Monday, September 21, 2009

Holy cow err bison err nothing!

I guess we have all heard about the Shashi Tharoor Tweet incident by now. So I am not going to talk much about the tweet. However the incident gave me hours of fun and entertainment as people after people made laughing stock of themselves. From bloggers who jumped the gun without understanding the fine wordplay to politicians who conveniently forgot that puns, idioms and phrases exists in their language too, in their haste to grab any opportunity however ridiculous to bring down a man due to their inferiority complexes. Everyone involved in the verbal wrestle-o-mania must be rubbing their burning ears by now…or not.

If people had paused to think and reflect they would have realized that Tharoor used some clever puns in his reply and a literary nerd like him will make use of advanced English due to his proficiency in the same. If you are a simpleton who cannot distinguish between literal language and figurative language then the best possible solution is to JUST SHUT UP! Unless of course you think the general population are dimwits whom you can rile to some bile over a non issue.

Let us not get into the inappropriateness of the timing of the remark, or Tharoors naiveté, that’s been discussed to death and resurrection. Let us instead look at the whole drama and the fools who figured in it. A crucial player and the only non-fools in this brouhaha (I am not laughing at brewers, please do not sue me) was the electronic media. The media consists of journalists, whose core skill besides reporting, is a command over the English language. So what did our esteemed and educated journalist do in this situation? Educate the people about the meaning of such phrases? Of course not! That would make the issue a non issue and zilch news to air. So they add fuel to the fire with debates on the same lead by people who have no clue on the topic! Wonderful! What next? A discussion on marriage with a panel consisting of Nuns and Priests only? Or a debate on Valentines Day with panelists drawn from the Shive Sena, Al Qaeda and Ram Sene! That would lead to a very heated debate indeed! No, I do not mean a debate where the panelists sit on heaters please!

It was a relief to hear the voice of reason from the voters of Trivandrum. While they dismissed the tweet as a non issue, they asked pertinent questions about Tharoor’s work record as an MP. That I feel is the mood of the nation today. Inflating non issues, personal attacks, moral policing and rabble rousing does not impress anyone anymore. People want the right to live as they want and they want to know what the people they voted to power are doing!

Like it or lump it, the people of Trivandrum have voted Tharoor to power. Running him down is not going to work. He is here to stay till his electorate decides to give him the boot. It is high time some quarters accepted that!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Corporate hostages

A not-so-senior colleague of mine was recently selected to a Japanese MNC after several rounds of tests and interviews. After successfully clearing the same she had to submit details of previous employers as part of the pre employment reference check. Imagine her surprise and horror when the new employer withdrew their employment offer, because her previous manager gave her a really poor rating in the referral. This gal is known to me and I remember her as one of those people who are mostly seen hard at work with very short tea/coffee breaks.

So what was her fault for getting such a bad reference from her previous manager? That she dared to look for a change after four years in the same company, a better pay packet and a promotion to manager!

Recently a very senior colleague of mine, who had joined a small company so that she could take a break from a hectic job that involved 75% travel and concentrate on her daughter's studies, got the shock of her life when she resigned. Her H.R Manager, after failing to convince her to stay back accused her of giving false employment details (without proof) and humiliated this woman with an enviable track record, before letting her go.

These are not isolated incidents. I hear of such incidents on a weekly basis. Managers and employers getting back at employees who leave, by giving them bad referrals to their new employers. I know of several people who have not joined their new jobs because they are afraid of losing the offer when their background verification report comes in with insidious remarks from previous manager/employer. It doesn’t matter how well you work, if you leave, they screw up your career!

Today millions of employees across India are being held hostage by superiors who have the power to make or break their careers. This creates for a work culture where sycophancy and obsequiousness is the only way you can ensure that you have a trouble free transitions from one job to another.

I think it is time that we had more reasonable employment process, where a company does not have to rely on the word of a prospective employee’s previous employers to hire him or her. It is time companies developed a hiring process that satisfies their queries about the suitability of a prospective employee in a fairer manner.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Happy Birthday to the Blog

Blogger celebrated its 10th birthday this year. What a wonderful tool this is for people like you and me to pen down our thoughts, opinions and ideas and be a part of a large online community with a voice of its own! Without elaborating on that, as it is as comprehensive as it can get, I would like to talk about how I started blogging and my journey till today in blogworld.

Welcome to blogworld! Don’t think what to write...write what you are thinking right now. Your blog is a place to pen down your thoughts and observations. Observations of things that happened without you being too aware of it. Like a certain trait in a person...maybe good...maybe bad...or places...things that struck you as odd, funny, sad, despicable about people, places and communities....the list is endless.

Your blog will hold your thoughts long after you have forgotten them like a mind album that you can visit to see how the 13 year old Melissa thought then. Save your thoughts like you save your photographs so that you can see how you have evolved down the years.

That would be the best way to blog in my humble opinion. Happy Onam in advance! :)

This is a mail I sent to my cousin sister Melissa, when she wrote in asking me for advice on blogging!

When I started blogging in March 2005, bloggers were very few and far between. They may have had readers, but I never saw any and I thought the empty comment boxes were for Errata, Addendum or some note by the author. It looked like the ideal medium for me. A personal space to publish your thoughts on the www, and feel gratified just looking my writing nestling between those cool templates. Besides the added bonus of not being judged by your friends and the once in a lifetime opportunity to diss someone, be judgmental, hypocritical, biased, etc etc without guilt.

It was an incredible high when I first published my first blog post. It felt really good. As you can see from my first post, it was an outpouring of wonderment at the new world that I found on the Net via free hi-speed broadband Internet courtesy a Summer Internship in some company. I wrote again and again and it felt better and better. Then came the spoiler. The first comment by Neil on my first post and I was like “errr wot?” I wondered why he was commenting on my post! It was like putting on music and dancing away merrily in the privacy of your room only to find out that you have an onlooker. That was my feeling at getting my first comment. I went over to Neil’s blog and found to my surprise that he had a blog too. That was my first click through in blog world. This is where I realized that people comment on blogs. But then I thought that only friends comment on each other blogs as I saw only bloggers in Neil’s blogroll commenting on his posts.

I literally learned web navigation from then on. Clicking on Neils blogroll, to enrolling myself on Kerala Blog Roll to discovering other bloggers like Jiby. Those were the days of blogging with few or no comments. And I thought that was the norm. I kept blogging, received a few comments, felt it damn funny that people would comment on my posts till somebody told me to reciprocate. That’s when I realized that people wanted comments on their posts too. I did go over and comment, but soon realized that I didn’t like to be forced to comment. I wanted to comment only if I felt like commenting.

Then I wrote this post and all hell broke lose. It looked like all the people in world were discussing this post. Some via comments, many via mail. I didn’t know where these people came from and why they were so worked up. I was writing at my own corner wasn’t I? Then why the hullabaloo? I handled the comments somehow, standing my ground and this post gave me the necessary experience for the oncoming onslaughts.

Soon I began reading other blogs via Kerala Blog Roll (KBR) as that was the only Blog Directory I knew in 2005. There were bloggers here who wrote on heavy topics. Some posts were abstract one liners that only they could understand….in short blogging those days was the ultimate narcissistic tool for many people there. These big shot bloggers of KBR, would delete comments from small fries like me, or chide me for not doing a PHD in International Politics before commenting on their posts on the same. Most of their commenters, fellow bloggers like them seem, to literally orgasm at each other posts. It was a mutual admiration society party and non admirers were not invited. I used to be so scared to comment here and stuck to Neil, Adarsh , Praveen and later Jiby. Strangely these people were better writers than these big wigs. I was confused and thought that perhaps the big wigs were famous writers in other media too. Anyways I left them well alone. Today not a single one of them blog.

I stuck to my space and merrily blogged my frustration away the only way I could, by taking pot shots at people especially at work. It was so much fun. What else do you expect from a college girl caught in the big bad corporate world to do? Break down? No way I preferred to stick my tongue out…when the back was turned.

Then came this post and I was in the limelight. Don’t ask me how! It just happened. It felt good to be appreciated but I realized that my earlier blogging wilderness days were too entrenched in me. I was wary of both praise and criticism because accepting either would leave you open to suggestions and an unintentional form of interference and control of my blog. I was too fiercely independent a blogger to allow that.

Year 2006 was pure heaven and hell. Besides Jiby, Alexis and MC dropped in and we had the best time of our lives. We enjoyed commenting on each others posts and some hilarious comments followed. I miss those days. It was the best days of our blogging lives. It was just the way blogging should be.

The time also attracted lot of negative attention with, people trying to shake my confidence by some fake advice on blogging to suggestions that I get married (so that my readership goes down as many so called “good but unrecognized writers” felt they were being ignored because they were men). There were also suggestions to pull down some posts, rewrite some as I had made a gaffe and could become the laughing stock of the blogdom to a lot of things that I have never revealed. The energy people spent in trying to pull me down was enough to light up a whole city. Earlier it hurt, these were people much older to me taking advantage of my age and inexperience. Later I took great pleasure in ignoring them.

Anyways, things are better now, mostly because people have realized that it is no use wasting their breath here. I am not going to be bothered. I am often left wondering what they would do if they succeeded in pulling me down. Go after the others?

The desire to be famous and have a fan following is so gripping that there are people who will not comment on other peoples posts till they get a return comment, or write a post unless they are sure it is a moderate to one big hit wonders who sulk at the thought of the glory they ‘once’ had. Then there are those who read Dostoevsky and wonder why their literary gems of posts were ignored for a riff raff like Silverine. Then there were others who thought that I ran some kind of a “gang” who commented only on each others posts. What these people didn’t realize was that the party was open to all. But they wanted to be the Chief Guest!

Then came Think Pad and I was in a totally different league. I started Think Pad, when the realities of life started hitting me. What I thought was life in the safe confines of the family and college was just a myth for most girls I came across while doing my internships. Their experiences shook me. I came to see guys in a totally different light from the prim and well behaved guys I saw at home. All that I saw and heard I poured out here. The feedback was good. My peers were also stuck with the same questions. But Think Pad was too hot for many people to handle and after this post, I enabled Comment Moderation. I don’t know how I survived all these days without it. But blogs are attracting a lot of people and many don’t like a gal with a mind of her own and a platform to air her views, especially if she gets readers for her “libelous drivel” as someone put it :p

I hope this post doesn’t make me look like a freedom fighter and or martyr. I am neither. The good times were far too many than the bad times. All I want to advice new bloggers young and old is that your blog is you. It is not a race for any literary award. Every one of us has an opinion and a view. However except for journalists how many of us get to air them? But our Blogs gives us the platform to put up our views and the satisfaction of seeing your views in print and in a public domain is enormous even if you do not have readers. It is like a guy who wants to fly a jet and gets his own jet even though he is not a trained pilot. He will enjoy flying the plane even if he is not a commercial pilot and his aircraft has no passengers. He has achieved the joy of flying. And this is the reason bloggers blog. And this is reason why some people slack off after the initial foray into blogging because the desire to write and express his/her views was not the sole motivating factor for them to blog!

Use every chance to pour out your feelings. It has a palliative effect which is why Confession by the Church was invented in the first place. Join a community of people like you. Accept and appreciate others right to a view of their own at their blogs. “Do unto others as you would want done unto you” should be the motto of every blogger.

This is not the place to showcase your writing skills...this is the place to connect to people and exchange ideas. There are many exemplary writers here. But they usually drown into oblivion by trying to stand out among peers. If hitting it big as a writer was this easy then most big bloggers would be millionaire writers by now! So chill, relax, have your say and if people find something in your writing they will come to read it.

And the most important thing. Your blog invariably reflects your personality. So if you are a likable person your blog will be liked too. The way you handle comments also gives you away. So remember no matter what a false façade will crack one day. I have seen the best of people crack and give their true selves away in the comments section. If I have survived this far it is because I put up no façade and I have no problems with showing myself the way I am when I blog or reply to comments.

Happy Blogging and a Happy 10th Birthday to our blogs!