Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reminisces...

I haven’t written anything for a long time… no particular reason. I just didn’t feel like it or maybe it was a writer’s block. For a person who wants to become a full time writer I sure seem to have these temporary blockages a lot! well, the good news is i am over it... and get ready for a verbal diarrhea :P

But this time I have decided no more moral lectures. A wise woman has reprimanded me for writing, and I quote, “romantic gibberish”… so for once I would take her advice and use my sharp wit and intellect. (which are there somewhere, hidden in the deep recesses of time… gimme a minute and I’ll find them for sure :P) she is one of the very few people who used to get my sarcasm, through and through, and used to call me the queen of hell. Now why was that, I really don’t know… I am such a sweet person, haina?? :P

Working with her sure was fun… except for the psychotic boss and bossini (not the brand, bossini was a slang for our female boss…we sure were funny :D ) It was a publication house and I had joined as an editorial trainee which meant I was supposed to do all the stuff that the real journalists didn’t want to do. for my first real job, I was very conveniently handed over the never-ending travel planner. Let me brief you what the travel planner actually is. It is a huge, and by huge I mean mammoth, gigantic, colossal and absolutely bloody enormous book about all the places a person can visit in India… it had information about how to get there, what to do once you get there, what not to do, where to eat, where to shop etc etc. basically it was the hitchhiker’s guide to India (see… the sharp wit :P u need to read pretty closely or you are bound to miss these occasional bouts of intelligence) and it was compiled by a very ancient man who resembled a turkey (ya I also have a habit of comparing people with animals… u’ll get used to it) it was a 1000 page volume so I could understand why he looked constipated all the time… compiling all the data must have been a mind numbing job and more so when u do it year after year after year. I mean how many different places can come up at that small hamlet near that big city in an year? And who goes there anyway?? My sympathies with the poor guy. Well, these sympathies were not there when I was working with him on the travel planner coz I was assigned the very crucial role of proof reading those 1000 or so pages to see whether a comma is missed, an ancient ruin at a place, where not even the people who live there go, has been misspelled (why is it so difficult to spell misspell?) or a bloody number has 9 digits instead of 8!! I went through all those pages with a fine toothed comb to see there were no grammatical errors, the pictures correspond to the text and what not. Doing this all-important-equivalent-to-universe-saving job (sarcasm people… u need to keep up) was not the only thing in my profile…oh no. I was also assigned to make the metro schedule (and I continued doing it for a long long time, haina dish?? :P ) now what is metro schedule, you must be wondering? Well, it was a very useful little booklet but very boring to make. It mentioned the flights from one place to another. For example, if you opened the delhi page, it would tell you the fligts from delhi to various other stations such as Bangalore, Mumbai etc etc. so I used to get airline schedules from all the airlines and compile them. What made matters worse was that it was the time when many new airlines were launched and they were starting new flights left, right and centre. But, at the end of it, It was brainless work and I used to do when I was tired of using my brains. So during the first couple of months or so I used a lot of my eyes (looking for mistakes in the travel planner, spotting flight changes in the metro schedule) and none of my sharp wit and intellect :) (here it is again :P)

Well, things looked up after a couple of weeks and I was given a whole section to work on… mall therapy. I was so excited and nervous at the same time… it was a wonderful feeling to see my name in print in an actual magazine which was sold and people could pick up and read (it was another thing that the circulation was not very good but who cares I got bylines!!) after that, I got stories to write, the section expanded, but I was still doing the metro schedule and the travel planner (which was never ending… I mean it was an yearly thing and I had been working on it for an year and it still didn’t seem to end even after covering every city or town or village you could actually go by train, road, air or a bullock cart!!)
I still remember how nervous I was when I was sent out of station for the first time… or I completely went blank when I got down to write my first feature… and I cant thank Dish and D (or mother hen as I call her) enough for being there… and supporting me… thank you (if you are reading this I love you guys… I don’t know what I would have done without you or how I would have survived that place… and pukhi you too :P)

All said and done, I can never forget that place… and especially the assortment of characters it had from downright funny and endearing to outright irritating. There was our IT guy who was a keralite… whatever he spoke usually went over our heads and I remember he used to sit next to D and she used to go mad trying to explain him stuff. The dtp team – with the guy who used to think there is no one better than him and granted he was very creative but his self-praise tended to get to you most of the time… the eternal gossip of the office whose task was made easier by the fact that our office had very thin walls and our boss’ voice was too loud for comfort. So if someone was getting a yelling the whole office knew about it. (which was kind of cool if you were not the one being yelled at!) ashok ji… slow and steady. And that tiny little man whose name I cant remember… he used to irritate the hell out of me and dish… especially when working on the corrections. Then there was this marketing guy who used to think he is such a stud machine but in reality he looked like an overgrown vulture… the accountant who had no work the whole month except during the beginning when he had to make the salary out to all of us and he still managed to delay it every damn month…
but the best people were in the editorial department… the writer from bihar who had flawless written English but when it came to talking… the less said the better! Or mr. gosh, one of the few sane people in the organization who i actually looked up too. He was the one who told me a very important lesson, “if you think you are indispensable to an organization then there is no bigger fool that you. everyone is replaceable in a company and the sooner you understand that the happier you would be” I miss him too… we had so much fun when we went out to Hyderabad to attend a conference. The guest house where we stayed… the people who were there to take care of us unfortunately didn’t speak either hindi or English so getting your work done was quite a task. And how can I forget, it was there that we met our newly-appointed editor from Mumbai… such a piece of work he was! Walking around the conference with a camera hanging around his neck trying to look important while in reality he just looked like bobbing egg (he was bald you see… now, before someone jumps to the aid of bald men and writes a big comment abt how I should not judge people and blah blah, I want to clarify that I don’t have anything against bald men, some of them look really sexy but sadly he was not one of them) he wore specs and he had his very weird habit of crinkling his nose… on some people it looks really cute, u know like a rabbit, but again sadly on him this habit just looked plain creepy!

The editorial department was full of “items” (in mumbaiya language). There was this woman sub editor… who was a complainer. Since the time she joined, she complained about life, universe and everything in it… her each and every sentence started with, “oh Jesus!” and by the grace of the very same jesus she used to sit next to me so I kind of had the first row seat to all the complaining and the bickering. But I had to say she used to get some amazing food. (see I give credit where it is due and if you feed me i'll always remember you. so if you want to send some blueberry cheesecake, get in touch :P)

There were also two dapper young men in our office (again…sarcasm. you need to get it by now) one was pukhi ofcourse with whom I still share a khata meetha relationship… I cant forget how one day he was being more irritating than usual and mommy hen came to my rescue and she gave a rapta to him (all in jest)… people in the back room could hear the thud of it :D but that didn’t stop our pukhz from being endearingly irritating… as always. He was a pure vegetarian but being with the trio of us he ate somethings that even we, being hardcore vegetarians...well more the other two than me, wouldn’t have put in our mouths!
The other young man was the rebel. He was the only one who used to hold his own in front of the boss and the bossini. He always always used to be late and then he used to stay back to balance it out. and because of him we had to stay back too…

But the best out of the lot were the boss and the bossini… there were rumours that there was something going on between them but we never believed them, haina D & D? :P the boss had such a loud voice, it seemed he had a loudspeaker fitted in there somewhere. And he absolutely loved to yell! If there was a reason or there wasn’t he would go on yelling telling people who is the boss… well, sir we know u were, u don’t have to yell everytime you see one of us. It is alright if you spoke in your normal voice once in a blue moon… and those jokes, those oh-not-so-funny-does-any-one-actually-get-them-jokes. I think only he and the bossini understood them. I’ll give you an example. There was once a party at our office (or rather a pathetic excuse for a party, because at ALL of these so-called parties, the boss would be there giving one of his already heard of motivational lecture… I mean come on… u r an editor of a magazine, be creative, come up with something new every now and then!... and the rest of the staff would be standing opposite him. Some wondering, “when will he shut up so we can finally eat something.” And many thinking, “I hope he doesn’t point me out.” but no one saying anything coz it was not allowed. so at one such lively party, one gentleman asks another where is the vegetarian food. And who might hear him but the boss, who answered in all seriousness, “eat anything. We only have vegetarian chicken.” And he started laughing. We all started looking at each other trying to see a flicker of comprehension on anyone’s face so he might explain the meaning of the said so called joke. No one could understand and finally seeing the silence, he himself explained. “chicken only eat grains… so they are vegetarian na? u guys sure are dumb.” He chuckled and went away. Now u tell me… is this funny? I mean what kind of a joke is this that you have to explain the punchline?! and there were many many more...
Anyway, the parties (or the torture we had to endure standing in a circle trying to hide behind each other so he wont spot us and make his ever-so-funny remarks and we would have to do one of those pretend laugh)s were few and far between. Thank god for that.
The bossini was his anti-thesis. She was not a yeller. She was a taunter. Whenever she disapproved of something, she would make a sarcastic comment about it. And she was pretty good at this or maybe not so good. Because many a times people would just not get the sarcasm in her voice. I never used to get it in the beginning. I actually thought she was praising me when my bubble was burst and I realized that she meant the opposite. But I remembered sharing one of my fun nights with her, actually two. And both were after this annual conference we used to have every year. (oh I have written annual, so this makes 'every year' redundant but who will go back and change it… its such a task. Let it be. Atleast I pointed it out. :P I am a very lazy person. ) what i was saying is about the fun nights, the first one was when we were all sitting after the end of the awards ceremony on the last night of the conference. We were talking abt one of our colleagues son, and I just blurted out, “why don’t u bring him to office someday if he is so cute.” ( I kind of used to do that thing… speaking first and thinking later during those days. Now I have learnt to reverse it. Thankfully) everyone just looked at me with that look that says, ‘you are not even drunk?’ she gave me a grin and persuaded the man with the cute son to take us to his house. Whats the big deal you ask? just that it was 3 in the morning! And we actually went to his house for some drinks, some coffee and to meet his cute son… who actually turned out to be pretty cute.
The next such night was when we had a girls' night out… bossini, her sis, Dish, D1 and D2 and me. We had nice dinner and went to a nice disc after that. Had loads of fun. Drank some concoctions for the first time in me life. And you know what was the best thing, bossini was the one who was being hit upon by guys! Four pyts (a.k.a pretty young things) and a middle aged woman is being asked to dance… not fair! :P

I cant forget timbuktoo! It was like gtalk and msnger which we used to transfer files and exchange messages. We, that is the younger lot, used to bitch about the boss and bossini so much on that. And inevitably without fail whenever we used to do that, one of us used to hear a sound one from the boss. It was much later that our IT guy told us that boss can read them! And now we couldn’t stop writing because he would know that we know that it is bugged. So we had to keep on writing and getting yelled at. catch 22!

And oh those Monday morning meetings… where boss would be droning on and on. Bossini would be looking at him adoringly as if he is her son who has just won a prize. the seniors would try and make sense of the situation and the younger lot… well, one would be staring at him, another would be looking down and laughing silently, dish would be making her puppy face (this was the only thing that worked on him. He never seemed to yell at you if you looked like you are just about to cry. I have to thank dish for making me learn how to make a puppy face too but i am still not as good as her.) and scribbling furiously and I would be counting the pigeons on his windows…1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2…

Anyway those were the days… the endless cups of coffee, sitting at the back stairs and sometimes crying in frustration and sometimes laughing at someone else’s expense, waiting for lunch to happen so we could go into the tiny dining area and grab the best seats, the rajma chawal from the dhaba downstairs, the bitching session during and after office hours, the reviews and the free food (we can be so cheap), the staying out at each other’s place, the drinking sessions (how much we were hung over one day after mommy hen’s party), the work, finishing stories, proofing them, making sure DTP does the corrections, chasing the writers for stories, chasing the pr agencies for pictures, running out of the office when we thought the boss is busy, going down and stocking up on chips and juices, working on the conference… I miss all that. How strange it is that when I was there I couldn’t wait to get out. I left this job to become a wedding planner and that also had it’s moments, pretty wild ones… but that is for another day and another post…

Today is for the place which gave me my first salary, my first byline, my first drink, my first words of wisdom related to the corporate sector and two very good friends… To CSP!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Black? White? Grey...

Black and white… these are two of my favorite colors. I love black and white pictures, they have a tendency to make you look prettier… don't know why, but they somehow do... u can try...

But in life things can’t always be slotted into these two shades. And the sad part is that people fail to realize that they can’t compartmentalize things into black or white… sometime things are in-between… They are in the grey area (that’s the whole thought process behind the name... see now you know :P)

Recently (well, not recently. It has happened some time back) I came face-to-face with a situation that made me realize that things are not always right or wrong, they are just maybe. this incident involved a friend, a batchmate and a mail. well, i would love to elaborate but i cant... privacy issues and all that jazz... what i can say is that this friend of mine recieved a mail from this batchmate (of ours) labelling her an alcoholic just because he saw her once having A drink (pls note - singular / one drink). And since according to him, this is going against our culture (he should campaign for that mangalore guy!) he has to break all ties with her. Now my friend is not some page three party person. (if she was, i could still understand the alcoholic bit. i would still not agree, but i could understand where he is coming from) she is a MBA drawing a five figure salary and is working in an MNC (that’s another thing that she hates her job, but like I said before who doesn’t?). After a hectic day at work she likes to party … that means, she flirts (not very successfully though), dances (not very gracefully) and enjoys her drinks and sometimes take a drag or two (she smokes basically). Now let me come to the guy, he is also not a 12th pass. in fact he was one of the toppers of our batch, went on to complete his engineering from one of the premier institutes and has won prizes for his projects and is now working in an MNC too and hates his job (the last one is just a speculation).

According to me (and I maybe wrong), there are so many things that are not right with this… not because this happened to my friend but because it happened to some woman. That batchmate is someone who sees things in black and white… if it is no white, it has to be black. If anything doesn’t conform to his sensibilities it has to be wrong. I remember a situation from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. (yeah yeah I know I am quoting a sitcom… so what!) Joey says to Chandler, “if I can’t see it, It doesnt exist.” To which Chandler replies, “Have u seen China?”, Joey shakes his head and then Chandler says, “So, does that mean China doesn’t exist?!” How true. Just because we dont know something, does that mean it doesnt happen? if we dont like something, does that make it wrong of someone else likes it?

I think that’s the problem with most of the people, they are a joey. They believe that if they don’t know something, either it doesn’t exist or it is wrong. The same is the problem with this guy, he hadn’t seen girls smoking and thats why he termed it as wrong. First of all, i would advice him to increase his worldview, girls can smoke. if you take a drag, you are not addicted to it. and even if she is, who are you to tell her what to do?

And what saddens me more is that guy was a topper of our school. He went on to complete graduation from one of the permier institutes of our country and this is his thought process? This is how he thinks? He can’t look beyond a drink and a smoke?! This is our education system? This regressive school of thinking? That a guy cant get over a fact that a girl can also drink? why does it always stop at a girl and a guy? would it have mattered much if instead of a girl, it was a guy? why is it that even in a 21st century, girls have to hide the fact that they smoke, drink, date, go clubbing? why is a woman termed as having a loose character if she is seen in the company of guys?

but, thank god all men are not like that. and thank god this percpective is changing. i got this mail... from a guy... which expresses the plight of a working woman very correctly -

Here is a girl, who is as much educated as you are;
Who is earning almost as much as you do;

One, who has dreams and aspirations just as you have because she is as human as you are;

One, who has never entered the kitchen in her life just like you or your Sister haven ' t, as she was busy in studies and competing in a system that gives no special concession to girls for their culinary achievements

One, who has lived and loved her parents & brothers & sisters, almost as much as you do for 20-25 years of her life;

One, who has bravely agreed to leave behind all that, her home, people who love her, to adopt your home, your family, your ways and even your family ,name

One, who is somehow expected to be a master-chef from day #1, while you sleep oblivious to her predicament in her new circumstances, environment and that kitchen

One, who is expected to make the tea, first thing in the morning and cook food at the end of the day, even if she is as tired as you are, maybe more, and yet never ever expected to complain; to be a servant, a cook, a mother, a wife, even if she doesn ' t want to; and is learning just like you are as to what you want from her; and is clumsy and sloppy at times and knows that you won ' t like it if she is too demanding, or if she learns faster than you;

One, who has her own set of friends, and that includes boys and even men at her workplace too, those, who she knows from school days and yet is willing to put all that on the back-burners to avoid your irrational jealousy, unnecessary competition and your inherent insecurities;

Yes, she can drink and dance just as well as you can, but won ' t, simply Because you won ' t like it, even though you say otherwise

One, who can be late from work once in a while when deadlines, just like yours, are to be met;

One, who is doing her level best and wants to make this most important, relationship in her entire life a grand success, if you just help her some time and trust her;

One, who just wants one thing from you, as you are the only one she knows in your entire house - your unstinted support, your sensitivities and most importantly - your understanding, or love, if you may call it.

But not many guys understand this... they still want a seedhi saadhi gharelu ladki. What are they so afraid of i dont understand? they still have issues if the woman makes more than them... maybe they see her as a threat to their masculinity... who knows? who cares?!

All i want to say is that it has been years since the colour TV was launched. if you can see your movies in colour, pls start seeing your life and the people in it in colour as well. The time of black and white has long gone. the picture might look prettier but it might not be correct. this is the 21st century, and everything is not in white (right) or in black (wrong)... it is in the grey area :P

P.S. - I didnt intend to hurt any sensibilities but if i have, i am sorry. (the person(s) for whom this is meant would know when he / she reads it)

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