Monday, September 29, 2008

திருவிழா.....

Remembered this rhyme when I was walking on the road one rainy evening in Bangalore.....

வானத்திலே திருவிழா
வழக்கமான ஒரு விழா

இடி இடிக்கும் மேகங்கள்
இறங்கி வரும் தாளங்கள்

மின்னல் ஒரு நாட்டியம்
மேடை வான மண்டபம்

தூறல் ஒரு தோரணம்
தூய மழை காரணம்

எட்டு திசை காற்றிலே
ஏக வெள்ளம் ஆற்றிலே

தவளை மட்டும் பாடுமே
தண்ணீரிலே ஆடுமே

அகன்ற வெளி வேடிக்கை
ஆண்டு தோறும் வாடிக்கை

This was the tamil rhyme I learnt when I was six years old... It is about a rainy day - Thunder takes the role of music, lightning takes the role of a dancer, sky becomes the stage and frog enjoys singing in the rain... The rhyme ends saying : This fun-to-watch event happens every year.

I do not remember the poet's name, but I surely remember the verse-speaking sessions with this rhyme, every monsoon.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

May I help you?

That was the sign at the help desk of one of the popular, plush, high-end, prestigious, and seemingly over-friendly banks in the city.

I stepped into the bank on a bright Saturday around 11:00 A.M. After I got my bag checked at the gate, I waited like most other educated, civilized professionals in the long queue to collect the service token number at the desk that said : May I help you? Finally, when I got to the head of the queue, I gave my reasons to be there and got the Service Request Token number plus a few forms to be filled and taken to the counter.

A lady with the sweetest of smiles ( I would prefer to call it stapled smile) came over and asked if she could help me. I repeated my reason for being there and she said, " Please take your seat in this bay or the other side, watch out for your token number on the monitor over there. " The bank was packed with people and I had no choice but to stand/walk around waiting for my number to be displayed on the monitor... I am still looking for some writing desk or a seat to start with my forms.

Another gentleman walks up to me and says, 'Ma'am, yes, what brings you here?'.. I repeated the story to him and he said, "Please wait for your turn. The counter clerk will come here to announce the number in case you miss the track on the monitor."...

Then, finally I managed to find a comfortable seat.. Filled up forms.... Then sat back and looked at the monitor.... My number was not seen anywhere.. The prefix on my token didn't match the ones on the display, so I had to continue the wait.....The only thing that was missing was a steaming hot coffee or tea to make you feel like you are there to relax or to spend your excess time-off from work that weekend...

Watch was ticking... People came, gave you that brief ten minute company, found their counters. finished their brief!!!!!!! work in the counter, and were directed to a different counter, the phone banking booth, the online kiosk, or back to the bay. If nothing of these, they went to the Exit door. I sat there watching the latest trends in clothes and accessories, the gentle men and ladies with stapled smile, the counters.. and of course the monitor too....

After quite a long wait, I approached a 'May I help you', smiley girl and asked her if she thinks my number has crossed the queue, and she says, " Looks like it has... Were you filling up some form? I guess you missed your turn.." Now, that was not very helpful.... I did fill up a form, but then if its something I could have done at the counter, why didn't someone tell me earlier?..

Well, I had to wait until two others finished their work at a specific counter, and while the clerk was trying to take a break, I had to jump in and help myself to a seat and get my work done....My watch smiled: 1:45.P.M.. My stomach grumbled: Find something to eat in another few minutes....!!!!! and I rushed home immediately...

Murphy's law says : When something can go wrong, it surely will... By a modified version of Dr. Murphy's law: If you don't want something you will surely get it..., I didn't want to visit this bank at all any time again, and I ended up having to go there for four consecutive Saturdays between 11:00A.M and 1:00P.M to resolve some banking issue or the other.

Agreed, the bank intends to be customer friendly, but sorry to say, work just does not get done as easily as it should, in most cases...If I had known that I would need to make these repeated trips, I would have attempted to strike some conversation with all others with me at the bay and make some new friends/contacts..... I saw more than a few of the same faces every weekend... All of us were clearly not very happy about the shuttles to the bank every Saturday morning....

I remember reading this quote : Help ever.. Hurt Never... Will bank authorities do something about getting work done efficiently more than making life easy for the bank?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Big Bazaar

Big Bazaar is one of the fast-growing supermarket chain in India. I have visited Big Bazaars in Mumbai and Bangalore.

At least three storeys, about 15+ assistants on every floor, good service, dedicated shopping sections and networked computerized billing counters, just about everything you need for your household, too many varieties to choose from, and a ten thousand ideas to spend your money are some of the credits that this super market chain holds in cities.


I chanced to see a sharp contrast to this in my semi-urban town last week. The name of the shop was 'The New Novelty Big Bazaar".

Now, about this Bazaar - Housed on Ground Floor, Mud flooring, Three aisles to serve as walk ways, a section each for clothes, linens, plastics, stainless steel kitchenware, bags, and rexene purses, manual billing, about five assistants, no fan, one water can and good service.


Makes me think.. I am not sure if the owner of this place is even aware of the Big Bazar chain in the cities, but he surely has dreams of Making it as big as the 'Big Bazaar' some day :)

In business, it is all about Dreams.. Hard work makes it happen :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Floral Carpet in Workplace

Onam , a festival popular in Kerala, South India, is known for the beauty of the floral carpet, the delicious food, warm regards and prayers, and an aura of prosperity.

With whatever little idea we had, we managed to bring some color to the regular work day at office, on Onam day with our Pookalam ( Poo - Flowers, Kalam - Carpet ).
The floral carpet in a typical Kerala home is very different from what you are seeing here. The floral carpet as you see seems to bring a feel of cheer, color, beauty, prosperity, satisfaction, peace and happiness.
I firmly believe that festivals need to be celebrated in work places to bring in a change from the usual routine, bring out the long lost talents, get people together, instill the thought that team work pays, and bring lot of smiles that last till the next team event...
Management hint here I guess is : Keep the team happy.. Work cannot be made lively with just another code segment, another marketing assignment, another document, another meeting, another project plan, another team lunch, another drink, another appreciation talk, another appraisal, another increment, and another bonus...
Look for and ensure 'Liveliness' in the team to meet all Goals.. Festivals give you one more chance to maintain that zeal for work among the team members. This way, work will always be a floral carpet ( without thorns) for your team.

Monday, September 22, 2008

How are you?

That's the question I heard from Ms. A to Mr. B.

Here is the conversation that followed:

Ms.A : Hey, How are you? Long time...
Mr.B : Fine, thanks :) Am on my way out!!!
Ms.A : That was fast... Where are you off to??
Mr.B : Am off to XYZ software company.
Ms.A : Good.. When is your last working day here?
Mr.B : Day after tomorrow.. :) Will send a mail.
Ms.A : Thanks, stay in touch :) All the best!!! :)

So, if you have not met someone for long in a software company, don't be surprised if you hear such kind of response to your 'How are you?'... Life in software industry is like this of late :)

At work, spend time with your friends and remember to call if you do not see someone in his cube for long.. For all you know the person would have left the place permanently.. :-)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Wednesday

This is a 1:45 hour movie in Hindi, that certainly qualifies as the one-of-the-few, out-of-the-herd Bollywood movies.

If you are looking for unnecessary stunts, noise, music, songs, planned comedy and are against using your already over-working brain while in a movie theatre, then may be you should postpone watching this movie.

As with all advantages/positives, there are some disadvantages/negatives that is of course dependant on individual perceptions. I choose to talk only the positive aspects and not taking the role of a psychologist/teenage counsellor who might have a different opinion of the story line. :-)

The movie is about what happens in Mumbai between 2.:00 P.M and 6:30 P.M on a bright Wednesday afternoon.

A very clam-faced old man calls up the Chief Police Officer in the Mumbai Police Head Quarters and informs about the explosives that he has planted in five locations in the city. He asks to speak to one person who can make a decision without having to go through a thousand procedures ( processes in today's work terms!!!). That was his request and the police have no clue whether or not to take it serious. This talk lasts for a minute. From then on, there is a series of calls from this unknown number and the police have very little choice but to do exactly as directed by the unknown caller. The last call was around 6:00 P.M that exposed the reasons for the old man's directions and the motive.

Watch the movie to know more..

The end of the movie : The police officer meets the man, greets him, offers him a ride home, knowing well that this was the man whose calls have been eating his peace of mind that afternoon... he is unable to arrest the stupid common man, because his plot was carefully crafted and the intelligence was unmatched for the police to handle.

Quick thoughts:

  • When it comes to decision making, most people in authority go one step backward.
  • There are executives who can decide and act, but processes do not permit them to do so.
  • Senior people or experienced people need not always be the best in terms of execution of any activity.
  • Effective work force is one that has people who get angry, who don't get angry, and who can control anger. With one of these segments missing, the work force may not be efficient after all.
  • Emotions definitely come up on the face of danger whatever be the strength of a man gained from his profession : police officer, terrorist, common man, press reporter
  • Unspoken string of friendship can exist between people travelling together in a one hour ride by train or bus each day.
  • Reports do matter whatever be the situation in life.. for some reason that is beyond our understanding, people keep asking for reports, then and there.. whether or not, they are going to be able to change things... The Chief minister asks for a report on the whole incident ( movie ) on Thursday!!!!

Noteworthy :
  1. Anupam Kher's composure
  2. Nazrudin Shah's casual performance
  3. No songs and dance
  4. Strong dialogues but never too loud
  5. Simple script
  6. Neat action
  7. Quiet and sharp turns
  8. Closing talk by Nazrudin Shah
  9. Nice ending to the eventful Wednesday

Nut shell : Short, Strong, and Rare make in Bollywood for all audience who love to watch something different from the usual Hindi movies.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Traffic!!!!!!!!

Not a new word for people in crowded cities. On my way back from office, I got caught in heavy, peak hour, evening traffic. Of course I chose these words very carefully. Heavy because, you cannot move an inch in whatever vehicle you are in; peak hour because all software companies are off at the same time; Evening traffic is worth mention because everyone wants to reach the same place, on the same road, and at the same pace as you!!!

A quick chat with a very interesting friend last week made me understand that there is no point in cribbing about things you can't change... traffic being one of the lot. She told me how she enjoyed the music from some Festive procession while it was causing a very heavy traffic jam on the route.

I was beginning to get irritated with the long wait, but remembered the recent lesson and tried looking for something to enjoy.... Here's what I noticed:

  • From what is written on the sides of auto-rickshaws you will learn at least one proverb, a philosophical quote, or a two line romantic poem.
  • You'll learn new names from the cars.
  • You'll notice nice paintings on the windows of the trucks.
  • You'll chance to listen to the songs from the latest movies, blaring from the player on the adjacent vehicle.
  • You'll see the latest phone models and Ipods. People have really begun to take traffic jams easy!!
  • You'll see trends in formal and casual wears.
  • You have the chance to note down a real-estate office's number.
  • You can note down contacts for your house-hold work: plumber, contractor, cleaner and electrician. It is all on the advertisement boards on the sides.
  • You can find out the website that lists the latest eateries in the city along with the reviews.
  • You can spot an old friend struck in the traffic. You've lost touch for the simple reason: Out of sight is out of Mind. So, you can catch up on a quick phone call and make an appointment for the same weekend.
  • You can answer all your missed calls if you care for courtesy, else you can message back saying: "Am sorry, I was in a meeting... Can we talk this evening?" if you really are the types who loves to stay in touch.
  • You'll note the new cars and bikes on road.

There might be a lot more.. but so much is quite a number for a long wait in heavy,peak hour, evening traffic. So, just may be, the next time you are held up in heavy traffic on you way home from work, you must consider really looking around for such facts that often matter most to us.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Niceties

''Keep your voices low. Remember, you are seated close to a Work Area' . This is the standard saying that we would have come across...

'Silence' in a doctor's office...

'Please switch off your mobile phones in the temple premises' in a temple or a place of worship.

'School zone, No-horn please' on the walls of schools whose class room windows overlook the busy road.

When all over the place, such messages need to be posted to let people know about the basic niceties that they ought to keep up, the nicety of my office cab's driver, is worth a mention here.

Driver M loves to play the local FM radio channel during the long drive from and to our office. Whenever anyone in the cab gets a phone call, he always remembers to lower the volume of the Radio. No one needs to tell him or put a sign-board. He knows it too well. He is a calm composed person who has never lost patience in Bangalore traffic, never yelled at the fellow bikers or drivers.. if you know what it is like to drive or just watch what is happening on Bangalore roads on peak hours, you will be amazed at the niceties that this Driver M has in him.

Niceties need to be learnt... They need not be made mandates as in most places today...It would be nice if all of us can just adapt to these signs and act accordingly even without sign-posts that place requests for such 'need-to-have' manners.

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