Thursday, February 21, 2013

Complicating simplicity!

“Please don’t take this the wrong way Anu ...” he started. Anu’s eyelids fluttered as she looked up at him. Anybody who started a statement this way was definitely not planning on saying something nice.

“What is it Rahul?” she asked.
“Hmm ... I ... actually the thing is, I have been wanting to tell you this for a long time but ...”

Anu discreetly bent her head close to her shoulder and sniffed. Then she took a deep breath and tried it again. The Dove rub-on deodorant was doing its job well. So it wasn’t that. Well then, what could it be?

“What?” she said, glancing in his direction as she steadied yet another book on the shelf. She had been doing this for about twenty minutes now scooting on the floor as Rahul handed her the books and the activity was starting to tire her out.

“You’re making me nervous” she continued, as she stifled a yawn and put out her hand to Rahul for the next set of books. “Since when have you been hesitant about saying what’s on your mind?”

“OK!” Rahul started, putting out his hand to shush her. “Let me just say it. Don’t make me to be a flirt. I am not. I just wanted to say that had I not been married ...” he paused, waiting to see if she was looking around for something to beat him up with. She was waiting. Expectant.

“If I wasn’t married and if you weren’t married then I would have ...”. She raised an eyebrow. Well, he had already said this much. Might as well finish the rest as the harm was already done. “ ... proposed you.” He finished with a sheepish grin.

Silence ensued.
“Is everything OK between you and Palakh?” she enquired, obviously confused by this revelation.
“Oh yes, seriously Anu. Everything is absolutely fine. I love Palakh a lot and I know she reciprocates my feelings too.”
“So does Vinod and so do I. We are a happily married couple Rahul.” she countered.

This was so going in the wrong direction. Looking at her he couldn’t discern if she was angry or just plain upset with him. Time to clear the air.

“Relax Anu. Look. I just meant it as a compliment.”
“That’s a weird way of complimenting someone. Its not very flattering, you know? What would people think?”

He rolled his eyes at the thought of other people knowing. He should have just kept his mouth shut. Whoever came up with the phrase ‘Speak what’s on your mind’ had definitely not been talking to a woman when he had coined that.

“Why would people know? Why do they have to know? I gave you a compliment. In private.” he reasoned.
“And what if Palakh or Vinod found out?” she asked.
“Anu stop. Stop. It was an innocent statement. All it meant was that you are a very nice person. Any guy would be crazy about you and lucky to marry you. That’s all it meant.” He paused before continuing. “Don’t make it a bigger deal than it already is.” Now the whole conversation was starting to get on his nerves. Whatever had possessed him to blurt it out like this. He mentally slapped himself twenty times as he looked at her, wondering what she would say next. What had been stated so innocently was being perceived in a sense that showed him as a voyeur. Jeez. What would Palakh think of him.

“You know what? Forget it. Forget I ever said that.” he said, shaking his head as he nervously shifted on his foot. He needed to clear his head and get some fresh air.
“What do you mean? How can you simply forget something like that?” she asked with an irritated tone.
“Drop it.” he said in a menacing tone, indicating end of topic.
“Besides, this would mean, I am not nice anymore. Because, you said it was a compliment because of me being a nice person. So now if I were to forget it, I am not nice anymore? Is that what you’re trying to say?”

Women! Shrieked the voice in Rahul’s head. He combed his hair with his fingers, mentally ramming them around his own throat in an attempt to choke himself. Looking at a silent Anu he wondered what was going on in her mind. She was probably scheming to get the neighbourhood aunties descend on his residence with rolling pins and pans and whatever heavy they could lay their hands on. Rahul decided to make a run for it while he had the time and opportunity. But then Anu stood up. And as she stood, she turned and looked at him, a strange undecipherable expression on her face. And then she smiled, a demure smile.

“I would have said Yes.”

I would love to hear your views!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Go Clean! Go Green!

When we started off with the 7X7X7X7 writing prompt a couple of weeks back, it fast grew into an idea that we could have different prompts every Friday (or alternate maybe!) and write to those! This week's prompt is from Dagny Sol, who posts at Serenely Rapt. The prompt goes like this: Step outside and click a picture. Come back inside and click a picture. Write a post connecting the two. And here's my post for the week! I would love to have you join in! If you like the prompt and want to do a post, leave a comment on Dagny's post with your link!

As part of the site induction on the first day of work, walking around and getting a feel of the place and people, I also came face to face with this huge expansive greenhouse facility. At that point of time, it didn't leave a lasting impression because I had seen quite a few of them before.

Greenhouse setup outside Fulton Hogan premises, Melbourne, Australia.
A greenhouse set-up
A couple of days into work, wanting to throw a cereal bar wrapper into the trash, I spent almost 3 minutes searching high and low for the trashcan around my desk. When I couldn't find one, I assumed that maybe no one sat at this desk before so it didn't have one yet and someone might put one there in good time. And then I scoured my neighbouring desks for trashcans under the tables, but all my efforts were in vain. There simply weren't any. Instead what I found out was, there are these little cardboard kind of drop boxes (it doesn't seem to be just plain cardboard) aptly termed ‘landfill’ boxes which have been placed at every desk. Usually with professional settings, except for printouts which one might have to discard or shred, the only other common items of trash are stuff like candy wrappers, gum, Styrofoam coffee cups and some other odds and ends which hardly fill up the trashcan in a day and yet have to be emptied out every evening along with the plastic trash bag. The thought behind the ‘landfill’ boxes (the coffee cup in there should give you an idea of size) is to avoid the plastic trash bags from generating more landfill! So every evening or based on how they fill up, we simply empty out these ‘landfill’ boxes into the big bins placed every few feet around the office. Of course, there are landfill box sized plastic bags available for those who need them, but then those sort of defeat the purpose.

Tiny landfill boxes used as trashcans at Fulton Hogan, Melbourne, AustraliaOrganizations in most developing and developed nations today are gearing up to be more environmental friendly. As part of the Go Green initiative, I know that Patni (now iGate), the Indian IT company I used to work for previously does something that I found very impressive. Instead of sending seasons greeting cards to its clients on New Year’s, it gets a sapling planted in the name of every client through an unaffiliated organization which works for the betterment of nature and then sends the certificate on to the client. Saving on paper cards and planting saplings for every potential card is essentially a double benefit right there! Environment friendly causes have also found a rightful place in the list of responsibilities taken up by organizations – even if they do not officially qualify as CSR activities.

I remember an incident when, on a regular weekday, I had stepped out with my dear friends Manjiree and Anand, for some chaat and conversations. Armed with plates of fast food, we were immersed in our tales when a car slowed to a park about 6-8 feet away. Inside sat three people – we assumed them to be the mother, father and a daughter in her 20s maybe. They looked to be from a regular middle class well to do family, decently educated and well groomed. Having finished their own chaat, the daughter who was seated in the back seat coolly proceeded to toss her paper dish out the window right onto the street, even though there were numerous trash bins in plain view every few feet. Needless to say, we started ‘talking’ about ‘such people’ and their ‘uneducated behaviour’ in loud voices, loud enough so our words would carry. I probably wouldn't have had the guts to call out someone in that way all by myself, considering the apparent decline in tolerance levels. People have been shot for doing less!

But I had my close pals by my side; friends who were even more passionate than I was if not equally, friends who I might not be in touch with every day but when we come together, it’s like we’re still back in school, friends who I owe so much and more to! The strength in numbers infused courage in me to give my thoughts a voice. The car of course, started off and moved away. But then it stopped and much to our surprise, backed up. We looked on. The daughter got out, walked over (we were hush quiet, I don’t remember what was going on in my mind then!) and picked up the tossed garbage and threw it in the bin. She then gave us a nice smile and graciously walked back to the car, collected her parents’ paper dishes, threw them as well in the trash and then they left. For a minute there, we were silent, awestruck. And then we applauded the woman’s reaction for having done what she did. It takes courage to even admit that you were wrong, much less go back and correct it. Not everyone does it! People often laugh, mercilessly taunt, some even toss more garbage in retaliation just to show you they can do that and get away with it!

Organizations all around are warming up to the idea of doing their bit for the planet and encouraging their employees to do the same. It’s time individuals played their part too! It isn’t enough that we keep our homes clean if we end up dumping garbage on the streets! Much as this might sound like a civics lesson, it’s up to each one of us to leave behind a clean and green planet. Leave your mark on earth; just don’t leave much of a carbon footprint. 
I would love to hear your views!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Remembering first days at work

So there I was, sitting across the table from a young, tomboyish, enthusiastic woman who reminded me of a gung-ho farmer’s wife, like the ones I had seen in New Zealand. The man sitting next to me was tall, really tall. When he walked me into the office, I almost felt like Lilliput next to Gulliver. Well, that’s exaggerating it, but you get the point. It was the first time in my life that I was wearing a blazer. Unless you count the two times in 11th standard and in college when I wore it. Both times were for the “Western Day” or something of that sort. The blazer made me feel nice, more confident and smart than I probably was. So anyway, regardless of my exterior appearance, I actually had knots in my stomach. Understandably so, because it was the first time in over a decade that I was appearing for an interview in person. Later that evening when my husband asked me how it went, I had no clue how it had “really” been. Because I had no basis to compare it to!! Having been inducted into a software firm straight out of college and having had no obvious concerns with the company, I had stayed on for a long time. Even after a break, I had simply joined back!

Anyway, they ended up selecting me (ahem! I am sure they had their reasons!) And it’s now been a week that I am working at this office. And even though it’s too early to form an opinion, so far I like it – both the place and the people. It’s the first time in my life that I am working on contract and not as a permanent employee! It’s also the first time in my life that I am working at a company where my husband doesn't work! We met each other at work and even before we had met, we had been working at the same company ever since I started! It’s the first time that I am no longer a part of IT, but a part of the business team instead! It’s also the first time in my life that in a whole week, I haven’t seen a single Indian at work. And I must admit, it feels weird. And last but not the least, it’s also the first time that I do not have an offshore/onshore team in some other part of the world, with whom I need to take late night calls with. YET.

I’ll also always remember the first day I had joined my previous organization in 2002. I was supposed to report to work at their branch at 8:30 AM or so to fill out a bunch of forms and sign a bond (newbie you see?) So there I was with a friend of mine, both of us ready for our first day at work. We boarded a train at Bandra hoping to alight at Vile Parle station. (People who have a lot of experience travelling in Mumbai’s local trains are probably going Oooooh Noooo right about now!) I got into the ladies compartment and my friend got into the general compartment. Come Vile Parle, the train didn't stop!!! Some fast local or something, it went straight ahead to the last stop! We called each other murmuring that there was no need to panic; we still had time. Or so we thought.

Because the same train would begin a return journey again, one stop before its final destination, truckloads of people began to get in hoping to secure seats as a preemptive strike against those boarding at the first stop. In its new trip, when the train finally approached our stop, people pushed, pulled and shoved. And poor dear inexperienced ‘me’ finally got down at the platform with disheveled hair, a torn dupatta and footwear on only one foot! I had to buy a pair of sandals from a local ‘mochi’ and only then we could make our way to the workplace. Considering that we reached there almost an hour late, it’s a miracle that they still signed us up! Sigh.

And then there was my first day at the client location onsite. The very first time that I got a call from my account manager. It was to tell me that he had received a call from the Minneapolis International Airport informing him that his employee (yours truly) had forgotten a folder full of visa and immigration documents at the airport and was to go and collect it. What a start to the day! Like I said, my friend Murphy never really left my side! (linkSo, what were your first days at work like? 

Crazy first days at work.
Copyright details within the image.
I would love to hear your views!
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