Monday, June 25, 2007

Of neglect

Yesterday, an associate expired. He had sudden cardiac arrest.

This morning, the news trickled in. He was playing cricket with his friends in Bangalore when he felt pain in his chest. Subsequently, he fell unconscious. In a matter of minutes, he was gone.

Normally such events are met with uncommon sympathy and concern. The Company that never seems to care on a daily basis comes up with oft-repeated words of admiration for the victim. A few pictures are posted and the same ol' emotions exchanged. We expected atleast that.


Until afternoon there was no formal communication about the event. Around noon, the in-human resources sent out an email (really, how hard is it to type 2 lines?) and subsequently came over for a 2-minute condolence meeting.

The meeting ended and work resumed, amidst some controlled sniffles from the folks who were his cubicle-neighbours. Then we went off to lunch and then my friends broke the news.

The friends were battling for hours with the HR to get this email sent. The condolence meet was out of the question - they were extremely hesitant to even send out a formal note to the associates in the centre. And why? Because he was a contract-based employee.

Alright, so we have staff and contractors. Obviously, the contractors are recruited via an agency and are hence paid lower salaries than ours.

Now here's the part that I don't understand. What if the man was on contract? What if he wasn't on our regular payroll? What about the two years he worked for this company at lower wage? What about the happy customers he created by his good work?

And what makes his life any less valuable than ours?

This sparked off debates all thru the day. My friends are mostly seniors with more than 7 years of experience. What if anything happened to anyone who has been with the company for so long? Would he get an email (which he was never going to read), or a 2-minute silence? Just 2 minutes ??? For over five years of life that generated umpteen revenues for the employer?

Organizational behaviour talks about projecting one's image. All organizations are quick to project themselves as the best in the industry with the latest tools, processes and skilled people. 'Our most precious assets come in at 9 AM and leave by 6PM everyday' says an industry mogul. And when it comes to barebones....

I am just a number. I have come to realize that over the years.

It is time to move on.

On a sidenote - is it going to be any different elsewhere?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Of gratitude

The rainy season is here.

Moi dislikes the rains. Dirty roads, puddles of mosquito-infested waters, bacterial diseases, wet clothes and cloudy skies annoy me.

The only time rains are enjoyable is when one is at home during a weekend. The warm bed is quite inviting this time of the year. Couple that with a hot meal and hot chocolate - and whoa! you have a picture-perfect monsoon!

Well, that kind of summed up my last Sunday - a hot meal, a warm bed and lots of heavy-duty sleep.

While moi was slowly waking up looking over the balcony and sipping hot tea, a labourer couple walked down the road. They had no slippers on and both were completely drenched - it was raining heavily and they had no umbrella. They were probably on their way back home after a grueling day of work. On a Sunday.

And that got me wondering (yes, I never stop!) . Many of the so-called self-development books I read talked about 'standing for something'. In other words, the key thing is to identify that one quality a person signifies. Obviously, different strokes for different folks.

Persistence, says a book , is the one thing you gotta have, and everything else will follow. There is another author who advocates excellence at every task. Goal-setting is another favorite item of several authors.

When we see the world thru our pair of eyes, we see it not as it is, but as we are. Which is why the one quality one should signify is a matter of individual choice.

Gratitude gets my vote. If there's one quality every human must have, it is gratitude. By gratitude I mean being thankful and appreciative of what one has. It means not always whining for more. However, it does not mean inaction or laziness. Strive for improvement, but stop every once in a while to celebrate what you already have.

On that Sunday afternoon, it meant being thankful to God that I have a house and a warm bed to sleep on. Of not having to get drenched in heavy rains. Of having a family. Of being educated. Of being 'normal'.

Gratitude brings humility. When we're humble, we learn to dissociate ourselves from our achievements and our good fortunes. Over time, we realize that we're mere instruments for the Almighty to work His miracles.

Come to think of it, each moment of human life is a miracle.

Thank you God. Thank you very much.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Of Sivaji

Uber-lavish sets across continents. Ultra-expensive costumes. Witty one-liners. A whole new bunch of stunts. 6-door Mercedes'. True-to-life makeup. Hot babes. On-your-face punchlines. Very hot heroine who leaves nothing to the imagination. World-class visual effects. A R Rehman. Nayantara. The one and only Rajnikanth.

That's Sivaji (the boss) for you.
Sivaji was released a few hours ago all over India. However, the hype started several months back, and progressively increased. Tickets were booked for weeks in advance. Yesterday, it was a top 10 headline in the news.And yes, I watched it today (Yes ! still excited !). The movie was supposedly an 86-crore venture. And now I know why. *evil laughter*
Rajni totally rocks. It's hard to believe that at the ripe old age of 60, someone can look and act so young ! The stunts are truly catchy - guns shooting at will, fake hands to fool enemies, swords that pierce enemies even while not in use, coin tossed from the hand right into the pocket, sunglasses, tossing gum on the villian's face (and chewing it once it bounces back) et al.
Variety is everything ! Our hero travels from Chennai to NYC, then to Spain. The songs are mostly shot abroad (except the Nayantara song).And the effects. Boy oh boy ! One song(pictured above) has Rajni in 8 costumes all in the same shot - doing 8 different dance steps around the very-hot Shreya.
Shreya has tried. It's not easy acting with the boss ! With some lavish booby show (she takes off her red half-saree to save Rajni from being run over by a train and then runs halfway down the platform in just her blouse - all the while jiggling her assets) and booty-shaking, makes her presence felt (I'm sure several people in the theatre had increased blood supply to certain parts of their anatomy)The make-up artist has done wonders - in one song, her face has diamonds (or some such stones) pasted on it. She looks gorgeous.
Her washboard abs just reminded me how bad mine were. Sigh !(On another note, I wonder how many people she had to sleep with to get this role)
The music is nice, so is Nayantara.
Awesome movie - for lack of a better description. And on day 1 of the action, it was an experience of a lifetime.
It's time for Amitabh Bachchan to learn a few things about acting.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Of being #2

Yesterday moi took part in a paper presentation contest for young managers, organized by a so-called management association.

All teams were of four. As bad luck would have it, we got our invitation letter for the presentation with just a day's notice. We then set out on the mammoth task of creating a dashing deck and deciding what to say. Yours truly ended up covering a large chunk of the deck (one team member couldn't repeat what was given in writing, and another was jittery coz it was his first public speaking assignment).

Call me a loser in anything, but in presentation skills. Yours truly was selected best faculty from a group of two thousand - simply because of solid presentation skills.

I gave it my last ounce of energy, made eye contact, did all the right things - while expounding gloriously on our material. Our strategy was solid and so was our deck. Our Q&A session was quite good too - the 65-yr old judges seemed happy with what we proposed to make the Indians more competitive.

We saw a couple of other presentations - they were the lousiest ever. Bad slides, no strategy, ugly people and totally Mallu-ised English.
Basically, we had no competition.

The results were announced, and we came a measly second. The team that came first gave a repeat presentation, and we searched for that one reason why they were better than us - nothing - apart from the fact that their people spoke in almost equal increments of time - unlike we did. In terms of strategy and presentation, we were way better.

How did we know? During our snack session later in the evening, one of the judges leaned over to me and congratulated me on a job well done. With a snotty smirk he said - in a team of four, all should talk, not just one or two.

So that's what killed us - an overdose of me. Inspite of giving it more than a hundred percent AND moi being a better presenter, we lost. I lost. Rather, we lost , because I did.

Maybe it WAS a mistake. What pissed me off however, was the lack of attention the oldies paid towards the quality of our content and presentation, regardless of who said what. They gave higher marks for more voices - rather than for what the words actually meant.

We retained our trophy from last year - and that really is of the least importance.

Anyway, here are my conclusions on the management association and its thought processes.

1. This association has noone aged less than 55. All through the evening, we heard talk about how the 'young' managers of today make the older ones' life difficult. The chief guest ran out of saliva talking about how 'these young people think 180 degrees opposite to us'.

Really, if we were indeed such a threat, then why hold a competition for us?

2. All through the past fifty years the association has been around - from 1958 till date - there has been one woman president.ONE. I say no more.

3. Radical ideas and smart youngsters scare them - because they have to move out of their comfort zones at the ripe old age of 60. Tell them what they want to hear, and they'll keep you happy. During our presentation I suggested the 'hire and fire' policy for Indians - one of the judges took it very personally.

4. The so-called senior managers of yonder years need to wake up to the fact that wisdom and experience do not automatically come with old age. NOTHING does - except wrinkles.

Personally, I think their certificate is worth less than the paper it's printed on. And I believe in getting rid of trash as soon as possible.

Simply because it stinks.