Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What Are Your New Year Resolutions?

What are your new year resolutions? (Photo credit)
As is the tradition, this time of the year we look back and reminisce and also get all futuristic and start making resolutions. And when I got to thinking about my plans or resolutions for next year - I like to call them goals - I found myself wondering how irrelevant our usual goals are. Work out regularly, get better at time management, finish that MBA, lose weight and get back into shape, get more business, be a better person. Do we change as people? Do we really address things that really matter and make the world a better place to live in? Just some random thoughts that came to my mind - this new year, how about:

a little less take and a little more give

a little less outrage and a little more calm

a little less worry about the world and a little more be yourself

a little less judgement and a little more understanding

a little more empathy and a little less apathy

a little less screen time and a little more people time

I know this isn't a long laundry list of life altering resolutions but I think they will need some good amount of work to accomplish. A worthwhile goal for the new year.

So what are your resolutions? Although, it is perfectly fine if you think like Calvin too! :)

(Photo credit)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Flashback 2016: Glimpses Of Books Read

What's on you reading list this year?
Yet another year is about to end and we are all taking stock of the good and the bad. And for avid readers like me, looking back on the good and bad books read is like a ritual, almost. So I was looking at my list and saw a fair mix of fiction and non fiction, work and non work books. Going nuts during the Amazon sale in August is also becoming a kinda tradition with me. I bought quite a few this year which also led to raised anxiety levels about finding the time to actually read them. I also realized that most books were work related nothing light and entertaining. I also tried out a subscription of Kindle Unlimited this year. And that became the source of my fiction/light reading. Although I was quite impressed when I decided to subscribe, but 11 months later, not so much. There are thousands of free books but not many that I’d like to read. Good authors and work related books that I’d want aren’t, obviously, on the free list. In fact, I ended up with a few stinkers which is just a waste of time and I could have used that to use more useful time. 

Anyways, here is a general trail of my reading list. Feel free to borrow some titles for your 2017 reading list.

Sophie Kinsella: I re-read some books this year since its nice to ease into the comfort of familiarity. And Sophie Kinsella is an all time comfort read for me. All her books have a unique flavour starting from the famed Shopaholic series. I read her last book, Shopoholic to the stars last year and bought the sequel, Shopoholic to the Rescue and finished reading it this year. One of the few authors I have read most of the books of. Waiting for her next release in 2017. 

Ruskin Bond: One good thing that Kindle Unlimited brought me was the discovery of Ruskin Bond books. No, I wasn’t unaware of this author but I hadn’t really read his books (Yes, we all have famous authors we haven’t yet read. So don’t give me that look!) I got hooked on to it and read quite a few of his books. Not only are the books great but one also falls in love with the endearing author. Potpourri, The Blue Umbrella, School Days, Falling in love again, When the Tiger was King - novels and short stories, both genres are a delight to read. 

Chitra Divakaruni: Who can resist the allure of her books after reading the Mistress of Spices! The magic she weaves with her words and plots makes you want to read more. So when Before We Visit The Goddess was released, I promptly bought and sunk into it. And it did not disappoint. 

A must read by Chitra Divakaruni (Photo credit)
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh: A special mention for this book since this was definitely the most riveting fiction I read this year. A gripping book about an accident which keeps you hooked till the end. And despite the grip of the plot, you will wonder how you reached where you are in the book! Go figure! :)

I also read a lot of work related books. On time management, coaching practices and towards the end of the year, a some books on speaking skills - in preparation for some modules I am going to launch in 2017. 

I also landed some stinkers - the ones you can add to your not-to-read list of books. Unladylike, the memoir of and by Radhika Vaz tops my list. To me, reading about someone’s life is worth it when it’s enlightening or up lifting. Or at least when one can identify with the struggles of the author. This book has no such quality. And if Ms. Vaz's  sense of humour is anything like the one in her book, I’m not sure I want to watch any of her performances either. 

Welcome to Americastan by Jabeen Akhtar - bought on a recommendation - also turned out to be a dud. It wasn’t as funny or interesting as the description of the book. 

Ms. Communications by Myra Kendrix - another (never ending) chick lit book I wasted my time on, thanks to Kindle Unlimited. It's got the most cliche plot where the new intern falls for her super arrogant boss. Not my type of fiction. 

Finding Audrey by Kinsella, pretty much the only book by her which I found a drag and couldn’t wait to finish it. (I was still in the finish-what-you-start phase at the time of reading this book )

For next year, I have decided to do a lot more fiction. After a year of serious, work related books, I have this strong urge to sink into the comfort of Jeffery Archer or even plough through Ken Follet. Apart from the old favourites, I intend to read famous authors I haven't touched yet. I have made a list and hope to attack the plan author by author instead of book by book. 

So how has this year for your reading list? I know people who finished 200 by November! I wont even hit half a century by 31st! But that's fine since I am not on a mission to dent their record. I like to read at my own pace and am looking forward to the the amazing fiction filled year that 2017 is going to be! 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Why Should We Exclude Men?

Excluding any gender doesn't seem like the right thing to me (Photo credit)
I have had this idea for a post for quite some time now. But a high profile all women's event happening this weekend finally motivated me to write it. This is a 'women only event' for 2 days and the tweets specify that men are not allowed. There are talks, discussions and entertainment during the festival. But it's women only! When I came across this on Twitter a few months ago, I found the concept odd right from the start! I really don't understand why not want include men? I tweeted to them asking the same question but got no response.

There has been a surge of women friendly groups, associations etc in the recent past. Helping women come back to a second career, create more awareness about their rights, support in starting their own ventures. There are summits and meets that these groups organise. Women who have made it share their experiences, hurdles they faced and how they got to where they are now. The sense of camaraderie among women is the highest in such conferences. We are really there for each other. We create strong bonds of sisterhood! We are the height of our self-worth!

But guess what! Half the world population is men. Yes, this is exactly the opposite of what we hear all the time when we talk about including women - half the world population is women. The same applies to men too. While we are exhilarated at the success of other women and aspire to scale our own heights, there are men in our lives sitting at home blissfully unaware of the mental/emotional transformation we just went through. And then we complain that we don't have enough support for dreams and aspirations from the men in our lives.

And I don't think the exclusion is a new thing. From the time a woman gets her periods, the first ones to be alienated from the very information are men. We've finally woken up to how wrong that is and we are somewhere responsible for the awkward squirming of men in their seats at the mention of the P world! We are trying to right that wrong, albeit most workshops that happen about periods are women-only.

Research has proven that, when it comes to making changes at home that enables a woman spend more time at work, the women want solutions that involve only themselves. They don't want to discuss it with their spouses and get them to make changes. And when men aren't told that probably their habit of spending post-office time in front of the TV with a bottle of beer is causing inconvenience, how can they be blamed for not being more receptive! And guess who is learning this from the fathers? The kids, especially the sons, who think it's the job of woman to get into the kitchen and that a man is free from responsibility.

Every time I go to one of these women group summits, I always think how wonderful would it be for men to be a part of the stimulating conversations that we've heard. How much more sensitive would they be to the challenges women face if we openly included them. I don't know if this is our way of getting back at them for having all male panels - we are going to have all women events. And, just for fun, not include men!! (Imagine Russel Peters voice in your head for the comic effect! :))

To have an event that goes all out and excludes men is beyond me. On the one hand, we are fighting for a more inclusive, more equal world. We talk about raising boys to respect women, to consider them peers and partners - at home and at work and generally get along together. On the other, we have exclusive kitty parties where men aren't allowed.

Am I the only one who finds this odd? Don't you think it'd be more fun of we all got together to enjoy the serious and the fun bits of an event. A chance to spend time together in busy times. A great way to come back and discuss the wonderful happenings of the day and how that could make our lives better. What do you think?