Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cooked with Love!

I love food and enjoy a delicious meal eaten in leisure with family and friends around the table. We do this every Sunday afternoon when our family and the extended family get-together at our home after church. Most of us look forward to this time of the week when we can relax and enjoy the food and fellowship. What makes the Sunday Lunch a success is the amazing ability the lover of my life has, to rustle out mouth watering dishes in a jiffy! Being a busy professional, she normally has no time to cook but in the weekends and when we have guests, Bina takes over the kitchen from the housekeeper and waves her magic wand!

During the week the house keeper uses Bina's recipes to feed us but it never comes out like Bina's signature dishes. Often when Bina is home, our children request her to do a makeover of what the housekeeper has produced. Being a very kind hearted soul, she never says 'No'. Even after a hard day’s work when such requests come she breezes into the kitchen chops some onions, cuts a couple of green chillies and gets to work with whatever other magic ingredients she uses to create those 'Wow' dishes.

Recently our housekeeper took off for a week and Bina took over the kitchen as she had a break from her tight schedule. I just loved it, for every meal that she cooked and served us was a delight! After a week of this Tasty, appetising, Scrumptious, Yummy, luscious, delectable, mouth-watering offerings I asked my love, what her secret was and she responded with a smile, "It is Cooked with Love!" Suddenly it dawned on me that yes, it is indeed cooked with love and that is what gave her the edge. Beside the talent, when she gets into the kitchen she puts her whole heart and mind to create something extraordinary for her loved ones. For her there is nothing called 'just another dish' in her vocabulary . . . she strives to make everyone of her creation, finger licking good for her Raj and our three precious children.

The lesson for me from that conversation was the fact that if we put our heart and mind into everything that we do, we are bound to delight our Customers. Total dedication and commitment is what produces excellence!

I praise and Thank God for Bina and for her many talents. We are fortunate to have her and We Rejoice!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Treasure Chests

It all depends how you define treasure, if it is to do with Gold, Silver, Precious Stones or Money, you will be disappointed with this post. For me treasure is what money can't buy . . . I treasure many memories that are priceless from the time I was a little child. I hold on to those memories or special moments because it touched me and shaped me. In addition it also brings back the Joy I experienced at that point of time.

These memories cover my growing years with my family, extended family, friends, Schools, Colleges, vacations, festivals and even at work. At times some of these memories get triggered by an incident or when I get together with people who co-created those memories. I also revisit these memories by design and come away refreshed and rejoicing. The process is simple . . . from a very early age I collected and preserved some physical item related to a particular memory. These are stored in boxes and all that I needed to do is to open a box to visit the memory! Of late the boxes are overflowing and I am in the process of finding bigger quarters for the memory objects also called ‘Raj's treasures’!

There are photographs, badges, letters, books, cards, plates, souvenirs, paper fans, Menus, Match Box etc. There is also a very special shirt which one of my teams gave me in recognition of the value I added to them. Another one is a Prefect's badge belonging to a school prefect- The girl I fell in love with and eventually made her my life partner. The badge takes me down the rich memory lane of our getting to know each other and falling in love forever.

Visiting the memories also reminds me of what determination and prayer can achieve. There were enumerable times when I set out on some really impossible Goals wondering if I was taking on more than I can bite but in the end Success was mine even if it was through failures!

My heart goes out to those who gave me these memory treasures or co created it with me and I have begun to ask, "Am I creating great memories for others so that they too may enjoy visiting them in times to come?” If we can create memorable occasions for others, it will be a great tribute to those who gave us such priceless treasure of memories.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Objects Of Beauty!

As I travel around the world, I get excited to see how mundane day to day utility items from the past and even present has been preserved and exhibited so creatively. The wagon in this visual displayed in Haandorf village, near Adelaide, South Australia is one example. I also found a small old car in one of the traffic islands in Sydney used as a plant stand. The car minus the engine and bonnet has been preserved well and colourful flowering plants grow out of where the engine once resided. Across the world there are many more examples of such creative and beautiful display of things that touch your heart and are a feast to the eye. Every time I see such a display I rejoice that in our busy world there are people who still think outside the box and delight fellow citizens or the tourists. My heart fills with gratitude to the people behind the initiative . . . The idea person who thought of it first, the team of people who actually installed it and finally the caretaker who lovingly looks after it and takes special care day after day to preserve it. Unfortunately these are unsung heroes who do not get any recognition and yet they toil on with their mission.

One might be tempted to dismiss them with the thought that it is their job or they are paid for it etc. Even if they are employees in the rolls of the city council I strongly feel that just doing their job would not result in an object of beauty. I have also seen in some cities various displays that just stand there with an apology either because it is poorly executed piece of work or has been forgotten by its caretakers and is grounded in dirt. Such exhibits clearly tell you that it is the handiwork of those with 'I just work here' attitude.

That brings me to the thought that every output of ours is a show piece, be it a financial statement, a project report, a dish, a product, service offering etc. It is meant for the delight of someone and that person who uses our output will only be delighted if we create it passionately with all our heart. I believe that our purpose in life is to use our talents to create show pieces or offerings that add value to our customers and delight them.

I have started taking a call on what I do, to make sure that I am not just meeting deadlines and creating outputs that meet the minimum requirement of utility. I want to make sure, what I create are Objects Of Beauty!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Joy Of A New Day !

Are you excited when you wake up in the morning? I for one love waking up and realising that I have been given the gift of another day. . . A full day to touch lives, add value and fulfil the purpose of my life. Not only that with every new day, we get another opportunity to be different, to mend our ways and make this world a better place to live in!

The rut sets in when we take each day for granted and believe that there is an unlimited supply of days in our life. Having something in abundance is always a problem as we either get bored with it or look for other attractions that we think can bring us more excitement. It is true that given the life expectancy of at least 70 years for a healthy person, you should have 25, 550 new days in your life! Now that is a lot but the tragedy is that the supply runs out fast and many only becomes conscious of the gift of a new day in their golden years waiting to meet their maker. Others start appreciating this gift when they come to know that all of the 25550 days was not meant for them because of some deadly decease that they have been diagnosed with.

Fortunately for me I have been conscious of the 'Present' that I get every morning as I wake up. I tell myself “Wow it is a new day" and get all excited about the immense possibilities that the new day brings. Each day is precious and waking up is a Joy! On week days I have trained myself to jump out of the bed as soon as I wake up. Having got a gift I want to unravel it and not stay in bed merely looking at it. After the morning cup of tea, quiet time and the other rituals I am ready for work by 8 AM and all excited to use my gift. Having started well, my day goes well. I do face challenges and pressures that can derail my day but I don't allow my negative thoughts to turn into feelings of hurt and act in a manner that I regret later or wreck my gift.

Over the years my audience in the various forums, where I speak have challenged me to tell them how anyone can appreciate a new day, if they have nothing to look forward to or if they are stuck in a coercive relationship, boring job etc. My response has always been about changing our mindset. Surely we need to find things to do that we love and are passionate about and have relationships that rock, but the key is to focus on our purpose in this world. Self centred activity will bloat the ego but selfless pursuit to add value to others or make this world a better place to live will fill you with Joy and make you look forward to every day.

Who knows, with the change of mindset the Joy that fills your heart from selfless activities may soon transform your relationships and your uninteresting jobs! So rejoice that the sun rises every day and we get the gift of a new day!

Monday, March 29, 2010

It is Broken but I will take it!

The other day I was at the grocery checkout patiently waiting for my turn when I overheard the cashier at the next checkout counter pointing out to the customer that one of the 12 eggs that the Customer had picked up and packed was broken. The Customer to my surprise said it did not matter and requested for billing the same. The cashier offered to get one of his colleagues to pack a fresh set of 12 eggs and even called out to his colleague but the customer was adamant and paid for the 12 eggs he had packed with the broken egg. Why would anyone want to carry home a broken egg? Besides being a wasted effort it would also add work in terms of cleaning up the other 11 eggs!

I couldn't get an answer immediately but a few seconds later I realised that I had just witnessed an act of integrity and selflessness. The Customer held himself responsible for the breakage and wanted to pay for the egg. When he packed it, it was good but the heavy potato bag which went over it in the trolley may be the culprit. You might say "well he could have paid for an extra egg and taken the offer of a fresh set. That is where his selflessness came through. He did not want to put additional burden on the staff or fellow shoppers by slowing down the line while they get him a fresh dozen.

Contrary to this the same evening a movie that I was watching showed the heroine drop and break a glass doll accidentally in the supermarket. She looked around, seeing that no one had seen her, picked up the broken pieces, balanced it together and left it on the display counter and walked away!

As I mulled over the two incidents the focus turned to me and the question that got my attention was, "what would I do?”. In the first instance I think I would take the offer of the cashier to have the egg replaced justifying myself that I did not wilfully break the egg. In the second instance, I would bring the broken doll to the attention of the staff and offer to pay for it.

I was not very proud of myself . . . I wished that I could be like the Customer with the broken egg. An egg does not cost much but then integrity is not based on the value involved but rather it is a practice, every day practice that makes it a way of Life! This incident opened my eyes and challenged me to take my integrity quotient to the next level . . . Integrity in all dealings even if the value involved is negligible!

I Salute the customer for his high level of integrity and rejoice that we have people like him a light to others!