Sunday, August 13, 2017

The best way to bring up children

A mother has an intrinsic hunch about what her child's needs, be it nourishment for the body or the mind and she provides naturally knowing what is best for her child. 

As a child I would wonder how my mother knew that I was up to mischief even though I would take all the care to hide my act. So, whether it was stealing money from her purse to go and buy myself an ice cream from the local tuck shop or lying to stay over at a friends place for homework when actually it was for a party, mama somehow managed to get wind of things and quiz me in such a manner that would slowly but surely confess. 
What was awesome was that she never punished me. Yes, she reprimanded me. And then proceeded to counsel me asking me w hy I did what I did and what the consequences could be for me to deal with. Eventually we would collectively conclude that I would not to do whatever I did again; and a lesson was entrenched for life!

When I became a mother I adopted the same philosophy of upbringing and added to this the freedom to question the ways of the world allowing them to make their own life's decisions on the value principles they wished to adopt. And I did so without judging my children or without an over bent bias. I did answer questions if they came to me for advice but largely I have let them take flight on their own terms. I did caution them of my fears and put things in perspective from my point of view but eventually let them ride the waves with their own skills and intellect. I trust my upbringing and although there were times that their judgement has proved wrong but dealing with that itself has been an education for them and they have come through stronger and with a larger belief in themselves and the confidence of soaring higher.

India wants more

Indians are a curious people. They have an unquenchable thirst for more. We believe in the word MORE, more than any other nation. This is because we are used to plurality. Take for example the number of languages, cuisine, cultures, clothing, Gods & Goddesses, customs, terrain, colour of skin etc. Clearly, variety is the name of the game and the people of this expansive subcontinent despite their  strong individual beliefs have been accepting of the variety that co-exists because there are just so many types of Indians and Indianness! And because there are so many types more often than not, in an average day you will witness or experience something new. This typically Indian trait of wanting to see more has been captured beautifully in the #Amazon campaign "Aur Dikhao Aur Dikhao" 

This desire for more amongst Indians has grown multifold with the opening of markets and the internet. 

Today even the lower income group Indian is suddenly in touch with the world through their handheld phones and they are sponging the juice that the world has to offer with an urgency like never before. Its almost like wanting to keep pace with the speed at which the world is forging ahead. Indians are genetically an intelligent lot and have proved this on the world stage enough and more. And yet there was a lack of exposure before the widespread outburst of telecom that has made the tiny screens a window to all that is happening in the world beyond. True to the basic monkey nature they find nothing nothing wrong with learning from others, as there will always be more to learn, from the world. However, although it is great to ape the world for the amazing ways of life that they have achieved, Indians have to do so by sifting through what they see, hear and experience so that their minds and eyes open wider and they are willing to adopt newer ways of life that will enrich their otherwise rich culture and topography manifold. The quenching will undoubtedly take time but it will be sooner than later and before you know it they will be at par if not ahead of the world, as their desire for more ... will most certainly make them achieve more. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Carnival Colors

Spectacular floats adorn the streets with people dancing without inhibition in their brilliantly coloured costumes while rainbow coloured masks and feathers adorn the faces of passers-by. Scores of entertainers from diverse lands and color are aplenty and the atmosphere is that of merry making twice over. Eager tourists can’t believe their luck as they take to their hand held smart phone cameras trying to capture the perfect ‘SELFIE’ and update their joy on social media saying – ‘It’s that time of the year again!’ We’re not describing the popular festival Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We’re talking about our own version of it, here in our very own backyard – The Goa Carnival.

Easily the biggest festival and unique and exclusive to Goa since the 18th Century, The Goa Carnival is celebrated before the commencement of the 40 days of Lent; which is a period of fasting, abstinence and spirituality. It was introduced by the Portuguese, who ruled over the state for more than 500 years.

Although the three day festival is predominately celebrated by the local Christians, it has evolved to include some traditional Hindu flavour over the past decade as well as western music and dance form. Though it originally started as a celebration by the local population, it has crossed all geographical and cultural barriers with thousands of people thronging from all over the country and the world take active part in it.

Taking place between the 25th and 28th of February in 2017, the carnival will kick off with an order to start partying, from the legendary King Momo, or the ‘King of Chaos’, a character derived from the Greek God, Momus – The God of Satire. Following him, in procession, are flocks of dancers, bands, folk singers adorning costumes of fortune tellers, hawkers, older men and women in brightly coloured clothing and many more such delightful imagery and entertainment to watch.

The three days that follow is a time of unbridled festivities among the masses. Day long parades, accompanied with live bands, dance troupes, party goers wearing masks and costumes, sports competitions and colourful floats. It’s also a great time to treat your taste buds and indulge in the sinful local delicacies and wash the food down with a glass or four of the local Goan spirit, Feni. If you’re a late riser, don’t worry, you won’t miss a moment of the celebrations as they go on late into the night.

Back in the day, the procession would enact battle scenes, with boys and men armed with fake guns, loaded with coloured powder. There was no shortage of firecrackers that were lit in harmony with the beat of the drums. Local boys eagerly waited for the Carnival, as it became an opportune setting to profess their love for the girl of their dreams.

The festivities culminate with the ‘Red and Black Ball’ that has women dressed in red tops and black skirts while their male counterparts adorn red shirts and black trousers – this is held at the Clube National in Panjim and is a gala event attended by multitudes of people.

So if you are planning a trip to Goa plan to be there around The Goa Carnival.

Image credits: planetgoa and jattdisite and globalvisiontours

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Beautiful Strokes

It is common in the US and Canada for artists to hone their craft by going to different locales, which inspire them in different ways. They also find the exercise more interesting and inspiring, and hence when they find locations in other countries, the trip becomes a holiday too. Suzanne Northcott, an artist from Canada, recently conducted one such art workshop for a motley group of art learners at the Aashyana Lakhanpal, Goa.

The group largely spent most of their time painting and doing yoga at the beautifully set Yoga Pavillion but when their schedule permitted and their curiosity got the better of them, they toured the culturally rich and social hobnobbing spots of the city where people from across the world took on the gay and languorous vibe of the city.

The experiences they enjoyed were many; they particularly enjoyed the performance of a RUSSIAN SINGER, who crooned beautiful renditions of Mozart, Bizet etc. on the very first evening of their stay at Aashyana Lakhanpal. The WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON BAZAAR at Anjuna Beach, which originally started as a flea market during the hippie era and has continued to this date on a larger scale. Shopping was a key attraction here. This was followed by a trip to the SATURDAY NIGHT MARKET at Arpora, which is similar to the Wednesday market but differs by having a large international food court with live music and dancing, making the night a lot of fun.

Located in the industrial area called Pilerne is the new MUSEUM OF GOA created by a Goan artist – this visit gave them a peek into the colorful history of Goa. One morning they took a BOAT TRIP on the Mondavi River where they caught glimpses of the city and its vegetation and concluded the day with a spectacular sunset. No trip to Goa is complete without a viewing of OLD GOA. So one morning they took a day trip to the SPICE PLANTATION and on the way back they witnessed the architectural beauty of old Goa and the BASILICA OF BOM JESUS where to date lie the mortal remains of Saint Francis Xavier.

A COOKING WORKSHOP was organised for them with Meera Chinai, who in a couple of hours gave them the basics of Indian cuisine, more specifically the Indian DAL. She shared with them the importance of TADKA (known as tempering in English) and also demonstrated how tadka was done in India. Since they were so intrigued Meera also taught them how to cook the simple and popular south Indian snack UPMA, the ingredients of which are easily found in all western countries and the method is quite simple. They found it easy to use and thoroughly relished the snack after tasting it.


1 cup of semolina
1 tbsp cooking oil
½ tsp channa dal
½ tsp udad dal
½ tsp of mustard seeds
1 onion finely chopped
2 green chillies
4-5 curry leaves
1 glass of water
5-6 stalks of coriander/cilantro
1 lime cut into long wedges

-     Roast the semolina in a pan on a medium flame until crunchy – this should take about 10 minutes. Once done take it off the fire into a plate to cool.
-     Add the oil to the same pan and once heated add the mustard seed and when they sputter add the udad and channa dals and stir them until they are slightly brown.
-     Toss in the onions, green chillies and curry leaves and stir till the onions soften.
-     Add the roasted semolina to the pan and stir well for 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.
-     Add a glass full of water to the pan (watch out for it sputtering) and stir quickly to avoid formation of lumps.
-     Cover the mixture for about 15 minutes on a low flame – the water will dry up and once the consistency becomes paste-like your Upma is ready
-     Take it off the fire and serve in a bowl – garnish it with fresh coriander/cilantro and wedges of lime

Suzanne and her students thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Aashyana Lakhanpal and have plans to come back again next year.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


North Goa, has become synonymous with crowded beaches, hippie markets and a crazy nightlife, and it is usually difficult to find a quiet, homely and comforting space around it. And yet, in the milieu is an oasis like no other that intrigues the curiosity of the keen traveler.

In the early 80’s, Ajai Lakhanpal bought a home for himself in the inimitable North Goa, and over the years, has meticulously added science and magic to it, to create a paradise so inspiring and beautiful that he was compelled to share it with the world. Over a decade ago the treasured property, opened its doors to travellers that were looking for a unique escape from the mundane, and ever since, guests have poured in from all over the globe, to experience the harmony within themselves and that of AASHYANA LAKHANPAL.

The property inherited its name from Ajai’s family homes named ‘Aashyana’ in Jallandhar and Mumbai – the meaning of which in Persian is bird’s nest. Just as a bird builds its nest with precision and detail to ensure the comfort and care of its hatchlings, Aashyana Lakhanpal perched on the pristine Candolim beach, is built with utmost care and thought under the supervision of Ajai himself, keeping in mind the comfort of his guests.

It is perhaps the only shaded coconut grove in the world from which you can step directly on to the beach. You can lose yourself they say, in the wonder of its unmanicured ambience, where nature is allowed to be its amazing self while the simplicity and uncluttered décor in the villas bring a touch of finesse to one’s experience. Life imitates art, and Ajai himself curates art from pieces he has found and brought back from his travels around the world. These individual and unique pieces can be found around the property and in each of the rooms, while Buddha statues and 7 hand carved granite altars at the entrance axis of the house, hold place of pride for each day of the week.

While guests are being pampered and taken care of, Aashyana Lakhanpal also takes care of the environment by harvesting rainwater and feeding it back with the help of four aquifers on the property. This has benefited the property and perhaps neighbouring homes too. The garden also employs a permaculture framework that regenerates soil naturally.

“Aashyana Lakhanpal’ beauty has attracted distinguished artist camps with the likes of Bhupen Thakkar, Nalini Malani, Nilima Shaikh, Rekha Rodwitya, Navjot and the late Altaf and many others gracing its spaces to create wondrous art pieces, while besotted loved ones have read their vows under the bows of its fauna and corporate honchos have inspired their teams to have strategy discussions like never before. I believe we have truly created a haven, for the world to experience,” said Ajai as he looked on at the expansive natural habitat surrounding him.

The renowned art curator and philanthropist, OP Jain fittingly described the property after his visit, “Aashyana Lakhanpal has the comforts of a palace and the silence of a monastery; it has the silence of Humanyoon’s tomb and the grandeur of the Taj Mahal“

Indeed the perfect balance of a natural habitat coupled with the attention to detail and warm hospitality makes Aashyana Lakhanpal the destination of choice for many of its visitors, bringing them back for more, to rekindle old memories and create new ones too. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sports Heroes Anthem

Earlier this week I received a call from my friend and ex-colleague Rasika Kulkarni. She sounded excited, as did Nilesh Kulkarni - they are both the Directors of the International Institute of Sports Management, Mumbai, India. Without exchanging the usual pleasantries they asked me to block my diary for the 24th of January 2016 for a very special milestone in their lives ... they were launching the #sportsheroes national anthem enacted and supported by 8 of India's sports heroes @sachin_rt @dhanraj_pillay @ibaichungbhutia @Maheshbhupathi @WrestlerSushil @MirzaSania @gaGunNarang and the great Sunil Gavaskar @excricketr ... the anthem has been conceptualised by Nilesh and Rasika and is written and directed by Abhijit Phanse, music direction by Ram Sampath, Photography by Sudeep Chatterjee ... tremendous team effort with an outcome of a 3.10min video that strung the right chords giving the traditionally dressed audience goose bumps and moist eyes.

Dhanraj and Sachin were the only two of the eight sports heroes that were present at the event held at the #TajLandsEnd. Both of them spoke with humility and emotion about their sport and the flag and the joy they have felt each time the #indianflag was unfurled in a foreign land because of their win.

The beautiful sentiment of 'Apne bachhon ke pairon ko apne desh ki mitti lagne do' was given by Sachin, Dhanraj and Nilesh. It was portrayed with beautiful imagery of children playing gully cricket, marbles, sprinting, catapult and many such. The key message of the anthem was that all the eight sports heroes shown in this version of the anthem, are people from very humble beginnings and today they are on the global arena playing on behalf of #India making us proud by winning and unfurling the #indianflag across the world - and this is possible by each of our children too.

As a child I remember playing all kinds of games in the open spaces with my friends. Games like kity-kity, lagori, robs&cops, dabba-i-spy (it was pronounced as dabba-ice-spice), goooooooldspot, hopscotch, fire-in-the-mountain, climbing trees and eating guavas and shehtoot and badams, swimming, cycling, racing, badminton, gymnastics, throwball, basketball, high jump, langdi, phugddi, kho-kho, hututu (kabaddi), four corners. We would leave home at about 4pm and not return until 8pm in time for a wash and dinner with the family. Getting dirty in the mud was a given. Falling and scraping our hands and knees was common place as was getting back to the madness after a tear or two -- that thrill and joy I felt in those growing years is unmatched.

Playing a sport builds our strength, teaching us about team spirit, about the victories and losses that one faces in life and how to toughen up and accept defeat and then get back and try again the next day. Sport doesn't care for your color, caste, wealth, religion ... all it cares for is your talent. And if you can convert that talent into a passion and maintain your focus and instill a culture of self discipline and hard work it is most certain that the world will salute you in return ... and you too will have the opportunity to watch the #indianflag unfurl as you stand atop the victory stand with a lump in your throat, a tear in your eye and a billion+ cheers to back you up! Go India go ... #winforindia

Saturday, January 2, 2016

#2016 - #Newbeginnings

Is it that time of the year again?
For reflections of the months gone by,
Where masking the tears, were the smiles aplenty.
A cuss under the breath and the avalanche of intolerance spilled, and
In the dark of the night rising cries of pity. No. Anger, into the pillow.
Resolve for an affirmation of change,
Beginning from me - the fingers pointing at me no longer.
When thought out resolutions are copious, assuring life anew,
A time for hope they say; that numerology may help!

Plans to meet who, when and where - the Marina or perhaps the Corniche?
For pretty dresses to impress - He likes the color blue, he said.
But, 'Sorry we don't have an open slot Ma'am'
The polish has a smudge and there is no repair,
The blue one isn't showing my cleavage enough,
The beauty spot needs to show - the red one is short too,
My eyes trace the slit and the red reflection smiles.

The sea of yellow and red is growing bigger.
Oh, I wish they would hurry!
But will I be able to focus on me
The regime of Yoga. No, he said Zumba!
And no whites; for how long would that be?
And the phone is ringing and I do not hear.
I am late, as always he says.
Be good - And who is saying that?
I should have worn blue!
And us...
Is that a light?


Shades of the new year at Carter Road Bandra last evening with massive crowds of people took to the roads with friends, kids, elders and family were an interesting first time experience for me. People of all kinds Indian and foreign; tiny and huge; modern and conservative; young and old hugged, smiled, laughed, Selfied, lit crackers, wore caps and red illuminated horns and let go of balloons and floating lanterns into the dark sky singing Happy New Year ... it was a time for cheer.

At the traffic signal was an efficient cop on duty directing traffic. I extended my hand out at him saying 'Happy New Year Sir'. He smiled and gave out and then on second thoughts pulled back his hand. smiled and said 'Happy New Year Maam' and went on with his job at hand ;)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Mantra of Empowering Young

Recently Rekha and Inderjit Sharma, 75+ year old senior citizens of Mumbai, India had a manifestation of their continued efforts towards empowering young girls - daughters of a rickshaw driver, or a vegetable seller, or perhaps a cobbler or cleaner; where their education is the least priority and restriction is norm.

It is to such girls that they provide support by encouraging them to continue their studies, teaching them to communicate in the world language 'English' and alongside facilitating them with the skill of sewing garments for children and women using sewing machines and fabric donated by friends and family. 

The year long effort of sewing and coaching concluded by facilitating them with a platform to experience public interaction. This was made possible on two occasions - The first being at the annual exhibition of the Dilkhush Center at Juhu where they set up stalls of fun games like 'blow in the cork' and 'how steady is your hand' - both the games were made by the children and taught them to apply their learning of physics. Needless to say that the experience of trying to blow the cork in and keeping the hand steady while carefully taking the wired loop across the twisted band to avoid touching it and sparking the beep brought a load of delight for the challengers - collecting the coupons and donating the same to the school taught the children how to give without expecting anything in return.

The second interaction was at the School of Life at Andheri Versova Link Road where the sewed garments were first displayed on hangers with price tags, the team was taught how to respond to queries about the garments, complete the transaction, packing and finally taking feedback. 

The simple objective of this exercise was to empower the young girls with the confidence to interact in society, acquire a skill that they can use to earn a livelihood and learn the intricacies of what it takes to create a home grown venture.

The result was heartening as most of the garments flew off the hangers thanks to the enthusiastic visitors who encouraged the girls for their efforts and hard work. 

The smiles on their young and hopeful faces when the exhibition came to a close were priceless; while for Rekha and Inderjit their minds were busy making plans of how to fulfill new dreams in the new year.

Social Entrepreneur - Can you be one?

Entrepreneurship normally is a form of work that people with leadership qualities easily take to, and if the leader is inspiring and has an incredible idea or innovation that makes life better, he or she naturally attract followers to believe in their passion and co-create wealth for stakeholders. Now imagine a leader that has a passion to create wealth with a social mission as its epicenter – a mission that is viable while effecting change, that is inclusive of people living at the fringes of society and that can reach out to people across the globe; a business leader of such an enterprise is called a social entrepreneur.

They both create opportunities – but there is a difference. The regular entrepreneur thinks only of his enterprise and donates in retrospect while the social entrepreneur thinks of how his enterprise can change the lives of people by empowering them to be a part of the change.

Years ago, I had the privilege of working on OASIS (Old Age Social Income Security) a project initiated by a small company called Invest India Economic Foundation, under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Justice – we endeavored to develop a pensions framework for retired people of India by encouraging them to systematically save money into a professionally managed pension scheme during their work lives so that they can continue to live with dignity in their golden years – our team led by Gautam Bhardwaj worked tirelessly and passionately initiating research papers, conducting conferences, meeting stock market experts, insurance and mutual fund heads, government officials and bureaucrats for several years; more often than not having cost over-runs - the result of that project is the recently launched New Pension Scheme.

Around the same time I got acquainted with the phenomenal work of Mohammad Yunus, the economist from Bangladesh, who created the unique ideology of micro-finance and formed the Grameen Bank, which helped the poorest of the poor to break out of poverty by providing loans to entrepreneurs who could not qualify for regular bank credit – loans were given in solidarity groups that ensured repayment.

In the United States; Leilah Jenah started the Sama Source, which works effectively to uplift communities across the globe - they simply understood the billions-of-dollars-worth business process outsourcing model and turned it into an enterprise that used technology to get thousands of poor people to be part of projects and gave money straight into their hands. Goodwill Industries popularly associated with charity, employs marginalized people, recycles donated clothing and helps corporations with doing their events and managing their relocation - they earn store revenues amounting to $3 billion.

Closer home the SEWA Bank formed by Elaben Bhatt works successfully with poor women with the mantra that they are 'bankable' as they are economically active; and not to be forgotten is Dr. Verghese Kurien’s white revolution gave livelihood to millions making India one of the world’s largest producers of milk and made Amul a household name.

All the examples mentioned above are successful social entrepreneurship stories led by great minds that kept their mission of effecting change in societies as their epicenter.

Among the many global problems, poverty is one that leads to personal misery and frustration. Poverty is the result of lack of opportunity to make a livelihood for loved ones. 'An idle mind is a devils workshop' is an old adage that has never been more meaningful in today's times than before, as all of us belong to the global village with connectivity and awareness of what we can have and can't because of or the lack of, our financial capacities. This stark reality of the poor is more in our face today and yes we feel guilt but don't take time out to empathise because we are too busy with our personal endeavours to do better, thereby widening the divide between the haves and the have not's. This divide aids angst against the better endowed and often results in crime and unrest. Social entrepreneurship today seeks to provide occupation to those educated but idle minds, thus reducing the divide and being an essential ingredient to pave the way for global peace.

What further aids social entrepreneurs’ today is the new but popular ideology called impact sourcing, which is sourcing based on social impact and quality. Procurement Managers from corporations have the option to choose the partners they wish to work with through the year for their business related needs and are also are conscious of the companies corporate social responsibility #CSR targets. There is a growing trend to consciously work with organisations that have an explicit social mission. By choosing to work with such enterprises they ensure that their allocated budget is actually being used to address issues like poverty alleviation. This way of reaching out to people and aiding their lives is far more effective and real than donating money to an NGO at the end of the year or hoping that a fraction of the tax one pays is collected by the government and appropriately disbursed to improve the lives of the needy.

#socialentrepreneurship is one of the important keys that can make each one of us have a meaningful role to play and feel the responsibility of making our world a truly global village and us a truly global family.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

#KOD #EEMA Treasure Hunt!

I met with Vijay Arora, Vice President #EEMA North three weeks ago at his beautiful office. I was meeting him on behalf of Kingdom of Dreams, India’s ultimate live entertainment destination. As ingenious as he is, he suggested that we host the 2nd EEMA North Treasure Hunt at #KOD. We mutually decided on going ahead with the idea and Saturday, 19 December 2015 was set as the date for the event.

#EEMA North led by Vijay Arora swung into action putting together an expert team of Mandeep Singh, Sachin Talwar, Anushree Agarwal, Amanveer Singh, Rajesh Varma and Sharad Mathur who discussed elements and allocated tasks for the event. They soon did a #KOD recci, engaged vendor partners and talent, created the communication pieces, announced the event to its members and before you could say oompa-ga-loompa the day of the event was here!

There was a flurry of activity from the wee hours of the 19th with the KOD operations, F&B, technical and stage management teams – menus were set and executed, dry and technical runs were done and dress codes were decided. Then came in the #EEMA production team for the venue set up at the #KODcourtyard – mojos barricades, stage, truss, lights, speakers, generators, sound/light/AV consoles, décor and branding were put in place; and the Treasure Hunt control room team were connected up to the and we were finally all set to welcome the guests!

It was a day of fun and frolic for the event managers - people that work, tirelessly day in and out to meet their clients’ needs and ever changing deadlines. It was our endeavor that they all let their hair down and have a blast and for a change be a part of the fun. The day’s activities included a treasure hunt that would be flagged off from #KOD and take the participating teams across the city doing some crazy tasks and finding clues to finally complete the race back at #KOD.

After the guests were flagged off from the huge parking lot I got call from Sharad Mathur, “Priya, my family will be privileged if you could join our team in the race … Please come quickly to gate No.2” I had just ordered some lunch at #Culturegully and the food hadn’t yet come to the table plus I was unsure whether I was required to be a part of the evening arrangements – however when Sumit assured me with confidence that he would manage just fine, I jumped at the opportunity and rushed to meet Sharad and his lovely wife Saroja and their sons Shubh and Shaurya – they welcomed me with open arms as they made place for me in their Mercedes.

Each team would be given clues and tasks that need to be unraveled and completed and the proof of which was a selfie with all the members being present in it in front of the destination or while doing the task had to be sent to our Marshall by WhatsApp from the registered mobile number only – any queries or assistance would result in negative marks. The first clue took some time to come in as I tucked into the snack box that had been given to each car. The first clue came in after a few minutes and from then on started the race across the city, racking our brains over the tricky clues being doled out to us – arguing about the possible correct outcomes – searching Google Kaur again and again and again – reaching the destination of the clue (in our case we had Rustoms, Polaris, Trillion, Showtime office, Bikaner) and clicking the necessary selfie – sending the selfie to our Marshall as proof – receiving a CORRECT from her and cheering with shrieks in the car...

,,, and then waiting for the next clue/task, jumping out and into the car to perform the crazy tasks (click a selfie with a traffic cop, get Michael’s visiting card, do a video donating money to a beggar, buy some booze at a BYOB thekka, buy Santa caps and click a selfie) and then charging into KOD to complete the race. The kids were besides themselves with joy as were Saroja and Sharad and couldn’t stop saying what a wonderful experience they had together … and I was on top of the world as I had been a part of an awesome treasure hunt with a lovely family!!


The evening saw the guests reassemble at #KOD where they were treated with some fantastic starters and food, soulful music by Shukraan and Mehak followed by thumping retro tracks and DJ music that had the crowds hitting the floor ... heads of the companies were dancing with teams and their family members - I couldn't help feel joy for each of them as they let their hair down just having a fun time, 

The MC Shilpa Bhasin was brilliant and thanks to her sharp wit and creative quips she totally held the audience throughout the day and evening making the celebrations even more enjoyable. 

Finally it was time for the prize distribution and the first prize was given to STORY. 

Our team stood third - the boys were thrilled when our name was called out and they went up on stage to receive the trophy with smiles and cheers led by their enthusiastic parents dragging me along as they insisted that I was also a rightful winner - toooo cute!

I bid them goodbye with warmth and when Saroja said, ‘Abb aap hamari family ki ho gayi hain. Aaap agli baar Dilli aayein toh hamaare ghar zaroor aayiye,’ I hugged her warmly saying, ‘I will be a pleasure.’

When I retired for the day that night I reflected on the days events and smiled ,,, what a beautiful day it had been ... and a time truly well spent with perfect organisation thanks to the KOD team and loads of fun thanks to the EEMA North organising committee ... When a day like this passes through my life, my faith in this world is reinstated.

Monday, December 14, 2015

My color is #PINKA

The best memories I have of studying at the Cathedral & John Connon School, were of the numerous activities we had from day one of a school year all the way to the last - so apart from the studying and social service students had to do, they also did dramatics, music, art, debates, elocution (English & Hindi), basketball, gymnastics, throw-ball, track events, cricket, tennis, rugby, badminton, chess and the MARATHON ... simply superlative opportunities for the students to hone their respective skills. And as a student then, I take pride in saying, I took part in most of the above activities except for tennis, cricket and rugby; and of all of them, the toughest but the most fun was the marathon we ran amidst the wilderness for our respective houses (mine was Barham) to win the big chunk of points that would result in the glorious house cup at the end of the year. That was 33 years ago ...

Early this morning I broke routine and jumped out of my snug fleece blanket to wake up at 3.30 AM, got dressed, had a banana and some almonds and at 5 AM sharp drove with Aparna, Priyanka, Lata, Meenu, Nishita and Lipika to Bandra Kurla Complex to be there at 5.30 AM. My excitement was not unlike that of a child, as I had registered myself for the 10 km marathon at #pinkathon Mumbai 2015; an event to encourage women to make the choice of an active healthy lifestyle & by example, inspire their loved ones to do the same. This was a race for women and this morning 11,000+ women stood tall with me to do their bit in their own unique way to set an example to their families and friends and above all to themselves. 

Nostalgia and mixed emotions ran through my body as we were flagged off from the starting point at 6.30 AM amidst DJ music playing on the huge speakers and women dancing the Zoomba; the brand ambassador Milind Soman looking charismatic and appealing as ever in his salt and pepper hair waving and wishing the squealing women luck and assuring them that he would be waiting for them at the finish line; the MC screaming instructions while shutterbugs desperately clicked the action and paparazzi did their spiel with their backs to the runners; volunteers waved flags shouting 'Go Pinka go' as the Naval band played their drums and trumpets with much gusto and the time mapping machines beeped as each girl passed it ... and to add to all this cacophony and jamboree were of course the Pinka's - the pink sisters ... the 11000+ GIRLS who were screaming cheers of excitement, poking fun at each other, giggling, clicking quick selfies, dancing to the beats, then walking, then jogging and finally once they were out of the 100 m noisy corridor at the start, the real running.

And run they did, as did I! The streets of BKC were pink this morning with girls of every size, age, social status and religion. There were girls who were 75+ and under 5; girls wearing hip sports shoes to girls running in chappals and bare feet; girls in trendy and very sexy sportswear to girls in saris, salwar kameez, hijaab's and pink burkhas; girls with perfect fitness to fat girls and very skinny girls; girls in corporate Tshirts (Kotak Bank, Nomura, ICICI Bank, KPMG etc.) and girls dressed in the white event Tshirt; girls with earphones and girls with music playing on their phone loudspeakers some playing soulful Atif Aslam music, Mika and retro 80’s hits of the like of Bryan Adams, MJ; girls seriously running and girls ambling along as they clicked selfies, photos and videos at every milestone; girls who were young mothers walking with their babies strapped into a shoulder harness to a girl with a prosthetic limb and a girl with crutches; girls with their boyfriends on roaring bikes showing off their unnecessarily dangerous skills and girls with a boy running along with them pushing them to go on; girls running alone and girls running in groups; girls silently running and girls chatting ... errr ... about this and that and that and this, and then and now and now and then, and who and what and what and who and … God alone knows what not else!

Although I have been walking as a daily form of exercise, this was my first run after so long, so my run went something like this … Jogging – Running - Slow jogging - walking – attempt to run and back to walking – slow jogging and so on. And hence without having a choice in the matter, I was privy to a variety of conversations of the enthusiastic Pinkas :) ...

"I'm already tired"
"Seriously ... and its not even one kilometer! Shit ya ... what if I faint!? Aye you better take my photo at the finish line where it is written 10 km okay." 
"Arey why bother, lets take a photo of you lying at the 1 km milestone ... we'll add a zero for you. Itni toh dosti nibhayengey" (laughter and backslapping)

"We are looking best in these red Tshirts yaar", said one of the Kotak girls. 
"Yes we are the best."

"Yaar signal nahin hai"
"Tera Vodafone hai na ... Idea laga ... dekh mera network full hai"
"Chal selfie lete hain - dekh 1 KM aagaya - FB pe mujhe tag kar"

The KPMG girls bursting into a sudden sprint "Come on yaar, stop walking ... run run run" giggles as they all followed suit with their ponytails swishing behind them

"Skuze me .. can you please take our photo?"
"Please take a full length"

An middle aged more than plump Pinka to the volunteers at the water station
"Koi buscuits nahin hai kya?"
"You will get at the finish line maam"
"Tch .. arrey but mujhe abhi chahiye na -- chakkar aaraha hai"
"Maam aap please baith jao"
"Here have this sweet" said an onlooking Pinka
"Oh ... thank you"

"Modi ka latest video dekha tuney? Arrey awesome hai" "Nahin, bhej mujhe - baad mein dekhoongi - tch phone theek se charge hi nahin hua ... aur selfie kheench kheench ke battery aur bhi marr gayi hai" giggles

"Salman aur kaun ... " 
"Mera toh Shahrukh ... only shahrukh - Dilwale first day first show jaoongi" 
"Bol toh aise rahi hai jaise tera boyfriend hai"
"Haan toh hai na... tu jal matt khali peeli"

"Mama godii"
"No darling no godii ... see Pooja and her mama have already gone so far - you want to come first na? Come on walk fast"

"...aur compound ekdum mast hai toh roz walk ho jaati hai"
"Lucky yaar - apne yahan to chalne ke bhi waandey hain"
"Toilet .. chal na susu karna hai mujhe"
"Tch .. phir se? Chal jaldi kar yaar"
"Do minute baba"

"You are the only boy I am seeing in this race - very good!" said a Pinka to a young boy running alongside a young Pinka
"Thank you ... actually I'm just with her - to encourage"
His Pinka girl giggled 
"You are still a boy only okay"
"Ya .. so? ... I am a boy ... come on run faster!"

"Where is this Kamala ya" 
"God alone knows"
"Has she gone ahead?"
"I think she got left behind at the turning"
"Should we wait?"
"No no ... we'll meet her after the race"

"You have been running for one hour and twenty minutes, you have completed 8 km and burned 1500+ calories"
"Hey what is that?"
"Oh that is my phone - its an APP called Runtastic, that tracks progress of my walk/run routine - You can download it too"

... and so on :)

Until 6 km I was doing fine, but after that my body started dragging itself and I had to really push myself to keep going walking, jogging, walking quick spurts of running for what seemed like an age and I finally saw the last 100 m mark. The cacophony began again - C'mon you can do it - its almost over - Pink Pinka Pinka - Awesome job - keep it going - last few steps - claps - more claps - naval band playing - screaming MC cheering us on - music blaring in the speakers - shutterbugs contouring themselves to get the best possible angles ... my 10 km run finally came to a close at 8.05 am - it had taken me 1 hour and 35 minutes to complete the race and I was pooped to the last bone in my body, but my heart and mind were rejoicing at the fact that I had finally pushed myself to complete the race and I believe despite the chatter and ambling and clicking so did the rest of the 11000+ pink sisters. 

As promised, Milind Soman was on stage in all his glory ... prizes were distributed to the winners, dancers came on stage to celebrate with the girls as they danced along. The only photo booth had a thick snaking line so I decided to ditch it and stood in line for my medal, certificate and refreshments as I stretched my limbs to avoid breaking into cramps. As I was slowly moving forward I surveyed the milieu of girls around me and saw tired but smiling and happy faces discussing their respective runs. And then I saw the little girl who wanted godii finally in her father's godii as her mother animatedly narrated their experience to him ... and when he looked on with pride at his two special girls I couldn't help but smile ... 

It was my turn finally and I took my refreshments bag, which included a tiny bottle of RAW fresh juice, digestive biscuits and a Kiwi ... AND a Pinkathon medal!?$#@ (which unfortunately was the only disappointment as there was no distinction from one race' medal to another) ... I wore my medal, drank the juice, chomped on some of the biscuits and slowly limped back to the car to get homeward bound with a firm resolve to be back again!

Friday, December 4, 2015

#Weddings #Veteran-ism #Gentleman :)

I had an interesting meeting last evening at a friend's daughters wedding reception at a five star hotel in town. I took my place in the long queue behind an elegantly dressed lady, waiting for my turn to wish the bride and groom on achieving their big milestone.

And along came a fine looking gentleman chewing something. He immediately stretched out his right hand to greet me while he covered his mouth with his left "Sorry ... (while chewing) Good evening," he said after he finished chewing, 'You know it is good to chew on something while we wait because you never know how long this could take. You see I'm a veteran at attending weddings in this city." 

He took his place behind me and so I turned to smile at him, "Good evening and what makes you a veteran?"

"Well I have attended an umpteen number of weddings in this city and so I have now figured out the art of making it as pleasant an experience despite the frustrations that one is forced to deal with. In the first place getting to a venue is the most infuriating as most wedding receptions start at 7.00 pm and that is the peak hour for traffic. So, although my home on a traffic free day is 10 mins away, this evening it has taken me 45 mins to get here. This could have been 2 hours at the minimum had the venue been in the suburbs."

"I can't agree more - traffic in the city is a nightmare!"

"So, when you finally reach the venue, much flustered most of the time depending on the mode of transport you have used, you first need to go to the wash room to freshen up and touch up as it has been a while since you have been on the road. Then you find out directions and get to the designated banquet hall, where as you enter you first need to figure out the layout of the hall and what the rest of the guests are doing. Is the couple ready to meet guests on stage or they yet to arrive? If they have arrived on stage before you arrived it is more than certain that there is a line to meet them on the right of the stage. So instead of approaching the stage to wish the couple, you have to master the art of containing your enthusiasm and like a civil guest find the end of the line, take your place in it and then patiently wait for your TURN. And of course depending on the number of guests invited and your luck it could take anything between 45 mins to an hour before you actually get to meet the couple by which time you are sweaty again (if it is an open air venue) and your stomach is growling with hunger."

"That is so true," I said "In fact I often duck the line when it is really long and go straight for the food counters ... specially if I don't know too many other people at the wedding, and go about the greeting later."

It was about 8.30 pm by then and my stomach was making demands of "FEED ME" to my brain with repeated ferocity. Finger foods were doing the rounds at a slight distance from us and so I signaled to one of the waiters. Thankfully he caught my eye and moved in our direction with a tray of Chicken Tikka and a practiced smile.

My newly acquired queue friend (I'm going to call him QF) looked on animatedly as I poked at a piece of chicken with a toothpick, dipped in the green chutney bowl and popped it in my mouth. It was delicious so I quickly grabbed another piece from the tray and looked at my Queue friend suggesting that he should try some too, "No thanks, I will go with vegetarian."

"Oh okay... can you send some more snacks please?" I said to the waiter. He nodded and moved on. I too am a preferred vegetarian, I said in my mind. I couldn't get myself to say it aloud though, since I had just merrily stuffed my face with chicken tikka pieces!

Another gentleman who seemed to know QF well walked up and greeted him and they began to exchange pleasantries so I looked ahead and past the many heads in front of me to guesstimate how long it would be before it was my turn. There were at least more 20 people ahead of me and that meant anything between 25 to 30 mins more!

QF cleared his throat behind me, as if to indicate that he was ready to continue his piece on being a veteran and so I turned and smiled at him again, "The waiting is made easier by engaging in a conversation with someone enchanting like yourself. Actually it is best to take weddings away from the city. My wife and I did so for our daughters wedding. We had it at an offsite location for which we called a select group of people who were there with us for all the ceremonies ... there was no traffic or waiting. On stage we had a band playing and the newly weds were walking around meeting the guests."

"Oh that sounds beautiful"

"Indeed it was. Another important thing about the waiting is that when my turn finally arrives I meet the couple, who invariable doesn't know me from Adam ... clearly it wouldn't make a difference to them whether I am here or not. I am here of course because I know one of the parents. Are you known to the girls or the boys family?"

"The girl's mother is an ex-colleague," I said

"Okay ... and once this is done there is a bigger line at the food counter, which takes yet another 30 to 45 mins at the minimum depending on the variety on offer.

At this point along came a waiter with some Mutton Sheekh Kebabs and QF quickly took a piece using a toothpick. I immediately stopped him mid-stuffing his face saying "Hey that is non-vegetarian" to which he said, "I prefer vegetarian, but that doesn't mean I don't eat non-vegetarian" :) 

I was really amused by now and enjoying this conversation and almost wanting my TURN to take longer. "Ah one thing that is key to being at a wedding - to remember to give the envelope. I often forget and am embarrassed ... so I will have it sent later with a note done by my wife," he chuckled and at this point he called out to the lady ahead of me and introduced her to me as his wife. She turned and smiled at me and I was like ... "Oh hello ... it is good to make your acquaintance."

I smiled to myself trying to make out "What just happened?" and then I realised ... QF my dear new found friend, had been chatting with me for the past 45 mins about his veteran-ism on weddings without me having a clue that he was at the wedding with his wife. He had basically arrived at the line after me and instead of joining his wife he chose to stand behind me and engage in a conversation that actually turned out to be delightful - very uncharacteristic of an ordinary man that would have just joined his wife ignoring me completely.

"What is your name?" he asked
"Priya Sharma Shaikh"
"That's a story I'm sure ... what do you do?"
I smiled, "I am an event management professional"
"Well then you must be very used to all this"
"Yes I am," I said, "but it is always good to hear a guests perspective"

He nodded and joined his wife to go on to the stage to meet the couple.

It had taken me precisely 45 mins to get to meet the couple and the girl's parents. The mother, who was a colleague some years ago was thrilled to see me and looked happy to be a Mother-in-law ... it made me feel happy to see her happiness as I hugged her. The bride looked beautiful and nothing like the gawky teenager I had met over a decade ago. She was quickly given reference of me and she smiled warmly as I hugged and blessed her and her handsome groom and his parents ... and I was almost done and then I remembered to handover the envelope ..."Please do eat dinner Priya," my friend called after me. I looked over my shoulder and bid them goodbye and headed to the left of the stage for the stairs to get off. It had all lasted less than five minutes in all.

When I finished my turn QF and his wife were still at the left of the stage (they were ahead of me right!) waiting to say goodbye to me. I was humbled. I thanked him for making the waiting so very special.

And before I knew it he was gone leaving me smiling ... and that was that!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Hungover for life...

If I am to look back at the last 3 years of my work-life, that required me to teach apart from my other responsibilities; my face invariably breaks into a smile as the beautiful memories of interaction with EACH AND EVERY ONE of my young and hopeful students across India, come flooding into my mind! Well my dears ... at the outset know this for a fact that I have loved these three years of my life the most, because of each of YOU! This post is to share my thoughts on the eternal question that I have been asked several times by quite a few of you 'Priya Maam, which is your favourite batch?' So here goes... Although I joined during the last quarter of the academic year of 2011, I spent only a small amount of quality time with the students and that too only with the full time events batch, and hence it is their faces and that of the young trio Deepak, Jimmy and Nowshir, the founder Directors (Deepak reintroduced me to the company after my first outing with them in their year of inception in 2002) that come to my mind, whilst I am in reflection mode... with a reasonable amount of hand-holding and industry interaction, the batch was successfully placed and on the emotionally charged graduation day held at the IES College Auditorium, a much tearful Deepak also moved on leaving me behind with mixed emotions of what lay ahead... The Class of 2012 was my first complete year of interaction with young minds; and sharing with them my experiences and perspective on life and the event and experiential marketing industry was fantastic. It was clearly a year of learning and what a roller coaster ride it was! As the students absorbed all that they could from each of the faculty members in class and all the wonderful LIVE experiences that the industry had to offer them, I too built a bond with my students by taking lectures with them, not only in Mumbai but in Kolkata, Indore, Pune and NOIDA too... my friends list on Facebook shot up and I would have all kinds of students in-boxing me on their experiences, woes and adulation. As an event manager I had the privilege of hosting some amazing national and international events; but creating and implementing an event with a bunch of young event enthusiasts was a different ball game altogether as the passion and eye for detail was at a different level altogether. So, when the annual in-house event took off in full swing around the middle of January of 2012; I could never have imagined what the future had in store for me. There was a flurry of activity and insanity reigned with the small but enthusiastic team that was trying to tie up all the MANY loose ends of the event... My cabin was transformed into a makeshift site office and I had students thumping up and down the stairs to my office and walking in and out, squatting around in any space they could squeeze themselves into, at any time of the day/evening to discuss roadblocks, status, monies and the way forward... we were all breathing and worrying for our event. D-day finally arrived and 03-04 February 2012 saw the event concluding successfully thanks to the collective efforts of the Class of 2012, despite all the possible odds... and believe you me, that it was a true wonder as 1 day short of the event date we still had quite a few unsolved pieces in our puzzle! Soon after the event, I tripped off with a motley group of close to 50 students, most of them less than half my age i.e. 18 years and upwards, by road to Goa, the land of beaches and everlasting memories! As I tried to catch a few winks while struggling to get warm in the over chilled cabin of the bus, I was thinking to myself, 'What am I doing on this bus? I hardly know these people and I'm going to be so out of place!' But destiny it seems had other plans. I rediscovered Goa from the eyes of these youthful people -- driving around the narrow lanes, relishing the seafood, dancing and singing aloud at high volume to 'Tennu main love karda' the song that became an anthem of sorts; and strangely, I found a unique friendship in all these people. Seeing the students having a fun time was awesome and the countless rushes of emotion, the love and the affection I gained in those three days, gave me an unforgettable emotional connect! I had been to Goa over twenty five times before this, however this trip stood out as the most EPIC trip ever... With attachment comes worry and so on our return journey as I mused over the time spent, I also wondered if these students were ready to face the challenges of the world, our bus was jolted to a halt to encounter a near death accident in the middle of the night on the highway. The students rushed to the aid of the wounded and screaming passengers, fearlessly helping them evacuate from the upturned bus, providing first aid, calling the highway police, distributing their own blankets, water and food and counselling the emotionally broken until help came for them. Seeing the amount of solidarity that was shown by them towards the pain and suffering of the victims; gave me the heart-warming belief that these were event managers in the real sense; boys and girls who were hands-on in trying to do the best possible to manage the situation at hand, ready to face the danger of the unknown and wanting to do whatever it takes to get things under control and I am proud to say that they did! After we came back from Goa, the internship cycle was upon us and soon all the students were taken up as interns within the industry! Coming to office was never the same again as seeing the empty Classroom No 3, made my eyes well up for reasons unexplained and I would yearn to hear the familiar chatter and laughter or see the faces of my new found young friends that I had grown to love so much. I have always had an open door policy and hence thankfully (for me) students would call in once in a while to report the fun they were having, my heart would skip a beat each time I received a message from any of them about some angst they were going through or wanted some advice in a situation they were in. The internships finally concluded and soon came the final exams and the Placement Cycle. I would have students individually sneaking up and getting emotional about their interview experiences, wiping their tears of rejection, seeking guidance, conducting mock interviews with them, giving my feedback to each of them on their strengths and weaknesses, reviewing their CVs, talking to parents, sorting their minds of the confusion on whether they should take a job in a large company or small one, whether they should take Production or Client Servicing or Concept or in the case of advertising whether they should take media planning or copywriting or client servicing or account planning; placating fears of the upcoming graduation and life ahead; and as I handheld each of them through this emotionally trying time, I knew that I would have to soon let go. Each of these young friends of mine would have to fly the nest and that I needed to encourage them to choose their path and stock them up with the best advice and knowledge reserve as possible so that they achieve their dreams. Graduation Ceremonies are tearful as they separate a body of people that are used to being with each other over a period of time and then at the end when they take on new paths that don't meet any more, or that often, the separation creates an emotional void that at the start seems difficult to fill. And so, came the Graduation Day of Class of 2012 at the Blue Frog with much fanfare, speeches, awards, music and dance and a lot of tears and I bid adieu to all my students across India as I travelled from one city to the next, watching all of them rejoice and cry in the same breath and moving on to carve their lives ahead. Just as they would have found newer people and situations to deal with I too learnt to cope with their absence as along bounced into campus the Class of 2013 and a year later Class of 2014; both with a lot of gusto and enthusiasm and undoubtedly some amazing bodies of talent and capability. Leaving emotions at bay in both these academic years, my team across India and I worked really hard to ensure that the students got the best learning experience possible. In fact each of the last three years were a mixed bag indeed; Interaction with some amazing thought leaders like Roshan Abbas, Martin D’costa, Michael Menezes, Atul Nath, Jateen Rajput, Brian Tellis, Thanush Joseph, Sabbas Joseph, Viraf Sarkari, Venky, Ramki, Nisar Merchant, Vinod Janardhan, Tanaz Basrur, Tabassum Modi, Sameer Tobaccowala, Rahul Gomes, Nishant Parasher, Rajesh Verma, Rajeev Jain, Ankur Kalra, Arnob Mukherji, Jairaj Jathar, Mani J., Swaminathan, Rachna Khanna, Zarina Poonawala, Satish Bendre, Bhakti Ledwani, Rasika Kulkarni, Tejol Kolwalkar, Mayank Mishra, Sweekar Mathkar, Kamal Punjabi, Ninad Shah, Anjali Talreja, Jeroo, Vandana Kakar, Sukanti Ghosh, Vaneeta Sreedhar and many more; interacting with the industry at EEMA’ fun-filled annual events, creation of the newsletter, the in-house events of no drinking and driving and of course the NO TOBACCO (BTW, I have a secret wish that all of you would just stop smoking somehow … Sigh… so if you ever do, please do remember to inbox me so that I can feel happy and send you some more of my power blessings) and of course the convocation last year with my super-duper team of students from Vashi at the Canvas Lounge was awesome… what creativity, detailing and passion and what a grand ending of yet another awesome academic year! Again the emotional connect with the franchise heads in Delhi, Indore and Bhopal and their respective team members and students and all my students and team in Mumbai have given me an unforgettable HIGH that I am never going to get over.
My own children often ask me which one of them I love more and my response to each of them is always the same… ‘I love you the most and you mean the world to me.’ I seem to have taken up more than 3/4th of this post writing about the Class of 2012 and you might think that they are my natural favourites over the other batches. Well, the reason to talk so much about class of 2012 was because that year' description encapsulated all the possible experiences that I have had with the rest of the batches too (with Goa being the exception in their case) and so my response to peoples general assumption of my favourite batch being Class of 2012, is a NO … and here again is applied my treatment to my own kids. Each of you have been instrumental in making my journey special and have taught me so much during my time with you; and hence each batch in its own unique way is my favourite for reasons unexplained and too private to be shared in a blog post. And whether or not it is reciprocated, I love you all dearly and often say a silent prayer for the well-being of each of you wherever you may be. I have seen that special spark in so many of you that I get goose bumps when I think of the possible success that you will achieve in the future and that I hope I am there and have the sanity to feel your joy; but I am superstitious and an emotional fool and so I am not going to mention any names and jinx things for you… instead I am sending you my ‘power blessings’ that will follow you around like a guardian angel to ensure your success! Your life has just about started out my dear friends and you have miles to go, so make your journey sincere and never fool yourself about your weaknesses. Be consistent, despite all the obstacles that might come your way and keep on the character of a curious cat to keep adding to your knowledge and if you do so, I promise, you will soon find ways to get ahead and claim what is rightfully yours. Lastly, always be humble about whatever you achieve and guide your juniors and colleagues to grow along with you. And yet, despite all the love and respect and care I have got from each of you and all my attachment for these emotional yearly cycles, that were so much a part of me; a month ago I took a decision to move on from the work place that connected you with me… Having that behind me now, I would like to sign off by saying that your relationship with me is for a lifetime and I am a phone call or an inbox message away if and whenever any of you need me. God bless and love always … Priya