On Remembering and Not Forgetting to Remember

Even Sunday afternoon pakora reminds me of Appa and Amma.

Amma used to love only the thool (powdered pieces) portion of pakora.
Appa would buy pakora only from 2 of his favorite places (one in Chromepet and one in Tambaram).
He said everybody else didn’t use the right oil or fry the pakora the right way.
He just wanted ONLY the best pakora for his 3 girls (Amma, my sis and me).
When he went grocery shopping, he would save the “pakora” buying for the last. After he bought the hot pakora, he would rush home so his girls would eat the hot and crunch pakora. He would take only a lil piece. I would urge him to eat more. But, he would always say “Nee sapadu ma” (roughly translated to – “you eat dear”).

So, how do I forgot?
How do I forgot the memories that are stored as bio-chemicals somewhere deep in my brain?

I understand now why Poet Kanadasan said –
Irandu manam vendum
Iraivanidam ketpen
Ninaithu vaada ondru
Marandhu vaazha ondru

He asked the Lord to give him two minds
One to remember
One to forget

I wonder why Kannadasan didn’t say
Irandu manam vendum
Iraivanidam ketpen
Ninaithu vaada ondru
Marakama vaazha ondru

Because, I ask the Lord to give me two minds
One to remember
One to remember not to forget

To all of you who have lost a loved one, I send you my love.

Remember not to forget your loved one.

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On Living and Non living Things

We are crossing several milestones this summer.
It has been 2 years since Mommy passed on to higher realms.
It has been 6 months since Daddy passed on to higher realms.

It has been 5 years since we moved to TX.

Kumar and I spent several weekends this summer clearing out old boxes in the garage and closets.
I found so many photos, books, cards, letters and trinkets from the last few decades of life.

I found 1 sided papers and books that Daddy had given me in the boxes.
I also found spices and other kitchenware that Mommy had given me in the kitchen cabinets.

Papers, books, spices, kitchenware etc…things we typically call non-living things.

It turns out that non-living things are living on and are still here with me.
It also turns that people (Mommy and Daddy) that we call as living are not living anymore and are not here with me.

May peace prevail amongst both living and non-living things in this cosmos…however foolishly they are tagged as living and non-living things by the follies of the human mind.

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On IBM and Seeking out Mentors, Sponsors and Coaches

Ok. First, I’ll confess. 

When I was outside IBM, I pictured it as a big AND slow moving ship….too slow for the speed I like to move at.

I pictured grey haired blue-eyed men navigating the big ship carefully in rough waters somewhere in the middle of the ocean and keeping it not only afloat but also flourishing after a century.

In a day and age when companies are born and dead before I can saw the word IBM, IBM has lived on for a long time.

A century. Over 100 years. IBM has stayed afloat and re-invented itself.

Stop. Breathe. Think about that..for a moment. 

Hit rewind…

I saw one of my first IBM computers in a very tiny lab during my undergraduate days in Trichy (South India).

Trichy is a very hot city throughout the year. Well, except for the monsoons. 

So, the precious IBM computer had to be placed in a tiny lab which was air-conditioned 24 hours to prevent the internal components from melting over.

I had to leave my shoes outside the lab to ensure the dust wouldn’t get inside the computer’s openings (remember, floppy disk days).

My fascination with IBM started then.

Fast forward now..

With that context, let me tell you about what happened on Wed this week.

I showed up to a webinar series that Janine Sneed, Chief Digital Officer, VP of Customer Success IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software runs as part of an internal organization called GROW (Guidance, Resources, Outreach for Women). 

Get it….Grow Women! What a fun name?!

Janine and her co-sponsors of GROW have taken it upon themselves to invest in women.

Janine had invited Linda Brown, Executive Succession & Development Partner to talk to women this Wed on the need for mentors, sponsors and coaches.

Given Linda’s experience in recruiting, talent management, workforce management, leadership development, mentoring, retention, and diversity….she killed it.

Everything you need to know to not only have a meaningful career, but also grow and pay it forward…Linda managed to coach in 50 minutes.

Here are a couple of snapshots of what Linda shared.

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Alright, that brings me to my observation

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Perception Error #1: Picture on the left

What happens when we perceive the world, not as it is, but as we are.

Perception Error #2: Picture on the right

What happens when we view a situation disparately.

Learning – We have to use our meta-cognition and real-experience to self-correct perception issues that are rampant in our understanding of the world.

And, that brings me to the story I want to share with you today.

My outside perception on IBM was SO wrong.

I have realized that in my last couple of years here.

IBM is a FAST moving BIG ship.

IBM is not a big AND slow moving ship. It moves faster than speedy me. I have to run to keep up with IBM’s innovative trends (AI, cloud, security in every industry you can name).

Every day, I rush to work after drinking my single cup of coffee (with milk, of course).

I do it because IBM is what I love the most….people…talented people…passionate people…driven people.


IBM has people that I love to learn from and collaborate with.

There is not one single day that is easy. 

But, I know that every single team member that I work across cross-functionally (across this planet) is trying their best to dig their oar in the rough waters and move this big ship forward in the right direction for our clients and IBM.


IBM believes in many different views, many different voices, many different colors at the table. 

IBM believes every body needs to bring their full self to the workplace, and engage in a world of inclusion. A four-time Catalyst award recipient, IBM was recognized in 2018 for the advancement of women in business.

I know what you are saying to yourself “Ambal, tie up the loose ends, as you always do in every story. Tell us about about the grey haired blue-eyed men who navigate the big ship carefully in rough waters.”

Not to worry. I haven’t forgotten.

As far as the grey haired blue-eyed men who I have learnt bleed blue and operate with the singular and unwavering focus to change the world by serving one client at a time…..well, they love hearing stories of how my parents mortgaged their house to buy their daughter a one way ticket for her to go build a life in the land of dreams. They tell me the most precious stories of their childhood. They tear up and give me a big hug when I open my heart to them and talk about my arduous journey to “the land of the brave and the free”. They also crack up when I joke about how frugality is written all over my South Indian genes. After all, grey haired blue-eyed men who navigate big ships…are people too…with big hearts.

So, let me wrap it up.

I know now.

I know at IBM “diversity” and “inclusion” are not brand gimmicks.

I know because IBM not only includes me but invests in me. (Eternally grateful to these 2 stalwarts – Julie Lockner, Daniel Hernandez)

IBM invests in me.


A nobody.

A South Indian girl.

A poor South Indian girl.

A poor South Indian girl whose big-bright-shiny-eyes opened up wider when she saw that first IBM computer in a tiny lab.

I am an IBM-er and I am proud of it.

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The Confidence Code

I am often told that confidence is my biggest accessory. I typically thank the complimenter gracefully and move on to the discussion. However, the last few times I have been told this, my heart aches. My dad passed away in Jan and every time somebody says confidence, my heart fills with grief to know that I won’t be able to ever see the man who gave him everything he got (his soul and all his physical and non-physical resources) to give me what he thought was the 2 biggest equalizer off all – education and confidence.

Today’s book recommendation is about confidence.

Source: makeyourartwork

What is the big idea?

Does success depend on confidence or competence?

Co-authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipma feel that that women face a particular crisis — “a vast confidence gap that separates the sexes.”

How can one be confident?

Source: makeyourartwork
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Big Potential

What is the big idea?

“The more you expand your power to those around you, the more powerful you become.”

We have long thought about potential as being a set of individual traits: your creativity, your skills your intelligence. But thanks to exciting new research combining neuroscience and psychology with Big Data, Achor tells us that our potential is not limited by what we alone can achieve. Instead, it is determined by how we complement, contribute to, and benefit from the abilities and achievements of people around us.

When we – as individuals, leaders, and parents – chase only individual achievement, we leave vast sources of potential untapped. But once we put “others” back into the equation, and work to make others better, we ignite a Virtuous Cycle of cascading successes that amplify our own. The dramatic shifts in how we approach work today demand an equally dramatic shift in our approach to success.

Given how contagious negativity is, surrounding yourself with optimists is like giving yourself a flu shot against stress and apathy.”

Also, check out this video of Achor’s Happiness Project

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