Archive for the ‘Life’s musings’ Category

So, I’m turning 40 🎂

It’s been decades since I celebrated my birthday.. the picture you see below was taken around my 16th birthday, which was a milestone or a turning point in my life- Until that birthday I used to live with my father, away from my brother, my mother and her partner who I call ‘Pop.’

On my 16th birthday, my father decided to come to my bedroom to tell me that everybody else including the dogs on the streets were doing “It” and I should be too!

On the other hand, my mum and her partner were pressurising me to move in with them because I was at an age that needed “extra care” which my alcoholic dad was assumably incapable of.

After much drama and reluctance, I moved in with them. I have not celebrated a single birthday after that. I would disappear days before and after the birthday, no phones and all, so that I don’t have to deal with everyone calling to wish me on this day that I had come to hate.

Pop was mighty protective of me- I became a duty that he had to fulfil. He obviously did not have any experience dealing with a teenage girl so he did his best, I guess.

I wasn’t allowed to wear any make up, no high heels or “Showy” clothes. I was picked up and dropped to anywhere I needed to be. He demanded that I should get married at the age of 16 to this rich fat bloke who owned assets for a few generations to come. Ofcourse, he hated the fact that I didn’t subscribe to his school of thought and that was just one of the many differences we had. . I wanted to go to college. He thought educating a girl was a waste of time and money but reluctantly enrolled me into SINDHI college (a college run by the Sindhis, not necessarily for the Sindhis but one where majority of the students were from this esteemed caste being Sindhis). Pop was of the opinion that if I do fall in love with a boy in that college, he will be a ‘Sindhi’ after all. I spent the worst 2 years of my life in that place.

By now he had succeeded in making a rebel out of me. It’s no secret to anyone who knows us that we never really shared a cordial relationship, to say the least. I escaped college to spend all my time being the “Cool kid”. Drank alcohol, smoked and sneaked out of home through the balcony, at any given chance. I was lucky to start earning money quite early (by Indian standards) so the independence it gave me was unmatched. After breaking many hearts and having my own broken more than just once, it was time to move on. I landed myself a dream job and I escaped home to accept this new role as soon as I gathered the courage to do so.

I moved to live in this infamous place most people call “The most unsafe city in India” .. but it’s in this place that I felt the most safe 🙂

Its in Delhi that I discovered myself. I owe everything I am today to ‘Dilli meri jaan!’ I realised here that I was a homebody. Although I was surrounded by the big names in the fashion industry and got invited to the best parties in town, I was someone who preferred chilling in pyjamas over hopping parties; country music over pop and loved to flaunt Sarees over skirts. Many remember me as this ‘Madrasi’ walking around in cotton sarees at the India Fashion week 😉

I had a life that I loved, the respect I deserved and the independence to choose my own path. A couple of years in this place did more good for me than my entire life ever had.

The universe now had a well planned miracle in mind- Mohak got in touch with me (thanks, Mark Zuckerberg). We had studied together at Sindhi college and never really kept in touch after that. He had waited almost a decade for the right time and space and so without wasting any time, within days he asked if I would marry him! The first gift he gave me was a bottle of wine. He said “I don’t drink but that means I can drive you around.” 

In a country full of misogynist, insecure, selfish pigs it was a breath of fresh air to get to know Mohak.. To me , it was worth kissing all those frogs to find my Prince Charming, after all.

The ride ahead was not easy for him because important family members were against this marriage .. Apparently, being 28 and unmarried was a red flag and that I was a size 16 and not a size 8 made me undesirable 🙄 – The hypocrisy of our society at its best!

Nonetheless, Mohak persevered against all odds and within a month we were married. We decided to make a life far away from all the drama, in a new country we now call home. We have met the nicest people who we call our chosen family. We have an envious life where we are satisfied in every aspect, there is love and respect in our gorgeous family (my two bundles of joy Xena and Aum Zeus make it what it is)

Fairy tales are real, because I am a living proof of them. In the end, going to Sindhi college was the best decision of my life 😉

Looking back, every thing Pop ever did was to make sure he fulfilled his duty and he did a great job at that. He wasn’t my biological father but a lot more than that. As I am turning 40 soon, the pressure to make that day or the celebration a memorable one is palpable! Most of my friends are turning 40 or already did this year.. some have gone on luxury cruises or holidays , bought those dream cars for themselves or had parties to remember. I honestly don’t wish for much this birthday except to really want to appreciate the life that I have.

The purpose of my post is that I want to celebrate my birthday this year by thanking Pop for all that he has done for me. We may have never seen eye to eye but it’s important for me that he knows I value his place in my life. It has been a somber couple of years for us as he is in palliative care, counting each breath and living only with memories of the past.

In Canberra, the last time we were all together.

Mom has been this woman who always carries a smile on her face, even in this phase when the love of her life is slowly slipping away. She still has to face unpleasant remarks by people who think they can do any better. It is unfortunate that she is alone today and all we can do for her is to send prayers and words of encouragement.

I ask that this year to celebrate my birthday with me, you make a contribution to this wonderful hospice that he is in, Karunashraya. They have given him the best care and done it all selflessly. Words cannot express our gratitude to them.

If you were thinking of sending me flowers, or that wine or even just a cuppa together, please think about sending that $ to Karunashraya instead. Lets hope Pop can pass over peacefully, whenever the time is right- knowing that he is loved and respected forever.

And finally, a big thank you to all those friends and relatives who have called him, met him and sent him wishes. He appreciates every one of you. To those who haven’t bothered, may peace be with you too.

OM SHANTI

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Generally speaking, a sweatshop is a factory where workers do piecework for poor pay and are prevented from forming unions; common in the clothing industry. With a lot of talk about these in the fashion industry, you have probably heard of enough already. However, have you ever been to or heard about the IT sweatshops emerging in every street of a developing country?

Every second street in Bangalore has an IT company working as an outsource for leading banks and telecom companies overseas. These IT companies charge the clients anywhere between $40-$120 per hour for each professional working for them, under a project. This can go higher if the work involves working in odd hour shifts or during weekends.

Many of the IT problems in the world are solved by checking a box, patching some computer code, or changing a setting on some program. The first time any IT professional debugs a problem, it may take them hours. The next time they see the same problem, the fix may take less than one minute. The best IT companies have their IT professionals store “how they fixed a problem” in a central database so that each professional is not “reinventing the wheel” every time a problem shows up.  An IT professional who scratches their head saying, “I saw this problem before – what did I do to fix it?” is an IT professional who will save his or her clients time and money by taking notes.

To save money outsourcing, most overseas companies find a source that has IT professionals that are both certified and experienced. Let me give you an idea of what these source companies are generally made of:

A top company in India working as an outsource for a top bank in developed nations like the US, UK, Europe and Australia:

  • Pays its employee roughly $2 per hour (yes, this is for real!) here in India.
  • Has limited desk space and hence the employees share computers and are asked to work in shifts to accommodate more resource.
  • Makes “optimal” use of space by arranging over 30 desks in a room with computers and these rooms do not have the air conditioners working most of the time!
  • Has a policy of making the employees work for a minimum of 9 hours a day (even at odd hours and public holidays) and there is no limit to the maximum number of hours they can ask one to work.
  • Sends their “deserving” (read: resources that can work for maximum hours without complaining) employees to work at the clients office overseas so that they can work for over 60 hours a week, including weekend support and also work on the public holidays both back home and abroad without taking any leaves whatsoever.

Now if this is NOT a sweatshop, what is? And to think of it, this is the state of a top company in India.

An IT professional spends all his life educating and equipping himself only dreaming of one day working in this India’s number one IT firm and what he faces when he wakes up is just another story!

On a lighter not, here’s a metaphor showing us the state of an IT professional in India and his employee:

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.

“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”

So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.

“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”

“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.

“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”

To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”

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Been a while since I wrote a blog post…Let us both blame and share credit for this with The great Indian Lollypop!

For those who have never been to India or tasted this lollypop- it is a colloquial way to describe the intention to give false assurances to a person instead of adhering to a given commitment. Simply put, to take someone for a ride. This is (unfortunately) a common practice in my beloved country- we are used to both-getting and giving these Lollypops to each other, every other day.

Since the time I reached India (May 2011), I have been chasing basic stuff that I cannot get easily without paying a bribe…This has taken me to the local consumer court on several occasions and have spent countless hours fighting, screaming and sometimes just helplessly laughing over phone conversations with various customer service associates.

While I have been busy collecting my share of these lollypops thanks to Airtel ( a broadband connection pending activation since 2 months), BP gas (a gas connection took 2 good months of chasing and pleading), a landlord ( chasing the return of a security deposit we paid for a temporary unit) and many more…One would think that corruption exists only in the government offices but my recent encunter with Airtel has proven the fact that this disease is now deep-rooted within all sectors of our society. But, the reason I am writing this post is the greatest Lollypop of the season- the one Team Anna received recently.

Although I am happy that the parliament did not fall on its knees to oblige Anna Hazare and his fast. I always thought that his “my way or highway attitude” in dealing with the Jan Lokpal bill and some of the provisions insisted upon by Annaji were rather risky and required great insight and expert debating. I fully agree with Shashi Taroor when he says that “If the current governmental bodies tasked with investigation, vigilance, and audit are deemed to be insufficiently impervious to corruption, it is worth asking what guarantee there is that the new institution of Jan Lok Pal could not be infected by the same virus — and if so, what could be done about it, since it would literally be a law unto itself.”

That said, I am alarmed by the fact that Anna was taken for a good ride by the UPA, promising a resolution and assuring him that his key demands will be met ended up with sending him a letter informing him about the “sense of the house” that his suggestions have been sent to a standing committee and will take the usual course of action… This was flashing as break-through and then breakdown, time and again on all the news channels. I would say that this is only fair but its not free from malice because it could very well be another Lollypop and the Team Anna could end up waiting for a really long time with only false assurances of a resolution.

I look forward to the Parliament bringing in a strong Lokpat bill considering all the options available. The problem of corruption runs far broader and deeper than what the headlines suggest. Every time a common man is forced to pay a bribe to get his everyday life moving smoothly, we know that the problem is more deep-rooted and has almost become a necessity for survival in the country. Our system has failed us, without any doubt but overcoming it requires a change in our society’s mindset, more than anything else..

Needless to say, it is important that this matter reaches an amicable end and I am sure that there will be light at the end of this tunnel.

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For someone like me who doesn’t accumulate many “things”, moving countries with a mere 30 kilos of luggage should not be difficult. But, it is! I have so many beautiful things at home that remind me of the beautiful people I have met during my 2 year stay here.

So, as I began to pack I realized that I will have to leave behind all my clothes, footwear or accessories or cosmetics if I really want to be able to carry my other favorite stuff. For most gals this might be the first horror but I guess it’s not going to be much of a hassle for me.

What will fit into my 30 kilos:

Some memorable magazines- All the editions of Peppermint and few newspapers that are worth treasuring. (5 kilos)

Stationery- With a fetish for stationery- I have a good 10 kilos of pens, pencils, notebooks, bookmarks.

Documents- Love it or hate it, there are heaps of documents that will need to go with me everywhere I travel in the world. I hope with the advent of technology, we should be able to get rid of this and digital copies must start being as acceptable as these sheets of paper! (A good 5 kilos here)

The coffee mug I use every morning, a bottle of my favorite wine, gifts from dear friends who have been the most kind to me, souvenirs from this beautiful country, my diary and some valuables (things that were a part of my wedding trousseau- a couple of Sarees and some jewelery)

What am I really left with?  Just my hand luggage where I can carry another 6-7 kilos. Here, I will have to fit in all my gadgets- 2 phones, 2 laptops, 1 Flip camera and an iPod.

What will I miss about Melbourne?

The people.
More than anything else, it’s the people that make Melbourne the wonderful place that it is. Always happy to help, friendly and hospitable, you people are simply ACE! The community spirit in this country has made me realize that we Indians have a long way to go and a lot to learn before we can catch up. People like Lou, Roger and J have changed my life forever. Although I have not been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with them, just knowing them is loving them.

The space.
Being home away from home is quite a feeling. Having to do everything yourself and getting to live your life just the way you want it without any pressure from the “society” has been wonderful. I have lived away from home for many years before but being in a foreign land where NO ONE knows you is just “wow!”

The learning.
I have been able to understand myself better and the past 2 years have changed me in many ways. For one, I have realized my true calling in life- to be able to give without expecting a thing in return. Then again, I have realized that there are all sorts of people in the world and each one reacts to a situation differently. To respect each one as they are is a learning I will be ever-so-thankful for. Most importantly, Melbourne has changed the very core characteristic in me- I am not the judgmental person I once used to be. Live and let live is the new mantra for me.

What I’m glad I’m getting rid of…

The feeling of being a foreigner.
No matter what, there is no place like home. Although, I have had a pleasant stay in the past 2 years, there was always the feeling of being a foreigner. The sense of belonging here never occurred to me and I’m glad I will be getting rid of that blank space forever. After this, I will never consider making a home anywhere outside the motherland. India has its share of pros and cons (with the cons weighing over the pros) but I belong there I shall live to die there.

Before I bid farewell, Thank you and Sorry

I take this opportunity to thank each one of you I met while in Melbourne. You have been very kind and may God bless you with all the happiness you deserve. I also take this chance to sincerely apologize to the people that I may have hurt. There have been unpleasant memories and I hope you will be able to forgive and forget, like I have.

I fly out of Melbourne at 6 am tomorrow morning and shall not get HOME until a month later. Meanwhile, I will keep you posted about my 4 weeks in other parts of Australia. I will come back to Melbourne for a few days before I leave the country, to take a final look at our favorite places and carry pictures of them so that I can smile whenever I think of memorable Melbourne. My first Melbourne home and the one I am now parting from; Rebecca Walk (where So Ethic once existed) Fed square, NGV, Docklands, Melbourne central, Albert Park, South Yarra and Chapel street would be the places that my Melbourne was made of.

Until we meet again, Stay blessed. YOU are special.

Love and peace xo

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