Archive for the ‘A hard day’s night’ Category

After coming back, the toughest part has been answering questions on why I decided to travel alone. (I did get the question there a lot as well, but they seemed a little less judgmental.)

Ma finally hyper reacted, like I had originally expected her to. I told her about the little fight, she blew her top saying I should let JT be. That he cares, that she is scared. She said in her own characteristic way one or many of the following –

– You are mad. You will drive PD mad.
– I will send him a blanket and an umbrella. He would have to become a monk.
– He made a mistake marrying you.
– I haven’t told anyone, I am ashamed of you.
– The whole family is mad. All you people are like this.
– This is not the way to live your life.
– Why cant you want normal things?

I was terribly jetlagged and she could have well played against the mother stereotype. So to match the drama, I hung up on her. Ekta Kapoor could have taken tips from us.

I secretly hope she doesn’t mean it when she says all of that. I really hope. Even if she did, I really don’t think I can do much to change her or help the cause. So all I need to learn is to not let it bother me. I am 28 (drumroll), and one has to come up with a number they set for themselves after which it would be okay to say fuck without checking from the corner of your eye if your parents are within earshot. I had set the number to 27. And even then –

Going into the “It’s my life” rhetoric would be easy. I could say it’s none of anyone’s business, but that would make me a rebel without a cause who wears a weed t-shirt to prove they have a “life”. I am not interested in that. What I truly felt, is that a human being is capable of finite number of experiences. And there is nothing wrong in being greedy for new ones. One should NOT be ashamed of wanting them.

And I know that everytime I step aside from three weeks of rigmarole to experience something new, I am learning to stand tall against fear. And stepping aside from mediocrity, even if it’s ever so slightly. And I will have to go through this cycle again.

And trust me, given a choice, I will do it again. And again.

And in that way, I realized why people are scared of getting married. It just changes something the way people perceive you. I could have well been 35 and seeing PD, and it would have been fine to travel alone. But being wrapped around his finger at 28 is not the same.


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Jamie is American, in his mid forties, and has been a manager in his company for the last few years. It’s a nice, high-paying job. He’s got three kids, got a nice house and a loving wife of more than 25 years. He speaks too much at times and has got a goofy sense of humor. He does not drink or smoke. I get along well with Jamie, and had gone for lunch with him a few times.

Jamie’s job is highly outsourceable, and back home in India there are enough who are capable of doing his job better than he does. And at a far lesser price.

By the end of this year, Jamie’s job will be outsourced to someone in India. it needs to, my calculations show.

Of course, Jamie is good enough to land another job soon enough, I know. And also, it is the law of nature in the highly globalized world of business, and I understand very well that outsourcing is a necessity and an inevitable in the modern global economy. It is a requisite for a behemoth like Jamie’s company to survive.

Shudder. That is the nature of my job.

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My boss, or rather my project lead, is Indian relacated to the US. A Senior Director in the company, and may I add, rather good at her work, she does have a few issues.
1. She is, IMHO, in her early-forties…. And she is convinced that she is a decade younger.
2. She is the Delhiite-Kashmiri fair, and has coloured her hair almost completely brown. The brunette brown. And she is convinced that people mistake her for being white.
3. She, albeit a very good speaker, has the irritating Indian-American accent. And does not realise that. And pronounces a few words in the private-school Delhi way. May i insist, that is akin to the ‘incorrect-way’.
4. She is a little unsure of whether she is smart enough. Well she shouldn’t, because she is.

So, what does Retro do?
1. I discuss backpacking tours and treks, and other youthful things
2. I smile and nod when she mentions people mistake her for white, or that most Indian techies in the US speak in such accented english.
3. I mention all the time to her that she is very smart. This is the easy part.

Well, it works out fine. We get along reasonably well, she mentions to the CEO often that I am good at my work (and I am, may I add), she helps me out with my understanding of the business and the organizational politics of the client; and whatever needs to be communicated to the CEO or the client, but needs sugarcoating, I can get done through her.

Sometimes, going easy on the pride is a good thing.

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Dear Retro,

Nobody promised that it will be easy. To both of us. Nobody lied.

And it seems like a nightmare gone wrong. Or a perverse All-fool’s day joke.  Wish it was either of those two.

I think you are taking this responsibility thing a bit too seriously. You just got married, you have a family to support. Frankly, it’s not the roof-over-your-head that you are afraid of, it’s just the luxuries, the lifestyle that you have acquired.

Too many people chase mediocre dreams on that premise. Too much is given up just to ensure a cash inflow that will guarantee to pay the bill on your platinum credit card.

So just pause for a second and think about whether money really is that big an issue.

Now that we got that out of the way, we discuss your abilities. Of which we have no doubt. You have the work, the work experience, and a degree to match.

And let’s not forget The people can be used to your advantage. They have the contacts, it would be best to manipulate them, force them to get you what you deserve.

Apologies if I sound harsh and rude. I am not heartless as you suspect. But as I told you yesterday if you want sympathy, you can go to someone else.  All I have to offer is help with a plan.
And you are lucky to have a stable, calm and strong person like MTM.

So, get up and get that ass moving.

And tomorrow it will be a winners story.


PS: I expect the same pep talk back. Thankyouverymuch.

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And tell you why we are forever surprised with people.

There was another post about my obsession with rediff messageboards, and the people who kill time and English language in that space. But these two incidents took the cake because it involved two people at the top of their game, at work.

  1. I saw someone (a fairly technical guy who has assembly language coming out of his ears) with an xkcd strip open. Now, being a devoted xkcd fan (read:nerd), I pointed to him that the fun with xkcd is in the title text, which pops up like a tool-tip and holds an in-joke. He told me, this is a math/programming joke and it’s clear, the tooltips are descriptions of the joke. Then he and another colleague went on to try and solve the joke. Really, I kid you not. Either you get it or you don’t, you don’t work them out?!?
  2. [Okay, I am an xkcd addict – this and this and this and this and this for your reference. Please, I beg you, put your cursor on the image. I personally find the Nash/Feynman one very funny.]

  3. There is another who plays the keyboard. He even has a rock band. I heard him hum something familiar so I asked him if he has been OD’ing on Cream. He said no, then paused and went on to hum a famous riff. “What song is that?”, he asked me. Now any self respecting person who seems to be remotely interested in music will know this song. To say I was surprised  would be an understatement. Which song? Useless trivia for you included, as a freebie.
  4. Retro, you will love it: This riff is exceedingly popular amongst beginner guitar players, a guitar store in London put up a sign saying “Absolutely, under no circumstances at all are customers allowed to play Stairway to Heaven, Sweet Child of Mine or __________ while trying out guitars. Thank You.” The sign is here ]


Well, there was another incident with a seemingly ubiquitous Monty Python reference, but I will skip that one since I don’t expect everyone to get it anyway.

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Peeve #2659

I cant seem to understand why most people with an MBA degree/ enrolled into a B-School can’t stop gushing about how they are talking to “business leaders” and “people at the top”.

The self worth attached to a person is because of their own work, and not because of someone else, isn’t it? Then why the constant need for validation? The constant need to justify, and indulge in name dropping. Just because you are talking to someone at the top, doesn’t demonstrate that you are at the top. Not just yet. You will be, I dont doubt it, but it doesn’t make anyone else’s role smaller.

Edited to add: And one must not forget that the reason people listen to you is because of the little logo on the namecard one carries. I, in my current role, get to speak to heads of divisions in banks, but they are willing to listen to me not because I am mw, but because my company takes responsibility for every decision I take on their behalf.

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There are somewhat emotional moments in ones life, things one is passionate and weak about – the first performance on stage, the first crush, the first best friend, the first important exam, the first relationship and the first job. Though the breaking up of each of those reveries is painful at that stage, it is important for evolution and the so-called attainment of maturity. Which I seriously lack.

So today is one more milestone achieved. This too shall pass, but this too shall desensitize.

If this is what they call growing up, I would rather not even try. I still want to use the freedom to shoot people with my imaginary gun. Aim two fingers, cock my thumb and shoot them. All.

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