Saturday, April 10, 2010

one topic. two girls.

I am feeling a little intrusive to write this post, because it discusses people and their choices in life. But this thought isn't going away from my mind. So, I might as well spill it up here. The topic is career. In past few days, I came across two girls who have made me think. So, let me go ahead and do the dirty job.

Girl One

It's Sania Mirza. Well, don't fret, yet. Enough has been written, read, heard, and seen about her during the past week. No, I am not going to talk about her wedding, though in a way I am going to. I am only thinking of her career. Experts and critics have already written her off. Is there any tennis left in Sania? That's a question only Sania can answer. Whether she will be successful in the future or not, she at least ought to be trying and doing her bit for her game, and for her career. I see that missing. She has been doing everything else, but anything to do with tennis.

True, she's injured right now and out of the game, but one can't help but feel Sania is far too away from tennis circuit and not likely to return. If you ask me, her marriage could have waited. But then, it is her decision. But even before all this drama happened, Sania was much of a glam icon than a sports icon. We can blame media for giving her extra irrelevant attention and that it spoiled her. But when I do that, I can't help but think of other icons who get media attention as much Sania gets. Take Bollywood girls for example. Don't they live in 24x7 media attention? But look at the focus they have. Looks like Chopras and Basus and Kaifs make better poster girls for a career woman.

Today, all of us focus so much on our careers. And Sania isn't just another girl, she is the one who has made it in tennis when there were few people (specially women)playing it in India, she represents minorities. We all wanted her to make it big. We cheered even when she lost to a Maria Sharapova or a Serena Williams in the first round. It would have been nice if she came across as more focused about her career. Sania loses the opportunity to inspire others.

But then, yes, it's her life and she has freedom to live it the way she wants to.

Girl Two

I met this girl a few days back. As that was our first meeting there was a round of hi-hello-what-is-your-name-what-do-you-do. This girl said she is preparing for the Civil Services exams. And that interested me, because there are so few people these days who try to get government jobs. Thanks to IT, private jobs are in fashion now. So, I struck a conversation with (rather quizzed) the girl. I asked her why she wants a Civil Services job, and the answer was interesting. She said it's the only job that has 3 Ps - power, pay, and prestige. Though I am very fascinated with that answer, it brought one question to me. What is it that I want out of a job? All of us just want one thing out if it - money. Most of us want job satisfaction too. Some of us want our work to make difference to people. Some want fame. Some of us might want few other things. But power and prestige? I hadn't thought of those terms being associated with job, blame it on my limited thinking. She also said it has been her dream since she was in second standard to get into Civil Services (read: she is very passionate about it). Very mature kid she must have been, I don't think I even had brains when I was in second standard. She asked me if I wanted to a technical writer when I was in second standard. Sure, I didn't, but then, I didn't want to be anything when I was in second standard. Now that I have become a technical writer, I like it. It doesn't mean I am not passionate about my job just because I didn't want to be a technical writer when I was in second standard.

Getting back to the girl and her Civil Services dream, she also said Civil Services officials are most respected. They have the ultimate power. That even if a CEO of a big corporate goes to a village they will not respect him, but they do respect a 'Collector'. This sounds a little off for me. May be because I like entrepreneurs and think it is great to be one. Villagers might respect the Collector, but it isn't the person they are respecting, it's the post. Also, villagers would not respect a CEO because they would be ignorant about him. Just like they wouldn't recognise Tom Cruise.

She said she has been trying to clear the exams since last 3 years. And, that's all she has been doing for the past 3 years. She holds a Bachelors degree in Engineering, but she does not work, because she is pursuing her Civil Services dream. Now, that worries me. I am aware that preparation for Civil Services exams take a lot out of you, but spending a whole year just to prepare for an exam seems like luxury. I recently read an article about the difference between being passionate and being stubborn. I wonder which one this girl is. In my opinion, she could have done at least something till she got into her dream job. Be it a small time job, a voluntary service, or pursuing a hobby.. just anything.

I asked her what she would do if she doesn't get the Civil Services job. She is so sure that she will get it, she hasn't thought about what she would do if she doesn't get it. She said she has 4 more attempts left, and she'll keep trying for next 4 years. Sounds like a plan. But, if I do a little negative thinking, if she doesn't get into Civil Services, she would have wasted 7 years of her life. Seven prime years of her life, years of her youth, her most productive years where she should be doing a lot with her career. But then, she seems to be very positive person, unlike me.

When I further pressed the unpleasant question, she said she would try and turn one of her interests into her profession - photography, writing, or something. I thought the girl was naive and dreamy. To add a bit more information here, she hasn't done anything serious to pursue her interests too. She has time now, she could have done a course or a degree in one of those areas. To add to my pessimist image, I asked her if she knows that it's very difficult to turn hobbies into professions.

I think I am a little concerned and worried about this young girl. Of course, 3 Ps sound good and positively she'll get to them, but 'what if?'

~*~*~

Questions remain in me - Why do we work? What do we want out of our jobs? How much should we do for our career? Isn't every job respectful? Isn't every job worth doing it? And worth doing well?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

a relationship story

Ah, well. Here is a story about much cliched, ever preached, and never practiced term - customer service.
I relocated to Hyderabad a month ago, from Bangalore. I had an Airtel postpaid mobile in Bangalore, and was quite happy with it. So, when I was preparing to shift, I thought I would continue with Airtel in Hyderabad as well. So, like a loyal customer that I was supposed to be, I called up Airtel customer care (another cliched term, who cares anyway?) and was soon talking to Anjali. I told Anjali the whole story and she listened to me as if she is my best friend. I wanted to know if they have any process where a customer gets transferred from a state to another, with least amount of effort required from the customer. Anjali thought for few seconds and then politely told me that they don't have anything like that, and that I will have to get a new connection in Hyderabad like anyone else. She, in other words, told me that me being loyal to Airtel for 4.5 yrs didn't at all matter and didn't gain me any mileage with them. Fair enough, I said, and dropped the call.
Cut to Hyderabad. Picture a train reaching a station, and the screen filled with 'Hyderabad Railway Station' board. Sorry, I am poor, and I work for a poor company, so you can't afford to picture a flight taking off and landing. Let's call it the austerity drive, sounds much elite that way. Well, let's get back to our story. I held on to my Airtel mobile connection, as if it was my last piece of memento from Bangalore, I loved Bangalore, after all. In the meantime, I also felt quite generous towards this Mittal guy and donated some extra bucks to him. Roaming charges, you might want to call it, if you are tech-savvy.
Finally when I got the address proof letter, that precious piece of paper which stated that I am not homeless in Hyderabad, I went to Airtel *Relationship Center*. Because you know, they don't give mobile connections to the homeless. You rather be a terrorist than being a homeless, because somehow terrorists always get mobile connections. Let's get back to the *Relationship Center*. I was greeted warmly by Imran there, he sure had a nice smile. I repeated the whole story that I had told few days back to Anjali. He too thought for few seconds and gave the same answer that Anjali had given me. He told that I can raise a request for canceling my Airtel Bangalore connection and get a new postpaid connection. I told him about my plans of getting a broadband connection. He took down my phone number and promised to put me across to their executive.
Murali called me the next day, Imran hadn't forgotten to pass on my number to their executive, Murali. He said he was the broadband guy, and was rearing to cater to my broadband needs. I was much happy, things are rolling on, I thought. Murali asked me where I lived, and I told him. He thought for few seconds, and told me in sad tone that they didn't have *feasibility* to provide broadband connection in my area. That made it sound like I am living in the dirtiest slum in Hyderabad, though Murali was kind enough to try and reduce the effect to minimum. I also appreciated the usage of word feasibility; that was corporate stuff, and you got to agree with those who use jargon.
I was back to ground zero, without mobile connection and broadband, left just with an address proof letter. I had to do something about it, now that I had stopped feeling generous towards that Mittal guy. After few clicks on the computer and few steps out in the Hills, I was standing in front of a Tata Indicom store. I held on to my address proof letter, and got in. Soon, I found myself sitting across Fareed. He was more scared than I was, not of me, but of his boss and of his deadly deadlines. He was nice to me, and within minutes I was carrying speed! Photon+ was the solution to my broadband problem. Sensing a bigger prey, Fareed asked me if I needed a mobile connection too. That was the test of my Airtel loyalty. To reel me in, Fareed shoved a piece of paper in my hand, I had one glance on it and I knew it was time to call it quits with my long-time friend, that Mittal guy. This Tata guy was asking less of my money to give me a mobile connection than the Mittal guy ever asked, Tata Indicom tariff plans were awesome! Fareed was kind enough to come to my house the next day and give me the postpaid connection. Not that he was great at serving his customers; he was bothered about his target achievements, and didn't want to let me go at any cost.
I went straight to Airtel *Relationship* Center after Fareed left, and raised a cancellation request. Imran flashed the same warm smile, and saved embarrassment to both of us by not asking why I wasn't taking a new connection with them.
There I was, with a Tata Indicom phone in my hand and speed in my computer. Happy ending? Not yet. Poornima called me the next morning. She introduced herself as Relationship Executive from Airtel. I was about to say that I didn't need any relationship advice, but she didn't give me any chance to speak. She demanded to know why I cancelled my Airtel connection. I told her that I relocated from Bangalore and wasn't rich as Mittal to keep a roaming connection forever. She said she is offering me a 'relocation package' where I get to keep last 5 digits of my Airtel Bangalore number and only first 5 digits would change, and she could send an executive right away to give me the connection. Just imagine, a relocation package, man!! She also told me that I was their valued customer and they didn't want to lose me. Just the stuff I wanted to hear. Sad it was that I wasn't destined to be loyal Airtel customer any longer, and sad it was that Poornima was just a bit late. I just laughed a sad laugh and said bye to Poornima.
So sad was I that I had to disappoint Poornima, I kept thinking about the whole thing for quite sometime. I was just thinking, why Anjali and Imran didn't know about this relocation package and only Poornima knew about it? Either it is their top secret or only Poornima works sincerely for Airtel. Funny it is, how the retention process starts only after the customer puts up a cancellation request. It is commonsense that a normal sane human being can't live without a mobile phone and they would get another connection before canceling an existing connection. Why don't they - Poornima and Anjali and Imran and Mittal - think about it? Isn't this a flaw in the process? Why can't they equip their Anjalis and Imrans with the knowledge of all the packages they have?
All said and done, I don't think Mittal will miss me much.
~~~
ps: Some names have been changed. No, not for protecting their privacy, I am not that nice to them. Just that I have bad memory.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

people

Photographing people has been a fairly recent thing. I am trying my hands at it, and liking it too. Here are few clicks.

If I were to caption this picture, I'd call it 'thinking woman'. I like the intensity in the girl's face. I feel the picture portrays strength, courage, and intellect. I wish I could avoid the noise in the background and the foreground.

I like the curious eyes, and the messy hair. But for my disappointment, the mother of the kid found out soon that I was clicking pictures of her daughter, and promptly dressed up the kid, burying all the charm under talcum powder and neat hair.

Yes, the guy is a looker. He's the only one who manages to look cute and handsome at the same time.

I like the dreamy eyes, specially when I know that this girl, daughter of Srilankan refugee parents, dreams of becoming a doctor. Hope her dreams come true.

This is when I learnt to take black-n-white pictures in my camera. Nemo is a real sweet kid.

ps: all these pictures are taken from real far and none of the subjects were aware that they were being clicked.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

.. poem lovely as a tree

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.


These are the opening lines of famous poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer. Looks like my camera has a taken a leaf out of Kilmer's book; it loves trees these days.

This one has been my fav picture for past few months; I like the silhouette effect.

I think that I shall never see
a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.

- Ogden Nash

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.
- Willa Cather

Actually I was trying to capture flowers this spring. But some bare trees got my attention; they were not conforming to the season at all.. they looked so good though.

Kilmer's right, only God can make trees.

As the poet said, 'Only God can make a tree' -- probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.
-Woody Allen

* * * *
While you are at it, check out Trees for Free.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

moments with a good friend

And the good friend is my camera. I am spending a lot more time with my cam these days, and enjoying it. I don't know if I am getting better at photography, but who cares! One of my dear friends keeps telling me that I am very good at it, and I am not bribing her to say so.

Here are few pictures that I have clicked recently. I like coming up with captions for my pictures.


Rays of hope


Looking back before looking ahead


The sky is the limit


I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.



Innocence sparkles too!


Studious sage


Life


Melancholic monk

*~*~*
This is my attempt to get back to blogging. Hopefully, I will succeed.

Monday, February 04, 2008

random notes of a morning

# A very bad and scary dream wakes me up early.
# RJ Vasanthi Hariprakash isn't doing morning show anymore.
# Trees chopped at CMH road for Metro work. A sad sight.

Take heart, shri.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

the kite runner

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is the most heart-wrenching, appealing tale I have read in recent times.

It has mixed emotions in it, in every sense. It has the innocence of childhood, real sorrows of the world, there are relationships, a lots of them, strong ones and weak ones.

I liked the vivid imagery it pictures about the happy-life at Kabul pre-Taliban. I could get the picture more clearly as I have lived in Iran, and those Persian phrases which pop-up in the book were familiar because of the Persian I had learnt back in Iran.

This book has some amazing twists in the story. And they are handled wonderfully well. It also has strong characterizations, even the smallest of character is shaped well, they sure are going to live in your head for long time even after you put down the book.

Well, it's a sad book. Because world isn't fair to all people.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

toastmasters speech - 4

I did my fourth speech at Toastmasters club last Sunday. Speech objectives and guidelines for this speech is titled 'working with words', which means the speech should use good, simple, easy-to-follow language; it should also use literary devices like similes, metaphors, alliterations, and dyads and triads.

Keeping all this in mind, writing this speech is quite tough, specially for me as I am a technical writer; I am always expected to write in simple language and avoid flowery words.

So, I came up with this over-the-top and exaggerated type of subject for this speech, which gave me scope to achieve the speech objectives. In my speech I tell my audience how I fail to come up with a speech.

* * * *

1, 2, 3... Full stop!

It was a nightmarish nightmare. It was like desiring to see John Abraham in your dreams and dreadingly getting Shakti Kapoor instead. It was like finding a desert all of a sudden amidst western ghat's evergreen rain forests. It was like getting to know that there won’t be masala dosas served in Bangalore’s darshini outlets anymore.

I was dejected, disgusted, and devastated. I had fallen short and failed, no matter how fervently I tried. The news gave me bigger shock than the one Rahul Dravid would’ve got when he got to know that he was dropped from the one-day series against Pakistan! No matter how hard I tried to hide the fact, it kept popping up in my mind… just like Amitabh Bachchan’s ads pop-up in every other TV channel no matter how hard and quick you press buttons of your remote control.

Toastmasters, the fact is... I am... a 3-speech toastmaster. I couldn't come up with one more speech! I just couldn't write a speech no matter how hard I tried! It looked like I could anything else... I could look as good as Deepika Padukone; I could make more news than Rakhi Sawant; I could even grow taller than Husna Ayesha[1], but... I couldn’t come up with one more speech! I was, I am, and I will be a 3-speech toastmaster! I could even bear a 21-day fast, but not this tormenting truth!

It was tough to take terms with the truth! All the fun and frolic in my life faded away. The otherwise-evergreen factors in my life - enjoyment, excitement, entertainment – their existence evaporated. Whenever I went, whatever I did... this fact that I'm a 3-speech toastmaster hit me on my face all the time, like Himesh Reshammiya's voice. I started feeling more miserable than 'Sanjay Saawariya Bhansali'! I no longer could enjoy pan-fried noodles at mainland china – the tempting tasty thing I love more than my life.

Even coffee didn't give any kick! My days were as miserable as days in office when the vending machine was out-of-order! Roar of a tiger I heard at midnight during a trek didn’t interest me either, it only indicated that even an animal could get more vocal than me. In the menu cards of restaurants I kept searching for words to use in my speech. Even a movie at gloriously grand gold class didn’t bring down my grimace.

Well, you might want to know what I did to overcome this problem. Ask me what not I did! At times I took a crystal clean white sheet, wrote the title of my speech on top... underlined it, made a flowery box around it, overwrote it using another color pen... and I wrote the lyrics of ‘dard-e-disco’ underneath!

Some times I would come up with a great opening, write it enthusiastically... but then my mind would go as blank as Rani Mukerji's world in the movie Black. It felt like Sehwag, hitting fours and sixes in the first over, and then getting out cheaply at gully in the second!

Someone once told me ‘you can get a speech topic everywhere, even in a casual conversation with your friends’. So, I started watching for words when my friends spoke to me. Soon my friends started avoiding me; they said I was worse than an irritating LIC agent!

I searched for ideas in every nook and corner of my world. I started looking for one-liners and anecdotes in the hoardings instead of enjoying a Milind Soman or a Kunal Kapoor picture! I suspected my own sanity when I realized that I was looking for vocabulary even in a Shahrukh Khan interview in TV! Newspapers, magazines, movies, and even Ekta Kapoor serials... I desperately searched everywhere for inspiration... in vain!

Friends, I have to live rest of my life with this fact that I'm a 3-speech toastmaster, just like Salman Khan and Vivek Oberoi live with an Aishwarya Rai... sorry, Bachchan dump. They say ‘failure is the stepping stone for success’. But for me, this failure is like an elevator stuck midway while I’m in it. I can only take heart to say that this horrendous truth is a humbling experience. On the face of this earth, I am going to remain a 3-speech toastmaster.

* * * *
[1] Husna Ayesha is a tall girl among the audience.

* * * *

Speech was very well received. People appreciated the references and examples I used from the world of cinema, cricket, and food.

My mentor had warned me that this speech doesn't have a 'message' or a 'take-home value', but I argued with him saying I want the speech to be fully entertaining, not preachy at all. My friend Smitha rightly points out that 'message of this speech is that every speech need not have a message'. And I so agree with her :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

gifts

ScienceWoman has promised that she will send a gift for me. I'm pretty fascinated about this; with the idea that someone I haven't even met is going to send a gift for me all the way from the US.

You can get a gift too. here's is how:

Within 3 months, I will send a tangible, physical gift to each of the first five people to comment here. The catch? Each person must make the same offer on her/his blog.
I feel this is very interesting chain. Hope you find it interesting too.