Friday, December 29, 2006

Creativity at work

Last week we had our Christmas party at this lovely Lounge Bar. It was a cosy get together of just our department folks. The highlight of the party was imitation of the big bosses and little quirks and eccentricities of the good folks in our team by a bunch of amateur actors in our team. Quite harmless and funny and hysterically funny after the cocktails started doing their stuff.

The most hilarious two was of a guy and the way he talks to clients on his mobile falling off the balcony and getting up without pausing and continuing his persuasive sales talk ( his mobile bills exceeded his Sales figures this year but he still met his target) The second skit was that of a gal and the way she parks her car.

The parking of a car by a gal was quite similar to the forwards you get in emails. Anyways, the 'actors' showed her driving in and nearly knocking a pillar or two of the basement car parking. Then she parks the car only to be told by security that it is wrongly parked. Finally she manages to park the car after several tries.

She then turns the rear view mirror towards herself and combs her hair, checks her makeup, pops an Orbit in her mouth, offer some to others in the basement and then gets down only to realise that her laptop and bag are in the rear seat. So she gets in again and removes the laptop and locks the car again only to realise that she has left her phone on the dashboard of her car. She retrieves this and then goes around checking the doors of the car that has central locking system. After she reaches the Lift she realises that she has left her tiffin carrier in the car and dashes back. By now she is loaded with a laptop, hand bag, Tiffin carrier, Mobile and car keys. She drops these in a steady stream on her way up the lift and to her floor with the security guys picking them up one by one. The last scene showed the security guys with a loaded cart coming to deposit her stuff in her workstation and the gal counting all her stuff carefully and then exclaiming, "but where is my IPod?!!"

I was laughing hysterically till my friend told me that it was me they were mimicking. Then it was not so funny. But a quick round of cocktails made me see the funny side of the performance again.

For our New Year get together, yours truly has something planned....and I have all the big bosses blessings too , heh heh which means quite a lot of skeletons of people are gonna come tumbling out la la la la

Life is good!!!!

:p

Monday, December 25, 2006

A merry Christmas indeed!

It’s a lovely Christmas eve morning if I may put it that a way, here in my village in Kerala. From the time I have landed here, I have been roaming around visiting people, in our neighborhood. It’s a delight to see people’s reaction as you open the gate and walk in. Pure joy, some tears and some emotional outbursts, it’s like walking back into time to childhood. Yesterday I went around the small township, walked into the quaint old shops, wished the elders, took blessings and reveled in their attentions. I prefer to wear a salwar as I do my rounds. The gesture is appreciated. Women landing up at the market in pants are still looked at as outsiders.

I can see several NRI’s shopping. Some of the buxom ladies are wearing tight pants inviting stares. You can see the chasm between the two sets of people. One are quite oblivious of the stares and quite comfortable in their outfits, while the townsfolk are embarrassed at seeing fat women in pants. I am caught in the middle, while I giggle at the jokes doing the rounds in which me, “our” girl is included I empathize with the NRI ladies too because they are acting naturally and not trying to make a statement or something like that. Annam, my maid, who is accompanying me is wonderstruck at the NRI ladies and whispers that she thinks they are going to explode any moment. I tell her that these ladies were wearing what they felt comfortable in and that we had no right to pass judgment! She agrees solemnly trying hard not to laugh.

As a kid I remember, when we drove out back to Bangalore after our vacations, we would stop at this small village market and say bye to all the uncles who ran the shops here. There would be wistful byes and the all too familiar scenes of people standing at bus stops waving goodbye to families heading back out of Kerala. We would be the only ones going to nearby Bangalore.

There is a change in the air now. People seem somehow ‘grown up’. There is a comfort level among people. Unlike yester years, when family members worked far off in the North, nowadays most people have their kith and kin in Bangalore and Chennai. Visits are frequent and thus there is more contentment in homes.

Infosys, IBM, Microsoft, Accenture, GE are common names and being an English grad is not such a sad deal anymore :P People understand what I do, or least have a hazy notion and know that there is more to IT companies than software/hardware engineering. I saw an appachan working in his field wearing an Accenture T Shirt. “magan accenturil annu” he informs proudly.

The area is seeing a huge rise in IIMites. A good sign indeed! Changanassery town hasn’t changed much, though I can see some snazzy Supermarkets and shops. But the white mundu clad men and Ammachis with the ubiquitous umbrella still abound.

Today at church I met the entire village. This is an agrarian community and everyone knows everyone. There is so much joy when people spot you and as is the usual practice, we lingered around till 11 after mass, greeting people asking about "viseshams”. My Dad comes here every month or so, so he is not the centre of attraction…we are :P Thanks to the many airlines that have mushroomed, my Dad can now fly down monthly.

Liberalization, besides providing job opportunities, has bought families closer together. Children drop in more regularly and not only during summer vacations like the olden days. There is less talk of whose car is better and more talk of which car is more fuel efficient. More emphasis on two wheelers than four wheelers. I see a lot of people who want to return and in my area; land is being preserved for such an event. A very heartwarming thought indeed.

There is less talk of getting girls married and more talk of a girl being career minded *whew* :P A welcome change I see in the women folk is the increasing trend to marry late after settling down in a job.

The contentment in the air is almost palpable. Yesterday I went to meet our old parish priest. He presided over my parent’s marriage, our baptisms and First Holy Communions. As I wheeled him around the well manicured lawns and garden around the convent, he filled me in on all the happenings in our village. He is like a social barometer for us. An acutely sensitive person, he has always rightly predicted the mood of the people. He seems to be happy that the young population has more opportunities to come home now. He feels this will infuse new thoughts and ideas into the population here and bring about changes in the mindset. He feels that this is the crucial transfusion of new thoughts that Kerala needs. Sitting and talking to him I feel so far away from Bangalore and more close to my roots. I realized as he talked, how much part of this community I am, wherever I am and whatever I may be at work.

Change is inevitable, this community is also experiencing it, but what I witnessed is a change for the better. Perhaps there are ugly sides to it, I don’t know. But for the common people, there seems to be reason to cheer this Christmas.

(This post was written on 24th December)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

To a special person...

This time last year, my family and extended family were busy with a big event in the family and that was my eldest brother’s wedding. I was damn excited about the whole thing with no care in the world. Since my brother is the eldest grandchild in my Dad’s family, it was considered a special occasion with the entire family dividing duties for the wedding. It took a big load off our shoulders.

It was a couple of days before the wedding that the import of the occasion struck me. Here was a guy who doubled up as an elder brother and Dad during my growing years and who was now getting married. It was like as if my parents were getting married to different people and going away. I suddenly felt like an orphan. The realisation hit me like a thunderbolt and I went into a minor depression. I remember writing in a mail to a friend that in a few days I would be losing my brother. I do not know why I wrote that and why I thought that. She replied right back telling me that I would never lose my brother no matter what.

Around this time the realisation that her eldest son is getting married must have hit my mom too because she also went very quite. This was the little boy who helped her raise her other two younger brats because my Dad was in the Gulf then. ( the reasons are here) The boy who had to feed his little sister when he was barely 8 years old and keep an eye on her while his she, my mom battled with the onerous task of keeping my hyperactive second brother from killing himself with all sorts of aimless brainless activities. This was the boy whom her daughter called “achcha” for the first time, which according to family legend is what made my Dad pack up his bag and leave the Gulf for good. (Though he hotly denies this, my Dad did spend the first month after getting back teaching me to call him achcha :p ). And this was the guy whom young moms in the family consulted when my mom was out and they needed help.

Young mom: What is that you used to give your sister when she had a tummy ache
Bro: Bonnisan!
Young mom: And what’s the dosage?
Bro: A teaspoon three times a day and be careful, if your son is anything like my sister then make sure you don’t show him the bottle or it will be smashed to pieces.

While most boys his age played and enjoyed themselves, my chetan had to keep an eye on me as I crawled around the house besides attend to his studies and homework, with a lot of “silverine spit the dog out right now!!!” thrown in. This was the guy who never had a proper childhood due to parenting duties dumped on his lap when he was so small. And this was the guy who loved being a parent to his younger siblings and never grumbled about the responsibilities on his young shoulders.

He was the person my teachers complained to because complaining to my Dad was useless. He would swell with pride when informed that I had pulled someone’s hair or not done my homework. He bought a semblance of order in my life, a discipline that normally should have been put in place by my Dad. He is the guy who kept an eye on my Dad, when I was forbidden to eat Ice Creams for a year due to a throat condition. My Dad somehow managed to get me one though my brother’s strict vigilance did pay off and I completed that year hating him for being so rigid.

And a lot more things besides...

On his wedding day last year (Dec 31st) I was a mess, I was sniffling around the house. My Dad was a little emotional too and my mom was not doing too well either. My second brother was too busy running around and the house was chock full of relatives. By mid morning my friends got a little concerned and I started getting calls from them telling me not to cry and spoil my brother’s big day. This made me cry more. Relations were teasing me saying that I could not barge into my brother’s room anymore and that made me feel worse!!

Throughout the day people like Sunitha and Anish kept calling trying to cheer me up. By evening my brother noticed the plight that mom and me were in and took us aside for a meeting and told us that all that he was doing was going to the Church for some time, getting married and after the Reception would be right back home for our annual New Year get together. When he put it so matter of factly like getting married was no big deal, things just fell in place. On his wedding day instead of glowing like a groom to be, he was back to parenting me and supporting his mother :(
Suddenly the past three days emotional outbursts looked childish and silly. I felt really bad for acting like a kid and spoiling that one special day in my big brother’s life. I got through the Wedding Mass and the Reception without a hitch but a lingering guilt remained and still remains. Like most of my misdemeanours in the past I know my brother will brush this one too aside indulgently, but the incident did make me grow up....fast :P

This is my 100th post here and I want to dedicate this to one of the most important person in my life. Thank you, you are the greatest Cheta.

Wishing you all a very happy and joyous Christmas and prosperous New Year!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Weekend blues

Yet another Friday approaches. A practise that I have been following from my last company was sending out “Yipee its Friday” mails. Friday morning these mails go out and all the girls respond with their version of happiness, exuberance, ecstasy etc. at the thought of the weekend. The guys look on with tolerant amusement. Most of them can’t understand what the hoo ha is all about.
Last Friday as is the practise I bought my car which means I can hang around in town without worrying about missing the office transport and the whole gang of girls can chill out for some time before heading home, PG digs, Apartments etc. As I left the office, almost skipping on my way out, a guy colleague asked me why we girls were so enthusiastic about Friday. I told him that the thought of doing nothing, or taking care of girly things like pedicure, manicure, a hair cut or washing clothes that needs careful washing etc makes us feel like a woman again. The office sort of desexes you (stop guffawing G and stop grinning Sachin R K). Besides just curling up with a book in your bed is also something to look forward to. We girls rarely get bored. My colleague seemed satisfied with my answer but remarked that most single guys found weekends boring.
I have noticed this myself. Most singles guys in my office find weekends boring though they do welcome the weekend break from work. And this is something that puzzles me. Girls always find something or the other to keep them occupied and rarely talk of being bored. But guys seem to want something more than just reading or lolling around and what is more amazing is that they have all the resources like a bike and the sheer freedom of being born a ‘male’ to do stuff that we girls cannot do.
In my last place of work I was made part of the Activity Committee since I was on grinning terms with everyone in the office and we literally got people off their backs by organising Treks and Weekend Trips to Chikmagalur etc. The activity caught on and now they have it regularly. The activity also bought guys closer and friendships formed as guys with similar interest were introduced to each other. But it took a lot of efforts from my part to do what girls would have done without an Activity Committee. And that is make friends and do things together. Guys seem to live like islands. Which perhaps is the reason they are so lonely after leaving college. They seem to take so long to make friends. I wonder why? Girls on the other hand have no qualms to who their colleagues are. As soon as we join a new company we go around introducing ourselves and soon join the others for lunch, shopping, get together and the whole thing happens so naturally. On the other hand, guys joining newly will be seen sitting alone for lunch or with team mates. Even here in this office, a sustained activity chart from the corporate communications team has helped in bringing the men together. But they exclaim that it was a lot of effort to get guys together.
I wonder why?!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

From perfect to imperfect

I was passing by a house in my friend’s neighborhood. Outside a house a father and a mother were beating up a child. I watched in horror as people walked by not even noticing the event. The parents looked very annoyed and I heard them explaining to an old lady who intervened that the child had failed in his exams. It was unbelievable!!! What lesson were they thinking that they were teaching their child through beatings? The value of education or the fear of physical violence!?!

If it is the latter, they have succeeded. But if it is the former then they have failed miserably. So who should get the beatings now???

I have never understood the concept of beating a child. Beating a child would essentially mean a failure on the part of the parent to communicate with the child. This happens when people have children for the sake of having children and hence are not committed to its upbringing. They take care of its physical needs but his emotional needs are never a consideration.

I have observed many young parents within my family and our family friends circle. Parents who don’t have time for the child are the ones who beat kids. It may not be brutal beatings but some form of punishment like pulling the child ears. On the other hand, totally involved parents seem to guide their kids through life without having to use any force or threat of force with the child.

Before I have parents hurling brick and stones on me, let me explain that I am an experienced baby sitter and I have through sheer common sense got kids to listen to me without resorting to the “I will tell your parents if you don’t listen to me” type of threats. Kids are very practical people and I have noticed that a lot of talking and interaction with them is needed. That requires patience and time.

And what is striking is, when you treat a kid like an adult he/she tends to responds to you better than if you were to treat him like a kid. Of course there will be petulance and sometimes they just don’t want to listen, which I think is a child’s right as a child :)

I love kids and love having them around and there is one little one peeping into my monitor right now as I type. When parents talk about how difficult it is to handle kids, I normally keep quite or I get the “wait till you are a parent” lecture. But then I have been a parent a hundred times over with the kids I baby sit and never have I encountered a child who does not respond to me unless he has been handled badly by the adults in his life and hence looks at me like the adults he is used to.
But even in this case, the moment the child sees an adult treating him reasonably inspite of his past experiences with adults, he will respond positively.

I just wish people would realise the damage they inflict on a child's mind when they beat his body.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The mile high humor club

This week I have done been flying like crazy from one city to another. I flew mostly Jet and Indian Airlines, now re christened
Indian”. I noticed that the in flight crew of “Indian” had a sense of humor while the in flight crew of the private airlines were polite and distant. Here are a few in flight experiences with “Indian”.

On a flight from Mumbai to Delhi, the pilot was coming around shaking hands with random passengers. A lady totally bowled over and all agog by the dashing pilot asked him the name of the after shave he was wearing. He answered with a smile and a wink in my direction” Old Monk”. The joke went over her head.

(And…no I didn’t wink back :p)

On a flight to Chennai one absolutely drunk passenger kept asking a stewardess for “balm” because he had headache. Fed up she sent a Steward:

Steward (officiously): “ I am sorry sir, due to security reasons we are not allowed to carry ‘bombs’”.
Passenger: Oh!!!

He kept quite for the rest of the flight after that!

And lastly people flying “Indian” too have a keen sense of humor as this passenger displayed.

On a night flight back to Bangalore. I am in the aisle seat and next to me in the middle seat is a guy in his 30’s I think. He asks the Air Hostess for a glass of water. The over worked and over stressed lady brings a glass of water and slams it on his table muttering under her breath “f***k y**” or something like that.

Without batting an eyelid our man turns to her and says earnestly “How I wish you would”

Dunno if this was an original line but no prizes for guessing who giggled hysterically.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Work is worship but...



Pix courtesy Lijo

It was Old Boys Day and I was with my friends and family at my brother’s school. I took my aunt on a tour of the school and as we walked into a dark corridor, we saw a couple kissing. They saw us and drew apart in embarrassment. Since I knew the girl, I ignored the scene and made casual talk with my aunt so that she would not take the incident too seriously. Unfortunately my aunt had noticed and was righteously indignant. She blurted out when we were out of earshot that she expected nothing less from that girl, as she was an adopted child!

“Don’t know to which prostitute she was born. See she takes after her mothers promiscuous ways!!” fumed my aunt.

I was left speechless. I protested indignantly that my aunt’s statement was uncalled for, but she was too wrapped up in a moralistic blanket to notice. It was almost as if being a prostitute was a personality trait and it was genetic.

Though my aunt’s beliefs are despicable I must thank her for clearing the air for me. I am guilty of being bought up in a circle that thinks that prostitutes are bad. I guess we all are…or maybe not. So I will speak for myself. Most people consider prostitutes bad women. In Hindi they call her a giri hui aurath or “fallen woman”.

But when you think deep about the issue you realize that these women are not bad!!! They didn’t choose this profession because they were promiscuous!!! They chose this profession because they had nothing else left to sell to buy food or were forced into the profession. To believe that they do it for pleasure is stupid.

And when that realization strikes you, you feel only sympathy for these women. I am sure they are normal people like us who want to hold regular job like us. But fate wills otherwise. In a society where your educational qualification counts as your economic index, people who are not equipped with the right qualification lose out and have to eke a living out of what is available after the plum jobs are taken.

Today there is a heated debate going on about legalizing prostitution. I for one support it. We cannot ignore the fact that there are men who will go to prostitutes. It is not going to stop. So why not make it legal so the profession can be regulated and some rules put in place to protect the health of people visiting prostitutes? Besides making the streets a little safer for other women. A sociologist pal says that legalizing prostitution will definitely bring down, if not totally eliminate rape.

I am not advocating the profession. But I hope people will stop looking down on these unfortunate women. And I hope that people accept that it exists and help bring it on par with other professions so that the sex workers, like other employees get their rights as employees worldwide.

I survived

This Week


Monday: 9 hours of meeting
Tuesday: 5 hours of meetings
Wednesday: Four hours of vendor meetings and briefings
Thursday: A total flop show by the Event Managers at the venue, redoing of stall at venue at the nth hour and 10 hours of standing and supervising that
Friday: ...is still young ...

Monday I kick ass

R.I.P Ad Agency and Event Managers


Amen