Sunday, October 13, 2013

Indian IT 101: Survival Guide

This guide is for you if..’re stuck in a job you don’t like for reasons you cannot comprehend. Morning after morning, the shuttle is taken to work, breakfast had, coffee gulped down, desktop switched on and chair adjusted. Some emails to look forward to, tickets to be resolved, a meeting, perhaps a status call. You constantly dream of spending a day outside your work place..just one day, and fondly remember the last time you called in sick to pursue activities more meaningful than fire-fighting over emails. This yearning slowly translates to a desire to pursue something else for a living. You’re not ready to quit your job yet—clarity takes time you see—and there’s that service contract as well. Things need to be sorted and priorities need to be assigned without compromising on current career prospects and this guide has been developed to help you maintain a comfortable status quo. Hence the name ‘Survival Guide’ as opposed to ‘Learn to Love Your Work Guide’ or ‘Get You On-Site Guide’, which must also drop a hint or two on what to expect as takeaway.

Steps for Survival

Arrive at work as usual, earlier if you can. But make no mistake of physically turning up at your workplace earlier than your boss:  befriend technology. If your team starts coming in at 11 am, the first mail you send out better be at 10:20 am, just before you go to brush. Arrive at your desk a little after 11 am, sans bag, pretending to be fresh from a coffee break. It helps a great deal if you start going to work empty handed. In fact, a friend of mine used to place a dummy bag on his desk and quietly sneak in and out of tech park premises at will. But then he also lived within 90 seconds walking distance of said tech park premises so you may choose to weigh various options before taking a call.

Now, the tricky part: work. You do not like it, do not want to do it but see no way out of it. The challenge here is to do minimal work yet make your team (more importantly, manager) not notice the lack of balance in the universe. If you’ve been around long enough, you may use the services of an enthusiastic protégé and get some work done on pretext of ‘mentoring’. When such enthusiasm is unavailable in resources around (tch tch), careful delegation and seeking help is the way forward. However, stay around to observe and contribute to important developments that involve your work. Be alert in sending mails (never delegate this activity), scheduling calls and meetings, conveniently keeping your presence virtual. Volunteer to take up chhota-mota initiatives that may ‘add value to deliverables’: this is a fairly certain way of acquiring those brownie points during appraisal. Note that all of the above must be performed in a clever manner else you’ll end up doing more work than usual which is out of the scope of this guide.

General workplace behaviour must also be altered while you take your time to measure priorities. Adopt the ways of an enthu cutlet. Contribute to team building activities and general work atmosphere..basically anything that can ‘make your presence felt’. About once a week, stay back late, even if you’re doing nothing in particular because face-time is desirable. Use this time to talk to people around you and place building relationships over the highly-abused, flinch-inducing term ‘networking’. Hear their stories, share yours, try and collaborate and for all you know, your work may just start generating appeal.

And finally

How you spend your time during this status quo maintenance is up to you. Most people seek alternate employment, prepare for competitive exams or browse matrimonial sites (notice the avoidance of mentioning gender here). I used it to figure out the general direction in which my career could head, gathered information, worked towards some short and mid-term goals and finally ended up in a happier place. And if this post has got you thinking even a little, things are probably not going well for you and I do hope you take a leap in the direction you desire and sort things soon.


This guide is based more on observation than experience. Potential employers may kindly not use it to judge my professional ways or brand me as trouble.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

How Uday Chopra Ripped My Will To Live

Kitne kitno ko star banaya, apne bete ko star nahi bana paya”, quipped a chirpy RJ on a Bangalore radio station, referring to Yash Chopra’s inability to make a Bollywood sensation out of his own son after having ‘discovered’ many a faceless wonder. My little brain with its limited Bollywood knowledge tried to disagree because Aditya Chopra was as big as most mainstream Hindi actors but apparently, he wasn’t the son being ridiculed on radio. Enter Uday Chopra.

Way back in class 6, a certain multi-starrer flick had got the entire school drooling. “Aishwarya Rai comes like a ghost yaaa” was heard between numerous ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s  directed at the leading men, all except one.  Over the next decade, the obliterated leading man made several appearances (quite understandably) in movies produced by daddy dearest. I am not of the opinion that looks make a good actor but Chopra Jr. was several notches below let-down in both departments. However, his lacklustre performances and a general deficiency of charisma were simply ignored, as were his repeated attempts to vie for the womankind’s attention against the likes of a certain John and a new Bachchan.  For all I cared, Chopra Jr. and I shared a live-and-let-live policy.

..until it was violated last week, when certain life-changing information was revealed to me. Enter Nargis Fakhri.

Now I share most Indian gentlemen’s sentiment that Nargis Fakhri isn’t hot, she’s the sun. Last week, I happened to gather that The Sun has found love in —wait for it— Chopra Jr. Without bringing up the argument if it indeed is love that is blind or if it is just Ms. Fakhri, I chose to look at the Chopra lad with a different point of view. Was there the smallest chance that he wasn’t as bad or undeserving as popular media made him out to be?

The time taken for fair evaluation could have been better utilized by helping my employer without expecting monetary compensation. She doesn’t even seem to be in it for the money, considering she’s probably made more dough from Rockstar than he has from his entire career. But I tend to drift. You must be wondering why I chose to bring up Bollywood and Page 3 this fine evening, a first in the seven years this blog has seen. Coming back again to the life-changing part of the revelation, the knowledge of a romantic relationship between these two has made me ask myself an important question: if all The Sun could manage to bag was a sub-par Chopra, what’s the best this lesser mortal can a world where even Ritesh Deshmukh is taken?

The options:



I don’t even have the heart to come up with Option C. Kindly use the comments section below to vote/suggest.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Experience with India Post

When your parents are in government service, you are raised to respect the government. You are provided justification upon justification on the state of affairs in the country, a matter of endless rants in most other households. Parents in government service come with perks, not limited to waiver of phone bills, vacations in guest houses, and rides in a stately chauffeured Ambassador. Many years later, you will look back at these days with a sigh of nostalgia while standing in line at the passport office or the RTO.

Recently, a popular entrance exam required its applicants to dispatch their applications using either ‘ordinary’ post or registered post. “Better send it a week before the deadline. You know how the postal department is”, a friend warned. How is it, I wondered and went to the post office that weekend. It was a heavily partitioned one-room space bustling with activity, much to my surprise. Hadn't we heard enough times that nobody uses physical mail or stamps these days? Well it appears as if India Post has found other ways to keep its staff employed and occupied. This is commendable when you read about several other legacy government organizations and PSUs deliberating on downsizing and hiring freezes every day.  IP probably learnt a thing or two about calculated hiring after telegraph spiralled downward.

The crowd around me was a mix of people from all walks of life—an elderly gentleman accessing his savings account, a few people buying envelopes, a lady sending multiple speed posts, and—to my delight—a young philatelist asking if there were new stamps released recently. My speed post was bar-coded and a tracking number was generated before one could say the name of a popular courier company. It would reach in two days, said the lady at the counter, to a destination halfway across the country. This with online tracking facility cost me about 60% less than the average private courier service.

A new relationship was forged that day. When I went there this morning to collect the entrance exam’s score card, I left with an inland letter (remember those?), envelopes and stamps to surprise my grandmother who loves receiving letters.