Friday, 25 October 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign

My company supports the Elle Breast  Cancer Awareness Campaign. It runs through the month of October every year. We choose one particular Friday and that is celebrated as, 'Wear Pink to work' day. Different units organise programmes to take the initiative further and create awareness of breast cancer among men and women within the company as well as our social circles. This year October 18th was celebrated as the 'Wear pink to work' day in support of the campaign. The preparations were on since the previous week.

Me being the coordinator for learning and development, the hotel PR officer Charmaine contacted me, she wanted to discuss the campaign and plan some activities for the day. We didn't want it to be a day where all team members are seen in pink and then get over with it. We had 3 days in hand, we decided to involve every team member in the activity and  get them thinking about breast cancer, learn something about it and also spread the awareness among their circles as awareness, screening and early detection is the key to the cure.

 The question was how to get the team members involved especially men who are more than 60% of the workforce. We decided to ask every department to submit at least one poster on breast cancer awareness, yes we did allow multiple entries as well. To make the posters they had to do some research, which they promptly did and started working on the assignment. The deadline for submission of the posters was 10 am on 18th October 2013. We also worked on a couple of other activities for the day and informed all the departments and users through emails.

We decided to carry out the following activities:
  • All the front of the house employees to wear pink ribbons (pinned to their uniforms). 
  • For those who do not have uniforms, some form of pink to be present in their attire or a pink ribbon could also be worn. 
  • Cafeteria to be decorated with Pink and White Balloons. 
  • Each department to prepare atleast one poster based on Breast Cancer Awareness . The best poster to be awarded a prize.
  • A graffiti wall or a pledge wall for employees to sign and share their messages would be placed at the cafeteria. 
  • A lecture /presentation on Breast Cancer Awareness would be conducted for the female employees. This would be done in two sessions , so that all female employees can attend the same. 
  • Bowls of pink ribbons would be placed at common public areas for the hotel guests to participate in the activity. 
  • Our website would have pink colour for the day and also all social media would be sporting pink as the background colour. 
  • A group photograph would be taken at 4pm.
I went around in the hotel and the hotel school to see how the team members were gearing up for the campaign. Found people involved in making the posters, could see a good amount of research and reading had gone into it and our very purpose for the activity was served. There was a good display of teamwork and I simply loved the enthusiasm shown my everyone. Each department wanted to put up something better than the other but all in good spirit!

We were wondering whether  to call a genealogist, but then the year before we had called one and the session was open to all team members, so the ladies had not really asked any questions, though it was a very good session it sounded very clinical. Anyway if we felt the need to consult a genealogist we would certainly invite one. I thought let me do the reading up and conduct this session myself with the lady team members and girl students as they connected better with me. Yes, I supplemented my knowledge on the subjected with a lot of reading up and research. Anyway it was an awareness session so the talk had to be on the various aspects of breast cancer and all that the ladies needed to know, including  the self examination. 

The content was ready, also looked up for songs in support of the cause. Found three really good ones on youtube thought of using them to add value to my lecture. As decided the first session started at 11 am . there were a good number of ladies in attendance. We all had a chat as an ice breaker, then shared with them all that I had found out on the subjected. The session ended up being quite interactive women shared their own experiences and we all pledged that we'd share the information with our friends, near and dear ones.By the end of it, I could see that the ladies had tears in their eyes. We all somewhere felt the connect and the song, 'I'm gonna love you through it' by Martina McBride got all of us very emotional. The same effect was there when I conducted the second session. We covered almost all lady team members and girls of the institute. I was happy with the feedback and felt that it was good idea to do the session myself.

In the admin areas of the hotel, the corridors had turned into art gallery for the day. The enthusiasm was great and the work, say posters put up by the team members were very thoughtful, indeed a work of art!

Link to the posters,  you can like the posters and allow us to judge the best one!

Yes, 'Wear pink to work' actually got us, Thinking Pink!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Navratri and Nine forms of Goddess Durga

After writing a post on the festival of Navratri, As it is fast approaching, I feel like dedicating another post to Gddesss Durga describing all her nine forms. Navratri means 9 nights and 9 forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped during this period. Each day a different form of Goddess is worshipped. Each form has a beautiful story of how she got that name and how she is worshipped. Ofcourse this is just a gist of it.
1 Shailputri: Shailputri means the daughter of the mountain, Himalaya. In this form we see the divine Mother holding a trident in her right hand and a lotus on her left. She is seen seated on an ox.
2. Brahmacharini: Brahmacharini or Tapasyacharini is Goddess’s second form. The name holds the meaning of true penance and meditation. This form depicts her holding a rosary beads in the right hand and a Kamandalu, a pot containing holy water in her left. 
3.Chandraghanta:Chandraghanta or Shakti. Chandra means moon and Ghanta is the bell. This name finds its explanation in the half-circular moon on the temple of the Goddess that resembles a bell. She is three eyed with ten hands. Each hand holds ten different weapons. She is seated on a lion and is worshipped on the third day of the Navratri . Her hue is golden and her appearance always spreads a calm and eternal peace all round. She is unprecedented image of bravery. 

4. Kushmanda: Kush means happiness and she created the universe with a smile. She is radiant as the Sun and rides a lion. She is Ashtabhuja or eight handed. Her seven hands hold the holy pot, Kamandul, a bow, an arrow, a lotus, a pot containing wine, a disc and a club. The eighth hand holds a string of rosary beads that is believed to provide success and prudence.
5.  Skanda : Lord Kartik or Karthikeyan is also known as Skanda. As Goddess Durga is his mother, she is referred to as Skanda Mata. She is a deity of fire with four arms. She holds her son Skanda with the top right hand and lotus in her lower hand. The top left hand is positioned in a blessing gesture or Abhaya Mudra. She is fair complexioned, seated on a lotus and so also referred to as Padmasana.
6.  Katyayani : Sage Katyaayan was the son of the great sage Kat. He observed rigorous penance and worship of Bhagavati Paramba with a desire to get Paramba as his daughter. His wish was granted. The daughter born was named Katyayani. She has four hands. The top right hand is positioned in a gesture of providing courage while the other hand is positioned in a gesture of rendering a boon. The top left hand holds a sword and the other a lotus. The goddess rides a lion and worshiped on the sixth day of Navratri.
7 Kalratri : Ratri means night so her complexion is as dark as the night. She has long, unmated hair with her three eyes that are shiny and bright. She has four arms and is seen mounted on a Shav/Shava or dead body. Her right hand holds a sword, while her lower hand is in a blessing stance. The left hand holds a burning torch and the lower left hand is in fearless position. She is known as Shubhamkari or the auspicious one. Her form encourages her devotees to be fearless.
8 Maha Gauri : It is said that when the body of Goddess Gauri got dirty due to dust and earth while she was observing penance to attain Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva cleansed her with the holy waters of Ganges. Her body transformed into bright and luminous like lightening and so her eighth form is known as Maha Gauri. Her clothes and ornaments are also white. Her visage is calm and peaceful and she is three eyed. She rides on a bull. Her four hands denote different meanings, like the left hand is in the fearless gesture and the lower one holds a trident. The above right hand has tambourine and lower right hand is in blessing form.
9. Siddhidatri : The ninth form is Siddhidatri. There are eight Siddhis (Special powers which can only be attained from severe penance and meditation)-Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Iishitva & Vashitva. Maha Shakti gives all these Siddhies. 
May Goddess always bless everyone! Happy Navratri.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Friends for life!

A friend says, "I'll be there when you say you need me" but a true friend's heart says, "I'll be there... whether you need me or not."

A true friend sees the first tear... catches the second... and stops the third.

Everyone hears what you say,
Friends listen to what you say,
Best friends listen to what you don't say.

While I write this post on friendship I think of some of the best friends that I have had over the years and yes they remain - F.R.I.E.N.D.S for life! These are also the people who understand even my silence forget the spoken words. I have had great memories with each one of them, can't put everything on paper but memories that I cherish.

Srividya is he first of such friends, we met in class 3rd in Cochin, Kerala. We became good friends gradually, and realised that we were great friends when we are in the 5th grade I guess. Many years later she tells me that in the 3rd grade our class was participating in a group dance competition and I didn't take her. God it embarrasses me but you see we weren't that thick friends in the 3rd grade and at that age, only friends can be groups! It sure makes me laugh now.

By the time we were in the 7th grade even our parents had become friends and we have shared that bond over the years. Srividya and I sat on the same bench in the class, got punished together and all the 'firsts' in our lives we more or less experienced together. We had a little gang of girls, about 10 of us in school and those were the best days of our lives. After 12th I came to Mumbai for my studies and then settled here. She did her college in Cochin, got married and moved to the US.  Her parents are close to me and we share an amazing bond. It was such a pleasure when they came for my marriage to Mumbai and gave me away along with my parents, for us in India that's really a valuable and emotional gesture.We may not talk over the phone often but whenever we do it just picks up from the last conversation. Now the internet has brought things closer yet a bit distant too. Social media is used for chatting that has replaced the phone calls. Yes we are in touch through the media. I come from the North of India and she is a South Indian but our love is that of  true friendship!
Then came my college buddies, After completing 12th standard came to Mumbai for higher studies and my friend was Archana, again we remain great friends. We connected right from the day one and we would hang out with a small group of friends. She was almost the same as Srividya. She was a Mumbai girl and helped me settle in the city. Hostel life was fun because of her. We also made weekend trips to her place and her family became my own. All festivals would be at her place if the vacation was too short for me to make a trip to Cochin. Three years of college were memorable ones because of her, Harsh, Gaurav and Arati. Archana too moved to the US for her PG and then settled down there. We meet when she visits India. Again a few phone calls here and there and in touch through emails and now ofcourse the social media.

Snehal was a room mate in college hostel and she was such an amazing person, we kind of complemented each other. I was quite a forgetful person, I still am! She was such a cleanliness freak and kept things in order. Would collect my laundry and at times do the ironing too. I was good at draping saree and making designer bindies, that's what I did for the hostel girls for all the favours that came from them. Kanika was a fun friend and Kavita was the serious one who loved poetry, she was my roommate. We cherish this friendship of almost 20 years now. After college all these girls left Mumbai, Kanika went to Delhi, Kavita to Ludhiana and Snehal went back to Pune . We have been in touch first through letters, phone calls and now of course through social media... this is getting hilarious .. the social media! but for my generation this has been the connecting platform.
At work place, on my first job we were 4 of us who joined the department at the same time... so became friends, Farzana, Arti, Devika and Anjali. Work was more fun than work, we would make mistakes get pulled up at times but when we met we would laugh it off. Lunch breaks used to be good fun with the seniors Anagha, Anamika and Roopa. Lunch breaks have never been the same again! We worked together for almost 4 years then I moved to another organisation. We lost touch but reconnected through what else? ......the social media!

At my second job met Meera and she was a family to me, like an elder sister. She was always protective about me and took care of me. I got married and she helped me through even in settling in with my new family. She took care of me during my pregnancy. Infact I stayed with her for more than a month as there was a long commute between my home and workplace. She is and will remain an elder sister that I never had. She moved to Kuwait city to join her husband there. Again I see her through.... what else? Social media is the answer!
Changed job and moved closer home after my elder son was born and the person who turned a great friend from being a colleague was Ujwala. She has been my confidante. I was a new mother when we started working together. There were always some issues or the other that I'd have, just like any other young mother and career woman. She made me cope with all that so well. Whatever issues personal or professional I had would share with her. She always would be logical and would have fabulous solutions. She has a great level of maturity... though she is only 4 years elder to me! if years bring maturity that is... luckily she still is around, I don't see her in the office though but we are close by and use use the social media to connect further... 

There are also friends who are very special and they all know it. The paper is small and I can't bore my readers to mention each one of them here but yes the heart is big and everyone is quite safe there :). Infact Rajesh became a friend before taking up the role of being my husband. This friendship is the icing on the cake. I don't need to tell him anything, he understands, he can read my mind and thoughts.

Have been lucky to have met these amazing people and I am sure they feel the same about me (on a lighter note!), I know I can always count on them, they are not blood relations but people who are an extended part of my life. Cheers to all my friends! Cheers to friendship!

Thanks Indiblogeshwaris for making me think about these friends that I cherish, it has been a real walk down the memory lane and inspires me to connect with each one of them soon... on phone or the social media.