Posted in Life Gyan

Lockdown Memories

  • These are the things that you may remember someday about the lockdown. 
  • Today is Sunday, 3rd May, 2020.
  • We are at Day 40 of social isolation.
  • Anybody who is alive today has never seen anything of this scale ever in their lives. 
  • Almost all big organisations have a Business Continuity Plan but none would have planned for a disruption of this scale
  • Schools, Colleges, Offices, Markets, Industries, Malls, Restaurants, Cinema halls are all closed
  • Flights, Trains, Buses, Uber, Ola are not operating
  • In many towns and cities all delivery services like Swiggy, Zomato, Big Basket are not permitted for fear of spreading the infection
  • All maids, drivers and house-help are not allowed into the homes or apartments
  • Only shops of essential items like groceries, medicine, vegetables etc are allowed to open for limited duration everyday.
  • All places of worship like Temples, Churches, Mosques are closed
  • Parks, beaches and other public places are not accessible to the public.
  • All sports events like Olympics, IPL etc have been cancelled or Postponed across the Globe
  • All religious and social gatherings have been banned.
  • Funerals related gatherings are limited to immediate cohabitants and max 15-20 persons and too with Police permission
  • Schools have been closed since mid March and most schools have started online classes on Zoom. 
  • There are floor markings outside and inside the stores to maintain appropriate distance between people.
  • Only limited number of people are allowed to enter a shop and the rest have to form a queue outside. When one customer exists then one from the queue is allowed to enter the shop
  • Friendly social gatherings even with neighbours or friends are not happening. Most sane folks are maintaining discipline and social hygiene.
  • People are scheduling video calls to connect with friends and relatives 
  • There is widespread fake news on social media
  • World-over there is shortage of masks, gloves, PPE kits and medical equipment like test kits, ventilators etc and most countries are having to buy it from China which miraculously has overcome this crisis and is back to business
  • People are wearing masks, most places now REQUIRE that you wear them to enter!  People are even making their own masks for sale or donation to medical facilities!
  • Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes and anything Lysol or Clorox is in short supply and limited per person.
  • Every city has been divided into tiny zones & an instant fine is being issued for crossing the zone without a valid reason. (Transport workers, Essential services, etc)
  • IT companies have adopted a work-from-home approach and are able to run most of their operations remotely
  • Small businesses and daily wagers are hard hit. Government is trying to provide food and assistance to the daily wagers, poor and needy folks
  • Amidst all this the silver lining is that the pollution levels have come down drastically and nature is thriving. 
  • There is hardly any noise pollution and we can hear the birds chirping again. 
  • I have heard in news that the long standing Ozone layer holes have self healed
  • At least everyone is acknowledging that probably we humans had taken too many things for granted and the pace of life was accelerating with every passing day but now this pandemic has put brakes on that mad race and everything has come to a standstill forcing people to reflect on they actions and their consequences
  • Today the Lockdown 2.0 comes to completion and Lockdown 3.0 begins for next 2 weeks. 
  • I am not sure what the future holds for us and how the “new normal” will evolve as we try to adapt to the changed circumstances and environment. However I hope people will remember at least a few lessons from this worldwide pandemic and will adopt a more responsible and deliberate lifestyle.
  • Remember life is precious & that nothing should be taken for granted. And above all let’s be grateful for where we are and what we have.
  • Stay safe and healthy…!
Posted in Life Gyan

How to Find “What I Really Want?”

If you haven’t read the first part of this post “What Do We Want From Life?” I would recommend you go through it first before reading this post any further. 

Finding what you want from life is a very personal journey which will require a lot of honesty and a little bit of courage to accept yourself the way you really are and the  involvement of your heart and mind – all at the same time. Once you pose the question (What do I want from my life?) to yourself with the serious intent of finding the answer, your mind (both conscious and sub-conscious) will get engaged. 

Our mind is a big storehouse of all our desires, emotions, things that our parents, friends, family members, teachers etc may have told us over the years. All these hidden emotions below the surface keep playing with our mind when we want to take any decision. And you will notice that at time we experience a lot of chatter in the mind pulling us into different directions. That is because of lack of clarity of what we want.

At the outset, the mind will start giving you many options of what you want from life. These options may be based on what others may have told you or expect from you. So how to find out if the options that your mind is throwing at you are the real answers? There may be different ways to ascertain that but the one that works for most is writing down the answer and then writing down the “Why?” – the reasons why you want it? Just keep writing all the big and small reasons that come to your mind till you have emptied all your thoughts about this answer. 

Repeat this process with the other answers that come to your mind. 
This may not happen in one sitting. The time taken will vary from one person to another depending on your desire, the fire in your belly to really uncover the answer. But the key is to remain persistent and determined to take it to conclusion. And I assure you it will be worth the effort. And remember the journey is as important as the destination as that is where the transformation is actually happening.

Review the answers you have written and the reasons – some of them will start resonating with you while you will be able to discard the others. It is ok to filter out more than one answer to “what you want from life” as you may want to express yourself, your talents in multiple fields. For example, on one hand you may want to be successful in your career and on the other hand you may want to do something meaningful for the under-privileged. On one side you may strive to be the best parent and at the same time you may want to give wings to your own creative pursuits. I have come across many talented people who are achievers in more than one field in life. 

Eventually by this process of looking at the various desires and options and reviewing them by being true to your own self, you will arrive at the answers in a few iterations. 

Posted in Life Gyan

What Do We Want From Life?

Here is something really worth pondering over. The honest answer to this one question can change the direction of your life, can create a new meaning and may even give you an entirely new perspective towards life, goals, happiness and finding satisfaction. Ask yourself,

“What do I want from my life?”

While some may say Success, Wealth, Fame, Love, Happiness – answering this for oneself requires a little more thought and a peek at one’s innermost desires. The key think to remember is that you need not share the answer with anyone else – is to for your own sake that you must answer this question.

It is certainly not an easy one to answer and at the first attempt you may be tempted to say “I don’t know”. While that is perfectly normal, don’t stop there. Be persistent. Find the answer or create one for yourself.

The question remains relevant no matter at what stage in life you are at. You may be a student, working professional, artist, entrepreneur or housewife – think about what you want from life. A lot of times not knowing what we want, is the source of unhappiness and restlessness, as we perpetually keep looking for a better job, more wealth, bigger house etc. That is what is called the rat race. 

Once you are able to arrive at the answer to this question, you will no longer be in the blind rat race. You will go after your goals, your passion with a sense of purpose and a new kind of enthusiasm. It will give a new clarity to your thoughts and actions. You will feel transformed. A version 2.0 of yourself. A lot of your old dilemmas and debates that occupied your mind so far will automatically disappear. Your interactions with people will become better. All of this because of the clarity of thought you now have.  So go ahead and spend some time in solitude. 

Do yourself a favour – find the answer to what you really want from life. After all it is just one life that you have. Make it count.

If you are interested in knowing a practical approach to “How to Find What I Really Want?” click here.

Posted in Life Gyan

After Death of Husband

Coping up with death of a close family member is itself a mammoth task – the emotional stress, the vacuum and coming to terms with the new reality. Because life goes on, irrespective of everything that is happening. And whether you like it or not the people who are left behind have to deal with it – even with the unfinished tasks of the one who has departed. Sharing one such experience of a woman after she lost her husband at an early age and it has important lessons for all of us.

“Few things I learnt after my husband’s death:- We always believe we will live forever. Bad things always happen to others. Only when things hit us bang on your head you realise… Life is so unpredictable…. My husband was an IT guy, All technical. And I am a chartered accountant. Awesome combination you may think.

Techie guy so everything is on his laptop. His to do list. His e-bill and his bank statements in his email. He even maintained a folder which said IMPWDS wherein he stored all login id and passwords for all his online accounts. And even his laptop had a password. Techie guy so all the passwords were alpha-numeric with a special character not an easy one to crack. Office policy said passwords needed to be changed every 30 days. So every time I accessed his laptop I would realize it’s a new password again. I would simply opt for asking him ‘What’s the latest password instead of taking the strain to memorize it.

You may think me being a Chartered Accountant would means everything is documented and filed properly. Alas many of my chartered accountant friends would agree that the precision we follow with our office documents and papers do not flow in to day to day home life. At office you have be epitome of Reliability / Competent / Diligent etc but. At home front there is always a tomorrow.

One fine morning my hubby expired in a bike accident on his way home from office.. He was just 33. His laptop with all his data crashed. Everything on his hard disk wiped off. No folder of IMPWDS to refer back to. His mobile with all the numbers on it was smashed. But that was just the beginning. I realised I had lot to learn.

Nine years married to one of the best human beings with no kids just the two of us to fall back on but now I stood all alone and lost. Being chartered accountant helped in more ways than one but it was not enough. I needed help. His saving bank accounts, his salary bank accounts had no nominee. On his insurance his mom was the nominee and it was almost 2 years back she had expired. But this was just a start. I didn’t know the password to his email account where all his e-bill came. I didn’t know which expenses he paid by standing instructions.

His office front too was not easy. His department had changed recently. I didn’t know his reporting boss name to start with when had he last claimed his shift allowance, his mobile reimbursement.

The house we bought with all the excitement on a loan thought with our joint salary we could afford the EMI. When the home loans guys suggested insurance on the loan, we decided the instead of paying the premium the difference in the EMI on account of the insurance could be used pay towards pre-payment of the loan and get the tenure down. We never thought what we would do if we have to live on a single salary. So now there was huge EMI to look into.

I realised I was in for a long haul.

Road accident case. So everywhere I needed a Death certificate, FIR report, Post Mortem report. For everything there were forms running into pages indemnity bonds, notary, surety to stand up for you. No objections certificates from your co-heirs.

I learnt other than your house, your land, Your car, your bike are also your property. So what if you are the joint owner of the flat you don’t become the owner just because your hubby is no more. So what if your hubby expired in the bike accident and you are the nominee but if the bike is in a repairable condition, you have to get the bike transferred in your name to claim the insurance. And that was again not easy. The bike or car cannot be transferred in your name without going through a set of legal documents. Getting a Succession Certificate is another battle all together.

Then came the time you realise now you have to start changing all the bills, assets in your name. Your gas connection, electricity meter, your own house, your car, your investments and all sundries. And then change all the nominations where your own investments are concerned. And again a start of a new set of paperwork.

To say I was shaken my whole life had just turned upside down was an understatement. You realise you don’t have time to morn and grieve for the person with whom you spend the best years of your life. Because you are busy sorting all the paper work.

I realised then how much I took life for granted. I thought being a chartered accountant I am undergoing so many difficulties, what would have happened to someone who was house maker who wouldn’t understand this legal hotchpotch.

A sweet friend then told me dear this was not an end, you have no kids, your assets will be for all who stand to claim. After my hubby’s sudden death. I realised it was time I took life more seriously. I now needed to make a Will. I would have laughed if a few months back if he had asked me to make one. But now life had taken a twist.

Lessons learnt this hard way were meant to be shared. After all why should the people whom we love the most suffer after we are no more. Sorting some paperwork before we go will at least ease some of their grief.
1. Check all your nominations… It’s a usual practice to put a name (i.e in the first place if you have mentioned it) and royally forget about it. Most of us have named our parent as a nominee for investments, bank accounts opened before marriage. We have not changed the same even years after they are no longer there with us. Even your salary account usually has no nomination.. Kindly check all your Nominations. – Bank Accounts – Fixed Deposits, NSC – Bank Lockers – Demat Accounts – Insurance (Life, Bike or Car or Property) – Investments – PF Pension Forms

2. Passwords.. We have passwords for practically everything. Email accounts, Bank accounts, even for the laptop you use. What happens when your next in kin cannot access any of these simply because they do not know your password… Put it down on a paper.

3. Investments. Every year for tax purpose we do investments. Do we maintain an excel sheet about it. If so is it on the same laptop of which the password you had not shared. Where are those physical investments hard copy.

4. Will. Make a Will. I know you will smile even I would had I not gone through all what I did. It would have made my life lot easier a lot less paperwork. I wouldn’t had to provide an indemnity bond, get it notarised, ask surety to stand up, no objections certificates from others…

5. Liabilities. When you take a loan say for your house or car. Check out on all the what if, what if I am not there tomorrow, what if I lose my job. Will the EMI still be within my range. If not get an insurance on the loan. The people left behind will not have to worry on something as basic as their own house.

My battles have just begun… But let us at least try and make few changes so that our loved ones would not suffer after we go. We do not know what will happen in the future. But as the Scout motto goes: Be prepared “

With our current ways, most people live in nuclear families and we hardly have anyone to fall back on in case of a misfortune. There are a few things we can do immediately –
(a) Get organised – Document the details of all your bank accounts, investments, assets and liabilities. Keep it updated. And once in six months print out the details and keep the hard copy at home.
(b) Educate your spouse about the investments, assets and liabilities at least once in a year or whenever there is a major update or change – especially if she is not used to the paperwork.

It is very important that we proactively spend time on this personal and financial management on a regular basis to minimise the challenges of our loved ones once we are not around.

Posted in Life Gyan

Silence Speaks Volumes

Have you ever experienced a moment in your life when you just ran out of words and you go… silent… 

Let me assist you in recalling…

the moment when you left your home for the first time and you look back at your parents who are worried that their son/daughter are leaving them yet happy that their child took the first step towards independence.

the moment when the girl/boy you like most smiled back at you! You don’t say anything.. you just smile back..

the moment when you get better marks than you expected… those “numb” moments of ecstasy and surprise is that true?”

the moment when you are parting with your old friend(s) and the train has just started… and you are standing on the door of the wagon.. waving “bye-bye” with your heart beating fast…

the moment after the HR manager has just called you and told you,
“You are through! Congrats!”

the moment when you sit alone in your room after having told everyone that you cleared that exam you prepared for 6 months!!

You can go on remembering your “special” moments! I had always wondered why I never said anything to myself at those moments.. as if it was “understood”… happiness, joy, pain.. all feelings just flowed ceaselessly in the ‘years’ that passed in those flash moments!

They say.. the best way to communicate is through “silence”. Love. Joy. Grief. Surprise. Anger. Hope. Expectations. Support. Non-cooperation…

Can you imagine the importance of a silent moment in a song? – When Bryan Adams stops for a while along with music, before he goes on in his husky voice… Please forgive me. I cant stop loving you!

Ever had those moments when you thought you were tired enough that you reach for your bed after dinner.. but find yourself wide awake looking at the roof of your room silently…

But you sure are ‘thinking’… those moments of self-talk are the most important in our lives. Those moments when we listen to our own hearts! Those promises… those decisions… those are the moments when we make our destinies!

Next time you go silent… listen carefully to what your heart is saying.. listen to its joy…listen to its pain..listen to its fears.. listen to its desires..Dont make it shut up and go off to sleep… LISTEN TO THAT VOICE !

That voice alone can lead you to the abode of peace that your sleep lacks… peace that awaits you!

Be in touch with your true self… practice silence at least for a few minutes every day !