Category Archives: How to give a 2 minute speech?

One question to many

In one of the training sessions held recently, the participants were allowed to ask questions to each other.

It is just a month since the college started, the students of the first semester are still quite new to each other.The class consists of an eclectic mix of individuals from different parts of India and even those from abroad.

When the task was announced with the mandatory rules for the activity, participants looked anxious. Some of them tried to go into hiding and were definitely not keen to stand up to ask a question.

Yes, there were doubts. What kind of questions do we ask? Can we ask the girls too? so on and so forth.

So,the first question to the student from Yemen was how did he find being here in India and he took the question sportively and answered that the culture in India and in Yemen was quite similar and he had no problem in getting adjusted to the place. The participants welcomed the answer with a round of applause.

Since the one who answered the question had to choose another to ask the question to before he could sit down, he came up with an interesting question, ‘Do you think people from other nationalities are welcomed positively in India or not?’. The girl who replied said that since India was multi-cultural in itself, people from different nationalities are welcomed here.

She then went on to ask an all important question to one of the boys about a ‘crush’ on any of the classmates. What I found very stimulating and bold was when a student from Nagaland was asked, if he faced any discrimination in Bangalore, especially in the university. The class was silent considering the intent and the impact of the question. The student who answered said that, yes, he faced a certain discrimination in Bangalore but not yet in the university. This was followed by a discussion on such instances and the idea of tolerance and intolerance in the society. After some discussion, the class reached a conclusion that if the student faced any sort of discrimination in the campus, the class would stand with him and ensure that it does not happen again.

That the class was discussing a topic like tolerance at a time when Rohingya refugees are being asked to return to their homeland was perhaps not lost on anyone.

Slowly the class was warming up to the idea of asking questions and facing them. Some one who was asked why he was very late to class every day, replied confidently, ‘I travel 57 kilometres  each day.’

Another person who the class thought was a geek was asked what his hobbies were? When he replied that it was hanging out with friends, the class did not still look convinced and suggested that he become a lecturer.

Young people need to be have time to discuss what is happening around them, beyond the text books, beyond the classrooms, way beyond their curriculum. Providing time to the youth to discuss and deliberate what happens around, what happens within and among them will probably be a good idea to let the steam out, build rapport, feel comfortable and make better relationships in life.

As a nation, we complain about the growing indifference towards socio-cultural situations and events among the youth forgetting the fact that we bring them up so secluded, so isolated from everything happening even in their immediate neighbourhood. How can we expect any one who has been told to focus only on his/her studies throughout to suddenly take cognizance of what is happening around?

If education was truly linked to real life then the repair of the roads, the throwing of the garbage, the collection and its disposal. the traffic, animal welfare, health, corruption and so many other so-called social issues could well be handled by our school and college-goers,don’t you think?

That fat girl in a short dress!

So Ahilya wore the short dress she always wanted to wear to college. It came up to her knees. She looked at herself in the mirror. Her face shone with confidence and a spirited sense of life.

She walked out to the bus stop to catch the college bus. She wore stockings because, you never know the local thugs, might just comment and spoil her day.

She headed to the college where she among the others who wore the best dress they had took to stage and rocked. Literally rocked the stage!

On her way home she heard someone mutter, “Look at her,so heavy and wearing a short dress!”. Ahilya did not pause to comment.

The day before, however, she was in knots. Her friends had told her that she will be the MC for the event and she did not have a suitable dress, you know a smart one.Ahilya ransacked her wardrobe and her eyes fell on this cute little black dress with sleeves and coming up to her knees.

“This is ideal,” she thought while slipping into it and finding to her delight that she fit in.

Some of Ahilya’s friends and seniors though had some nasty comments for her. Ahilya ignored them until she met a teacher who literally glared at her and asked her to go and change.Ahilya was shocked, there were others in short dress then what is the problem,she thought.

That she is fat ok. If there is sexism and racism, surely there is weightism, she said to herself.

She did not want to tell the gentlemen and the ladies who were busy criticizing her that her health conditions will never allow her to become slim or skinny or whatever and does she have to wait that long to wear her favourite dress, well, she is not going to do it.

So she wore it to the college and that was it. Some commended her, others mocked but you see, no one could dim the glow on her face.

That fat girl in a short dress is just another girl…

Of Questioning

So does Bangalore have hard water?

How’s the traffic around the place?

How’s the community?

Is there space for washing machine?

My baby is too small and will I get a maid there?

The barrage of questions that came my way today were from a prospective tenant. She mentioned that her husband was throwing some angry looks at her but she went on putting me through a grilling session.

My crime was that I  own a flat which I bought with much effort and great love and which now I had to vacate to maneuver the menacing traffic of Bangalore.

The interrogation that my prospective tenant put me through made me wonder about my own poor questioning skills.

How many people do I question on an average? Do I ask enough questions to myself?

My daughter is now convinced that ‘deep thinking’ is the way to success. Do I practice deep thinking?

How many questions did I ask the owner before agreeing to the rent and the deposit he demanded of me? How many questions did I have for my employer before I joined the institution? Do I ask my family enough questions? Did I ask my parents any relevant questions? Did I question the choices they made for me? Do I ask my partner why he does what he does or why he does not do what he should do?

I like to believe in the goodness of things and that the world is in general a great place. I also like to believe in the power of the universe and her effort to get me what is best for me at any time.

But I do find myself of being of quite a ‘questionable’ character, I mean, random people shoot off questions to me.

So what do you do?

What does your husband do?

How old are you?

What do you have for breakfast?

Have you had any accident before? Yes, this literally took me aback, coming from someone in my team. She wanted to know how long I have been driving and how many accidents I have had.

I was like, goodness, what a great question to ask someone first thing in the morning!

Honestly, I rarely ask questions to others. I am very interested and usually find it offensive to ask too personal a question.

I have had to tell some of my ‘questioners’ to take a break and quit questioning, questioning me!

Now are the questions relevant, are they in the right spirit, are they even sensible?

My philosophy about questioning is that ask only if required. And ask personal questions, I ask them too rarely.

Asking a random person, so you never thought of a second child? or you never bought a house for yourself? or you never wanted to give up this relationship or you never wanted to consult a doctor can be as annoying as giving unsolicited advice to strangers.

While I understand the prospective tenant’s interest in getting to know more of the place, she is getting to, I am not sure how much an owner can be responsible for the weather, traffic, climatic conditions, quality of water etc. of the place.

But yes, I must thank her for getting me to rethink my questioning abilities. Perhaps it is time to relearn the ability to ask a question before getting into a situation. Perhaps!

But do you shoot random questions to random people?

Have you had people asking weird questions to you?

Fighting bad

So bad it feels to you that it stinks. The whole thing stinks and the stench is such that you are unable to breathe in or breathe out. You feel frustrated, angry, irritated and some times you wonder if you are heading to the mental asylum.

But then  you look again at life and its ways with you and smile because if someone is bent on making your life hell, you might as well relax and join the fun.

You definitely know what is that you want and how to get it. You can clearly identify the spoil sports,the chronic complainers and the master whiners and you know how it is eating into your peace. Yet you put up knowing well, it is not your thing and that your right to happiness cannot be compromised at any cost.

Life you say, must have a plan to polish you,to chisel you, to grind you inside out. There must be a purpose. It is your life and you know when to bend and to whom and why and when not to. This is not certainly a sign of weakness or compromise. Perhaps it is just the lull before the storm.

Well, there may not be a purpose after all. It may just be an illusion but the power of decision, the knowledge that you are in command chills you. You can any time call quit. You can any time walk out and start again.

The key to your happiness is firmly in your hand. No amount of pleading or pretension can cause you to turn away from the course of your action.

Then it is decided. You endure till you want to. You allow till you want to.

The moment you decide otherwise you walk out and that will pinch and how!

So you hold on firmly to your dear life and your dearer beliefs and trust no one but yourself.






Where would we be without them?

Do you watch serials on the TV? Do you see that the rich, palatial mansions which are inhabited by the characters in the serial, have help for every other task? A servant for the mem saheb’s massage, another for the kitchen, yet another to assist in the car wash and more and more. Hiring helpers  is indeed a more than a status symbol for most of us.Indeed, ‘the more rich you are the more helpers you have’ is perhaps the one take away from any serial you watch on the Indian Television.

My mother is in her 60’s. She runs the show at her home single-handed. If she does take a maid’s help for some time, she is most courteous and considerate in feeding the maid, inquiring after her family and some times even helping her with a little extra pay. 

What I find irksome about some of us who employ house help is the way we treat them.Agreed that there is no labor law to protect their rights or that they themselves may not be aware of it, still, as educated modern Indians we should be able to be a little kind and understanding to those who work for us or better still, help us survive and earn our bread.

There are of course instances when the employers go out of their way to help the maids. Geetha bai for instance, worked with me at Indore. She picked up the importance of monthly savings and had started a postal account in her name, thanks to one of her employers. She sent her son to one of local colleges. When her daughter met with an accident she was assisted in filing a case against the criminal. She was quite the woman of the times and often chided me,’Didi, you know nothing!’

I picked up the importance of being courteous and pleasant from my parents, my ever smiling- father and ever ready to help-mother. I cannot definitely claim to be as good as them but I do try.

In my apartment, the other day, we ladies were deliberating of creating a fund to help our maids so that they can get their children admission to college,schools or for medical emergencies. In the past there have been instances of such understanding and compassion on and off but its time to institutionalize the true spirit of give and take by making it more formal. Imagine, how many families will actually benefit if we can together bring in a culture of taking care of some of the needs of those who work for us.

Those among us who have enough to share should now look beyond giving away old books and old clothes to the maid. It is just not enough.What will actually help them is may be a fund to use during emergencies so that they can lead their lives with dignity.

I wonder if it is the general belief that ,’if you give them an inch, they will take a mile’, stops us from being nice to those in need.

Some times, some of us will have a sour experience or two while trying to be good to others. That is but natural. What it should not do is stop us from being kind to another person.

The security guard at the college I work brightens up every time he is addressed in Assamese. It is a recognition about who he is and where he comes from. Definitely his day is brighter.

Give a smile, speak with kindness, address with respect, make someone’s day better, especially those of the ones who help us.

And most importantly, where would we be without those who help us live?

PS: My daughter just now enlightened me of my own bias in calling someone a ‘servant’. Thanks for that piece of learning!

Cherukenthye?/ The doggie at home

I hear Leens calling her husband and asking him every alternate hour ‘Cherukanthye’?. She is referring to the new addition to the family,the 2 month old Golden Retriever.

Ever since he came into her life, our lives, adds Leena, there is so much more fun and laughter. The vacuum that seemed to exist between her and her husband seemed to have evaporated as they bond over the antics of the little ‘Spart’.

Everything now revolves around this little one. Disciplining him, taking care of him, feeding him and taking him for walks are her priorities now. She regales with pride of how her spoilt brat,’Spart’ is  an attention-seeker and will never leave her side once she is back home from work.The delight of the day was ‘Spart’ devouring tasty food prepared by his father.

That’s when another equally proud mother shares the story of her two kids, Sandy and Thor. The 8 month old Sandy is chirpy and vivacious. She enjoys car rides, with the air brushing against her ears, says Kavya, more like Rose in The Titanic.

Thor though is broody and gets upset with car rides.He prefers the quiet of the house and loves to take long strolls in the garden.

‘And she cooks food for her kids, but not for me’, complains the husband. And we all laugh together, realizing how integral pets are to a family.

My former colleague,Aimen was of the firm opinion that you have not experienced true love until you have had a pet. She seems to borrow heavily from Anatole France who said “Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

Once in the hostel in Indore, one of the boys had kept a turtle as a pet. My cousins, three of them together would keep rabbits, dog, cat etc. as pets and I remember how my aunt used to complain.

I rarely thought it fit to ask for any pet as a kid but if I could have had one, may be I too would have kept a dog. Once when I was looking for sponsors for the school magazine, three boys of 10th Standard came to me with a suggestion that they would like to advertise their pet shop, They even tried to convince me to invest in their business venture.

My mother feeds crows as soon as the rice is boiled and strained of the starch. Sharp at 10 AM, when she is back from the temple, she is greeted by two to three crows who seem to be waiting for the food.

In our so called busy life, while we run from pillar to post to pay the EMI and the school fees and the medical bills, we rarely have time to think of others. Caring for animals will certainly keep us more alive.

If only we remembered more frequently that the planet we live on belongs to them as well, we would be better humans.





Of Passion

“How do I know it’s passion, when I see one?” asked the famed author Carmine Gallo to the equally famous Chef, Ferran Adria.

Ferran pointed at a wine glass and asked Carmine, “What comes to our mind when you see that?” A drink”, said, Carmine easily. “When I see a wine glass what comes to my mind is celebration, joy, fun and much more”, replied Ferran illustrating the true meaning of passion in the process.

Passion then is what you do out of love. It is that which sustains your soul and not just your monthly income.

Passion is what you can go on doing endlessly without having to look at time or crave for a break.

Maybe that’s why the greatest of artists are also so prolific. They seem to thrive on the quantity of work. When work is such pleasure, who would complain!

After Tom Sawyer of ‘The adventures of Tom Sawyer’ by Mark Twain sells the idea of white washing the fence as an activity of great value,Aunt Polly’s fence was white washed more than twice. Tom’s play mates literally vied with one another to help him, bartering their most precious possessions in return for ‘work’. Mark Twain remarks that ‘work consists of anything that a body is obliged to do and play consists of anything that a body is not obliged to do’. Passion makes work pleasurable like play.

The weight of expectations, a steady income,the society, misguided education often nips off a budding passion. Many of us spend a lifetime being unable to decide where exactly our passion lies.

I always loved reading and writing. Some later I realized that I also enjoy speaking, especially addressing large audiences. I found myself mostly on stage speaking and often training and encouraging my students to enjoy their time on stage whether it was for debate, elocution or simply anchoring for an event at school.

While my interest in writing lay dormant thanks to an unfulfilled ambition to become journalist, I kept writing off and on. It is only with time and much practice that I am able to put up my thoughts before you today.

Teaching is another passion I developed almost accidentally. I love teaching, being able to make even a small difference to someone’s life.When I look at myself today, I am glad that I have more or less interwoven my areas of interest into my life.

So, clearly my passion lies in each one of these areas of my interest.

To identify your area of passion,you should ask yourself, what gives you the purest joy?

Is it numbers,money matters, science or art? What makes you want to do something again and again?

What makes your heart sing, your smile brighter and your days happier. Go find it for yourself and do it.

It’s one life, live it the way you deem fit.

Live your passion! Live it big!



Between resources and resourcefulness, choose the latter

Mr. Dikshit the Director at Agarwal Public School, Indore walked into my class one day. He then said, ‘Would you mind if I take some time of your class?’. Though I didn’t quite like the interruption, I conceded to his request. ‘Colour chalks, mam?’ He turned to me again. I excused myself and went to get the same from the office. However I returned empty handed and he remarked,’ Be resourceful!’. I  resented the uninvited comment on my of teaching for a long time.

It is only when I read about Karoly Takacs that I realized what indeed is resourcefulness.

Born in Budapest, Hungary in the year 1910,Karoly Takacs grew up to become one of the finest pistol shooters in the world. In the year 1936, he was hopeful of representing his nation in the biggest sporting extravaganza, the Olympic games. This, however, was not to be because he was not permitted by the army which he had joined to participate. Takacs life took a grim turn when in the same year a hand grenade exploded in his right hand, taking away his precious tool,equipment and his only life boat to get to an Olympic medal.

The sporting world had written off Takacs, when in 1948, he made an appearance in the sporting arena. Takacs won the Olympic gold for pistol shooting that year, shooting with his left hand.

What an incredible story!

Something that makes us think twice before we complain.

My mother lost her favourite child, my brother to a prolonged illness. The years of agony and the loss of her beloved child left her devastated. She stopped visiting temples and offering pujas to deities. She, however, continued to help the elderly in the locality, visiting them, accompanying someone to the hospital or a visit to the temple etc. Spiritually inclined, she had picked up quite a few Sanskrit shlokas as a kid and with a group of like-minded ladies she initiated an Akshara Shloka class in Chalapuram, Calicut.

She then went on to become the President of the Ladies Wing of the Mythri division of the Chalapuram taluk. Last year while distributing books and school bags to students of a government school, she delivered her first public address. She tells me of how her speech was welcomed with a thunderous applause. Simple as she is, all she advised the youngsters is to grow big, grow great and eat right.

I am yet to see another woman, who is so resourceful and ready to help any one. Whenever life tests me, all I do is remember this woman who admits of not having studied beyond tenth standard but is blessed with infinite wisdom,practicality and commonsense.

Being resourceful is then a mindset. Some among us will waste a life time complaining of what we don’t have, others will find ways to reach where they want no matter what.

Every morning, choose life, choose the blessings in your life and know that if losing his right hand did not stop Karoly Takacs from reaching where he wanted to reach, nothing should stop you too!




Actualize your dream

“While I as a south Indian will have my dinner, I will also keep the barter ready for the dosa for the next day’s breakfast”, quipped a friend. And that is what is called planning.

If you have have wishes unfulfilled, dreams not yet realized and if that frustrates you, then you should keep your barter ready for the tomorrow that comes your way.

So, let me ask you. What dreams have you? Become stinking rich, be powerful, enjoy fame and attention, possess a great physique, set a world record or get up early for that morning walk?

What ever your dreams be, whatever your wishes are, you need to start some where, some time soon, to work on getting them become real.

Say for instance, your dream is to found a great institution of learning. Then you should ask your self what have you done to actualize it?

Have you contacted a few school owners to understand how they went about setting up their schools?

Have you discussed with your friends to find out what is there expectation from a great place of learning?

Do you follow the latest regulations and reforms happening in the field?

Or at least have you thought about the best players in the market?

Do not waste your precious time to act by sitting on the fence.

Do not be afraid of failures.

Remember no body can take away your learning in the event of your failure.

Here’s what I learnt.

# Start somewhere, anywhere, but start.

Make your to do list, meet up with like-minded people, dream, write your idea down, talk about it with passion and enthusiasm and the universe helps you begin your journey towards your goal.

# Spend time visualizing you achieving your goal.

Sit back and dream. Yes live your dream in your dream. Live it out. Relish being where you want the way you want with who ever you want in your head. As Vivekananda said, ” Take up idea, make that idea your life- think of it, dream of it. Live on it” and the idea or the dream is a reality.

# Chunk your grand wish into small palatable pieces.

Break up your goal into tiny little tasks to be done on a daily basis. Let me tell you here, that it is my ambition to become a writer that got me to blogging. As I put up my blogs, I know I am getting there sooner or later. And it helps to know that I am getting better at writing by the day:-)

# Commit on a daily basis

Be committed to your goal by checking whether you are on track. The chunking of your larger goal is what you should help you to stay committed. Don’t forget to compliment yourself on doing it. May be you can go out with yourself to a movie or coffee date.

# Respect the fact that time is a limited commodity

When we realize that life and time itself is a limited commodity, our priorities become clearer and we do sort of start working towards them. For instance, if you are aiming to get on to that favorite television show of yours, your time is certainly running out. If you are planning to get fit and then look around for your partner, well, seriously, fitness is not something that deserves to be kept for another day.

# Stay focused but be relaxed

No journey to greatness can be made possible without the right mindset. Stay on track but enjoy your journey. Don’t get stressed out because your time in the sun is not right now. And don’t worry that some body else is basking in glory.

Believe me, your great time is on its way!

Here is to actualizing your dream, three cheers!

What are you waiting for?

Go, get going!!!




A Sample 2 Minute Speech

Here are three simple things to remember while giving a speech.

  • Tell the audience what you are going to tell them.
  • Tell them.
  • Tell them what you told them.

Simple! right! that’s just the way to present a speech that lasts for 2 minutes. Does it look difficult? It definitely is not.

To make an impact in all of 2 minutes or more all you need to do is to think of 3 valid points related to your topic.

Again any topic you are given to speak on will have three sides. What are those?

The first is taking a stand for the topic. ‘For’ meaning arguing  for or presenting the positive aspects of the topic given.

The second is to take a stand against the topic and highlight all the negative aspects of the given topic.

The third would be to go neutral and present a balanced view of the topic given to you.

In general most speakers would try to present the positive aspects  of the given topic and then touch upon a few negatives before winding in a neutral tone. How you go about presenting your views depends entirely on your outlook or the context in which you present your speech.

Your ability to add meaningful quotes, anecdotes, examples, data will further add to the quality and convincing ability of your speech. A call to action will ensure that your listeners will have a definite take away from your speech and will most probably recall it and follow it up with some action later.

For example let’s take the topic “Rain”.

As you can see, I have kept it very simple. 3 main points with a little elaboration. 1 call to action and conclusion and this speech is mostly positive in tone.

Introduction: One of my most favorite memories that I have of rain ,is walking back home with my friends, holding an umbrella, getting all wet and having fun while trying to splash muddy water at each other. Piping hot pakodas and a hot cup of tea always made rains a fun time.

Point 1:Rain is beautiful. Watching the rain fall on to ground and fill the land is a refreshing sight. Have you ever smelt the fragrance of the first drops of rain? Heavenly…that is. Great sleep, excellent food and the comfort of home is all the more special during heavy rains.

Point 2:Rain is nourishing. Yes, it is. It is the rain that fills our streams, ponds and rivers. For the farmers, the rain is nothing less than a boon. In our country even to this day, farmers depend on natural sources of water and rain is there fore much awaited. You would have read in the news papers of how farmers pray for rains and celebrate its arrival with gusto. Scenes from the film Lagaan comes to my mind when I think of the heroic welcome given to rain.

Point 3: Rain is essential for our survival on the planet. The survival of life on the planet depends on the availability of drinking water and its the rain that brings this much valuable resource. Across the countries and the continents there is an increasing awareness about the need to preserve water. This is because of a dangerous life threatening phenomena called ‘drought’ resulting in water scarcity across the planet. Are you doing your bit to conserve water? It is important that while we enjoy the rain, we should also be aware of preserving it for future. Have you ever thought of how the animals survive in the forests with no rain, no access to other sources of water?

Call to action:There are a few things that each one of us can do  to make our little contributions to conserving water. Like stopping wastage of tap water, using rain water harvesting, taking care not to pollute water resources like lakes, ponds and rivers can help us ward off the dangers of water scarcity. Infact, keeping  a bowl of fresh water on the terrace for the birds to quench the thirst every day would be a small but useful contribution to mitigate scarcity of water for birds.

Conclusion: Water then is the very essence of life. It is nothing but the heavenly ‘manna’, a gift to be preserved and used judiciously. Thank you.

* Pakodas- Indian snacks