about me: in a bit more detail

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Compliments of the New Year! 🙂

It is already the 7th of January, and it seems just yesterday that I was contemplating the closure of yet another year and what all it had meant for me even as it paved the way for a sequel. There was a sense of déjà vu in the air.

Except for one thing—a chunk of my holidays was taken up in finalizing my personal site. Tweaking it and polishing it to ensure it was perfect, for me at least. You could call the site my fancy online business card, for a better word. But why a personal site, you may ask? Is a blog not enough? Continue reading

global travel shot: my best friend sends her season’s greetings

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Did you have a good year? Was it placid and calm or one roller coaster ride? No matter which, it helps to have a friend to talk to. One you can unburden yourself to, without the “I told you so” or a bunch of preaching.

The lady above has been my closest friend since I moved to Mumbai. I have gone to her with tears rolling down my eyes, bursting at the seams with anger, and starry eyed, in love with every colour and nuance of life. I have had conversations with her where I have poured my heart out or just sat in stony silence, confused to the core with life’s mysterious incongruous ways. And at the end, before I left, I’ve looked at her face, and whispered “Thank you.” Thank you for listening and giving me whatever she felt was best for me.

To a non-believer she is merely a wooden statue of Mother Mary in The Basilica of Our Lady of The Mount, brought all the way from Portugal to Bombay in the 16th Century. To a believer she has miraculous healing powers. Continue reading

when a blog comes of age

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Those of you following my blog from before the 24th of July, 2016 may have noticed its new URL. It was changed from returnoftheprodigal.wordpress.com to ramaarya.wordpress.com on the 25th. Why? Because the blog had grown beyond being about just one chapter of my life. 🙂 Continue reading

a pan-indian carrom board match: volunteering in mother teresa’s hospice

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“Show me your pass. Monthly or weekly volunteer?” A grey, wrinkled guard looks at me quizzically as I stand at the door drenched in sweat, my backpack weighing down on my shoulder.

“I don’t have a pass. I am not a volunteer.”

“Then why are you here?” At this point I am convinced I am going to be turned away and the thought of going back into the sweltering heat is a miserable one.

I am at the Mother Teresa Kalighat Home for the Dying in Kolkata on a day long halt on my way to Bhutan.

I look at him half pleading, half self-righteous: “I have come to visit.”

He points me to the door leading inside with a dismissive wave. That’s it? I feel I have just won an unnamed yet crucial battle. Grinning ear-to-ear with relief, I tiptoe past him and enter a huge hall with scores of low beds arranged in neat rows. It is empty save a couple of destitute too near to death to have the energy or will to rise. The rest are all in the dining area, taking a break. Continue reading

why communication training for communicators?

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[My below post, posted under “personal musings” in this blog, first appeared as an Opinion Piece in Reputation Today, India’s first magazine for Public Relations and Communication professionals, on 20 February, 2016. The original article can be read here]

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Why Communication Training for Communicators?
So we can practice what we preach.

Oh, those endless press releases, speaking to journalists, coordinating events, generating online and print content, making sure the buzz is alive and kicking. As a communicator, much of our day is taken up communicating on behalf of our client or the company we work for.

The ultimate goal is that it is in the news for all the right reasons—seen, heard, respected and trusted. This is what ensures that positive appraisal come year-end, our aspired raise and reasons galore to preen.

Alas, life ain’t that simple. How often despite all our [best] endeavours, things go wrong, falling off the mark. That misunderstanding over a mail, the wasted hours barking up the wrong tree or should I say media house, or using tools and story hooks which our target audience just don’t connect with.

Every day, not in this case a good way, teaches us a lesson or two in communication. Why? Because we don’t practice, what we preach. Continue reading

so tell me, savita nair, what is ‘your real story’

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The written word can be a tantalizing, sacred concoction—a well-crafted, authentic collection of characters that throws insights into our world and sounds like music to our hearts. If one but knows, how to.

I chanced upon Savita Nair’s writings whilst surfing. It was just another day. I read one poem, and then another from her book 45ml. And I was hooked. I felt she was writing about me, unbarred, and bare. Somewhere along the way, we became fb friends. When I heard her second book Tell Me Your Real Story was just off the press I ran for the launch as expected. I was curious to know what made her tick. What made her read into everyone’s dark ugly closets and know exactly what we were all about. Was she some kind of psychic able to see through us plebs, stripping us of our masks!?

It was a lovely event. Some poetry reading, wine, a couple of celebrities to do the honours, and a vibrant Q&A. But no one asked her what was her real story. Why is the obvious so elusive at times.

So tell me, Savita Nair, what is your real story. The answers met me over a coffee one evening, earlier this week in Mahim. Continue reading