When the why is clear, how will follow

Actor and flexidad Manav Gohil: Our problems never trouble us. It’s our inability to deal with them that disturbs us.

The TV-to-films journey. The journey uphill is always demanding and rewarding both. More than theatre to TV or TV to films, I would look at this as an actor’s journey. Because from where I am looking, theatre, TV, ads, films, regional films.. they are all work. Sometimes, I can find a good script for theatre, and not any other platform and vice-versa! It’s about how I scale my journey today as an actor. On my drive back home, what am I feeling? Pride, joy, or complacence.

Buddhist Leanings. I am a Buddhist and practice Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism – a way of life based on the philosophy derived from the Lotus Sutra. I have been practicing it since 9 years and seen my life gradually transform.

An identity of your own. When Shweta and I went to the passport office to renew her passport, they insisted on having Shweta Manav Gohil – this despite the fact that Shweta remains Shweta Kawaatra after marriage. We found that in Maharashtra and Gujarat it’s a mandate of sorts to have the husbands’ name attached, unlike a lot of places up north. I was telling her that maybe I should change my name from Manav Gohil to Manav Gohil Kawaatra. Just that I think it’s a cooler surname.

Soaps and women. As far as soaps go and how they skew womens’ identities, they are predominantly targeted at the masses (also a reason you might see the lack of progression in them). Soaps are not really made for social awakening. They might be set amid social issues but essentially things boil down to TRPs.

Finding time for family. I make time. In this age and time, I am sure it must be difficult for all professionals to find “family time”, as much of it as they would like. I guess it turns out to be an art for all of us (me included) to try and balance things.

Balancing work and life. When we probe a phenomena, we only rediscover it, we don’t invent anything new. Work-life balance is an established fact of today’s life; discussing it might lead to a better understanding but the challenge itself cannot be eradicated. So I struggle with it. For me, it boils down to working towards expanding my state of life. Shoots, dubbings, meetings, rehearsals, time with Zahra, chats with Shweta, driver leaving, maid hunting, car breaking down… I think I can encompass it all. i just need to grow in my capacity. After all, our problems never trouble us. It’s our inability to deal with them that disturbs us.

Being a flexidad. This means a tremendous internal change for a man. I have personally experience this in the last 13 months. My respect for mothers.. actually women…has rocketed in the last few months. For dads, I guess it’s a journey of growth. I have always liked kids so I guess I came in pretty handy to Shweta with Zahra. I cannot spend time with them through the day and long to rush back home at 9.30 pm and wash up quickly and request Shweta if I can put Zahra to sleep in my arms. It’s so rewarding. Flexi-daddying is a leap of Faith. Hesitation transforms into a conviction to lead a better life. Just do it!

Keen on acting? When the why is clear, the how will follow! A lot of young people I meet act to either become famous or earn money. You cannot place the cart before the horse. If you have a dream, work (ON YOURSELF) towards it. If you love it enough, you will emerge a winner. or else Plan B is not a taboo.

The last word. All the best to all Fleximoms. You all rock  truly!

Flexidaddying is a Struggle Sometimes but works very well

Samar Halarnkar started his career as a crime reporter. After that, he worked with a variety of publications – The Indian ExpressIndia Today and Hindustan Times. He recently penned The Married Man’s Guide to Creative Cooking and believes that cooking teaches men respect for women who stay home. The Flexidad speaks about the need to be more focused and organised when working from home, and how work-life balance is something that is a matter of continuous striving

The cooking connection. My mother made me and my brother help in the kitchen when we were boys. I started serious cooking when I couldn’t afford to eat out and craved good food. I had to cook so I could eat good food. I had to learn, improvise and improve. Not so difficult, really. As far as family goes, what’s not to like? They rarely have to bother about food on the table.  Seriously, my wife has no problem at all. My father, I don’t know. I think he struggles with the idea, he could not understand why I quit at what he considered the peak of my career, so to say… Cooking is just a part of my life, like brushing teeth or waking up. I do not consider it extraordinary.

Cooking betters men. Indian sons are victims of the mera-raja-beta syndrome. Learning to cook helps you appreciate the effort it takes to run a kitchen and feed a family. And it teaches you respect for women who stay home; it’s a respect that Indian men sorely lack.

Working at home. The thing about writing is, you just have to do it. Everything else is an excuse. I say this because I am constantly finding excuses not to write this piece or that. I realise I just have to find the time and do it. Not that I succeed each time, of course.

The balancing act. The work-life balance is something that is a matter of continuous striving. I can’t say that flexi-work has got me the balance, but it is much, much better than it was when I was working. I mean I miss the newsroom and working with colleagues in an office. On the flip side, there’s time with the kid, exploring and thinking of new things to do…just need to be more focused and organised at home, I find, than at office.

Being a Flexidad. It’s no different from being a Fleximom, I imagine. It’s a struggle sometimes, but it works very well. I get to spend time with my daughter, watch her grow up. It’s priceless. My wife does get jealous — that my daughter gives me more kisses than her. But, of course, there are sacrifices.

Working freelance in India. The going is not easy for freelance writers. I have fixed columns, a legacy of my previous job. So, I’m lucky. Otherwise, it’s very tough. It’s not so abroad. We are just unprofessional around here!

Getting published. It was quite easy to get published because I am a man. I suspect it would’ve been far more difficult if I wasn’t. Most women do what I do every day, with no fuss. You’re having this chat with me because I am male because it all appears very novel (when it should not be). If I was a fleximom, I don’t think this would be happening.

What I cook best. I cook meat and fish best, though I learned to cook veggie food after marriage because my wife is a vegetarian. We both do the dishes, but I end up doing them more often than not. Hard to expect my wife to do it after a hard day’s work.

A ‘jugaad’ recipe for all Fleximoms. The big bang stir-fry

Ingredients: 1 tsp sesame seeds, ½ tsp black-onion seeds (kalonji), 6-7 dried chillies, 8-9 large garlic pods, smashed or chopped fine, 1 tsp fresh, grated ginger or galangal (Thai ginger), 1 flat tsp red chilli powder (or paprika), 1 medium broccoli, reduced to florets; 1 small zucchini, halved and sliced; 1 small red pepper, deseeded and chopped long; 1 small yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped long; 1 tsp fresh rosemary; 2 tbsp soy sauce; red-wine vinegar (or red wine) to sprinkle

Method: Season a medium-size wok with olive oil. Throw in sesame, dried chillies (snap them into half) and black-onion seeds. When seeds start to sputter, add garlic. Cook till lightly brown. Add ginger. Stir quickly. Add chilli powder. Add broccoli and zucchini. Sprinkle with vinegar (or wine) so it sizzles. Add soya sauce for next sizzle. Toss on high heat until almost cooked. Add peppers. Add salt. Toss all vegetables. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary and grind fresh pepper. Serve.

Try these. Sridatta Boarding House in Mumbai (Lalbaug) and Royal China at VT. In Bangalore, Sunny’s. The Naga kitchen in Delhi Haat and the Italian restaurant in Jor Bagh market. Sridatta has the simplest and best vadi (masala puris) and Konkan-style fish and meat curries. Royal China has great dim sums; Naga kitchen is perfect for experimenting with pork varieties.

Cooks in the making, listen up.  Just do it! If I can, anyone can. When I began cooking, I stumbled all the time.

The last word. It’s been great talking to everyone, though I had to persuade the wife to be a fleximom today and pick up my daughter, so I could do the chat.

The Married Man’s Guide to Creative Cooking and Other Dubious Adventures by Samar Halarnkar, Westland, Rs 495

Where is the Rice?

I reach France to attend the Women’s Forum and it is the first day of the program. I am rushing for a workshop at the Cartier Headquarters and the phone rings. It is my husband and the first thing that he wants to know is  Where is the rice?

Rice? Duh! Really!  – Of course I tell him without even blinking and off he goes.

What flabbergasts me the most is that there are some stereotypes that never die. Between me and my husband, none of us cook, we pretty much share grocery and other duties but when it comes to ‘Where’ I find that men tend to assume that women know and usually they are right.

If there was a ranking for domestic duty proficiency – chances are that I will flunk it and my husband will pass with flying colors. But yet, I find time and again that domestic oblique just comes and gets stuck to women, hard to be undone.

Ask any woman, most of them are very in-charge of things at home but even for those who are not – in a major way, find themselves owing that piece.

A conversation with Mary Kronin @marycronin of @thousandseeds over a meal revealed a similar pattern. Both of us sat there amazed at the fact that as two women who have never met, how similar our lives are.

During my conversations at Fleximoms, I realize domestic marshland is the most under stated reason why women don’t back their careers up or pursue their ambition. The unsaid order of things, the need to fulfill the expected and the randomness of routine.

No, I am not offering a solution.

Just wondering – on a bus ride from Deauville to Paris!

Readiness to be ready. Choice to change.

May your mind transcend limitations. May your consciousness expand in every direction. May you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be. – Patanjali
 One of the challenges of being an adult is that one is absolutely accountable to oneself. And that is the pretty hard place, because not only we get away by making others believe but also ourselves into things that may have been our reality once but not anymore. Our tendency to believe that things are working out, while they are not is the biggest challenge of
making work-life choices.
A lot of our decisions however are governed by the externalities and our context and context like everything is constantly evolving.
In a recent Fleximoms discussion about work life choices, something a participant said was so simple and profound. She said that in her 20 years of being a professional and a single mum, eliminating the unessential had been her mantra to keep moving forward. It allowed her to prioritize, get things done and keep her commitments to herself and her children.
I came across this fabulous article on WSJ by Lynda Gratton  and I found myself nodding as I was reading the article. In context of workflex, women and work, the changing dynamic of relationships at work and home are redefining the emerging horizon of opportunities and challenges.
Earlier this week, Seth Godin wrote a piece where he says, the emerging economic order has little place for average, cog in the wheel worker. Here is the link   The returning and career transition professional is at at the learning curve of the workplace and skill opportunity.
The customized, choice economy is for real and we are witness to its various elements everyday.  
After all, it is the readiness to be ready, the willingness to change (constantly) and making choices that work for you that sets the tone for how accountable is one to oneself.
What choice are you making today?