Surprise

And this finally happened!

15 years of waiting, and not knowing if ever.

10 years of not really caring

9 months of not knowing

365 days of surprise

My star, my guiding light

Turned One

Seems a year zipped by and yet each day stands out… Etched deep, for ever changing. 

From this crinkly alien ETesque being who stared constantly to a tubby toothless wonder with a constant beam to this curly mopped delight with the most luminiscent smile and constant curousity.

Life is being lived anew.

Every sense awakened.

Every moment cherished.

Where the mundane monotony becomes a delightful dilema.

Why does the skirt swirl when lifted and dropped?

Why does a chain not roll but a balled up piece of paper does?

Did you know a paper when shaken vigorously creates music or that legs when brought down with gusto again and again and again never tire but want that momentum to continue?

Or that sunlight appears different visually through sheer fabric and becomes glorious when it hits your naked skin?

That water in the mouth caused a gurgling sound or that nails when flicked together create a noise loud enough to waken a babe.

That everything has a touch… A cold bottle of water; the folds of your skin; the curve of the bannister; the graininess of wood; the vinyl texture of a car seat that makes dancing music if rubbed fast enough…. That everything has music. From your pursed lips to a piece of paper to the slapping of tiny legs together.

These 365 days have been a heady narrative of wonders rediscovered and uncovered.

Can’t wait for what the next 365 brings….

Moving On

How apt! The year draws to a close, and I start preparations to move on uprooting myself after 11 bitter-sweet years of trying to grow some semblance of roots.

The adventurer in me welcomes the new, while the escapist shirks the responsibilities the move entails. This time I’m not as footloose and fancy free but the oars are firmly held.

Amidst all the great memories I accumulated during these years what I also have is unshakable dust & visible grime. Moping them off is not as easier as it was a decade back. Age does that. Your sense of things past is sharper than what is or what will be.

A small plaque hangs over the mirror which reads:

\\”To my brother- …..we have weathered all the highs and lows of growing up so close, of normal joys and problems we have always had our share. But in resolving difficulties and sharing moments fond we’ve formed a good relationship and built a lifetime bond..”

And as I troll through my documents to find a photo of the two of us together, I find none. All I have are  remnants of cards exchanged, rakhis tied, books gifted and endless memories of stolen trips, childhood mischief, juvenile fights, teenage confidences, and the hugs. Fills my heart to know I have one person I can always turn to and count on in my deepest despair and priceless happiness. Touchwood.

The cleaning spree continues and I discover a 1952 hardbound edition of One Thousand & One Arabian Nights and several leather bound classics with silverfish happily residing inside. I find a scribbled note to myself in Hugh Prather’s Note to Myself & look at the date of purchase – college but don’t remember what caused the angst?

Tattered, dog-eared copies of Jeeves & Wooster fight with the Blandings Family and Psmith, and just when I think where are all the other colorful Wodehousian characters, there pops out Picadilly Jim and Sally. Ah, life; Perfect life!!!!!!

Underneath the cobwebs I find a chocolate wrapper neatly folded and probably kissed (traces of lipstick) and a thread. Cobwebs from the mind are cleared and long walks down avenued,breezy r0ads spring up. Hand in hand, a stolen glance, a stolen kiss, a smile, a hug – love was in the air. I look around and I find the bill for a kitchen sink (my birthday gift) and I wonder, where is the love?!

A moth-eaten saree that still has the whiff of a wooden stove and I’m back in my grandma’s lap cuddling myself into a ball so I forget my maths homework and dad’s caning. Can’t believe I lost her so young to cancer. For some reason Nostradamus comes to mind and his prediction of plague and the apocalypse. But instead of filling me up with despondency I smile. My precious rock gifted this book when I passed out of seventh. He taught me English & the other assorted combination of subjects late into the night to the bells of Radio Moscow and the hzzzz of Voice of America.

Lucky this time, got this image that captures the three most important people. mater, nanu and my rock. Well thank God for small mercies.

For all  the scars and the grime, Life has been kind.

For all the people I lost, for all the relationships that fell by the wayside there is someone/something new.  Life is good.

So here I’m already and eagerly awaiting the next ADVENTURE.

XXXX and hugs to all those who have come by to read, comment and silently glance at this, my journal. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS.

Adieu and Au revoir!! 

 

 

Cool Dude

When I started this blog in April last year it was an outlet to get rid of the angst as life passed by and I saw myself drifting along aimlessly getting thwacked from shore to shore. I wrote about tips and tricks of not getting caught in the quagmire of corporategiri. I made a few friends along the way and happily as I amble along today I have the opportunity of celebrating the birthday of the coolest dude of them all. He’s been my trainer, my guide, my brick and bat, my sunshine and rain……he’s the coolest dude I know and ever likely to know.

My grandpa.

Nanu

He is what I aim to be in life if I ever get to live so long.

Disciplined

Open minded

Tolerant

Non-interfering

Unconditionally loving

Suave and Polished

Calm

Stoic

He taught me to walk with my head held high

..to bear life’s storms with equanamity

…to believe that all that is will pass, and all that happens is to be..to do my karma to the best I can and leave the fruits to the powers there are

….to love unconditionally

…..to practice the divinity of forgiveness and its healing powers

……..to be true to self

…………to BE

His sayings:

Silence is Golden ( yea helped me walk away from many a scruffs with mum and many a thulpings outside)

A stitch in time saves nine ( I still carry a needle and thread)

A million beatings is an idol made (Explains my goofiness despite all that life tosses my way)

Give all you got and receive what you get, no more no less (explains my huge credit card bill i guess)

Stay healthy – Eat to live – walk and water (reason for my sturdy build methinks)

My Nanu.. Ever-smiling and ever-loving. He has seen two wars, Gandhi and Nehru, participated in the Independence Struggle, was thrown into Bellary Jail, ran away from home when 9 to study in Chennai, ate idlis for 2 annas and watched movies with his friend at Mount Theatre in Chennai for 4 annas.

My Nanu..Always ready to lend an ear but never give a mouthful. He owned more land than we can imagine accumulating over a span of 3 generations; he saw it all acquired by Vallabhai Patel’s Land Ceiling Act; he fended for his family of 5 giving up the little land he owned doling it out to the people who worked for him; stayed a vegetarian all his life though none of us are.

My Nanu…Happy for being loved and loving as if there is no tomorrow. He ends every call no matter who is on the other end of the line with a “God Bless You My Dear”, and a ” I Love You my dear”. Who has learned to use the mobile phone at the ripe young age of 86, god bless him. Who cheerfully bids farewell to his youngest and darlingest grandson as the young man sets out to find his own path on distant shores. Who bids adieu time and again without a complaint or a tear with only a “We are Here for you my boy.”

As I stood waiting for him near the threshold of the temple at 5.30 in the morning (yes, he is the only one for whom I would quit being sleeping beauty for a day) I remembered all the morning walks he would take me on over the years in his efforts to instill discipline in me (sadly unworkable). I remembered all the early morning knocks on my window to wake me up so I could study for my exams, or head to the gym or prep for an important interview. I remembered all the times I would head straight to his room to pour out my frustration at a sad workplace or a bad personal situation. I remembered all the times he took hold of my hand and helped me cross.. a road, yet another challenge, an unexpected hurdle, a broken heart and many a tragedies.

Yet during all these times I have never seen him lose his calm, raise his voice in anger (though my mum tells us otherwise about this saint of a man who was a tyrant once), lose his nerve or his smile.

For my grandpa is a Dude who will find a corner even in a circle (yes mathematically impossible i’m told but with my Dude this is a probability coz anytime he enters a room he finds a corner and promptly plonks himself on it with the nearest reading material available), who will listen to all that you say but pick up the most relevant thread and prod you to open up till you think anew and feel afresh, who helps me look at life’s inanities and its series of comic sketches being played out around me and with me in it.

My nanu.

My umbrella.

My rock.

May he ever shine and never grow old. Amen and hallelujah!!!!!

 

Dawn of a New Decade

Just finished a week long celebration of my birthday. Crossed the 30-mark quite some time back so asked myself what’s in a number as another year passes me by?!!

Now don’t go thinking I was being hedonistic by celebrating my birth a whole week. Of course ’tis a cause to celebrate but my b-day, lucky that I am, ties up with Christmas so Niligris had its cake show and every other bakery worth its name had plum cakes and iced confectionary and Thoms had its house wine as did Fatimas, so there I was tipsy and tight with sugar, spice and every thing nice.

Which state of mind naturally brought me to an introspective plane. As I look towards the new decade and bid goodbye to ten years that flew too soon for me to take stock of what happened or what I have done, I am excited and full of eager anticipation for what the morrow brings.

These years past I lost a few people who mattered and in the process learnt to value those that are still here with me.

I cherish every morning for being blessed to wake up each day and have my moom hug me and give me the morning glass of choco-milk in spite of Bangalore’s biting cold and her hurting bones.  To argue with her endlessly over trivialities but make up the next minute with a hug and a kiss. To have her worry about my health and well-being though I am pretend not to listen and care.

Nanu, God willing, will cross 92 this coming year. My umbrella from all ills continues to enjoy his morning walks and arguments on politics. CID holds him enthralled as does Anthony Bourdain’s voracious appetite. Shudder to imagine the day my umbrella is snatched from me living me without shelter and warmth.

Malty the monkey grows unbridled and unfettered. Happy to be petted even happier to play ever happy with his rubber bone. Eight months and stopped counting now since the threat of him getting kicked out has stopped finally. Yup, my moom stopped with the threats and pampers him more than she does me.

Onkle dahlin still gets me the hot bondas, nippatus, vadas and jalebis not to forget the hot bunroot. French is still something I aspire to learn if maybe disciple myself hard enough someday I may learn to say/write a whole para instead of je t’aime. Je T’aime. Je T’aime.

This decade past I finally made friends with myself . My biggest achievement till now.

I made friends with the most unlikeliest of people and stopped living in regret.

I accept now that for all my stubborn independence I cling on to my frere like an orchid does a tree. Someday I hope to stay on my tree for good, but that day hasn’t come yet.

I accepted that I can love again, and give without getting.

I care without clinging.

I am selfish and can be selfless too.

I have found pals quirky and amusing but ready to stand by and stand with.

Extended my family and found no cause to regret.

Learnt a few skills that will help me earn my wages.

Bought a dwelling which turned into paradise with all the collective memories and memorabilia it has.

Started blogging again thanks to some unswerving support from Rocksta and all of you.

So HAPPY 2011 and MAY the years to come take all of you on adventures worth remembering and bring you joys unbounded.

 

First Impressions

Instead of following the logical order of the Sign-on and surviving the first few months at work, I am stepping back a bit to reflect on First Impressions.

Your Resume.

These days candidates are starved for choice so far as crafting resumes are concerned. Besides websites like about.com, e-resume.net, the resume builder, etc..and jobsites including monster.com and naukri.com, there are even firms that offer specialized resume writing services, for a fee of course. But that’s another post.

You don’t need to spend a few thousands or even a few hundreds to write a good resume. All you need is to set aside some time, do a SWOT analysis and understand what your key skillsets, your saleability and unique features are.

After all, in the job market you are a product that needs to be showcased the best way possible so you get a good buyer.

Crude though this may sound, that is the truth. Unless you plan to be an entrepreneur every jobseeker is on the receiving end.

I will not get into details here since there are plenty of online resources available. But here are a few quick tips to help you spruce up your resume and weed out unwanted blosh.

  • In case of a CV, a curriculum vitae=resume, it is never a good idea to go with “More the merrier.” Do not get into details like the school you passed out from, your undergraduate studies, the color of your eyes, personal stats or your personal interests
  • KISS works best here. Keep it Simple Stupido. No jargon and catch phrases which will make HR tear out their hair in frustration, roll their eyes and reach out for that cumbersome dictionary to swat you with when they meet you..if you get to that stage that is 🙂
  • Remember, a CV for a greenhorn will obviously be different from that of an experienced professional. But the basics remain the same. Highlight your skills, professional experience, relevant educational experience, extra curricular activities and language skills (even if this means you are proficient in English and your native tongue (not using mother tongue here since it would go against my gender neutrality policy 😉 ) and passably conversant in a foreign language)
  • A summary statement works better than stating an objective since there is more room to play around with. You could use the summary statement to underline your winning attributes and what your career goal or professional vision is
  • Keep your format simple without clutter. That means no fancy fonts and formats. Try to minimize usage of Italics.
  • Keep a master template of your CV so you can customize your CV to different jobs that you apply for. So for instance, if you are from the hospitality sector and are looking to move into sales you could draw attention to your sales skills – probably selling bakery products during your college’s annual festival, being F&B manager who had to entice customers to try new items on the menu, etc.
  • Before embarking on customizing your CV it is always a good idea to read the job description and understand the profile and requirements
  • You can use some of the phrases used in the JD as part of your CV. Always make impact words part of your resume. Instead of “a good team player” use “an innovative team player good at adhering to deadlines.” This goes to show that you are not only good when it comes to collaboration but come up with novel strategies and drive the team to deliver before or on the deadline
  • And finally, a spell check pease. After all this hard work you do not want the recruiter cast aside your resume due to dumb spell eror!!

Get some one to proof your resume. A second pair of eyes will probably spot something you missed and even help you Market yourself better

Sadly, while a lot of people do pay attention to the quality of the CV, they do not pay as much attention to the covering letter.

In fact, it seems a covering letter is almost redundant these days. A covering letter does not have to repeat what is there in the CV but it can serve as a teaser to the real stuff. A well written covering letter will have a recruiter want to check out your resume.

A covering letter should not go beyond three paragraphs. It should not be a case history of your career. Just state in a few simple well-chosen words why you have decided to apply for the job and why you think you would be ideal or perfect for the job advertised.

All the best  😀

The Interview

A friend recently walked into the office of a homeopathy chain which plugs its ads in the city’s leading newspaper. She had applied for a job as an assistant manager. Usual process, an emailed resume, acknowledged and shortly thereafter, the all-important call.

So here she was, nearly an hour before the appointed time. The receptionist seemed frazzled with so many candidates clamoring for attention. A huge stack of application forms on the desk.

Chaos reigned.

45 minutes later. Her scheduled time passed by and she was still waiting for her name to be called. Two and a half hours later she was informed that she will have to return later in the evening since they had more candidates than anticipated, and needed to re-arrange the schedule.

Points to note:

  • They took two and a half hours to inform her about the change in schedule
  • The front office was ill-equipped for the deluge; HR was no where in sight
  • She was at the scheduled venue an hour before schedule
  • She actually had the patience to WAIT

I am sure that All of us must have faced an instance like this, whether it was for a job interview, a sales call, or hospital. Whatever be the reason, going ahead presented my friend an opportunity to observe the company and its practices at close quarters.

What did the chaos have to say about the company?

It was unprepared, there was a lack of planning, basic arrangements were not made, HR was completely absent from the scene and the front office was ill-equipped to face the situation.

Brownie points for the friend: She came before time for the appointment

I shall not get into the management angle of this whole scenario. BUT from a job seeker’s perspective enough cannot be said about the importance of being AHEAD of time for an interview.

To illustrate the point further, here is another example. I remember my first job interview at one of the best media houses at that time. The newspaper still has its loyal fan following but its Express lost steam. Anyways, there I was ready to face my first job interview armed with a one-page resume and copies of my educational certificates (Yes, go ahead and laugh, we used to follow this practice then J). It was August and Bangalore was at its climatic best. Non-stop rains and winds that turned any decent umbrella on its head. Auto-drivers were a lot more helpful than now, and one kind gentleman actually found out the address and saw to it that I safely reached the paper’s office.

I was a good deal early and walked in nervously. I was made to sit in the lobby and noticed three other candidates ahead of me. All girls, if you must know. Journalism, it seemed was more popular with the fairer sex.

I had read the advert which asked for someone with good writing and communication skills. Now all I knew about journalism was what I had seen on TV, a Crime Reporter canoodling with the cops and meeting criminal types in dark alleys. And all I knew about the paper was Express represented good journalism. The paper which had advertised the opening was The Financial Express, which till that morning was, in my mind, the business supplement of the main paper.

Imagine my surprise when the girl next to me opened The Financial Express, which I hastily borrowed from her. Hadn’t I arrived early my ignorance would have ensured I never thread the adventure I started on. REMEMBER it is never enough to be ON TIME, but AHEAD of time.

Getting to a job venue ahead of time gives you

  1. The opportunity to pace yourself for the Interview
  2. Observe the company –   its people and practices at close hand
  3. Talk to other candidates, if the opportunity presents, about their perception
  4. Perhaps, you may bump into someone you know who already works for the company
  5. Sometimes you may hear snippets of conversation between people working for the company that may prove invaluable when it comes to decision making time

Also, remember NOT TO:

  1. Turn that lead time you have into a gossiping session with your friend/acquaintance or that candidate
  2. Come sloppily dressed. Even if you are applying to job that is not people facing, DRESS NEAT and SMART. It shows you care.
  3. Have bad breath and bad smelly armpits BUT do not smell like a walking distillery either. That’s what happens when you spray too much of your favourite Deo, after-shave, perfume, get 😉
  4. Speak slang and the watchimdoing phrases like LIKE, YOU KNOW, WHAT, etc
  5. Speak fast like you are in a hurry to catch the next IPL match nor TALK too slow like your interviewer is a retard
  6. SHARE your personal history like the first time you discovered Linda Goodman’s sun-signs. And yes, interviews too can get personal when they start asking your marital status and your weekend activities. Find out why this information is Important and related to the job you have applied for. If you feel it is not relevant, be firm but tactful in letting them know this is personal information you are not comfortable sharing
  7. Act smart and being a wise guy
  8. Inject too much of humor into the proceeding especially if your sense of humor is the toilet variety or the intellectual one
  9. Guffaw with laughter when there is no need of it
  10. Be discourteous, disrespectful and dishonest

ALWAYS..

Take the opportunity during the interview to showcase what you bring to the table. Use examples to show how you dealt with situations. Even if this is your first job, there would be plenty of instances in college or university where you had to be innovative, solve problems, collaborate with peers, handle crisis, raise funds, etc.

Use the interview to understand further what the company expects from your defined role & yourself; Growth prospects; corporate & HR policy

Ask the interview a question or two – possibly about their services or medium-term plans — this will give you a chance to show you have done your research on the company and you genuinely care about being  a part of the team

Keep the pay part of it to the very end. It is always better for the interviewer to ask about your expectations instead of You jumping the gun and talking money. Here again, be firm and reasonable about the package. Bargain but remember you are not in a fish market. Don’t raise a stink.

Have a pleasant demeanour even if it is for a sales opening. Being assertive is better than being offensively aggressive.

If you are unable to agree with the interviewer on a certain point, try to move the conversation to another topic. Else, go with the tried and tested, “I think we can agree to disagree. And I’m sure you have other important points to discuss too” peppered with a smile 😉

And a firm handshake, if the occasion arises

A brief thank you for your time and nice meeting you should suffice unless you have been given a strong positive response which could mean you are saying, “I hope we get to work together”




Why?

Being a working professional or more accurately a career woman for over a decade I realized certain problems faced in the workplace are gender-neutral. Snide remarks, poor appraisals,  sexist comments, subtle negative feedback and downright bitching are just a few of the puddles one has to jump over to climb up or walk out. Though not every organization has the same ilk of people, a vast majority unfortunately turns out a rotten capsicum or two…enough to mottle what was probably your “ideal”  job.

The greatest lesson I imbibed through these years of growth and personal relationships developed in various set ups is the Onus is on YOU – the individual, and not the Entity, your organization.

No matter what change management is brought in place or what Empowerment is provided, unless YOU look within and harness your talents and strengths there can never be any help without that will be strong enough to shield you or Lift you through the quagmire of officegiri.

This blog is an endeavor to share some my experiences and learn from you about best practices to make the workplace more than a stopgap before the next big paymaster comes along.