Saturday, December 19, 2015

It’s again that time of the year, when…

It’s again that time of the year;
When the trees look barren and the greenery and the flowers disappear.
It’s again that time of the year;
When icy cold winds and blanket of snow appear.

It’s again that time of the year;
When people look to relax and unwind with their families in-tier.

It’s again that time of the year;
When the festive lights glow and the mood shits to the shopping cheer.

It’s again that time of the year;
When kids look for gifts from Santa on his reindeer.

It’s again that time of the year;
When doom Sayers predict, end of the earth is mid next year.

It’s again that time of the year;
When many party all night and start with a hangover on the New Year.

It’s again that time of the year;
When some take up gym membership and plan work schedules to adhere.

Having spent more than a decade in the IT industry, these are some of my common (and repeating ones) observations from the IT industry.

It’s again that time of the year;
When employees rush to use their vacation days before they disappear.

It’s again that time of the year;
When employees are asked to review everything that went wrong in that past year.

It’s again that time of the year;
When employees are asked to hope for a positive next year.

This, in my opinion, is the most notorious one in my IT experience (really hate this).

It’s again that time of the year;
When recycled emails and retouched season’s greetings appear.

~Narendra V Joshi

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Entertaining the kids

I was talking to a friend last week. It was just after the thanks giving holidays. We spoke about how we spent the holidays, the thanksgiving shopping, family time etc. Of all the things he said, one really struck my mind. When speaking about how he and his family spent the holidays, he ended a sentence with “……we were home for the rest of the day, entertaining our kids”.  I had not asked him what he meant by “entertaining kids”, but that sentence had been at the back of my mind since then. I thought about this several times though not really focusing on it. My thoughts had been mostly on the lines of - What does entertaining kids mean? How do we really entertain kids? How do I know if the kids were entertained? Etc.

I was at the bus stop with my daughter this morning. My daughter was telling me about a game she learnt at school and wanted me to play with her as we waited for the bus. She explained me the rules the first time but I did not understand. She explained the rules the second time but I still could not catch it all. Before starting to explain the third time she said, “oh papa, you should come to my school and see my friends and I play this game”.  THAT WAS IT! That sentence of Akshara struck the right cord in my head. It filled the missing piece of the thought I had at the back of my mind since last week – “entertaining kids”.

The school bus arrived in the meanwhile and I bid goodbye to Akshara and started towards my house. My mind raced to process the new found data; the missing link of my puzzle. Akshara’s comment had provided that missing link.

How do you entertain the kids? Be a kid.

Wasn’t it obvious? Every parent knows that cartoons, video games, TV… can keep the kids occupied only for some time. Once the show ends, the real show begins, for the parents. The parents now need to find something else to keep the kids occupied. Instead of the TV, take the kids to a playground where there are other kids playing. That will be a whole different show. That show never stops.  Parents have to literally beg the kids to stop playing and come back home. Because the entertainment there is not cartoons or video games; it’s the kids. Kids are the kid’s best entertainers. If you really want to entertain the kids, be a kid. Keep the logic out and play the games they play. Play as a kid.

‘Entertaining kids’; it’s not easy. This is the toughest part of parenting. As a parent, I have experienced this first hand for a long time. But until today, I had never thought of this so much. With what I put together in my head today, this sentence means much more to me now. ‘Entertaining kids’ has found a special respect in my heart.

~Narendra V Joshi

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Transition Season

I am amazed at the changing seasons and the charm each season brings. I especially like the overlapping time when the seasons transition. Each overlap seems unique and brings the best of both the seasons. The last few days have been one such cool colorful transition which I have always liked.


The colorful trees signal the new season has come
The crisp cool air sing the autumn hum.
The leaves look set, all ready to fall;
Looking to embrace the winters call.

The summer now seems like a long forgotten dream;
In the back drop of memory like a painters theme.
Gone are those days of the beach and the sand;
Of the cool lake dips and the lush green land.

It will soon be winter which will bring its own charm;
The sun will shine, yet with the moonlight warm.
The snow and the ice will ride the season’s wing;
Until the melting snowman stands to welcome the spring.

~Narendra V Joshi

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Because mommy knows all

I had just got home from work when my daughter Akshara came to me with a question. With Akshara, if she goes straight to the question, it usually is, “Can I watch TV?”,  “Can I have a packet of chips?”…something straight forward. But if she does a lot of explaining before she gets to her question, it means she has something complicated. Fortunately for me, she seldom brings those complicated questions my way. They are mostly taken to my wife.
Her question this time was –
Akshara - Papa, my name has your name ‘Narendra’ in it. Why is it papa?
Me – Because, papa loves Akshara. That’s why (Wow.. beautiful answer isn’t it J)

Akshara – ok. Mommy’s and Anishs’ name also has your name. So you love them too.
Me – Yes, that is correct. I love you all!

Akshara – But we too love you papa.
Me – I know (With a big smile. But deep inside I knew she was going somewhere with this question. And worst, my wife was nowhere to be seen.)

Akshara – Then why don’t you have our names in your name?
Why don’t I have my wife and kids name in my name? I had never thought about that.

Why should a wife take husbands name or husbands family name? Why should the kids take the fathers’ name and not the mothers’ name? I thought of explaining to her that the normal convention is to have father’s name or husband’s name as the middle name. But this does not really answer her question.

I hoped my wife would come and I can deflect the question to her but she was nowhere in sight. I stood there thinking, as Akshara waited for me to say something. But there was nothing I could say. Someone had come up with this naming convention and I was blindly following it.
My mind drifted as I thought of an answer for her question. Why do they drive on the left side of the road in India and right side of the road in America? Why should the traffic light always be Red, Yellow and Green? What is the logic behind all these conventions?
I was still thinking when Akshara asked “Did mommy suggest my name?”
Me – Yes (with a big relief. I was almost shoutingJ )
Me - Mommy suggested your name (I had not lied. My wife had picked the name Akshara. I was just not getting into the specifics of middle name and last nameJ)

Akshara – oh, so mommy named me Akshara. (She sounded like she got the answer she was looking for)
Me – Yes, mommy named you Akshara.

Akshara stood there for a few more moments.
Akshara – Why do you have your papa’s name in your name? (She asked this slowly. So I don’t think she actually had this question in her mind).
Now that was an easy one. All I had to do was to bring my mommy into the discussion :)
Me – Maybe because my mommy suggested my name. You should ask that question to Ajji (Ajji means grandmother in Marathi).
Akshara – Ok papa (and she ran off to her room).
It did not feel good watching her run back to her room. I had not given her the right answer and I had only dodged the question. But in doing so, I had learnt a valuable lesson. Next time, if I don’t know the answer to her question, I should simply refer her to her mommy. This is not just because mommy’s always have answers to all the kids’ questions but also because the kids know that Mommy knows all!

 ~Narendra V Joshi

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Filling the empty space

I was walking to my car in the parking lot the other evening, when a person came running to me. He pointed his finger in one direction of the parking lot and spoke something in Spanish of which I only understood the first word Senor. He was almost gasping for breath as he spoke. I tried to tell him I do not understand Spanish but he just would not stop. He kept talking non-stop pointing and looking in one direction. I think he was not finding his car or had lost his car, or maybe he was in an emergency and wanted a ride somewhere. For a moment I thought something had happened to my car, but then my car was in a different part of the parking lot from where he was pointing to. Anyway none of his talking made sense to me. After nearly a full one or two minutes of talking, he finally stopped talking and looked at me for an answer. Unfortunately all I could say was I do not speak Spanish and did not understand anything.
He muttered something giving me a stern look and walked away. I know I couldn’t help him, but again what else could I have done in that situation? I would have told him the very first moment that I do not understand Spanish if he had given me one chance, but he kept talking non-stop. I felt sorry for whatever situation he was in and hoped he would take our conversation as a learning experience to first ask the next person he meets, if he/she spoke Spanish before explaining his problem.
The whole incident kept playing in my mind even after I was on the road. If only he had stopped to take a breath and listened to me, the entire situation would have rolled out different. I felt maybe I should have gone back to him and asked him if he was in an emergency or at least try to understand what he was into. I was deep in my thoughts when I had this sudden brain wave. Maybe this situation was a learning experience for me too; an eye opener. Inadvertently even I may be doing the same when I am in a hurry. I talk so much, maybe non-stop, that I do not give the other person an opportunity to talk. It reminded me of a professor from my college days who would take every question slowly as if he is trying to chew on them, and would give a thoughtful answer. Maybe he was not interested to prove anything and so he did not have to be quick with his response. But as I think of it, the empty space he left between our question and his answer was adding a unique value.
As I thought about all this, I felt it was time I too cultivate this habit in me, if I don’t have it already. Maybe not just me but a lot of other people too. There is a need to focus on stopping the urge to talk, the urge to fill that empty space. We need to learn to live with that momentary empty space.
But, the empty space cannot be empty for a long time. It has to be filled soon.
Again, the empty space should not be there always. Sometimes, with some people, the empty space might actually become a time waste.
After all this confusion, I came to a conclusion. The empty space is others problem, not mine to resolve. I am good the way I am, unless somebody tells me otherwise :).

~Narendra V Joshi

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The pollen river

I have an allergy for tree pollen and suffer every year for about 2 weeks during spring. The allergy medicine is effective only until afternoon or early evening, and comes with a warning not to exceed the daily dosage. So I suffer from the allergy symptoms for at least a couple of nights during the allergy season.
This time too I suffered with my allergies when spring started. When I was in my first week of allergy, it rained heavily one day. The rain started in the evening and continued well into the night. The water flowing on the street looked like a green river due to the pollen. I was happy that all the pollen was gone and was looking forward for an allergy free next day until the symptoms showed up again.
It has been more than a week now without allergies and it looks like I am past my allergy season for this year.
Jotted down my experience of those 2 allergy weeks in a few words.

My eyes were red and throat was dry;
The pollen from the trees was making me cry.
I would sit up at night with a shortness of breath;
It looked like my allergies was beating me to death.
Then it rained one night for my swollen eyes to meet;
That green river of pollen which flowed down the street.
It was a heartfelt relief, and my joy knew no bound;
Felt as it my life took a merry turn around.
My morning started on a cheerful note;
And I looked to end the day on a serene quote.
Until I sneezed and wiped the tears off my eyes;
Realized that pollen had engulfed me for life.

~Narendra V Joshi

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What comes with Age

My wife was putting our daughter Akshara to sleep the other day, when Akshara told us she did not like being a kid. She wanted to become a big girl. That way mama and papa will allow her to watch her princess cartoons for long. She could play in the playground with her friends all day and doesn’t have to worry about homework.
I took some of the words Akshara used, to put this poem together. The first 2 paras are what she told me and the last 2 are what I wanted to tell her.

You are big, you are strong;
If I am like you, nothing can go wrong.
I can eat, I can sleep, I can play at my will;
With mama cool, I can relax and chill. 
I can jump on the bed or dance for a song;
I can watch my cartoons all day long.
I will have no homework, no assignments to think upon;
Just friends and playground, in a minute I am gone.
The life of a parent is the hardest it can be;
Balancing every minute is the only secret key.
Cartoons and princess stories are the only channels we can see;
Juggling diapers and homework, we just one busy bee. 
We worry about our careers and taxes and fees;
And of diabetes and cholesterol and those million allergies.
None of these worries were with us when we were born;
The age picked them on way, for us to carry along. 

~Narendra V Joshi  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Free advice

I was at the cafeteria table eating my lunch. It was a four chair table and I was the only person occupying it. My pollen allergy had worsened. My eyes were watery and had turned red. I was constantly wiping my eyes as I eat my food.

I was probably eating my fourth or fifth spoon when a gentleman tapped on my table. He showed the empty chair opposite to me with a questioning “May I?” look. I asked him to go ahead and he settled into the chair. I continued eating my food without a word. He started eating his food looking at me every once in a while as if trying to strike a conversation.

After a few minutes, he asked ‘allergies?’ I said ‘yeah.. bad one’.
Gentleman – It has been one of the worst allergy season this time.
Me – Yes I think
Gentleman – Did you take any medication? You can pick some good ones over the counter too.
Me – Yes I did. I have taken medication.
Gentleman – Which one did you take?
I told him the name of the medicine I had taken. He said the one I had taken was not effective and I should try a different one. He gave me some names and said some cause drowsiness while some are good for day time.

Gentleman – Hey, Sorry I did not introduce myself. My name is …..
He said his name but I didn’t catch any part of it. Maybe it was my allergies; my head was kind of heavy and stuffed and I couldn’t think properly. I smiled and gave him my name.
Gentleman – I am just curious.. Are you a vegetarian?
Me – Yes
Gentleman – do you at least eat eggs?
Me – No, I do not.
Gentleman – if you do not eat meat or eggs how do you get your proteins?
Me (smiling) – I buy it online. My card gives me a 5% cash back on that.  
He laughed at my answer. I meant it funny, but still felt sorry for what I had said and thought of apologizing to him. I was still thinking, when – 
Gentleman – Do you know, many people do not consider milk as vegetarian? If milk is vegetarian, then eggs are vegetarian too.
Me – ok.
Gentleman – Let me tell you something funny. Do you eat eggplant? Brinjal? Raw Brinjal tastes like fish.
I didn’t know what to say. He then told me of many different vegetables which either look like or feel like or taste like Chicken or fish or other meats. I had told him I am a vegetarian, yet he was telling me all this. I don’t know what joy he was deriving out of telling me about vegetables which look or taste like meat. All my thoughts of apologizing to him evaporated. How can somebody be so insensitive?
Soon I finished my lunch while he continued to talk. I packed my stuff and got ready to leave.
Me – You seem to know a lot of things.
Gentleman – Yes. When you start eating different foods, you will compare and you will know too.
Me – You should start a consulting firm.
Gentleman – Me? Why?
Me (smiling) – You should charge people instead of giving free advice. You might make money.

He just stared at me. I got up, said good bye to him smiling and walked away.
~Narendra V Joshi

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The snow blanket

We had about 6 to 10 inches of snow in our city last night. The snow had covered everything and it was a beautiful sight this morning. The temperature remained mostly below freezing throughout the day giving no chance for the snow to melt. People played in the snow the whole day. What looked like a fine blanket in the morning now looks like a heap of dirt. 

It looked like a blanket with tangled weaves,
The barren trees now filled with white flowers and leaves.
The snow had covered everything in sight,
Except for the sky and the sun shining bright. 

The blanket stayed even as the day grew,
People flocked to capture the mesmerizing view.
The mounds and the snowman soon dotted the trampled path,
As the kids hurled snowballs with blissful wrath. 

Only the remains of the blanket showed as the dusk set,
The broken snowman was now left to forget.
What was left of the blanket was still bright and white,
But pickled and trotted under the peoples might.

~Narendra V Joshi