About Me

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Ash. Spiritual. Happy in my own way. Writes Random Stuff. Ice Cream. Night owl. Ice Cream, again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


After a pretty long stint here, I have moved to a new domain www.ashwinicn.com

Just The Way I Like is now As The Mind Wanders.

It's always nice to see your name up there, literally. So here's to new beginnings! Looking forward to your continued support as always!


Monday, September 19, 2016

Learning to Look Beyond A Smile.

Last week, I came across an interesting post on my Facebook timeline:

"For all my friends and my relatives. Everyone will go through some hard times at some point. Life isn't easy. Did you know the people that are the strongest are usually the most sensitive? Did you know the people who exhibit the most kindness are the first to get mistreated? Did you know the ones who take care of others all the time are usually the ones who need it the most? Did you know the three hardest things to say are I love you, I'm sorry and help me? Sometimes, just because a person looks happy, you have to look past their smile to sees how much pain they may be in. To all my friends who are going through some issues right now --let's start an intentional avalanche. We all need positive intentions right now. May I ask my friends to kindly copy and paste this status for one hour to give a moment of support to all those who have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just needs to know that someone cares."

(This is an edited version of the original post)

It is pretty common to hear that your unusually quiet colleague is a wonderful entertainer outside work, and that person who has a wonderful network of friends and is extremely outgoing, isn't the same when confined to the walls of her house. There are some people who are the same irrespective of the environment they are in, while there are others who choose how they want to be (or how they want others to seem them), depending on the environment they are in. Fair enough, I'd say. To each, his/her own.

But what shook me up recently was how I got to know what really happened in the lives of someone I thought I knew and how I failed to look beyond their smiles. 

There is this guy G and his wife W. I was friends with both G and W even before they were married, so I knew them quite well. G is this perfect example of how a guy should be. The way he moves well with everyone, the way he always has a few words of comfort to anyone in distress, the way he always has a positive outlook and so on. W was a wonderful person, always smiling and someone with a wonderful attitude. Some of us used to wonder how a perfect match G and W were, considering the way they complemented each other. A few months ago I happened to speak to another friend who also knew W. She told me that W was under depression and was under medication. I was perplexed wondering what problem W could possibly have that led to depression. When my friend told me all that was worrying W, I was shocked. I couldn’t find the words to speak for a while.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What's in your list?

There is something magical about seeing something written in print. There is always a good feeling about writing —be it your new moleskin, a new pen or if you are a blessed soul, a wonderful handwriting. That’s perhaps the reason people value hand-written notes and letters more than they value emails. Now that hand-written anything has almost become a thing of the past, people have started appreciating its beauty. Also, if you’ve happened to read any productivity hacks or quick tips on being organised, they all state the one thing our school teachers always insisted on.

“Write it down”

Writing something down has been the age old way and perhaps the best way of learning something. Our brains retain information better when we write them down rather than just holding them in our minds. And that is why when there are tasks to do, people ask you to write it down so that you don’t forget anything or have to worry about remembering everything every now and then.

A list a day, keeps your pending tasks at bay!
Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos
A few years back my mom left me in charge of our home and went abroad. That was probably the first and only time in my life I wished we were in an apartment and not in an independent house. There are a lot of responsibilities when it comes to an independent house and I had no idea how I was going to manage them for the few months my mom was going to be away. I knew that I would have to stay organised and work with a plan, because I knew for the fact that taking care of our home was not as easy as how mom made it seem. I also knew that the more I spent planning and coming up with a plan, the less I would have to worry later. And that was true!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Playing with the flow of thoughts!

I hate interruptions.

As much as I’m known for my ability to speak for a considerable period of time in a conversation, I ensure I take a pause every now and then. It gives them a breathing space to assimilate my messages. However I simply hate it when I’m explaining something and people keep asking 101 questions even without having the patience to listen to what I’m trying to say. Most questions would’ve been completely avoided if they hadn't interrupted and paid attention to what I was saying.

In my previous role at work, I was a part-time soft skills trainer. As much as I loved conducting training sessions, there were a few things which used to put me off, though I eventually learned to handle them. I always say that people can ask questions during the course of the session and don't have to wait till the end of the session. I assumed that people would at least hear me out and let me finish a point before jumping into their own conclusions and throwing questions at me. I understand people want to get their doubts cleared, but at least let the other person complete their sentence? It’s just like how Google sometimes doesn't even allow you to complete typing your query and throws pages after pages of what it thinks you are looking for! Sigh. Am I asking too much?

I hate interruptions while writing too.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Of the days gone by!

I was pretty sure June 2016 would be the most memorable month of my life. Not only because I was getting married, but also because my dear ones were all coming for the wedding and I had planned for a holiday. I was really looking forward to all the rituals because that meant I would get to spend more time with everyone. At the back of my mind a clock was ticking and I knew the family time would last only for a while, so I was determined to make the best out of it. Amidst the rituals, dinners and get togethers and it was obvious everyone wanted to make the best of the few weeks that was available. It was all laughs and smiles. I knew it would be memorable. I knew I’d remember it all my life.

A month away from all that madness- here I am in July wondering how the previous month sped away. The wedding is done, the get togethers are done, the vacation is done and everyone is almost back to their routines. Sometimes when I look back, I hope to recollect all June happenings of the last month. As fast as it happened, it looks like it went on a 2x speed and now I’m having trouble remembering clearly what all we did. It’s all very vague until someone else tags along and we start speaking about what we did. We take time and pause and slowly recollect the events. I had taken very few photos because we hardly had time for that and I really wanted to have fun in person instead of taking a picture every minute. Thankfully the random photos threw some light and helped recollect the happenings of the previous month.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Traffic Woes of a Common Man!

There was this person who never missed reading his daily horoscope. One Monday he read that he would feel powerful that day as the decisions which he was bound to take would impact many people. He felt happy and positive. Half an hour later while he was fighting with an MTC bus driver just before the famous Tidel Park signal for having bumped onto his car, he recalled the words he had read that morning. Being responsible for a huge traffic jam in one of the busiest junctions in the city and holding up many vehicles, he continued his arguments unaware of how he was delaying a hundred others who were waiting to cross the junction.

I am a simple person who leads a simple life. I wake up, drink filter coffee, go to work, get back home. I keep to myself mostly. Just like how I don’t bother people around, I prefer not to be disturbed when I’m busy with my routine. So my annoyance is justified when I’m stopped while travelling, predominantly when I’m on my way to work. I don't mind paying for my mistakes, but why should I bear the consequences of someone else’s mistake? 

I’m sure many of us would have been in this situation where the entire world conspires against us when all we’re trying to do is to get to our destination. Let me explain a few common scenarios where people knowingly or unknowingly block traffic.

VVIP’s day out!

I've always wondered how VVIPs claim to lead the life of a common man, when they haven't been forced to stop owing to traffic jams. One can never empathise with the life of a common man unless they get stuck in horrible traffic when they're late for work or trying to get back home. We understand that the VVIPs are on their way to work, but hello! the rest of us aren't jobless. All of us have some work or errands to do and just because some “high-profile” people decide to step out, it is very unfair to bring the entire city to the halt, specially during peak office hours. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Of Random Conversations with the Soul #5

It’s been a while since I noticed that despite wanting to write and having a plethora of ideas, I was just not able to bring myself to get started. My weekends have been pretty hectic with a lot of planning, shopping and other wedding related stuff. When I'm not occupied with any of this, I sit in front of the TV and watch something for hours together without wanting to be disturbed. The problem is, even amongst the madness, I get so many ideas to write, but somehow the discipline to sit and get going with a post has been missing for a while.

You wouldn’t believe if I told you that this year, I did not write a post to celebrate my blog anniversary. Despite having lots to say , I couldn't. I had time, but I couldn’t. I had the words, but I couldn't. I realised focussing on multiple tasks did take its toll on me. My mind kept wandering, making it difficult for me to give my undivided attention to a single task. I realised I kept getting bored for no reason and in the attempt to use my time well, by avoiding doing something that was of no interest, I had ended up juggling a lot of things and wasting my time. 

Mutli-tasking is, was and will never be my forte.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tryst with Destiny!

It’s been almost a decade since my 12th exams. But every year when I read about the exam dates or about the results being declared, I’m gripped by a sense of fear. I would then have to wait for my mind to register the fact that I’ve successfully (I’d like to say so), completed my 12th and I’m far away from schools and exams.

The 12th standard exams are the most hyped-affair throughout our childhood. Even if our parents are cool about it, those around us ensure we are constantly reminded of how “life-altering” they are similar to the become-a-millionaire-in-one-song phenomenon. At school, anything and everything you do (even if your white canvas shoes aren’t that white on a Monday morning) is somehow linked to the final exams. I do agree that these exams are important as the right scores are necessary, in many cases, for us to proceed with our choice of course in a college. But I wouldn't agree that this is a make-or-break event, which if not carefully tackled would meddle with our lives forever.

There is a popular saying that people around the world decide what they want to do in high school, whereas in India people finish their high school and college (mostly engineering) and then decide what to do. I guess people who opt for other streams at college are pretty much focussed on what they want to do. I, like thousand others, did follow the School-> Engineering College-> IT routine, but 2 years after spending days and nights furiously typing code, one fine day I just decided to throw it all away and I told myself I would never touch a piece of code again. I thought I’d have to take my words after a week or so, but then thanks to a few good samaritans, I found work that was remotely related to what I liked doing and what started as, I-will-do-anything-but-coding turned into something more than just a temporary escape route. Luckily for me, it wasn't that difficult to start all over again and I knew that in the long run, the two years spent following a boring routine wouldn't matter. But for many streams one has to start very early because switching midway might not be a viable option.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Being a Passive Observer!

Last month, I got to meet a lot of people at work as a part of a user research activity for a product. I was facilitating this and had to ensure we picked random people from different experience groups and units so that we had a diverse crowd and more importantly, a more diverse feedback. I’d spoken to all these people just once through phone to introduce myself and tell them what exactly I wanted. They all seemed the same over phone but when I met them in person they were so different from each other. 

It was an interesting activity for me, personally, because I’ve never met and spoken to so many different people in just over a week and the observations were interesting!

The ones who got my attention the most were those who had very little to speak. It was like expecting a detailed answer and getting a yes or no reply. It was a challenge indeed to get them to speak without it sounding like a Q&A session. Some did get into a comfort zone and started expressing their thoughts without inhibitions, while for some it still proved difficult to get them talking. It was not that people were being careful about what they were speaking, it looked like they were just not comfortable speaking more than a sentence per minute.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Not just a Utopian Dream!

Last weekend I finally caught up with Zootopia. The movie was wonderful. I'm a great fan of these animation movies (I've lost count of the number of times I've watched Kung Fu Panda, Ratatouille and Inside Out). The beauty of these movies lies in how wonderfully they convey a strong message in a very simple and subtle manner. Most of these movie plots, work on some theme which people of all ages can easily relate to. I've realized that I'm drawn to movies which focus on hard work and the ones that emphasize on how you don’t need to be special to be able to do anything. 

That is perhaps why Zootopia struck a chord with me because I could relate to all what the movie was trying to say,
  • Anyone can be anything
  • It’s unfair to be prejudiced against an entire community because of a few
  • There will always be people trying to put you down- you just have to ignore them.

Anyone can be anything

If you randomly picked 10 people and asked them if they were happy with what they were doing, it would be safe to assume that just 50% would probably say yes and the rest might not say so. All of us have dreams when we're young, but along the way some of us lose sight of what we want to do and resort to doing something else, more as a necessity. One has to be more practical than emotional when it comes to choosing one's life but if we aren't happy with the way we have shaped up our life, what is the whole point? Aren't we supposed to be the architects of our lives?

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Silent Spectator

I walked into the room and noticed he was in a completely different world. He devoted his attention to what was in front of him. He seemed to be completely immersed in what he was seeing, that he did not even realized I’d stepped inside the room. I wanted to say a hi and check how he was doing, but my mind told me not to bother him. I don’t remember the last time I sat with so much focus on just one subject, so I knew how difficult it was to concentrate. Plus, I did not need him to answer my question. I knew the answer by seeing the expression on his face.

He was worried and upset. He was angry and dejected. All at the same time.

Being the only observer in the room, I was trying to decipher what was causing the many mood-swings in such little time. It was interesting to note how despite no other humans around, it was possible to react to a small set of events in a multitude of ways. One minute he was smiling, and he was also on the verge of standing up and clapping. And the very next minute he would slightly shout to express his irritation. And then, I could see fear in his eyes and his mannerisms. I sat watching him for about half an hour, and as time went by, I was able to predict what his next reaction was going to be.

The game just got interesting.

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

When Murphy Knocks the Door!

Disappointments come in many ways. Losing your backup is one of them. 

Blame it on my OCD for discarding old stuff that I no longer use, I apply the same rule for my phone. I delete apps that I don’t use, delete old files that I've backed up, clear caches and temp folders to ensure better performance. A month back, I noticed that some app was eating up my memory. With hardly a few hundred MB left, I decided it was time for some clean-up. After having tried every possible method to clear up memory, I realized I was going nowhere. So, I took a backup of my phone in iTunes, deleted all data and restored it as a new phone. 

My problem was solved, or so I thought.

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

Just as I was jumping with joy on having tackled the issue, I realized that there was a problem with my WhatsApp backup. I couldn't restore my messages. I was surprised to see myself feeling so worried about losing those messages. My mind did not give it too much of a thought, but the heart was terribly upset. I don’t normally save messages, but when I do (like the ones from my mom, sis and our immediate family group), I cherish them. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Playing by the Rules of Life!

I have a question for you – Do you know the rules of Life?

If you ask me to answer, I’d say there are none. You just play your game and make up your own rules. That brings me to the next question - How do you deal people who keep telling that you're wrong and that you will have to change your path and rules? I’ve made up 2 rules for those folks:

Rule #1: Ignore other's rules if it doesn’t make sense to you.

Rule #2: Meticulously follow Rule #1

Of course, there will be a few others who might be genuinely concerned for you and may try to put their points across in a subtle manner. It all comes down to going by our instincts on distinguishing the well-meaning and the not-so-well-meaning ones. 

Image Courtesy : Google
So, what’s the problem?

The main problem here is, some people around us hate our guts and are completely against us having our own game and rules. First they try to convince you, and then they ridicule you and then they try imposing their rules on you. The bad news here is, they sometimes never give up. But the good news is, you don’t really have to bother.

Monday, February 29, 2016

On a Quest for Inspiration!

I used to be a part-time faculty at work a few months ago. I used to handle sessions on soft skills and communication skills, with emphasis on business communication skills. When there was a new forum at work, my colleague and I came up with a brilliant idea of writing posts every week on specific/important aspects of communication. The idea was good and got approved. 

We decided to publish posts every Friday. So it was decided that we would brainstorm and finalize an idea by Monday, come up with a draft on Wednesday. We even allocated time for fine-tuning the drafts on Thursdays after which our post would be ready to go live on Friday. We were proud of our plans and the way we thought we would implement them.

Except that, this was the too-good-to-be-true scenario.

When it came to the actual implementation, we realized we had more in store than what we had signed up for. Though we religiously followed the schedule for a few days, we realized that it was quite not possible to stick to it week after week. We used to start talking about ideas on Mondays and struggle to come up with something concrete and push it off for the next day. I remember spending many Thursday nights staring at Notepad and Word praying for inspiration. Somehow, we managed to pull it off and for the 3 months that we were in-charge of the posts, we never missed a single week. 

That's when I realized something. Our imagination works at its peak, at times, when we're scared. 

Image Courtesy : Google

Monday, February 15, 2016

From Setbacks to Stepping Stones!

All ok? 

It's interesting how the eyes see something and convince the brain that things are fine, and how the brain directs the eyes to take a closer look to find out if things are really the way they seem. For a third person, it might seem like all is well. But apparently, it might not be. 

For quite some time now I have been witnessing many people around me open up about the problems they've been going through. Though it’s good to know that people are opening up, I was surprised how I had failed to notice that they weren't doing well emotionally. For someone who boasts of being able to find if someone was happy or sad, I felt bad. I had failed to notice. 

I asked Google a lot of questions regarding this and it promptly (and patiently) answered all of my queries. I remembered all those pep-talks and inspiring conversations and articles that I had read and I thought I should probably put them down here. Who knows who else might end up benefiting from this.

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

Move on.

As much as we'd like to hold on to certain people and incidents, things are best dealt with when we learn to move on. We might not be able to forget everything, but we do have the luxury of putting all of them in a box and storing them away as memories. This way we don’t lose track of the present while dealing with the past. 

Will it mater in a few years?

This might probably sound clich├ęd, but it is definitely a good way of helping one analyse whether all the drama and action is really worth it. This serves like a litmus test to decide whether it really matters. If it is not going to matter in a few years, should you really care?

My problem/ Your problem

I read about this technique some time back and I can personally vouch that this is a wonderful way to decide whether to worry about something. Whatever comes my way, I categorize them as 'My Problem' or 'Others' Problem' and it has helped me prioritize and deal with people . I can only worry about things that are under my control. If there is nothing I can do about something which is someone else's problem, I can empathize and help them to an extent, as long as it doesn’t start affecting me in any way. 

For instance, What I say - My problem. How others interpret it - Not my problem

Thursday, February 4, 2016

From Cards to Words & Beyond!

My mom has this annual cleaning activity, and she insists that I participate every single year. Honestly, I love cleaning my bookshelves and wardrobes, provided it’s done occasionally. I’m no Monica when it comes to cleanliness but I like how the activity involves running through stuff which might probably be decades old, and reliving the memories associated with every simple little thing. It helps me go back to the person I was earlier and realize how fast time has flown by.

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

Of all my treasured possessions I’ve carefully maintained these many years, I pride over my collection of Greeting cards. I’m not sure if the current generation would understand why a thick sheet of paper with some roses and words in random fonts, with some personalized messages, is such a big deal. I’m grateful to my parents for very many things and I’m particularly thankful that they instilled in me the habit of gifting greeting cards and collecting them. As far as I can remember, all the cards which were exchanged in the family were primarily from Landmark. It’s not as simple as just walking over to the store, choosing the occasion and picking a random card. I’d spend hours reading every card that had a nice design and then read the words to see if I could connect to it or if the receiver would be able to relate to it. It was a very elaborate affair, yet no one complained.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Does everything happen for a reason?

You are on a mission. You want to get a nice silk saree. You are guided to a particular section of the store based on your preferences. You randomly tell your colour and design preferences and then you are shown numerous sarees that match your description. Beyond this people proceed in a different way. Some narrow down options by elimination, while some others do it by careful selection. A lot of thinking goes behind the scenes.

Consider another scenario. Your mom asks you to get a packet of Gulab Jamun mix. She specifies that she wants only the MTR packet. So you go to the store and head to the appropriate section and look out specifically for what you have in mind. And then you get to the section where there are hundreds of other packets, with the same name. You just pick one at random not worrying about which of the 100 packets you need to pick because they're all the same. 

So, some things happen for a reason and for some other things - they just happen. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

2015 - The Year that Was!

Keeping up with the tradition of posting the yearly round-up, I decided to analyse and write about how 2015 had an impact on me. Before I could delve any deeper on the events, I was sure of one thing though. I had no idea on Jan 1st, 2015 that this is how my life would shape up. On Jan 1st 2016, when I was thinking of how the previous year went by, the first thing that got my attention was how different my original plans were, and despite going-with-the-flow and taking very many diversions, how grateful I am to be here.

If I had to describe 2015 as briefly as possible, I would have to say that it was the Year of Risks. Some of them paid off, thankfully; while some of them didn’t (giving me more topics to blog about, talk about silver lining ;-)).

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Of Fixed Mindsets & Prejudices!

I never understood why people in escalators start climbing the steps that are already moving upwards. 

I never understood why people would go through the torture of getting their ears pierced again, just to wear a small stone.

I never understood how people appreciate Sambar Vadai even when its USP - It's crispiness - being completely lost.

All of us have our own unique ways of doing things. While some of us are open to experimenting with different methods every time, some of us stick to what we know the best even at the cost of not even attempting another easier or better method. While some people believe that there are many ways to perform something in the right way, some people believe that there is just one right way to do anything and it's their way. Though we might not belong to either of these extremes our mind constantly juggles between any one of the two states.

One such day, my mind was somewhere along how could people do this, to do people actually think doing this is better than doing it the way I do it. I kept wondering why certain people would do the aforementioned things. When I mentioned about this to my mother, who is an ardent fan of Sambar Vadai, she asked me how I could come to a conclusion without trying any of them. Having realized that the problem was with my understanding, I tried to attempt the said activities.
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