प्लेटफार्म पर इंतज़ार 

माथे पर नहीं थी कोइ शिकंज, ना मुख पर उलझन, कदम तेज़ थे, जोश अनोखा, आँखों में चमक नई थी, चहक रही वो जैसे मन ही मन, कुछ सपने बुनती डोल रही थी।

आई सवारी, तब उठा समान बिन बोले ही बोल रही थी । झटपट द्वार किए बन्द,  स्काईबैग को तब रोशन ने उठाया, गाड़ी को फिर स्टेशन की राह पर दौड़ाया। प्लेटफॉर्म पहुंच कर सामान 💼 उतारा,  लो अब बजने वाले थे बस बारा।

हुआ इन्तज़ार कुछ यूं लम्बा जब पढ़ा प्लेटफार्म पर रेल्वे का एलान जिसने जारी कर दिया ट्रेन लेट का फरमान । लम्हे फिर घंटों में बदले,  तन्हा कैसे कटे सफर?

हुई शुरू शिरकत प्लेटफार्म पर, लगने लगी उठक बैठक,  चार कदम आगे बढ़ते, दो कदम पीछे,  बैचेनी जब और बढ़ी, चाय 🍵 की प्याली हाथ चढ़ी, आँखें थीं  कि राह पर गड़ी,  घड़ी -घड़ी निगाहें घड़ी पर अटक जातीं स्टेशन की घड़ी से बारम्बार मिलाती।

फिर भी सहज सरल भाव लिए, थकावट को छुपाए हुए  बैठी रही चेहरे पर हल्की सी मुस्कान लिए , धड़कन कुछ तेज़ हुई जब इंजन की सीटी नें 🔉 आवाज़ दी। इंजन फिर दहाड़ा, हरी झंडी ने जब किया इशारा ।

ओझल फिर नज़रों से हो गई । थी कौन वो जो घंटो करके इन्तज़ार, थी न व्याकुल न लाचार। ममतामयी सूरत, वात्सल्य की मूरत।और कौन होगी वह? वह तो एक माँ ही होगी जो मन में मिलन की आस लिए, स्वयं ही चल दी बच्चों के पास न जाने कितने स्वप्न लिए ?

सच बड़ा ही खूबसूरत सफर होगा , मिलन का अहसास गज़ब होगा ।

On Christmas Night

Nights are like long stretches of darkness, like shades of grey scattered against the white, like silent caves hidden in the wilderness. “What are nights for?”, I asked? Do they mean something? Do they say something?

When the whole world is sleeping and you are alone in your kitchen baking and the aroma of cake fills the night air, the twinkling stars from their heavenly heights take a deep breathe and stop to stare, that moment is beyond words. You sitting at your window catch a glimpse of the stars and even before you could react, they smile and wink and disappear. Disappear where?

“Stars to what places you go?”; “Who are the people you meet?” As I wondered I heard a little jingle outside my door. Oh! is that Santa greeting me, is that him who stole my dream to shower me with gifts?

I opened the door and saw the green grass in the lawn covered with snow. Surely, the leaves rustled, the logs burnt bright and the candles glowed. Yes! it was …it was him. Sometimes you feel like kids. You wait with hope, with desperation for something or someone to wrap you around with a blanket of warmth. The cozy feeling enlivens your spirit. The quiet of the night sounds like a gentle drizzle.

Nights are like long stretches of darkness, like shades of grey scattered against the white, like silent caves hidden in the wilderness. “What are nights for?”, I asked? Do they mean something? Do they say something? Why do we say ‘Dark night’, ‘Lonely night’, ‘Scary night’, ‘Long night’? Nights are also bright, lighted, starry, cool, breezy, warm, gentle, comforting? Aren’t they? Nights are for rest, for peace, for rejuvenation, for celebration.

When a star twinkles, a lamp glows or a candle burns it is the darkness of the night that conspires to make them illumine the world. When standing at the edge of a dark tunnel rest assured that daylight is spreading its wings somewhere.

Darkness is not ugly or evil. It is a moment that leads to another moment. It is the stillness that ushers you to action. It is the oblivion that awakens your deeper conscience.

Knowing thyself is truth, truth is true knowledge. Happiness is not dependent on people, events, situations and circumstances. It is within you. Ignorance is a veil that shields your vision. It creates the confusion between hope and despair, joy and sorrow, love and hatred.

On Christmas and this festive season, pledge yourself a world of happiness.With peace and wisdom that Santa brings for everyone, gift the world more happiness; happiness which is independent, unadulterated, which springs from within the fountains of inner calm and quietness.

Lift the veil, happiness is just round the corner.

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting for Rampal: A Leaf from the Past

Sitting in a coffee house, waiting for a business client, I was finding it difficult to stay calm. I was forced to meditate on the nature of ‘wait’ and how ‘waiting’ impacts the human mind. As I kept ruminating, my thoughts unconsciously led me to the time when I was still a young child. I traversed back in time, dived into my past and became completely oblivious of my present ‘wait’.

Waiting could be exasperating. It could be taxing, tiring, humiliating. It can leave you fuming, fretting, annoyed. Sometimes, however, waiting can be fun, especially if one is waiting for ones D-Day, expecting a promotion, a salary hike or meeting a long lost friend or a loved one.

Sitting in a coffee house, waiting for a business client, I was finding it difficult to stay calm. I was forced to meditate on the nature of ‘wait’ and how ‘waiting’ impacts the human mind. As I kept ruminating, my thoughts unconsciously led me to the time when I was still a young child. I traversed back in time, dived into my past and became completely oblivious of my present ‘wait‘.

On a hot Friday afternoon, in a small sleepy town in the remote corner of the country somewhere in central India, the kids waited anxiously, straining their ears for a distinct sound. It was almost 3.00 p.m. The sound was expected anytime between 3.00 p.m to 4.00 p.m. The long and dreary summer afternoon had prolonged the wait. It seemed like ages before the familiar ‘toot-toot’ of the bicycle horn could be heard at a distance. The kids rushed to the window and there at the curve of the road emerged a hazy outline of a man riding an old black bicycle. As the figure came closer, the sound now became loud and clear. The kids grew excited; the curls of their lips widened into broad grins. The kids jumped and leaped towards the main iron gate entrance at the far end of the garden road with finely trimmed hedge on either side and small white and purple petunias flowering in the artistically designed flowerbeds that were encircled by small pebbles and painted white with lime powder (chuna). Stop! stop! they shouted in chorus. The hooting sound and the cycle came to a standstill.

The mysterious rider alighted from the bicycle, there were two large white bags hanging down from the two handles at either side of the bicycle. The bags were overstuffed with soft, spongy, sweet smelling, mouth-watering delicacies, whose aroma filled the air. “Why did you come after so many days, this time” ?, asked one of the kids. The lean and thin man with dark brown complexion and small brown eyes responded with a feeble smile. He unloaded the bags  with mild difficulty as his left arm was amputated or he was a victim of natural disability. Mother signaled them to come near the shaded verandah. She asked him if he needed some water, as he looked pale and worn out. Mother went inside and brought him a glass of water and some jaggery, which he accepted gladly. After that, he asked the kids in a more enthusiastic voice “What would you like to have children” ? The bag when opened, appeared like a Pandora’s box which revealed packs of freshly baked cakes, candies, pastries, cream rolls, muffins and assorted cookies. There was a whole range of  delightful delicacies to satiate the sweet tooth. The children picked their favorites and their hearts were filled with boundless joy. Mom payed the bills, the kids waved happy hands and in unison shouted, “Come soon again Rampal bhaiya!

Rampal, the thin man with one arm and a bag full of goodies used to visit the Campus once in every 15 days. He was a welcome guest and indeed the most awaited one. He was a harbinger of priceless happiness to these kids. Living in a campus residential area, situated on the top of a hill, surrounded by nature, cut off from mainstream, where marketplace was miles away, the small vendors like Rampal were a blessing in disguise.

Today, there are a thousand places just round the corner where you will find the most exquisite of bakers and confectioners. The market is flooded with shops which offer the finest and most scrumptious treats of delicious cakes and cookies. Pineapple cake, Truffle cake, Fruit cake, Black Forest, Marble cake, there is an array of cakes available. I relish them all, but nothing tastes as pleasing, as luscious, as gratifying, as heavenly as the cakes and cream rolls that rolled out of the magical bag of  Rampal. None of these can match up to the aroma and the sweetness that was delivered to our doorsteps by Rampal.

The sound of the cycle bell is still ringing in my ears,  I can see you riding towards our house with your bags filled with tempting yummy delights. I am standing at the same  old gate hoping to find you there…

Waiting for Rampal was like an endless wait but the ‘sweetest’ one that one could have ever craved for. It is amazing how different people from different walks of life, touch our lives and leave such lasting impressions on our mind and heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read to Learn, Learn to Read

Having discussed the many benefits of reading , the chief concern here is how to develop reading skills. Reading demands self-discipline and sincerity. One needs to set aside  reading hour in the daily time- table and follow the routine religiously. What you read may not be restricted to or limited to any one area, field or genre. You can select any theme or topic that interests you.

People both young and old are frequently heard complaining, “Reading is so boring”, ” It’s such a waste of time”. We look for short cuts and quick notes to prevent ourselves from the mundane task of reading the full text.  We rely on summaries and precis just a day before an examination, interview or a presentation. Yes, in a world hard pressed for time and where everything is made available at the press of a button, who would prefer to read a book/blog/magazine or devote time to read.

Reading is the source of  abundant knowledge,  information and even aesthetic pleasure. Reading is an opportunity to explore the unexplored, to unlock the doors of novel ideas and distinct viewpoints. Reading not only widens the horizons of understanding but also triggers your imagination and creativity. Reading is the best vocabulary building exercise. There is no better way to develop your word power than to read. Reading improves comprehension and lays the foundation for strong communication skills.  It gives you ideas for public speaking. Reading makes you worldly wise.

Having discussed the many benefits of reading , the chief concern here is how to develop reading skills. Reading demands self-discipline and sincerity. One needs to set aside  reading hour in the daily time- table and follow the routine religiously. What you read may not be restricted to or limited to any one area, field or genre. You can select any theme or topic that interests you. News , Literature, sports, fashion, entertainment or politics, you can identify any stream of your liking but never skip your reading session. Based on your objective of reading, reading can be classified into four main types

  1. Aesthetic reading– to read for pleasure, which may include story, drama, poetry , fiction or entertainment
  2. Reading for information– to get the gist of the content
  3. Reading for meaning-to read and comprehend the writer’s viewpoint
  4. Reading for knowledge– to comprehend the writer’s message and critically analyse the content to frame and express ones opinion

Once you are in the habit of reading you will find it easier to concentrate on details If you have a clear and well defined objective than it will be simpler to apply the right technique of reading.  On the basis of reading objective, the techniques may be classified broadly  into four types:

  1. Aesthetic reading- Extensive reading technique-It can be read at leisure and there can be a slow and relaxed pace.
  2. Reading for information- Skimming and scanning- are the two techniques which can be applied for seeking quick information. They are rapid reading techniques. Skimming is reading rapidly in order to get a general overview of the material. Scanning is reading rapidly in order to find specific facts.
  3. Reading for meaning- SQ3R technique is an effective reading strategy for academic reading or reading for comprehension  SQ3R ( SQRRR- Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review) was introduced by Francis P. Robinson, an American education philosopher in his 1946 book Effective Study.
  4. Reading for knowledge- Critical reading: It involves logical and rhetorical skills. It is slow and attentive reading which focuses on the language, structure and meaning of the text. Highlighting main points, making notes or keeping a record journal are essential to this technique. It equips the reader to differentiate between fact and opinion. Further it enables the reader to formulate his responses and critically evaluate the text. Critical reading is a process of analyzing the text, looking for evidence and then drawing inferences based on ones interpretation and understanding.

Reading will not happen overnight. It is a gradual process which requires persistence and regularity. So go slow but go steady. Take one step at a time. Begin with things that interest you, topics that fascinate you, themes that entice you, authors that captivate you. Let reading be your passion. Read, read , read whenever you have time. Once you start having fun with your reading, there will be no looking back.

Keep reading…don’t miss the fun!

 

 

 

Are You Listening?

 People speak because they trust you. People speak to share their ideas, express their opinion. They value you as a listener. It is our responsibility to value them as speakers. Do not break their trust. Do not show distrust. Listen to people with open mind and see the change you  will experience in your communication. Be a valuable listener. You will always be in demand.

Are you listening or waiting to speak?

“The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”, observed the father of modern drama Sir George Bernard Shaw. People speak to be heard and understood.  People speak because they trust you. People speak to share their ideas, express their opinion. They value you as a listener. It is our responsibility to value them as speakers. Do not break their trust. Do not show distrust. Listen to people with open mind and see the change you  will experience in your communication. Be a valuable listener. You will always be in demand.

Most people give a miss to what others say. People listen either superficially or partially. As a matter of fact the faculty of listening is often confused with the ability to hear. ‘Listening’ is completely different from ‘hearing’. While hearing is an involuntary action, listening is a voluntary process. One can control, filter and command this process. Listening is a conscious exercise which demands attention and practice.

Communication is a two way process. It is said to be complete only when the receiver receives the message and offers a feedback to the sender. The feedback ensures the completion of the process. The listener can evoke an appropriate response only if he displays effective listening skills.

What qualities enable one to be an  effective listener?

  • Sensitive and sympathetic attitude
  • Respect for the speaker
  • Listening beyond the spoken words
  • Listening to respond not to react

Indifference, lack of interest, impatience, ego and disrespect are the primary barriers to effective listening.

How listening can help you become a good communicator?

Well, God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we could listen more and speak less.  The reality is that though we struggle hard to speak and express ourselves we rarely make an effort to lend a sympathetic ear. Listening makes you aware of the needs, interest and feelings of the people around you. Good speakers are naturally good listeners. They build their knowledge  of the universe based on their observations of what people think, how people behave and what people want. If you know your people , you will improve your relationship with them, you will win more customers , you will have more followers, Above all you will be happy and contended.

Here are few important tips to evolve your listening skills:

  • Take interest in what others have to say
  • Be sensitive, do not be critical
  • Appreciate and accept the difference in opinion
  • Do not argue, do not counter, offer constructive feedback
  • Listen to act not to react
  • Overcome your ego. Others have a point too

Hope you are listening. There is so much to be heard.

Sharpen your ears!

.

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Shy of Public Speaking?

There is no magic potion that you could drink and watch the magical words spill out of your mouth even as you could hypnotize the listener with your oratorical charm. However there are tested and proven practices that can nurture your skills and help you overcome your qualms.

So while there is no secret formula, there are simple things that you could follow to overcome your fears.  I call it ‘ My Rule of 9’.

Remember the last time when you were to deliver a presentation before an audience or the time you kept praying silently , Lord save me just one more time , please call off the session before the next turn is mine! Cracked voice , shaky legs , sweating palms  when would this nightmare end?Did your ever land yourself up in a similar situation?

Do you refrain yourself from sharing your views  in public for fear of being ridiculed? If yes, then probably you are a shy speaker. But don’t you worry you are not alone.Most of us are victims of self imposed fears and restrictions.  In fact, according to famous writer Ralph Waldo Emerson “All the great speakers were bad speakers at first.”  You are no less, prepare yourself today to be the best tomorrow.

Speaking is a natural gift to us humans. We are the only creatures who can speak up our mind and articulate our emotions through spoken words. While speaking comes naturally to us, public speaking is an art which needs to be cultivated.  Whether you are a manager, a doctor, an engineer, an educator or a student at one point of time or the other you would be required to attend  business meets, conferences,  participate in personal interviews, deliver  presentations or address formal gathering.  How then to overcome the fear of public speaking?

There is no magic potion that you could drink and watch the magical words spill out of your mouth even as you could hypnotize the listener with your oratorical charm. However there are tested and proven practices that can nurture your skills and help you overcome your qualms.

So while there is no secret formula, there are simple things that you could follow to overcome your fears.  I call it ‘ My Rule of 9’. Read and discover the hidden speaker in you by practicing the following simple tricks:

Here we go…

  1. First thing first ; stop playing safe: Come out of your shell, be brave. Rehearsing in front of the mirror is no good until you climb the stage.
  2. Speak ; there is no alternative: Read , read read Yes! Of what use if you never speak.  I would suggest, “Converse, converse and converse” as Bacon , the great Renaissance essayist said, Conference makes a ready man”. Reading enhances knowledge but it is the conversations that empower your speech.
  3. Speak to be understood, not to impress: Do not stress yourself to demonstrate your knowledge, rather try to express yourself in  simple, clean, clear and crisp language.  Avoid jargon and cliche to easily connect with your audience.
  4. Have faith: They say ” To err is human to forgive divine”. Close your eyes and believe in the divinity of your audience. This will help reduce much of your anxiety
  5. Love your subject: If you love your subject you will certainly work hard to know more about it, the more you know on your topic, the better you are.
  6. Remember communication operates at two levels: logical and emotional- Speak your mind but touch your listeners heart. Persuade your listener by appealing to his logic and emotions.
  7. Be genuine, be yourself: Audience appreciate originality of thought and expression. Just be the way you are. Affectation in speech, accent and style is more sinful than what you could imagine.
  8. Be confident and cheerful: Do not look apologetic for not being the best. Indeed your are the best! Nothing is more infectious than your self-confidence. Radiate confidence , it will boomerang. Positive body language and a smiling countenance are your priced possessions. Use them to your advantage
  9.  Don’t be Shy; take a leap: The world is waiting to hear you ; What are you waiting for?

   Take a leap…

 

 

 

 

 

Shy speaker???

Be outgoing critics…