Archive | January, 2013

Reminder to myself: Training Day

24 Jan

I was born a highly disciplined and meticulous student. I automatically KNEW how to study, made elaborate timetables,finished school portions daily, wrote exams with gusto, and was unbeatable in my class. All this, without stressing myself out, or without having any pressure or guidance from my parents . Studying hard, was just part of who I was as a child. Very unfortunately, teenage and my 11th and 12th std, pushed me out of this equation, and I never completely found my way back. I slipped from being a brilliant student, to a bad one, in my pre-degree days and then spend the rest of my student life as an above average student.

 

One of the very many advantages of being an adult is that, we do not have to study, or prepare for routine exams. The very few scenarios in which we do study, are if we are preparing ourselves for an interview, or if you have to get a professional certification. Both of which happens once in a few years, at best. Most of us completely forget how to learn .Taking life as it comes and becoming too comfortable with our steady income, and unchallenging life.

 

However, push did come to shove for me, and I had to STUDY, and with a deadline, when I was asked to conduct a training. I went from never reading more than two pages at a stretch to finishing 12 modules. And after five stressful days, of an (above average) training, I have come up with a method of studying, worth sharing, I believe.

This is as much for myself, as for any one else, who is struggling to learn, get back to studying/teaching, Or was never a good student in the first place, professional or otherwise.

The worst idea that stands between anyone  being a good student is the tag of being called “nerdy” (aka Buji in my mother tongue) . This doesn’t happen a lot in your workplace, but sure does happen in colleges and schools . Being good at studies, automatically means that we don’t have fun  a good dressing sense , let alone good looks. Being good in class, makes us “UNCOOL”. I really have never understood how this propaganda ever evolved. I still hear, some of my friends refer to some extremely successful people who studied with them  as “nerds”, as if it’s a bad thing to study. As if it’s a bad thing to know everything and top your class?

I have always been in awe of class toppers. I love good marks, gold medals and first ranks. All of these achievements never made anyone boring. It just made them extremely dedicated focused disciplined and attractive. And believe me I know some real head turners, who are gold medalists. So if you think studying makes you “uncool”, I think you are just plain stupid.

Before I lose my momentum and go back to my procrastinating ways, let me quickly jot down the many things that I took note of about how I could conduct a training, or study. I hope this helps everyone preparing for an exam and myself next time I have to study.

  1. Method of studying. 

With the advent of Multiple Choice question pattern, it is important to remember all the minute details, and the numbers, and the various options. But this also means we have lost touch with writing 500 word essays about a single topic. The art of writing an essay or a long answer, for a single sentence question, is that we need to remember a lot of characteristics of the particular topic. And we need to elaborate on them, as much as we know. Remember naming conventions. Terminology. Remember the advantages and disadvantages. Remember everything related to a single topic, with no cue.

Preparing for a training, is kind of like preparing to write a whole essay. Remembering all the relevant details, WITHOUT having to look back or read from a book. Cause reading from a book looks foolish when you are conducting a class. So as unfortunate as this is going to sound,  for a training , we need to know what comes next, and anything and everything related to a subtopic, BY HEART. The key word is by heart.

2.Basics

It’s good to start with basics. Basics people might have forgotten. Basics students are ashamed to ask questions about. Basics which will get your understanding of the subject right. And not be ashamed to touch upon basics, everytime you get a chance, no matter how simple or irrelevant it seems. So that people, who might be lost, amidst the training, could get back to what we are actually trying to teach them.

3. The 3-time Rule
I have mentioned in a previous study blog, which I will link to here. The importance of studying the same thing, multiple times. My magic number being three. Because each time you learn something, you will get more insight to it. The idea is to get it into your core being. Cause conducting a training means answering a lot of questions, which could get quite confusing. Unless you REALLY know, what you are talking about. The only way to really know is to learn the same thing multiple times, till you know it like the back of your hand.
4. Relating with the known.
There are concepts we know, and there are concepts we are learning afresh. There is no way we can learn something afresh, without relating it to something we know. This could be similies, comparisons, similar products or technologies we already have an idea about.
5.Create a flow in the training.
Start with something basic, slowly building it up, to form a new idea
6. Prepare timelines. 
If you are expected to take an 8 hour class, you should know how you are going to segregate  the hours for each topic. This is closely related to point no 1. Cause unless you know all the points related to a subtopic, by heart, and unless they are being presented in a flow, you will probably finish of everything you wanted to explain in 20 mins. And not have much to do for the next few hours.
7. Revise always
It always helps to cram up the whole portion the night before, or during breaks. Cause you remain fresh, and you are much more prepared to answer questions, while you are fresh. However, don’t expect to learn a topic anew during the cramming hours. It’s just to revise.
8. Avoid the powerpoint curse
In the beginning of my career, training’s usually consisted of, a person reading from a powerpoint presentation. He wasn’t bothered about if the people were listening, if we slept, snored or smsed.  It was refreshing that he didn’t care about how we behaved. What wasn’t refreshing was that he didn’t care about the training either. This was a norm for professional training.  That’s till my husband told me about his favorite trainer, and how he never used anything but a pen and a board. So if you are ever conducting a training, the only time I would say its ok to use your slides is, when you have a diagram to show, and when you aren’t good at drawing.
Finally try not to lose touch with seeking knowledge continuously. (Big reminder to myself). Maybe next time you will actually enjoy, writing an exam, or attending an interview, or conducting a class. Because you are so perfectly  prepared you just want to show off.

The Windows Phone Vs Android.

8 Jan

I get asked this question very frequently, “How is the Windows mobile phone? “ Especially cause my emails, have the self proclamatory signature which reads “Sent from my Windows Phone”.

Windows is supposed to be the next big thing in the mobile OS market. What with their “Everything at ONCE” ad, (love that song)

And I am NO official mobile phone expert. I  cannot write about the GB and the RAM and the Hz . However, I am, (like most Indians) a very ardent mobile phone user.  So this is my first hand review about my current phone Nokia Lumia , from a very raw user. A user who needs her songs, and her social networking intact.

  1. The whole Windows vs Google competition makes it a horrifying experience for the user. Replacing Google with Bing? Really. Google is irreplaceable guys. It is irreplaceable!!
  2. The Windows Application  marketplace really needs an upgrade. They have NONE of the cool apps I am used to .They don’t have Instagram. They don’t even have a decent version of Google Talk!
  3. Maybe the whole mistake was buying a Nokia Phone. I am back to the caveman ages, where I have to walk around with a data cable! To transfer songs from my laptop.
  4. By point 3, I mean the Bluetooth is  not compatible with any Android Phone or even my laptop.
  5. Not to mention that like all the prior Nokia Phones, you need a “software” (now called Zune, as if a fancy name, will make up for all the hassle), for it to work with your laptop. Guys heard of the term PLUG AND PLAY!

Shouldn’t I say something positive about it?

  1. Microsoft Office. So if you really want to make a ppt on your phone, and go blind, then yes this is the right phone.
  2. Has a good display ? Maybe? But I know a lot of other phones which do too.
  3. It’s a good looking phone. Yes that matters to some .

I miss my Android phone!  So much for being impulsive when it comes to buying phones. But the good thing is, no matter what brand or OS, all mobile phones only have an average life span of a year. So I am hoping to make my next choice more informed.

So tip to Microsoft: if you really wanna be Everything at Once! (like your ad claims), you should shake hands with google.

P.S: For all those people who asked me to WAIT till the Windows 8 OS was here, maybe I should have. But how much are we expecting them to improve, with a change of a digit?

Bold Prayers:

7 Jan

During those rare times, when I slow down and  look around at my current life,  I can see that a large part of some preposterous dreams and wishes I had ,had strangely come true, to an unbelievable degree with God’s grace.

I had these images in my head a few years back, when my life was still good but severely lacked basic amenities. I had images of a gorgeous home, with happy family pictures hanging on the walls (how cliché!). I had images of ample and abundant supply of water and that of  my family visiting me. At the time, I had a job, I immensely enjoyed, however, I did want one with a better pay. (Common dream for all?)

All these seem like normal dreams for any person. Simple dreams. But for me it seemed then that  most of them were just that–dreams. There was nothing, “I” could do, about most of the things I desperately wanted. I seemed helpless and the only thing I could do was WAIT and PRAY.

So now, when few of my cousins and friends tell me about, their present state where they have no hopes of improvement, and where their “dream life” seems like an unachievable target, and while they share their worries and their fears, I have to lamely tell them, the only lesson I have learnt in my experience. And ie to wait. Wait in complete blind hope and faith.

Recently I had emailed two people who were close to me, and who were going through two completely different however similarly disturbing  trials in their lives, and I ended up detailing the steps of how to wait, in sync with God.  I believe the email helped, (Insha Allah, I hope), the people I send it to. So if, you are someone, who is “waiting” for something in your life to happen, and that wait, seems never-ending, and your current circumstances make you feel , that it is just NEVER going to happen, I hope the below helps.Most of my ideals/ideas in life, have been formed by the books that I have read. I have been able to restructure most of my thinking,which I might have caught on due to the society I lived in, or due to the beliefs  previous generations passed onto me.

Built undying “blind” faith in God:

Being in India, I presume, the higher percentage of people, are not atheists, but people who do not necessarily know “how” to trust in the Al-Mighty. Sure, we goto houses of worship, sure we mouth the words. But do we pray? Do we know to pray?We have innumerable religious schools, dedicated to learning prayers, learning morals, learning how to connect with God. But not many of them teach us HOW to pray. And I am not here to teach you that either. Each of us have to find out our very own method of communication with the Lord.

The kind of prayer that gives me peace personally, is praying with CLARITY and Praying BOLDLY.

How to pray boldly in spite of your current circumstance?

Your current circumstance, or what your mind can conjure up as “possible”, has nothing to do with your prayer or dreams. In the equation of prayer, you have someone with you, who is Al-Mighty. That is something we often forget. We do not have to pray, like  we are asking another human for a favour. It doesn’t have to be restricted, or limited. A few examples that might help, in restructuring your prayers

If it’s a job, that you desperately want.

Current circumstance: You have no interviews lined up. No employers have been calling you, or fixing any schedules. You feel like you are of no value in the job market.

Prayer: BOLDTo get that (whatever pay package you are dreaming of), in that super huge dream company you have always dreamt of.

Prayer: CLARITY :Along with this, it would be great to remember that money and a huge company, doesn’t guarantee job satisfaction. Remember to include the rest of  your dreams in, that you enjoy your work, are good at it, have amazing colleagues, and a great encouraging boss etc etc. The point is to be as BOLD at the same time be CRYSTAL CLEAR in your prayers.

Body issues: A very common cause of pain, depression, lack of self-respect, and general peace of mind in today’s world is weight gain. Everyone is either too thin, or too fat. No one I know is happy at the weight they are in. Or they aren’t happy with their fashion choices, they aren’t happy with some part of  their appearance. They fret over it. They are constantly seen cribbing about it. And when they seemingly have the perfect lives, they can’t enjoy it, because they just aren’t their dream weight yet.

I, for one, have never been happy with my weight and appearance, ever in my life. I was unhappy in my teenage years, cause I hated my complexion. I was, now in hindsight, at a great weight then, but I never appreciated it, for sure. Now when I am ok with my complexion, I hate my weight. And then there was a time. I was a great weight and a good complexion, but you know what, I didn’t realize it then either. So the below tip is as much for me as for anyone else.

Current Circumstance: Suppose you hate the body. Hate the hair. Hate that the dresses you like, do not fit, hate the dresses which do fit. Have a diet regime in mind, which God knows when you are planning to follow. And a fitness regime? Right !

Prayer: BOLD Having Mandira Bedi’s (or anyone you adore) figure. This seems preposterous, when you are currently obese,can’t pay for a personal trainer, never had the will power to stay on a diet and have no  training regime in mind. But you have a clear view of your dream body in mind. So are you going to bend on your knees and ask God for another person’s body? How lame is that? Shouldn’t we only ask God for spiritual things? Like your parent’s happiness?

If you ask me, He is the Al-Mighty, so if it’s your weight that is bothering you, and stealing your joy, it means, it’s important enough to pray about it. There is a reason He is God, cause he can solve all your problems.

Praying with clarity for one’s body. It is not enough to say, God make me 48 kilos. You can become 48 kilos and look like a drug addict. So believe me, weight loss doesn’t equate to good looks. It means , God make me (your dream weight, no matter how unachievable) in a “healthy” manner. Make it easy on me.( You can go on a diet, and kill yourself in the gym, and attain your perfect weight , just to keep at it for one month, and get RIGHT back, to being over weight, if you don’t stress on this factor.)

Making it easy for you:-No matter how grueling your fitness regime seems to a third person, if it seems like cake walk for you, you are going to keep at it, and maintain your dream Mrs Bedi like body forever.

Life partner/dream wedding : Another major point of concern, especially in my friend’s circles. Will I ever get a person who I am compatible with? Or will my parents thrust upon me the next best thing they set their eyes on. Will I get fed up seeing too many men/women that finally I “settle”

Prayer:.

BOLD PART:You can pray for that milky white bride, who looks like Gwyneth Paltrow, or for a Bradley Cooper look-alike husband, whom you can show off to your friends.

CLARITY PART:But do not forget to pray for the many other things which are important too. The compatibility, the fun, the similar interests. You dare ask, can I really get a Gwyneth Paltrow who is fun?? You sure can, Chris Martin did, didn’t he? Now this also includes, mentioning things like someone who you can be honest with, comfortable with, and who adores me. Remember to include the minutest details, and remember to pray for each of it with clarity, while praying boldly.

Really, so now I have 15 min long prayers for three things in my life, when do you think I am going to pray for all this?

When to Pray?

Being a Muslim, my prayer life is “very” structured. So the one thing, that I don’t have to sit and write a timetable for, is my prayer, because my religion has already done it for me. Thank god, for that. So if you are a Muslim, you have it sorted out. You have 5 prayers daily. Learn your prayers, (as they are in Arabic, it’s easy to get into the motions, without understanding what we are reciting) We  also have a practice of saying personal prayers in Sujud, so what I tend to do, is use one of my Sujud’s to pray with clarity.

If you are a non muslim, it doesn’t make it any more difficult for you.SCHEDULE YOUR PRAYERS .The best time to pray in my opinion, would be when you commute to work. This is the time, you usually can do nothing. You can’t read, because you feel nauseous. You can’t work, you can hardly sleep. And commutes in large cities, usually last for half hour to one hour. But you sure can pray. This is going to seem a little mundane, but you could divide The Monday Morning To Office-commute, to pray for , your “new dream job “. The Monday From Office-Commute to pray for your “dream partner” etc.

Now if you are currently unemployed. I am guessing you have time to pray, for sure. So schedule it, to do it, at least twice a day.

So while the examples of job, life partner and weight loss, may or may not be applicable to you. I am ending it with one final example from my life, about how prayer can help you deal with shorter smaller goals too.

How do you know if you are praying right?

There is definitely no right or wrong way to pray. Prayer is all-encompassing and everyone has their own personal way to pray. But prayer is supposed to bring us peace. No matter how enraged or angry disappointed or depressed you are, prayer IS supposed to bring you peace and a sense of calm. So are you feeling peaceful after you pray?

Something that does work for me, and brings me sense of peace and calm, is to visualize my dreams coming true while praying. And with as much clarity. So if it means having an amazing apartment to stay, with lot of air, sunlight, water, food etc. that means imagining each detail of it, including happy pictures hanging on the wall, or whatever your idea is. So prayer, immediately translates into a sense of faith. Because you believe that your prayers will come true.Every religion in the world, talks about faith, aka Imaan. So praying your prayers with faith, is the first part of living your life wholesomely in your waiting period.

Whenever I ask people to pray, even the ones who are religious, ask me, so you just want me to pray and not do anything about it? like shouldn’t I  work out to lose weight? Shouldn’t I learn to bake to bake a cake when people come over?

My answer to this, is you don’t. you don’t have to force yourself into doing or learning anything. It will find you. You will easily find your way, to a workout regime that’s simple, yet effective. You will find a supremely easy way to bake, and understand  it wasn’t such a hassle after all.

So while you slowly start your prayer regime, I wish you lots of peace and calm, and insha allah, I will continue my waiting series. With more pointers.

P.S: If you are an atheist, or someone who has lost their faith in God, I am not sure, how I can translate this point into something legible. In short, a life devoid of a belief in a super power, doesn’t currently make sense to me. So for those of you who are in that state, I hope, you find your God soon.