Monday, January 23, 2023

The right time to quit or retire

Jacinda Ardern

On January 19, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that she would not seek re-election when polls are held on October 14 this year. (The full text of her speech.) 

(Chris Hipkins is the new Prime Minister.)

When Jacinda Ardern was sworn into office on October 26, 2017, at the age of 37, she became the youngest female head of government in the world. (Hitherto it was Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan.)  

Her responses to the shooting in a mosque in Christchurch in 2019 and the Covid pandemic crisis the next year won her laurels, and she led her party to a historic victory in 2020, becoming the most successful prime minister in recent times. 

Ironically, though she saved lives, she was blamed for the economic impact the pandemic wreaked.

As people's livelihoods got hit, Ardern's popularity began to slip. So much so that many had been talking of a new leader for the Labour Party who could lead the party to victory.

(Of course, it's a different matter that inflation, price rise and looming recession are problems that most countries in the world are facing. But in politics, that's not reason enough to get oneself bailed out of trouble.)

So, Ardern being replaced wouldn't have been a surprise. 

But what was surprising was her candid admission that she didn't have enough energy to carry on and do justice to the position she held. She will be just 43 years old this July.

Very rarely do we hear politicians say that.

Though she didn't use the word "retire", from what she said, for all practical purposes she has retired from politics.

Ashley Barty
The other name that comes to my mind is Australian tennis champion and three-time Grand Slam champion Ashley Barty who announced her retirement in March last year, at the age of 25, just two months after winning the coveted Australian Open and being ranked number 1.

Nothing surprising about quitting when the chips are down. But to let go of positions and privileges when things are going reasonably well, and pivoting onto a different path with an entirely different set of priorities is something altogether different.

There is a mountaineering analogy here. After having ascended to a good height (literally and figuratively, definitely an achievement in itself) the climber might feel that s/he doesn't have the energy to go on further. 

That's when a decision has to be taken whether to "let go of the goal" and start climbing down or "carry on against the odds to reach the summit".

Is there a right time to quit or retire?

There is no one template that everyone can follow blindly. It's a personal decision of reprioritizing one's personal commitments and goals. 

Having said that, to call it quits "early" surely requires a fair amount of courage because letting go could be seen as "giving up", and giving up could be seen as a "defeat".

However, it's not what others think that matters. It's one's own comfort levels and priorities that matter.

As Jacinda Ardern said, "For me, it's time." Or, as Ashley Barty said, "It's right for me."

Monday, January 9, 2023

Finally, welcome home!

The years 2020 and 2021 will be remembered, ironically, for reasons one would like to forget. Covid upended our lives like never before. 

Among the consequences of the pandemic were the strict international border controls and travel restrictions. That meant family members were separated for months on end.

Though most nations gradually eased those curbs (China was the only one to keep them till about a few weeks ago), international travel wasn't easy. 

For some, visa clearances were getting inordinately delayed because of the huge backlog. 

Even if one had visa, air fares had gone through the roof.

For my son, all this meant, he had to wait many months to fly back home.

And that day was yesterday, January 8.

It's been almost five years! He was here last in May 2018.

We were in Sydney in Dec 2019 - Jan 2020, (weeks before Covid broke out). So, it's exactly three years since we last met him. 

Travel between Sydney and Bengaluru is easier now. There is a direct flight which Qantas started in September last year.

But, the flight left Sydney about four hours late, owing to some technical issues. 

So, he landed at Bengaluru at 8 pm, instead of 3.45 pm. 

And, we reached home from the airport around 10 pm.

But that wasn't too late in the night for his close friends, who too have been waiting for him.

Four of them dropped by within about half an hour of us reaching home!

It was so good to see them all together. 

Many years have passed by. But the bonding, the fun, the laughter -- they're all the the same!

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Wish you a Happy 2023

The 2nd half of the last month was really crazy! There were too many things happening, and I had to prioritise my commitments.

We had our house painted. It was long overdue. The last time we did was probably 15 years ago.

The entire painting and subsequent clearing work took about 10 days. During that time, the house was in a mess. 

It was also a good opportunity to get a lot of junk out of the house. I couldn't believe, we had accumulated quite a lot of them all these years!

Around the same time, coincidentally, the apartment association organised an e-waste clearance programme. So, we got rid of many electronic stuff, like old mobile phones, chargers, wires, batteries, etc.

Just before painting, I was down with a bout of cold and cough. To make myself feel better, I did steam inhalation, and gargling with betadine, and had Ayurvedic cough syrups. Whatever one does, a viral infection just has to run its course. And, it saps one's energy!

One big event last month that captured the world's attention was the Football World Cup in Qatar. I was rooting for France. They came up to the final. But undoubtedly, Argentina played better. Two teams that won the hearts were Croatia and Morocco.

Another year has gone by. The first full year since 2019 without worrying too much about Covid.

However, we are back to taking precautions all over again, thanks to that late surge in the number of cases in China, and the government there lifting the ban on outward and inward travel. 

Though health experts are assuring us that herd immunity and vaccination have made us reasonably secure against the virus, no one wants to take any chances. 

So, masks and sanitizers are back. Not that governments here have made masks mandatory. But I can see a lot of people being quite cautious.

Let's hope the coming year will be better than the preceding years. 

Wish you, and everyone near and dear to you, peace, happiness, and prosperity!