Tuesday, January 5

Live it Up, You!

Wow! This new year really seems to be boding well for my blog... or rather YOUR blog where I write :-) 

There are multiple posts in the last 2 weeks, and that's quite a favorable change from my regular disappearing act. Let's hope the trend continues... Just like throughout the year Amazon, Jabong, Flipkart, and Firstcry online sales.

(No, that's not a resolution. Resolutions are made to be broken. No point keeping one.) 

Umbilical cord guilt.

That's a term I picked up at a session that my company had arranged for women employees. 

While the trainer far from impressed me (professional hazards of being a trainer and self-proclaimed evaluator/critic), I did find myself agreeing with this concept. 

Simply put, it is the state of wanting to do everything, doing most of it, and yet feeling inadequate and miserable because you do not think you are doing satisfactorily for your progeny, and blaming yourself silly for one simple thing that you missed or did slightly below excellent. No matter what or how much you do, you believe you have failed. You stumble under that guilt, and over-compensate in all possible (and sometimes impossible ways) trying to prove yourself superwoman... or rather supermom. 

Every little thing you do for yourself weighs upon your self-esteem and ego, and you blame yourself for every moment of personal joy, peace and freedom away from the little one, who you have probably entrusted to a very caring grandparent or a reliable daycare.

True, you gave birth to that beautiful creature. True, you want to give him/her the world. True, you want him/her to have a happy childhood and set them up for a life of success and joy. 

But at what cost? At the cost of being stressed and rushed, day in-day out, yourself? 

It's not a temporary phase, as we moms keep telling ourselves. It will always be that way. When the child is a few months old, you are led to believe that things will get better as he/she grows. You are reminded of the same "fact" when the kid is one. Then you keep fooling yourself by setting new milestones like when the child goes to school, college, and enters matrimony.

The truth is, the child is independent sooner than you assume, and is very well able to take care of him/her self and his/her needs. I mean, I look at my son like he is a frail, dainty being, and I warn myself that he needs me all the time and I better be available and up to the mark. And then I watch him stupefied as he gallops around the house or park, mingling with other children and adults, communicating in his baby and body language, and getting his tasks done. If he is hungry, he manages to get some food by gesturing, and if he wants to play, he ensures that his toys and games are acquired. So really, what is it that I am feeling guilty about? 

I would like to say that I understand work-life balance, and I do a fairly good job of implementing it in my life. I work smart and I get good ratings, and I also do the things I love in my free time (rare, but there). I socialize with my friends and family, I read books and watch a few sensible shows, I squeeze in a movie or visit the mall with the husband, and I find the time to dish up some delicacies over the weekend. 

All in all, I don't count as a workaholic or idler, though of course there are others that are way more talented and living it up in salute-worthy ways.  

The point being, are you blowing up your self importance and exaggerating your existence as indispensable to someone or something? 

(And that question goes out to all of you, men and women alike, parents or bachelors or whoever you may be.)

Trust me, the world will go on with or without you. So, don't wait until you are ready to die to start living.

(Wow, what a paradox!)

My mom is a living example of this brilliant gyaan. She is putting to action all her zest for life and bringing to fruition all her passions that include religion, traveling, socializing, cooking and the works. I and my brother do bound her at times by unleashing our kids on her, but she loves us all and the grandkids are her jewels, so she doesn't complain. People always have an opinion on everything, and that does bend her will to enjoy life a bit, but I am ready to pump her back to activity whenever this happens. Critics are folks who did nothing amazing themselves and want everybody else to be miserable as well. She is my strength and ideal, that wonderful woman. I could never be her, and I can never stop loving and admiring her. And I have made it my personal goal to ensure that she gets to do all that she likes. 

My dad and husband, on the other hand, keep cribbing that they are unable to accomplish anything, and plan all their goals for a later time (which even God wouldn't know when it would come). Hubs thinks Vodafone will probably crumble to bits if he spends less than 540 minutes at work and Dad cannot leave the city even for a day as if he is the lifeline of Pune.

They're good men, these two chaps. Yet, I wonder if they wouldn't be able to strike a better balance within themselves if only they loosened up a little. 

Hey, I ought to be talking about myself than preaching for others. 

Yes, I need to loosen up, too. The house needn't be spotless every single day. It's okay if the clothes are unwashed or not ironed this week. Bedsheets unfolded and messy drawers are a sign of life, and it's all right if we order food from outside once in a while rather than me bending over in all directions to roast a roti as my bub screeches down the hallway. I love my spouse, and if I do one thing less for him or stop worrying about him, it is not going to impact his well-being. He is an adult and can very well take care of himself. 

Just like it's fine to pamper Aarush once in a while, it is cool to pamper myself now and then. A massage, some quiet time with a book and coffee, a quick tea break with the office buddies, and a snack that doesn't qualify as healthy - no harm done. 

Obviously, unless we go overboard. 

Let go of the guilt, dear folks. Stop being so responsible for everything. You won't remember the days when everything was perfect. You'll marvel at the days when you did something out of the blue and felt pleased. Life won't happen as you plan it, who knows what the future holds in store? Start living. NOW. 

And those of you who live each day as it comes, that's called taking it too far. You might want to step back and see how you can be more effective :-) 

Different strokes for different folks!

Best wishes as we start the new year - make this one memorable! Do something that you haven't done before, or something that you haven't done in a long time. Go out and create something, get started on your goals, one step at a time. 

Just do it.


Monday, January 4

Customer Service: A Myth

Happy New Year!

A myth, by definition is: an idea or story believed by many people but is not true. 

Simply put, a myth is a fictitious or imaginary thing. 

While I am a connoisseur of mythology (all those interesting bunch of Greek/Indian/etc traditional and fantastic stories), the lack of customer service is a glaring reality that does not amuse me at all. 

While I've raved sufficiently about this topic in a myriad of blog posts, my chagrin is far from over. This time around, a fresh set of stale experiences that left me fuming, and frustrated. 

Read on...

Story 1: 
Claypot restaurant in Kharadi does not need customers. No, I'm not saying this. The owner did. He categorically told my husband that Claypot does not need patrons and they have enough. 

When we moved to our new Kharadi abode over a year ago, we frequented the very same eatery for its tasty parathas and great service. 12 months later, the state of affairs is sorry to say the least. The food is far from delicious (and distant from being well-cooked), and the service is atrocious. The owners are a set of arrogant beasts who do not listen to requests and feedback, and curtly hang up on you without sparing a moment's courtesy. I had to wait over 50 minutes for a pair of paneer parathas that I'd ordered for the baby since I did not have the time to cook, and when they arrived 30 minutes after the promised time, they were soggy and poorly fried. I called the restaurant 10 times and each time the pig-headed owner answered the call and disconnected without saying hello as he knew I was calling to complain. My  husband personally went to give him an earful, and was told that he needn't order again as they had a flourishing business and could do without our patronage. Reminds me of Punjab sweets in the vicinity that had the same sick attitude and were almost driven out of business once the amazing India Sweets came right opposite my place. 

Products are definitely a driving factor, but service comes out tops when you want to secure clientele. Unfortunately, Claypot is going down the wrong path, and with numerous food joints mushrooming in the Zensar and EON IT area, they're inviting doom by behaving in this pathetic manner. Kudos to your arrogance, Team Claypot. Let's see where it gets you. 

Story 2: 
Ola sucks. 

I and my husband have been regular customers for Ola and their drivers as well as customer (non) service is hideous. 

I was yelled upon, abused and humiliated by one of their drivers (not the only one this month) because my husband's Ola account functioned erroneously and did not credit the amount he had recharged. Helpless and angry, we moved to Uber and it's been a smooth ride (pun very much intended) thus far.

Story 3:    
This is an old one, but still alive in my memory and unforgiven in my books. 

Lilam Enterprises. 

A maid agency that does not have or supply maids, but only takes the commission upfront and keep duping and avoiding the clients. 

Maybe it was my own fault that I did not check online for reviews before I contacted and paid them. Had I done that, I would have come across the hundreds of bad reviews that they earned by duping their customers. I am now 10 grand short that I paid as commission and more than 10 grand down due to the multiple calls I made to them over the course of the year. They keep promising that they will send a maid, send one and tell her to leave within a few days/weeks, then promise to send another and don't do anything about it. A handful of people keep answering the phone (if you're lucky) and keep giving different names that make you want to knock their heads off. "2 days" is their standard response and there is no action/outcome for the next 20. 

Finally, I closed the matter and stopped contacting them. 

Like everyone else. 

That's not all. Be it Flipkart delivery or Make My Trip representatives, everybody is out to show you how little you matter to them. 

I've been in the customer service industry a long time. All business and jobs are finally about customer service. Be it internal or external customers. Our motto is to keep them happy. I guess I (and a few others) are the only ones thinking about this goal. Coz everyone else that I am interacting with has no such concept in mind. 

Customer is no longer god. Customer is a beggar who keeps seeking fair service and expecting a little empathy, but only gets kicked in return. Since he has no option, he learns to put up with the kicks, coz everybody offers them gallantly and unabashedly. 

Indians don't know customer service, can't offer it, and don't expect it. 

Any refreshing winds of change this year? 

Let's do this, one person at a time. Let's start with you and me. 

Hopefully, the rest will take cue. 

Else we suffer on. Year on year. 



Tuesday, December 29

We're Too Different ...

Well, hello there!

Been a while since I penned poetry, a realization that dawned when a fellow poet and colleague shared his creations. 

Somehow poetry is the last thing on my mind even as I contemplate a hundred imaginary things on a daily basis. To set words in rhyme needs a very positive frame of mind, and galloping behind a kid is not a very conducive environment for that, you see. 

However, here is a little something that flowed out not so long ago... 
The context we shall ignore, but here's the poem for you to mull over. 

All you people who think compatibility is a concern when two individuals are poles apart in thought (not values). This should leave a mark and set you thinking...

You say we are too different, 
And I heartily agree.
But how different
Are we exactly? 

I love you, 
Don't you love me? 
You miss me,
Don't I miss thee? 

Being different is a boon, 
It makes us a formidable force. 
To tackle all the challenges, 
That knock on our doors. 

It means the best of both worlds, 
We can give to our lucky lives. 
The crazy and sensible stuff I bring
To your practical and unplanned side. 

I do what you enjoy, 
And you do as I say. 
We rejoice and succeed together, 
Come what obstacle may. 

It won't be too easy, 
Far from a cakewalk divine. 
But I know I shall be yours forever, 
And you mine until the end of time. 

That's what brought us together, 
Only to drive us apart. 
We can sort out all the mess, 
If we try from the heart. 

Be the man of my dreams, 
And I'll be your wife charming.
I don't want to let you go, 
You're my life, my darling. 

I know I can be tough, 
Yet I belong to you.
If I am my worst at times, 
Help me be better, won't you? 

I'll try all I can
To make you smile, my dear
Will you not try as well, 
To keep us both near? 

Let's make a life pleasant, 
And gift to each other ease
Let's bring back to our lives, 
Success, joy and peace.

Maybe this test of time
Was a wake up call for us, 
Maybe we ought to consider
Before we miss the bus. 

The ball now lies
Rolling in your court. 
You're the general and leader
Of my heart and our fort. 

Choose wisely!


And for those who are waiting in the wings wanting you to fail...

Nimbu mirchi to them ;-)


Live it up!


Monday, December 21

Essential Jodi

Want to talk to you about a burning issue of today. About jodi's made in heaven. Like Heer-Ranjha, Jodha-Akbar, Romeo-Juliet, and the recent Bajirao-Mastani.

Know which jodi is the most powerful of all? Nope, not Radha-Krishna. 

It's Movie-Popcorn. 


You read right: I did say Movies and Popcorn.

Movies and popcorn go hand in hand. Like literally. You walk into the theatre and first head to the popcorn queue to grab a packet of popcorn, with or without a coke or coffee, and then head to your seat to watch the film with the prized eatable in your hand. 

A movie is not complete without the quintessential snack. Be it salted, caramel, cheese or tomato. Be it regular, large or bucket size. Be it with family or alone. 

Movies are not enjoyed without popcorn. 

And yet, we are fleeced as we purchase this lifeline of the silver screen. We measure and applaud box office collections, while conveniently ignoring pantry/canteen collections. Kids and adults alike enjoy munching popcorn no matter who buys it or holds it.

And yet, these business minded cinema owners sell a measly few grams of popcorn for (sometimes) more than the ticket itself! Loot-maari, I tell you. Gross injustice. It's outright robbery and hoodwinking.

I remember when I was a lot younger (I seem to have aged remarkably since my son was born a year ago), we used to get only one variety of popcorn - salted, readily packed and amply sold in all theaters for 15-20 bucks. Buying two was a luxury which we could afford, and it was a great way to celebrate an evening out. Then came the era of the multiplex, where the movie seat was a tad expensive and so was the popcorn, but it still did not burn a hole in the pocket. 

And look what we got now! I watched Dilwale (at my company's expense, thank God) and Bajirao-Mastani (at my hub's) - but both the times I had to buy popcorn and shell out 200 bucks for a teeny weeny packet that was over way before the movie. It's probably as dear as gold in the theatre, where you try to make it last at least halfway through and fail miserably as your partner (who initially indicated that he would not eat any since he doesn't feel like it / doesn't like the flavor / doesn't want to share) digs into it with gusto and doesn't halt until the packet gives way. So much for saving it for later. 

I think it's against humanity to make a profit on something that brings so much happiness to people. Imagine all those parents and boyfriends who strive to make ends meet and then have to deny their kids or girlfriends this simple pleasure. They barely make enough to get tickets, and then to buy popcorn as well... Well.

And then if there are multiple kids, and they want cold drink as well... Double well. And then nothing ends well...

My husband says, popcorn is so important to the experience, and hence it is expensive. 

My earnest urge is, is it so important to the experience, and this exactly why it ought to be cheaper. Spare us all this simple pleasure. You suck away our life and money in a million different ways. Clothes, groceries, fruits and veggies, parking and tolls - you cheat enough anyway. Be generous. Donate in cinemas than in temples. Pay for a free popcorn for the person after you. Let greed pass. Make popcorn more economical if you can. God will bless you, and we shall buy 2 packets instead of one, bringing your profit back to what it was.

And no, reducing the size of the packet is not the answer. 

Popcorn and ice cream always need to be spilling from the sides. That's when you know you've got the right amount. 

Please pretty please. 

Before we all revolt in frustration and desperation. 

Save the popcorn. 

Save us. 


Thursday, December 17

Free Times!

Back sooner than you thought, aren't I?!!

(Thank God, for once....!!)

Have you noticed how on the days when you have a multitude of tasks and no time to breathe, you actually end up accomplishing more than you do on a normal, breezy day? 

I have realised it since my dear Mom has taken the kiddo off my hands for a few days while I get some "me" time to do things that I say I don't find time to do. 

Ironically, I wait all day for the little bub to give me 5 minutes of peace, and then when he actually does (which is only when he faints with exhaustion after running around nonstop all day), I yearn for him to wake up as I don't know what to do with my time...

So Day 1, I spent walking around the house like a zombie looking around for things that needed to be done and wondering if I have really become such a sorry loser that I have nothing to do in the evenings apart from waddle behind Aarush. 

Day 2 was slightly better. I managed to catch up with some good friends as well as my best friend - much needed sleep. 

Day 3 - Getting used to the relaxed pace and mental state, I lapped up some Maggi while my eyes devoured Karna's Wife (the book). Got about 20 pages left before I move on to the next one on my shelf. I thought I'd go to the gym that's newly opened in my society, but then I decided I needed a haircut more than I needed abs. 

Thank Jawed Habib for his Xpreso idea and outlets - I'd probably have to die with kilometer length locks if it weren't for his economical haircuts. I mean who spends 500-900 bucks on hair that doesn't even look trimmed or styled? It's all so ridiculously overpriced, and I think we allow these outrageous prices by patronizing expensive service providers. We're too tolerant, I say... 

Since consumers don't lend me their ears and minds, HairXpreso it is for me. 149 bucks and I am bouncy hair-wise and happy-wise. Yayy!

And then, this morning, the man of the house wakes me up (for a change) and insists we head to the gym together. He is a person who loves his sleep, and this love is only aced by his obsession for exercise . He can sacrifice everything in the world to have the flattest abs and the fittest muscles, and he is blessed to have a good physique (drool) and wiry body (double drool). 

So, the hubs wakes me up and goes hunting for my shoes in the shoe rack and calls out to me all of 4 times to tell me that I need to join him in the gym ASAP. I start with a "No, I am sleepy" to a "Do you really want to go?" to "Are you sure?" to "Yeah, I'm coming." I slip on my shoes, call my maid to reach me at the gym when she gets home, and scamper to the treadmill where I watch the man already going bam-bam-bam on the poor racing track. 

More out of concern for the safety of the treadmill than real passion for exercise, I take my place on the track as the hubs moves on to test the cycle. Considering that it was pleasant, cool morning, I thought I might as well roam in the outdoors, but he wanted me to hang around with him (and I suspect he wanted to show off his moves and bod). So, I indulged him and he started guiding me how to use the treadmill (like he owned it). LOL. Sweet!

It felt amazing. Crooning as I walked, first at a measly 3 km/hr speed moving on to 5 and then 6 and 7 km/hr, burning close to 160 calories in 30 minutes. I think I do better on a regular walk than I did at the gym, but I guess it's a start after a long gap, and I don't want to end up too tired and give up after the first day. Aarush has helped me shed all my pregnancy weight, but I am not in the best of shape so I believe it's the right time for me to hit the gym as a daily routine... 

At least as long as Aarush is with his grandma... 

Turns out that I managed to get all the home chores done and reached office earlier than usual. Yayy! Good start to a great day.

Quite a few good movies that could be watched - Good Dinosaur (I love animation) and Hunger Games (I like the brave, pretty chic).  

Thanks Hubs. See you in the gym tomorrow :-)