The gift

It has been one eventful 2018 that I have still not finished to look back. I know it is already February 2019. To me it was a year of revelations and realizations. A lot of old and bad decisions finally made their way out of my life. New ones completely settled for the longest haul. Things really worked miraculously well, professionally. Working as an instructor was never a plan. Turned out the work really gets me. You know what they say that just because you like something, it does not mean it is meant for you. It was really unexpected for me to come out of the illusion that being an educator is something that is not my cup of chai. And just so you know, I am talking about training adult trainers.

FB_IMG_1549127338186

when I landed the job as a TEFL/TESOL instructor last year. After instructing for sometime in my city, Kolkata, I have been on a serious travel and teach spree. It has been one eye opening journey. With every passing batch of aspiring teachers and experienced ones, I got to learn so much while I trained them at the same time. It is just so amazing to understand that there is so many different people doing such wonderful things in their lives and they are not influenced or proud. Working with the aspiring bunch of teachers is so much exciting. They have this enormous enthusiasm towards the program and are ready to take up any activity with so much curiosity. On the other hand, it is a treat for me as a trainer to work with the experienced lot. They have so many stories to share. So many little tricks and tips to absorb. At times, few topics seem so easy around them to discuss. Once I lay out the objectives for that day, they seem to come up with their humble share of real-time classroom stories and that kinda keeps the class wonderfully engaged.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

With time, I did realize that I am actually confident in being an educator and that I manage it better than any other previous jobs that I did. Batch after batch I only felt more satisfied and excited to do the job right and work even harder. Initially, it felt so different because I never felt so passionate about any job that I happily spent a huge chunk of my everyday brainstorming and finding creative training and facilitation ideas. Never a single day goes that I do not think about ways to try to present a concept with a little difference from the previous batch. To my surprise I am not even exhausted.

As I write this blog I feel so happy to pour out my feelings here. It has really given my life a sensible dimension. I literally have been more on a learning ride to be honest rather than cherishing my job profile. I think that’s what kept me going and stay excited for meeting these great trainees in every batch. The journey has been quite an exchange. IMG-20190125-WA0016Culturally speaking I get overwhelmed to see how many different cultures I get to interact with everyday. And in return it has only made me a more welcoming person. Professionally, as a modern day facilitator I think it is quite important to have an open mind and to respect trainee voices. Personally, all these enriched my approach towards life in a positive direction more than anything. The good or the bad, when I look back and reflect, it only made me a person with the qualities I never thought I can achieve.
This job is a gift and I am so grateful.

I think this is the thing about life. We often fail to make the right choices and blame it on our bad luck. At times, it also happens that we forget to be grateful enough for tIMG_20180817_124547_190he opportunities that we get and never value the reality of it. I found my opportunity last year and never missed a day to look back at that moment and feel satisfied for my present. I hope you do too!

Advertisements

For the 9 to 5 clan!

We play so many different roles everyday. In addition to the the usual gender roles of being a daughter-son, father-mother, sister-brother, wife-husband and so on, we play a very challenging role; being ourselves. Now you might think it is another blog  on self-empowerment. Like seriously, I am not that enlightened. No way!

Often we talk about how busy we are in our lives that we do not have time for ourselves. We also say that we are never busy, it is all about priority. So now you see how we do not give importance to ourselves. Or rather, we think like that. If we carefully look at our daily schedule, most of our time in the day is spent at the office. Be it a corporate job or your own business or may be a start-up. We are likely to spend more time chasing our targets and building our performance skills each day. In the process, we get exhausted. That zeal you have when you start a new thing fades and you resort to just doing it for the sake of it. We start to forget why in the first place we were looking forward to this new job. The excitement is lost somewhere. Our perspective gets limited and we start to think that life sucks. We start to compare our lives to our college/school friends and think they are living the awesome life. Au contraire, who knows the other party might think the same!

Because we create the exhaustion for ourselves, we tend to stay less happy and somewhere we start faking it. If we had a good day or rather a productive day remains a question. Now there is a strong bond that we make with the exhaustion. Eventually, we give explanations to ourselves that we cannot take out time for ourselves to unwind. The fact is it is your life. It is your time. Nobody has taken it away from you. Its non-negotiable that we all have bills to pay. But do not make it a point to reason out why we go to work in the first place. There was a reason why you took up that work. At it is the solution to that reason. So keep uplifting your thoughts by loving your job. Once you do that, there will be a time that you will realize how wrong you were when you thought that you have no excitement in life. At one point you will stop faking and actually start to love life. You will start being that positive yourself that you used to be. Treat your work days like your first day at the job. Rejoice every moment that you dedicate for it. You won’t have to create a make believe world of “I love my job” anymore.

Mystic and old

One alley. One story. All I could do was not to spare a chance to walk through the ones that caught my eyes.Walking along with Gau Mata like passer by. Pausing to catch the glimpse of the local Brahmins pass while chanting age old mantras. Witnessed Hinduism by the ghats and Islam in the hood. Meanwhile sightseeing took me to Sarnath among other places. The whole experience vibrated peace. That is how Varanasi treated me for a 3-day trip. Ideally, it is week long trip if you want to really have the much talked about mystic experience of the city. But my ESL life could only squeeze this much break for leisure travel off the work travel schedule!

The aura of the Ganga aarti kept the entire stretch of the ghats lit with a hypnotizing belief that time is always under construction and life is building upon it. Hundreds of people gathered everyday to witness the one-hour long ceremony of showing gratitude to the Ganga. The exciting part is when you realize how all the priests are in sync with each other while performing the rituals. It was so beautiful to watch how so much of effort is invested in empowering human beliefs.

Just when I started to sink in that feeling, it was the moment when I came face to face to the only reality that makes us live the entire life in denial- Death. Manikarnika ghat; it is believed that people who are cremated here receive Moksha or salvation. This riverfront is always seen with fire burning the Hindu dead bodies at all hours of the day. It was one of those mind numbing moments when you are so close to an absolution that you don’t know what to feel. It all seemed too real to be true. Like I landed in a period drama movie set!

Tasting the local food is always a delight of any place. However, as I explored more, I discovered it is a city which is a home away from home for people across the globe. Besides gorging on the heavenly Kachori subzi, cruncy jalebi or scooping rabdi from the cute little pots, I could also spot cafes that served international cuisines with authentic arrangements. Be it a German bakery, an Italian bistro or Oriental food, it took me by surprise! The best however, was the lassi. After a heavy rush of strange numbness from the Manikarnika encounter, I went to this much recommended lassi shop, The Blue Lassi. I have no idea how it got the name, but they sure churn the best ones. Their selection of flavors and styles of preparation left me in awe and definitely pulled me out from the strange feeling to vacation vibes once again!

Spotting Aghoris on and off were confusing moments. I was not sure whether to feel scared and look away or stay fascinated and stare at them. With their creepy sense of fashion, Aghoris drew attention no matter what. Being almost naked in public or covering the body with human ashes felt plain normal for them. Using a human femur bone as a walking stick or wearing human skulls around their necks seemed perfectly fine. Their calm attitude made them seem even more mysterious. It is a different world!

I was always fascinated to hear different travel stories from the people who ever visited this old city. What I feel now is it’s even more fulfilling to see what you hear about a place is so mysteriously true. It was one vacation that I would love to repeat yet again. Such was Varanasi through my eyes!

2019 and how!

Pro tips to stay happy:

Stay close to reality. Accept your present and work around it. Who knows you might be able to become hopeful!

Love your job as long as you do not know what you are good at. Who knows you might end up doing it amazingly!

Stop wanting things for the future rather picture yourself with them in your present. Who knows these affirmations keep you grounded!

Act your age. Physically. Do not neglect what your body needs. Who knows what wonders exercising and good sleep can do to you!

Breathe. Take deep breaths. Take time to breathe. Who knows you might start to think and not be impulsive!DSC01230

Avoid stressing over the person you think you love. It is an independent feeling. Feel that independence. If you’re not, learn to let go. Who knows it might be the biggest favor you will do to your life!

Respect your life. Everything around you is a reflection of your choices. Think and work now. Who knows you might stop time travelling into your past!

Accept changes. Do not miss your growing up years. Do not sulk upon “adulting”. Who knows you actually utilize the lessons life has been teaching!2M6A9930

Learn to understand people around you. Who knows it’s not them but it’s you who’s shallow!

Live a little without the phone. Who knows you actually start seeing the world through your eyes and mind!

Totally get used to the idea of not identifying yourself with your current job. Who knows you might be able to fight the existential crisis!

Feel proud if you had to give up on your dreams. Who knows you actually just learn to come out of your comfortingly might-be-delusional scene!

Take part in understanding the different generations around you. Who knows they might show the way to resolve your inhibitions!DSC00165

Stay close to people and things that motivate you. Who knows you may just stop getting influenced!

Respect your ex-relationships. They defined a part of your life at one time. You shared time and realities. Who knows you finally become your idea of perfect!

Cut down on unnecessary and impulsive indulgences. Who knows you finally understand that it’s not your salary which is low but your inability to save money!

Let us just stop making resolutions.  We all know it never works. Rather let us just be grateful of our present existence. Let us practice these hacks a bit every day. The little thing called love is there inside all of us. Spill that in everything you do. And also, it is OK to get exhausted. But if you know you are not here to play the blame game with yourself, who knows this New Year can actually get you steps closer to your definition of happiness!

To all my favourite people!

One of the best things that happened to me this year was my job as a TESOL trainer with the Asian College of Teachers. Now this is quite a big deal for a baby-faced woman like me! IMG-20180720-WA0013 I mean being a teacher trainer where you really need to balance the easy-going attitude with a equal assertiveness is quite a job in itself. Teacher training is anything but way different from being just a teacher. Training a class full of teachers or aspiring ones from different age groups, social and cultural backgrounds is amazingly interesting. And I get to travel places. Like literally, meet teachers from different locations, conduct activities, assess their skill developments, etc., while I get to hop around different cities and try to discover the local ways. The whole program is a 3-weeks long process where we try to understand the requisites of a successful facilitator who would like to teach English as a Second Language. That includes a whole lot of new age teaching methods, brainstorming theories while learning tricks to develop the four skills to comprehend the language- listening, speaking, reading and writing. In between the teaching practices, I make it a point to call for little celebrations. This not only makes the class shake off their anxieties but also lets the all of us to bond well. IMG-20180709-WA0022

Every batch has its own story to share. Each lot of trainees come with their amazing set of ideas and experiences that makes each program a special one. Usually, the batches consist of ESL enthusiasts counting to a minimum of five to a maximum of twenty. It sometimes do get tricky for the fact that there are people from different age groups. Some are freshers trying to travel and teach. Some are looking for a job switch. Some are retired ones with decades of work experience trying to settle with something different from what they have been doing for years. IMG-20180922-WA0011The experienced ones are often the expat teachers or teachers from that specific locations who sign up for the program for a professional upgrade. Some sign up for an extra certificate to add to their curriculum vitae! The list goes on. So as you can see there are quite a lot of different energies that come together for 3 weeks.

Going to different places and training teachers has its own perks. Firstly, it’s a different culture. I go to train the teachers on how to teach English as a Second Language. In the process, I get to learn the local lingo of that place from the teachers. That’s quite an exchange now! The lunch breaks usually become the perfect excuse for me to try the local food. IMG-20180620-WA0009Sometimes even home made, if any trainee decides to bring their own food. Fridays are usually wrapped up with assignments to be completed over the weekend. But much to the tensed faces, there is always a hidden happiness as we often plan to meet either on a Saturday or Sunday. May be for a movie or may be, just out and about the town. Or may be some local attraction. That’s how I kind of end up with way too many guides taking me on a tour around the cities!

IMG-20181216-WA0028
The farewell…..

IMG-20180723-WA0111
Lunching and touring before we resumed class….

 

Breakfast meet before class!

IMG-20180507-WA0007

I believe life gives us way too many chances. We are too busy complaining to understand the signs. The signs to grow, think and become a better person. To nurture the ability to see the world from different perspectives while I keep adding chapters to my life. And that is not the end. Meanwhile I train, I learn so much.

The social and cultural knowledge is just a teeny tiny bit of it. It only gives me the strength to think that there is a whole wide world beyond my world in my head. It gives me a chance to grow and feel the existence of different ideas. Someone rightfully said that there is no end to learning. If only we learn to see the world according to the changing air around us, it will be the best gift that one can present himself or herself.

IMG-20180326-WA0005

 

Happy holidays!

Oh well it’s December! Few days left for Christmas and to celebrate yet another New Year. As the world gets busy with the festivities, I am here travelling, training and reminiscing my festival. My city during Durga Puja. Now, the dates are not the same every year but majorly, they fall sometime during September and October. It’s quite a week-long festival with each day having its own significance. Skipping the mythological backdrop, if we come to the new-age views on the festival, its is more than just worshiping the Goddess. Mostly, you might think I’m trying to talk about the whole idea of wearing new clothes, eating all the possible delicacies and not missing a chance to hop around to visit the marquees where the Goddesses are celebrated. Or may be, the fact that festivals let you come together with family and friends to celebrate. It is more than that.

Every year on January 1st, Bengalis look up the dates of Durga Puja. It adds meaning and a chance to look forward to the year ahead. It marks the occasion of many things. For some it means to happy for leaves from work and go see their families. For some it is to plan and buy clothes while there is a sale way prior to the festival so that there are more clothes on their set budget! For some it is an experience for the first time. A first after getting a job. A first after getting married. Or started dating. Or an addition in the family. Or after they parted ways. For some it is about planning a getaway around those days with their loved ones. For some it is a first without family. And for some it is the last festival.IMG-20181202-WA0073

There is always something old and eventful (if not life changing!) about those days. This is the thing about festivals. Keeping aside the togetherness and the celebrations, it keeps us rooted to ourselves. Our inner self. The bustling streets speaks to a lot of our silent thoughts. At one point through all these, we try to find reasons to believe that the world is a good place to live in. It takes us to those lanes where we used to be way different from what we are now. How things changed. Good and bad. How your decisions and choices made you surround yourself with your present reality. How you have fallen in and out of love. How we thought we will not be able to move forward in our lives without the presence of something and someone.How the definition of festivals and holidays kept changing with time and plans. But here we are now, counting days to let go and gather new hope.

We human beings as we age and things make to start sense, we grow three faces. the first one is what we try to project ourselves to the world around to continue being the social animal. The second one is what we try to make ourselves believe about what we might be or at least wish to be. The  third is the one that is  the most honest face and the one that we avoid and hide from ourselves. Our inner self. Every moment of our lives the second and the third faces are fighting numerous wars to find that winning spot in our minds. Like you know the times we look at ourselves in the mirror and we think we are ugly. But if you look deep down it is not the face. It is the lack of feeling content of what you have and being jealous of others makes us look ugly.

It is just like the festivals. The first one is like all the celebrations that we see around us. The ideas of  indulgences change with the time to fit in. What stays with us are those little moments of reminisce where we found happiness for something which did not have a facade. That is just like the third face which now struggles to keep up and stay as a stronger memory than the new ones which are more fresh.

Everyday we keep disguising our needs with what the world wants to see in us. For that we keep counseling ourselves into thinking that we are valid. We fight the social stigmas and shaming by tricking ourselves into a standard idea of perfection.  At the end of the day, it is just you on your bed. The deep breaths before you fall asleep. That little moment of silence in your mind before you doze off. That is when you find your inner self with an answer that if you are happy or not!

We are just few weeks away from yet another year. Yet another time to indulge into celebrations. In the midst of all these let us try to do more things for that third face. Let us just promise ourselves that we will work on ourselves for a happier heart.

Happy holidays!

As Shakespeare said…..

“Seeing is believing.”

Believe what you see.

Your mind sees too.

Your mind sees dreams.

Believe in them.

We talk so much about dreaming big. While kids and their ideas of what they want to be when they grow up are always given attention, little do we understand that these are mere reflections of the lessons learnt in school. Lessons supported with pictures help them to inspire. That little thin book with a picture of an astronaut or a pilot or a doctor gives a new path to those kids to take the first step to dream. To think that he or she can be the person in the picture too. He or she can save the world too. He or she can set a goal. Yes, people it is all about how we picture ourselves that helps us to set goals.

Goals are nothing but your intuition that makes you feel that you can take a stand for your decisions or ambitions. It can be anything. From what you plan to do for a living to daily routines. Everything that you feel strongly that you will want to achieve is a goal.

I used to be quite a social person in my college days. Then I started working. I was still that same butterfly. One who loved being loud and going to parties. The melting make up. The sweaty shiny party dresses (shorter and tighter the better, of course!). The booming music vibrated till all the water from my brain was sucked out and gave me the infamous hangover headache the next morning.  Well it did not matter much then. I was proud of myself, instead. I mean I was the queen bee, hello! 313261_163230623764134_722157495_nBut much that I loved the life I had back then, there were few things which I loved more than all of that. At the back of my mind I always had different plans for myself and this part of my life never tallied with any of my plans. I tried to look for reasons of this dissatisfaction but to no avail.  

I still remember I was in the United States. It was the summer of 2011. I was in Maine. Oh! How much I love that place. The rocky coastline, the Atlantic chill and not to forget the food! I traveled to Maine to visit the village of Ogunquit. I am in love with that part of America. The county feel is too deep to get over it. The suppers by Perkins Cove, the Capriccio festival, the summer beach, the cutest little gift shops, the tempting lobsters and I can just go on. I went there and again played my social butterfly card quite generously. Since I planned to stay there for the entire summer, I had to find ways to live my nightlife with the same zeal. Soon I made friends over there with a high school couple who were locals over there. They introduced me to few of  “my kinda” people and in few days of moving in the new place I was on a roll. Weekends were definitely like what we call now LIT AF!! I started meeting even more people and made my own little kingdom there. Life was good. Awesome!

On July 4th, I went out for dinner in some eatery in the downtown area with my new friends. As we left, we thought of taking a walk a little ahead the downtown area. The weather was promising as hell. It added to the celebration state of mind. As everyone was busy chattering and ranting about their bosses at work, we came across this really old building. It said Free Memorial Library. I have always been a huge Harry Potter fan. As you can clearly see the architecture, it took me straight from the muggle world to the Hogwarts dorms. I just had to get in there. Few of my friends also joined. The rest walked towards the beach. The library goers decided to meet them in a while after we checked the new found spot of real fantasy. And my my, was it a dream? Yes, it was.217748_104242936329570_4830967_n The inside of the building breathed Gothic architecture from all corners. The tall  shelves, the lofty ladders to reach the topmost shelf, the thick Renaissance furniture, the smell of the books. The place had so much of history. It had its own timeline that had so many stories to tell. Suddenly a sign of peace hit me hard. It was a different feeling which I could not unfold for sometime. But it was definitely something that made me visit the library almost every alternate days for the rest of the summer I was in Ogunquit. 

 

The books made me feel pleasant about my life. There was not any hullabaloo or exchange of unnecessary ideas. No hangovers, no headaches. No loud music, no loud talks. Neither did I judge nor was I judged by people. I realized may be this is what bothered me so much. If I am not part of the crowd, the crowd will judge me and I will be left alone. May be the feeling of isolation scared me from doing things that I actually loved. To read. To write. To stay motivated. It was a revelation!229020_104243079662889_3131602_n

I was floating like a fluid body with insecurities and no affirmations. Even after I realized that I need to get rid of my bad habits to focus on my life, it was not a matter of a moment. Let me tell you, the whole shift from that person to this person who is writing the blog took seven years to overcome something which I did not even like to do. Too much of letting yourself loose becomes an addiction and it really does not help to stay motivated. You become lazy to stay motivated and actually look for one goal. From the time I realized that party season is over, I made it point to revamp my thoughts completely and work towards a better life. It was my goal. And I can now proudly say that I achieved it after seven years. There were times when I had no idea what am I trying to do with my life. I cut off friendships and later feel horrible about it. I started to avoid association which did not lead me towards my goal. Sometimes I gave up and went back to the way I did not want to walk again. With the guilt in my mind, I shook off my urges to let that airhead version of me go away. Years went by but I did not let myself forget those seven months that made me realize the type of person I am or I should be if I want be fair to my life. 

This might seem like just another motivational story that we come so many times nowadays. I am not trying to motivate or convey any strong message. My point is I kept believing what I saw in front of me from the time I had the library encounter on the 4th of July. I kept seeing myself in a position where I will have time to do things that actually makes me happy. Read books. Write articles, stories, etc. I had to get back to my old self which I was in my school days. I made my conviction even stronger by going back to the journals that I wrote as a teenager. I read through the pages to remind myself how I  always wanted to have a strong voice and engage into public speaking. It reminded me of how I see myself as an author when I grew up. Going back to this good past triggered my conscience. It made me believe in who I am and how I saw myself standing in my life eventually. debo1.jpg

You see this is the exact marketing skill that companies use to sell their products. Industries are flourishing and flocking based on this simple thought. What you see you believe. So it better be a sale-able sight enough to push those exact buttons that makes you need and want that product. And from a life’s perspective, you should always place yourself in that exact position in your mind where you want see yourself. That is like an affirmation to yourself that you can get what you want. 

It’s very basic and not a very rare thing to do. Keep surprising yourself everyday!