Vani’s Musings

Archive for the ‘My work’ Category

During one of my people-observation phases, I came across a peculiar habit of persons around me. It sort of showcases the culture of the people, and how in a single question, there is a wealth of concern about your well-being and contentment.

 

It goes like this. Each morning, as I enter the office premises, I am greeted by colleagues and sub-staff who usually ask me the same question each day, “Thindi Aaytha?”  Meaning “Did you have breakfast?” And it’s not just for me; each person is singularly asked the same question. I was intrigued about this, and it was just not breakfast, but any mealtime.

In the beginning, I felt that all these people were obsessed with food. After a while, I realized that it was their way of asking if the person they were speaking to was happy, and everything was alright in his/her world. The equation goes something like this; a hungry person usually looks like he’s upset, whereas, food signifies contentment. If a person has had food, he’s generally happy and considering that we work in a very stressful environment and tend to absorb others’ stress too, it becomes essential for each of us to be content.

 

Most stop at the “had your breakfast?” question and are happy receiving a nod. Yet others, who are now close, go on to ask what I had for breakfast. They wait for an answer from me and generally supply information about their own food. Initially I was unprepared for these sorts of questions because I felt they had nothing to do with what I ate; Nowadays, I’m used to it and don’t get ruffled up when people do ask me this.

 

Usually no comments are passed when one mentions stuff like Idlis or Dosas or Pongal, but mention “Uppittu” and you can see myriad expressions on people’s faces.

Usually a mention of “Uppittu” leads to comments like “Oh! Concrete!” “Oil Bath”! “Stupid”! etc. And usually Uppittu is the most often repeated breakfast item in most of the houses, basically because it is filling and easy to prepare.

Uppittu has many forms, like Neeru-Uppittu, Uduru-Uppittu etc, and can be prepared in different ways, without vegetables, with just onions, with or without vegetables, giving it a different name like “Khaara Bhaat”.

Uppittu’s cousins, the Avalakki Uppittu and Shaavige Uppittu do not get the same criticism as Uppittu does, but are not as popular with the masses either, though they also enjoy a prominent place on the breakfast table.

Uppittu, though a mass delicacy, enjoys an important place on the South Indian Table, as it is served as an evening snack at many weddings, and is the breakfast item at many small family occasions too.

In spite of everything, Uppittu still gets a wrinkled nose when mentioned. I have seen very few who actually relish Uppittu. And to pass derogatory remarks, many of my male colleagues feel their mothers / wives are being lazy and so serve them Uppittu for breakfast.

 

Since I do not associate any positive or negative feeling towards Uppittu, I’d like to know; Does Uppittu deserve all the bad credit it unfortunately gets? Is it so bad to eat or serve Uppittu? Answers? Anyone?

 

 

No, I am not speaking of the gifts we exchange during weddings and other events. I want to focus on the importance of communication skills, which play a vital role in interactive forums like trainings, conferences, lectures and their ilk.

 Most of us in our professional life would have come across trainings at least once. I am witness now to one such training program which makes me laugh and cry because of the very poor communication skills of our trainer. 

 We have grown to believe that a teacher is like God, but unfortunately, many teachers, or people in associated industry have really underdeveloped communication skills. They would be masters in their chosen field, but because they cannot communicate well, lose out on reaching their audiences.

 My trainer himself, is equipped with nearly half a dozen degrees, but is extremely bad at speaking grammatically correct English. And he claims to train employees at reputed organizations. I am sure there would be hundreds of nit pickers like me who would concentrate more on his faults and miss out on the vital aspects of what he would want us to understand. Why do this? And it is pretty important to lose your native accent. Why give a clue of which part of the country you belong to by way of speaking English as though you were speaking your native tongue?  Why don’t people give the language the respect it deserves by using it a little more sensitively? 

In the global scenario, it is very important for a person to be as much comfortable with soft skills, as their technical expertise. We cannot present ourselves as a nation that is only technically good but very poor in communication. And I don’t think it is such an uphill task either. After all, English is the language we use to communicate with most part of the world. 

 I feel very guilty that I only find fault, but that’s what catches my attention. And by way of good communication skills, I don’t suggest the use of heavy complicated words in our day to day conversation either. All I feel is they must try to be grammatically correct and ensure that at their age, they must not make silly spelling errors, because their word would be taken very seriously and people would use the same spellings and same language in future when they would be asked to, And then, if there were to be someone pointing out this error, it would reflect very poorly on the trainer. 

My point is this. If you are or want to be a faculty or trainer or just about anyone who is part of an interactive forum, please, please brush up your communication skills and if need be, attend a couple of English speaking classes to hone your talent. It would be of great help in making your audience understand what you want to convey, in a much better manner. 

 It is very similar to serving good food in an unclean vessel. However tasty the food may be, our eyes would warn us not to eat it. Even the simplest dish is made tasty by presenting it in a good manner. 

 How many of you share my feeling or think otherwise? A penny for your thoughts.  

A long hiatus……Its time I made up my mind to write something. So here goes. 

I have to endure a long journey to work, coupled with traffic jams and bottlenecks (of course, which working Bangalorean does not endure that?).

Boring bus journeys can be very lively if one were to keep their eyes and ears open to their surroundings. 

In the mornings, I generally hear the same dialog “Ayyo….the traffic in Bangalore…..” this is mostly from the people who work for Private Establishments, and of course, our dear BMTC drivers. I now sympathize with most of the drivers for their patience in driving bus loads of people to their destinations.

There is another segment, that of ………. ahem …….. ahem………. Govt Servants, who spend most of the travel time discussing CLs, ELs, DA, GPF etc….then the bunch of School and College Students….this is mostly a giggly lot who isn’t very much bothered about being late or so. I think they are the ones who enjoy journeys most. Then the immigrant workers who come from the Northern states, haggling with the conductor for change.

 In the evenings, it is the same mixture of people, but the topics generally range from the day’s work to the evening cooking to the movie they watched in the weekend to the rising cost of living.  

There is a separate group of people, who are tight lipped and have a sort of “Touch me not” attitude. They look as though they have forgotten how to smile and the world rests on their slender shoulders. They keep aloof and snap at others at the slightest inconvenience. 

Many enjoy a much needed power nap and I envy those lucky souls who can fall asleep at the drop of a hat. 

Then there are people who aren’t everyday travelers. Their discussion, if women, is usually about mother-in-law problems, children’s school or the latest soap on TV etc. The men usually keep aloof. I haven’t come across two men, complete strangers to each other strike a conversation. That art comes easily to us lady folk.  

Then there is me. I usually do not talk much, but once there is a familiar face, the ball starts rolling. Another habit of mine is to read all the sign boards and hoardings thoroughly. I like to find spelling mistakes and grammar errors in them, and I have a hearty laugh thinking of them whenever I recollect them. For instance, there is this sign board of some quack doctor who has pitched a tent near one of the signals I have to cross each day. I will try to give a verbatim account of the sign board displayed. 

“SOCIAL WORK IS GOD WORK, DOCTOR FOR ALL ILLNESS. DON’T BE AFRAID OR SHY. COME TO CURE FOR ALL PROBLEMS. BP, SUGAR, DIABETESS, POLIO, HURT, WEAKNESS, TOILET, RED AND YELLOW, CHILDREN WEAKNESS, POLIO, LAKWA, SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE, JEANS PROBLEM. CHECKING FEE- RS 10. HOME COMING-20 RS.” 

Each morning, I read this and wonder what Red and Yellow may mean, and does Sugar and Diabetess mean two different illnesses? And what exactly do people with “Jeans Problem” suffer from?

  I enjoy my journeys and feel that they are the best time for people to observe their fellow beings, and a chance to connect back to themselves. My journeys also give me a fresh insight into my city. Each day is a new discovery, though the route and destination is the same.  

I know most of you travel to work by your vehicles, but would love to hear from you, your experiences. Do let me know.

It is very common for people to have pet names and nick names. We all would be very familiar with names like sweety, munni, pinky, chintu, bablu etc.  (some of these pet names are literally those; “pet names”, You can find many naming their pet Pomeranians in the above names). 

We also find that most names that are more than 2 characters long are shortened to a more phonetically easy version…for ex, Madhusudan becomes Madhu, Parimala becomes Pammi, Pankaja becomes Panku, Srinivas becomes Seena and so forth. And this is not just an Indian phenomenon, in the West too, you get to see such shortened names, like Patrick becomes Pat, Jennifer becomes Jenny, Richard becomes Dick, Robert becomes Bob, William becomes Bill….and the list goes on.

 I get ample opportunity to read some really funny nicknames, which are used as aliases by a section of society.

 Here are a few samples. The name Manjunath alone, I have noticed, I guess has the highest number of “Prefixes” attached. I happen to read names like “Manjunath alias —“ the – can be filled up with any or all of the following aliases.

           Blade Manja

          Kathri Manja

          Razor Manja

          Deck Manja

          Don Manja

          Stone Manja

          KoLi Manja

           Anil Kumar alias Idli 

          Srinivasa alias Bhootha Seena

           Kumar alias Pambu 

          Sethu alias Phenyl 

          Raja alias Bikla

           Soma alias Kukka 

The first time I came across these names, I was literally rolling on the floor with laughter but now it is a matter of routine. But I still find it funny and at the same time sad to see some nice names being distorted like this. Most of the people with these nicknames are proud to be identified like this; it gives them a sense of importance. 

We have been so very influenced by these names that almost all of us have a nickname of our own. Now, if someone were to come searching for me, they would have a tough time finding me without my nickname.  

How many of you have some names like this? Let me know. 

Signing off now,  Ta. 

Ok, so here goes. Most of you have been waiting to know about my workplace and surroundings. As I think of work, I smile. There are so many things I wish to say, but how to do that is the million-dollar question.

 Let me list out the positives first.

           Fixed working hours. Past 5.30 in the evening, you are literally shooed out by the establishment staff that would like to finish the cleaning up and lock up the halls.

          You need not be tense that you have a set target for the day. Work can always be kept pending. That is why the department I work is aptly termed “Pending Branch”.

          Fortunately I have a young set of colleagues with a similar mindset. So any amount of work that is assigned gets done in a jiffy and I feel I am back in college.

          Our supervisors are a cool pair; they withstand a lot of leg pulling by the guys and are cool about it. They do not try to show their seniority or power with us.

Now, the negatives:

           Lack of basic facilities. To be very clear, there are not sufficient toilets. And the ones there are, I can use two words to describe them – pathetic and disgusting.

          Indifferent seniors. No one wants to teach us anything. We cannot fathom why.

          Dust. Tons of it. Most of the records we handle are full of dust. To be precise, it is so bad that three days into work, one of our supervisors was admitted to hospital with Respiratory tract infection and had to take rest for nearly 15 days.

What ever, the positives outweigh the negatives. We are being sat on, rather hard. But it’s fun. Simply hilarious sometimes, very disgusting sometimes, utterly depressing at others. We learn to be clinical about things and not take issues seriously, as we have to deal with those files day in and day out. And hence I would say that it has been a nice experience so far, and hope to enjoy it in the days to come.