Wednesday, 23 March 2011

On the edge

Pic by Rehab
When she first moved to Mumbai, everyone told her to be careful on the trains. "Don't stand near the door... it's so crowded that you may fall off," they told her. It wasn't an act of rebelliousness or even fool hardiness, but right from day one, she always stood by the door. Right there. On the edge. She loved how the wind whipped her curls - sometimes over her face, sometimes away. In that 40 minute ride, she forgot how sweaty Mumbai was. She forgot the smoke, the claustrophobia, the smell of sewage, trash and too many people living in too little space.

From her vantage point she could see the clear morning sky, sometimes with puffy white clouds. The greenery along the tracks was the most greenery she saw in any one place in the city. It brought back memories from childhood... of walking along wide roads bordered with trees, sheltering her from the harsh northern summers. The fresh, cool air transported her to the hills, to the treks that she went on in the monsoons.

Standing there also seemed symbolic of her life. Sometimes moving so fast that she just about managed to keep her balance; sometimes precarious, forcing her to pay attention to every little move lest she do irreparable damage; sometimes carefree, like free, unobstructed wind; sometimes a wordless conversation with a nameless stranger. Everyday that edge became a different metaphor to an ever changing life.

Each day now, as she walks the 10 min walk to her office, she sighs, almost wistfully, in memory of those two years.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Corporate lesson - Perception is both the smoke and the fire

In the last week I've been a ringside observer to an interesting "clash of personalities" as I would put it, politically correctly of course, in office. It brought home the first corporate lesson I ever learnt - that intentions matter not one bit. Perception is god. Not your own... but others' perception of you and your actions. No one will ever bother to talk to you or ask you if you really intended something. But they will judge you on what they perceive to be your intentions and motivations. And act on that judgement.

Funnily, while this used to bother the hell out of me three years ago, today I see the practical utility of it in the corporate sphere. In a world where everyone is playing one gigantic game of Chinese whispers, it is simply not practical to attempt fathoming the intent behind every act or, on the other side of it, trying to explain oneself. In an organisation with a few hundred people, judging on actions and consequences is not just practical but almost a heuristic necessity.

The fact that one is judged on one's actions and it's effects on the people around (on the people not the job) alone has its pluses and minuses. For the extremely political (and at the same time prudent), it's a great way to smoke screen your intentions. For the un-political and yet prudent, it makes choices and decisions simple - as long as you can get your intentions and actions to match - you don't have to ever explain yourself. It is however, suicidal for the imprudent. If you are political and imprudent, you will get caught red handed. If you are un-political and imprudent, you will be hanged, most likely without a hearing. 

Monday, 14 March 2011


I'd written something in my diary a while ago and when I revisited that today, I decided it's something I'd like to post here. At the time I wrote it, I was debating between two courses of action - Hamlet's dilemma: To do or not do; To say or keep quiet.

As I was debating my choices my thoughts turned towards a word that has been used and abused and misused in personal and societal contexts - Repression. And on a very personal level this is the conclusion I came to: 
Repression is not what society does to you. It is first and foremost what you do to yourself - because of fears, insecurities, past hurts and other what nots. It's the pessimism that leads to procrastination and sudden out bursts. Staccato, halting steps instead of fluid motion. The only way out perhaps, is to love your self. Love yourself irrespective of anything and for everything. To be completely, irrepressibly in love with life - a task that life makes difficult but hopefully, not impossible.

Image: Corbis