Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hyderabadi Biryani

A few weeks back during a meeting with my big boss, I told him how I wanted onsite opportunities and direct interaction with clients. See, all I wanted was a free ticket to the US to sightsee...I thought I had made myself crystal clear. Apparently not.

Last week, I was caught hold of and told I had to go Hyderabad.

As with all MNCs I was told a day before about my trip and the remaining time was spent trying to get approvals for payments and tickets from just about everyone from the janitor to the CEO. I made the strategic error of booking Air Sahara tickets. Both times, my 2-hour flight was delayed by 3 hours. You know, I honestly think that all those rumors about Subroto Roy having HIV and dying were spead by the honcho of the airline division to deviate attention from the perpetually late flights.

Not to mention the age of the Sahara planes. The one I went in, had the following message printed infront of my seat: "Incase of submersion, use lower cushion as floatation device." What The mean to say that if the stupid plane were to land in deep water, I would survive by hanging on to a tatty cushion?? Well, perhaps the absorbed gases of the previous passengers (they are not to blame, the day-old food served in-flight is) will keep me afloat!

The really fun part were the 4 brats who were sitting next to me. I had tele-checked in like a seasoned traveler, and had got a window seat. The 4 brats kept whining to their mom about why "aunty" wouldn't let them sit at the window. "Aunty"?? Bloody hell. I even stuck my tongue out at them when their mom wasn't watching.

Anyway, so in Hyderabad, once I reconciled myself to the fate of a domestic "onsite" of 3 days, I figured I could still enjoy the city in the evening, visit Char Minar, have some fantastic biryani, and buy myself some pearls. But did I manage to do that? Well, lets see, between getting my laptop to work, getting cabs and commuting for 4 hours daily, ummm, no. The only biryani I got to eat was at the office cafeteria, and all of you who work in MNCs, are probably laughing out loud right now, or just shaking your heads along in pity. You see, office cafeteria food is a separate blog of despair all together.

So anyhow, I never managed to visit char Minar either. But on the way back to the airport, I begged the driver to stop at Mangatrai and I picked up 2 sets of pearls - black and white. When I reached the airport and reported at the Air Sahara counter, I got a call on my cell. Guess who? Air Sahara - informing me that my flight was delayed by 3 hours. What fucking geniuses man.

When I finally got my flight, I was relieved to note that this time around the plane had life jackets and did not expect me to float on a cushion the size of my ass.

I spent my time at the airport and in-flight with a wonderful gentleman who I recognized to be from my office. Ofcourse I had no clue who he was. It was sometime during the flight, when I was grabbing my arm rests in fear because of the turbulence (bitchy storm), that I found out that the man I had been gabbing with was the damn Asst. Vice President for Finance. Rest of the trip was spent trying to flash back to try and remember if I had said anything ungainly about my company. I realized what a futile exercise it was. Waiting at the airport, all I had done was bitch about Air Sahara and my company. I had specifically bitched about the compensation packages, and how the finances of the company were in dire straits. Way to go woman, I said to myself. Pat on the back doesn't even cover it.

In conclusion, on this business trip I did the following:

1. Scared kids on the plane
2. Got sick on the plane
3. Worked till 1 AM at the hotel, woke up at 5 AM to work more - everyday
4. Traveled for 4 hours everyday
5. Fought with transport and IT
6. Ate office food that I eat in Gurgaon anyway
7. Cooled my heels at the airport for 6 hours
8. Embarassed myself in front of the AVP Finance

When I reached back office, my AVP sauntered over to me and asked, "So, how was your vacation?"

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Introducing - My Photo Blog

I find myself wanting to capture silly things on the street. 4 boys riding on the scooter, celebrating India's win in some cricket match. A little girl crying with a pouty bottom lip on her way to school. Aunties haggling over veggies with a vendor. Those huge tractors from the farms with veggies stackpiled so neatly on them. Vendors selling colorful baloons to kids. A 50-year old distinguished CEO-type licking an ice cream with the same joy as his 4-year old son. A pretty flower just growing out of a cracked concrete driveway.

Therefore, introducing my photo blog - Through The Lens I See.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Interview With The Vampire

The idea for this post came when Safari Al posted a comment on my last post, asking me for any pointers for job interviews. Seeing as how I'm older and wiser, I've decided to help good 'ol Safari, and any other about-to-interview kids out there. The only condition being, you have to buy me a glass of some superlative ice wine or what the heck, beer ought to do.

One of the most traumatic experiences you'll ever go through in your life is an interview.

It starts when you're a 2 year old toddler and need to get admission into a playschool. Now what is the maximum that 2 year olds can do? I mean drool and ga-ga is pretty much it right? However, to be able to check that you can drool and ga-ga in a social situation with 10 other little todds, you need to give an interview where they will check if your social conditioning is appropriate and if your psychological makeup is at par with your peer group. What the fuck? At 2, the only social conditioning I had was to make sure no one stole my chocolates out of the tiffin box. And my peer group? Heck, we all came to playshool with our names stitched onto our hankies and panties.

The playschool apparently prepares you for the next interview. The school interview. As if it wasn't enough that our parents like to treat us like monkeys infront of relatives ("Beta, uncle to namaste karke dikhao" - Child, show uncle how you do namaste")! Now the playschool will teach us how to be uniform monkeys. So you have a bunch of 3 year olds all trying to identify colors. Parents will pay teachers extra if their kids can say fuchia instead of pink and tangerine instead of orange. Ofcourse, this is a double-edged sword. My niece, the by-product of 2 doctors was a precocious, although intelligent 3 year old. When asked what her parents did for a living, intead of saying they were doctors, she told the nun that her "dad is an ortho surgeon and ma is a paeds anesthetist". She was denied admission on account that she was being "over-smart". Now tell me this - how is a 3 year old over smart??

You must be wondering where I am going with this. I mean this post was supposed to be advice on job interviews. But see, being older and wiser, I'm just setting precedent. Basically you have given interviews your whole damn life, so this one will be just the same.

Anyway, so then you give interviews after school to get into college. Everyone has heard how at Stephen's some dudes were asked, "What's the color of the wall behind you?" Most of the simple ones turned their necks to check the wall behind them. Other's confidently strutted, "Same as the color of the wall behind you Sir." No prizes for guessing who got it and who didn't. I have just one question here. In the Asian Paints advertisement on TV, for that matter Nerolac too, they show how every wall of the house has a different color. So now what do you do?? Here's my suggestion, take it for what its worth. You just say, "I'm color blind, and I hope you don't prejudice against me because of my disability." If you don't get in, just leak to the press how this famous institution does not welcome students with disability. See how fast they offer you a scholarship. Actually, even better, get an SCST certificate, and see how the doors open for you. You don't have to even study you know. And thanks to Arjun Singh and all the pro-reservation idiots, we'll have a country of inept fools, who won't know what color the wall is.

Ok, so now after college, assuming you get through your MBA interviews (since I'm not one, I cannot athoritatively write on the matter), you finally get to the Holy Grail. The job interview.

Job interviews work differently if you are a man and if you are a woman. So I think both sexes should be tackled separately.

If you are a woman -

1. Depending on where you are interviewing, dress carefully. Ask the HR the name of the person who will interview you. Google the person before hand and see if you can get some dirty goss on them. For instance, if you are being interviewed by a male, and you find his name and number at a men-wanting-sex-with-men site, then he is probably my ex-boss. If you still want the job, go with something cleavage revealing and you'll probably get the job before you open your mouth. Remember though, once you do get the job and start working for him, the only time he'll want you to open your mouth will not be to speak! So beware.

2. If you are being interviewed by a woman, make sure you dress severely and professionally. You cannot under any circumstances afford to be perceived as an attractive woman.

3. What to say - Now this is not as tough as it sounds. Pepper your sentences with words like core competencies, benchmarking, best practises, six sigma, market thrust, critical to quality, proactiveness, initiative, my dad is the director, market intelligence etc. You'll just sail through.

4. Should you get a call back, don't start talking excitely. Try and remember how you behaved in college when hot dude Rahul finally asked you out. How did you calm yourself on the phone? Do the same here.

If you are a man -

1. If you are being interviwed by a woman, make sure you are slightly flirty and complimentary. At the same time, you also need to appear like a good boy. You must walk a line as narrow as the yellow line that divides the roads in Delhi. And if you fall on either side of this yellow line, you will just end up being road kill. This takes years of practice, but don't worry. You walked the exact same line in 12th grade when your practicals invigilator was a female. And you got through that one didn't you?

2. If you are being interviewed by a man, you cannot under any circustances appear to be more confident or powerful than he. Remember he has to feel secure about his position as the king rooster (or cock, take your pick). You on the other hand are the little chick (or baby cock), no matter what you try to convince your gym buddies and girlfriends with.

3. What you must say is pretty much the same as the ladies. Use the phrases listed above frequenty and you should get by just fine.

4. Men must remember one more thing - the handshake. Remember the old saying, "Limp handshake, limp d**k." Trust me, it holds so true in the corporate world. At the same time, your handshake cannot appear stronger than the male interviewer's. And please please be careful while shaking hands with women. You have to be firm, but you cannot crush her hand and leave it imprinted with her diamond rings.

5. Finally, men, you must also remember that the Kwality Feast advertisement showing on TV these days (where the interviewer and interviewee get all hot over a cone) is purely a work of fiction.

With these tips, I welcome you to the corporate world. Its bigger, messier, and nothing like what you dreamed about (Inject evil laughter track). We'll be waiting.