Monday, September 17, 2012

A new chapter....

So the Cambridge chapter of my life has begun. On Friday the 14th of September I was officially matriculated into the system... while signing a printout may not seem all that 'Vavoom!' trust me, it is. After several hic-cups, things finally got sorted out... in my case primarily because my better (at IT) half sorted it out for me. Left to my own devices I would probably have done something drastic like smashing something smashable or just given up all hope and gone home. The highlight of the day, for me at least, was the Matriculation Dinner. Not for the formality and the style and the rest of that blabitty blah blah blah. Oh no. I (The sole Goan in the batch - yes I am that awesome ;-P) thoroughly enjoyed myself because of the food and the conversation. Perhaps I was just lucky but I had a totally hilarious bunch of people around me. 

The conversation started off innocently enough with the basic introductions and the bread. Then came the first course - this awesome tart with onions caramelised in brie or something equally exotic...anyway, it was awesome. Conversational content was also upped a notch. I had a tutor diagonally opposite me with two Americans on either side of him. Unfortunately for him, both were climbing nuts - something he knew absolutely nothing about. He was however an ex-bond fund manager, so obviously we had a lot to talk about. So there was this very earnest T-shaped conversational thing going on, with the tutor describing his career to the guy at my side and me whenever necessary and the two bouldering nuts talking around him about various climbing and bouldering options in and around Cambridge. So you had things like the Russian debt default interspersed with chalk bags and climbing shoes. I tell you solemnly, the situation was hilarious. Neither part of the T-Conversation knew a thing about what was going on in the other conversation but their respective discussions were too interesting to let go off. That then shifted to a squarish conversation about Americans and English in America. You know how when you go places and locals find out that you are Indian, the first question you sometimes get is 'Do you know Amitabh Bachchan?' Well apparently British get asked if they know the Queen or anyone from the Royal family. Needless to say that conversation quickly deteriorated into accent imitations. One of the Americans was half Scottish and his vocal renditions of Scots versus American was quite, quite priceless. 

Just when I thought it couldn't get any funnier, another 'spirited discussion' erupted on my other side. I must mention that I had the Praelector on my other side with an Australian batchmate opposite him. The Australian managed to get himself totally tangled in his own argument and the Praelector was having a jolly good chuckle at his expense. This was now more interesting than the 'American idiosyncrasies' discussion. So obviously, I got into it. The Praelector specialises in medieval history. Apparently there's a whole other debate on what actually constitutes the medieval period. That led to a discussion on medieval politics and economics. Did you know that most warlords fought for control of sheep? Makes sense actually - food and clothing... like a two for one deal! Score!!! Eitherway, that then led to a thorough study of land grab strategy and liege lords and wars and then inheritance laws, both in England and in its colonies, and how English laws spread to Portugal and France etc. And did you know that London wasn't always in the place where it is now? Apparently at some point in the time before texts, it was somewhere else and was then shifted. But people are still trying to figure out exactly where! I can just imagine the heated arguments describing exactly why A thinks London was there aned B refuting it saying London was actually several miles to the left. Stirring stuff! 

And that wasn't the end of it! Oh no! The grace was said (in Latin) and some people don't agree with several of the statements in it!!!!! I was like...really!?! The last time I encountered Latin was when I was signing a bunch of forms before getting married! And here I am studying for an MBA when there are people doing PhD's in Latin and Medieval history and Bio Chemistry and Microbiology and I don't know what the heck else! Trust me, nothing can show you just how insignificant a blot on the landscape you are, like two faculty members arguing a point in Latin.   

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A work in progress....

I learnt a very important lesson at a very young age. I was lucky. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but in hindsight I was bloody lucky to have learnt it when I did. The lesson is this. No one gives a shit about you. You are the only one responsible for your life. Merely being born into this world entitles you to precisely nothing. The sooner you realize this, the better.

Now, I’m not saying “Screw the rest of the world, I’m all that matters.” No. That’s not it at all. What I am saying is know yourself - your limitations, your strengths and most importantly, what makes you happy. I stopped watching general news and reading general news papers years ago! Why? Because all that I read/heard was about rapes, murders, scandals, scams, suffering, misery and more scandal. They’d even reduced the funnies to a quarter of a page and removed Calvin & Hobbes from the lists! Philistines!!!

The next thing I stopped doing (and this was on the advice of a senior) was to stop listening to the poisonous sorts. You know, friends and colleagues who have no conversation other than gossip about someone else’s good fortune, envy at your own and who are just never happy with what they have. Generally those who leave you feeling lower than mud once they’re done with you. Kinda like something from an episode of Supernatural – or MIB… they just CANNOT be Human! If you’re miserable after every conversation, stop talking to them. Load a ‘Fake Call’ app on your phone and use it. Frequently! It’s a brilliant escape route. Failing that think up complicated and funny insults that won’t get you into trouble with human resources but will make you feel better. Or imagine introducing them to the business end of a blunt instrument and entertain yourself until they’re done. I’ve found that being vague is a big help.

After that I stopped listening to ‘well meaning’ family members (this term is used pretty loosely to encompass everyone who decides to consider you family irrespective of how tenuous the bonds). If they don’t/can’t accept you for whom or what you are, forget them. They don’t deserve any more than the barest courtesy. They may be idiotic but that’s not reason for bad manners. My yardstick when it comes to listening to ‘family’ members is this; if I am in deep doodie, will you be there to pull me out? Are you going to come rushing to my aid from whatever corner of the country/world you are currently in? If the answer is yes, then I will listen to everything they say. I may even take notes for future reference. If the answer is no… well then, up yours honey…. You can just keep on yakking till the cows come home, it means nothing to me and neither do you.  

I began applying this to work as well. I realized that doing highly stressful things that seemed like they needed vast amounts of intelligence and effort and other related stuff was just killing me. Literally! The stress and weird hours were causing all kinds of chaos in my endocrine system. And you know that once that one goes the rest tend to follow. So I took a step back and asked myself, do I really need this? If I don’t, then why the heck am I still sticking on? Here’s one thing that I’ve realized about myself. Once I’ve figured out the format - or the system if you will - I can tackle pretty much anything! I now do seemingly herculean tasks in a jiffy! How do I manage it? Simple. Focus on the target and don’t get distracted with who’s irritating me, what’s irritating me, who’s screwed up or any of that crap. Just switch into machine mode and get the job done. It’s brilliant! Why didn’t I do this earlier? Well it’s kind of because I couldn’t use the fake call app too often and a number of my colleagues were quite fatally poisonous. It was sort of like trying to climb out of a 12 foot deep pit filled to capacity rattle snakes and pit vipers. It’s difficult not to get bitten.  

So my plan going forward:
  • If something on TV is depressing– change the channel
  • If someone talking to me depresses me – change the subject. If that doesn’t work – walk away. If they follow – use violence. Remember unarmed combat can be classified as self defence.
  • If someone keeps bugging me on FB or on any social network trying to get me to do something I have absolutely no interest in doing – unfriend them
  • If someone keeps trying to guilt trip or blackmail me into contributing to something I have no interest in contributing to or attending something I have no interest in attending – Just say no. If they are the sort to not take no for an answer – say yes and promptly forget about it
  • I now read news papers online. That way I’m not paying for something that will ruin my day. The ‘Delete’ button was a wonderful invention.
  • I plan to make being happy a goal. I’m going to read stuff I like, listen to music I like, watch stuff that I like and surround myself with people as crazy as me. Enough with conformity. I am not like you and I have no intention of being like you. So if you can’t handle me just as I am… too effing bad
  • Most of all, I’m not going to let anyone use me again. During all of the upheaval last year, I turned to my network for help. Many came through for me and I am eternally grateful for that. A few however, wanted me to join their teams and turned incredibly nasty when I decided not to join them but instead to pursue higher studies. It was like reaching for a favorite teddy and having it morph into a particularly nasty grisly. It’s more than a little disorienting. Tends to completely throw you off your stride right when you need to be a citadel of confidence and capability. Not good.

So that’s the plan going forward. I've already worked through my contact lists. My email account will take too long so I’m just putting in filters.

No more conforming. The downside is that I’m now entirely responsible for my own screw ups… trust me… that is SCARY! Freakishly scary! Fortunately I have managed to figure out who’s got my back and who can be depended on to step up when the going gets tough. So maybe I won’t be quite so alone out there on my limb. Adventure beckons…. And like all adventures, you have absolutely no choice about which one you get, the sinking ship or the winning lottery ticket.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Visa's are EVIL!!!

So the adventures continue. We've got a trip planned and trips of this sort need visas. Now visa applications like anything else associated with governments of any sort, involve a substantial amount of waiting around. Sometimes in badly ventilated and rather aromatic locales. 

Well the adventure here started when we decided not to use a travel agent. A crucial decision as was later discovered. So we filled in the forms and got all our documents. My husband went over and submitted them. After a couple of hours and a lot of general standing around doing nothing useful at all, he finally reached the hallowed window of the oracle... i.e. the VFS employee in charge of checking applications. He went through everything and told my hapless hubby "You need 6 sets of the documents, not one, you have to get original bank statements, you have to write your name in your mother tongue and you have to write a letter to the consulate as well. Handwritten may be declined so a printed version is better." As one cannot come out with printed copies of letters at the drop of a hat, hubby headed back. We put together the new and improved version of our visa application that night and the next morn I sallied forth.

Got out of the cab and the first thing I see is a line of travel agents standing outside the compound wall, a good solid distance from the VFS outlet. I thought to myself, maybe I ought to double check... just in case you know? So I waltzed into the VFS center only to be summarily informed that they opened at 9am and that until then I could go line up with the rest of the applicants outside the compound. It was a quarter to 9 at that time. A few more travel agents joined me, some tried to jump the line, but the dirty looks I was sending their way and the presence of a 6 and a half foot pissed off Australian in front of me nipped that idea in the bud.  At 2 minutes to 9 a minor riot of sorts erupted among the travel agents, all of whom firmly believed that they had something better to do with their time other than standing around in the hot sun. They surged forth. To protect our places in line, the pissed off Australian and I grimly followed. One would think that faced with our mighty wrath, the VFS types would have backed down, opened the door and begun processing us.... but no! Damn door stayed closed! Added to that there was this mentally deficient pigeon on the awning that would make periodic raids on a piece of rope that was hanging from the opposite end of the awning. It was like a weird form of musical chairs with the pigeon leaving his perch, attacking the rope, the rope not breaking and the pigeon coming back to his perch. This was happening every 40 seconds or so.... What was my main fear? Obviously the damn thing crapping on my head! What the heck else to pigeons do? They're as dim as gold fish.

So anyway, we finally went in once the clock struck 9. I discovered that because I had 6 applications I was in the bulk segment with the travel agents. Oh hell! I went in and there was no signage at all. I mean other than numbers on the desk and an electronic ticker above the one working counter (that was handling individual applications) there was nothing! Zip, squat, bupkiss, nada! So I began interrogating the travel agents around me and then the lone VFS employee at the counter. Apparently someone would come along at another counter. More waiting... finally the counter was occupied and I was dealt with! Unfortunately, this time the VFS chick said that originals of the tickets were needed, not printouts. What the F***???????? Why the hell don't you people put that on the website? And who the hell uses original tickets anymore? Get with the times!!!!! After some discussion it turned out that I could take the offending printouts and get them stamped at the respective airline office. Did I know where the office was? Hell no! Did she know where it was? She thought so, but she thought wrong. 

Fortunately for me I called my worse half and had him check for the airline office address. He got it and I went there. Mind you, I had to go from the VFS office, to a photocopying place (surprisingly enough there aren't that many in Nariman Point) get some other offending statements photocopied, then get a cab to go to the Taj (where the airline office was, NOT I might add at CST Station as the VFS chick informed me) find the damn office, find someone to stamp my tickets, get out, find a cab that would take me back and make it back to the VFS center before 11am. Surprisingly enough, despite cranky cabbies, hidden photocopying joints and the internal maze of the Taj, I managed to get it all done and be back at the VFS center with time to spare! Super impressive if I do say so myself!

I found a seat in the now packed center and gave the VFS chick my Bruno stare. Bruno was our dog. Whenever he wanted something badly enough he would give you this fixed stare like he was trying really hard to telepathically communicate his needs to you, the slightly slow human who needed all the encouragement a patient dog could manage. So, getting back to VFS, there I was giving her my Bruno stare, she finished with the current duffer and then signaled me over. Ignoring the dirty looks of the other duffers around I went. Unlike them I'd been there since a quarter to frikkin nine. Everything was now in order and I was to come the next day to pick up the passports. At this point you'd think, Well that's it. But no! Like one of those tele shopping ads, " There's more!"

The next day, I sauntered forth with the visa fees burning a hole in my pocket. Stood in a line, the demented pigeon wasn't in evidence that day, got frisked, got my token, found a seat, pulled out my book and started reading. You're probably thinking, OK, things should be smooth now, just pick it up and done. But such was not the case. The place was packed, mostly travel agents once again. They really have the inside track on these things. They know all the tricks and the systems involved while the rest of us mere mortals keep doddering around trying to work our way through the seemingly unsolvable maze. So after cross checking the in's and out's of said system with a few of the knowledgeable sorts sitting next to me, I waited. The counter was at 64 and I was 77. Then suddenly it stopped moving. Blank looks were exchanged. People began to get a little antsy. The guy making his payment (you need to pay at one counter and then armed with the proof of your payment go to another counter and collect your passport) was still sitting at the counter looking lost. I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how well behaved those guys were. It may have had something to do with the fact that it was a really hot day and the waiting room was air conditioned, but even though more people kept coming in, and no new passports were handed out, no one made too loud a fuss. Nothing above muted whispers and the occasional grumble. Even the guy who'd just made his payment and was so close and yet so far from getting his passport!

15 minutes after this inaction, another employee walks out of the sanctum sanctorum and announces that the servers are down and that Indian IT team was in talks with the IT team of the concerned country and that they were trying to get the situation resolved as soon as possible, but that it would take a while. So anyone with anything else to do, please keep your tokens and shove off. Finish off your other stuff and come back by 6 in the evening. (I have tampered with the text just a little bit there, but that was the essence of what was said). I had nothing better to do so I stayed put. Two Thai girls who couldn't quite understand what was going on, asked me for a clarification and we got talking. The fellow on my left (Chinese blood but Indian citizenship and Indian accent) helped out by translating into Manadrin exactly what was happening. Needless to say, we all got to talking. There were some interesting views there. The Thai girls were studying in Pune and had been terrified when they first saw the paan stains on the buildings around them. They thought it was the blood left behind from multiple murders. The guy - Tony - and I had a really interesting discussion about different countries visa requirements, how foolish some of them are and how completely frustrating Dubai immigration can be. Apparently when he went there, they refused to believe that a Chinaman could possible have an Indian passport. Apparently he was vociferously interrogated by a battery of officials before he and his baggage were thoroughly searched. Apparently they were convinced he was a spy and merely wanted him to clear up the question of which country he was spying for. He was in fact in the gemstone business and has since sworn off Dubai and Arabs in general. 

In the middle of a discussion that was getting really interesting (we had moved on to particulars of China,  Chinese, the quality of government officials and the IQ level of a person going by the name 'Mr. Lee' who apparently sat in the sanctum sanctorum and was in Tony's opinion - a complete and total idiot), another employee walked out of that mysterious door and walked purposefully to the cash counter. Apparently after more than 3 hours they decided that they could do this manually. Yes because collecting cash, issuing a receipt and returning a bunch of passports, is so complicated that only the latest technology can be trusted to manage it. So he started and obviously no one knew what was going on because the idiot was talking into his chin. Well it all got sorted and just as things were starting to chug along, voila! the servers were up and running again! Some more time was wasted shifting from manual to online and things finally got a move on. Fortunately my turn came around, I paid, got the passports, checked them and everything was fine. Whew! Enough adventure for the week.

I tell you solemnly, I have never had to work so hard for a visa! This trip better be worth the bother. Lines, demented pigeons, a dash across the city, failed servers, cross country co-ordination of IT teams (I can just imagine how that went....given that it took over 3 hours to sort out it must have been a doozy)... whew... I needed a spot of RnR just to get over the prep for a period of RnR. Sometimes work is a quite restful by comparison.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Konkan adventures

Have you ever exposed a bone? If you have you'll know what I'm talking about. Bones are REALLY white! And not just a white sort of white but an almost translucent white. Freaky.
You may wonder how I came across this intriguing bit of trivia. It was during what was meant to be a relaxing train ride to Goa. I love taking the Mandovi Express to Goa, its a day train and when you have one of the side seats, you get a window all to yourself. So anyway, I got the train, settled into my seat and since it was at an ungodly hour in the morning, decided on a quick snooze. Woke up a few hours later and the guy on the upper berth wanted to sit and enjoy the window so we folded back the seat. He was in the extra large category so I had to fold my seat back as well because his knees kept bumping against it. That rotten turd of a fellow however failed to latch his seat back properly. Thus when said turd in human form got off way before Goa at around 12:30 there was no flabby bulk anchoring the seat in place. The train began to move forward slowly and as soon as it picked up speed the damn seat back crashed down on my leg.
It hurt but like all sudden injuries my nerves took a little time to process the full extent of the damage. My jeans were undamaged so I thought, "Phew, nothing major." Then I pulled up the leg of my jeans to check, fully expecting to see a colourful bruise starting. Imagine my shock when instead of a bruise, I see a good sized flap of skin scrunched down and a section of white showing with a little blood seeping around the edges.
I remeber my brain just coming to a halt right then. Immediately after that the strangest series of thoughts followed. This was the sequence;
1) Looks like a potato peel
2) Ugh this is going to hurt
3) Huh, would have thought there'd be more blood. Well good thing it isn't streaming down.
4) I'm going to need to clean this
5) This is going to hurt
6) What's that white stuff.... OH SHIT!!!! Is that my shin bone?
7) Don't faint, don't cry and for God's sake, DON'T PUKE!

Concentrating on not puking helped. With the extent of the injury having been fully processed, the pain hit full force. I took a few deep breaths, found one of the railway employees and asked him for a first aid kit. Note to all rail travellers: Konkan Railways has exactly one first aid kit that is kept in the pantry car (5 bogies away from the second A/C car that I was in), there is no doctor and the first aid kit only has Savlon, some not very clean cotton, some gauze and an assortment of tablets that didn't interest me at the time. The first aid kit is also very well guarded. I was not allowed access to it until I had conclusively proved that I was in dire need of it. That involved displaying my now oozing potato peel wound to about 8 different but very curious Konkan Railway employees all of whom needed to be involved in the process of unlocking the cabinet that the first aid kit was in.

So now I was allowed to sit in a small little three seat cabin of sorts in the pantry car with the senior most admin types on the train. Cleaned the wound with the cotton and Savlon available and looked around for some antiseptic and found that there was none. Still focussing on not puking, I must have looked rather helpless because one of the dudes sitting there asked me if I would like to use an ayurvedic antiseptic. Turns out he meant turmeric. Not the natural one, the powedered one that's used for cooking. By that time a good sized crowd of curious cooks and cleaners had gathered around checking out my leg and the cleaning. As soon as i agreed to the turmeric, one of the cooks materialised with the required turmeric and began smearing it on my already throbbing leg. The head honcho at my side then tells him "Theek say dabao!" and I was like, "Dabaya, dabaya! Usne kaafi dabaya aur mein to kaafi daard mein hoo! Baas ho gaya!" Bastards laughed at that! Like it was so funny. Sheesh.

No painkillers available so I trudged back to my seat, still focused on not puking. Called mum and hubby and told them about it. While they were appropriately concerned initially that didn't last very long. I tell you solemnly, with family like this who needs enemies? And that horrible creature that I married decided to terrify me even further by insisting that I would need stitches in addition to a tetanus shot. Dirty rotter. So anyway after much effort and even more pain I managed to rest my leg in a way that would ease my pain. By the way, small footnote here. The 4 people in the bunks next to me had kept their curtains tightly closed and didn't once come out to help even though they knew I was injured. How do I know that they knew? I asked them to take care of my handbag while I went to the loo and that's when they asked if I was alright now. Tell you solemnly... some people are just turds. There was one girl that I had struck up a conversation with when we were waiting for the train in Mumbai, as soon as she found out that I had been injured, she immediately came over to help, checked on me regularly and even helped me with my bags while getting off the train in Goa. See there always are some nice people among all those turds around.

So anyway reached Goa 5 hours later, mum was waiting with the car and we drove to a hospital in Panjim for some proper first aid. There were no stitches, there was a tetanus shot (that a week later still hurt) and there was a period best left forgotten when the dressing that had by then adhered to the potato peel. Ugh. It was a horrible week. A day after the new dressing was put on, I managed to sprain my neck and basically suffered for a while. But all in all the holiday was an excercise in the whole Balance of Life Theory.

Eitherway, I am SURE that my once white shin bone now has a spot of yellow turmeric on it... When archaeologists find my remains centuries from now, that yellow is going to flummox them like you wouldn't believe! Heehee....

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cry Havoc and unleash the Dogs of War!!!

I am so done conforming! From now on my life shall be lived on my own terms. As the saying goes, I started close to home... or more accurately, at home! I love my husband but the man does occasionally tap dance on my very last nerve, if you know what I mean. He's a fabulous person, but... he is a hoarder. He has carted around the same restaurant receipts, bank statements and telephone bills to three different houses! That's junk that hasn't been chucked out for more than 5 years!!! I mean I remember the days when I could pack my entire life into 2 bags and shift enmasse. Our last shift needed 2 freaking TRUCKS!!!!!!! Granted we had furniture, but STILL?!? TWO TRUCKS???? When did we get so much junk? When did we have the time? GAAAAAAAHHHH !!!!!!

So after months of nagging had barely any effect whatsoever, I decided it was time to cry havoc and unleash the dogs of war! Translation, I went on a de-junking spree. A spree of a magnitude so deadly and so terrifying that my loving husband turned into a protective tigress when his National Geographic and Lonely Planet magazines were threatened. As a sacrifice to the fire breathing bull dozer that I had become, he gave up his TravelPlus magazine collection. A solid one foot high pile. It pleased me.... for the time being.

5 days and about 20 bags later I have discovered 5 travel bags that I had no idea existed, rediscovered 2 backpacks, have a clear desk, can get to my printer without first excavating it from beneath tonnes of junk and have a remarkable amount of space that I can now work in. the Kim is pleased. The dogs of war have been leashed and all is right with the world again.

I now plan to apply the same tactic to everything else I do. No more junk, no more baggage. If something is of no use, out it goes. That includes people who piss me off. From now on it's my opinion that matters (and that of my better half - as long as it doesn't include collecting more junk).

On the job front, I plan a drastic career shift. I've been talking to senior folk across the spectrum and I now have a plan. I shall be ruthless in the pursuit of my goals. Hell if I could study for my GMAT, apply to colleges all on my own and clear out 5 years of accumulated junk, I think I am justified in saying that I will be able to tackle pretty much anything thrown my way. All I need is a viable plan, a strategy and once the battle lines have been drawn, unleash the dogs of war! ("Dogs of war" has to be said in a very Jeremy Clarkeson manner). I've always loved dogs, especially unleashed ones. They always spice things up. From now on, I am who I am and your approval is not needed! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Oy vey!!!

I’ve been off the grid for a while now. A whole fork in the road/career shift/re-evaluation of priorities type of situation kept me busy. A little back story here... Alchemy shut down in June 2011. The next month was spent trying to get the team placed and negotiate a takeover with the help of a couple of buyers. Although most of the team did get placed eventually, the buy-out negotiations fell through and Alchemy ended up being taken over sans its sales, research and dealing teams. A few rejoined under the new management, a few walked. Either way I decided this was it for me in sales. NO MORE. I had spent enough of time and energy in a profile I didn’t like, the money was fun but that was about it. Being diagnosed as insulin resistant a bare fortnight before the company closed also tipped the scales against getting back into sales. So although I did attend several interviews that my bosses and a bunch of well meaning consultants set up for me, my heart wasn’t in any of them. While the sudden cessation of a very fat salary was scary, listening to my interviewers drone on about what they felt Alchemy did wrong and how they would do it right, despite their glaring lack of empanelment’s, just made me feel incredibly tired. I was nearing 30, had spent the previous 6 odd years doing something that brought me no joy, was sitting on a ticking time bomb of a stress related medical condition and was looking at two options, quit now or struggle on and risk being one of the masses to be caught in the retrenchments to come. I chose the former, naively thinking that shifting careers while difficult would not be impossible. Serves me right for forgetting the teachings of Scott Adams!

I have to say here that although I hated being a sales woman, my clients were a godsend. The moment Alchemy announced its closure a gratifyingly large number of them rallied around me offering advice, support and most importantly contacts. The first thing I did was have a session with one of my ‘mentors’  his advice was first figure out what you want to do and then decide how to go about doing it. So to figure out what I wanted to do I spoke to a number of stalwarts in various industries about various job profiles. I used family contacts, client contacts and Linkedin. Other than learning about what various jobs entail and even trying out one alternative, I also got an insight into sheer stupidity that is rampant in the whole recruitment process in corporate India.

First off, everyone wants to hire young minds that can be easily moulded. All that crap about being hungry and being foolish... yeah riiight, I’d like to see clients responding to a hungry and foolish sales or research team. I remember my hungry and foolish days, let me tell you, being hungry and foolish didn’t bring in squat. It was experience that got me client support and therefore deals, big deals that then got me money. Second is the whole lateral move. If you are moving from industry into financial services that’s good. You can become a sector specialist of sorts. If you’re trying the reverse, you have to do an MBA or an EMBA because, and I have this on good authority from several sources, “Recruiters don’t know how to fit you into the existing structure if you come to them as a lateral.” Apparently ‘recruiters’ will poach from their competitors or hire from a B-School campus. Hiring from any other source will cause the universe to implode. Third... and this one left me speechless... although you may have the skill set required by a particular profile but may need a basic amount of training, NO ONE IS WILLING TO GIVE IT TO YOU UNLESS YOU ARE HIRED FROM A B-SCHOOL CAMPUS!?!?! I don’t know about you but when I heard that I was stunned. Are you freakin serious? So over-hiring, offering crazy salary hikes and fabulous packages is fine when the goings good, but let the business cycle turn down and suddenly those must have hires are too expensive and low cost resources are needed, fat needs to be trimmed, belt tightening etc, etc.

Here’s an idea, how about planning your resource requirement? No matter how hard you pray, you cannot do away with downturns. They will come. So instead of alternating between binge hiring and downturn bulimia, here’s a novel idea. Hire talented people. When things are good, don’t hire more, make do with what you have or hire sparingly if absolutely necessary. When the inevitable downturn comes around, here’s a novel idea.... instead of retrenching people, retrain them for different positions within the company. Perhaps offer employees an option to do career assessment tests to find their ideal ‘fit’, perhaps even offer them a chance to take a year off to study or train and come back. There are companies that offer this in limited quantities, like the IT firms, most of the PSU companies, heck even LIC. In the overall scheme of things, it’s a minority that leave and move to higher paying jobs, a number of extremely capable people stick around and make it to the top and go on to do great things for the company.
To my knowledge no one has patented this idea, yet it’s just a handful of companies that actually practice it. And even they have the established ‘recruitment’ systems in place. I find this whole thing totally daft. I mean doesn’t anyone realise that stupid s*** like this doesn’t engender loyalty at all? You have an entire mass of talent that doesn’t stay in the same company because they are either convinced that they will get better increments by joining the competition or that sooner or later they will find themselves retrenched.

Quite frankly in the last 4 years, I haven’t come across a single Indian who thought beyond the next 5 years. For some even 5 was a stretch. My clients abroad were a whole other story. The attrition in India baffled them so much that they began favouring foreign brokers over local brokers when dealing in India because the foreign teams were so much more stable. Don’t Indian bosses realise that they’re losing business because of this foolishness? I mean is planning for the long term, training your staff, recruiting internally, allowing internal shifts... is it so debilitating that it cannot be implemented anywhere? Heck, forget about the training for the time being, how about long term planning for a start?