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What was she thinking?

Few days back I watched an episode of the TV show ” Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader”. The contestant was an elementary school teacher. And what a disappointment she was. She could not answer one single question without taking help from her classmates who were 5th grade students. She used all her helps in the first 3 questions and didnt do well in the rest of the show.
And she is an elementary school teacher. How did she plan on facing her own class after disgracing herself like this on national TV.

I am not saying that the questions are simple for everyone. Who really remembers everything from 5th grade and I would be lying myself if I say I can do without any help on that show. But this lady is an elementary/primary school teacher. She is expected to know, if not all, atleast most of the answers. Atleast she should have prepared before coming on the show. I hope none of her students were watching the show.

What was she thinking?

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I dont understand what makes people want to celebrate birthdays at midnight. Whats with people who want to be the first one to wish someone on their birthday? Its not like the person was born at midnight and so the cake cutting ceremony has to happen exactly at that time. If anything check with the person what exact time the person was born and try to keep up with that.

Back in the younger days the only way to celebrate was to getup in the morning, put on your new clothes just bought for the occasion and then mom would do the traditional tilak and aarti for you. You would then go to school in your new dress. School allowed students to wear regular clothes instead of uniforms on their birthdays. Thats how the entire school would find out it was your birthday that day and would wish you. Sometime during the day your teacher would let the entire class celebrate your birthday by singing the birthday song and then you would distribute the chocolates and candies specially brought for this occasion to your entire class. Sometimes if it is your best friend or close friends birthday you would get 2 candies instead of one. I remember bringing it home to share with my little brother. In the evening you would invite the neighbourhood friends for a small party. Dad would get the cake and some potato chips and candies and some fruit drink (mostly Rasna) for the party. You would blow the candles and everyone will clap for you and you cut the cake. Mom would take the cake inside to cut into small pieces and bring dishes filled with cake and chips for everyone while everyone else gave you whatever small gift they brought for you. All the kids would get some return gift if any, although that was not a compulsion at that time as it is nowadays. Nothing fancy like they do nowadays, a single pencil or small bag of chocolates would suffice.

Everything was so sweet back then. There were no phone calls waking you up in the middle of the night or disturbing you throughout the day. Whoever wanted to wish you would personally come to see you. As you grew older and went to college, the celebrations took a different form. You stuck to just celebrating with your closest friends instead of the entire class. You would go to some restaurant for snacks where you would typically pick up the tab as a gesture of treating your friends on the occasion and the evening and dinner was reserved for family and close relatives who stopped by.

Crashing at someone’s home at midnight was unthinkable due to potentially disturbing the parents and in some cases even grand parents. I think it is mostly in US that I got acquainted with the weird method of torturing someone by depriving them of sleep right on the night of their birthday. To top it off an even weirder ritual began of applying the cake/icing on the face of the birthday boy/girl… At midnight??? Really??? When you are already in a sleepy mood, washed your face with a scrub and applied night cream and about to fall asleep after a hectic day maybe?? And it does not stop with just a slight application of cake on cheeks, in most cases that I have seen, it is more about painting the entire face with the cream from the cake and also coating ones hair with the cream. How can this be fun? I feel it is simply disgusting and feel terribly sorry for the person for 2 reasons. First he/she has to spend hours after the caking ceremony in the bathroom cleaning up the creamy stuff from face and hair. And next probably the entire night or next day cleaning the mess left in the kitchen or wherever the cake hitting took place. What happened to those simple-no-mess ways of celebrating?

Maybe I am still old fashioned in this aspect. I prefer quiet celebrations. I prefer spending the day with Hubby or maybe just the closest friends. I would love to go for some nice dinner and/or movie and only answer calls during the day time. I wish no one disturbs me at midnight by either showing up at my door or with endless calls. Even if I get labelled as the boring person who never indulges in the fun I can deal with it. Coz birthdays are meant to celebrate the person and not torture him/her by hitting with cake, right?

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Back On Track

I cannot get fancy with words, nor am I good at writing philosophical stuff that can get me classified as an A-list blogger. I am not very patient with exploring my writing skills, clearly explained by the long spells of absence from my very own blog. Nor I have the will to update my blog daily. But I so much enjoy the thrill of penning down sporadic epiphanies that occur to me from time to time. And just to know you have a place to turn to is really assuring.

Today I went to the gym after almost… hmm… I dont even remember how many days. Life had been too busy past couple of weeks and weekends were just as crazy. To start with my brother came to visit me for a weekend in Aug and then we went on a 3 day hiking trip over the labor day weekend and then the week after that one of my cousin from came from India. She is doing her masters in a university in South California and I insisted she come to my place first to stay with me before her school starts. So that weekend was spent sight seeing around the bay area and the week after that we drove to South California to drop her at her university. It didnt stop there. Our college friends who have been dating for like ever now decided to get married the next weekend, again in South California and so it was another 13 hr drive weekend. Oh! and BTW we had been to Channel Islands (again in South California) over the long weekend. So we had like 5 back to back weekends packed with minimum of 12-13 hrs of driving on each.

As much as a weekend full of interesting activities is desirable to de-stress you from your stressful workweek, it also adds a stress of its own and you end up trying to relieve yourself of the accumulated weekend fatigue and disrupt your otherwise normal workweek.

To begin with, your excercise routine goes for a toss since you are tired from all the driving etc and then in evenings you struggle with doing your laundry and other routine household activities like cleaning, arranging etc while simultaneously cooking dinner at home coz the extra junk you managed to push down your throat over the weekend starts showing on the scale by now. And then you realise that your recently reinstated home cooking regime needs to be supported with important items in your pantry and thats when the failure of planning a grocery list hits you and you find yourself making several trips to the grocery store to restore some of the basic items in your kitchen. Come another crazy weekend and before you realise you are in a vicious cycle and you start craving for that relaxing-do-nothing-but-chill-out-at-home type weekend. Thankfully I got mine and I am glad to find myself back on track finally.

Today while running on the treadmill I realised that as much as we crave stability in life, a montonous uninterrupted routine life can really make you dull. Imagine having to get up daily at the same time, go to gym, go to work, come back, cook dinner, cleanup and go to bed just to wake up the next day and start the same cycle again. Would you call this stable or boring? In reality no matter how much we hate our routine disturbed, life always finds ways to ensure we dont wear ourselves out in our propensity to stay on track. And as much as I feel these changes in your life are required, nothing feels better than being back on track after a long bout of craziness.

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Weird People

In the past few weeks I had few encounters with really weird people doing some really weird stuff and wondered, where do they make such specimens:

1. The guy in my office who comes daily to talk to the lady sitting in my aisle. He keeps walking in and out of her cube while talking to her, kinda restlessly and is very annoying until one day when he actually decided to calm down and sat on the desk, only to bring it down with a big thud. What a funny sight it was that day when we all ran to see what happened and found these 2 desperately trying to hold on to the laptop and other other things that were sliding.

2. The lady from previous example who is checking out some bikinis online unaware of the same guy from previous example walking into her cube and instead of pressing alt tab continues to ask his opinion on those. It was horrible listening to those 2 talking about what will suit her and what should be the max age to flaunt one’s body in a bikini. uughhh!!!

3. Some people from my work who keep harassing a sick intern with their snide remarks about how he passed on his cold to them instead of taking step to improve their their own immunity. I sit right next to that sick guy and nothing happened to me yet.

4. My neighbor, who parks his car next to mine. When we asked him if he could please move his car and park somewhere else for few minutes coz we had to jump start ours, he made a weird face. As if to say we are causing him much discomfort. Have they stopped making friendly neighbors anymore??

5. Two engineering graduates who hold a degree in Electronics and passed in first class but still freaked out over jump starting a car battery. Its not a rocket science rt? I mean how difficult it is to just stay calm and follow the step by step instructions?

Okay the last one was me and hubby, but in our defense, it was our first time 😦

Edited to add: When Hubby dear read this he insisted that i should mention he passed with distinction. And that just made things more weird.

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I don’t exactly remember when but I think sometime in mid of year 2006 I got hooked on to the world of blogs. I know that’s bit late than most people on my blogroll started blogging. But I didn’t have any access to the internet before that. No computer at home and the company I worked for before that had blocked access to internet.

I was randomly searching for discussion threads on forum about legal complications of not changing your name after marriage when I stumbled upon the blog of a lady who had written about her experience. Yes, ladies have been blogging about these issues ever since blogspot and wordpress gave them the tools. I don’t remember which blog was that but that was my gateway into the wonderful world of blogs that I had discovered through her blog roll.

I don’t know when I got addicted to the blogs I frequented. It became a daily routine to logon to the office laptop every morning check for important official emails, then check the news site and then check for new posts on the blogs. I never thought I would get one myself someday. I never thought I write good enough to express the exact thoughts into words, and I still don’t. But after years of contemplating I finally decided to get one. And I can’t believe myself I managed to survive for six months already.

I like reading blogs. I get to learn so much from other people’s experiences. I get to see how other people think. I get to compare that to what I think and sometimes realize how wrong I was. Or sometimes start believing more strongly in my belief. I get to see what things annoy some people and realize how some of my actions could have annoyed people around me in the past. I get to see how other people react to disagreement and learn how I can change the ways I handle confrontations in my life. I read all the polished comments and refined replies of the bloggers who have a strong command on the language. I get to improve on my choice of word I use for my daily communications.

I have noticed I have become better in handling unavoidable confrontations. I tend to remain calmer and composed than I used to be during conflicts with family, friends and coworkers. I tend to try and understand why the person is behaving the way he is in first place. Try to acknowledge that he or she has the right to have a different point of view. And it is absolutely fine for two people with difference of opinions to coexist with each other.

I have also learnt that sometimes silence is golden. It is not necessary to comment on every single thing that you disagree with as long as it is not affecting you directly. Sometimes in a conflict it is wise to let the moment pass. Some statements can be ignored if they start getting to you. It is not necessary to reply every rude remark with the same rudeness. You can win over rudeness with your polite approach.

I have learnt not to be judgmental. Off course I can’t say I totally avoid judging people but I am learning to remind myself not to. I have learnt to ignore some initial biases I had against some people and started to see them for what they are.

Overall from sharing my experiences and reading others I feel I am getting to be a better person. Who says blogging is a way to pass your time. I say it is a way of life.

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All Monkey Business

I was chatting with this guy I know for some time (lets just call him Mr. Smarty) about the current economic situation and how that is affecting the IT job market. He then mentioned that there was a job opening in his team that was filled recently. It was filled by a contractor/consultant (person who is not fulltime employee) who was already working in their team. But the surprising part was the contractor submitted Mr. Smarty’s name as the person who referred him and they split the referral bonus between themselves. Impressed by the contractor’s performance, the manager of the team had made an offer to him and when the contractor accepted it he filled Mr. Smarty’s name as the employee who referred him.

I was shocked. How does this even qualify as a referral? To qualify for an employee referral bonus you should be referring someone whom you know to your manager and not someone who is already offered a job by the manager. Mr. Smarty was totally justifying the situation by saying that, the money that was assigned as a referral bonus for this position would be wasted otherwise, but at least this way both he and the contractor get to keep some of it. I tried to reason with him but he was not finding anything wrong. It may have been fine, if Mr. Smarty had referred before the manager offered the job. But I don’t know the policies of this company so don’t know if that would qualify for the bonus either. The point here is not if it was legal or illegal but feeling OK about some money earned in the wrong way.

On asking how the manager didn’t object to any of this, I realized that the manager was even bigger swindler. Sometime back there was another opening in the team. It was filled by a person referred by a contractor who left the company after referring his friend. This manager had the new employee fill an existing employee’s name as a referee so that the manager can later get the referral money from the employee. The manager had to do this because he didn’t want the money to be wasted and a contractor or the hiring manager cannot get the referral money directly as per rules.

I know these are not big crimes (or even crimes) compared to some recent scams and money launderings we have been hearing. And I don’t know whether we should call these people “smart” who know how to make something out of any situation or simply people who have no conscience left and are ready to make money out of any situation. Depends mostly on whether you think it is ethical or not.

I was further discussing with this Smarty that although I don’t disrespect him for doing that, I personally feel it is unethical and would never do it. Different people can have different principles and morals standards. What is fine for one person could be wrong for other. Depends on your circumstances and situations you faced in life.

For example, if you find some money lying on the road and no one is coming to pick it, you may think you are lucky and just pocket it, OR leave it there thinking it is not yours and should not take it OR take it but donate it somewhere coz leaving it there may land it into someone else’s pocket who thinks he is lucky and so instead use it for good cause. OK this example does not relate or is no where closer to the two incidents above but just to demonstrate different people may have different morals.

In both of the above cases the only party that was wronged was the company they worked for and the amount of referral money may be trifling for the company. But I was still trying to justify to this Smarty why I thought it was wrong. So I asked him if he would do it knowing that if someone found out about it, he/she would definitely bring it to HR’s attention. Mr. Smarty thought for sometime and said that, if that was the case he would check the rules of the company first. Then why didn’t he bother to check it before? Now isn’t this same as you wouldn’t mind doing any crime as long as you are 100 percent sure you wont get caught, but if there is a smallest possibility of anything going wrong you would refrain from doing it? I don’t know where I am getting at by rambling about all this. It doesn’t affect me directly. Yet I feel bothered by seeing someone doing things that don’t fit in my moral standards. You’ll never know when everyone around you starts resorting to such means and the only alternative left for you to survive in this rat race is by adopting the same approach.

This same smarty gave one more example. One of his friend (lets call him A) was seeking a job in company C where another friend of Smarty (lets call him B) worked. A asked Smarty if he knew anyone in company C who could refer his resume. Now A didn’t really need someone to refer him, he could have posted his resume against the job opening on the company’s site, but he was just seeking to make some buck out of this situation. So Smarty introduced both of them and B referred A in his company and got some referral bonus when A was selected. But surprisingly B shared that with A and with Smarty. These people have just turned this into some quick money making business. And they don’t find anything wrong in it. All parties are perfectly fine. So in this case A instead of being just thankful that he got the job thinks he was smart enough to land the opportunity and tries to milk his share out of B’s gain. B on the other hand thinks instead of letting A fend on his own let me help him by referring him and get something myself out of the situation. Coz referrals by employees stand better chance of getting selected than regular job applications. Mr. Smarty on the other hand finds it perfectly alright to milk his share out of this since he played the middleman, coz if it was not for him none of A or B would have got anything. Playing a go-between person in business and getting commission for that is OK but turning a simple referral scheme into money making business is simply beyond my comprehension.

But wait Mr. Smarty is not Mr. Smarty for just this. It seems there is a scheme run by some cellphone service providers, that if you refer a friend, you can both make 25 dollars each. But it should be done within one month of the start of new subscription. Now Mr. Smarty is has made over 200 bucks like this, referring subscriber after subscriber. And may be the service provider might be OK with all this as long as they are getting new subscriptions. Maybe they had this calculated before introducing the scheme. But it is remarkable that people are using it to their advantage. Now some people would not bother to hunt down friends or acquaintances starting new subscription just to earn 25 dollars. But people like Mr. Smarty are doing it and find nothing wrong in it.

This has become a really long ramble. But these and many such instances that I come across make me wonder if there is just no limit to what this opportunistic society may turn into a money making business. Some may think turning into Mr. Smarty is the need of the hour and some may just adhere to their standards till forced to let go. Where and when we fail our own resolve will just indicate our level of fortitude.

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More On Blogging

This time I don’t want to suffix the name of this post by Ethics or any other word. Coz I don’t think anybody has any say in what ethics one should follow. One can only hope and the most one can do is do what he or she thinks is the best policy.

This is just my view of the whole Chyetanya – Barkha drama.

In the past couple of days I read a lot of blogs which mentioned that Barkha and NDTV filled a lawsuit which lead to a blogger removing his post in which he had criticized her. I really don’t know if this is true. It could very well be true but there are certain things that come to my mind right now

During the Mumbai attacks a lot was written about her. A lot if remarks were made stating she has no moral and all the allegations that she caused casualties. And she also came up with a response to all the comments. But then why didn’t she sue any other blogger? Why did Barkha and NDTV decide to sue just this one blogger?

If you read the original post by this sued blogger, he did not write any horrible or defaming remarks of his own. He has just quoted Wikipedia. Then why hasn’t Barkha sued Wikipedia? Why didn’t barkha go after the bigger fish?Why did Barkha and NDTV decide to sue just this one blogger?

The blogger just mentions that he is unconditionally removing his post and is giving his apology. I did not find him say that this is in response to any lawsuit. There could be many reasons for him removing the original post. It could be a lawsuit or any other thing. I don’t want to list the other thing that are coming to my mind right now but if you think hard there could actually be many other reasons why he wrote it. Then what leads us to conclude that Barkha wanted to sue just this one particular blogger?

After the Mumbai attacks not just the bloggers but a lot of people condemned the reporting policies through various medium. And she responded to all the remarks, but then she just decided to sue this one blogger? I really don’t get it. Barkha cannot be that dumb or threatened by just this one blogger. Or maybe she had to take some personal revenge with him or maybe he wanted to take some personal revenge with her. See now even I am jumping to conclusions about people I don’t know. But jokes apart and no offense to anyone in particular, I tried searching a lot yesterday to find any reference to any lawsuit endorsed by NDTV or Barkha herself. But all I found was different blogs with links to read here and read there and see his views and she has written better etc etc.

I may be wrong but I feel this whole thing is like those junk forwards we get. With details of how a boy got electrocuted while talking on a mobile phone while it was charging. That you should not microwave food in plastic containers. That you should not drink water from non reusable bottles. That some girl somewhere is sick and need money for operation. While you would follow a lot of these out of caution, a lot of these are hoax. But most of us just forward them thinking we are doing community service. I personally don’t fwd anyone of these unless I have verified that these are not hoax and most of the time end up emailing the friend who forwarded me this asking him/her to do research before sending such stuff to me. I think most of my friends have got the point by now and have stopped mailing such stuff or at least to me.

So coming back to Barkha’s case, she might have sued him and I don’t know if she is required to declare in public that she is suing so and so. But I hoped I would find something on at least the NDTV’s site. I might have not searched enough, or I might have not searched with the correct search criteria. But I did not find anything on any news site. So this is humble request to everyone or anyone who might read my blog and is interested in wasting anymore of their precious time in taking the search forward, if they actually happen to find anything then can they please let me know?

Updated: Did some more blog hopping to find this cache of what was posted on NDTV’s site .
This link here says Barkha did send a legal notice to the blogger. I dont know how true it is since anyone can actually create a fake profile. It could be Barkha herself but then still who knows.

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