7/12

These are bad times. Bad-bad times. I seem to be falling into an endless abyss of problems with a monetary impact. Like I am not sure if I mentioned this, but I damaged my pretty iPhone’s screen yet again, a couple of months ago. Mind it, it is still not 2 years old. So yes, after spending money on getting a fake screen and using it for 8 months, I damaged it yet again – this time because Zo sat on it (true story). So it didn’t break, but something went wrong and it had a permanent old Doordarshan style flickering going on, till I replaced it, yet again.

Only, now, the battery said goodbye. The phone would randomly switch off, and after a while it became a landline, by which I mean it had to be continuously kept on charge, which pretty much destroys the purpose of a ‘mobile’ phone I think. So I decided that I had enough of it and shifted my sim to a standard dual sim phone my company provides. So much for style.

Then, a bus hit my car. Or as the driver suggested – my car hit and scratched the bus. I like this story a lot. I have tiny i10 that I drive with utmost care (and worry) and don’t even try to squeeze into gaps a Fortuner would have just passed through. One such day as I was inching through the mess that is the traffic inside my office area, a large – strike that – a ginormous Volvo bus that was next to me, slowly sidled to it’s right, and hit my rear view mirror, which got flattened to the other side, with the mirror dangling off a wire. But here’s the thing. While I am a very cautious driver, I am also a very angry one. So I showed my temper through vigorous honking, which is saying something, because I avoid honking at all costs.

Now the bus driver, I presume, got all defensive at my obvious distraught, and kept going till we both were out of the jam. Here, he stopped the bus in the middle of the road (horizontally, blocking all traffic), got off, and came to me and said – ‘Aapki gadi ne meri bus ko scratch kar diya’. I gaped at him for a minute, the mirror still dangling, until my UP upbringing came to fore and I rolled down the windows and well, started shouting at him about the ridiculousness of the claim. By this time, people had gathered around because – 1) Woman driver 2)  The bus had blocked their path. And for one of the two reasons started supporting me vociferously.  In fact, at one point, amidst all the shouting a guy told me to ‘Calm down, I’m handling this right?’ , much to my indignation, because it was my car and I deserved the road rage. Anyhow, nothing came of all this and we all eventually went home and now my mirror is in place, held by a paper clip and some tape. Sad.

Then, last week, our Fridge conked off. This is right when we are planning to move out anyway and have tonnes of expenses coming up. But then you can’t live without a fridge, and we are planning to let out this place, which meant we had to get another fridge. And we did. But this was yet another blow. And just when we were getting cooling back into our lives with the fridge, my car’s AC stopped functioning, as if to balance it out.

Then on Saturday, The Dude got it all fixed up, and we drove merrily to my parent’s place, and parked the car, and for no reason, some idiot visitor from some other house bumped into my car from behind and BROKE the number plate into half. I mean seriously. Is there no end to this drama? So yes, I am driving with half a number plate that I plan to stick with Feviquik – and pray it works.

And in between all this, all our expensive online purchases started getting jinxed too. First it was a Marshall speaker the Dude had been eyeing for very long. It arrived, we set it up and all was hunky dory till the next morning when it just wouldn’t switch on. Huh? What? Ofcourse we had to return it. Then we ordered an Amazon Fire Stick, which also, seriously, stopped working after day 2. By this time I had given up. And while they did send a replacement for the latter, I am extremely worried about things in general. We even tried ignoring all this spate of bad luck and re-ordered the speaker from another site, which did not move from ‘processing’ to ‘shipped’ for a week, after which we finally cancelled it.

Then, there are multiple (and I mean multiple) issues with the house as we get it done. I mean, who knew it was so much work right? And all this just when I had started feeling very ‘in control’.  But turns out, there is no such state, in reality. So all I can do is, cross my fingers, hope for things to get better, and sip on this interesting Ayurvedic Tea from Tata tea – and repeat to myself all of whatsapp’s most cliched messages. Keep Calm. Take one day at a time. This too shall pass. Life’s what happens when you are busy making other plans.

Or my personal favorite, Screw this.

Horrible people

I have concluded that there are a lot of nasty people in this world. If you are wondering why it took me 34 long years to figure this out, umm, I don’t know. But better late that never they say and I say okay.

Anyway, when I am saying nasty, I mean real nasty – the kind who seem to get pleasure out of saying hurtful things to others. Now don’t get me wrong – I do not mind, in fact believe in, being hurtful to horrible people – but it is always in reciprocation. Like if you are sitting in a café, sipping on your Latte, and someone walks up to you and goes ‘Hey!’ and you are like ‘Hey’ and then they are like ‘Long time’ and you are like ‘yeah, very long!’ and then they are like ‘Let me join you’ and you are like ‘Sure’, and then they sit down and say ‘by the way why are you so stupid?’

Now here it is perfectly normal to say, ‘Oh no, looks like you are confusing me with someone, maybe you yourself. OR YOUR WHOLE FREAKING FAMILY.’  Hurtful right?  You might even call it on overkill, bringing in the family and all but I still believe that this is acceptable. Bottom line, meanness in reciprocation is not meanness but justice.

So in the context of the above, I am talking of the person who came up to the person drinking his latte, and not the latte drinker himself. I think you get my point. Yeah, so I think that the world is full of such people. They are there everywhere, like flies, buzzing around and annoying you like that’s the sole purpose of their life. Only, the flies are actually looking for food, and I am sure the buzzing has some relevance too, but these nasty people are like that for no particular reason.

You can identify a nasty person by the way he reacts to a happy update or piece of information about anyone except for himself. Like if you tell a person in this category, that ‘Do you know X got promoted?’ his response will be dismissal, or shock, or sarcasm, basically anything but genuine happiness. In fact, if you think showing genuine happiness on another person’s success is tough, let me clarify that this category will also not respond with a neutral stance which as per my personal belief is what one maintains if they don’t feel that the person deserves it. They will react in the manner best suited to their kind, i.e. nastily.

Some other examples* of nastiness can be –

  • When you tell someone about the new home you bought and they react with “Why would you want to buy a house there? It’s so crowded!”
  • When you tell someone that you read with your child everyday and they react with “I would rather have my child be in sports than become a geek.”
  • When you tell someone about your child’s daycare and they say “I could never leave my child at a daycare, so unhygienic!”
  • When you tell someone that your child loves the pancakes you make for breakfast and they say “I don’t like giving sweet breakfasts to my child, it’s unhealthy’
  • When you say your daughter has a strong resemblance to her father and they say “Poor kid, she will end up looking like a guy!”

*Inspired by true events

Basically, I am talking of folks who think it is absolutely normal to voice their opinions, however hurtful, however mean, just because they can. They have no control over themselves, and no understanding of when they should stop. This kind also finds it hard to take hints, I have noticed, but that might be because all this nastiness has crept up their almost non-existent brains and replaced whatever little bit of IQ that existed (hopefully) in them.

Which is why, I strongly advocate avoiding people who tend to make unprovoked, unwarranted and definitely unacceptable statements, which technically they should shove up their even nastier behinds. But instead they vomit it out like it’s their birth right.

And all we can do is sit and hope they choke on it someday.

Rules

The community we live in has a lot of speed breakers inside. Must be the case with all residential places I assume. We have close to 9 bumps in the circle from the entry to the parking to the exit. It makes sense too, I said to The Dude, because at all points of time there are walkers, and children cycling or skateboarding around on the same pathways. But he mentioned that a lot of people had been questioning the relevance of these bumps, because they were quite annoying, and also that those who were missing the sensibility to drive slowly inside the community, would drive rash with or without the bumps.

I am not convinced but it made me wonder if that was the case, why do we have rules at all? If the rule-breakers would break rules anyway, and the rule-keepers would do the right thing, with or without the rules; who are the rules for? The only thing I can think of is that the rules are for the ones on the edge. The ones who are maybe doing the right thing not because it is the right thing to do, but because, they would be in trouble if they did not. And, additionally, they actually do not want to be in trouble.

Let’s take the example of kids. We have so many rules for kids. Like TV time is limited to an hour. Now the reason TV time is limited to an hour is because it is not good for their eyes, and also it makes the kid lazy and lethargic. Technically, if we were to tell the children that they were not supposed to watch TV for more than hour, because that would be bad for them, they should understand it. But they don’t. Because the joy of watching TV is much higher in their minds than the weak eyes and laziness that we scare them with. Heck, they couldn’t give a damn to these things. But then they are kids, and the assumption is they are not ‘mature’ enough to grasp these things. So we make rules. We switch off the TV in an hour, and we threaten them with punishments if they refuse or fail to do so. But then again, they are kids, and they aren’t expected to make sane decisions. They need rules.

But what explains the same thing for grownups? So you know you are not supposed to eat at your desk at work because the crumbs will attract pests. There is a written rule around it. Now there are three kinds of people here. Category 1, that believes that this makes sense, and so will never eat at their desk, because they know that it will attract pests. Category 2, that doesn’t believe this nonsense, and even if they do, they don’t care enough to abide by such rules, and they are ready to a take a chance and get caught. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?

Then there is Category 3. Category 3 finds this rule an inconvenience, and category 3 would readily eat at their desk if not for this rule. But because there is a rule, this category decides to not eat at its desk. Category 3 does not want any unnecessary trouble. For these guys, the pain of being caught breaking a rule is bigger than the pain of actually abiding by it, and so, they do. This is the category for which rules are made.

And assuming that there is an even distribution of people in all 3 categories – we end up having 66% of the people eventually abiding by the norm, whether or not they agree to it; as against the 33% it could have been otherwise. So the rules ensure that at least theoretically, we have the majority behave in what we call, the right way. Which honestly, is not too much of a price to pay. Which is also why those 9 speed bumps do not feature on my ‘list of things that annoy me’ as yet.

And we should all be thankful for that.

Tooth tales

I almost lost a tooth yesterday.

It actually started a week ago. Last week, around Tuesday, I was sitting, enjoying one of the most cherished parts of my day, and also poking my tooth with a tooth pick, because I sort of believe in multitasking. This was basically around 9:45 PM, when I am usually sitting on the couch. I have finished dinner, and also the nighttime ritual with Zo, which would include reading to her, and then singing to her till she falls asleep. The books I read vary as per the flavor of the moment, but on that day, I think it was one of the Crayon books by Oliver Jeffers because that’s all I have been reading since they arrived. Or, maybe it was both. It has to be both.

The song is a classic – Hanuman Chalisa, the MS version. The reason being that I have successfully convinced Zo, just like my mother convinced me, that there is no greater mantra than it for problems in the world – which roughly translate to ‘bad dreams’ at this age. In any case, it works like a charm, to settle her down and then get her to fall asleep, because it’s got FORTY couplets after all. On a side-note, I have to accept that I did chant it while driving to and from work, every day, for a whole month, both ways. So yeah, it works like a charm.

Yeah, so I was sitting there, peacefully, watching pre-recorded episodes of the Mindy Project and poking my tooth with a tooth pick. This show has become one of my favorite pastimes in the recent times. After we gave up Netflix (and I had written a whole post about this but never posted it), we are back to limited options. Which do not seem as limited on weekdays, because I have like a half hour of TV viewing time maybe. So The Mindy Project is what I resort to. The dude finds it too girly, but I think it’s nice. Plus I really like the character of Danny Castellano, maybe a TV character crush after a long time.

So, I was watching a particularly fun episode where Mindy is trying to juggle between life and pregnancy and job and basically messing everything up which is mostly the whole theme of this show, and poking my tooth with a tooth pick. I might have gotten over-excited at a point and suddenly I feel something loose in my mouth. I was scandalized, to think that I actually was able to break a whole tooth in itself, using a puny wooden tooth pick, not the best thought and definitely says something about my dental habits (not that the other teeth would have anything better to say). But yeah, I nudged it around with my tongue, and Lo! There was a tooth in my hand.

Now this tooth has a history involved. This tooth has seen so much that it has lost itself in the tides of time (and a root canal, remember?), and is only a small part of what it was, literally. Ofcourse, there is a crown, which you would know if you have ever had a root canal. This crown is fixed with some sort of glue and works just fine, and looks just fine, except that I guess it was a tad smaller than it was required to be, meaning there was a tiny gap between the fake tooth and the real one. Not that I ever felt or noticed it, but food somehow tended to find its way through, after which I very much felt it and noticed it.

Hence, the toothpick. So what had fallen off was that fake crown. First, I breathed a sigh of relief because, hello! Then I wondered what I should do, I needed to go to a dentist, but when? Tomorrow is too short a notice and in the evening, I was off to Mom’s, and then I would return only on Thursday, which was Republic day; and that left me with just the weekend to fix and appointment and get the tooth fixed.

Only, I didn’t. And I have reasons. One, I had a birthday party to take Zo to, but that was in the evening. So I could have gotten it done in the morning. But then there was this crucial life or death decision I had to take – which basically was a choice between

  • looking like Kroor Singh for dinner, or
  • having an innocent crown hang around loose for a few more days, not that it was causing trouble anymore.

Superficiality won, and I did not get it done.

Over the next couple of days, I actually got used to it. The crown wouldn’t come off as easily, but a little nudge and it did move. I read up about how it was better to get it fixed because have swallowed crowns (!) and we all know how expensive they are. But I had that much confidence in me, so I let it be.

Until last night that is. Last night, I was returning after a very tiring day, that had started at 4 in the morning(because of an early flight), and was followed by a long drive to the office in Mumbai (because all drives are long in Mumbai), a whole day of meetings, and then a drive back to the airport. I had been eagerly waiting to board, and we did, on time, only to be told that we couldn’t take off due to congestion for the next 5-7 minutes. These became 45 minutes and then an hour. I usually wouldn’t care but after I was done thinking about whether I’d go for the Cup noodles or the Chicken Junglee sandwich, I got bored. You see, I had no book. And the 3G on my phone had decided to suck. So I was left with no entertainment.

Except, um, poking my tooth, with my tongue this time. And for some reason, it came out quite easily. And then the horror happened. One minute I was happily trying to fix it back, and the other, it was gone! No tooth. I was horrified thinking I might have swallowed it since I was quite hungry. And then I decided that was not possible, and that I had dropped it. And what can be more disgusting than dropping a tooth on the floor of the disgusting airplane floor, and then picking it up, knowing it needs to be put back? Only I couldn’t see it anywhere, and now disgust turned into worry because now I was thinking of the 3000 rupees lost if I didn’t manage to find it.

I did, finally after a terrible 3 minutes. Actually, it was where it belonged, and had slipped back on the baby tooth underneath, and was sitting snugly. So snugly, that I did not feel its existence. But I did feel exactly how I would feel if I lost it again.So I have decided to go get it fixed first thing on Saturday. I actually have some time after this thing we have at Zo’s school maybe.  Or I can just go for a movie instead.

It’s not like I actually lost a tooth yesterday.

Employment status

Over the last year at my new work place, I have concluded upon one thing. Working as a concept has changed, a lot.

And it sucks.

Here’s a list of pre-defined conditions that seem to govern the work ethic of way too many folks who have just started working.

A normal day at work will and must include

  • An hour for lunch
  • A half hour for tea
  • An half hour to generally loiter around ‘networking’
  • An hour on social media

I cannot come in the earlier shift (earlier meaning anytime before 12 PM) even if the business needs it because –

  • I cannot wake up so early!
  • I live so far away
  • We get water in our apartment at this time and I need to fill bottles

I am late to work every day because –

  • There is just too much traffic on the roads
  • My clothes were not ironed
  • I overslept and didn’t hear the alarm

I am really stressed because –

  • I stretched for an extra hour for 3 days in a row.
  • I did not even take a tea break, just lunch.
  • My wife has a terrible headache

I thought I was doing my best and I’m unable to see why you are not happy. All that went wrong were a few numbers on the P&L. It can happen to anybody.

I logged in late into the call/meeting because

  • I was having tea
  • I did not see the pop up
  • You mentioned it was around 3:30, so I thought it was 3:30, and did not check my calendar to see that it was actually at 3

I can’t believe you guys had to work 14 hours during month close when you started! It must be because

  • You had different priorities
  • Maybe you weren’t as efficient back then

Yes, I am looking at leaving early because

  • There’s no work
  • We all need downtime
  • Oh by the way, please sign off my overtime for that extra half hour I worked this month on that day.

So these are only some of the very real statements that I have experienced in the recent past. And all of it makes me wonder what just happened? Is it just that we had it all wrong when we started working? Or did we hire wrong? Or were people different back then?

My only explanation to myself, is that when we started, we ended up spending more time with folks who were more like us (which in the words of the guys might as well be inefficient, with wrong priorities and unnecessarily high benchmarks for ourselves), so we never encountered this species. And now that we handle large teams, it is obvious that there will be a big mix of people, and hence this situation.

Oh, and to wrap up the rant, and also specify what brought it out. Now that it is Appraisal season, each and every of these individuals has rated themselves ‘Exceeded expectations’ on every damn parameter on the self-evaluation sheet.

This brings me to my questions –

  • Whose expectations have they exceeded?
  • Where can I find this person and gun him down?

Day 8 – Overrated

I was reading through the comments on the idiot box post I had written a few days ago, and it struck me how some shows are so grossly overrated, of course, in my personal opinion. And that got me thinking about all things that overrated – TV shows, movies, even food items. And then that got me thinking about how I could actually make a post out of it, because why not?

Since I started with TV shows, I think it is only fair to start with them. I watch a lot of shows, a lot of them. I mean, I think I am almost addicted to TV shows, which is interesting because we were so particular to not let that happen when we were kids. And I am forever on the lookout for new shows to watch. And most of the shows I have tried, I have enjoyed – especially if they are highly rated. Barring a few – two to be exact.

One is, and I’d want you to hold your breath for this, Game of Thrones. Ok. Please don’t over react and close the page, because I might actually explain myself here, but the issue is that I have absolutely no reason for this.It’s just that The Dude and I watched 3 episodes in season 1 (with great difficulty I have to add) and then gave up. We tried again, this time reaching 5 episodes, but couldn’t carry on. Then my sister said I had to wait for the  season to get over and for half of the cast to die to love the show. But I did not have any enthusiasm to give it a shot.The other was True Detectives. I thought no show could be too bad if it had Matthew McConaughey in it, but oh boy, was I wrong. I lasted exactly 2 episodes before I got all nostalgic about Krishi Darshan on Doordarshan.

In terms of movies, and I am talking Bollywood here (considering my love for all the cheesy, unrealistic things they churn out), I never got myself to like or understand Hum Aapke hain kaun. One of the biggest hits that year, I remember that I had zero excitement about watching it, and so I didn’t. Also, despite the rave reviews, I found the music exceedingly meh, and still do. And this is big coming from the one who watches Maine Pyar Kiya and listens to it’s music even today.

In terms of food, I think the most overrated dish I have come across has to be Haleem. I am a converted non vegetarian, and sometimes I feel that to make up for that, I am open to trying all sorts of meat. And I love most of it. But somehow, Haleem never made the cut for me. People in this city, wait for Ramzan to be able to gorge on all the Haleem they can, but I look at it as an immense waste of calories.I’d rather have my Tandoori chicken and be happier.

On the same note, I have to say that I am a true-blue Hyderabadi who loves her mutton biryani. Which is why I also need to say that while Hyderabadi biryani is by far the awesome-st; Paradise is extremely hyped. I understand that it’s grown from nothing and was probably the best at a point of time, but there are way too many places in our city that give you better biryani. Bawarchi is one. And so is ShahGhouse (which I feel is AMAZING, yes, capital letter deserving amazing). But Paradise is visited only when we have firang visitors particular about where they sit and eat.

Now I am sitting and thinking of other things that I find overrated, and turns out, as expected my life and opinions are limited to food and entertainment only. Which is why I cannot for the life of me think of anything else I want to add to this list. And then I remembered books – and by that – The Alchemist, which I thought was so overrated I wanted to hang myself for having bought into the whole deal. But right when I was about to type that, I had a sense of dejavu, that have I said this before? Here, on the blog? So I searched and here we are, from 6 years ago. Where I announced how unimpressed I was with cheesecake. The same tone, the same sense of disbelief, the same vehement opposition to accepting something mediocre (in my opinion) as awesome. So I guess somethings just don’t change.

Except some things that do. Like my not-so-new found love for cheese cake.

 

Day 5 – Namesake

For those of you who know my name, you’d agree that it is a fairly common name. The one thing that stood apart however, was my last name, or surname, which was pretty much unheard of in the small town in UP that I’m from. Additionally, even folks from my own community did not choose this surname, unless they were living up north – which is when they, like my father, chose it purely out of convenience and ease of spelling. And also to make an attempt to save their actual surname (their father’s name) from getting butchered more than it already had been in the past.

Anyhow, when I created my first mail id back in 2000, I was – in my defense – not even an adult, which is why the id included all the cliches in the world of email ids of yore. It had my name, shortened to an abbreviation no one ever called me by, was followed by an underscore – something that I hadn’t even heard of until then. And ofcourse, it also included my year of birth because displaying one’s age isn’t as big an issue for a 17 year old. And I lived with this for almost 4 years.

Which is when, Gmail arrived. I remember how you had to be invited to get an id, and when I got mine, I was pretty clear what I wanted as my id – myname.mysurname. One because I was no longer 17, and two because this would go on my CV for placements for the next year. And fortunately, I got it immediately. But then came the twist.

With the www the world itself widened, and all of a sudden I knew, or atleast knew of a lot more people, many with my name, many more with my surname, and lastly, quite a few with both. How do I know this? Well. Turns out, that when the gmail invites were going out – many of them were too young to either have an email id, or not lucky enough to have 24 hour internet in their rooms to create one. So while I did get my amazing firstname.lastname id, I also got curses from the others who missed it.

And these people, I assume to get back at me, to generally use my id to register on the randomest websites, even if that would technically mean they cannot verify the id. Or, even give away my id to – get this – their insurance companies, friends they meet at NASA conventions, or in general anybody.

Which is also why I get reset password prompts for multiple sites, none of which I have registered on to actually need to reset my password, all the time. And today, when I go to see if I have a Microsoft account, I apparently do – only, after resetting the password and getting in, I realise it belongs to someone else, from Kolkata, born 9 years after I was. And yes, I also get regular updates from the Kotak guys on the balance in my insurance account which I don’t have. And updates from the multiple communities I am part of, only I didn’t know.

My favorite story is from when a whole family sent me mail after mail, congratulating me on my engagement to this guy I didn’t know. This got fixed, when the guy himself started sending photographs of his family and detailed accounts of who was who. This was when I let him know that I was the wrong person. He was quite polite, and apologised, and passed on the message to all the mamas and mamis and thathas . But even then, it took almost a year for all of them to stop mailing me blessings. And fortunately for them, I was too good to send them my bank account details for some monetary blessings instead.

On second thoughts maybe I should I have. For my name’s sake.