Sunday, November 12, 2017

My 2 cents on the Short Film #Lakshmi ....

When whole of the Social media was going against with negative reviews and comments on the short film, Lakshmi,  I took sometime today to watch it with curiosity.    Usually I enjoy short films for the message conveyed, the effort taken with low budgets and upcoming artists...however, this short film which I watched with the curiosity, made me end up in deep thinking.

This short film is not about extra marital affair of the man and justified by the affair of the woman in turn.  It is the routine life that is portrayed.   How a middle class family goes through a mundane life with cooking, getting the child ready to school, husband dropping the kid, then the woman getting ready to work,  coming back, cooking, putting the child to sleep and then satisfying the physical needs before calling it quits for the day.  There is no sharing of emotions, affection or exploring love and embracing happiness and there is neither appreciation nor a moment of pause to care.   It goes on like a well oiled machine.  Forgetting the fact that human emotions gets lost in this cycle.

So when the women goes out of a routine due to a strike in transport, and ends up in the road,  the husband's attitude towards the woman, not worrying about her safety or return but selfish about the next morning breakfast, makes the woman pause and wonder what she needs..That's when she says that she is hungry.   Yes, she is hungry not for food or sex as the internet calls her as an item.   She is hungry for care and affection.   So when she gets that from another man outside marriage, she accepts it.   It is not about the extra marital affair,  it is about the moment of self-need for that warmth and love that a third person Kathir shows her. 

What starts as a silent smiles and acknowledging each other during travels to work everyday, to the moment of togetherness on a silent night that ends up in sharing dinner, art, poetry, appreciation of the inate beauty of the woman both in her looks and inner feelings and then that takes it up to end in bed.   This story if understood rightly do not set a context for extra marital affair but to a woman who identifies her own needs and takes that extra step away from the dark routine of life.   After all she is a human being with emotions

Pain, Doubt, Redemption and Happiness. All in a split second. Those breathtaking eyes-  Salesh Dipak Fernando


Indian Cinema or the society is not immune to these relationships and all most three decades ago, Tamil Cinema accepted Sindhu Bhairavi,  Chinna Veedu and many other memorial films.   However, when it is showed in reality, on how even a sex is a routine,  and how the mother expresses her anxiety when the child turns towards them and how she just fulfills her man's needs and end up a tired soul, people are not able to accept.   It is for the simple reason, that the society is still tangled in the so-called morals which in truth is gone away long ago.  

Here it is not about both the man and woman indulging in extra marital affair.  It is about the woman not able to strike the cord of love with her husband.  It is about a man who does not express his feelings but bothers only about his needs both domestic, financial and physical.  It is about a man, who is still accepted in the normal family set up inspite of his affair to the other woman.   It is the narrow mindset of our present society to throw dirt at the woman when she does that.

What was getting done behind the scenes for decades together, when is shown on screen, making it visible for every one older than 18, on their small computer and phone screens, people started shouting against and it is the very crowd who made this movie popular or else there is nothing new that is shown in the film.   

Coming to the technical aspects,  the movie is technically rich, shoot in the natural environment of the house, work at printing press, train and bus stand..and then the house of an artist...paintings and sculptures...the artists have done beautiful portrayal of the roles....expressions, dialogues and the art making this movie a wonderful art piece.

For every grown up adult, especially in marriage, this is a must watch short film.  Look at the positive message it gives on how not to let your lives fall apart...how not to let your spouse drift apart for love and care.   Take a break from the mundane routine and learn to enjoy life and embrace happiness.

#Lakshmi is a powerful film conveying this message.  Stop looking at the negatives of this film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP5dOY42DKI&t=33s



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Why inclusion is still a distant dream in India?

Being a social activist and volunteer in community service, having had to mingle with various people and people with special needs was always there.  However, such interactions only pained me within.   It is not because I am sensitive to the limitations of people around me, but because as a system we are such a failure even today when we are talking about Robotic Sciences, Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive technology, and explore Space and Earth beyond imagination.  
At Worth Trust Katpadi
 

Though I know Siddharth Jayakumar and his condition of Cerebral Palsy since many long years, it is only after we started to write the book, that I could see from his side of life.  Struggle is a small word and sympathy is the harshest feeling once can show to people like Sidd.    
Who needs your sympathy!    Being empathetic to the situation and creating a comfortable living to everyone in this society is the NEED,  a Necessity,  not a privilege asked for.  

Forget about beaches and exhibitions being accessible in wheel chairs or the blind,  is our most necessary places accessible?  How many local Railway stations and bus stands are wheel chair friendly?   Do we have banks having ramps or lifts in all areas?   Are our schools ready for inclusion?   Even after 20 years since a guy like Siddharth fought his way into Boston Matriculation School,  for mainstream education, we still find it a challenge.

Being differently abled is not a curse.  But in India, it is an unfortunate situation.   Visually challenged vendors in train teach us that they too want to live in dignity.   SoulFree kind of organizations provoke our thinking towards taking inclusion to the grass roots.   Worth Trust kind of industries and rehabilitation centers keep doing in what they believe silently and successfully without the drama of publicity or government intervention.  

We need one Para-Olympic Mariaapan to tell us despite all the struggles, they stay motivated.   We take pride in the success of Deepa Malik for the achievements she brought into the country.   But, for a moment,  pause and think....have we done what is needed around us.   

INCLUSION is a big word.   A great challenge to our country.   We have to redesign our infrastructure,  create avenues of accessibility,  acceptance of the limitations of specially abled and give them equal employment opportunities and vocational training.   

We need more schools like APL Global where children of all kinds are treated at par, given equal opportunities and enjoy the mainstream education and sports.   We need more employers like WORTH TRUST,  RBS, Cognizant and IBM who give a sustainable employment opportunities to those who deserve...It is time, we look back and think forward.   

Each one of us should take a pledge to work towards inclusion, towards a better society and towards a more inclusive India....
 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Behind the pages of 'Simply Being Sidds' - Part 2

This post is a reminiscence of the travels that were part of this journey.  Countless trips to Siddharth's house and he visiting mine, were just a part of the travel.  But there are few travels that will remain deeply close to our hearts in this process and the warmth of the same.  You can ask me? what so big deal to travel when you are involving so many people in your book.   The answer is who are the people involved.  

My visit to Mrs. Usha Ramakrishnan was quite an eye-opener.  She gave me such a great insight into the emotional quotient of the people who are spastic and how we need to focus on the skills that they have instead of trying to make the other inoperative skills to enhance.  She dived deep into how Siddharth was special and how important it was for the system as a whole to be made accessible, acceptable and communicable with the children of special needs.  

Our interviews with Mr. Paul Abraham and Mr.Sandeep Sareen of IndusInd Bank were amazing.   These two leaders focused on how the work places need to be empathizing with the needs and also need through equal challenges to professionals who need little bit of extra arrangements.  What they need is not sympathy but a challenging work environment and equal opportunities to prove themselves.

The first outstation visit was to Bangalore which was an absolutely amazing experience.   The kind of warmth shown by Siddharth's parents-in-laws despite of their financial struggles show that what you need is a big heart and not big pockets.  The kind of comfort and warmth I felt probably I have not got it even at one of the finest hotels in the world.  This was so pure, so humbling and so honest.  

My first visit to Sri Acharya Rakum School of Blind and meeting Guruji was like a surreal experience.   Everything is going on smooth and as if it has all been amply oiled to make the place run on its own.   Children of various abilities,  our 4 legged friends and fishes all lived in such a harmony that you will feel very ashamed to the fact that a people of 4 in a house cant live in such a harmony.   Everyone does their share of contribution,  here disability is just not heard., you can see the place with profound happiness and overwhelming charm that it hold the beauty of humanity at large.   No wonder Chandrakala who was raised in this school has got such a inner beauty in her to manage as a wife in Sidd's life.   To be there that day was a honest blessing to me.  It is a lesson to stop regretting and living the life it gives us to be.

Our next visit was to Professor Nijaguna's house..Sidd's closest relatives.   Here we saw how people can smile and welcome despite the deepest loss and suffering to the physical bodies.   The kind of revelations that we had talking to such an expert adviser like Prof Nijaguna changed the very perspective of writing our book.   

The next outstation visit was to Pondicherry.   I have a special love for this place for the kind of peace that prevails when I visit Mother's Ashram.   Sidd and I had a fantastic bonding during this travel..  We shared so much like friends of life.   We spoke out of our hearts, exchanged warmth, fought for trivial things and argued on few,  agreed to disagree on some aspects and also had good food and travel.   The highlight of our Pondicherry visit is the opportunity to meet Lt Governor Smt. Kiran Bedi.    Kiran Mam'm not only recognized Sidd but also gave us a warm welcome and discussed on our book.   She was so happy and immediately accepted to be part of our book's back cover.  She also gave us a good photo opportunity.  For Sidd, it is not the first time with her.  But to me it was a moment of pride and happiness for Kiran Mam'm is always a great role model to me.



Our errands for editing, to our Publisher Notion Press,  our conversations with so many people, the exchange of emails, were all part and parcel of this book.   I discovered Sidd so much that I really started having my highest regards for him.   The journey of reaching out to million readers was thus began with our travels and talks.......Hope you love reading our book 'Simply Being Sidds'.   Don't forget to drop a line or two of your review to us and also on amazon.com.

Thank you.   Happy Reading
 


Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Hindu - 30 Aug 2017- Simply Being Sidds!


Indian Express- 22 August 2017- Simply Being Sidds


Deccan Chronicle - 28 Aug 2017- Simply Being Sidds


Behind the pages of ‘ Simply Being Sidds!’



I am a small time writer.  I used to write in the simple English I know and about what all impacts my life.  In fact, I had no specific writing goals.  It all started from writing essays in the school for competitions and articles for the school magazines and later on for Women’s era and scribbling what I thought is Poetry.   I had no particular style or direction.  I went on with the wind.  I wrote in classrooms, in trains, in mid of the nights,  early in the morning,  scribbled several poems in my diaries over the years, in the notepads and sticky notes and sometimes even on tissue papers that I could grab.    

Never in my life, I have thought I would write a book for someone, that too as special as Siddharth.   For one, I am not a great writer.  Secondly, my writing only gave meaning to me and to no one else.   Even my blog is in my name, my own self, my own brand with its limited followers who accepted me as a writer..for something or the other, they admire what I share and follow.

Though it was always my urge to help Siddharth in what ever way I can, I never thought I would be part of such a huge responsibility of taking ownership of writing his memoir with him.  When he entrusted that work to me, I was not sure if I could really handle it.  There was a plain canvas in front of me.   Forget about the final picture, even to sketch the draft of it was not easy.   I thought about it deeply.   Though I accepted his invitation to co-author immediately,  it took me a while,  really to be ready for the same.   I discussed on this with my daughter in detail.   I weighed its pros and cons.  I had no expectations.  It is just an opportunity to give back something to a friend who meant a lot in life. 

This is not going to be the first piece of published work.  There were instances where my writings got in print.  I have co-authored with Chennai Bloggers on the book ‘After the floods’ in 2016.   I have several scribbling s of mine in the form of poems in Poem Hunter e-book and hundreds of articles in my blog and other forums.  But this is a different genre.   A totally different expectation and the result is unexpected. 
 
It took me a whole weekend to think within before I met Siddharth for the first time on a Saturday afternoon.   I had a draft in mind, and I came up with the portions of the book, that need to be.  Sidd was over ambitious to achieve the completion in 3 months.  He had a date in March 2017 and later 5 Jun 2017 for the book release.   I promised him 3 hours every week on a Saturday.  And thankfully, I was able to keep up to that promise for several weeks till we got it all completed.   

The journey was not easy.   We laughed together, we cried together,  we fought, we argued, we listened to each other, we met many people, we spoke to several associates and friends.  The meetings were enriching.   The knowledge and learning that came along was phenomenal.  I dived deep into Sidd’s life like no one else could do.  We had our own mischief's,  quite dinners and rough days.   Some days, we couldn’t even write a page.   Sometimes, we did that for hours together without getting tired.   I met and spoke to amazing people in this process.   It was quite a momentum involving so many people in the book.   Each one came forward with so much of happiness.   The kind of response we got was remarkable.  Fantastic experiences. 

Towards the end, after we zeroed on the publisher, getting our sponsor and then editing started.   That’s when my mom needed medical attention and I was pulled into multiple priorities.   Sidd took the job on his shoulders without bothering me much and went ahead with the reviews.  I felt helpless.   He kept motivating me telling that priorities need to be taken care.   

When finally the day, we got a call from Notion Press on 8 Aug 2017, that the book is ready and the first 30 copies are available for authors to review,  Sidd called me with excitement.  I took  a cab and went to the Notion Press and received the box with the 30 books.   I touched it like touching a just delivered baby.   Yes, after 10 months of labor, here is our baby.   How else can we feel about it.

I brought the books to Sidd’s home, we both unwrapped it and touched the books, gently and then started taking pictures with the book and Raghu kept smiling at both of us.   The feeling is incredible.  

As we went ahead marketing our book, and planning the book launches and reaching out to our readers and portals for selling the book, we forgot about the royalty sharing or what we would reap out of it.  The purpose was larger towards inclusion, towards equality, towards accessibility, acceptance, employ-ability.  The expenses were mounting but it didn’t hurt us.   

We wanted the book to reach how many people ever possible.   We wanted to let the dreams of Dr Abdul Kalam shine and we went ahead with marketing, press and print media, social media campaigns, book launches and frequent sharing of information on the book in social media.  

Even if it helps few Siddharths,  even if it inspires mothers like Komala aunty,  if it encourages friends like Umasree and Prasanna to Sidd and even if one normal mainstream school makes the campus accessible to differently abled after reading the book, our very goal and purpose is achieved.   Tears of pain and joy mix when I look back on this journey.   It gave me an extended family.   Sidd’s family accepted me as one among them.   What else you need…  

Raghu and Aish stood as rock solid support to me in this journey,  my otherwise inquisitive mom, encouraged me as I worked every weekend on this project.   It is not the success of the book in terms of numbers that I am looking forward, it is the kind of reach and reforms that this book can bring with thinking process changing in the minds of at least a few. 

Thank you!

Friday, June 9, 2017

How to Manage Your Project Tasks?

As a Project Manager, you usually have too much work to do and not enough time to do it in. The trick is to manage your daily tasks carefully. If you have great task management skills, then you'll be more effective with your time and deliver projects earlier as a result. Here's how to do it.
How to Manage Your Tasks
Manage your tasks by taking these 5 simple steps...
Step 1: Consolidate
You probably have tasks written down on your desk, in your calendar, in documents and email and maybe even on your mobile phone. The first step is to consolidate all of these tasks into one simple list.
Make sure your task list is easily accessible because if it's not, then you'll end up with a splattering of tasks around your office within no time. Try putting your task list online using your intranet software or connections available so you can share it with others and access it from anywhere, anytime.
Step 2: Prioritize
With all of your tasks in one place, prioritize them by moving the most important tasks to the top and the least important to the bottom. In this way, you can work from top to bottom in your list knowing that you are always working on the right thing at the right time.
Make sure you prioritize your tasks based on the right criteria. Don't always put the easiest ones at the top. The “highest priority” tasks should be the ones that either deliver the most value, are critical to the project or must be done before others can commence their work.
Step 3: Schedule
With a clear view of all of your tasks and their priorities, you now need to estimate how much time it's likely going to take to complete each task on the list. So write down the effort needed for each and try and make it as realistic as possible.
Then create a schedule so that you know which tasks you are going to work on and when. Having a schedule is great because it allows you and your team to forecast the workload ahead.
Step 4: Update
At the start of every day, update your schedule by marking the tasks you've completed and re-forecasting the tasks you still have ahead. Only then will you know if you're on track.
If your schedule gets out of date, it will quickly become useless. However by keeping it up-to-date, it will become a powerful tool as it will give you and your team a roadmap ahead.
Step 5: Communicate:
People around you will want to know what it is that your working on and when it's likely to be completed. So share your schedule with them, helping them to keep informed along the way.

How to Manage Your Project Risks?

How to Manage Your Project Risks
A risk is something that might affect the success of your project. Like, if you're going out - you'd consider the risk of it raining today. You'd be sure to pack an umbrella if you thought the risk was high!
You'll find risks on your project too, and the difficult thing is that you never know exactly if and how they will affect you. The best you can do is plan to mitigate the risk (like packing your umbrella) or work out how you can stop it happening in the first place.
Here is a simple 5 step process that you can use to effectively manage risks on your project.
Step 1: Identify risks
First, you need to know what could affect the success of your project. List everything that you are aware of that could be a potential problem. You can group risks into categories like Financial, Operational, Planning and so on if that helps.
Step 2: Assess risks
Once you have your list of risks, you can work out what sort of impact they will have on the project if they happen. Some won't present much of a problem at all. Others will be a significant issue. If you have limited time and money to address them all, prioritize the most important ones.
As well as looking at each individual risk, use a report or dashboard to show you the overall risk profile for your project—that is, whether your project has a high, medium or low level of risk overall when all the risks are taken into account.
Step 3: Plan some actions
Now you know the most important risks, you can work out what you need to do to address them. These are your mitigating actions, or the steps you should take to either stop the risk from happening or make it have less of an impact if it does. Delegate the tasks to your team using Risk Management Software, which easily allows you to assign work to your colleagues.
Step 4: Carry out your plan
As all your actions are stored in your project management software, you can easily track who is responsible for what and how much progress they have made. Check that each team member is on target to finish their risk mitigation activities before you think the risk might happen!
Step 5: Review risks
It's not enough to carry out all these steps as a one-off exercise. You have to periodically review your risk log and check that there are no new risks. Equally, there may be some on your list that you can remove as perhaps the danger has passed or they did materialize and you dealt with them as part of the project.
Schedule a task on your project plan to regularly review your risk log with the team. You can use this time to check any outstanding actions and to make sure that everyone knows what the priority risks are. Then you can collectively focus your efforts on making sure that they don't occur—or if they do, that the impact they have will be small enough to manage easily.

How to work with Gantt Charts?



How to Work with Gantt Charts
A major challenge on projects is that you make sure you have a robust, detailed project schedule. A schedule helps you see how long the project will take and how much effort needs to go into it. If you get it wrong it can be a costly and time-consuming mistake.
Gantt charts are a great tool to display your project schedule in a way that makes it easy to see what needs to be done on the project. So here are 5 steps to working with Gantt charts...
Step 1: Create your task list
First, you need to know what tasks there are to work on! Brainstorm with your team and come up with a complete list of tasks required for the project. Make it as comprehensive as you can. It can help to do this over a couple of days so that you have time to reflect on what really needs to be done.
You can also upload task lists from other software such as Microsoft Excel, Word or Project, so it will save you time at this step if you already have task lists in different formats. The task list forms the basis of your Gantt chart.
Step 2: Link tasks together
Some tasks need to be done in a particular order. Gantt charts show you the dependencies (links) between tasks. If a task has to start after, before or at the same time as another one, you can add these links into your project schedule. Then those tasks will always be linked together.
Step 3: Set start and end dates for tasks
Linking tasks is the first step to creating a timeline, but you will probably have to schedule some start and end dates manually. Go through the list of tasks that you have created and set dates for your activities. These will depend on how long each task will take. The bars on the Gantt chart will change length to represent how long each task is.
Step 4: Add some milestones
A milestone is a point on the project which marks an achievement. It is normally shown on a Gantt chart as a diamond, and it represents a task with a duration of zero days. You can link tasks to milestones. Milestones can mark the end of a phase, the completion of a big task or series of tasks or the start of a new stage. Aim to schedule milestones regularly throughout your project plan as they will help you track if you are on schedule.
Step 5: Add resources to tasks
You may have to change some of the project dates if you find that someone on the team has too much to do. They won’t be able to work on dozens of tasks all at the same time, so adjust your schedule as you need to. Software can help you do this which takes the time-consuming analysis out of calculating what you need to amend. You can display the names of team members working on tasks directly on the Gantt chart too.

Few Tips for Starting Your Projects

When you're starting a new project, it can be a confusing time. Everyone is trying to set priorities and get the work moving. It doesn't have to be hard if you follow these...
Tips For Starting Your Projects
Tip 1: Develop the Project Charter
The Project Charter is a document that includes high level information about the project including key milestones, an overview of the budget and of course, the aims and objectives of the project. You will be key in preparing the document, but it should be owned by the project sponsor who takes responsibility for the project overall. Oh, and if you haven't already, make the time to meet your project sponsor! Ideally you should work on the Charter together so that you have a common understanding of what is to be done.
Tip 2: Identify Stakeholders
Who is going to be involved on your project? The project initiation phase is the perfect time to identify everyone who will have an input to your project or who can influence the work. The Charter gives you a starting point as it will help you see which areas of the business are going to be affected by the new project. You can also talk to your project sponsor to make sure that you don't miss anyone out.
Tip 3: Select the Project Team
The next thing you need to do is to get some team members to work with! Think about the skills you will need in order to be able to complete the different project tasks. Most projects need a variety of different skills from subject matter experts. Then match these requirements to the skills of the available individuals and put together your team.
If you don't know how to start selecting suitable candidates you can ask other project managers or line managers for their advice about who would be able to contribute to the project.
Set up your team members. Then give them access to the right information for this project. Once that's done you can begin to allocate project tasks to them as the schedule is created.
Tip 4: Check the Business Benefits
Why is this project being done? It's important to understand the benefits and the rationale behind doing this project. Talk to your project sponsor if you aren't sure. Understanding the ‘why' will help you explain it to the other team members. You'll find that the team is more motivated if they understand why they are working on something and how it contributes to the business strategy and plans overall. If you can share a common understanding of the project's objectives this is a major step towards getting everyone on board.
Tip 5: Get started!
Now the preparation work is complete, you can get started working with your team and putting together your project schedule. Create a list of all the tasks that need to be done (with input from your team) and then add dates and milestones to form your schedule. You can then allocate tasks to the people who will be doing the work and instruct everyone to get started! Remember to set up your processes for monitoring and controlling the project work too so that you can keep on top of project status at any time.
Starting a new project can be a hectic time. However, it doesn't have to be difficult. If you are clear about the roles and responsibilities of the project manager during this time, you can start your project off perfectly.