Between “Boarded” and “Landed”

These two texts that are sent out, bookend every flight we take.

Between these two texts, the ones they were sent out to, go on with their lives, while we hurtle through the skies at 35,000 feet (15,000 for a propeller aircrafts in which I have travelled a lot lately).

After the “boarded” message, unspoken thought with the sender and receiver is the thought of “landed” message. No one thinks about it but it’s always there in the back of our heads.

So what do we do and think about while our life is in hold till we reach our destination and while the life 35,000 below is unfolding at its own pace?

The busy ones whisk out there laptops as soon as the seat belt sign is turned off. Spending time productively is what they would call. I will say it is terrible time management if you haven’t been able to finish the work and choose to work while sitting cramped and bumping your elbows into fellow passengers.

The ones on holiday are the boisterous lot. Hell yes they want the world within that steel tube to know they are heading for a holiday! Especially the kids.

The other boisterous lot are the group from one organisation who will talk about Office gossip. No please I don’t want to know any of that!

There are also those who even after sending the “boarded” message will continue to talk over phone and let everyone in the vicinity know how important they are. Also the ones who whip out their phones and are the first ones to send out the “landed” message.

Then there are people like me. Always the aisle seat. Always doze off during take off and landing and a few times in between, depending on the duration of the flight. Headphones on my ears shutting off all conversation and the world around me. One sense taken care off (hearing), I read so that I don’t have to make eye contact or indulge in conversation (second sense taken care off too). I must add here that I have fear of heights and also partially claustrophobic (hence the aisle seat!). I use the music and reading and sleeping to keep the fear away. 🙂 When I am not doing any of that, I observe people around me, the cabin crew going on with their work wearing a smile and care that is trying very hard to be genuine.

And there is a lot to think too while we are alone. Sometimes the thoughts are pleasant. Anticipation about what’s waiting at the other end of the journey. Thinking about the people who are waiting for our “landed” message. Other occasions the thoughts are disconcerting. The purpose of the travel is perhaps the reason or thoughts about the person you hope would be waiting for the “landed” message but isn’t.

As you can see, there is a lot that goes on while we are up there but most of it is in our head. People who don’t feel important in their life below, have a chance to show off to this small audience they are important in the world below. The ones who are boisterous are actually very insecure.

The ones like me, have put the time on hold. At peace with ourselves.

Which one are you?


Unlike festivals and anniversaries, birthday is a very different day. Everything associated with this day changes every year. Or every few years. We travel a path from so looking forward to the day to so not looking forward to it.

When we are young, the anticipation starts few months before the day. The gifts, the celebration, who to invite, the cake, the food, the games… we look forward to all of that. As we grow older, the number of invitees becomes selected. The closest friends.

Even more older, it’s the college group. The friends who want to give you a surprise party. Same when we start working. The HR sends the customary mail.

Somewhere along the line, we get into relationships, get out of them. Sometimes this happens between two birthdays. In a relationship, two days that become important your day and your partner’s day.

Kids happen and there are more birthdays. Somewhere along the line, all that associated with your own day starts to diminishes. You spend more and more time prepping for birthdays of others in life.

Also the dread (?) of growing old starts to creep in. From arrogance of youth to fear of end, the day for you is back to being celebrated by people around you. The way it was when you were young. But now there is no anticipation.

I know it’s a very depressing look at such a special day but hey, it’s the truth isn’t it? In this whole process of growing old, we are so focused on the end that at some point we stop enjoying the journey…

As you would have guessed, yes it’s my birthday and am not depressed because I never worry about the end. I look at all the moments that I have had. The good ones, the not so good ones. The ones that made me happy and the ones that left an ache. They have all been part of my journey. And I wouldn’t want my life to be any other way 🙂

The suitcase life

To all those who live the suitcase life, why don’t you share your experiences. What follows is my take:

For last couple of months, I am back to living out of a suitcase. It’s almost a decade and half back that I used to do this.

Back then I was obviously lot younger. Therefore, things were lot different than they are now.

Airport lounges, aircrafts, hotel lobbies, coffee shops and of course the hotel rooms. Life now revolves around these areas. In the past there used to be night outs almost every night while travelling. Not so much now. And this perhaps is the biggest difference that leads to loneliness while travelling.

While waiting for the flight, sitting alone for breakfast or dinner, spending time alone in the claustrophobic hotel rooms (the rooms are not small but the walls do seem to close in), the loneliness gets to me.

It is strange that I don’t usually talk even when I am with people close to me. I have been called a snob, reticent, cold and bereft of emotions. But I always feel comfort in the fact that I have people around me that I can talk to when needed. Does sound a bit selfish, doesn’t it? So it shouldn’t bother me when I have no one to talk to when I travel… right? But bother it does.

I have started looking for ways to keep myself busy. The walking up and down while waiting for the flight to be announced, keeping up with my step count (did 2500 steps today while waiting), I smile and strike up random conversations with people. That guy who is also walking. The person serving coffee. Guy at the bar. Chef at the coffee shop. Person serving my food. People at the reception desk of the hotel. The cab guy.

Hitting the hotel gym on a regular basis (sometimes in the morning and evening as well), watching stuff downloaded from Netflix and amazon prime, music, books, those few minute calls back home in the morning and at night.

There are people who envy this lifestyle. There are people who tell me am lucky to get so much of “me” time. But trust me, it isn’t fun.

Travelling is fun and I do enjoy travelling. Cities and people in those cities, one can learn a lot about what’s happening in the world just by observing them. But the heavy baggage of loneliness, I guess that’s something I didn’t sign up for.

Sailing away

The day has come. As it comes pretty much in every household in this country.

From the time the child is born, all our energies get focused on the child. The world starts to revolve around her. And if the child happens to be a daughter, she connects with us like nobody else can.

From the time my daughter was born, the first time I held her in my arms, the first time she smiled at me, I knew that she is the centre of my universe.

She had the capability to turn me into a jelly. I could never say no to her for anything. Her smile every morning used to brighten up my day.

Watching her grow, and yet be the same little girl is an experience I will never trade for anything.

Last one year (12th!), was extremely stressful for her and for me. The choices she made in terms of what she wants to do with her life, I stood by her. Through all the stress of Boards and all the entrance exams, she never lost that smile. She was the sunshine of the house.

I would sit till late in the night while she studied. I went with her for every entrance exam. I held her while she cried with disappointment when she didn’t make it through couple of entrance exams. I heard her crying with joy over phone, when she did make it through one of the colleges she want to be at.

All the preparation, all the fights (yes we fought too but they never lasted very long), all the dreams, all the hopes, all the insecurities, I tried to be her pillar of strength. I kept my emotions in check so that she could let them all out.

And then it all boils down to this day. From today, she joins her college in a different city.

She will be lifting the anchor and be ready to set sail.

She will create a void in my life that will be very hard to fill.

There will be no morning smile or a hug anymore.

The only contact (while she is away), will be the calls.

Life will be tough. Waking up in the morning and getting ready, without the cheerful smile is going to be so tough.

She will get a group of friends and perhaps even the guy who will become her new anchor.

I hate Indian culture. It makes us so closely knit. Makes us believe that the reason of our existence is to bring lives into this world, nurture them and then watch as they move on with their lives. Why are meant to create such strong bonds?

I will be at her orientation today. And tomorrow I will leave. This perhaps will be the real cutting of the umbilical cord.

I only hope that in times to come, through all her life, she will always turn to me when she is most happy and most stressed in her life. I hope I have taught her well enough how to handle all that life throws at her.

For granted

Yep we take most things and people for granted.

After all, we are the chosen one. If things happen to us, we deserve them. If people are at our beck and call, hell they better be!

That’s how we go through our lives. Especially with people. The ones who are constantly around, doing things for us, ready for anything, they are the ignored lot. A boss, a subordinate, a friend, a partner… we know they will be around unfailingly so they become invisible. The invisible cosmic machinery that keeps working in the background. Making things happen for us. We talk to them or message them or connect with them when we have some free time. After all why bother. They have chosen to make us the centre of their universe.

But Karma, that unfailing symbol of payback (good or bad), does come visiting.

We become so ignorant of those who have been around all the time, that over a period of time, we drive them away. And then bam! Suddenly the life spins out of control and we look for the ones who used to be there and are not.

Even then, we don’t realise that it is our fault that we drove them away. All we do is blame them for not being there. For doing things that were expected of them. We realise the void that has been left but we do not want to acknowledge it. Because to acknowledge is to accept that we were wrong.

Get going

No one is gonna help you.

The ones who do, will always have a motive.

Stop whining. Stop blaming people and circumstances for what you can’t get. Did you give your best? Or rather did you exceeds even your best expectations when going all out to get somewhere?

Stop looking for a Godfather in professional world. You be the Godfather.

Stop looking for an emotional anchor in your personal life. Everyone is looking at you to be an emotional anchor.

Stop saying I will do from tomorrow.

Stop saying the year I wanted to do so many things has already come and I haven’t.

It’s just three days into 2018. There are still 362 days left to achieve what you want (is this a leap year??).

Just get off your butt and get going! Let this be the year!

How far will you go

Utterly random.

How far will you go to get what you want?

What will you do if all your efforts are not getting you what you want?

How much will you give up to get the one thing you want?

How much will you compromise on your principles to get what you want?

How many toes will you step on, people you will hurt to achieve what you want?

Will you cheat, will you lie, will you bribe, will you let go of your morality, will you kill yourself inside every minute… just so you get that one thing.

Once you get what you wanted, will it make you happy, will you cherish it, will it be worth everything you had to do and give up.


The Big Variable

When we embark on a plan, we strategise for everything. We take everything into account. Every possible factor that can impact the plan and our lives.

However, there is one variable we do not account for. The one variable we do not know anything about. The one variable that can make us a success, make us happy OR it can lead to a complete disaster.

The variable is linked to us being humans. Humans who have emotions. More often than not, our decisions are driven by emotions. We all like to be called rational beings but it is far removed from truth. Gut feel. Instinct. Like. Dislike. Fear. Exciting. Emotions come in various forms which make us who we are. Make us choose or not choose.

Imagine a scenario. A VC has five proposals in front of him. Every proposal is well thought out. The ideas are excellent. Every proposal almost on par when it comes to a sound business proposition. But he can only fund one start up. How does he choose? It boils down to personalities. People he will feel comfortable giving money to. His judgement of a person. His instinct. Now most will say the plan must have been better and therefore the funding. That isn’t the truth.

When we are hiring somebody, while qualification and experience is fine, we are focused on our interaction with the person. Likeable personality comes into play.

Same goes for relationships. We like a person. We hate a person. We love a person. It is all emotion.

Our love for brands is also in the same category. Yes we do rationalise purchasing a particular brand but it ultimately is about how the brand makes us feel.

We can never account for this variable. We have no way of knowing how the person will react. What are his motivations. What are his barriers. Did he get up from the right side of the bed when he was taking a decision. Is he under some kind of intense stress. Is there something happening in his life that might impact his decision. Maybe he doesn’t like people in beard. Maybe he is short and doesn’t want tall people around him. You never know. And you are left wondering what went wrong. Similarly, there can be pleasant surprises too.

The point is that your success or failure is not about whether you planned right or not. It is not about whether you were good or bad. It is a function of somebody out there making a decision based on his emotion. How he feels about you. Yes being good at what you do matters but only up to a point. After that, emotions come into play.

And the truth is, it all happens in first two minutes. The first two minutes usually decide what is going to be the outcome. So look for the signs. You will know.



Ok Ok so I had said I will not post for a while but this came to my mind and I just had to post.

Songs are such an integral part of our lives. Usually they fill in a void. When you are doing nothing. When you are driving. Or even when you want to silence the world around you.

In my profession, jingle always played an important role. It became the audio identifier for a piece of communication. Sadly though, now a jingle is just a piece of cacophony. the soul has gone missing.

Similarly, the soul had gone missing from songs for past couple of decade or so (my personal view).

Of late though, it seems to be back. There seems to be a focus on lyrics rather than music created through electronic crap. Over the last 6 months I have heard the songs that teens of today are listening to (having teens in the house is an advantage). While I will not mention songs (avoid getting judged), there definitely is a trend towards putting more into every song than trying to ensure that it gets sold and heard.

Through time immemorial, songs have always associated with the mood we are in. Or is it the other way round? Mood dictating the playlist. There are happy moments, melancholic moments, party, being with friends, road trip. We have playlists for occasions.

Songs and emotions, they go hand in hand. You hear someone listening to a particular song and you can probably figure out the mood of a person. Except if the song is special to that person… something only he/she identifies with.

We all have such songs in our playlist. They remind you of a person, of an occasion with that person, a special moment that was truly yours. Songs that make you yearn for the person. Or a song that you hear and you just want to share. More than photographs, I think songs are what make our memories.

Sometimes the same song can make you feel elated or melancholic. It is all a function of what point you are in a relationship.

For me, songs have always been about nostalgia for a long time. I had stopped listening to new crap. It used to be all about rock (I had written about this in a post called ‘Sunday Evening’). But I have dabbled with some of the new music and I like it (much to the consternation of my daughter. She thinks my generation shouldn’t be listening to these songs!)

Generation. Songs and bands have always identified a generation or a decade. They are a window into the environment that existed in that decade. One can actually travel back in time by just listening to songs from the past decade.

The funny thing about this post is that there was a thought in my head when I started with the post but it totally went missing from my head.

So how about this. Reply  with title of one song that you think is truly you. Symbolises you. Resonates with your current mindset. Anything.

For people on LinkedIn who actually reached this point in the post, it will be a break from all the drivel that you been going through by way of posts 🙂