Positivity at the workplace and in life

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There are certain people who are so positive you wonder why you have a special connection with them. How does your down-to-earth, always-believing-the-worst-about-yourself, super critical, never believing good things could happen to you vibe gel with these people? Don’t they get tired of your negativity and self doubt? How have they stayed sane through all the shit they have seen? How do they see the good things in a person after all the horrible things they must have experienced?

I am not referring to the diabetic people with fake sweetness and positivity. I am talking about those whose heart is large and who genuinely believe in the fairness of the corporate world.

There are two ways to deal with bullshit:

  • Ignore it and focus on the boring tasks at hand. Swallow your ego and pride, put your head down and make a change in whatever way you can. Even if it’s small. If it is just starting monthly birthday celebrations at work. Even if that is the only impact you have the power to make.
  • Hope and believe. If the process is right, the results will come. Even if it takes time. Even if you aren’t around to experience the good times.

Sometimes you have to believe something is possible to make it possible because then you will make all the efforts to make it possible. If you don’t even try, failure is inevitable.

Whoa, guys. I must be really drunk or having an out of body experience to type out a positive post. Good night. Must get my mojo back by morning.


13 reasons why….

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…. we didn’t need season 2

…. am never getting 13 precious hours of my life back

…. I would have watched season 2 anyway

…. we don’t need season 3

WARNING ****SPOILERS AHEAD****

Season 1 was great. Despite low IQ audience’s rant that it glorifies and encourages suicide, it was very much appreciated. I loved the book too and thought the series did justice to it. The only reason why season 2 was required if there was going to be justice for Hannah Baker to make the fans happy. So we could get a happy ending and go to bed feeling like all’s right with the world. Even for victims of bullying, sexual harassment and rape. Except there isn’t. And I understand where season 2 is coming from. It talks about so many issues that exist and parents don’t know about. How many women spend their school and college life trying to shirk off the label of a ‘slut’? Or just embracing it? Or watching every step and interaction with the opposite sex avoiding that label? Show me one female teenager who hasn’t dealt with this? Even as grown women in the corporate, we are constantly aware about being labelled.

Were you alone in a hotel room with a male colleague?

Did you get promoted?

Does a guy from the top management spend more time with you over others?

Did you actually sleep with a male colleague?

Did you step out for lunch/dinner with a male colleague?

Are you chatting after hours with a male colleague?

Did you drink too much at a corporate party?

Did a male colleague find your short dress offensive?

Is your cleavage showing? Do you have no compunctions about showing your cleavage?

Do you earn more than your male colleagues?

Are you charming?

Does your boss like you?

Are you loud? And friendly? And flirtatious? Not averse to using your charm at the workplace?

So many ways to get labelled a “slut”. The only emotion left to show safely is aggression and an impenetrable wall. Oh wait, the feedback of being “too aggressive” is waiting for you during the appraisals.

But that is a whole other rant.

Basically, season 1 was awesome. Season 2 is dark and there is no payoff. The bad guys get away. There are no consequences. Which is a shitty thing to do to the fans who empathised with the characters in season 1 and wanted them to be happy. Season 2 is a shitty follow up to season 1.

But on it’s own or as a different show it is brilliant. It is dark because it is based on reality. There has been a controversy over the explicit rape scenes. Because how dare the show not tone down horrific teenage rapes of males and females? We live in a bubble in our ivory towers and how dare the show burst this happy, frothy, pink bubble? How dare they base it on real life events where a teenager was gang raped by her school mates at a party and people took videos of the crime, when she was passed out drunk. That is what women who drink deserve. Now ask us why we turn down a drink when we are offered one.

Season 2 covers too many topics – Hannah’s suicide and the case around it, bullying of more students, the school’s response, the bad guys, sexual abuse, shooting at schools, rape, dealing with rape, drug addiction.

Like Tim Gunn would say in Project Runway, “there is too much going on”.

Give me one issue at a time and close the loop.

Give me a season focused on bullying and how it can be prevented and dealt with.

Give me another season about date rape.

Another one about male rapes.

Yet another one about social media bullying.

Make the series about issues that teenagers deal with in today’s times and why they are so fucked up in the heads as adults. Give me solutions. Follow this up with on ground activities like the helpline and counselling.

The series has started a conversation. Let us keep it going.


Social media trolling

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At 17 yrs of age, after giving my whole heart, soul, time and energy to studying for 12th boards I savoured the first taste of freedom in a chat room in a dark (but not dingy) cyber cafe. “What is this place?”, I wondered in excitement. I am actually cool here. Most importantly, am articulate, funny, flirtatious and nobody cares about my boobs size. Or maybe they do but I can pretend to be double Ds.

I started meeting random people from the internet and it continues to this very day. And am still in touch with a few people I met and connected in a chatroom at 17. They’ve known me longer than my closest friends.

One important lesson on the internet is the difference between online and offline. There are social media friends and there are friends. I find it hilarious when people I haven’t met get offended when I correct them that we aren’t friends. If you aren’t on my speed dial and we don’t talk in real life, we aren’t friends. If it doesn’t hurt when you leave my life, we aren’t friends.

Social media isn’t real life. People have a different personalities online or assume one. It isn’t real. Some of us are adept at compartmentalising and balancing both. But it has taken years and years of practice.

Now that I have womansplained social media to people on social media through social media, let me get to the point.

Urban dictionary defines trolling “as it relates to internet, is the deliberate act, (by a Troll – noun or adjective), of making random unsolicited and/or controversial comments on various internet forums with the intent to provoke an emotional knee jerk reaction from unsuspecting readers to engage in a fight or argument ” .

I am a nobody on the internet. Less than 1000 followers on Instagram and Twitter. My posts never go viral. My blog posts rarely have readers in double digits. And yet, I get trolled. That is the price we pay for being active here and being vocal about our opinions. It is worse for celebrities. Specially for female celebrities, who are at the receiving end of rape threats and abuses of the worst kind. Anonymity makes us bold. We say things we wouldn’t dare face to face. Even during debates, the objective isn’t to engage but to offend. The currents times are the worst time to be active on social media.

There are two instances when I faced horrible trolling, one is absolutely ridiculous and the other absolutely harrowing.

Few years back I had started a blog for movie reviews. Its readership was lower and only my facebook/Twitter followers visited it once in a while. I had reviewed Bombay Velvet, a movie that was creating a lot of controversy because people hated it so much. Anurag Kashyap’s trolls were having a field day over its failure. I love AK’s movies and will watch even his worst ones AND like them. I waited in a queue for 2 hours for the premiere of Mukkabaaz and would have gladly waited for another 2 hours AND loved the movie. I loved Ranbir Kapoor in BV, loved Karan Johar as the villain and the Jazz music blew me away.

Filmmakers of non commercial, small films retweet reviews from everyone since word of mouth is very important for their success. I guess I was the only person with a positive review on the entire internet and AK retweeted my review. My one tweet of fame followed by torture. The trolls came after me. I was like Rajnikanth surrounded by bad guys on all sides. Being accused of sleeping with AK for a positive review. Unlike Rajnikanth I couldn’t swat them away with panache and so I gave up. My phone kept buzzing all night with Twitter notifications. In the morning I blocked each troll to restore the peace in my life. It didn’t end there. I had criticised Raveena’s Tandon look in the movie. And her support brigade, who are trolls, came after me. Another sleepless night was spent blocking some 50 odd abusive anonymous handles.

Now I block incessantly. I block acquaintances who join Twitter so they can’t discover my handle. I block colleagues who check out my IG stories. I block random commentators and keep my feed clean. I block anyone who abuses. I don’t approve crap comments on the blog.

Your freedom of speech allows you to type out any shit you please online and my freedom of speech allows me to ignore and block your shit on my feed. Win win.

But it takes a lot of time on the internet to develop a thick skin. I learned it the hard way. In 2006, the year Twitter started, I started writing a blog. Hardly controversial or personal. My batchmates, friends, social media friends, acquaintances frequented the blog when they were bored or looking for entertainment. One day I started receiving comments from an anonymous id. Until then I was against comments moderation. There are 2 options for comments posted on a blog:

  1. No comments moderation : When anyone can comment and it gets published automatically. Approval is not required.
  2. Comments moderation : When the comment is held for approval and I can choose to mark it as spam, trash it or approve. Another sub option is if a user has a previous comment approved, their comments can get automatically published.

I turned on comments moderation since the anonymous id was quite abusive. The comments were posted everyday. They mentioned my private parts, described my body, talked about my female friends, our relationships, conversations, other friends etc. Someone we knew and met with everyday was posting them. I remember getting upset everytime a comment popped into my inbox.

13 reasons why season 1 isn’t fiction but a reality in social media times. Since this was a residential B school, there was no getting away from whoever this person was. We weren’t even sure if it would be possible to trace the IP address. Complaining to the authorities didn’t even strike me and my friends. Not that they would have done anything, anyway. I cried to sleep. I was scared all the time. Everytime I stepped out I was worried about who was watching. Every nasty thing anyone had thought or said about me was in my inbox. Everyday.

Initially, I reacted to the comments. But after a while, I got tired and stopped reacting. A lot of life’s shit goes away when you stop reacting. When you build an impermeable wall around you. The troll stopped. Just like that. Maybe he got bored. Maybe it wasn’t fun when the other person wasn’t responding. Maybe he found someone else. Maybe he got laid.

I could have a private account for a clean social media life but where is the fun in that. I’d rather be the rebel with a public account where you got to play by my rules if you want to stay.

Except when it is my family and then I may have to go private to keep their prying eyes out of the separate identity I’ve created online.

 

 


Bucketlist for my big toe once it heals

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Things am going to do once my toe heals

  1. Wriggle them
  2. Run 10 km. Fuck, I miss this so much. What a fool I’ve been to avoid running one in the last few weeks.
  3. Walk barefoot on the grass at Lodi gardens
  4. Stretch my body and touch them
  5. Pull someone’s leg hair with them. I have too many useless skills.
  6. Paint them
  7. Soak them in hot water and experience Nirvana
  8. Calf raises
  9. Shave them. Ya, ok, I have hair on my toes like a normal person and we have to be very, very close for you to have the honour of seeing them.
  10. Appreciate that they are an important part of me and their normal functioning makes my life complete.

Writing everyday

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Based on the votes on fb, IG and twitter, here is the post on writing everyday.

I assume that people who voted for this topic want to know how to write everyday. I don’t have an answer for those who haven’t written anything and want to start now. Not because it can’t be done but am not the right person to give that advice.

My tryst with writing started in school. I don’t remember the first thing I ever wrote but we were encouraged to write creatively and use our imagination in our English assignments. Most of my school mates were voracious readers. Bunking games period to finish reading a new novel was common. I wrote poems as a teenager. Tacky and embarrassing ones, of course but I have all of them saved up in a book. An actual book. With my handwriting. From maybe 20 years back. I do have a heart, guys, but it is buried deep within layers and layers of sarcasm and darkness.

Language also makes a difference. I joined a convent boarding school when I was 7 years old. I spoke Sindhi at home and a mix of Gujarati and Hindi in school. During the 9 months every year, it was compulsory to speak in English. Hindi was restricted to that one period everyday. I started thinking in English and spoke mainly Sindhi in the balance 3 months of the year. Hindi isn’t my strong forte and am not being pretentious. Gujarati is now too broken for a comfortable conversation and I can’t read or write Sindhi. If you think in a regional language, writing in English is slightly more difficult.

Like most hobbies in school, writing could have met its end due to paucity of time once I joined college. But I started a blog in 2006. Blogging was “in” then. Pretty much anyone who was internet savvy had a blog. Even people who had not written an original paragraph in their life had a blog. My posts were quite shallow. I didn’t really share any real life experiences. Sometimes, I wrote about conversations I had with friends about interesting topics like religion or sex or other random stuff.

I joined the corporate world in 2007. During the first year I didn’t have a laptop and would kill time at the cyber cafe on weekends. I blogged about my travels and the experience of working in sales in remote towns. Somehow the blogging continued. The tricky balance of keeping your real life private and finding interesting things to write about kept me hooked. During my lowest point the blog just has to-do lists but it had posts. Maybe not every week, but at the very least every month.

I started the current blog few years back when I paid for the domain and for hosting it on godaddy. If I stop paying for it, either all the posts will be lost or they will have to be backed up and moved to another hosting site. Godaddy charges a bomb for retrieving old posts and the latter is very tedious, boring and time consuming. Basically, am stuck with paying for the blog month after month and the only option is to keep it going by churning out post after post.

In the last 2 years, the readership and engagement have dropped because I was too busy to write regularly. Sure, the link is not accessible to people on my restricted list on facebook though I have no compunction about sharing it with strangers on Twitter. Last month I vowed to write everyday. My biggest worry wasn’t whether I will be able to make time but rather what will I write about. I spend lesser time on social media now, there are fewer people I engage with on a daily basis, my life as a corporate whore isn’t interesting enough and there is only so much I can reveal about work without getting fired or sued. The good news is there hasn’t been a dearth of topics to write about. Reading helps. It takes you into a different world you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. This is why writers are voracious readers.

I write at night, mostly. Sometimes I can write with the TV on, other times (like now) I need alone time in another room to type out a post. Sometimes the thought of spending 10 mins on a laptop after a long day at work makes me chicken out.

Though I’d rather write on paper and drop it at everyone’s doorsteps. Just kidding.

That would require putting on a bra and would be too much effort for the readers of this blog. Not kidding.

Blogging vs journaling:

Journaling is more personal. Your real self can be revealed through journaling and it is cathartic. But there is no pressure to frame a coherent thought, focus on grammar and engage another person. Journaling has its benefits but does it make you a better writer? I don’t know. Blogging forces you to complete a thought or an idea and write about diverse topics. It pushes you to write for an audience. You can’t chicken out by writing 10 miserable lines. There has to be a beginning and an end to every post. Also, writing happy posts is so much more difficult in a journal. A journal is for your deeper and inner thoughts but do we want to deal with those on a daily basis? I’d rather live in denial.

Blogging and social media:

It is so easy to put out any thought in real time on social media. With Twitter increasing their characters count and encouraging threads, blogging is a dying art. Who wants to type out a whole post, publish and share it when threads are easier to read and share. We are all on social media all the time anyway. A blog needs to be logged into and requires patience to read.

I get it. I truly do. This is like journaling with real pen and paper. But it is what it is. Till there are people engaging with the blog, it will be alive. When they stop, I will move on to Medium or Twitter threads or podcasts or whatever the hell everyone is on then.

Or maybe I will continue to blog.



Day 3 of enforced relaxation (=frustration)

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It is day 3 of enforced relaxation because of a hurt toe and I can already feel the darkness cloud my mind.

Everyone heads to the gym or starts running because they want to lose weight or become fit. Maybe they got detected with PCOS or diabetes or blood pressure. Maybe they got tired of clicking 50 selfies and applying 10 filters to get one decent picture for social media. Maybe they wanted to get noticed by their crush. Maybe mid life crisis hit. The reason doesn’t matter. Something pulled you into that world. But what keeps you going isn’t the fitness or the weight loss. That takes time. Weeks. Months. Years. And it is always much more difficult maintaining the peak you reached. Example, a healthy fat loss is 2 kg per month. Only 500 gm per week. And for that you have to be vigilant about your nutrition, count calories, deny yourself when everyone else indulges and get your ass to the gym or on the road 6 days a week. Sometimes morning and evening. It takes 2.5 to 3 months to spot a significant difference in your before and after half naked pictures.

The results aren’t what keep us going. They are the bonus. The cherry on the icing. What gets us hooked are the pheromones. The chemical reactions which boost up our mood and make us feel alive. They make living easier. Every task seems achievable and every pest at work can be shirked off as soon as you leave the workplace.

I have a friend who works out diligently and has gone from overweight to hot. I knew him when he drank and smoked a lot and I knew him through his selfies phases where he would ask me if his bare back looks defined. (If I wasn’t diligent about clearing spam from Whatsapp pics folder, they would be filled with gym selfies of half naked men). I asked him “Is the high from dope better than the one from a workout session?” since he has been on both sides of the fence. He told me the latter is more intense, lasted more and feels better than the dope. Now, I spend my dope money at the gym.

It will be 10 days before I can think about running and already the daily tasks require double the energy and triple the motivation. The irony is I have all this spare time for other hobbies and activities but the will to do anything is missing. There are fancy terms to describe these feelings “anxiety”, “panic” etc etc. I call it ‘adulthood’. It has nothing to do with people around you, your job or financial situation. And it doesn’t hit during a conflict or when you are alone. You could be happily chatting with someone or reading the book or watching a movie and everything becomes a lot harder. Like there are dementors around you trying to suck your life out. But very, very slowly.

All this drama over a hurt toe. Oh well, gear yourself for morose posts for the next 10 days. Call my doctor and ask him to prescribe meds which will speed up the healing. Please. I will run a 21 km in your honour. Couch to 21 km. I swear.


Sweat, tears and blood

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Yesterday while rushing for a meeting in the evening, I hurt my left toe with the steel edge of the glass door of my cabin. I grimaced at the pain and continued to run in my heels but the blood gushing out made it extremely difficult. RIP my pretty, polka dotted heels. I shall miss you and replacing you will be hard.

My female colleagues were kind enough to help me wrap it with a bandage before the entire office floor got soiled. The flesh was visible and the wound looked serious enough to warrant stitches.

I had to run-hop-limp in my heels to the next office for the meeting. In case you are wondering, yes, I would classify the meeting as a life and death situation. Throughout the 45 mins, I kept the toe facing upwards so the blood wouldn’t soil the carpet of a senior person’s cabin. Because priorities!!! Also, I can proudly claim that I have given my sweat, tears and blood to this job. Literally. There are witnesses.

Then I had to run-hop-limp to my car and drive home. I called KC and told him we need to rush to the hospital. A smarter person would have driven to the hospital directly and asked KC to meet her there. But when I make foolish decisions, I like to see them through to the end. They make life much more interesting and blog worthy.

KC drove me to the hospital we go to for minor ailments. Fortis is for messed up surgeries and when we like to savour our coffee at Costa Coffee for an hour while waiting for an appointment. He had an important international work call and gets queasy around blood, so he disappeared after handing me over to the nurse. I wish I was a man and had the luxury of being uncomfortable around blood.

I like people who have a wicked sense of humour of the darkest shade. The more screwed up the better. Except if that person is my doctor.

Actual conversation with the doc:

Him : This needs stitches

Me (a stitches virgin) : But you will give an anaesthetic, right?

Him : No. Why do you need one?

Me : Because it will hurt like hell

Him (grinning) : Who said that?

continues grinning while I look horrified

Me : Are you joking? You aren’t serious, are you? You shouldn’t joke with your patients. This isn’t funny, you know.

Grins wider at my outburst

The anaesthetic is given and doc is examining the toe.

Him : The side nail is broken

Me : Shit. Is that serious? Don’t nails grow out?

Him : Grins

Me : Can you please stop with all the jokes?

My partner was nowhere to be found so I paid the bill and bought the medicines.

I reached the car and waited for KC to finish his call. You know what’s worse than talking to your own colleagues after 7 pm? Listening to someone else talk to his/her colleagues after 7 pm. After 15 mins, I decided to drive us home while the toe was still numb because that was less painful than overhearing work conversations.

I will write a rant about how much my life sucks after 2 more non gym and non running days so please hang around the blog.


Call me by your name – The book vs the movie

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I read a book and then watch the movie inspired from the book. It is interesting to note what kind of treatment a filmmaker gives the book. Doing justice to a book is a big challenge and most of the times, the movie is a screw up. Example, Fitoor (inspired from Great Expectations) or The Shopholic (my favourite book ruined by the movie and the cast).

My favourite movies inspired from books are The Namesake and The Reluctant Fundamentalist. In The Namesake, the book is from Ashima’s perspective but the movie is from her son, Gogol’s perspective. Like, you have to watch the movie and read the book to understand the whole story.

Call me by your name

This is the story of Oliver and Elio. Oliver is an American Professor in Chicago. Elio’s father, also an academic, hosts students at his house in Northern Italy during the summer free of cost. The students have to work as his intern during those 6 weeks. Elio is 17 years old and from the 1st day itself he is strangely drawn to 25 year old Oliver. His sexuality is never discussed. Is he gay or a bisexual? He enjoys having sex with Mariza and then has sex with Oliver. But Oliver has his heart. Oliver returns to USA after 6 weeks and comes back during X’mas to tell Elio he is getting married. They do meet many, many years later.

The Book:

Half the book is about Elio’s crush on Oliver. At this stage, we don’t know whether Oliver reciprocates. This part is beautifully written. Like, when you have a crush on someone and are very aware of their presence. When they walk by, your heart gives a flutter. You remember every conversation and think about it over and over in your head wondering if there is a deeper meaning to anything they said. You fantasise about them, have made love to them in a 100 different ways in your head and the reality is probably never to match up. This was before cellphones and social media so all you could do was wait for your crush to turn up. There was no way to stalk him/her in a virtual world when he/she wasn’t around you in person.

Erotica is the most difficult genre to write and most writers avoid it. I thought man on man action wouldn’t interest me but it was such a turn on. Kudos to the writer for writing this so damn well. Also, you know which passages I will be turning to when am alone. Ahem… ahem…

The movie:

Despite the rave reviews, I turned on the movie with low expectations. How would the movie get into Elio’s head without a narration? The good part is the movie does not cover the entire book. It starts when Oliver arrives and ends when he leaves. I thought that was great. There is only so much it could have covered in 2 hours.

It is about summer love, between Elio and Oliver. It is about Elio’s first love at 17 yrs of age which is reciprocated by Oliver. The intense desire and feelings some loves evoke and feel like a life and death situation. When nothing else seems to matter. Only this moment with this person.

Highly recommend it.