Public Speaking

This is the story of the 13th century Konya, in the country Turkey, a place where Muslim, Christian, Hindu, and even Buddhist travelers mingled. There was a huge unrest because the multiplicity of the religions, and the divisions among each religion. The place was predominantly dominated by muslims, and they were the ones who administered the entire city.

In that city, there was one man, who gave lectures in the mosques, whose words gave peace to the general public. He was the most revered and the most admired man in the city. His name was Jelaluddin Rumi.

Jelaluddin Rumi was born in the remote town of Balkh, in what is now Afghanistan.
Rumi, at the age of thirty-seven, had become an accomplished doctor of theology, the center of his own divinity school. He was a lover of the beautiful and the good, a scholar, and artist. Although he had such a strature, a good family, and students, he had a longing to know beyond. To solve the mystery that his heart could never unfold.
And in Konya, traveling from miles away was a blessed sufi. Sufis did not have a great reputation back then. When the muslims interpreted the Quran as a book that talked to kill the enemy, the Sufis said that the greatest of enemy for every person was his nafs or the ego. Once we kill the ego, nothing remains to fight for. What remains is sheer bliss and love. But at that time, when so many of the muslim women were abducted, and so many men murdered by the enemies, this seemed like an idea that would further enhance the downfall of their people, and they would not be left with anything at all.

This sufi was Shams of Tabriz. Shams was a strong wandering dervish monk. He lived on the street with laborers and camel drivers. He did not want followers or fame; he only wanted to find one person vast enough in spirit to his companion, someone with whom he could share his love, his wisdom.

He met Rumi in Konya.
As Rumi was riding a donkey through the marketplace, surrounded by disciples, a stranger with piercing eyes stepped from a doorway and seized his bridle. The stranger challenged him:

“Who is greater, Muhammad or Bestami?”

Bestami was an infamous legendary Sufi master given to ecstatic merging with God, then crying out with mystical candor that he and the God were one!

Muhammad was the founder of their tradition, the anointed one, but his greatness resided in his stature as messenger of God, and even when he died he said that he could not know him completely. So who was greater?

Rumi gave the approved answer, “Muhammad.”

“But Bestami said, ‘I am the Glory!’ Muhammad said, ‘I cannot praise you enough!’”

As Rumi was about to reply, he realized that this was no debate. In a dusty marketplace Konya, he had come face to face with the Mystery.

A doorway to eternity flickered open and, Rumi dove through. In an instant of mystical annihilation, fire met fire, ocean met ocean, and Rumi fell into pure being. To the outside world, it is only recorded that, at Shams’ question, Rumi “tumbled from his saddle to the ground, unconscious.”
When Rumi revived, lying on the ground, he answered, “Bestami took one swallow of knowledge and thought that that was all, but for Muhammad the majesty was continually unfolding. Bestami, thus had a small cup and when that was full, he thought it was the end. Mohammed, on the other hand, had a much bigger cup, and thus his thirst for knowledge could not be satiated.”

Shams felt the depth of the answer. This was the one he had sought.

The two began a series of months-long retreats into solitude where they entered into a deep communion of words and silences called sohbet. In multiple ways Shams reminded Rumi that the glory is our inner reality. Love is the religion. The universe is the book. He made him embrace the hated sections of the society such as the prostitutes, the drunkards, the beggars, and reminded him that love was the same for every man alike. Whenever Rumi wanted to ignore his teachings, an unsaid question from Shams would always haunt him, “You revered person, how big is your cup?”
But some of Rumi’s students saw their beloved teacher being spirited away by a madman, and their intrigues forced Shams to leave Konya. Shams was forced into exile several times, but he always returned at Rumi’s request. Finally on December 5, 1247, fanatics in the community took Shams’ life. The body disappeared. Rumi wandered for months – desolate in disbelief that his companion was really gone. One day, he realized there was no longer a need to search. Shams was with him, in him. Rumi embodied the Friendship, the love.
And our quest for knowledge will always depend upon the size of our cup for knowledge.

Public Speaking

What are we all striving for?

List A > Happiness

Let’s say today, I give all of you a bottle of panacea, which if you drink you can never be sad. The bottle will never get over, I promise but you need to drink it whenever you feel sad. Deal? Okay, so let’s start.

Last time you were happy because?

List B > Physical

One day, me and my friend got free early from the office and decided to party. We went back to our place, got dressed, decided to splurge that luxury budget and we listening to loud music and singing in the car. Then she got a call for which she quickly lowered the volume of the stereo and answered in a tensed tone, “What happened? How did this happen? When? Oh. That’s terrible. Is he okay?”

So someone from her family got sick and was admitted to the hospital and needless to say we didn’t party.

As you guys said,

Happiness = f (A, B, C,……..Z, AA, AB, AC………. ∞)                                                           Equation 1

But there we were having all the elements that we needed to be happy

Happiness (July 10) = f (Money, Club, Dress, Car, Parent’s permission)

So we had the RHS of the equation but not the LHS.


Happiness (July 10) ≠ f (Money, Club, Dress, Car, Parent’s permission)


Happiness (Any day) ≠ f (A, B, C,……..Z, AA, AB, AC………. ∞)                                      Equation 2

It was something else.

Now we have a questions

If happiness is not in the above function, how do we get it?

Happiness is a feeling. Probably,

Happiness = Ecstasy, fulfillment, overwhelming, satisfaction, accomplishment

Because a feeling is an “emotional state or a reaction” it’s only dependent on us.

Imagine if someone hugs you, you haven’t felt him really what you have felt is just sensations through your own mind.

Happiness = Feeling = f (Mind)                                                                 Equation 3

Now think about it, was all that you wanted in equation 1, really what you wanted?

Was all that you wanted a need or a strategy to get something else?

Now you would tell me that I am talking bullshit. It’s all a concept that you have heard but it certainly cannot be applied. So let’s try to call someone on the stage who has had a bad experience of a heartbreak and who does not hate me yet. We all have, maybe except Lalit because he is very smart!

So, anyone? It’s actually a dare for you to come.

Close your eyes, breathe, slap!

Now, tell me, when you came here, what were you expecting?

List > Be witty, show some speaking, voice, body language, word of the day, etc.

Or in other words, you were here for RESPECT and I took that away.

Did the slap break your bones or make you bleed? No.

It actually makes your face firmer and your pores smaller according to Thai practices of beauty but you will still curse me because I slapped you?

Now, if it was not me but a 10 year old, would you still feel the same? No, right.


Pain from a slap (10 year old)         =                       Pain from a slap (10 year old)

No or insignificant ↓ Respect                                          ↓ Respect Manifold

What you wanted was a function of mind and how you tried to gain it was through this stage of Toastmasters, which is outside your mind.

Now imagine, this was not you whom I slapped but Mother Teresa, will she feel that her respect has reduced? No, because the world respects her and if one person is stupid enough to slap her, she’d probably treat me like a 10 year old who knows nothing.

The point is, she in herself is full of respect for herself.

Oprah Winfrey once said, you cannot give something that you don’t have. If you do not respect yourself so much that it is overflowing to the extent of reaching others, you can’t respect someone. Your cup of everything must be full and overflowing.

But what should be there in your cup is the last question?

Happiness (Any day) ≠ f (A, B, C,……..Z, AA, AB, AC………. ∞)                                      Equation 2

Then what should be there in your cup?

If you make your deeds worthy of self respect and respect others

If you have trust that the other person always intends to do good to you but sometimes he is incapable of doing it

And if you know that the other person wants to understand you but sometimes he is incapable, you will always be happy.

Last but not the least, all these things can be encompassed by practicing this one activity,

Increase the bandwidth of communication. Trust and give them more chances, increase your threshold and see how it makes you happy!


Public Speaking

“Happy Birthday…..” My dad who gave me the best gifts, gave me this. Do you know what this is? You know what stone is this? It’s called a pumice stone. And my dad who always gave me the most expensive gifts, did not even care to take off the price tag. “7 bucks”

Good evening contest chair, judges and all those of you who have wished for more ostentatious birthday gifts but got something like this.

When I was young, I wished being as beautiful as Snowwhite or Cinderella, but I was a fat girl, not the fancy kind of fat the girls these days crib about but to put to shape if people resembled a cylinder I resembled a sphere. I was always the last one to be picked for a football team and the only reason they ever picked me up was if they actually wanted a football.

Since sports did not work out for me, I decided to go the nerd way. One night while I was busy gazing out of the window searching for my shooting star, Voila! There it was. I quickly closed my eyes and wished to top my Maths exam to be held the next day. Now came the judgment day and the teacher called out my roll number “Roll No. 23“. I jumped out of my seat, marched towards my teacher expecting my star to have done its magic. But she said, “Failed!”

Moving a few years ahead, the fear of numbers still pulsating in my mind, I met the super man of the subject and he started helping me out. He gave me a lot of attention so I started wishing and dreaming again. A heart shaped balloon starting bubbling in my head. After a good 10 months of inflating this balloon together, I found him drifting away. I called him a woman replied “the number you are calling is busy, please call again later” *toon toon toon*. I dropped a message *hand gesture 10*. Until I found he was inflating the balloon of someone else. Yet another failure.

Rejected by sports, dejected in studies and humiliated by love, I had just hit rock bottom. The only place I wanted to be was, wrapped by my father’s arms. I ran towards him and hugged him so tight never wanting to leave that safe haven.

Knowing all that I had faced, he said in his calm tone “ This is not forever” “No dad” I retaliated, “The universe hates me. God doesn’t answer my wishes.” With a gentle smile he answered, “Lado, wishes don’t work independently, they work with failures.” and  handed me the pumice stone that I had once rejected because it was too trivial. “This stone is no less than a magic lamp. When you rub this stone on your skin, it will hurt you but in no time, it will shed off all your dead skin and leave you glowing. And when failures rub on you, don’t be scared of the pain but face it with courage. Your weakness will be scraped in no time. When a failure touches you, don’t run away, let it hurt you, break you, make you cry and take you down but it is this friction that will sharpen you, make you more capable. And the next step to failure is always success”

This pumice stone, my friends, taught me the essence of failure.

Collecting shattered pieces of my heart, I started working on one wish at a time. Scored better in Mathematics than the superman of mathematics. Started running a mile a day and recently won a Marathon. Also became the opening batsman of the Infosys Cricket Team.

Only when you accumulate some dead cells, the mighty stone does its job. Failure comes to scrape your shortcomings.

A century ago, a man created 5999 failed filaments over a period of two years, but the 6000th one was a success. Yes, Thomas Edison learnt from those 5999 failed attempts. For two years, Micheal Jordan was cut out from his high school basketball team and that motivated him to be the greatest basketball player of our generation.

In life it is inevitable to live without failing unless you live so cautiously that you might not have lived at all, in which case you fail by default. So I wish you failure and I ask you to wish me the same because the failures can turn our weakness into strength, can make a wish come true, the only condition being, never ever quit. Now I am ready to fail. Are you?

Public Speaking

As a little girl, I loved cartoons. I had a firm belief that I would find the magical lamp. And when I rub it hard, a big blue balloon shaped guy would be flying in my room and waiting to fulfill my wistful wishes. And to your astonishment, I did find one. It was in my grandmother’s old house. I slowly went ahead to get it, very slowly took it in my hands, rubbed the lamp and boom! Can you guess what happened? My cousins entered the room and they couldn’t stop laughing at me and my imagination.

Good evening, contest chair, judges and all those of you who have secretly wished to find the lamp.

Just like any dreamy child, I had 2 goals in my life one academics two, sports. But my belief in wishes, genies and the shooting stars was far more than the clichéd way of achieving success. I thought they can protect me from embarrassment and failure. One night while I was busy with my usual star gazing, to my good luck, I found the shooting star. I quickly closed my eyes and prayed for myself to top in English.

Now came the judgment day and the teacher called out my roll number “Roll No. 23“. I marched with my shoulders high to the teacher expecting my star to have done its magic but to “my surprise”, I flunked. Apparently not studying was more powerful than the shooting star.

3 years later, when I was past all the genies and shooting stars and I started enjoying English literature, I scored the maximum in my class.

Now during my early schooling years, I was a FAT KID and not the fancy kind of fat we crib about now but to put it to shape, if people resemble a cylinder, I resembled a sphere, I was a cute chubby kid (PICTURE- PROP). In school, people used to love the games period but for me it was a nightmare. I was the last one to be picked for a football team and the only reason they would ever pick me up was if they actually needed a football.

I used to believe one wish could help me, but I was wrong. I wished I was slimmer, I wished I was like Tendulkar because he was the only sportsman I knew & I wished to be better than every person I saw. A new day, a new benchmark, a new wish.

But 12 years forward, just a couple of weeks back I won the marathon, 2 months ago I hit the winning runs for the infy cricket team.

Going 5 years back, when I was preparing for my MBA entrances, there was this guy who was the superman of mathematics ……… and I was struggling with Maths. He gave me a lot of attention which led me to doing the same. A heart shaped balloon starting inflating in my mind and I placed both of us in that cocoon. After a good 10 months of living in that balloon, I found him drifting away. I called him, got a message “the number you are trying is busy” *toon toon toon*. I called again, the same. I dropped a message *hand gesture 10*. Now I could see a pin with the wings of a devil flying towards my heart shaped balloon bursting it away and leaving me berserk. I had a flashback. My laughing cousins, the school sports period and every little silly moment of mine.

But again fast forwarding 3 years where I made myself the woman and even the man of my dreams, he called back, all chatty and dreamy but this time we had our laughs he fell for me and even I fell for…. Well myself.

We all have struggles and we all make wishes. We all wish life was simple. We all wish that we were richer and better. And the tragedy is we all judge by a win or loss. Success is overrated. And so are almonds. Just like success doesn’t give you much to learn, almonds don’t make you wise. What makes you learn is failure. Failure is not easy, in fact they will make you worse before they make you better. But I still say fail, I bless that you fail and I ask you to wish me failure. Because I know wishes won’t work but failures most likely would. And if they do, those failures would make me stronger than ever before because the only rule in life is to not quit. And now I am ready for it. Are you?

Public Speaking

Just imagine the time of war when you are on a battlefield, there is blood everywhere… your troops are moving forward…from days you haven’t eaten enough… you are tired. you have to move forward. Suddenly there is a divine intervention but you are put in a dilemma. You are given a choice either a gun oooorrrrr  a triple chocolate cheesecake.  What will you do..???

Good afternoon, my fellow Toastmasters, contest chair and judges.

I had a theory that life is short, so eat the dessert first. But turns out that life is like a jar of jalepenos, what you do today might burn your ass tomorrow. So what do we do?

Have you been at the crossroads in your life? You would have to choose between your lovely mom or that lucrative onsite assignment.

There was once someone whom I loved and with whom I dreamt about my life. Someone whom I used to define who I was. Someone who wrote poems for me. He brought me a diamond bracelet. And a blue dress because blue was his favorite color. Someone who loved taking my pictures. Someone who said, he can’t stop thinking about me. We talked about everything, small or big! I didn’t know why we discussed his room-mate made who made sounds while eating and how I was responsible for it when he was annoyed, but the only logical solution was to take the responsibility of it and make him feel loved. We talked every day, 40 times. When he didn’t perform well in his exams, I told him that he was the best. He shouted at me that I was lying but I proved it to him every single time. He got apprehensive. I loved. He got mad. I loved. He slapped me, I kissed him. From my first salary, I bought him a wallet. I called him, but I got a message “The number you’re calling is busy. Please try again later.” *toon toon toon* I waited, assuming he was busy. And waited and then called. Dropped a message. Called. Dropped another message, another message another message and then called again. I waited wearing that bracelet and the blue dress that he gave me. I waited for months with the doors open and the lights on from where he walked out with another girl.

He broke me and now I was just some scattered pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. So many questions left unanswered. I was a grain of sand in a desert where there were a lot of ways but not a direction.

Life is not a cheesecake, it is like a jar of jalepenos. It will not be sweet but spicy. I was in a dilemma to choose the man that hurt me or a life without the person whom I loved. But it was still not as difficult as the dilemma of a 23 year old girl trying to put a smile on her face when chemo takes away her lovely locks. But still it will not be as difficult as the dilemma of a soldier who is trying to save millions and knows that the next chase could bring his little daughter to tears.

When you are at any crossroad, no matter how difficult or easy there is nothing but one simple rule to follow. Take a step. Don’t stop, don’t wait. Just take a step. If life seems too tough to go ahead, take step. When the road is foggy and the path is not visible, take a step. And the great Charlie Chaplin who… said “You’ll find life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.” Let smile be your first step. I am not saying that that little step will be easy. Infact when you take the first step, it will get worse before it gets better. That one step will feel like dying a million times and every inch of you will scream at you to stop, to go back. But you, don’t you give in. Take a step. Just after that one step, life is waiting for you. Keep walking. It will get easier, It will get better. Just try and take a step.

Public Speaking

Imagine when you were born, just imagine what your parents must have felt. Oh we have this little thing is in our hands, something that we just created and even though we created it but just don’t know how!

Those little fingers, those little eyes, yes, they make you go speechless and that little child doesn’t even know what he wants from this world. He doesn’t know that in the future he will have a FB account and is unaware of what pretty or ugly even means. He just exists, breathes and doesn’t even know what it means to breathe. There is a raw soul which if nourished can make him rule the world in the time to come, can make her the biggest diva of her time, can make her an entrepreneur, but all of this depends on the ability of the parents.

I am none of this. What I am today, is someone average. I am probably someone like you, or you, someone who is doing better than the majority of the world but someone who is still not at the top. In the journey of a child’s life parents have the greatest role to play. Don’t you think? Even when the child is there in the womb, they take extreme precautions to safeguard it’s life. Then after she is born, they look at her all needs from food to clothing to making her happy. They slowly then leave her to the best school they can send them to. Leaving them alone for the first time is devastating but they do it anyway. Slowly then, she grows up to be this person who can have independent thoughts. The parents are then so proud of what they did. Really?? Do you think so?! I think that is the time where they take a step back and think, where did we go wrong??!

I wanted to be a designer, a painter or a journalist. My family wanted me to be a doctor. I cried to get it changed and agreed to do an MBA, their second choice of career for me. Now, I wanted to marketing, sales and branding, they wanted me to study finance, accounts and derivatives. I know it sounds really cool to say, “My daughter has done her masters in Finance and derivatives” but hello? Just ask if she is happy, please?

This might just sound like a long tale against my parents who stopped me from being the best designer in the world but I have more to say. There are stories glorified and there are stories that are untold. This is the era of speaking against your parents and doing what you want to do. Their philosophies are old but their hearts are pure. Their ideas are conservative but their aspirations much more.

The truth is that no parents are good parents and the reality is that no parents are bad parents because no matter what they do, we will find something unique in Chintu’s mom and compare her with our mom. No matter what our dad bought for us, we can never stop thinking of the pencil box that Pintu had. Go back to that story of a newly born child, where he doesn’t know what it means to shit and pee but keeps doing that till the time his parents give him, <> the potty training and he realizes that he can’t keep shit deposits in his pants else he can’t walk for long reasons for all reasons you can imagine. (nose gesture)

It is a weird analogy but when your parents give you a piece of their mind, you can’t keep that in your pants as well. If they scold you, forgive them with the points that they earned by staying awake endless nights for you. Whatever they do, it’s just because they care. But do we care?

Do we care when our mom asks us to eat an extra spoonful of ghee or butter, even if you are on a strict diet?

Do we care when our dad asks us to wear an extra jacket when it’s cold even if you think that it would look horrible?

Just FYI, now I am sorted out and have absolutely no grudge against my parents! It’s not because I have come to terms with it but because I know that in their hearts they wish the best for me. Our parents are the first ones to hold our little fingers, so can’t we hold their hands when they wrinkle? Make the most of it. They all fear old age homes, if possible love them when they need you. You know they love you, in fact, all parents love their children but yes, a few respect them and all children respect their parents but a very few forgive them. Do forgive them for the little things that you think they didn’t do right because in your heart, you know that they tried their best.

Public Speaking

There was once an ordinary young girl. Dynamic, confident and pretty. She felt she could rule the entire world but with every step that she took, there were people in the background, laughing. If she was decent at college, they would talk about her dress. If she was wearing something beautiful, they’d say she doesn’t focus on studies. So they kept on saying things that were not true. She was brave but not enough. So the next step she took, she was cautious and afraid. So imagine the first time if she had taken up a task as simple as running she ran 10 miles. Then after she was afraid of critique, she ran 9, then 8 and 7 and 6. Slowly, she became a part of the part of the world that was timid and dull.

But she was happy in a way. She could laugh with people. She could relate to people. She was not scorned now. She blended very well with the world. But there was a slight problem, not a very serious one though. Also, it was hard to identify the problem. She was sometimes sad when alone. She could not be alone. Thus the remedy she found was to avoid thinking about her problem and instead focus on other people, her friends. Fair enough. But a small problem of loneliness is not generally a small problem. It’s a seed. A seed to a sad life.

One afternoon, she had her common mood swing. Accidentally, she was in front of the mirror. She looked into her own eyes and cried. She could see that her eyes were weak. As if they had lost a battle. She thought about it, more and more and she could not find the reason but it was as if her eyes were telling her a story that she could not understand.

Later in the evening, she went out with her friends. They were all talking about their managers, not in a very good way. She thought about it, her manager was not bad. What she could not stop thinking about was the afternoon, her own eyes, weak and lost. Lost to a battle. Lost by choice.

What happened?

Do you remember that laugh that comes in the background of a comedy show? “Ha ha ha ha ha” “He he he he he”

Now what is comedy to most is the inability to understand life. It’s the inability to understand people. But mostly the inability to understand the differences.

What happened to this girl? She was laughed for reasons unknown. She was scorned for her way of life. She was scorned for her enthusiasm. She was called a slut for looking pretty. She was confused with arrogance for her confidence. And termed a hypocrite for being kind.

But after she came back from that party, she looked into the mirror again. For half an hour straight. Without thinking about anybody else other than the woman that she was seeing in the mirror. She talked to herself after a very long time. She talked about what she liked and what she hated. She told herself that she was stupid but lovely. She saw how her smile came from the corner of her lips. She laughed and cried at the same time. She felt as if she was behaving like a horse that wanted to run in the field but was going ahead in a group that was led by the carriage of the society. Suddenly, the laughs of the people started daunting at the back of her mind because she knew that any individualistic thought would be scorned but she then decided to raise the little voice of her own, it was her mind afterall, she could do what she wanted. Until yesterday, she thought she was happy but today she was content. She understood the story of her eyes. All her friends were satisfied with what she was doing but she wanted to do something else. She quietly opened her old diary and began to write how she felt and what she wanted to do. This time, she was working for the girl in the mirror.

Whenever you feel that life is taking it’s toll on you, give Lord Shani 10 bottles of vodka and walk around the peepal tree for 108 times, kripa will follow!

On a serious note, it’s very simple. Don’t read your horoscope. Don’t rush to your friend. Go to the loo. Stand straight. Smile. Admire your smile. Look into your eyes. See what thoughts spark the light in your eyes. And just work on those thoughts. You will never have a fairytale to tell if you don’t spark the light in your eyes and let it burn the passion in your heart. Think what your fairytale could be and starting today, you play your character right. At the end of the day, you are left with none other than the person you see in the mirror, make her happy!