Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You Know You Are a Grown Up When...

You play the host and actually remember to care about things like changing bed sheets/hand towels simply because your friends are coming over (instead of letting them see the usual mess your house is in), cutlery (instead of serving alcohol in cups), and making Maggie at 3 a.m. for everybody even though you are half asleep…

•Your friends are also grown up and they bring sophisticated wine for you…

•You drink that same sophisticated wine instead of the usual cheap rum you did in college…

•Half the people in your group are married and they discuss family planning, career plans and property prices instead of gossiping about who kissed who near the library…

•You no longer sweat out the small stuff like going dutch till the last one rupee…

•You plan outstation weekend trips without worrying what to tell your parents or how to ask them for money for it…

But you also know that you are still a kid when you start calling up your other group members in different cities at 3 a.m. to tell them you miss them only to be asked to FO and NOT call them at 3 a.m.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Lighter Side of a Break-Up

I have been on a chick-flick spree: The Break Up, Turning 30, Break Ke Baad, and as far back as Hum Tum. So while I am at it, here is an indicative list of how a break up affects the stakeholders of the said break-up.

Benefactors of the break-up:
1.The respective companies: As they say, the best way to get over a break up is to focus on your career, and not give yourself time to think. So while you would keep disappearing for long breaks and regular lunches, start packing your bags sharp at 6 p.m. for your date and become “sick” often (mostly on Mondays and Fridays) during your relationship, suddenly the break up finds you spending 16 hours at work, putting in everything (and even taking inane trainings) and NEVER taking a leave. The two companies in question ain’t complaining!
2.Your respective friends: Let’s face it, while you were in a relationship, you had time only for each other and you found excuses/lies to get out of those shopping trips/Sunday brunches/drinking binges, so much so, that your friends gave up asking after some time. But suddenly, you are ALWAYS there, and secretly they are quite happy that you are single again!
3.Home delivery joints/ Internet service provider: This one is self-evident. You spend your weekends downloading copious GBs of movies/HIMYM/Friends, and ordering pizza/biryani/ice-cream.
4.Retail outlets/Salons/Electronic stores/ Beer bars: You feel this irrepressible urge to “do something different”. So you get yourself a whole new wardrobe, a new haircut, a spa treatment or that PlayStation III that you weren’t allowed to buy previously and go binge drinking on Friday nights.
5.Your parents: If they were against the relationship.

Victims of the break-up:
1.Movie theatres/restaurants: All those dates meant wasted money on movies you would otherwise NEVER watch or those overpriced restaurants which charged you extra just for sitting and talking. Well, who is crying now? (apart from yourself of course)
2.Cake/Gift shops: No more can Archies, RnB, Monginis and Brownie Point charge you exorbitant amounts for those cards/mugs/chocolate cakes for every occasion. Reminds me of the Hum Tum song: “Ladki Kyon”
3.Telephone companies: Suddenly you no longer spend three hours every night describing your day in excruciating detail. The loss is even more pronounced if it’s a long distance relationship. May be they should ALL start providing broadband services to hedge their risks. Vodafone, are you reading? Or may be not… god forbid, you turn into an Airtel!
4.Airlines/Railways/Travel agencies: A lot of traveling expense is curtailed due to a break up, especially for a long-distance relationship. Even if both parties are in the same city, MTDC or Volvo can no longer benefit from those weekend trips or impromptu getaways.
5.Your parents: If they were supportive of the relationship.

I have restricted myself to the top 5 list. Please feel free to add your contributions.

Also, on a totally different note, I went shopping at Marks and Spencer (awesome sale by the way). It seemed like they have a brand of jeans called ‘boyfriend’ and when I asked the sales girl for the price, she shouted at her colleague, “Oye, boyfriend pe kitna discount hai?” And that brought a smile to my face… couldn’t help it!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Life as I Know It...

Given that I am beginning a whole new life of my own, I guess it’s time to bore readers with all the little insignificant details of my not-so-happening daily rituals. So what do I do?

Well, first of all I miss the luxury of 11 a.m. office in Company D, not to mention the luxury of having a roommate who will open the door when you are not at home/ in the bathroom/sleeping/or simply lazy! Yes, these are important details which I never appreciated when I did have them. Now, I have to reach work by nine (doesn’t mean I get to come home at six), which means I need to start getting ready by 8:15 am, which means I need a maid who can come at 7:30 am and unfortunately I haven’t been able to find one willing to come at such a god forsaken time especially since the stakes (read money) ain’t that much! So I synchronize my wake up time with the sunrise (which is pretty late in Mumbai) and keep the blinds of my curtain wide open so that I get up as soon as the first rays of sun stream into my eyes around 6:45 am. Thereafter the next couple of hours just whizz past as I engage myself in backbreaking jhaaru-pocha, making breakfast and doing the dishes. Still, I am yet to lose weight.  I just manage to find enough time to glance through the Bombay Times for the horoscope (face it, it’s no fun reading it at 10 p.m. after work, when your day is already over. Me, I like to know how my day will be like, just similar to one-twelfth of the population, even though I have no clue about where my life is going) and the announcement of any sale, hoping there won’t be any till I get my salary, precisely ten days from now.

Then comes eleven hours of work, out of which I am actually working ten hours (stark contrast to Company D). When your boss says you are working too hard, it must mean you are really getting on his nerves and this is something new for me, because I have always been the kind who comes early so that she can leave early. But somehow the motivation is much higher here. Or may be because this is all that consumes my life now. Plus, the visibility is higher too. A simple monthly report that I used to prepare in Company D (it was an existing format which I edited every month) never received any client feedback. I don’t think anybody even glanced through it. However, on enough occasions my manager criticized it for formatting errors/double spacing/decimal points/transition etc etc all of which seemed ridiculous given that the target audience never bothered about it. However, once I introduced a similar prototype in my new company, the feedback was overwhelming. Nobody criticized me for missing out a comma or using fullstop instead of a semi-colon, but yes, they did come back with suggestions to improve the content, and that made me happy. And I also realize that may be it’s not the work per se which bothers me, but it’s more the spirit and the nature of the feedback of that work.

And oh yes, I had to attend a day-long training yesterday- one of those things HR arranges which adds value only to their KRAs and where people who otherwise don’t get a chance to talk are invited and who insist on making a 100-slide presentation and keep talking in excruciating details, (pretty much like this post), at the fag end of the day. And like most trainings, it insisted on “being interactive” and “encourage active participation”, which meant it refused to let you sleep through it. And like most inane corporate games, it also insisted on dividing the group into sub-teams and making you do inane things like “explain the company values in a skit”. Now, I enjoyed writing screenplays, but acting, no way! The only time I had acted was during a school play when the lead actor in my play dropped out, and since I was the writer and therefore the only one who knew the lines, I had to step into his shoes. So after, thirteen years, I was acting again. I freaked out when I was asked to play the role of a relationship manager in a bank (I hate RMs or any role that requires me to be confident, diplomatic or a blood-sucking leech), and instead settled for a simple, diffident housewife with no idea about financial products, lost in a big bank, hanging on to her lecturer husband (a loud mouth guy who talked too much), asking for elaichi tea and talking about her one year old baby and vacations and jewelry. And as I hesitantly started my act, I realized I was playing it perfectly: my natural shyness and discomfort was exactly what the part demanded and soon I was on a roll, bringing the house down with my improvisations! And then it struck me: what the hell was I doing in a bank (even the back office of a bank)? Just because I had the ‘right’ qualifications, didn’t make me a ‘right’ fit. No wonder I was always lost: a little scared, a little skeptical and a little watchful just like the housewife I played!

And I almost forgot, as luck would have it, during my induction I met the guy who joined Company C recently to head the recruitment division and guess what, he already knew me, thanks to the elaborate ‘network’ I had formed during my elaborate six-month long job hunt. He happened to have been the recruitment head of the company I refused, to join Company C! One of the very few companies which I had the chance of rejecting, and rotten that my luck is, the recruitment head of that same company had to join here! Talk about a small world. Life really finds innovative ways to screw you!

I so didn’t belong in this profession. And I so wanted to be that housewife (but a writer one) with that little kid in the small town and most importantly with the sweet guy she was madly in love with (and not the loud-mouth lecturer)…

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Banks bloody banks!

For the first time, I am sourcing third party articles for my blog. But given my harrowing experience with Standard Chartered Bank, this article touched my heart. I so completely identify with it. So here goes:

"A ninety eight year old woman took on a bank manager in U.K. She wrote him a letter.

The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the Times.

I am publishing it here because I think she reminds me of Maxine whom I love. And I hate financial institutions with their superior attitude and red tape.

Dear Sir,

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my cheque with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the cheque and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my Pension, an arrangement, which, I admit, has been in place for only thirty eight years. You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account £30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, but when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become. From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan payments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank by cheque, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate. Be aware that it is an offence under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope.

Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Solicitor, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof. In due course, I will issue your employee with PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:

1. To make an appointment to see me.
2. To query a missing payment.
3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
4. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.
7. To leave a message on my computer (a password to access my computer is required.
A password will be communicated to you at a later date to the Authorized Contact.)
8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through to 8.
9. To make a general complaint or inquiry, the contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year.

Your Humble Client"

Source: Weaving a Web (

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Worst Hostess Ever

This weekend I became the kind of girl your mom warns you against: the kind that she would NEVER want as a daughter-in-law nor as an example for her teenaged daughter. So since I have been unsalaried for almost three months now and all this moving and setting up a place costs a bomb, and since a certain bank (stay away from Standard Chartered) refuses to give me my ATM card, I am seriously short on cash. So Friday, I had dinner and watched ‘No One Killed Jessica’ (brilliant movie by the way) on borrowed money, Saturday I got very expensive onions, cheap plastic chairs, cheap sandwich maker and a cheap (and therefore disastrous) haircut and Sunday I paid the plumber, which left me with no money at all.

But I had already invited the Jehadi Brothers (JBs) for my ‘house warming’ party. So I turned out to be the worst host ever in the history of hosts, as JB 1 did all the hard work and spent all the money: he bought the chicken, prepared the most yummy chicken curry that even my mom can’t, and in general got the party started, while I peacefully watched Band Baaja Baraat (and unexpectedly liked it) on my laptop, abused him for taking so much time to make the food and yes, cut half a tomato, as MY contribution.

I already had a bottle of fancy wine my dad had gifted me, sitting pretty in my fridge but JB 1 refused to drink it, asked me to order cheap Vodka instead, and left! So for the first time in my life I called for home delivery of alcohol. Mumbai never ceases to surprise me! And as luck would have it, they delivered it within 10 minutes, and there I was, standing at my door with an empty wallet and a bottle of vodka and a delivery boy in his JKWines uniform! Not a pretty sight! And I can only imagine what the neighbourhood aunties must have thought of me: seasoned alcoholic girl who has drowned all her money in booze and still can’t give up. Thankfully, after 10 minutes of humiliation as I went red in the face, JB 2 (and more importantly he got money with him) came and rescued me from the situation.

The rest of the evening was peaceful enough, as I drank for the first time this year, devoured the chicken and laughed at Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Khosla Ka Ghosla and Dil Chahta Hai for the umpteenth time.

Life was good, life was fun, life was cheap, and life was simple again, if only for a few hours! Well, life was almost complete, but something was still missing…

Monday, January 3, 2011

Beginning of good times

Last new year was a memorable one. So was this new year, though for very different reasons. Last few months, I have struggled with myself, trying to be strong, trying to make it on my own, and trying to move on. A change of job was followed by giving up my home which offered so many memories. A few weeks of a forgettable existence next to the railway platform and a few weeks at home later, I finally gathered enough strength and courage to look for a rented apartment in Mumbai battling my way through shady alleys and dark lanes with sharks (real estate brokers). And December 31st, I moved to my very own place: something I had always looked forward to, something which was very close to my heart, and like all good things, it was something which was harsh on my purse strings. So while the rest of Mumbai drowned itself in an alcoholic reverie, I dragged suitcases, cartons, bags and mattresses to Flat No. 1003, which for the next one year, will be my HOME. For the first time I experienced the little joys of setting up a place as I navigated my way through the unknown corners of Big Bazaar and Dmart looking for buckets, dustbins, toilet brushes, shoeracks, wall creepers, curtains, cushion covers, plastic containers, and ohhh yes, utensils and spices! For the first time I explored the entire range of home furnishings, a complete leap of faith from my usual stints where my activities were limited to the clothes/snacks/biscuits section. For the first time, I spent five grands (that too, in my second month of being unsalaried) on “useless” things that my ex flatmate loved to buy last year. As I spent my entire weekend unpacking, arranging, scrubbing and cleaning, I looked at it with definite pride and satisfaction last night when finally everything was set up. Of course, the icing on the cake was reading the Jane Austen classic Emma by the window and sipping tea on a Sunday evening in my LIVING ROOM. Note, LIVING ROOM!!!

But yea, I did think of last new year, I did feel lonely, and of course, I did cry. Still, I began 2011 positively, believing that good things will happen to me and thanking god for all the good things that has already happened in the last couple of months, specially the strength and support I have received from my neighbour/ ex colleague/ friend/ philosopher/ guide/adviser, who helped me so much, who set up the kitchen, who shopped for things I had no clue about, who made fun of me , and who stood by me through all the circus I have put myself through in the past few months.

So this new year was all about being responsible, about growing up, and yes, being sober!