Monday, July 14, 2014

5 Ways to Know You're on the Path to Greatness

I'm a late bloomer. Well, not exactly, I think a better way to put it would be: a late realizer. If you're familiar with Indian slang, you'd call me a 'Tubelight' (it flickers and takes some time to come on). Yes, I'm a tubelight. But when the light shines, it shines and how.

I have started to think that people at peace, can't reach their full potential. This is contrary to what I've been thinking most of my life. Being content is good, status quo is just right. I'm no rebel, but I find myself rather restless these days. This feeling is accompanied with a sense of slight panic. Is it a nervous breakdown? Nope. It is just a feeling (sometimes overwhelming), that I'm running out of time. And this is good thing. How do I know I'm on the path to greatness, here are some signs:

1. I'm restless: I don't have the time to patient right now. I need to be somewhere in my life, and till I get there I'm not stopping. If you (person or organization) can get me there, I'm listening to you, but if you can't, then please step out of the way (or I'll bulldoze you).

2. I don't care what you think: It has taken me twenty-five years to get here, and does it feel good. Oh, I can't put in my papers because what will my boss think? Or I can't say I disagree with her point of view, she's senior to me. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.

3. I'm not here to make friends: Sounds mean, I know. But I'm focussed on getting somewhere and I can't afford to be distracted. I don't mind working with unbearable creatures as long as I am moving ahead. It's time grow a thick one and 'keep calm and carry on'. Or 'suck it up' for now and soon you can 'hire' the kind of people you want to work with.

4. I learn something new, everyday: I don't. I'm lying. I should and I'm getting there, but I haven't implemented this one yet.

5. I'm selfish: You know that by now, don't you?

Most importantly, I know that I'm going to be great because I remind myself everyday. I'm not giving up till I'm the best I can be and ordinary is not an option.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Unleash Your Inner Presenter

They make it look so effortless, those suave presenters. They look so relaxed, even when addressing a conference attended by a billion world-renowned experts in their fields. A casual wave of the hand on one occasion, an inspiring stare at another - what is it about these so-called natural presenters that keeps the audience wrapped around their fingers? How do some people manage to capture their audience better than others? What is it that they have that others don’t?

If you’re the kinds to avoid every opportunity to present, this post is for you. If you think you can’t speak in public, and you feel that’s a job better left to the ‘natural’ presenter, this post is for you. If you're 'the reluctant presenter', this post is for you.

Give it time

I’m just going to say it - no one is a 'natural’ presenter. Presenting effectively, to a room full of people isn’t easy and surely doesn’t come without practice. What we see for thirty minutes on a stage, is actually the result of hours in front of the mirror, or several debates and speeches given in college. Some of the best speakers have acted in theatre. All these activities have worked collectively in instilling that confidence in the speaker. Can’t really call this ‘natural’, can we?

So what this means is, all we, the lesser presenters have to do is, catch up on lost time. Don’t even think you can leave it all for the last minute and pull it off. Sure, you might manage a decent performance, but will you be living up to your true presenter potential? One word - Nope.

Find conviction

Get busy and start with your homework. Read, read, then read some more. Try to get as many points of view on the subject as you can so that your final content is comprehensive and informative. Don’t give up on your content till you are convinced by it. How will you go out there and speak effectively about this product or idea if you are not convinced by it? Question and counter-question. Find all the loop holes so that you are ready to answer any possible questions about the subject of your presentation. It’s all in the mind much before it is in front of an audience. Conquer that, and half your battle is won.

Once all your content is in place - wait for it - cut it by two-thirds. Yeah, you read it right. The art of presenting is effective editing. So chop, chop, chop. Delete repetitions, simplify everything, avoid jargon. Become one with the audience. Ask yourself, what would be the simplest way to communicate to someone who knows nothing about it? Now do that, in thirty seconds.

Become best friends with your presentation software

Now that you know what you’ll be presenting, look for a suitable presentation software to help you simplify your presentation further. Don’t think you don’t need one. No, don’t make that mistake. Everyone needs some help, champ! Presentation softwares are like aids - they add the visual impact to your speech (not that you’re not gorgeous enough). You’ll be surprised how much these tools will help you to edit your presentation further. Just remember that the slides you create are only part of your presentation and not the whole presentation, so no reading off the slides, please. Let the tool you choose become your best friend, be familiar with it and let it help you through your presentation.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

There is no alternative to practice. Rehearse the words you’ll say, rehearse the pauses, even rehearse the jokes you plan to say. Notice what your limbs are doing while you talk. Are you hand gestures adding to your presentation or distracting people from it? Did you just put your hand in your pocket? You don’t want to seem too casual. Listen to your voice. Listen for the fillers - the umms, the stammering, the overuse of a pet phrase. Do you have a nervous word or phrase like ‘you know’ or ‘like’, or ‘sort of’? Become aware of these distractions and then consciously do away with them.

A word of caution here: don’t over-rehearse. Rehearsing should enhance your confidence and allow you the presentation to flow naturally. Sounds like a contradiction? Strangely, it’s not. How do you test whether you’ve rehearsed just the right amount? I know I’m ready when I start focusing less on what I’m about to say, and am fully aware of what I’m saying in that moment. When I’m in the present and I am aware of what’s going on around me. This kind of calmness only comes when you are 100% sure of what you want to say.

Request feedback

Trust your colleagues and friends to give you feedback. Notice I say colleagues and friends and not or, reason being the perspective your colleagues will give you will be a lot more educated in terms of the knowledge of the subject, your friends will tell you what they derived from your presentation from a layman’s perspective. This experience will also give you a feel of what it would be like to present in front of an audience.

Use your nervous energy to energise

Nervous energy sounds like a terrible phrase but I have found that it’s not a bad thing. If you use it well, it can help you, your presentation and your audience. For instance, movement cuts the excitement and helps your nerves calm whereas standing still, in one place can make you even more nervous. Presentations are even more interactive when the presenter claims the space on the stage, moves around a bit, instead of standing behind a podium like a statue. The audience immediately relates to the presenter more, and is forced to be attentive because of the movement.

Nervous energy can bring a great amount of energy into your presentation. Just visualise your success and let the good times roll. Your hard work and preparation will find a way to calm your nerves. But energy is not the enemy, energy is good, it shows you’re interested in talking to the people, it shows you’re passionate about the subject and it exudes enthusiasm from you, into the audience. Just get out there and smile your widest smile and let the energy flow.

It's not magic!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Twenty-five Lessons - One for each Year

I know this is a bit late in the day, but I have spent many-a-day mulling over the wisdomness that I have gained, now that I am all of twenty-five. Yes, I have grown pretty wise over the years.

So here it goes ... Twenty-five lessons, one for each year.

1. Todo Para La Familia (Everything for the family)

2. Keep your innocence alive for as long as you can. It sets you free, give happiness and keeps things simple.

3. Know your nature and be true to it. It is NOT a cliche.

4. Be open to people and experiences.

5. Being afraid, is the only thing that can come in the way of your growth and happiness.

6. Give it time. Nothing ever happens before it's time.

7. Teenagers are dumb. I wish I could tell my teenage self not to take life and myself so seriously.

8. It is NEVER as bad as you think. And it is only when things get tough that you know what you are  made of.

9. Have a sense of humour and don't take anything too seriously.

10. Nothing is permanent. Especially unhappiness. It is not permanent at all.

11. Have a selective memory. Forget what you don't need to remember, like heartbreak or loss. Hold on       tight to wonderful memories, like a final moment with a loved one.

12. Click photographs. Drown yourself in happy memories.

13. The power of love exists and it can move mountains.

14. Love for love's sake is the best kind of love.

15. Loving selflessly is greatly empowering.

16. Happiness cannot be given.

17. Sibling love is the purest form of love there can be. And for that, everyone should have two kids.

18. Forgive. There is nothing in the world important enough to hold on to.

19. Have faith. Even if you don't, know that there is always a reason.

20. Be grateful. Be considerate.

21. Don't let anyone make you cry.

22. Cry. Cry your heart out. Be a drama queen. Get it out of your system and then bounce back. Fight.

23. Keep your eyes on the bigger picture, and everything will be surprising clearer.

24. Take time out to have a vision for yourself and your future.

25. You may believe you are chained, but you are always free and there is ALWAYS a way.

Can you imagine the levels of wisdomness five years from now? I'll be like God, like. Like oh my god.

*You can quote me on these, these are 100 per cent original (they only sound cliched). Copyright of Natasha Puri Kapoor.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Queen: A Review

A movie that stays with you.

I happened to watch 'Queen' this International Women's Day, and I'm glad I did. I loved it from the get-go.

I don't want to give much or any of it away, because 'Queen' is such a fabulous experience to be had, but some context must be set...

This is story of a West Delhi girl, Rani. A day before her wedding, the bridegroom calls it off, even as Rani says, 'Aap joke kar rahe ho na?' and her stubby younger brother peers threateningly at 'Vijay' through the coffee shop window. What follows is Rani's trip to her honeymoon - alone - and a wonderfully warm journey to finding herself.

That's it, I'm not saying anything else.

Each dialogue, every scene, is an experience in itself. Kangana has played Rani so well, that there is a fondness you feel for her - and other than the first 10-15 minutes of the film, never again do you feel sorry for 'bechari' Rani.

The most defining scene for me is the one where Rani is caught in a broil with a thug in the streets of Paris. This scary-looking guy is trying to snatch her bag, but the fiesty 'bechari' Rani, refuses to let go. This defines Rani for me. She is a fighter!

Kangana ensures your eyes stay glued to the screen the entire time. She is hardly wearing any make-up, which only makes her beauty more obvious. Rani is such a loveable character that I hope there is a sequel to this one. I couldn't get enough.

Another defining moment in the film is towards the end. Queen is at the concert with her friends, they have just reunited and they are thrilled. In the course of the song, it is time to say goodbye. They don't know if they'll ever see each other again. And then Rani is suddenly alone again. What will she do now? And then she smiles and gets back to enjoying the concert. In the background, the song's lyrics say, 'Kinara tu he hai'. I'm sorry if I've given too much of it away!

The story is as much about the friends she makes. The 'loose' hotel waitress Vijaylakshmi, whom Rani befriends and who opens Rani's heart and mind to the so many other ways of being a woman. That reminded me that a woman can be the best companion to a woman - in a way no man can. And the three adorable boys Rani meets in Amsterdam. Okay, I'm not saying anything else. My lips are zipped.

Queen is a journey that every woman must take. I haven't been able to get it out of my head. Is it really that easy?

All we have to do is be open and fearless and let the universe transform us, guide us.

Thank you, Queen! For reminding me :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

V-day Special: Get Out of the Friendzone

If this can't get you out of the friendzone, we're going to need a tow truck to tow you out of there.

It's your favourite day of the year and you're pretending it's really uncool. It's valentine's day, and you're telling everyone how cheesy it is. It's so uncool, man. So sappy, desperate and pathetic. Well, stop pretending because you are all of those things and deep down, you know it.

Now that we've established what miserable, lovesick fools we all are (you all are - I'm just being nice), let's get down to business. You need to get the hell out of the friendzone, this V-day. That's right, the time has come.

1. Get a haircut.

Grow a moustache, I don't care. Just look different, huh? Let him/her look at you in a new light. Now don't do something stupid and tattoo your forehead or something. I mean different good. Not different creepy. There's a fine line. Can't see that line? Then this blog is not for you. Move along.

2. Let's play.

This is the oldest, most effective play in the book. I mean, it is the Rigveda of plays (may my Hindu gods, rishi-munis of great wisdom, forgive me), it's time to play hard-to-get. Ignore her. Talk about another guy in front of him. Don't laugh at his jokes (this is going to kill him). If you see his/her behaviour changing at this point, then, mission successful. Your car is slowly but surely making its way out of the friendzone. You may no longer be the citizen of Loserville. You may not be sleeping on a wet pillow tonight, for you may not be crying your eyes out on Valentine's Day.

3. Compliment.

Now that he or she is simmering with anger like french fries in a deep fryer, it's time to (sprinkle some chaat masala and bite into a handful - sorry, wrong blog), play nice. Exaggerate a bit, maybe compare her to Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt, if you like. I don't care. Compliment him in a way that isn't friendly. Be sincere. Or fake sincerity, sincerely. But please don't get carried away and write her a crappy poem. Not yet. At this stage, if he/she is still smiling at you, I almost have respect for you.

4. The Winning Touch.

Dogs mark their territory by peeing. It's your turn now. Take some ownership give him or her a protective, a 'I'm there for you' kind of hug. This hugs lasts a couple of seconds longer than a friendly hug. Now, don't be creepy. A small gesture will help you establish two things: you'll know if the other person is interested and they'll know you think of them as more than friends. If she doesn't slap you, you're okay. If he is looking at you creepily, you're sending him the wrong signals, girl. Stay away.

5. Welcome to Lovers' Point.

Congratulations, you're out of the friendzone! Never thought you'd make it, but you did, and I'm proud. Now's the time to make the final move. Ask him or her out. If you've read all the signs right, you're never going back to Lonerville. And if he/she's the one for you, I'm expecting a box of chocolates.

Five years later...

Now you can write him/her a crappy love poem. They're going nowhere.

Valentine's Day, 2014 - Make it a happy one.

P.S.: I have nothing against single people.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hasee toh Phasee: A Review

Anything but 'Cucking Frazy'

Okay, I can't get Hasee toh Phasee out of my mind. I think I'm still trying to make up mind if I liked it or not. No, if I liked it a lot or not. I mean, I guess it's a good movie to watch, it's better than a lot of Hindi movies I have seen recently, but is it awesome? Not sure.

So here's what I liked about the movie: Parineeti and Sidharth.

These guys are naturals, and I mean quite literally. I don't think Parineeti had any make-up on throughout the film, except for kohl during the wedding scenes. That's pretty cool, isn't it? I like her. I'd like to be friends with her.

Sidhartha Malhotra is relatable, very much the boy-next-door, and at the same time really really hot. Really hot. He has played the good-guy so well, I'm afraid Ranbir has some serious competition. Sidharth's character wasn't commitment-phobic (like most male characters in most movies these days). He was not a casanova, a playa. Bad boys move over, commitment is sexy. And thank you, dear writers of the film, for making that point.

Here's what I'm not sure of: The Mind of Meeta

Parineeti seemed so down-to-earth and fun. Meeta, her character, confused me a bit. She clearly was depressed, had issues dealing with emotions, had a high IQ but a low EQ, but at the same time, she was extremely normal. One would think, a depressed person would be, errrm, depressed? What happened there?

It felt like the writers started off with a Sheldon-like character but changed their mind, mid-way. That's what bothers me a bit about the movie. But an interesting attempt, nevertheless.

And finally, if you want to know what misleading marketing is, just look at the posters of Hasee toh Phasee. They got the name wrong. It had hardly anything to do with the story. And the tagline 'Cucking Frazy' has to be the lamest thing I have read in a long time. And it had nothing to do with the story. Why would they want to make it look like a brainless comedy when it is so, so much more? It sounds like a movie starring Govinda, Raveena Tandon and Mohnish Behl (not that I have anything against this starcast -  I am quite the Govinda fan).

Overall, if a movie makes you think so much, it's a good movie. Kudos to Parineeti - please don't conform to the bollywood standards of body image - you are beautiful; Sidharth - don't disappoint with the next film (like Ayushmann who did Vicky Donor and then went on to do Nautanki Saala! - really?); and to everyone else, go watch Hasee toh Phasee to laugh, cry and for two characters that stay with you, long after the movie is over. And to believe in 'lowe', now that V-day is approaching ;)

P.S.: A special mention to the song 'Ishq Bulava' featuring Sanam Puri, who has a distinct and beautiful voice. That song is stuck in my head. Also 'Shake it like Shammi'.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Life at PY

When you’ve been friends for ten years, there aren’t many things you haven’t done together. But when best friends are getting married, it just calls for a special celebration. This is the story of four best friends on a bachelorette trip to Pondicherry.

A seven am flight to Chennai couldn’t have been more exciting and at the airport, as we chowed down on hot coffee and sandwiches (yes, we had enough time, surprisingly!), I have to say, we had our very own ‘Zindagi na Milegi Dobara’ moment. Three best friends who had known each other since school and here we were, taking our first trip together. Our fourth friend was on a train to Chennai a day before our flight took off. This was it. 

The drive to Pondi from the Chennai airport was kicked off with some roadside-dhabba type food and we were set for a three-hour drive along the East Coast Road. Excitedly peeping out the windows, we already knew Pondi was going to be beautiful.

Aadhaar, the guesthouse where we were staying, had two rooms, an open balcony, a kitchenette open to the terrace and a bathroom that was also – wait for it – open to the sky! The balcony had a hammock – which we all scrambled towards as soon as we saw it – beautiful tiffany lamps hung from the ceiling and comfy chairs made us forget within minutes about our crazy lives back home in Delhi. Here we were, palm trees all around us gushing in the wind, the view of a lighthouse in the distance (which only got prettier at night), and a wrecked shipyard to the back of the guesthouse which had its own, old-world charm (think Titanic).

The next day we walked on pebbled streets and admired the yellow French buildings in White Town near the Promenade. We had our ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ moment when we reached Paradise beach after a short ferry ride. It was the cleanest, clearest beach we had ever seen. As four of us held hands and ran into the waves, I knew nothing could change this bond between us – not even marriage! We were all growing up, but this is how we’d face life forever, hand-in-hand. 

When you’ve been best friends most of your life, there isn’t much you don’t know about each other, but travelling together, experiencing a new place together, making such memories together, only makes your bond stronger. And I never want to go to Pondi again, for that is my secret with my best friends. It is our Narnia, our Hogwarts, and forever shall be.

Best Friends Forever

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Responsible Behaviour

Everyone has only one thing to say when you get married or are about to. Okay two things. Two words, to be precise. Stability and responsibility. The two most boring words in the dictionary.

Then why do people do it? Get married, I mean. For S&R? Bleh. It is these responsible and stable adults who make marriage sound utterly boring. Screw S&R, I got married for fun and friendship. I got married for multiple F-words. How very irresponsible of me. Ha!

Think about it. Look around you at responsible people. What do they look like? What do their faces look like? The only lines on their faces are the unhappy, unseemly ones. I'd rather have laugh lines, or whatever they are called. Stability too, is overrated. A happy unpredictability is a must in any relationship, I say. Ah, when you don't know what the next day is going to be like - filled with wild, screechy, angry noises or, happier, wilder, err... pleasanter noises.

I married to be free and not tied down, and maybe that's why I don't feel that way. I read somewhere yesterday that Keira Knightley feels liberated by marriage. I feel that on most days. And frustrated on others. Marriage is a fine line between liberation and frustration. Remember to quote me on that.