Why can't we follow our own advice?

How many times have you shaken your head when someone asked you 'What should I do?' and given them an answer you thought was quite obvious? The right thing to do always seems apparent when the choice belongs to someone else. But when it comes to one's own life, the consequences of choices become alarmingly unclear.
But what if you could counsel yourself the same way that you help others out? Wouldn't it help you make faster and more accurate decisions? What if you could always give yourself the right advice without having to ask someone else?
Why it's easier to advise others
  • You can look at the situation objectively
  • You have no personal stake in the situation
  • You are not afraid of the consequences of making the right choice
  • You are unemotional about the sacrifices that might have to be made in order to opt for the best course of action
  • You draw from similar experiences in your own past
In our lives, we're constantly confronted by multiple options. And the possibility of missing out on something valuable in the process of taking a decision can be really worrying. There are also times when the complexity of a problem confuses us. We see no way out. But when something like that happens, do this - imagine that it's happening to someone else.
Let's take an example - perhaps, you are currently in a comfortable and reasonably rewarding job and you're only a passive job seeker. Along comes an offer that is everything you once dreamt of. The only catch is - it's at a nascent organisation that has potential but is nowhere close to your current organisation in stature. What should you do? Chances are, you'll be confused. You might feel attached to your current job. The prospect of working in a smaller organisation might scare you. Now, ask yourself what you'd advise a friend in a similar situation. Use this guide to do so:
Perform an objective analysis: List the pros and cons of both choices without being biased. What will you gain and lose in either scenario - if you take up the job and if you don't?
Take a critical look at the consequences: Of the things that you stand to gain and lose, which ones matter the most? Are you willing to compromise on them? More importantly, should you (or your hypothetical friend) be willing to comprise on them?
Put yourself in the future. Five years down the line, would you be comfortable with the choice you made? Do you see yourself making a quick ascent if you take up the new job offer? Or do you see yourself still feeling as rewarded and satisfied as you do now in your current job?
Think about similar crossroads in your own past or in the life of someone you know. Were you confronted with a similar problem in the past? What did you do then and was it the right choice? Or think about stories other people may have told you. There's a lot we can learn from others' experiences, provided we view them in the right context.
Final thoughts
Whether it's a professional or a personal crisis, the amount of information we encounter everyday ensures that we know the right thing to do in most cases. It's more a question of being unafraid and confident enough to follow your own advice. You don't really need confirmation from anyone else, although there is no harm in asking for it.
(This post was originally published on LinkedIn)

Communication is not always key.

'Communicate' seems to have become everyone's favourite one-word advice. But truth is, sometimes silence really is the better option. Not the kind of heavy silence that masks grudges and causes further conflict. But rather, the kind of silence that encourages you to move on and not turn every petty disagreement into a major issue.
Communication tends to highlight a problem at hand - in fact, too much of it can create a problem where there was none. This is where it's worth going back to that old adage - choose your battles wisely. There are times when the best of us behave in a manner that may not be worthy of us. Do people have to be punished for every one of these minor faux pas? I think not.
At the workplace, voicing your displeasure too frequently can damage valuable relationships. Communicate when you need to, but don't over-communicate. Reserve the 'clearing the air' sessions for the things that really matter. And remember, in several cases, people are aware when they have rubbed you the wrong way. Chances are, they will rectify their behaviour on their own, without your having to point it out.
Bringing things out in the open magnifies their gravity. It has the potential to put people on the defensive. It can also foster hostility between the people involved.
Cases when communication may not be key:
  • The problem is a one-off occurrence
  • The problem has only a short-term impact
  • The problem can be dealt with actions instead of words
Think about it. Is one missing cc on an email worth a month of stilted conversations and negative synergy? Standing up for yourself is important. But so is keeping the peace.
As a side note, communicating too much can also result in your revealing more than you intended to. The office is not a place to bare your heart, irrespective of consequences. You can always choose to reveal more later - but you can never erase what has already been said/emailed/messaged. Don't withhold key information. But don't lay all your cards on the table at once. Information is power - voice it sparingly. It makes good business sense.
(This post was originally published on LinkedIn

The smell of old paper.

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
The smell of old paper
Like sweet vintage nobility
Or the nostalgia of gentle humility
Or the calm of cinnamon tea
And a sun-kissed afternoon’s serenity.

The scent of time-worn paper
Like the enduring beauty of old age
Or sweet simplicity hidden among reams of verbiage
Or the note of perfection before tea descends into bitterness
And the mellow contentment after tempestuous happiness.

The charm of moth-eaten paper
Like the lingering scent on the inside of a woman’s wrist
Or the odour of sweat and sun-soaked flowers on a summer tryst
Or the promise of tales that will never be
In a dour and limited reality.

The aroma of pale paper
Like the uncertain smile of a coy child
Or the eventual elegance of a youth once wild
Or the freshness of the bark where it once dwelt
All those miracles in this paper I have smelt. 

Omani Nights

Oman debunks the myth that the Arab world tends to be removed from the rest of the world with its numerous efforts to collaborate with Asia, Europe and America.

The old world character and immense greenery of Muscat are a pleasure to behold.

Perhaps one of the most attractive aspects of Salalah is that it actually enjoys a monsoon season!

These are lines from some of the numerous articles I’ve written on Oman and its major cities for a newspaper called Global Jobs. Over the years, I’ve read so much about this Arabian pearl and I’ve marvelled at its unblemished beauty in photographs. But alas, I’ve had to recreate this country in words without ever having the privilege of experiencing it for real.

So when I needed information on what to do and where to go while in Oman, I had to look no further than my own inbox! Years of research on the living conditions, culture, weather and business environment in Oman, Muscat and Salalah lay in front of me. And to supplement that in terms of breath-taking images and picturesque descriptions was Oman’s tourism website: http://www.omantourism.gov.om/


When I look at images of Jabreen Castle or the sun-kissed Jabal Shams, I feel as though I’ve known the hypnotic deserts of Oman in a previous lifetime. To quote from the Arabian nights:

And I have regretted the separation of our companionship :: An eon, and tears flooded my eyes
And I’ve sworn if time brought us back together :: I’ll never utter any separation with my tongue

I imagine having been an Arabian princess, swathed in the gorgeous harem pants and blouses that royal women were then wont to wear. I might have gone for my morning bath at AlKasfah Spring, accompanied by my merry companions. And then we would have submerged ourselves in its invigorating warm water and pondered over the deeper questions of life while gazing into its serene aquamarine depths.


At dusk, I might have sneaked into Jabreen Castle for a secret rendezvous with my Arabian lover. Masked by its majestic turrets, we might have been enthralled by a belly dancing performance. I would have dreamt of shimmying for an adoring audience, my pretty sequins reflecting the dancing flames of the campfire.
As a mark of rebellion against my stifling father who asked me to stop meeting my lover, I might have trekked to Jabal Shams or the Sun Mountain. I would have sought refuge in the An Nakhr balcony, a deep ravine in the heart of the rocks. Surrounded by these silent, sympathising bastions of time, I would have plotted escape from a household that dared to shatter my dreams.

To allay the fears of his favourite daughter, my father the Sultan would have taken me on a trip to Mutrah Corniche port in Muscat. We would have picnicked by the sea while he told me the stories behind the ancient structures that kept us company.

In my dreams, I would fly away on a magic carpet to the turtle reserve on the beaches extending from Ras Al Hadd to Masirah Island. I would marvel at the intricate detailing of the green turtle’s shell. This turtle is a rare species that returns every year to lay eggs on the same beach where it was born decades ago. What binds a creature so deeply to its birthplace? And was I bound to Oman in a similar manner? I would mull over questions such as these while I snacked on luscious Omani dates and drank Arabian wine.

An assassination attempt on my father! We would now have to move around with a khanjar, the traditional dagger of Oman, hidden beneath our robes. Under the guise of participating in a horse race, the favourite sport of Omanis, we would ride far, far away from our enemies and hide at the Strait of Hormuz. By day, we would watch the myriad birds at Birds Island and by night, we would plot ways of extricating ourselves from this torturous exile.

Our adventures would take us to the Akhwar (beach lagoons) on whose banks, we would sing traditional Omani songs and recount tales from the times when the beautiful island of Zanzibar used to be Oman’s capital. Beneath the lagoon’s tranquil ripples, there lurked many different kinds of fishes and secret marine denizens. The children in the family would have a lovely time trying to coax them to the surface.

To pray for the swift defeat of our enemies, we would pay a visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque whose regal corridors and pristine marble floors would instil a sense of faith in the Almighty. In my prayers, I would include a line for my abandoned lover who might be languishing in the sand dunes of Ramlat Tawq, awaiting my return.

Ramlat Tawq would be my lover’s favourite desert with its endless stretches of undulating dunes and proximity to our birthplace, Muscat. Unknown to me, he would go on a quest for my favourite attar (perfume) at the Sohar Handicrafts Souq (market). Ali believes that this perfume would bring me back to his forlorn arms.

Our reunion would finally happen in the blessed glades of the As Saleel Nature Park. Here an Arabian gazelle would watch us shyly while we exchanged promises to be by each other’s side for many different lifetimes to come. We would write down our vows on parchment and bury it beneath an acacia tree, holding nature as witness to the solemnity of our love.

If I ever had the pleasure of setting foot on the history-laden streets of Oman, perhaps the valleys and the flamingos would speak to me in a language I hadn’t even known I understood. Perhaps, they would resurrect memories and impressions of bygone eras – times that my memory was too young to remember but my soul certainly was not. Perhaps, the caves and the canyons, so far away from the city I call home would bring me to a different home altogether – the home I had yearned for all along.

Shukran, Indiblogger (http://www.indiblogger.in/topic.php?topic=110) and the Ministry of Tourism of the Sultanate of Oman, for allowing me the opportunity to live a fantasy through these words. An actual trip would be the crystallisation of a dream I have already seen, many times in my sleep. 

The novel that could have been.

Today, I'll tell you a story about a story. My last job was quite uninspiring and unfocussed. It left me with a lot of free time on my hand and a lot of unfulfilled ambition as well. No, my ambition had nothing to do with the corporate world. It had little to do with power and positions. What I wanted was to rework my post-graduation project - a novel I had finished in merely 21 days.

I couldn't possibly risk my bosses peering over my shoulder while I typed away on my office computer. No, I had to find a place and a medium where I could write in private - unobserved and unhindered. Back then, I owned a heavy Toshiba laptop with limited battery life. On one occasion, I managed to lug it to office and from there to my favourite cafe at High Street Phoenix - Dolce Vita. I ordered a beer and set to work on my unwieldy laptop. Alas, the battery began to run out in less than an hour. Just when I was getting into a particularly interesting scene in my story, it was time to stop. What's more, the stress of making sure I had it properly packed made me forget my USB wi-fi enabler at my table itself (I only recalled this omission later - so there was no way to get it back). In the coming days, I lost my pace further and the book remained unfinished for a simple reason - I couldn't find the right technology to write it.

Cut to June 2014. I encountered Indiblogger's new update on the ASUS Transformer Book T100. What interested me was that it came with a detachable tablet. Also, the word 'ultraportable' caught my eye. The truth is, most laptops are as unportable as desktop computers thanks to weight and battery issues. But this one promised to be better than that. I clicked on the link that took me to the product page - http://asusindia.co.in/T100/.

The first thing that caught my eye was the limited period offer - 'Buy an ASUS Transformer Book T100 and get a data 16 GB Micro SD class 10 card free'. 'That's just a gimmick to get people interested', I thought inwardly with my customary cynicism for marketing spiels. But then, I happened to watch the product video that unfolded and I found that literally every feature of the ASUS Transformer Book T100 was designed to keep me hooked even while on the move. Take a look:

Stylish and soft touch coating makes it comfortable to hold: No more grazing my fingers or finding it uncomfortable while the laptop rests on my lap during long journeys on the bus or train!

Switch instantly from an ultraportable laptop to a highly mobile tablet: So once I’ve finished writing a chapter and want to take a break from writing, I can just switch to the tablet and browse through my favourite shopping sites or play some games while playing some groovy music.

Intel quad-core processor: One of the things that deters me from using technology while on the move is the speed. With combined devices, often the speed is compromised but the ASUS Transformer Book T100 promises not to disappoint!

1366x768 display for sharp, vibrant images: What is technology worth if you cannot capture an image of something that touches a chord and then share it instantly with the world at large? And with the ASUS Transformer Book T100, I’d be able to see pictures on Facebook and Flickr in the best quality possible.

Windows 8.1 with Microsoft Office 2013: What else does a writer need? Truth be told, most often, it’s work that keeps me hooked to technology while on the move. And with this super laptop cum tablet, I’ll have no worries about getting work done!

11 hours battery life when web browsing: The need to check on my latest purchases, connecting with friends on social media, sharing articles, reading my favourite ebooks, listening to online radio – all of this keeps me hooked to technology. But with my old laptop, I could do none of it on the move because the battery ran out in less than an hour when unplugged! The ASUS Transformer Book T100 is the perfect solution.

Mobile dock with 19mm travel keys for comfortable typing: No more typing the wrong word when the train jolts or someone pushes past me. Now I can be assured of minimal re-edits with the novel that remains unfinished!

USB 3.0 superspeed port: So I’m with a friend in the park and we’re transferring images from her pendrive to my laptop. Alas, it takes ages to do it and before we’re done, my laptop runs out of power. This picture could look quite different with the the ASUS Transformer Book T100!

Dedicated reading mode: I can say goodbye to aching eyes while I read ebooks on pale light, which hardly matches the experience of reading a real book in well-lit surroundings. And wait, now with the ASUS Transformer Book T100, I won’t have to save to buy a Kindle any more!

Still not convinced? Watch the video for yourself here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7NgPvQZr7A


Having read and heard so much about this seemingly wonderful product, I was aching to hold it and see what it felt like. Luckily, the rotate button on the website http://asusindia.co.in/T100/ allowed me to gain a 360-degree view of the laptop cum tablet. I liked the stylish steel gray colour and the slimness of the device. Here is what it looks like from the back:

The fact that the device comes with 32GB storage would also keep me hooked while on the move. After all, there are movies to be watched, songs to be heard and books to be read! And research material for my novel occupies its own sweet space too. Frankly, by now, it had begun to feel as though it might be time to reopen the folder that housed the chapters I had been reworking on. The device runs on a 2GB ram, which is faster than most phones and tablets. So I could run multiple programs on it without having the computer slow down. A 1.2 megapixel camera ensures that if I’ve forgotten my phone at home, I can still record the important moments of my life while on the move. And I forgot to mention the best thing. The ASUS Transformer Book T100 is priced at just 32,999 rupees! I know, it’s quite unbelievable. That’s less than the price of several high-end phones! And here you don’t just get a product. You get a whole new incredibly transformed lifestyle. Still don’t get why I’m so wowed with the ASUS Transformer Book T100? Watch this: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVFlmlj51Ok)

I can totally imagine being one of the jet-setting folks in the video. Think about it – this tablet weights just 550 grams! It’s going to feel really, really light – for lack of an appropriate simile! The video says – stop for nothing. I wish ASUS had told me that back in 2013 when I was trying to complete that novel! But maybe just maybe, if I can get my hands on it, that novel will see the light of day after all. As a parting thanks for reading this post, I’ll leave you with yet another wonderful video of the incredible ASUS Transformer Book T100 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM1KH3R1IMs)

P.S.: You can find more videos and dope on this product at www.facebook.com/ASUSIndia. This post is a part of the Indiblogger ' Time to Transform!’ contest (http://www.indiblogger.in/topic.php?topic=109). What keeps you hooked on to technology even when you're on the move? Is it playing your favourite games, talking to friends, catching up on some work you love doing? Write a blog post on the things that you think will keep you hooked to a "Transformed" T100 when you're on the move. The most creative and original posts win exciting prizes.