Saturday, April 30, 2016


Four years ago, on this day (30th April) I was almost midway through my two month internship with in Chennai. But that day was also special because of it was my birthday. Being just an intern and not an employee on payroll, I didn’t think that they would notice or celebrate my birthday. But I was utterly surprised when the company ordered a cake for me and we had the regular ritual of cake cutting towards the evening. My then manager remarked, “Whatever it is, if you are in office on a birthday, it demands that we celebrate the day here.”

I remembered this line the last week, when there were very few people in my current office and it turned out to be my manager’s birthday. Despite the absence of regular folks who helped to get cakes for employees’ birthday and the many suggestions that we postpone the event for the next day, I made my own arrangements to get the cake delivered so that we could have the small celebration ritual; all because I remembered my birthday celebrated in a different office.

While internships are opportunities to learn the nuances of corporate life (the brainstorming sessions, PPT presentations, parties, dinners and niceties to be observed) especially if you are a fresher, they are also great places to explore your strengths and skills. One of the best aspects of an internship is that you can throw out any random idea at the team and the management and they will listen to you, if you show the enthusiasm, energy and drive. While helping them set up a new division, I enjoyed the freedom that they gave me to explore things, try new ideas, experience new methodologies, and much more. Though my role primarily covered market search and product roadmap design, we also got opportunities to cover business development and customer service aspects. Till date, it remains one of my few chances of interacting with customers directly while on a company project.

While on the job there, I also learned how important it is really to back your claims and suggestions with data so that people can be convinced more strongly. Being vocal and propagating your ideas/suggestions to others and trying to be persuasive are some of the other skills that I learned there.

The place had the right mix of fun and learning. It was probably my best two months ever in Chennai (yes, even in that sweltering heat of the summer months!). Having had a nice set of friends from the office, it was fun exploring the various eating joints nearby for daily lunch. Another of the experiences that I will always cherish is the opportunity that it gave me to act in one of their promotional videos.

More than all the fun and the learning, the first internship has shaped the way my career has turned up till now. Till before the internship, I was opting for a HR-kind of profile, but this experience changed the way I looked at opportunities in marketing and product development. And in some way, getting selected for this internship did very much influence and impact my career.

I’m sharing my first internship experience for the #MyInternTheory activity at BlogAdda in association with Intern Theory

Saturday, February 13, 2016

What is She Capable Of? Iam Capable of Anything...Everything...

‘It’s a girl child’, the nurse announced just as the dawn was breaking
The joy and celebrations didn’t reach high proportions
But took the shape of questions and doubts -
Will she be able to take care of us in old age?
Will she be strong to protect us? Will she earn for us?
Can she buy a house or own a property? Will she be worth?
The unanimous cry was – What is she capable of? What?
I blinked my tiny eyes, trying to assure; my young heart determined to prove.

The teachers said, let her study home science,
After all she’s a girl and the maker of homes
But I chose maths and science and I topped.

But why choose engineering? Better do a B.Sc and B.Ed,
You can be a teacher like your aunts and grandmother
Hell no! I want to be a mechanical engineering, designing cars
And no one’s going to stop me.

Why send her so far for college? Why does she have to stay in hostel?
Let her stay at home, learn to cook and clean
She’ll go astray in a far off place.
I’m sorry Auntiji, I’ve got admission in a very good college
And I plan to attend its even if it’s half way across the globe.

What!? She wants to apply for a house loan to buy a flat?
She’ll have her husband’s house to call her home
Why buy a new one?
And no one marries a girl carrying a huge debt baggage?
But, sorry, my dreams are my own and I’m firm on them

Oh God! She’s gone on a solo travel trip?
Anything can happen to her
She’s a girl after all! , they cry
She looks so weak - anyone can knock her down.
But I like to travel alone, explore people and places
And explore and discover myself too.
I can just feel sorry for you that you didn’t get to enjoy yourself.

She doesn’t know how to drape a saree!
She’s always wearing shorts and tees
Shame on you, her parents!
But why? Isn’t my dressing my own style?
And don’t bother, I’m not going to change!

She’s 23 and still working? Why don’t you marry her off?
My cousin’s daughter was married and had 3 children by this age
She’s thin and dusky, who’ll marry her if she is over-age too?
Make it quick please!
But I’m waiting to find the right person,
I’m waiting to fall in love!

The aghast voices cry
Is she a girl! Is she a she!?

Yes, I’m a she but I have my dreams, my ambitions,
And yes, I have a life of my own and I don’t want it stereotyped
I don’t want your voices to decide all for me and order me about.
I’ll defy your statistics –
-      64% of women agree that the judgments passed on them have affected their ability to reach their true potential.
-      70%of women agree that majority of judgments on women are from family members or friends rather than strangers.
-      72% of women agree that working women face more judgments on their looks or their clothes than housewives.
-      69% of men agree that their judgement of women is based on their looks.

And I’ll prove to the world what #IAmCapable of,
That I can do better things, be happy and live life to the fullest! 

 I’m breaking stereotypes based on appearance by sharing my experience for the #IAmCapable activity at BlogAdda in association with Nihar Naturals.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


This happened many summers before. The schools had closed and it was vacation time. To beat the heat and to enjoy a cool excursion away from the hustles and bustles of city life, me and my cousins along with our Aunt and Uncle went to spent some beautiful days amidst the picturesque Nilgiri hill station.

Dense foggy mist used to envelope the whole area in the cold mornings, slowing melting as the day progressed to give way to mild sunshine and the cool dark evenings. The hills stood majestic surrounding the little cottage we had rented for our stay. The forests and the gurgling stream below gave us the feeling of being in the lap of Mother Nature. It was natural beauty personified. We used soak in this beauty during our many walks through the rounding hill roads. Occasionally the trumpeting of an elephant or the cries of a deer or bear could be heard.

Our cottage was a two bedroom building with a small living cum dining room and a little kitchen. The most fascinating thing I found in the cottage was the hearth place, used by its earlier occupant for warming the rooms. The floor was made of wood to provide more warmth. We were to stay here for a week or so.

The days passed lazily as we lived leisurely and at our own pace. It was soon time to leave. It was our last day of stay in this beautiful hill station. We were to leave the next day. My Aunt, Uncle and cousins had gone out to visit a botanical garden, some distance away. I was not taken as a punishment for playing in the waterfalls yesterday even though Aunt had forbade it and was therefore left with Kittunni Chetan, the caretaker of the cottage. I was angry at that and wanted to go out and enjoy.

I looked for the opportune moment and as soon as Kittunni Chetan had gone to collect firewood, I went out riding the bicycle that we had rented out. It was freedom unknown as I cycled through the winding roads, crossed narrow wood made bridges with the stream rushing below it and went cycling along the small pathways, generally used by people for walking.

I was speeding down a slope when the brakes failed and I skidded down. I got hurt and was lying on the roadside, moaning softy because of the pain. I couldn’t get up. It was after about ten minutes that a youth, probably 19 or 20 years old, came that way on his bicycle. He saw me hurt and pulled me up. There was blood coming from the wounds in my knees and elbow. He told his house was nearby and took me there and bandaged my wounds. He also came me glass of tea to drink.

“What’s your name?”
“Divya”, I replied.
“Where do you stay?”
I told him the name of my city.
“Oh! So you don’t live here. You are a tourist. Where are your parents?”
I narrated to him the story of my escape.
He smiled at me and said, “So, you are a prisoner out of the jail. Come, I’ll leave you at your cottage.”
I told him that my relatives would return only in the evening and that Kittunni Chetan being old and nearly blind, won’t miss me; so I had time till evening to roam this lovely place. He agreed to take me around and both of us went cycling.

I liked him very much. He was tall and with a kind and handsome face. He was very nice and entertaining. He helped me forget my pains caused due to the accident by cracking jokes and singing songs. He took me into the forest, showed me the many birds and monkeys and let me play in the waters of the stream. He took me into the tea estates and showed me how tea leaves are plucked. He showed me the tea factory for which he worked. I enjoyed the beauty of the place with this new companion of mine. I was going to be evening and we reluctantly started to return to the cottage.

“Did you enjoy?”
I nodded vigorously to show that I had enjoyed so very much.
“What will you give me for taking you to all these places?”
I said I didn’t have anything to give. And suddenly stopped my bicycle, plucked a wild flower by the roadside and gave it to him. He was pleased.
“I don’t have anyone. Will you be my little friend?”
I smiled.
“You will come again, won’t you?”
I nodded.
“Will you come to see me?”
Yes. I nodded again.

We had come to the gate of the cottage. We said ‘bye, meet you again’, and I went inside. After a while my cousins and Aunt and Uncle came. They told me their tales of sightseeing and adventure. I didn’t speak about my day but just lied that I was watching T.V the whole day.

We left for the city next day early morning. I didn’t see my friend again.
I have come back to this place many times during the past but have never been able to spot him. I have walked along the paths we walked and cycled, have enquired about the tall, fair, handsome young man; but could never find out anything about him. But in my heart he will remain eternally my friend, a dear compassionate companion who had given me a wonderful day to treasure among the hills and the streams and birds.

Jim Corbett National Park is known for its majestic tigers and the rich flora and fauna. It lets visitors enjoy the jungle experience and appreciate the free living of animals. I was glad I was able to do a safari of the jungle reserve area (Sitavani) late this year. Though unlucky to spot the tiger, we were happy to have seen plenty of deer and elephants. But what is cause for alarm is the way people expect animals to be. We were watching a huge Monitor Lizard nap in the morning sun when another group, two families with kids, joined us.

Seeing the animal making no movement, some of the elders in the group tried disturbing it by making noises and throwing tiny stones. The children also started doing the same. It took some stern warning from us and our driver to make them stop their behaviour. You have come to the jungles to appreciate the wild life and to teach your children also to do the same, and not to disturb them or to get the animals to do things to your liking.

I have seen that in the zoo too. The tiger would be sleeping peacefully in a corner after a meal and the crowd gathered around it would be jeering and shouting, just so that they can see it walk or hear it growl. What nasty selfish beings we are! I heard a lady ask the guard, “Why is the animal sleeping? Why can’t you wake it up so that we have a better photograph?” Such stupid questions! How would you behave if someone does the same with you when you are sleeping?

Tourism should not be at the cost of those that you have come to see, enjoy and appreciate. A responsible tourist is one who likes to see things as they are and is able to derive pleasure and enjoyment without damaging or altering the way things have been preserved or protected.

It is important to be appreciative of the nature without destroying it especially when you are in ecologically sensitive areas like hill stations, forest areas, beaches and lake/riversides. These areas have a precarious balance and it would be a great catastrophe if man tries to alter it in his greed to derive more pleasure and enjoyment.

Moreover the people of hill stations are very protective of their land and natural heritage and it would be a huge disgrace and disservice that we are doing to these people as tourists if we destroy their land and their homes. Carelessly throwing plastic waste on the beaches, throwing left-over food into the lake while boating, using motor vehicles when walking or cycling could have been used, teasing animals and birds that are natural to these areas are all acts of an irresponsible tourist. Such tourists actually do not deserve to be in such a naturally beautiful and divine place. 
While it is important to be extra sensitive while visiting ecologically fragile eco-systems and hill stations, it is also important to remain responsible when visiting historical places and monuments. There are very few historical monuments in India that are left untouched of scribbles on its walls. And the fact that parents do not bother (or in some cases even encourage) when their children deface monument walls is a very sad matter. The lack of cameras and security guards in many places of archaeological significance encourage people to profess their love or their anger on these beautiful walls that have withstood time and seen better days. Would these morons have dared touch the walls or scrape of the gemstones from it had the king been alive and ruling?

Historical monuments like natural resources need to be preserved for the enjoyment and learning of posterity. Tourism - ecological, historical or otherwise, should be looked at from the perspective of sustainable development. While they can be admired and enjoyed by the current generation, it also needs to be preserved for future generations. They too have a right to this inheritance.

There are also more subtle actions that a tourist needs to be aware of to be responsible and courteous in his/her ways and means during travel. This includes respecting the local culture and traditions. It may be as simple as covering your head when entering a temple or not wasting the food offered. A responsible tourist studies about the place he/she is planning to visit and tries to understand the customs and ways of life there. Talking courteously and politely with the hosts can also help the tourist understand a lot about the culture and practices of the place.

Visitors should also try to minimize plastic usage and re-use things while on travel rather than buy new items each day and throw them off after momentary use. Using handkerchiefs instead of tissues, getting own water bottles rather than buying new ones every time and carrying a rucksack or backpack instead of asking shopkeepers for plastic covers can help. Tourists are also encouraged to try out local cuisines and other products and give a boost to the local economy.

Tourists should also not be noisy and disturbing to the local population and to other tourists, especially when travelling in groups. Maintaining decorum wherever they might be during their travel, be it restaurants, parks, rope-ways or any other place, is important. They should also teach their children to be responsible while travelling.

Another scene often encountered is of groups of youth drinking in public in some of these tourists locations and making it uncomfortable and difficult for families and ladies. Police should take strict action against people indulging in such activities and making travelling/trekking difficult for others.
Ensuring their own and others safety is also an important aspect of responsible travelling. Not venturing out too late if the place is deserted, taking along necessary medicines, being cautious of the surroundings - all form a part of responsible travelling.

The hotels, tour operators and other in the tourism business should also do their bit of recycling and re-using of materials, conservation of energy and use of renewable sources and ensure cleanliness of the place to promote sustainable tourism. They should be mindful of the need for preservation of nature while they make a livelihood out of it. Greed should not cloud their eyes that they try to do reckless business forgetting the fragility of the environment in which they live. They should also remind the guests of the need to be responsible and encourage them in indulging in responsible activities.

While it is difficult for policing of tourists all the time and at every place, it is more important that the tourist becomes conscious of the need for preserving the tourist spots. How many times have we lamented that the beach has become dirty or the hill station turned a garbage dump yard? It is our duty to do our bit to ensure that we preserve these beauties and let the coming generations too enjoy it.

I am blogging for #ResponsibleTourism activity by Outlook Traveller in association with BlogAdda