Friday, October 26, 2007

A Funeral where you smell your own flowers

A friend called me a while back saying that he wanted to share a quip with me. I am still trying to fathom why he chose me to say that. Jokes apart he did it in right earnest because he knew I would love this.

The one-liner goes like this ‘Wedding is a funeral where you smell your own flowers’. Awesome quote! Now you know why I pulled his leg about the choice. I am increasingly getting annoyed at these wedding functions and lavish ones at that.

I try to figure out who exactly is celebrating? Is it the parents who put up the pomp? If so what are they trying to achieve? The fact that their wards are getting wedded?! The fact they have plenty of money? The display of joy and relief having reduced one member of the family! (I was only mentioning about the count, don’t read anything between the lines and take reduction as a word with face value and get into some philosophical analysis, though that is what I want you to do). Or is it to showcase whom they have found for their children!

Any which reason it is, it beats my imagination. If you have plenty of money, bloody well use it somewhere else where it is valued more. I have 5 elder sisters who got married and we should have spent a fortune on that ( ok, one was a smart person, didn’t allow us that option ). And for 10 full years lived in front of a wedding hall seeing marriages happening every third day! I now visualize that as lambs being taken to slaughter. Invariably there will be one nasty comment or other from the audience, a mean old aunt or the groom’s entourage in all marriages. Millions of bucks in food which is not appreciated and a bunch of beggars standing outside for the leftovers! Sickening feeling it was. And I am certain not a single soul including the relatives care a damn about how they live afterwards and whether they are compatible.

If it is a question of having fulfilled a responsibility of getting a child married off, how can that be true and if it is so, are you sure that you fulfilled it to the best of your ability. The mean family sniffing around like hyenas for largesse is where your daughter goes to. And does your responsibility end with that? Obviously not! You are always worried about how the folks live together but stay at a distance because you are not supposed to be interfering.

And the couple themselves! What a big waste it is! You don’t know how the well made up gent or lady next to you would turn up to. The very same quality that has endeared the other to you is the one you would get to hate the most. Oh she is so brilliant you would say when you want to get married, but can you stand living with a genius if she is screwed up in head? The attitude that looked so very hip & cool will become detached and self-centered. The sharp focus you loved will become single-mindedness. The happy-go-lucky nature will become irresponsible in a future date. The pride in which you showcased your partner saying ‘look what I have got’ will turn out to be exhibitionist tendencies of the other. The interest in which you shared about going out for dinners will become a allegation of laziness to cook. The neatness that you displayed will become an object of ridicule & irritation and you start assuming that you are suffering from an obsessive compulsive disorder.

Any damn thing you take, it becomes a question of taking a vicious about turn in the future. And to that you add yourselves responsibilities like mortgages, kids, routines and you complain about them. Actually I would say, we should not have any weddings at all and if we need to, it should be a hush-hush affair that no one in the world will know and one day you will wake up and wish that you aren’t wedded after all and that is true.

OK, this is my own blog and I cannot put a disclaimer saying ‘These are the views of the author and the publisher does not necessarily share them’. How I wish I could!!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Boss from 'Dilbert'

The Boss – A character from Dilbert by Scott Adams

He's every employee's worst nightmare. He wasn't born mean and unscrupulous, he worked hard at it. And succeeded. As for stupidity, well, some things are inborn. His top priorities are the bottom line and looking good in front of his subordinates and superiors (not necessarily in that order). Of absolutely no concern to him is the professional or personal well-being of his employees. The Boss is technologically challenged but he stays current on all the latest business trends, even though he rarely understands them.

This is my blog and I can say whatever I want. This has been my refrain always. And in a way I also felt that it provided a vent to my feelings which otherwise get bottled up. Sometimes issues are dealt humorously as I put it down in the blog, sometimes it pours out as agony. But for me, as a feeling it has got dealt with and that’s what is important.

Despite all this I had been holding myself back talking about a few characters in my ex-employ. Honestly I didn’t know why I had not dealt with my anger about them so far. I could have done that even while I was still working for them. Used euphemistic expressions which only the intelligent guys there understand. But then all those intelligent guys were anyway my friends and they knew what I felt and I also knew that they shared the agony. Bottles after bottles were drowned only on marveling at the stupidity of some creatures that somehow managed to soar up in the hierarchy.

I badly wanted to expose these guys even while I was there. Had a couple of skirmishes and that was about it! And while I was agonizing about letting them go scot-free, I was counseled by one of the rare occurrences like Haley’s comet. The rare occurrence was a man with brains and lots of them. And he told me simply ‘If you wrestle with a pig in the mud, both of you get muddy and the pig loves it’. That sealed my uncertainty of whether to fight or not. Not that I minded getting muddy, his analogy to the pig about the other guy was so very right and I didn’t see myself fighting with a pig, though I may smartly avoiding getting muddy and still win. In Mahabharata, there is a term used for fights amongst equals ( If I am right , it is called Thuvantha Yuddha, my Sanskrit is anyway pretty rusty ). As per agreed norms, a cavalry man fights only the enemy cavalry and so on. Here there was no equal for me to fight, so I just let it go. I was also tempted to have the last laugh and I drafted my resignation mail which was encrypted. The first letter of each word if strung together would have said ‘F*** You …….’ . I was advised against that also by a well-wisher and I just faded away from the scene. After nine years of passion, moved without a whimper and an exit interview!

OK, after two months why am I agitated now? That’s simply because, there had not been a single day in these 2 months where atleast 3 old colleagues had called me to pour their heart out. I am now a declared ‘Agony Uncle’. Stories after stories about the current & ensuing madness! The irony was that even while we were all working together, we managed to make time for ourselves where we discussed stuff that was not about business and company. But now, nothing else they seem to discuss with me. So, the clowns have succeeded in robbing my pleasure time off, which they could not manage while I was working with them.

And, while I was thinking that there is a saturation level for stupidity, these guys prove me wrong everyday by being extremely innovative doing more stupid stuff after stuff. And the worse thing being, not a single guy in the system believes a bit about what he is doing. Seemingly intelligent guys had no recourse but to follow the clown at the top and in the process become laughing stock themselves. The passion in which the second rung leaders try to convince the team to scale to greater heights with no apparent conviction in their voice and body language seems to be the latest fad. A couplet in Thirukkural says that you need to laugh when you face adversity. Very difficult art to practice, but then if there is something to thank these jokers, it is their attempt to induce humor in an otherwise bleak proceedings by being the clowns they are.

Apparently, a guy who is something one day is a different thing another day which he himself is not sure whether he is capable of. I am eagerly awaiting the day when that coffee boy grows into a National Manager. Atleast I like that guy and he is more intelligent than the current crop. They have faced tremendous success in killing the business. And they actually celebrate that. More than half the team has quit and a few of them had the courage to tell the HR guys what they think is messy there. But then HR knows that and they don’t want to or cannot act, hence very little interest for them to know further.

In midst of all this, the top clown and his crony clowns are happy. They feel on the top of the world doing things irrelevant to the business and too far moved away from reality. And they don’t want advice and there aren’t many who can give at this stage. It pains to see your efforts being killed like this, but then it doesn’t matter to me but for the pains I see in my erstwhile colleagues’ faces. People willing to jump out of the ship even if it means that the shore is so far off! Absolutely sickening and creates a terrible rage in me. How that is there could not be one single top guy who cannot bell the cat? How could there be so much apathy from the top management about a business? How could there be so much of gullibility amongst the intelligentsia of the company?

And the persons responsible themselves, how is that there could be so much superciliousness? I have heard of Megalomaniacs from history, never seen one in flesh & blood though. Does he really believe that what he is doing is right? Is he so blind about reality? Or is it just a brave front hoping for a miracle everyday? And what about the sycophants?! Do they really believe the cause or just that they make their living by being ’yea sir’s? There are more questions in mind than answers.

My moral dilemma occurs when I know I could fight and I don’t do. But then life is full of such compromises. Some you choose the right way, some the indifferent way. As long as I am convinced that it is not the wrong way, I guess I will keep finding platforms to vent my spleen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Divine Retribution

I have some wretched luck with the air conditioners. In fact I don’t think air conditioner is the right name for this machine. It just doesn’t condition any damn thing.

I had this old AC that was without a remote. And it was definitely not an intelligent machine. Either it made me freeze or sweat. So I used to set it at some medium chillness and wait for it to freeze me and then get up, switch it off and sleep. And after a couple of hours will wake up again and repeat the rigmarole.

And I always believed that my daughters have better luck with their AC. Their room is so very pleasant to enter. I was trying to figure out the reason. Initially I thought it could be because of the fact, there were a million living things in that room and a temperature of 18 degrees was shared by the 120 lizards, 1504 ants, a few cockroaches, million bacteria ( a few lacs of them hitherto unknown to the microbiologists ) and these two kids. And then I made a very honest assessment. That way my bedroom should have all those living things barring a few which my daughters create in the lab conditions of their room.

I zeroed in at the brand being the reason and changed the machine. And the new one seems to suffer from dyscalculia. It is zilch in numerical skills. Can’t understand a basic thing like 16 means 16 and it comes after 15 and before 17. And it is completely disobedient as a pair. Never does anything the remote says. If the remote says 16, it will display 25. And blow some hot air. They just don’t go along well at all as a pair. Maybe they are already divorced in a court of law and by some quirk of fate landed in the same box again and chose my bedroom as a battlefield.

It has some 10000 buttons and none of them are useful in any sense because even the machine does not know what it is supposed to do if some button is pressed. All I get to see is some colorful display but the lack of cooperation is pretty standard. It does what it wants to do anyway.

After some solid disagreement, me and the machine reach some kind of a truce and try to settle down. But that’s when the chinks in your marriage surface. My wife has this huge disorder of misplacing things. Now that is something common you may say. I am talking about misplacing things like TV and stuff. She would carry the television and put in some place and the entire household will get into a hunt ( ok, I needed to use the TV as example to really describe my plight, she isn’t that bad, she only misplaces everything that is movable )

So, if she hasn’t slept before me, then there is every possibility that the remote could be misplaced and I will suffer when the truce breaks. In the event of that not happening, I place the remote on my side and sleep. That creates a whole new issue. She turns back and sleeps on the remote and that changes the temperature setting. Now, this is where the irony starts. The hitherto disobedient & dyscalculic AC puts up its best behavior and promptly changes the temperature. The other day I was cursing the bad cooling and chose to walk out to the living room and sleep. And it was amazingly pleasant. Actually the bedroom temperature was higher than the normal room temperature.

Now I am trying to do a research on this instruction manual, but more than that I simply hope that it is just a resettling issue for my AC and it will start behaving in a while on its own.

But I am convinced about one thing. I and AC are not made for each other. In the office, they have made me sit right under the vent and sometimes I feel I am sitting in the rain, it literally pours. And as if I am suffering from incontinence, I go to the loo every 30 minutes. And I don’t know what else folks at office would be thinking of me. Same luck with the car also. It freezes you sometimes that the fingers go rigid and you can’t turn the steering wheel properly. Else, by the time it cools I reach home. Or sometimes it completely fogs my spectacles when I get out and I walk around like a blind man to reach wherever I want to.

I need to do some detective work about my ancestors. I am certain that atleast one was a AC scrap dealer in his vocation. He would have smashed all the AC’s without mercy. What else but divine retribution would cause this kind of luck? :(

The Second Sex

I think it is this book named ‘Eppodhum Penn’ by Sujatha. It is about this woman who is extremely smart and occupying a prestigious post as a lecturer in a college being married to a cheat and even after realization continue to stay with him, but of course maiming him at the end.

I have always wondered about the male-female relationship in a marriage context. But before that, there is a disclaimer. I don’t claim myself to be a woman’s lib guy or a perfect husband material. Maybe the other end of the spectrum would be a correct definition of me ( ok, that was modesty, in reality I am neither there nor here ).

I come from a family that is infested with women. 5 sisters, mother, aunt & an old grandma living with us while I was young! So I have seen extremes from female subservience to daring acts by my sisters. Atleast no typecast was seen. My father whom I hero worship, on hindsight seems to be a very poor husband. My mom was always worried about his anger. And worse is that we never knew what will cause that anger. My mom on the other side was not someone who will lie down and take whatever is dished out. She had her way when she wanted to. And my aunt & that old grandma were widows whose life was practically over in a very tender age and that fact was easily accepted by them without a single murmur. My sisters are a mixed lot. While they stoutly defend their husbands, I am certain that they pretty much have a say in stuff that happens around in the household. Sometimes more say. Each of them believe in themselves and do not hesitate to put their foot down on causes they believe strongly about.

But, the curse lies in the societal outlook about man-woman relationship. Sujatha acknowledged that his reference book for the story was ‘The Second Sex’ by Simone de Beauvoir. She calls the females as the prey of the species. There is whole lot of stuff she has written about master-slave relationship. Pretty intriguing!

I have always believed that a master is a master only till the slave accepts to be a slave and not otherwise. So it is strange for me in a modern society we still have relationship types where one is subjugated and it is accepted willingly just claiming that to be a norm.I guess it is more a lack of will to fight, that all elements that makes a norm is brought in.There is some comfort level somewhere in whatever stage it is, and while there overt cribs about the state, there is no attempt to get out of the state. And abuse ( I am talking verbal & mental here ) being accepted is one of the most shameful things in a marriage. Acceptance because of love is even more shameful.

If one goes by Hegel’s definition of the master-slave relationship, the modern women are very much masters & men in their own right because they open the future when they seek out and not wait for the male to do so. And divergence is becoming lesser & lesser.

But despite changed times and beliefs, somehow men get their way even in an educated world like today’s. Maybe because women want to belief whatever they wanted to believe than what is real. But honestly I feel all of us do that. I am unable to put a finger. Just looks very strange to me. I tend to believe that in certain areas women just don’t want to confront. And again I am not sure whether, this generalization is right. But this is more prevalent in women than men. And that is not very right.

Men refuse to be educated and even worse is women refusing to educate them. There lies the irony.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What’d you do before the end of the world?

Funny to think of it! I always used to ponder about such crazy stuff. Not about what I would do, but more about what others will! Never stopped to think about myself!

In a way it is gratifying that there are folks who think like I do and conduct surveys on that. The results are somewhat obvious. More than half of the people would want to spend it with their loved ones. And in a material world, it is surprising that 13% of the people have a hedonistic streak reaching out for champagne. Some want to eat and 9% would apparently have sex. And a meager 3% would pray. Maybe the rest feel that any which way we are marching to meet the Maker and why waste time thinking about Him in those precious 60 minutes left. Or maybe, all of us are aware that we have a bagful of sins that we can’t confess to, in just 60 minutes. Or maybe we are certain that there can be no amends at all.

I remember reading a sci-fi short story. Could be Arthur C Clarke I guess. Not very sure! It has a similar situation. And invariably people turn to love. Love for their neighbors, strangers and countries which had been fighting since their birth get together in a moment of reality.

It is strange about what people can do when they know that their time is out. There is a good piece about Bhutto’s last day by Kushwant Singh and he explains how once a suave but dictatorial person who had scant respect for the lives of people, turns maudlin when he knows that time’s up. Apparently in a rare moment of indiscretion he blurted out where the money was stashed and it was impounded before he was hanged. I have read about people while walking towards the gallows; carefully sidestep a pool of water lest their legs get dirty. But the common thread is that everyone turns stoical or religious. Suddenly remember God or their shortcomings, when it’s anyway too late. This is in contrast to the survey results. Maybe it is one thing to imagine a holocaust and tell what they would do and facing it is another thing. I would anytime go for the real accounts and not the survey.

Coming to think of it, what would I do? It is pretty blank to forecast. I don’t think I have any unfulfilled desire that I would want to pursue in those 60 minutes. Or that I would suddenly discover what I have not done so far. Maybe I have not called many people for a long time, not told them that I care. But in my own small circle, I have never missed an opportunity to display warmth and affection. I spend all my free time with the loved ones. Maybe for a change try calling up some lowlifes and tell what I think of them, lest they die with a grand thought of they being good. Few things that I would want to do will take more than 60 minutes, like turning out to be a great musician.

Incomplete things like the book that I had been trying to write will anyway find no meaning in completion. Had enough and more of beer in life, so I may not reach out for that. ( anyway who wants a warm beer as a send-off drink ) . I don’t think I will pray either. I see no meaning in that, when all I had been taught and known to pray is about everyone being well. When you know that none of them are going to be in existence in the next hour, there is nothing you can pray about. And there is nothing to confess for I have always believed in what I was doing at any time. I would not be scared either.

I have always been a hedonist in my life, so it is pretty difficult to think of what is left to pursue. The only thing I can think of doing is complete the book that I would be reading at that time. Why die with some suspense!!!

Come to think of it, looks like the running life is so full and pleasing and to realize that it takes a damned doomsday dream.