Tuesday, January 31, 2006
In a corner of Queens Road, we wait in a line, peddling our wares, vying for attention, hoping we'd attract someone fast. If your mind boggles and starts wondering about my occupation, it is true I'm a banker. Then what the heck am I doing there in Queens Road? you ask.
I'm just trying to get an Autorickshaw to office.
So there I stand among a long line of office goers, waving like mad at each passing auto. While slowly cruising the road, each auto driver looks us up and down then finally makes a selection and stops. He asks, we tell, he thinks and nods or shakes his head. Soon he is on his way.
Rejection used to worry me a lot but a few days on the strip and I became a pro. Now I just shrug it off and start waving at the next passing auto. Some of us are desperate souls who yell their destination to all and sundry, in a hurry to go. So passe! Not my style, I'd rather wait for as long as it took.
In the line up I need patience, after all, all I had to offer was a trip to Residency Road, a journey that would get the driver some 20-30 rupees, not much at all when others can offer a high paying trips to the Hosur Roads or the Jakkasandras or the Bommasandras of the world .
I've realised that in the line up, pretty girls have a definite edge, long distance travellers are most preferred but bankers who travel only a short distance are in the lowest in the pecking order.
Monday, January 30, 2006
A bearded gent who was the my driver for the evening welcomed me aboard the auto. "Kahan jaana hai sir?'(Where do you want to go sir). he asked in Hindi. Now, Hindi is never a language I am comfortable in, Bangalore being a multi-lingual town, one does get to meet people who speak, Kannada, Hindi & Tamil all the time, so one gets used to it. Although my usage of Hindi though has suffered much ridicule in the past (much of it unwarranted I must say).
Anyway, my mind processed the auto driver's question carefully and then replied "Queens Road jaana hai" (I have to go to Queens Road).
"Meter kaam nahin kar raha hai, aap pachiis rupiya de do" (Meter isn't working, the fare would be rupees fifty) came the response from the bearded driver with a toothy smile. Again, my brain again started processing this response more slowly since this time numbers where involved now and for a banker I was not good at processing numbers fast in any language.
"Nahin nahin, mein, thirty ke zyada nahin doonga" (No no, I won't give more than thirty rupees), I replied with a firm voice. "Aap ko thirty dena hai? Theek hai, thirty de do" (You will give thirty? ok) said he.
I smiled. I looked around at no one in particular as if to say 'thats how you dealt with these guys'. A firm had is all it takes, show them who's the boss and they would follow you like lambs. I settled back on the seat like a man in supreme command of his surroundings.
In a while, my sister's residence appeared, I got off, triumphantly counted three ten rupee notes and gave it to the driver whose grin got wider. A sunny disposition these auto drivers have, I thought.
I walked in, greeting my sister and her family and eventually settled down in the living room and flipped through a magazine.
Something was wrong in my mind, the grinning auto driver's face kept flashing in my head. Finally, just to clear the air, I called my neice who learnt Hindi as a second language and asked what you said in Hindi for Fifty.
She said "You don't know? Fifty is Pachaas"
"Um. Then what is Pachiis?" I asked hesitantly. Dreading the reply.
Pat came the answer from the little one "Twenty Five".
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Thats how I found myself at the doors of Hong Kong Custom Tailors (Since 1963). I half expected the Fanucci brothers (the twittering twosome from the movie Oscar), whom I would order with the snap of my fingers like Sly Stallone did as they fitted his suit. As is the general case with me the tailor I encountered looked exactly like a different Italian movie character, Don Vito Corleone of the Godfather. As he moved slowly across the room to greet me, my lips almost uttered 'Bueno Sera', before I checked myself and said 'Hello'.
Hi Mukta, this is message is for your curious mind :-)
The efficient shop assistants, who incidentally looked like mob hitmen, without the suits and brandishing measuring tapes, started showing me the fabric, I sifted through them nervously as the Don watched. Finally, having been lead to some good material, I was ready to be measured.
The Don approached.
That very moment I was reminded of that episode of Friends, where Chandler goes to Joey's tailor and gets fondled ('cupping' was the term used) by the him while being measured.0
What if the Don cupped? I wondered. Would I get out of this place alive if I protested?
The Don picked up a tape and started measuring. No cupping, thank god! I exhaled. The Don was a thorough professional, efficient and fast.
As he was measuring my waist, I cleared my throat nervously. The Don looked up, I had permission to speak. "Wwould you be able to alter the waist later?" I asked. "Reduced?", he cocked his head to one side, that was my cue to explain. "Yes, my waist size keeps altering since I go to the gym..." I muttered.
The Don sighed. One of those optimistic wierdos, his mind seemed to tell him. "Sure sure" is all he said. I was ecstatic, I didn't know if I had to kiss his ring as a sign of thanks.
The deed was done.
A week later, I picked up a perfectly tailored sets of trousers and shirts. I professed my thanks to the Don, he just nodded.
As I wear this nice set of clothes, I now wonder if I would be ever called to be of service to the Don as a return for what he had done for me.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
It all started with an announcement early this week. I was to set up a smart team of executives to run a specific business in South India. One always wants to make an entrance into such a scenario like Superman but reality can be a cruel thing coz it points out to 'Superman' that his underwear is showing. I've spent the whole of first week, checking if my metaphorical underwear was indeed showing. You want to appear as a fresh face yet appear to know all the ropes. You should appear to take stunning and decisive decisions yet appear like the weight of the world was in your shoulders in water cooler 'been there done that' chats.
I quickly realised that being a boss is all about bladder control. You see, most issues that come in for a decision are either life threatening or inane, the problem is in understand which is which. Seemingly inane issues started to blow up during the course of an hour so by the end of the first day I had decided that if I didn't pee in my pants I would be happy. Things have gotten better over the course of the week but not by much. Tip to new bosses: Keep away from water during your first day!
Interviews. I love interviews, you see I've been a salesman for a long time. I've come to realise though that being an interviewer rather than an interviewee is a whole different thing. After 10 years of meeting interviewers and giving them a grand story (oh come on, does anyone speak the truth in interviews?), I now have no clue as to whether the interviewee is being genuine or handing me a line. So out of a dozen people I've interviewed over the week, I've been able to short list only one. Call it paranoia but I just can't seem to meet the right kind of candidate. You see one needed to get a person who not only fitted the role but also should be able to transition to the next level eventually. Whoever I hire, I not only need to ensure that I get maximum productivity from them at the same time ensuring that they have a good time working here and that their career goals are met. Some would argue that working and having a good time are mutually exclusive, I can see sense in that argument, heck I was the chief proponent of that argument! It all changes I guess with being the head of a team. Now I've decided to reach office a good half an hour before it starts, cut short my lunch 'hour' and also put an end to my near famous time-outs (As a de-stresser at times I just drop everything I'm doing and walk out of office for longish periods of time. I usually end up with a new book in a coffee shop). I know I have to set the right example and have the right energy levels. I don't want to be that whiney loser who sets rules for everyone but for himself. Heck there would be no rules if I can have it my way, just specific examples if you catch my drift.
Monday, January 09, 2006
In one post in Ms. Faleiro's blog (where she writes about her Hurricane experience in Mumbai), she is cooped in the lobby of a five star hotel (I forget the name and I'm too lazy to hunt for that post). She apparently asked them for a room and was told that only rooms with a tariff of Rs. 10,000/- was available (a popular gimmick with 5 star hotels during excessive demand is to book all the expensive rooms before they let out the cheaper rooms). Why didn't she apply the same treatment given to the taxi driver & shake that reception clerk and check if this information was real. Whatever happened to her sense of fair play then?
Is this a question of a blogger abusing someone and orchestrating news? I let you decide for yourself. Now don't get me wrong, I admire Ms. Faleiro's writing and I have nothing against her but my opinion is that it is one thing is to handle a situation wrongly but to gloat over it is a whole different kettle of fish. Whatever it was, I'm quite sure if this was any other country with a stronger legal system, Ms. Faleiro would have been arrested for assault & illegal detention. But here in India, who gives a shit about the rights of a junkie taxi driver, right?
Happy Monday! This week ain't any better from the last one and the next one doesn't look promising either :-)
Thursday, January 05, 2006
My Nominations are
For the best asian weblog
1) Amit Varma: India Uncut
2) Annie Zaidi: Known Turf
3) Dilip D'Souza: Death Ends Fun
Most Humourous weblog:
1) -c: Up the creek without a platypus
2) Pope Joe: Ask the Pope
3) Scott Adams: The Dilbert Blog
Best writing of a Weblog
1) Dilip D'Souza: Death Ends Fun
2) Annie Zaidi: Known Turf
3) Nilanjana Roy: Akhond of Swat
Best New Weblog:
1) Anouradha Bakshi: Project Why
2) Mukta Raut: Chiffonesque
3) Pope Joe: Ask the Pope
Weblog of the Year
1) Waiter Rant
2) Annie Zaidi: Known Turf
3) Dilip D'Souza: Death Ends Fun
4) Amit Varma: India Uncut
(Linked via India Uncut)
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
How are You doing? I wonder why no one asks You that question. I know how frustrating it was to fix a computer last week so I can't begin imagine the stress levels involved in running the Universe.
Now, at the beginning of any communication with You I've always been instructed to thank You for everything You've done for me. (Divine brownie points I reckon)
So, Thank You.
If ever I dare to list out all the things that I am thankful for, I would always end up missing something. Infact it's cool when I realise that as I write this there are things I do not know of that are in motion that I would be thankful for later.
My Mother once told me a long time ago that You were different for different people, I couldn't understand how her God was different from mine. I thought she had to be wrong after all I'm a protestant Christian as she is. Only when I got older I realised that I have questioned the very same religious practices that she finds comforting. I have found the four walls of the church to be full of politics & petty mindedness when she finds only peace and solitude. She would accept things blindly & I would argue everything I found irrational. In short, we viewed You differently. I think there is no common religion between two people, when one looks at religion as a path that leads to You. Like I am different things for different people (a son, a brother, a friend, a nephew, a colleague etc) You mean different things to different people.
Just by being different for each and everyone You make us all special. I have to admit though I'm more than a little curious as to how You deal with Michael Jackson.
I've always curious about this concept of 'sin & sinning', I don't know if it was really Your wish or if it was someone's idea to ensure order in society. Because I've often seen that when all else fails the fear of God keeps people from doing something they shouldn't be. But don't You think this concept has been abused? Well, we humans have always mucked up things and then expect You to come clean things up. Heck of a job I admit.
You know another thing I'm curious about is the concept of Heaven and Hell. But then again I'm sure I'd find out if I stick to it long enough. Knowledge after all comes with experience.
In a universe that is millions of years old, my existence of 31 years is very inconsequential, all I ask is for some help once awhile in realising that.
I shall sign off now. Thanks for being there.
Rabin Stephen (but You knew that)
p.s. do cockroaches pray?