Saturday, May 15, 2010

Amma Ji

I was anxious for my IIM S result. The more i tried to stay cool..more the anxiety got the better of me.
I decided to move my mind ahead of the result and act as if i was selected and what all would i do after my selection?

The first thing that came to my mind was that now my roommate would have to change the house.
Second thing that i could think of was that our maid(Amma ji) would be left jobless.

Amma ji is a lady in her early 70s. Off late God has been really angry with her..Her husband stopped working,the only source of incopme stopped another few months he lost his mental balance. She had to take control of the family. She was battling her way out of this trouble..but God had more surprises for her. She lost 3 sons in a span of 2 years. All 3 sons left their children(6 in total) with her. 4 were somehow adjusted in there respective mother's family but 2 of them were less fortunate. After losing their father they lost their mother as well. Amma ji decided to take care of these two children and since 10 years she has been looking after these kids.

Amma ji earns Rs 1700 from our home and Rs 1300 from another house where she works.
I was feeling uneasy as to how will i tell Amma ji regarding her job being terminated? I decided that being a good employer, before leaving... i am going to pay her 3 months of salary(as this is how good employers fire their staff).
This was something i had learn't in the corporate world.
This was something that came under good management practices.
but still i didn't have the courage to confront Amma ji and give her yet another shock in her already troubled life..

All these thoughts were running in my mind and i was doing all the Post Result planning. Suddenely the negative devil came back and told me that all this would only happen ,if i cleared the Gd/PI process.What if my name is not there? What if i am not selected? Again anxiety started taking its toll on me.So many people are waiting for my result...what will i tell them if i don't make it this time also? These thoughts were taking away my happiness..i was feeling uneasy. My pain was that i wanted to get through to the IIM S.

With all these thoughts I was staring blankly on my laptop and thinking of how do i tell Amma ji about the pink slip.
Amma ji used to work so honestly and diligently that it was not at all her mistake ,but still she will be fired.

I was imaginging myself going to her and giving 5000 Rs in her hands and telling her the bitter truth.I knew she would cry and then i would have to console her giving her the resons as to why i can not continue with her.

I was imagining all this and Suddenely Amma Ji comes from the kitchen and with a smile asks me..
"Beta aap ja rahe ho padhne?"
I was perplexed as to how does she know that..may be my roommate has informed her..confused i answer
"Amma ji ..hmmm...abhi to nahi ...abhi to result aana hai,Pukka nahi hai abhi"
She kept her hand on my head and  blessed me like a was a divine sort of blessing..
"Beta aap pass ho jaoge.Khoob aage badho..aur khub taraaki karo..mere liye thoda ruke rehna aapne"

I was frozen as this was something i had not imagined...
She wanted me to go ahead and achieve my dreams and this was something absolutely pure.
My going away meant a 60% slash in her salary but still she blessed me for my future.
I was dumbstruck as to who was taking care of whom....
would i have reacted the same way if my employer would have asked me to move on and leave?

God has been so cruel to her..yet the faith has not shaken .
"Beta ji aap aage badho...bhagwan hai na hamara dhyan rakhne ke liye.Sab badhiya hoga."

All this while, in that moment it was Amma ji who was making me understand as if everything is fine with her and i am the one who needs to be consoled.
She was again and again reinforcing her belief in god...and by this time it was me who was about to cry.
I felt so small ,so non existent .
I felt guilty of cribbing my small little fear of not making it to IIMS.
Amma ji stood there smiling at all the adversities she has faced in was as if these things don't bother her anymore.

I realised i had no right to complain...i had no right to crib..instead i should be thankful to god for all that he has done for me.

Next day i got my result and i wasn't selected...i was sad for a moment but then Amma ji came flashing to my mind. If she can be happy with all that that has happened with her....
i have no right to be sad. Atleast not in front of her....
I reached home and Amma ji asked about my result...
"Amma ji nahi hua.." I said with a sad smile..

Amma ji immediately made out that i was not my happy self...
"Are beta isme kya ho gaya ...aise ni hote udass.Sab hi lag gaye pass hone to sab hi nahi pahunch jaenge wahan... jahan pahunchana hai."

I was left frozen at the innocence and the concern that Amma ji showed at that moment.
I wanted to be strong in front of her...although i couldn't stop wondering...a few days ago i was thinking that i'll take care of her as an employer..and today the tables have turned...
Amma ji might not be knowing the best management Practices but she surely does know some other practises that all of us need so badly in our life.

I asked GOD to take care of her and give her some happiness atleast in the last few years of her life.

Amma ji helped me a lot in leaving the IIM S thing behind and move ahead on my path to my dreams...IIM s would have been a great catalyst but even without it ..the reaction has to occur.
It always does complete even without a catalyst...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Michael Phelps

Content of the blog series(This one and two previous to this)  are directly  taken from Phelps' Autobiography...No limits. The author just wanted to share the thrill with his readers and has not tampered with any of the narratives. Infact my creative contribution to this blog is just 0.0001% (reading from the book and typing it for all of you).

If you liked the blog series ,you'll like the book as well . Please order a copy for yourself. (I got it from
Beijing olympics had started and i was preparing myself for the first race. 400 Mtr individual medley..
The most demanding of all races...Butterfly..Back Stroke...Breast Stroke and free style.100 mtr each

I had told bob that i would not race 400 mtr IM ever again as this was a very very demanding race.
This was my first shot at the supposedly the  first Gold out of the 8 Medals that i had promised my country.
I could have taken it as a pressure but i decided to take it as inspiration.I had to do it because so many people who loved me  wanted me to do it.
I had to win it for mom,
I had to win it for bob ...
I had to win it for America..

I was told that my races would be shown at prime time in USA.I was thrilled to hear this as i was trying to leave  Swimming bigger and better then what i had received.

All the values ,hardwork and endurance that i had built over the years were to be tested in the next few minutes. Moreover i didn't want to falter at the very first step as if i did falter.. the excitement and the thrill would go away  from the rest of the races as it will break my 8 Gold dream.

I was feeling good..infact very good .  Bob had taught us to visualize the race in your mind before you actually do it.

All of us were standing on the blocks....Announcement was made and Beep went the buzzer.

The best of the best athletes from all over the world dived in...i took it easy for the first 50 mtrs..I wanted to pump it up in the next 50.
After the butterfly i was having a one body length lead ,I figured i would be ahead for the next 100 mtrs as well but my fellow competitor Lochte had some other idea. He took away my lead and sent me into second position.

At 200 i was just in front but not that much as i had visualized earlier.Coming of the 300 mark i had no idea of the rest of the swimmers....i only knew that i have to give it everything in the last 100 mtrs of freestyle.It wasn't until 350 that i knew what was what and who was where.I took my first breath and couldn't find either of my competitors.I knew i had won...i went underwater , i smiled as i was going for the finish line and yes i was going strong.

I won the race and i smashed my own world record by 1.41 seconds.
Race to eight was still on...

After the race i could see my mom,Bob and George Bush clapping and cheering for me in the stands.
It was a absolutely pure and a proud moment for all of us.

On the medal stands American Flag went up..and the American anthem started playing.I was awarded the Gold medal. I was overwhelmed by the moment and I started crying...i was sobbing. I wanted to sing the anthem but the purity of the moment got the better of me. I could see my mother having tears in her eyes..This was such a proud moment for all of us. I was trying to control my tears and start singing the anthem...

The moment anthem reached "....the land of the brave" and the moment i was about to join in..
Some technical glitch occurred and the anthem ended abruptly.
The moment meant so much for me , i mean it was apart of a dream that i have surrendered my life for but sadly it got spoiled because of a technical fault...

I couldn't stop myself from laughing...i was laughing with tears in my eyes...In such an emotionally rich moment how can you stop the background music?

I was crying...i was laughing and i was thinking...
"Seven more Chances ,may be, for the Chinese to get the American Anthem right."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Phelps' Mom

I am really blessed to have a mother who was so supportive of whatever her children wanted to do.
I'll like to share a few incidents which have left the strongest of impacts on me and my life.

I was pretty bad at chemistry...and by pretty bad i mean the worst that one could be.
My teacher called my mother and complained about my performance and my efforts.
Mom just kept listening and after some 15 minutes of complaining ,she told the teacher that
"May be your are not teaching interesting stuff."

To this teacher replied "Mrs Phelps you mean to say that we are the ones at fault and your child is a special talent.I'm sorry but he isn't and he is not going to be a succesful man in life."

We left the office and on our way back my mom told me
"Mike you have travelled 5 countries this year,swam with the top international athletes.This is much more important than those chemistry lessons.I know this will help you a lot in life.So don't worry and just relax as you are not just going to be fine in life but you'll do great. "

This gave me a huge boost and i gave my absolute very best at each of my laps.

Another event that i remember is that before leaving for Beijing olympics,it was kind of hugely advertised that i would win 8 gold medals.Hype was amazing and at every press conference i was just answering as to how i would win those 8 gold medals.

My coach and my mom were not ok with it.My mom talked to the coach and both of them planned something.
My coach asked me that "Are the press reporters going to help me win those 8 medals?"

I thought and i said "No"

Then why are you wasting your energy discussing it with them..

Mom came to my practise and held a banner in her hand,that said "Actions speak louder than words."

Mom made me go even harder that you don't win gold medals in press conferences.
You win them in the pool and thats where you should be.

Another thing she told me was that we just have control over our own actions.Rest we can not control but in order to realize that perfect dream....we need a bit of fate.
It doesn't matter if fate is in our control or not...we decide our fate if we put in the hard steps.More the number of hours i would spend in the pool..more would be my chances to get those 8 gold medals...more would be the chances for everything to be perfect.

I did what was required of me and yes i did attract some fate.....
Everything Seemed so perfect, i felt so good at Beijing....

All of us were standing in the Olympic stadium and staring at the giant screen...the opening ceremony was just about to start...

I had just one number in my mind....and that was 8.
Suddenly the countdown to start the games began on the screen....
Games started at 08/08/08 8:00pm.

I saw the screen ,smiled and thanked mom.
The fate was sealed.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Phelps' Coach

I was just 12 and i was preparing for the national swimmmers meet where i had to swim the 200 mtr buttrfly.
The national record stood at 2 min:04.06 secs.

I was excited and enthusiastic to compete in that race,i wanted to win the race and shatter all the records.
However at the end of the race clock read -2min:9.37 secs.
It was really disappointing as i was someone who was supposed to break all the records.
BOB was furious yet attentive enough to make me take note of the lesson.
Coach made me understand that there is no substitute for hardwork,talent is fine but nothing can replace time spent in the pool.

After that I started some rigourous routines.I used to swim some 80,000 mtrs/week.
Be it it thanks giving day..I was training in the pool.
I never missed the routine 5 hour training.It was kind of a third degree drill but i knew it was making me stronger.
In the olympics most are strong enough physically... it's the mental toughness that will decide your fate.

Going through the hardest of routines for the next two years..i was again ready for the 200 mtr butterfly and this time i just wanted to swim the best that i could.
With the kind of practise that i had done i was sure of doing well but at the same time i had to ensure anxiety doesn't get the better of me.

Record stood at 2:04.06secs.I had to better it...

I dived... swam a beautiful race ,enjoyed every stroke of mine...after 4 laps i came up and glanced toward the score board.
It said 1:59:06... i had bettered the record by a massive 5 seconds.All the hardwork of the past two years came down to these 2 minutes.

I was happy ,my family was happy.Infact my mom had prepared a huge banner to welcome me home ,she had arranged a small party for me.
When my coach came to know about all this preparation ,he tore the banner and threw it away.
None of us could understand why he did that.

My mom got disappointed as she wanted to celebrate my success.

Coach asked her to temper the joy and keep everything in perspective of the bigger if I had to go 3000 steps ,this was just the 30th.
The party was cancelled and all of us just had a quite dinner.
Next morning i was again in the pool..

Everything went to normal and it wasn't taken as much of an achievement.
I was again doing those killer sets one after the other.
I continued competing with myself and kept on improving.
Coach always told me to not put any limits on what i could achieve.
He always said  "Two seconds faster than the world record..doesn't matter.3 seconds faster.. doesen't matter.You can swim as fast as you want.You can do anything you want.

Just dream it,believe it and achieve it."

One thing that he has got hardwired in my mind is that never get satisfied prematurely.
Every finish line is nothing but start of yet another race.

I have lived this suggestion all  my life .

Thanks BOB, i owe you a lot.