Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Diwali ki Safai

I was sitting on the sofa with my laptop, catching up on my latest social media notifications and stories, when my phone rang. With my eyes still fixed on my laptop, I stretched my hands to pick up the phone.

It started with the basic niceties of a typical call from close relative, without the slightest hint of how this routine call would drift to become the dreaded call of the season.

“Have you started off with the Diwali safai?”

“Hain”, my eyes popped out and jaw dropped. Is it that time of the year again? So soon?

I placed a hand on my heart and said “All is well. All is well”.

I had almost forgotten the call until that day. One of the whatsapp groups forwarded a pic displaying hundreds of gold bars, silver crockery , bundles of notes lying on the ground and a message saying that we have just started with the diwali clean up. And the idea of diwali cleaning came back to haunt me.

I had to come with a fake yet original answer quickly to satisfy all the soon-to-come calls of concerned family members, asking me the status of my “safai abhiyaan”.

Diwali clean up is a serious social issue. The weaker sections of the society, not capable of spotting a single spider web, hint of dust behind the doors and aliens residing in the kitchen cabinets feel the sudden pressure from the maid-equipped, calendar minding and bragging sections of the society.

If you are brave, you might answer, “No, I shall not.”

But the weak hearted like me, hide behind the excuses like, kids exam time, or we just moved in here, or we are about to move out of this house or I will start later because I am fast.

I know I need to be more creative and less repetitive. I want to rather say, “Why don’t you ask the husband?” or “I’ll do it when its off-season for the maids and they are relieved from other houses?” or maybe “The forecast says it will not be sunny this whole week, so why bother giving everything up in the sunshine?” or “By the time I finish the herculean task, the first thing I finished cleaning will be the same as it was when I started. Don’t you think so?” or maybe “I finished everything already when the PM launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Under his mantra “Na gandgi karenge aur na karnedenge”, my home is ever so clean.”

You can dodge every question unless your mom is on the other end of the line. Every season, I tell her that you should ask me this question when there is enough time for me to finish what I start. And every season she answers that she was busy cleaning up and a homemaker should know better. I have to tell her the truth. I confess and beg her to come down after she has rushed up with hers. Maybe that’s the reason she never tells me well in advance, or I’ll make her come down to my place in real. I tell her it’s hard. It’s unfair for a single person to clean up what has been messed by the whole family. It’s unending. Its cruel.

And she tells me all over again, how cleaning up will bring good luck. She tells me, how this is a way to clean up atleast once a year. And how it is a way to make sure you give up what you haven’t used for the whole year. It’s her way of telling me to go through all my stuff once and avoid pressing the panic button when something is to be quickly located.

Its remarkable how firm the roots of safai are in the hearts of moms and how they struggle and stumble in imbibing the same in their children every year.

Yet every next call that I get, the pressure mounts as the frequency of being asked and bragging gains momentum. Next month or two, feels just like the exam preparatory days in school. Remember those days when the smarter ones used to call to tease the hardworking yet slow ones.

“How much course have you finished yet, my dear” asks the one friend who enjoys others pain.

“I don’t know yaar. I haven’t touched most of it yet. And what ever I had finished seems like a new chapter to me now.” I reply wiping my forehead and sit down as I lose the ground under me.

“Haha. You’re funny. Don’t worry you will be fine. Don’t go by my standards”, come the words that stabbing-friend for who this call is more like a stress buster and entertainment.

The only difference between now and then, is that I used to take the insult to heart and buckle up to work harder. But now, I think.

Happy Dussehra!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Classification of WhatsApp Groups

Whatsapp is officially as much a part of our lives as the morning newspaper. It might not serve the purpose as much as twitter and facebook, taking a sneak peek into others lives, but it surely connects you to people you call your loved ones, at least you call them loved ones on their faces.

But not all the groups get your attention in the same way as others. You have a hierarchy in which you choose to check your messages and that tells the priority of that group in your life. Agree?

So here is my classification of Whatsapp groups according to my degree of love-hate relationship with them, not particularly in the same order though-

  1. Relatives aka Happy Bday group – Now what would you write in a group that you know that your uncles and aunts are part of too. So all I do in these groups is either wish Happy Bday, Anniversary, Congratulations, Best wishes after being reminded 50 times by other members. Or forward some religion specific forwards to tell them that I too am religiously involved and active (even if that means actively forwarding and being forwarded religious stuff in other groups).

  1. Kids School Moms aka Guilt Trip group – Oh this one is a scary group and never ever fails to remind me how scrappy I am as a mom. Most of the moms here are super active at all times. If the kid is late from school by 5 min, they start questioning and reporting about the traffic status on the roads these days. If the kid was absent from school that day, they start inquiring about the homework right from when the other kids start for school and are a good 10 hours away from returning back home. Everything from school toilets to tips and tricks for raising kids well, is discussed every day, every minute here. I know they mean well and are great moms, but they never cease to surprise me. And you haven’t heard the worst yet. The exam time is when the moms are most nervous and they make sure it reflects in the number of messages they send on this group. Question paper, model test papers, number of pages in the question paper, who finished the paper first, which apps to download for educational play time, how many mosquitoes were there in school, how many leaves teacher takes and post pictures of completed home work is all well covered and under control here. Oh gosh, I feel better venting that out.

  1. Siblings’ aka Most Beloved group – Now this is the group that I can never miss being part of any conversation. We might not message on a daily basis, but know that if I message in distress it will be heard immediately and I won’t be left alone until I feel better. We make fun of each other and then suddenly say the exact same words when it concerns our parents. Its because we connect at a different level and always know that we will never be misunderstood. Love you guys!
  1. Out of touch Friends aka Forwards group – What is the best way to keep in touch when you don’t have anything to say? Its simple, you forward messages. You can still show that you care, by forwarding the relevant and newest forwards. If you don’t overdo the forwarding, chances are you will always stay in touch with even your school friends. I do have my doubts if this kind of staying in touch does good to anyone, but then again what’s there to lose. The worst that might happen is that they might decide to walk out of the group and your link will be dead (again), but then you were already out of touch, remember.

  1. Crib Friends group aka unloading – There are times when you just want to hear “Yes, Me Too!”, “Stay calm, this too shall pass!” or “You need a coffee, come home”. This is the group where I text just to hear these words, not any advice, no side effects but just for them to raise their hands to mark their presence that we are sailing in the same boat and hold hands.

  1. Stupid Marketing groups aka Ignore – 99% of the times I don’t want to be a part of these groups. But that 1% of the time, when I really want to buy some stuff and have nowhere to go and have no clue what’s trending, they come right to the rescue. You sometime can’t exit from the group because you even know the person often and want to just avoid that awkward moment when you meet again in person.

Do you agree with me? 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Freelancing - Art of earning without stressing! Tips and Secrets Revealed

Spicy Saturday

So like me, you were duped by the fake term too - Freelancing!

Well, I only tricked you into reading this post with a catchy title when I was tricked into leaving behind my glorious corporate career (not that I really had one in years, but atleast had a chance).

The word Freelancing means different things to different people. But to me, as a freelancer, what it meant earlier is quite different from what it means now.

I saw it as a fancy word for contractors, working on and off while still adding numbers to their years of experience. But once you work as a freelancer yourself, you realize that you have not been missing out on something sane in aya young heartperience and xperience and erring t door library to tely help you feel good about your

What my mom thinks- My Mom is the really innocent. She thinks I am the best multi-tasking, new age, oh-so talented person, whom people want to employ even when I deny coming to office. Every time she calls me, she says, “I hope you were not busy or I can call later. Nothing so important that can’t wait.” And I reply honestly, “I have all the time in the world for you Mom”.

What my husband thinks – Mr husband thinks, there is no work pressure. Really? I think he gets it from here -
no peers = no peer pressure = no work pressure – logic
And if I am saving a lot of time on travel, I can invest that time in either making the house into home and devote more time to other funny things like, cleaning up the collar better, hand wash the new t-shirts that become not-so-soft and wrinkly after machine spin and wash (when he can simply invest in teddy bears and wear them to office in different colours) or make projects for kids before he returns from home or kids return from school. Night is the time for best undivided concentration, and so I should be putting on my eye glasses and owl night suit to work on office stuff without yelling to lower down the volume of TV.

What my friends think – My friends and well wishers think I am absolutely out of work. No in-business corporate will hire me and I am too insecure to label myself as un-employed. So what do I do, I go and change the title of my resume from Full-Time Employee to Freelancer. Not only that, if someone asks, what is my CTC, I have no one-word or a five digit number. Freelancer is a way to complicate your status gracefully. While trying to mislead the new generation of get-back-to-work-moms I tell them that Freelancing is the glorified form of part-time-work-from-home crap. While actually all I do is ask people to trust me that I will work honestly, not charge them unduly, will be available to talk and meet as need be and yes I have a Linked-In profile too.

What my kids think – My kids think freelancing job(not that they understand the term , but the way I work) gives me the an earned right to Facebooking at any time. Dad goes to office, so when he comes back from office we all need to ask him, how was your day, what did you bring back for us and why you don’t have enough leaves to take us out on a vacation? But me, me they ask, can we have some more of the ice-cream? Why can’t you work later and go to the park with us now? Can you make aaloo parantha for dinner today? Why did you forget to send my textbook to school today? Can you take a picture of my blocks rocket that I made?

So what I actually think – Freelancing work may sound all fancy and an alternate world with freedom from suffocating cubicles and flexibility to enjoy healthy work-life balance. But that is just day 1.

Freelancing comes with its own set of trouble. You may not be answerable to your boss, true. But you are actually juggling clients, who can more often than not just pain in the neck.

Discipline is hard, especially it is self imposed. Believe me, it is easier to wear formals with office ID around your neck and swipe card to maintain the 9 hour office duty. But if you are struggling to maintain a routine and if things can be postponed to later, chances are, they will be postponed to later.

I am always on the look out for a client which also means I am always negotiating. As if negotiating with kids over healthy eating and taking bath daily wasn’t enough to make my life exciting.

And if by chance, you add the word “remote” to the word “freelancer”, it makes the perfect recipe for insanity. When you are talking to a potential client about the possibility of working together, you happen to mention the word, “remote”. It changes the whole equation. “Oh you are a freelancer (to be interpreted as, “good! We won’t have to pay for your insurance”). Sure we are up for it.” Somewhere at the end of a sentence, I add “remote”, so that it can be easily go unnoticed. But the word always gets the due attention, “Oh you mean, we will not know whether you are working or not? But we wanted someone who sits close to the manager. We are sorry, we don’t do that.”

It’s a tiring job to manage yourself, when you are someone who doesn’t listen to your head all the time. Being in control and bossing yourself, is more difficult.

You haven’t heard the best yet. After all this, asking the client to clear your bills, over and over again makes me sometimes wonder who’s money is it that I am asking for, anyway? You asked for creativity, I did it. You asked for re-edits, I did it. You asked for plagiarism free, I did it. You asked for proof-reading, I did it. So why can’t you pay me the money I asked for. I said freelancer not volunteer.

In all this I forgot to mention, I still love freelancing and would highly recommend it. Because I am the boss and enjoying the best of both worlds, It sure is difficult, but who said difficult can't be fun.

Happy Freelancing!

Monday, 31 August 2015

5 Reasons Why I love Driving in India

If you drive in India and make a statement like this, people are surely going to doubt your sanity. You either have to be a crazy I-love-traffic-kind-of-person they show in Ads these days. Or probably are in college and have a girlfriend to sit behind/besides you.

But I have my reasons for validating it - 

  1. Honk at will. Everyone here thinks, only they see the red light turn green and shoulder the responsibility of informing of all other lazy heads. Honk to wake all other drivers to green signal. Sometimes, or rather at most times, if someone has honked it means they are in a hurry, assume they have an invisible red light mounted on their car and thus should be given the right to jump ahead of you magically. But mind you, like dogs barking, honking can have different meanings in different contexts and you should apply common sense, not logic to decode it. If an autowala honks at you incessantly, it does not always mean he is trying to make a pass at you. It sometime also means that he might just be asking you what time of hour it is or informing you that your dupatta is stuck in the car door. So caution is advised to understand the meaning of honk before applying your vocal skills and abusive language to god use

2. Yellow traffic light means, don’t slow down yet. You see a yellow light somewhere, it feels like there is an opportunity, it has a small window, and if you don’t hurry up, you will lose it. You feel the sense of urgency, the need to act fast instead of slowing down. Accept the challenge and drive faster.

3. If you are a girl and know how to say “Please Bhaiya” correctly, chances are people will even park your vehicle for you. People are kind enough to offer you free tips, “thoda left, thoda left”, “nahin nahin thoda aur kaato”. Unless there is an emergency and your life depends on it, you can get most work done with those two magic words.

4. GPS or no GPS you will find your way. People go out of their way to make sure you have understood where you need to go. There are hundreds of videos and news articles of how people ignore someone needing medical attention on the road. But if you need to get your directions right, there is no need to panic and consume your mobile data pack by putting the navigation on. They might not really know the correct directions, but they will ask someone for you or give you incorrect directions, but they will not let your hope die.

5. You rule the roads here. In true words, mere baap ki road hai. You see someone is trying to cross the roads, without getting to the zebra crossing (ofcourse there are no zebra crossing, but you are on the other side of the table and are driving). What do you do? You drive faster. Because its your right of way and no-one, not even that little angel on the shoulder can take it from you (except the traffic policeman ofcourse). So if you see someone trying to cross the roads and mock at your speed, you need to teach them a lesson by speeding up and scaring the hell out of them.