Unexpectd lie

Well, this is something that happened on March 3, 2011. I could not publish this at the time because I could have been in serious trouble with my company. But, I did write this on March 17, 2011 and scheduled this for a year later.

On March 3, 2011; I was scheduled to fly to US for the second leg of my assignment that started in July 2010. Since July 2010, there has been a lot of unrest within me and with my family over my travel. Of course, I had never been away from home for more than week, this was for about a year when it started. Now, it had come down to 5 months until July 2011 when my assignment ended.

However, I got ready with bags packed and everything. Dad and Preeti (my wife) accompanied me to the airport. I left my daughter home crying because she wanted to go with us to the airport. It was late in the night so no point bringing her along. She was 3 years back then and did not really understand that her Dad was going away for a longish period and she would only be able to talk on phone or a video chat.

I had left home in a state of flux and unrest, but this time it was more than what it was in July 2010. As I was driving to the Airport, everyone was silent and thinking something. I knew what I was thinking – “What can I do that this trip can be canceled?”.

As we were walking from the Parking I popped a question to Preeti – “Can we manage our household in case I do not go and get fired?” She was not sure. However, we continued to deliberate on this. We reached the Gate and then I asked the same question to Preeti and Dad. And next 20 minutes were hay-wire. Eventually the following happened:

We decided to cancel the trip and communicate on medical grounds to my boss. To safeguard my position, we spoke to Amit and Aparna who recommended that we go to a hospital and report the situation and get a medical certificate of the checkup. We started our trip back to the hospital and my dad called up Krishna and informed him about the same.

However, the events for the evening were not to end there. When we reached the hospital and I had my blood pressure measured (I have been recording a high BP for a week now); it was 160/110. And it was alarming. Eventually, the doctor suggested an ECG; which came to be normal. I was recommended some medicines and I came back home.

Since, then there has been a lot of thinking around should I go or not. The Blood pressure eventually normalized. I guess it was because of anxiety for last few weeks. These two weeks gave me time to think what to do and also to search for various jobs and see if there are opportunities for elsewhere to find.

I have never done this in my entire career and it took a lot of courage to do it; however it never went away and until now this comes back to haunt me – like I did something wrong.

I do not know, if what I did was wrong or right. It seemed right for my family. I am not sure, if it can be right for someone, if it started as being wrong.

P.S.: If you are wondering what happened after that, that is a story for another day.

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Coming home – part 2

If you are interested in reading how the first half of the trip went read this post here.

After waiting for more tan 5 hours at the Chicago Airport, I finally boarded the flight to New Delhi. The boarding was quick and timely; but as we waited in the Aircraft for 30 minutes, the Captain announced that there was structural damage in the Cargo and it was being inspecte. After a while, we were informed that the damage was not that bad and they will not use the cargo hold (which was damaged); but it is safe to fly. It was a relief that this flight would not be cancelled, but there was a nagging worry about the structural damage. However, I was not going to get off this plane; I wanted to get home. So, we waited and waited until Captain told us that they were too heavy to Fly (HAHAHAHA); and they were figuring out what to do. This was a new one but was an interesting one. So, finally after waiting for 2 hours, they had figured out everything and we were on the runway for the take-off.

On the flight I met Rob, he was sitting next to me. We started talking and as it was his first trip to India, he was curious about many a things and I shared anything I could about Delhi and India. However, after a while when we touched upon what he did for a career, we started to talk about a lot of things that I have been thinking lately – religion, faith, spirituality, healing. It just seemed so weird to me that I was thinking of all those things just yesterday and here I was discussing all of that with him. Nevertheless, I spent almost 2 hours discussing various things with him and I have to admit, it was the most fruitful session of my life. His thoughts, made me go look deep inside of me and understand how things have been playing around me (another post about all of that will come along soon). But, it was evident that “the universe” had bigger plans for me and maybe my flight getting cancelled was simply a way of making me meet him. The flight was a very pleasurable one – I had no stress at all. Chatting with Rob helped me be at peace even more from where I started a day before.

After some chats, music, House MD and some turbulence, we arrived at New Delhi just an hour late. And, as I exited the plane it felt like Home already. The feeling of at the New Delhi Airport was like a Lion who just reached his own territory. Going through Immigration was hassle free, but after a long wait at the baggage, I came to know that my two bags had arrived already and were in the Customs Hold Area. Then the Customs was a big pain in the ass and I eventually had to shell out $200 to get through it. It was worth it given all the stuff I had brought. It was only after 90 minutes that I met Papa, Preeti, Timmy Bhaiyya and Aabu outside. Aabhya looked so very different in person. Finally we left the Airport to reach home in not so much of traffic. Met Mom at home and after that I was just so relieved like a cork had been blown off the top and any remaining stress was gone. Dinner tasted so delicious and it was followed up with Mango – I think I was eating it after a year. But, after that it was playing time with Aabhya and showing wat I got for her and making her understand that she has to wait until tomorrow to open those up else she will miss her school.

Finally, around it was sleeping time and with Aabhya next to me and asking me to hold her hand. It was a realization that this is what heaven was for me, and I want this every single day in my life.

Why I am going to US?

In last few weeks, I have managed to turned my life into a living nightmare of some sorts. I guess it all started when I took up an assignment on July 2010 for a year. I came back into India for a period of 3 weeks to get Aabhya’s admissions in nursery and get her started on her 14 years of educational journey.

Here I am still in India – for a period of 12 weeks; way more than I could have ever thought about. I have canceled my travel plans twice now and I am staring at travel on March 25 – just 3 days away. And once again, I am going through a phase of seeing Preeti sad and will be seeing Aabhya crying when I am leaving for Airport.

Starting Feb 7, 2011 – till date; I have been thinking about going or not going and I have been oscillating back and forth many times and several times in a day. I had to cancel my trip early March because I just could not take the pressure and thought maybe I can stay back. I was risking termination because of my action of canceling at the very last minutes. However, all things turned out well and currently, I do have an option of saying No to travel for this assignment `at least`. But, once again I am inclined to travel.

Preeti says – she can only see one reason which is “Money” – that I want to earn more money. Well here are my reasons:

  1. Sincerity and Honesty: I have been always sincere in my work – never said something that I could not do and never lied. Until early March when I did lie so that I do not have to travel. And somehow, I have not been at rest since that day. I feel that good things have happened to me in past because I have been honest in what I did; but this time dis-honesty is something that is not cut-out for me. Somehow, inside of me I want to make amends and get done with the assignment that I committed 8 months back
  2. Complacent and Fear: I have reached a point when I have started to find excuses for my doing challenging work – This project makes me work with some of the worst people; who are very politically influenced. I knew this from the start and never wanted to work with them. Last time around, I was kind of forced by fear of termination into this project and when I reached the ground i did quite OK. But, this time I see a chance of getting out and I was inclined to get out of the mess and do something else.
  3. Practicality over emotions: Last week my decision changed because I was offered a set of responsibilities that will provide me an opportunity to work in areas where I have not worked before and may lead me to a promotion by end of this year. I told this to Preeti and she asked me – what are the alternatives; if you do not do this, how long will your promotion be delayed? – I think it may be about another 1 – 2 years. Preeti is right in some sense if I can not sacrifice 2 years for a promotion than leave her and Aabhya for a a period of 4 months. I do not wish to do so because I believe in taking decisions on what I see in front of me right now. I can not foresee any part of the future and hence do not know what is going to be offered to me in upcoming next 2 years. I may or may not get what I am getting now. I do not think I can deal very well seeing people around me grow at a rate faster than me because they lick their boss’s ass and I ca not do that. Hence, my options are fairly limited and this is one opportunity that is going to get me to that place – hopefully.
  4. Career move: After a lot of hunting around in Indian markets, I have realized that there is no future for Architects. That role does not exist in a leadership role – CTO or CIO unless you have your own company or know someone in that position in an Indian company. I have to move over to a Program manager role and the responsibilities I am being offered in my current role, provide me with a very lucrative opportunity to move into that role and still get promoted without loosing any time. If I was to switch into this role now as a PM, it would mean another 2-3 years before I get into a PM stream.

I do see the point that I am going to sacrifice 4 months of my life with my wife and daughter and I am going to loose Aabhya’s early school life. I missed her start of Kindergarten and I am going to miss on her 3 months of Nursery too. I will miss Preeti’s birthday and any other occasions and events that will happen during this time. I will be able to speak to them daily and do video chats as and when possible. I know from past it will not be too frequent given our schedule.

And this is where I get emotional and conflicted. Career over Family? I do not think I am choosing Career or Family. I do feel that I am still choosing my Family over Career because this is step is going to get me to a position in a company where

  • I can continue to work just 8 hours in any given day;
  • Reach a leadership role where travel is limited to once of twice a year for about 1 week at a stretch and;
  • I can not live by a lie and teach my daughter to be of a principle. Although, the lie was for my family  but is a lie nevertheless, a breach of my integrity and ethics. A legacy I do not wish to leave for my daughter. I hope when she grows old she understands me and is able to pardon me for not being for her.

It is not about Money; Money is just a bi-product of what is happening. However, it is an important bi-product and can not be taken out of the equation. In all ways, however I look at it – Family always comes first. Nobody gains by leaving their Family behind to become CEO of a company and get lots of money, big houses, fast cars. All those are crap if you do not have your loved ones next to you when you die. And by no imagination do I want to earn that kind of money and give up the opportunity to spend a life with my family. But, then I can not also ignore the part the there are basic needs and we are at a point when those basic needs have found a way of evolving by themselves and we can not control those – Dad is going to get retired some day, Aabhya is growing up and she will have her own demands. Mum, Dad, Preeti and I are getting older and our health will have certain demands too – both time and money. I am not at a place where I can afford to take an average path and still be able to satisfy all those needs. This is one opportunity that will take me to a Sr. Manager position and will put in a place / position where I can move ahead with a slight advantage and deliver what my Family needs from me.

Time to get Priorities right

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2″ in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full?

They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar
was full.

They agreed it was. The students laughed.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognise that this is your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car.
The sand is everything else, the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal. Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

 

A new end, a new beginning

I could have never guessed that I would be up at 5.30am on the New Year day; but then I could have never guessed that I would be living in Minnesota for 5 months. Last year has been an year or many things that I never thought could happen to me. But, when I start thinking about the last 10 years of my life, I feel so glad that there are things in there that I had thought of – a good job, loving wife and an adorable daughter are the three things that top my list.

But, last decade was about learning and growth. I moved from early 20s to 30s and it changed my life in many ways. Last few years, I saw myself leaning towards Spirituality and in many ways moving towards to the betterment of my life and my family.

I started the decade hungry of success, and I am starting a new decade still hungry, but of a different kind of success. For starters, I want to follow one of my so many passions that I picked up in years and let them die. I have not decided which one, but it feels like photography is going to be it. So, you can be rest assured that you are going to see quite a few clicks from me in times to come. A lot of those are going to be of my daughter and I try to spend as much time as I possibly can with her.

Living outside of India and my home has never been a thought but it happened in the very end, and I may have to do so again in the beginning too, but something I am not looking forward too very much. However, this decade the goals achieving some higher things in life. Professionally, I consider myself blessed in this last decade. I started off in the year of the dot.com burst, however still I am holding a senior position with a big organization and I think I have earned respect amongst many of my colleagues (if not all). In this new beginning I would like to achieve some more.

Personally, last decade saw me at crossroads many times. Not many would know that, but I went from someone who cant shut up to someone, who does not speaks. I am still uncertain as to if this is for good or not, but introspection tells me something needs a change here – as my mother tells me so affectionately – “you should be more social”. I know she is right but then I am me. I am a different person when I am around my daughter or my friends and I like that person. Maybe, they are not judging me all the time and if they are sometimes I do not care because it is so much fun that way. I believe that for me to be that person all around, I have to do some talking. Something I have done successfully in my professional like in the last decade, and I think I need to so likewise here too.

Friends – wow!! A whole new meaning for me in this decade. Because, in the last decade, I completed a decade long of friendship with a few of my friends and made some new ones. My friends from 90s taught me what friendship really means – it is not about talking a lot, but talking when it makes sense. It is not about having to talk to someone all the time to be friends, but still to be friends when you find it most difficult to be. And, some new ones – when I never thought I would be able to make some new friends in such a hectic life, I actually did. I somehow have started to believe that the word “Best Friends” does not exist. Either we do have friends or we dont. I do not like to name people, but I would do so this time around – Rajat, Deepika, Shallja, Samita, Pankaj sir, Sitija, Babul. And yeah Anurag (even though he is my brother in law) I find myself at ease around him just like I do with friends. When my mother-in-law tells me that she was so afraid given both our nature, we would even tag along, it is surprising that we do go along very well. There are of course some differences and I am the “Jijaji” :), I find myself being very comfortable around him.

Family – I left this one for the last, because this one is never going to end. I started a new decade with just my side of the family and mid-way, I was blessed to have Preeti’s side of the family too. And, it has been wonderful along the way. Preeti herself has been in all ways the “better half” and complimented me in many ways. And when she presented me with Aabhya she just gave me the world. I can not thank her enough for all she has done. Mom and Dad – they have been ever so patient with me all along. They saw me sunk with dot.com, they saw me grow in Sapient and UHG and they saw me change over time and move away from their child to be a father of their grand-daughter and yet they were so patient with me and my attitude (I wish I never had that). Only if I would be half as patient as they have been, I would be a different person. Thank you mom and dad. Aparna – my baby sister and I still call her that even though she is now married and is practicing her medicine in a big hospital. She has been like a daughter to me, but somehow I dont think I ever said those words to her. I think she knows :). Our fights turned out to be some deep talks over the years and then to a silence of respect and love of each other. I cant thank her enough for being their for me and listening however little I talked about. This chapter can go long if I start writing about everyone, so I am going to take a rain-check for now and come back later.

Thank you God, for being there for me all the time and guiding me for the very best. I could not have done any of this without You.