Chest fallen emperor was looking out of his window. Through the veil of clouds, he could see the bloodbath, the silent cries of the wounded, vultures circling the dead, and picking on the eyes and exposed flesh of the dying. The river, which symbolized Kindness had turned red. 150,000 gave their lives for the freedom of their land. It was too little. He had fulfilled long cherished dream of his grandfather. He had claimed the impossible and recorded impossible win in the annals of history. He was the imperial king of the land from mountains to sea. Yet it tasted like ash.
Killing 99 of his brothers, they were not fit to rule such vast empire and the dynasty would crumble. It was for greater good. 500 ministers he ordered to be beheaded, were not loyal. Disloyal ministers would eat up the throne like termite, brining in the ruin of the glory of the Mauryan empire. Ashoka’s Hell was needed to send a message to people not to step out of line. 500 concubines had insulted him. It felt like fire burning his rough skin. He needed them to know how it felt being burnt alive. Being called Kamashok, and then Chandalashok did not bother him. He had justified everything in past. For all the dead bodies on Dhauli Hills, he had no justification. His lust for power and his beliefs had caused the death of 250,000 men. Many would follow later with septic wounds or diseases that would spread soon after the war with soil tasting the rotting fresh around. He had no justification. He had won. Democracy was defeated. He knew it was his defeat.
The emperor renounced violence and embraced the path of peace, preached by The Enlightened One, who once was a prince. He, who spoke of peace and non-violence. He needed to warn other kings the horror of biasness, violence, lust for power and anarchy. He believed his Dharma Chakra would tell it all.
He hoped, he would spread the words, and philosophy of Buddha amongst all contemporary teachers and leaders, of new ideas, thoughts and visions. He saw him as bull, the most significant inseminator, seeding the philosophy of non-violence. He knew Dharma cannot be practiced without a willful effort to do good. It needs loyalty, speed, and energy. He wanted to be the royal horse carrying the doctrine of peace loyally, with speed and energy. His dream was to show his people the path to become mentally strong and steadfast. Practice of Dharma controls and tames the uncontrolled minds drawn to adharma like hatred, fanatism, and communalism to become transparent and responsible. His wished the teaching of his Buddha would spread across the land and seas. Four lions, representing Buddha looking in four directions stood up for protection against the uncontrolled mind, tyranny, spreading the teaching of equality, justice & ahimsa (non-violence) in all spheres of life.
He was done with all that was evil. He had become Priyadarshini-Ashok. From his windows he has been seeing the rising carnage, the willful destruction, and the anarchy.
He could see his defeat again. The defeat he felt he felt on the sands of river Daya, seemed so insignificant now. This defeat felt harsher and more intense. He had lost. The spirit of Dharma Chakra was shattered while its lifeless body was crowned.
Three Cheers to Them
It’s a cliché line, “a true leader is the one who sees your potential long before you realize it.” But I can vouch for it. When I joined his team, I was just a Work Force Strategist and a good Business Analyst, who could manage the team and push the Status Quo. He treated me like a Data Scientist and always pushed me to achieve more. This company was the smallest stint in my career, and yet he imparted the most valuable leadership lessons. I left the job when I relocated to another hemisphere. (Wish we had the option of remote work then. Would have never left.) Then his words stuck with me. And that was a silent promise that I made, to become a Data Scientist.
It would not be fair, if I do not mention another leader, who let me try newer things, experiment, implement out of box ideas and take calculated risk. To be honest, one cannot claim to be a Data Science without doing it for some years. I started learning and implementing them. After 4 years of study and experience, I finally decided to go for certification.
Except Hadoop, everything else was a cake walk. I finished the certification with all the projects including Capstone, at a leisure pace with 3 months to spare.
This is for these extraordinary leaders
Saravanan Narayanan, PMP® – None of this would happen if you would not have been that constant source of encouragement and motivation.
Devender Reddy – Your ability to trust, provide freedom, scope to experiment, to win, & dare to fail and take calculated risk, pushes me for constant improvement.
Making the Best of Chaos
It may look like I am late to the party. Let me assure, I am not. I am right on time, my time to look at effect of pandemic on my corporate life and its ripple effect.
I can very categorize this almost 1.5 year into 2 phases, with different areas of focus
The first phase was focused on the Work. Being a Workforce Strategist, it was a busy time, ramping up the infrastructure to support WFH (Work from Home), also the analytics support that is required and the flexibility needed in the ever-fluid situation. The team had to evolve in 24-48 hrs to delivery on war-footing the new asks with changed scenario. Truth be told, people in this vertical also understand that the chaos is an opportunity to push for changes for better. That’s what we did.
With approximate 2-3 hrs saved for each of us, we (all of us) were stilling on additional time in our hands that we saved from commuting.
In the first phase – the additional time was taken up by trying to get the team and work adapt to new normal. It paid off, the jump we made during this phase was least to say 6 folds. The maturity of the team moved up by 3 folds and the collaboration and purpose brought the team together like never. We went BAU (Business As Usual) earlier than most of the team or companies.
Presenting Perplex-city, a bouquet of suspense, crime and horror thrillers woven in one novel.
In the year of a Rat, a night before the lockdown starts, a barkeep finds herself in possession with ICE, ecstasy drugs. With cops of her heels, she finds no place to dispose it. She empties the content in water tank of her society – Jharokha Apartment; just before the cops show up in her place. During the night the water is consumed by the cops who came for the search to the unaware resident. Under the influence of the drugs, ICE, the residents come in face to face with their demons – their anger, the guilt, their lust, their greed, and their love. How many demons would surface and who all would be their casualty.
In the year of a Pig, greed and hatred had divided the country. Blood stained the walls, the roads, and the hearts. The neighbors had become enemies and strangers, friends. Air smelled of burnt houses and decaying corpses. Army was still not fully operational and police watching helplessly from a distance. Whole city was put under a curfew. A girl in her twenties, Libni finds herself stuck alone in this city. Searching for a shelter where she can pass the night, Libni reaches a lone Haveli in outskirts of the city. Little did she know, she was walking right into a sinister plot. Will Libni’s presence deter Onkar’s plan or is Libni a part of a bigger conspiracy?
In the year of a Red Snake. Sepoy mutiny changed the course of history for the subcontinent. India was losing this fight for Independence; the freedom fighters were being rounded off. Imam Akbar Amanat Ali urged his daughter Meher to escape before the East India Company’s army captured them. Meher managed to reach the road leading to Gurgaon. The road was barricaded by the army. Meher had to hide in a small, desolated house in a deserted kasba. In those ruins seeking refuge was another couple, Guneet and Eshana. They were going to meet Eshanan’s brother for the last time before he was executed by the Company. They thought to wait the night out in this dilapidated ruin. They were not alone. Terror ran high as Meher, Guneet and Eshana face the forces unseen and unknown, namely Ajooni who walked in the ruin whole night, night after night, claiming anything in it as hers.
WFH or WFO
Before I start, a fair disclaimer. These thoughts are mine and mine alone from the perspective of the experiences gathered. It does not reflect the policy or road map of the organization for either work from home or office.
This pandemic has made people realize that flexibility is not difficult. My initial years in Workforce, I was shocked to see 80-90% of my counterparts in the US opting for flexible shift. Their shifts ranged from 4*10 to 5*8 to 6*6.6. That was not all, 14 years ago, laptop and blackberry issued by organization was status symbol. They had laptops to work (as I did) and then I found, they were working 1-2 days from home. I could not dream of this, (except in dire emergency, for a day or two). And strangely enough while I was creating the staffing plans with all these flexibilities for the US teams, the same was not available for India team.
I could still rationalize the customer facing teams or voice process which needed very stable infrastructure for good quality of the calls. I could not rationalize it for the back-office process which did not need a specific time or location. One of the logics that was given at that time was data security. Few of the application should not be opened outside the office space.
Then 2020 happened. All the restriction were out of the window. Business continued with a new method which embraced flexibility. If it could happen in 2020, why was the industry reluctant to use it earlier? I guess, we all know the answer somewhere, but we cannot admit it.
However, for someone who manages the workforce, planning, staffing, and scheduling, flexibility has its own merits and requires specialized handling. The biggest balancing is and will always be business requirement with the employee expectations. The number of shifts increases, also the week off requests and just throw in other challenges like power cut, internet outage, noisy background, and emergencies at home, which a person cannot get away with. In an ideal world, the family members understand the person is working and should not be disturbed. The catch word is ideal world. It also made me realize that not everybody could stick to their workplace at home and follow the break regime, if even the break could be for 4 ins every 20 mins. It just cannot happen with everyone.
In all this, what is my take. What would be my ideal solution be?
A hybrid model – because as much as flexibility is needed a bit of face time with other teams are required to build in the culture of comraderies, and innovation. 20% of WFO should be enough for each employee on rotation basis.
The plus side of this is organizations can operate with much lesser space, may be with just 30%-50% of the seats that they needed in past as per the TAT and call volume. It is a huge cost save, keeps the team bonded as people would look forward to going to office those special days, investing the travel time in self-development or balancing work-and life.
(See, I did it again! In one stroke, I have offended real estate people, for whom the revenue will dip. The oil, as transportation reduces and of course the corrupt ministers, who have their interest in line with these lobbies.)
- Identify the base requirement of staffing level that is required to maintain the Service Level, Abn% and TAT. If the entire workforce is operating from home, build in a higher buffer for the unexpected. If it is a hybrid, the buffer reduces, and from WFO, it is minimum. That is base minimum which cannot be negotiated with. That is the line you draw.
- Have a multiple and overlapping shifts for coverage and eventualities, plus have a transparent communication with the teams on the expectation, deliverables and their needs, that helps to bring in the balance.
- A lot of people have reported increase in their efficiencies and productivity in WFH model, while some had a huge dip. Identify them and categorize them. Maybe those who showed a huge dip in their productivity in WFH model, do not have required infrastructure at home to do it or perform at the performance level needed. It makes sense to call them to work from office with higher frequency. Or let them operate out of office.
- Opt for bidding of schedules and shifts on basis of performance for the people working out of office. The only risk to this is that this shift bidding is with teams that are not mature enough. Only teams with high independence can operate in this mode. In case the team is not mature enough, then the leader can bid for their different teams under them.
It does increase the planning, but if the scenarios are well thought and all shifts and patterns well strategized, the hybrid model is the most cost & performance effective model of all, which would give employees a bit of flexibility and time to invest in themselves.
Book Review – The Muslim Prince
This is my second book by this author. The title and blurb promised a political thriller and I was not disappointed. Very nice strory telling and a lot of care was taken to avoid luring cliches. Few things leave a strong impression and those are love and fear. Love managed to do the impossible and fear managed to uproot the monarchy.
The Muslim Prince: What if Diana hadn’t died?
Book Review – CHRONOSCAPE
I like reading fantasy and sci-fi and I poof escape from reality. Till now my relationship has always been either love at first sight or get lost in 5 pages. This book took me to a strange new world and made me realize why people write their status as It’s complicated.
I love the concept. The detailing was very good. You can feel the hours of hard work and research that went into it. Story was gripping. Still why am I saying it is complicated?!!! Simple, the way story was narrated and the characters it portrayed were too real. Especially the corporate and govt take over. A man not getting what he deserves, undeserving people becoming his boss…. All are too real. There my escape from reality plan got foiled. And then I just could not leave the book. I had to know what happened next. So, that’s why it’s complicated.
One line verdict – read it. And then read the next book the Muslim prince. It’s worth your time.
Just One Day More
It is like call of void. You just can't take your eyes off. The depths of Abyss calls.
And there you stand wondering did all the love you gave mattered. All the love, richness, relatives, friends and fame, did anything really matter. Why everything looked meaningless.
A dark emptiness envelopes and no matter how hard you scream, your voice cannot pierce through the cold darkness .
Holding you back is a fragile thread of hope that whispers, don’t give up. It stops you from following the call of the void. There is no reason why you give up and there is no reason to stop. It is an endless conflict and battle in heart and mind to let go or to carry on.
It is that moment whose voice made sense. Many a times the fragile rainbow helps to move away from the fringe.
But then once you have heard the call of the void, it stays with you, forever. You can never forget it. It echoes. It lives in you till eternity. As a demon you have to accept, love and tame by forgiveness.
- When these voice ring hardly anything matters, words like coward, bravery are too insignificant for a person who is battling demon from hell that can consume the world and still stay hungry.
Such is this darkness. Which is undefeated except by a tiny glimmer of smile, of hope, of a voice that says, you can do it, you are not alone and you have a purpose how so insignificant it may look to be.
Rise of Evil
Evil is born out of pain of neglect, longing for a moment of true selfless love, an unending black hole in heart which s/he tries in vain to fill by grabbing more than need, comfort or luxury till it becomes all consuming ever increasing obsession.
Face of Pure Evil
Very few bring out the hate in me. I would count it to be two in this lifetime. One, a lady who has harmed me personally and another is a man, I have never met. This man was different.
I was unaware of his presence till one day, randomly I saw his picture in a morning daily. I was 21 and the year was 2001. There was something in his eyes that sent chills down my spine.
The iris in small, piercing and sunken eye gave very less space to the bright sclera. How could somebody’s pupil be as big as their iris. What were those eyes searching? For a moment, I could not breathe.
He was called a ‘Messiahs’. There was something wrong with me. Quickly, I threw the paper in the bin and dismissed the whole episode.
20 years later, I realize why it was so. Some of the fabric for the soul that clothes my body, may have come from the essence of holocausts victims.
A part of me remembered being dragged through the streets, bleeding and dying, part of me remembered being burnt alive, and a part of me remembered choking, dying, as I struggled for one more breath, gasping for air. I saw him,
I recognized him. I was and am stricken with fear, for I recognized him. I remembered him trying to weep in front of mirror as he practiced his speech. Now, after two decades, I understand, why I hate him so much, why can't I bear to look at his face. After twenty years, I realized why I could never trust this man, who now is the King of my land. My soul trembles when I see him; I know I am looking at the face of pure evil.