Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Being laid back in an aggressive world

I started my career in a leadership development department, got promoted to a project lead soon after and led many projects. Yes there was cutthroat competition, Yes there was backstabbing and sweet talkers, Yes there was gossip and kiss ass giri but I did all that in my own way and still stayed true to who I was. I can still look back on those years and am not embarrassed of anything I see there.

Then I got pregnant, went on my maternity leave and when I came back, I was a changed person. Those four months of caring for that mewing little infant completely changed my priorities. No longer did I yearn for a demanding challenging glamorous job, but I just wanted something with a steady workflow and where I could take days off and go home early. And I did get such a job; thanks to my earlier reputation and success. I was offered a flex time job with Fridays off, leave at three in the afternoons’ kind of deal on a platter and I took it and coasted my days away. If you ask me what I can liken last year to, in terms of my career, it’s like floating on an inflatable tube in the warm waters of the Caribbean. I had a boss with an “It’s my way or the highway” kind of philosophy and I was content to go along with what she proposed. I was a worker bee. I came, I worked and I left to go home and chill out with my baby and friends and family.

So now fast forward 2 years, I wake up and realize where I am, where I have reached, coasting away on the gentle waters and it’s an awakening. I sit up and brush off the mental cobwebs and am determined to find my way back into the action of things. And it’s hard because everywhere I turn to, I have to face questions on: Give me instances of where you displayed leadership, Give me examples of where you resolved conflicts, and give me instances of where you thought outside the box and implemented some ground breaking concept! Well meaning managers and peers dole out advice by the gallonfulls – You should go network, go take so and so out to lunch, go to the bar after work and chat up that group there, go dance for those folks…I exaggerate but you get the gist….Sigh…I realize that I turn back to my earlier job positions for any questions on career and proving myself and when I have made a difference. Honestly the last two years have been all “My baby is my number one priority, my number one job and the rest is all collateral”. And now I am planning another baby while looking for another job at the same time. And am terrified of how its all going to work out and wrong timings and what if I get a new job and find out I am pregnant at the same time…But I don’t know what I want more (Okay I clearly want another baby more but I also want the money and the responsibilities and the career growth)…Keep your fingers crossed for me! I have my second round of interviews this week and hopefully all goes well I will have my second shot at my career!

I really admire people who balance both – work and home and equally admire women who have given up their careers to take care of their house. It takes courage to choose either direction. How do you do it?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Volleyball and networking

Ever since my sole half marathon accomplishment, people view me differently. A Director I used to work with introduced me to his team as a "runner" though I wouldnt really call myself one! Anyways there was a volleyball tournament between various Finance teams and our external auditors and in light of my newfound fitness, I signed up in enthusiasm. There were 4 guys and 1 girl on my team; all from the same Accounting group, I was kinda like the outsider in that overall group. Well the volleyball was fun, I played it for the first time in my life and had a good time. Our team actually won the tournament, thanks to the 4 competitive guys on our team who played fantabulously. Did I have fun? I guess I did....What spoiled it was this girl on the team who completely ignored me the whole time! We must have played about 8 matches with different teams and she chatted with everyone else but me! So was another guy on the team but atleast he wasnt even being friendly with anyone else so I didnt feel special in receiving his indifference. But this skinny stick of a girl! Condescending cow! And what has hurt me more is my reaction to it. Instead of being all - Geli khadyat (Go fall in a ditch) types, I hovered around her trying to make conversation and being friendly and just got hurt everytime she replied for the sake of replying and then coolly turned her back on me.

Now I look back on the whole episode and mentally smack myself; why the hell did I even bother trying to be friendly to that girl! My life - both personal and professional is blissfully complete, I have wonderful friends - why was I so upset with that rejection and that too from a female who I dont know or dont care about?

Currently as I am trying to switch jobs internally, the mantra put forth by all my managers/mentors/peers/janitor is to network, network, network! And I suck at it! I hate to set up stupid informational interviews with people just to kiss ass and make fake smiley conversation just so they might think of me when they are hiring someone in their group. Whatever happened to just talent?

Many times when you just feel like you have fitted in well, incidents like this happen when you are painfully aware of how sorely you really stick out. Its the same like driving, you get comfortable and think - Oh, I drive really well, I have been driving for x no of years etc and you just need one near miss of an accident to humble you and remind you that you are a constant learner.

So whats my mature solution to the stuck up idiot female, pretend that I am a woman with magical powers and stick a super bad luck curse on her.

Monday, August 17, 2009


*This post was languishing in my draft folder, need to publish it to keep reminding myself of it*


1. Do not think of the past
Do not think of the painful episodes in which they have not been understanding and have been demanding and hurtful. Start each day afresh.

2. Do not think of the future
Do not think about the 25-30 years of your prime life to be spent adjusting to their company. Put your trust in God.

3. Be clear about your priorities in life
Baby, your married relationship, planning another baby, advancement in career, your careers, taking vacations together, spending time with family and friends, going out with P.

4. Take time for yourself
Read religious books, read good books, watch favorite shows, exercise, quality time with hubby and baby

5. Set boundaries
Be clear about expectations and how far you will go

6. Start with a clean slate, remove pain from your mind, remove angry thoughts and be peaceful

7. Make time for meditation and exercise – a healthy body and healthy mind assures peace and happiness

8. Make trips to India and stay with parents

9. Do not do anything which comes unnaturally to you or don’t do anything in expectation of appreciation or praise

10. Trust hubby and do not fight with him

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I did it !!! My first ever half marathon :)

On the day before the marathon, we ate a lot of pasta – spaghetti with arrabiata sauce, shells with pesto sauce, toasted bread etc and then packed our stuff and went over to Uncle Aunty's. I kept waking up every couple of hours all through the night. Once or twice R made her way to the bottom of the bed and sat up and started shouting “Mommy Mommy where are you?” :) So by the time, it was 5:15 and time for us to wake up, I was more nervous at the lack of sleep. It must have been stress because I have slept peacefully in the same bed in the same room many times in the past. We got all ready and left at 5:45 am. As P had done this before, it was a piece of cake. He put my bib on my Tshirt for me, put my tracker on my shoes for me hehee so I didn’t have to apply my brain anywhere and could simply focus on running and enjoying the experience. We reached downtown around 6.00 am. Already streets were closed off and you could see all the parking lots filling up close to the race destination. We found a parking lot and walked a couple of blocks to the race. Once again as I had experienced P with me, we did our warm up stretches/exercises leisurely, went to the porta potty (bathroom) multiple times and finally stood with our pace group to start the marathon. 18,000 people ran this half marathon! Everyone was divided into various corrals according to their pace. The atmosphere was almost festive, anticipation, anxiety and impatience to start the race filled the air. The announcer was a funny guy, he was making lots of jokes and cheering on each group as they started off. They sent the groups off one by one – the marathon started at 6.30 am sharp. Our pace group started at 7.00 a.m. When we started walking towards the start point, I could feel the restlessness in everyone around me. I had severe butterflies in my stomach. The announcer kept announcing – Off in five seconds, 4-3-2-1 and off you go……

In the beginning there were so many people, it didn’t feel like we were running, more walking fast in a fair. But then as the roads widened and people dispersed a bit, we actually began to run. It felt so awesome to run downtown along the high funda shops and seeing the buildings which form the magnificent skyline of the city, many people had already gathered to cheer their family and friends. It was an amazing feeling, very exciting. I remember when I had gone to see P finish the full marathon last year, the whole audience was kinda in awe of the runners, it feels so cool and you want to be a part of it. And now I was one of them, I was running and people were cheering me on…A dream come true!

The water stations were about 1-2 miles apart; volunteers had lined up holding out cups of cytomax (gaterode) and water. About a few miles after the water stops were stages set up on the streets, where a different rock and roll band was playing live. That was just amazing, the beats, the music just gave a new burst of energy and every time we passed the rock and roll bands, we automatically increased our pace and ran faster and happier.

The runners were all joyous and in high spirits. We cheered to the audience, cheered to the band, smiled for the cameras. All this lasted till about ten miles. Miles 11-13 were deathly silence, you could only hear the noise of the shoes hitting the road beneath :) and of course then around 12-13 miles, a lot of people started walking and then you could hear the self congratulatory conversations “I have never run this far before, I am so happy”, “I made good time so far, I am so happy”, “At least we have gotten so far, who cares about time” etc etc..I started walking all the uphill portions around the end of the race. We saw a girl fall down and hurt her knee and had to be taken away by medical services, she burst into tears and kept crying as they drove her away. After that everyone around me tread a bit carefully on the gravel. We passed/ran with so many amazing groups! The most amazing person I saw was this old man running slowly – his Tshirt said “1935 Original parts Still running” !!!! So this guy must have been some 70+ years and he is running a half marathon !!!! And we passed him at nine miles or so, so he had already run 9 miles !!! We told him “Tusi great ho” (In English of course) hehe….

Along the 11-12-13 mile somewhere, the toes of my right leg started burning. I got nervous at the thought of it getting worse and my not being able to finish or something but I pushed back the negative thoughts and daydreamed about crossing the finish line. P kept asking me how I was doing as I was unnaturally quiet ;) That’s another thing, I had thought I would chat chat all the way to the finish line (so P had also recommended me not talking a few days before the race just so I could save up topics for discussion on the actual day, Yes, that brilliant idea didn’t work, I didn’t shut up hehee). When we were actually running the race, I couldn’t talk!!!! I had to conserve my energy and shut up!! So it was just us quietly running, with P offering encouraging words and I am proud of yous to boost my spirits :)))

So many people had gathered towards the 12-13 miles, they all kept cheering and assuring us how good we looked, how close we were to the finish line etc. It felt amazing!! Then somewhere around mile 13 marker, N, one of my mentors met us. He gave me a couple of M&Ms to give me a shot of energy in order for me to smile :)) for the camera at the finish line. It felt really good to see him, at that point of time, I was exhausted, I didn’t want to admit to myself or to anyone that I was tired because I thought if I said it aloud, I wouldn’t be able to finish but I was. I was yearning for the finish line and it just seemed to be farther and farther away, around the next bend and the next…..just like our sole Himalayan trekking experience; “Oh yes, our base camp is right after that mountain out there, and the mountains kept shifting”….

But that momentous moment had arrived. P and N pointed to the finish line in the distance and My God it was like a burst of energy surged through my body. I had actually planned to finish holding P’s hands, all romantic and smiling, but when I saw that finish line, my body just shot ahead, without a mind of its own. I raced towards the finish line, I couldn’t believe I was running so fast when I didn’t feel like I had any energy left in me. I kept asking “P, is that it? Is that it?” A highly amused P followed me, gone were my plans of holding hands with him, all I saw was the finish and I ran with all my energy towards it !! I tried to smile for the three photographers perched at different angles and then abruptly the race was over! Just like that! Those last few seconds of adrenaline still left my heart pumping and I felt like I could really run a few more miles on it.

I had thought I would cry when I finish but in reality I was more emotional when I started than when I finished! I was choking back tears when the announcer had said “And off you go, Welcome to the XYZ Rock and Roll”!

I do plan to keep running and aspire to run the full marathon one day. Running the half marathon has refreshed my confidence in myself. I remember when I announced it to different people that I was going to try to run the half marathon, there were different reactions – My boss had said “Maybe you should try a 5K first”, others had laughed as if I was joking, some had nodded in disbelief. It always feels good to prove something to yourself that you can still do what you put your heart to and this gives me the confidence to believe in myself and apply this optimism to overcoming other obstacles in my life. Also in ending, all of this was possible because of the unwavering support of my dearest husband! He was the one who patiently babysat a cranky R on weekdays and entertained her on Sunday mornings, always told me that “Of course you can do it”, and babysat (ran) me through the entire first half marathon experience. Maybe one day we can run the full marathon together and Yes, this time, I will hold hands with him at the finish.