Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dear Sender, I will be Out of Office …

Well you may have often come across people working in MNCs, complaining about their hectic lifestyle, whining about the odd working hours or moaning about those oddly timed conference calls running past midnight. They make their work life look like hell as if each workday they go to office and are made to watch CSI, CSI Miami, CSI NY and C.I.D back to back all day long. Let me tell you the truth. They are all liars … Ah, well most of them are.

Well yes, the life working in an Organization with work interests spread across continents and time zones can be hard but only if you are not smart enough about what you position yourself into. Under the projected back breaking work schedule and the false facade of rough life what such companies offer you is a rare opportunity for those who can find it - to make their work calendar look sexier than Madhuri & Vinod Khanna’s kiss in Dayawan.  

Lost ?? Eh, Let me illustrate.

Over the next few pictures I will impart wisdom that you’ve never been exposed to and will enlighten you to attain nirvana in this very life if you can find the right company, the right profile and the right location.

The main and only trick is -- TO HAVE YOUR BOSS IN A DIFFERENT TIME ZONE !!

That scenario my friends, is the holy grail of the superior-subordinate relationship, the epitome of work satisfaction and that actually is the very life that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar tries to take you to through the ‘Art of Living’ – the life without any stress, worry or anxiety !!

PS: Expecting your boss’s boss to be in a third time zone all together would in all honesty be an overkill, but if you can find it, it would be like having multiple orgasms without you even being a part of love making. But then I must caution you. Over the ages, millions of mortal cubicle dwellers have ruined their lives & careers in search of such a highly improbable scenario … its like … its like a Yeti or a Big Foot, we know its possible & out there, but then who has seen it ??? ... Sigh!

Anyways, Lets Begin:

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real person, living (in London, working at Old Bailey for a company starting with T and with his bosses in India) or dead, is purely coincidental.

Imagine if you may, yourself to be a Data Center Product Manager working in UK, supporting the regions of UK, APAC, India & US with his bosses are in India.

Here’s what the individual public holiday calendars for India, Singapore, UK and US look like for 2012:

Holidays All

Now the fun is not in the Individual calendars, but is in the fact that your total non-working days would be a carefully drawn superset in the composite view diagram of the above four calendars. The non-working days superset thus would be a superimposition of these 4 calendars into one whilst being governed by the following hypothesis: You would not be working if (#1) your region is off, (#2) region you are supporting is off and (#3) your boss’s region is off.

However extending the hypothesis (#3) to your boss, your boss would not be working when your boss’s  boss’s region is off. So we add one more hypothesis of not working as when (#4) your boss’s boss’s region is off.

Now if you combine the 4 calendars along with the above hypothesis into one superset, here’s what you get … Taaadaaaaa  !!!


137 days of blissful holidays …

But, Did I say I was done? … No I am not.

What we have missed is, that the darling that such Companies are they would also offer you 20-25 annual paid leaves and about 10-12 Sick leaves. So why don’t we throw them in the mix and see what it does … Whoa !!!

Holidays_Merge 2 

… 205 holidays !!! Looks beautiful isnt it …

But hey, Did I say I was done yet ? … Well, No I am not.

We all know what weekends mean to us. “But you have already included sat-sun in the above holidays”; you’ll say. Yes I have but here’s what you missed. The day that brings it all – Friday !!

That my friends, along with the fact that whether or not your bosses in India likes it, the earth would always spin about its axis. So every Friday it would already be past mid day his day in India when you get up & ready to hit work in UK. His weekend would already be knocking on his door. And then you would already be drawn into the weekend mode past mid-day your day by the time US gets up & ready to work. So in all there’s hardly anything that you’ll accomplish on a Friday. So why don’t we be practical and throw them in too …

Holidays_Merge 3

So you’ve got to work 112 days a year.

Something does not seem right?

O yes, when we are adding the Fridays, how can we forget the regional holidays … Haan ??

Counting regional holidays & election days for India alone can change the above equation dramatically. Before I stopped keeping count, India had  28 states and 7 union territories and we go to elections more frequently that we celebrate Diwali !! And its not just India that will give you these unexpected off days.United Kingdom for example is not due anytime soon to increase the IQ of an average Brit, to become more than slow stammering 5 year old. So you can always expect this country to come dancing on streets, united in their looniness, every time a prince gets married OR a queen completes yet another decade of rule OR every time the British supreme court lifts the super-injunction off a football legend, thus making it legal for media to publically share pics/videos/tweets of his infidelity with his <insert one of the following> (brother’s/friend’s/captain’s/teammate’s/neighbor’s) <insert one of the following> (Wife/FiancĂ©/Sister/Mother/Brother(??)).

Am telling you even by a modest guesstimate of 30 off days a year against this bracket including all regions wont be a overkill. So here’s what you are left with:

Holidays_Merge 4

So my friends in all you have about 290 holidays and a total of 76 working days … 76 !!

That’s like 7 days per month !!! Those late night conference call with US are suddenly not looking that bad, eh ??

But then, did I say I was done yet? … Well, No as a matter of fact I am not.

Now while the above work calendar already looks better than the best front foot cover drive that ever came out from Tendulkar's bat, there’s still more.

See, my dear statistics believing friends, probability tells us that there is no chance that the 25 annual leaves and 12 Sick leaves of yours that you have mapped on the above superset would sync perfectly to a similar calendar of your boss and your boss’s boss when they map their annual leaves & sick leaves on to their respective supersets. So their would be a maximum of 37 leave days of your boss’s boss when your boss would be not-working and another maximum of 37 leave days  of your boss when your boss would not be working.


Leave it, all am saying is that by extension a maximum of 74 additional days Days can be added to hypothesis (#3).

Even if you take a modest view and include just 15 – 20% of the above to convert as holidays, it would give like a total of 52 days to work in a year.


That’s, That’s like 1 days per week !!!!  < wink .. wink :) >

Do I even need to share a pic for that view ??

Well, now while penning this article 2 months ahead of my annual appraisal in March may not have been the smartest thing I have done off late, but it sure has been liberating. So while am at it, let me also say what am going to say now - If you thought that I was done and you would definitely need to work for at least 54 days a year … you most certainly don’t deserve this position.

See for any MBA graduate worth his salt - to make 1 excuse per week to not to come to office,,, is what an upper cut is to Sehwag or what head butting is to Zidane .. It their natural instinct.

So all am saying is that if you have it in you to make 1 excuse per week, you’ve have got a job at hand that will give you the one thing, that William Wallace died fighting for all his life – FREEDOM !!!

But please o please do be innovative in those last minute frantic calls to your boss. Explore your mind and you can easily avoid the clichĂ©d ‘not-well’, ‘struck in traffic jam’ or ‘death in family’, to come up with gems of excuses that will become case studies for generations to come.

Illustrated Example: Monday morning 9:15 AM, just when you know your boss is about to inquire reason of your being offline from office communicator, you call him; “Hey chief, I wont be going to office today, the wireless broadband guy is coming in to troubleshoot … helloooo … hellooo … hey, droping signal in lift … hellooo … <Click. Disconnect>”. Now if you’ll carefully observe, what you’ve done is that in a stoke of genius you’ve not only delivered a master excuse to not turn up in office for the day (any boss would shudder at the possibility of you not having internet at home) but also subtly mentioned that you would not even be working from home for that day (its the wireless broadband that is not working remember !!).

I have more of these masterstrokes but that calls for a separate post altogether.       

Anyways,  now before I end let me tell you I am looking to hire someone in Singapore. Remember, I am in UK and my boss is in India .. Send me your resumes if you’re interested !!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

O Lal Meri Pat Rakhiyo; Dama Dam Mast Qalandar

I just love this song. And if you like music, it is impossible that you at some point have not been driven into a trance by this mesmerizing piece of sufi music which is but one of the countless gems of the rich cultural heritage of the Indian sub-continent. Countless singers & artists from Pakistan & India have given their voice to this sufiana magic, originally written in praise of Hazrat Lal Shabaz Qalander. From Nusrat saab to Allah Jilai Bai, from Runa Laila to Abida Parveen, in a bit modern version from Junoon to Hans Raj Hans, various masters of their gifts through the generations have explored new depths with this song. Each version equally melodious and each one adding his own soul to this cry from heart to ‘Hazrat’.

Love as we know may be a mix of unparallel emotions, feelings or faith of varying strength towards a person, a cause, a belief, a relation or a thought. Love as we experience may be defined around or be free from the grasps of expectations and in its own way lets you put your beloved before you, your wants, needs and desires. Making no claim of what I am saying is right I would say Sufism takes this definition of Love beyond defined or know boundaries. Sufi music for that matter leaves no differentiation between the lover and the beloved, the beloved here being the God or that one elusive truth you seek. You seek him while knowing he is in you and that takes your love above desires, wants, expectations of love in return or even beyond being affected by his wrath. That’s the beauty of Sufi music, it makes you be so much at peace with yourself that you seem to even love the hardships coming your way as you become one with that one you seek.

Music has not language they say and rightly so. But knowing the meanings of the words beaded together in this song to weave its magic, takes this song which while sung originally in praise of Hazrat, to a new level.

“O laal meri pat rakhio bala jhoole laalan, Sindri da Sehvan da, sakhi Shabaaz kalandar, Dama dam mast kalandar, Ali dam dam de andar”

Loosely traslated as; “O the red robed, May I always have your benign protection, Jhulelal, O the lord, the friend and the Sire of Sindh and Sehwan (or Serwan ),The red robed God-intoxicated Qalandar, you who have mastered life, glory unto to you.”

Born Syed Hussein Shah, this sufi saint was and is known to his followers as Hazrat Lal Shabaz Qalander, a name where each word has a meaning and or legend attached to it. Hazrat  is an Arabic a title used ahead of names as a mark of respect, pretty much akin ‘His Holiness’ or ‘Your honour’ used in English language. “Lal” is used to refer to him as he was fond of wearing red attire. Also fondly parents in this part of the world call their child lal, here Hazat is probably referred to as Lal or son of god. “Shah” means king & “Baaz” means falcon; the title Shahbaaz apparently also goes with another legend associated with him that he once turned into a falcon and saved his friend from the gallows. Qalander a word of Persian origin is a title given to wandering sufi dervishes, he is also referred to as Qalandar as he was from the Qalandria order of Sufism. Hazrat Lal Sahbaaz Qalandar is also referred to by his followers as “Jhule Laal”. He hailed from Marwand in Afghanistan and finally settled in Sehwan in Sindh, Pakistan, the places which are invoked in this song. “Pat(t)” while used in different connotations at different places, here loosely refers to ‘honor’.

Dam;'breath in' & Adam;'breath out' colloquially sung as Dama-Dum, refers to a person who has mastered the control of his breath thus taking control over self and knowing the secrets to remains happy forever. Ali called here is to incite Ali though Hazrat.

“Chaar charaag tere baran hamesha, Panjwa mein baaran aayi bala jhoole laalan … O panjwa mein baaran aayi bala jhoole laalan, Sindri da Sehvan da, sakhi Shabaaz Qalandar,”

Loosely translated as; “Your shrine is always lighted with four lamps, And here I come to light a fifth lamp in your honor.

“Hindh sindh peera teri naubat vaaje,, Naal vaje ghadiyaal bala jhoole laalan … O Naal vaje ghadiyaal bala jhoole laalan, Sindri da Sehvan da, sakhi Shabaaz Qalandar,”

Loosely translated as; “Your heroic name ring out across (Naubat khanas) in Hind & Sindh (or lets the gongs bell loud ), Let the gong ring loud for your glory day and night by the people.”

The word ‘Naubat' originated from the Persian word 'Naubat' which means a traditional ensemble of nine musical instruments. Among other the main instruments comprising the Naubat as we know them now are Shehnai, Tabla, Drum, Nafiri (long clarinet), Flute and a Gong. In fact Naubat Khana or Naqqar khanas are a distinct feature of Mughal Architechture. Found in royal palaces these were the drum houses or orchestra pits during ceremonies. In India Ustad Bismillah Khan’s family has played shehnai for generations in the Naubatkhana at Red Fort, Delhi, which overlooked palaces and temples, and enabled their music to be heard across the countryside.

Some also sing this as Ghanan ghanan teri Naubat vaaje.

“Har dam peera teri khair hove, Naam-e-ali beda paar laga jhoole laalan … O Naam-e-ali beda paar laga jhoole laalan, Sindri da Sehvan da, sakhi Shabaaz Qalandar,”

Loosely translated as; “O Lord, may you prevail every time, everywhere, I pray of your well being, In the name of Ali, I pray to you to help my boat cross the river of life in safety

Search ‘Lal Meri pat Rakhiyo’ on You Tube and a score of versions would pop up. Here’s one of my personal favorite by none other than the master himself – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Also sitting in the group (if you noticed), a young boy then, is another legend on the making Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. If you hear some of the original records (Akhiyan Udeek Diyan for example) from Nusrat saab you can recognize a unmistakable alaap by Rahat. In most qawwalis its just a alaap, but you sure cant miss to recognize the distinct voice and the commendable attempt trying to measure up to the God of voice.  Interesting if you like this kind of music …

Saturday, January 14, 2012

How do I look ??

No no, relax,, I am not seeking your honest opinion on my personality. I do know that, that wont be the best of starts for a new year for any one of us. This my friends is more about this perennial question itself. A question that you may have come across many a times in different shapes & forms. On the onset it looks like a simple query, harmless, innocent to the extent of being a drag. But don’t be fooled by its cunning disguise, this question my fellow brethren from mars is the single most cunningly disguised plan against all the male species on earth.

The plot is deep, the plot old and the plan is bloody fail proof. See the one rule that Jesus, Allah, Ram, Nanak or the one God in the form & shape that you know him gave to mankind was that if you lie even once in life for your own good you would have no place in paradise in the afterlife. Men heard it and just nodded their heads, ‘That’s ok dude what else’ they said, the women however gave it a thought, rolled their eyes, took their time and came up with the impregnable question for their men - - - -  How do I look?

It a bloody ruthless trap. And if you are a man then you would know better that it is tirelessly thrown at you again and again until you fall for it. No one in the history of mankind can claim not to have never been a victim of this perfect crime irrespective of what you may have replied. And its not just the answer that will tear off your ticket to heaven. Its the way you say it, the speed with with you respond, body language, positioning of eyes, shaking of our earlobes and whatnot …. Do what you may, reason to doom you would somehow appear. Sometimes for example it may be your act. For example am pretty sure that to start with it was Eve who ate the forbidden apple first and then when she knew she was dammed she tossed another apple to Adam, came out from behind the bush and spoke in a low husky voice - - - How do I look? …… Apple did not get the man, the question did, and rest as they say is a story.

Anyways, while each man is responsible and mostly solo witness to his own doomed fate on answering this ill fated query, there is one place where the response becomes public, and the humiliation is to be shared with an audience ….. Outside the fitting rooms in shopping malls !!!

If an angel dies ever time a person lies, then the sale period around holidays is a bloody plague season for them,, waiting area outside the fitting rooms their graveyard and poor unsuspecting husbands & boyfriends their death daemons. Nowhere else in the world can you see an army of otherwise righteous, god-fearing and pious looking gentlemen lying through his teeth in series one after the other …. If you are telling me you have spoken nothing but the truth standing at that place, you’ve just killed another angel.

man happy.jpegThe sad part of it is that you cant help it … Lets me take you to a sample store with a nice sale offer on a warm sunny day …

Men accompanied with their chosen ones come in the shops with their happiness in their eyes, spring in their feet, songs on their lips, money in their wallets and moods high in anticipation of something they would be able to get for themselves. Little do these unsuspecting poor sacrificial lambs know that all of these would be snatched away from them by the ill fated finger of not fate but the damsels whom they themselves selected. (PS: Thats the bitch of it!)

Anyways their high spirits are soon dampened with their better turned bitter halves parading them through the female section of the shop floor tirelessly hunting for gold in the long line of clothes that the store has put on display for the single reason of they having not been able to sell that crap through the season. Oxymoron as it may sound, almost always most of these damsels are able find their perfect dream dresses in that heap of otherwise season long discards.


man sad.jpeg And after hours of this mad frenzy of rushing from one aisle to another, mentally mapping the aisles to be attacked in priority, almost snatching of clothes from other shoppers, comes the dreaded walk to the one area in the shop that is every man’s worst nightmares – The Fitting Rooms !! <add doomsday music>. By now the shopping spirits of majority of the men is already broken and they are reduced to mere slaves of the finger motion and eyes contact of their women. The unending wait outside the fitting rooms would do the trick, for the last few remaining ones who still see light at the end of men’s section tunnel.

As a new couple approaches the waiting area of the fitting room, quick glances are exchanged. The waiting men do a quick scan of the new cat and her kill. They act as one big clan in analyzing the couple and the common feeling towards the approaching man varies from sympathy to hatred depending on how many garments for trial his lady is carrying. The one with his woman carrying most trial garments gains the highest position in the clan with special privileges like right to sit in the few available seating spots in the waiting area and ignorance by other members of the clan at large to his leeching looks at others wives. He can be spared a murder, for the sheer torture he is in for. Such an empathy from this group towards a man walking in with his wife carrying say more than 20 garments matches in intensity only to the common grief & sympathy towards a husband hosting condolence on the untimely demise of his newly wed wife.

Quietly the newcomer joins the clan at his level of hierarchy and waits patiently for the missus to come out and look at him with just one question in her eyes. No words are generally spoken at this point but the letters in her eyes convey a loud and clear – HOW DO I LOOK? And this cycle goes on. This is but the price you have to pay to be in a relationship. Painful as it may sound it also brings some happiness to men. Puzzled? Well marriages or relationships may directly bring any evident happiness for a man but only when one is in it, does he realize how petty all his earlier issues & pains were. Only then can he truly experience glimpses of happiness, even if that is in his nostalgia of his such untroubled past.

Waiting in that dreaded area, looking at others as these thoughts cross your mind, almost always there suddenly appears this intriguingly dressed lady of waist size 48 and bust size 52, who has somehow managed to get herself into a 32’’ waist dress. As she comes out all eyes scan the waiting area, other men looking around more eagerly than her, trying to find the poor husband who would be in direct line of damage of this hurricane. Not coz they empathize with him, but so that the pain & suffering in his eyes can act as a soothing balm on their own. Weird, GOD gives you pain and miseries but if you are a true believer he also gives you means to ease your pain by bringing in your sight others whose pains out measures yours … Who are we to question his ways.

Anyways this massacre of male emotions goes on every single day in every single store. Only faces change.

Men come and men go,,, and then there are those men who stay behind at these waiting areas of the fitting room, long after their wives have gone to billing counter,, wait showing on their faces, their eyes pasted at the fitting room door, eagerly waiting for the appearance of the blonde who went in to try the minis ………