Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Irony of Ireland

People in India will recollect about Savita Halappanavar, an Indian national, who passed away in Ireland in 2012 because of complexities arising out of her pregnancy. She was denied an abortion since it was illegal in Ireland. 

In my blog post titled "Abortion - The Bridge To Life" in May 2013, I discussed how her supreme sacrifice might help change the archaic law surrounding abortion in Ireland.

Fast forward to 2015.

The same Ireland has now voted to allow Gay Marriages. People across Ireland celebrated the "Yes" vote yesterday.

Ireland - They too have an opinion
And reflecting the bitter irony of our modern society, Ireland is still sticking to the age old law of not allowing abortions. 

Even today, abortion in Ireland is illegal unless it occurs as the result of a medical intervention performed to save the life of the mother. The risk to her life in these conditions, is often judgmental, resulting in risk to her health and possible loss of her life.

Hope this changes soon.


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Saturday, 23 May 2015

His Cage

This is dark.

His Cage
His Cage
~~~~
The cage was locked,
And the mind blocked.

The world was free,
Someone wanted to flee.

Feet locked to chains,
A white life with stains.

A simple soul slain,
His life in wane.

One fine summer day,
When everything was dull and grey.

The door opens a bit,
N he gets an idea to cheat.

Fluttering his small wings,
Cutting off the binding strings.

He resolved his strife,
Escaped from His Cage, His Life.
~~~~

P.S. The picture is carefully chosen to reflect a colorful bird, locked in a cage, with poignant thoughts in captivity. And the words are carefully chosen to explain his predicament.



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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Presentation Ideas

Experience is a valuable teacher.

Recently, I had the opportunity to be a part of a meeting which could have translated into a few million dollars of revenue. With such high amounts at stake, needless to say, putting in your best would be a must.

But then, human beings are known to falter. And falter we did, leaving me with a few lessons about presentations in such important meetings.

Presentation Ideas
Presentation Ideas

Print It Out
The scene went as below.

The beautiful presentation was projected on the wall for the entire audience. In some time, The audience started taking pictures of the presentation on the wall, with their i Pads, tablets etc. 

It was not an impressive sight, believe me.

A few print outs of the presentation, handed over to the audience, before the meeting would have ensured better focus on the meeting and made the audience more comfortable. 

To add, if the soft copy would have landed in their mail box before the meeting, it would be the icing on the cake.

Talk The Correct Language
How about speaking in Swahili in England, or Hindi in the US? It wouldn't break the ice.

Similarly, for business presentations, it would be important to talk the language (figuratively) which the audience wants to hear. Talk about them, their problems, how you can help them et al, rather than some generic ideas. 

Love happens when someone knows you understand them. Business, too, happens when you understand someone.

Feedback
Good old engineering days taught me about the importance for feedback for amplifiers. A well designed amplifier works on a sound feedback system.

Similarly, to amplify your vision and proposal, get an early feedback about your presentation and communication. 

A crisp 5 minute feedback break, cleverly structured in the presentation, can help you understand if you are on the right track and if you need any course correction.

Don't Defer Questions
The presentation often sparks interest among the audience, and they ask questions mid way. Don't defer them, telling the answer would be revealed in the coming slides. 

If a child studying in Class 1 asks his parents, "What is 10+ 12?", does the parent say, "Son, you will learn it in Class 2. Please wait".

Rather, provide a crisp answer then and there itself. A fulfilled mind is much better than one which is struggling with unanswered questions.

The Ticking Clock
Nothing is worse than a ill timed presentation. If you have 2.5 hours with the audience, complete your talking within in 1.5 hours. 

Keep the rest of the time (at least 33% of the total time) open to the floor to ask questions, discuss ideas, understand challenges, and showcase your real skills.

Too much content resulting in a time spill over would prevent you from gaining valuable first hand insights.

Summary

Often, in such important meetings, you have one chance to make an impact. A few hours to pitch in your organisation for a new deal. A few moments to create an everlasting impression.

These were some of my leanings, or my interpretations from the interesting meeting. Hope they are helpful for someone facing similar situations.


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Monday, 11 May 2015

Postcards from Bruges Belgium

The city of Bruges was recently made popular among Indians by the movie PK. I got the opportunity to visit Bruges recently.

An hour from Brussels, train is a very convenient way to reach Bruges. After reaching the railway station, you can travel around in local buses or on foot.

Catch out some postcards from Bruges.

We first visited the Boudewijn Seapark in Bruges. 

A nice place for kids, it had many forms of entertainment which could keep the kids occupied for an entire day.

The tickets were priced expensively at 9 Euros for toddlers, 21 Euros for children and 23 Euros for adults.. The entry was free for kids shorter than 85 cm.

Bruges Pink Trees
Bruges Pink Trees

Tree Lined Park
Tree Lined Park

With fun-filled water games, slides, sea lion and dolphin shows, and seals for company, it is worth the money. 

Bruges Dolphins in Action
Bruges Dolphins in Action

Bruges Majestic Dolphins
Bruges Majestic Dolphins

Later, visiting the main city, the true beauty of Bruges came to fore. Beautiful canals, and tree lined cycling paths make it look serene.

Bruges Canal
Bruges Canal

Bruges Beautiful Tree Lined Cycle Paths
Bruges Beautiful Tree Lined Cycle Paths

The town itself is very idyllic, a far cry from the mad urban rush.

Bruges Quiet Old City
Bruges Quiet Old City

The Church of Our Lady towered over the city.

Church of  Our Lady Bruges
Church of  Our Lady Bruges
Church of  Our Lady Bruges
Church of  Our Lady Bruges
This interesting museum - Museum of Torture - caught my eye.

Bruges Museum of Torture
Bruges Museum of Torture
Visitors can take a trip around the city in boat trips. But make sure you reached the starting point well before 5.30 PM, the start time of the last trip. We missed it by a whisker.

Bruges Canal Boat Trips
Bruges Canal Boat Trips
And yes, the old town square was vast. I could get this snap before my battery could not go any longer.

Bruges Town Square
Bruges Town Square

Overall, Bruges is a good place to visit. If you visit the sea park, time may be short to explore the city, and you may need to stay overnight to visit the interesting places around Bruges.


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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Career of Evil - Cormoran Strike

Yes, she will be back soon. Or is it he?

I am talking about Robert Galbraith, who is no one but JK Rowling writing under a pseudo name. Her next book in the Cormoran Strike series, will be released in the autumn (fall) of 2015.

Titled - Career of Evil - the book will be sought after by millions of Rowling fans over the world.

In true Rowling style, she made a mysterious opening to the book, asking fans to guess the title. And yes, one lucky fan did guess it correctly.

Career of Evil
Career of Evil

Follow the release of the book here.


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Saturday, 2 May 2015

Quote Factory

Reflections
Don't run. Stop. Pause. Reflect. Discover yourself.
~~ YT

Guilt is a treasure. Always hidden. Never revealed.
~~ YT

Designations make me wonder about the purpose of life.
~~ YT

In the history of time, my existence is incidental.
~~ YT

You often cherish what you don't have. You often ignore what you have.
~~ YT



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I Am Malala - Book Review

It has been a while since I actually started reading "I am Malala". Work caught up with my reading mid-way. And finally, after a few weekends of dedicated reading, I managed to complete the book.

Needless to say, Malala's story is inspiring.

I hope you are not wondering, "Malala Who?". For those of you who are not connected, Malala Yousafzai is the joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2015. All of 17, she is the youngest winner of the award.

Malala came to be known across the world when she was shot by the Taliban in her native Swat valley in Pakistan, for speaking up in favor of education of girls. After some initial important treatment in Pakistan, she was air lifted to the UK, where she made her amazing recovery. At the tender age of 16, she made a speech at the UN General Assembly and later won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

I am Malala
I am Malala
The book, written in first person by Malala, along with Christina Lamb charts her life from the day she was born. She speaks about her father and mother living in difficult conditions, and raising three children, she and her two brothers, with the highest morals.

She talks about her simple life, a far distance from the privileges of the western world. She talks about the pristine Swat Valley, a place otherwise known as a terrorist hot bed for people outside Pakistan. She talks about her girly adventures with the pals, and her playful days with her brothers. She talks about her love for Bollywood.

Importantly, she narrates her and her father's endeavor to promote and sustain the education of girl children in Pakistan. She talks about the three schools run by her father in Swat, including a school for girls. She talks about life under Taliban, and life as an displaced citizen due to the Talibanisation of her city.

With the Taliban raising its ugly head in Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks, girls were prompted to stop going to school. Yet, her father continued to run these schools with fierce determination. Both he and Malala spoke to lengths about the importance of schooling for girl children. This mission earned her the Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize. 

She also wrote an anonymous blog on BBC, speaking about life under Taliban. All these aspects are well covered in the book.

Her determination invited the Taliban's wrath, leading to the monstrous attack on her. She survived, got well, and earned multiple awards for her bravery.

The book is an inspiring account of her life. Although a bit slow to start with, the book is more than the story of the attack on her life . The book may have a grammatical mistakes, but I would suggest you turn a blind eye to them. The book offers much more. The book is about her life, her simplicity, her bravery, her fear and her determination. 

It's a must read for anyone who loves stories about life.

P.S. At the fag end of the book, she writes :- "Malala, I don't understand why you are famous. What have you done?"

P.S.2. 10 people responsible for attacking her were sentences to life imprisonment a few days back.

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