Monday, 7 March 2016

The Ten... Commandments?

For those friends and readers who have been seeing my posts every other day with certain letters and codes that you’re probably not making much out of, let me stop at this and tell you what it is all about. Well, they're about "Toastmasters"!! Toastmasters is a club, decentralized with branches everywhere in nooks and corners across the globe, in which people get together and hone their public speaking skills. They have the Communications and the Leadership tracks that people follow as they either deliver speeches or play others roles in the meetings and behind the scenes.  

But then, that’s just on the surface. From my journey over the past a little less than six months with the club, it’d be rather ungrateful if I do not say how it opens a new door to your way of life. Every other week I’d be thinking of what to speak on next, how and why. The sheer opportunity to be talking to a room full of people, twenty odd to thirty plus of certain fortunate days, to be able to appeal and influence to their sensibilities over what I choose to talk upon, well, got me!

As I sit today morning, helping the VP-Ed to file for my CC projects by compiling the names and dates of my own speeches in this journey, I am taken aback by how I hardy realized how much I had travelled already! Starting with introducing myself as is customary, I have ended up using the dais, the platform, rather  personally if I may o say. So long over my ten speeches to date, I reached out to the audience on various contexts and subjects that are close to my heart. I spoke of gender neutral parenting and curbing our tra-la-la’s over Disney fairytales to alternate ways of catering to kids, and I spoke about Mahabharata and how even though the others were masters in their own trades, it was Yudhisthira alone who made it to the heaven and why. I grudged about why Santa Claus cannot give methe same happiness that he gives to my daughter, realising in the process how I’ve lost my innocence and trust in the process of growing up. I spoke about where “Winter” got its name from, and how the rivers, clouds and mountains conspire that we, mere mortals, do not even know of. I wondered, aloud, in one of the speeches as to what would happen if on fine morning I remain no more... would I still appear to give my speech, given slots were so hard to manage anyway? And then, just when I had been thoroughly disciplined when it came to my “researched” speech and ended up doing quite a lot of it much in advance, the week before they announced they had a theme for the meeting! It meant that my earlier script was scrapped and instead research topic was now changed to, guess what, love! Yes, I had to research on “love” and so I did! I ended up stumbling upon the realms of "love" on Wikipedia and inside me!

I hadn’t quite realized when and exactly how the topics were slowly forming a constellation, that were starting to make some sense together more than each of them did standalone. Yes, I think I was converging towards myself in the process. As I wrote my scripts, I found myself wondering, contemplating as to where our present lifestyles and adaptations are taking us to. I was thinking aloud as to why we are slowly arriving at a juncture, for our own good, from where it’s perhaps a sharp U-turn back to basics. And so was I speaking!

For my ninth speech, it was rather a mishap gone well! So I arrived at the meeting, after a long day elsewhere, a little bit of a thumping chest and a pen-drive in hand. Remember, this was supposed to be the speech with “visual aids” and I had prepared a two dozens and counting long deck of slides. But there you go!It’d be my first ever attempt at a speech outside the home ground, my club… and then, guess what. I and the VP-Ed there discover, to much dismay,  the fallout of our rather long whatsapp miscommunication inculcated in shape of an available “up and running” projector with an unavailable laptop to run the slides on.  So, what do I do? Well, what I do is this: I ask the evaluator if I can instead speak for the next project, impromptu. Yes, you heard me right. Impromptu! Seven minutes long.

Trembling but not showing it, I begin with throwing a question open to the audience, quoting Mary Oliver. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – I ask them. I build up my speech from there, just like that. I ask them to stop and look before they go any further. I survive. I even win!! And more than anything, I end up sharing a bit of my heart with the audience, inpromptu, in the process. Trust me, it's often done best when done that way!

I just closed my tenth project yesterday, in which I spoke of sparing some thoughts on taking care of our minds like we do for our bodies. I had to inspire… and I ended up, at the least, inspiring myself. It has been a humbling experience; it has been a contemplative exercise. It has been a long due rendezvous with myself, so far! And boy, don’t I look forward to more!

Past-time, they called it when we were younger. The times that I’d earlier spend deep in depressive ruminations thinking where I am going at all, I now spend thinking about what to speak on next. I do not shy away, I do not hide out. I come out, in my speeches.

Thank you for including me in your world! 

And of course, thank you Bhowmickda for introducing me to Toastmasters! :)