Of regrets and mistakes

Venue: Home
Date: Sometime last week
Time: Sometime in the afternoon

It was a casual afternoon. I opened LinkedIn to do the ordinary. A post about mistakes caught my eye. Allegedly, the individual had messed up a crucial release for the CEO of the biggest retailer on the planet. They corrected it immediately. They made an obvious mistake and were not penalized. They did not lose their job and were promoted to the next level. Cooland really lucky? How many of us are spared to tell the tale? Definitely not me! I usually get punished even for the mistakes I do not make.

I spent the entire first mile of our routine family stroll (the baby likes to go out once a day) thinking about my string of errors/regrets. That made me wonder how many of my mistakes have been ignored? Or, for how many mistakes have I been penalized? The list was undeniably endless. I decided to focus only on the ones from this year to simplify the matter. Let me know if any of these resonate with you.

  1. Ignored gut feeling – My PERM petition was messed up multiple times. My gut told me to switch jobs ASAP to save my visa status. But every time I thought of commencing the job search, something threw me off track – Grandma’s grave health concerns, we caught Covid (we’d managed to dodge it for 3 years), GC process finally started (so I would have to stay put for 2 years at least), etc. 
    Penalty: I was laid off. All the heartburn around PERM initiation was a waste. We missed our India trip due to the layoff. Due to the canceled trip, we lost a ton of money on stay and travel arrangements. I could have saved my despair had I switched when my intuition asked me to.
    Reward: My resume was ready the day I was let go since I had done some groundwork earlier. I had lesser heartburn when I was in a bad state.
  2. Spared a month of medical leave – My EX-employer offered no maternity leave (along with no free coffee onsite). I was offered an ‘unpaid medical leave’ for 3 months. I had used up only 2 months of that and had spared a month for our trip to India. In hindsight, I should have taken up the three months at a stretch and spent quality time with the family.
    Penalty: I resumed work a day after the baby turned 2 months old. I had not recovered fully, and the first few weeks were really unimaginable. I had trouble sitting for long hours due to delayed recovery.
    Reward: I got my buying power back. I started working while my family was still around, which gave me much-needed comfort and support during my transition.
  3. I did not maintain a work-life balance – I worked long hours until my due date. When I resumed work after delivery, I worked long hours to get back on track. Once I settled in, I worked long hours hoping for a promotion. Overall, I prioritized releases and perfection over spending quality time with my child (PS: I did spend quality time with my child, just not as much as I wanted to). In retrospect, I should NOT have put in those extra hours.
    Penalty: I lost some crucial time with the baby. My health was impacted.
    Reward: None.
  4. Trusted people easily and quickly – I trusted my EX-employer to do an excellent job with the PERM initiation. I trusted my leaders when they promised a better future. In hindsight, I should have followed my intuition. I should have remembered that revenue is more critical for any enterprise, and employees are highly replaceable resources.
    Penalty: This did not bode well for me professionally, personally, and financially. 
    Reward: None.

The penalties obviously outweigh the rewards. I would do things differently if I had to do it all over again – choose an employer that offers maternity leave. This could be me disrespecting my decisions and myself in the past, but it is what it is. I am considering passing this post to my future employers as my annual retrospective.
What regrets have you had in the past year, and were you penalized?
I look forward to hearing from you all in the comment section or DM me!

#lessonsOfLife Be kind. Work hard.

Date: 11/17/2020, Tuesday
Place: Chandler, AZ

I have moved places, people, mind, heart, and life quite a bit over the last couple of years. Life has been nothing less than a movie with all the drama. I could get a second Master’s in making lemonade from the lemons life has thrown at me.
After switching countries (again), I am back at the job market. This job hunt is like no other – we are in the middle of a recession, the pandemic is growing worse, none favors visa sponsorship, millions have lost their jobs, very few are hiring, and there is always a gap between what a role requires and what you got. My inbox is overflowing with reject emails. Motivation is hard to come by. But the following call changed things.

Monday evening: It was Padwa day. N and I decided to make Cosmos to celebrate Padwa and the new year. N is a quick learner and has mastered the art of making Cosmos.

Tuesday morning:

10 AM: I woke up with a bad headache/hangover. N was working.

That was my first hangover in a long time. To all the millennials out there – hangovers worsen with age.
10:05 AM: The phone rang. I picked it up.
A: Hello. *Husky voice* (That’s the best I could do)
Interviewer: Hello. Am I speaking with Apurva?
A: Yes, this is she.
Interviewer: Hello. You’d applied for the ABC role in XYZ company. I was wondering if this was a good time to talk. Sorry that I called without intimation.

I couldn’t place the company. At this point, I had realized that the connection between my ears and brain was partially impaired and I could not listen. I had no laptop in front of me so all of his questions would have to be answered impromptu. I said Yes.

Interviewer: Before I begin, we don’t have the set up to be able to sponsor folks. Will that be a problem? If yes, I wouldn’t want to waste your time.
A: Yes, I do need sponsorship to be able to work in the United States.

And then something beautiful happened. He said he believes that I will be successful in life. That woke me up. Here was a guy, who I had spoken to for 2 minutes. He said my resume was solid and he knew only hard-work could have gotten me here. He asked me to continue working hard if I knew only hard-work could help me achieve my goal. He thought successful people can be spotted early on and he had spotted me. He said I shouldn’t depend on a financial clutch; that I should be on my own. He went on to tell me a story about his childhood. That experience had instilled the importance of hard work, pride, and dignity in him. According to him, all I needed was a bridge and a chance. He said I’ve done amazing things in the past and would continue to do so in the future. He wished me well and hung up. I wondered if he did magic crystal or was a fortune-teller on the side!

At the back of my mind, I wondered if he knew how rough the last year or so had been for me. I wondered if he knew how tired I was of the job hunt (already); that motivation has been rare. Rejections were/are the new norm. I wondered if he knew of all that I’ve lost and given up to arrive at the new normal. I imagined the interviewer to be around 50 years old, could easily be passed off as a Grandfather. He was the VP of that particular organization. He would have had better things to do. But he chose to talk to me and motivate me when he could have been able to talk to a more suitable candidate instead. He went that extra mile that recruiters don’t need to/do not. That phone call made my day. I took those few sentences from the stranger to be a message from beyond. Life wants me to strive hard. I took that as an indication that I will reach the light at the end of the tunnel if I continued running.

He was kind. That’s all he needed to be. Some of us could take a page from his book and be kind during these tough times. We need to motivate ourselves and those around us. Sometimes all we need is a little push and a few kind words to soar high.

A few motivational quotes I found at https://motivationping.com/quotes/ and Pinterest. The last quote is my favorite and has been my wallpaper for the past 5 years.


Movie Review: Laxmii and more…

Runtime: 2 hours 21 minutes
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani, Sharad Kelkar, Rajesh Sharma, Ayesha Raza Mirza, Manu Rishi Chadha, Ashwini Kalsekar, and Tarun Arora
Rating: 2/5
Featured image credit: onenewspage.com

I don’t watch horror movies. They leave an impression. N loves horror movies. This one was for him.

Look at the cast again. They’re all good actors. I had great expectations when I started watching the movie. But something was amiss.

It started fine. A few scenes scared the s#!t out of me (PS: I scare easy). That tempo did not stay for long. With the introduction of more characters, the acting failed to feel organic. This is not to say ‘bad acting’, just that the characters did not fit well. Laxmii, in terms of acting, could have been stronger. The supporting actors’ acting skills could have been utilized more. The VFX effects could have been sharper. The storyline is probably the replica of the original movie ‘Kanchana’; a few twists and turns would have helped to pep up the rating. However, Sharad Kelkar’s strong performance eats them up all – combined. He is excellent as Laxmii in the flashback. Overall, they could have done a much better job. On another note, the movie reminds you of ‘Bhool Bhulaiyya’ in a few ways.

Nevertheless, the substance of the movie is good. They’re hitting the right spots. Our country needs to warm up to the third gender and be more accepting. This reminded me of a few instances from my past life –

  1. A decade ago – It was my last year of undergrad. I used to take the train to school and traveled first class. I took the train back home at approximately 5 PM. You see familiar faces when you take the trains around the same time every day. When the train stopped at Nerul, I saw a few ladies sitting on the floor of the first-class compartment (not uncommon). I had to jump over them to board the train. I didn’t get a chance to look at the faces – only their neatly pedicured toenails. As soon as I entered, I saw my mother’s friend from work and found a seat next to her. Lucky me. My seat did not allow me a good view of the ladies sitting on the floor though. The compartment was comparatively silent that day. My mother’s friend and I started chatting. She almost whispered and I wondered why. Out of curiosity, I tried to sneak a peek at the floor. She stopped me and whispered, “Avert your eyes. They’re transgenders.”
    TBH, I was amazed. Looking at their outfits, appearance, and voice I wouldn’t have been able to guess their gender. I don’t know where they were going, what they did to survive but I hope they tried to make an honest living.
  2. Less than a year ago, Women’s day celebration @ Visa – We had the pleasure to hear women leaders speak. One of them was Gauri Sawant. That woman is such a captivating speaker. I always knew transgenders in India survived in sub-optimal living conditions; she gave us a clearer picture. She told us about the journey of her life and her experience of being a transgender mother. She adopted her daughter, Gayatri, in 2008 after Gayatri’s biological mother (a sex worker) died of AIDS. Gauri saved Gayatri from being sold in the sex-trafficking industry. My heart sank.
    Then she moved on to tell us about how she started ‘Aajicha Ghar’. It started when a sex worker asked her if she wanted her 3-month-old son whom she could not take care of (doing what she did). Gauri took the baby as her own and started the organization. ‘Aajicha Ghar’ takes care of abandoned children of sex workers and transgender children. Noble. You can learn more about the organization here –> https://aajichaghar.com/
    I am awestruck by her dedication, zeal, and drive to make this world a better place. You need to be very special, brave, and courageous to be able to do this. Grand Salute to her!

The point is, the transgender community has been deprived of their fundamental rights. Have you ever wondered why you never saw a transgender kid at school or college? Why you haven’t met transgenders at work? Why it took us 100 years to put the 3rd checkbox for transgenders to identify themselves? They’ve been sidelined and discriminated against for years. We have been oblivious of their challenges. This needs to change. And we need to be the ones inspiring and implementing the change. Maybe start sponsoring education, make reservations at schools, colleges, and work. I, for one, have decided to be more cognizant of their challenges and extend monetary help to non-profits.

Hope this inspires you to make a difference. Looking forward to reading your experiences and ideas in the comment section. Love.

Of Desiderata

Date: 07/27/20
Author: Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952


To beat the chaos, I was looking for a few inspirational words. I stumbled upon ‘Desiderata’ (Latin for ‘desired things’). Exactly what I was looking for! The poem is string of wise yet subtle words by the poet. Here’s the sense I made of it –

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Keep your calm when there’s chaos around you. You lose the game when you lose your calm. Being at peace is more important than winning the argument.
Despite the differences, be on good terms with everyone. If people want to be harsh, let them be. You control your behavior.
Be honest even if the truth hurts. Be mindful of how you speak (something I need to learn). Listen to everyone – age, status, stature, position don’t matter. Develop the ‘art of listening’.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

I’ve been wondering if the first sentence means ‘walking away’ from loud and aggressive people. Usually my mind shuts down when anyone starts yelling at me. I mentally walk away. That brings me peace. Wondering if that is the right thing to do. Probably not. Something that needs to be worked on.
No two people can be compared to each other. Everyone is unique in their own way. Everyone has been built in a certain way. Again, you never know what chapter of life they are on. I have never understood the term ‘rat race’. Life is not a race – it is a journey. I’ve never compared myself with others – maybe with the previous me. I am here to enjoy life – even the 12 AM work calls.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be actively involved in your career. If you don’t do what you love you’ll be forced to love what you do. Success is directly proportional to your passion and involvement in your career.
Beware of suggestions/tips from (not so)well-wishers. Not everyone will be happy at your success. Suggestions should be welcome but implementation of the those should be at your discretion.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

You can’t fake feelings. You can’t fake chemistry. Love will happen if and when it has to. When it’s right, you cannot walk away.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are your best teacher. There is a wealth of knowledge and enlightenment inside of you. Every time you have a question – look inside.
You are stronger than you think you are. Look back – you’ve surmounted unimaginable mountains. Let your spirit shield you from the negativity – even from within yourselves. You’ve not come so far, only to come this far.
Everyone makes mistakes – don’t be hard on yourself. Doesn’t mean let every mistake go. You’re fine as long as you make new ones.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

You are here because you are meant to be. You are here because it is written. You are here because you are destined to be.
None knows the bigger picture. When you feel restless, breathe. Keep calm. Trust that the universe is unfolding the bigger picture. Keep going. This too shall pass.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

I’ve always been at odds with the God. A few events in life had shaken my faith. I have only found faith 5 years later. I know this is not ideal. But now, i feel at peace. Whichever God you worship (if you do) – let the faith be. If you haven’t found faith yet – maybe some day faith will find you. If not, you never needed it at the first place.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Not every dream is fulfilled. It may be easy to break spirits. Bad things happen. Circumstances make you want to give up. Life looks like a bad idea. When this happens, make a list of all the positive things in your life. Be grateful for everything around you. Enjoy the joy of little things. Believe in the goodness of the universe. Most importantly, be happy.

The past few months have been rough for all of us. Being positive has been a tough job. Negative thoughts have been natural to even the most positive people we know. To beat the negativity, do things that make you happy. Try to change ‘not so ideal’ circumstances; if you cannot change them it is okay to walk away. Make peace. Be at peace. Remember, inner peace is more important. Fin.

Posting a happy picture of me –

#lessonsOfLife – Time zones

Date: 05/09/2019, Thursday

Venue: Seattle, WA, USA

8:22 AM – A Whatsapp message pops up on one of the groups. It is an article about the time zones of life. I am sure you all must have read it too. The first thing that came to my already messed up mind was ‘how situational!’

4:23 PM – In the middle of an almost ridiculous conversation the question “What do you think about time zones?” was slipped.
Had she read my Whatsapp messages? Or was this a universal concept?
You don’t think of concepts like these when everything is hunky-dory. You never reflect upon life when you’re happy – because you are too busy basking in it’s glory. It is when your yard work has not been done properly do you worry about the value proposition of your grass.

I did not know how to answer that question. Time zones – okay – yes – maybe – just a way of saying focus on improving your gardening skills and appreciate the blades of your grass rather than envying someone else’s. Makes sense. And that is probably a constructive sentiment and emotion to have. Two people from different walks of life had spoken about the same concept in a day. Time to think. My clouded mind (and I did not even have to consume an adult beverage for my mind to be in that state) started gathering the scattered thoughts on the bus ride back home.

I am a woman of science. Yes – vampires, witches, psychics, philosophy intrigue me. But… show me some proof if you want me on board. Yes, I like the concept of the green grass and time zones –

The grass is greener when you water it.

The grass is greener on the other side because well.. it is fake.

My favorite –
I am too busy smoking my grass to notice that yours is greener.

But the bottom line is –
I am too busy working on my own grass to notice yours is greener.

They say patience is the key (lol). They say things happen when they have to. They (loosely) use the term “meant to be” at equal intervals. But i still don’t get it. Perhaps these are multiple concepts intertwined into one and so it shall take some time for me to grasp. Meanwhile let’s decide to do the following –

  • seek help to improve gardening skills
  • water your grass every day
  • know that watering the grass every day may not translate into a greener grass instantly. It is not Maggie noodles.
  • talk to people in the same boat
  • appreciate the blades of your grass
  • respect the present by living in it
  • be grateful that you even have a yard and keep yourself too busy to notice anyone else’s

Let me know how it goes.