Category Archives: Guest Blogs

21 Life Lessons to Remember in 2015: Guest Blog by Dinesh Damodaran

 

1. If something in your life needs to be fixed or changed, don’t wait until the end of the year to make it a resolution.

2. Learning is a lifelong and continuous process, it is the best investment you can make in yourself. Learn about things, the world around you, people, about yourself, learn something, anything, but be sure to learn.

3. Don’t fall in the trap of judging other people by their intentions especially when you tend to judge yourself by your intentions.

4. The weight of expectations you feel on your shoulders are the ones you placed on yourself. Let it go, and you can move towards your destination faster.

5. Be comfortable being alone and spending time by yourself, if you can’t stand your own company, nobody else can.

6. You can’t control what other people say, think or do, you can only control how you respond.

7. Never react or take a decision when emotional, this goes for both positive emotions and negative emotions.

8. Practice altruism, doing things for other people without expectations is liberating and your best contribution to making this world a better place, one selfless act at a time.

9. Don’t be afraid of change but be afraid of staying in the same place. Everything changes even you, you are not the same person you were yesterday because who you are today is the sum total of your life’s experiences. Embrace change, it is the greatest gift you can ever get.

10. There isn’t always a right and wrong, only different perspectives, break down those mental barriers and become more inclusive. You may be the hero in your tale, but you just might be the villain in someone else’s piece.

11. It is okay not to be perfect, an obsession with perfectionism is another form of procrastination. Sometimes getting it done is better than waiting for the perfect conditions and opportunity.

12. What you are doing at this moment is the most important thing in your life, make it count.

13. Multi-tasking is over rated, focus your energy on doing one thing and doing it right and to the best of your abilities.

14. People in your life come and go, they were there in your life for a reason, and they probably left for a reason, both their presence and absence is a gift, learn from it, grow from it, become a better person to the other people in your life.

15. Don’t live in your past, it is a great injustice to your present. Let it go and your present will come alive with many possibilities.

16. Love yourself and accept yourself for who you are and what you are, only then can you love and accept those around you.

17. Don’t compete with anyone but yourself, invest in developing yourself, personally, professionally, emotionally and spiritually. Work towards becoming a better version of yourself.

18. Accept that sometimes the things you want may not come in the manner you expect them to, if you have a goal or an aspiration work hard for it, if you fail give it a go a few more times, but if it isn’t working out, maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Be open to other possibilities of reaching your destination. The mountain may have only one summit but there are many ways to climb it.

19. Hardships are not a curse, they are your greatest opportunities to grow and change, weather the storm – come out stronger and better. If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.

20. Heart breaks condition you to shield your heart from future hurt. But the only way you can receive love is if you open your heart to the possibility of love.

21. Take the road less traveled, you know where the all too frequented road goes, and even if the road less traveled leads to some place you didn’t want to go, you are still wiser for the experience.

Guest Blog: 26/11 by Dinesh Damodaran

I wasn’t in Mumbai at the time of the attacks. I did however happen to visit the home of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was killed in the operation, to offer my condolences. I wrote this verse after that visit. I never knew the Major personally, but there was a profound sadness in me after speaking to his father and some of his OTA / NDA batch mates.

The pain doesn’t diminish every time I reminisce
about the day I met the parents of a son who perished,
enlisted to protect & serve, deserved
to be decorated, not separated from those he loved,
or to die by the gun of a terrorist scum,
The courageous Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan

I entered a home plunged in grief, shattered belief
TV hummed in the living room, channels playing footage of the siege
Relatives debated on what-ifs and what may have been
Father stood in the hall, hands folded
In the bedroom the mother wept on a relative’s shoulder,
distraught at thoughts of her son aged 31 who wouldn’t grow older
Not consoled by whatever they told her, forever wounded for being
the mother of a martyred soldier.

I stood paralyzed, tongue-tied
I had to really control myself
or I would’ve cried
Mustered courage to walk up to the Major’s dad and say
“Excuse me sir, I’m sorry for your loss today.”
“Don’t be. He died serving his country.”
“Are you a Friend of my son?’ he asks
“No sir, I’m just a citizen.”
Took leave, headed home,
Thinking back of how Mumbai
turned into a war zone

A date that’s etched
in my mind’s slate
26 November 2008 –
the day people of Mumbai
became terrorist bait.
Attacks came late in the p.m.
innocent lives left to fate,
in the capital of the MH State.

Guest Blog : How to Meet, Date and Marry your Soulmate in One Year! (by Shomita Sarah)

If you’re anything like me, reading this title would make you wonder if I was a little high or losing my mind. I promise I’m neither – this is the plain, honest truth as I’ve experienced it. If the title piqued your curiosity, then good. This is not really a how-to article…but it is a true-to-life experience article and honestly, I never expected to be the one to write something like this from my own experience.

Let me begin at the very beginning. The blogger I’m writing this guest article for is quite honestly my oldest (and very cherished) friend in the world. She and I were born two days apart in the same hospital in South India and our lives have been intertwined ever since. I like to say that God brought us together and has kept us together ever since. She has been a constant source of encouragement on pretty much every step where I’ve found myself faltering and particularly in the one niggling matter of finding “the guy”. A few years ago, when I was at one of those low points in my life – when every possible doubt you have weighs you down and you wonder – ‘is love ever going to find me’ and maudlin thoughts outweigh the rational – she counseled me to focus on what I wanted in a guy and make a detailed list and put it out there in the universe and wait. Easier said than done! Anyway, being at the end of the proverbial rope I decided to make that list and surprisingly, it does make you feel a little better. There’s something tangible about the written word. As a sneak preview, I’ll mention a few things on that hallowed list – tall, Irish, blue eyes, similar faith in God.  I eventually, let that list rest and went about my life, not really stressing as much about finding the guy but not really finding the guy either!

2013 started off feeling like a different year altogether. I knew something was coming this year, but didn’t know what exactly. I’d also finally gotten to the point where I decided to let the pining for “the guy” go and let him just come to me. I realized that I had a lot of good things on my plate already and if it wasn’t time for him to be on the same plate – then I could at least enjoy the rest. A cousin contacted me out of the blue and encouraged me to give a popular dating website another try – saying there were good men out there and I had to give it one more shot. So, I said to myself – why not?! Among the men that contacted me was this one guy whom I initially responded to because I found that he had a similar interest in traveling to Ireland. After a few exchanges, I started to have some doubts (as sometimes happens with online communications) and almost ended the exchange.

It would’ve surely ended there, if he hadn’t had the ‘audacity’ to call me out on my own fears and in a very down-to-earth manner give me the choice to find out if there was a possibility of a continued exchange between us. He let me set my own pace and ladies  tell me you don’t like a man who lets the girl set the pace! We started as friends – no pressure – just emailing, talking and texting and getting to know each other. We progressed to our first date on a snowy evening – that pretty much decided it for me. He was the IT guy. If I can refer back to my list again – he was tall, of Irish origin, blue eyed and shared my faith in God! We stayed all night talking and holding hands and it was simply the best date I’ve had. I started to fall in love with a good man and a gentleman – he even dusted the snow off my car! Might be a silly thing to remember but it mattered a lot to me.

We decided to become FB official – because who can say they’re really dating without letting the social network know about it right?! Less than four months later, on my 35th birthday, he surprised me – by popping the question and without a doubt, I accepted. The four months involved a whirlwind getting to know both families, lots of driving and texting and phone calls. Did I mention we were in a long-distance relationship? And did I mention that we will be tying the knot in less than 60 days?

Yup…it’s less than a year and I’ve managed to meet, date, get engaged and will soon be getting married to the guy I’ve waited a long while to meet. Ladies, pull that jaw up from off the floor. As unbelievable as this may sound…believe it…it happens! It took a lot of prayer, a lot of patient (and sometimes not-so-patient) waiting and the tiniest bit of hope that he existed. If you’re looking – don’t give up hope. Pray hard and trust that the right guy is out there and looking for you too. And when it comes to you, don’t fight too hard, give in and let yourself experience the wonder that is the love of a good man. Here’s hoping that the experiences married life brings will help us grow together as a couple!

Guest Blog – My First Volunteeri​ng Event at Dream a Dream (by Dinesh Damodaran)

Sometimes I think about the life I’m living
I seem to take more than I’m giving
More vengeful than forgiving
More reluctant than willing
Cynical without believing
Need to start emptying the bad
So the goodness can start filling
The opposite of death is not life but birth,
And we make that journey to figure out what we’re worth.

As I embarked on my first namma metro ride and DaD (Dream a Dream) journey literally and figuratively I have come to realize why I wanted to be a volunteer in the first place. Even though we all lead very superficially successful lives there is this gross feeling of inadequacy that we all feel (I’ll be the first to put my hand up and admit this), and we can’t help but feel there is more to life than just being. I think the verse above that I wrote a few months back captures this sentiment perfectly.

I was among the 20 volunteers who had the privilege of undertaking a train ride in the Namma Metro with 80 very happy and excited school children of the Mt. Everest School.

Besides being my first metro ride it was also my first event as a volunteer. It was reminiscent of how one feels on his/her first day of school…play school! By the time I had joined the party at the Byapanahali the kids were already gathered around the DaD volunteers singing songs and doing roll calls. The energy was palpable with a heady mix of the positive vibes and playful banter coming from both child and volunteer alike with a nice warm draft of the afternoon breeze made the atmosphere warm and fuzzy. Puzzled onlookers in the form of commuters, station personnel and passersby completed this very happy picture.

2 Volunteers each were assigned to a group of 10 children for the remainder of the trip that started and ended at the Byapanahalli Metro train station.

Station personnel gave us a complete run down of how the metro functions and the advantages of commuting in them. The children were attentive and answered any questions that were asked of them during this talk.

We then lined up at the platform and waited with bated breath for our train to arrive. I tried to strike up a conversation with some of the kids while we waited. They were all looking at the escalator and were noticing how it slowed down to a stop when no one was using it. I used that moment to point out to them how the escalator had a sensor that was sensitive to weight. (Boring I know!).

The train arrived and we all poured in and the kids scrambled to get seated. One of the first things I observed once the train started its journey towards MG Road was how cold some of the children were feeling because of air conditioning. I felt bad for not having carried my jacket that day, could have given it to one of those kids.

The kids had their heads turned towards the window for most of the onward commute taking in the sights. I explained how one must go about reading the route displays and upcoming station information. My audience of 4-5 students understood and didn’t have any doubts or questions.

We alighted at MG Road and made our way to the other platform for the return commute. Many of the kids now turned their attention towards each other and us and started striking up conversations.

I too made an effort to speak to the kids on the return commute. I asked a few of the kids their names, which class they were studying in, why they were wearing canvas shoes on that particular day (I used to wear canvas shoes on days when we had PT periods). What their favourite sport was (I was surprised to hear cricket). And I asked them about the DaD football coaching programmes in their school and if they liked it. I also asked them if they were enjoying the outing.

These children are exceptionally well behaved and courteous. They kept addressing me as “sir” till I asked them to drop the “sir” and replace it with “anna” (big brother). They almost immediately complied with a very warm smile. One boy also let me know by what name I could call him. (That wasn’t so hard now was it?) I salute all their parents for having raised their children so well, I am sure you must all be very proud!

We arrived at Byapanahalli station shortly afterwards. And we assembled outside for the wrap up and experience sharing session. While I couldn’t follow what was spoken mostly because it was in Kannada, the look of content and happiness on the faces of the children spoke volumes.

Volunteers were asked to share the feedback, I was a little too tongue tied to say anything meaningful and hence passed up the chance then, but I am going to take the opportunity to do so now.

 

Dear Kids,

Thank you for

  • helping      me understand that the greatest gift one can ever give another person is      time and the greatest virtue undivided attention
  • reminding      me that no matter how grown up I am or appear to be, there is always a      little room and time to be a child
  • helping      me realize that the time I spend with you lighting up your life, you are      also lighting up mine, more so
  • being      underprivileged is a state of mind indoctrinated by social dogma and if      you peel away those layers you and I are not so different in what we want      and who we are
  • helping      me appreciate that the real joy of giving is when its unconditional and      without expectations

 

One particularly endearing incident for me during the ride was when this girl caught hold of the hand of a volunteer and pulled her towards her. “Are you having a good time”, she asked the volunteer. “Of course I am happy, I’m spending time with you and if you are happy I am also happy.” replied the volunteer.

Such a selfless gesture from a supposedly underprivileged kid. It was both a turning point of this event and a humbling moment for me. I realized that many aspects of our life are equally underprivileged and impoverished and it takes a kid like this to enrich it as much as we enrich theirs.

I would love to hear how volunteering added more meaning to your life. Do share your experiences below.

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About the Author

Dinesh is a mallu but culturally, a mish-mash of Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai, the cities he has lived in and fallen in love with. Poet, calligrapher, compulsive googler, self-proclaimed dogfather of the strays, ardent sports fan (Arsenal, CSK, Michael Jordan), foodie, anti-pop music curator (Underground & Alternative Hip Hop, Electric Blues & Jazz), world movies cinephile and classic car enthusiast, this left-hander tries hard to keep it right-brained (pun intended). By profession, Dinesh is a Marketing and Sales professional and a volunteer at dream a dream.