Monday 29 June 2020

They Learn What You Do, Not What You Say

He lives alone in Bengal while his sons, who do care about him, live away – in different cities/ countries due to their work and career needs. He will be 79 this August. I call him sometimes and talk for a while. On purpose I speak about good old days when we used to have family gatherings every weekend with music, food and the famous Bengali Adda. He now often talks about missing aunt’s food, someone he lost to cancer a couple of years back.

Why is he in this situation at this age?

While parenting children, something that most parents miss teaching is every pursuit is not about achieving, some pursuits are about giving, a few more are just about living.

I saw my father return to Bengal because he missed his siblings who were in Kolkata, and most important reason was he will be able to see my 82 year old grandmother more frequently. Due to rheumatism or a particular body ache, she could not stay in Bangalore with us. It became severe in the city’s weather condition. My father got himself a transfer to Bengal in his mid- forties, moved to sales office, though he was from technical background.

He died a happy man, with many friends and family around him, unlike his friend who is lonely in an apartment spending most of his waking hours on zoom and SKYPE with children.

Every year, we spent either summer vacation or Durga Puja in Calcutta with uncle, aunt and cousins both from maternal and paternal side. That was a huge learning – Family matters. Relationships matters. Home matters. Roots matter.

My career took me to Bangalore again. After 15 years in this city, which I call my second home I returned to Bengal, almost following the footsteps of my father.

Returning home is a choice we both prioritized over other aspirations and pursuits.

The only difference was he had got himself a transfer and I had quit my job.

What do we see now?

Earlier it was about imposing parent’s aspiration on children to pursue engineering or medical or computer, regardless of learner’s interest and today it is about aligning children’s achievements to their own vanity metrics.

In my study and research on alternate models for learning, while it is a great idea to expose children to new learning styles, however getting children to learn things we adults do for a living is probably a terrible idea.

You often see in these viral video a three year old copying adult mannerisms, speaking to camera - they are taught to do that. It is different when a child sings, dances, acts because the child enjoys this expression more than school and studies. However to use children as props in political campaign advertising, videos, social causes as part of some activism movement is not about their learning at all - It is all about you, using their age to garner attention to your agenda and content.

We all witnessed children being used with hoarding stuck to their chest during anti CAA protests.

Don’t we have a lot of adults now taking orders from children? We get rebuked by a Swedish teenager for not acting fast and challenged for inaction

How many of us realize that this is the lowest form of persuasion? If this does not stop now, we are actually getting the children into a high stress competition not with their peers but with adults. How dangerous can that be? This needs to stop, now.

If working in a glass factory or a restaurant at the age of ten is child labor, having teen CEOs talk to media or getting a child to hold a placard to drive social causes in the streets is equally harmful to the child's welfare.

Do we need to make a child hold a placard on #Recycle #Reuse for media coverage? The scope of alternate learning is to simply ensure, the child practically learns to recycle and reuse in real life.

Spare the child from your pet projects - video making, arm chair activism, podcasts, YouTube, media as the young one has a right to childhood just like you had. Just because they are born in the digital era, does not mean that is their play ground.

If parents think their children are growing faster, displaying above average intelligence, learning things faster by working in live adult projects, there is a high possibility when the child grows up, you are likely to have a great deal of explanation to do, when he asks why his childhood memories so different from others.

The 79 year old is in touch with his children - alone but connected. 

As adults, when the children look back and realize how they were used by parents in the name of learning, that realization may or may not make him want to contact you. A clear sense of treachery and a poor bargain for the child is so obvious.

After all what they truly learn, is not what you lecture them on but what you practice.

Author's Areas of Interest:

Education Inequity; Housing for Poor; Home as Enterprise; Alternate learning and earning models, awareness on Dementia

Thursday 28 May 2020

My Lock down Learning in 30 Days..

It is hard to believe that we are nearing 70 days of Lock down.

Initially it felt just like another holiday. The prevailing thought was I can relax and complete my pending domestic chores. Somehow the repeated extension of the lock down, though expected by all came to me like a bolt from the blue as I was not mentally prepared. I began to worry about future if this continues. Will I end up cooking, sweeping and wiping the house?

A New Journey Began!

Honestly, the thought landed in my mind quiet suddenly. I felt the urge to do something new apart from usual routine work. I wanted to up skill myself. I wanted to be well versed with Social Media Management and Digital Marketing which I thought I could learn easily, at this age, without even going out or seeking a mentor or coach

Social Media Management

Though learning has no age, but I still feel out of place if I have to go out and learn anything new. With my sister and son’s guidance I opened Twitter and Instagram account. I slowly learnt and began to post something relevant. I was not even aware of Hash tags which I am slowly able to capture. Believe me it is really interesting. Though I have not learnt fully, but I am sure, with some more time I will.
My key learning has been not in opening social media accounts but in identifying the theme I wanted to associate my learning and online profile with – Go Digital!


I learnt Canva and prepared a Twitter cover page saying exactly that – Go Digital.

Template from Canva

I prepared slides of a presentation that had to be uploaded in YouTube. My confidence slowly began to soar.

The first one I did was a face book poster with content provided – This was to test my aesthetic sense. Learning indeed!

Content Writing

I had to write 750 words content / script for a YouTube video based on which I made the Canva Slides.

 Voice Over

After a few revisions of the draft, I had to do voice over for the final script. This was the easiest learning, just to read it aloud, but of course it took me more than an hour for just a five minutes voice over. You know why, I was just stammering in between, missing out lines etc.


I created a resume template in WIX which was a single page. I am yet to learn WIX properly and create sub-pages to establish my work portfolio and persona doing justice to my decades of experience in various capacities.

Mail Campaign

I watched YouTube on Mail Campaign done by another intern from this learning community, created account in Mail Chimp. I just sent a test mail and I have not done any campaign practically. Unless I do it for a real time project, I just cannot confirm if I have learnt it right. I have started though


The first draft of this blog was terrible. I received 650 words feedback which is longer than the length of my blog. Phew!

I was supposed to write about my 30 days digital internship experience so that others benefit from reading it. What I did instead was repeat the content of YouTube script, rephrased some sections explaining how I did quality check for a white paper which was all about learning  just one task – Quality Check through web research

I missed the main aspect of blogging- the sequence of content. It was rightly pointed out to me that the video script would go with images and my voice while the blog has just words and therefore to retain attention span of target readers, the themes had to be presented differently.

In the second draft I wrote my personal journey in a conversational tone, created sub headings and wrapped up that draft in 553 words. The word count of the final blog is over 1000 words.

After edit when I do the Maths of final count of words, I can see the feedback got incorporated.

Story board

Writing content for two separate output format - video and blog makes this learning the most important – Story boarding - how to sequence, emphasize key themes, and ensure each reader has a take away. 

Track Changes in Word

I always used to think, I can type with utmost speed in word document. In fact I can challenge anyone for Typing speed, but had my vanity fairly bruised when I did not know the simplest thing in Word called Track Changes which I learnt during this lockdown, while preparing content for video script

Virtual Meetings

I conducted virtual meetings through Zoom. In my professional career I have provided secretarial and executive assistance to senior official and organized several offline meetings. Conducting virtual meeting was a great learning for me to invite others for meeting/ learning sessions/ discussion through a link, at the switch of a button, regardless of geography.

I prepared minutes of the meeting for my future reference.

Online Research

This one was live project for my Kinesthetic learning with definite time frame – 48 hours. I had to research and quality check content of a whitepaper that was supposed to be submitted to the Ministry pertaining to financial sector which was nowhere close to my domain. I had to self-learn from Google. At first, I was clueless what am I supposed to quality check, but I was determined to complete the assignment within the stipulated time.

I had issues in understanding the scope of work, working in laptop, unable to highlight, copy the links etc. however when I received a positive feedback, it was like Wow, I can do this easily provided you had the will.


For the past couple of decades, my reading was limited to spiritual books only. Now I read all kind of blogs pertaining to digital marketing, women empowerment, business and I personally think that is a giant leap forward. However I should still begin to effectively use the knowledge I gather by reading.

 Habitual Changes

During weekends or any holiday during pre COVID times, I used to never sit with a Laptop to learn or read, but during this Lockdown, I have consciously made these habitual changes, sitting with the Laptop on or before 10 am, just like office goers, to read, learn or do something new.

Forum Posting

I have identified blogs, proposed hash tags and posted in a face book page dealing with shelter, livelihood and construction.


Here I am just a beginner with merely four posts. In June I intend to focus on this and LinkedIn                    

Humble Beginnings

The simpler things I learn which is more important in the long run

1.     The big picture - What all this learning will tantamount to?
2.   Practicing brevity in writing mails because the most precious commodity today is people's attention span and one cannot afford to waste one's concentration with lengthy unnecessary details
3.   Time management  and work balance between home chores and learning productivity 
4.   One does not have to step out to add to our skills - Only a strong will counts
5.   Acknowledging mails, to keep the project leader posted about learning update
6.   How to appreciate the good work being done by different social media teams of large organization by liking, sharing and re tweeting effectively

A few things, I am yet to learn

1.     Self- learning or independent learning as I had to depend on my son
2.   I was not proactive and always needed external push, follow ups and validation for each work. In short I was not exactly self-driven. I needed reminders.

I am hoping this will change over time

After all this is just the first month – Have a heart!! When are you starting your learning journey?

Lastly, I would only like to say if I can, everyone can.

Author: Corporate Professional, Mother, Home Maker, Drape connoisseur

Wednesday 29 April 2020

TV Is Not the Idiot Box Anymore..

I was a little surprised when West Bengal Government chose to tie up with TV channels to stream live lectures for Class X and XII.

I hail from Andragogy background and I believed pedagogy will be all the more difficult with student's diminishing attention span and no participation. I had my doubts if this approach will be effective and will continue.

They even began junior classes and I was even more skeptical, if this was just an attention seeking exercise to flaunt what all ministry had done to continue education against all odds.

Image Design: Canva

I had my myth and doubts cleared when I sat through their English classes for fifth and sixth standard last Saturday. I practically took notes on what went well.

Well structured: It was combination of visual and auditory. The key words were explained even before the class started. It was to build on what students already knew or need to knew to understand the poem/ chapter better

Well Planned: The sequencing of the sessions was done in such a manner that it helps retention. The specific chapters are announced well in advance so that students can shoot their questions. One thing was not clear though - on what basis were the chapters selected? Was that based on the mails and calls they receive from students seeking clarifications in a particular subject, particular chapter or particular topic.

Well Prepared: The teachers were taking questions live over phone, video and also through mail. The responses, based on my understanding of the subject were apt - to the point, critical thinking driven and based on text.

Home Assignments: In order to ensure the students were engaged after the 30 minutes session and reiterate their learning, the teachers gave five assignments to dwell on the subject long enough to be thorough with it.

Questions from students: The quality of questions were both simple and critical. One or two questions were repetitive which kind of indicated that particular student was not attentive enough to take notes based on earlier response or re frame the question for more value add.

The positive thing was the student had to read the chapter in advance to have their questions ready before the session and follow it up with homework. In traditional classes, this level of preparation is slightly missing.

I can imagine the excitement of students to have their questions ready, being shown on TV and probably check with their friends, if that question helped in their learning.

Subject Teachers: They were knowledgeable and for detail explanation of certain topics, other subject teachers were connected live.

Moderator's role: She was not only summarizing and sharing practical relevance, her energy and the way she handled the questions within the stipulated time across channels was very well done.

The live lectures started with Class X and XII, then junior classes were added recently.

There was white board, a power point presentation, two teachers, some great interaction with students. 

When we were young and wanted to watch TV, we had to literally beg our parents, do our home work, cut down on play time just so that we got that small incentive.Today, parents will only be happy if children told they need to watch TV as they had a few doubts to clarify.

Times are changing. Are we ready to adapt?

Sunday 19 April 2020

How Can You Support Your Employers During This Crisis?

We all know, there is a lot of uncertainty now and we have no clarity, understanding or insight about how the future will be.

The lock down has lasted for almost four weeks. There are two more weeks to go or perhaps more. You may draw your salary in full or with a pay cut during these times. 

I presume most of you are already feel guilty about being paid without having to do any work for an entire month. And the reasons could be many - you probably do not have the required software in your home system or your job role is such that it cannot be executed from home or there could be data privacy issues for specific client projects.

Those of you who feel a sense of entitlement that they need to be paid for the good work they did so far, regardless of the crisis today or the looming question of business existence today - this blog is really not for them.

Social Media Support

The social media teams of most companies are active and posting amazing content. There is a lot of research, coordinating, designing, story boarding and thinking that goes behind those creative content. 

Most of you have desktop at home, laptop, mobile phones, tabs and internet.  The most you could do is spend an hour or so every morning to read, like and share the content that  your company's social media team posts on a daily basis. This is not about branding or any PR effort. This is basically using your own brand equity and social media currency to highlight the good work your company is doing to the rest of the world.

This sort of endorsement of employer's portfolio posted by employees in personal social media sites speaks volumes about the credibility of a company as a good employer and outweighs any employee satisfaction survey results.

Be genuine in your appreciation about what your company is doing for people, business and the communities.

Create Content

For those of you who are thinking that they are not good in business writing, the basic demand today is simple employee stories, their journey, their gratitude for all the opportunities or learning they have had in this company and their growth over the years to inspire others in the company who are not quiet that motivated and future aspirants who may want to join your company.

Make time to deep dive and find those moments. If you want to discard the idea thinking you never had any such moments during your tenure in the company, well in that case, it hints at your indifference towards your company throughout your association.

Even if you post a video about how you miss the monthly birthday parties in office, it creates imagery for those who were never part of that. The next time, you post, it may seem random but you know it has a purpose.

Social Media Channels

If you had this age old excuse that you were active on Face Book, Twitter, LinkedIn or Insta and cannot remember your pass word. 

Get all those channels activated now. You have all the time. 

Follow, tweet, retweet, share the good work your company is doing whether it is for business, for communities and for future. If you feel a sense of pride in that, you have probably created your profiles in these portals and started posting

Use Hash tags

This apparently seems simple to hash tag. How you use your hash tags will determine, how well the content reaches wider audience bringing traffic to your post.

Thank your employer

It is not easy for any employer, big or small, new or old, national or international to take those critical board room decisions - pay cut, lay off, restructuring, winding up but then it is a question of survival - Few versus all

If that communication has been made to you that there will be a 10% or 20% or 50% pay cut in the forthcoming months, respond to that mail with a very warm note:

Thank you for taking care of our welfare during  these troubled times. 
Isn't it always better that each one of us chose to bear a little so that  no one has to bear it all? We completely understand the need for the pay cut.
Regardless of our current roles and responsibilities, do let us know how we can support company's business outcomes and revenue from our respective homes, even if that means adding to our skills and taking up more work.
We are into this together and we will not only survive but thrive with our collective efforts. 
 I will be available during office hours on mail. 

I leave it on you to imagine the powerful impact of such a note on an employer, particularly if they are not a large corporation but a growing startup who is anxious about their existence if the lock down continues for indefinite period. This sense of belonging and moral support from an employee makes all the fight, war and struggle worthwhile.

Time Management

On a regular office day you  reach office by 9 AM. Is it different during lock down? Streamline that first.

Set some basic goals to enhance your productivity and constantly evaluate how you can support business goals and business outcomes from home.

If  you are in the daily whirl wind and the chaotic home atmosphere, distractions can affect your attention span, focus and concentration. That brings us to another key factor in your routine


Increases focus, concentration and attention. As David Lynch says “The thing about meditation is: you become more and more you”

This is not really the time to ask from your long term employer. This is the time to give, as much as possible. How can you possibly give anything to anybody if your attention span is severely challenged matter consequent to years of exposure to digital devices.

Switch them off and meditate. If you do not have adequate attention span, you will not be able to do anything discussed here for positive habit change.

Learn New Skills

Post COVID times  you will need them. You may want to improve your existing skills, say you are an expert in making presentation, learn how to make them on Canva or Prezi.

Find Your Tribe

When you call up a colleague to exchange pleasantries, boost each other’s confidence, share your routine, try and support just one more person at least gather strength, hope and stamina to battle this and emerge a winner. The community support goes a long way in this. 

It is your tribe, like minded souls, who will be your source of support and emotional bounce pad during this health and economic crisis

Support Sales, Strategy and Marketing Teams

You may check with your sales, strategy and marketing teams if they need any support in preparing presentations, communication strategy, fixing appointments with client, coordinating zoom calls or setting up a meeting - Anything you do to support these teams builds their internal lead pipeline.

It is about time to train your mind to do many things differently now, and if you have acquired skill, test them in live projects.

Senior Resources

High paying senior professionals in the organization can strike a deal by choosing to work contractually, keeping your seniority intact. It could drop earnings significantly however the professional can always acquire multiple clients, apart from the company.

Be Ready To Bounce Back

You have to create that mental resilience that you have will have to work ten times more, when you are back to work, whenever that is.

During this lock down just the way our cities are getting recharged, rivers are getting cleansed, low pollution in air, use this quiet period, this limited activity and movement time to ponder on how your support can make a difference - It is too early to measure impact but these little initiatives can be instrumental to build individual potential, team output, company revenue and country's economic restoration.

Now the onus is on you.

This phase shall pass.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Lesson Learnt In A Vegetable Market

Today, after ten days I went out to the vegetable market. We managed all these days with the reserve we had. Life is good - Simple, disciplined, organized and a predictable routine – Absolutely no complaints. I and my mother spent a considerable time watching the News channels, both Hindi (to know about COVID19 statistics in India and the world) and Bengali (to know about the figures in West Bengal).

I personally kept track of the numbers being affected, cured and expired from all the credible sources online. I even launched a YouTube channel just to call out citizens who are still slaves of old habits and thinking patterns, and risking other’s lives.

It is only yesterday I learnt – it was an abnormal behavior to remain glued to media channels. We both snapped out.

Yes, we also watched the TV channels flooding the news of migrant workers – homeless, hungry, tired, desperate to reach their families, rinsed with disinfectants as if they were non-living things and later fed, screened and sheltered.

We cannot even imagine how they are struggling with their fears of being affected, concerns about well-being and safety of their families who are worried about them in their native places and survival issues without income and too many uncertainties.

Just today, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has published about psychosocial issues among migrants during COVID-19 and how their mental well-being is equally important during this crisis:

Treat everyone migrant worker with dignity, respect, empathy and compassion
Listen to their concerns patiently and understand their problems
Recognise specific and varied needs for each person/family. There is no generalization.
Help them to acknowledge that this is an unusual situation of uncertainty and reassure them that the situation is transient and not going to last long. Normal life is going to resume soon.
Be prepared with all the information about possible sources of help. Inform them about the support being extended by Central Government, State Governments/ NGOs/ health care systems etc.
Emphasize on the importance of their staying in their present location and how mass movement could greatly and adversely affect all efforts to contain the virus.
Make them realize their importance in the community and appreciate their contributions for the society.
Remind them that they have made their place with their own efforts, acquired the trust of their employer, sent remittances to their families and therefor deserve all respect.
Reassure that even if their employer fails them, local administration and charitable institutions would extend all possible help.
Out of desperation, many may react in a manner which may appear insulting. Try to understand their issues and be patient.
If somebody is afraid of getting affected, tell them that the condition is curable, and that most recover from it.
Remind them that it is safer for their families if they themselves stay away from them.
Instead of reflecting any mercy, seek their support in the spirit of winning over the situation together.

Most of us are adapting to new life styles, prioritizing our choices, reflecting on earning models, soul searching to squash our own bloated egoes . I am hoping even the migrant workers will emerge stronger, emotionally resilient and fight back this crisis with all their might.

Now back to the vegetable market where I get the fodder for this blog.

The local market has chicken, fish, vegetable in abundance and sold through temporary make shift stalls on either side of the road. 

I picked two cabbages for Rs 12 each, for which the vendor initially demanded Rs 15, bitter guard Rs 10, Cucumber Rs 10, drumsticks Rs 10, Tomato Rs 10. Brinjal Rs 10 What I noticed was he was using a manual weighing balance and was not quite able to manage it. If he holds it the wrong way, it is my loss.

Initially I just bought the cabbage. When I asked for the drumsticks which is usually sold by count, he put them also in the weighing machine. Something about the way he catered to this whole thing was not routine or normal.

He kept saying that he brought them fresh from the farms. As he continued to struggle with the balance, I asked him to hold it right to which he responded - I am basically a caterer and everything is shut during lock down. I am doing this for the past three days. 

Paradigm shift. I had little patience for his fumbling with the machine. Now I had respect.

He is faster than most of us are. He may have learning difficulties with new equipment or probably a sales pitch (the only pitch he knew was that he had brought them from the farms) however he has no mental inertia to respond to a crisis and switch over to an altogether different line of business.

To encourage him I told, this is a better avenue than catering which is seasonal (Typical me) - He agreed however sitting whole day to get everything sold bothered him.

I hope the migrant workers and many more contractors (both physical and knowledge) can build, not just their physical immunity but their mental ability to secure their future by focusing on their overall potential instead of just their current productivity.