Friday, 30 September 2016

Change Focus, Be hale and Hearty #ChhoteKadam

This is really a daunting task to put forward advisory steps for keeping one’s heart young and healthy and beating rhythmically on the occasion of the World Heart Day. I feel any medical specialist in this area will do this job in a much better and effective way than an indolent food savvy human being like me.  Do this, don’t do that; eat fatless food; reduce non vegetarian diet; be on a disciplined diet without oils and sugar; take some regular exercise; at least go for a brisk morning walk; stay active and reduce weight. These are some of the regular advice I often receive from my doctors whenever I visit them. And I am more than sure that everyone particularly those above forty must have listened to such advice not only from doctors but from friends, family members, peers, and children as well. To advise others is probably the easiest task to do and no wonder free fund advisers galore in our society. But how many of us actually practice what we advise others to practice? This is a billion dollar question and I am afraid no one reading this post will like to candidly answer it.

Well, that is not my focus. What I intend to confess is that I am the least qualified person to advise you. I am going to delineate here what I actually do to keep my cholesterol level under control and to allow my heartbeats to remain normal. Out of the three points under discussion namely, staying active, eating better and being happy I vote for the third point i.e. being happy. Well, I feel to stay active and to eat better it is absolutely necessary to be happy. It has been proved beyond doubt now that life style diseases like, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure etc are caused because of excessive mental tension. And in today’s fast moving world work and social environments provide enough dose of tension to any individual to cause these diseases. The real panacea to this situation is to keep oneself happy and contented. I have no hesitation to admit that I have been able to keep myself really happy amidst the trials and tribulations of life. At fifty four my cholesterol level is quite low and my heart is beating smoothly. Of course I am taking a little tablet daily on the insistence of my doctor and my family. They feel that at my age it is better not to be over confident and I respect their view. I am a great lover of tasty food and I eat just anything and everything. To control my food habit and living on a bland diet is like death to me. I would prefer to die of heart attack rather than to starve myself to death bit by bit. As far as staying active is concerned I do some walking whenever I get some time and opportunity apart from doing a bit of yogic exercises and pranayams. But I make it a point to see that I am happy every moment of my waking like. 

To achieve this I have separated my work life and personal life. The management experts term it as “work life balance”. When I reach my work place I forget my home and family and indulge in my work passionately. When I leave the work place I leave the work tension behind there itself and never carry it to my home to ruin my personal life. Similarly, I never take my domestic problems to work. In addition to this I take life quite easy. I am more than convinced that I am a mortal and I will die any moment. So I enjoy every moment of my life and try to make people around me happy. This takes away all the tension from my life. I am grateful that God has given me enough to enjoy my life. I know I will not take anything with me from this world. I came empty handed and when I finally go from this world I will go empty handed. Then why should I try to amass wealth more than I need and in the process invite unnecessary tension? This conviction alone is enough to give me a tension free life style and my heart is beating and will continue to beat rhythmically. Happiness is the key to a good functional heart. At least I am convinced about it. And it does not matter to me whether anybody subscribes to this idea or not.

My Verdict: Be happy and stay tension free. Change your attitude towards life. Enjoy every moment as if that’s your last moment on this earth. Believe me Life will be hale and hearty. “I am joining the Saffolalife #ChhoteKadam initiative in association with BlogAdda and follow these small steps for a healthy heart.”

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

A Message for my Little Princess #MemoriesForLife

She was lying motionless in the ICU with several sophisticated machines connected to various parts of her slender body and flashing and beeping continuously. Several doctors and nurses surrounded her like vultures clustering around a dead carcass. They were discussing something very seriously using medical terms which were like Greek and Latin to me. I had almost lost my consciousness. My brain had become function-less. Several thoughts and counter thoughts about my daughter's well-being cluttered in my mind. One of the doctors came near me and dragged me to a corner of the ICU, "We are sorry Mr Sahoo, but the condition of your child is precarious. Her BP has gone down sharply. We are putting our best efforts to revive her but nothing can be said now." I was dumbfounded and words simply refused to come out of my mouth. A never ending uncontrolled stream of tears rolled down my cheeks only to get lost in my thick beards below. With great difficulty I just asked,"Doctor, Can I do anything to save my Child?" The empathetic doctor took my hands in his and told me with firmness, "Mr Sahoo, Just be patient. Whatever is humanly possible we are doing. Rest assured we will leave no stone unturned to save your child. You just pray. She needs God's blessings more than human effort."

Yes this was the tale of the time when my 14 year old little angel was diagnosed with Leukemia and was being treated with chemotherapy in Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore. We had to shift our residence to Vellore for about a year till her chemotherapy regime was over. It is during that period that I came to learn about the mental resoluteness of my child who simply refused to accept the cold embrace of death and fought back to life. "Cancer is a mental battle", one of the treating doctors confided in me one day,"We are really surprised to see the positivity in her. We can say with confidence that she is very likely win over the disease."

Her positive attitude was immensely demonstrated from the way she accepted the inevitable pain resulting from the chemotherapy protocol.Whenever the pain reduced a little she was all in smiles. Although she was too week to even stand up without support still she indulged in playing games and doing small activities like reading writing and preparing tea etc. She never gave us an inkling to imagine that she was tired or fed up with the treatment. (I can assure you, the treatment of her disease was much more painful than the disease itself). Her 'never say die' attitude was something special and that helped her in combating the dreaded cancer. Over the period of her treatment she taught me how to look positively towards life and how to be happy in the most apathetic situations. "Live one day at a time" was the mantra she gave all of us.. I feel even today that I spent the most quality time with my daughter in particular and my family in general during that stay in Vellore. And all credit goes to my brave princess who emphatically taught me the value of the present moment.

Four years later my son, a mass-com student by then, prepared a documentary film on her highlighting this positive attitude. Combating cancer is more a mind game than medical treatment. You win if you have the right attitude towards life. Readers of this blog post may have a taste of it here.

I have shared my life's most tragic but best moments with my beloved daughter in this blog post. You may also like to “Share your #MemoriesForLife like I’ve done at BlogAdda for HDFC Life.” 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Why Should Women do all the Household Chores? #ShareTheLoad

When I was a primary school student my grandparents used to pamper me a lot compared to my younger sister. They used to project me as a hakim (Officer) and never encouraged my sister to go to school. In their opinion there was no point in educating a girl as ultimately she would have to do household chores only after marriage. Girls going out like boys to study and work to earn money was something they could not even think of in their dreams. If by chance I took up the broom to sweep the place of my study my grandparents would scold me and ask my sister to do the sweeping instead. Because of my love for my sister I never liked this but I did not have the guts to oppose. This was the culture of my family in which I grew up.

As time passed my sister, then barely 10 years old, started helping my mother in her work which involved cooking, cleaning, laundry and all other petty jobs. I was never allowed even by my mother to do anything. My only job was to eat my fill and study and play. At times I was feeling pity for my sister but there was no way I could have helped her out. Not only in our house but I had seen the women in our neighbourhood also working from morning to night while men folk in every household relaxed after coming back from the fields. My mother used to work even when she was ill. What would you term this? Was it not exploitation of women in their own family??

I had to do my own work including washing my clothes when I went stay in my college hostel. There was no mother or sister to do the laundry for me. And my financial condition did not allow me the luxury of engaging a dhobi (washer-man). Pressing circumstances compelled me to learn some manageable cooking after I joined my service in a remote rural area. Gradually I loved doing my own work. And I just wondered why my parents and grand parents did not allow me to do any household work at home.

Life took yet another U turn after my marriage. My wife though quite educated was an adept in taking care of the household. She cooked good food and did not allow me to do anything while at home. Perhaps she was trained well at home by her mother and grand mother for this. Initially I did not feel well but gradually I got used to her extreme care. The result was obvious. When my children grew up they saw their mother toiling hard from dawn to dusk while their father relaxed after coming back from office. The legacy had been carried forward.

But my wife never pampered her son more than the daughter and I joined hands with her in this activity. Both my son and daughter were treated equally. Both went to the same school, played at leisure and relaxed at home. Both did small jobs like washing their own utensils and packing their own school bags. My daughter was never asked to learn cooking. And my son was never given a chance to feel that he was superior to his sister. There was no discrimination whatsoever in their upbringing. 

Now they are grown up and stay in their respective hostels. When they come home both of them help their mother in the kitchen and in doing the laundry. They openly criticise me for not extending a helping had to their mother after coming back from office. And the fact is now I have started learning from them and have taken up the charge of the washing machine at home. I have also started developing my culinary skills once again. I think my wife has successfully broken the chain of the myth that women should do all household chores. My children in general and my daughter in particular stands testimony to this fact. Traditional gender roles  have taken a back seat in my family and I am proud of this. The entire credit goes to my better half and I am sure the foundation stone of a new beginning has been laid by her. My children will definitely build a strong edifice on it. Change is in the offing.

PS:“I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Waking up to a Gold Morning:Then & Now #Colgate360GoldMornings

When I look back to my golden old childhood days I simply wonder how simple and trouble free those days were. I was in my village and every morning after waking up I used to take a little cow dung ash and a slim freshly extracted stick from the neem tree to brush my teeth. One end of the stick was required to be chewed first to soften it to be used as the brush.  Once the brushing is over the stick was torn from the middle into two longitudinal pieces and both the pieces were used to clean the tongue. The entire ritual never stretched beyond two to three minutes. The practice of brushing the teeth after every meal was never heard of. But in spite of so little dental care none of the village people ever suffered from any sort of dental problems.

After growing up a little I was introduced to burnt charcoal along with ash to brush my teeth. I am sure the present day generation will never believe it but my teeth were sparkling white at that time. When I shifted to the town for my studies I was given a small bottle made of tin containing some white powder to brush my teeth with. The peppermint taste of this powder was really amazing and I liked it very much. Then my father gave me a plastic stick with some white plastic bristles at one end and called it a tooth brush. I was asked to wash the brush properly after using it and preserve it for use every day. It was quite contrasting to what I was used to do with the neem stick brush in the village. It used to be discarded after every single use. The idea of using the same brush again and again somehow did not appeal to me. But I got used to it. This is how I was introduced to Colgate tooth brush and tooth powder. Since those days in the 1970s I have been using Colgate in some form or other.

Colgate has come up with innumerable types of tooth pastes and tooth brushes since then. The latest being the Colgate 360° Charcoal Gold tooth brush. The stunning Golden look of this latest dental weapon from Colgate’s armory is really a master piece. I tried brushing with this weapon this morning and the feeling of freshness is awesome. I wish had this been invented during my childhood days I would have felt like an emperor having possessed it. This tooth brush is worth its price and is targeted at the middle class Indian urban population. I wish my age-old companion brand great success in marketing it.

P.S. This post has been specifically written for Colgate 360 Charcoal Gold toothbrush and Colgate's wake up to a gold morning campaign.  #Colgate360GoldMornings

Friday, 11 December 2015

Sambalpur: The little known sleeping town of Western Odisha

My association with Sambalpur can be stretched back to the mid 1970s when I used to be a school going teen-ager. The town derives its name from its presiding deity Maa Samaleswari enshrined in a temple called Samalai Gudi on the banks of Mahanadi, erected by the Chauhans in the mid 16th century. The town finds reference in  Ptolemy's text as Sambakala, a diamond trading centre in 2nd century AD. The history of Sambalpur is enriched with the reigns of several famous dynasties like the Guptas, Sarbhapuriyas, Marathas and the Chauhans. The British occupied the region in the beginning of the 19th century. The area has witnessed many uprisings against the Europeans during the British rule. A district head quarter town and an important commercial centre, it is famous for its textiles, particularly its handloom silk Sambalpuri sarees. Due to its unique pattern, design and texture, the Sambalpuri sarees are internationally famed. 


Deity of Samaleswari
This small town popularly known as the capital of Western Odisha had produced some great revolutionaries like Veer Surendra Sai during the British Regime but  somehow  failed to produce good politicians after independence. The result is obvious- the town saw negligible infrastructural development. The longest earth dam(4.8Km) was constructed over river Mahanadi in the late 1950s and two tiny satellite townships developed on either end of the dam, namely, Hirakud and Burla. The dam created a huge reservoir which looks like a ocean and is a feast for the eyes of the tourists. But lack of governmental initiative and drive has resulted in many people not even being aware of this panoramic  spot let alone visiting it.

Around Sambalpur the following attactions are of prime importance.
  • Hirakud Dam - world's longest dam is situated over River Mahanadi. The Gandhi Minar and Jawahar Minar at both ends of the dam with well maintained gardens are also lovely places to visit.
    Hirakud Dam
  • Huma - the leaning temple of Shiva is the main attraction in this scenic village.(32 KM).  
  • Cattle Island - one of the exciting tourism sites of the district. The place is very popular with nature lovers and is situated in the reservoir of the Hirakud Dam.
  • Ghanteshwari - a temple well known for the presence thousands of hanging bells situated on the banks of river Mahanadi in the village called Chiplima ( 25 KM)
  • Ushakothi Wildlife Sanctuary at Badarma (50 KM east of Sambalpur on NH6) is a densely forested area providing habitat to a wide variety of wildlife.
  • Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary adjoining Hirakud Reservoire is also a great picnic spot.

Market Place in the Town
Burla is known as the education hub of western Odisha with three great institutions namely Veer Surendra Sai Medical College, Veer Surendra Sai University of Technology and Sambalpur University situated within a radius of 2 Kilometres. The advent of the Head Quarters of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited, a subsidiary of Coal India Limited in 1992 has added to the intellectual glamour of Burla and Sambalpur. Hirakud on the opposite side of the dam is home for HINDALCO, the alluminium plant of the Birlas taken over from INDAL.

Sambalpur University
Sambalpur retains its classic sleepy charm, even in the face of rapid, albeit unplanned expansion and a deluge of retail establishments particularly during last decade. Some of the houses along the old part of Sambalpur are still maintained, and used, like they were, a century ago. Sambalpur has several tourist attractions both in and around the town. Inside the town there are several temples of worship. Prominent among them are the Samaleswari Temple, Pataneswari Temple, Budharaja Temple on a hill top in the heart of the town etc. The Samaleswari temple represents the finest Chauhan style of circumvallation round the sanctum. The image of Samalei is a unique sculpture and appears to be a primitive deity worshipped by the local people.

Sambalpur is well connected with major cities of India and has a well networked transport facility for commercial and public transportation. Sambalpur is connected with Cuttack by NH42 and 288 km from Cuttack. NH6 runs through Sambalpur and is now a six lane highway. The State Highway No. 10 connecting Rourkela to Sambalpur is now a four lane highway covering the distance of 150 Kms. Sambalpur has five railway stations, viz. Sambalpur Junction, Sambalpur Road, Sambalpur City, Hirakud and Maneswar. The Sambalpur Divisional Office of East Coast Railways is situated in the town. The town has direct rail services to Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Puri, Vizag, Mumbai, Delhi Chennai, Bengaluru, Allepey etc.  The nearest airports are at Bhubaneswar (312 Km) and Raipur (260Km). A new airport has been planned in Jharsuguda (50KM) and once it is constructed Sambalpur can be reached easily by air also.

The roads inside the town are also broad and with pavements. One enjoys driving in this town though there are limited parking spaces available. Rickshaws and auto rickshaws are available for local transport. A few town buses also ply in the town for convenience of the public. There are several budget and good hotels in the town as well.

I would like to appeal to all my readers who might be planning a trip to Odisha not to restrict themselves to the golden triangle of Bhubaneswar-Puri-Konark but to make Sambalpur a part of their itinerary.  I can assure you that you will relish the scenic beauty and the sambalpuri silk sarees and of course the rich cultural heritage of western Odisha.

PS: The images of this post have been taken from the following sources:

This post is specifically written for Tata Motors and their #madeofgreat Zonal war campaign.

Friday, 20 November 2015

He Taught me the Values of Honesty and Perfectionism #madeofgreat

“I am not a very good boss to work with”, he asserted, “I may refuse even the facilities otherwise legitimately due to you. So think twice before you decide to come to this department”. No he was not trying to threaten or puzzle me. He was speaking the truth, the naked truth. I did not take even a second to respond, “Sir, I am not interested in anything but my self-respect. I cannot do things my conscience does not permit me to do. If you just allow me to be guided by the voice of my conscience then I don’t care what other things you give me or not. I don’t need to think. I have already decided to come here. I will be highly obliged if you accept me as your sub-ordinate.”

This was my first encounter with the man way back in 1994 who ultimately became a role model for me and with whom I share a “guru-sishya” relationship even today. I can describe him as a dead honest straight forward man who has the guts to call a spade a spade and a perfectionist who believes in giving his 100 percent to the job in his hand. To put it in his own words, “If you take up a task complete it with such precision that the onlooker is mesmerized by the quality of the job done. If you are unsure about quality of delivery it is better never to take up the task”.   

In an organization where manipulating financial and other resources used to be a common affair with almost everybody occupying a seat of authority my down to earth boss was the only person who strictly avoided using official resources for any kind of personal gain. And this was the reason why most people in the organization looked upon him with awe. The financial papers which he signed were never scrutinized by anybody, whatsoever. His proposals were never rejected by the company. This was something I enjoyed the most. Gradually my colleagues and seniors in other departments began to regard me with the same respect as they used to do to my boss. Some even wondered how I was able to adjust with such a strict awe-inspiring personality. I do not know even to his day whether I could come up to his expectations or not. But for me he was certainly the most adoring person to work with. He never compelled me to do any unethical thing as most of my previous bosses had done. He never gave me an unlawful order. He was always ready to advise and guide me whenever I faced any problem either professional or personal.

He was a voracious reader and read anything and everything. What is more fascinating is that he remembered a lot of what he read and reproduced it whenever the need arose. He had the ability to talk on any subject almost extempore. He was the perfect man to head the training and development department. He was known for his vast knowledge in every field and even the CEO of the company often took his advice in certain critical issues. My department was considered as the knowledge centre of the organization only because of his wide spread knowledge. He was a great mentor as well. Seeing my academic interest in training activities he started mentoring me to become a good trainer and probably to head the training function in due course. If I have developed myself as a management faculty today the entire credit of this goes to my boss. He created opportunities for me to attend training conducted by renowned management consultants and subsequently encouraged me to facilitate training sessions for our employees. 

In a nutshell he was my work place guru who taught me the following life lessons by exhibiting them in his own day to day activities. I learnt the following great lessons from him.

1. Truth is something which can never be hidden. If you are truthful you need not fear anybody.
2. Honesty is the best policy. If you are honest in the true sense nobody can exert unnecessary pressure on you. 
3.  Punctuality is something which gives you the ability to hold your head high. If you are in time no one can point a finger towards you.
4. Be a perfectionist in whatever you do. Perfection demands your 100 percent. If you give your 100 percent you need not have to worry about anything. Success will run after you.
I learnt these life lessos when I was 32 and today after 21 years I can assertively announce that had I not worked with him at that time I would have either become corrupt like many others in the organization or I would have commited suicide under the pressure of unethical practices.

The person to whom I have dedicated this post is no celebrity but an ordinary human being who was branded by many as a very difficult person to deal with. But I found in him the most ideal human being devoid of common vices and frailties and practicing ethical values in life. I do not know if he reads this post today what will be his reaction. But for me he was and is an ideal personality committed to ethical human values. He is my teacher, my mentor, my trainer, my tormentor all rolled into one. I take this opportunity to salute you Dikshit Sir (Mr. Hari Sharan Dikshit) for teaching me great life lessons and making me rough and tough from within.

P.S. 1. This post is specifically written for Tata Motors and their made of great campaign. For more details follow the link :

P.S. 2. If you are here please answer the question below in the comment section of this post and the best answer will win a Amazon Gift voucher of Rs.750/-.
What do you think of Tata Motors’ association with Lionel Messi?