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The dilemma of reality   Leave a comment

The ugly face of reality in my dream world

Naina settled in for the night under her duvet and looked out the train window. This was the beginning of an annual trip her family took as a routine. It was always around the same month of December heading towards the same destination

As the train chugged towards the north skies became clearer giving way to the stars in the Milky Way which otherwise stayed safely hidden from sight in foggy city skies, city of lights- Mumbai. Lying on her stomach with her face in her palm she looked appreciatively towards the skies to gaze at the stars and hopefully catch a meteor. The cold December breeze hit Naina’s face making her nose red and icy cold. The train moved on and Naina slowly slid into her dream world. This was not a sleeping dream. It was a real dream, a dream she envisioned with open eyes and an open heart. This dream was different as she believed she would see it unfold as her life unfolded. This was a dream of her life in which she played the protagonist. The stage was set. She dreamed of the milestones that she would like to achieve as she went along her life and she knew the exact years when she would experience each of them. The specific details were set in her head as if a reel were playing in front of her. She would have a perfect life, naturally

Today as Naina stared out the window of the plane headed south she could once again see the clear skies just like she had years ago when she was an innocent girl with dreams in her eyes and hope in her heart. The cool air conditioning did not feel natural or even close to the cold breeze she had felt years ago. She wondered when so much time had passed and yet not much had changed. Naina could not fathom why she suddenly drifted to that page of her childhood memories. Those trips were long gone history now. She was a corporate minion who was successful in her career and knew where she wanted to be professionally in the next few years. She had achieved career heights many would only wish and hope for. But had she planted this in her future, which was her present? She had not

Naina started to take stock of her childhood dream. She remembered every detail of it like it was written on pages of the book she held in her hand, starting at the words unable to read. It was a beautiful memory which made her smile and go back to being a child. These thoughts gave her warm happiness which was a treat in her work packed days. Just like most people she too wanted to go back to her childhood, where everything looked pure and serine. Most of all what childhood gives us is hope and faith. Faith in the hope that there is time in life in which we can achieve our dreams, where almost everything is possible

That is why dreaming at that age was a very different experience from today. The yesterday’s dreams were filled with hope and faith that were given to us by time. And time alone took hope and faith away from us as we grow up. Time makes us realize that some things we were meant to do would now never come true, because we just do not have the time anymore

Leaving those thoughts she smilingly drifted to her happy place, where she was a child with hope. With this she returned to the milestones she had thought she would achieve and in the semi aware state of mind she could see how every part of her dream had played out exactly like she had imagined

Naina imagined she had achieved the professional and social milestones she had set for herself and the world was a happy place

There is so much peace and happiness when we get what we want; the life that we envision for our self.  And then we wake up. Naina’s moment of awakening was now

And suddenly the airline experienced turbulence. She had never experienced such bad weather ever and she was a frequent flier. What was even stranger that it was definitely not expected in the month of April. As a habit her seat belt thankfully was always fastened

Suddenly the smile vanished from her lips. She took a closer look only to realize that she, the protagonist of her story looked very different at each of the social milestones. Of course she was older but that did not seem to be the answer. Then Naina realized what was amiss, the person playing her part in her dream, in reality was not her

With the continued turbulence she looked up to see the expected light on the seat belt icon to be brightly lit, which it was scarily not. What was the jolt that she felt? Why was nobody else reacting to the turbulence? The crew smiled and moved on not telling her co passenger to fasten her seat belt. Naina’s mind was confused but she decided not to dwell on it any further and she started to carefully see herself playing the roles she had so carefully and lovingly drafted for herself as a child. The dreams were of everything that she wanted to be, and achieve in life. And the turbulence came back and she saw it clearly. The person playing in her dream was not her. Naina’s yesterday’s dream was someone else’s life today and she had no way to achieve it now. The milestones were long gone. Life had happened to her and she had not even realized it. The turbulence stopped. It was not a turbulence of an airline or weather; it was something larger than that. The turbulence was her life and dreams shaking in the reality of today

When she looked around she saw an entire lot of things life had given her. Some of which she had dreamed of and a lot of which she had not. Yet she had not wanted to give up her dream for this and yet she had to or had she. Was she nothing but a marionette at the hands of life and destiny?

This was something she could only wonder about and not have answers. She had to live with the question

The life Naina had dreamed of was a reality. Only it was not her reality, it was someone else’s reality. Life has a way of panning out. Today years after, Naina felt something within her chest and she realized, it’s in our moments of decisions that destiny is made. Even though she dreamed it she also believed that events would occur naturally

We think life is eternal and we will live on to fulfill all that we wish for. Suddenly life happens and we realize we don’t have a second chance. We stand at that stretch of road where a large part of our journey is covered with nothing to show for it. Ironically the only thing that helps us move the rest of the journey is a dream

Holding on to that thought Naina went in to her dream world oscillating to occasionally read the book in hand


“The world is so unpredictable. Things happen suddenly, unexpectedly. We want to feel we’re in control of our own existence. In some ways we are, in some ways we’re not. We are ruled by the forces of chance and coincidence.” ~ Paul Auster


Posted April 9, 2016 by nidhi khanna in Uncategorized

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A cafe called memoirs   Leave a comment

Memories manifest a road longer than the road itself

For the second time in a week I ventured to the Southern part of Bombay, albeit this time the trip was for official purposes and I was certainly not amused when it got rescheduled right after crossing the famous Worli sea link. There was no turning back, not on this stretch at least. Like a phase of life we need to cross even when we wish did not have to, I needed to cross the sea link though for the lack of a “U” turn. There was just no turning back at this moment in time. And just as life gives us opportunities to take a turn, to make a choice I had my opportunity a little later. It was time to decide if I wanted to go through with what was dished out to me or to change route. I decided to see what was in store for me. I was not going to take the next available “U” turn and be grumpy about how a waste of drive these 20 kilometers were, I was going to use this as an opportunity to explore and experience one of my favorite cafes in South Bombay. This café held and boxed in so many memories. They were countless trips I had made to this place, with a varied set of friends often, giving me varied memories. Just the mention of Mondys brings a smile to my face. A smile that comes from the countless memories that played like a flashback reel in my mind. Secretly I knew another reason for this extended journey was contributed to one of my favorite musicians Karsh Kale playing at the Asiatic steps in the evening. These two things kept me going the extra mile, literally. Though he was scheduled for playing late in the evening I knew my café would keep me company until that time. Like a light in times of adversity

To my mind the idea of adventuring like this was embedded in my sub conscious four days back when I visited this very cafe with a friend after spending a long tiring day capturing the essence of the Kala Ghoda festival. Over some chilled beer I noticed a very pretty girl who looked like she was stopping back from work, she sat there all by herself having beer and chicken occasionally , stepping out for a smoke. It looked like she was giving herself a much wanted break from the crazy corporate life most of us live. We all need that break. How many of us actually took it? I know I certainly don’t almost as certainly as that many do as well. What caught my attention was her confidence in being by herself and more importantly content about it for she definitely did not seem to miss company. I guess that was the time the idea cemented and created space in my head. And I wondered what it would be like to be in a place especially like this, buzzing with people and watching the world go by. Less did I know that I had sowed the seeds of this idea to come to reality in a matter of just four days

I decided to do something I had only hoped for and spoken about so long but never implemented. The decision to drive to south Bombay and spend the day with just myself seemed intriguing scary and pretty at the same time. This had been just wishful thinking for such a long time and no concrete plan to action it. But we sow the seed of our actions today in thoughts of yesterday

With my wishful idea in mind I drove further down and headed all the way to Café Mondegar, which by the day serves chai and pao. Strategically placed in the midst of street shopping comprising of goods which defined authentic Bombay and ranged from clothes to jewelry to bags to Kolhapuri chappals to books and antique items, to name a few. As a result it was a certain stop for tourists. Mondys which is usually buzzing and has a long wait queue in the evening now had a choice of tables to pick from. So I picked, the only table near the long window that was overlooking the street. But then I was told it was reserved for Baba. I smilingly asked “Who is Baba?” I got a good naturedly response “the owner”. I laughed and took the next best table which was right next to it. So I had three fourths of the view. And that was enough. After all it was not my first or last trip to the place, so I was familiar with the view

And just like that I settled in and looked out the window I could see the colorful street with loads of pretty jewelry hanging from dust and rusted coated chains. Soon there would be women across all age groups and across cultures bargaining and haggling over them. This was a sight so familiar and experienced. These jewels that hung on the streets had a different appeal to them when one saw them on the necks teamed with fancy branded clothes shoes and bags. Or even just a casual kurti. I was not aware of a woman who did not own at least one piece from this street. I personally owned quite a few accessories from all the trips here

The tables were filling up and as always with the most inconsistent crowd of people gathered, the jukebox continued to play songs which were almost the same collection of songs I had heard since my first visit here about two decades back. I point to songs but in reality nothing about this place had changed. The ambiance, the décor, the paintings on the wall were all the same, but maintained never the less. I guess people visiting did not change much either. After all I was coming here for as long as I can remember

As I moved my attention away from the window and scuffled through the menu and after much contemplation ordered the chai and toast (I did not have courage to order a beer so early in the morning, for fear of being judged I guess) wondering and planning in my head how I wanted to spend the day today. But I was at a loss. I did not know what I wanted to accomplish. And when one does not know what they want to accomplish, how does one plan for something like that. Play it by the ear I decided. Do as I wish without having to consult and for now this is where I was

I got comfortable and came my all time companion- A book

As my chai arrived I was cozier with feet plonked up and eyes glued to the book a soft familiar music played on in the background. And just like that some time passed by peacefully like a river flowing on a calm morning

I sporadically sipped my chai and looked out the window again. The predicted women visitors were trying on the pieces while deciding which they fancied the most. I could remember all the times that I had done the same so often, haggling on the price and always feeling cheated. That’s the byproduct of haggling

There were no targeted thoughts coming to my mind, I sat taking in the scene from outside. People walked by. Cars taxis buses trucks honked to make their presence felt. And just like that life moved on in so many ways. I was sitting here stationary and life still moved. And so many times in a non stationary manner

People went about their lives as this Saturday morning crept towards the afternoon. And just like that my attention went to the vacant table that still awaited Baba while the other tables were amidst some interesting conversations. And may I dare say some very interesting food too.  And some tables with beer. Then why had I ordered something so platitudinous I wondered. Sigh

I have time. In that moment my attention moved to feel the experience and not the event. Like the music drifting in the background I drifted somewhere in my past. From the septillion times I visited this place sporadically with different set of friends sharing a chat and some laughter over some beers, juice or chicken, unknowingly creating memories for a future that is called today. Reminiscing about the days gone by where the worry in life was attendance and scores in an exam paper and not career or life. Words like judging did not exist in the dictionary we had built in our heads. I am certain we like all college kids, were a boisterous lot too. And this cafe had seen much of that. It was like a little magic box that held septillion memories carved beautifully in the reams of our minds along journey of our life for life

Those were the days when we never wondered what others were thinking of us. Life was simple uncomplicated and pretty in almost all the ways. It gave us the hope to dream and our dreams coming true. Though we all have dreams until we breathe, the dissimilarity being lesser time to fulfill those dreams

With all this in my mind I realized that for once even though I sat all by myself I was at ease and disconcerned with opinions being formed by people around, or may be that just a concoction of our own minds

As these multiple thoughts were drifting through my mind I saw a group of college students much like how I used to be here and it made me wonder about today. Had I ever anticipated that sitting here on a day like this looking back at such small occurrences of my life and understanding it with a whole different meaning. It would be difficult to say what I would think of this experience in future, but as of now I was content with myself and what life had to offer to me

And this I mean in a metaphorical manner. I guess life took its turns and landed me here. Today this is my Memphis and that’s how I got to Memphis

P.S. I still did not see the mysteries Baba. I am certain there will be another time for that

Posted February 25, 2016 by nidhi khanna in Uncategorized

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The survival of the survivor   Leave a comment

The survival of the survivor

When the heat is on wear more sunblock

Emily kept coming up for air to breathe. She felt she was drowning. She was being pulled down by an unknown force to the bottom of water. But every time that happened she mustered all her strength and came up for air.

Emily had been feeling this feeling for a few months now. And she wondered how long it would last. She wondered when this would stop. This is not what she had envisioned for herself. At least not expected for it to last this long. When she would be able to breathe freely? Where was the end of the tunnel which promised to give her light? Or had she missed the end of the tunnel and her eyes could no longer see the bright. Or was she a victim of sever austerity and the lights were off

She was not about to give up. She had promised herself that every time she felt that, she would come up for the one more breath of air and then another and then another and then she survived

Emily was not taught to give up. She did not know how that worked. She had lived her life with her share of times where strength was tested. This was just another

Every time she came to a stage where she thought she had given it her all, it seemed there was a known bank of energy supply which apparently seemed unlimited. She dipped into it for a withdrawal and moved on. This was the living gift of her parents

Her courage and strength was her survival instinct at such moments

This was the feeling felt by Emily. Or then really was it unique to her??

Posted December 25, 2015 by nidhi khanna in Uncategorized

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Kintsukuroi- Golden repair The art of repairing broken pottery   Leave a comment


Kintsukuroi- Golden repair

The art of repairing broken pottery

Heart and its beats- from the outside

I read a book a couple of days back in which the author described an out of the body experience. Reading that made me think of how we almost always look at situations and things outward and not inward. Also, having experienced it myself at one point in my life made me think of this in a slightly different perspective

I am going to look at something which is within me from the outside and see what I see. Sitting protectively and cuddled in the arms of rib cage. The heart!The heart is graphically represented very differently from what it actually looks like. Juxtaposed to reality, we love changing its shape while we draw it red in colour with an arrow piercing through it. When it looks nothing like that, with a soft pink colour around it connected via major arteries having huge responsibilities towards the entire body. All this, while sitting lopsided in the rib cage. There are various theories about the graphical representation of the heart but that’s a paradox for another time

In all it’s an important organ which rules our life, physically as well as emotionally

Physically, it is the single most important organ that keeps us breathing. It tells us that we are alive. Emotionally, it takes the lead in deciding for us at all stages of our life and in all relations. It takes the burden and beating of those decisions. As we grow we become acutely aware of the abilities and capabilities of our heart. We crown it with being solely responsible for all the feelings we feel. Weather they are happy or a sad or nothing at all

Today when I step out of my body and cradle my heart in my hand instead of the rib cage it’s accustomed to, I am supposed to see what I see. I would imagine that I would see a perfectly healthy heart with a smooth pink covering the four ventricles, the arteries et cetera. But instead I see something disheveled which look like a bandaged sieve. This is not what I had learnt in my biology class in school. This is also much juxtaposed from the so called real pictures. I wonder why my heart looks like a bandaged sieve. This condition of my heart tore everything inside of me, all through the core of my body. And I did not know how to react. I experienced a new low in my life;a level which I did not know existed

A large number of these wounds were covered with band aid to stop their presence from being constantly felt. I held my heart tenderly, starring at it for a while and decided the best thing to do was to put it back in the not so safe rib cage. Just as I was about to do that a thought crossed my mind. I wanted to see what was under the band aids. If there was a chance I could see where they came from. I started ripping the band aid, one at a time. I should not have. The first wound sprouted like a faucet of blood. I dint try to stop it. I could not stop it. I was too numb for any reaction. It sent me spiraling down memory lane to the time when this wound had taken a permanent place in my heart. Some memories need to be forgotten. This certainly was and ripping the band aid bought back all the memories associated with this wound. The pain was so numbing that crying would have seemed like ecstasy. Sometimes tears are just not enough and this was one such instance

As I continue to rip the band aids I realised something unnerving. These were piercings which were made by the people in my life, all of who were close to me. My confidants. Every piercing left behind wound that did not go away. Some were light scars, some were deep wounds and even though they were dated way past in my life, they felt like as fresh as now. The pain had not subsided. When I looked at such wounds they still had the capacity to expel the air from every pore of me. I had thought I was over these instances. But in reality all I was doing was applying anesthesia by ignoring them and concentrating on frivolous things in life. Is this my survival instinct or escapism?

Every hurt, every pain, every shenanigan, every betrayal given to me left a wound on my heart.Some were self-inflicted too. Every moment of life in which my heart hurt, was embossed, may be for life. At least most of them were. Suddenly nostalgia was not what it used to be to me and I began to wonder the reason of my existence and reason for my life. Was it all about the suffering? Was this that was meant to be and how it was supposed to be? Is this how things end? Since I didn’t have an answer to those zillions of thunderbolt questions nor a solution the only thing left was to put my heart back in its place and forget it existed and go back to ignoring it- ignoring what it felt, ignoring what it said. An art I had championed in the course of my life. There are some haunting memories that refuse to die their own death, driving us towards our own insanity

I wonder if I had situs inverses my heart would not have been the sieve it is today and people would miss the mark

The truth is that we hurt most when people we love most hurt us, leaving scars that go with us to the grave. And most often it is about betrayal and then survival

Just when I thought that was my only option a thought crossed my mind. Buzzinga!! The band aids. What about all the band aids carefully placed on each of the wounds, which ensured that there was no constant reminder of scars. Where did these band aids come from? As I sat thinking back in time I realised something beautiful. For every wound given there was someone that reduced the pain and increased endurance. Every individual that left a band aid was trying to make my life easier and happier leaving me stronger

Life is all about choices, some we make some are made for us. In the end what is served to us is the residual of our choices. This auto bend of my mind’s eye makes me choose the soothing sensation of the band aid

This is the reason for survival of life. Logotherapy- every life has a meaning

Our survival depends on a lot of things, people, relations, our love, support system and a whole lot more. Ask a child and they say, because my heart beats. Wish that is all the heart did. As we grow older our heart beats start taking a lot of beating. Mine did too. But it also got a disproportionate amount of pampering it needed to heal and overcome the hurt dished out to me. It was not in ignoring that I experienced the anesthesia, it was in the love, support and care that made it all worth the while. Sometimes from the same people who were the owners of those wounds and sometimes from different

So my heart even though hurt was also bandaged. So why is it that I was scared to listen and feel the feelings my heart had? There is no better time to change and accept all feelings with grace and let them pass

In the end, all I can say is “find a place inside you that makes you happy. Visit it every time you feel pain”

Trainings transitioning towards the world of eLearning technology   Leave a comment

For over a year initiating this blog has been the agenda.  Multiple ideas and concepts have been competing for the first spot. Unfortunately, there have been more reasons for procrastination rather than implementation.  The premise for this is coming from the question- what can I write that has not already been written? The phrase “All that needed to be invented has already been invented” comes to my mind. Though that hardly holds true in today’s dynamic world of technology, which is something I will come to in a bit. So I am going to make an attempt to see what new melody I can give to the existing tunes

eLearning has become my new found love. By the virtue of this technology also has cozied itself to me.  For some who may ask- eLearning has been around for over a decade in India, what’s so special and different no? Simple- it is finally gaining its stability and due or just that I needed the nudge towards it. So here I am trying my hand at blogging about my new love

A couple of days back a friend of mine tweeted that The Digital Learning Day is coming! Which falls on 5th of February.  This encouraged and also gave me a deadline in my head to start and finish this piece. So here I am trying a new tune and hoping to have it posted at least in the month of DLD

So coming back to the topic in hand- tweaking what Yogi Berra, a baseball player said “The future of learning is not what it used to be”. Training has changed face from what it used to be to what it is today. This is primarily with the explosion of technology in the space of learning. So let’s take a quick step back and look at the large spectrum

When I started my career in training (which is over a decade and a little over) all that existed for learning was what we today call as “the traditional way of training”, online and eLearning was as good as a ghost and lived in our unconscious consciousness. This is when training was not a department in itself but just a part of Human Resources or even operations teams sometimes

Today when we look at it from a panoramic view we see a change in modality of trainings, measurement of training and the space learning and organizational development is currently in

I am not going to draw into a parallel universe of technology transition and keep it non metaphorical. For the past and today I will be keeping the focus on modality of training, measurement and the current reality of a learning and organization impact

The future that was…

That epoch of training was when it revolved around a face to face modality and restricted primarily to product and process, with the sporadic addition of induction programs. This often involved in house SME’s, which could either be from the training team or even someone from HR. The notion of outsourcing training was not heard of, as was the missing consulting companies as we have in plenty today  

The measurement of training was measuring learner reaction pushing it to learning measurement. Questions addressed through an assessment; so we looked at knowledge measurement however when it came to application of knowledge or knowledge impact it was zilch, nada. So the question organizational impact did not exist then

Thus measurement was restricted to second level of Kirkpatrick module 

This however changed as time progressed. With the budget constraints that started to come about in the changing face of world economy, the first to feel the axe was learning and development. Not for any other reason but for the fact that the value was not exhibited in numbers. The impact to bottom line was missing. Thus started the journey with the question- What’s the benefit to the organization?

Here the learning and development saw a transition to measuring ROI through business and organizational impact. The minute this happened the modality of training got complex and we see….

 The future that is…

A 2012 research presented, stated that the corporate eLearning industry was at $56 billion. India has a minuscule contribution towards this number. This is besides the fact that from the top ten countries growing in eLearning- half of them are Asian countries

The modality of training moved from classroom to online. Everything was “e”. This encompassed various aspects that started getting imbibed. To name few- we have videos, eBooks, audio books, podcasts, eCourses etcetera. For implementing all this is the backbone of technology (and that’s the reason technology has cozied up with learning individuals)    

Hence it is easy to say that training and technology have transitioned together and that the future just may or may not be as we envision it today

The ROI as we talk today is no longer restricted. The age old magic measurement was created by Donald Kirkpatrick. This encompassed four levels of measurement. The fifth level to this was incorporated by Jack Phillips, where the monetary benefits and overall cost gets measured. This level of evaluation asks for it due credit in todays extended ways of measurement  


To conclude all I focused on was training and learning at this point, however the reach of eLearning and technology goes way beyond. We can see this when we see today Mark Zuckerberg pay as high as 19 billion dollars to unite with WhatsApp


What’s in my blog title?   Leave a comment

When Shakespeare wrote the scene of Romeo and Juliet meeting and penned- What’s in a name, he encapsulated the entire theme of the play. I wonder if he knew it would be used with multiple connotations across generations and still never feel overdone. Having said that, is name really all so important?  That question brings to mind an incident that occurred over a decade back. My manager- then VP, a colleague and I were preparing for a client visit. My colleague from operations and me being from training and quality were amalgamating it. We had already spent hours gathering the data. Somewhere in the middle of all this and also being middle of the night my VP came and asked us to create all together a new file. Crtl S, is something I am very diligent about. So when the need came to save the file- it bought along with it what was like a moment of truth- my colleague and I could not think of a name and starting stumbling for it. At this my VP grabbed the keyboard (yes laptops then were a privilege for reserved few and I wish it had stayed that way, however that discussion is for another time) and saved the file calling it “#*@% all”. Yes seriously, that’s what he called it! Flabbergasted as I was, his simple explanation was “why break the chain of thought”. He did not want to break the flow of thought and number churning and rational behind the numbers that was a free flow at that moment. And that is so true. We give the name so much importance that we sometimes forget the meat in it or simple are unable to start.

Over a decade after the incident and the lesson still stays with me. So when came the time to initiate this blog- I needed a title for it. A name, that would resonate in the mind as well as encompass the entire gamut of ideas that would hopefully flow onto this virtual paper, with the passage of time. And, thus I kept it as easy and applicable as possible. I did not want a complicated name, which would get few to visit “”. That’s not the intent here. The purpose is to know what you are going to get here. So not fretting on the name / title. And thus keeping it simple is “My multiple minds”. The rationale behind it being- the entries in this blog are going to be a range from of eLearning to training- online, ILT and blended , to learning and organizational development, personal experience, fretting, venting, happy moments  and who knows what else. So here I am presenting what is going to be concoction on my multiple minds

Posted February 4, 2014 by nidhi khanna in Uncategorized

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