Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Women in Cyber Security

Last week, Friday and Saturday I attended and spoke at the Women in Cyber Security Conference (WiCyS). The Conference took place in Atlanta, USA on March 27th and 28th. The main goals of the conference was:

  • Security professionals worldwide are expected to increase to nearly 4.2 million by 2015.
  • Women’s representation in this male-dominated field of security is alarmingly low.
  • WiCyS expects to raise awareness about the importance and nature of cyber security career .
  • Hopes to generate interest among students to consider cyber security as a viable and promising career option.

All of the keynote speakers were women in top positions in Cyber Security.

  • Jenn Lesser Henley, Facebook
  • Sherri Ramsay, CyberPoint
  • Phyllis Schneck, Department of Homeland Security
  • Angela Kay, Microsoft

I gave a Technical Presentation on “Know Your Enemy, and Yourself: Demystifying Threat Modeling”.

I was amazed to see so many women and young college girls attend the conference. This being just the second year of the conference there were 500 security professionals who attended. It was an interesting mix of students, professors and security professionals who attended.

I thought as this blog is growing, what a great idea it would be if you all as a Mother, Father, Husband, Sister could help your daughter, son, wife or sister to join this amazing profession. I am glad I was able to find the Job which is my passion, I work like crazy, never complain, except for the traffic when I go to work.

If you have anyone who is interested to join this profession, either here in the United States or in Bangalore, India leave a comment and send me your resume.

Yes, you read it correct. My Company Cigital has a branch in Bangalore, India.

Don’t Measure Ones Faith/Devotion/Bhakthi

Can anyone in this world measure by seeing a person or the way they pray or the way they look, the way they recite all stotras how much faith/devotion or faith they have in God? I don’t think so.

We have seen great devotees who were turned down just because of their cast or color or religion, right? Remember Kanaka Dasa? Remember the story of Shabari? Our most beloved kid Prahalada? Almighty Lord didn’t see if they were Brahmins, or a man or a woman or a kid. He saw their devotion and just blessed them all.

We learn so many things from our Parents, right? The faith/devotion/bhakthi I have towards our Beloved Rayaru is all due to what I saw as a kid from my Parents. I don’t even remember when I started fasting Thursday evenings. As a kid, I always thought of Rayaru as my Great Great Grandfather. As I grew up, Rayaru was my Guru, my Friend, everything to me. However, there was an incident which took place during which my entire Faith/Devotion/Bhakthi was tested.

I will not go into specifics, and do not want to hurt anyone. Read on….

2009 was the year, as many of you who follow me from a long time, you all know I suffered with severe foot pain. It had been almost 5 years, and no medical intervention helped me. We spent thousands of dollars and did all sorts of tests, from MRI, Bone Scan, Nerve Conduction Study to all other tests. Nothing helped.

I traveled to India, and was told that one of these Swamiji was able to cure many things and would be able to help. So, we traveled to this place. After the initial set of questions, this Swamiji asked what the problem was. He was told the problem and that I was a great devotee of Rayaru. He looked at my face and said “All of us have 100% Faith/Devotion/Bhakthi in Rayaru. However, you have 40% Faith/Devotion/Bhakthi and 60% doubt on Rayaru. If we all travel to Mantralaya and ask for a wish to be granted, it will be fulfilled immediately. However, since you have 60% doubt on Rayaru, you will have to travel 10 times for your wishes to be fulfilled.”As soon as I heard these sentences, my jaw dropped, eyes filled with tears. This Swamiji kept saying many other things, nothing went into my head. My head was reeling. Tears were rolling down my eyes.

We came back to Bangalore. The whole journey back, I cried. How could Rayaru let this happen? Why did he give this Swamiji the mind to speak so badly to me? I went on and on and on, and for days kept crying. We finally visited Mantralaya, and when I saw our Beloved Rayaru completely broke down. That night was when Mantralaya completely submerged in water. Read the post here:

Once I came back here to USA, I had nightmares of the day. I used to wake up crying asking why this had happened to me. My foot pain was the same. So, one Thursday, I sat in my pooja room, and prayed to Rayaru. “Gurugale, this is it. I have been doing everything possible in this world to cure my foot pain. I will continue praying until March which is your birthday, if you don’t cure my foot during that period, I am never ever going to pray to you and will believe what the Swamiji said about 40% Faith/Devotion/Bhakthi and 60% doubt on you. Please please help me”. I burst into tears. I kept praying until his birthday, a year after that, two years, three, four and now it is 2015 and the foot pain never came back.

I know how much I am devoted to my beloved Rayaru, the change in my nature, my attitude, my behavior  everything I owe to Rayaru. If I think anything bad, do something bad, speak a bad word, have negative thoughts, I immediately think what would Rayaru think of me. Does he like this behavior of mine? Does he approve of what I am thinking? I immediately change my thoughts. This has helped me change many things in my life.

Even now, I have nightmares of this incident. 2009 was when I vowed I would never ever judge anyone about their Faith/Devotion/Bhakthi. You never know who God is going to bless. You never know where the ultimate devotee is? You never know if he is a Madhwa, or a Smartha, some other caste, a Man or a woman or a child?

Never ever judge a person and assume he/she is a great devotee because they are performing all the rituals.  Never ever judge a person and assume he/she is a great devotee because they are able to recite all and every stotras. Never ever judge a person and assume he/she is a great devotee because they know all the scriptures.

Never ever judge a person and assume he/she is less of a devotee because they do not pray. Never ever judge a person and assume he/she is less of a devotee because they are not from our caste. Never ever judge a person and assume he/she is less of a devotee because they do not follow our rituals.

There are many people who constantly tell me” Meera, can you please pray for my Son/Daughter/in-laws, Rayaru listens to you”. I am humbled by these words and at the same time tell them” If you yourself pray to him sincerely why will he not listen to your prayers. And I say one or two small lyrics in praise of our Beloved Rayaru”.

Moral of today’s post ” We as human beings do not have the ability to measure Faith/Devotion/Bhakthi one has.”

 

Cleanliness is Godliness

There is a saying which goes “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. However, in my dictionary  and in my world and in Hinduism it is the other way around Cleanliness is Godliness. There are some basic things we can actually learn from Hinduism and follow them to make sure Cleanliness is indeed Godliness.

Cleanliness #1

The very basic thing we learn as kids from our parents is to take shower as soon as we wake up. That’s cleaning the body as well as the mind since after taking shower we go straight to the prayer room, light the lamp, sit and meditate.

No matter which part of the world I have lived, this morning ritual has been a part and parcel of my life. If I have to travel 2 hours and be at a client at 8.00 AM, I wake up at 4.30- 5.00 AM, take shower, go downstairs to my prayer room, light the lamps, recite all the stotras, do namaskaras and than have coffee.

There are many reasons people give me for not taking shower/bath in the morning. I try to educate them, and if I cannot I always use the phrase ” Where there is a will there is a way, where there is no will, there is a hill“.

Cleanliness #2

The next basic place where I have seen too many arguments going on is cleanliness while cooking food. I have talked a great deal about cooking. If you missed them, below are the links for the same:

Keeping your Kitchen, utensils and hands clean while cooking is equally important. Without which you will be creating a bad environment for the whole family. Make sure you clean you Kitchen, the gas stove and utensils after each and every meal. And this is indeed a must in our religion as well.

Cleanliness #3

We as Hindus have many rituals to follow. We follow some, we don’t follow a few others right? I have not seen a single soul in this entire world who is following all the rituals as noted down by the scriptures. Yes, there are religious people in the Muttas and other temples like great Swamijis who follow, but I am talking about people like you and me.

So, when we are ourselves at fault, don’t blame other people who are following a little bit less than what you are doing. I have seen this happens in many places which have caused severe fights between Mother-in-laws and Daughter-in-laws, between brothers, siblings, and even spouses.

Don’t ever criticize other people. Don’t ever point fingers. No one is perfect. This is where we all need Cleanliness of our minds. I have seen ladies performing great festivals like Vara MahaLakshmi Vrata and other festivals, and for few simple reasons criticizing their daughter-in-laws or mother-in-laws. You think Goddess Lakshmi is going to bless you when you hurt others feelings? Take a step back and don’t judge anyone’s faith just because they are not following exactly like you are.

For those of you who missed another post on this, read here:

Cleanliness #4

Just as important it is to keep your body and soul clean, it is also important to keep our thoughts clean. We all know the famous song by our Purandara Dasaru right? Acharavillada Nalige Ninna Nicha Buddiya Bidu Nalige. If you haven’t listened to it, listen here:

There is one and only one thing I can say here ” STOP GOSSIPING”. If you cannot say good things about a person, stay quiet or change the conversation. This is very important. We all say we believe in God, right? How can you say you are faithful to God, and gossip. The two don’t work together. If by stopping gossiping you have less friends, so be it. That is exactly the logic I follow.

Cleanliness #5

Keep your surroundings clean. I am amazed by how much our Prime Minister Modi is doing for cleaning our country. This is not a job of our Prime Minister, or Sachin Tendulkar or even Amir Khan. This is something which each and every one of us should participate in. So, make sure the surroundings around your house is clean. Talk to the person who is throwing the garbage outside. Make them realize it is wrong.

Let me tell you an incident which happened at my place here in USA. Our neighbor(not Indian or even American, you can guess by knowing that they are India’s neighbor as well :)) was throwing food items which we don’t consume( non-vegetarian) into our backyard. Because of the food, there were several eagles, crows, vultures and hawks surrounding our house everyday.  The person who does the lawn kept complaining that he was scared to go back because of all these birds. Sneha and I saw the lady throwing food every day in the night. I wanted to go talk to the neighbors and told Sneha not to tell her Father because he gets really upset, not realizing that he had already talked to the neighbor 3-4 times and warned them.

As we were walking during the summer, the neighbor couple crossed our path. My Husband stopped them, told them politely that he had given them several warnings not to throw food in our backyard, it was getting ugly day by day, had recorded video of the lady throwing food, and would give the video to the police if she continued throwing food in our backyard. The husband turned to his wife and asked her why she was throwing  food in our backyard, she responded by saying that she wanted the food to be eaten by birds so on and so forth, making many many excuses. That was last, from that day onwards there is no food in our backyard, nor are there dangerous birds.

The point I am making is, sometimes you need to confront people and ask them to clean up. It is our responsibility. And like they say, when nice words aren’t enough, दण्डं दशगुणं भवेत्” Dandam Dashagunam Bhavet. Doesn’t mean you have to beat up someone ten times,right? In our case talking to them and making them realize we care for our backyard was  helpful in our case. And most importantly telling them we had proof and were willing to give it to the police was the trick.

Cleanliness #6

Last but not the least, teach your kids cleanliness. I owe it all to my parents. My Mom was clean freak. I learned everything from them. So, be a role model for your kids. Don’t just say things, do it and show to your kids. A post about being a role model follows sooon.

Until than, remember “Cleanliness is Godliness”. Share your thoughts about what it means to you about being clean.

Don’t Tolerate Verbal Abuse

Over the weekend, I was telling my Husband about the last few posts I had posted. He asked me to read a few comments and emails I had received. I read a selected few, which really touched him deeply. He was astonished how much impact this blog was making. He really encouraged me to keep writing.

I still remember when we visited India once, and Sneha my daughter was maybe 4-5 years old. We were traveling to Mysore, and there was an accident on the highway and a big fight. The driver of the bus was using all choice words in Kannada language. Sneha kept repeating each word and asking me and her Father the meaning of those words. We kept trying to divert her attention, and saying those are bad words and shouldn’t be used. You all might have faced similar situation.

If you are parent, make sure you do not use these words in your house. I know many movies and TV series air these words, change the channel. Turn off the TV. Let your kids know using these words is unacceptable. Be strict about anyone else using these words. If you see someone jokingly use these words also, you be the bad person and say ” I don’t think we should be laughing at these words, maybe we should tell them using these words will put them in trouble”.

I still remember the very first month I moved here to US, and one of the Managers used the “F…” word. I went straight to the HR Manager and complained. I didn’t know it was and can be used jokingly. I don’t care. Many use these words and say ” Forgive my French, please”. I say, “I will not please”.

This is one of the topics which troubles me very deeply. It has become very common to see people verbally abusing their spouses, parents, relatives, colleagues, etc etc.  In a dream world, we all  get along well, all are happy, everyone is nice to each other. However, when we wake up in the morning, the same dream is shattered and we are brought back to this earth where many use abusive language when things don’t go their way. This can happen to anyone, rich, poor, intelligent, educated, Doctor, Engineer or any other background or career. There is no cast, color or creed here.

It is OK to get angry, it is OK to argue, it is OK also to disagree and it is even OK to have a huge fight. They say healthy arguments actually can make your relationships even more healthier. Who knew, right?

However, it is not OK to use abusive language. No religion or God accepts this behavior. A few choice words used, can create a lasting impression in ones mind. So, be very careful when you are not in your good mood.

Abuse can happen at any place. At work, at home, at a shop, at a restaurant. So, there is no pattern here.

The use of abusive language is not restricted to one gender either, there are abusive men and so are woman. If you, or your loved one, or your colleague is getting abused verbally, and you are witnessing the same, here are some things to consider.

The person who is using abusive language is usually very short tempered. They have the entire abusive dictionary at their disposal. They don’t seem to recognize who is in front of them. Nothing matters to them than to start shooting these abusive words.

Do not at any cost repeat those words back. This will make matters worse. And the most important, there will be no difference between you and the abusive person. Mark this words down, no repeating.

Don’t get angry and start shouting back. Be calm, and in a soft voice tell them the language they are using is not OK with you. And tell them you will come back and talk to them when they are in a good mood. Leave the room. Not the house, just room.

Do not tell them this is their parents fault. No parent wants his/her child to be abusive. This is again very wrong. There are very rare cases where the entire family is abusive. This is very rare, so do not bring family history.

Even if it was your mistake starting the fight, you are  NOT responsible for the abusive language. At no cost should anyone use these kind of languages. So, don’t ever feel guilty.

This person who is using these abusive words, usually will have some problem. Either at work, maybe inferiority complex, or some other short comings because of which they are trying to show they are above one and all. This person wants to control everything, and when they are unable to do so, use this kind of language.

When all is well, talk to person and tell them how much the language hurts you. Ask them if they need help. Ask them why they feel they need to use this language.

See if you can find a pattern. If you see the same pattern over and over again, maybe it is time for Anger Management classes or counseling. Note down what triggered this abusive behavior, see if you can avoid it.

Talk to close relatives and friends. Many people want to hide the abuse, but it only becomes worse. Make sure you have a great support of people who can help you.

This person is physically OK, but mentally sick. He/She needs to sit with a counselor and discuss the issues they are facing.

If nothing works, than you know what is the last resort? Hope it doesn’t get to this point.

Let me leave you all with some amazing quotes from Swami Vivekananda, and Buddh

Buddha – Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.
Swami Vivekananda – We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.

God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

I am humbled by the responses I received for the past two posts. If you missed them, below are the links for the same:

We all have gone through tough times in our lives. There isn’t any one family in this entire world which has everything come by easily. Many have issues with work, spouse, children, relatives, neighbors, health so on and so forth.

Many have the habit of blaming FATE. I have heard many say “This is my fate, maybe God wanted me to live like this, I will die like this.” This is the wrong attitude.

Swami Vivekananda said about Fate “”It is the coward and the fool who says, ‘This is fate'”– so says the Sanskrit proverb. But it is the strong man who stands up and says, “I will make my own fate”.

And Swami Vivekananda also said “Men generally lay all the blame of life on their fellowmen, or failing that, on God, or they conjure up a ghost, and say it is fate. Where is fate and who is fate? We reap what we sow. We are the makers of our own fate. None else has the blame, none has the praise. The wind is blowing; those vessels whose sails are unfurled catch it, and go forward on their way, but those who have their sails furled do not catch the wind. Is that the fault of the wind? “.

I can give several examples of my own life where things changed, I worked towards it and also trusted in God. Read this:

It was my first year here in United States, my very first job here, and having come from Dubai, UAE, and not being used to the accent here, even understanding what my colleagues said was a big hurdle. However, that was not the problem. Being a software engineer, I had to work with other people in my team. The one who was managing the project, was a master manipulator. Every time I talked to him about the tasks for the next week, he would write in his status report that he helped me for hours. I used to never ask him for help to complete any task, I was merely discussing with him the task to be completed that week.

Just by coincidence, one day I saw the status report he had written.It dawned on me that he was a master manipulator. I felt bad for a day or maybe two days. The next thing I did was to start changing the way I worked. I spent more time reading, writing several articles online, and changing the way I communicated with him. I did not sit back, and say this is my fate, God please come and help me. If I did that, I would not be what I am today. I made changes, looked back at how I can improve my communication skills, how I could improve my knowledge. Within few months of this change, this person was fired from the company for not doing his job properly, and completely manipulating the project.

I had sleepless nights yes, I worried yes, I maybe cried once or twice or maybe a few more times yes. But NO, I didn’t sit back and wait for God to change things. I prayed to God yes, however, I improved several of my skills , and there he was God helping me.

This might look to you as a small example, but it had a great impact on our lives here in this country. The confidence I gained, the trust I gained, the knowledge I gained has no bounds.

So, next time you see your Spouse, daughter, son, in-laws talk about Fate, stop them then and there. And remind them of the two phrases Swami Vivekananda has said and also the one and only “GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES”.

 

 

 

Cook with Love

Yesterday’s post was all about saying thank you to the one who put the food on the plate. Many of you commented, sent me emails and texted me. I am glad it really made an impact. For those of you who missed the post, it is here:

Today’s post is all about the person who puts the food on the plate. There is lot of debate going on as to who should cook? Should it be the Mom or the Dad? Should it be the Husband or the Wife? Should it be the Mother-in-law or the daughter-in-law?Why always Women have to cook? Why men shouldn’t cook? I have no answer, nor do I want to start or win this debate.

For me, cooking is an art, it is an act of love.Cooking is a privilege. Cooking can be done by both men and women.

I am grateful for the Almighty Lord that I have this passion for cooking and be able to cook for my loved ones. I pray to the Lord that I be born as Meera, and have the same opportunity to cook for my Family in all my future births( if there is one).

As a child, I always had an interest in cooking. I enjoyed seeing the happiness in my parents face when I cooked for them. I enjoyed seeing the joy on my siblings face when they relished my dish. I thought I was blessed when my in-laws were happy to see me cook for their Son. They were surprised that an Electronics Engineer was able to cook delicious food. I feel proud when my Husband tells his colleagues at work that the daily lunch he takes is prepared by me. I am equally happy when my daughter tells her friends about this blog, and she herself cooks a lot of recipe from there. I can go on and on. There is no end to the joy I get from cooking.

It is not just me who cooks. My husband and daughter also cook. Anytime I travel, he cooks for me. When my daughter was in elementary, middle and high school, it was him who packed her lunch all those years. When I was sick, had major surgery it was him who cooked for us breakfast, lunch and dinner for months. My daughter comes home for holidays, and cooks several meals.

So, you see a pattern here, right? It is not about who cooks on a daily basis. It is all about sharing the work. If you cook for your spouse, kids, in-laws, parents or relatives, consider it as a privilege that the Lord has given you to prepare food for them. If you consider it as a chore and do it with frustration, anger, it only gets worse. For once, change your attitude. Doesn’t matter whether you are employed or not, whether you are a man or a woman, son or a daughter, if you are cooking for your loved ones, you are lucky. You are feeding the hungry, and there is no act of godliness than feeding the hungry.

Some simple rules to follow:

  • Cook with Joy.
  • Cooke with Love.
  • Cook with a good mood.
  • Cook with passion.
  • Ask for help when you are tired.
  • Take help from the grocery store. For e.g: if you are unable to make chapathi or roti everyday, buy it from a store. If you cannot make some masala powders, buy it from a store.
  • Cook healthy food, talk to your kids about nutrition and eating healthy food.
  • When you cook healthy food, your kids learn from the same.
  • Whether you have a boy or a girl, teach them cooking.
  • Ask them to help you in the kitchen. Ask them to cut vegetables, involve them.
  • If they see you cooking with joy, they will learn the same.

Share your thoughts. Talk to your spouse, join hands and cook a meal together. See how much happiness it brings.

Annadata Sukhibhava – ಅನ್ನದಾತ ಸುಖಿಭವ

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I have decided to post a few articles on social issues I am seeing all over the world, and mainly in my home country India. Having been to India quite frequently over the past 3-4 years, I am shocked to see the sea of change in the attitude of people.

Having such a huge online presence and followers, if I can make a change even in 1 person, I would be happy. If on the other hand I can create an awareness, that is also great.

From today, before you eat your food, say two simple words, ‘Annadata Sukhibhava – ಅನ್ನದಾತ  ಸುಖಿಭವ’. It means “let the one who provided me food be happy.

The food which comes to your table is because of several people involved. Let us for a second ignore everything else and count just the people who helped us buy the food and who helped cook the food.

So, the person who helped in buying the food maybe your Father, Mother, Son, Daughter or your in-laws. Without them we would have slept in hunger, so tell them “Annadata Sukhibhava – ಅನ್ನದಾತ  ಸುಖಿಭವ“.

Next, is the person who helped cook the food.  Recently, I have been hearing a lot of rifts due to cooking and food in general. Always the case of why me, why me? Not many want to cook? Even when I see some places where they do cook food regularly, it is with so much anger and frustration. We are cooking for our family, we are happy if our family is healthy and happy, right?

For just one day, stop complaining that the food prepared by your loved one, had no salt, not spicy enough, the sambar was a little watery, the chutney was tasteless. The next time you sit down to eat food, with an open mind and a broad smile ( yes, broad smile), say “Annadata Sukhibhava – ಅನ್ನದಾತ  ಸುಖಿಭವ”.

It is a very powerful word, and create a sea of change in your life, and in the life of your loved ones.

As a teenager when I prepared food for my parents, my father always said these two words for me. It made me so happy as a kid. Last month when we went for a long vacation, Sneha my daughter prepared food for us. As we were eating the Puliyogre and Curd Rice she had prepared, I said the same two words to her, and insisted my Husband to say to her “Annadata Sukhibhava – ಅನ್ನದಾತ  ಸುಖಿಭವ”. She had the same smile like I had when my Father said those words. A powerful word of gratitude for someone who cooked with so much love!

And let me know if you said those two words to your LOVED ONES!

 

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