Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"YES" I can't say "NO"

I am not sure how many of you are comfortable uttering the dreadful word "NO" , but I am for sure at complete disarray with it.I am at ease in scenarios like Boss's  final take on a project or  girlfriend's choice of gift on your birthday,  where saying  "No" is absolutely not in picture and you need to accept decisions gracefully putting up a brave smile. But the dilemma arises when I have an option between "YES and "NO"

They say saying "No" is an art.Can somebody please make it more user friendly?. All these years I have been  struggling to say "No!Sorry I won't do it” nonchalantly.Infact I don’t even  remember saying it. The moment somebody expects some work to be done from my end which would of-course not benefit me in the least possible way, I always hear an inner voice saying to me  "Wake up Dude!!” but I just say “NO” to the inner voice and end up saying “YES” to the front person.

All thanks to this trait I have been a part of numerous birthday parties,marriages and at times even played the role of an event manager staying back even after the hosts have left home. I did some googling and found I was not the only one struggling to say “No” .There are millions of others who are a part of the club. The root cause is the belief that , you are on this earth, to please everyone and can't take chances of causing an upset.You start thinking ”arey yaar ! sunil kya sochega” “woh sunil ke padosi sharma uncle kya sochenge” the list is endless.

“Learning the art of saying NO” is serious topic being discussed in MBA courses off late. But I feel its too late for me now to join an MBA course just to say “NO”

So I am continuing the trend of saying “YES” and my inability to say “NO” to Vishal has landed me yet again in a new venture "http://southindianpuranpoli.blogspot.com”.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Whats up with marriages and invitations?

My friend called me one month after my wedding. "Hello! Vishal, tell me one thing. Are you married?", "Yes of-course", I replied, realizing that I had forgotten to invite him. "Many Congrats!" Bang, the phone was down. I tried to reach him. My calls were all rejected. Dropped him an sms. "Apologies, I somehow forgot, please come and meet me over a coffee!" Pat came the answer "Go to hell" Annoyed , I sms'ed him back. "Would you have made it from the US? Expect a honest answer!"  Back came the reply. "No! I expected a invitation anyways". I had no answer to all this. I decided to give up realizing, this was just a tip of the iceberg.

Another call came some day later. A distant friend to be honest. "You mailed me but you never called me. How do you expect me to come?" I was like, but I wrote in the invitation "Please consider this as my personal invitation". He asked, "do you really mean it?" I said, "Of-course". The conversation ended there. I did not dare to sms him, I was experienced now! A relative called this time. I was in a meeting at office. Nevertheless, I took the call. With lots of confidence I asked, "You did not make my wedding". I was expecting a optimist response like, "Arey Chotu ki exam thi", "Achanak tumharey uncle ki tabiyat kharab ho gayi". The reply was interesting."You did not invite properly". I was shell shocked. What is proper invitation? Alien concept!  "I had sent a hard copy of my invitation and called you too". "Yes, you did all that beta, but you did not write a letter in the invitation. We are elders and expect personal invitations" I had not answers to this. I excused myself, saying my meeting was is progress. "Will call you after the meet". No prizes for guessing. I never called.

And then there was another friend with whom I had a chat session. In-fact, I was getting all sarcastic replies to my questions. It did not take me long to realize I did not invite him. It was a recession year and I had decided to call a selective few. I did not call outstation people for a simple reason. The hotels were unavailable and the ones which were available were only 5-stars. Gosh I wasn't spending my honeymoon in those, so the question of accommodating them was certainly out of question. I told him matter of fact. "Yaar, recession chal raha hai, so I made this event a low key affair. But of-course you are welcome anytime, if you like to wish us and spend time".To utter disbelief, he made a mockery of it and did not limit it to the confines of the chat-room.

And then there is other category too. One who are invited with all personal invitations, phone calls, invitation cards (both hard and soft copy) all arrangement made, but don't turn up. There is a friend of mine who did not turn up too. It seems he was happy about it though. Days later, he sent a mail across (many people included), "why there were none from our group for your wedding". The intention of the mail was unclear. May be he was trying to embarrass me. Guess what, I was least bothered.

That's about me. I have heard equally amazing stories too. A very good friend of mine, had printed millions of invitations cards (supposed to be distributed to the entire village). However on the day of marriage only a countable few turned up. After a desperate find, realized that the card had a misprinted date.Gosh what a error. Another chum of mine had distributed equal number of cards (if not more). Same apathy.Not many turned up. In rural areas, there is a tradition to include the name of close ones (specially relatives) in the invitation cards. Somehow there was a printing mistake in the card too. The crime was, he had misprinted his close relative name by mistakenly addressing him "Late" (meaning expired). Half the people were upset with it and the other half had gone to share the sorrow of the deads family.

Worse was a scene where the bridegroom decided not to turn up for his own marriage. Reason- His education qualification were not scribbled on the bride's invitation card. He decided to throw a tantrum at the last minute.Fun, isn't it? Not really. An evening to remember suddenly becomes a evening to forget for the hosts. Remember we can get caught in that trap too. These days, I make it a point to attend weddings just to wish people. Sometimes invited, other times ...........

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A shot at Bhaigiri!

Inspite of the fact that Ranjit has warned me not to scribble on this subject again, I couldn't resist the temptation of describing another eventful Pune-Mumbai journey .There seem to be no dearth of stories and events while I happen to travel this route frequently for personal work.

It was Saturday and after an unusually heavy meal, took my sack and boarded the bus. My thumb rule for any journey is board the first possible bus irrespective of whether it is cattle class (Shashi tharoor's knows what it means) or whether it is sophisticated high class Volvo. This time I  spotted a  Volvo from a fair distance and ran a half marathon to catch the bus. I made myself comfortable at my favorite window seat;plugged in my cell earphones and  there I was, the happiest living human being on the earth. All was hunky dory until the bus decided to take a halt after a good half journey. Some wanted to pee and others wanted a snack.

I decided to get a cuppa to wake myself up from the lethargy of seating numb-less for a couple of hours. My bums were more tired than any other part of my  body, so just stretched myself a little bit. With a alert body and semi lethargic brains, i joined in the queue to get tea coupon. I just stood at the  overcrowded counter and after a patient wait of 5 minutes, I was warming up for my turn. Just when I picked some cash from my wallet, I was screamed at by a  strange looking 35-40 something fellow. By the time I could realize what was happening, he had already hurled a bountiful of abuses on me. I stood there shocked for a second  and asked him the nature of my crime. He continued to yell at me "Kya #$#$#$# log hai, samajtha nahi hai line hai $#$#$#$#" Listening to the meaningless abuses, I had become extremely alert by now as the pressure created by the adrenaline rush was climbing up by gigantic proportions. Essentially, my blood was zooming like a F1 car.He kept shouting in Hindi for not standing in the queue. Queue what queue? I realized, may be he was standing a little longer than I  was, but honestly there wasn't a queue any where per se. I would be the first person to follow a queue and would not have felt ashamed in any which ways to stand behind him. But, he continued to shout (may be venting his frustrations on me) and by now ,I was loosing my control as well.  Suddenly I lost my patience and there i was, shouting back at him, unleashing harsh yet decent words on him left, right, center. He soon realized that he was loosing battle as I was getting pretty aggressive. He left the counter with head down as he never expected a backlash. I was not in my senses though. I followed him to his desk and gave him a mouthful in front of his gang. He looked embarrassed as his ego was bruised badly. I too realized that I had gained the upper hand now and just to make him realize,the way in which he reacted was wrong, I mock called a BHAI from my mobile. My one sided conversation was like this. " Ha Bhai, mi lonavala la ah, dhabya var....pathav jara karyakartyanna...Lavkar jara........ek gabra ahe, tyla dakhvacha ahe.......ha lagech gadi bhar" (Bhai send a truck load of volunteers at Lonavala dhaba to get this stupid guy straightened out) I soon realized that he was a fellow Marathi too and by now seem to have completely mellowed. He discussed with his fellow mates as to what to do now, since he had got in to trouble . His face was showing all kind of expressions. He managed to pull crowd to his table and began explaining to them how right he was. In the mean while, i continued to call on my mobile following him like a Vodaphone network and this time all i said was, " ha kuthey ahe...lavkar lavkar" (ha where are u, pls send asap) I managed to create  panic in him mind. I was happy that my fragile body was by now swelled up with pride. Realizing that I was not  going to leave him , he decided to break ice with me. He apologised for the abuses and told, me that he was wrong for using such harsh words. I too realized, no need to pull his leg further and spoke politely to him too. "If you could have requested me, I wouldn't have created a scene too" He continued to apologize and I told him to leave as soon as possible since once the BHAI gang comes, they would not listen to me as well and would definitely have a shot at you. He requested his fellow mates to pack up and within minutes drove away from the place. I suddenly was looked as a role model there and walked with a bhaigiri aura .

Silently I was praying that the plan did not backfire on me. After few minutes, the bus started again. I took my seat. My fellow seat mate who was full of attitude earlier was suddenly smiling at me with loads of respect. He broke a conversation with me and asked me who Bhai is? I was dumb-stuck at his question as I myself did not know who he was. But, I decided to enjoy my bhagiri a lttle more. "Arey Bhai ka naam Ranjit hai aur woh bahot dangerous he, uske sar key baal bahut lambey hai ...............................................

Monday, November 16, 2009

How to face an interview.............................

If you happen to have completed graduation without an appreciable track record and have taxed your brains to the hilt to qualify for higher studies but yet "Failed".You have no other way out but to succcumb to Social Pressure and hunt for a "Job" at an early stage.......

        That is exactly what happend to me though I managed to sneak in around 6 months of prefect bliss doing nothing as my parents gave in to my confidence of clearing an upcoming entrance exam.Those six months were spent in utter confusion since I could not figure out how to study for an Entrance Exam as there was neither a Defined start nor a Predictable end.My confusions showed in the results and I failed big time.

       I was a part of the Social Pressure now.Though may failure to crack the Exams was supposed to be the best kept secret on earth confined to the four corners of my house.The paparazzis did their job and the news leaked out.I was not very popular in my locality and  was considered to be studious.Not their fault since they were always used to seeing me  carrying journals and big books on my way to college.

Give in to Human Psychology failures attract people like bees to honey. I was suddenly everyones eye candy and saw a sudden surge of unexpected visitors enquiring about me.I guess when someone who is considered an intellectual fails the excitement is doubled.At times I felt like a Terminally ill patient who is being visited with loads of fruits....

Things got worse and one fine day my mother downrightly declared

"I am fed up of making tea for these visitors and then discussing your failures over it"

After a lot of "APPLY APPLY NO REPLY" scenario the ball finally landed in my court and I was called for an interview by a reputed MNC.In a split of a second the gloomy atmosphere turned into a Festival one.This time for a change my interview call was made public just to keep the visitors at bay and it worked.I was suddently left alone......

The buzz and excitment surrounding the interview call was such that I totally ignored the Presentation and Technical skills required to face it.I was just banking on some university viva sessions which I thought I faced confidently and imagined this would be a cake walk for me as well.

    All my calculations however went haywire and I couldn't even make it past the first round.I learned the facts the hard way.The situation was back to one at home with the visitor count gradually increasing but this time I was conspicious by my absence as I was busy hunting for books "How to face an interview"


Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to propose a girl - The township way!

I spent my childhood in a superb sleepy place called Ozar Township which is about 19 kms from the holy city of Nasik. Township is a habitat for the employees of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It has the company of a small and petite village called Ozar-goan which mainly belongs to the business class and farmers. The school in which we studied (Ranjit included, yes Ranjit is educated!) had majority of its population belonging to these twin brothers. The diverse culture between the small towns provided a perfect platform for students to understand the difficult geographic and political topic of "Unity in Diversity”. I never had to mug that fortunately, as that was the only one I understood perfectly.Unity in diversity meant, studying together, playing together, hitting together and yes proposing the girl together too.

The picture to propose the girl may look rosy looking at the camaraderie of the school friends. But trust me, it was not. It was as difficult as getting a hefty pay raise during a recession year. There were tons of millions of factors to be considered before which you could think of proposing a girl - even in your dreams. As you would expect there were typical, boy loves girl (one sided) stories. And then there was also usual, hypothetical "starvation of good looking females" crib. On an average there were two good looking girls per class. Our batch had seven divisions and each division would have 50 students approx with a girl to boy ration of 40:60. Any one could imagine why those scant extinct species of beautiful girls had to suffer. 28 adolescent, hormone avalanche-ing boys, per division, had their crushes, dreams and what not on a these rare beauty personified girls. When the competition was so neck throat and stiff, only a few gutsy ones would get a chance to propose his sweetheart. Others would mull over the lull. The majority of guys would fall under the 'other' (Ranjit included) category. To soothe themselves they would form a group (of failures) and would together blame the gutsy fellows, each one though secretly admiring the gustiness.

Who got to propose the girl largely depended on his status in the school. Some of the parameters to qualify for these were smartness, popularity, marks, father’s status in the office, ability to speak confidently, to name a few. But amongst all, Vat-ing or Backing (support from seniors and external crowd) had the most weightage. Gosh even if you had all the things in your favor, without the support factor, you had no chance to stand. So, the seeds of lobbying were sown in childhood itself. It was not surprising that there were many groups and subgroups. But mainly there were two rival groups and the subgroup support would go to the one who agreed to their ideology.

Now the smartest boy from Group A would throw his weight around declare that he has fallen for the beautiful classmate. Other members in the group would half heartedly (as they are also equally passionate about her) nod their heads. Their true emotions would never be shown on the face. When this eligible boy is trying to impress the girl by doing all sort of crazy things, Group B members (the opposition party) are secretly planning to bash him up. They would sometimes contact the girl offline and bitch her about him. D-day would arrive. Eligible bachelor, after all his gimmicks would plan to propose her. Group B members would not let this happen. They would suddenly turn themselves in to her brothers. Brother! yeah.They had their I-Cards printed with these words. Eligible bachelor would now be nervous. He would try to contact his group members. It would be too late sometimes. Group B member had already pounced on him and hit him all over. Girl would be confused, but also proud now. She had gained all the TRP's now and would walk with lots of confidence. Twist in story. Brother's friend also has a crush on the same girl. He proposes. Girls about to have a nervous break down.
Though the story appears hyperbolic, I had been witness to worse scenarios. I remember once, the two rival groups were bashing up each other and the girl was completely unaware as to why was this happening. Even worse was a scene where the brothers asked the hero to bend on his knees and ask the heroine to forgive her. If anyone succeeded in proposing the girl, it meant she has said 'YES' to his strange question. "Aye Friendship deti hai kya tu?" I often laugh alone remembering that punchy line. The question it seems is now changed. It is more forthcoming and updated now. It reads "Aye Loveship deti hai kya tu?"  Jeez, what a way to propose. Well,this can happen only in Township. No where else!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Was I focussed enough????????

I was pretty much happy on a personal level with the way things had been unfolding over the past few weeks.When suddently the age old proverb "All good things come to an end came true on me"  after  I met this 15 or something adolscent in the bus on my way to office.

 Usually I have this habbit of getting into conversations with people in the bus just to kill the time and avoid dozing off which usually lands me in big trouble since there have been occassions where I have almost travelled 5 to 10 km backwards to office as I would be busy dreaming when my stop arrived.A glance at the teenager  and I knew "Studies and Career" and no other topic would be ideal  in starting a dialogue with him.The attire he wore seemed to be the uniform of some reputed college coupled with the overloaded bag which seemed more healthier than him.I was already busy preparing the script in my mind . How I would advice him regarding the mistakes which I committed and which he could avoid.I even went to the extent of thinking as to how this conversation would change his life for ever and he would always be indebted to me.

I greeted him with an "Hello" and he responded half heartedly I didn't mind since as a initiator of conversations in most cases I was pretty much at ease with half hearted "Hello's"  After a round of some more interesting questions and equally uninteresting replies I could summarise the gentleman was named "Rahul " by his parents and was in the standard XII busy preparing for the upcoming board exams.One question that generated some enthusiasm in him and even made me happy for a while was "Which profession do you want to be in" .I was doing my home work how I would tackle  answers like  "I don't know" "Abhi decide nahi kya"  "Mere parents decide karenge" "Woh mera best freind hain na !! woh Engineering ko ja raha hain to main bhi most probably udhar hi jaoonga" as these were the only ones I could think of since I thought like this when I was of his age....

 But  to my utter disbelief !!!!! .He came up with a answer that shook me off for a moment even though the bus had to come to a halt for the passengers to alight . He said "Uncle!(I was not wearing my cap)  I am aiming for the IIT and have joined the entrance coaching classes which is after the college hours and I am confident I would make it" I did not give up and tried to get the answer I wanted from him "But my friend what about your parents won't they have some dreams about their son" and "Come on ! How can your forget your best friend"

He answered with a smile as if he was aware of my trap  "Uncle! My parents totally abide by my decision and as for friends with my nature I can make best friends anywhere"  That was the final nail in the coffin  I suddenly realised that it's not easy to converse with a person who is smarter than you and is even more stressful if he is half your age.I was now finding ways to end the conversation but as luck would have it he was busy preparing to alight at the next  stop and I hastily conveyed my best regards to him.Forget giving advice all thanx to this gentleman my rest of the day was screwed as all I could do was think
"Was I focussed enough????????"


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Freaking out on a saturday!

Weekends aren’t exactly celebrated in India. All those you reply to the Monday morning customary, gossipy question of “How was your weekend?" with "Oh, I totally freaked out!" are all but lying, trying to ape the westerners-mostly. Once I asked my colleague what he meant by freaking out and not surprisingly, with an embarrassing tone said, he watched television all day. Is this called freaking out? To him perhaps yes!

For me a day well spent is the day I do nothing. I just love doing nothing. But this happens rarely and mostly theoretical. I spend my Saturdays quarrelling with government officials, bargaining vegetables, paying overdue bills, repairing my cycle and many more abysmal things which I cannot afford to do weekdays.

The day typically unfolds ten-ish with a long gaze at the newspaper reading mostly the latest who-killed-whom sort of stories. There is also a ‘pretending to read the editorials’ session at the approach of elders. What follows is a lazy breakfast with a long list of to do things, some thought carefully and some just thrust upon by all sorts of adorable people. The outcome of the list depends largely on the day. On a good day all things magically work out and you begin to think of how beautiful the world is. On other days, it is, why I the heck am I supposed to do this kind of feeling.

My favorite though is visiting the government offices. Changing the passport names, updating the ration card entries, pan card application are few of the things which comes as a package of getting newly married. Since in Pune all these places are at different demographic locations, I have to take an auto-rickshaw ride to these places. Auto drivers in Pune have a definitive aura about them. They often reject rides and mostly agree taking us only to their preferred locations. And yes, they can charge you astronomical figures and could take you miles if they realize that you are a newbie. I have a history of altercations with these creatures and my blood pressure shoots up nadir when they try to fool me with hyperbolic sums for meager distances. Such is the apathy of the public transport that you have to depend on these characters and I often end up troubling myself. Visiting closed government offices on Saturdays in an auto-drive is a rare combo which only a lucky few pune-ite’s are privileged to. I totally enjoy such experiences as it gives me a subject on which I can scribble on my blog.

Bargaining vegetables is another thrilling event. I try to get under the skin of the vendor for a bargain of couple of rupees. Often I end up at the receiving end of the fiery temperaments of the vendors. Why I do this is beyond my understanding as well, since late evenings when I spend a couple of hundreds on a stupid tasting pizza (more out of compulsion) I end up blaming myself.

When Saturdays are such stressful, I often end-up meditating on Sundays. If some one asks me Monday mornings as to how was my weekend I confidently say, I freaked out. Isn’t this called freaking out as well?

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