Friday, December 17, 2010

Big Organizations and Small Mistakes


This poster made me pause and think, why do big organizations make small mistakes? The reason is that most of the organizations do not pay attention to minor details. To the minor things assigned to individuals. Like spellings in an advertisement. Some salesman in a remote location selling your soap with incorrect or half information. Call center representatives deducting money from user accounts on ad-hoc basis.
This is not true, they do have massive quality control, TPM, 6  sigma in place, right? But when it comes to small things like spellings, none of these huge QC methods are used. Many organizations believe in ROI. And that one person will not cause much change. Spellings may be irrelevant to one, and they might not be to another. But organizations must focus on quality from the point of view of their customers. And surely, customers of Landmark will value spelling errors. And my use of a Reliance telephone account will stop the moment I have a more trustworthy service provider.
Maybe this error happened because the poster was printed at the last minute and not many people went through the small print. Still, its visible and causing people to question it. Spellings are the basics of good communication, specially today, when communication seems to be the answer as well as the question to most organizational issues.
Speaking of communication, please see below conversation for how people realize mistakes can happen, when they themselves make it. Be charitable! J

One day on twitter:

Bestselling author Ken Follet in Mumbai. But Landmark, how cud u spell 'author' wrong in the ad?

Hw cn u spell Ken Follett wrong? RT @chetan_bhagat: Bestseller Ken Follet in Mumbai. But Landmark, hw cud u spell 'author' wrong in the ad?
well, i also spelt Ken Follet wrong. It is Ken Follett. Happens i guess. :)

Friday, December 10, 2010


This is for a friend, dedicated by another, I just happened to have the words, the feelings are hers:


Turn Around, and look!
She’s right behind you,
The one who just looked away, the one staring at her plate,
The one who is using her phone to text.
Yes, she was looking at you.
No, I’m not kidding, look there, she saw you again
That smile she is sharing with her friend,
You put it there, just by being here today.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

For no reason at all

Fear was dripping from the little nine year old at the same rate as the alcohol that poured next to him. Guilt, blacker than darkness, made it difficult for him to breathe.Suffocating, the little hand shot out to grip something, anything human. It found its mark, and touched a shoulder timidly. But was it humanity that made the owner of the shoulder grip the little hand and jerk it back. Not very hard, it didnt hurt, not physically at least.The child gave a yelp anyway. Could we hear, if we tried hard enough, the pain in the yelp? Not the physical one, already told you, nobody hurt him, but the one caused by something deeper? Or was it because he had clamped his fingers so hard to block out the fear and anxiety?

He knew he was going to hell anyway. His teacher Miss Shirley Perriera had already informed the class what was a sin and what constituted as punishment for it. "Listen children, if you are bad kids, your mummy and daddy will not be happy. Would you like it? Remember if they are angry or sad, its because you have not done your homework or have been bad in some way. So always try to keep them happy. They are the reason for your existence. And if you still make them angry then you will go to hell. But if you are are good boys and girls then they will be happy and the starts will shine for you." " But Miss, dont stars shine always? They keep shining whether we are good or bad. They wouldnt burn up all thier hydrogen just because we didnt sleep at the time our parents asked us to" , asked Anita in her infinite wisdom and innocence, her head crammed with Encyclopedia Britannica which her parents read every night before she went to bed. "Oh honey, but they do...everything happens for a reason. Stars - what reason do they have to burn? They do not give us heat or light like the sun. They dont give us tides like the moon. They shine to show appreciation. Remember kids, nothing happens for no reason at all!"

Yes, he must be the reason his parents were yelling at each other now. Both had drank several glasses from the bottle whose name he was not allowed to know but the stench of which he couldnt forget. It came back to him, sometimes early morning in the bus when other kids were nodding off, sometimes while calculating seven times eight or sometimes during lunch, when he ate the same sandwich his maid for him every day. On his way back home , in the school bus, when other kids were playing dumb charades, he would sit stonily knowing he was going back to the place where everything went wrong because of him.

And now his mother was screaming abuses at his father. She poured the liquid from one hand and the bitterness flowed out of her mouth. Hurling abuses at the man whom once she loved so much that she left her own father heart broken when she eloped, at the same face which she once found boyishly handsome, now looked infidel.Treachery in the eyes of her husband blinded her maternity. Irritated by her son's desire for comfort at such a time, she flung his hand away and heard a small yelp. Guilt flooded her and in an attempt to make him go away from this precinct of hatred, she said "GO. Go from here. It is all because of you. Are you happy now? Its past your bedtime. Dont make me even more worried. As it is I have too much to worry about. JUST GO, I SAID!" The last line said a little louder when she heard the nine year old voice say "But Ma, what did I...?"

Did the nine year old feet then go to see if the stars were shining now? Did he notice the black sky and think that it was because he was being a bad boy again? Did he hear his mother suddenly wail "Look at the bloody sky, no stars! I have such a dull life.I wonder whose fault it is." The last line said is a whisper, almost to herself, did it reach nine year old ears? Did he start berating himelf in his nine year old head? He knew his mother wanted to see the stars. Did he know he had to make a sacrifice for the stars to shine? Did he know what to do to give his mother a moment of distraction from it all. He somehow knew that all troubles would end if only the stars came out.Did his hands wobble when he used them to make himself stand on the ledge?

Hearing a loud thud, the still bickering couple rushed to the balcony. Momentarily distracted by the unusually bright sky with numerous stars, they then stared at the ground in blind horror.

Stars dont shine for no reason at all.

Tall, Dark and Handsome

Tall dark and handsome. Handsome is a must. Dark.. well she didn’t really care for fair skin, even for herself. She preferred herself tanned, just a little bit. And tall is like a normal thing for guys right? At least 6 feet. That was like basic.

He’s got to be well read. I mean someone who doesn’t know all of Oscar Wilde is a waste of space. Unnecessarily staying on earth. I hope Neruda too… but that’s totally optional. I mean someone who worships Neruda, would be a pleasure to talk to, no? She sighed as she said this, counting the many more qualities she desired. And well-spoken of course, she continued. I mean someone who says “bherry” instead of very will be such a turn-off!!

That’s all I want, she said. And anyway, this is something, every normal guy must have, any well-bred individual for that matter. I mean along with a good body, not six packs and all, thank you very much. Just NOT potbellied, even a little bit. And fit. He should be able to carry the bags and all, right, when we go shopping. And he must be fond of travelling, because so was she. 

She said she’ll like it if he was rich and not stingy with gifts. Because Jimmy Choo shoes don’t come cheap. Sounds like a nice guy, I said, even as she was saying chivalrous and opens doors for me. A was extremely sarcastic. How would she ever find such an awesome guy? Do they even exist today? Did this kind ever existed??? It was impossible for one person to have all these attributes, and I told her so. I also told her to please let me know whenever she finds him. Why should I miss seeing a perfect piece of art! She was too sweet, too naïve to get my sarcasm. Giggling, she said, of course I’ll let you know honey.

We lost touch after that. Real life interrupted our dreamy existence and we went our own ways. After about five years from that day, I went into a café and found her, sitting there, sipping coffee. Alone. And smiling. To herself. She never did either of those. Ever. She had found it loopy. Anyway, I rushed to her and told her I had to rush out, maybe we could catch up later. My clients were waiting for me, and this time the excuse was 100% true. She said, wait, don’t you want to meet my boyfriend? He is about to come here and I would really like the two of you to meet.

I couldn’t say no. Finally I would meet a perfect guy. Mentally recalling her “criteria” – tall, dark, handsome, well read, well spoken, nice body, rich and chivalrous! A tall order indeed. I eagerly waited for the Greek God to arrive, ready to pay obeisance.

Keeping an eye on Shahid Kapur / Arjun Rampal clone and speaking to her at the same time, I came to know she met him in college, about 6 months after we spoke last. It was almost an instant connection, she said with her trademark giggle. Oh there he is, she said, still smiling. I followed her sight but could see no one. Was she hallucinating?! Unable to find the perfect guy, she had schizophrenia’d him!! I giggled internally at my own bad joke and looked harder.

OH. MY. GOD. I could not believe my eyes. It was just another guy. I mean, really. Not tall, barely 5’5”, looked Kashmiri, so obviously not dark, and handsome, not even by my own standards, which were pretty dismal by now. He was normal looking, next door, nice guy, kinda guy. How could she? What had happened to her? What about the CRITERIA???

Okay. So maybe he was rich. I knew she wasn’t that shallow, but some redeeming factor from the CRITERIA should be offsetting the other things, right? He smiled at her, patted her head(!) a bit and looked at me, introducing himself.  I being tongue tied at the moment just forwarded my hand and had to be introduced by her. We started talking, I stumbling into the conversation a little and then soon found out that he was really just another guy. Cracking jokes, making fun of himself, his job, his friends, who I didn’t even know and cribbing a little about his job,and the EMIs, from which I could figure out that he wasn’t even rich. He kept looking at her and smiling, holding hands discreetly, when they thought I wasn’t looking.  He soon went to get the order and she looked at me expectantly.

I told her, he was awesome, which he was, just, not according to her CRITERIA. He was a genuine, warm guy, and quite humorous. But how could I point out all that he wasn’t. Tall, dark and handsome. She never wanted THIS guy, and yet, even after 4 years, they still looked like a newly hooked couple.

She suddenly laughed and said, hey, do you remember the set criteria I had for the guy I would fall for? She said, she never really thought of the CRITERIA in the initial years of knowing him. When the going was that good, and heady, she didn’t have time to process it. Only today, after seeing me, she had remembered her criteria and how he didn’t fit into that. I mean, she laughed, he hasn’t even read the Alchemist! I think it was a wish list, more than a criteria, and even then what I really wanted was never on it. Humorous, hard working, honest, considerate and kind. And am I glad my wish didn’t come true!

Her criteria, something that she had cherished so much when she was 16, were just words for her now. He was so much more.Walking away, the thought in my head was, is love blind or is it an eye opener?

PS: All characters are totally fictitious :P

A Girl From Her Batch

And there he stood. Near the door. Looking at something, or someone that was making him pensive. Yes, even after three years, she could make out the various gradients in his mood. Even minor changes. Whether he was confident, embarrassed, happy, mischievous, disgusted, frightened, enraged, ashamed, cautious, smug, depressed, overwhelmed, hopeful, bored or lonely, she always knew. She had watched him for almost a year and half in college. Every day in classes, in the mess, in various events where he always went, while playing football. In the SIP, when he came dressed up in a suit for three days, looking so handsome, and even though she was placed in the very first day, she made sure she came every day to provide him with the much needed support. To be there with him at his most vulnerable. To pick him up. When at times he would feel insecure, the façade of optimism and strength that he put in front of people, including her, faded as the day progressed. She noticed all that and more.

He was thinking about something. Maybe someone. He did tell her that he liked a girl from her batch. He never took her name, always prioritizing his privacy. How much she had fancied it was her. How she told herself every day that it couldn’t be. Maybe he had seen that girl here and that had made him reminisce. She knew that the ‘crush’ that she had developed four months into the college, had turned into love, unrequited. And she was still in that place. Unable to move forward. All she could do was let the waves carry her wherever they went. She felt like a dried leaf, blowing in a parched afternoon, unable to govern her destiny. That was the force of the love she felt. And today the passive pain had become her weakness. For some reason, she could not contain herself tonight. Maybe it was the alcohol.

He thought she was looking extraordinarily pretty tonight. The image he had created of her in his head, and worshipped for three years, had fallen so short of the reality. In any case, he didn’t know how to approach and speak to her. This girl, with whom he hadn’t spoken to in three years, three long years of yearning, of wanting, maybe even needing. He turned around to see her looking at him. She smiled. He started walking toward her as a million things went around in his head. Was she committed? Married? Kids? Was she the same, her eyes, did they still sparkle when she was thinking of doing something crazy?

Would she tell him how much she missed him? She smiled as she thought if it was even a choice. She was always tongue tied in front of him. As he was walking, she saw him smile. He hardly ever smiled. Even when he was elated or had just done something awesome. He was such a jerk. Always so perfect. The perfect social person, hiding his pains and frustration and sharing others happiness. Only she would know. Anyway, those days were past. He was looking genuinely happy now.

He went to her and saw the radiant smile and sighed. How he had missed this. Missed her. Without a preface, without even a hello, he told her how he felt. About her. Since so long. All the emotions that he had kept hidden came pouring and he went on rambling till she stopped him and told him that she loved him too. He picked her up and twirled her around, for once not caring who was seeing it, and laughed as he heard her laughing.

She wiped a tear away as she saw him twirling another girl. A girl from her batch. Unrequited, she walked away

The Paper

He bent down and picked up the piece of paper and wondered why it was lying in the class. He turned it around and was somewhat surprised to see a cursive handwriting on it, instead the black ink of a printer.

Rose and Gold.  The two things I cared least about…

He stopped reading. It seemed part of someone’s personal diary or some such stuff. And he had no idea whose it was. He wondered whom it belonged to. In any case, it seemed so personal; he wouldn’t be able to identify the person without reading it. Maybe another look will give a clue, maybe a scribbled name or he could recognize the handwriting.

Rose and Gold. The two things I cared least about. Other flowers, maybe. But rose is just a farce…

Okay. He really hadn’t meant to read that. It was an honest mistake that he didn’t want to repeat.  But still the prose was so captivating, he hadn’t taken a look around the paper to see if a name was scribbled, which was his first intention. He had to take another look.

Rose and Gold. The two things I cared least about. Flowers, maybe. But rose is just a farce. Like a pretty girl with just enough brains and a truckload of attitude. No I didn’t like them at all.

Could be a guy, he mused. Most guys would give the clichéd statement that pretty girls are not brainy or even nice. He didn’t feel that was true at all. Many of his female friends were pretty and intelligent. Yes, must be a guy. Hmm… a guy talking about gold and roses, sounded a bit hypothetical. Well, he still didn’t have the name or any other clue of the person. He decided to take another peek. Internally he promised himself that he wouldn’t infringe upon the privacy of his classmate and decided to just see if a name is indeed present.

Rose and Gold. The two things I cared least about. Flowers, maybe. But rose is just a farce. Like a pretty girl with just enough brains and a truckload of attitude. No I didn’t like them at all.

Gold I found ugly. Just a bit. Leave the cost of gold out and everyone will find the sparkle of diamonds and the brightness of silver much prettier. Gold is overhyped. Just like rose. Just like me.

Interesting. Now this sounded like a girl. Common, guys are hardly overrated. And only a girl could attach the adjective pretty to silver. It seemed like a pretty girl who didn’t like pretty girls. He started counting all of them in his head. Strange, quite a few. He never knew there were so many girls he found cute, actually, there was one particular… He cut himself mid rant and started focusing on the girls who were also intelligent. The prose seemed decent. Some were counted out due to apparent lack of enough gray cells, and others were not over-hyped. He now thought it would be better if he should leave the paper where he found in the class. That way, he won’t have to read anymore. But, someone else might find it and publish it on facebook or something. Even worse, figure out who wrote it and then embarrass the person. No, he must read it himself and deduce the person and return it. It’s quite possible the author might not have another copy of this, since it was hand written. And frankly, he found it too good to be lost like this. He read further.

Rose and Gold. The two things I cared least about. Flowers, maybe. But rose is just a farce. Like a pretty girl with just enough brains and a truckload of attitude. No I didn’t like them at all.
Gold I found ugly. Just a bit. Leave the cost of gold out and everyone will find the sparkle of diamonds and the brightness of silver much prettier. Gold is overhyped. Just like rose. Just like me.

No one knows me. My face is all they can see. And they judge me by that. I don’t mind that, why would I bother with another man’s ignorance.

It was so vulnerable and written straight from the heart. He felt guilty about reading it now. He should’ve just left the paper where it was. At least, he would have had a clear conscience.

He heard footfalls outside the class. Maybe the guard had come to close the door. Oh, to hell with conscience. He bent down and read the whole thing.

Rose and Gold. The two things I cared least about. Flowers, maybe. But rose is just a farce. Like a pretty girl with just enough brains and a truckload of attitude. No I didn’t like them at all.
Gold I found ugly. Just a bit. Leave the cost of gold out and everyone will find the sparkle of diamonds and the brightness of silver much prettier. Gold is overhyped. Just like rose. Just like me.

 No one knows me. My face is all they can see. And they judge me by that. I don’t mind that, why would I bother with another man’s ignorance.

 But now I care. I have friends no more. Just people who can see just my face. They won’t go beyond. They can’t. I am just a face.

He looked up, folded the paper and put in inside his pocket, just as the prettiest girl of his class came in and looked around. She gave him a smile and asked him if he had seen a missing sheet of paper. He replied in negative and she left. He was now dumbfounded by the fact that this girl could have written something so sensitive and profound. With a smile, he decided to keep track of her during rest of the year. She was quite something.

She walked out of the class. She thought that he looked quite mesmerized.  Mission accomplished, hopefully, she thought with a smile…

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pet Prostitution


Well, so this article in TIME says that if you've left your pet at home, don't be blue. Plush hotels around the world are providing pets like goldfish and dogs to make you feel at home. Pets reduce levels of stress and these pets are taken care of by the hotel staff, feeding included.

Does this sound like prostitution to anyone else? Having the benefits while not taking responsibility for anything.  Don't the guests develop any kind of attachment to these animals, who are so loving and look so dopey all the time.

Of course, they reduce stress and are promised a great life "with a purpose" by the PR managers of the hotel, but I really can't stop drawing parallels with the act of prostitution. Loving someone, being with someone, just for the momentary pleasure of one day! Where no one thinks of what the dog feels.

Someone please disagree with me.

XLRI - The Experience

As I sat in LH 1, seeing the exchange students come in dresses (guys) and pajamas (girls) courtesy TOBAXI, I couldn’t stop thinking, XLRI is all about an experience. The professors don’t define it, the infrastructure doesn’t define it, the students don’t define it. Yet they all do. Together. And that is what XLRI is all about. Be it the alumni, who come from faraway places for just a weekend of fun, moon dancing at 74 years at 12.30 am, to stop only when the band leaves. Be it the students delaying the band, by groveling for one more song, or be it the band , playing their last song and saying good night five times, before “Judy”  calms the students down finally.
I am of course proud to be a part of this experience. This is not only because I had a shitty experience in my own college. It is not because talking to boys was prohibited there. And it’s definitely not because we needed written permission from the warden to cross the main gates and shop at the kirana store outside.
I sometimes feel it’s a conspiracy. XLRI is a huge conspiracy to make a strong alumni base. They don’t give us time to talk to our old friends and certainly not to make any new ones outside of XLRI. They make sure we have limited time to talk to our family so that the bond we share is not as strong. They make our experiences so complicated that no one, other than XLers will understand us. For instance, the other day, Gautam Ghosh had replied to my tweet. When I told this to my mom, she was lost. She did not know Gautam Ghosh, she did not know tweet and so could not get it. Thus I was forced to share this little achievement with my XL friends only. If this is not a conspiracy, what is?
Yet, we learn to break the system. We make new contacts outside XLRI. We take out time to make sure we don’t break up and make sure we remain in touch with our friends. It takes a lot of effort to do it, but the ones who do succeed, have passed the fire test. But in spite of having all our old friends and families and significant others to us, this we miss. And in spite of having many commitments of business, family and pleasure, we feel depressed when we miss a homecoming. Because the experience would have been awesome!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Week I was in Love

Okay, so this is what happened. I was totally out of control for more than a week. The moment I got up, I started to think about it. I went to classes thinking about it, and dreamt about it too. But most nights I stayed awake, thinking how nice it was, what a lovely, warm, fuzzy feeling it gave me. It was something I had never experienced before.

Yes, it was Facebook. By the time I had discovered my addiction to it, it was too late. About, three mid terms and two quizzes later, I decided to quit. It was very difficult. Facebook made it even more so. Temporary deactivation was just as good as logging out and returning just needed your password. I wondered why it was even created in the first place. Apparently for me. I temporarily deactivated my account thrice!

It of course did not work. So decided to enlist help and started to open a Facebookers Anonymous club. No one was as desperate as me.

Then I did the impossible. I relinquished the password to my account to my roommate and breathed a sigh of relief. I soon had withdrawal symptoms which included a headache and blogging (weird, I know). I am not sure if I had deliria. Hope not. And if I did, fuck the people who noticed and didn’t tell me. yes, I did find out all about withdrawal symptoms from Wikipedia, being the hypochondriac that I am.

So, the symptoms soon dissipated but the weeks wasn’t over yet. I was about to fall in love. And it happened so suddenly, that I did not even realize for the first few hours that it had happened. And then it hit me.

I am in love and I am loving it. This was my state of mind. On Facebook. Updated by my roommate as a retaliation of something irrelevant, small and inconsequential. Well, my friends did not believe it (and now I have no idea how I can ever convince them when I do really fall in love, and this is not a case of crying wolf too many times, it’s a case of crying wolf never) Anyway, who did not know me very well, did call me up and congratulate, which I scoffed away, and the post did not get a lot of attention in form of comments, for which I am grateful to edgerank.

It is old news now. The week is over. Things are back to normal. Though I am still in love. But only on Facebook.