Archive for the ‘The Everyday Awesome’ 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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Who is Amit Gupta?
An Indian, a friend and a human being who needs help. He is the founder of PhotojojoIn the past… he started Jelly, worked with Seth Godin to start ChangeThis, broughtBarCamp to NYC, started a co-op called House 2.0, contributed to a WSJ best-seller with Malcolm Gladwell, Guy Kawasaki and others, and started a venture-backed company called The Daily Jolt while in college. You can follow Amit on twitter here.

What has  happened?
Amit has been diagnosed with Acute Leukemia, has undergone a few months of Chemo and now needs to find a donor before November 30th 2011, to facilitate his bone marrow transplant. South Asians are severely under-represented in the bone marrow pool, and he needs help!

Why only till November 30th?
Amit’s doctors want to do the transplant as soon as possible, to improve his chances of survival. They’ve set November 30th as the deadline for test swabs to be submitted for processing, though test swabs will still be welcomed after this time.

What can I do?
Do a swab test at the nearest drive. Look up http://amitguptaneedsyou.com/ for the details on the latest drive in your location. You need to be aged between 18- 55 years to do this swab test! Do share this news using the hashtag #ISwabbedforAmit and get all your friends and folks to do the same.

An article in 'Bangalore Mirror' Pg 6 dated 26/11/2011

Is the test painful?
A swab test is a quick and simple process, where a cotton swab is rubbed inside your cheek. It is later processed to determine your genetic typing. In India, an NGO named DATRI runs a Datri Blood Stem Cell Donors Registry and  is taking care of the test kits for us.

What if I am the match? Will the bone marrow transplant harm me?
In case of a successful genetic match, stem cells are obtained from you (donor) and injected into the patient’s blood stream. This process takes about 5 days in all and is as simple as donating blood at the end of it all. To get a good picture of the process, download and watch this explanatory video. There are no known side effects of this process except many smiles and the pride of knowing you saved a life 🙂

What if I am not a match?
If you are not a match for Amit today, you could well be for someone else tomorrow. DATRI will register you as a potential donor for future and you will be contacted for possible matches. Therefore, it is imperative that you fill in your contact details accurately in the form provided to you during the swab test.

I am personally organizing a few drives in Bangalore (http://bangalore4amit.eventbrite.com) and http://chennai4amit.eventbrite.com/ in Bangalore and Chennai. Find the location nearest to you and see you there!

P.S: You can also check here for the addresses of the upcoming drives worldwide: http://amitguptaneedsyou.com/

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Amit Gupta, an Indian entrepreneur in New york needs a bone marrow transplant and you can help. Please share this video to help spread the word. Visit amitguptaneedsyou.com for more info.

 If you live in Bangalore, chances are you can help not only Amit, but the many, many other people around the world. South Asians have a dramatically lower chance of finding a match in the worldwide bone marrow registries than other populations. While this is a big and often tragic problem, it’s one that can be fixed!

So what can you do?
Get to the nearest drive in Bangalore on 26-27th November 2011.The event is ALL-DAY and you can walk-in anytime between 10am to 6pm to show you CARE. List of places and the dates are below:
Saturday 26th November

1) My Gola Technologies
Panchatara Towers| #446, 2nd Floor 17th Cross, Sector 4
HSR Layout |BANGALORE -34 | Organizer and Contact Neha: +91 72592 81211.

2) Greenery Apts, Plain St, Infantry road. Bangalore 01.
Contact: Vishal @ +91  9535293850

Sunday 27th November

1) Greenery Apartments, Plain Street, Infantry Road. Bangalore 560001. Contact person: Vishal @ +91 95352 93850.

2) Sant Nirankari Mandal. 88 Rathnavilas Road, South end circle. Near Pai convention centre.
Basavanagudi, Bangalore – 560004. Contact: Rajesh @ +9199802 21056

DATRI, the Indian bone marrow donor registry will have their kits at each of these venues to help you find out if you are THE MATCH! As a bonus, each drive can add dozens or even hundreds of new potential donors to the database — meaning your efforts will help not just Amit but a countless more find a match.

Plus, it’s REALLY EASY! DATRI is dedicated to helping anyone host a drive, and the test only takes a few minutes and a Q-tip-like swab inside the cheek. This is virtually painless, maybe less painful than donating blood. Have questions about the swab test or the stem cell donation process? This FAQ link compiled by DATRI is most helpful http://datriworld.org/faqb.html

What happens if you are THE one? Well then, your cells will help someone live- perhaps the best gift you can give ANYONE.

Donating bone marrow is much simpler than it sounds the procedure is
often misunderstood. Hope this article helps: The Truth About Bone Marrow Donations – Save a Childs Life by Donating Bone Marrow – Marie Claire.

See you soon! If you wish to let us know that you are coming: Here’s the RSVP page on Eventbrite: 

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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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