Monday, June 12, 2017

Using Communication skills against discriminatory agenda.

Have you come across people who, to make others they dislike look non-likeable, look for ways to label them with a religion they dislike. They will come up with creative stories of how secretly they are Muslims or Christians or how they have secret affiliations?!

Their preposterous theories and those who forward and believe them, are a proof of how racist such people are! Their main agenda is - 'Hey, look. He's a Muslim / Christian. That's why he doesn't deserve to be a leader, a politician, a minister, or anything important'. Else, why the heck does it even matter if some important person was some specific religion openly or secretly. 

With such people, just for the sake of accepting all their creatively fake stories, you should ask those who spread them - 'So what?!' And watch their reaction. It'll be like they took so much trouble to convince you and yet... Their entire propaganda balloon will burst!

Or use the 'Judge The Judge' technique like an expert communicator, learnt from my guru, Dan O'Connor : "So are you implying that just because you believe that the person belongs to a certain religion, he doesn't deserve to be a minister, a prime minister or hold an important position". And Watch them polarise! 'No, no, I didn't mean that. I respect all religions....blah blah...'! Cause judges don't like to be judged. At the end, you might add, 'Next time please do not forward racist messages/ emails to me'.

I've learnt the 'Judge the Judge' technique from Dan O'Connor

For buying Dan's books in India and for conducting training on Techniques of Communication, Effective English Communication, First Impressions and other training modules, on Image management and soft skills, please write to

You can also follow Dan O'Connor on YouTube on his channel Online Communication Training. (

My freaky Sci-Fi Moment

Sunday night (June 11, 2017) I'd gone to a store to exchange a kurti (I'd already informed of my alternate choice the previous day), which was a matter of mins. 

A 3 yr old beautiful kid (very fair with blonde hair) was sitting on the display table as his mom was checking out clothes. The moment he saw me, he said, 'Toh aa gaye aap?' (So you've arrived) As if he was waiting for me since centuries! His mom was startled and looked at me and smiled. And said that he's talking as if he's known you all along. Till then I thought the kid was talking to his mom. I asked the lady if he said that to me. She said 'Yes'. I looked at the little boy, who was serious, all the while watching me. He gave me an adult-like look. I told him, 'Oh, kaise ho?' (Oh, how are you?) He immediately responded saying that 'Noori bhi aayi hai' (Noori has also come) and pointed at his little sister playing in the store. Little Noori looked at me and I said, 'Hi Noori'. Till then my work was done and I said 'Bye' to the little boy and walked out.

That a totally freaky Fringe moment! I think our souls had met before we came on earth. :-)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Mentoring or learning ?

It's a wonderful experience to mentor teenagers. I met mine last week at Markivs, Churchgate. Thanks to Antarang Foundation and HDFC Bank CSR.

My two mentees, Minakshi and Zarina are from Ambedkar Nagar slum colony. They have different backgrounds. 

Zarina is a cancer survivor. She told me that her Dad never told her what her illness was. However, she mentioned that she underwent chemotherapy and did not have the harsh aftereffects of it. I admire her Dad who coming from a poor background has treated her like a fairy. She had her last session in December 2016. And she's full of life and dreams. She is now entering her final graduation year. It's not surprising that a strong girl like her landed up as my mentee. The universe is like a mirror. It reflects back what you send to it. 

Minakshi is more outgoing of the two. She likes to do volunteer work, network, work part-time. Not too great in studies, she's creative. She likes to paint, design. She wants to be a fashion designer. Sometimes confused though. What can you expect from a girl who has just appeared for her 12th board exams. She too has dreams. And best thing is that she has the confidence of achieving her dreams.

Both of them like to design and stitch clothes. Zarina has a way with numbers, as she told me. And interested in finance.

While I am their inspiration, I am inspired by them. They are sorted and are compelled to think of their future and career at such a young age. At that age, we were still not decided about our careers. While they have to think about better financial future. Thanks to Antarang Foundation, which has given direction to their dreams. And after completion of their training program assigned them to mentors from the Industry for a year. My journey with them begins. I hope to make difference to their lives and future. in sha Allah. More as a friend than anything else. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Starting a new blog...

Friends, I am going to start a new blog soon. It will be as my journey as an image consultant. Keep watching this space for new announcement.

A Professional Dilemma

As I plan to be an independent entrepreneur (that's been on my mind since 2 years now), the Question that comes to my mind is : FEMA Consultant or Image Consultant? 

With so many years in Foreign Trade and now in Foreign Investments and liaising with RBI on regular basis, the first option always seems more appropriate. In fact, advising so many bank's customers, their consultants/ CAs daily as well as other branches of bank, this seems so very apt. Recently someone even advised me on those lines.

However, I am tired of finance in everything, regulations to refer day in and out. And my creativity has been on hold for too long (gave up painting since banking and haven't sketched in a long time). And Image Management and Training with all the Social Media marketing bit has intrigued me for a while now. And I am glad I completed the Image Management course at ICBI.

However, after a thought, I've realised that I am open to both. ODI (Overseas Direct Investments) is one of my favourite topics. Yes, ECB (External Commercial Borrowings) comes in next. I was one of the 2 people instrumental in working on the first Masala Bond (INR Denominted ECB Bond) in India. In fact, it was a privilege to receive calls from seniors at RBI Central office as well as DSIM to understand things when this first took off. Of course, it was new on both sides. And always together you understand things better than interpreting things alone. And as a banker, I got to know things from client and regulator perspective.

However, being in any line of activity, especially those controlled by regulations and markets, one has to be updated. And of course, be connected to the pulse of the profession. And I am working towards it. Right now, I am getting my matter together for making a mark as an Image Consultant and Trainer. Hoping for success, in sha Allah.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Train Travails

The travel problem in Mumbai trains is getting worse.

The biggest sarcasm that railway plays on commuters is announcing : "Train ke paidaano par khada rahna ya train se bahaar jhaakna khatarnaak hai...." While that is true, it is joke on our condition. There is a girl who travels daily, who every time she hears that, says "I am going to find her and bash her up"! And we all laugh.

There are times when even after 45 mins wait, I am unable to get into a train. Though there are people (even women and college girls) who travel hanging if they just get half a foothold on the footboard. I can't do that. Though sometimes I get answerable in office for it. And not is it advisable for anyone to take that risk. Everything can be replaced except your life and your body.

A cousin's son fell off a train last year. Thankfully, it was near Dahisar station when train had slowed down. So he was injured on his spine and head, but was out of Danger, by God's grace.

Discrimatory Icons of Whatsapp!

I am not much of a Whatsapp (WA) user. Since I added it to my business / office number and use it sometimes, I find it so bland and boring.

Worst are the emoticons. Apart from being boring, I find them discriminatory too.

What's with having so many coloured hands for gestures? When I used it first time, some months back, just to post a thumbs up, several coloured hands popped up. And I was compelled to use one closest to my skin tone. Using one emoticon on WA involves so much of a thought. And it has a series of unwanted emoticons one would never use.

Being Strong, not Wrong!

Being a strong woman does not mean to dominate, raise voice, order around and show arrogance.
Being a strong woman means to have courage to keep going on inspite of your pains. 
Being a strong woman means to be a source of inspiration and help even after facing problems in life.
Being a strong woman means to complete your duties as a woman and also make a difference to society.
Being a strong woman means to help other women reach their full potential.

Some women have a wrong perception of Being Strong. When they start earning a bit, they show arrogance. And power. And give orders.

That's not Strong. That's Wrong.
Strong is about Courage. Not Rage.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A taste of twisted English

Twisted English : This week I came across two incidents of people interchanging alphabets to pronounce in a new way. The first one is a common mistake in India but was widely used at a large forum hence stayed in my mind. But the second one, though also a common error, can bring a whole new meaning. Stating the conversation for you to know. Figure it.

1. 'We are proud to play this flim at the event', went the announcement.
2. Lady on phone in the train, to her office colleague : 'The hard diks is in the box. You have to open it. It's sealed'.
Period. :-)

Getting Physical in a Marriage

Physical relationships, even in a marriage is something not openly spoken of in Indian society. In fact, to marry for anything other than companionship or support is looked at as if you're a dirty person. Even couples are not allowed to kiss or cuddle openly in public. People frown when even a man holds the hand of his wife in our society (this applies to India and all its neighbouring countries). 

The other day, while traveling by train, I heard two girls talking lowly of a girl who told one of them that she wants to marry for 'that' reason. They were speaking in Marathi. The girl meanly added that if she wants that then she should buy it. (Sic, this is how you speak about someone who mentioned marriage to achieve her desires). The other girl added, you know men are also like that. They also want 'that' only. And that is how nature has made things. Then the first girl said all of this was completely wrong. That God has done wrong by making world like that. And she will question God when she dies. 

Another incident. A conversation with an old friend I caught up with after ages on Hike, who has not had a kid for a long time. And mostly makes her hubby travel and quit jobs just because she doesn't like some place, people. She is mostly tendering to her mother now and mostly spends time at her place. I have no right to question how she lives her life. However, further conversation made me understand her opinion on children, relationships and I felt sorry for her husband and others linked to her. She used to be a cute girl and I remember she had liked this boy, whom she eventually proposed and married. But marriages are deeper.

In my surroundings, I've also seen women detesting their husbands. But are in the relationship to be fed and clothed. Parents have married them cause they felt that it was best for them. If they hadn't said Yes, then their daughter would've remained unmarried forever, according to them.

I don't understand people's thinking that it's incorrect for girls to even think of marriage as a physical thing. It is grilled in women at a very age that marriage is important to be fed, clothed, taken care of, cooking & cleaning for their husbands. Everything else is a drill they should endure. Such mentality leads to sourness or 'no love' in many marriages, leading to stress, mental illness and unhappiness for many couples. 

As women are getting independent, they don't need marriage for all the 'other' things for which marriage is marketed in Indian society. The only thing that remains to be married for is love, compassion, passion and children.

I would suggest that those who don't feel same way about marriage, whether independent or not, should not marry. And save the other from a lot of trouble. This is not about liking a toy and picking it off the shelf.

We speak of men's libido. How about highlighting women's libido as well. Equality extends to all levels.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Black magic babas and their local train ads

Is there no rule against the black magic ads put up all around us? These 'black magic babas' have used marketing ever since I've been a kid,

I remember, these ad posters used to be stuck by the dozens in the local trains (I speak about Mumbai) earlier.  Then since past few years one saw less of them. And now they're back! They advertise some baba or the other and use the picture of Sai Baba for the advertisements.

One current one (stuck all over local trains) is all stylish with pictures of people in office, home, couples and the like claiming that whatever the situation or problem, he has the solution. From putting your competitors down to winning over someone to splitting someone up to destroying others. It further goes on to say that the 'baba' guarantees evil effects on your enemies/ competitors in 7 hours flat! Ghosh, that's so mean and cruel. I thought there was a law against such posters or such people. At least, sticking posters without permission is illegal. But seeing the audacity of such ads, which display various phone numbers one can call on, it appears people love these babas and there is a competition in their own clan. We're so used to seeing such ads in India since childhood, that such ads no longer surprise us. Only the sudden appearance after a gap, had me noticed. And the fact that it was stuck all over the insides of the train compartment. It irks us when non-Indians call India a land of magic. But it is normal for us to see black magic ads all around us! And a number of people flock to such babas to harm others.

Having said that, the people who use black magic to harm others or win in life are beyond my understanding. One thing I've learnt is that if the one you're trying to harm is a strong-willed, positive person with lots of faith in the Almighty, then the effect reverses on doer. It will cause minimal or no harm on the person it is intended for. And those who do all this, eventually have to face their own magic. And destroy their own families and future generations. Strange things afflict them and their families later. They live with the curse of the sufferers or return effects of any faithful person they've tried to harm.

Note : I could've clicked the picture of the posters and uploaded it here, however I do not want to promote these people.

Pic courtesy :

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Learning new lessons and re-affirming the lessons learnt from life

I've been learning a number of lessons in my Image Consulting class. In our first session, we learnt a lot of lessons on self motivation, acceptance of yourself and changing mindsets.

Sometimes, living in a closed environment, exposed to a certain kind of thinking only, we start to follow the mentality of the people there, not questioning if it will matter to you.

There was the example of the 6 monkeys closed in a room with a opening in the roof, who were first exposed to water spraying the moment anyone of them tried to escape. Then some monkeys were replaced after a while. But the old ones tried to pull them down due to what they experienced earlier. Slowly all were replaced till none in the room ever experienced water spraying, but had learnt from the earlier ones that it's the way to behave. They continued behaving like that till no one tried to escape. They just knew they had to stop others who tried. Most of us have heard this. That's how mentality is built. Some thoughts are instilled into us. And we keep following them without knowing why they started and whether they have any value today. Or what benefits they will bring.

Another story is of the fish and the frying pan. A child asked her mother why she cut off the head and tail of the fish while frying it. Her mother replied that it's the tradition of the house and she learnt from her mother. Then the child went to her grandmother and asked her why she cut off the head and tail of fish before frying. Her grandmom said that she did it cause she saw her mother do it. The child went to her great grandmother and asked the same question.
And this is what her great grandmother said :"I did it because my frying pan was too small to fry the whole fish". :-)

We all are somehow like that. We just follow others without thinking. We like to be in our comfort zones. Never exploring other options. Never thinking on our own. 

If we want something good and different to happen in our lives, we should do things differently. Same style and ways will get you the same results.

Residual Journalism

Most sections of newspapers now cater to social media marketing by publishing paid articles floated by Corporate Communications Departments. This started as an advertising tool by companies and is now being used by political parties as well. Everyone is concerned about image management now. So much so that I no longer refer to snopes or hoax-slayer. Cause if you can filter and release news, then you can even clean your image there.

Even celebrities sell their holiday or special occasion pictures now. Gone are the days when Paparazzi had to sneak up. 

The only real news we hear is local revenge, domestic violence /disputes registered with police stations. Further when the current journalists have nothing to print as most organizations opt for social image management, you can expect them to come to your house paying you to publish your home news. Then the headlines will be 'Saas bahu refuse to see each other', 'Humans celebrate birthday of their cat/dog', 'Husband fought with wife at 7th Road'... This news would surely sell as everyone seems curious to know what's happening in another's household!

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Decoding Eid Moon Sighting in India on Eid Ul Fitr

After several years, in Mumbai/ Maharashtra, this was a 30 days Ramzan. 

As far as I remember, the ulama (muslim scholars) of Mumbai especially following a certain school of thought (whom we follow), are very traditional in their declaration of Eid.

Though most countries have a single Eid day across the country, we in India follow the Sunnah method. Even if there is moon sighting in neighbouring regions within Maharashtra state, Mumbai will never declare Eid unless someone from here sees the moon. Then the shahada (testimony) method is followed. Most rules in Islam are where you get your present day law from and are very methodical. 

Shahada method works like this. Suppose, someone in Nagpur sights the moon on 29th day of Ramzan. Unless he personally comes to Mumbai to give testimony, the Eid will not be declared. That's why most of the time, we come to know at 11 pm/ 11.30 pm that Eid is next day. Because some priest from Mumbai and the one who sighted the moon in Nagpur will meet midway and give the testimony. Then the Mumbai priest / scholar / person will declare Eid in Mumbai.

I've seen the best practices followed in Mumbai. That's because it's multi- cultural and there is good exchange of ideas even within scholars due to people from different backgrounds dwelling here.

While this is good, I am of the opinion that if anyone sights the moon within India then the shahada method can be followed by Skype conference call of all priests of all Hilal (moon sighting) committees within India and a common Eid should be declared for the nation as a whole. Else follow it within states, so that Eid can be declared in time and government can take a decision on postponing the holiday. 

Due to this confusion amongst the hilal committees in Mumbai till late night, Maharashtra converted the Eid holiday to 'fixed' many years back. While in Delhi, Bangalore and some other places, Eid holiday remains as 'subject to sighting of moon'. When Mumbai keeps deciding till mid night whether Eid is there next day (as it never sleeps), other state people have usually taken a decision and snoring.

Since many years, the shahada method helped. However, this year due to rains and heavy cloud cover, most part of India did not sight the first moon. And the shaahi imaam of Delhi also declared much earlier that due to non sighting of moon, Eid will be on July 7, 2016. So things were clearer much earlier. But the holiday was fixed, so remained even though there was no Eid on July 6, 2016.

Two state did celebrate Eid on July 6, 2016 as per the method they follow.

Those who do not know and asked me what happens when you do not sight moon for consecutive days, here's the answer. 

Muslims follow the lunar calendar and it is dependent on moon. If moon is sighted on the next day of the New Moon day when it is supposed to reappear as the first crescent, then the month ends at 29 days. And a new month begins the next day. Else, by default, the month ends with 30 days. So even if you do not sight the second crescent, the month technically ends. So Ramzan has ended today. And tomorrow is a new month, Shawwal. And first day of Shawwaal is always Eid-ul-Fitr.

That's the best way I could explain. Also attaching a chart of moon cycle for demonstrative purposes (from

Topmost Pic courtesy :

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Menstruating During Ramzan

All Muslim women go through the menstruation cycle during Ramzan. And we are exempt from fasting during those days. Some view it as a discrimination like similar practices in other religions. However, in Islam, it is a little different. It isn't exactly prohibition. It is an exemption and allows you to do many forms of worship.

While you're younger, you're embarrassed to discuss these things. But even Prophet Muhammad PBUH discussed these things clearly when women asked him. And hadiths are clear and detailed on lot of aspects pertaining to society and day to day life. So let's be practical. Considering my busy schedule and managing to fast in traveling, working in office and being part of the kitchen during weekends, these 4 days come as a break and rest during Ramzan. I feel weak during 'those' days and get painful cramps too. Women, though biologically little weaker (unless you work out and have strong bodies) end up actually using more stamina than men especially in Asian (including south Asian and middle eastern) cultures, while men enjoy more luxuries. Living and working in non-Muslim society, I usually do not eat or drink on the 4-5 days of my period also when I am in office or outside, as it's difficult to explain to others. I go to office with a heavy breakfast on such days. Not that I hide facts. If someone asks, I tell I am not fasting as unwell. There are only a few handful who know Islam and understand. Else people use the fact to make fun of Muslims, saying that they caught so and so eating during Ramzan, which means all Muslims eat on the sly.

I use these 4-5 days to do my Eid shopping, parlour/ salon work, Eid preparations. And yes, it's not that you cannot pray. Wudu (ablution) will not be valid so cannot offer namaz, but you can recite a number of duas, chants (there are so many forms of ibadat), hear recitation of Holy Quran (dvd or other media). And there is a ruling , which I would not recommend for common women. It's only for women who are very high on cleanliness in person and clothes and understand the depth of these things. And many muslima scholars who teach Quran follow it too. They do touch Quran and read it too, taking a lot of precautions. Though there are two views on this. 

In fact, some rulings say that as soon as your bleeding stops (though your menstrual cycle is not over), you can start fasting, but you cannot offer namaz / salat. What is the difference? There is a distinct way described in hadiths to consider your menstruation is over. Let's not discuss that in detail here.

And it's not that only menstruating women are exempt from fasting. Ill people (men and women), pregnant women, breastfeeding women also join the list. When women have fasted all days except 'those' days and still get all the blessings, it's a mercy from the Lord. Other people (including men and women) who cannot fast due to various medical reasons, can compensate for it by giving Fidya (donation), preferably food or food items. This is over and above Zakat. It is fixed based on local price of 1.5 kg of rice, wheat, barley or similar grain of the region. That multiplied by number of days you missed your fast. Preferably give foodgrain/s itself to the poor around you or known to you or give to orphanages or homes. Or feed the poor with equivalent money or give any other food item with that much money. 

Those who try to criticize that Islam is partial to men, they should remember that just like women are considered unhygienic during menstruation, men are as also considered unhygienic in a certain state. Hence, men have to do a greater abstinence during Ramzan as fasting is not only about not eating/drinking. It's a lot more. Impurity can invalidate your fast. Women are not advised to NOT wear make up during Ramzan, not because lipstick might go into your mouth or skin will absorb make-up. It has a greater philosophy behind it. Thanks. 

Photo by Ian Schneider (