Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mid-Week Reads: Uninvested in Being Beautiful

Since most blogs and websites seem to have slowed down for the holidays, I just have two links for you this week. But they are worth the read.

I used the title of the post in my post title: this writer explains beautifully why no one should have to be beautiful. If you feel beautiful, good for you. If not, no problem. It should make no difference to your worth as a person.

This article in the New Yorker asks why people love Stieg Larsson's novels. For my part, I thought they were vastly overrated and not nearly as feminist as they're made out to be. But hey, I won't judge you if you like them: they're hardly Dan Brown. 

And since, judging by the lack of comments, y'all are on vacation or busy partying, I'm going to stay off till next week too. Have a great New Year weekend, whether you party like a college student (or so I hear: I was an unattractively good kid) or go to bed at 9.

Monday, December 26, 2011

6 Funny Résumés—Make Sure Yours Isn’t One

Republished, with edits, from another blog

I have shared some serious advice on creating a resume that will get you hired. But what about resumes that are so awful they’re funny? Can any amount of advice save them? Of course! Most of the bad resumes I have seen fall into one of these types. If you have one of these, mend your ways immediately.

The Epic

I understand you are excited about your accomplishments, but recruiters are usually busy people (actually, it’s wise to assume everyone is—no one reads resumes for pleasure, whatever you may have heard). Of course, if you have fourteen years of relevant experience, your resume might be correspondingly long (but not fourteen pages: three would be quite enough and more than most recruiters would read through). I’ve seen resumes from youngsters fresh out of school that run into over three pages. Actually, most fresh graduates seem to think the longer the better, and they couldn’t be more wrong. Leave the intricate details of that mid-term project for the interview, and only write a two-line summary in your resume.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Book Review of Suits

I really enjoyed Suits by Nina Godiwalla, and as I wrote in my review on Women's Web here, I recommend it unreservedly.

However, there was one thing that kept striking me as I read, one recurring motif that made me want to cry out to the narrator-protagonist-author: "Don't do that!"

There are two threads to the story: the main one is of course about a young woman trying to build a career in one of the biggest, most successful financial companies on Wall Street. But also, there is the American girl from a Parsi family who grew up in a Houston suburb, who remembers her childhood and mostly, how her parents treated her. And almost every reminiscence involves a time when her father bullied her or didn't appreciate her for doing exceptionally well at school. How nothing she did was good enough.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mid-Week Reads: Growing Old, Reading Maps and Labeling

This is a beautiful post about growing older. And I agree. I feel great at 30, but I can't say I feel 20. I don't, not really. Those years of life experience count for something!

If ladies just had more self-confidence, they'd be able to read a goddamn map.

Sheryl Sandberg shared this beautiful photo essay on Facebook (of course). Don't label people.

The National Geographic Society announced the recipient of the 10,000th grant it's given in its 123-year history: 32-year-old conservation biologist Krithi Karanth. And her admitting that she faced discrimination and her opinion that women have to work ten times harder is both brilliant and sad.

How to stay invisible when you're browsing LinkedIn.

Since I'm one of the few people I know who really love their job (though the Guy joined the ranks a few months ago, yay!), I really liked reading the comments on this post from people who like their work. Especially read this if you are, or what to be, a lawyer.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Why Do Some Websites Suck?

Have you noticed a stock photo in a business website you're looking at, in which everyone seems young, well-dressed, cheerful, thin and white? And then looked more carefully at the business to make sure they're only in India. Yeah, they have U.S. or European customers, maybe, but who are those people supposed to be? Customers visiting the office? (And of course, usually that's up on the careers or "our offices" page.)

But that's merely amusing. What's really annoying is automated music, too-small text, and not enough information--what does this company do?

I write about these and other reasons websites suck at the company blog. Check it out.

And tell me: what do you hate about business websites?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Mid-Week Reads: Your Body Is Not A Flaw

When I started out with this series of posts, I didn't know I'd continue regularly. I didn't think much about it at all. It just seemed a good way of a) turning something purely passive (reading) into something more active (passing it on to you) and both thanking the authors for creating good content as well as introducing it to more people; b) sharing inspirational or cheerful stuff, since I often find myself looking for something like that, usually in the middle of the work-week when I begin to feel overwhelmed, and I thought you might too; and c) putting up an easy blog post, since I'd become irregular and felt like I didn't have the time for the blog.

But apart from the fact that just updating something on the blog every week makes me more inclined to write about other stuff as well... I want to try to keep these posts up. Even though I'm not making anything new. Even though when I started, it seemed just a way of making blog fodder out of something I was doing anyway.

Starry-eyed commented on one of these posts:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mid-Week Reads: Are You Sure You Want to Be a Manager?

Really short edition this time, because I'm down with the flu again, and been too busy with work to do much other reading.

If you think you want to be a manager, think again. 

You're not your daughter's handsome prince. What about the dynamic between mothers and sons? "The emotional cowardice of the husband/son is at the very heart of the fights between the women who love him most."

And did you know marriage is good for you? Does that mean I don't need to exercise? (Not that I do anyway, but now I can feel good about not doing it. Hey, I'm married.) 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Talk to Me

All you readers, you lurkers, you frequent commenters. I want you to answer me, here.

I wasn't going to blog about this. But by one of those weird coincidences, I read this post on Banno's blog that led me here. And that made me want very much to talk about it.

After the Weekender festival on Saturday, we came out a little hungry after all the jumping around to Pentagram. So we (the Guy, a friend and I) went to Pune's famous kathi-roll place. As we stood on the sidewalk eating, a little boy came along, helping a disabled man.

He was small, and looked hungry. He poked us and held his hand out. We ignored him, shooed him away. He whined to (I assume) his dad, and came back again. We kept eating.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Non-Bucket-List Bucket List

I've never had a real bucket list. I guess I'm just not organized enough. I never thought ahead much: the most I ever remember thinking ahead was to when I was 25 or so, by which time I would, of course, be married to the love of my life. (I am not sure if it's fabulous or depressing that that did come true.)

But as I approached 30, I began to feel I hadn't done enough. I was sure the teenage me would be disappointed in me. Sure, I'm in a wonderful relationship (where after six years we haven't just not driven each other crazy but have actually learned to, you know, not drive each other crazy) and I have a job I love (which I know is rare, from all the cribbing everyone seems to do about their jobs and bosses). But what about all the exciting, wonderful things I was going to do?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New York's Theater District

I was really glad to find myself right in NYC's theater district. I stayed at the W Hotel on Broadway, and I saw many theaters as I walked or took cabs to my destination.

Of course, I did step inside a theater and watch my very first Broadway show (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring Daniel Radcliff), but just spotting familiar stars or names on billboards got me excited. Here a Woody Allen, there a Kim Catrall, there a Hugh Jackman.

And one of the most interesting experiences of my visit was breakfast at Ellen's Stardust Diner. We walked in on Monday morning to a young woman singing in a diner with few patrons. She opened the door for us and led us to our table, without a break in her song.

As we sat, ordered and ate, there wasn't a break in the entertainment. All four servers took turns singing. The only break was when they explained that they were all aspiring Broadway performers, and asked for donations for dance and acting classes so that "The next time you come here, we won't be."

I've never had a breakfast nearly as entertaining! (The food was pretty good, too.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City

Mostly written last Friday in Newark airport, edited later


I didn't have high expectations from today. After the dreamlike quality of the last few days, I expected it to be anticlimactic. I tweeted in the morning about wishing I could go back to sleep and wake up at home.

I sit at the airport as I write this, and I have a 16-hour flight and a four-hour cab drive in front of me, and that's after at least two more hours before I board. (Turns out it was more than that: my flight was a couple of hours late leaving Newark.)

But today was anything was a disappointment. It was the perfect end to a perfect trip, and it was really more my kind of day than any of the others.

The Sculpture Garden at the MoMA

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mid-Week Reads: Long-Distance Relationships, Food Myths and Weight Gain

Really short edition this time, since as you know, I've been busy doing other things than reading!

Jezebel has some great tips on dealing with long-distance relationships.

Gaining weight can be a sign of happiness. I laughed when I saw Sally gained 45 pounds in a couple of years after meeting her now-husband, because that's my story too.

10 stubborn food myths that just won't die.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Highlights of My New York Trip in Bullet Points

  • I fulfilled a longtime dream: I saw works of Monet and Van Gogh and other artists I've long admired and whose work I've pored over in books. I went to the Metropolitan Museum with my boss and to the Museum of Modern Art with my current awesome boss and the Museum of Modern Art with an old boss I'm still friends with. 
  • I watched Danielle Radcliffe in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway. This was my boss's gift to me, and what better gift than a fantastic new experience? (And Radcliffe is amazing.)
  • I walked around Times Square (several times, actually, since our hotel was right on Times Square!) and sat at a cafe there (but I've said that already).

Monday, November 07, 2011

Sunday Afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum

Picking up where I left off...

I didn't stay in the room long. I grabbed my coat this time, and my watch, and walked out again. This time, in the opposite direction.


Sunday, November 06, 2011

My First Meal in New York City

I can't believe how beautiful New York is. I'd expected a noisy,  polluted city, and really cold right now. But the cold's mild and more than bearable: it's lovely. Noise and pollution: nothing compared to the other cities I've seen.

The cab got me to the hotel in less time than I'd expected. When the cab stopped and the guy at the hotel tried to open my door, I had to look up and wonder what happened. It was a lovely ride, and the cabbie answered my inquisitive questions politely but wasn't gregarious. I looked eagerly at the lovely old-looking buildings, at narrow streets, at the sun shining brightly between skyscrapers. I saw flowers on a street and marveled at the bright flowers I had never seen before.

After dumping my bags in my room and taking a much-needed shower, I venture out into the streets. I don't bring my coat: it hadn't seemed cold enough. But the cold seeps up my arms, even though it only seems to caress my face.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Dreams Come True

Or they will, for me, starting Sunday.

When I first met my delightful boss in person after months of talking and chatting and emailing (especially emailing), one of the questions she asked me was, "If you could go to one place in all the world, where would you go?"

"There are so many," I told her. And I told her all the cliched things that everyone says, because I've never done any of them. I want to go to Paris and visit the Louvre and eat at a roadside cafe. I want to go to Rome and Venice and  take in all the art and architecture and atmosphere.

But if I could only go to one place, what would it be? "New York," I said.

Years ago, my answer would probably have been England. Having read so many books set in the country, I'd  like to go see it for myself. When I read one of Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie novels (and how I love them!) I want to visit Edinburgh.

But I have read so much of the cosmopolitan nature of New York. See, I can't even seem to write about it without resorting to cliches. I have seen the Manhattan skyline so often in TV shows. To spend a few days in New York and explore the city was one of my dreams. To go and see the Met, to see some of those breathtaking paintings, in the flesh (so to speak).

I leave today. To spend a few days in the company of my amazing boss, whom I haven't met since that first meeting. To attend a conference that I'm very excited about, and to also take in the flavors of that great city. I plan to go to the Met, at least, to see some of the art I've pored over in the Great Museums books in my parents' home.

I still can't believe it. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Mid-Week Reads: Bad Bosses, Bad Employees, and Handbags

What behavior characterizes a bad boss and how do you work around it?

Having bad employees around can be very bad for morale. Also, "Leaders who believe that destructive superstars are "too important" to fire often underestimate the damage they can do."

I loved Laurie Penny's observations on fashion here and here. Especially:
Men's clothes have pockets to carry stuff around in, and that's much more freeing. You're not able to run with a handbag in the same way as you are with a rucksack, which is what I normally have. I remember talking to my sister when I was little and we decided there must be a conspiracy between people who make handbags and people who make clothes for women, whereby the clothes-makers agreed not to put pockets on anything so you'd have to buy a handbag.
And:
But for most people the things that are advertised and drooled over in women's magazines – it's simply an impossible dream to own one. I find it fascinating that some people have to have this thing, even if it costs a month's salary, because that's what they cost for a lot of people, and that's what they spend on it. There is this massive misconception that consumer choice is the same as empowerment. The idea that the goal of a working woman's life and earning money is to be able to earn enough to afford this lovely bag... One of the most fascinating things about consumerism at the moment is you're meant to buy all this stuff that expresses who you are as an individual but individualism, more and more, is homogenous.
This makes me so sad, because it rings so true: an NRI returns to India and realizes it's not home. 

This piece on reading books by Jai Arjun Singh made me want to stand up and applaud.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

More of Me

I'm putting up some of these on this page, but I thought regular readers might want to see what else I've been up to lately.

Volunteering is good not just for the warm, fuzzy feeling: here's how it helped me develop my professional skills.

If you're an introvert, networking isn't easy. So check out the introvert's guide to networking in the real world.

If you're a marketer or a small business strapped for time and money, here are the six most essential marketing activities you should focus on.  




I was quoted in this article on manipulative advertising. (I'd offered my thoughts on Twitter, which is at least partly why I come across as somewhat incoherent!) (Hint: follow me on Twitter.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Game: Movies with Healthy Romantic Relationships

Inspired by this.

I submit...

Well...

Oh.

Some Indian movies with romance in them that I liked are Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara, Jab We Met, Socha Na Tha, Pyaasa. In the first, the lead pair are best friends and date other people but only find out they are in love a little before the end of the movie. In the second, one half of one of the lead couples is possessive, manipulative and thoroughly unlikeable; another couple is adorable, but the woman seems to have no other purpose in the movie than to rescue the man. In the third, the lead pair are friends but only get together in the last few minutes of the movie. In the fourth, ditto. (See a pattern here?) In the fifth, too, more or less.

I've recently loved watching Up in the Air and How Do You Know, but no, no healthy romances there either. I like Notting Hill, but there wasn't much trust there, at least on one side.  

Another movie I love so much I've seen parts of it at least half a dozen times on TV is Music and Lyrics. The lead pair talk to each other, complement each other, and are both intelligent and funny and weird in different ways. They seem like real people (even though one of them is a rich aging but still really hot pop star). And even though there's the standard mistake causing lack of trust followed by reparation and reunion, the mistake wasn't unforgivable (especially as our hero redeems himself) yet the heroine's presence in his life inspires him to become a better person. So yeah, healthy enough, overall.

So that's all I have. You?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Father's Daughter


Last week was my father’s birthday. For the last couple of years, this time of year didn’t bring me any especial anguish. So I finally thought I was over it, that I was whole again. But this year, the scars tingled again.

There was so much about my father I didn’t like. So much I didn’t agree with. Often, I feel my life is less complicated, more peaceful because he’s not around.

But recently, I have been wondering what it might have been like if he was. Maybe he’d be enjoying retirement after a lifetime of work. Maybe he’d have learned to relax and have fun. Maybe he’d call me up once in a while, tell me about a book he’d just finished. Or ask me about my work and how I’m doing. Maybe he’d have been proud of me.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Mid-Week Reads: Lots of Good Stuff

After ages, here's a nice long post full of things to read.

First, work.

This CEO threatens to fire employees for not replacing the milk. (Seriously? That's what he spends his time getting agitated about? Not having milk for his coffee? Keep some milk powder or something in your office, or assign one employee to do this: what's the point of being CEO if you have to throw a tantrum because something in your office isn't working the way you want?)

As one commenter says here: "Personally, I’d be damned embarrassed to be known as the CEO who couldn’t even keep milk in his company fridge without throwing a hissy fit." 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mid-Week Reads: Work, Education, Appearance

Appearance


Loved this post (hat tip: Aishwarya) because it's kind of along the lines of my own outlook towards clothes. I love clothes, don't get me wrong, but unbrushed hair, frayed shorts and faded t-shirts are my uniform, especially as I work from home as much or more than from office. But I do have a beautiful purple top.  

Work

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reactions to the Tata Sky Ad Campaign

No, Agency FAQs, the Tata Sky ad doesn't encourage people to "ask questions", it encourages customers to ask for offers. And no, it's not quite the same thing. Encourage customers to ask for details is another thing; implying that you might not know what discounts or offers are on the product without asking for them is just sloppy marketing. It doesn't please me as a consumer to think that your salespeople might sell to me at a higher price by not telling me about an available discount. You're not making me feel special by saying the onus is on me to get a better offer. The salespeople is supposed to sell the offers without my prompting.
"Today, I saw an old man carrying a Tata Sky package in a taxi with an LED TV on the taxi roof; he must have asked the right questions!" Das responds with candour.
That's not candour: that's cleverness. But that's the problem with afaqs: a lot of admiration and not enough analysis.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mid-Week Reads: Bad Bosses

Eight questions on managing your boss, answered.

How to tell if you have (are) a bad boss.

What we should have been taught in high school.

I don't miss my childhood either, and this rang very true for me: "I didn’t like kids even when I was a kid. I didn’t like being a kid."

Gift engine predicts what your Facebook friends want. This is cool, but if you want to get me something for my birthday (coming soon! and it's a landmark one! Boo-hoo I'm growing old), let me know and I'll share my Flipkart wishlist with you

Maya Bizarre and Ganesh.

That's it. What, too short? Why don't you tell us what you've been reading.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Why I Am A Feminist - III

(An old draft that I'd never completed)

Or, Unmana ko gussa kyon aata hai, as a friend once put it.

I get angry easily. I am impatient. I lose my temper, I lash out, I shake, I cry. Here are some of the things that make me angry.

Men who make sexist statements while pretending to be only logical. Who pretend to be allies. Who think women should be equal only if it's convenient to men. Who think women should be barred certain jobs because, oh, men might harass them. Funnily, none of these men ever suggest marriage should be banned: though aren't so many women abused by their husbands and in-laws? Oh no, but that might inconvenience men. (I'm not saying women don't make sexist statements, but it's when men do it that I'm angrier. Because the oppressors have no right to tell the oppressed what kind and measure of equality they should ask for.)

Men who refuse to consider me as a person because I am a woman. Back when I was in Gurgaon and used to take the office cab to work, the cabwallah would ask me for directions until a man got into the car, and often ask the man for directions to my house. And which woman hasn't had repairmen, or salesmen or other such men ignore her while he talks to the man beside her, assuming that he knows more or he's in charge?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Mid-Week Reads: HR, Fashion and Feminist Blog Awards

A shorter post than usual, because I’m struggling to catch up with work this week.

I completely agree with Gautam Ghosh on HR. HR is a very underrated function, at least in the organizations I’ve seen: HR is supposed to perform administrative activities and rarely performs their real purpose of improving productivity and culture.


If you blog about feminism, do participate in the Indian Homemaker’s blog awards: it’s a terrific initiative.

Dear Fashion Industry: this is from 2005, but oh, so true still. (Especially true in India, I guess. I'd add: please stop making clothes that come apart after I wash them once? The Guy's clothes get machine-washed and shoved into the dryer for years and they get faded and thin but the buttons and seams don't come off. Some clothes I buy get buttons and seams off after the first wash. Max, I'm looking at you--and I'm never buying from you again.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More Things To Like About the Harry Potter Series

One of the reasons I can't stop blogging is because of the wonderfully smart people who read and comment (not often enough, do y'all hear me?). And because I'm lazy, and I'm sick again, I'm going to cheat on today's post and just share two lovely comments on the last post.

Starry eyed says:
The humour! Though I must've re-read the books thrice by now, I'm now reading them aloud to my daughter, and am dissolving into fits of laughter so often! It's that way JKR creates the picture in your mind, of spells and charms hitting classmates, of the half-transfiguring mistakes going on during conversations b/w Harry and his friends during lessons...it's LOL all thru during the drama, adventure, tragedies and friendship. Makes it endearing!
Thank you, Starry. Now please go back to your blog and write us a post or two. Do you know how long it's been?

Mad Hatter says:
oh i enjoyed some of the word play. cant remember too many examples now, but i liked the little inversions of word-order that she did, or the slight tweak in a familiar word or concept to come up with a new fun idea. i remember being taken up with 'put-outers' :)

I love everything @lankr1ta writes, especially on feminism, and wish she would write far more often!
All her female characters are really strong. look at Bellatrix Lestrange- she is the most powerful Death Eater. Or Rita Skeeter who makes Harry's life living hell through her pieces.
And then there is Molly Weasely, the one who finishes Bellatrix off. And Ginny- who is a strong brave person. And Fleur who should be a dumb blonde but is not. Or the fact that what saves Harry is his mother Lily's sacrifice. Or McGonagall, and Professior Sprout or Madam Pomfrey or even Tonks who are such strong women of their own type. And did I forget Madam Hooch who teaches the kids to fly. There is such a strong undercurrent of people being good or bad regardless of gender.
Besides what I really like is how her stories work hard against prejudice and stereotyping.
Oh and did I mention the very unconventional idea that Dumbledore is gay and has shades of weakness and strength- life being about "choices" not innate qualities.

A few thoughts of my own to add on to @lankr1ta's comment:
  1. First: I totally agree about the women characters. They are well-rounded, three-dimensional, even when they feature for about twenty seconds (like Tonks' mother and her story, told in a few sparse lines, of how she rebelled against her snobbish rich and presumably evil parents and avoided the fate of her sisters Bellatrix and Narcissa).
  2. Also agree about the female characters on the other side being well-rounded and actually evil, not just sultry temptresses. Bellatrix is kind of the stereotypical evil person (there's no explanation for why she is the way she is, little about her background, but we know she's bad all the way), but she's a woman. Umbridge (funny how her name just came to me right now, when I couldn't remember it yesterday) is so evil and manipulative, yet her motivation is easy to understand if not empathize with, and I think she makes a worthy rival to Voldemort in villainy (though Voldemort isn't the most well-etched of villains). 
  3. As to prejudice and stereotyping, I only partly agree. Fleur isn't a dumb blonde, as Ally points out, though she should have been in a typical book. And Dumbledore is gay. However, Dumbledore isn't gay in the book (or at least he's in the closet): we only know it because Rowling said so later. I would have liked Sirius to be in love with James too, but that might be just me. I wish Rowling had been a little braver and had openly queer characters. (Don't even try saying "that would harm our children." Reading giant spiders and abuse by foster parents doesn't hurt kids, but that all love isn't between a man and a woman does?)
And now, because I'm home sick and that's the best time to reread one of these books, let me get to that. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

More Thoughts on the Harry Potter Series

I've pointed out other people's opinions on what's wrong with the Harry Potter books (opinions I mostly agree with). But the reason why we're even talking about these books is that there's so much that's right about them. So let me point out a few of those (though they're quite obvious anyway).
  1. They're such a good read. There are so many naysayers who deplore Rowling's writing, and I kind of see where they're coming from. Literary, she's not, but she tells a good story and she entertains us and moves us and keeps us engaged till the end. That's pretty good in itself. For a work of popular fiction, I think the characters are pretty well-developed and interesting (let me not compare with other popular writers, in case some of you are fans!). 
  2. And the books got a whole generation of kids interested in reading, and created a phenomenon that was mostly reserved for expensive toys (Apple or otherwise), not books! She makes us nerds look hip. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Motorcycle Rides

I had forgotten how it feels to be on a bike. There is no shutting out the noise and dust and smoke: it's all around you. I'd forgotten how vulnerable it feels when another vehicle comes within inches of you, and there's nothing between it and your skin. It gives me a new appreciation for my car, where I can feel safe and listen to music or talk to myself or the Guy, or sing aloud.

What almost makes up for it though, are the times when we turn into a quiet leafy lane and pass through with no sound but that of the breeze brushing against us. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Books I Have Been Reading: Wilbur Smith's "River God"

As I've said here, kind friends have been keeping me so supplied with books I haven't bought any in months. I seem to remember reading one of his Zimbabwe books when I was a kid, but it's a vague memory.

I picked up River God with some hesitation, but it was the perfect escapist novel and a very good follow-up to the Bartimeaus books. I had expected it to be more serious reading that would help me learn more about Egyptian history, but really, it's just a fantasy novel set in ancient Egypt.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Being Thankful

As I wrote here, I could go on and on telling you about the great things in my life I'm grateful for. It's not that I don't have anything to gripe about. But there are two reasons why I'd rather talk about the good things.

First, it makes me feel better. I could complain how my job doesn't earn me enough money instead of telling you how much I love working at it and how wonderful my boss is. I could talk about the things I wish I had better: more money, better health, more success at my work.

But that would make me focus more on the negative. Cribbing about my job would make me wonder why I do something I hate. It would make me feel like a loser, for wanting something better but not getting it. It would make me question whether I deserved better. And it would make me a worse worker because I would have less confidence in my abilities. It would make me a less fun spouse, because I'd be unhappy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sick.

Coincidences are funny things.

Effe and I went to the same school. For ten and a half years. We knew each other, our moms made friends waiting to take us home when school was over. But we were always in different sections and we never made friends.

Then my dad took a job in a small town and we moved away from Guwahati. I came back in a couple of years to go to college. Effe was there too, and we had the same group of friends. We spent a lot of time together, in a group (of around a dozen people). I thought she was way too conformist and un-independent (she refused to bunk classes because her brother might see her). She thought I had a bad, selfish friend (she was right).

Friday, August 12, 2011

How A Great Job Is Like A Great Relationship

Because I have a cold that kept me up half the night and I have lots of work and very little energy, here's something I wrote over a year ago, three weeks into my current job.


I feel like I'm in love.

There's that same feeling of learning more and more about the other party and being mostly impressed with everything.It's that feeling of being insanely lucky to have found them, at last. It's of wondering each day how things got so good they could barely be better. It's of eying minor idiosyncrasies (like my weird hours)* and the obstacles (the long commute).**

I even willingly offer to put in work from home. For someone who just spent nine months at home doing barely anything, that's huge.

I had begun to question my drive, like you question your ability to fall in love when you're all grown up and looking but no one seems good enough. But it just needs the right partner for everything to fall in place.

* Not anymore, but seriously, they were odd. Veeru had taken to calling me Batwoman because I only came out at night (and missed a lot of parties!).
** Not anymore! My office moved near my home! If that isn't true love, what is?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Quick Thoughts on Identifying People by Relationship Status

I have written before that I don't believe in marriage: I don't see the value it brings, apart from the legal (and thereby, financial) status it conveys. But in the short term, I'd be happy if we could abolish terms that describe a person solely in terms of their current, or past, marital status.

I could live with adjectives. Saying you're single or married or in a relationship is useful information, usually (at least for the purposes of small talk). Though it seems more natural to have it come up in casual conversation ("My husband made this amazing pasta yesterday . . ." or "My girlfriend got into this MBA program . . .") than to state it as a fact, especially an introductory one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mid-Week Reads: Bosses, Interviews and Gender

Through Corporette, here are the best interview questions you should ask as an interviewer and questions you should ask when you're being interviewed.

A rant about street harassment.

The legitimacy of fashion interest and the gendering of kids' stuff are best read together. Also read this on gender-neutral parenting.

Here are ten ways to make your boss love you and things great bosses never do. (A funny tidbit: I sent my boss the first and she sent me the second, and we each asked the other how we do on these. I'd say, if you ask--or can ask--that's a pretty good sign.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

What's New Today?

Check out this new page on the blog. This is something I've been planning to do for the longest time and finally got around to. Now you know what I've been doing when I haven't been talking to you.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Books I Have Been Reading: the Bartimeaus Series

The four Bartimeaus books (two that I bought, one after the other, and the other two lent me by a kind friend) entertained me for some long hours, especially when I wasn't feeling very well, so I am feeling very affectionate towards them. I was surprised to find each book better than the last.

The Amulet of Samarkand is good, if somewhat predictable. What actually holds your interest is the character of young Nathaniel, who starts out being an extremely sympathetic protagonist--a young lonely orphan--but turns out more complex and less likeable as the book progresses. The book is narrated alternately by the djinn, Bartimeaus, and by a third-person narrator who focuses on Nathaniel. In this first book, I found the passages by the djinn a little uninteresting and frivolous, a break in the story of Nathaniel.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

More on Women and Equality


Yesterday's post elicited these wonderful comments from mad hatter. So I'm putting it out here for all to see.


Saturday, August 06, 2011

An Old Draft on Feminism

. . . that had been lying in an unused email folder. It was written nearly two years ago

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To put it cheesily, feminism isn't a separate compartment in my mind, but a solvent that colours my view of life. I wanted to figure out the ways in which feminism makes my life better, but it's difficult to isolate its influence from all other influences. This is an imperfect attempt. (When I say feminism here, I don't mean the efforts of feminists before me. Obviously I owe them a lot - women in India mostly have equal rights in law, and I can work outside of the home and own property and things like that. What I am trying to pin down is how my subscription to the feminist view of equality of the sexes and refusing to stereotype people based on their gender affects my life.)

  1. I am not apologetic about my choices. I do not think it is MY responsibility alone, as a wife, to ensure that my home is clean, that the kitchen is well-stocked, that my husband gets hot healthy meals. I do not often beat myself up for getting lost in a book when there's laundry waiting to be done or the kitchen is messy. I do not force myself to cook when my father-in-law is visiting and I am tired: we merely order in. Or the husband cooks, and I set the table without trying to pretend I am helping in the kitchen. (I have noticed myself getting less apologetic over time, as my feminism evolved and my conviction that I am not answerable to anyone grew.) I cook or do laundry when I want to, as does my husband. I nag him for leaving used socks all over the house, but I appreciate him when he cleans up after me. We are both adults and responsible for ourselves, and when either of us does some mundane chore for the other, it is a loving gesture, not the living out of a role.
  2. It makes me angry, not scared or guilty or self-conscious, when a strange man - or an acquaintance - ogles me. I know it is their perversion, not my "fault" of wearing a tight top, that makes them behave this way. I am free to ignore them or to stare back in turn. It makes me angry that I should be facing this, but they can't affect me enough to make me stay home or shed tears over my helplessness.
  3. I can recognize sexism more clearly.
  4. Perhaps most importantly, I have a happier marriage - and probably healthier relationships overall. We don't depend on each other because of a certain traditional role the other fulfills. If I am away, my husband would miss my conversation, not my cooking. My husband doesn't feel pressurised to be the 'provider'. If he wants to take a few months break from work, he can count on me to support him - and I can do the same. Parents on either side do not expect me to cook and him to pay the bills, and that probably helps them look past the 'role' of a son or daughter-in-law and grow to know and love us for the persons we are.

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Monsoons in Pune

One way to write a post every day for the month would be to tell you about something in my life that I’m glad of—but no, that would be lazy and I won’t do that. Not every day.

But one thing I’m thankful for lately is the weather. My loathing of hot weather is well-documented, so right now is when I’m happiest in Pune: it’s cool and breezy and often drizzles. There’s a heavier rain too, at times, but this season at least, it’s never lasted very long.

This morning, the sun was out and it was almost warm. I stood out on the balcony and thought, “it doesn’t look like it will rain anytime soon.” I went in to shower and get dressed for office and came back out to the balcony to hang out my towel. It was drizzling. By the time I gathered my bag, the rain was pouring down.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Hello, There

Anyone still here? No? I know, why should you be? I haven't been giving you much lately. So you've all gone away and my blog is like a schoolyard after the bell for class has rung, quiet and lonely.

So how about this? I'll write you a post every day. For the rest of the month. Every single day.

Some of them will be sorry-excuses-of-posts, like this one. Some will be just a picture, maybe. Some days I'll find something I've written long ago and put that up. Some days I'll link to stuff I've written elsewhere or stuff other people have. But maybe some days I'll have something substantial to say. Maybe if I make myself talk to you everyday I'll find out I have something to say after all.

So, will you listen?

What? I'll start tomorrow.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Back to Using the Blog as Diary

All of the last week, I had been feeling tired, almost ill. On Tuesday, I told my boss I wanted a day off: I didn't think I could make it to the weekend without rest: besides, on Saturday, we have a long FOC meeting to get through. So I decided I'd take Thursday off. But by Wednesday already I was feeling much worse. Thanks to my wonderfully understanding boss, I can work from home and did just that, working on whatever was urgent and pushing off the rest.

I spent much of Thursday goofing off: reading, playing games watching TV. When I got off the living room couch late in the afternoon, it was to go to bed and sleep. When I woke up after an hour or so, the Guy was home. I got up and showered and we walked out. It started raining just as we left and the lone autowallah was (of course!) asking for extra money and I was cranky. But finally the autowallah gave in and we got in and the rain stopped and things seemed better again.

And then we got this beauty to take home.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekend at Dandeli

I quite forgot to tell you all about my weekend away a few weeks ago. Here are some notes I'd started writing, and pictures.

It seems I come back from every vacation saying it was the best of my life. This wasn't a "proper" vacation, just a weekend, but we packed a great deal of fun into those few days.

Dandeli is near Dharwad, and the last time I'd gone to Dharwad for FoC work two years ago we had talked of going to Dandeli sometime. And then I forgot about it.

Then Aparna had to go to Dharwad on a Sunday, and between wanting to go with her and help and getting some fun in, we decided all four of us (including the husbands) would go to Dandeli first before turning up for the meeting at Dharwad.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mid-Week Reads: Recruitment and Harry Potter


Recruitment and Work

So many of the links this week are from the same blog that I could just point you to it and say, “Go, read everything.” But because I’m a good content curator I’ll share with you some of the posts from this blog that I’ve read and loved this week.

How to write a good cover letter. Also read the comment from "Skinny size me."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mid-Week Reads: Success and the Internet

Work and Success
You know what to do, so do it. Yeah, that holds for me too. I've actually got 2,700 emails in my work reading folder (mostly newsletters from marketing or business experts or blog posts delivered as email) because I've tried to reduce the number of new ideas I come up with until I do all I already know I need to do. (Clearly, I'm not cutting down enough, because . . . look at the length of this blog post, which is the best of what I've read in the last few days. Not counting the fashion blogs and the comics.)

Here's some great advice from a recruitment-related blog I'm hooked to. First, how do you answer when someone asks what your weaknesses are in an interview? Also, what pieces of career advice have become outdated?

What would Don Draper do? In defense of Draper, however, "saying something insanely smart" is his job.

I loved Sheryl Sandberg's TED talk, which I've featured previously, and I loved this profile of her in the New Yorker. Do read about how this smart, spunky woman made it big in a male-dominated industry.

Another TED talk: the 8 secrets of success. Don't blame me if you've heard them all before. That doesn't mean they aren't true. Though I suspect they left out something really big--luck.

The Internet





Society and Culture


I loved Delhi Belly so much, and this analysis by Baradwaj Rangan nails it.


Read this beautiful, powerful story of a young girl who saved up for years so she could get away from home. She also grew up into one of the most influential (and admired, especially by me) people in the internet marketing world.

But let us not make the mistake of dismissing young anti-blame, anti-shame activists. There is nothing more putrescent than to allow half the human race to assault and humiliate the other half, and then blame the victims for bringing it on. Violence against women is a human problem, and it cuts across class and race. So perhaps the new feminist discourse will be rooted in this: This battle to undo the hundreds of big and small violent acts against the bodies of our sisters, this struggle to live without fear.
 The Besharmi Morcha might be a small reactionary wave. It might not lead to anything. But I see it as a point on a continuum.

We are all doing what we can. Let us not piss on the single spark just because it is not already a great consuming fire.