Monday, September 27, 2004

The birthday when I truly started growing up!

A few month ago, I came across this argument between some folks at office that what kind of facilities and funds should a child get as a grows up to make him a good matured human being!

One side of the group said that "I have been brought up in adverse conditions, I could never enjoy the days of my childhood. But now I earn enough to be counted among the higher-middle class (if not the higher class) of society and I can provide my child with whatever he/she demands. Since I could not enjoy such a previlege or liberty I want my child to take full advantage of it". Fair enough, if you blindly love your child.

But then there was this other side of the argument (which includes me) who feel that a perfect middle class upbringing is the best way in which a child can me brought up (or do I call it moulded) into a mature, grown up individual in the true sense of the word! You give your child what is imperative for him (probably the best quality of such necessary things) but for his/her unrealistic demands he/she should be able to take a "No" and more so understand the reason behind it!

If you demand something and you always get it (however unrealistic your demand is), it creates n number of (pretty obvious) problems for you.
1. You dont learn to digest a "no".
2. You turn obstinate, adamant with what you are saying and look at things ONLY from one perspective. You always miss the other side of the coin!
3. You can never learn face failure in life. Even a small failure is enough to shatter you to pieces.
4. MOST SADLY, you develop a tendency to achieve things AT ANY COST!!

And most often someone too close to you ends up paying this cost!

On the other hand, if you have taken a "No" for an unrealistic demand and UNDERSTOOD why you have been denied of what you have requested, you start growing up in the true sense! You begin gaining enough maturity by thinking of what is the COST of what I am demanding! And this is what you primarily require to be a good and BALANCED human being - understand the cost of your own deeds ... ain't it!

I discretely remember an incidence on my 9th Birthday. I was in the 4th standard and in our school we had a tradition that the birthday boy usually distributes some sweets/gifts to his classmates as a memoir of his birthday. Unfortunately that year my birthday fell on a Sunday and I could not do the needful in school on that very day. When I asked my parents, "Can I distribute the sweets tomorrow in my class", they said, "Do you really think you should do it? Your birthday is over today". I took this answer as a "No" and started an argument. Probably after insisting a little, they would have given in to my demands, just when I made a drastic statement!

Those days, since my grandmom could not move out of the house to buy a gift for me, she used to give me some money and say "Tell you mother to get something for you". On seeing that my parents were (kind of) against me distributing sweets in class the next day I said, "If you dont want to give me money from your side, we can use the money given to me by grandmom!" That was it! That is probably the earliest of time when I remember that my parents were mad at me! I was not only prohibitted from distributing sweets that year on my birthday and was not allowed to play with the toys I had received as gifts for a month! That time, I felt offended, deeply offended!

But years later, when I started earning, I now understand what it takes to earn a living! Its not just the money aspect of things, but in general the kind of compromises you have to make just to stand tall - this is something that these little childhood incidences carve in your minds! You truly start understanding the "COST" of living! You start GROWING UP in the true sense!

I am really happy that I have had a really nice upbringing in this sense! I am not claiming that I am perfectly mature or balanced ... but still!

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Messiah ... out of nowhere

Last month while travelling to Bangalore in a AP Tourism Volvo, I got to see a crap of a movie called "Kuch na kaho" starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. The movie had a scene where in Abhishek is supposed to fly to India but some how (as usual in the ishtyle of a typical Bollywood hero) misses the last seat on a flight. Now its not an emergency for him but he just wants to go. The lady at the counter points him to Aishwarya and tells him that she is the lady who took the last boarding pass. Now Abhishek cooks up some random story and convinces Aishwarya to relinquish her seat for him. After that I had a hearty laugh that only someone really stupid can relinquish his/her ticket like that. But I was not aware that destiny had planned to play an Abhishek Bachchan (though really genuine and not filmi at all!!) on me.

Today I, with a few others was scheduled to meet a prospective Microsoft Customer in Pune. And since it was adjoining a weekend I planned to stay back till Monday and take a flight back from Mumbai on Monday morning.

For my onward journey I was scheduled to fly with the Air Sahara flight at 8.50am - the only direct flight between Hyderabad and Pune. I had booked a cab to drop me at the airport and it was supposed to report to me at 7.00am in the morning. I dont know why but I felt that was kind of early. So in spite of getting up and being ready on time I called up the cab and said that it could pick me up half an hour later. On restrospection I just fail to understand why I made such a suicidal move.

Knowing the Cab providers for the last so many months I was not surprised when my sixth sense started warning me that I had done a grave mistake (an unpardonable offense) and I was some how sure that the cab would not report on time. 10 min later than the scheduled pick up time I got a call from the driver who (as usual) had searched the entire of Road No. 14 Banjara Hills except the place where it just starts (and where I stay). I had to actually walk out of the house and wait for him so that he found the place. Cumulating all delays I reached the airport with around 50 mins to go for the flight, where another rude shock was eagerly waiting for me.

On reaching the Air Sahara counter I was told that the counter for the Pune flight was closed (closed just 5 mins ago ... ya rrrrite). Since I had not arrived exactly 1 hour before the scheduled departure my tickect had been given away to a wait-listed traveller. I could think of no other way to reach Pune in time. I could imagine the reactions of my seniors when they would come to know about this mix-up. I could see my next review going really bad. Shockingly the guys at the Air Sahara counter were excessively rude, not at all ready to talk forget cooperating. For almost 5-10 mins I kept requesting them to please see if something could be done. And they wont budge. My pleading, requesting was tending towards begging now. But ... all in vain.

After 5-10 mins a guy reported to the counter and surprisingly he was also travelling to Pune. I dont know why but some how the Sahara guys were very very polite to this guy and were giving him his Boarding Pass for the same flight on which I was supposed to fly. He heard me request the guys desparately and suddenly asked me if I would like to fly on his seat. "I am travelling for pleasure. If it is no urgent for you go ahead and take my place. I can easily find another flight. But dude, remember that if you care for your job you ought to be punctual". I was spellbound. Out of words to thank him. All I could find out was that his name was Sanjay. Before I said anything he had already called up someone on his cell and conveyed that he needed a ticket and just walked out of the airport. Before that I was thinking that only stupid people would do such a thing, but for me he was none less than a Messiah who came out of nowhere and saved the day for me!

Till I reached Pune, I didn't even think about why the Air Sahara people gave a boarding pass to Sanjay who had also arrived late and refused the same for me. Well, probably he deserved it and I didn't.

Never mind, some hard lessons learnt today -

1. Air Sahara flights are way way way too over booked. So if you are thinking of reaching the airport an hour before the flight departure, reconsider your travel plans because if you are 5 mins late then be sure that some lucky wait-listed ruffian is off with your CONFIRMED booking. If you are sure of reach the airport an hour and a half in advance ... only then think of going.

2. If you see someone in trouble (something similar to what I was in) try your level best to help him/her out. You bet it requires a really HUGE heart to do so.

Often when you go to a temple and a child comes begging to you, somewhere at the back of your mind you do think that "does he really require the money I am going to give him or is it just a source of easy money for him". I am sure Sanjay too must have also thought twice before offering me his seat. But then he did give me the EASY seat and probably THAT was the difference between me and him ... the difference between a very very ordinary person and a Messiah!

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Team Outings at Microsoft

I dont think anyone will doubt that Microsoft is the best place in the world to be working in. Its not the the great work that you get to do and the compensation you get in return, its the way the company strives day in and day out to take care of its employees. The company takes care of so many things in your life that when you are at work you end up giving maximum possible concentration to your work.

The one thing that people are touchy about is "Maintaining a good Work-Life Balance". As a part of steps taken to ensure that everyone here has a decent work-life balance lots of activities are carried out by the various teams. Typically, teams will have regular outings, luncheons etc. Usually for this teams pick up some good occasion like a Shipping achievement or even a milestone closure! Such activities are planned with a great thinking and innovation. In my year and a half stint at Microsoft I have done 'n' number of lunches/dinners, bowling, IMAX movies, water sports, cricket matches, go-karting, rock-climbing, archery ... phew

Just yesterday we had another one in the series ... our team came to office in the morning and we went to ICRISAT on the outskirts of Hyderabad. ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics) is a research institute where argricultural engineers and scientists try to find new and innvative ways of being able to grow various crops in Semi-Arid regions (like AP) where even drinking water is luxury. Spread out on acres of land it is around 40 kms from Hyderabad (towards Pune).

Along with the research centre this place also contains a holiday resort where people can come away from the commotion of the cities and spend some quality time amongst the green pastures. The holiday resort is well equipped with tennis courts, basket-ball courts, swimming pool etc. The food serves is also awesome. An ideal place for Hyderabadis to spend a weekend with families.

So yesterday we went there around lunch time and started the outing with a sumptous meal (आधी पोटोबा
...) Later we were divided into teams and lots of interesting activities were planned. Some people chose to stay out of the activities and enjoyed tennis and swimming. And in the evening it was topped with a great treasure hunt ... I participated in a treasure hunt after almost 12-13 years ... had done that in school before

The outing was a bit tiring, but it was fun. In out day to day routines we hardly get to interact with some 4-5 people in a team of 50. So outings like this a good place for team interaction. All 'n all a good break from work and a good way to start your weekend a day earlier