Archive for the ‘Life’s musings’ Category

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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My tryst with the subject of social behavior dates back to my childhood when my dad believed that I had super powers! He assumed that I had a special gift to read people’s faces and body language.So much so that he used to take me with him to his business meetings and would let me decide if it is a good idea to do business with a particular person. I guess this is where the story started.

In today’s world where online interactions dominate our offline ones, there is no real way to understand a person. You just have to go by their words and it is not a shocker when you learn that the words were actually not coming from horse’s mouth. This reminds me a call out by a dear friend Lou Pardi, a few months ago. She offered to write online dating profiles for people. Knowing Lou, her intention is very honest and helpful but this highlights the scary truth of a more deep-rooted problem. So, how do we trust people we meet online to be genuine?

If you are amongst the lucky ones who don’t really care to judge people and continue to treat everyone equally, kudos to you! Unfortunately, I am not. I am rather very judgmental and I make informed decisions about the people around me before I decide if I want to include them in my inner circle of influence

So, what is the purpose of my post today?

In a strange (and not-so-serious) way, I have come to understand that FARMVILLE helps understand social behavior. You might find this lame, but I have been a fan of that game since 2009- mainly because it is very interesting to see each player behaving in their own typical style.

If you don’t enjoy the game, are too busy to try (which is understandable) or just “not the type”. I understand that too, because unless you have a “community spirit” or a “love for sharing” in you- you are not likely to like Farmville at all. Having said that, there are people who have gone overboard, wasting too many productive hours on the game.

An infographic at @mashable clearly shows us how much of importance this virtual farming has gained, as against our interest in REAL farms.

As much as I would want to agree with the people who argue that “People care more about their virtual farms than real”, I don’t! On the contrary,  I believe that these people are more likely to have their gardens and farms in real lives too. It shows their interest in the subject, it shows their love for nature. Why else would they plant crops and wait for days before they get to harvest them instead of popping 1000 angry birds and pigs on their screens per minute?

“Anything that builds a spirit of friendliness and co-operation and helps people get to know each other as human beings seems to me a good thing” —Jimbo Wales20 December 2006

Coming back to the point, here are some of the types of people and their typical behaviors that I have noticed on Farmville:

  • Team player : Always plays in a team, has a co-op set up most of the time and encourages people to crop plants together within a co-operation. Occasionally, posts a thing or two on your wall.
  • Self sufficient : The silent and self sufficient person who doesn’t spam your timeline or his. He is self-effacive and takes up only the tasks he can manage alone without much help from others. Usually, doesn’t have great returns or speedy increase in levels but follows a consistent pattern to his game.
  • Free-loader: Joins every possible co-op just to get the bonus and cash and contributes nothing to it. Usually gets good amount of free bonuses but is not the favourite of others and hence loses out on the secret gifts and special treats.
  • Cash hoarder: Plays only to collect cash and at some point wishes he could one day convert it into real money! This person doesn’t like to buy expensive stuff and comes across as a stingy person.
  • Creative: Always brimming with life and activity- Has birds, animals, colours, flowers and all possible beautification on the farm. This takes up a lot of the farming space and hence they earn less points and cash but they continue to maintain their beautiful farms.
  • Money minded: Has most of plotting area used up ONLY for farming and he plants and harvests like a machine to keep making money and increasing their level in the game. No real buildings, no beautiful structures and no creativity whatsoever.
  • Competitive: Always looking at being at the top position among their friends. Checking on the scores often and trying every possible way to gain XP and lead the game. They are the first ones to be disappointed when Farmville stops levels at a point (currently the max level is 100)
  • Fanatic: Starts the day with the farm, checks on it before sleeping. Spends REAL cash to buy stuff for his farm and often spams his wall and ours by posting things every hour. This person is a farm-fanatic and most likely to have no other job at all!

This behavior might be related to their offline/real life too, would you say? I guess so.

Usually, a farmer belongs to at least one and often is a combination of a few of the above categories. So, what kind of a farmer are you?

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