Thursday, September 1, 2016

Avani's dose of the day!! Change maker of tomorrow

BI was driving Khushi and Avani on a busy road. We stopped at a red light and the car was adjacent to a BMTC bus. 
A gentleman was throwing orange peels out of the window on the road one by one. Avani saw this and gestured him not to do that by shaking her little fingers.
He gestured back that he will not throw it now. And gave a thumbs up to her. She shook her head in refusal and gave him back a THUMBS DOWN!
I witnessed all this as a spectator and after I realised what just happened, I was so proud of my little one. At 4 she understands its not correct to dirty our roads and is not afraid of correcting someone who is not following it. The whole credit goes to her school where they focus of the overall development of a child and not just bookish knowledge. #ChangeMakers #SwaachBharat

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Avani's dose of the day!! Clever and quirky

Avani hates writing and its a mammoth task for me to convince her to write one page of homework every weekend. 35% of my weekend usually is kept aside for the homework of my two girls. While doing this weeks alphabet homework, she had to write the alphabets n,m, t and l in lower case.

Mummy: Avani, please write 't' properly. The line is too slant and there is a lot of gap in between. It's almost like capital A. Write nicely please!
Avani: (with a smirk) Mummy the 't' is exercising! 😁
It took me a minute to decrypt what she was saying and to imagine the way she imagined it. 
How do I react to these quirky statements from a 4 year old?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Avani's dose of the day!! Negative psychology

Avani has thousands of stories to tell me all the time once I return from work. One such evening, I returned late from work and she refused to stop her stories. I was trying to patiently listen to her.
Avani: Mom, please take us to the swimming pool now
Mummy: No Avani, its too late. Water will be cold. We cannot go now
Avani: If you don't take us, I will stop talking to you (my usual dialog as no other punishment works with her)
Mummy: (unconsciously a small grin on my face stating how happy I would be if you stop talking for now!) No Avani, not now!!
(She sensed that she has spoken the wrong words and its not helping me change my decision)
Avani: Ok!! If you don't take us, I will NOT STOP TALKING !!
Mummy: Acha.. Acha,, chupkar I will take you!!
Who says only adults understand negative phsycology ? 

Avani's dose of the day!! Philosophy of life!

Badi Ma gave her two pieces of cake. One Mango cheese cake another Mango vanilla sponge cake.
Avani: I will have the sponge cake, you have the cheese cake 
Badi Ma: No, you have both. I don't want it
Avani: Why you don't like it ?
Badi Ma: I love it but I will put on weight. So you eat both!
Avani: No you wont put on weight. We never put on weight eating things which we like. So you can eat things which you like as much as you want

Wish this philosophy was true!! 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Australia travelogue - Melbourne diaries

This year, we had planned for not just an entirely new continent but a new hemisphere as well. Australia has been our calling ever since we started watching Masterchef many moons ago. Whatever we saw via Masterchef was extremely alluring and hard to resist. So when we thought of a new place, Australia was an obvious choice for me and Ashish. 

Given my hectic work schedule, packing wasn't going to be an unexpected rigmarole packing for a 17 days sojourn to new shores. I am usually a very quick packer and have my lists always ready. However this time, apart from managing the expectations and needs of my 2 little angels, and one of them being demanding, we were going to cover multiple seasons in a small span of time. So in bits and pieces, I completed my packing over two weekends. People traveling without kids will never be able to appreciate how the number of things you pack increases exponentially with kids. 

But the more exciting part of preparing for the travel was to research about the sight seeing places, read a little bit of history about them and then to shortlist the Must do experiences amongst the myriad options available. Though the digital world has given access to a lot of information, the information available is often overwhelming and that is the prime reason I like to read blogs written by travelers rather than searching travel websites as the like minded travelers give you lot more guidance and also share a different perspective.

Without any further ado, let the OZ journey begin.

Our journey began with a flight of Thai Airways from Bangalore to Bangkok. After a 2 hours transit in Bangkok, we flew to Melbourne. When we reached Melbourne, it was already dark and chilly. The taxi driver took us from the hustle bustle of the city to our hotel GRAND MERCURE at Swanston Street. I learnt from him that Melbourne has one of the biggest Tram network in the world and you can cover the whole CBD (Central Business District) in trams. They also have a FREE hop on hop off tram across the perimeter of the CBD which is available in every 10 minutes. So next time you visit Melbourne for a day, you can take that tram ride and definitely boast of covering the city in just couple of hours. And for the people who love to explore the city by walking, you are in the best place. The length and breadth of CBD is maximum 10 kms by walk.

We had 3 days in Melbourne excluding the day we reached Melbourne. So DAY 1 - early morning, we planned to take the Hop on Hop off tram and take a look at what Melbourne has to offer. The tourist tram has an old steam engine look with a rustic and antique finish. One complete round on that tram takes 90 minutes. The iconic Victoria station clock which is believed to be the meeting point for lovers, the vibrant coffee shops, the spirited young crowd all have their own charm. The docklands where boats and ships were anchored looked beautiful. Melbourne Eye which  is called the Melbourne Star , the Yarra river cruise, the Victoria market and the Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG) were the major attractions in the city.
 After a quick sneak peek of the city, we headed for the Philip island tour where the unique attraction is the PENGUIN PARADE. Before we talk about this enchanting experience, I will tell you about the Philip island. 

Philip island is basically a small countryside near Melbourne where the tours take you to a Kangaroo and Koala park. Yes! Dont expect Kangaroo and Koala's to be roaming around on the road in Australia, they never do. You have to go to these parks where they are taken care. We went to one such park named MARU park. It was a small farm where they breed these animals. You can feed the Kangaroos, click a picture with the Koala and see a few other Australian animals. Kangaroo jump is fun to watch and its amazing how friendly they are. Avani almost petted them like a small baby for quite sometime. She fed her own Kangaroo food to them and also helped others who were scared of getting close to well built kangaroos. We also learnt Koalas are an epitome of laziness with 95 % of their lifetime spent in sleeping and eating. Wish I was a Koala and could just sleep and eat all day. No harm in wishing :P. But they are super cute, just like a stuffed toy who can cling to you and give you the best hug in the world. And I feel lucky to have such a clingy Koala at home too. People who know me well, know exactly whom I am referring to. 

Alpaca (looks like a cross breed of sheep (wool) and horse (body structure)), Ponnies and Cuckatoo are few other animals we encountered in Maru park. Another interesting fact we learnt was about Cuckatoo. They are very dominating birds, and to pet them you have to be over powering to them. 

After Maru park we headed towards PENGUIN PARADE. The road to Penguin parade was very scenic. The lookouts from the cliff of the ocean was amazing. The beautiful aquamarine water breaking into white shimmery waves on the rocks made it look like snow. Avani wanted to climb down the cliff and get some snow from there. Mind you! Pictures cannot capture the true beauty of any place. You have to see it to believe it.
After the mesmerizing views from the top, we reached the PENGUIN PARADE area. Its amazing to know how magical nature is. There are around 20,000 penguins in the ocean near that island. Penguins have a threat from Fox, seagulls and many other predators. So every day in the morning, penguins take a shelter in the ocean to save themselves from the predators. And every evening at dusk, they come out and spend the night in their homes called as burrows. Also penguins usually stay in a flight (group) of 8-9 and go in and out of water with the same flight. So basically, Penguin parade is the parade they make from the ocean towards their burrows in their flights. Its captivating to see little ( 10-12" is the size of penguins in Philip island) penguins doing their wobbly walk to their burrows. You see not one or two but hundreds of such flights of penguins in couple of hours. Khushi wanted to pick a few and take them home. Note: Go prepared for the cold breeze at the viewing area
Day 1 gave us a glimpse of Australia and I can very well name it as the Australian animal adventure, with Kangaroo, Koala, Cuckatoo, Apalca and of course Penguins in a single day.

There are multiple tour operators like Grayline, ATKings running everyday tours to the nearby sight seeing places from Melbourne.  

I was looking forward for Day 2 very desperately for two reasons. 1. I was going to meet my childhood friend/sister Anagha after a decade. 2. She was going to take me for a GREAT OCEAN ROAD drive. They were both the highlights of my Australia trip for me. The apostles have been intriguing me since I saw them on Discovery channel in my not so distant teens and the excitement of meeting Manu (as we fondly call her) with whom I have spent all my childhood.

Meeting Anagha, Rishi jiyaji and her two wonderful boys was like meeting close family after years. There was no need to break the ice as there was none itself. Jiyaji, perceived to be an introvert was an extremely jolly and fun person to be with. He went out of the way to make us comfortable and made sure we enjoy the GREAT OCEAN ROAD to the fullest.

Great ocean road is approximately a 300 kms road from Melbourne to the 12 Apostoles. Out of which 150 odd kms are built right on the shore of the Pacific ocean. So you are basically driving next to the ocean at all times and its a must do. Another highlight of the drive is Lorne about 150 kms from Melbourne. Lorne is a small beautiful town (reminds me of Swiss countryside - yes its that pretty) where the rich people have their holiday houses and there are umpteen motels and restaurants. For all the bollywood movie buffs, the key takeaway is that the beautiful glass house made on the cliff in SALAM NAMASTE is located on this road and that made " My dil goes hmm hmm hmmmmm". 

One thing about Australia is, wherever you go - A small cafe or a gourmet restaurant- Food is always of good quality, well presented and delicious. People take their food really very seriously there. I missed having THAI there and that's supposed to be yummmmmm in Melbourne.....

So after our lunch at one of the Italian joints in Lorne, we went ahead though we wished we could stay there for a day. We stopped at some beautiful beaches on the way where my kids insisted on going in the water and play with waves. I braved in one of the places where I figured the water is freezing cold, so refrained of others. Then Jiyaji took us to a rain forest. It was a 2-3 km walk in the woods where you can see the rain forest trees and experience the slippery wet pathway. The bright colored mushrooms, the green algae on the trees, the ferns growing on top of other trees ( Interesting fact is that they are not parasites, they just grow on other taller trees because the forest is so dense that in search of sunlight they grow on top of the trees). I personally love the smell of rain forest, so for me it was a great experience.
And then after a wonderful drive, we reached the epitome of beauty. The 12 Apostles and Boy - does it do justice to its name? You really can't visualize it in words But I will make a valiant effort. These huge, mountain size rocks in the middle of the ocean made of chrome yellow limestone are called apostles. I learnt that they were part of the land which gradually/naturally separated from the land because of continuous force of waves around them. Out of 12, 3 apostles have collapsed and now you can see only 9 distinct rocks. 

The Philosopher in me thinks that the apostles demonstrate how beautiful things can be created with persistence and hard work. And when waves can break the rocks apart, nothing is impossible. 
I could be there forever, watching the wild waves breaking on the rocks and spilling the pearls all over. But everything has to end, so we headed back. The route back from the apostles is a different road than the Great Ocean road which is slightly shorter. And in that route, we went to another wonderful cafe- 12 rocks cafe in Port Campbell . I had the worlds best WARM BANANA PUDDING WITH CARAMEL SAUCE and HOT CHOCOLATE. A MUST VISIT, if you love modern deserts.

That was an end to the exciting day and also time to bid goodbye to my dearest Manu. With heavy heart and a lot of beautiful memories we parted our ways for the time being. 

Next day Day 3, was our last day in Melbourne. We had kept no fixed iternary for that day because we wanted to explore the city and see a few iconic places from our Masterchef diaries and from A's Cricket diaries too.

So early morning, we headed to Melbourne Cricket ground. The  mecca for cricket lovers and my husband being one huge cricket fan we had to take a tour for sure. Unfortunately when we reached MCG,they declared that there are no tours on that day for MCG. After a little persuasion, they asked us to go to Gate 3 and check with that counter. But the counter guy couldn't help as there was a FOOTIE (Aussie Rugby) match scheduled for the afternoon and for security reasons they couldn't allow us. Then my people skills came handy and I was able to persuade one security guard to allow us to click a few pictures with the ground. Gradually, from the lobby area to the seating, we were able to get a glimpse of MCG and also managed to click a few pictures in this amazing cricket ground. So a day which could have been very depressing for my better half turned out to be a rainbow day for him with a more than sneak peek into MCG.
  Then it was shopping time for the kiddos. Australia is so child friendly and exciting for the kids that almost everywhere we went we had so many new things for the kids. Malls had dedicated toy sections with amazing statues, mannequins, setups for the kids. You can spend few hours, just in the kids section of the malls as they are as exciting as any activity center. 

Then I pulled everyone to see the iconic Victoria market which hosts a huge variety of clothes, toys, souvenir shops, funky stuff from all over the world and most importantly fruit and vegetable market. Not just any fruit and vegetable market, but the favorite market in MasterChef Australia which hosts those vibrant, colorful and yumilicious produce from Australian farms which makes you love their food so much. They have mind blowing variety of fruits and vegetables.
And then it was time for some sinful indulgence. LINDT Cafe! For chocolate lovers, LINDT is next to heaven and imagine LINDT cafe where they serve shakes, smoothies, pastries and waffles with ice-creams made out of LINDT. Imagine yourself with a shopping basket, picking up baskets of LINDORs. Only chocolate lovers can imagine this feeling which would fasten their heart beats exponentially. So others please excuse my exaggeration. ALICE in Wonderland - Dipti  in Chocolate land. It was the same feeling for me. 
Talking about Chocolates, we met another good friend Nitin in another exclusive chocolate cafe - The MAx Berner Chocolate Factory. Thanks Nitin for introducing it to us, I just loved the chocolate fondue there. Nothing comes close to it. 
The night life in Melbourne is very happening. Till midnight you will see people performing on the roads and others enjoying them; Youngsters ganging up with their friends in their best party clothes; Graphitti on the walls, people very chilled out and warm; its the cafe capital of the world; The vibes of the city are very young and energetic and makes you feel - dil maange moreeee!!!!!! 

This was an end to our first destination in Australia. Melbourne was very welcoming and we were looking forward to a great stay ahead. With this I wind up this blog. 

Watch out for my further blogs to explore Sydney, Cairns and Gold coast through my eyes. I try to keep my blogs short, but when the thoughts flow in, I cannot restrict it for words. So bear with me... C u soon.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Avani's dose of the day!! Handsome prince to the rescue!

Avani: Mummy, I will tell you a story!
Mummy: Ok, tell me.
Avani: Once upon a time, long long ago. When no one was there( She means none of us). There lived a very very beautiful princess. She was very very very pretty, wearing a golden tiara and pink shiny gown. She was just like Snow-white and Cinderella. One day, she got very scared by a monkey monster. 
Mummy: Monkey monster?
Avani: Yes. Then a handsome prince came and rescued her. And then they lived happily there after. They had so much fun together! They had ice creams, they played blocks, they had chocolates, they went to park and had lots of fun.
Mummy: That's a wonderful story, but why does the beautiful princess need a prince to rescue her? She should be strong enough to rescue herself. You should not be dependent on anyone to help you all the time.
Avani: But that is what happens in Disney land. A handsome prince always rescues the princesses. You don't know anything Mummy!
Her cute narration of story brought a huge smile on my face and especially her idea of lived happily there after was so innocent and straight from the heart of a 4 year old. But I am quite disappointed by our story writers. What are we actually teaching our kids? Girls should always be beautiful and boys handsome? Girls are weak and guys need to rescue them from everything? Outer beauty defines you and you need all the materialistic things to look beautiful!

I want them to understand, outer beauty is not the parameter of beauty. You need to feel confident, have a beautiful heart, act kind and love yourself the way you are. Also, I want them to be independent, capable enough to deal with the world emotionally/financially/physically. #ChallengesOfParenting #ToughJobAhead

Thursday, February 25, 2016

5 Corporate Mantras which work for me

You never realize your true potential unless you are in the right environment and around the right people. Success has different definitions for different people. But whatever is your parameter, there are a few things which act as a catalyst in reaching your goals. So here are my 5 corporate mantras which I feel has worked for me either immediately or in long run.

          1. Situational leadership -
For an organization, successful project delivery is part of your basic R &R.  What matters are the additional things you do! What have you done going out of the way for customer satisfaction? How have you added value to your team? How quickly you have adapted to new changes and motivated people around you to accept the same changes? If you see some process not correct, have you acted as a situational leader and tried to optimize it? You don’t need a designation or instruction for improving the things around you.  

         2. Voice your opinion -  
Blame it to our upbringing where we do not seek opinion of younger members of the family in important matters. We always consider it impolite to voice opinion in front of our elders.  

But in corporate world, everyone is doing their job. The hierarchy is more to distribute the work than to decide the maturity/intellect/caliber of a person. So never be afraid to voice your opinion if you feel you can add some value to the discussion. Good leaders always encourage fresh perspectives and value every opinion.

         3. Never stop  learning -
In a dynamic world like ours, there is no scope for being stagnant with your knowledge. Every time you feel, you are an expert in something, start learning a new thing. Learning not only gives you an edge, it also gives you new challenges to keep the fire and ambition within you burning. Set SMART goals. Without planning, we will never be able to achieve more than just the usual routine. And when Mark Zuckerberg can pull out time for learning new things, I think we can all do that with our busy schedules.

         4. Resources or Human beings?
I hate calling people as RESOURCES. They are people who have different temperament, cultures, issues and aspirations. So when you deal with people, it’s important to treat them with respect and empathy. Sometimes polite words can get humongous task done in minutes because when you show respect, the other person feel important and he will go out of the way to help you. People management is not about how many people you know or your status; it’s about knowing the strengths of the people around you and complimenting them to achieve bigger goals.

         5. Be a leader not a manager -
Every day we read quotes on the difference between a leader and a manager. I would say, management studies do not teach you how to be a leader. It is sometimes inborn, sometimes comes with experience and sometimes with intention. If you intend to lead, you will be an initiator and a strong driver. Managers sometimes just demote themselves to be reporters, rather than being leaders.  Leaders will delegate not only responsibility but also power. Leaders develop a self-organized team who may need guidance and direction from their manager occasionally. Whereas managers try to manage their resources not develop and groom them.

So what are your mantras? Looking forward to hear from you and learn something new from you today.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fast Track PMP study

Its surprising how we can achieve something we think is impossible to be done. And I experienced it recently when I attempted PMP (Project Management Professional) certification. Ofcourse, its not an impossible task for anyone. But I termed it impossible in the begining considering that till 9th of December 2015, all I had done was glancing some 150 pages of Rita Mulchay's exam prep 8th edition. Exam date being 6th of January 2016, I had less than 30 days in hand.
And out of those 27 days, I was sure that I would not be able to give my 100 % for 1/4th of the time owing to Christmas/DDs birthday/Planned family vacation/New year celebrations. So my first sensible step should have been postponing the dates and coming back with better study plan. But I decided otherwise and took a huge risk with the most important exam. Not because I was confident I would clear it, but because I knew that I will never be able to have that perfect day when I am all prepared. 
On a lighter note, Engineers are better at last minute studies than planned studies. 
So I decided to talk to few people I know who had cleared the exam recently and who I  know would give me proper advise on how to do focused studies for these 20 days. Mind you, when we say focused studies, like other exams you cannot skip a complete chapter or knowledge area. Its more like out of the vast ocean of resources you can refer to, which resources will best equip you to understand the concepts and make you ready for answering the use case based questions.

Again I will re-iterate, this 20 days focused study plan is not the best way to deal with the exams. But guide as to how the match is not lost till the last ball.
So here we go

Study Material
PMBOK (Appendix and Glossary also important) (Read twice)
Rita’s Book. (Read once)
Kim heldman book “PMP project management Professional Exam study Guide”
Head First PMP

Study Groups/Forums
I want to be a PMP® (
Izenbridge – Sanket Bansal (Videos on youtube)
Exam questions :
PMI- Lakeshore chapter membership

Exam questions : (At least 2000 questions recommended)
Scorodo (1-18 tests of 50 questions on PMI site)
Sanket Bansal

Things to remember
Numerical formulas: 
Triangular distribution
Earned value formulas
Precedence diagram calculations (network diagram)
Communication channel formulas
Selection criteria formulas

Earned Value, Planned Value and Actual cost (Fig 7-12)
Salience Model for Stakeholder (Online resources)
Power-Impact grid 

ITTOs ( tricks to remember Triple constraints and Triplets)
Risk Management
Quality Management
Perform integrated change control
Validate Scope
7 Basic Quality Tools (CP CH FCS) and Quality control tools (API TPAM)
Tuckman model (FormingStormingNormingPerformingAdjorning)
Conflict resolution techniques (important)