Every day of renewed energy is a message by Nature to continue adding value to life and living. This is the belief I have grown up with. Hence, giving each day my maximum has been a habit. It is self-driven and effortless. I owe this attitude and belief to my mother and my father who led by example. My mother would be the first one to get up to ensure each one starts the day early to meet the set plans of the day.
We were a tennis-playing family and had to get up early to do our fitness and practice. We equally valued education. Along with playing competitive tennis, we sisters were toppers of our respective classes. Tennis came from my father and love for education from my mother. These self-driven habits gave me enormous energy every day.
This is how my entire police career was. After a workout on my cross-trainer at home and or a morning walk in the adjacent Talkatora Garden in Delhi, I would leave for work early. If in the district policing, it was a visit to a police station. If it was traffic police, it was on the roads at 8 am, before peak traffic picks up. For my tenure in the prisons section, it was a nine am walk inside the jail.
Fast forward to my current responsibility as Lieutenant Governor of Pondicherry—each day is complete with a tremendous sense of worth. Each day is one of accomplishment, in some form or the other. Let me share with you how I start my day, which shall be evidence of the accomplishment which I feel here. It’s been now three-and-a-half years. Time has just flown. There is so much to do. Each day makes the difference.
I begin the day early, true to my upbringing. I am up around 5-5.30 am. The first thing I do is to switch on the radio and listen to a spiritual programme on AIR FM, followed by the 6 am news. Alongside, I post on social media, on my Twitter timeline and WhatsApp a “morning nutrition”, which is an inspirational thought reflecting my feelings in the morning. It is posted on my WhatsApp groups, comprising a large flock of public officials cutting across ranks and files. I have several specific and general groups stored on my iPhone. I also share my thoughts with my family, friends, volunteers and active and interested citizens. This brings us all in alignment with the inspiration of the day.
This does not take much time as I am well-organised. All of these happen simultaneously—ears listen, fingers type, and legs move on the treadmill. I am out in the Raj Niwas gallery, which has my fitness machines. I choose the machine according to how I was feeling that day. The treadmill has a reading lectern that I had specially designed to suit my needs; the cross trainer, the stationary bike, or the stepper. Or just walk around the premises. Everything depends on the weather.
I listen to the 6.30 am Hindi BBC radio programme. I have been doing this since childhood. I skim through the dailies and focus on what I want to read in detail. I run through four national dailies. I read and mark the papers for my document library too. I love reading the columns Speaking Tree and Citings in Economic Times. I preserve the ones that inspire me. I read the editorials according to my preferences. This is also the time of the day when I capture on camera Nature, the sunrise, the rays stealing their space, the tree branches, or birds. I post these on social media. The Raj Niwas lawns are rich in flora and fauna.
I do all these simultaneously and most productively (I know many of the readers may find this multi-tasking strange). After the radio news finishes at 8.30, my mat is out for yoga and floor exercises for half-an-hour. And I leave my workout to get ready for work at 9.15 am.
Thereafter I am at my work-desk on the ground floor for my 10 am meeting with top officers to review and plan. This is the best practice here. We listen, we discuss, we plan, and prepare. And then, we are set for the day—appointments made with officers, discussions on files, policies, presentations, reports, and coordination. This goes on till 3 pm. We sometimes have soup, and a healthy snack.
Lunch break is short, but comes with the option of a quick nap. I am down again to my office at 5 pm. Now for another good practice put in place over the past three years. It’s called Open House in which we meet people. All petitioners sit in the lounge of the Raj Niwas and green tea is served when they are waiting. Also, they watch on television various activities of progress in Pondicherry.
People who want to personally present their grievances or need help come with a written petition. All are heard by me, my private secretary, and the chief grievances officer. Each petition merits its own response. This lasts two hours. We stand behind a desk and hear the petitioners. Since we don’t sit, work here is swift. On an average, 40 petitioners are attended to—they often come with friends and family. In other words, nearly a hundred people visit Open House. They spread the message of their faith in Open House.
When this meet-the-people is done, I am with my OSD to clear files. The OSD is a very senior and experienced IAS officer. These files are on various issues, policies, approvals, service matters, disciplinary matters, and so on. We discuss and clear. This takes us to 9 pm, if we are fortunate. This is a normal day. The time comes to be back in my barracks, have food, catch up with the news, and hit the bed. I just have to shut my eyes and I am fast asleep.
I have a good collection of music, which is on when I am bathing. I listen to spiritual music while brushing my teeth and read a bit before I sleep. I also listen to music or watch TV news when I am having my breakfast, which is milk. I have a very well-stocked personal library. When I am travelling, my Kindle is always with me. I watch Netflix at night whenever I get the time. But workday gets top priorities.