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Archive for August, 2008

The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason. – T.S. Eliot

It been hard resisting that temptation.
Its so very easy for me to do that right thing –  like say be nice to people for they are nice to you.
I am naturally polite most of the time and can behave like quite a soft spoken person but to behave like that with people , for issues I do not believe in or I am not convinced about is being hard on me.

Happenings last week seem quite very simple on the surface but there is a feeling they will resonate in my head for quite sometime.
It was such a beautiful day today at home i felt somehow since the morning that i did not feel like writing much about the dismal things that are around  me.The day almost made me feel somewhere some good thing had happened. May be i woke up with some nice dream subconsciously, nothing else explained it. I felt so fine that i did nothing much except stare through my window onto the sunlight beaming all around.Its only after nightfall that I manage to write somehow.

Its quite easy being rude and cut people out its said but its really tough I feel esp for me if you are not convinced that these people have  no ill will towards me.It makes me feel queasy after i behave the way i do.

After ranting so much against my team mates in quite some previous posts due to their opinions and thinking , when i think it over charitably i feel a bit bad , simply because none of this whole charade is regarding me in particular.
I somehow end up in situations where people at least outwardly are rather nice to me. Too nice for my comfort frankly.

The hardest part of life right now is having a too sweet and a bit too friendly but absolutely unmoved by stuff kind of manager is – you dont know whom to really get at at times.
The culture in this wonderful place where nothing seems urgent or planned explicitly reminds me of that quote
Take your life into your hands , and what happens? No one to blame“.

I try to maintain  my distance and try coming across as extremely ill mannered but ah i am quite disturbed with all this.
Like this incident when both of them invited me over to check out the houses they bought recently as they were going there and it was on the way for them to drop me at home.
I made the most pathetic excuses , to the extent of saying they should not even look forward to a cup of Tea I am such a bad host in general, but neverthless when i did ask them they just had a glass of water, but the thing is I feel bad being so unkind to people who for whatever reason are decent to me.
I just do it with some nice self deprecating wit  but still I dont like being that unhospitable.The issue is honestly its not a comfortable thought to think of fighting/arguing with a manager and team members who visit your home. That kind of status quo spoils things.It is actually being quite a learning curve for me.

It is quite an experience shifting from a services organization to a product based organization.
You miss the buzz and happenings and expectations that are part of being in any services software or otherwise.
Appreciations from the clients, the expectations (most common being the onsite stuff), the particularity of things, the careful drafting and revising of emails repeatedly befor hitting a send.
These are the very things you hated then and I stll remind myself of that instead of calling them sweet memories.
Here where i am its a perfect place for the innovators i guess OR the world weary – cool atmosphere , not much nonsense about etiquette and  relaxed attitudes which only get disturbed on news of firings for cost cuttings.
And here I am complaining I have nothing to look forward to.
I complained about the extreme pace of things then and now i fret  at the lethargy of things around me because i have seen things moving faster in every sense.
Why is quite such a big thing to have the balanced best of both worlds i quip….

Then there was another drama which left me all the more unsettled.
Some of my mother’s close but far off cousin sister turned up with her family.She’s a government servant , with a husband who is a lecturer  in a small town. Belonging to the educated but traditional kind of family they started the same charade that everyone does , but in a more polished and kinder way than say the more rustic relatives.

They see me after what some 20+ years and express their deep affection and keen desire to see me well settled and try talking as they say some sense into my head. I try every trick in my book dissapearing to the balcony , picking up a book and keeping silent saying that i hardly am much of a speaker.

But the lady seemed quite intent on forcing a  rountable conversation , with her hubby  my mom and sis included and would stop at none.
She thought I should stop at reading books, enough books by now. I have a job too , so thats enough.

Anyways the conversation veered off in all directions of my expectations , their experiences etc etc, with the lecturer ending up asking me , how much do i earn – a question i deliberately did not answer but was forced to quote a figure in a way only Indian relatives can.
In fact the man joked it off saying “Tell me – lets see how much i have earned after putting in all these years of service and how much you people earn.What is that you people do to get paid such. All these stress strain  things that people talk on these days.”

My essential problem is unlike others is with age i become more passionate when talking about what i believe in and have lost the patience that i seemed to have so easily as a child.I started pretty reluctantly due to this but when they seemed to be so insistent i gave them a piece of my mind.
“Its pretty simple. You as a lecturer can take classes of any quality as you like that is if kids attend firstly and get away with it, not something you can really do in our  case and so on as easily.
For you what you have  learnt in college is the end , here you just have to keep unlearning and relearning.”

The fact is there are so many misconceptions in half the people outside software about software industry.They just know software engineers = good money earning and scope and US chances.There is one set who thinks they are overpaid for jobs that even Xth standard people can do and the other half thinks just the opposite . I almost feel like cracking a bad joke that well because a highly educated person supresses his capabilities and does a Xth standard job he ought to be  paid more.

“Whatever happens no one employed now will lose jobs for next 20 years ” says this man and I tried to enlighten him about my friends who were given pink slips with 2 hrs of notice period.That the real money is hardly earned by an average software engineer but by businesses which were built to cater to them.That half of the rich lifestyle this set of people put on  is debt money in the shape of plastic cards.

Its really easy to snap such people out of your life i think and then realise , but for my family or may be my job i would never associate with such.
And as this continued , I was told that my expectations were all wrong I tried to make some fair arguments and my sister chipped in with some but for them all that i could talk of were trivial.

As per them
Finances should not be an issue(This from a person who in the previous conversation had said he never joined any of the universities as a professor because , it only means research and career growth and I want financial growth too for my family hence i stayed on as a college lecturer- which i though was a very honest decent answer.)
Lifestyle should not be an issue.
Differences in upbringing are not an issue.
Looks must never be an issue

Survival is the the word they spoke of (though i guess social conformity was what they meant at heart and should have been spelled it such ) and then  I really was worked up to a point that i was forced to be blunt that I survive decently if not well and any so called compromise of settling down should improve my quality of life rather than doing the opposite.

The conversation finally was ended up with a cheery smile that we both sisters spoke too well and know almost every line of argument, but you know from those polite faces that these things have resonances in people heads, like how the generation has changed, how the world is going to become and what not.

The thing is they were not bad people or one of those scheming / sermonizing relatives everyone has their share of – but they just belong to a  world I want to escape from.
They cannot see beyond what they are in ,as they find it safer and comfortable in there and I do not like what they show me from their perspective.I never like being so heartless to such people but I guess that seems to be destiny.

Anyway life goes on and at this point in life with over thirty years of being a nuisance in the
universe i can only quote from somewhere

The years are forest paths
Where I’ve lost my way
Not even a sun-ray
To guide my wandering…

The best thing though in this rather unsettling week was my reading “India Unbound” by Gurucharan Das.
What a fine book , nothing earth shattering and yet so effective in presenting the country’s journey from pre independence and its dilemmas to this age and i will write a seperate post on it. Its core may be set about the economic ideologies that have changed but its touches a whole lot more splendidly.

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People seldom differentiate between managers and leaders but there’s a huge difference there. And while with respect to leadership women may be fine though using different style totally I’ve never seen much loved women managers esp in middle management.
I do not mean competent , they are more often than not competent and ambitious but i mean I’ve never heard of any mid level woman manager being admired inspirational and so on.
There was some talk about opportunities ahead for women in the organization and also with some new women in the managerial hiring last quarter there’s been some incidents which made me feel like summarizing a few thoughts.

Somehow in software when i do a reality check women as managers are yet to be cherished by employees.
From what i’ve seen around in all my previous organizations , whenever there is a woman manager there’s a instant dislike, suspicion and the foremost people to initiate or at least openly express these are the unfortunately women employees.

Most of these thoughts are from what i hear and then perceive from people around me rather than my individual experience which is a bit offbeat.

There’s an instance of a woman manager making a point about employees being on time. This stringent rule in a organization known for its flexibility in timings, certainly made one too many employees furious and ended up as a complaint against her.
In a normal circumstance I also pretty much will join this complaint, when people make an issue about hours and timings.
But what i dislike is why people link this as a issue that cropped up because the manager was a woman and women are like that, too rule abiding taking things too seriously and what not.

In another organization my friend is forced to come on time(being the only flaw explained in her one year of tenure because of which she did not deserve a promotion) even if there is no work by a manager who is a guy. Here they say he’s a horrid sadistic boss but they do not say , oh he is guy.

Frankly a lot of women are high strung and cannot relax with deadlines looming  and in such a situation when your employees go around playing TT and have endless smoke and lunch breaks it i guess it does get on their nerves.

From what i observed there’s a root cause.
Women want to go home (or at least off work) invariably on time and quite a few like to do decent work if not great and so would like the things all in control and fine when they leave office.
Men on the other are quite cool , a delay here a delay there  – we can always stay late , come later and are so much relaxed.

So yes its very nice to have a boss who is cool and will never make a issue about timings and errors and wont like to be in know how of your whereabouts every minute,
BUT its not very easy TO BE such a boss when you have employees you know are not all committed.

My short experience in that scenario of being a back up manager put me off management track quite well. I am quite a nervous freak myself and

have fondness for own personal time way too much and so yes its much easier doing your work however tough it is than getting a bunch of disinterested people committed to work.
The worst part is any case is the personal slurs that people make if the manager is a woman. I am all for criticizing their over strictness or  even their over ambitious drive in proving themselves and the picky nature, but whats terrible is to keep quiet when people make statements
like
” Oh this is what happens when a frustrated single woman is a manager ” OR
“She just got in through her husband’s connections” OR
the standard stuff about looks and character.

Also when a mistake is pointed out by a manager , they say oh he’s being too much. If she’s a woman manager well she’s  picky – she’s a woman.
Ok women are picky at times esp our brilliant technos hate it when a lady goes on picking issues with email and language.
A guy as a manager wont do that.
So there you go , another irritant factor against women as managers.

Then there are things I hear that makes you really feel cynical.
You have all our great MNC’s promoting women in workplace and you have a senior manager in one of the greatest workplaces disliking women at workplaces.Of course he wont dare to go on record in his company .
But thats the whole point – by making rules you cannot change attitudes.And imagine how that inbuilt resentment is expressed in everyday life in subtle saddism.

Women more often than not worry – it comes naturally esp if they strive for a perfect deliverable.Also trouble follows cause they ensure that you also worry about it and do something.
Something that many people think is quite uncool esp if there is a chance to get away with it.

I really on a personal front (i.e about my managers) cannot tell the difference caused by gender of managers in concrete terms much may be because I take things individually rather than gender wise and my experience has been quite reverse i.e i have had more immediate managers as
women rather than men.
I have cribbed all my blog about them, but I doubt any of those issues would have disapeared if the manager was a guy.I honestly wonder if the rare few who read the past three years of crap on managers here guessed that my manager was a woman.

I’ve had good as well as bad from them – I doubt sometimes men as managers would have fought for me and my work with senior management with as much passion and conviction as my previous managers did.
They had their own benefits and reasons for doing that but yet when I look at my current manager I suspect he would stand up for any one and fight .
And yet I tell people that he’s quite cool – reason he never gets worked up over deadlines, will not care that i come in at 11 am almost every other day (OK fine thats my achievement – I finally convinced my woman managers too to live with that flaw of mine with a commitment
that none of their expectations in terms of work will be affected
)and is a quiet listener, a humble person with great commitment to the organization .

Ive seen others of this kind , loved a lot by employees, if the employees are good they make them work , if not then they themselves do the work but they do not take a stand and fight. May be thats being cool.

The problem though i guess comes at the end with such people.At the end of the day when you want something tangible while they do support you , people of such  nature will start talking philosophy, rules and organizational commitment etc.
They may want to help you but they really lack a passion to fight for their own selves how will they do it for anyone?
I guess as usual i deviated from a general issue to a personal one, but such seems to be my limitation.

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There are calms before storms. I am not sure what storm awaits me but this is a depressing and extremely bad calm phase i am stuck in.
I have become irritated thinking about it, blogging about it and yet I have to live it through everyday.

Now i understand why Katherine Hepburn said “Enemies are so stimulating” and here i am stuck among a place i cant even make enemies.
This phase i fear is pulling me into being a hypocrite .
After all these years of  getting over my reluctance to interact much with people esp strangers, I am again at a point when i have started despising people.Well at least the ones that I get stuck with. And the way i act and suffer this I despise myself too.

The problem is this is my job , my sustenance. There are just five of us i deal with at work.
One is a technical lead and except in team meetings he can be ignored, one is a fresher with the cool attitude that since anyways you’ve gotta work a lifetime why bother so early getting into this mess and they have their gang to hang out which is just fine.

One is a manager and however cool they act its always the management and I am quite wary of that and I have yet not been proved wrong.
Thus remain two people. One is “Me” the morose serious argumentative and the other chap is the sugary , laughter packed  all knowing guiding angel to the new freshers.

I do not care who hogs the limelight and I have my share in different areas . Neither do i care how wonderfully they build social networks.In four months in this new company I know fourteen people may be in the company maximum and he knows a hundred may be.

How they bond so soon Such wonderfully or superficially I never get  and I frankly think thats great as thats how businesses work in the end.Only fault the few people see in him is may be his overt argumentativeness regarding the work which is pretty OK.

The problem is this is where I spend three fourths of my day and I share the cubicle with these.

Fair enough so what I do is come late and spend continuos hours at my desk finish my work and leave. No coffee breaks / no walks nothing. Those days are gone poor lady I tell myself.There are days when i have my lunch at desk to avoid them.This when they take so much care to include me being a lone teammate.
How cruel am I ?

Strange no one here would question if i dont show up for hours together and yet I am at my desk always and at my previous place it was vice versa.

This is why it was said in that wonderful book Shantaram “If fate does not make you laugh you just dont get the joke”

I can take being alone as I am someone who likes solitude.

It is the 1 minute conversations that punctuate my solitary life in my
office that irritate the hell out of me.

I might have brought this upon myself in ways and deeds unknown who knows.
I got friendly with probably just one woman named R here in this multitude, may be because she is the one who talks the most to strangers.
She gets people to talk and then gives advice which again is a common livable problem.
The reason is you can ignore it though when i keep saying hmm hmm to lot of stuff i dont beleive in I know this is my descent into hypocrisy.

The following is a very harsh description of someone who is known as the funny lovable guy who even in long US stint in his previous organization was loved by one and all as per him.

But I dont enjoy having him as a teammate such because while I myself can carry on quite a few superficial conversations when circumstances need, I never respect or like people who talk on and on for the heck of it and never stick to what they say and then when you start a decent
argument hide it in humor  and say things like
I may say whatever just for fun but think twenty times before doing something

But he happens to be my only co worker and hence I cant really put up the perfect go to hell kind of attitude.
The lady R from a different team is also quite talkative so she considers this chap one of those dil ka saaf nice guys and he is like meri didi didi types.

Understandable both people from a similar region(Cant avoid this in India).

Their views and worse me being the quiet participant with hmm hmm are playing havoc on my peace of mind.
Some conversations:

R: Oh that friend of mine , she is a tamilian
He: They are quite kanjoos na
R: No why , she always keeps getting stuff for me and is very nice
He: Oh then she must be nice
R: One should not say like this about everyone
He: why in my college down south the lecturer said in front of everyone, I hate Biharis and I stood up and asked why what is your problem and

he said you are an exception.
R: Well thats why they are driving them out in Mumbai
Me: Well its always like that one or two people spoil the name of a whole set.
He: True

The point here is this chap has no viewpoint or if he does he does not exactlt speak that. If you argue a bit he will hide behind that
facade Ok we all northies esp Biharis are bad Fine Ok.
Its such irritating though no one raises that point he brings it up.
=========================================

Now notice the heartfelt concern he has for people here and i am so cold blooded.

He: Yamini I am so upset what kind of place we have gotten into. here everyone is scared that if our
project succeeds they all may be jobless. It seems they feel only the Top performers will be kept and rest downsized.

Me:Well why are you bothered no one can help people who want to live taking this job as some government secure job.
And you and I have worked in service companies with much stringent work culture and if it comes to that for us we
can take it. So why worry?

He:    No I feel very bad this whole rating business you know like rating one person above the other,
to tell one person that you should be like him, he is good , you are incompetent is so bad.

Me:Well like it or not Bell curve kind of rating is a norm in all leading companies. If these people hoped that by default of an acquisition they had a secure job in a big company, its sad.

This conv was continued…as below

R: I do not like Ramji among gods and she goes on about his treatment of sita.Useless fellow leaves a expecting lady in forest.

Me; Same here I too dislike(though I am agnostic , I discuss Gods quite well and am not averse to the chat in general)

He: Well thats because you dont understand. Ram Bhagwan and even sita maiyya knew the happening even before it happened.
He did it for Rajhith (Good of the country) and because that was the vidhi(process or rather as prescribed socially).

R: Ah caught you , now this firing or rating too is exactly that for company hith(good). So why you complain.

He:Ab aap bhi naa(You are too much)

======================================

He: Ha ha you know what my resolution is? (Bubbling with enthu like a kid)
Me: Whatever
He: I wont drink tea.It has nicotine. I will eat only sattvic food(ya thats a new buzzword for chaps
like these who’ve had their fill of non  veg in the US and all over. Damn I’ve been a veggie by choice all my life and yet never complain a

word about non vegans or potray being a veggie as sattvic)

As i type this blog i remember i should have spoken about Hitlers’s sattvic food.

========================================

Some talk about marriage came up.
R: Guys parents have so much attitude and blah blah(theirs is a UP family so its that standard fare of dowry and ladki wale dar ke rehte types)
He: Aaj kal aisa kya hai , kuch nahi
R: Kuch nahi badla ladkiyon ke liye its the same still when it comes to ,marriage and guys have some much attitude
He: Haan to ladkiyon ka nahi hotha kya.(Dont girls have an attitude or what) Vo mera interview leti hai(“How dare she take my interview” referring to some marraige proposal of a gal i guess who
must ‘ve hurt the guys ego badly )

and so it goes on….

I almost had the Joker’s plasticated smile during this conversation and yet was so very irritated

Me: I will be on leave 2 days
He: Why
Me: I am going to abcd
He: That only takes 1 day
me; you are not my manager why you ask so many questions
He: why friends should not ask hmm
Me; Well if you were a friend you would ask why 2 days take 4 days
Guy; You know a true friend is not some one who agrees or goes by you all the time but question you.

Damn the banter. How i hate myself

Then finally this week I had the question I was expecting from my manager since the day I joined
“So no plans of marrying in near future”.
This is exactly why I dislike getting friendly\lunching with managers.

People are so irritating predictable.

Most of the above is done in quite amusing chatter but such an everyday life is being tortorous to me.
I have  to move out .
In every other aspect it seems like a calm relaxing job , I walk in at 11 no one questions, if I leave early not much questions asked.
In the end you know whatever you do the maximum difference it will make on you pay slip is at the maximum some 4-5k.
promotions are not my great inspiration and here they come with years piling up and I am partly incapable and partly uninterested of those

googled up and innovative mixed up white papers to get brownie points.
But just for these few comforts how much of this environment I can take and if not here what next.There’s no gurantee that I will
end up with different people if I move again. Its a bloody small world in so many ways.

I cant even think of what to blog , such pitiful I have become and the posts in the last few months are quite reflective of this pathetic

state.Not that I loved all the people in the past,( I just lack that loving disposition and am too old to change i guess) but yeah some people were nice enough to distract me from bothering about the others.

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Last fortnight watching “The Dark Knight” seemed a nightmare as far as travel is considered.
Almost everything that can go wrong goes wrong especially when i have a movie to watch.
The first time I missed the movie by a good half an hour and the next time by 10 minutes. This despite a well planned itinerary and getting a friends vehicle too.
The whole charade certainly spoilt my viewing mood but yet it was a movie i liked.
I am hardly someone who loves action and comic book movies much but I guess the
the movie is hardly comic book. And thats exactly why the people I watched it with – people who love comic book and super heroes did not like it much . But I did and thats simply because of the screenplay and dialogues that go with deeper subtexts. And be it action be it comedy or even romance my favorite is inevitably wordplay.

The point where Alfred says “Some men just want to see the world burn” and the solution later on implemented was “burn the forest down” seems to linger in your
mind especially when halfway through the movie you get a call about the Ahmedabad blasts.
You cannot help but wonder the motivation for such gruesome and horrific acts. Forget their nonsensical emails and religious leanings.
Such stuff never would serve any cause , and one needs to be either really blinded to think it will or one some where deep down they are the people who want to see this world burn i guess.

And is that the only solution we have for such – burn the forest and is that what US thinks when it acts as it does?

Getting back to the movie It isnt’ thrilling action and hence disappoints people who expect such fun but i kinda liked to think it over and over.
Near the end where the joker gives detonators to people calling it a social experiment, I just wonder would people really be that nice in real time, if it wasn’t a movie at least one boat would have been blown up?

Would I be that good? The instant thought is NO. Later may be i am not even sure – I have too many options in my head .
A real good one though was “madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push“.
I especially think something on those lines when people who act like saints or people who have it too good or are in real safe situations speak great lines about goodness ,patience in adversity , humanity and morality.
You push them a bit into the corner or hurt what they love and they emerge the more villainous and intolerant.

Reminds me of a quote i can’t exactly recall but it goes something like – “The most sensitive people are the ones capable of being most insensitive to others”.

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