January 26, 2010

{Not giving up is the only recipe for change}

Life has been very frantic the last few days. Raka is the final stretch of her Junior year, and I am getting more and more used to her coming to the kitchen in her PJs, with a lost look and her hair all messed up as she immerses heavily into academics. Food and hugs are all she needs and I have lots of both to offer. Seeing her huddle with her friends on occasional study groups helps me realize that this is a completely new generation.  They are happy. They are goofy and strange, unless it is time for them to be serious. They care about each other and the world they live in. And they are not afraid to be different and express their feelings and opinions.

I have been amazed by the determination to be happy expressed by the youth of today. As I was thinking all of these things, I got this video called Lost Generation forwarded to me, created for the AARP U@50 video contest. I was not sure what to expect. 

Fortunately I opened it. Of course it is a very creative message, but what touched me was the fact that this new generation is aware of the challenges they face and their determination that they will make the world a better place. Wow! I am glad that they think this way. For us older folks, (just kidding) we should not be barriers, we need to get out of the way to let them make the world a better place.

January 12, 2010

{No Cookies for Oprah! Sorry!}

The last week was a transition week with Raka and I both returning from India and immersing back into our daily routine.  For me the immersion was easy as I work at my own pace.  But for Raka, bad jet-lag made her return less than smooth. She had finals scheduled within a week of school reopening, she needed to connect with all her friends, and resume her cross-country training. Compared to her, my life is simple.

As her finals start today, yesterday I made "the cookie" for her finals.  This time the theme was oranges.  The cookie dough had blended orange flavored chocolates that I have been collecting over the last few months and then I added a few tangerines too for texture.  The cookie was not a surprise as Raka has caught on by now and knew what I was up to.  As I was baking, she kept telling me how it was making the whole house smell nice and she could not wait to try the cookie. Finally at 3:15pm Sunday afternoon, I placed her cookie in front of her and within seconds she was digging into it. She had her glasses on, was still wearing her track pants, her hair was messy, and she had the rustic "studying very hard and focused" look.

Now came the hard part.  A few days back I discussed with my marketing team at work how to push the book forward.  One of the strategies we talked about was to target Oprah.  The plan was simple.  Send a big piece of the cookie to Oprah and tell her that she was getting this special cookie and connect it to the book.  From a buzz marketing point of view, I think this was a perfect plan.

But as I looked at the rest of the cookie on the baking tray, my thoughts changed.  Why Oprah?  No doubt she is a special person and has touched millions of lives across the planet, but is she the most deserved of the special "Raka cookie"?   Most probably the cookie would not even get to her and some intern would eat it.  And even if it got to her, could she truly appreciate the specialness of the cookie without reading the significance of the story?

As these thoughts rushed through my mind, I kept nodding my head as I realized that the targeting Oprah strategy was not in the true spirit of the book.  Why does she get this special cookie? Instead shouldn’t the slice of the cookie also go to Raka’s friends Priya and Rachael who are there for Raka every day?  And of course Surya, another friend of Raka's who is also a great friend who is always helpful and has a smile on his face.
So move over Oprah. No cookie for you, at least for now!

Priya, Rachel, and Surya thank you all for being such nice and caring friends to my Raka.

Good luck to all of you on your exams!

January 7, 2010

{Running Another Marathon? Maybe...}

Happy New Year!

Thank you for reading the blog.

This year I woke up on New Years Day started thinking what should be my goal for the year. I went through all the regular resolutions, e.g. eat better, work out, and other things, but nothing stood out. Then my thoughts went back to 2008 New Years Day when I decided to run my first marathon. I know, I know, those of you who know me well and know that I finished at nearly 15 min a mile pace, cannot call my adventure "running". But still, for a then nearly 44 year old to cross the finish line, to me that was an achievement of a lifetime.

But when I think back, the biggest moment that day was not finishing the marathon. As I sluggishly and with doubt and hesitation crossed the starting line, I had one thought in mind. My baby (she was 14 that time) will be at mile 22.5 waiting for me. I had done the math and my ETA to see my daughter was in four and half hours, or sooner if there was any tail wind. I am just kidding about the tail wind, but I really needed any “divine intervention” as referred to by Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction.

My legs were moving, hands too, and I was counting the miles to see Raka. After seventeen miles, when my body was fatigued, and even I could see myself running in slow motion, I was not sure if I could go any further. The maximum I had ever run before was nearly eighteen miles. So could I go further today? My mind was ready to call it a day when the answer came to me. The reason I could do it today is because Raka is waiting for me. She has been waiting for the last four hours waiting for her dad, in anticipation, with worry and full of patience. I could not let her down. Not today.

As all these self motivating and inspiring thoughts came to my mind, I realized the dreaded uphill had started. The next three miles and beyond to get to Raka would be toughest. Instead of a tail-wind, the “divine intervention” had thrown in a challenging head wind in my face. It felt like a dare. My thoughts went back to the days of corporate world when Raka always waited for me patiently. Yes, there were days I let her down. And the count of those let downs were more than a few. I am not proud of those days. But today is a different story. I told myself, “Raka’s dad, move your hands and your legs, as your princess is waiting.”

Raka did not wait at the marker we had planned. She had started walking towards me. When my tired eyes spotted her, I do not know how I found the energy to run towards her. She ran to me and we hugged. There was my baby, in my arms. “I made it Raka,” I told myself, “I did not let you down. Not this time baby.”

Those who saw Raka and I meet tell me that was one of the sweetest things they have ever seen. I nod my head and said, “yep, I know. I know because this time I did not give up.”

Yes, those of you who read the book know that Raka and I walked and eventually crossed the finish line.
As I think of that moment, I feel extremely greedy. Can I do it again? Is it in me to experience that moment of running to my daughter? I do not know, but as I start training, that is the moment I will be aspiring to reach.

Please wish me luck and a lot of tail wind. :)