Earth without art is just eh! is something I absolutely believe in and is even my life’s mantra! And while some may know I now create Mandala and Zentangle art – that wasn’t always the case. And, Cisco is how I became involved in this beautiful artform.

Diparati creating Mandala and Zentangle art next to a stack of books.

What? A tech company inspired one of its employees to pursue art? You bet! And here’s the story of how that happened.

I was born and brought up in Kolkata, a city in India which is also known as the City of Joy. Growing up, I realized I was more of an introvert. It took time for me to open up to people, talk to new people and in general, express myself. I completed school, got into college, completed college – all the while being a wallflower – a wallflower who was good in academics, but not many people knew who she was beyond that.

Then came the time for me to enter into the world of ‘adulting.’ My first job was at BroadSoft Technologies which, at that time, was a leader in developing residential and business Voice over IP (VoIP) applications. It was a smaller company and though I had to shift to a new city, Chennai, I was happy to be a part of it.

My life became something along the lines of waking up, going to the office, coding, returning home and sleeping. And of course – eating. Can’t forget eating. As much as I was grateful to have this life, I knew in my heart that somewhere, something was missing.

Two years later, Cisco announced its acquisition of BroadSoft. And while I didn’t know it yet – my life was about to get a whole lot better!

As we became Cisconians and gradually got to know the Cisco culture, I realized that there were many great opportunities to be had. One of the great things about Cisco is that, along with the mainstream quality work that the company expects out of its employees, it also provides a plethora of various other opportunities for us to actually live life to our fullest potential!

One such thing is Connected Recognition.

Diparati's desk showing off her Mandala and Zentangle art while writing code on her computer.

Connected Recognition is Cisco’s way of appreciating an employee for a job well done. One employee can recognize another employee or a group of employees if they feel that they have done an exemplary job or maybe just because they have made their lives easier and made them smile. As a part of this appreciation, Cisco gifts the receiver a monetary amount which can then be converted into gift cards for well-known outlets selling everything under the sun.

And this is what happened to me. After a particularly challenging feature that I was working on was delivered, I received a bit of Connected Recognition from my manager who wanted to recognize me for job well done.

Elated, I began browsing through the options of the outlets I would be able to make a purchase from, and after a lot of thought, I settled on Crossword, a stationary store. It felt as some invisible force had pulled me towards it. I didn’t know it then, but it was fate.

After work, I went to the nearest Crossword outlet, still unsure of what I might buy there. While I was browsing, I got stuck in the Adult Colouring section. One particularly enchanting book caught my attention – it was filled with stunning designs. Something clicked, as though a lost puzzle piece fell into place, and I knew I had to buy it.

Coming back home, I sat with the book. I searched forgotten corners of my cupboard and found some leftover colour pencils and sketch pens, and started colouring – before I knew it, it was well past 2 am! (Thankfully, it was a Friday and I didn’t have to wake up early the next day.) On further research I found out that the designs in the book were called Mandala and Zentangle art.

Diparati signs Women's Day cards at Cisco with her artwork.

As I drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t help but wonder – if it felt so nice to colour these intricate designs, how incredible must it feel to draw them myself?  The next day I woke up with a different kind of enthusiasm. I watched YouTube videos and other tutorials about these artforms and before long, I was trying to draw my first ever Zentangle art.

That was the day I started my Zentangle art journey!

One and a half years later, here I am, designing Zentangle and Mandala art on t-shirts, bags, stickers and notebooks! Apart from that, I also like to dabble a little in brush calligraphy. Every weekend I make it a point to take some time out and create art, even if it’s just a simple pattern or basic calligraphy strokes practice!

I have even incorporated my art into my desk at Cisco that features a mini-gallery of my art, and a sticker of a dreamcatcher drawn by me on a reusable water-bottle (Cisco always inspires their employees to Go Green!)

I am so grateful to Cisco for giving me an opportunity to get to know art and engage in it – to think, I may have never done this if it weren’t for that Connected Recognition!

My life is now so much more beautiful with both art and Cisco in it.

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Diparati Sen

Software Engineer • Artist • Dabbling Poetess

Engineering - WXC - Webex Calling - India