Category Archives: My Life

Relation velation

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Last week attended a marriage of a cousin’s daughter.

It all started with a discussion on whether we should go or not. Parents advised us not to, though cousin being from mother’s side, mom was okay if we went. I took a high pedestal and bragged to wify that we will go because the cousin is not well-off, and it’s a girl’s marriage, we should go. Wify snubbed me for the superiority complex and asked to be realistic. If we will go, we will go, don’t talk in terms of poor or rich, it’s all relative.

So we went. It was a working day with ceremony in a distant town, and we wanted to be in time. So we took leave from our office and drove to the place. While on the way, mom called and said no one has gone and we should go straight to the engagement in the afternoon. Bro also called. We were shocked as mom and bro live in same town. Still no one went and they wanted us to go. We talked over phone what do we give. Father advised that we should all pool the monies and give as family and not separately. I somehow don’t understand this funda, but out of respect to father I normally agree. So we wanted to give 500 each to bride and groom, alongwith a gift during engagement. Father said no give only 100 each, and no gift. He gave the argument that there are many marriages in the family, so we should restrain ourselves. We did not like it but we ag reed. The time was 11 am, we reached at 12-30 still the function had not started.  We met all relatives. And we gave 100 to groom and gift to bride. That was our midway solution. Strangely two-three of our relatives gave us lectures on adopting child. The host family never bothered about us earlier, but they started complaining why we did not come earlier and all that.

In the evening a cousin met and started asking obvious question. Which car you drive, what is your designation, your house is rented and all that. I hate it when relatives start asking these mean questions.  Aniways we met many more relatives and exchanged usual questions. Our effort of specially coming out and attending marriage was worth it since we could meet so many relatives.

We were discussing how friendships and relations are gradually becoming weaker, because we do not take the trouble to go to such occasions and revive the memories. BTW wify was right and the host family had really made excellent decoration and food arrangements, which we did not expect. So I stand corrected and agree that richness is relative.

Though somehow I felt awkward as I had expected better welcome and reception from the host, which was ofcourse wrong of me. I did think of myself special, which I am not. They were instead giving more time to their maternal relatives who had helped in making arrangements for marriage, which was justified. But human nature being human nature, knowing very well that I was wrong in expecting anything else, I kept thinking in that direction.

Father who was not in mood of going at all, went because we were going. Brother who also was in two minds did come to attend the ceremonies. So our going did help in this way also.

Relations need maintenance, as do friendships.

Don’t you think so?

Joint Family & Me

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Last weekend, we went to parents at our home town. And as always, mom told a lot of things about my childhood, which I felt like chronicling for myself.

It was a huge house, with our grandparents and families of four brothers including my father, living there. We must have been 40 people in all. So both mom and dad used to work. Mom was a teacher and father a clerk. My maternal grandma took care of me in early days. Those were the days of no-huggies, and homemade cloth nappies were used. So my nani used to take care of all those shitty, literally, things. My paternal grandma was not very keen on doing all that, I was told by mom. Okay, so a year or so after, my nani passed away. Then my mom’s deserted elder sister took care of me and later my younger brother. I had a very weak stomach, and docs advised drinking goat-liver soup. My paternal uncle took that responsibility upon himself. He brought the meat, boiled it and gave the soup to me, and enjoyed the liver himself. Sadly that uncle is no more now. And so is the aunt who had a very unfortunate train accident. May their souls rest in peace. By the way this uncle had a dairy farm, and we used to have milk straight from the udders of buffalows at times, and the butter-milk and fresh butter. Those were really the days.

OKay, so this and other paternal uncle used to teach me to abuse and call names to our parents as fun. I don’t have a real sister but cousins are aplenty. I was taken care of them when no one was around. And I faintly remember one or two older cousins having fun with me also, but those are childhood memories. So these cousins used to play with us, eat with us, and take us for walks.

There was always grandparents rooms, which were always a shelter when I was upset or wanted some alone time. My grand parents, as most are, were really nice people with no pretensions. My grandpa used to smoke hukkah, and once or twice we also enjoyed a smoke or two with him. Grandma used to make savoury sweet dishes and very tasty vegetables. She used to cook on earthen stove and the resulting taste was out of the world.

When a joint family lives together, there are always fights and quarrels, so my father and his brothers and their wives used to have usual fights but we were spared of the temporary animosities. And we could have lunch or dinner anywhere we wanted. My uncle who bought the first TV and fridge in our whole family, allowed us to watch movies and programmes and we used to borrow chilled water bottles and ice-trays from them.

WHen anyone of us fell sick, there were a whole lot of people who took care turn by turn. If our parents had to go out, they were not concerned about where we shall stay. We used to sleep in open verandah in the middle with 10-12 cots lined side by side, and enjoyed the open skies.

But now-a-days, joint families are a rarity. Even we are living separate from parents, as a nuclear family. Don’t know after 1-2 generation, will anyone remember joint family atmosphere or not.

An aside, today happy came to me and very respectfully said- I want to take your blessings for today’s interview. It gladdened my heart a lot, and I got the feeling of an elder brother. Some things even small give you great happiness, maybe happy knows this and therefore allows me to have this happiness. May god bless her.

 

Sister

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In India, we have a festival named Rakshabandhan/Rakhi (literal translation- thread of safety). This is celebrated once every year  by Hindus. On this day, sisters tie a wrist-band on the wrist of their brothers. This wrist-band is called Rakhi in Hindi and the festival is Rakshabandhan. It symbolises the sister’s love for the brother, and the implied meaning is that brothers give silent commitment to protect their sisters from all problems. Well all that and other related stories you can find on wiki and google.

My purpose of writing about this festival is the sad feeling I get on this day as I don’t have a real sister. I have many cousins but real sister is real sister.  I remember my childhood days when I used to wait for my cousins to come and tie this band. But for them, their real brothers were first priority, and we came second. They came when they felt like. On some years, they did not come. For example, if we or our parents had a fight days before this festival, they won’t come. So it was more of a formality rather than a true bond or love. Then I was  dependent on my parents for giving gifts to the cousins, a tradition of the festival. I ended up giving small change or very silly gifts, which made me a laughing stock. Then as if a game, cousins came on rotation on different years. It was all a sham. We were a joint family, so I saw my cousin brothers enjoying the love and affection of their real sisters. I was envious and jealous that I did not have real sister.

That is why maybe I had  this funny habit of making my girl classmates my sisters. In class-5 in one school, Varsha and Vanitha, my class mates were treated as my sisters. In class-8 in another school, Geeta was like a sister to me. Now that I think back, I realise it is the absence of a real sister that made me behave in this silly way.

But I do remember that every year, on this festival, I had a very sad feeling. I used to wait if the cousins will come or not, which cousin will come, what will I give, will they continue doing so all my life and so on. I felt like an emotionally dependent idiot but I could not control my feelings and could not share with anyone also.

This foolishness has come down now but now that I write about it, I think of happy, a present team member as my sister and have told her so also. So my feeling of lacking something in a real sister still continues. Some relations  or their absence maybe tortures you throughout your life.

I know having a sister is not all a bed of roses. In this world a sister means a big responsibility also, but still I miss having a sister, specially on this festival day. I wrote a poem in Hindi today on this feeling. For my Indian readers, here it is

वो कैसी होती होगी, वो क्या एहसास होगा,

बिना शर्तों का मासूम प्यार, अठखेलियो का वो संसार,

ममत्व, अपनत्व , सौहार्द , निस्वार्थ सा मीठा सा आभास,

वो लड़ने-झगड़ने का अनुभव, वो रूठने-मनाने का मज़ा,

कुछ कड़वा, कुछ खट्टा, कभी अज़ीज़, कभी लज़ीज़,

कहीं बचना बचाना, कहीं सजना सजाना, कहीं चुगली लगाना

कभी दोस्त, कभी बेटी, कभी माँ सी

कभी डॉक्टर, कभी नर्स, कभी दुआ सी

ज़िन्दगी जैसी, बंदगी जैसी, फूलो की क्यारी जैसी

प्रेरणा, संवेदना, प्रार्थना, निश्छल संवाद का नाम,

कुछ अजनबी एहसास का नाम,

एक अधूरे रिश्ते की कसक.

एक अलभ्य की ललक.

Idiosyncracies

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I hope I spelled the word right in the subject line.

A colleague whose husband has gone on a tour, had brought the newspaper to office and said- I am getting to read my newspaper in office after so many days, and added- actually my hubby has this habit of taking the paper to loo (I know many such people who do), and after that I don’t feel like reading the newspaper at all. What an insight. I responded by sharing a similar problem of mine, when my wife reads the paper first, she scatters all the pages as if a hurricane has read the paper, and I end up not reading the paper or rearranging all the pages to make it readable first.

All of us have such eccentricities. Another one of mine is related to eating. When wify shares what she is planning to make for breakfast or dinner, then my mind subconsciously goes into eating mode for that dish. And if she suddenly changes the item, I feel cheated and angry. I know, it’s idiotic but that is me for you.

I have another bad habit. If I am sharing a joke or one-liner, and I feel it is being appreciated by listener/s, I end up repeating the line 3-4 times. I pledge almost every time I notice it, not to do it again. But next time, I end up doing it again.

Then you have people wearing rings on all the fingers, or gold chains all around. There are people with OCD habits like washing their hands many times a day, and if you see them washing their hands, it’s a treat or punishment, depending on how you view it. One of my colleagues not only washes his hands 10 times a day, he almost washes the whole tap, sink, slab and what not in the office toilet. Exaggerated a little bit, but he is almost there, and he takes literally 5 minutes for one hand-wash.

One of my ex-bosses has this habit of dialing another number from another phone, while he is speaking to someone on his mobile/landline. Most of the times, the phone gets connected and he does not know what to say to both the persons. And if I am in front of me, he will hand over the phone to me and ask me to carry on the conversation. I don’t know who is the person, why he was called and what to say. How romantic, no!!

Another of my friends who is a heavy drinker, has the habit of drinking while driving. And the first thing he does before taking first sip is, he dips two fingers in the glass and sprinkles three times in the air outside. This he says is offering to Lord Shiva. Strange, right.

Such is life. And it goes on.

 

Management lessons from family function

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Yesterday I attended a family function in the house of an uncle-in-law.

Spending 3 hours there made me wonder at the management skills of the hosts.

Multi-tasking was the first thing I noticed. They were juggling different tasks expertly, without any sign of confusion. Whether it be receiving guests, escorting them to seating place, introducing them to other friends and relatives, seeing them off, taking care of their dinner and the list goes on.

Protocol was the next thing I noticed. Apart from receiving and seeing off guests, they were ensuring that no one goes unattended. It was a bhajan sandhya (an evening of religious songs) and they were taking care that each one gets involved in coming to stage and becoming a part of celebrations, and is not left out from formal ceremonies like arti (prayers).

Cash & logistics Management People were coming at different times. Hostess was receiving gifts/cash from them. The gift packets were taken in lots to a safe, locked place so that in the confusion no one steals anything. Hostess was keeping track of who gave what, as the return gift had to be given accordingly, apart from relation factor.

Time management They ensured that water, cold drinks, snacks are served at right time, and guests are at ease. The dinner was to be ready right on dot, when the programme ends, so that it is not cold. They had to be on the exit door so that no one leaves without dinner. Drums/dhols and cake cutting ceremony started just after the programme ended. Just-in-time, you say!!

Planning All this could not have been possible without pre-planning. They booked the ceremony hall, performers, caterers, tent-house, parking space, personal invites, advance payment and what not.

And mind you, it was all done by non-professionals, not an event management agency. They did all rigmarole- choosing date, time and venue, exploring the market, negotiating the rate, closing the deal, on-ground management, post-event analysis.

And I recalled a function at my home. It was really chaotic. Organising beddings for relatives who came few days in advance, their meals, bus-booking, venue-hunting, cash control, ceremonial purchases, return gifts, band party, dhol/drum, clothing, jewellery, invitation card printing and distribution, personal follow-up. Indian marriages are really a bundle of activities. And in a middle class family like ours, there is no system of having wedding planners. We are foolish enough to do it all ourselves. And in this marriage, I actually forgot to bring the suitcase containing gifts for the bride, and one person had to specially go back from mid-way to bring that.

There are drunken relatives and friends to complicate the things. Then some relatives use the marriage invite to bring back and discuss all pending complaints against you- why you did not come to that marriage, why you did not give this and that, why you cheated us on property, why you left parents to be taken care of by us and blahblah. Then eunuchs mostly come and demand their charges as is the tradition here. In some cases, the last minute differences between families of bride and groom aggravate the tensions.

In some marriages, there is shortage of food, and some people have to make do with whatever is left. That is always a pain, because the host family will never be allowed to forget this shortage by constant reminders in every family function.

Management school, anybody.

 

Wishes & doubts

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Today was a big day at office. Our boss was to appear for an interview to become a board member in the company. We were holding all big decisions and tasks in last week, to give him breathing and preparation time.

Since yesterday evening boss had shouted at me for a job not done, I was in two minds whether to wish him luck before the job is done. I decided against it and waited for the job to be done till today morning, when I got confirmation and I told junior to intimate boss that job has been done, then only I sent the best wishes message. I was thinking of –Company Board will be lucky to have you, but it felt like a message from Board Chief, so I rephrased it- praying that Board is fortunate to have you. For a change boss replied with a thanks message. Normally he is not the acknowledging type.

So we waited and boss came back in forenoon, all smiles. We all were hoping that he gets selected. Though we would have lost a good boss, but company would have gained by his elevation.

In the meanwhile, another junior told me that she thought deeply if to send a message or not, and decided not to send the message. Reason- boss might feel that she is happy with boss’ going away. I was confused so she explained that similar incident had happened in the past and the wished person had taken it badly. To each her own.

Happy asked me if I had sent the wishes, I said yes. But the question itself was puzzling, what did happy want, I send it or not, or was happy brooding over who else, other than happy sent it. Whatever.

Then came my impulsive junior. He started monitoring the interview committee site since morning, though we knew results won’t be out before evening. In between, I met boss 1-2 times and we were pretending all was as usual. Though all of us, especially boss was eagerly awaiting the results.

And how we got to know was also funny. Boss was near our cubicles discussing some office things, surrounded by people, and impulsive junior calls him impatiently and says-please see. We half-guessed that it was the result. Boss saw and went back to room. In hushed murmurs, news spread that boss was not elevated. We were all sad, as we genuinely wanted boss to succeed. But as bad luck would have it. And this impulsive junior was openly cursing himself, for being the harbinger of bad news to boss. Impulse does that to you, right.

And the last image of office I have is boss passing by my seat, with big genuine smile on face. That is GRACE UNDER PRESSURE.

Honesty

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I thought deep on what topic I could write on today and one topic that I am fond of is Honesty.

We used to read in primary classes stories on how honesty is the best policy. We read in Indian scriptures stories of Satyavadi (who speaks truth always) King Harishchandra. How he suffered a lot due to his habit of speaking truth always, and so did his family but in the long run truth won.

Well honesty in my view is much beyond truth, it is being true to yourself. I have this inbuilt hate mechanism for liars-to others and to themselves. I can accept an honest man who takes more money from me by telling the truth or by using his sense of humour, than being cheated. I feel that my marriage has succeeded for 16 years inspite of several ups and downs because we have been honest to each other. In fact the foundation of our marriage was based on honesty as during our courtship days we never lied or misled the other. I was a miser, had family problems, was not very outgoing and was from a small town. My partner also shared her details with me. Inspite of opposition from parents we got married and are living happily together till now.

If I think back, I can see that my closest friends have been those who were always honest with me. My favourite teachers, relatives and acquaintances have been those who were honest.

But there have been some who were not honest with me, and were habitual liars. Most of them got delisted from my favourites soon enough. There was this boy who squeezed his uncle and aunt for money by emotionally blackmailing them and telling lies right, left and centre. I used to adjust to him as uncle was a close friend of father. But I never liked him and still am not very fond of him. One of my ex-bosses did a lot for me by praising me behind my back, getting an award for me and so on. But I have never been able to respect him 100 % as I got to know of his lies and that he was not always honest with me, He dropped name of CEO to motivate me, he told lies quoting seniors to encourage me and put blame on me many a times even when he was guilty. There was this another boss who was all goody-goody but backstabbed me when I needed some help.  Then there have been colleagues and seniors who were two-faced and said one thing but did exactly opposite. Such dishonest people are no longer close to me. Another of my weakness being that I can’t put up fake appearance and liking for dishonest and hypocrite people. Any person can read my face and tell that I am angry or upset. Then there are people whom I love, but if they are not honest to themselves, that irritates me and frustrates me.

I have recently seen a newly married couple on the verge of divorce because they were not honest to each other.

Though I have also felt that at times my honesty puts me in difficult situations but till now I have been able to stick to my principles. When I pass on some gift received from others, I can’t say we bought it for you, wify hates that. Similarly when my ex-boss expects me to do things stealthily and not tell my present boss, I feel uncomfortable. And I told that much to ex-boss, saying he should only share things with me on need-to-know basis, because I can’t lie, and even if I do I get caught.

Honestly I love honesty.

 

Demotivation

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Human mind is strange. I shared in one previous post that I have been assessed and my rank downgraded from excellent (E)  to high (H). I pretended even to myself that I have been able to take it in my stride and am kool and okay with it. I asked the boss about reasons and what I could do to improve myself, but was brushed off politely saying u r good, this happens, will discuss sometime, which I am sure will never come.

Right so things must go on, but reality is not so. Now whenever boss goes away after office time and asks me to sit and wait for some important task, my heart burns. Whenever there is a holiday or weekend and I am asked to do some office work, I feel like reacting but I stop myself. Whenever boss attempts to praise me I get edgy and reply back harshly.  When other colleagues leave at 5-30 and I am expected to work overtime, I feel frustrated. Whenever I am admonished for small lapses of my team, I feel my blood boiling. But non-assertive me, always keeps quite. But internally I know all this is the result of E to H downgrading. I am still not able to digest it well. Though objectively the new boss is well within his rights to assess me as he wishes, but still downgrade is not easy to take.

Another problem I am facing with this boss that demotivates me is that he interacts directly with my reportees, gives them tasks without telling me, monitors those tasks directly, but when something gets delayed, I am expected to take care of this. I am not saying that he can’t interact with the millennials, as HOD he has right to do so. But then if they don’t act or respect me, he is to blame, as boss has given them undue weightage, and they think nothing of me in front of boss. Now they also don’t mind directly interacting with boss, without keeping me in the loop.  I try to act kool, but I don’t like this.

Then there is this ex-boss, who keeps digging holes for the present boss and expects me to help him, which I don’t, as I owe my loyalty to organisation not bosses. Yesterday only he sent some unit press release to boss. Boss called me and asked to mail to media. I edited it and sent some pix of CEO to media. Now this ex-boss calls me and starts giving lecture, why you did not research, why you did not talk to me, why you did not do this and that. I kept silent, he got the message and said take care in future. Same day earlier he called me and asked to arrange a car for a journo. Now he is ex-boss and I have to act with orders of present boss. So I asked how do I do it, he shouted that is your problem. I am literally screwed from both sides. God knows when I will be out of this grinding mill.

But all this frustrates and irritates me no end.

Yes

Confusing Bosses

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This has happened to me many a times and this week this happened with another colleague of mine. He had got some design approved by our boss 2 months ago. The design was approved verbally, so there was no proof as such, but normally that is how it is. On the basis of that approval, the agency made several pages running into hundreds. And suddenly one day this week, the boss while reviewing the final version said she does not like the design. When colleague politely submitted that he had got it approved. Boss did not budge. We were discussing later how such a situation arises many times between boss and junior. I think this must be happening to many of you too. The net result always seems to be cliched-boss is always right. You end up adjusting to this but you do get demotivated.

At times, seniors will thoroughly check the final version and once there is any lapse they will say, I just had a look, you were supposed to check in detail. But if things are smooth, they will run to grab the credit. I do agree that senior/boss is not supposed to check and micro manage but then what is the point of checking. However you can’t say that to their face.

My ex-boss was showing some media queries to CEO. An earlier draft of these replies was shown to CEO by my present boss. In both the cases drafts had been made by me. When boss came back after meeting CEO, he told me-Did you not check the replies thoroughly, CEO wants the replies in a different manner. Here again, boss had checked and edited the replies but I could not say that. Aniways there was no factual error, but CEO wanted some additional figures to be given. I added, boss checked and gave to CEO office and left for the day. My ex-boss who is in CEO office again got some changes done and showed it to CEO. He came out with minor changes and asked- How does CEO know that you made the earlier replies. I was taken aback. I guessed and told- there were some data missing in earlier replies so when boss showed to CEO and CEO pointed out, boss might have   mentioned my name that he erred, to put blame on me. Ex-boss, who is otherwise very anti-present-boss and politicking always suddenly jumped to his side and said- No no, your present boss is not like this, he will not backbite, he might have mentioned in passing. Even I was surprized as at CEO level, bosses can not shirk responsibility by taking junior’s name. So here also boss and ex-boss confused me. I did not pester ex-boss much as to how CEO told my name in what context. Because this ex-boss has this habit of using CEO name to motivate me. After a while when I got to know of his lies, this trick stopped working for me though.

Coming back to present boss, for last 2-3 days, he has been very temperamental. Normally he is very kool and chilled-out. But day before, he shouted at me for a small thing, and repeated the same thing yesterday and today also. And you know I don’t like shouting bosses and people. Let us see if he makes it a habit.

This is the same boss who downgraded my appraisal rating and gave my happy friend (only person in department with whose better rating I was rather happy not hurt, though last time both of us got best and equal rating. ) better rating than me.  Then he asked me to sit till 9 pm to give a reply. How can be bosses so careless and demanding if they don’t think you are best quality material. So I tried to think of many reasons why I was given lower rating and one reason I could think of was boss wanted to empower women, and encourage youngsters. But then boss should expect and ask more from the best performers, specially the monotonous and overtime, late-sitting jobs. Maybe I am at fault somewhere, as I don’t crib and shout as others do. When will I Learn? Moreover, I am now taking extra precaution with my happy friend that she should not feel I am upset because she got better rating. I am not upset with her rating, I am upset with mine, and there is a difference. But as I told her I am careful as I am caring towards her. I don’t want her to think even for a second that I am envious or jealous or angry with her, which I am not. Hope I succeed.