Monday, April 28, 2008

And now...Grime Collar jobs!

Have you seen the handicapped beggar at the India Garage junction on Richmond Road? I am talking about the young guy who goes around parked vehicles at the traffic signal, showing off his legs with multiple oozing sores! There is another guy at this very same junction, who will come close to you and suddenly bare his arms showing the skin peeled off and the white flesh beneath. When he did that to me, I nearly passed out and the next thing I know is that people were chasing him down the road. For a business man I must say, he went a little overboard in selling his wares! Now if you are wondering if I am talking of the same beggar, then I am.

Beggary is big business today. Gone are the days when you saved all those five paise coins to give to the beggars sitting outside the Church after Sunday Mass. Today there are no beggars in the city. Instead we have a business called begging.

Like most businesses, this too is an organized trade, with careful strategizing and marketing to the target audience for maximum profit. Most of the beggars you see on the road are simple businessmen and women. The wounds you saw on the legs of the young man is carefully done with chemicals and simple surgery! The same with the peeled off arm! If you want to know how to look sick and fool your teachers or bunk school, head to where a “sick” beggar is sitting and he will teach you a thing or two in faking authentic diseases that will leave your Chemistry teacher proud yet a little sick in the stomach.

The beggar lady with the baby you see on the road is not the mother of the baby. The babies are borrowed from construction workers, drugged and carried round in the hot sun and a fraction of the pickings from this heartless activity is shared with the mother. The baby is handed over to the mother after the “business day” is over. When the baby is too old to be carried around, he/she is discarded for another small baby to be drugged and carried around in the hot sun amidst vehicle fumes for close to twelve hours a day! Can you imagine the amount of drugs that is needed to keep that baby asleep for 12 hours?

When you put that coin into the “poor” lady’s hand you are arming her to carry on the abuse and toxify and pickle the baby forever. The real beggar in this story is the mother of the child and our concern must be with her than the lady who walks the roads in torn clothes looking pitiably at you. Try and give that lady a piece of bread and see the reaction! She will possibly walk away glowering …because she can afford to eat better!!!

Most beggars are quite well off. Yet they live in squalor as it is part of their profession. It is their very existence! And they will do nothing to threaten it. They are not interested in homes and hearths. All they are interested in is the money. Most of them are money lenders, some have land back home that they support, but everyone of them carry on the profession just like any dedicated workers in a regular job!

Real beggars have no place in the scheme of things on the road unless they are willing to follow the rules and regulations of the road! By rules and regulations, I mean, give a part of the pickings to the local area goon and some other pacts that only they know of! And when the money is good (beggars earn close to Rs 3000/- a day), why fight the system?

Remember that ad that says “When you give alms to a beggar you condemn him to begging for life”? Nothing can so succinctly summarize the situation as that simple sentence!

It took me some time, but no amount of pitiable looks will move me now! I’d rather give the money to the NGO that works towards educating children of construction workers!

Information above gathered from talks with a friend who worked in an NGO that tried to rehabilitate beggars only to learn that it was foolish to tell a person to leave his well paying job for a lower paying job!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tagged by an able guy...but not for long!

I have been tagged by Thomas Sebastian, the brilliant raconteur whose college anecdotes will leave you smiling, laughing and reminiscing about those good old days and those goofs you studied with…and the feeling that those days are never gonna come back again! *sob*

Hope he lives long enough though to regale us with his tales though. Right now I fear for his life. Contributions to the 'Save Thomas Sebastian from his Victims Fund' are welcome. This guy will need it because soon he will be hobbling around on his one unbroken leg, walking with difficulty to collect his monthly disability pension with his one eye, half an arm and dislocated jaw.

The Fund, I hope will help him stay at home so that people do not have to see his severely deformed face, broken teeth, absent nose and bare scalp where a lush vegetation of hair once grew before it was yanked out by one of his well built victims without a sense of humor but great muscles.

Please contribute generously!

Rules of the tag:

1. Each player starts with 8 random facts about themselves.
2. People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
3. At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names.
4. If you fail to do this within eight hours, nothing will happen to you and you will die of boredom.

Disclaimer: I think I have done this tag before!

1. I cannot eat in between meals. Not even a biscuit…because it would kill my appetite for lunch/dinner. When those inevitable rounds of pastries, cakes etc come around because it is someone’s birthday, fatherhood /motherhood day or return from holiday/offsite day, I will be seen pushing these delicacies into a Tiffin box specially kept for the same. The same is disgorged at home to a very thankful brother who can eat anything and everything that is moving or dead. Ditto during school days. The last biscuit I ate was four moths ago when I absentmindedly picked it and bit it only to spit it out. I like salt biscuits though.

2. I don’t like cakes, pastries, biscuits, chocolates. I don’t hate them, but I wouldn’t eat them if I could. Eating these is a waste of energy in chewing some tasteless stuff. I rather uses that energy to eat Gulab Jamoon, Samosas and other Indian delicacies.

3. I love kids to distraction… even spoilt brats. I love playing with them and a hanging out with them and helping them with their projects! I guess I have taken after my Dad in this regard. The greatest compliment I have ever got from the rug rat brigade in the family is that I was the coolest chechi in the family.

4. Gardening is slowly taking over as hobby number one among my many hobbies. I never tire of collecting plants and I putter and fuss over them till they throw up their hands in despair and grow up to get me off their neck! I am one of those rare souls who can grow roses no matter how stubborn they are.

5. I am greatly disadvantaged being the youngest in the house. I tend to respect anyone even one hour elder to me. I have to consciously prevent me from doing this at work and outside the home. I am hoping it will become a habit soon.

6. I love old people. I come from a family with lots of old folks. I can sit and talk to them for hours. When I go to friends/relations homes, I go straight to the old people’s room. I love to answer their questions and chit chat with them. They are the last of a generation of people with individuality, values, innocence, unconditional love...and some other old words.

7. From Millstone to Milestone….I have become comfortable with my religion. I don’t care anymore for the perceived/real faults of Priests and Nuns and Popes! I have realized that those are just excuses of the weak looking for a way out. Do your best and leave the rest to God is my mantra when it comes to religion.

8. I grew up with a complex for being slim. I was told by my well endowed classmates that fat was in and thin was ugly/unwomanly/unfeminine/without personality etc etc till I developed a severe inferiority complex and defensivenesses. I have spent more time and energy trying to put on some weight than a fat person trying to lose weight. College restored all the dignity, self esteem and belief in thin self that school had so viciously robbed :p

And *whew* I am done and am passing on the pain err tag to Neena.

Comments disabled for this post!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The exodus

My neighbors...people from Kottayam like us, who have been settled in Bangalore for the past 40 years, were surprised when their relations a family from Trivandrum, suddenly landed up in Bangalore after selling off all they owned in Kerala. They moved into a rented house and soon shifted to a house of their own. This is the 6th family from Trivandrum that I have heard of from friends, relatives and colleagues who have shifted out of Kerala and settled in Bangalore this month.

The shift is not as innocuous as it seems. These are people who were well settled in Trivandrum, with houses of their own. Never in their wildest dreams did they think that they would leave it all. The discontent built up slowly. And the main reason for leaving was the feeling of helplessness and loss of control over ones life in Kerala and the existence of a better choice of life in places like Chennai or Bangalore, to live in dignity!

These people gave their best years to the State, built homes in Kerala and then over a time realized that they were zilch in the scheme of things in the State. The almost daily bundhs, hartals, morchas, threats from locals politicians and miscellaneous goons that they took as part of life, seem to be absent in the other Indian metros. And most importantly, the ignominy of being held hostage by uncouth people who hold their sway in almost all aspects of public life through political patronage and muscle power. It is with heavy hearts that they left their home and hearths, happy nevertheless that they escaped and can at least in their twilight years muster up a life of dignity.

The exodus is happening…in trickles now and from what I have heard, it will become a deluge soon. I am told there are families out there, waiting patiently for their kids to finish studies so that they can move out to Bangalore, or Chennai or Hyderabad. People, who are bound to stay there due to work constraints quietly pick up properties in Bangalore and give it for rent, waiting for the day they can crossover to a life more suitable for human beings.

This post like similar posts will go down into the archives like the voices of right thinking people. But what is frightening is that no one is putting up a fight. Everyone is fleeing and I totally understand their reasons and sympathize with it too. But what is disquieting is that there is not even a small movement for change. The flight of the educated right thinking people out of Kerala, is a premonition of worse things to come. And if the people of Kerala don't get their act together, then they might as well start packing now.

p.s Please note I am not talking of people leaving the State due to work or transfers here.

Have a nice weekend everyone! I surely have earned it!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Jo bola wohi Sikandar

Venue: His room. “He” and “She” ( a senior colleague and friend) are getting well...err cozy!

He: err hmm you know…now that we are well...kissing and all, I think we should go all the way...
She: mmm I don't know…
He: C’mon we are engaged and getting married next month.
She: hmmm I am not sure. I have never done it before you know!
He: Me too! But what’s the harm...we are merely preponing the inevitable heh heh
She: I am a little scared...
He: Don’t worry! I have protection.
She: Protection! Why would you keep that here?
He: Well...
She: *gasp* Did you take it for granted that I would say "Yes”!!!!
He: Hey it’s not like that. I just thought it would happen someday and...
She: So was all this an orchestration towards the grand finale on the bed????
He: No!!! Absolutely not…..
She: How could you be so cold and calculating???
He: Listen honey…

She walks off angrily!!

Yours truly and fellow single females at work couldn’t stop giggling because we did not know what else to do, but it sounded soooo funny! So we all went out and got drunk *hic* and laughed some more while "She" seethed in anger and resentment! I am going to sleepover the hangover so that when I get up I can better appreciate the humor in the situation. But what happened next at this watering hole after her "revelation" was, even more well...see for yourself.

Girl 1: OMG!! I didn’t expect this from HIM!!!
Girl 2: Chill yaar! "It" must belong to his roomies!
Girl 3: Or maybe he was just stocking it you know, for the wedding!
Girl 1: *snort* The wedding is a good two months away. It would expire by them surely!
Girl 4: These things have expiry date also?
Girl 2: I don't know but I am sure there must be!
Girl 1: You must do a rethink yaar now that you have come to know all this about him.
She: *sniff*
Girl 2: Chill yaar! What’s so earth shaking about a guy buying a "you know what" in anticipation of something happening. I think he was being very considerate!
Girl 4: Yes!!! I agree!! He doesn’t want her to get pregnant!
Girl 1 (sarcastically): You are a genius!
Girl 4: What brand was it?
She (shrieking): What?????
Girl 4: I said what brand was it?
She: #$%@^
Girl 4 (muttering to herself): What did I say!
Girl 3: hmmm give him the benefit of the doubt. He was just playing safe!
Girl 4: Playing safe? But... they haven’t done it yet no?
Everyone except “She”: LOL!!!
Girl 4: heh heh why are you all laughing?
She (angrily): Exactly what I was trying to say! He was taking me for granted *sob* Like I am a cheap slut *sniff*
Girl 2: If he thought you were a cheap slut he wouldn’t be marrying you naah? Relax! He just jumped the gun that’s all.
Girl 4: “Jumped the gun” ha ha ha!!!
She: Exactly! He thought he could make the decision for me!!! Bah!!
Girl 1: Guys!! I tell you! They are like chameleons!
Girl 4: Yep! You are right! One day red color the next day green color! Bah!!!
Everyone except “She”: ROTFL!
Girl 4: Why are you all laughing?
Girl 1 to Girl 4: Did you mean to say one day Strawberry and the other day Green Apple?! :))
Everyone: ROFL!
Girl 4: *clueless look*

Everybody…including “She” were by now rolling in their seats laughing their innards out.

Hope the ad guys who make “those” ads are reading this and target a vital section of the society that this blogger belongs to, who have no clue to a lot “things” about “that” you know! I am serious!

p.s isn’t it a trifle dangerous to be delivering bonny babies via a puny Stork? Just saying!

Friday, April 11, 2008


I was reading this really interesting post by Nikhil today and I was astonished by the knowledge that there are people out there like me that collect old 'junk'! I love collecting tins and jars of consumer goods that were made years ago! My fascination with the brands of yore began when I chanced upon an old Ponds bottle in my ancestral home when I was around 15! It was a milk white ceramic bottle with the familiar leaf icon on the label.

As I beheld the bottle I could almost smell the cold cream being applied on my face by my mom or some aunt in my childhood as they got me ready for some function or outing. I held the bottle close, petrified that it may fall and break into pieces shattering my memories with it. Memories of getting ready for the countless palli perunnaals and weddings with all my aunts as they dabbed Ponds cream or Cuticura powder, depending on the type of skin and kohl lined their eyes and drew those long vertical lines as pottus on their foreheads and a dot on my cheek also known as “beauty spot” in Kerala [:p] and adorned their hair with jasmine or a rose from the garden! What a lot of noise, smells and colors and feminine bonding…and memories.

Soon I started noticing a lot of these old bottles and tins of brands that have changed so much over the years that they bear little resemblance to their old selves. Fascinated by their shapes and sizes, I started collecting these old receptacles taking permission from people who owned them and who parted willingly with them, amused at my fascination with the “junk”. I now have a box full of this stuff waiting to be put up at the new shelf in my bedroom as my mom will not have anything of it in the living room!

Recently my uncle told me of a box in the attic of our ancestral house in Kerala and I found a treasure trove of stuff like Himalaya Snow Cream bottles, those colored Vaseline jars, Hair oil bottles ( *ugh* remember those scented hair oils?), old Nivea tins, Navy brand shoe whitening cake tins, old Farex tins with the baby face and colorful bottles with no labels and a whole lot more dating back to almost 50 years! Thank god for the culture of recycling present in those times! I am sure if I comb the huge house I will find more and that is what I will do when I go home next.

You find these stuff in the most unseemly places too!! An even older Farex tin with the red and gold lettering was used to keep Ayurvedic powders wrapped in old issues of Malayala Manorama forgotten and untouched for so many years in an old wooden cupboard somewhere is the deep recesses of the old house!. A typical Kerala country house and kitchen will have many of these remnants of the past. And since both the parents homes have not been renovated for a long time due to their architectural significance, we have thankfully not lost some of these memories bottled inside those old bottles, tins and jars. If you chance upon a relic of those times when consumerism was unknown and a few brands held sway and people identified with a particular brand unlike now, don’t throw them away…keep them as a reminder of a simpler life and simpler times.

Here is a blog devoted to old magazine ads. And here's one I found on old Indian ads that show the products as they were then.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The absent sense of belonging!

My first ever post on attrition is here. It was prompted by the steady number of people who landed up at my cubicle to say “Today is my last day! I have come to say bye!” From the time I started college holiday Internships, I was struck at the number of people per month who dropped by my cubicle to say goodbye. ‘Here today gone tomorrow’ was the norm of the day in most IT companies till sometime back. Today I work in the marketing wing of my company and far away from the development teams and hence do not know how things are in the attrition scene!

Sometimes the departees would tell us a day or two in advance about their departure. The subsequent discussions revealed that the reason for leaving was almost always dissatisfaction with their Manager. A small percentage left for better salaries because they were refused the hike the company eventually paid the new incumbent who filled the post of the departee. What an irony! The saying that “employees leave managers and not organizations” is so true and I have seen it happening myself. It happened to me too in my first job. The manager I left was later fired for the attrition levels in his team, but not before many valuable people had left their jobs.

What strikes me most about our employment scene is that people do not identify with the company they work in. All they are bothered about is their post, perks and package! I would put the blame squarely on some of the managers and top management for this because they themselves have no loyalties to the company they work in. Their lackadaisical attitude towards retaining talent and their half hearted attempts at the same are usually due to their job obligations. And due to this attitude they make no effort to respect or retain the talents under them.

What I have seen from my experience of the IT industry is that we Indians are not mature enough to work in an environment that is meant for professional people back in the US. We are still to attain the professionalism that most Americans display and bring our personal likes, dislikes and moods and prejudices to the work place. What we need to function effectively is managers and top management folks who are responsible professionals themselves and bring such values to the work place. This can be ensured by making the management and managers responsible for attrition. This will force them to create a conducive and fair working environment for their employees and hence create a sense of belonging towards the organization. Otherwise modifying HR rules and regulations more suited to the way we think is the only way out now.

Top management of most companies is also lacking in professionalism and work more for their career advancement than organizational development. It is no wonder that no one has a sense of belonging to the company and most companies are now functioning with a floating population of employees!! Ability is rarely given credence and a new breed of people who know the corporate loopholes, are the winners in the corporate race.

The situation is a lose lose one. What foreign companies need to do right now is train the people at the helm first and sensitize them to the fact that their subordinates are equally if not more important than them to the organization. This point has to be driven into them and they should be held responsible and answerable for every employee that leaves the organization! This will make them sit up and get their act together!

The company where I work has a rule that the Managers word is the last word. This has led to some people in Managerial position to abuse their power and finger whoever they want in their team. Which has led to good talents being swallowed up by the competitions after the mandatory cooling period! In the US, the very same manager would have been evaluated and promoted not only on his contributions to the company but also his people skills and man management and employee retention records. But here in India these practices are just on paper!

Shifting businesses to India may be cost effective but it can be made more cost effective by ensuring that employees stay in the company for longer periods and hence reduce the burden on the company on hiring and training newcomers. If the US majors spruce up their act in India, India would become much more cost effective than it is now!

This is my 200th post here ! Right now feeling a little senti because my little baby that completed two years on March 5th is all grown up now *sniff*

Thursday, April 03, 2008

New age get togethers!

I bumped into a couple of friends the other day. We haven’t seen each other in almost three years. Both were my seniors in college. It was an emotional reunion.

M: You haven’t changed a bit!
B: Neither have you. Vaise ki vaise moti hai!
M: And Anju looks vaise ki vaise pathli he he
B: You have become fairer!
Me: Naah! I am just the same, except none of that tomfoolery around the sports field.
M: Those were the days! Remember we dented the sisters Sumo?
Me: The dents still there with more dents to keep it company now.
B: ha ha…well I have to go now. Why don't we get together on Friday!
M: Sounds great! Hope my Internet doesn’t give problem and the webcam works as well as it is doing today!
Me: Amen!
B: Amen!

And we log off promising to meet again virtually from Bangalore, Mumbai and Tempe. Not bad I say....something is better than nothing.

( Internet blocked in office? Here's why! Hilarious!!)