I was ashamed of myself for being so harsh on my little sweetheart. I had to do something to make her feel better. I suddenly recalled that as kids, we used to also lose a lot of things.

I had once lost my favorite mouth organ and Mom had told me, “You can’t find it, right? Now don’t look for it and you will find it.” 

It is hard not to look for it but when I eventually did, I magically found it!

The trick worked every time and this had almost become a game for us as kids. Whenever any one lost something, we would shout, “Don’t look for it and you will find it.”

I decided to use the same trick with Saesha and told her not to look for the striker and then she would find it. At least, that brought a smile on her face. I realized that her smile was worth more than the price of any game. 

It was only a matter of time and the lost striker appeared from somewhere. The trick had worked and we cheered!

I was more surprised than Saesha that this trick worked now too! I used to believe it as a child but it was different now. I was now grown up, and had dismissed this long back as being just a coincidenceAfter all, I had become logical and rational and it was silly to think that not searching for something can have a greater chance of finding it than searching for it. That would be ridiculous and at best a nice childhood fantasy. 

But life has made me reconsider that.

Recently at work, I racked my brains trying to solve an issue. I had already spent many conscious hours on it, in vain. I was once referred to as the Troubleshooter, a title that gave me a great sense of pride. And now, I could not solve what I would classify as a Medium complexity issue. I could not digest that. But it was late and I had to call it a day.

While driving back home, I was simply looking at the skyline and enjoying nature’s mystical beauty. And Bam! The solution to that problem at work unfolded in my head so clearly and so completely. I had found the solution when I didn’t look for it! It was like Magic. 

The trick that worked when I was a child really did work now too! 

I am pretty sure others have experienced this Magic too. However, most, like me, have grown up to brush these aside as sheer coincidencesBut coincidences are God’s way of telling us He exists! 

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” ― Albert Einstein, The World as I See It

I now try to be intentional about making time to forget the problems of work and life. To simply look at the sky, the trees or a flower. Whenever I do that, I get a deeper understanding of life and everything that is part of it.

If you don’t believe me, then it’s not as if trying it out for yourself will cost you something. Don’t look for it and you will find it.

If you liked this post, then please show the love by leaving me a comment.

… And you?

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“How can I teach him to become a responsible child?” 
I was driving home the other day with that question and much more playing on my mind. So much so that I could barely hear the car audio playing Madonna’s Papa don’t preach.

I had been a little worried last few days with the several times of hearing complaints from my Mom about how my four year old son, Tanav, was constantly watching TV after returning from school. There has to be a way out, I thought to myself. But what? And how? After all, my wife and I had tried everything we could, including scaring him that cops could come to arrest him. But, it was not working out any more.

I rolled down the windows hoping that some fresh air and ideas would enter in. And that’s exactly what happened, or so I thought . Although kids always want to have their way, yet the good news is that they are also logical and their mindset drives their behaviors. So, may be I just needed to convince him to start helping the family in some way, and that he would find that responsibility very satisfying!

It felt like an Aha! moment. Although it was perhaps an indirect way to teach someone to be responsible, yet my intuition told me its worth giving a try. I smiled to myself several times and although my car was crossing a flyover, I was feeling more like I had found a way to climb yet another mountain.

I reached home and managed a 1:1 time with Tanav before sleep time.

I said, “I have to talk to you about something.”

Tanav said, “Yes, Papa. Tell me.”

I love it when Tanav says something like that. I have seen that it is the 1:1 time that works if one wants the child’s undivided attention. Not when every one shouts at them at the same time. No one would like that, and we expect kids to take that nicely! Praise in public, reprimand in private. We remember this at our workplaces but forget it back home.

Anyway, I started, “You are a big boy now. And as one grows up, one starts helping the family in some way. See, Grandpa wakes up before everyone else in the family does, and fills water… in the buckets, bottles and water-tanks so that we all can use it all day long. All of us in the family are able to have water for drinking, bathing and flushing. All thanks to Grandpa! Did you ever even realize that?”

Tanav was touched. More so, when I told him that, “The luxury bubble bath that you and your sister take for over an hour followed by a shower is possible only because of Grandpa’s efforts in the early hours each morning!”

All he said was, “Really!!??!! Daadu is very sweet!”

I didn’t want us both to get carried away by emotion, so I quickly added, “Yes, he is. And so is Grandma. She takes care of the kitchen for everyone in the family. And Mom too, she gets you and Sohana ready for school, and helps Dadi with household chores.”

I was going to jump straight to asking him what he could do for the family, but Tanav intercepted, (with what now appears like an obvious follow-up question), “And Papa, what do you do for your family?“.

I was caught off guard but I still thought it would be an easy one, and so I started, ”I … I.. um.. ummm…. ummmmm…!!??!?!”

Oops! What do I do for my family? Do I do anything at all? I must be doing something besides going to office and earning money. After all, every one goes to work and the contribution I was referring to was meant to be more than just that! Besides, even if I said I go to office, then Tanav could say that he goes to school and watches TV all day to help his family! I couldn’t afford to take the risk of something like that being his answer!

Well, the reality is that what was meant to be a teaching for Tanav had ended up becoming one for me. I must have tried to defend myself then but I had learnt that I must genuinely start doing something for my family. I intend to get back to Tanav with a satisfactory answer soon, and before I end, let me ask you the same question, “What do you do for your family?”

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Don’t Bluff Those Little Fellas

 Most of this month, we have been busy in the process of finalizing which car to buy. It was a long and strenuous process to decide which one would be the best fit for our purpose. What made it take even longer, like most such family decisions, was the fact that everyone was involved in the process – From my Dad to my 6 month old daughter, Sohana. No kidding, every one has been equal party to the decision making process.

If you are wondering how can a 6 month old decide, well, it is simple – her happiness or crankiness levels during the various test rides were taken as indicators.

Even after deciding on the make, several other decisions had to be made such as the model, the color, the dealer and so on and so forth. I left the decision on which color to go for with my wife and 4 year old son, Tanav. So, I showed them all seven available colors on the pamphlet and left them alone in the room so that they could discuss and decide.

After a while, Tanav came out running and excitedly told me, “Papa, Dark brown color is what we would go for!“.

I assumed that this is a collective decision between him and my wife, and that Tanav was only communicating it to me. But as some one has rightly said, to assume is to make an ass of and me, and that’s what it was this time around as well. Later that evening, I casually asked my wife, “So, Brown it is, right?”

She replied, “No, not at all, I always said it is going to be the Serene Blue color which I love so much. You also like that one, don’t you?”

I was taken by surprise and asked, “But Tanav told me it was Brown. Dark Brown. And I thought both of you decided together!”

To which she said, “Oh yes, he is hung up on the Brown, and I don’t really know why. We couldn’t really agree on a color when we were discussing. I kept insisting on Blue and he was stuck with Brown.

I asked, “So…what next?”

To which she replied, “I don’t know. You tell me?”

I said, “Okay, I guess we will tell him that the Brown ones are out of stock, and we have to go with the Blue one. No Big Deal!”

There was something about that little proposal of mine that I hadn’t liked. I imagine it was my sixth sense telling me something but then it was an easy and perhaps a practical solution to get around the problem at hand, so I  let that thought pass.

Now there is something special about Sixth Sense that one has to remember –  whenever it tells you something, you better pay attention and act on it. It’s a message from up above which, if ignored, will come back to bite you. If not now, then later. But it will come back. Moreover, Sixth Sense doesn’t like being ignored, so if you repeatedly do that, it stops coming to share those insights and that could well be the beginning of your downfall.

I am glad I had the following realization the next morning. “The small little thing about the car color and we are considering lying to our own Son? Just to have our way! That can’t be right! What are we teaching our kid? Children are smarter than we can imagine, he will come to know soon that all colors were indeed available and that he was lied to. Besides, he will be grown up soon and learn to cook up stories to tell us to have what he wants. Are we okay with that? Of course, we are not!”

When I see my wife in the evening, I am going to tell her the revised plan -one that may be relatively more difficult one but is surely one that will help build a stronger bond with Tanav and will teach him a thing or two. We will tell him the truth and try to convince him using the same logic through which we ourselves like the Blue color, or perhaps understand his point of view. I am positive we will be able to come to a conclusion either way.

I am mindful of the occasions when we may have taken a short-cut or cut a little corner. Perhaps we all do it every once in a while. I am going to let bygones be exactly that, and take my lesson for going forward – Those small eyes and ears are learning from each interaction. Don’t even THINK of bluffing them!

I hope you will take away something from our experience and if that is the case, then please leave a comment below.