Monthly Archives: April 2011

Are you a Thalassemia carrier?


Thanks to our Organization, I had the god given opportunity to attend a session on Thalassemia today. Though it lasted only a few minutes, it was indeed life changing.

I know now that……

Even though one could have 2 or 3 healthy children (thanks to the almighty), their next child could be Thalassemic (god forbid) since both the parents could be silent carriers of this killer disease. Carriers show absolutely no symptoms and the presence of this treacherous gene can be detected only through a blood test. Good news is that the test is available at all medical centers and is covered by most insurance companies.

Being from this part of the world makes us more vulnerable to this disease as majority of the patients hail from Asia, Middle east and the Mediterranean. In the UAE, you have an estimated number of 1 million carriers, which is almost 12% of the population.

What happens if your child has Thalassemia?

Well, you start noticing it when the baby starts showing symptoms of anemia and also disinterest towards being fed. If he or she is diagnosed with the disease, then the child will have to be given blood transfusions every two weeks for the rest of his life. He will also have to be given injections daily to offset the excess iron that enters the body due to the transfusions. The only way to cure the child is to get a bone marrow transplant. The chances of finding a matching donor are very bleak and the costs associated with this process are phenomenal and prohibitive. So 99% of the patients choose to continue with the painful and frustrating ordeal of needles and pain.

What should you do if you do a test and find that you are indeed a carrier?

Test your spouse as well and if he/she is also tested positive, think a million times before planning for a baby. Yes!!! your baby might turn out to be unaffected though the chances of the same are very little. Note that there are no other ways to prevent this disease. If either of you are carriers, you should also test your children. If they are above 2, they may have been spared of this disease. But it is better to be aware early in order to take extra precautions, when they plan to marry and start a family.

What can all of us do?

Spread the awareness. UAE has a Thalassemia center which offers free treatment and counseling to patients and parents. Today Dr. Essam from this centre shared with us some heart wrenching stories about these children and their plight. Some of them were even deserted by their parents since they couldn’t endure the prospect of living with this challenge. In so many other countries of this world, kids die every day because they don’t either receive treatment or blood. So in addition to spreading awareness, you can…

Click Here to be inspired

Organize a group and Call 04-2193794 and they will send their bus to you. Increase the longevity of at least one innocent child by sharing a few drops of your blood.

Donate money to the centre in the UAE or in your respective countries. Delay the purchase of that new phone by a few weeks. Cut down a few days from your holiday package and you will gift some innocent souls precious extra hours, days or even years…. Make your money matter.

Go ahead….. do something………Here is a chance for you to make a difference!!!!!

You can contact mapinto@dohms.gov.ae for more details.

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Interview with an oppressed woman


While browsing through the plethora of articles and the accompanying comments of the often partisan and abusive readers about the veil ban recently enforced by the French Government, one word that repeatedly came up in every post was “Oppressed”. Through the print and electronic and social media, the whole world was unanimously lauding the righteous decision of the French Government to oppose the very obvious symbol of oppression- the act of forcing hapless women to cover their faces- an inhuman custom owing its origin to the oh so chauvinistic values of a medieval religion.

Let me be honest. I personally respect women who wear veils. Maybe it is simply because these women have the courage to withstand all the cynicism, condescension and sometimes patronizing sympathy that comes along with every packet of naqab. And I deeply respect people who follow their hearts, who like the lighthouse that stood defiantly before the honking warship choose to stay steadfast even when whirlwinds of negative energy swirl around them all the time. And it also shows another face (pun intended) of women hood. Search for “French first lady” in Google and you will see the other end of the continuum. If my own son wasn’t a reader of my blog, I would have posted a picture of that epitome of women’s liberation right here. These words wouldn’t satiate his curiosity. We have the safe search feature turned on in every search engine (Thank god).

I have nothing against the French Government. But I badly wanted to validate the word “oppressed”. So I decided to meet up with and interview a colleague of mine who wore the veil…proudly that too.

Since I didn’t want my own prejudices and preconceived biases to lead to a pathetically one sided interview, I called up a Modern, generation Z friend of mine and requested him to give me a few questions. The fact that he was one of the most vociferous supporters of the veil ban automatically ensured that the interview maintained a sense of balance.


Here we went…

Q: Who forced you to wear this veil and when?
A: No one ever forced me. I decided to wear it myself. One fine day while I was at the university, I just decided to go to the shop and buy one. And I have been wearing one ever since.

Q: Where you studying at a religious seminary or something?
A: No. I was pursuing technical education in one of the prestigious institutions in the region. The University had students from every nook and corner of the world and the faculty members were mostly European.

Q: What do you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror?
A: I feel proud of myself. I am happy that I am able to stand by my principles and stick to my decisions.

Q: Don’t you feel that you are demeaning yourself by putting a shroud like cloth all around you?
A: On the contrary, I feel very very valuable. If you go to branded Jewelry shops, you find that the most precious diamonds are kept carefully under multiple protective wraps. They are handled delicately only by people who have the skills, luck and who have earned the right to handle them. On the other hand you find cheap stones sold even on the pavements where every passerby can pick them up, try them on and toss them back into the box.

Q: Did this sudden conversion to veil hood during studenthood affect your social life?
A: Not at all. I continued getting awards for making the best presentations and projects. My grades improved. I made more friends over time and we had all the fun and frolic that students of that age indulged in. It has also made me a better and more careful person. A man sporting a beard and a cap wouldn’t be able to drink in public. Similarly I have over the years become more patient, more generous and helpful since I am subconsciously reminded of the fact that I am a striking ambassador of a great religion.

Q: If you are transported to a part of the planet where no one knows you…away from your culture and its rituals, will you still wear the veil?
A: when my husband and I went to Thailand (of all places), he posed the same proposition to me. He was trying to lure me to take it off, stating that no one knew me in that foreign land. I told him that this attire was part of me akin to my own skin and would stay with me wherever I went.

Q: Has the veil affected your career prospects?
A: I am aware of the fact that many organizations don’t recruit women who wear the naqab. I have been refused a few jobs because of the same reason. But opportunities, jobs and careers aren’t decided by humans. I will get what is destined for me through hard work and prayer because it is the creator and not his creations that make decisions. Moreover I would be happier to work in a role where my competencies and commitment are valued more than my facial features.

Q: What would you do if your own daughter refuses to wear the Veil?
A: Well I will ensure that she wears the Hijab for sure. Regarding the veil, through her reading and reflections she will one day realize that there is a huge difference between a CEO and a Manager and I am sure that she will also adopt this symbol of freedom loved and cherished by millions of believing women the world over. A symbol that says that a woman’s beauty is not something to be exploited and exhibited on billboards and silver screens to sell cheap wares or to rake in money.

After the interview, this colleague of mine moved on……. And soon got immersed into the many challenging projects that she was leading. Interacting confidently with her colleagues from both genders, fighting assertively for her team’s rights over some issue, and negotiating ardently with her boss over some complicated proposal. Soon the day would end and she would drive off home , smoothly making the transition from an effective executive to a loving home maker.

By the way, the dictionary meaning of oppressed is “To keep down by severe and unjust use of force or authority: a people who were oppressed by tyranny”.

I think we are the ones who are oppressed, by our own prejudices and inabilities to understand, respect and celebrate differences.

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The Speedometer

Great news!!!!!

So you are cruising ahead in full steam with occasional cursory glances at your compass (Read the previous post), just to make sure that the tracks envisaged and negotiated are one and the same. Lets now take the second travel aid from the kit- The Speedometer.

How do you know that you have spent the erstwhile hours effectively eating up the miles that lie between you and your goals? Before setting out, had you clearly defined targets in terms of Milestones that you aim to conquer, then it’s simply a YES, NO, or ALMOST question. So have clear Milestones marked on your map. You could have Financial, Spiritual, Career, Relationship , Achievement and Health Markers. Make sure that you force yourself to make the targets challenging. Let them sit there and tease you, mock at you till you drain out every drop of gas into your engines…. And let the exhilarating feeling of having beaten the targets wash you over…. Making you feel alive over and over again.

You want an example?. Here is one – “I shall have 2 million dollars saved up for a project by 4.00 P.M on the 22nd of December 2012”. Also sure that you break it down into smaller chunks that make them seem manageable.

You tried your best. Stayed on course and revved the engines till they groaned in agony. Still you missed that all important Milestone. That elusive target is still waiting for you with a sarcastic grin miles away. What do you do?

This is where Sincere and unshakeable Faith comes in handy. As true believers, we believe the following….

If god has ordained something for you, no power on earth and in the universe can stop you from getting there.

If god has ordained otherwise, no power can take you there either.

Anything bad that happens to a believer is a substitute for something worse that could have happened.

So if you cross that milestone, Thank the almighty lord and drive on. If you missed it, thank him nevertheless, tell yourself that it is for good. Be patient , pray for success and try harder. You may hit a bypass that can bring your target closer to you than you ever imagined.

And as you stare through the windshield with your hands firmly on the wheel , keep a keen lookout for god given opportunities that may give yourself turbo boosts. Some unknown wayfarer stranded in the middle of nowhere….looking out for directions. Some hapless brother caught in the suburbs of life seeking a lift to the next junction. Don’t let the speedometer distract you and stop you from pulling over. Let not the enticing milestones make you forget your true destination.

Success in this world is important. Let us seek it desperately and win it by all means. But let us also have the faith to abandon it on the waysides of time, for the sake of our true goals.


It is said that Prophet Ibrahim (who was called by the name- friend of allah) used to own hundreds of goats. His goats would fill up the valleys and the mountains while they grazed. The Angels in heaven went up to the almighty and posed the question- “Why do you love Ibrahim so much? All he is interested is in his goats”. God almighty challenged the angels to test Ibrahim. One of them went up to him disguised as a man and recited a beautiful verse praising god. Ibrahim stood mesmerized for a minute and then pleaded to him to repeat the verse. The angel asked for something in return. Ibrahim gave him half of his goats. Even after hearing the verse once more, Ibrahim wasn’t satisfied. He requested again, offering the other half of his goats in return. But even after relishing it twice, he wasn’t satisfied. He requested again. The angel scoffed- “You have nothing in this world to offer me now. Why should I oblige? ”. Ibrahim, who had all the wealth in the world just minutes before pleaded thus –“You will need a shepherd to take care of your goats. I will be your servant all your life. Just recite that verse once more”

So let us by all means focus on everything that this world has to offer and gun for it. But let us also have the faith to attach the apt value for all our conquests and misses….

As I said in the previous post… may the great guide lead us forward on the right path, at the right speed.

Just around the corner is the RADAR KIT. Till then………………….

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Three Must Have Travel Aids

As you drag yourself and crawl through the crowded by lanes and frustrating junctions of life, dying to ease into that free way where you can finally press hard on the gas pedal and zoom to your dream destination, you need to have three tools in your travel kit. Never ever venture out without them. Or else you will end up getting stuck in the dusty suburbs of depravity, miles away from the dream retreats of success.

They are…A Compass, A Speedometer and A Radar kit.

The first one tells you whether you are on or off course. Even a one degree deviation over time can take you miles away from your destined disembarkation gate.

Some of the good compass brands available are…..

A Great set of values
A Sincere friend

The first one is a simple list of unambiguous resolutions like… I will never lie, I will never cheat, and I will always help my fellow wayfarers all the way and so on. These statements must be posted on the notice boards of your heart and whenever you get stuck at any of the cross roads of life, they will guide you to the routes that you should take and also strictly forbid you from even venturing inches on to the tracks that you should never take.

Akin to the two roads mentioned in Surah Fatihah… The path of those who have been blessed by the Almighty or the path of the ones who have earned his wrath. This compass will lead you to the right path and as the famous poem goes… Two roads divulged into the woods and I took the one that was less travelled by…. And that has made all the difference….. between reaching and getting stranded.

After all, what is the point traveling for ages and reaching tired and way worn at some place where you never ever wanted to be in the first place?

Instead of buying a compass, you can even try making one yourself. Write down 5 sentences starting with “I will always……..” and 5 more with “I will never……””. Now think about the journey that you are about to undertake and complete these sentences with actions that you will either always do or refrain from doing at all costs. Even if you have a cocked gun held against your head or a mountain of gold offered to lure you instead. Think about the inspiring words of our leader who said “Even if you give me the sun in my left hand and the moon in my right I will continue on my journey till either the will of god prevails or I perish on the way


The other brand of compass is a Sincere believing friend. As the hadith says-A believer is a mirror for another. So share your travel plans and routes with him regularly and take his advice even if it contradicts your own decisions. When sincere brothers give you feedback, you have three options. Disregard it and move on…. Hit back at them and argue or simply follow. But make the choice only after ensuring that you so have a trust worthy compass with you – one whose arms always steadfastly point to the one and only true direction…anywhere…anytime.

If you a compass that meets the above conditions, then you are one of the lucky ones indeed. If you dont, seek and find one as soon as possible. And lets also hope that at least one person in this planet considers us as their own treasured compass.

Work on your Internal Compass during this week end and put it up at a place where it can remind the traveller’s soul every day. Call up that external compass and have a long heart to heart talk. Listen… Understand…..Accept…..and if required change your route map.

Do that… and I will come back to you with the Speedometer and the RADAR KIT soon…. Insha allah

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Give yourself a Turbo Boost…..


Let me share with you a few simple steps that can accelerate your growth in your current role manifold. If you have been getting those elusive promotions only once in 3 years (or even less often), you can gift yourselves these careers lifts in at least half the time if you simply follow these steps. There are just 5 of them. Like the 5 gears of a racing car. Each can serve as the turbo rockets that can thrust you onto the victory laps instantly.

Step 1: Find at least 2 people in this planet who are doing your same role exceedingly well. They could be from other departments or even from different Organizations. But make sure that it is from the same industry and the organization has a similar scale of operation. If you are the head of software development at the neighborhood computer one stop shop, don’t have the name of the person adorning the same role in Microsoft in your list. All those who are working in learning and development, please feel free to put my name…Ha Ha

Got them down? Now contact them, follow them, haunt them, solicit and get an appointment. Nowadays Social networking sites are bringing down Governments, so reaching that role model shouldn’t be very tough. Hope you read the sarcasm in the sentence correctly. No excuses. Meet them.

After the pleasantries, ask him two straightforward questions.

Name three projects/incidents where you performed exceedingly well?
Name three projects/incidents where you failed?

For both these questions, get more details by probing further. Who were involved? Who said what? Who did what? Why did you do that? When? What results did you get? How did you know what to do?List them down religiously in a journal. Make sure that you drain them out.

Congratulate and thank them. Go make their day/week/whatever……..

Go back home and analyze the differences between the two sets of answers. What you now have is what we call Competencies. These are behaviors that empower star performers to get the results that make them successful.

Good Positive start. Let’s go ahead…

Post this list on your notice board.
Step 2:

Write down three or four of the major objectives that your Organization want you to deliver this year or in the coming two three years. If you don’t have them yet, contact your boss and demand them. Ideally these should have been cascaded down from Organizational and Departmental objectives.

Now break these objectives down to three of four major roles


If your objective is to Increase sales of product A by 30%, Roles could be

A: Finding new Organizations who would buy your product
B: Selling more of your product to existing customers
C: Enlisting new business partners

Now break these roles further into tasks. Don’t get bored and log off…. We are closer to the finish line now.

A1: Creating prospect list
A2: Locating and contacting the apt stakeholder
A3: Presenting your product
A4: Negotiating and procuring the contract

Break B and C into tasks along similar lines

Now that you have the list of tasks

Write down the list of Competencies (behaviors) that you need to achieve these objectives. Make sure that you have aspects of Knowledge, skills and Attitudes in your list. Examples could be….

Knowledge

Knowledge of products to explain benefits to customers
Knowledge of competing products to address objections and present benefits
Knowledge of market to reach potential customers

Skills

Presentation Skills to persuade the customer
Negotiation Skills to get your expectations
Proposal making skills to prepare influencing proposals

Attitudes

Self Confidence to make cold calls and meet stakeholders
Interpersonal Skills to develop rapport
Persistence to stay put even if customer says No

I don’t claim the above list to be perfect. It could vary from case to case. Now validate this list by referring to the ones that you got from the role models. Bring in Knowledge Skill and Attitude components that were on their list even if you don’t have any of these competencies currently.

What you have in front of you now, is your road map to success. If you score yourself high in each of these competencies, you will be a superhero in your organization… for having over achieved all objectives assigned to you, since Competency along with Commitment lead to success.

What to do next……. Steps 3, 4 and 5….

What are these steps, How to go about them………I will continue in the next post provided I get at least two replies from any of my favorite readers with the list of competencies that they have come up with.
Please send them to sangeethibrahim@yahoo.com

I am waiting……

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