April 29, 2011

Lighted out!

Our erstwhile water purifier was a non-RO purifier and it was a long pending item on our list to buy a RO compliant one. (For the uninitiated, RO purifier is one that filters hard water/ borewell water). After much research we decided on “Kent” which is the most popular in Bangalore houses. It has the unique feature of being able to filter both kinds of water-soft and hard. Ok, now before you guys start to think I am a marketing agent for Kent and trying to sell this product to fellow bloggers, let me come to the point.

After some initial confusion about the billing part and a wait of over a week, we got the technician to install the machine. The after-sales service in Bangalore needs some help. Seriously. Anyway, I digress again. So, this technician dismounted our old one, fixed the new one, added and tweaked some fittings, jotted down some things in his book, all this with a precision and speed of a veteran.

I performed the balancing act of supervising him and keeping my curious toddler away from the scene of activity with panache. After the installation, the technician gave me some instructions about throwing away the first set of water before the first use. I asked him some relevant intelligent questions before he signed off. Now, there is a water-level indicator on the side panel of the water purifier. For some reasons, I came to believe that there are supposed to be indicator lights for the “empty” and “full” levels. I even remembered (imagined?) seeing the lights functioning at my friend’s place.

As is the wont with “Murphy’s law”, such doubts or rather revelations arise only AFTER the technician is safely out of your complex. So, after some frantic phone calls to the dealer, who in turn promptly directed me to the local customer service, I put my concerns across to the lady who answered. She heard me through the complaint just to say, “Ma’m, please call tomorrow, as we are closing for the day.”

Well, next day, I made a fresh call and was happy to get my complaint registered without any problem. I was told that the technician would arrive within a day or two. Now, in the meantime, I spoke to my friend (who also happens to own the same model) and updated her of the happenings. She lent a sympathetic ear and agreed to my raves and rants of the sales service. Not a word about the indicator lights, though.

Now, to the climax of the story: The technician arrived the next day and after I told him of the fault, he replied coolly, “ma’m, lekin lights toh hote hi nahin hain!” (There aren’t supposed to be any indicator lights in the first place, madam)
I was like,”$%^?????...(with indignity and apparent embarrassment) lekin, mere friend ke yahan toh lights aate hain??” (But, these lights appear in the machine at my friend’s place.) I mentioned about having seen the lights, remember?

I proceeded to cross-verify on the internet. I could also hide away that way you see.
I left my husband to deal with him. The hapless guy (both of them hapless, in this case) repeated the same thing to him and when he saw that I wasn’t about to come out of my cross-check mode, gave the parting punch line to my husband,

“Main paanch saal se kaam kar raha hoon. Abhi tak aisa model nahin dekha jisme lights ho!”
(I have been working since 5 years and am yet to see a model (means a machine here) with lights.)

I spent the rest of the evening smarting under bruised ego and wondering how come none of the people (ones who took down my complaint) I spoke to over the phone could enlighten me at that point itself? How come even my friend failed to mention the non-existence of the lights (except the ones in my mind)?

Talk about the universe conspiring against you!

April 28, 2011

First Is Best

The firsts in one’s life are always special. They need not have been perfect yet remain in your hearts forever. The first school, first friend (maybe not be necessarily the first but someone who first made you feel special), first house, first crush, first love, first job, the list can go on.

A lot of firsts are etched out in my memory; the foremost and most often thought of and cherished one being that of my first job. In many ways, it could have been better. In many ways, I could have handled it better. Yet in spite of such failings, I cannot deny the fact that my investment in this job reaped me rich dividends in many more ways than one.

My first work place aided as my personality development school of sorts. From a shy, self-doubting person, I became a more confident person who started to believe in her abilities; even developed leadership qualities. It helped that my work commanded respect from my colleagues. While, working with a team felt more like an extension of a college life, pulling each other’s legs, having fun at some jerk’s (there are always some around, aren’t they?) expense, it also taught me the importance of team work where one pitched in for the other without much ado when the occasion demanded. When the working hours extended long after the required time (and it happened quite often when the project was at the nascent stage), it felt like an extended party time. (Yes, it was crazy.)

While all the fun was good, there was serious work done too. With our project being the first of its kind in India, at that time, there was a lot of documentation work (yes that boring stuff), fire-fighting, learning new concepts, revisiting work methods and fine-tuning them, endless discussions and conference calls with clients (tough German clients at that). That, I was preferred over my team mates to work on crucial areas gave me the extra boost to drive myself further; needless to add that it also spoke for my abilities and expertise. I was happy to justify the confidence shown in me by giving it my all.

I was to learn later that mixing your emotions with your career is not a wise thing to do and you might always maintain a love-hate relationship with your job. Some of the valuable corporate lessons that were to remain with me for my future stints in the corporate world:

1. Climbing the ladder is not proportional to the amount and quality of work put in.
2. Less-deserving colleagues may always seem to move up the rung faster than you.
3. Corporate life does not function in all fairness and you will be at some points of time at the receiving end of unfair treatment.
4. Sometimes it takes just one person or moment to destroy the trust with the company.

The utopian attitude and naivety of a fresher almost always clashes violently with the real, harsh and scheming world resulting in either an enlightened and wiser person ready to mould oneself to fit in or to become a cynic who is unable to let go of values like sincerity, honesty, justice and equality and yet desperately tries to fit in.

And so, I ended up with a bitter taste in my mouth unable to digest or accept with grace or surrender to the whys and hows of the corporate world; where ratings are pre-decided and the appraisals orchestrated to somehow highlight the misses more than the hits therein ‘justifying’ the score so to say.

Yet, for all that my first job taught me—positives still outweigh the negatives—I am truly grateful for the experience.

April 25, 2011

Because....

Because I don’t speak,
Doesn’t mean I lack the courage
Because I don’t ask,
Doesn’t mean I don’t understand
Because I don’t cry,
Doesn’t mean I am not hurt
Because I don’t pry,
Doesn’t mean I am not concerned


I have a heart that feels,
I have a mind that thinks,
I am compassionate, so I know,
What can be said is best unsaid
I am just and fair,
But I am not perfect for all I care


I may not be the way you want me to be
Yet I am a soul, pray, don’t ignore me!

April 22, 2011

Goodbye!

How does one say it? The heart is squeezed, voice is choked and eyes are misty. It is perhaps the last time of shared space. Suddenly there seems so much to talk about. So much to share; so much to laugh. You wish for one more year, one more month, one more day, one more moment of togetherness. You look back at the time that has whizzed past, caressing memories fondly, cherishing each laugh, each tear, the despair, the cheer, the harmless digs at one another, the said and the unsaid.

Promises to keep in touch are made. Hugs and best wishes exchanged. Bridges are crossed. Amends are made; forgiveness asked and given. Final moments are dragged on, almost as if waiting for the heavens to reverse it. Familiar hang-outs are revisited and the endless tales recaptured and bound in memory.

There is never an easy way to say goodbye. It is never easy to let go. Yet we say it. Life is about moving on and not stopping still. We are allowed to carry our baggage with us yet it is wise to de-clutter once in a while to take only the fragrance to enrich newer experiences.

April 20, 2011

The Art Of Living

Observing R leaves me wondering where and when did we (grown ups) leave behind the art of living. It is amazing how he or in general toddlers carry on with their day. It is strictly on a day-to-day basis. They do not remember yesterday and they couldn’t care for tomorrow.

Our baggage of past eats well into our today and our today is creased with worry lines of tomorrow. We simply cannot concentrate on today and we do not remember the moments that went by.

Every moment is lived to the fullest. Even the tiniest accomplishment (it is not tiny for them of course) gives him the world of joy. No amount of failure or hurdles puts a spoke in his determination. He is relentless in his pursuit.

How come we never notice, leave alone revel in our small victories? How every step we take needs to be a success; so obsessed we are with whatever definition we have of success we fail to appreciate the little things that matter. Every obstacle we come across translates into our personal failure and a tryst with self-pity.

He goes about playing the same game over and over with no signs of boredom. In fact he sees a new way about it each time. Every day he learns something new.

How easily we tire of the routine and mundane! We have nothing new to add to the routine and the very task wears us down. And learning something new needs a lot of planning.

He laughs so easily. Even after I lose my temper at him during my moments of frustrations, he is easily cheered. No trace of any grudge. Forgiveness comes naturally. It is all forgotten the next moment.

How we struggle to smile our woes away. How minutely we keep track of our hurt moments; forgive we may but forget we don’t.

He eats only when he needs to and sleeps only as much as he needs waking up always refreshed and happy.

Do I need to say about how we go about with our eating and sleeping patterns? I do not remember the last time I woke up feeling refreshed and happy. Always wanted a few more minutes!

We are in a hurry to grow up when young and wish to go back to our childhood when older. We attend art of living courses to learn the very same foundation lessons that came so easily and naturally to us when younger. But are we even letting children live their childhood? The first brush with competition and rat race begins with the school admissions itself. What with tiny 3 and 4 year olds having to prepare for an interview! It is no less than a job interview with interviews scheduled at 3-4 schools before choosing the best one. Or is it the other the way round with the schools choosing their wards? It does not end there. At every stage the child is made to compete with the peers in academics and extra-curricular activities. A is going to skating and karate classes why should B be left behind. In all this, somewhere important lessons are missed and then we wonder years down the line on some blog like this.

April 19, 2011

Band Baaja Bride..

..is the name of a show on NDTV Goodtimes. I have been following the programs on this channel since they launched it three years ago. They have some really good shows that cover a variety of topics -- food, travel, beauty, fashion, pets, fitness, technology, spirituality, to name a few.

The program in question conceptualizes the idea of providing the perfect makeover a bride-to-be ever dreams of. The team dons the garb of Santa Claus in transforming a girl-next-door into no less than a Bollywood diva on her D-day. From perfect make-up to designer outfits, the bride gets it all. “If you are getting married and would like to have a dream makeover, do write in to us and we may contact you” goes the ad campaign for this reality show. Of course there is a teeny weenie disclaimer that says, yes you guess it right, *conditions apply*. The episodes I have watched have generally featured brides-to-be from quite affluent families who can anyway afford expert advice. So there may be something to suggest there.

Nevertheless, BBB makes for an entertaining show. It begins with the introduction of the to-be bride and her family along with their expectations from the makeover. The makeover is usually segmented into three parts- first, ironing out the imperfections in the overall physical appearance of the girl, second, her hair and facial-make-up and lastly her outfit for the occasion. Experts- like Shahnaz Hussain, Samantha Kocchar, Neeta lulla and such other eminent names- are consulted for the relevant segment. For instance, in a particular episode, the woman in question had a prominent gummy smile of which she was extremely conscious of and wished it could be corrected. And voila! The team arranged for a dental surgeon who fixed the problem with a minor surgery that lasted about 30 minutes to give the woman the perfect smile. Another girl who had a problem putting on weight and had eating disorders had counseling sessions with a nutritionist who gave her valuable tips to improve her health. A plump bride aspiring to slim down dramatically just days before the D-day was given a designer lehenga with appropriate silhouette to make her broad frame look slimmer. Yet another anxious bride went through pre-marital counselling sessions to help her prepare herself for the next phase in her life.

While this show definitely raises the bar to look better than your best on your wedding day, it also makes the achieving part seem fairly simple and within your reach. I watch this show for fun but generally wonder if such shows put unwanted pressure on the already-pressurized young girls to achieve the perfect 10 in the looks department. It would prudent to remind impressionable minds that while it is great to have a dream wedding, it does not really matter in the long run. For a dream marriage, it takes a lot of hard work; a perfect body, perfect make-up, hair-do and designer outfits really cannot help you there.

April 16, 2011

What is new with R?

Have I mentioned how much R loves books? We try to equip his mini-library with a variety of books as and when we can. We hardly buy him any toys. Most of the toys he owns are gifts. We, mother and son duo, spend quite some time every day reading his books.

Some conversations between Amma and R

Amma: One,…
R: tu, ti, o, ai, chikch, ett, nine, ten
Amma: A,..
R : Bee, chee, eff, aech, ai,..

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hubby is teaching R numbers in tamil. So, here is R’s attempt at it:

Onni, enni, muni, nani, aani, ….the rest upto number nine is met with silence. As soon as you say ombodu…

R: pattiii….(with a triumphant look)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amma: Plane eppidi pogum? (how does the plane go)
R: da-da-da (he says paeim for plane)
Amma: car eppidi pogum?
R: da-da-da
Amma: Bike/auto (any other vehicle) epidi pogum?
R: da-da-da

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amma: One, two, buckle my…
R: choo
Amma: Three, four shut the…
R: ore
Amma: five, six, pick up the…
R: chikch
Amma: Seven, eight, lay them…
R: chae
Amma: nine, ten, a big fat…
R: hennn…koyda (claps his hands in glee if I do not do so, self-praise already!)

Btw, koyda is his way of saying kozhi which means hen in tamil

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reading a book about sea animals

Amma: (pointing to a fish) idu ennadu? (what is this?)
R: pich (with a broad smile for Amma to appreciate and acknowledge)

Amma claps promptly

Amma: (pointing to a star fish) idu?
R: tar pich (applause by amma)
Amma: how many whales?
R: tu, tee..
Amma: how many fish?
R: tu, tee..

Amma claps nevertheless.

Now R is motivated and brings in more books to show off his knowledge to Amma

R points to a crab and says caab

Picks up random books, points to random things

Taamu (it’s a tomato), naano (it’s a rhino), afff ( Giraffe), kaamu (camel), Kaat (cat),

Ba-boo (dog), kai (car), nana (trying to say yaanai/elephant), goat (he means boat too when he sees one, just doesn’t understand the syllable difference),

Tick-taaf (clock-it goes tick-tick, right. Hence the name derivation)

Amma has no other business but to nod in silence and make appropriate appreciative gestures.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am yet to find a kid that is not fascinated with the cell-phone or any other electronic gadget. But somehow, the mobile takes the cake. R is no exception when it comes to this little wonder piece. He throws a tantrum to lay his hands on it. We do not usually give in to his tantrums, so it is on very rare occasions that he gets to fool around with our mobile phones. When he does manage to steal it, he holds it near his ear and says:

Aaoo,…Paati, tatha, and then rambles on some gibberish which is generally a string of words he has learnt so far.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am trying to put into R some discipline. Ha! What a joke! Toddlers and discipline rarely go together. I know *sigh*. But I can try, right?

He has taken fancy to switching on and off the fan and light switches as well as the T.V and computer. I am not much of a T.V. person but it is really annoying to have a toddler black out the screen with sadistic glee. No amount of cajoling, threat or at time a whack has any sort of effect. Makes you feel non-existent, grrrrrrr. And the comp, well, it just cannot be left unguarded even for a moment. Else, it goes pop! Even the best UPS will not be able to save the system from a constant boot and re-boot.

One thing that makes me beam with pride is when he hands over his milk bottle to me after finishing it off, no matter where I am. He diligently looks for me around the house and hands me over his empty bottle. Hmm, some solace there.

April 7, 2011

Shake off the hangover

The world cup frenzy continues unabated four days after the historic day. Cricket, yet again, has succeeded in igniting the patriotic flame. I cannot deny the pride and happiness that is associated with the victory. It is a matter of great pride and the Indian cricket team must be lauded for its effort and performance. Yet, we, in our obsession for the game, cannot overlook the larger picture. The in-the-face scams and scandals that are making a mockery of democracy and governance cannot be wished away or brushed under the carpet of a world-cup victory.

Time and again cricket matches have been used as crutches to create an “all izz well” atmosphere. During the pre-finals, corrupt leaders, yet again, made cricket a platform for initiating a mock peace campaign between two-warring nations. After being the initiator of series of such campaigns and then being victimized by terror attacks that were executed with even greater vengeance post such peace-making, even a child will catch the joke here. No, we do not want to forget 26/11 ever.

The corrupt government has so much money to bestow on select individuals but none (rather no inclination) for the mass majority of the population. A family affected by a tragedy triggered either by nature or terror gets a compensation that is akin to mercy we show the beggars on the street. Even our war soldiers do not get the god-like status that our cricketers--mind you only cricketers no other sportsman is worthy of such honour--enjoy. Doesn’t it strike any one in the right frame of mind to question such brazen disparity?

A second-highest populated nation is sadly bereft of any hero-like figure that can be idolized. No wonder people take to movies and sports (read cricket) to find their idol. Gifts showered on their heroes are being lauded and lapped up as though it translates into their personal upliftment. A cricket-frenzy and hero-deprived nation is tipsy with celebrations. It is time to wake up and shake off the hangover.

The anti-corruption campaign started by Anna Hazare is a cue that we need to take. It is time we took to streets, just like the Tunisians and Egyptians did to fight against the tyrannical rule. Inspired by Namratha Prabhu’s piece, I am doing my bit by spreading the word. The following lines are verbatim from her article:

The DM2 is a built up towards Anna Hazare’s ‘Fast unto Death’ that is going to commence from April 5th to April 10th, at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. A large number of volunteers have signed up for the fast. What you can do –

• Be it 1 day, 2 days or 5 days, you can fast with Hazare to show your support for the anti-corruption movement.
• If you cannot fast, show your support by being there at the Jantar Mantar.
• If you are not able to go to New Delhi, join the fast at your respective cities
• You can fast at your workplace
• And if none of that is possible, the one thing you can always do is spread the awareness around.

Pass the message on to your friends, relatives and colleagues.

Do your bit for a better country. Together we can make a difference.