You’ve got mail…by Post.

Waiting for a letter, any letter, is one of the many vivid childhood memories I have. I remember the excitement with which I used to ask the postman – “Is there any letter you are dropping to my house?”. It used to be a definitive moment. If the postman indeed was carrying a letter for my family, I took joy in becoming the harbinger to my family, even though it would be as mundane as a promotional letter of no consequence. If there was no letter, well, better luck next time. What I wouldn’t do is miss asking the postman about letters.

I remember all sorts of letters – there was a blue inland letter, which had ample writing space and could be folded neatly into a letter for which you don’t need envelope and stamp. In fact, the written matter was also concealed from everyone. Then there was this khaki envelope, which used to carry letter written on loose sheets. This was also the envelope that was the preferred choice for sending rakhi. There was the telegram, which either used to carry good or bad news succinctly in a format that the postal department had decided. It was a tense moment opening a telegram.

Finally, there was the humble postcard. The cheapest mode of sending your communication across, albeit, open for all. That is, anyone could read what you’ve written. That did not deter people from writing personal stuff and sending it across. I myself have read so many postcards – because we (my friends and I) had somehow known the mechanism to open the lock of the famous red iron letter box where everyone used to deposit their letters for collection. It was a wonderful experience, for it was forbidden and and at the same time, joy of being able to open the letter box.

I cant remember when was the last time I had received a written letter of some importance, or a Post Card from a friend or relative. Only letters that I get are from credit card, banks and insurance companies. and sometimes from a shopping mall or a showroom. Now these are also stopped because of the ‘go green’ initiatives of these organizations. Emails, Messaging, Skype can never bring back the excitement of hand written letters. Waiting anxiously for an email is not at all comparable to waiting for a letter, for it brought joy that is difficult to measure in words. Time, anticipation, patience all contributed to it. The instant gratification of today’s communication mediums just cannot match up.

With internet becoming all pervasive, these mediums may eventually become extinct. Poor telegram has already breathed its last on July 14, 2013. My grouse is that the electronic font’s just don’t convey the same feelings (explains why I don’t buy a kindle). I guess the spontaneity is all gone with back space, delete and undo options. Agreed that we did tear a lot of paper for getting the right stuff on paper, but guess editing and trimming is far more overpowering than it is in the hand written format. Well, as they say, you gotta live with the times, for they-are-a-changing. But, I would still await and continue to ask the postman for letters with that childlike excitement.

Letters were a great form of conversations and exchange of ideas / views in a patient setting, which alas, has lost out to Twitter, WhatsApp, Skype etc. Omnipresence, instant communication and being available 24X7 scares me to hell. At least there were no trolls in between, and it felt way personal.

Anyway, conversations are dying too. More on that some other day.

P.S. I was travelling recently and decided to send some postcards to myself – and felt awesome while I received them back home. Now, I have made a resolution that I will send post cards to myself whenever I am travelling to a new place. If you want to get included in the list, just send a word :).

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Of unread mails, messages and missed calls…

If you miss a call on purpose, sit on an email / message for eternity and sometimes just wish to bury your neck deep in sand and be anti-social for a while, read on.

 

Every now and then comes along a busy day/s, different from usual, full of meetings and travel. I enjoy these days – they break monotony and provide a respite from clockwork. However, they upset me in a very unusual way. At the end of these busy days, I have a heap of calls that I missed, mails that I didn’t read, and messages I did not reply to.

Not a big issue, one may argue. This problem is faced by many on a daily basis, and they solve it diligently. Not me, sir.

Especially, when the list of messages, emails etc. contains a name of someone I know, but just don’t have motivation and will to talk to the person. I just continue delaying a response and continue my life. But in my mind, lies a latent guilt that I have to return a call / message and the face of that person.

I would not classify myself as an anti-social being, but I am afraid I can’t be put up there with the gregarious ones. For me, its comfort and convenience before taking efforts to upkeep relationships with, well, persons I would want to be connected to.

And suddenly this period of delay becomes inordinate and my relations with the person concerned, well, not exactly stay cordial. It’s the largesse of those people on the other hand, who would call me time and again, continuing to be connected to me.

This has happened with me umpteen times and has caused many a relationships, sour.

Yet, I know I will not change.

 

 

 

Realization….

The realization that life is absurd cannot be an end, but only a beginning.
– Albert Camus

This is what it is about. This is what I want to write about. I may not be able to speak about in real life, but expressions long for a canvas, for its existence to meet its essence.

Paretto Principle at Work: Few Good Men (Part 2)

Read the first part of this work place related series, here.

Last time around I wrote about 80% of the employees contributing towards 20% all work done in the office. Lets switch sides and look through the eyes of people who are core / backbone of an organization, people who are responsible for exponential growth and everyone’s salary. These people represent the ’20’ in the paretto’s 80:20 principle.

The Tyrants – My way or high way: We just gotta have one of them in each department / function. Their terror is such that even news of them coming makes everyone return to their respective workstations and appear so engrossed in their work as if this time during performance appraisals, the normal curve will have the maximum concentration in one side of the curve. Sound proofing should be mandatory in their rooms as the walls / glass panels simply fail to keep their profuse shouting / disagreements inside those very 4 walls. They are seldom good with their sub-ordinates, appear cold to the peers and extremely warm to the superiors. The most common types of employees that fall under this category are bosses / managers and ‘the Suits’ sent from the corporate office.

Why they feature in the 20%?: Ability to delegate, de-motivate (to motivate), no non-sense attitude and obsession with reaching an outcome.

The Ants – Have work, will doA quick way to spot them is to stand at your workstation during lunch, glance in all directions – this category workers are often found gobbling lunch in quick bytes with their eyes fixated in the files / on computer. After all, lunch hour is too much of a distraction for them to finish the given assignment in time.  This category is the first to reach and amongst the last to leave office. Almost always, they are found right on their workstation, tirelessly working to finish pending tasks. This is not because they are inefficient or imbeciles, its because they can’t say no and often take more work than they have bandwidth available. If a survey was done on social skills, these people will feature right at the bottom as they find it hard justify time spent on otherwise fun activities like tea / coffee / smoke breaks, chit-chat sessions, going out for lunch etc. Though looked down upon through out the year (even scoffed at), they become cynosure or enviable creature at a particular period of time in the year – announcement of performance  appraisal outcome. Most individual contributors constitute this category.

Why they feature in the 20%?: Never say no to more work, focussed approach and generally hard-working-salary-justifying attitude

The Problem Solvers – Consider it DoneBorn optimistic, these workers are often the most creative,  innovative, progressive bunch who have only aim in life – to solve the problem at hand. Present any sort of difficult problem, issue or show-stoppers to them and they will find their way out. These are the ones who kept their head above the corporate rut, messy politics, sycophancy and the 9-to-5 corporate life paradigm. Smart organizations nurture the problem solvers by keeping them on short term projects and rotate them between the departments / functions so that they don’t get corrupt and become another brick in the wall. They often claim most of the corporate awards on offer in a given year, and rightly so.

Why they feature in the 20%?: Innovative / outsider’s approach to problems, highly analytical mind, very high awareness of the organization’s business / industry and speed.

The Superstars – I know my way to the Top:  What happens when you combine all the three above? You get a superstar who will take the organization to newer heights. The superstar is usually a senior / mid-senior executive, wields so much enthusiasm and energy that people who work along get painted in the same color as him / her. Superstars always give more than 100% at work and in process, motivate and inspire co-workers to give nothing-less-than-the-best. They also have an uncanny ability to take decisions on gut-feel that almost all times, hits the bulls – eye. Cynosure of the head – hunters, an organization does all it can to keep the employee on their rolls, and the superstars justify by adding value with each moment they stay in the organization.

Why they feature in the 20%: All thinkable reasons possible!!

What’ll be your addition to this list? Share with me through your comments!

While You Say Goodbye: To Cry or Not to Cry?

This post is for one of the most special person I know – She is leaving to pursue a 2-and-a-half year program at NID, Gandhinagar. She will be sorely missed, but I wish her luck for a great, great design career ahead. After all, she is one of the 9 people in the entire India this year who will study this program! Remember, first step is the hardest…

We are a bunch of emotional people who would love to cry given a slightest of the opportunity. Be it daily soaps, rising prices or just India losing a cricket match – provocation always results in a ‘tear-jerk’ reaction, following Newton’s third law. There are many factors, reasons, causes that can make us cry, but Goodbye’s are a special category. It evokes emotions like nothing else and breaking all barriers, tears go trickling down our cheeks. Whether its a temporary Goodbye or a permanent one, we cry like there’s no tomorrow.

But I find it really difficult to cry on exactly that moment. Is it the burden of upholding the image of a Man in the society or am I just too shallow? Well, here’s why I don’t cry while saying my goodbye’s and why I will not also cry while dropping my friend when she boards her train:

Enough Crying Done Already: Be it your last day in school / college, going away from home to study/work , breaking off from a bad relationship  or getting married to the person you loved (an everyone opposed), we feel so happy all the while that we have done it! but when the moment of truth hits us, we cry. Consider this – we plan for it, we work hard for it, we execute it and we achieve it. We cry so much in the process that being successful becomes our goal and we would like to just dash past the finishing line. So, when you have already cried so much, what’s the point to cry and make it look like the worst thing ever happened / happening in your life. There must be some other ways to show you care for what’s left behind!!

Its Happening for Good: Sometimes, you have this feeling that its all happening for good. And if I ever feel that, I would never cry whatever the situation may be. This is because I have convinced and overpowered my heart so much that I can never risk becoming the hurdle or bad omen for something starting afresh, having a lot of promise, hope and good times ahead. Extremely difficult to let the logic take over in such a situation, but I really cant help and get four drops of token tears on my cheeks that I wipe off as soon the other person turns away.

Root Cause of Goodbye: How can I cry if I am the cause of the Goodbye anyway? I am the one who ushered / pushed / made a case for the very change causing the Goodbye situation? I was the one always supporting, always game for the change and worked tacitly to convert a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ and ‘never’ into a ‘lets try’…I would be the last person on earth to cry in such situations.

Avoiding Me-too Situation: When there are enough people already crying, I wouldn’t want to join the chorus and expend my share of tears too. It really becomes hard to find out in such situations as to who is the actual person in pain and who is the one who really cares? Anyway, sometimes people cry with wisdom that such a situation warrants crying (ex. sending off ceremony in marriages) and it might look odd if we don’t. I hold back the temptation and let out my tears in personal conversation where the person will actually notice and understand my feelings. Its difficult really to judge a person if he is actually bothered about you or just faking it.

When Goodbye actually becomes Goodbye, the real period of pain and crying starts –  it finally ‘sinks – in’ the cruel game that has been played by fate; suddenly you realize that there is a void, that can’t be filled or past that can’t be undone.

That’s when it hits me and hits me hard.

P.S.> All of the above are applicable in the situation I am in currently – So, my friend, I may not show but I have cried my tears.

Lift Please – Are you going in the same direction?

Other day, I was watching the new Sprite ad on TV where a guy with a bike outdoes a guy with a car, apparently staged around the concept of hitch-hike or in common parlance, lift.

I thought the ad is flawed, who gives and takes lift these days? The person giving the lift thinks – you never know who the person is, a creep may be or a thug, and the person taking the lift thinks exactly the same. And in cities, if a guy asks a girl standing on a bus stop for a lift, we all know what the assessment of most people would be in such a case. Finally, there are movies like Road or hitch-hike, that present all gory details of giving lifts.

Lifts used to be such a great help earlier – when I had limited money and no vehicle, lift was like a godsend. My college was in a totally godforsaken place, on the highway in Greater Noida – when the only habitant of that place seemed to be couple of colleges, their students and faculty members. Lift was our saviour, and definitely a mode of travel when all other options like commuting with fellow student who had cars or the college bus were exhausted. The great help came in avatar of cars, scooter and bike riders,  trucks, tractor trawlers, auto-rickshaws (incredible!) and virtually all sorts of vehicles possible. The thrill of saving 10-20 bucks from those bloodsucking DTC and Private buses was immense; and the money was obviously diverted on other excursions.

That was then, 12 -13 years ago. Now, tables have turned. I am behind wheels and travel through a highway. I am fully aware of surroundings and perils of engaging with strangers, especially lifts. I again thought the sprite ad is bakwas, lifts are passé..

Then only couple of days back, I was again passing through the highway and just to reconfirm the route, I asked about my destination to a couple of guys standing near the bus stop. Standing along with those guys was a very old man, fondly called “Tau” in this part of the world. He asked me whether he can come along as he is going in the same direction. I just gave a glance in Tau’s direction and said hop-on.Tau was my co-passenger for around 25-30 KM in my long journey of 180 KM. While driving, I thought WTF, I am sitting with a complete stranger on a highway! I was really pissed off at my decision to re-confirm the direction and agreeing to give lift to Tau. I started to casually chat a little with him. Frankly he was not able to understand most things I was saying and the same is true for me. But like most Indian conversations among strangers, we talked about crops, politics, schools and colleges, weather, four-laning of roads, the new highway cutting across farms, and so on…

Gradually, it became better and one more glance at Tau made me realize that had I not been in the scene, old man would have waited for the roadways bus to arrive and probably reached at the honourable roadways driver’s pace. I have probably saved him some hassle and time, which he may or may not feel happy about.

After dropping Tau at his destination, rest of the journey, I was contemplating the trust deficit between two unknown, unrelated persons in today’s world. The situation is alarming and we are being too paranoid / cynical / insecure by putting all fellow human beings into one basket. Partly the reason why most people are left to die on the road. But then, we read newspaper reports and Police advisory on Highway commuting…Better safe than sorry?

On second thoughts, Sprite TV Ad may not be flawed – lifts may still be in vogue, somewhere.

How Far Can You Go for Your Passion?

Passion (Pash-uhn):  a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.

Probably one of the most frequently used word by the young generation today.  Everyone’s just looking for what they are passionate about. Be it choice of a career, a sport they play, person (or persons?) they love or simply something that they just love doing. One needs to be ‘passionate’ about something or you are just wasting your life.

The generation before me (born in 70’s), and to some extent my generation (born in Late 70s / early 80’s) didn’t attach so much importance to passion. It was a ‘good-to-have’ criteria. Good if you have taken up your hobby / liking as a job, good that you could marry the girl/boy of your choice, good that you keep on harbouring your passion despite a complete lack of interest in other areas of life. 

As a result, lot of folks, have their ‘moment of passion’ in later stages of their careers, post marriage, post children or even after reaching the pinnacles of their career. And then they follow their passion with much more conviction and purpose. I must mention about a dear friend of mine, who despite a so-called-successful career (and much more ahead!) would rather choose baking cakes over utilization of technology for better sales and operations. For baking cakes gives him joy and satisfaction like nothing, and he sees his future as a Chef rather than a CIO. Hats-off to you my friend!

Similarly, one of my friend and ex-colleague has gotten through the much-coveted galleries of Ivy League and would be taking a two-year program in US. This is post his marriage of two years (no kids though), and his wife will not accompany him – instead, she is focussing on her own passion working at grass root levels in rural India, in an NGO.

Rules of the game have changed today – the present generation puts passion before anything, and seems to be much clear in their thoughts very early in their lives and the best part is, they are not afraid of making mistakes. The change is indeed infectious and these guys / girls have become inspiration for lot of us who are still struck in second gear. For this generation, it has become a way of life, the formula of being accepted and recognized socially – with or without support from parents / other stakeholders.

Coming back to my generation and generation before, If I look around at my elders and peers, we like to play safe – Like to be in complete agreement with the theory of risk taking capabilities being inversely proportional to age. We evaluate, look at pros and cons, compare as-is with to-be and more often than not, return to our current state, accepting it as some kind of reality that we can’t change. For us, the reality takes precedence over the happiness to be attained through following your passion. Its almost like one in hand is better than two in the bush. But then, you must make peace within or you will keep lamenting your decision, reflecting in your work, personal life, and everywhere…

So, its a big decision, similar to that in front of  Chaitanya in this wonderful short film (in Telugu, with English subtitles) on similar dilemma, ending with a beautiful conclusion to choose between  – “dying once or dying everyday?” Alas, not everyone is as lucky as Chaitanya to get to travel in future and compare the  better of two states, for life is cryptic code that looks easy if we look back and impossible to crack if we were to see our future.

All said and done, it all boils down to one question – How far can you go to follow your passion?