Monday, January 24, 2011

The Greens of Long-Distance Relationships

Ashok and I have had a long-distance relationship for many years and I think that qualifies me to write about it. Since everyone knows the blues of long-distance relationships – travel, double household expenses and above all, staying away from each other, I decided to throw some light on the greens.

Respect for each other’s career choices: Long-distance relationships are 99% of the time the result of career choices. When both of them are employed and the decision is not simply about the money, it calls for an understanding and respect for one’s career from the other partner. In many cases, the girl inevitably has to make the career change and while it may be practical because of a number of reasons in some cases, in most others, she simply does not have a choice. So any partner, who is willing to try a long-distance relationship for the sake of the other, immediately takes a Vishwarupam in the other’s heart.

Keeps passion alive: A relationship always survives on love but the zsa zsa zu is needed to keep the spark alive. Many of us can easily spot people who are newly weds or couples who have just started dating. This is mainly because they have too little time and too much to say/do and hence have eyes only for each other. This precisely works for a long-distance relationship where weekends are exclusively reserved for the other partner and everyone/everything else ceases to exist. Ashok amma used to make fun of me for calling her on Friday evening saying that I was saving my time over the weekend for Ashok and getting the phone calls to families out of the way! Well…guilty as charged!

More consideration and compassion: Well, its hard to fight with someone on the phone and in the age of cordless and mobile phones, its even harder to bang the phone down and create the appropriate effect. When one comes home tired after traveling, the other, however angry, will push the anger aside and choose a warm welcome instead. So its more or less abusing the absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder logic ! In addition to that, it teaches a partner (especially a man) the value of housekeeping. Being alone and fending for himself makes him more open to helping with household chores (although I have to say that nowadays most men I know do this).

Allows more traveling: Long-distance relationships mean travel…duh! So it makes taking vacations and traveling for pleasure even easier. I can’t keep count of the weekends Ashok and I spent in another European city like Madrid or Hamburg or Verona. We figured “Why meet in Munich? Why not meet elsewhere if it means traveling the same distance?”. Not to mention all the additional flying miles one accrues and that ends up as a free ticket later ! In the last week of 2010, we had just come back from a trip and we spent 4 days at home without doing anything – no travel, no restaurants, no outings, nothing (except of course grocery shopping). At the end of the 4th day, on New Year’s Eve, when we were going out to watch the fireworks, we suddenly realized that it was the first time that year we had spent 4 days at home without any plans!

Avoids the ‘we’ syndrome: We love that restaurant, we hate that movie, well, there is nothing wrong in being “we” but many couples very often lose perspective of the “I”. I personally feel that its very important to retain one’s individuality. While one learns new things for the sake of a partner and makes changes w.r.t a few other things, a relationship should not mean losing one’s identity. Ashok takes part in chess games and tournaments, I blog. He plays squash, I like table tennis. He started dancing since I like dance and I started showing interest in history since he loves it. So while we do things in common during the weekend, we also keep our separate interests alive during the week.

Time for friends: For many people (unfortunately here people means girls), a marriage (or even a relationship) means hardly any time for friends. Somehow even in this social networking age, some people never find or rather take the time to keep in touch with friends and the first excuse they give is “busy with partner” (I say excuse because the partner may still have time to keep in touch with his friends). The excuse ceases to exist, when the partner is not in town during the week.

Of course this may not work for everyone but when it works, it fosters trust and builds a foundation that makes one say “evalavo pannitom, idha panna mudiyadha” !

Well, as always, I need a disclaimer to safeguard myself. This article is in no way intended to recommend couples to have long-distance relationships. It should only serve to enlighten those who are in one such relationship and cannot see the silver lining. Any decisions you make are wholly yours and neither the author, nor the examples given can be cited to suggest otherwise :D !

Monday, January 17, 2011

Attention, (Indian) Employers !

A girl who has just written her final year engineering exams attends a campus interview for a huge MNC. She hears nothing from them for nearly 5 weeks and then suddenly one day the appointment letter arrives by post asking her to join work in 2 days in a different city. In addition to that, the letter also has a list of requirements from getting the provisional certificate to registering at various places.

I cannot believe that the employer is dumb enough to assume that the girl is some version of superman and can fly and get all these things done in a day, pack, move to a totally different city, find a place to live in and still be ready to start working at 9am the next day.

The girl is obviously anxious, calls HR, gets an extension of 5 days, hurriedly does everything (not to mention the parents who work round the clock to help accomplish this in addition to all other things they normally have to do), goes to the new city, finds temporary accommodation after spending a whole day going around the city and arrives on the joining day exhausted and even more anxious!

Is the employer increasing productivity by making the freshers join a week in advance? Wouldn’t it better if all candidates were given at least 2 weeks time to be prepared, especially when they are just stepping into their careers from student life? When HR already knows that the candidates are going to ask for an extension, can they not save all this drama by being a little considerate? Why take the freshers for granted? Is such behaviour going to give the employer loyalty and respect from those freshers?

An NRI wants to move back to India for good. He has a telephonic interview with a MNC at 7am in the morning (because of a 4 hour time difference with India). Its 7:45 am and he is still waiting. He writes an email to the person with whom he has interview asking if there is a change of plan. He gets a reply in 2 minutes saying that the person is in a meeting with a client and will call back later.

Would it have been difficult to send this email 45 minutes ago informing the NRI of the change? It would have been clear from the NRI’s resume that he is currently working and has a job to go to and cannot sit around for 45 minutes doing nothing. How can a group lead at an MNC not even have this basic courtesy?

The interview is rescheduled and this time the group lead is again 20 minutes late. Neither does he inform about this in advance nor does he apologise for being late.

Following the interview, a video conference is set up. The NRI has now taken an afternoon off and is sitting in a video conference facility. He has a presentation prepared and is expecting 4 people to be present. As usual, they are late. 3 of them turn up in 15 min and the fourth in 25 min. No apologies, as usual. He starts presenting; one of them sitting right in front of the webcam starts chewing a samosa loudly while 2 others are discussing among themselves. Patiently he finishes presenting and then answers a few questions. He is told that he will be informed of their decision in a week.

2 weeks pass by and there is no response, so he writes an email asking them for an update. 2 more weeks pass by without a response.

The NRI writes to HR saying that he is withdrawing his application. Who would want to work with a bunch of people, with absolutely no professional ethics whatsoever ?!?

Does applying for a job translate to “I need a favor from you and so you can take me for granted”? (Indian) Employers, please understand that it means “I have skills that I think will be of use to your company and your company has prospects that will help me grow”. It is a mutually beneficial relationship and until both the employer and employee understand this, there can never be a healthy work environment.

I have heard of number of people in India who change jobs just because they get a better package elsewhere and have seen a number of employers complain. I am not saying that its always the fault of the employers. But before expecting loyalty from the employees, they should think if they did at least a few things right to deserve such a loyalty. Paying a salary does not guarantee that because it is not money given away, it is money given for services rendered.

Unfortunately (or rather fortunately) there are certain things beyond money….

….for everything else, there is master card :D !

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This and That

In search of a dirty bachelor....
Half-eaten pizza boxes, clothes strewn all over the place, dirty floors, all in all a messy room – what does this remind you of ? The most likely answer is probably ‘a bachelor’s room’ but where is this room and more importantly, where is this bachelor? None of my male friends at the University of Stuttgart lived in such a messy room. In fact, some of their rooms were neat enough to embarrass me and make me wonder about my housekeeping abilities!! I have also visited (and sometimes without giving notice) friends from college or cousins who live alone and never have I seen a messy bachelor room....well, except in the movies. I have a feeling that some lazy guy started this rumor of being cool, if you don’t keep your place clean and it kinda stuck and even guys who are otherwise neat probably brag to their friends that they aren’t!

Nenachu nenachu siricha oru joke, something I heard recently...
Two people in a train
first one: enna sir, endhooruku ticket eduthurukeenga ?
other one: idhu mana desam, mana prajalu, mana rayilu, manaku enduku babu ticketu ?
first one: ''Without''nu ivalo velavariya solreenga !

One-stop shop is the way to go....
When you are looking for a house to rent, it means you are moving and in a place like Germany, where everyone loves paperwork, moving means piles of paperwork and changing your address at every place from the local city office to the library. So Immobilienscout does a brilliant job of pointing you to websites that offer services to people who move and for free
- you can order boxes for packing (umzugskarton)
- you can find the best movers or painters
- you can intimate the change of address to banks or insurance or telecom by just a click of a button
- If a particular organization will not accept an online change of address then you have a formal letter generator (in german) that you just have to print and post !
- You can find the best electric power supplier in your region
and the list goes on…
Idea mani asks: why not have a link to ebay to find used furniture in the same area ?

PS: am wondering if I should make "this and that" a series....hmm...

PPS: How do I label this post ??

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Desis, Start Sketching !

I was recently talking to a friend who works with 3D printing (some samples of 3D printing are here) and is thinking of starting a business of his own. He sent me his prototype website for feedback and the first thing that occurred to me was that he was working only with CAD models when a lot of modelers are switching to Google Sketchup. After his initial doubts, he started using it and now he tells me that he is amazed with its capabilities and is extremely grateful to me for suggesting it.

Like the webpage claims, you can model anything in 3D. Needless to say, a lot of people have been modeling buildings in their towns and every now and then a supermodeler is recognised and appreciated by the community. The most recent one, as far as I know, is Tang, whose goal is to model Taiwan. Check out some of his amazing models here.

So far I have seen many such supermodelers from all over the world but I am still missing someone from India. Given that India has so many beautiful places and buildings and even more talented people, this should not be this hard.

Constructing 3D buildings in one's hometown would be a great school level or even undergraduate level project. I say home town because in that case it would be easier to take photos of the buildings/monuments (to add the photo textures to the 3D model) and take in-situ measurements if there is a particularly difficult feature to model.

If enough initiative is shown by a particular school/town, Google may even be ready to sponsor some other activities in that place.

The board of tourism could use this tool to popularise some of the less known places in India Most international tourists only know two things about India - the Taj Mahal and Ayurveda. At best, they know about Rajasthan. The Karnak temple, the Vitthala temple and ruins in Hampi, various temples in Tamilnadu and so many more places can be brought to the attention to millions of Google users by means of Skechup.

The tool is free, is relatively easy to use and there are tonnes of training material and user forums available to help guide makkale, give it a try and start Sketching !

PS: I would have loved to show a sample model that I created but certain rules in the industry I work in prevent me from doing so but I am sure Google search can help answer all your questions.

PPS: If I did miss any skechup supermodelers from India, please let me know, I will be really happy to get to know them !

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Of kids and brats

There are 2 things one never does - tell a bride that she is marrying the wrong guy and if you outlive that mistake then never tell a parent his/her child is a brat !

There was a time when I thought all kids were cute and sweet...I was a confused teenager who was used to heros falling in love with heroines who loved kids or vice versa. But the cuteness and sweetness will disappear when you spend some time with kids who have been pampered and spoilt by the parents and your inability to do nothing in such a situation drives you insane !

Frankly I cannot love all kids unconditionally. The only reason some kids get the 'unconditional-love' cards are because I love at least one of their parents unconditionally. So meeting one of the kids without this card is always tricky.

First of all, when people become parents they undergo a transformation. All parents think their child/children is/are the best and quite a few actually expect others to fall in with that as well. Parents, please understand that a visitor may not share your enthusiasm for watching 100 photos of your child eating cereal or listening to your description of your child's antics for the whole day (the aww feeling stops after an hour) !

I usually get along well with most kids and I never meet them without presents (so that makes me Santa Claus in their eyes and that helps :D). I also enjoy the little pleasures in life that one experiences in the presence of a kid. A friend's kid once drew me a picture (more like a scribble) and gave it to me as a present. I still have it and treasure it. If only the world was only made of such sweet kids.....

I do understand that kids get cranky when they are hungry or sleepy or sick and that's understandable. But there are certain kids who are so spoilt and mean, they know that all they have to do is to throw a tantrum to get their way. I don't like giving parenting advice (and I shouldn't since I don't have kids of my own), so all I do when I encounter such brats is to make a mental note as to never visit the parents again for the next few years (during which I hope the child grows up and learns to behave).

Ashok has a strict rule of not traveling with kids as long as the travel is not to a restaurant or a park and I used to think that he was impatient. But when I came back from a day trip to a nice city with some friends and their kids and couldn't remember what I saw because of the incessant crying and adam pidichufying I decided that he had a point.

For all I know, my kids could end up being brats (Oh dear God, I hope not!) and I would probably be blissfully unaware of that fact but until that day comes, I can choose when and where I want to be with kids !

Monday, January 3, 2011

Some things change....

Happy New Year Readers ! Don't worry it is not one of these new-year-resolution posts. I actually planned to write one last week in a pathetic attempt to bring the number of posts in 2010 to 100 but I decided that I liked '99' (read couldn't come up with any new year resolutions!)

Now think of concentric circles……(Time for a Flashback)

I first met him at a Hindi class. Remember those Rashtra basha, praveshika classes?? God I hated those! Is that anyway to learn Hindi? I attribute all my knowledge in Hindi to Shahrukh and his romantic (or what I thought was romantic as a stupid teenager) movies. Anyway I am digressing. He was a quiet guy always minding his own business and uttering only a few words. I liked him instantly but I was puzzled by his aloofness…until then I had never met an introvert. I slowly started talking to him and even then he would only answer questions and never say anything on his own. He was so shy that even if he saw me somewhere outside he would keep on walking without as much as a smile acknowledging my presence. At first I thought he was rude but then I realized he simply did not interact with anyone unless the other person approached him first.

I gradually learnt that he was a very diligent student at school and was also a good shuttle player. His amma always proudly showed off all the trophies he had won in the various matches. In spite of all this I learnt he hardly had any close friends and very soon it was obvious that I was probably the only one. I realized it was only because of his lack of people skills. So I started bugging him about interacting with people and asked him to follow what I was doing when I met someone. I could see that I was slowly arousing his interest since he was impressed with my network of friends and all the fun we had (well, I didn’t exactly tell him about all the trouble we got into, I figured that information was for later :D).

I was always very fond of him (I still am). He was very innocent and naïve and I always worried that people would take advantage of him. I coaxed him to be more street-smart and although he tried, it never really worked. He was 2 years younger than me, so he pretty much started following me as a mentor and we had lots of good times until I went to college. Hostel life and then coming to Germany made me lose touch with him though I would occasionally get some updates about what he was doing.

I recently found him in one of the social networks and was overjoyed. I learnt that he is not in India anymore and works for a MNC. The first few emails I got from him made me really happy. He asked me to chat with him during one of the weekends and I gladly agreed. There is one thing about catching-up with someone that you haven’t really interacted with for years, it can go both ways and unfortunately this chat went the way I hoped it wouldn’t.

During the first few minutes, he kept talking all the time that I was inordinately pleased that he is not the same introvert he was years ago. But after a while, I realized, he was consciously making himself talk, so it ends up being mind numbingly boring. He was saying the same things again or things that totally were unimportant and he was an extremely poor listener. Very soon, we had run out of things to talk and I realized I was getting both angry and annoyed. I thought to myself that I would have preferred the silent guy to the boring chatter box and it was probably because of me that he has turned into one. Its true that its been years and we have somehow drifted apart and have landed in different wavelengths. The pangs of guilt and my fondness for him made me chat with him a little longer but I knew I was stretching my patience limits and very soon I would snap. Well, that was was the last time I had a chat with him. Since then, I have restricted our contact to occasional emails. I still like him and wish him well but its just not the same !

I have read somewhere that women always assume that they can influence and change a man by caring, the operative word being ‘assume’. I have often seen rogues turning into respectable gentlemen for their women or duds turning into geniuses in movies but have never come across something like that in real life. I understand that it’s not the same situation here but I can’t help but wonder if this is another delusion....
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