Lemon and Life

When life gives you lemons

You are supposed to make lemonade. Now that’s a supposition.

Unfortunately everyone gets these lemons, asked or unasked for. It’s like they are in great demand in the Nature, I mean the metaphorical one.

Well, I too got, and keep getting. In my case it seems like there is a constant steady supply of lemons. I guess before I was created, Nature probably had an X-amount of lemons allocated, rather reserved, specifically for me. Well, that I guess can’t be undone. Too late. So all I got is to be creative in handling, or say, managing these lemon shots.

Ok then, what do I do when one is thrown/shot at me? They are generally not gracefully handed over. They just hit you. Bang and there you go.

Well, no point throwing back. It can hit someone else and that someone else’s response is not in my control. The person may choose to remain silent, or may opt to throw back the same lemon or orange or watermelon, no clue. The impact is directly proportional to the distance and the angle and the size of whatever the person selects to throw. I think that is not a pleasant scenario.

Next, I can choose to ignore, and then what? The lemon decays, from sour to bitter to forget-it situation. Again, not a pretty scenario. Sour is still better than bitter or the decayed version.

What more, make lemonade? Yeah, an interesting option—from plain sour to sour-n-sweet or sour-salt-n-sweet. The control of taste is up to you. And the control comes with learning. You may not get the right taste at the first time. You get to right my making a few mistakes (or may be many) and then never repeating those again. Combined with a lot patience and practice. Later, once you have mastered the skill, you can make the drink more interesting by adding other ingredients to suit your taste, mood or that of the people served (can be target audience if it is work related.)

Pie or Tart are some other options. But as of now, I am not into cooking (that much). Hence, lemonade and its variants suit me just fine.

As a kid I loved playing lemon and spoon. Interesting race it was. I use to win a lot then. Balance, vision and approach play a significant role if you want to win that race. Lemon can fall, spoon can slip, you may fall and get hurt, teeth may hurt (even break), tongue may feel odd, mouth may go numb and so on and so forth. Then I did not realize its significance in my future. I think Nature was training me in some sort. It was like, “Listen kid, you and lemon go a long way, so…get set go!” And I still play lemon and spoon mentally before deciding on finally making the lemonade. It helps in creative thinking or design thinking on why and how and what and where and who and when. I can now manage lemon and spoon and lemonade, all simultaneously.

Over the years, I have made Lemon my best friend. Good source of Vitamin C, enhances immunity and adds taste to my life!

So yeah, that’s the story of Me and Lemon.
Now, Me and Melon…I got to explore that section…someday in future I may write on Melon and Life!
No. Not played Melon and Spoon and I don’t plan to either.

Till then, take care. Enjoy lemonade. And Stay Safe.

BTW: In the image, it’s Lemon Tang. I told you. Design thinking!

LemonAndLife_AshuBlogs_Panoramaa

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

Jack Reacher: Reached!

20 June 2020: I will miss you Reacher!

Yeah, I completed reading all of the 24 Books on Jack Reacher, a very interesting, unfortunately a fictional character, created by the very talented Lee Child.

I started reading the series sometime in 2016, I think. It took me almost four years to collect and read all the Jack Reacher Books. Yes collect. Jack Reacher will have a very special place in my library. This collection will be my prized possession, forever.

From what I know, the next book in line, The Sentinel, is scheduled to release in October 2020. However, it will be the work of Lee Child along with his brother, Andrew Child. I am happy that Reacher is still alive, but I am not sure if I will continue reading the series post the 25th book release.

“There’s only one Jack Reacher. Accept no substitutes.” – Mick Herron
(The quote as mentioned on the cover page of the Lee Child book, Jack Reacher Series, Blue Moon)

And I totally agree. I seriously can’t accept a substitute.

The author section in Blue Moon reads: Jack Reacher is sold somewhere in the world every nine seconds. I am glad that I was that ninth second, 24 times.

One has to read the book to feel the character. You don’t just feel, you actually see the character perform in front of your eyes, sometimes you feel standing next to him—that’s how each book is written.

Two movies, starring Tom Cruise, based on novels – One Shot and Never Go Back – were produced, and I loved both the films. Honest answer is watching a movie based on a novel is nothing like reading the book itself, but in this case, it was nothing less as well.

So yes, I will miss Reacher terribly. But I have the collection; maybe someday, I may reread the entire series, preferably in the order of the events in Reacher’s life, not  just random as I did the first time.

Those interested in reading can buy the books on Amazon or Flipkart. And the movies are on Amazon Prime and Netfilx.

Until next, Take Care, Stay Safe!

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

 

 

Why is it…

Why is it that…

…we like what we see on the other side.

…we constantly compare ourselves to others.

…we want to be others.

…we want what is not ours.

…we love someone who doesn’t exist for us.

…we see greenery on the other side.

…we fail to notice the snakes hidden in that greenery.

…we see only roses and lilies in other people’s lives.

…we forget to be grateful for what we have.

…we blur our vision to all the beauty of the present, by contemplating the future or regretting the past.

Why is it that we are interested in and attracted to the visual that the other person’s window offers, real or virtual…why?

These were some intriguing questions entangling my mind instigated by a short film. I have no clue how the feed appeared on my YouTube Page, but I am glad it did.

And it was The Neighbors’ Window, a 2019 American short film, written and directed by Marshall Curry. His graduation address at Queen’s University (filmmaking and failure) is another video I liked, which is hyperlinked to his name.

The movie is just 20 minutes watch, and it was a totally worth it, twenty minutes for me.

The Neighbours' Window_AshuBlog_Panoramaa

For those interested in the movie, here’s the YouTube Link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1vCrsZ80M4

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

Order, Chaos, Order In Chaos

Yes, I mean Mumbai, my city, my circulatory system, and like human circulatory system, Mumbai is a city that never sleeps. I like the crowd and the chaos, and finding order in crowd and chaos. It is like an everyday task. But now that task is on a standstill mode. During the 21-Day Covid-Lockdown, I guess, not just the Mumbaikars, but the city itself, got the much-needed rest that was required. Not the crisis way though. But it is what it is.

In Mumbai, can you imagine…

Just trains at an empty Churchgate Station?
Deserted Dadar Station?
Queueless bus stops at Andheri Station?
Only Gateway, and no one around?
A Silent Juhu Beach?
Zero traffic roads?
No noise, silence all around, voice echoing?

Can you? No, you can’t. But due to Covid-19 Crisis, it is what it is.

These can’t-imagine calm-no-chaos scenarios are very well captured by the Scroll Team in a video on Mumbai during Lockdown. When you watch the video, it feels different, it doesn’t feel like Mumbai, but it is no doubt the very busy city in a temporary resting phase as of now.

Mumbai_Lockdown_Scroll.in_2020

Link: https://scroll.in/video/958198/lockdown-aerial-survey-of-mumbai-without-people-or-traffic-on-the-streets-shows-surreal-sights

As for me and lockdown…well, it is Me-Books-Facebook-Instagram-Google-CoronaVirusDiseaseNews-Netflix-AmazonPrime-Researching-Resting-Cleaning-OccasionalVideoCalls-MeAgain…I like the present Google-Doodle…here’s a glimpse…

I like the phrase, which is almost the theme for the last season of Sherlock – TV Series (on Netflix now): “Is it what it is.” When you can’t change it, better accept it. Such is the case now. 21 days or further extension? It is what it is, and it is for the best of the rest.

Sherlock_AshuBlogs_OrderInChaos

Well then, until next, #StaySafe.

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

‘Me’dical Writing, and the journey begins…

More than once, I have been asked to guide on a career as a Medical Writer and why I chose this field. It is difficult to address each and everyone’s query as some are on Messenger, some on Email, some on LinkedIn, etc etc etc. Therefore, I have decided to write a piece on the topic so that it is easy for me to reply all queries just via a link, and those concerned, get the answer.

Let me begin with my journey, which is incomplete without giving a background on how I decided to opt for Medical Writing. This one is going to be a long write up. Have patience.

Part-I: Me vs The Universe

It starts post HSC (High School – Science: Year 1999), I completed my graduation in Alternative Medicine—Bachelors in Homoeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS) from SCMPH Medical College, Vile Parle, Mumbai. It is one of the best Homoeopathic Medical Colleges in India and I think even in Asia. The plan was to do MBBS and try to be a surgeon; but the Universe had other plans for me, I guess.

In the year 1999, MH-CET, a common entrance test, was introduced. Prior to this, admissions to medical colleges were based on High School 12th Grades gross percentage for the subjects Physics-Chemistry-Biology (PCB), may be Math (M), English and Hindi/Marathi were considered for overall aggregate percentage. It was PCM was for engineering admissions.

Well, back to the year 1999, at home, I got the permission to study but in Mumbai City, my residence city. And hence based on my MH-CET rank and also that I took admission in the second round1, I landed up taking admission in a medical college at a distance of 30 minutes via road from my house. It was then one of the two (alternative) medical colleges in the Western Suburbs of Mumbai. Rest all medical colleges (Modern Medicine and/or Alternative Medicine) then were situated in South Mumbai, also famously known as the town side.

Post completing BHMS, I wanted to pursue a post graduation in Medical Science but not an MD in Homoeopathic Medicine. I wasn’t prepared to go into full-time clinical practice. In 2005, I enrolled for MSc in Clinical Research (ICRI-Mumbai affiliated to Cranfield University, UK). Why? Because it was a revision of Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Surgery & Medicine for me, and the course covered Pharmacology, something which is missing in BHMS syllabus, ideally should have been covered or else a student’s knowledge on Modern Medicine gets limited as it is left for self-study. Plus, MSc in Clinical Research gave me insight into the Clinical Research domain. Now, in the last term of this two-year program, I decided to be a Medical Writer as that suited me best rather than be a Clinical Research Coordinator or Clinical Research Associate or Data Expert or other career options which the course offered.

Despite being one of the best students, I could not get job though campus placement. My bad luck is pretty high in life.  I never get anything without struggle. You will find me and the Universe in a perpetual state of argument without coming to an understanding. What it offers, I don’t understand. What I want, I am never offered.

Nevertheless, I started looking for a job in the Newspaper and on Job Portals, and somehow the Universe was a little kind, and I landed up with a job of a Medical Writer in Mumbai. But there is a twist here. The job was not in a Pharmaceutical Company or Clinical Research Organization (CRO) as I had hoped, but in an Advertising Agency. My planning is another thing which the Universe never approves. No clue why.

Since I was a fresher with no published article with my name or byline, or any formal training in Mass Communication, there was no negotiation for the salary. What was offered I took and what was offered was significantly low (very very low that took care of my travelling via public transport and simple food expense. I stayed with and still stay at my parents’ home. Not out of choice, more so because of so-called societal norms, of which, I am not a big fan but my mom thinks otherwise, always did and will continue to do so, I guess) in comparison to my peers who got job through campus placement. Well, they were the lucky lot.

And that’s how I got my first job as a Medical Writer in a Healthcare Advertising Agency, in the year 2007, after 8.5 years of post high school education with a salary that just did not justify the years spent in academics.

Part-II: Destiny? Choice? Both?

Now, what I did as a Medical Writer in a Healthcare Advertising Agency? Answer is both Medical Writing and Copy Writing. So it was medicine combined with creativity to send the message to the target audience. Healthcare ad agency has Pharma Companies, Medical Device Companies, Hospitals, Diagnostic Centres, Nutritional Products, etc as clients. So I was ideating, writing and editing very scientific copy as well as creative lines/copy for product/service promotion. In short, I was Design Thinking right from my first job–a term that I came across only three years back during MBA sessions.

The work was either B2B – Business to Business or B2C – Business to Consumer communication creation. I had to write catering to both of Business Systems here. If the client brief was clear, then the copy gets approved very quickly. Unfortunately that was and is almost never the case. Therefore, be prepared to work on one brief for at least 3 to 5 times if you are a fresher. Your copy gets rejected till the client approves, which you are to ensure as each client is important business that brings money to your agency and hence your pay. Well, honest answer, each rejection tames your ego because your best idea is trashed and so is a bit of your ego. It was a good ego taming exercise. You have to work very closely with the Copy Writers, Copy Editors, Proofreaders, Creative/Graphics Team, Digital Team, Printers, Vendors, Client Servicing Team, Product Managers (if the agency has that department), and occasionally, ‘The Client’. Also, the working hours depends on the project deadline. If you want a sharp 9 am to 5 pm job and weekends free, then I doubt this is the right choice. There are times when the team works overnight and throughout the weekends to ensure the deliverable is on time, especially during Product Launches and other Events.

My creative side got a boost here. I was a good Medical Writer and not-so-bad Copy Writer! I got a decent appraisal post six months, which allowed me to eat once in a while in a good restaurant but again on splitting-bill basis. Paying the entire group bill was still a long way to go.

Next job was in a website company – a Healthcare Website as a Medical Content Developer. It was in 2008, and I got 100 percent raise. Not bad at the time of economic recession. But my previous pay itself was low, so this wasn’t great amount, but I was grateful. I could pay the entire food bill if I was in a group. The office was closer to my residence saving the travel time. Universe was a little kind this time.

What I did here? Well, I was leading the team, other writers were freelancers. Writing was solely B2C. The copy had to be website user friendly, means it was supposed to be scientific but written in easy understandable language without a reader getting tangled in medical jargons. It was good learning experience. I was introduced to Blog here as there was a Company Blog and posted on it. And hence, I decided to have my own blog. So yes, I am blogging for 11 years now! It was job low on stress, 10 am to 6 pm, alternate Saturdays off, nothing to complain.

I completed a short-course in Creative Writing from XIC, Mumbai and enrolled in MA English from SNDT Women’s University (Distance Education) to help me polish my writing skills.

Next 2010, I got job in Infomedia18, a part of Network18, as a Senior Features Writer for two B2B Magazines – Modern Medicare and Modern Pharmaceuticals. This was a breakthrough for me. Network18 is a big brand and that on my CV, I was happy. Pay was ok. Not great. Still traveling public transport, with may be once in a month cab drive from home to work place (Western Suburbs to South Mumbai). Otherwise it was either railway or BEST bus or both. Oh yes, now I could afford to buy branded garments and accessories. A few, not many. Earlier, I never entered these stores or mall. Window shopping is not me. I either shop or not.

I worked here for one year. I am glad I got to work as a correspondent, a journalist and a writer, all at once. But I think I wanted more than this. I enjoyed one year. I got to travel to three cities – Hyderabad, Chennai and Goa. I loved interacting with team members from other cities and other organizations. Attending press conferences, events, field visits, interviewing experts, reviewing books/products—all was a new experience as I have to be attentive in each of the above mentioned events because I was expected to file post event article. It was a good break. However, I had to move on.

Next, year 2011, I joined the Corporate Communication Team of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH)—one of the leading hospitals of Mumbai. The same year, I decided to appear for Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam. It was my last chance to give the exam as there is an age limit. And I appeared with one month of preparation. I was sure I wouldn’t get selected. But I wanted to eliminate the ifs-buts in life. To live with an-if or a-but is difficult. So it is best to know a- yes or a-no so as to live at peace. Well, it was a No. But I had a job in one of the best hospital in the city. I was Thankful to the Universe.

Pay, not great2. I still did not have a formal degree in Mass Communication. Neither did I have a Business Administration qualification. And I was still in my second year MA English as I took one year break to appear for the UPSC exam. But, I couldn’t complain. The hospital is at a walking distance from my house. So it saved money on travelling, which I spent on buying more of branded clothes and accessories. Not a wise decision, I do realize that now. A penny saved is a penny earned. I am gaining that wisdom the hard way. But I was happy! 🙂

Working hours, same as any corporate organization—9 am sign in, but there is no fixed time for signing out. All hospitals work 6 days in a week and on Sundays it is mostly working again as all conferences are weekend events. I am grateful that I got to report to the decision makers and every reporting was a different experience in itself. I worked here for three years—three years of rigorous working and three -years of learning-learning-learning so much that the knowledge gained is something I will carry forward throughout my career.

What I did as a Corporate Communication professional? Well, here it was Corporate Communication + Branding. Basically, we were a team of four and we functioned as an In-House Advertising Agency + PR Agency + Media Buying Agency + Digital Team + Internal Communication Team. Yes, each in itself is a job description, we did it all and we made a very versatile team. For me, it was a job balancing between writing and coordinating, both internal and external communication. In sort, now, I was a Design Thinker and a Project Manager.

I completed my MA English and a Post Grad Diploma (PGD) in Project Management from S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) while working at KDAH. The Senior Management and HR team were very cooperative when it came to pursuing further education. Universe blessed me here. The organization was becoming my comfort zone, and for some reason, comfort zone isn’t a great feeling.  I know it is strange but so is the case with me. And therefore, it was time to move.

Next job was a mere coincidence that happened in 2014. I was to join a healthcare advertising agency again, but I landed working with Wockhardt Hospitals Group for the launch of their flagship hospital in South Mumbai. Now, this was something I have never done before and wanted to see where I stood. It was my first job on paper that had dual reporting. I was reporting to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO). I was a part of the Marketing Team responsible for the PR (Media Releases, Press Conference, etc.) and also responsible for an IT Project and Digital Content. A very unique experience. A chance to apply my project management skills to the fullest extent. A successful launch. It involved coordination with many agencies and vendors. A hospital launch project is something one should experience if you are a part of hospital sector.

Pay was ok2. My shopping continued. I traveled more often in cab (often, not always). Thinking back, overall, it was good. I was doing my Mass Communication from Xavier Institute of Communication (XIC), Mumbai now and I got permission from my seniors and the HR team, which meant a lot considering that I was in the system for only six months.

Year 2015: Another coincidence. I was to join a foundation, but I took the other offer – Brand and Communication Lead at Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai. Pay was ok 2. I added ecommerce to my buying list. Yes I know, my shopping list just keeps getting lengthier. Not a wise call.

Once again, the hospital is located close to my house that equals to less time spent travelling = less stress. Travelling in Mumbai can be very stressful if you reside at a distance from the work place. A job close to your residence is considered as a blessing.

Then, the hospital was in aggressive marketing mode as it was the after phase when the Operations & Management (O&M) was overtaken by the new management team. I was a part of the new team, not the trust employee. Here, I saw how to balance between the union and non-union employees. A very big learning lesson. Here, communication strategy may be the same as in other hospitals, but the tactic has to be different. Many emotions, many sentiments. All need to be balanced. But I had a wonderful experience working with all the professionals here, union or otherwise. Well, I had applied to various MBA programs and I got selected for PGPMX (equivalent to MBA) at the Indian Institute of Management Indore (IIMI). Once again, the Seniors and the HR were considerate and I was given permission to attend the college on weekends. But now balancing between academics and almost seven days working was challenging.3 If not at work, I was to be available on call, and college has some decorum to follow, plus assignment deadlines to meet. So I had to take a break from an extremely busy corporate life to a life of a Consultant, much relaxed. Another spin from the Universe as this wasn’t the actual plan.

Part-III: Medical & Marketing Consultation

From 2016 onwards: Presently, I am a Consultant to various Marketing, Communication, Branding, Advertising & Strategy Projects. Mostly healthcare, but I have also been part of projects from other sectors like NGOs, Education, Real Estate, Start-Ups, Fashion, Finance and there is ample to add to this list. I am working on it.

So yes, I started as a Medical Writer, then Digital Content Lead, worked as a Journalist, spent five years leading the Hospitals’ Branding & Communication Teams, and now, a Marketing Consultant. This journey equals to 12 years of working and educating, simultaneously. Not an easy journey, but not a very difficult one too.

In every new job, I got to utilize the training gained through an additional academic qualification that added more quality and value to my existing work experience and technical skills. I won’t call my professional life a total success yet, but I don’t think it is a failure either. An attitude of gratitude helps me sail through difficult phases. Universe, hope you are listening/reading, whatever!

Medical Writing in a Nutshell

I would like to describe Medical Writing as:

  1. B2B: Business to Business. Very scientific. Full of medical jargons as the audience is expected to be well-versed in the medical field. Research and Evidence Based statements. Relevant Citations to be given wherever required. Citations should follow standard norms. Care should be taken that proper referencing guidelines is followed or else the article is subject to plagiarism. Some examples would be a Chapter in a Medical Text Book, Research Papers and Published Magazine Articles with industry expert quotes.
  2. B2C: Business to Consumer. Easy language yet no deviation from the fact. Audience does not understand medical dictionary. This needs to be kept in mind while writing. You can make it creative, add statistical data, images, videos, etc. Facts have to be from relevant source (and mention the source). Copy pasting can lead to copyright issues. Hence, one should be very careful while creating content. Examples would be any healthcare website that gives basic information on disease and its management or any lifestyle or fashion magazine that has an article on healthcare and wellness.
  3. C2C: This is a type that has more to do with the advent of social media. Say for example, someone is asking a disease related question on a forum and the other person is answering to that query. Now, what is important is that the answer has to be evidence-based. One wrong reply and you never know who is reading, what age the person is, and if the answer is not medically and scientifically sound, then it can create massive problem to some life. Hence, it is best the questions are replied by experts – not necessary a doctor, the person should be a qualified expert in that field – say a PhD or other relevant medical qualification. It is always best to visit your treating doctor to get a prescription. Online medical content is just to create awareness, and its application is not accurate when it comes to making a diagnosis or in actual disease management. Clinical Examination by a doctor plays a crucial role while coming to a diagnosis. This is something one cannot do online. So please, all readers, visit your treating physician for the right diagnosis, treatment and follow-ups.

Now, the approach to writing will differ based on the communication medium– Print or Digital, Paid, Owned or Earned Media, etc. I will describe that in detail may be in another post. Also, while creating content, try to focus on the 6 W’s – Why, Where, When, Who, What and How. It simplifies the content and makes it more reader friendly.

And when I say ‘Content’, I do not mean only writing pieces. It can be Research Paper, Ad copy, Ad campaign, Audio Visual, AV Script, Ad Script, Movie Script, Movie, Film, Video, Image, Animated Images, Website, Social Media, Blog, Vlog…anything and everything that sends a message to the readers/audience.

Those who are interested in my work, the following are links to some of the magazine issues that has articles published under my byline. All articles, by all authors, in every issue are worth reading irrespective of the year it was published. Highly insightful and applicable even in the current setting.

Magazine Links:

AshuBlogs_Panorama_MedicalWriting


https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_january_2011 https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_february_2011 https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_march_2011
https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_may_2011
https://issuu.com/infomedia18/docs/modern_medicare_april_2011

Thank you for your patience. Hope this helped.

Note:

1 In 1999 when MH-CET was introduced, there were three rounds for admission then and all the candidates, who has cleared the entrance, had to travel to Nashik as the MUHS University was then shifted from Mumbai to Nashik—a city at a 3  to 4 hours road way distance from Mumbai. If I would have waited for third round then I would have wasted 6 months, which means next batch, but probably would have got admission in Mumbai or Navi Mumbai in MBBS or BDS as many of my batchmates with lower ranks got. However, it was the first time for admissions through an entrance test and people were confused, with no one guide. The Internet then was slow and there were no smart phones. Also, the decision was influenced by the fact that my family had just shifted to Mumbai in 1996 after my father’s sudden death and we were still grieving. Until June 1996, I was a student, a proud student, of MES Indian School, CBSE, Doha-Qatar. Post this, all my education, which is very extensive, is from academic institutions situated in Mumbai, India.

2 Pay in the Indian Hospital Sector is low in comparison to other sectors. It is pretty much similar to the NGO or Foundation pay. Slightly higher may be. But not a wow salary. However, be it economic high or low phase, hospitals are always functioning. So yes job security is high. Plus an employee may get some Health Check Discounts.

3 All academic programs which I completed while I was working were either Distance Education or Part-Time Weekend Programs. A Hospital Functions 24/7-365 days. So balancing work and academics is not easy.

– Ashu Bolar
Email: ashubolar@gmail.com
LinkedIn: https://in.linkedin.com/in/drasmayousuf

Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2020

Yes, No, Yes, No, and finally I made it to the Kala Ghoda Art Festival (#KGAF2020) the country’s largest multicultural festival, a nine day fest, on the last day, 9th February 2020. It was a Sunday and it was crowded. So this time, I could not click the best of best pictures of the art work, installations, stalls, etc.

Some interesting brand visibility activities comprised of the Foot Massage by Trained Students from the Victoria Memorial School for the Blind, Pearl Academy Photo Op Installation and the Monster Activity at the Jaslok Hospital’s stall to raise awareness on diseases like Cancer.

Besides these, a few things that caught my eye where captured by my camera…

KalaGhoda2020_AshuBlogs_18

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

Grass-Green or Life-Green?

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

An idiom. A quote. Must have heard pretty often. Must have said more than once.

But is it so?

Well, the idiom also goes as: The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.

I remember a friend saying once, “Asma, the grass is greener on neither sides!” That is way too pessimistic I think. Never mind her. But post attending SBAC 2020 yesterday, made me think of the application of this idiom in my life. Well, we will see how.

SBAC 2020 is a Business Academia Conclave organized by SP Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR). The theme this year was Innovation & Technology, The India Story #UnlockTheNext.

The topics discussed were…

  • Talk: Innovation and Technology Drives Business Growth
  • Panel Discussion: From Data to Insight to Foresight
  • Panel Discussion: Is Technology a Challenge for Innovation in Traditional Companies?
  • Panel Discussion: Industry Boundaries Reshaping; Business Models Innovation with Technology
  • Panel Discussion: Are leaders the drivers of innovation?
  • Talk: How Technology and Innovation Come Together to Create Superior Socially Sound Outcomes?

I am glad I registered and attended the conclave, an opportunity to meet professors, who taught me and contributed in some way to who I am today; alumni, who then were batchmates and a few now are besties; newer batches – the young, the vibrant, the robust ones; and of course, the conclave speakers, who were some of the most innovative minds from various industries in India. It is difficult to discuss on each Speaker. One-liners will not do justice. The picture below itself introduces each one of them.

AshuBlogs_SBAC1
For more information on speakers, please visit: https://www.spjimr.org/sbac2020#field-conclaves-tab-3
Those interested in watching the Conclave Discussions and Talks can visit: https://www.spjimr.org/sbac2020#field-conclaves-tab-3

Each speaker had a unique personality, a distinct outlook on the subject discussed, each an achiever, a successful story. This made me think, “Asma, as an audience or otherwise, grass is greener on that side, not your side, not yet at least.” I am still to reach those corporate heights, yet to learn more and experience a different kind of adrenaline rush of the upper echelon. “Yes Asma, adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone.”

And then there was a talk by Mr. Sonam Wangchuk. His was a different story—outstanding in many ways.

The character Phunsukh Wangdu from the Bollywood Movie 3 Idiots was one of my favourite characters. Well played by Aamir Khan, remarkable in reel life—‘extraordinary’ in real life. Yes, Sonam Wangchuk’s story and life both are extraordinary. A Mechanical Engineer by education, Mr Sonam Wangchuk has been working in the field of education reform for more than 27 years. After he finished his engineering studies in 1988, instead of joining the corporate world, he choose to be innovative, not for a vision set by someone else, but for his own vision. And he founded Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL | http://www.secmol.org), which aims to bring reforms in the government school system in Ladakh. So far it has, and with clear focus and persistence, in future too it shall.

Besides education, Sonam Wangchuk’s contributions include…

  • At the SECMOL Alternative School, with students, he designed and built solar heated buildings that are low cost, made of earth/mud but maintain +15 Celsius even when the outside temperature is – 15 Celsius in Ladakh winters (Source: SBAC2020 Website)
  • For solving the water crisis faced by the people residing in the mountainous terrains due to climate change and fast melting glaciers, he invented the Ice Stupa, an artificial glacier, which stores the stream waters in winter in the form of giant ice cones or Stupas and releases the water in late spring as they melt just when farmers need water (Source: SBAC2020 Website)

The video on I Live Simply Movement summarizes some attempts made by SECMOL to save the environment. More can be read on: https://www.hial.edu.in/ilivesimply-movement/

Now, this made me think, “Asma, this is Ladakh. This is not green grass. This is life green on the other side.” This is happiness, contentment, satisfaction gained because others are happy, contented, satisfied. Here, the others are not just customers, who are some numbers to be achieved. But they are curious young minds, the future of the country, of the world—each one of them can be a different unique success story in his/her own little world. Every story may not be published, but every story will be remembered in your heart as your success story as well. Here instead of making just myself the success, I create so many little successes, together they will be much bigger than my own story, much broader than I can achieve in my lifetime, and much larger than I alone can contribute to this generation and the generations ahead. A priceless feeling. An unmatched experience. “Hmmm Asma, this releases endorphins, the happy hormones.”

So now the question is what do I choose? Adrenaline or Endorphins? Grass-Green or Life-Green?

I guess both—dose of Adrenaline mixed with Endorphins. I am not sure of the effects and side effects of this mixture. Could be lethal or could be curative. However, I think if I survive, then I will be able to narrate a very different kind of Grass-Green story. Success or not, I can’t say, I can’t guess but I can try, hope and pray for green, grass and life.

Well, those were some thoughts I was left with.

The conclave was held at Taj Lands End, Bandra, Mumbai, a beautiful venue. Each Taj is beautiful in itself, and has an inimitable ambiance, giving the visitor an everlasting memory, and if that is combined with great company then it turns into a cherished memory. Thank you SPJIMR. Thank you my friends. Thank you Lalita.

Some cherished memories…

Doodled version of the topics. Doodle Credit: Mr. Santosh Nair

Photo Credit: LalitaC and My Archive

#SBAC2020 #SPJIMR #UnlockTheNext #IamSPJIMR #SPJIMRAlumni #ILiveSimply

Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

The Five Senses and Common Sense

We all know about the known Five Senses.

  1. Sight means Eyes
  2. Hear means Ears
  3. Smell means Nose
  4. Taste means Tongue
  5. Touch or Feel means Skin

And then very important sense is common sense—all combined are very essential for survival. Unfortunately, common sense is a rare occurrence, rather very uncommon these days, especially in the smart phone era. I am not sure if a smart phone is making its user smart or dumb so that it (as in the phone) appears smart. In my experience, most of the time it is the latter; because intelligent use of any smart phone can make an individual really smart.

I have come across many Smart People (SP) in the last few years, who are busy (as in super busy) using phones, posting stories, just for the sake of likes and comments, most of which are only for trading purpose—I liked your post so now you like mine, a silent barter in the 21st century. I wonder sometimes have we evolved or the entire evolution is just an illusion. The infrastructure and ambiance changes, but has the behavior? Not sure.

Case-1:

Sometime back, I had travelled with one such Smart Person to a very famous and well known tourist destination where it is required to travel by a ferry. Now, the SP was busy clicking images and making videos and posting them, and during low network connectivity phases, there was visible anxiety switched to bouts of mood elevation when the signal bars increased to three or four as now the posts can be posted instantly. They are supposed to be stories. In my understanding stories are either fiction or non-fiction. But either ways it cannot deny the core logic. And my logic says if a story is posted and if you call yourself intelligent then you will narrate a story that will communicate something sensible to the audience. Otherwise it is mere waste of time. And time is life. Means it is waste of life.

Now, the images and videos were posted with some catchy lines and icons and emojis. Relevant research was done on the Internet to choose places to visit and make the so called instant stories. But the SP did not know the name of either Wharf of both the districts (extremely famous names, movies are made in and on these locations, and a resident of the city has to know it types of general information), which was a source of dumbness that created a lot of confusion and irritation to me (I got tired answering nonsensical questions) as well as service providers (who were managing a crowd of hundreds of passengers during the Holiday Season) as the SP constantly mixed the wharf name with the ferry service provider brand names (there was similarity in the spellings).

To me, it is like knowing a country and not knowing the capital city or the vice versa. It appears as if you were sleeping all the years in your school. Not expected from an experienced working professional. And not acceptable when you happen to be a trained Communication Professional because any communication is to be posted or published only after a thorough research. A little ‘sensible research’ would have been helpful. The instant stories and posts will get likes, but in real life you are collecting nothing but dislikes with incomplete knowledge.

Case-2:

Similar incidence was with another SP acquaintance, who is also very active on the social media. The person had come to me to discuss an interview disaster. This SP was called for an interview on a Radio Channel for a marketing position. Now the interviewer among various questions asked about the RJs – Radio Jockeys are essential to every Radio Channel as they are one of the main sources of content generation/communication and consumer engagement—very important when it comes to marketing a media service. Now guess what the SP did? Named RJs of another radio channel and mentioned that “I am a big fan of that RJ.” And the interviewer replied, “Great, but that RJ works for the competitor channel.”—which meant ‘if we select you, then you will be working with us but promoting the opposite channel on our payroll.’ Again, a little ‘research’ would have saved the face.

Attending an Interview for the position of Marketing Manager without knowing what is to be marketed is beyond dumbness. I don’t even know what to call it. The SP felt it was bad luck. I think it was good luck as it was not me who was the interviewer or else I guess it may have been the last time the person ever attempted a marketing job interview.

Case-3:

Another instance, a corporate communication senior executive working in a Giant MNC chain (Service Sector, Hospitality Industry) posts a selfie on a Monday during working hours on Social Media with hashtags #MondayBlues #BadDay #Boss etc. etc. If I was in the HR department, then my reply to the post would have been #Fired #LeaveImmediately.

Service industry – Hospitality, Hospital, Tourism, Aviation, etc etc. are very active on Social Media to reach the masses and to proactively or actively enhance the services for the consumers. I cannot imagine someone working in any industry, especially in the service sector (many time employees are expected to wear uniform), posting such nonsense on any day with or without the formal dress code.

Some people think owning a smart phone is smartness. Well, above are three cases of the Smart Phone Smartness. I will call these cases as we do in medicine, and not examples, because to me such SP cases appear more like addiction and obsession that requires some intervention. Now, if you have more than one smart phone, then think, think hard.

Any media, social or otherwise is a source of information. It can be News Paper or TV or Radio or Digital Forum or Trade Event or Any Event—it can be any medium of communicating with the audience. However, the basic rule of Communication remains the same: Always Authentic Information. When I say ‘research’ I mean content based on verified facts no matter who writes it. It can be a journalist or an author or a blogger or a social media influencer or anyone, but factual information. Anything otherwise that is nonfactual is a rumour, which is not to be reacted on, unless you want to Laugh Out Really Loud or you want to be Laughed Out Loud.

One should know what to like/share and what not to, when to comment and when to stay quiet, when to be a part of the discussion forum and when to just be an audience, especially those in the marketing and communication professions associated with media. Once you are associated with an organization, you become the brand ambassador for that organization/brand. One comment/like/share/post can have very detrimental effect on the organization/brand (that probably can still be managed) and on your career (that can kill your career).

Coming back to the Five Senses combined with Common Sense:

  1. Sight (Eyes): There is difference between Seeing and Looking.
  2. Hear (Ears): Hearing is not same as Listening.
  3. Smell (Nose): All that smells good is not roses.
  4. Taste (Tongue): Too much sweet is not good for health – literally and figuratively.
  5. Touch/Feel (Skin): Is it a good one? Or a bad one? Make a wise call. One mistake can ruin a life.

I hope you get the message. So once again, the choice is yours: Either LOL or Get LOLed.

FiveSenses&CommonSense_AshuBlogs_Panoramaa1

– Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

Change, Changing, Changed

Change, a six letter word, which means to create a difference or be the difference or both.

So the changing process…

Is it easy? Not at all.

Any choices? Not actually.

Change is constant. Well, it is. So you change, adapt or else the option is you become a dinosaur—extinct. Survival of the fittest. Darwin’s Evolutionary Theory. Natural Selection.

Change is always challenging. It means transforming, revolutionizing in some cases. A massive behavioural shift. Overcoming fear in many cases; a fear of being trapped in a vicious cycle.

How aggravating can ‘Change’ be?

Scenario A: Every time the Windows software or an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning – a business process management software) upgrades, there is an expression of annoyance on most of our faces and a silent question – “Why again?” Answer: It is the need of the hour. A want may be.

Scenario B: Every time we switch our mobile phones, the excitement of new phone is diluted with the anxiety of learning and getting used to the new applications. But still you are smiling. Why? Answer: It is a desire fulfilled.

Changing…we generally don’t like it. Yet, we do it. Why?

Either we do not have a choice or we actually want to adapt, or may be survive.

So how do we do it while smiling and not sulking?

By converting a ‘want’ into a ‘desire’.

How?

Simple. Apply Design Thinking.

Now, what is Design Thinking? A new management terminology for something that existed almost always. It simply means be creative, be innovative. Think out of the box. If need be, think beyond the box. Or maybe just forget the box that limits your thinking. Just think!

Remember the arts class in our school days? The art teacher drew a Mickey Mouse on the black board and every student was to replicate that Mickey Mouse. However, every art book had a unique Mickey Mouse sketched—somewhere the tail was long, some places it was missing; some had large ears, some had tiny; and then the eyes! Every student had his/her version of Mickey Mouse.

Now, if say, in corporate terms, Mickey Mouse was the company’s vision drawn on the board by the art teacher (the manager here), then every student (means an employee) had a creative strategy to achieve that Mickey Mouse, that Vision. Some may look or sound good. Some may not. But if the class had 30 students, then there were 30 Design Thinking solutions right there on the art paper in the classroom (board room here).

Another analogy is a craft class. The craft teacher gives an A4 paper to 30 students and says, “Do anything, but the paper in the end of one hour should look anything but rectangle.” Again every student applies his/her mind. A result could be anything from a crushed paper ball to a beautiful paper sculpture.

We all have been there. We all have done it. We all know it. Design Thinking to me is nothing but letting my mind think without any blinders on. It is the application of art to the scientific thinking process—generating a thought that can give a solution to create want, then convert it into a desire, and thereon, to bring about a behavioural shift without forcing or emphasizing on the word CHANGE.

With creative thinking any unhappy scenario can be converted into a happy one.

Let’s apply this to Scenario A. What if the person is informed that the new Windows version or upgraded ERP has more pros than the visible cons? Often a person is upset not because of the change, but because it wasn’t informed. Here, communication plays a significant role. Timely and effective communication can make an individual aware that upgraded software equals to increased productivity, and thus, enhanced growth, both organizational and individual growth. Make this sound like the desired new phone and there you go…all happy, all smiles!

Some wise person once told me, “Asma, if there are two glasses, one full to the rim and one an inch or two less than the rim, then in such a scenario, which glass would you pour water in and why?”

I would pour water in the second glass as there is space to add the additional quantity. And, if I try pouring water in the first glass, then there will be an overflow and waste of water.

That is exactly similar with our minds. When we learn and learn, then we become glass-full with no space to add any new information. Hence, no inclination to adapt, and thus, we feel we do not have to change. However, when we put in efforts to constantly learn and unlearn, then there is space to add new information, new ideas, and may be, bring about new changes—create difference or be the difference.

Changed?

Hmmm, it is a process. It is ongoing in my case. Because to me, creating difference makes sense. Being a dinosaur doesn’t. I read ‘Dinosaur’ as ‘Die-No-Saw’, meaning I just exist without any contribution to the society, not a good feeling. How about you?

Change-Changing-Changed_AshuBolar_Panoramaa

…Ashu Bolar
ashubolar@gmail.com

SingleTON: Goa

What is SingleTON?
Single TravellingOverNight 🙂

For now, that is what I could think for the ‘TON’ in the word Singleton. In future, if my grey cells get creative, I may change the full form of the acronym.

Well, this section is on my short trips in India. It may-may not be an overnight stay, but for sure it is on a short vacation.

Destination: Goa, India
Days: 4 days 3 nights
Travel via: JetAirways (then it was operative. Now I would opt for Indigo Airlines)

Venue: Lotus Beach Resort, Benaulim, South Goa
Cost: Stay is Affordable in October-November as it is off-season. Very Affordable if you happen to be an Orchid Hotel member (I was, so got discounts on almost everything plus had utilized the member discount coupons for stay.)
Breakfast: Inclusive with the stay. Basic but good. (South Indian Menu, Eggs, Milk Shakes, Fruit Juice, Corn Flakes, Bread, Butter, Jelly, Tea, Coffee, Milk, etc.)
Food (Lunch/Dinner): Delicious

Cost of a car tour for North Goa: 10 am to 6 pm around Rs. 3000 (Please negotiate! I think I could have done better here.) Car/Cab cost from Goa Airport to Lotus Beach Resort would be some where around Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1200. Pre-Booked Cab/Taxi is expensive than private car. But safety is priority. So choose wisely.

Places Visited:
1. Big Foot Museum (It has got a gift shop inside which is worth visiting for souvenir shopping. Entry Tickets between Rs. 50 and Rs. 100 for Indian Citizens. I don’t remember the exact amount.)
2. Casa Araujo Alvares
3. Basilica of Bom Jesus
4. Fort Aguada
5. Benaulim Beach (A candle light dinner at Roger’s on the beach is a great experience and they serve very good sea food. I do not drink alcohol, so can’t comment on that. But Mocktail was good. That I remember. Food for two may cost Rs. 1000-2000 depending on what you order.)

What did I buy?
Good question. Important question when it is me, who likes, correction here, loves to shop. Zantye’s Cashew Nut packets, Bebinca,  Jute Bag, Maxi Dress, Floral Chappals, Anklets (from sellers at Benaulim Beach; Remember to Bargain) and Mario’s Picture Frame (There is an outlet inside the Goa Airport in case you miss the Mario shops in the city). Goa Airport has some interesting outlets of Brands — books, jewellery, souvenirs, and more.

And now, it’s time for some Goa Glimpses…

Big Foot Museum

Casa Araujo Alvares

Basilica of Bom Jesus 

Fort Aguada

Lotus Beach Resort

Random Clicks

Until my next SingleTON, take care and keep reading!

….Ashu Bolar