Friday, May 28, 2010

Where do babies come from? From Eggs of course!

Now the kid is almost three, she has started asking us questions. Questions that aren’t always easy to answer. For instance take the one from this morning. The three of us were lazing around on bed, in that beautiful state between 'just waking up' and 'fully awake'. For once, the husband wasn't nagging me about the time and issuing dire warnings and predictions of me missing the office cab. The said fellow was instead busy rubbing his stubble laden cheeks wondering whether to shave or not. This must have piqued my daughter's curiosity. Out she popped a question.
Appa, why do girls not have moustaches and beards like guys? Like you?
The guy took his time to answer. I was happy to just observe thanking the sun that she didn't direct that particular question to me.
Hmm, that's because girls' moustaches and beards go in to their head and come out from the head as long hair. See, appa doesn't have long hair whereas amma has long hair, right? And amma doesn't have moustache!
Ah, good answer I thought (me not having a moustache I mean ;) ). Before I could finish that thought, she went again.
But I don’t have long hair! And I don’t have moustache too!
Identity crisis? I can’t believe my almost-three daughter is on the verge of an identity crisis. How is he going to handle that one?
Oh, you have to grow up tall to get moustache and long hair. You drink your milk then you shall get your long hair.
She seemed satisfied with that explanation and got distracted by something else. Thank god I have a husband who thinks quickly on his feet.

The other day it was my turn to be at the receiving end of a question. Fortunately, it turned out easy thanks to lessons in ABC.
Amma, where do babies come from?
While I was desperately trying to whack my brain to come up with a suitable, non-biological answer, the kid really really made me proud by coming up with an answer herself.
From E for eggs, right?
Of course! Babies do come from eggs, don’t they? I happily smiled my agreement and escaped from the spot before she came up with other additions to it.

I do love this stage though – I’ve been waiting for her questions and I just decided that I am going to document all of them here at the blog if possible :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finally.....I did it!

After writing posts like this, this, and this, and hoping things like this and this will help me to stop talking and start acting, I've finally found the impetus to do the inevitable - I've resigned to become a freelancer! I wouldn't exactly call this decision the one. Who knows I might chicken out and join the corporate bandwagon again after a few months of trying to be on my own but at least I will die knowing I did it. Knowing I tried hard, very hard I hope, to make a living independent of corporate restrictions and sorry bosses. Monthly salaries and false securities. Misplaced loyalties and misunderstood sentiments. Matching skills and mismatched ambitions. Stolen coffee breaks and hushed conversations. Oh, that last one really gets my goat - hushed conversations. For a loud mouth like me, restrictions on how loud I can talk and how loud I can't really really turns me off.

So ya, I am going to be a freelancer post July. I shall be undertaking assignments in Writing and Marketing communications. I might do a bit of Editing/Proofreading too to bring in more money. But I'm really hoping that I will improve my writing portfolio - get a few articles published in papers & magazines and get rid of the ever haunting writer's block called laziness.

I also want to get involved in creative projects where the role is hazy but satisfaction immense - perhaps content work for a film or documentary. I can imagine that will be nice.

I am thinking of consulting for startups too - primarily in Marketing Communications and Sales Support. You know, the whole marketing plan and execution thing mainly on online mediums? Helping them respond to RFPs and tenders and other sales support activities they might need help with. I shy away from calling it Social Media consulting as I don't want to be slotted into that particular peg for some reason.

And what else? Oh yes, how can I forget? I want to start working for a non-profit or NGO, preferably working with children, on a part-time basis. I will probably approach the Parikrma Foundation and ask them if they have something for me.

Hopefully, I will find my sweet spot and make this work for me. But it does look daunting when I think of the money. When I think of not having the 31st to look forward to every month. When I won't have to update the credit/debit in the Excel sheet that I maintain oh so religiously (only the debit part it :P ) on the 5th of every month. It is a bit scary too when I consider that my dream of creating a 'mini-forest' and 'angel circle of flowers' might not be feasible on a freelance income. I do so want to have my own garden to plant some Mangoes, Tomatoes and Jasmine. But maybe I should be content with being independent and reserve that garden for the next birth. Maybe. And then there's the company - I'm sure I am going to miss those coffee breaks and lunch chatter. :(

Meanwhile, the heart insists on being unafraid. The mind is the devil trying to bring in negative thoughts and fear but the heart's refusing to listen. The mind then gets scared - oh shucks, you must be afraid, you must! Else unspeakable things might happen, listen to me, listen to me you. But no, she is on her merry journey, no backward glance ever dear, she says.

I hope so.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stories to share

I have two stories to share. Stories that speak of hope, enthusiasm, empathy, a little greed, and of possible, suspected selfishness. The first one is because I wanted to help someone else and the second one was because of trying to help myself. I must warn you that both have a bad ending as stories go. The first one is longer because I always have more eloquence at the beginning of a post and the last one is smaller because I always get impatient when I’m nearing the end of something. Read on now.

It must have been mid-morning and as usual I am being social with my mobile on the way to an office that is an hour and half long far commute. It does get boring at times and I am usually looking for ways to entertain myself. Suddenly, I see a tweet that goes ‘I’m desperately looking for someone in Bangalore who has a PayPal account and who is willing to help me.’ On this particular day, the ‘social’ angle of the personality is spiking and I shoot a reply saying “me, me, how can I help?”. Before I know, I’ve been requested for a small sum of money – could I give it to this person in INR in exchange for the dollar equivalent which will be transferred to my PayPal? Well, yes I can but…No, I need it urgently, you know I have to pay my son’s school fee? And tomorrow morning is the cut-off – so could you please withdraw the INR and keep it ready for giving it to me? And no problem, I shall come over wherever you are to collect it. Um, okay, I guess I can….I just transferred the $115 to your PayPal, can you check and confirm? Oh yes, it’s there in my account …okay then, all set. I shall come over tomorrow.

I’m obviously not giving you all the details here but suffice it to say that the money exchanged hands the next morning. But I’m missing two important things I did do to ensure some sort of authenticity to this deal. I did check my PayPal account to verify if the said dollar has reached my account. And I did tell the person that I did not want to withdraw the dollar to my bank – can I just send it back to his PayPal account, and once he gets the money in INR, he can just transfer it to my bank here? Agreed, signed and executed.

Two days goes by. Can I please share my bank account details? The person has got the INR and would like to give it back but wait don’t give back the dollar just yet (remember this – this may very well be the saving grace at the end of this story). So I give my account details after a couple of reminders and then wait. And wait some more but no news from the other end. Then one fine morning at around 8:30 I get a SMS. I’m urgently in need of a big sum – some 15000 bucks – I’ve been hospitalized and I’m just short of this amount for a surgery that has been scheduled in a few hours. Please, can you give this to me? Hold on, hold on, something tells me. I reply back, with a little regret, ‘Sorry, I do not have that kind of ready cash on hand which I can give you in three hours’. I’m not sure if I received a reply or not. I write him another message, with a little concern this time, ‘please take care of yourself, I will withdraw the dollar after all, you get well soon.’ No reply to this one, I’m sure. He must have already been wheeled to the theater or something.

Fast forward a few more days. I realize I have 115 dollars lying in my PayPal account gathering cyber dust. I decide to withdraw it. I login and to my rude shock find that 5 dollars from the amount has been deducted as some sort of fees to PayPal. And it says that if I return back the money to the sender, this charge will be reversed. I quickly calculate what a 5 dollar is worth and decide that it’s not worth it to withdraw the money to my bank (there are more charges to withdrawing the money too – I will eventually lose some Rs.250 in the entire transaction). I send the person a Direct Message asking him to inform me when he is back in action – I would like the INR after all and would like to return back the dollar. I wait a few days – no reply. Then I check his stream – he does seem to have come back to form going by some of his personal tweets. So why isn’t he replying? I get impatient. I withdraw the money to my bank because I’m running short of some money this time and in the process I lose some money in banking transaction charges.

And till date, I haven’t got a reply from this person. All I got in return to the favor is a tweet that went ‘she is such a nice person, you must follow her today being that this is Follow Friday day’. That was when I gave him the 5k. So thank you, awfully nice of you but where is my reply?

Cut to the chase. I describe this to a few friends over lunch one day and everyone laughs at me for being so gullible. What if this guy was trying to con me? Did I know the source of this dollar amount – what if it was from illegal transactions (meaning not accounted for at India) and this person was just trying to convert it to INR in the safest means possible? Didn’t this person have relatives or friends here who could have given him 5000 bucks? Why all the dollar-INR game? And hear hear, the request for the bigger amount later turns the entire thing sinister. Didn’t I get even a little suspicious? Sharing bank account details with a complete stranger? Unheard of!

I did get suspicious. After hearing these from my friends. So that’s the moral of the story. Which I am not really sure I understand fully. So is trusting someone blindly a fault, especially if I’ve never met that person before? Or is suspecting a person a fault entirely based on trivial discussions over lunch? After all, he might very well have missed seeing my single message to him for returning the INR. Oh well, I just wrote that off as another stupid thing I have done in my life. I don’t really want to go back to him and check what happened. Just not interested. Only that Rs.250 could have been given to someone who needed it more – but that is my ‘oh ye of superior moral and generosity’ speaking.

Let’s move to the next story.

I get a message – ‘hey, you look to be very interested in all this entrepreneur things. I’m an E myself and would like to send you an email, can you share the address?”. I reply back blandly with the address. I get an impressive email asking me to help connect this person to other co-entrepreneurs who might be interested in starting a venture with him. But mind you, the language of the email never once says ‘start a venture with me’ – it just says ‘I’m looking for people with these kind of skills’. I hit the reply – “sure, will pass on the message’. “No, no, the email is meant for you too. From what I’ve observed online of your activities, I think you will make a great co-entrepreneur. I’m looking for someone who can take care of my entire marketing need for my business’.

Yours truly gets excited. The two of us meet a couple of times. The man has a way with words, I must admit but unfortunately, so do I. At the end of it all, after a particularly candid email from me saying ‘marketing is marketing and not business dev’ he walks away with an email ‘Uh, I’m actually looking for a business development guy who can help me sell and you can’t be that person if you can’t envision yourself to be a co-creator’. Ya, right sirjee, it’s your dream, your idea and you want me to help you achieve it but I should not call myself your employee but your co-entrepreneur’? You got to be kidding me?!

The moral of this one is that everyone is out to get their dreams fulfilled and they will use fancy words to get others to believe in them. But I wish they will be more honest and forthright like me. I hate dealing and wasting time with people who talk all vision and balk at the first sign of reality.

So those are the two stories. Hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed going through the experience. I did warn you that I get impatient when I’m nearing the end!

Adios till the next lot of them.