Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mamihlapinatapai

No, that's not what happens when you fall asleep over your keyboard and drag your nose along the keys. It is a real word !! Seriously ! I am not making this sh*t up, i tell ya! Don't believe me? Google it up.

And the lord of wisdom says "The word Mamihlapinatapai (sometimes spelled mamihlapinatapei) is derived from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego, listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the "most succinct word", and is considered one of the hardest words to translate."

And what does it mean exactly?? I am glad you asked. It means roughly "The wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start." Now is there anything more bitter-sweet than this? The first time I read this word here (and i do not remember how i stumbled upon it...might have something to do with excessive amount of time spend on Pinterest), maybe like most, the first image i had is of a romantic moment between two people. That painfully excruciating, endless, powerful, sweet, tense moment where two people are using all sorts of mental telepathy to make the other do something or say something. And if, the stars are aligned, the moment is right, and atleast one of them have enough pluck, that telepathy works. Or most of the time, it is just lost and just brings a tinge of regret when you think of it later. Never happened to you? Who are you kidding!

And then, when i think of the word a bit more... it is not just a moment in romantic relationship. We have so many Mami---blah-blah moments throughout our day at work and in personal life. Just think of the two people involved as you and your devil's-advocate-alter-ego (whatever adjective it has at that point of time. Mine ranges from the rational to the go-jump-off-cliff-to-see-what-happens states). You are not sure who would blink first. Most of the time, you wait...waiting for yourself to be overcome by the sheer intensity of your emotion/idea that you have no other choice but to act on it..or just wait for that moment to pass. And then, you shrug your shoulders and murmer 'hmm..that wasnt meant to be'. This could be a new project idea at work which isnt completely ironed out to be presented to the team rightaway, or just telling someone 'no' or 'yes', or changing your mind about something or someone even though you were party to the whole plan the whole time, or just about listening really intently to what your impulse wants you to do.

How often does that moment pass you by?

Sunday, May 04, 2014

The tongue that binds

Are you ashamed of the place you were born in? Ashamed of your mother tongue? Do you not want to pass on your cultural and linguistic heritage to the next generation? If not, why don't you speak to your kids in your/their mother tongue ..confound it !!

This behavior of new-age parents living in cities / towns outside their home-state baffles me to the core. Most Indians speak a minimum of 3 languages – their mother tongue, English & Hindi or language of state where they live. Earlier the journey towards mastering or rather at least managing these languages always started with one’s own mother tongue. That's what you hear your parents, grand-parents, relatives, neighbors and friends speak in. Even before stepping into a world of formalized and institutionalized education, the toddler will speak his/her mother tongue with absolute fluency.

With the increasing number of youngster moving out of their home-state, settling and raising a family in far-off metros or aspiring metros, it is inevitable that the young one hears a mix of tongues around him growing up. But why does it have to mean that the parents speak to the kids only in English? For getting ahead in school ? For better pronunciation and accent-neutralization in early age? for seeming hep and with-it? For making your kid the global citizen he is? If not the parents, who will get the kid in touch with their roots? Would the hapless grand-parents with halting English have to make do with sign languages?

Is there is a scientific or logical explanation that speaking their native language to children will hurt them socially or academically? In fact a short googling will show studies which support the fact that children with strong first language skills are more ready and able to learn a second language.  In other words, it’s difficult to build a second language if the first language foundation is not established and supported WHILE the second language is being learned.

A curious exception to the phenomenon is that of kids brought up outside India. There, somehow, I see a higher proportion of parents who make it a matter of principle to get the kid well-versed in their mother-tongue. It is a part of getting them know their cultural heritage. Ofcourse it takes time and effort to teach a kid anything – did anybody say parenting was easy?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Till ''I do'' us do part

A dear friend reminded me the other day that i did have blog with a rather pretentious spanish name. And I finally admitted to myself that due to this blog's non-anonymous nature, i was not able to post some stuff without landing self into huge trouble at workplace... And then it became a habit, not writing about things which I feel strongly about. So here is my attempt to write about a train of thought i have been having for the past few weeks..it might hurt some feelings or break some illusions, but then, what is the point of having a space in the blogosphere if you cant call a spade a spade ?

Question is - Are opposite sex friends a poor proxy to your spouse ?Is friendship a stand-in until you have a marital relationship & life?

Before i take on a holier-than-thou attitude and start preaching on what & what does not constitute true friendship, let me confess my sins. I have probably lost more friends to sheer laziness in keeping in touch than i care to admit. But, this laziness was not aggravated even by a slight degree just because my Facebook status changed from 'single' to 'married'.  I have always been a very lethargic person in terms of returning calls or writing mails. 

But what is up with the guy-friends who had been there for me through thick & thin suddenly doing a MIA once they bite the bullet & tie the knot ? And no, I am not talking about the ones who a-la-Karan Johar says "Dosti hi pyaar hai..Love is friendship" and similar assorted bullshit. I can, with a very high degree of confidence, say that it was not a 'if you can't be my girlfriend, let us atleast remain friends' kind of relation i had with them. These were the guys who would completely forget I am a girl in the first place, the ones who would go through all single girls in my friends' list painstakingly to find the next one they could bribe me for the mobile number, the ones who had my back in my escapades, the ones who clarified what a particular cuss word meant, the ones who would put me in place, made me cry with their practical jokes & the ones who would cheer me up from the worst emotional doldrums.

One day he is doing a emotional blackmail on you to smooth talk to his parents/ girlfriends so that they do not push the 'get-your-sorry-ass-married-already' discussion. Next thing you know, he call up and wail for hours as to why his life is gonna be miserable coz the girl is now 'found'/ families have met and the bachelor days are numbered. Then you, like a idiot, console them with stories like 'married life isn't so bad...atleast you can share the rent and maybe she would do the laundry!'. And then comes the Q&A session with questions like 'Is it too early to gift sexy lingerie?' or 'Should i quit smoking coz she is asking me to?' and the shopping trips to perfume / jewellery / textile / soft toy stores where you basically given a budget to shop for his significant other with the only helpful guideline of 'make it look as if i have spent considerable time thinking about this gift' !

And by now with experience, that probably would be the last time he is gonna come to you when he wants a shoulder to cry on or an emotional sand bag to punch on. This would be the cue that your cameo role is his life is more or less over. Time to take a bow & exit, stage-left.

Another one of my guy-bestie is getting hitched this year end and i cant but sigh thinking that he too would, in all probability, walk the same road. I am happy that his wayward ways are gonna end, his mom can breathe a sigh of relief and his lungs & liver would write a 'thank you' note.. but i am also sad that my name is soon fall out of the 'most frequent called' list from his smart phone. And it is also the time i do a silent prayer to thank god for girlfriends.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Yes Boss ???

There are some styles of management or rather mis-management which never did make sense to me.. and in all probability never will. I have, perhaps, not been long enough in the corporate circle to get the subtle nuances, but still what i lack in longevity, i make up in quantity. In a span of 5 yrs of "working" for a living, i have worked for over 8 bosses...  From each, i learned  what they thought about human psychology.


Type 1: Blind-eye
Avoidance, if not ignorance, is bliss.


I have to digress for an anecdote here. In earlier times, when powdered rice or wheat flour was a rarity, the women of the household would buy the grain, wash it, separate the stones, spread it on a mat, dry it and then lug it along to the 'mill' to get it powdered. The tricky part here is drying. You have to keep a regular watch out for the feathered fiends who swoop down for their beak-ful of the good stuff. My grand-mom would do the buy-inspect-wash-spread part and then entrust my grand-dad to keep an eye out for the pigeons. Grandpa would get his favourite armchair out, put it under the shade of the tree and proceed to watch the grain.


After a while he would get comfortable with his chair, the shade and the breeze .. it becomes a rather tiresome job to lift his upper body up and say "shoooo....shoooo" to the birds which gather around. He rids himself of the guilt by closing his eyes whenever the birds come down. What he doesn't see...doesn't happen. What he doesn't see...is not his responsibility. What he doesn't see...cannot be blamed on him.What a comforting thought.



Most of my managers were like my grandpa in this responsibility aspect. They somehow think that if you ignore it, it will fade away. You speak to them, and he remains nonchalant on your concerns/ideas. You write, he doesn't reply. You propose meetings, he doesn't accept or refuse the meeting requests. You lay ambush to pounce on him and you see him walking the longer route to avoid running into you. 


They hate confrontation..are skeptical of new ideas.. and delay decision making. Nature would do its job and heal stuff, right??


Type 2: Pass the Baton
Over-delegation is the key to happiness!


Delegation of tasks, it is said, gives the person a sense of ownership of the task which in turn makes him more responsible and concerned about the outcome. Good idea.. But one manager i knew over-did this part. Well.... he did nothing but delegate. Which was still ok, if one could still ask him for guidance, or atleast a vague idea of what is expected. 


One good thing about these guys are...most of them will flatter you really well.. will give raving appreciation infront of your peers. But 'the catch' - none of this will get to the boss's boss. The delegater will be the black box that tasks go into and come out as solved - atleast that's what the big boss sees.


Word of advice. Get out !! you might get the challenges..but never the credit.


Type 3 : Micro Management
Nothing is right, until I do it.


This one is also a rather common style of management. Boss thinks he knows best. Hence, he has to do it. If he doesnt do it..he has to tell you how exactly to do it. And then, look over your shoulder to see if you are doing it the way he wants you to. Also a periodic review to know where you are and if you are putting your toes out of the line. He checks and then double-checks if you have dotted your 'i's and scored your 't's. And still is not happy coz he would have done it much better, ya know!!





 One manager i worked with was so obsessed with the indentation & colors in a powerpoint slides, that she was least bothered about the content. It did not impress her that i came up with out of box ideas to address a task more efficiently coz i had not used the same font size for headings everywhere !  The silver lining in the cloud if you are working for such managers, is that you would eventually become a perfectionist yourself or at-least develop an eye for detail.


Type 4: The buddy
The fairy god-mother/father type.


Woe to those who have this type of bosses - only coz you will be so spoilt under this guy that you will never find peace once the reporting structure changes. Why ? coz here is a guy who gives you the visibility, responsibility & credit. He would also shoulder some part of the blame from the bigger guys if things dont work out & will have your back during those firing sessions. He would give you a piece of his mind too - but not in front of his superiors or your peers, but in private. His criticisms would always be non-personal. His appreciations as well. He may be around for a round of beer on a friday night and would do team lunches paid out of his pocket just for the heck of it.


who wouldnt want such a person to work under ?? But then again, once you have such a great role model to look upto and emulate..what happens once you are out of this magical world ? Things become even more unbearable. Your tolerance for crass & insensitivity reaches a new law. 


Welcome to corporate life !

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Maha-Men in our Epics. Part II

Another ex: "Sita..or Not-to-Sita" by Ram



This is from the other great Epic, Ramayana.. which basically talks about SriRam (yes, only one 'Sri') and his life, battles & marital struggles...and most of all his sense of insecurity as a person.


Sita weds Ram in a Swayamvar .. for her it was love at first sight. Shortly after, back in Ram's kingdom Ayodhya, his stepmom, Kaikeyi schemes to send Ram into the jungle for 14 years. Ram obeys his dad's order & packs up his trekking gear. Sita, who i presume had been reading too many 'Go Vegan'.. 'The Natural way' and the likes, puts her dainty pedicured foot down to take her along. They are joined by Ram's half-bro Lakshman (who incidently, did not take his wife along..but instructed her to take care of his old parents than slurping on a 'Carribean Cocktail' in the jungle resort with him).



Many think that it was Sita's fascination with beautiful things which paved the way for the great battle of Lanka. I think not. It was Ram's lack of common courtesy which started it all. Ravana's (the demon king of island Lanka) sister had the hots for Ram. She asked him nicely  Ram ridiculed her. Well, he could have left it at that..but he instructed Lakshmana to cut her nose & ears out as well.. Ok!! this kinda mutilation shouldn't go unanswered ..should it? Ram had it coming... (though he get bonus marks for saying 'No' to a one-night stand with Surpanaka). Snubbing the babe is scorn-worthy enough, why throw in an unrequited cosmetic surgery??

Ravana made Mareechan transform into a golden deer & prance around Sita.. Bored with the old copies of 'Cosmopolitan', she wanted the deer to play with and asks Ram to get it for her. Off went Ram (anything to stop the nagging!) trailing the deer.. Dinner time..Sita worried herself sick that the Soup would go cold and asks Lakshman to go fetch Ram. Off he went as well. The coast being clear of deer-chasers, Ravana makes his entry and carries off Sita to Lanka..

Go to www.sitasingstheblues.com for Sita's view on Ramayana
 Now starts the part that irks me. Ram gathers together a battalion of Monkey-men, builds a bridge to the island Lanka kingdom, beats Raavan black and blue and then.. and then..throws a tantrum saying he cant take Sita back. So why the hell did he do all this naatak for, one may ask. And the answer is "Ego". How can an Indian male take it lying down when a random guy runs off with your wife? You do the socially accepted thing.. i.e. track the bugger down, stop just short of murdering him and then dump her. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it. Nobody gets the better of you..mind it!!


Sita musters up a plan to prove her innocence & chastity. Ram is convinced (for now), re-instate her position as his wife and all of them pack their bags to head back to Ayodhya to claim the rightful place as King & Queen..as Papa dear is no longer warming the throne. Things go hunky-dory for some time until Ram gets provoked by a comment made by a washerman regarding Sita's chastity. 'The King should be blemish-less' and off goes the now-pregnant Sita outta the palace again. Ram this time delegates the dirty work to Lakshmana..and like a kitten litter being dumped, Sita is taken away from the metropolis to the forest and left to fend for herself with some old-as-wood ascetics to keep her company.


Their story, their marriage..fine. No problem of mine.. But SriRam being touted as the 'ideal man' ?? Heck no!! What he wanted Sita for...was to fill up a position - the would-be prince should wed, the King should have an heir...there were a list of 'should be' attached to his own social standing he had to perform. His marriage to Sita was one such pre-requisite. Even this is acceptable..if only he could have been a bit more secure as a person and trust that his wife will not leap on the next available man in his absence. 

But i guess the 'ideal men' are supposed to look outward for social acceptance than inward for concerns on emotional security.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Maha-men in our Epics. Part I

Watching TV was not something that was openly encouraged in my family. In moderation though, this activity was deemed mandatory. 'Moderation' being defined as watching the 7pm news & 'Mahabharat' on Sunday mornings. I am, ofcourse, talking about the pre-Cable , pre- Satellite TV era..when all homes had only 1 channel... our good old Doordharshan.. DD for short.

If I & my sister behaved like nice kids the entire week i.e. did home-work without being forced to, ran errands without sulking, had quieter/shorter arm wrestles & scratch-others-eyes-out-fights, did not put up a fight when woken up for school in morning etc..etc.. we could get to watch chitrahaar on friday night. For 7 whole days of imposed & monitored saintliness, our much awaited reward was seeing the skimpy (chiffon saree in rain!! skirts with flares which rise up to show a stockinged leg when they twirl... OMG!!) dressed hindi film heroines & chocolate heroes (baggy blue jeans, sportshoes, t-shirt with graphic print in front worn with unbuttoned xxxxxl shirt tied into a knot at waist) gyrating their pelvis and dancing amongst earthen pots/flowers/250 dancers.

Watching Mahabharat on a lazy Sunday morning (mostly while downing your breakfast) was something we were supposed to do..but dint mind doing. This programme was made compulsory because
1. We are Hindus by birth..and should know what/how Krishna was.
2. Mom thought that girls should know about culture/mythology so that we dont get 'too-westernized'
3. We would hear something other than 'Dhak..dhak karne lagaa..' & some of that non-dhak-dhak variety of knowledge would find its way into our cranium.
4. Parents did not want us to embarrass them if someone asks me/my sis 'who are the trimurti?' and we would answer confidently ''I think it is really shahrukh, amir & salman..though the movie starred shahrukh,anil kapoor & jackie.''

Now, Mahabharat can be interpreted many many ways...and each of it is right. Some pundits say that this epic holds the key to many of life's questions. And each person in the epic embodies a certain character-trait which should be emulated.. even the villians.. (for ex: Dhuryodhana's loyalty..Kaikeyi's servitude to husband etc. etc.).

For me, instead of solving my questions, this show & the story had infact raised many. Instead of getting awe-inspired by the unshakeable strength  of character that each of the protagonists had, i got more dejected & repulsed with certain events in the storyline. The most common explanations i hear for this 'perceived' flaw in any of the Gods is that 'Even Gods are not perfect..and they do not intend man to be'.. Or 'These incarnations were created in the form of Man & some flaws had to inculcated in them to be more mortal-like'.

I dont buy these arguments... I believe that Gods should be imitation-worthy. They should embody all that we want to achieve & to be. Some fatal lack of strength tarnishes His image in my mind forever.

For ex: Draupati's Saree(?) Act.

Now, to start with, i hated Kunthi for saying 'Share it..whatever it is' to her 5 sons (the Pandavas ) when they came home with the prize(the bride) after Arjun won Draupati's swayamvara competition. This was purportedly done to keep the 5 brothers united. A wife for each = 5 wives in the family.. surely which mother-in-law would like to be outnumbered? With not one but 5 husbands to handle, poor Draupati would have no time to pick up saas-bahu tiffs.. clever, no?

To get around the 'i was here first', 'i am the eldest'., 'but, i won her!' hassles & tug-o-war among the siblings, it was agreed that each one gets a year with his wife..and during that time, none of the other husbands may enjoy her company or even see her. This worked well enough & the five year cycle continued.

Though the Draupati babe had not much of a say on the count of her husbands, there are events which reveal that she had a sense of identity, had her own strong opinions & sense of humour.



Coming to the 'Act'..
The eldest big-bro of Pandavas, Yudhistr, was a gamble-freak. So his cousin-gang Kauravas comprising of Duryodhana & 100 more such (remember: it was time  before 'hum do, hamare ek/do!') hatch a plan to make Yudhi gamble & lose his inheritance ( kingdom, wealth,..blah..blah). Yudhi falls for the trap, gambles on & proceed to lose his wealth, his throne, himself & his brothers. When left with nothing to gamble more, Yudhi did what any self-respecting gambler would do.. gamble on his wife. No brownies for guessing what happened.. he lost..again..

Rendered to the status of a slave due to her husband's deeds, Draupati is hastily summoned to the court..where she is verbally abused (She is called a whore for having 5 husbands).. made passes at (Karna asks her to sit on his lap)..& Dusshasana (another Kaurav sibling) think it would be jolly good fun to strip her naked in the court and proceeds to do so.

Like any 8 yr old fed on a steady diet of Hindi films would ask.. what were her 5 husbands doing all this while.. Isnt the 'man' of the family the protector/provider/avenger ?.. Oh well, in this one..they just sit back & watch.. At times, they hang their heads in shame. At one point of time when Arjun gets up in rage, Yudhi blocks him saying 'Whoaa..nelly.. hang on.. remember ..we too are slaves!!. So jus sit your ass back'.

Draupati realized that her husbands do not have the collective vertebrae to help her & turns to her friend Krishna for help...who does help her & keeps her modesty intact. This dis-robing ordeal over, Pandavas are asked to leave the kingdom & they promptly do so..with Draupati in tow..
("WTF!! why did she go with them?? Does she have short term memory loss....why cant she just file for a divorce & do Ctrl+C 4 times. Or better, why cant she marry Krishna..he got enough wives already, surely one more wont hurt.")

Or perhaps this is a interesting experiment in the group psychology. If an event is witnessed by many people, the probability of reaction decreases with the number of witness. Which is to say, if Draupati had one husband instead of 5..he would have, maybe..just maybe, stood up for her dignity. Here, each thought that anyone of the other four would have the pluck to react.

Anywhich way, embodiment of righteousness or not, what Big B Yudhi did..was just not right.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Menopause in your 20's

I, probably, would be the last person on earth to write on any biological phenomenon or bodily functions. My tryst with biology was severly severed (giggle..severly severed.. Frightfully frightened.. Readily ready giggle..giggle) after my Class X board exams. I used to mug up the terms & the various functions of different ventricle, enzymes & such ..and just write it out with the sole purpose of passing the exam. It is true that i have good marks in Botany & Zoology.. But thats because of my ability to do a faithful reproduction of the content in my textbook.


The only remote link i then had with the subject was the pictures in lab-record books i used to draw for my 'science-group but artistically non-inclined' friends. Even then these pictures fell short of academic expectations.. My lizards smiled, or the female Schistosomes haematobium coyly batted eyelids (?) at its male counterpart (or were they unisex?), human heart had a small compartment called 'Antonia Banderas'… Needless to say, my friends got in varying degrees of trouble.

But i digress.. This menopause, as i promised earlier, is nothing to do with blood & hormonal changes.. & even men can have it. Do you? Let's take the quiz.



1. You get out of bed in morning & the thought of going to office makes you want to curl back into the inviting warmth/coziness of your plush mattress.
2. You catch yourself wishing for a national holiday / strike / hartal / president's death so that you dont have to spend another day in that dreadful place.
3. You feel that the weekends are too far & too short in between & goes off even before it starts.

.. Did you say 'No' to all.. Hmmph.. Let us try again..




4. You have your CV/Resume updated…'just-in-case'.. Or worse, it is already uploaded in some job-hunting site or been sent to a friend to be 'referred' into his/her company.
5. You keep doing the 'what -if' situation in your head ( What if i had not been an engineer/manager/… What if i had chosen another college/job/company.. What if i take a loooong break..What if i sit in the toilet & dont come out till everybody is gone.. What if i break the keyboard on my boss's head…)
6. When you open your inbox, you wish that none of your friends/foes/classmates send you a 'Guess what.. I got a Promotion /New Job/ Onsite-Chance / VC Funding' mail.

Still 'No'?.. Man.. You are a tough cookie.. Or entreprenuer / artist / free-lancer / unemployed…aint ya?.. Ok.. Still one more qn: to go..

7. You wish you could do something 'more meaningful' with life.

Ha.. Gotcha.. Now grab a coffee, sit-down & let it out. It's ok. You are not alone. It is just the Career menopause. You feel you are completely clueless. In college one thinks that once one passes out, gets a job, gets some rave performance feedbacks.. It would all magically fall into place & your raison d'etre would somehow appear infront of you. It didn't happen. You took a post-grad / changed company and then thought 'aha..'.. But then, it is not quite completely there. Is it?

You know what you gotta do to get that promotion.. Or to get that onsite opportunity.. To get that increment.. But is it really what you want. How do you explain that little nagging feeling of confusion.. Of anxiety & maybe a bit of trepidition that you face? You keep thinking that your next milestone would hold the answer to all these questions. The next milestone could be a new job, a promotion, a role change, new location, or better financial security to just follow your heart's silly song.

So how do you get outta this rut? How do you ascertain if the grass is indeed greener on the otherside..or not? Well, like the typical consultant that i am, i would only hear your problems, look at your watch & tell you the time it shows…& maybe throw in some matrices as well. So here goes my matrix..


Well.. i am truly sorry that apart from putting in a stupid matrix, i cant really do more about this menopausal hitting of wall syndrome & symptoms some ,or rather, most of us show... Perhaps we could take comfort in the fact that it affects the best, mediocre & the worst amongst us.. misery does love company, doesnt it?

So the next time when you hear a friend or a colleague talking about his/her promotion or job-enlargement.. or wistfully about their childhood dream job.. you know what it is plagueing them..Just whisper to yourself CMP CMP CMP..and all would be fine for the day. And no, hitting your boss with the keyboard or hiding in the bathroom is not the answer...(although the hitting could help in releasing pent-up emotions!)...