Office Poilitics: Do co-workers really care?

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Do co-workers really care about their other colleagues? Or is it just a calculative move based on the roles, designation, and power one holds in the company. A workplace can be assumed as an artificial incubator where people from diverse backgrounds, opinions, and preferences are kept together to work towards a common business objective. And, all enjoy the same policies, process, facilities, and opportunities. But does this togetherness is a strong enough cohesive force to make people besties and genuine well-wishers? If you think, Yes, then think again!

Research shows that there may be very less percentage of co-workers in the office which has no qualms to share how they feel about you. But the major chunk prefers to play diplomatically in order to maintain their image and secure their career. Actually, everything in office revolves around the end-result. Things move from cubicles to board room based on self-interest and maths of profit and loss of alliances. Here are few examples which showcase the kind of actions or reactions we receive from our colleagues throughout the day in different scenarios, which indicates how power and position plays a major and influential role on sentiments towards our colleagues:

WhatsApp trend: Are you part of any office chat group in Whatsapp? If you are, then you may have observed the trend I am going to explain here or possibly you may have been a victim of it sometime. If a senior from the group, who holds an important position and power to influence the status and stature of other team’s members, post a message or a send a forward. Immediately all the subordinates wake up and get in a race of posting their response or showcasing their knowledge and understanding on the shared topic. Whereas, if a person who has recently joined the team at the entry level, posts a message or forward, it seems as everyone internet bandwidth goes too low to even acknowledge it.

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter acceptability: Similar to Whatsapp, any post in these social media by the team’s influential members will see a sudden surge in the likes, comments, and share, irrespective of how much relevance it makes to the one’s taste. Showing an acceptable and positive attitude toward the post becomes an obligation whereas anything posted by an “ordinary” team member gives a choice to others to express their opinions on it or simply ignore. Similarly, the acceptability of friend requests these platforms is no exception.

Sudden drift in posture, communication style: This is usually observed in the work cafes or when people are casually chit chatting at their desk. In middle of that fun sharing, if an influential member joins, you will immediately see a change in the topics, facial expressions. And, an increase in fake laughs and yes man attitude to all his/her inputs. People start behaving as they care the most for that person and in sync with what he/she is saying.

Selective information sharing: The group or people which are assumed as a close knit to the team’s influential member, act as a gate keeper of the information. In order to hold their importance as a key ally of the boss, they don’t hesitate to empathize with their honey coated words to spy on the opinions and the way things are drifting in the lower level. To ensure their acceptability at both the levels, they pass down the filtered information of higher management to gain the confidence in the lower group but with an intention to strengthen their position with the boss of the team.

More acceptability of subtle folks: Everyone in the office is working with an objective to get a decent hike and recognized at the end of financial year. But if you want to gain the acceptability, balance the aggression you have. Usually, the people who act subtly are assumed more approachable and picked more often by the bosses as they find them more acceptable compare to aggressive people. How much ever you dedicatedly work and focus on setting the things right, if you see things only black and white, it will be very difficult to make an entry in the group of influential people. So all the people who are successful in making a step closer to the leads are those who act subtle and play smart.

Conclusion: Core lesson from the office dynamics mentioned above is that all the privileges, advantages one person receive in his or her life are not for the person, but for the position he/she holds. As we grow in our career and achieve higher designations, we get honored with all the best treatments and gestures, but it is until the time we hold the position as we move on, it will be honored to the person who will replace us. But until that time, if one has to live and sail through the office politics, it is important to learn and understand the way things changes in offices with designations.

Leaving you here with a video which I receive as a Whatapp forward. It epitomizes how the world is hypnotized with the power and position. Happy to hear your views and know if you have come across something similar. Please share your experience in the comment box.

 

 

 

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Chikka Tirupati-An alternate destination for tonsure ceremony

Tirupati Balaji temple is a Hindu shrine dedicated to Sri Lord Venkateshwara. It is a world famous pilgrim place for Hindu devotees. Over ten lakhs people from all walks of life visit temple every day. One of the important ceremonies which are deeply associated with Balaji temple is tonsure. Every day thousands of people get tonsured as a symbol of the sacrifice of their false-ego in the form of letting go their physical beauty by chopping their hair. For kids and babies, this ritual is followed as a part of the century-long tradition to devote hair to Lord to make a contribution to the promise which Lord Venkateshwara made to his mother, Neeladri. It is a free service from TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Trust).

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However, considering the crowd Tirupati manages every day, many people have a worry of how they will manage with small babies in the long and crowded queue with hours of waiting. Chikka Tirupati located in Malur taluk in outskirts of Bangalore is an answer for these worrisome questions. Chikka Tirupati is well connected with Bangalore and approximately an hour drive from K.R. Puram railway station. Being comparatively less crowd and at par with Tirupati Balaji in regards to management and required facilities, makes it an ideal alternative of  Tirupati Balaji Temple who have the desire to offer prayer to Lord Venkateshwara but have limited time or concerns over the crowd.

At the entrance of the temple, a free vehicle parking space is available. You may park there or check with flower shop owners at the entrance (they are an excellent guide for any queries). There are lots of prayers items, toys, and snacks shop inside the premises. You can get a good deal based on your negotiation skills. In the left side of the premise, there is a separate hall for the tonsure ceremony. You need to purchase a ticket at the entrance of the hall and stand in one of the multiple queues for your chance. At any point in time, you will find approx. 4- 5 barbers in action.

The set-up is not great in terms of hygiene, but to ensure the medical safety, barbers use a new blade all the time before starting any tonsure. It is good practice if you carry your blade and ask them to use it on your turn. There is a possibility of small cuts here and there on the head while tonsure, for which barbers apply alums and suggests to later apply sandalwood after taking a bath. There is a designated place for bathing outside the tonsure hall with a proper supply of hot and cold water. Also, you will find lots of vendors with sandalwood paste; you may ask them to apply the paste on your head. It is advisable to apply sandalwood paste post tonsure as it helps to keep the head cool and heal the cuts fast. As per the TTD rules, tonsuring and getting water for bathing is a free service but people are happy to give offerings to the helpers as a gesture of gratitude.

Chikka Tirupati celebrates all the occasions similar to Tirupati Balaji. To get the Lord Venkateshwara darshan is a quick affair here in case you are not planning the visit on one of those auspicious days such as Bhramotsavam or Teppotsavam etc.  The architecture of temple exteriors is different from the Tirupati Balaji temple, but the appearance of sanctum sanctorum is more or less the same. Also, comparatively the time you can spend here in front of the Lord is more.

In total, Chikka Tirupati is a good option to get the darshan of Lord and for tonsure. But definitely, it is not a substitute of Tirupati! Whenever you have time, ensure that you pay a visit to Tirupati Balaji. Whoever goes there once, only those understand the aura of it and are compelled to make the next visit as early as possible. 🙂

 

 

Identify, Connect and Be Happy!

” Talk to Yourself Once in a day…otherwise you may miss meeting an excellent person in this world”. This famous quote by Swami Vivekananda summarizes the importance of one spending time with oneself and take a much-needed pause to understand the direction where thoughts are going. Definitely, This exercise helps us to introspect the drifting mind and accordingly guide us re-channelize them in a positive direction and bring out the best of ourselves. But is this sufficient to ensure the positive and meaningful flow of thoughts in our heads, when we are so much surrounded by negative thoughts, neck to neck competitions and aggressive point of views?  Does spending time with oneself is enough to heal the pain, low self-esteem, and emotional wound? Can a person who is anyways feeling low have enough strength to pull herself/himself up and bring a smile on her/his face? Take a pause and think of a similar situation you had come across in the past, was you were able to manage to come out from the depth of uncertainty and handle the pressure bomb ready to explode in your head. Or was it someone else like a family member, friend, relative or a mentor who was with you to lift your spirits and take you out of the whirlpool of negative thoughts.

The above stated quote of Swami Vivekananda’s is one side of the coin in today’s fast paced world, another side of the coin is to stay connected with the loved ones. If I say the quote for today can be “Talk to your loved ones once in a day…otherwise, you may miss an excellent opportunity to reenergize and bounce back in this world”. In this progressive and competitive world where technology and the virtual world has occupied a major portion of our attention. And, families are becoming nuclear. This becomes more important than ever to identify someone and keep them close to our heart all the times. Virtual friends are good, its looks really good to see over 500 friends on Facebook and 100’s of contacts on Whatsapp. But what’s important is to keep a vigilance of how many of them are close and out of that how many we can call as 3 AM friends. The online world is important to keep ourselves updated with the world’s trend, break the boredom, share virals, etc. But if everything from the online is getting poured into your head without any filter then it is harmful.  The virtual world is always on the wheels and has only “like” and “share” buttons as a medium to empathize with any situations. That’s why to avoid any void feelings, it’s important to identify and be connected with the bunch of really close people,  who have all the time in the world when you need them.

 

Photo Courtesy: MrNguyen

Photo Courtsey: MrNguyen

 

Friends and family are an important and inevitable part of one’s life. They are the one who defines you, nurture you, ignore your faults, feel happy with your success and encourage you during your failures. The virtual world may know us from the day we signed up, but friends and family know us even before we get to know the online world etiquettes. When we cry they try to cheer us, when we feel low, they hold our hands to pull us from it, when we are out of our mind, they listen to us. In spite of unlimited benefits one can avail by being in touch with the family and friends, the common challenge we feel today is that because of studies, jobs or other commitments, kids usually leave home in their 20s. This physical distance with the loved ones who ones were the most knowledgeable and dear to us. Later, we start questioning their understanding of our situation and slowly drift ourselves. Maybe our parents are not from the internet boom generation, but the heartache we get is never because of the complexity of the codes, but because of about the emotional distress we face due to some negative situation(s), which is no code dependent. And, no one can understand it better than a close-knit family and friends.

After a long day at work, coming back to home and calling parents or family sitting thousands of miles away and talking to them about anything you feel like will definitely give a  refreshed feeling and make us feel worthful, above and beyond the office reward and recognitions. This gives a realization that the work we were worried about is a very small portion of our life and there is much more exciting and endearing in this world. It helps us to bounce back with new enthusiasm for new challenges and uncertainties.

Do you agree? What are your experiences? Happy to hear from you. Drop your feedback, suggestions, experiences in the comment box!

Road Trip to Ooty from Bangalore

The long weekends are always an excuse for me to plan out a trip to escape from the city hustle, and enjoy my “me” time. Last weekend was the same occasion, and we zeroed on Bangalore to Ooty road trip.

Ooty is a small town in the Nilgiri mountain range in the Tamilnadu state of India. It is a famous hill station in South India and because of its lush green and mesmerizing landscapes, it is also known as Queen of hills.

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Picturesque Emerald Lake

Our road trip started from Bangalore at 7:00 AM (count it as late, the ideal time to start a road trip of over 250 km is by or before 6:00 AM in order to avoid the city traffic and keep sometime for roaming around the place). We took the Nice road which is the shortest and most preferred route to go out of Bangalore city in case you are travelling towards Mysore (to reach Ooty, one has to cross Mysore city). As we started late, we faced a good amount of traffic on tolls, diversions and on roadside restaurants.

There are many other good restaurants in every half a kilometre meters distance after entering Ramanagara district, you may choose the one suits your time and comfort. We took our first halt at Kamath Hotel, Ramanagaram. This south Indian restaurant is famous among all commuters for its authentic South Indian food, nice ambience and reasonable rates. After having sumptuous south Indian breakfast with juicy jalebis we headed to cover our rest of the distance. There are many worth visiting and famous places from Ramanagaram ( (Evergreen Bollywood movie, Sholay was shooted in the hills of Ramanagarm ) onward till we reach Ooty. To name a few, Channapatna (famous for wooden toys), Bidadi ( famous for Tatte idly), Mandya ( famous for sugarcane fields and  Kaveri river), Sri Rangapatanam (Tipu Sultan’s palace, battleground, martyr’s place, Sri Ranganathswamy Temple), Sangam, etc.

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Channapatna Wooden Toys. Photo courtesy: Pratheep

 

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Ramanagaram Hills. Photo Courtesy: Navaneeth KN

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Ranganathaswamy Temple. Photo Courtesy: Sujit

As our focus was Ooty, we decided to skip all and took a diversion from the outskirts of Mysore. The clock was ticking 12 and we were still good three hours away from the destination. Hence, with collective consensus, we decided to drive as much as possible without any halt ( bio breaks were exempted!). Another very famous place to cross on the way to Ooty is Bandipur Forest Reserve. On the way to Bandipur, one can see a lot of fields, coconut trees, watermelon, small shops and villages. Bandipur is a Tiger Reserve, which was established with the intention to control the falling tiger population in the year 1974. To see big cats, one has to go deep in the jungle with the help and permission of forest ranger. But if you are the one who is happy with deers, monkeys, and wild boar then you will see them enough though your vehicle while crossing the jungle. Bandipur is also an en route to enter Tamilnadu through Madhumalai forest range.

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Madhumalai forest range is a habitat of the same kind of animals as in Bandipur. After 20 minutes drive in Madhumalai forest, there is a junction which forked in two roads to Ooty. The long route is less steep, one can enjoy more time with nature and has a couple of tourist spots as well (Needle point, Pykara lake), whereas the other route is short, steeper, right through the mid of the hill with 36 hairpin bends. It is a ghat route and approx. 30 km less than the longer one. I have heard that police does not allow the downward journey for all vehicles from the shorter route. Hence, we opted for the shorter route to experience the adventure of driving through ghats.

 

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Courtesy: Irvin Calicut

 

The short route is surrounded by beautiful mountains, valleys and waterfall. Another fascinating scene was to see cyclists on that steep route. Profusely sweating, thoroughly tired yet determined to make up to the top. One more scene which attracted our attention was that many hatchbacks and sedan cars were standing after every few 100 meters with their bonnet open! Because of steepness, the engine got too hot to push in the cool weather. Thankfully, we were in the SUV and I believe that saved us from being one of those hot engine victims. So it is advisable to go in a vehicle with a powerful engine which is meant for rough roads and uncertain rides.

After driving for approximately an hour, we stepped in Ooty. It was a beautiful weather with cool breeze and drizzle. At quarter-to-three we stepped in our hotel. Cool and fresh breeze crossing us, assuring us that it was worthwhile to travel Ooty. It’s a great place to relax, unwind and get soaked in the beauty of a hill station.

 

 

Working Women’s Dilemma: Pregnancy and Professional Conflict

“The biological clock and career clock are in complete conflict with each other,” this famous saying by PepsiCo CEO Indira Nooyi highlights the crisis most of the women professionals face in the early or mid years of their career.

Last summer when I was expecting my promotion, I also discovered that God had planned some other promotion for me. In spite of being aware that be a mother is a significant milestone I have planned for myself, and have to cross at some point in my life. It was an exciting yet quirky moment for me.

As it happens in most of the multinational companies, my organization also have a system in place where there is a 3-4 months gap between updating the appraisal sheet and actual announcement of the result. That is the time when our managers, based on best of their capabilities tries to put their team in Bell curve. I was fearful that my first trimester is bang-on with the most critical window of the company’s financial year, where our manager’s radars are highly receptive to catch all activities of the team, big or small, official or unofficial.

Morning sickness and nausea were new normal for me, including asking for work from home. In spite of being participative and involved in my routine work, I was fearful of the concept called “Out of sight, Out of mind”. And, to an extent, it was making me paranoid.

The blame is not on the management; it is how the companies have created the dynamics of teams to churn out the best from their employees, and accordingly, it impacts the recognition, bonus, and promotions. This simulated competitive environment is a double edge sword. It motivates the employees to put more efforts, work smartly and think innovatively. But it also creates hidden envy, unhealthy rivalry, and stress.

So my imagination of possible equations and bondings taking place in the office and how it would have been different in my presence were making me feel lost and adding to my first-trimester weakness. How much ever we are prepared for such intersections and setbacks, our trained competitive mind always pushes us in the denial mode and compel us to question whether was this the right time? Will we fall behind the group and may loose on the perks we were thinking for quite some time and for which we have put so many efforts.

Whether you love it or hate it, but you cannot ignore the pregnancy cycle. My pregnancy journey was going on at its pace, and the first turning point came when I went for the 12th-week scan. It was the first time I heard the heartbeat of the little one inside me (looked like a bean structure in the scan). I was awestruck and felt how much power God has given to women. We are capable of bringing another life into this mighty world. That moment made me feel empowered and energized.

I realized that with each passing month, things were in much more control and were getting beautiful. Each week showed the new phase in the life of the little one and definitely of ours. I gradually realized that it all starts in our head if we want things to get worse and heavy on us, it will. But if we realize that this slowdown helps us to introspect the power we carry, the beautiful relationship we have in our lives and the grace God is showering on us, this journey will be one of the most beautiful phase of our life. Also, unless the doctor does not indicate any complexities, there is no reason we cannot continue going to the office and be as normal as we were in our work before.

Usually, we are ignorant about the power of relationships with family, friends and colleagues which we have cultivated and nourished over the year, this is the time to look up to them and seek necessary support. We often hear “SuperWomen” tag for multitasking women, but think do you need to be a superwoman, who is on her own and handling all crisis alone when you have people around you who are happy to help you and be with you whenever you want. One of my Indian friend, who was when doing her PhD from an American University had a one-year-old daughter to take care. She was alone in the US (unfortunately her husband died in an accident), and was not earning enough to pay baby care centre fees. That time her friend were her big support systems, they assured a healthy and safe environment to her daughter, which made my friend focus on her studies and complete her degree smoothly.

We are surrounded by lots of people some of them inspire us, accept us the way we are, ignore our mistakes and appreciate our success. Filter those people, reach out to them unhesitantly and share your loads. In addition to people we know, there are many people whom we don’t know and met them through an acquaintance or some work agency, with time many of these people also become part our family and help us to manage our life well, as they find joy in our happiness. But never forget to feel gratitude and grateful to them and make yourselves available when they need you. It will not be blunt to say that any relationship works on a barter system.

After delivery of my little one and post my maternity leave, it was my friends and family who helped me to bounce back in my work routine in no time and move ahead in my professional journey. Motherhood is a memorable phase which continues life long. So without any fear of losing, lagging behind in our professional life, we all should embrace it, as it has lot more incentives, appreciations and promotions than we expect from our profession.

Pregnancy and Profession are two completely different phases. But at the end, they are an integral part of our life. Like two sides of one coin!

 

“Miles to Go Before I Sleep”

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

  But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

  And miles to go before I sleep.”

 

Above lines of the last stanza of the famous poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” written by Robert Frost in the year 1922 is the essence of the success recipe which we need to achieve all the good things we desire for ourselves.

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In a literal sense, it explains the rider’s desire to stop by in the woods on a snowy evening, tempting the rider to stay little longer and enjoy the beauty of nature. But the inner thrust of the rider pushes him to continue his journey before he reaches his destination. Isn’t it sounds like an analogy to our real life situations? How many times do we desire to procrastinate and look for excuses to accommodate stuff on the priority list? How many times we later complain about not being able to meet up the targets? Each one of us has come through this pattern at least once. And, what we do on realizing that we are running against time, either we rework on our priority list, try to adjust the delayed stuff somehow or maybe just redefine as insignificant. And, that’s the moment when we bucket ourselves either in achiever or dreamer category.

What made Muhammad Ali, The Muhammad Ali; Michael Jordan, The Michael Jordan; Deepa Malik, The Deepa Malik and Bachendri Pal, The Bachendri Pal. The list is unending, all the people who have shown the guts, grits and determination have reached the top. You cannot control what you are, but you can control what want to be.

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Dushun Wang, an 80 year’s old actor and model famously known as China’s Hottest Grandpa, is an inspiration to many who think that 40 is the age when you have already lost the battle. In an interview, Dunshun mentioned “Many people started noticing me after a catwalk show; some people called me “the hottest grandpa.” Some also said that I am an instant internet sensation. But do you know what? To prepare for this day, I have been getting ready for 60 years.”

All the achievers we see around ourselves have walked the bed of thorns and burned the lamps when the world was sleeping. For them, anything minus goal is a distraction. In today’s world, where we are surrounded by so many distractions around for all age group, it becomes even more important to keep the headlamp on and focused on what we want to achieve.

Have you realized why the social pyramid base is heavy whereas top can accommodate only a few because as the steepness increases, many falls and never tries to push themselves. The choice is yours, but remember whatever you choose today, will make your destiny tomorrow.

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Making a destiny you always desire is a 3D approach: Decide, Discipline and Determination. Decide the goal you wants to achieve. Be disciplined, consider everything else as a distraction, make a rigorous routine. And, be determined to follow it in any circumstances till you reach the goal you have thought.