Thursday, June 30, 2011

Corporate Cannibalism

It’s just one of those days I guess when I feel positively violated, depressed and useless. The usual “my life is going nowhere”, “my job sucks” or “I should just GIVE.UP” platitudes are here, so beware…

Why did I do my MBA? Why oh why?
Why does this stupid job pay me so much money for nothing?
Why can’t I just go back to Kolkata, be with family, get married and just like, GLOW you know? I keep hearing other girls of my age ‘glowing’ because they are getting married or having kids or generally, because they have some sort of an invisible bulb attached to their face. I want to GLOW too…
Or, why can’t I spend our (me, dad, mom) hard-earned INR money on some one-year ‘prestigious’ programme from LSE or Oxford for the sake of ‘experience’ and then discover that it only provides “placement assistance” and come back to India with a 20-lac loan and no job?

So I finished two years of corporate life and I have strong reasons to believe that I can no longer do this sh** even though it pays me enough and allows me to survive bloody inflation. You can’t do ANYTHING for money. I have nothing against my present company; in fact, I think it’s a very good one and I am very thankful for my job. But, but but, there are some things which are common to ALL companies which just doesn’t agree with me:

a)Why do I have to dress up EVERY.BLOODY.TIME some big shot is coming to visit our department for like, oh 10 MINUTES? It’s not like I have to make a presentation or anything; I just have to stand there, look stupid and smile. And when I forgot, I WAS ASKED TO LEAVE THE ROOM… Hmppphhhhh

b)Why can’t people speak in English during team meetings and deliberately throw esoteric jargon which noone understands? In fact, why do people have to speak AT ALL in meetings? In fact, why HAVE meetings in the first place? They are the single-most efficient way of wasting maximum manhours.

Joke from Mumbai Mirror:
How many managers does it take to change a light bulb?
None because they will just call a meeting and define darkness as the new benchmark.

c)Why is networking more important than working? Why are all the better (note, there is no such thing as ‘good’) projects allocated during informal lunch breaks or smoke breaks?

d)Why are people so fond of name-dropping? How does it matter if your work is for the insignificant Mr. XYZ or the hotshot Mr. PQR if you are doing the same bloody thing anyway?

e)Why do we have to sound intelligent ALL the time (and discuss politics/economics/government shortcomings) even during lunch breaks? Give me a break. Why can’t we just vote and like SHUT UP?

P.S. Nobody loves me, nobody likes me, nobody reads my blog also and nobody comments :( Why am I even alive?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

100% cut-offs to increase sale of contraceptives

One of my best friends (in fact my FIRST friend in Mumbai when both of us came to the city as gawky teenagers and we went to the same college and were roomies for some time, both officially and unofficially and she taught me to forge stuff. Well, I always knew how to forge stuff, but she made it COOL) is having a baby. I mean not right now, but in some time. At bloody 26! So I met her and she seems all cool about it, though we discussed morning sickness, doctors, hospitals, finances most of the time. I was almost about to throw up, but she assumed the proverbial “glow of motherhood” which only made me freak out more.

To make things worse, DU announced cut-offs of 100% for commerce. Now that was like the final nail in the coffin! Although I like kids and get along famously with my little nieces, I have decided that may be kids of MY OWN aren’t the best idea. To begin with, I am quite dumb (which you would know by now if you have been reading my blog for some time) and I am an academic disaster:

I flunked kindergarten
I flunked handwriting in KG
I flunked English in Class I
I flunked music and sewing through Class I-III (though not academic, they did sit ugly on my report card every year)
I flunked Math in Class VI
I flunked Mechanics in Class IX
I flunked Math, Physics and Chemistry in Class XI (which is when I studied ONLY English because other subjects stopped making sense)
I flunked ALL engineering entrance exams and got 64% in Class XII which assured that NO college will touch me with a bargepole which is why I took up the ‘lowly’ B.A. course
I flunked Hindi in First Year
I flunked Excel, Flash, Oracle, Accounts and International Finance in MBA

It’s a wonder I never had to repeat a year.

So except an out-of-the-blue University rank in graduation (because I slogged a lot and other students were partying) and decent scores in management entrance exams (because I slogged a lot and other students were dating), my academic record will give any parent nightmares. In fact, I am grateful that I was born at a time when cut-offs were still manageable at 85%. Not that it made any difference to me, but it still brought down the Arts cut-off to, well, 40%...

But coming back the point, with such poor genes, my kids stand no chance of a decent education. So why bring a genetically disadvantaged child into this ugly world of peer pressure, competition, failure and disappointment? Isn’t it enough that I went through it? Why should I do this to someone so innocent?

Unless, unless, unless the father is someone straight out of The Big Bang Theory! I kind of like Leonard (the sweet, geeky, chashmish seedha-sadha types) but even then the chances of the kid getting his genes are only 50%. What if it gets MY brains and his looks? Or what if it gets MY brains AND my looks? Shudder!

So no kid it is… I can always admire them from a distance, you know like you admire THE Brad Pitt…

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I hate the 'durability' of Durable Goods

I bought a refrigerator yesterday, and not one of the second-hand, minibar kinds which I can leave behind and not look back at. This was a brand new, 235-litre, double-door Videocon (yea, I admit I made a concession here. Not that I have anything against Videocon, but my mom apparently has some unpleasant memories) refrigerator which I simply love. It’s my first white good possession, it’s my first expensive purchase (if you leave out the laptop) and while it has a very grown-up feeling to it, just looking at it scares the hell out of me. It’s tall, it’s dark, it’s brooding and it’s, well, so PERMANENT! It’s almost like a HUSBAND which (who) I cannot get rid of easily/run away from because I have invested so much of my hard-earned money in it.

In my two years of work life, I have always avoided buying stuff which cannot be stuffed into a suitcase (which is why I love clothes and books- they are so easy to carry and yet provide so much happiness). So first we took up a fully-furnished place and then moved to a semi-furnished house (where my angelic flatmate bought the fridge). But when she decided to get married and move out (we still question the logic behind that sometimes), I had the broker provide me with the bare necessities in my new house (which included a dilapidated fridge). However, it finally decided to give away while I was bed-ridden last week, forcing me to buy a new one for myself.

But now, every time I look at it, I get consumed by this feeling of uncertainty which I can only term as FEAR. I know it’s irrational, I know that these days most companies pay for your relocation (just in case my work takes me elsewhere: you know Goa, Nainital, Coorg, Kovalam, or Puri… sigh wishful thinking!), and I know moving within the city is really not that big a deal. So it’s clearly NOT the mobility which bothers me. It’s just the thought of BEING STUCK with it for the next 6-7 years or taking care of it (maintenance, service, compressor check) or being responsible for it because it’s MINE. So imagine how I shall feel when it comes to getting married or having kids (more on it in the next post tomorrow)…

New-found respect for commitment phobia…

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Blog About Why I Should Blog More

Even though my job involves a lot of report writing, making colourful presentations about assets under management, ETFs, Mutual Funds and capital ratios isn’t exactly what I would classify as writing, let alone creative writing! So yes, as I have declared a million times on this blog, I want to be a writer, and not the freelancing stuff that I do now, but real actual writing, which people would pay to read (i.e. imagine if you had to pay to access my blog, will you still do so?) Not that I ever intend to blog for money (I don’t even want to rent out space for ads), but it’s quite a food for thought.

More importantly, would I actually enjoy it if I took it up as a profession? This blog is convenient: I write when I want to or about what I want to. I have absolute freedom over the timing and the content and, as a reader, it’s your prerogative to read it. If you don’t want, go take a hike! I am not going to change my style/language/subject to cater to YOUR preferences. But everything changes if I have to write for money: It has to have a target audience, a theme, a subject in which people are interested in, a timeline before which it will still be relevant, no spelling/grammatical errors and most of all, an editor/boss who would have the right to criticize MY writing and CHANGE what I have written. Also, it would require the discipline to come up with a story about which I am least interested in but the public is (for example, Aishwariya’s pregnancy) in seven minutes AT.ANY.TIME, unlike my blog, where I post something at my leisure (when I am too bored to write about ETFs) about something as random as five things I want to do before I die (why would anybody be interested in that list anyway?)

So what if I quit a well-paying comfortable job to take up writing and then discover to my horror that I hate it? SHUDDER!

So what if what I write for money no longer goes down well with people or they get sick of it?

So what if I am simply not good enough?

And it won’t be the first time it has happened. I tend to lose interest quickly. Take swimming/dancing/economics/finance: each of which I had considered to take up seriously at some point in my life. I show immense passion, before it fizzles out fast (or I finish last in a swimming competition or fail in Accounts/International Finance)...

Hence I have decided, that for the next one month, I am going to write a post EACH day (no off days or weekends or sick leaves), even if I am too tired/too busy/too creatively challenged to ensure discipline/routine to see if it kills the fun out of writing like it does for most things. If it doesn’t, well, then I have passed the test, and irrespective of what all the aptitude/psychometric tests say, I am indeed, born to write!

And oh, please keep reading…I need all the support on this challenging endeavour!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Auto(nomy) Pleazeee!

I used to believe that the public transport system in Mumbai is simply awesome, especially when compared to cities like Pune and Hyderabad (where I have spent enough time to experience the sheer trauma at the very thought of traveling) or even Bangalore (about which my friends have told me horror stories which were strengthened by their decisions to buy cars within a year of staying there). Though I have never needed to use the local trains/buses/cabs on a regular basis in Mumbai (I have ALWAYS stayed close to work. In fact I have refused job offers because it would entail traveling by locals in peak hours), I had reasons to believe that this city was almost as good as Kolkata when it came to commuting.

But apparently things have changed, or may be circumstances have changed. So far, I cherished my long walk back home after work because it gave me the opportunity to get the only exercise of the day, to call my parents, to do my grocery shopping, to listen to music, not to mention take some important decisions- all in that 40 minute walk. However, ever since my ACCIDENT (or the INCIDENT as some readers refer to it) last week, I have been robbed of that luxury as now I can barely struggle to drag myself to the main road. And so began my tryst with the Mumbai autowalas, who, I kid you not, are worse than women when it comes to mood swings and unpredictability. It’s easier to predict the Mumbai monsoons than it is to read an autowala’s mind. They have so many constraints: there should be no traffic, the journey should be longer than 19 minutes but less than 29, you should ONLY go in the direction of THEIR destination, irrespective of YOUR own destination, it should be more than fifty bucks otherwise it’s not worth the effort for them, and the list goes on… it’s longer than the list of requirements in Paris Hilton’s future husband (not that I have access to that list). Again, after a year, I am experiencing the trauma of rejection. I thought I was done with them once ALL the companies in India rejected me last year, but now it’s the turn of the autowalas to do the same. These guys are very similar to beautiful, successful intimidating women: you can look, but you can never ask! So many of them around you and yet, not one of them available!

I have tweaked my work timings to fit in my schedule with that of the autowalas. Apparently, they get really crabby after sunset (like me) which is why I come to work at 8 and leave by 5:30, but still every day, as the evening approaches, I suffer from anxiety disorder…and oh, I carry my emergency overnight bag, just in case NO autowala agrees to take me in (despite my limping state, puppy face, fluttering eyelashes and not to mention the promise of an extra 20 bucks) and I have to crash with my friend and ex-roomie- not that she stays in an auto-friendly zone but at least she stays in a neighbourhood close to where a lot of my rich (read car-owning) colleagues live, and therefore I can get a drop. It reminds me of my anxious days in school when I would go for my dance classes in the evening, all the way praying that she wouldn’t hit me.

It’s 3:30 p.m…. wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lunch Break: The Lunch that Broke Me

Wikipedia defines HELL as a place of suffering during afterlife where the wicked or unrighteous souls are punished. I would like to believe that I am neither ‘wicked’ nor ‘unrighteous’ and yet, I was subjected to hellish treatment this weekend. Well, it was rather a LONG weekend which began on Thursday afternoon, but it was definitely not a pleasant one.

So it was just another Thursday, when I got off the call with my boss and decided to get some lunch. But clearly, life had other plans. So one minute, I am crossing the road, and the next, I find myself flung on the road, my shoes and my skirt torn, and bruises on my ribs, hands and left leg. But wait, the worst is yet to come: my right leg simply refuses to move and there was a swelling the size of the cricket ball just below my knee. I kid you not (if I wanted to exaggerate, I would have said it was as big as a football)…

The culprit was one of those young bikers with flowing hair and a headband, who was also thrown off the bike, but I would never know how badly hurt he was as he gathered himself up and quickly rode away before the crowd could thrash him. Now, I would like to believe that I was the innocent victim, but as fair as I am, I know I am probably not the MOST cautious person while crossing streets. Still, the decent thing would have been to wait and help me, and for the record, I would have never ever pressed charges.

The next couple of hours were a blur, as I was helped by kind strangers who put me into an auto and a very kind friend who took me through the agonizing experience of a trip to the hospital, as I alternated between tears and laughter. I don’t know why I cried so much (physical pain is directly proportional to the feeling of vulnerability) but I do know I laughed because it was kind of fun being pushed around in a wheelchair as I couldn’t help wishing for this luxury every morning when I struggled to get an auto for work. Thankfully, the x-ray didn’t reveal any serious damage, and after a dose of injection and some routine tests I was let off. Since then I have been numbed by extremely strong painkillers, surviving on takeaway food and episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Now who would have thought that Penny would end up sleeping with Raj: even I wouldn’t have done that, despite the mind-numbing painkillers.

If that wasn’t enough, my fridge broke down and flooded my kitchen which meant that I couldn’t even fix myself a quick snack even if I did manage to drag myself till there. Suddenly my 500 sq feet hole of an apartment seemed like a soccer ground.

But the good part of adversity is that it reinforces that there are people who care about you, who rush to your rescue no matter how busy they are, who put up with your histrionics, who brave the rains/broken down autos/sickness/mean bosses to be there for you, to cook for you or simply to scold you over the phone…

So thank you… who know who you are! Kindness never ceases to surprise me…

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Turkey Travails

My blog is NOT a travelogue, but at the same time I am DYING to write a minute-by-minute excruciatingly painful account of my Turkey trip. But most of you have heard/read/stumbled upon history books/articles/tripadvisor comments on the rich history, geography, architecture and culture of Turkey in general and Istanbul in particular. So I shall skip the text book details and instead talk about MY experiences and MY reactions.

So yea, we know how fascinating the Blue Mosque is, or despite being repeatedly savaged and ravaged to cater to the whims of different rulers and different religious sentiments, the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) continues to be an architectural wonder or the striking differences between the regal Dolmabahce Palace and the relatively simpler Topkapi Palace. But some of the interesting questions that came to my mind before I went there were:

Why is the Blue Mosque called blue?
Why do people in Turkey call Hagia Sophia as Ayasofya?
What is the origin of the term Young Turk?
Why is there a stark contrast between the two palaces when both essentially catered to the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire?
What is so freakingly unique about Istanbul anyway?

Well, now I have those answers!

Moving on, what are those little things that I simply LOVED about Turkey?

1.The winery in the underground city in Cappadocia. I mean, in those days people had the heart to prepare wine even while they were hiding in a cramped, claustrophobic hole for months! Talk about spirit and I don’t just mean wine…
2.After all the brouhaha over the unresolved Babri Masjid issue back home, it was refreshing to see the portrait of Jesus alongside the Allah inscriptions on the walls of Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)… religion need not necessarily put one god over another…
3.The bed on which Kemal Ataturk died and the bedside clock still set at 9:05 even today, i.e. the time at which he died…
4.The bloodstained shirt of a nameless soldier from WWI in the Military Museum… that’s the closest I have ever been to a war…
5.The exotic appeal about everything and the lazy elegance with which the city shrugs its shoulders at history…

However, what DIDN’T I like about the trip?

1.How hard is it to learn a little bit of English really, especially if you live in a tourist destination?
2.It’s just unfair that ALL the pretty women in the world should flock within the radius of a city and the way they flaunt their beauty is just pure unacceptable to not-so-fortunate genetically-disadvantaged people like me. And don’t even get me started on the bellydancers. When was the last time they ate? Really?
3.Traveling with parents after eight years, my first trip as an adult with them and well, may be I am too old for that. Can’t wear ‘holiday’ outfits, can’t drink, can’t ogle at exotic men and can’t fulfill dreams of wild affairs with above-mentioned exotic men. Also, posing for innumerable snaps to please your dad only leaves you with innumerable ugly pics. Finally, taking a bath with your mom so robs the fun out of the Turkish Bath, irrespective of how exotic it is…

But it was a trip to remember, a trip to cherish and a trip to go back in time. If only history books came with magic glasses which can take you to where it all happened. Learning becomes so much more interesting then…