Saturday, May 11, 2019

C is for Communication

My toddler has learnt to speak. One of the things that fascinates me, is his ability to state what he wants. He is very clear on what he says. Nothing left to imagination. I am hurt on my foot, I want you to blow there. I want to touch your nose.... I want you to place your hand under my head and let me sleep. I want that red coloured toy that you hid from me. Very precise, clear instructions on the need.

Yet, as adults communication or lack thereof is one of the most common issues leading to conflict. You say something, you mean something else. Or you do not say anything and you mean a lot.

I wonder at what point do we loose the skill to state what we want. Is that a part of growing up, a defence mechanism to not get hurt? I told my parents that I want videogame for my birthday, they didn't get it, so I won't tell anymore what I want. I can't tell my boyfriend how much I miss him, as he would think I am needy. I would struggle and quit my job, but won't tell my boss that I need a better raise/ quality of life as he wouldn't understand anyway.

Wouldn't it be easier, if adults could retain the art that the God blessed us with as kids.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

B is for Bias

I have been raised a feminist. I have fought with my younger brother all my childhood and our parents raised us as equals. While, I don't claim of any other great quality, being impartial, unbiased is what I do claim. If a boy and a girl do the exact same thing, my reaction in all likelihood is going to be the same too.

I have come across some chauvinists in my office life, those who couldn't stand a woman being skilled and appreciated. It disgusted me, no doubt, but it came rather early in my career and I was fortunate to have a leadership that saw through this and gave me the desired support and showed the right way. 
After a long time, I met with a strange situation again. My voice just didn't reach certain men until it was mansplained. The fact that as a Product Owner, my views on the product need to be respected, doesn't cut across. I have come a long way to take it silently. I have made it explicitly clear more than once on what needs to be done and how. 

But, I wonder how deep the patriarchy runs through us. What makes it immensely uncomfortable for certain men to listen to women if they are peers. When it comes with authority from a senior woman, we would bitch during coffee breaks and  question her decisions and what made her what she is. When it comes from a peer, we would resist, gang up and make it difficult and younger ones, we would mollycoddle. 

In my personal life, not having given up my surname, my career or my identity on the marriage altar, I thought I am living by my rules. But, I don't know if there is ever a marriage of equality. Does a marriage exist where you listen to your spouse and take their advice, without losing yourself completely. May be you can defend your big principles and live by them, but can true harmony in the house and inner peace with oneself coexist?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Thinking of her...

"Universe is completely balanced and in perfect order. You will be compensated in full for everything that you do."

This has been my belief for as long as I remember.

Long before Justin Timberlake said what goes around comes back around, I believed that you can't escape what you do. Karma will catch hold of you, so it's much better to do good and live in peace, rather than be evil and worry when it will catch hold of you. It has been ingrained into my mind quite deeply. I have always been at peace with my choices and behavior.

However, there is one thing that unsettles me every time I think about it. One woman I knew rather well, passed away at a young age unhappily. She decided to end her life when she couldn't bear what her husband had turned into... a vicious, manipulating monster. Was her step right... certainly not. But, the guy knew precisely well what he was driving her to. He knew where to hit and when, carefully delivered words at the weakest moments. And then at her lowest low, she decided it's not worth fighting, worth living. 

When I see that man, living happily.... no regrets, no past, no worries, I fume inside. That's one thing that makes me question if there is a justice in the end. Do you really have to pay your debts? Does peace come so easily. I pray to the Lord for peace and justice whenever I think of her... May he grant her peace....

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Leader of the band

I stumbled upon this song Leader of the band.

And it says:
The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band.

As I heard it, it resonates so much with who I am, what I wish to be, I have always been.... What I have always searched for. An imitation of my father.

I have been a daddy's daughter all my life. I wanted to be an engineer, just like Electrical one, just like him. I agreed to take Computer Sciences as my stream only because he suggested so. Not just my decisions, my moral compass is guided by what he has been. My trust in mankind and men more precisely has been intact only because of him.

I consider I would have lived my life well, if I can pass even half of his values to my offspring and live by his principles. If I can have the same practical approach to life and compassion for all. 

With a son who is growing all too fast, I feel like I am not as much a daughter anymore as a mother. And that's something I never thought was possible.
Thanks to the man who has shaped me more than anyone else... Thanks for giving the faith, the wings and the roots....

I hope the leader of the band never gets tired.... 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Getting Agile

Agility and flexibility are vital in the fast-paced lifestyle we have. Time is the essence and people don’t want to spend it irrationally. It is no wonder that the traditional waterfall method is getting more “agile” every day.
One of the most common agile methods is Scrum. It constantly talks about prioritizing and doing things in an order that makes sense now; instead of something agreed several months ago. Agile also blurs several erstwhile roles and definitions and offers a fresher way of looking at things. We then tend to map former definitions to roles in Agile. It is often asked where a Business Analyst (BA) fits in Scrum. Should he/she be a Product Owner, is that closer to a ScrumMaster or should BA be a part of development team.
While the Scrum roles have a strict definition:
·         Product owner – holds the vision for the product
·         ScrumMaster – helps the team best use Scrum to build the product
·         Development team – builds the product
And you may be tempted to put BA under a development team as there is no other defined role. However, like several other things in life, there may not be a "One size fits all" solution. There may be several factors in determining what may work best for your setup.
For example:
1. Yours is a big project with multiple stakeholders with interests in specific areas. There may be some requirements from technical team, some from legal, some guided by sales and yet others a prior executive commitment made. It is important that the final product is aligned with expectations from all stakeholders or a common ground is agreed on and there are no surprises in the end. Here you may want to have different members playing the role of Product Owner, Scrum master and BAs. Product Owner(s) are aligned with external stakeholders, bringing their interests to project team. ScrumMasters are responsible for maintaining and managing individual scrums. BAs are a part of development team, working closely with business stakeholders and Product Owners. A key here would be effective communication between scrum team members themselves (PO, SM, BA and development team) and also between different scrum teams. Scrum of Scrum needs to happen as diligently as daily scrums. You may also extend this to have representatives called to Sprint Review meetings.
2. Yours is a smaller setup, with a set of defined stakeholders. Here you may want to have the same person play the role of PO and a BA. He/She would work closely with customers, bring in the requirements, prioritize them, create and maintain the backlog. You need to make sure that the setup is smaller, enabling the person to play both the roles efficiently. PO must get the time to interact with external stakeholders, get their interests and requirements aligned and prioritized appropriately. BA must get the time to explain, review and test the requirements in every sprint.
3. There are distance/ time difference between key stakeholders and rest of the team. The team isn't very large, but it isn't very small either. Here, you may have the PO situated closer to the timezone of majority of stakeholders, enabling him/her to be available to them as needed. The BA may be interacting more frequently with PO and interacting with external stakeholders for complex requirements or discussions. The PO here may be a link between BA and external stakeholders for a while. If the BA is skilled enough in Scrum practices, it may be logical for him/her to play the role of ScrumMaster too. He/She can efficiently manage the scrum and at the same time, make sure that the requirements agreed are delivered. She may need to guide the PO also in managing the scope. Having an understanding of requirements is an advantage.
Perhaps the vital parameters of a successful agile delivery are innovation and adaptability to get more efficient. There would be several factors into play and you need to define what works best for you and your team. Make that a practice and keep it simple!

To the boy I love

Dear Son,

There are so many things I wish to tell you, wish you remember when you grow up. Let me start with what you are admired for and what you need to change.

Now about 21 months old, you can walk, run, dance and pretty much do everything as far as mobility is concerned. You are pretty good at understanding stuff too. You see the daily activities and understand how stuff is done, from cleaning, washing clothes to cooking food.

You just love cooking food and being allowed to cook brings an instant smile to your face. You want to sit at the counter close to gas and just do what you see being done, from taking a pan and mixing stuff, stirring it and also making chapattis. You use all your tactics to be allowed that. Saying the words... "Upaaaa" or Upar to place you up there, and then saying "Khana" or food just in case we didn't understand the command, you say it all. Then when you are still not allowed, you start throwing mild tantrums, from bending over backwards to crying, lying on the floor showing anger and also hitting people, scratching them, pulling their hair when your demands are not met. You are quite a performer, I must say. But, when you figure out it won't be won't be allowed anymore to cook on gas, you make peace with that. It doesn't take long for you to stop sulking and start enjoying life again. It may be a cartoon to watch, going "bahar" or "ummi" (for ghoomi or ghoomna) or playing with plastic balls. 
But, you don't stop trying to go back to the gas at the next earliest opportunity. You keep on trying every now and then that you would again be placed at that magical place called stove. And we do that, for that magical smile that you give us at that win!!
Lesson 6: You need to make peace with things. At some point you need to let go. It's only so long that you should ruin your day over what couldn't be yours.
Lesson 7: Tomorrow is another day to start afresh what you missed today. In your case, it is several times a day that you try your goal. Never getting disappointed, never disheartened and not reducing your efforts either.

Maa (It still feels strange when I say it)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Life Lessons from an infant

My boy is now 7 months old. And he knows what he likes, who he likes... and there are several in the list. Everytime he sees me or the husband he smiles... everytime single time. Sometimes I feel bad when I have to leave him to do some work. And then when I walk back to him, I am welcomed by that lovely smile. I think, I leave him a lot, just to know someone becomes so happy on just seeing me... and he does that with his father, his nanny, other maids... all familiar faces. I wonder when did we forget to smile for people? How come we welcome our loved ones with, "You are late, yet again" or "Did you bring the grocery I told" and not with a smile?
Lesson 1: I like you. I smile for you... then I frown if you forget to bring the grocery. But first, I smile

I get so bored... even when i have so much to do. If my internet is down for a day and I don't have a good book to read, I will commit suicide. There is no 'may' there. I will do that. What can you do, if you are on bed the whole day through. You can't sit, you can't stand. You wait for someone to come and pick you up, even for a change in scenery. If you want to reach out to something.... that shiny little ribbon or that box over there... or the flower on the bedsheet... and you can't. You do whatever you can. You lift your head if you can. You kick your feet in the air, you turn... but you do whatever you can to stay engaged. 
Lesson 2: Find something to stay busy, If you can't... create something to keep you busy. Don't die just yet

This boy finds everything fascinating. The way a newspaper flutters when the fan is on, the bright yellow colored flower on my dress, the way adults drink tea from a bright green mug, how someone mops the floor.... everything is fascinating... worth noticing, worth watching, worth being curious about. When did we stop getting fascinating by stuff and treat everything mundane.... No rainbows, no butterflies, no flowers entice us long enough. I am reminded of Sonu Nigam dressed as a beggar . How many of us would have stopped and noticed the beauty. Do we ever smell the flowers in our mad daily rush.
Lesson 3: Stop waiting for big things to interest you. Curiosity and fascination are good for all. There is more to life than that paycheck or that annual vacation

The guy is also turning into a drama. He knows what he wants and nearly how to get that. I hope, wish and pray with all my might that I am not raising a Kejriwal. I work from home now. And the guy knows which room I work in. So, all of seven months old- he wills to be taken to that room. And when the nanny picks him after his nap (45 minutes putting to sleep and 15 minutes nap), she takes him to the hall to play with him. As soon as he crosses my work-area, he would start cooing, asking her to take him to me. Its mandatory that they would stop at my room. He will see me- give me that lovely smile- I will melt and take him- no matter what I am doing - cuddle him for a while- both of us not wanting to let go and then I will get a ping on chat or a reminder for a meeting- bringing me back into reality.
Lesson 4: You want something. You make it known. If a subtle coo works- wonderful- If not throw some high pitched cry. But don't sulk in a corner if you don't get the promotion you didn't say you wanted.

When I don't trust someone, I don't trust them in any scenario. Untrustworthy gets etched in my memory. There is a cross reference between that person and the tag -the-one-shouldn't-be-trusted.
When the boy's nanny changed, he wasn't comfortable with the new nanny putting him to sleep. He still doesn't like it, but he now gives in when he is extremely sleepy. But back then, he won't sleep with her... He would fight sleep... cry a lot when he couldn't fight the sleep any longer and needed to be put to sleep- wait for me to step in, take him in my arms and he would sleep in two minutes. But even then he would smile at her, play with her, go in her arms, do everything but sleep. He had trust-issues (?). But that was situation based, not person based. 
Lesson 5: Don't hate or distrust in absolutes. If you don't like an aspect of someone, there is no need to hate them completely. 

I am sure there are tons of other things this 7 months old baby is going to teach me. I know if I learn too well, I will become a better person. Here's to that hope....