Saturday, November 27, 2010

Have you found your tree?

This is a philosophical-mind talk- post.
It was a rainy, gloomy, pathetic way to end the week. For want of something to do other than listen to the rain, I picked the Hindu Sunday magazine and was leafing through it, and came across this article. It was a travelogue. The author had visited Rome and had written her description of the city. It had a two line description of the author: “The author is a Japanese language expert and a travel-writer”.
That’s when I started thinking. I mean, if I wrote something like that and it got published, what would the description part be? “The author is a Management Trainee with a multi-billion dollar company, who is still unsure of what she is doing/wants to do with her life”.
All my life, I have always made it a point to own responsibility and not blame anybody else for where life had taken me or what I had done. It is my belief that whatever happened, did happen, because I had never stood up against what was happening, and had allowed it to happen. There is no point playing the blame game.
That brings me to where I am now. I have a job. Many people around don’t; that makes me appreciate it a lot more. I have a great boss and a super cool team to work with. I’m still in the trainee phase of the job, and I’m learning a lot- the nuances of the different managerial activities that take place in the organization, etc. But most times I wonder what I am doing over here. Deserving appreciations are given, compensation is good (but of course; never enough- heard of anybody who says he makes enough money?) and there is enough politics to keep me interested. But. Something’s missing. Maybe it’s the reduced time I get to spend with family. Maybe it is the fact that I come home only to eat, sleep and eat again; and rush back to work. Maybe it’s the absolutely negligible “me-time’ that I get- it has been ages since I ran, since I got a massage without thinking about what needed to be done about this report or that query. Maybe it’s the worry that these wouldn’t change- I see bosses and peers working just as long and hard as me. Maybe it is the guilt that instead of spending TIME with family I’m finding myself money on them and telling myself that I’m balancing the equation pretty well. Maybe it’s the knowledge that I am just another nameless, faceless contributor to the super-populated industry that garners the most revenue to the nation. Maybe it’s the knowledge that I’m easily replaceable- anybody can do what I do. I’m doing nothing unique.
Maybe I’m being ungrateful and thankless. But this is my life and I don’t want to look back on it after twenty years and say- where did it all go? I want to be a mum like my mum is. I want to watch my kids grow up, not wonder how they grew up so quickly. My list of ‘things that I want to do’ gets longer with every passing day- learn Russian and German and Spanish, learn the salsa, learn to cook super awesome meals, scale the Himalayas, go scuba diving, visit the Louvre, and Russia and the Niagara and the Singapore zoo. I want to cycle to Puducherry. I want to write a book. I wish to do so many things and I’m worried if I would be able to.
Now I’ll tell you a story. It was recounted by a participant- Gaurav, at last week’s Toastmasters at work. There was a hunter. He was a famous guy known for his bravery and hunting capabilities. One night he went to look for game. And he came back with a story. To the enthralled audience he said that that night, he walked into the forest that he knew so well. He walked and walked looking for deer or some game that his family could feed on, but to his misfortune, he found nothing. All night he walked and towards day break he was tired and dejected. Then he heard this earth shaking roar. He was in a savannah with head high grass and right behind him was a lion roaring for his blood. So the hunter took off on his heels and kept running till he reached the end of the savannah. What stretched in front of him now was a vast plain land with no tree or shrubbery in sight. The breathless audience asked him what he did then. “I climbed a tree” he replied, smiling. “But how could you climb a tree? You just mentioned that there were no trees there!” questioned someone. The hunter replied- “My friend, there is ALWAYS a tree. You just have to look for it!”
So today I started on my French again. I’m going to start running from Monday. (I’m hoping that once I publicize it thus, I will have no choice but to do it, if I ever have any inhibitions about getting out of bed on Monday morning). I have a crazy idea that might make a good book. And I am hoping that whatever plans I have inside my head work out well. I believe I found my tree 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bye bye Ravi :(

Those who know me well know that at one point of time I could not talk enough about my first (and only-at that time) team mate at my first (and current) job. For those who don’t, allow me to introduce Ravi Iyer. They say your first job is what shapes your entire career; so it is very important that you choose well, and give it your all. I think, what is more important is that you are lucky enough to land yourself in a team that helps you bring out your best. I think I was.
In the beginning I had a huge huge crush on him. Once, conversationally he had said ‘sweetheart’ and I was flying in the air and text messaged it to all the girls, and couldn’t stop grinning for an hour. Maybe that made working with him a lot more fun; but it was not all. He taught me many lessons, which I would remember, even if I forgot how he looked like or what he spoke like.
From day one, Ravi had been very patient with me, teaching me things (repeatedly, if needed) and made me feel at home. It was like- it never did seem like my first job after one point of time. I learnt a lot of things from him. The first one being, how important it is to work as a ‘team’. There had been many times when, due to ‘labor crunch’ we had had to stay back and work really late. Most of the time Ravi would have finished his tasks and I would have been slower than a snail, patiently working till 7 or 8, and then freaking out looking at how dark it was outside. Then he would say ‘Get up, get up, move, I’ll do it’ and finish whatever I estimated would take at least an hour, in a couple of minutes. I remember the first time he left what he was working on to help me out with some presentation I was struggling with, I told him I was sorry for taking his time or something of that sort; he said ‘aisa nahi hota hai yaar’- It doesn’t work that way. You want help, ask. It’s ok to ask.
He loves to teach- small things, big things. Some people, especially in such IT organizations, zealously guard whatever little they know from you, lest you climb a rung higher than them. I learnt that it is a joy to share what you know. For, when you teach, you learn too.
I remember this once, when there was this huge task that needed completion. Ravi was done with it and had to send it to a superior. It was very important that the task was error free, and he triple checked it before he clicked the send button. But the mail wouldn’t go. So we sent it from my mail id. As expected, the task was done error-free. And guess who got appreciated for it? Me. If I was in Ravi’s place, I would have torn the place down. (Appreciations are a big thing here) If Ravi felt bad; he never showed it. That made me tell the boss that it was him who did it, not me. But it also sealed my faith in him, that he was a friend and that he could be trusted. And I was so glad I did not have some bitchy, whiny girl for a team mate.
He has an opinion about everything. Sometimes he counters his own opinions. (It is a lot of fun when he does that). He can talk about any topic under the sun. He is very well read, but he never shows off. You would never guess it till you spoke to him. He comes up with the most unimaginable questions. The most recent one that he posed was, ‘People plug their ears with their fingers when they burst those loud, noisy crackers. If people don’t want to hear the noise so much, then why burst them anyway and ruin everybody else’s peace?’
Though we had some rough patches (once he wouldn’t speak to me for a week), every time I think of him, I think of only the good times that we had. This week is his last week at work, and throughout his notice period of 3 months, I was dreading the last day, because working without him is going to be very difficult indeed. His head wouldn’t pop out from his cubicle when I yell ‘Ravi, Help!’. I’m going to have trouble with making graphs, and he is not going to be around to tell me how to sort it out. But this I know- When I see my new team mate struggling with something, I can see myself helping him and telling him, ‘Aisa nahi hota hai, I can help!’