A Wedding Is An Event…A Marriage Is A Lifetime! #ShiSaidKash

A month ago, my older daughter Urvashi married Akash. He is not only the man of her dreams, he is also the son in law of my dreams!

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The friendship that started almost five years ago, went through romance/no romance, should we/should we not and finally they tied the proverbial knot last month. It was a dream come true for both of them and for both sets of parents, once we got to know each other.

Once the engagement was over and we decided on the wedding date, everyone started asking me, “what kind of a wedding will this be?” I smiled and told everyone who asked, “2 states wedding, giving everyone a chance to witness different events as part of the ceremonies itself.”

For any mother, planning & implementing everything single handed can give her sleepless nights. Initially, I went through the same. The biggest question in my head was – Will I be able to manage? From funds to shopping, to catering to decor to managing the groom’s side of the family and our family too. I am not going to say friends and family here, for everyone who was part of the wedding was family for us. Thank God for two

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daughters who took to planning in a big way and making checklists, drawing up vendor names, talking to various people to get information, making trips to Chickpet, Commercial Street, Jayanagar (for the uninitiated, these are markets in Bangalore) to gather more information. There were times I felt I had two mothers and mothers in law simultaneously at home! On a serious note, without Urvashi’s organised thinking and Urmila’s practical approach to making things happen, I would not have been able to give Urvashi the wedding she wanted. I will take this opportunity to thank both my girls wholeheartedly.

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For all those planning weddings in their families, here is one input from me – allow the youngsters to be involved. They will come out with flying colours when they know someone trusts them with such a huge responsibility. Very often, the more experienced family members (I am not saying old) tend to get a little impatient with the younger lot and have a classic reaction, “You don’t know about these rituals, preparation etc…we grown ups will handle it.” My point is if the youngsters aren’t given the responsibility, how will they learn? Allow them to make a mistake or two…those can be corrected. After all, the experienced of the senior family members comes in handy…to forewarn the youngsters of the pitfalls.

Month of February started with the basics like – wedding planner or no, how do we co-ordinate with the numerous vendors, what kind of a venue, indoors/outdoors, and the works. The one thing that we decided was to have a wedding planner who will work with us to deliver everything on the two most important days. Urvashi & Urmila asked me to download an app called WedMeGood (www.wedmegood.com). This was Godsend as it helped me to understand what the girls and Akash were looking for during the wedding itself. Ideas were shared, lists drawn up and references sought on the app. And we shortlisted a few wedding planners, caterers and wrote down names of all possible wedding venues in Bangalore.

Venue Hunting

On a Sunday morning, we three musketeers set out to finalise the wedding venue. The girls had already done a recce and had a few names down in the diary. Every venue we visited, including the hotels fell short of what we had in mind about how the entire event will be conducted. And somehow, we were not ready to compromise…yet. At about 3.30 PM, after 7 hotels and a couple of resorts, I opened the WedMeGood app and went through the venue list. Both Urvashi & I hit upon Miraya Greens at the same time. I called a number given and spoke to a Mr Deepak Mishra, who invited me to the take a look at the place immediately. After fixing the time with him, we drove over.

Miraya Greens

All three of us fell in love with Miraya as soon we entered the gates. The greenery was beautiful, the driveway gave us a feel of how luxurious the property was. We met Mr Mishra, Lohith and Raj Kishore. All three of them were so hospitable and put us at ease straight away. Mr Mishra’s words were, “Uma ji, you have come to see Miraya. Take a look leisurely. Lohith will accompany you and show the whole place. We can then discuss everything based on your experience.”

Lohith conducted us around in the most detailed manner and I kept praying that my

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budget allowed me to host the wedding in this haven. The icing on the cake was when we saw the accommodation. Urvashi, Urmila & I just looked at each other with a silent agreement showing in our eyes. Subsequently, over a cup of tea with Mr Mishra, I discussed the modalities and he said to me something which I will not forget ever in my life, “Uma ji, you are conducting your first daughter’s wedding. If you decide on Miraya, it means that we are the ladakiwalas (from the bride’s side). We will ensure you get all the support from us and Urvashi will have the wedding of her dreams here.” Thank you Deepak ji. That put my mind at ease and we agreed to host the wedding in Miraya.

There are numerous aspects that make a venue hugely successful & popular. Miraya has all those aspects. Wonderful hospitality, beautifully maintained rooms, gardens & lawns, waterfall & swimming pool and the best of all in a city like Bangalore – ample parking space for 800 + vehicles! I would definitely rate them at the top in wedding venues of Bangalore.

Avenues Wedding Hospitality Services

For any event to be successful, you must have a team that will make it possible. Earlier generations had family members who could take time off and come to help and contribute towards wedding preparations. Today, we do not have that luxury. So, in steps

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the wedding planner, who becomes part of your family so much that you end up wondering how did I think of surviving without these guys? Nazia & Yassir of Avenues Hospitality Services became those family members for us who understood us from the word go.

How did we discover them? Again WedMeGood came to our rescue. We had met a few wedding planners before but just did not get the vibes with anyone. When we met Nazia & Yassir there was no looking back. Their understanding of what we wanted, their concern about our budget, suggestions and alternate ideas to fit in our budget and just unconditional & empathetic support whenever we raised a concern, all these endeared them to us. Their level of efficiency to handle changes, requests and last minute developments is tremendous & very very professional. Not once did I hear them crib or complain or stop smiling. I am sure they must have gone through enough heart burn in the back end. However, as true family members and thorough professionals, they ensured Urvashi & Akash had the wedding of their dreams! Thank you once again Nazia & Yassir and kudos to your team!

The Creative Kitchen

Oscar Wilde said, “After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” This quote resonates in my head every time I think about Vishal Gupta, our caterer or “anna daata” as we say in India. At Miraya Greens we got the reference of The Creative Kitchen and we met Vishal. In our first meeting, when he understood the two state wedding concept, he made me smile with one statement, “Ma’am, don’t worry. I am a baniya also and we will have two ingredients to add to the food we serve. Tashan & Khaatirdari – style and hospitality”. I knew I could leave food & feeding to his capable hands. Vishal & Shweta, his lovely wife, who is the backbone of The Creative Kitchen, also turned out to be related to the Mittal family. That was the icing on the cake.

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Vishal’s efficiency & professionalism came to the fore on the day of the wedding. We had great weather during the day and exactly when Urvashi & Akash exchanged the Jaimala, the heavens opened up and it poured! Never had I experienced rains like that in Bangalore for a long time. We got busy getting things reorganised in the mandap and the staff at Miraya Greens brought out umbrellas to cater to all the guests who were there…that itself was a miracle! Miraya did wonders to get everyone under a roof. Vishal added to that miracle by shifting the entire catering indoors within 15 minutes and some 300 plus people were comfortably floating around continuing their snacks & dinner. Vishal & Shweta, you guys were brilliant in handling everything and not once did I worry about the how, what & when of the food being served. Thank you once again!

The Family

Ever since the wedding, numerous people have been calling and sharing with me how much they enjoyed attending the ceremonies. One common thread in all those conversations is this – “Uma, hats off to your family for taking care of all of us. The way everyone was involved in all the things, young & old looking after us, ever smiling and warm…loved every bit of it.”

For that wonderful family of mine – my parents, brother & sister in law, uncles & aunts, cousins & their spouses, nieces & nephews and the grandchildren too – I am forever grateful for all the support you have given. This big fat Indian wedding would not have been possible without all of you doing what you did – rolling up your sleeves and chipping in. Thank you!

I also want to share with my daughter, Urvashi & son in law, Akash (there is a nice ring to that) while the wedding is an important event, it is your marriage that is an entire lifetime. Everyone who was part of those three days have blessed you both not only on your wedding day; their blessings are for your marriage, which is like salsa dancing.

So, go on, build your rhythm and pace and find your footsteps…twirl away into a life filled with more sunshine, less rain, even lesser storms, flowers and blooms bringing you happiness all the way!

#ShiSaidKash

We Are The World…Being Humane

There comes a time, when we hear a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh it’s time to lend a hand…

This is a song that took the music world and the human world by storm when it was released. Musically, it was a brilliant piece of composition comprising of more than 25 singers. Humanely, it touched a chord in everyone who heard it. There have been many people who have cried after listening to this song…yours truly included.  We care

The world has been coming together as one in times of war, strife, calamities, terrors. Yes, we have to be grateful that people rally around in difficult times. We need people most around us at that point. What I think would be more gratifying is when people come together as one even in happy times. That I feel will be the easiest way to spread more positivity around us.

I attended a global conference of networkers in Malaysia last week conducted by the QI Group. I have been attending this conference for the last four years. This year we celebrated Mother’s Day during the conference. Every speaker on stage that day paid tribute to not only their mothers, but to mothers all over the world. Of course the audience saluted this gesture…about 55% of the audience were women!!!

This got me thinking about how the concept of motherhood binds all humanity. I mean there is no difference between a mother’s love in Kenya or Canada or Cambodia. All mothers are the same…world over 🙂 :). Meeting and interacting with people from more than 50 countries brought home another point. Human beings are pretty much the same world over…at the very basic emotional, mental & spiritual level. Physically/physiologically we are different..sure that makes us interesting also.

Here is what I think binds and bonds people together and this is my take away from the conference itself.

1. Everyone wants to be respected. More than 11,000 people attending this conference in Penang, would walk into the stadium quickly with no pushing, pulling or breaking the queues. Respect – the bedrock of any relationship anywhere in the world. I would rather be respected than be loved…my take…if I am respected, love will follow sometime.

2. Smile – it costs nothing. The most endearing expression that can connect you to anyone…from a child to an elderly person. A smile that comes straight from the heart, reaches your eyes and manifests on your lips can accomplish a lot.

3. Listen and listen with your heart…not just hear with your ears. Very often we do not listen to understand intent, we listen to only reply. Listening is actually the secret to discover great stories. Suffice it to say that every good conversation begins with good listening.

4. Humor is a great equalizer. When sharing a good joke you break more ice with people. And we have a lot of common things that we can joke about without hurting sentiments. A common thing that kept everyone rolling with laughter at the conference were mother in law  jokes…that humor transcended all geographical boundaries.

5. Love makes the world go round. Love is critical for any human being to live a fulfilling life. Love can arise out of a common vision, a common goal, dream and we can connect with people across the globe with this one emotion. Mountains can be moved if this emotion is strong enough in all of us.  Rythm

6. Inclusiveness – people like to be included and not ignored when they are in a group or together. Unfortunately we focus more on dividing people based on categories. We also forget that these categories are made for specific purposes that create exclusiveness first, and then, divide people permanently. Inclusiveness resolves this.

A testimony to all that I have written above is the beautiful concept of RYTHM NATION created by the QI Group. RYTHM stands for Raise Yourself To Help Mankind and 11,000 participants became part of that nation with one vision that they were focused on – to be successful networkers and fulfil their dreams.

 

The Journey Of Life…9 Stupendous Tips!

Oh My God! It’s good to be back! The last few months that I did not write life went by and how…. I managed to do a lot of reading which opened up my horizon!

Mark Twain has been a favorite author since childhood. However, some of his statements make sense now in life. Something that struck me was the 9 tips that I am going to share by way of 9 quotes that helped me get over a lot of obstacles. And I do know it will help those of you who implement the spirit of what I am going to share…

1. Approve of yourself. 

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” 

If you don’t approve of yourself, of your behaviour and actions then you’ll probably walk around most of the day with a sort of uncomfortable feeling. If you, on the other hand, approve of yourself then you tend to become relaxed and gain inner freedom to do more of what you really want. 

What you may be bumping into there are success barriers. You are putting up barriers in your own mind of what you may or may not deserve. Or barriers that tell you what you are capable of.  

So you need give yourself approval and allow yourself to be who you want to be. Not look for the approval from others. But from yourself. To dissolve that inner barrier or let go of that self-sabotaging tendency. This is no easy task and it can take time. 

2. Your limitations may just be in your mind. 

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” 

So many limitations are mostly in our minds. We may for instance think that people will disapprove because we are too tall, too old or balding. But these things mostly matter when you think they matter. Because you become self-conscious and worried about what people may think.

And people pick up on that and may react in negative ways. Or you may interpret anything they do as a negative reaction because you are so fearful of a bad reaction and so focused inward on yourself. 

If you, on the other hand, don’t mind then people tend to not mind that much either. And if you don’t mind then you won’t let that part of yourself become a self-imposed roadblock in your life. 

It is, never too late to do what you want to do. 

3. Lighten up and have some fun. 

“Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.” 

“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” 

Humor and laughter are amazing tools. They can turn any serious situation into something to laugh about. They can lighten the mood just about anywhere. 

And a lighter mood is often a better space to work in because now your body and mind isn’t filled to the brim with negative emotions. When you are more light-hearted and relaxed then the solution to a situation is often easier to both come up with and implement. 

4. Let go of anger. 

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” 

Anger is most of the time pretty pointless. It can cause situations to get out of hand. And from a selfish perspective it often more hurtful for the one being angry then the person s/he’s angry at.So even if you feel angry at someone for days recognize that you are mostly just hurting yourself. The other person may not even be aware that you are angry at him or her. So either talking to the person and resolving the conflict or letting go of anger as quickly as possible are pretty good tips to make your life more pleasurable. 

5. Release yourself from entitlement.

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing.It was here first.” 

When you are young your mom and dad may give a lot of things. As you grow older you may feel a sort of entitlement. You may feel like the world should just give you what you want or that it owes you something. 

This belief can cause a lot of anger and frustration in your life. Because the world may not give you what expect it to. On the other hand, this can be liberating too. You realize that it is up to you to shape your own life and for you to work towards what you want. You are not a kid anymore, waiting for your parents or the world to give you something. 

You are in the driver’s seat now. And you can go pretty much wherever you want. 

6. If you’re taking a different path, prepare for reactions.
“A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

I think this has quite a bit of relevance to self-improvement. If you start to change or do something different than you usually do then people may react in different ways. Some may be happy for you. Some may be indifferent. Some may be puzzled or react in negative and discouraging ways.

Much of these reactions are probably not so much about you but about the person who said it and his/her life. How they feel about themselves is coming through in the words they use and judgements they make.

And that’s OK. I think it’s pretty likely that they won’t react as negatively as you may imagine. Or they will probably at least go back to focusing on their own challenges pretty soon.

So what other people may say and think and letting that hold you back is probably just fantasy and barrier you build in your mind.

7. Keep your focus steadily on what you want. 

“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.” 

What you focus your mind on greatly determines how things play out. You can focus on your problems and dwell in suffering and a victim mentality. Or you can focus on the positive in situation, what you can learn from that situation or just focus your mind on something entirely else. 

It may be “normal” to dwell on problems and swim around in a sea of negativity. But that is a choice. And a thought habit. You may reflexively start to dwell on problems instead of refocusing your mind on something more useful. But you can also start to build a habit of learning to gain more and more control of where you put your focus. 

8. Don’t focus so much on making yourself feel good.

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.” 

This may be a bit of a counter-intuitive tip. One of the best ways to feel good about yourself is to make someone else feel good or to help them in some way. 

This is a great way to look at things to create an upward spiral of positivity and exchange of value between people. You help someone and both of you feel good. The person you helped feels inclined to give you a hand later on since people tend to want to reciprocate. And so the both of you are feeling good and helping each other. 

Those positive feelings are contagious to other people and so you may end up making them feel good too. And the help you received from your friend may inspire you to go and help another friend. And so the upward spiral grows and continues. 

9. Do what you want to do. 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

Awesome quote. And I really don’t have much to add to that one. Well, maybe to write it down and keep it as a daily reminder – on your fridge or bathroom door – of what you can actually do with your life.

I will end with one of Twain’s best – “Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

Seven Types Of Humor Anyone Can Use :)

A new convict is sitting in his cell. Suddenly someone yells out, “419.” The whole block laughs loudly. Someone yells, “78.” More laughter. “641.” Hysteria! And this goes on every afternoon. A new prisoner can’t figure out what this is all about. He asks his cell mate. “There’s only one book in the prison library and it’s a joke book. All of us have read it so many times we memorized the jokes. Now, all we have to hear are the numbers!”

So, the new guy goes to the library, reads the whole book & memorizes the jokes. One afternoon the jokes session starts. Someone yells, “316.” Everyone is howling. “56.” Gales of laughter. The new guy yells “237.” Absolute silence! He’s wondering what happened, when he hears a voice, “Some people can’t tell a joke.”

It’s true…a lot of people can’t use humor effectively. I have been asked frequently how I manage it. A lot of it I owe to an author called Malcolm Kushner, whose books have inspired & taught me how to use humor effectively.

There are seven simple types of humor anyone can use. They can be easily delivered even if you don’t have any comic ability. They are: Quotes, Cartoons, Letters, Lists, Analogies, Definitions and Observations.

Quotes

Quotes not only add spice to any conversation, but also provide one of the simplest ways to introduce humor. They are easy to find & use. Quotes should be analogized to the situation. Here’s an example of what I mean. My favorite quote for opening a statistical presentation comes from Yogi Berra. It is about Yogi walking into a pizza parlor and ordering a pizza. The waitress asked him if he wanted 4 or 8 slices in the pizza. To which Yogi replied, “Make it 4. I don’t think I can eat 8.” We have all heard variations of the same quote.

What we have done here is to buy a small amount of audience attention with a humorous quote. Remember statistics is considered boring world over :). When I teach MBA students, all my quotes are attributed to either Aristotle or Socrates and I begin by saying, “I believe it was Aristotle/Socrates who said…”

Cartoons

Like the quote, cartoon has in built insurance policy. It is not yours, somebody else has created it, you only selected it! Cartoons make ideal speech material because of their wide variety of style & topics. You can always find one that related to your message. No matter what kind of a day we have had, cartoons always bring in respite. Even if you can tell a joke, it never hurts to share a few cartoons. After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a cartoon is worth two thousand!

Letters

This is one of the most overlooked form of humor. It is a simple device that can become the highlight of any communication. There are a wealth of funny letters out there…you only need to google for the one to suit your presentation. One of my favorite ones is the one that appeared Huffpost Comedy.

                                  

 

 

Lists

Let’s focus on the geometry of humor. Two points make a line. Three or four make a trend. It allows you to build informational points right into a quip or anecdote. Here’s a simple example to illustrate:

“There are three ways to get things done. (1) do it yourself. (2) ask someone else to do it. (3) ask your kids not to do it.”

The first two points are serious & mundane. They set up expectations that the third will be the same. The third however, violated that expectation & catches us off guard. The technique isn’t limited to three items…it is just the starting point.  Another of my favorites is from a graduation address at the business school I taught.

“Mr Dean, members of the faculty & board, distinguished guests, honored graduates, friends and finally dear parents whose tuition payments have ended!”

Analogies

Analogy is a concise statemet that highlights the similarity between two objects. A simple analogy that is funny is also a rae jewel. I have listed some of the globally popular ones here:

  1. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
  2. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
  3. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
  4. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

Definitions

Definitions provide a simple way of breaking up long chunks of dry material. Here’s how Bank of America President A.W Claussen defined inflation to liven up a discussion:

“Inflation is the process that enables you to live in a more expensive neighborhood without going to the the trouble of moving”

Definitions can also be combined with some of the other techniques that I have mentioned above. They can serve as raw material for analogies. This Ronald Reagan example is a classic:

“Government is like that old definition of a baby. It’s an alimentary canal with an appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

Observations

Observations are short, clever lines that can be inserted anywhere in a presentation or communication. “Pearls of wisdom” is how I would describe them. The observation is phrased like the fortune in a Chinese fortune cookie & attributed to an ancient philosopher. Observations are basically colorful comments pertaining to an individual or situation. For example, “He carries around a hose pipe so he can always walk on water”. 

Then there are observations of the absurd, silly and no comic ability is required. Anyone can produce humorous observations based on data, phone numbers, typos, politicians, paperwork etc. Just stop for a moment, lift your head above the fray and the view will be enlightening.

After all, that’s what we advocate in everyday life too…stop and smell the flowers! Have a humorous day :):):)