Monday, January 13, 2014

Secrets of Communication

It was day one of our second year graduation class of Commerce. The professor who was assigned to take the subject Business Law introduced himself as Jacob Thomas with the suffix Jr. There obviously was a senior professor with the same name. Soon after, he started writing on the board and what I saw was the last thing I expected. A man in his late forties teaching a relatively dry subject wrote on the board in such a beautiful manner that I could see an art form unveiling itself! His handwriting was not just impeccable but extremely attractive that after he left the class, none of us even felt like wiping the board.
Days passed by and we got further acquainted with the professor and his communication skills. His excellence did not stop with the calligraphy-class of writing but he proved to be truly awesome with his verbal communication as well. Hailing from a small town in the state of Kerala, down south in India, where we hardly had to use English in our daily lives, a sight such as the discourse by our professor was worth attending the class. Not sure if that was the reason for an almost complete attendance during his sessions.
We were fascinated by his ability to speak in fluent English using such words that we had to refer to a dictionary to understand the meaning of some of them at the end of each class. It was even more surprising to hear him say one day that he did his schooling in Malayalam, the vernacular language of our state. For a moment I genuinely wondered about the irony of getting an English medium education and not even capable of communicating even remotely, like this man, who had none of these amenities. A few of us got really interested to know how he managed to pick up this skill and requested him to share his secrets of communication.
He was a soft spoken man with a delightful smile to his credit. He was indeed happy to receive such a request from us and smiling throughout, shared the recipe of his success. These were the pearls of wisdom he shared with us that day which I quite distinctly remember applying in my life, which I honestly believe helped me improve my communication skills.
·         Read an English Newspaper – Helps you develop your vocabulary. Please be careful about the choice you make since there are ones that are published with the sole intention of increasing circulation and not giving due importance to the language. But there are others which genuinely communicate using exemplary language.
·         Listen to English news in radio/TV – During his days there was no television and hence the radio news from BBC was his only source of good English. These days we’ve plenty of options in radio/TV. Again beware of your choice.
·         Make a friend out of your mirror – This is one of the most effective ways to improve your communication. Talk to your mirror just like the way you speak to a friend. Make this a habit and you’ll see how your ‘friend’ helps you better your communication.
·         Read a lot – A habit, the worth of which is unimaginable! Develop this hobby. You do not have to focus on a particular topic initially. Start with something that interests you and slowly widen your horizon. You may stumble upon words, about which you are totally clueless. Have a dictionary handy. These days the options are quite simple with smart phones and apps which provide good dictionary services.
·         Write – This is an extremely effective way to improve your language. Start with simple topics. Develop a hobby of diary writing which can be very rewarding. Create a blog. Write about happenings in your life which you could share with the public. Take a shot at writing competitions. You won’t even believe how your communication skills improve over a period of time with this awesome method.
Nothing should stop you from improving yourself. Communication in any form, spoken, written, non-verbal, whichever may it be always has room for improvement. Never stop learning and that’s one secret we need to remind ourselves time and again!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mr. & Mrs. Change

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Jan 2014 
A few months after being admitted into the institution of marriage, I remember talking to a friend of mine about how life has changed. Guess I was cribbing too much that he had to stop me somewhere in the middle and asked me a genuinely simple question. 
“Before getting married, you were away from your family, living here in the same city, working with the same company on the same job and with the same set of friends. All that is new in your life is a wife and a house. Have you ever thought what change means to her? She was staying with her family, working with a company in a different city and had her own set of friends. She had to leave all that and move to a totally strange place, being unemployed and hardly any friends around, but live with a man whom she met just three months back. And you, complain about change?!”
Needless to say, the question stirred my mind. I looked at him with the kind of expression of disbelief that he had to literally shake me out of my world of thoughts. I realized what he said was right; it is just that my independent soul was not so prepared to accept this fact of life that is seen all around me. It was apparent that the patriarchal society we live in today had blindfolded me from the truth in our life. I was enlightened and thanks to my friend I could think beyond ‘me’ in life. As I read in one of the recent blogs by Seth Adam Smith, I realized that marriage was not for me, but for us!
Things may not be the same with all the couples out there. There are the blessed ones who work in the same company or same city, who get married and the change is pretty much the same for both the parties. Though I do not have any statistics to prove, I feel such blessed ones are far and few in numbers. The majority belong to the category where my sweetheart and I come from. The plot is usually the same; the woman leaves her family and her social circle, quits her job and moves along with the man to a totally strange city. If the couple had not known each other for too long that only adds to the complexity.
All the men folks out there, who have at least once thought or said that things will or have changed with marriage, have you ever thought about this paradox of life? It is the women who bear the brunt of the change most often and they still have to put up with the pseudo concerns of their men who whine about the changes in life.
On further thought the blame cannot be fully bestowed on these poor creatures called men. These behavioral patterns could well be attributed to the conditioning we all receive from our society. Historically we’ve seen our sisters, mothers and grandmothers being married to a different family than the one they were born into. The in-laws became their new parents and the traditions followed at husband’s home became theirs as well. These children of God are blessed with a gift of acceptance that they gel with the changes in a seemingly simple manner.
The male of the species are never taught about the changes their female counterparts experience with this arrangement. Hence from time immemorial every married man thinks more about the changes that happen in his life than her life not to mention, their life. With all due respect to the older generation, this would’ve been acceptable then, but not anymore. In the modern times where women are equal or even better than men in many fields they interact, it is high time that men understand and appreciate the nuances of change a girl faces who joins him in Holy Matrimony.
Changes are part of any discipline. Married life comes with its own set of changes as well. Never spend your time and energy thinking hard about how to face them individually. It becomes quite interesting if you continue to hold your hands just the way you did during the wedding ceremony and face the challenges of life together. Holding your hands was not only a gesture but a promise that you give each other for a lifelong commitment to face and overcome any difficulties life may pose in front of you.
You have decided to take the boat named marriage together. Why then row it by yourself? Hand over each other the oars of faith in the One that united you as well as faith in each other. It’ll help you cut through the waters of life and you’ll see for yourself that your boat remains intact even in the mightiest of the tempests.
Change is a way of life. Acknowledge, accept and act on it together. God be with you!

Planning Your Trip

It is a well-known truth that nothing is more refreshing than travelling to locations, especially new ones. Many families do this at least...