Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Secure Under-Achiever

One of my favorite books is "The Outsider" by Albert Camus. For me, the most striking part about the book was how self-assured the protagonist was about his limitations - his inability to worry about his mother's death, the nonchalance with which he kills the man at the beach due to his natural instincts, how he calmly accepts the sentence meted out to him et al.

In the real world, we are almost always very affected by some sort of a world-view on our abilities, and the expectations arising from them - everybody is expected to get 90%, 95% and become the CEO of a company (well, not everybody, but, you get the point).

I tend to get very stressed when I under-perform. It is a feeling that invades my entire body and makes me want to bust my head against a wall. This has happened often enough in the past, and as much as I don't want to get stressed, the only way out has been to burn the midnight oil and toil.

However, things are changing.

Today, I had a performance evaluation, and it didn't go well. Several areas of improvement were pointed out to me. Normally, in such a case, I would get very stressed, argue with the evaluator, get in a blue funk - as I have many times before. But today, my response was different. I calmly heard him out, explained my side of the story, and (in my head) accepted that 80 times out of 100, the situation would repeat itself.

Looking back at the last 6 weeks, improving upon how I did would, in my opinion, stretch me to the seams - and as someone who is a fervent believer in the 80:20 law, it's not worth it.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is that I have now come to terms with what I can do, what I can't - keeping into account my happiness and general well-being.

This doesn't mean that my plans for world domination have in anyway lessened. Just that I wouldn't screw my life over it, and probably not chide myself for not getting there.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


There is this tag on Facebook about 25 random things or suchlike. Somebody tagged me recently, and since I had nothing better to do (and only need a chance to talk about myself), I made the list. But it turned out to be very personal, so I have decided to put it up here:

I grew up in a small village called Simra. I have lived in many places since, but there is no feeling like going back there. It's home.

When I was 7, I took some money from my father's wallet to buy some gum. My sisters came to know of it and told my father. I tried to pull a stunt refusing to apologise and threatening to leave the house. My father asked me to leave. I went out, circled the neighbourhood and came back crying. Thus ended my all-too-brief career as a rebel.

Blue is my favourite colour. As far as possible, I only wear light blue shirts and dark blue pants.

I hate making slides - the only part of my job I really hate.

Growing up, I had to go to a school in a town far away and it'd take 2 hours each way in a cramped bus. I used to get headaches almost everyday.

I know the entire Hanuman Chalisa by heart.

I plan to name my son Vardhman, and daughter Varsha. I know this is pretty silly.

I like what are called girlie drinks.

Growing up, there were no kids in my neighbourhood. Since it was such a small place, everybody sent their kids to study in the bigger cities. So, I grew up with books. My school library was pretty small - I think I must have read all the books twice by the time I left the place.

My biology teacher died while in labour, when I was 11. After school, the entire class went to the hospital. I saw the body. I still remember the entire thing very vividly.

Unlike most of my friends, I love South Indian food. It is very difficult for me to convince them to go out to a SI restaurant. It'd very easy for me to fall in love and marry a woman if she can make great sambar and curd rice.

I think I sing very well. If people tell me I don't, it's very difficult for me to like them.

I find it very difficult to work under people whom I don't respect intellectually.

In Class XII, in the hostel, there were three of us - we were nicknamed Cutter, Killer, Jahar. I was Jahar - apparently because my jokes could kill or something stupid like that. It was my first group. We are in three different continents now.

When growing up, there were two teachers who heavily influenced me. There was Pasang sir - my class-teacher in 5 and 6, who encouraged me to read. And Sahib Ali sir, my class teacher in 8, 9 and 10, who got me interested in Science. I owe them a lot. I have no clue where they are

When I came to Delhi to get admission in school, I didn't have my board mark-sheets, and so the school wasn't letting me in. I made an impromptu senti speech to the Principal (replete with tears and a litany of my intellectual accomplishments) and it impressed him, and I was admitted. One incident I am really very proud of.

I was robbed a few weeks back and lost my passport. Currently, I am stateless.

I can't understand maps, I don't have a sense of direction, ergo I get lost easily. That's why I don't drive (I paid 2000 rupees for the license). While travelling, I rely on asking people for directions. It works.

I went skiing a few weeks back - go up 20 minutes, come down 2 minutes. Complete waste of time.

I want to enter politics at a certain stage.

I spent the entire morning and afternoon today watching the entire LOTR series (extended edition). I was blown away when I first saw them, but after today I admire them at a completely different level. There is a lot of depth in the series I hadn't noticed before. (This is not strictly about me but I wanted to say this anyway).

I hated Delhi and Delhiites a lot, until one day I realised I had become one of them.

There are three things my mother tells me to do every time we talk - pray regularly, brush twice a day and drink a lot of water. Somehow, I am not able to do any of these.

Something happened (and it' still too personal to talk about) when I was 15 which turned me off organized religion. I am fairly indifferent to the entire religion thing now, don't even think about it much.

I like to think I am interesting, conflicted, different, insidious - the stuff dark characters are made of. But in my heart of hearts I know I am fairly conventional, boring and nice.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Speech Defect

I have been told on a few occasions that I tend to speak English very fast. In India, it didn't really matter - if someone didn't get me, I would switch to Hindi. Only while giving presentations would I consciously slow down, but that was not very frequent, and so, quite manageable.

Here, compounded by the accent, it became a big problem. So, I had to slow down. Now, I find myself talking (in my opinion) painfully slowly, in a weird, high pitch, emphasis on every syllable, way. It sounds really phony to me, and it really upsets me, thought nobody else seems to mind it.

I don't want to sound phony to myself, I want to be able to speak naturally, not dam the words coming out of my mouth. But I have to speak slowly to make sense to these guys, and every bit of it is painful.

One more reason why I won't settle down here.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

State of Affairs

So, I recently got Ad-Sense installed on the blog. It promised to put ads related to the content on the site.

Excitedly, I visited the site to check out the first ad. My smile faltered as soon as I saw it:

100s Pretty Ladies
They are looking for a Husband Marry a Latin Beauty Queen!

Damn, these Google guys are good.