Gratitude

Yesterday I received one of the most rewarding compliments of my professional life. It made me extremely happy and I felt grounded in the beauty of what Larry, Sergey, Eric and now Sundar have created. An ecosystem called Google.

I have had the pleasure (and to a certain extent displeasure) of watching several organizations from up close. Organizations big and small, technical and retail, political and philanthropic. I have also had the pleasure of pursuing and landing my dream job at a very progressive and aggressive organization like Salesforce.

All to say that I have never felt that sense of gratitude towards a company, that I feel for Google. I found managers I wanted to work for, or peers I wanted to work with, and maybe leaders I wanted to follow. But it was never the organization as a whole that won my love and loyalty.

Google is made by its people. Not it’s products or benefits. I choose to work at Google, because I love the people who work here. And I believe that the organization plays an important role in hiring such people, bringing them together in a professional setting, and allowing them to bring their true self to the table.

It goes even further in allowing them to be authentic, and influence with that authenticity and passion. There is no template to win at Google. The people here challenge the norms and allows people to lead with the qualities they chose to lead with.

Although I am not a very social person on the weekends, I make it a point to meet several people during my work week. I keep my lunch promises and keep seeking out new folks who can add to my list of Humans @ Google. These are friends, peers and leaders who contribute to my emotional and professional development, without them even knowing about it.

Just yesterday, I met someone for the first time for an intro meeting and left the conversation feeling nourished with some management insights. For lunch I met up with some ex-colleagues and we enjoyed an intense conversation about the car accident I was in earlier this week and how I must report it to Google, excitement about a colleague’s new role and our collective advice on not tying the actions to the outcomes, and a commentary on the performance review process, all in one hour while we munched our yummy salads in an open air cafe. And then I ended my day with a hilarious chat with a peer about being approachable, and the importance of constructive dialogue and forums that allow for such dialogues to ensue.

After a lull of a few years, I finally have a lot of friends. I never thought I’d say that as an adult. I always felt that our ability to make friends dwindles with age. But that rule does not apply when you are here at Google.

Through this post I want to express my gratitude to all the people who make it so worthwhile for me to come to work every day. You are all amazing. And together, we make this company amazing.

In case you are still wondering what was the compliment that made my day – “Keep me on your speed dial for whenever you need me.” I took it as a compliment since I was meeting this person for the very first time and we had chatted for little under an hour.

Here’s to more rigorous, engaging and insightful conversations, at Google.

 

belated happy birthday!

Last year I caught up on a lot of reading, quite a bit of travel, a little bit of writing, plenty of cooking, and just enough socializing. It was a good year.

I grew up a lot. I discovered new possibilities as a parent, a wife, a daughter, a friend and an employee.

I am **happy** in my almost mid thirties and I am quite proud of that achievement. I am satisfied with all that I have and all that I am. There will always be room for improvement. But if I were to die today. I won’t have any regrets.

My biggest power is my ability to reflect and learn from my own life. Here’s my most favorite learning from the last year of living

As you peel the layers of the onion, you need to prepare yourself for the outbursts. Tears there will be. It is up to you, if you choose to let it out, or to soak it in and ruminate over it’s complex flavors.

The hard truth is that you can very well walk through this life with your eyes closed, dancing on the tune set by the world, believing the narrative that was told to you and your forefathers. But if you decide to question, to look under the cover, to dig a little further, you will be disappointed at first, a tardy bit curious at second, and then you cannot turn back.

And once you have scraped the surface and glanced at the hollow pit, you cease to partake in the narrative that is inconsistent and self fulfilling. You start filling the hole that you only you know exists. And in that attempt, you are alone. 

That is when you have to find your allies and vet your early discoveries. It is not easy to share your world view out in the open. It is all very controversial. You are questioning the very basis of relationships. You are calling murder, murder. It won’t be easy. But you must keep at it. My ally is my husband. Between the two of us, we are shielded.

 

At peace with unknown

As I munched away Chilaquiles for breakfast, I was passively over hearing a bunch of conversations in the cafe. I could barely grasp any of them, because they were in languages I did not understand. And that made me extremely happy.

In that moment I internalized the feeling of comfort I derive from being in a place where everyone is different.  A place I know nothing about; where I need to start from the ground up. That internalization led to a lot of dots connecting all of a sudden. It was, as if, some neural network was activated, and there were light bulbs glowing everywhere.

I derive a lot of pleasure and comfort from being in a diverse environment. I’d rather be in a room with people who are different from me, people who don’t speak my language, nor share the color of my skin. I am psychologically safest in a room where I am not one amongst many similar people. I like to have my own identity, my own flavors. Where there are no pre-conceived notions about how to operate.

This is also what motivates me to travel to places that offer a contrast. I prefer to be in Japan than London. In all of Europe the one place I was most peaceful is Venice since I ran into language issues there. This is also the reason I was so in love with NY. And perhaps this is also the reason I was good at, and so in love with technology consulting. The more the unknowns, the happier I am.

Perhaps that’s why parenting is my favorite vocation. It is full of unknowns. There is never the feeling of – ” I have landed.”

Simply said, I am at peace when I am uncomfortable.

I don’t have the right words to describe this. But just as I start making sense of the madness around me, my interest in that madness drops. A feeling of – “I guess this is figured out. What’s next?” clouds my perspective on things from that point onwards. It is very difficult to motivate myself in that environment after that point of time.

If this is how I operate, I must use this to my advantage – both personally and professionally. I don’t even know where to begin. Or if I need to pay heed to this internalization. May be all of us are like this? I don’t know.

In my early career, I thought of myself as a control freak. And I still carry that image as a baggage. The way I have now understood that behavior is that I am a control freak up until I have it figured. Once I do, I am at peace. I enjoy the flow. Just a little while. And then I get bored of it and go attack something new.

I would not have understood this nuance about myself ten years back. But I am ripe to comprehend it now. That’s why we must give life a chance to simplify itself as we grow up. For now, I am at peace. I have a whole new area to explore and master. Myself.

Welcome 2017!

What is so unique about a change of date, that we wait for it with so much anxiety and fondness? I am growing more and more cynical lately, so it is possible that I don’t have my rosy lenses on. But why do we wait for the date to change to start adopting new resolutions and habits? If the rationale is that one can start from a clean slate. Well we do that each day. Can’t we?

Agam and I saw more sunrises than sunsets in 2016. Tara’s morning wake ups and our interesting lives contributed to that. But I think there is a trend beginning to emerge here. As one grows older, we stop chasing sunsets, we start reaching out for the sun rise. Perhaps there is so much more to do, as one grows old, and you simply need more hours in the day to keep your boat afloat. Or you realize that there is no point chasing something that is short lived and temporary, like a sight of a dipping sun. You value things that give you energy and hope and have a longer run way. Just like the rising sun that gives way to a new day.

On to welcoming 2017. Nothing special about this year on the onset. I am looking forward to resuming our life that hit the pause button last quarter. And apart from that we hope to have a lot of family time this year, and may be some travel.

I don’t get marred by incidents easily and hence in retrospect, 2016 was a fulfilling year for me. I did a few things differently last year that I want to continue to tweak and a few things wrong, that I want to correct. And a few new that I want to dabble with.

**So what worked in 2016**

– Fixing things. An attitude to take what’s broken, and fix it.
– Let others lead – Once you set the direction, you can let other lead. They are as capable as you and you cannot do everything in the 24 hours that you have. Applies to both personal and professional domains.
– Meal planning and intense focus on healthy eating.
– Crafty execution on long term projects like the Nook/Nest swap.
– Responding to love and affection regardless of the source. Renewing old friendships
– When I observe Tara’s caring and social personality, I feel warm and happy. She is my mirror, and I think I did well there.
– Nothing made me more happy this year, than seeing the expressions of my friends and peers when I told them what makes them special.
– Some sort of meditation and journalling

**What did not work in 2016**

– Trying to discipline Tara about eating. I failed at most of my attempts. The fact is that she eats when she is hungry, not when the clock says its time, and she usually picks the right thing to eat. I spent endless hours in the kitchen making the most healthy things for her but it was a waste.
– I did not write much in 2016. I let the busyness of life get to me.
– My transparency and matter of fact honesty was rewarded at work, but not on the personal front. I learnt some lessons about being discrete.
– Advance Planning – a lot of trips had to be canceled, changed and moved.
– We were frivolous during the holiday season.
– I give way too much advice even when no one is asking for it. Not everyone is receptive to random trivial advice. Gauge your audience. Not everyone is worth your time.

**What are we going to do in 2017**

– Be a good role model for Tara
– Make people happy – Let them lead, let them know why they are special, let them help
– Keep the focus on health + add some workouts to it too. Keep at the meditation routines.
– Manage spending
– Be discrete. The world does not need to know all the things that make you happy. Only you do.
– Plan judiciously
– Listen more than talk
– Focus on building new skills. Learn something new every month. Be accountable.
– Create more and consume less

Portrait of a beggar

I closely observed a beggar on the street yesterday. His fingers were curled in rejection of his own self. His eyes, refusing to meet the world. Hair unkempt, clothes shabby. Shoes mostly torn, without socks. Body stooping over, and neck held in shame. It must have been his first day on the street. He was not comfortable in his own skin.

Holding a board that read, “Living on a prayer”, this man is waiting for a miracle to happen on the streets of Oakland.

He was young and fit. He carried a demeanor of a beggar, but his soul was still free. I wished to free that soul from his body, and remind him that prayers only work when you take action. And taking on the streets, is not counted as one.

I am not judging him. I don’t know his story. I just don’t think that man needs a prayer. He needs work. I hope he gets one in the new year.

Yays and Nays of 2016

Yays and Nays of 2016

  1. Tara grew up so much. She started talking, running and answering back. I couldn’t be happier with this kid. She is all I ever asked for. Naughty and nice, a bit sweet but with enough spice. If she follows her trajectory she will fend for herself well in this world.
  2. We enjoyed a memorable trip to India, where we did our first 3G Vacation in Kerala. It was amazing to be back home with a kid in tow. Tara met her cousins for the first time, and I built Lego castles with my lil nieces.
  3. We had a lovely time with Agam’s Aunt and cousin. They visited us over the summer break and added a lot of joy to our summer. We enjoyed some yummy Bengali delicacies, shared childhood stories and did some fun trips to the Berkeley campus.Tara ended up being not a very gracious host to her first house guest, but we got several stories to recount when she is older.
  4. We bought our Nook. We love it. It’s got room for all of us, our interests, and makes it so easy for us to be better parents (the parents who take the kid to the park, every day. Well almost) 🙂
  5. Agam ran his first big half marathon in SF. It will be a little while till he runs another one, and hence in hindsight, this will count as one of the YAYs of 2016.,
  6. We enjoyed our visit to NY. Met up with old school friends and gorged our way through the NY Indian food scene. It was very nostalgic to meet old friends, equally exciting to meet their spouses, and oh so thrilling to play with their kids.
  7. Papa visited us and Agam, Tara and I got to spend some great time with him. Even though the reason for his visit will count as the biggest NAY of 2016, his presence made us all so YAY!
  8. I got a promotion, and I think I finally caught up on my two-year lag that motherhood had forced upon me. A promotion at Google is not just about money and ranks. It is a lot more. It is an acknowledgment about your ability to make a strong impact. And secretly, I rejoiced that I kept my record of a promo in a new job within the first 18 months.
  9. I completed Six Sigma Green Belt certification, with a pretty cool project. Enjoyed solving every bit of the problem. And cherished the opportunity to bring together a team and lead them through some interesting challenges. The results were satisfactory, and the recipe repeatable.
  10. I managed to move my blog from Blogspot to WordPress 🙂 This task was pending for so many years, and finally, it happened.
  11. I attended a three day Search Inside Yourself workshop that helped me significantly in realizing my real intentions, ambitions, and incentives. I am more connected with myself, ever since I took the class. And a whole lot more accepting of the person I am.
  12. We finally started doing play dates. They are fun and we love the parents we hang out with. Such a relief 😉
  13. We settled on a great dinner routine this year with lots of salads, soups, and meats on the menu. Things got thrown off base after the accident. But we are slowly bringing healthy back.Thank You Air Fryer 😉
  14. A final Yay on mentoring for young talent at work, helping them through their struggles, and showing them the path forward.

And now on to my NAYS!

  1. Agam met with an accident. And his recovery eclipsed the entire Fall of 2016. I count my blessings that his injury is fully recoverable and he will be back to his runs in a year or so. But what happened could have been avoided. And for that, neither I nor he will ever forgive ourselves.
  2. We sold Granada. Granada was special. It was our Nest. We tried hard to make the numbers work so we could keep it. But in the end it came down to the quality of life we will be forcing upon ourselves, trying to pay two mortgages. It was sold within a month and I hope the new owner keeps it with as much love as I did.
  3. We had to cancel several trips and hence did not travel as much as we like this year. I get antsy when I am home for more than 3 months. I miss the nature, the greens and the blues, and the mountains and the people. People who are not like me. People outside this bubble.
  4. We let the busyness of our lives get to us. We did not spend a lot of people with close friends this year. Everyone appeared to be more busy, and more distant. Not sure if it is just a perception on my end. But I felt something amiss in some relationships. And I am willing to hold myself accountable.
  5. Donald Trump happened. I don’t want to waste more words on that topic.
  6. And finally, Tara, Agam and I fell sick right at the beginning of our Christmas break. A silly darn stomach bug caught us all and ruined our plans for a very merry Christmas. But New Years is still to come. So we shall see 🙂

14 vs 6 – you can do the math. More on the next year’s plans in the next post. Happy Holidays!

Yays and Nays of 2015!



Ah it’s time for my favorite post of the year. It’s time for the Yays and Nays of 2015! Let’s cut it short and get to the list asap. As always let’s start with Yays

  1. TARA! OH Tara! You are the little nugget that I did not know I was missing in my life. And now that you have fitted so well in our little nest, I wonder how I ever lived without you. Your milestones, your tantrums and your love made it to the top of the list this year.
  2. I shared some amazing time with my Mum while she was here earlier this year. I will always cherish the days she spoilt me rotten with her care after Tara was born.
  3. I finally found a job close to home. Always wondered what it felt like to wake up at 7:45am and be at work before 8:30. Now I know – it feels pretty awesome.
  4. Made it through a year of breast feeding..and we are still at it. I did not plan to. I did not even intend to. I don’t even believe in its magical properties. I just loved it. I loved it because it was my time with my lil Tara. We share a special bond because I was able to feed her. I am thankful to the nurses at Lucille Packard who lay the foundation for us. 
  5. We kept going strong with our travels even with Tara. Santa Barbara, Yosemite, London, Maui and San Francisco. I want her to love travel, just like I do. So far the signs are strong. 
  6. In my very first attempt I was able to raise almost $200 in an org wide fund raising event. And since that is matched by Google, I basically raised $400 for a local bay area charity. So how did I do that? I put a lunch/brunch at our place with Indian food made from scratch for auction, and several of my awesome colleagues bid on it. Loved it.
  7. Thanks to Google’s Donation Match program I felt even more motivated to donate for causes that I care about. It felt great to see my annual contribution hitting new thresholds. That also included donating my corp holiday gift this year.
  8. I took a pretty cool cooking class that opened my eyes to simpler and healthier meals for the three of us. I am finally free from the tentacles of curries and lentils and rotis and rice. I create dishes and I am finally able to put the fresh seasonal vegetables from the farmer’s market to good use.
  9. We finally started having dinner between 6:00pm-6:30pm. It makes our life so much simpler and so much disciplined. I always wanted to eat early, but somehow that never ended up happening. 
  10. I slept quite well this year. Yes, for a new mom to admit that almost feels sinful. But the hours I slept, I slept well. I was always more relaxed and rested each morning.
  11. I get a lot more done in the 24 hours I have each day. A LOT more. 
  12. I found an extended family in the form of Tara’s teachers at Learning Links. I love those people and I get a lot of love back from them and even from the kids at the day care. I spend every single hour I can take off from work with them and they add so much joy to my life. 
  13. 10 years in US (and no driving ticket).
  14. I am back to drinking wine again 🙂
  15. Agam and I found some amazing synergies in getting things done around the house without it becoming a chore for one person. It was amazing to build those synergies. Cheers to more such synergies.



 
Nays
  1. Lost my maternal uncle. He was the youngest in my Mom’s family. I felt terrible telling my Aunty to let him go. But I am so proud of her. She did the right thing. She is such an inspiration to me. I wish I had told her that in a more happier context. 
  2. After working towards my dream role and a dream job for almost eight years, I gave it all up to come join Google. I did not give it up for Google. I gave it up for Tara. It hurts me every single day and I won’t hide how foolish I feel about myself on most days. It is very tough to accept, but accept I must. I should have thought more about it. I killed a dream in one blow. And I know opportunity knocks again, but boy I don’t have eight more years worth of stamina in me no more. I have a child to raise, and raising tiny humans is exhausting. And yes I know it is all worth it in the end. But I am not at the end, and it is a steep climb to get to the point where it will feel like that. For now, I reminisce my days at Salesforce and feel grateful I got to experience that for whatever little time I did.
  3. I did not write much in 2015. 
  4. I read even less. 
  5. Obviously being diagnosed as pre-diabetic wasn’t a really a great thing. But better know it early and fix your ways before it gets too late.
  6. Health is in quite bad shape. We are eating better. But we are not working out. There is a gym right opposite the building I work at and yet I don’t find the time. I am so ashamed about it.
  7. Although I got more done in the day, I always have a nagging feeling that I could have done more with the day. It is a little disturbing. I did not use my 8pm-10pm slot as judiciously as I intended to. FB took up a lot of that time. I should have used it to read more or write more instead. So a Nay to that nagging feeling.


This has never happened before. My Yays are double in number to my Nays. That’s definitely a first. I mean, I always end up balancing them out in the end. But despite some strong Nays here, we had a stellar year!


 
Now on to some resolutions
 
  1. Pack more activity in my day. There are a few elements to this – I need to take out 30-45min to work out in a day. I also need at least 30min of dedicated reading time and at least 30min of dedicated writing time, at least thrice a week. So hold me accountable if you don’t see at least a few blog posts (not FB posts) per week from me. 
  2. Eat Healthy at Google. It is so easy to slip into bad habits. I need to stick to salads at lunch and use Baadal and Brgr as treat days to motivate me to be a good eater through the month.
  3. I cannot work on things that don’t challenge me enough and so I am going to split this year into two halves – first half, find the challenge and second half, overcome it.
  4. Listen more. Pretty self explanatory.
  5. Stretch myself – needs to be defined