Friday 13 November 2015

Shaheen Mistry- A Personality Truly #madeofgreat

When I joined Teach For India (TFI) in 2011 because of my personal inspiration to serve the nation and do something about one of the most pressing challenges that we are faced with, I didn't know about the leader behind this movement. It was only during our training when I not only got to meet her and learn about her remarkable story, but felt truly passionate about starting this life-long journey as an educational equity spokesperson. Shaheen Mistri, the Founder and CEO of TFI, is truly #madeofgreat and her story is even greater.

Settled abroad, Shaheen came to Mumbai with her family when she was 18 years old and it was then that she decided to stay back in India and lead her life serving a cause that was bigger than herself. She had the courage to give up a life of luxury and comfort, all to see a million Indian children transform their lives by experiencing excellence in education. She founded Akanksha Foundation, an NGO that provided after-school educational support to slum children, which later became a chain of schools for the underprivileged, without any compromise on the quality of education provided. In 2007, Shaheen founded Teach For India, a movement of young leaders working day in and day out towards a common vision- One day, all children in India will receive an excellent education. 

What I admire the most about Shaheen is her enormous sense of possibility. Despite all the challenges she has faced, and continues to face, in her professional and personal life, she has never lost hope and the belief in the work that she does. She has a sparkling smile and she smiles very often. Her positive aura is so palpable; you notice her presence the moment she walks into a room. She is also very reflective and has internalized the habit of looking back on one’s own actions and constantly working towards improving oneself. An amazing writer, her words can inspire anyone. As a TFI alumni, I still have access to my TFI mailbox and I sometimes go back to some of her mails whenever I feel bogged down or uninspired. I distinctly remember a note she had once shared with us all fellows, which really made a difference to me and would like to feature an excerpt from her note in this post: 

"Remember you always have the choice :

· To plan or not to plan
· To develop those incredibly strong bonds with your kids. Or to be just another teacher
· To treat your children with respect, and care. Or to do something that humiliates them
· To transform you classroom into a beautiful, magical place. Or to have it continue to be the unclean, uninspiring place that won't inspire change
· To rise above mediocrity and strive for excellence. Or to be a little better than the alternative
· To solve the problems that you have. Or to complain about them
· To focus on the good. Or to get bogged down by what isn't working"

It's been two years since my journey with TFI ended but the bond that I built with my kids and their parents, my co-workers at school and colleagues at TFI are still extremely special to me. More importantly, the lessons I learned during the fellowship will always stay with me. Whenever I look back at my TFI days, I silently thank Shaheen and salute her for her courage, grit, determination and faith.

Check out this website for knowing about many other #madeofgreat personalities:

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Hang on, there.

When You Are Alone

When you're alone,
When there's no one
To talk to on the phone
When there isn't any
Shoulder to rest your head on
Nor a back to lean on
Not even a hand to hold on
Just remember...
You are all who's needed
To know the things you need to know
You are all who's needed
To go to the places you need to go

Saturday 12 July 2014

Too Many Thoughts

I was meant to do unconventional things in life. I had always felt attracted towards roads less taken, inspired by their cleanness. I do not prefer walking the path of least resistance. I prefer surrounding myself, but surrounding myself completely, with few people, positive people. I used to believe that there are certain things which I will never be able to do or learn in this lifetime. I was wrong; I can do anything I put my heart and soul into. But is it always worth taking the effort to turn your weaknesses into strengths? How about leveraging on your strengths, not one but all of them, while you set out in life? Life is precious; today is a gift. While we plan to succeed, sometimes we succeed without having any plans.

Thursday 30 January 2014

Happiness- Then and Now

I was going through some articles written by me a couple of years back. I was pleasantly surprised to read an article I wrote on a topic which is very close to my heart: happiness. I am sharing an excerpt from that article. 

"It always amuses me how people spend so much time and money on finding happiness. Some say happiness lies in giving; some others say it is all about pampering yourself. Happiness isn't elusive. You can find it in a cup of coffee, a bar of chocolate, in the arms of your lover, in the company of your friends, over a conversation with somebody, and even in solitude. All you have to do is find what makes you happy. And then life becomes beautiful."

This definition still holds true for me. If I had to make an alteration, I'd replace the last sentence with this one: All you have to do is choose to be happy- in all situations and circumstances. Happiness is nothing but a choice. 

Sunday 19 January 2014

Your Attitude in Life

Seek pleasure out of every little experience in life,
Breathe in joy. Breathe out joy.
And life will give you just that.
Pleasure. Joy. Peace. 

Find faults in every little thing in the world,

Complain till your heart's content. 
And your world would seem to you
As nothing, but a fault.

Sunday 5 January 2014

As Long As...

As long as You have You
There's no reason to feel blue

As long as You have You
There's someone who sees your point of view

As long as You have You
There's always someone to hold on to

As long as You have You
All your dreams can come true

Wednesday 25 December 2013

A Christmas Wish

For many of us, Christmas will be spent having a good time with people we value and love. Many of us will indulge, sing and dance, and make merry. On the other side, a lot of people will spend this day feeling unhappy and miserable- for the lack of resources to buy their kids the gifts they so badly wished for, for not being able to see their family members at all, for being all alone on Christmas; for having no one to celebrate the day with. So while we should not forget to wish everyone we meet Merry Christmas, we should also not forget to pray for everybody's happiness this Christmas.

Om Sarvamangalam

Friday 18 October 2013

Four Months. Four Lessons.

A thousand miles away from my home town, I stand here, in the heart of Bangalore, looking outside the window of my shared apartment, reminiscing about my new life. It's hard to believe that I have completed four fabulous months in the garden city of India. So, in this blog post, I'd be sharing four life lessons that living away from home has taught me in these four months.

1) It's okay- best, in fact- to be just the way you are.

2) No matter how busy you get, finding time for your loved ones back home is an absolute must.

3) You can't choose your classmates or co-workers, but you can choose your attitude in the classroom or the cubicle.

4) Everybody is fighting a battle they don't want to lose. Sometimes they may behave badly. But that doesn't mean they are bad.

Saturday 28 September 2013

The Happy Poem

You are wiser than you think you are And there is no reason for you to ever believe That serenity and peace is a dream too far
For, peace of mind is a thing you need Same for joy, and grace indeed And let us not forget, the power of love The green of a leaf and the white of a dove And the magic of being the way you want to be This world, my child, has many great sights to see So put on your shoes and trek around I wish you thrill and kicks abound Love your life, love the way it goes And keep on grasping the many lessons it shows Find your bliss in the warmth of your kin But be sure and strong, develop a hard skin And don't ever lose the wonder in your eyes The red of the sun and the blue of the skies Ride on your faith, give it a fair chance As the famous song goes, I hope you dance