Category Archives: Rant

Cover it up

This is a rant.

I live in the campus of the institute in which I did my first graduate course.  So, sometimes I get requests from friends about stuff to be done around here.  I don’t like to do them,not because I don’t like to help people, but because more often than not, I feel like I am taken for granted.  Like this one.

My classmate from grad school is applying for a job in a different country (not the first world countries, just to be clear).  He lives in that country now.  The agency to consider him for the job, wants his transcripts and certificates certified as authentic by the institute that issued them. This in turn involves  getting a banker’s cheque in the name of the institute, and submitting it along with an application requesting verification and other documents to the institute. Since I live in campus, he asked me if I could do it for him.

I was very hesitant at first because nothing is as simple as that in a country like India where the red tape and formalities are unbelievable.  Still, considering that this chap has been struggling to find a job, I agreed to do my bit.

As a first step, I go to the bank to get the banker’s cheque (DD as it is called here).  It is a sweltering day here, the AC in the bank was kaput, and everyone and his cousin took it upon himself to visit the bank today.  Drawing out a single DD took one and a half hours.  I came out of the bank with a migraine.  But that’s ok.

I call this chap to tell him that the DD is ready, now what should I do.

He has no clue.  He asks me to find out.

Where do I find it out from?

Somewhere in the XYZ building, he says.

The XYZ building is a six storied building with hundreds of departments. Hundreds. And no customer service counters or a reception. U-huh.

Which is fine again. Tomorrow may not be as sweltering. And XYZ building is not air conditioned, anyway, for it to fail.

He then emails to me, his transcript and certificates that I must print out and submit along with the DD somewhere in the jungle of the XYZ building.

I look at the email attachments, and find no cover letter.

I tell him “you need to send me the cover letter”.

His response?  “Why?”

I am a little stumped because I believe it is a universally known and accepted practice that any formal application needs a cover letter saying what it is that is being applied for. Especially in India where formality is everything. The Brit may have left us alone in 1947, we don’t intend to let go of their pomposity anytime soon.

I tell him that. Not the Britt pomposity thing, but the fact that any application needs a cover letter.

“Oh, but I have sent the transcripts”

“Yeah, but you need to tell people what to do with the transcripts”
(in my mind is the uncharitable thought that with so many “E”s, you really have to tell them what to do with the transcripts – I am mean, but by this point I have a full blown migraine and this guy is being deliberately stupid.)

He sighs and says “oh well, if you say so. I will send you a cover letter”.  The tone was “oh bother, why do I have to deal with people like Gobblefunkist”.

I am still wondering who was doing whom a favour.

I am also getting a vague idea of why he has such trouble getting a job.

Rant fest

I am not a very happy camper today for a lot of reasons.   I know I am harping, but I wish my better half had never gifted me the MAC and gotten me used to the beautiful laptop.  This HP is driving me nuts.  The keyboard makes my hand hurt, and the trackpad is making me scream with its jerky movements. Also, the scroll lock is on, and I don’t know how to unlock it.  None of the google suggestions work. Darn.  I was perfectly happy with my crappy windows machine before the MAC came along, now I am spoilt and cant seem to go back.

Oh, the agony of the previledged lot.

It has been a hellish day outside as well. HOT. And it is only midmorning yet.  The family bit the dust and refixed the A/C unit.  But the A/C does not agree with me either.  Being in A/C gives me a migraine, being outside gives me a splitting headache, so either way I am attached to another object by an inclined plane, wrapped helically around an axis, as Sheldon would say.

Today is a state-wide strike, called by the farmer federation of the state, protesting against the non-availability of water for agriculture.  My neighbour’s father has acres of agricutural land in the Delta corridor, but has not been able to do any agriculture because the water from the dams, meant for agriculture, are being siphoned to Pepsi and Coke.   I fully support the agitation.  However, the skeptic in me believes that nothing will come of it, and being a social media soldier is the most useless thing to do.

The week had better improve from hereon.

PS:  The scroll lock got released by itself !  Mental.

 

 

Stories in my head

This is a contemplative (read: depressing) post, so feel free to skip if you don’t want to witness shameless navel gazing.

After a long time, I lost my temper this morning.  The trigger was a reminder to a life-altering event that happened in my life two years ago.  I had believed that I was completely over it, but it seems I am not.  I did not even realise that I was disturbed by the trigger until a very minor domestic infraction, something that I would have ignored otherwise or perhaps even laughed about, broke me down completely.  And as is usual during the rare times that I lose my temper, the waterworks started (in front of others, gasp !) and wouldn’t stop for many minutes.

The aftereffect is that I feel like I stepped on crap.  First because I don’t like losing my temper – I can’t make sense of it, second because I thought I was making some progress with my meditation, but I could not control my temper when it mattered.  Third because, why the heck do I cry when I get angry?  People scream, sulk, get rude, make gestures, get violent when they are angry.  Who cries?  Well, I do, but that was a rhetoric.  The net result is that I feel like I am standing in the middle of a congregation of humanity, butt naked.  And knee deep in crap.

Anger and fear are, IMHO, the worst emotions we are blessed with.  Not the instinctive anger/fear, because of which, we are not yet extinct, but the kind of anger and fear that are created by the stories of the mind.  I am pretty sure the chemical principles behind the two kinds of anger (instinctive versus mind-stories) are different – I suspect the first involves adrenalin and the second, cortisol.  But I am being pedantic.  I have been trying to breathe my day through, but it has been hard, and the stories keep building in my head.  And the dam is not fully secure as well; the waterworks could restart anytime again, at the stories my brain is trying to kill me with.

The minor straw that broke me is yet to be fixed. But in the big picture, I need to figure out how to let the two-year-old-life-changing-event go.

Everyone else seem to lead such easy lives within their heads.  Why is mine so complicated?

 

 

 

 

 

Gender bending

I ain’t a bra burner by a long shot..I am not even borderline feminist.  I am even ok with gender roles in my life.  But where I bristle is when an apparently gender-equality-lauding-effort is patronising to the extreme.  Two cases come to mind:

  1. An article that announces a documentary about three women scientists who were in the Mars mission program of India talks about the number of children these scientists had – one of them had a daughter in the 12th when Mangalyaan was being planned, and another has a seven-year old.  Would these statistics be mentioned if these scientists had been men?   Also, “Minal Rohit calls Seetha Somasundaram a “very strict lady”, while discussing the nature of her work and how demanding a boss Seetha could be!”. Would this be said of a male boss ever?  Yes, I know it was said by another woman.  I don’t even know what to say.
  2. Dangal:  This is a movie that has recently been oohed-and-aahed about by my friends; it is apparently a true story of a guy from a backward state of the country, training his daughters to become boxers, something he couldn’t achieve in his life.  While people talk about the empowerment of girls in this movie, my first thought was this – were the girls given a choice?  Was the man realising dreams for himself through his daughters?  If so, what became of the daughters’ dreams?  Did they have any?

I can hear you say “women are getting raped, murdered, acid-attacked, harassed  in your country and you are nitpicking about trivialities like this?”.

I can’t even talk about the women getting raped, murdered, acid-attacked, and harassed in my country without my entire system shutting down in abject panic and humiliation. Trivialities, I can kick a fuss about – after all, being a word-warrier is so easy, isn’t it?

Dreams, inspiration and other matters

My hormones, after kinda-sorta behaving themselves for the past couple of months, are acting up (to put it mildly) again and I am having a tough (to put it mildly) PMS season as I type this out.  I know that my anxiety is hormonal and not merely a response to some life issues that I am currently facing, because the dreams are back.  A couple of nights back, I dreamt that I was injecting a drug into a gaping, open, bloody wound in the arms of my kid. A faceless doctor insists that I must be the one to inject, and thrusts a large syringe (the kind used on cows in a farm) into my hand to be used on a gnash from which blood is gushing. As I inject the drug, the the medicine and the blood are reabsorbed into the body in what looks like a reverse video sequence, leaving an open, dry wound.  Needless to add, writing about it is making my stomach lurch.

Last night, I was in labor.  I reach the hospital to see it abandoned.  I run from room to room as contraction after contraction engulf me, and finally find a room in which my neighbour (who in the dream is a medical doctor) is sleeping on a bare wooden bench.  I wake him and he panics seeing a very pregnant woman apparently covered in blood and runs away.  And then another lady (I can’t remember who it was) comes in, calls herself a doctor, and pricks my belly with a pin.  Air hisses out of the tummy as it inflates like a punctured tire, and she sends me back home saying there is no baby, only air.

If that ain’t hormones, I’ll eat my hat.  If I have one, that is.

I have also been unable to meditate.  Instead of forcing it I am just going to give it a break until the mental violence settles a bit.

I’d do anything to be a man during these times.  At least no progesterone/estrogen see saw to mess with the head.

These are also times I am extremely grateful to a couple of my girl friends and my cousin, who hear me out without judging and offer me a vent so that I don’t explode all around and cause damage.

And my blog readers for not judging me.  Wait, you are not judging me, are you?

**

Two women have inspired me in the recent past.  One was the house guest I had around Christmas time.  She works in an IT company and is single parenting a son (husband works in a different city and visits every weekend) and described how she optimises her chores so that she is out of the house by 7.30 AM.

Another hyper-energetic friend I know from the kid’s school, is a stay at home mom, running a joint family that includes her parents-in-law, stock marketing husband, and two daughters.  Being passionate about religious literature, she finishes her home chores by the time her husband and children are out of the house (~8 AM) and spends the rest of the day working on her hobby.

Both efficient women are a stark antithesis to me.  I’d love to be like them.  But there is a large gap between intention and action.  Today, I tried completing my chores by the time the kid was out to school and managed about 90% which is 90% more than what I normally accomplish.  So, there could be hope yet.

The plus side is that my kid has taken it upon herself to wake early (6 AM, midnight to her) in order to study for her exams and finish reading the Hithhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to which she is hooked (I am hooked to Lord of the Rings, if you must know).  This makes getting ready to school less stressful and rushed for both of us. I hope this trend continues in our household.  Although, if she is anything like me (and she is), it is just a passing phase. We both value our morning sleep too much to let mundane things like life intrude into it.

**

Did anyone watch Season 4 of the new Sherlock Holmes? Did you live to tell the tale?  Apparently I have, but barely.  Seriously, what the frack?

Questions

Many of these questions are from the weekend meeting with old classmates.  Some generally like that from life itself…

  1. Why must anyone who learns that we have not owned a television in fifteen years, unfailingly respond with “oh, we have TV but we only watch the Discovery channel”?
  2. Why must stay-at-home-women friends who learn that I work from home, unfailingly respond with “Oh, I used to work, but I quit because I wanted to be there for my child”?
  3. Why must work-from-outside women friends who learn that I work from home, unfailingly respond with “Oh, work from home is useless….there is nothing like going to an office to build work ethics”?
  4. Why do people, meeting me after years, find it compulsive to advice me on how to regrow hair on my scantily covered head – apply onion juice, eat sprouts, don’t use shampoo…
  5. Why must people who are seeking to re-start their paused career, ask me to outsource some of my excess work to them , because you know, I only work from home, so it must be something that anyone can do?  No matter that it has taken me 17 years of struggle and learning to get to where I am.  This one, I am judging nine ways to Sunday.
  6. Why is religion never a private thing?  Why must my Christian long-lost friends immediately talk to me about how forgiving Jesus is? Why must my Iyengar friends be aghast because I, a hard core Iyengar, refused to get branded by samashrayanam?  Why is the fact that my family is made of one atheist, one theist, and one who is still deciding, scandalous to public sensibilities?
  7. Why do social science/management articles refer to women as “female”?  What’s wrong in saying “The sample consisted of men and women”, why must it be “male and female”?  Is it just I who associates the term “male” and “female” to genetalia?  And rats?
  8. Why is ageing a bad thing?  Why must we all convince each other that we look just the same as we looked back in college?  Why must I hide my grey with henna?