What Ever It Takes

Focused Persistence

The second wave of the ongoing pandemic has impacted everybody, more so in our country, as the population is huge. It has been singularly responsible for the anxiety it has caused to our near and dear ones.

But then we know certain things for a fact. Like the Sun coming out of the East. How many times, if at all, do you speak about that. Zero. Cipher. Nada. Then why are we speaking about the V****, Pa******, Lock**** … these are given. When we were growing up, there was this new killer disease: AIDS. It was such a major scare that we, in our all boys boarding school, avoided even touching each other. Then there was the SARS, Ebola and a stream of such killer diseases. Each one predicted the doom of mankind. We, the people, are much more resilient than these strains of virus or any other so called ‘killer’ disease. Sooner rather than later we come out with a vaccine and Voila!!!! We are Winners.

Have faith. Remember, mankind will survive this too .. and the signs of recovery, the rays of a new dawn are already shining through. Work around these ‘killer’ issues buddy! YOU are much stronger than what you think. That is acme of Leadership – your control over your mind. Let not the social media & its messages upset you. Work around the issue.

I read this amazing line: The “guest” has impacted your LIFESTYLE – not your LIFE. LIFE is precious; Change your Lifestyle. The main issue here is that some of us, got used to our lifestyles. We found our comfort zones and now making changes to our lifestyle is what we are resenting or feeling uncomfortable about.


All those people who wanted to change their present situation, all those in pursuit of a goal, all those who had a dream to fulfill. What ever you were pursuing OR doing .. Well here is a piece of advice. Make a Commitment. (If possible, read the book: Ultimate Secret to Getting Absolutely Everything YOU Want) Commitment is the essence to the Ultimate Secret. A willingness, a Mental Attitude which says: If it takes 50 steps to reach my goal, I’ll take those 50 Steps. If it takes 500 steps to reach my goal, I’ll take those 500 steps. If it takes 5,000 steps to reach my goal, I’ll take those 5,000 steps.


To succeed, all that’s necessary is that you make a COMMITMENT to do whatever it takes. Remember Ben-Hunt Davies, a former British rower and an Olympic champion. He competed at the 1992 Barcelona Games and the 1996 Atlanta Games in the ‘coxed-eight’ event. The team stood sixth and eighth respectively. The British crew had never won a rowing event since 1912.

In preparation for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, as a member of the British rowing team, he directed his team to ask just one question: “Will it make the boat go faster?” Anything you do, run it through this one question. We would like to go the the pub? OK, will it make the boat go faster? NO! Then the activity is out. Could we re-design the oar? Will it make the boat go faster?.. Well you get the idea, right? With this single minded focus, The British rowing team won the Gold Medal.

We are reminded of the interaction between Krishna and the Pandavas/ Arjun in The Mahabharat. “Arjun, What do you see?” While his other brothers had replied differently, and Krishna didn’t give them permission to shoot the arrow; Arjun replied, “The eye of the bird”. Krishna nods his head sagely and says, “Shoot”. Single-minded focus. In these trying times, hone this one quality and success is bound to be yours.

Will it make the Boat Go faster? Ask yourself this one question? Persistent action follows commitment . You first commit to something and you persist to achieve it. Let not an iota of doubt creep in. Let there be no duality in thought OR action. Any reason is an excuse. Pandemic – so? It affected everyone. Come on .. YOU ARE MADE OF STERNER STUFF!!!!!

Tough Times Don’t Last; Tough People Do

Siachen Glacier: The average winter snowfall is more than 1000 cm (35 ft)
and temperatures can dip to −50 °C

The present situation has been singularly responsible to re-look at our priorities. It has forced each one of us to introspect. Among my family (and friends) we’ve started a game, these three words will not be used in our vocabulary: Virus, Covid, Pandemic … use any other word for reference (atithi or guest – atithi tum kab jaoge? Guest, when do you plan to leave?)

The lockdown had eight major takeaways: one. Let’s be humble. We are not indispensable. There are greater forces than us. two. Let’s take care of nature. There is just one planet earth and it needs to breathe. Our actions have to be considerate towards nature. three. Frugal living is beautiful. It helps us connect with ourselves better. four. Flexibility is a virtue. Keep an open mind. What brought you here, may not take you there. five. Put health first. It has to be a priority. six. Success or failure depends on extraneous factors. Chill. seven. Connectivity is a necessity. and eight. Last but not the least. Being is more important than doing. We are human beings not human doings.

A number of people, once they hear that I’m an infantry man, have walked up and asked me this one question: “Sir, how did you face bullets?” (Qs could also be like, how did you control your emotions? Were you scared? so and so forth).

Where did we get the confidence to face oncoming bullets? The foremost confidence building measure is TRAINING. Training instills confidence. Training is assuring; you are better than your adversary. Training prepares us for adverse situations. Situations where your amygdala takes charge and prepares your body for the ‘fight or flight mode’. It prepares your muscle memory. You don’t think. Your body moves on auto-pilot and all you see is like Arjun; ‘the eye of the bird’. In all our training, the one things that stands out loud and clear is the re-wiring of our brains. The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.

Train, Train and Train some more

We know these times (tough times) won’t last. We have to be stronger and we will last. We will come out winners. Success (whatever your definition of success is) is the direct function of training (deliberate practice) and sustained effort; lage raho munnabhai.

How do ordinary people, people like you and me, people from all walks of life – join the forces and perform extraordinary feat? If you pin it, it all boils down to: a. Develop your muscle memory. Your life could be dependent on it. b. Discipline. I cannot harp more on the importance of self-discipline. c. Live a healthy lifestyle/routine. Have a good nights sleep (7 hours) and wake up before the sun peeps out. Eat healthy. Live healthy. d. Physical fitness must be a priority. Give 45 to 60 minutes daily for fresh oxygen to travel through your billion cells. e. Mental robustness. Nothing can affect my positive attitude. My life; my choice. f. Be a team man. Camaraderie. Team player. one for all and all for one. g. Have pride in the organization you work for. Don’t like it, then quit. It’s your choice BUT once in, unflinching loyalty. These help you making good choices for life. Our lives in the uniform is dependent on our buddy. He covers your back.

Of course there will be failure enroute? Its only natural. You’re not KOed in boxing so long as you get up. Have faith in yourself. Have confidence and trust the plan. The divine plan. Don’t turn around to ask, ‘Why me?’ Like this guest that’s visiting our planet – it has impacted everybody. Just like you don’t question the rising sun from East – its bound to happen. It’s a given. Come what may. Take it that failures (guests) are bound to happen. Come what may. So be it. Work around the challenge. When one door shuts, five windows open? See which one suits you and and take the plunge.

Remember, your experiences define you. Make memories. Look for opportunities that help you build your repertoire. Each year take it upon yourself to take on something new. It will help you focus. It will help you achieve. It will help you enhance your skill set. It will help in your life with a direction. A motivation. It builds your self esteem, your self belief and your self motivation.

The one question that you need to ask during these times: Will I come out stronger or will I come out weaker? This is the time to ask: What is my statement? If I had to describe myself in ONE sentence, what would that be?

Are YOU a Harbinger of Good News?

The pandemic (the word itself has such negative connotations) has returned with a greater vengeance with the new variant. The new words added to your lexicon reads something like: fatality, co-morbidity, infection, disaster, lethality, virulence, remdesivir, herd immunity, anti-bodies and so forth.

Being aware is fine. With our basic intelligence , to be aware a glance of a newspaper, or a media report or a social media write-up is enough. But the new norm has been to keep receiving updates, the continuous cacophony of news channel readers (who I suspect suffer from verbal diarrhea), and the 24/7 social media has filled our mind space with fear, anxiety, stress and depression.

Just take a step back. Think of your activity of yesterday. What were your engaged in? What kind of input did you nourish your mind/brain with? What discussions did you participate in? And what are the messages, articles, write-ups you forwarded, commented or liked. Answer this one question honestly and you could objectively assess the issue we are facing.

Are you part of the SOLUTION – offering solutions, DOING things to resolve an issue, taking concrete steps towards a better future OR are you part of the PROBLEM – spreading fear, fuelling anxiety, causing stress or multiplying depressed souls. Before the pandemic impacted the world, WHO study mentioned the new epidemic is depression. One in every four persons is affected. With YOUr actions, ask yourself, are you a catalyst in escalating depression. The unchecked spread of mis-information – ‘death by whatspp’ has been instrumental in inciting rumour mongering, spreading anxiety, instigating negativity and triggering depression.

DO: Be a part of the solution . Be aware . Spread cheer . Be hands on . and DO .

DON’t: Be a part of the problem . Share news (or negativity) . Spread depression . Be a social media warrior . and Talk .

It All Begins with YOU

The COVID-19 and the resultant pandemic, along with the lock-down has had a all of us cooped up in our homes. During the interim, I had a number of online sessions. Interacting with the YOUth across the spectrum, if there is one thing that stood out for me, it would be how the YOUth adapted/ adopted to this period. In a vast number of cases it had to do with uncertain future, demotivation, anxiety, job loss and resultant stress/ depression.

Some of the words (and the resultant emotions) had to do with the economy (depressed), psychological impact (negative), anxiety, fatigue, stress, suicide and so on and so forth. While, some of us saw it differently; opportunity to connect with family, a healthy lifestyle (and hygiene), environment (and its positive impact, with lesser emissions/ green house/ ozone layer), connect with nature (pets & plants). In a number of cases, it was how you looked (and handled) the issue.

I believe that a lot of this has to do with your “self talk“. What do you tell yourself? What do you tell yourself when you are faced with a situation/ challenge/ issue/ problem? Some of the chatter (inside your head) is what you’ve heard over the years – your parents, your elders, your teachers. This goes a long way to pattern your thinking. While growing up, if you’ve been constantly told that “you cannot do it” or “it’s beyond you” or similar words, its a belief system that takes shape in your mind.

There are a number of ways to overcome this writing in your head. It starts with your self talk. In school, we had a prayer (early mornings) and the lyrics went something like this: Humko man ki shakti dena, man vijay kare, Dusaron ke jai se pehele, khudhko jai kare. [Oh God, Grant us inner strength to be victorious over our minds, Before victory over others, may we gain victory over ourselves.] In those halcyon days, we never understood the deeper meaning of the passage.

Each day, early morning, what do you tell yourself. Of course, there will be challenges. Of course there will be ambiguity. Of course, things will not move as you want them to OR as you planned it to be. In the uniform, we said, “If you plan for three options, be sure the enemy will adopt the fourth”. So be it. Do you give up? That is not an option.

So your self talk should be on something on these lines. ” XYZ you are good. You’ve always been good. Look at your results (and recollect some of the wonderful achievement of yours). You can do it. Yes, there have been times, when you could not do it due to … but having addressed that, there is no reason for you to fail. Let give it a try.” Thoughts on similar lines, would also help.

Unless you believe in yourself, fat chance, that the world will believe in you. Unless you radiate confidence, slim chance, that the world will feel confident around you. Unless you demonstrate peace, calm and in control, people around you will panic. It begins with YOU.

Post-pandemic the one question you need to ask yourself is: Will I come out stronger OR will I come out weaker?

You Create Your Reality

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies as YOUr Thoughts manifest into Reality

Often we’ve heard about ‘Self-fulfilling Prophecy’ and the resultant outcomes. We’ve heard/ read about them since The Secret hit the stands. We heard of Laws of Attraction and about thoughts changing our destiny. Norman Vincent Peale mentioned about thinking certain things that will make them appear in ones’ life. Your thoughts manifests into reality. Does it work?

We’ve sportsmen thinking about the forthcoming event and how they prepare for it. The 100 metre race is the most popular and prestigious event for an athlete. Many of the champions, including Usain Bolt, have said, and its a well documented fact, that they run the race, many times over in their mind. The start, the mid-race and the finish including the raising of their hands in the ‘V’ictory pose. They run it over and over again till it becomes part of their muscle memory.

How does it work? Well, it works at many levels.

Let me elaborate. While in the uniform, we had an excellent Commander as our boss. During the annual appraisal, the pen-picture he had written was jaw dropping. Reading it, one felt one was reading the pen-picture of FM Manekshaw. He saw the consternation on my face, smiled and quipped, “I know you’re not this, BUT I WANT YOU TO BECOME THIS”. My life was never the same thereafter. One learnt a lesson for life. Set high benchmarks. Give your subordinate an image to live up to. The subordinate strives for it to manifest. And it does.

In one of leadership training program, we had to select a name for ourselves. The only requirement was that the adjective selected should be the same alphabet as your name and preferably describe you in a word. It should resonate. That day, each one of us earned a moniker which has gone on to define our lives. We have a Vibrant Vishwas, Awesome Anu, Kewl Kerry and I was Passionate Prabir. Even after so many years the name has stuck and people call me Passionate. And each time someone calls me Passionate, I cannot but be one. What is your Good Word?

And last but not the least. Say you have an issue and you keep talking/ thinking about it. The kind of energy and neural connections you make goes on to make that habit more pronounced. Say, you are planning to quit smoking and all your efforts earlier to quit smoking have failed. And the next time you try, with a thought, ‘Oh! it gonna fail. All my previous attempts have failed. What makes you think it’ll succeed this time around?’ By such self-fulfilling prophecies you’ve already sown the seeds of failure. And the worst is, when it does fail, you reinforce it by stating, didn’t I tell you so?

Your mind is a very powerful weapon. Use it with care. Sieve the kind of information (and thoughts) that you’re planting. It is THE MOST IMPORTANT activity of your stay on this planet. Make it worthwhile. The power of your mind works when you think of (and supplant) the outcome. Images of what it’ll be like to quit smoking, for eg. You are habitually late in your official capacity. Plant a thought of being on time. Keep repeating it. And slowly the change happens. It works.

Monkey Business

The dreadful behaviour of the Monkey in your Head

Why don’t you achieve things you set out to do? Thought of quitting smoking, but don’t seem to be able to do so? And you always blamed it on, ‘your poor will power’. Thought of exercising but that tomorrow just doesn’t seem to come, neither the Monday … or the next week; while in the meantime your waist has taken over your belt, and is headed towards your work table now 😉

So, what prevents you from getting the job done? From following your diet? From following your exercise regime? From getting up in the morning? The answer is ‘THE MONKEY IN YOUR HEAD’.

What monkey? Well, the one that keeps delaying timelines, procrastinating, the one preventing you from getting up from your bed in the morning, the one telling you, ‘Tomorrow’.

Let me ask you a question? How many men did you see from the Defence Forces having these issues? Don’t we like those additional minutes under the quilt? Truth be told .. yes, we do. Then how do we overcome these issues? Let me share a couple of pointers. The monkey loathes discipline and that discipline has to come from within (not when mom, dad or someone else says it). Take these steps forthwith:

a. Always jump out of bed (to begin with) AND fold the quilt/ bedsheet and make your bed.

b. Organize your workspace/ work station. Neatness and orderliness pains the monkey. It of course, improves your efficiency.

c. Set deadlines/ targets. Lose two kilograms by 30 May, 2020. The monkey dreads deadlines. It knows it doesn’t have ‘excuse’ to offer. Targets pushes you.

d. When the monkey says tomorrow; confront it with, “Ok, give me a time!”. It fears commitment.

Believe me, it takes just ten days to develop a new habit. Once you start seeing the benefits, and the fact that you start achieving small targets; you start feeling good about it. It spikes your self belief, you get self motivated and your self esteem sky rockets. In the Army we used to say, “Winning is a drug – once you taste it, you seldom give up on it”.

Get Addicted to life. Get Addicted to achieving. Get Addicted to success.

First Impression is the Last Impression

First Impressions

Having been in ‘Talent Acquisition’ for an MNC, now-a-days, when I interact with students, I disclose to them that during your ‘personal interview’ (PI), you are ‘short-listed’, in the first five seconds!! Period. And sadly, you’ve not even had the opportunity to get across your views/ thoughts/ ideas to the interviewer/ panel. A very small percentage of times does one change the initial prognosis. I see a number of daggers being drawn. Well, let me amplify with some research.

Some years ago, an experimental psychologist at Harvard University, Nalini Ambady, set out to examine the impact of non-verbal aspects of our interactions. She used ten second (later five seconds) videotapes of teachers with the sound off, reviewed by outside observers on the effectiveness of teachers by their expressions and physical cues. A two second silent video clip of a teacher they have never met, will reach conclusions about how good the teacher is, are ‘similar’ to those of a student who sits in the teachers’ class for an entire semester. We make a snap judgement which are invariably accurate.

Recently, Frank Bernieri, a psychologist at the University of Toledo and Neha Jain, conducted a similar study (videos), with 98 interviewees from various ages and background. Two interviewers were trained in the art of interviewing. Subsequently, these videos were shown to random people off the street, who just saw the greetings and their ratings were no different from the interview results.

Tricia Prickett, a undergrad Bernieri’s student, used the videotapes to test “handshake is everything“. Purely based on the handshake clip, a series of strangers were asked to rate the applicants. The ratings of selections were similar to those rated by the interviewers. Apparently, human beings don’t need to know someone in order to believe that they know someone. Ambady, Bernieri and other researchers believe in the power of first impressions. What we conclude after two seconds is pretty much the same as what we conclude after twenty minutes of interview or even a semester.

The fact remains, that people who simply see the handshake arrive at the same conclusion as people who conduct the full interview; also perhaps that initial impressions colour our other impressions that we may gather subsequently. The first impression becomes a self fulfilling prophecy; we hear what we expect to hear. Thus the interview is hopelessly biased in favour of the nice. Psychologist call this tendency to fixate and overlook the influence of context to “The Attribution Error”.

Be Nice

But YOU must be aware that YOUr PI is done and dusted in the first five seconds. First impression is indeed, and rightfully, the last impression.

21 Day Hiatus

The Head and the Heart

God’s way of telling you to take a break …

Many among us are wondering what do we do, while the world has been forced in a lockdown mode. There are some who are catching up on their much-needed sleep; some are catching up on their habit of reading books (great going), and some are still scratching their heads and wondering what to do. Most of us have graduated to the ‘Whatsapp University’ and have applied for the 24 hour subscription.

There are some things that I would like to share from my 25 years in the uniform AND nudge you to imbibe some lessons; I’m positive that this may make a difference in your lives. These 21 days can make or break you. It can be a game changer. It can lead you to a more positive, motivated better YOU. Either that OR status quo … the way you’d been living continues. This is just a hiatus and nothing at all and this too shall pass.

So, what should/ could we do in this holiday … Foremost! Spend some quality time with your family. The most important people in your lives. In this daily mundane office/work -home routine you’d forgotten them. Spend time. Cook. Play board games. Watch TV together. Watch movies together. Share stories. Share memories. Build rapport. Strengthen relations. Make phone calls, to all your near and dear ones; friends and family. Your voice (and one call) can do miracles. Replace screen time with Real time.

Set a routine. Break the past routine. Get up early (5 or max 6 am). Give yourself a 30-minute cardio; basically, pumping up the heartbeat, increase some blood supply to the extremities and strengthen body muscles. Push ups, some abs and lower body exercises. Freshen up and sit at your workstation by 9/9.30. In this time, you could have made breakfast and surprised your family (bonus!). Subscribe to an online course for greater learning. Tea break with family and back to work. Catch up on all your pending work. All. Think and pen your future workplace requirement. Preparing the fresh/ first quarter projections or any other requirement. Your POA (Plan of Action) on resumption of normal service.

Post lunch a quick 20 mins siesta is a luxury provided by mother nature (even Napoleon had his power naps). READ. Pick up some/ any book and read. All the travelling time that is being saved needs to be invested. So, Read!

Post five, back to family time. Listen to songs, sing along, play some board games; we are into “banana peal”; a board game akin to scrabble sans the marks and competition. It helps collaborate. Awesome. A movie/ serial and early to bed.

And just before hitting the pillow, count your blessings and pray for humanity and daughter earth and help develop an attitude of gratitude.

You have tried your way all these years. Try this way for 21 days for an habit to form and then there will be no other way thereafter.

Integrity. Discipline.

Really, But How Do I Do it?

“Salvation lies Within” – Warden Norton, Shawshank Redemption

In these trying times across the globe, a number of people have been advising to keep your spirits up; be optimistic and so forth. So, how does one keep oneself optimistic, while everything around seems to be floundering? While we were deployed in border frontiers our our nation, with zero communication is a small post with just our section (7-9 men) or platoon (32-36 men); one would hardly interact with people days on end. No internet those days. No mobiles. No communication. It takes effort to keep ones morale high. So how did we do it? Here is my take:

+ Cliche but true; positive thinking. Help your brain to seek for positive emotions. It could be anything. It should help you smile. A single +ve thought and the neurotransmitters take off. Oxytocin (love, pleasure, orgasm), Serotonin for mood, Dopamine (stimulates and encourages) are released; reduces blood pressure and makes us feel better. Share something +ve. Chill.

+ Be an eternal optimist. Don’t take anything for granted. Everything has to be earned. There is nothing called luck. The more you strive/ practice/ want and put in effort; your grit – a relentless pursuit will help you get to your objective.

+ Keep learning. Be curious. Pessimists lack curiosity. Curiosity is the cornerstone of knowledge. And I oft repeat, “Knowledge is power”/ “Knowledge gives CONFIDENCE”. It beats “I know it all” and you broaden your horizon. Open your mind (and heart). Remain Alert.

+ Don’t pass the blame. Everything going wrong is due to someone/ government and so on. Take responsibility; then you learn. The mind exaggerates risks, suffering and negativity. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in their seminal work spoke of the choices people make. From the probabilistic standpoint even when the choices are identical, we have strong preferences. We are more willing to gamble when it comes to our gains. We tend to be risk-averse.

+ Put things in perspective. At the face of it, it may look like ‘dooms-day’ but remember ‘nothing is what it seems’. Step back and put it in perspective. It gives you a better understanding and you can truly live ‘ Don’t sweat small stuff’. The event/ issue won’t matter a week/ month/ year from now.

+’Carpe Diem’ (Latin for ‘Seize the Day’); live in the moment. It is a philosophy for happiness. Don’t wait for the pot of gold at the end of the journey. Enjoy the journey, buddy!

Exercise Regularly;
Physical Fitness = Mental Robustness

+ And last but not the least. Keep your energy up. A half-hour physical exercise helps you boost your energy, blood flow, raises positive emotions and increases your immunity. Fresh oxygen, early in the morning, shoots through your system and injects your billion cells.

Live and let Live. Enjoy. Wishing you the best.

Be Safe. Be Home. Hear the chirping of the birds. Enjoy the breath.

Womans’ Day

WOSAF (WOmen SAFety) with SITCON (SITuation CONtrol) Measures

Come March 8th, and there is a lot of hullabaloo about WOMANS’ DAY; and as an Annual Event, perfunctorily, organizations do lip service and organize an event and pack their bags for the next day. Really …

Be Prepared . Be Alert . Be Safe .

Let me share some tips herein, for everyone to ensure safety.

The one rule you should remember is that hard objects should be smashed against bone, while pointed objects used to pierce into soft tissue.

You should have your keys in hand as you approach your car or front door – no fumbling in your purse!  Something a friend told me years ago is to take one key and put it between your second and third finger and make a fist around the rest of the keys, it becomes a great weapon if needed.

If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won’t see you but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. Avoid drawing unwelcome attention to yourself.

It is a fallacy that women are not strong. For example, it takes only 12 pounds per square inch of pressure to dislocate someone’s knee; even a child of 10 years can generate over 50 pounds of force. The knee is the easiest place to kick. If you are caught in a clinch or held down either from the front or back, your heel can generate a lot of strength. So if you hit your heel on the attacker’s instep with all your body weight, he will collapse. Never punch a person with your fist on his face because if his mouth is open you’ll get hurt by his teeth. Instead, use the heel of your hand. Use your fingers to gouge the eyes. Slap a person with the cupped palm on the ears.

Though there is no reason one can’t live or travel alone, the fact is that it is always safer for single women in India to live or travel with at least 1 or 2 other people. Often if you have a male companion, you are usually also less likely to be sexually harassed and/or molested. (We are not saying this is how it should be! It curbs women’s rights to freedom of movement and is fundamentally sexist. But it is a safety precaution that works to some degree in India.)

If you are traveling on assignment, or have moved to a new town or city for work , ask your company or organization to ensure your safety by making the arrangements for your stay through their local contacts. Or ask them for known and reliable contacts through whom you can make your arrangements. In the hotel, make sure your door has a latch or chain on the INSIDE, and once you are in your room always keep the door locked and chained. Always carry a portable door-stop and use it at night irrespective, or use some object like a door stopper. If it is a room on the ground level or 1st floor, make sure the windows have grills. Do not leave your balcony door open while sleeping at night. When ordering food etc. do not leave the door open, and yell for the service person to walk in. Have them knock and take your items from the door.

In budgeting your travel or rent expenses make safety your no.1 priority.  The lower the cost the bigger the risk with safety.  Hence it may seem like a good, cheap deal on a  rented house, apartment, hotel/ guide/ transportation/ tour package, BUT the more obscure it is – the bigger the risk with safety.  You are better off with a known place. Also something that other SINGLE WOMEN you personally know have used and recommended. (Remember it is not the same for a male tourist).

Never accept food and drinks from complete strangers (especially on buses, trains and in hotels), even if they seem friendly or are very insistent (and they can be, heaping you with phrases like “Indian hospitality” or “the guest is god”).  There have been cases where food and drinks were laced with drugs, and the tourists were then robbed and or sexually assaulted. Visit bars and restaurants which have more customers (that way your food is also fresher) and whatever you drink, insist on a sealed bottle (check the seal carefully).

Avoid all body contact with men you have just met or even if you have known them over a few days. Do not give hugs and don’t shake hands. Use the conventional ‘namaste’ instead.

Your eye contact with strange men should be brief and never intimate.  Don’t make direct eye contact and smile simultaneously.  In a culture where the sexes still remain hugely segregated, these can often be misinterpreted. Be friendly with your words; but be very careful with your body language.

If you are living in upscale hotels, you can dress as you wish.  But if you are living in low budget hotels, or are in public areas, the market, villages etc., wear baggy clothing and try to ensure your arms and legs are covered. This is only helps avoid unwanted local male attention. It has nothing to do with rape as women fully clothed, too, have been raped.

Avoid all travels at night. Never get into a cab or auto that has more than one man sitting in there. Sit near the door and if other men get in at any point, get out immediately. Never ever hitch a ride or accept a ride with a stranger no matter how friendly he seems. During train journeys mindfully gauge the people who are with you in your cubicle, and if you feel uncomfortable stay on your guard; don’t go to sleep. If you need to find your way somewhere, ask for directions. But never follow someone who says, “Follow me, I will show you.” Follow the directions and keep checking with others you meet en route to see if you are on the right path. Never agree to meet people you barely know at a house or hotel they invite you to. If you must meet and talk, ask them to meet you in some café of your choosing. Go and leave alone.

Set your boundaries with your body language. Usually men who are looking for an opportunity for an apparently ‘careless’ brush or uninvited physical contact, will test your boundaries first, for e.g. sitting too close. Or touching your hand. Indian women often get frightened and flustered and are unable to speak up. While foreign women are often concerned about seeming unfriendly, racist or snooty. But the rule of safety is the same for women no matter where they are in the world: IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE, IT IS NOT O.K.  Set your boundaries assertively. Move away or remove your hand. If they persist, tell them firmly using very straight language, “Please sit in that seat. I don’t like people touching me. Never appear hesitant or apologetic.

Avoid intensely crowded places – like buses and festivals. That is where men take the opportunity to molest women. Also, be very careful about a direct, angry confrontation in these kinds of situations, for mobs in India are notoriously unpredictable. A lot of Indian women often don’t complain because the crowd begins to blame them. In a festival try to stay on the edges of the crowds. In a bus or market place, loudly but firmly and politely say “What are you doing?” And remember guilt works better than anger.

The Golden Rule of Safety for Women where ever you are:

+ Be alert to your environment and the people around you at all times.

+ Listen to your gut instinct and don’t second guess it. (It is better to be wrong and safe than wrong and sorry!) And act on your observations and instincts intelligently.

+ If held from behind don’t struggle forward, you’ll only exhaust yourself. Instead throw yourself backwards to surprise your attacker or stomp on the lower leg or foot. The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

+ If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you …. Chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse.

+ Keep Eyes and Ears Open, Hands Free. Make Eye Contact.

THROUGH A RAPIST’S EYES” (PLEASE TAKE TIME TO READ THIS)

A group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim (profiling) and here are some interesting facts:

** The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun! , braid, or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.

** The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who’s clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around to cut clothing.

** They also look for women using their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.

** The number one place women are abducted from / attacked at is grocery store parking lots. Number two is office parking lots/garages. Number three is public restrooms.

** The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to a second location where they don’t have to worry about getting caught.

** If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn’t worth it because it will be time-consuming.

** These men said they would not pick on women who have umbrellas, or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands.

** Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you’re not worth it.

POINTS THAT WE SHOULD REMEMBER:

1] If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it, or make general small talk: can’t believe it is so cold out here, we’re in for a bad winter. Now that you’ve seen their faces and could identify them in a line- up, you lose appeal as a target.

2] If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell ‘Stop or Stay back!’ Most of the rapists said they’d leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY target.

3] If you carry pepper spray, yelling I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.

4] If someone grabs you, you can’t beat them with strength but you can do it by outsmarting them. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh – HARD. One woman used the underarm pinch on a guy who was trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin and tore out muscle strands the guy needed stitches. Try pinching yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it; it really hurts.

5] After the initial hit, always go for the groin. I know from a particularly unfortunate experience that if you slap a guy’s parts it is extremely painful. You might think that you’ll anger the guy and make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists told that they want a woman who will not cause him a lot of trouble. Start causing trouble, and he’s out of there.

6] When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible.

7] Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of your surroundings, take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behaviour, don’t dismiss it, go with your instincts. You may feel little silly at the time, but you’d feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.

FINALLY, PLEASE REMEMBER THESE AS WELL ….

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do it.

2. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you…. chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car: Kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won’t see you but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after hopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their cheque book, or making a list, etc. DON’T DO THIS! The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU CLOSE the DOORS, LEAVE.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:

a. Be aware: look around your car as someone may be hiding at the passenger side , peek into your car, inside the passenger side floor, and in the back seat. (DO THIS TOO BEFORE RIDING A TAXI CAB) .

b. If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

c. Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot).

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP IT! It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked “for help” into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

Be Alert. Be Aware. Be Safe.