Friday, February 6, 2015

Tricky Interview Questions - What are your personal achievements or accomplishments?

“Answer this for me, if you can” said Mr Sumesh. (The manager interviewing me from a very well-known company)

“What are your personal achievements in life?”

Wow! – I thought.

Totally spaced out moment. 

What am I good at? (See this was one of those wrong interpretations of the question, that led to the following answer) - "I’m good at acting" - I babbled, but he was quick to correct me, that it was just a strength and not an achievement.

Think think think! (Stupid head wants to get blank now, the perfect meditation mind is always available while you’re at an interview. So much for “inner peace”!)

What on earth have I achieved personally in life?

Anything to do with saving a dog or charity?

Nah . . . that can’t be it.

So then nothing at all. Oh my god!

What have I done?

From the corner of my thinking eyes, I can see the managers smiling Face! (Creepy!!!)

And then it just happened…out of nowhere. . . I had just framed a sentence in my head. (Yeah baby, 
I’m rocking side by side, just like Joey’s style: D)

Not even sure if I could win this man’s attention with the exceptional answer that I was about to deliver.

And slowly, in fact a little dramatically, I began -
“The fact that I completed my engineering (which trust me, it was not an easy task for me) and to have then pursued MBA, completed that as well with some really good scores, I think, that has been the proudest moment of my life, an achievement indeed” – and just like that, I had discovered what my personal achievement was. (Ka-ching!)


He had a smile on his face . . . I had done it, he saw me through the answer, I knew he believed what I said and was happy that he had got an answer.(Of course there was a little more to this answer, which I'd rather skip out from here, but mission accomplished)

Not sure if it won any brownie points . . . oh who am I kidding?

It actually did win me enough brownies to get me to the next round of interviews.

Ting!!! (3) - That’s the happy gong tune in my head ;)

And everything else was history. The important thing was, I had never realized what I had achieved in my life so far. I’m still clueless if academics can be counted under personal achievements. But let’s face it, not all are born geniuses, and I for sure had a lot of helping hands and then some, to achieve what I have achieved.

No idea if you would count this as a personal achievement, but like my friend Sindhu who chants this mantra all the time – “To each their own” ;) I would like to rest my case with it, as well.(At least until I figure out something else.)

If you’ve got something to add, feel free to leave a comment. I’ll be happy to hear from you.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Back from the dead - A desi twist ;)

"Nope, can’t do. Your stay here has been more than required. You have to return to your place." What on heaven was this guy talking about?

I had just gotten back with mom and now the guy wants me to get off his land or cloud or whatever this was. And just like that, I was back in my living room. Only, to find that my family no more lived there and a scream from the new occupants that I could hear until the stairway of the apartment. Thank god for the hood on my jacket.

I now walked on the streets where I had spent a few years of my last breathing days on earth. Now where on earth were my family? If only, the guy had enough sense to fill in my pockets with some cash and a mobile phone to contact all of them before dropping me from heaven.

A thirty minute walk landed me in front of my granny’s house. Was she shocked? Yep, that was definitely her dentures that fell crashing on the floor. Wait, there was more! They screamed, fainted, touched and groped me literally, even slapped me, just to be sure and in no time, I had an audience in front of their front door.

Word spread like forest fire and in no time, even before, I could contact my dad, sister and brother in law, I was answering the weirdest set of questions in front of a lot of cameras and channel mic’s.

It took a few doctors, experts in the field of the after death, page 3 celebs and religious missionaries to rip my brain into pieces and get their bit of fame via the various channels that ran my story nonstop from morning to night and a few newspapers until the end of the week, before I could lay eyes on my family.


They hugged me and kissed me and before anyone realised, whisked me off from there to my home sweet home J

They knew better than asking me questions of any sorts. I guess the channels had covered up all the angles and I had fried my brains until it was charred. A sumptuous meal, and occasional hugs and most importantly a few daily chores, was all that was required to make me feel alive and to be back from the dead!  


Back from the dead!

It was a long pending itinerary and a part of my bucket list as well. Today, it was gonna come true. Mom and I were up and ready in no time. We had the best chariot booked. It was Golden and glowing with all it’s might.

The white puffy clouds made a perfect background. The morning sun, the chirping birds, the smell of wet grass and the roaring waterfalls made the best symphony. The chariot rose and left in a flash leaving puffs of coloured cotton candy all the way to the carnival.

It was the most joyous and colourful scenario. Mum by my side and a handful of gems to play any joyride and any number of times.

The sound of the merry go round, giant wheel, Columbus and roller coasters, heightened my happiness by many folds. Mom had promised me to accompany me in each of these rides and taste as many delicacies that she could take.

As we made our way through the rides, at a far corner stood a mysterious tent. The attendant seemed to have taken a break. There was an oval window which did not show anything but pitch darkness. It said, only the brave, dare to see and feel the mystery that stood on the other side of the window. To know what you can see, you had to put in the handful of gems into a revolving bowl, which will then read your fate and deliver you to the other side of the window.

It was really irritating, but what the heck, I had mommy next to me and there was nothing to fear about. I emptied my gems into the bowl and awaited for the mystery to unveil in front of me. I was standing facing the window that was now encrusted with the gems that I had emptied into the bowl. Slowly a writing appeared that said, ‘it is time you got back to reality. Bid adieu to your loved ones’. As if, I thought to myself and turned to my mom to confess, what a waste of my gems, I had done. And just like that, in a blink of an eye, there was darkness everywhere. I cried for mom but there was no reply. The carnival sounds had vanished into a faint jarring sound. It sounded like a grumble. It grew louder with every second. I saw a tiny silhouette of a bed. Wait a minute, that’s my dad’s bed. That grumbling sound is he, snoring and fast asleep. It was 1.30 in the morning and dad looked a lot older than I remembered him.

It took some time to realise that I was full flesh and bones, standing in his room and staring at him, clueless of what the oval window was showing to me. I walked out of his room, but not before I realised that I had to open the door and not go past through it. Definitely now that I was no more a ghost.

I vaguely knew what was in the next room and thought better to avoid facing my little nephew at that time of the night. I opened the next door, only to find my sister and her husband deep in sleep. I walked towards her bed and ran my hands over her head. I gave her a small peck on her cheek. She was way too deep in sleep to realise what had happened.

Suddenly I was hungry, hungry to gulp my fridge in one go. I walked into the kitchen and began hunting for food. Thank god for my nephew, there were enough junk food, to give my taste buds a feast. I then walked slowly into the drawing room, hoping to catch some late night movie on one of the channels. Big mistake! Dad got up to visit the loo and had ended up following the sound of the TV.

Was it a joyous sight, I cannot tell. He just smiled and asked me to go sleep because it’s really late. I laughed, he always said that, even when I was alive. I said I wasn’t sleepy and a little hungry too. He asked me to eat something from the fridge. Some left over pizza, he said. Wow! I was gone and they were eating pizzas I thought. I chuckled and asked him to join me in eating. He was sleepy but yet happily agreed to join me. I heated the food and both of us ate like there was no tomorrow. He giggled and said, wait until your nephew Sid finds out the fate of these pizzas tomorrow. You’ll have a lot of explaining to do. We both giggled and decided to sleep. Wait, where do I sleep? He said, with me of course. It’s been long since you asked me to sleep with you coz you feared the dark. I smiled and gladly walked back to his room.

He had tears in his eyes and I wasn’t sure, if he still thought that all of this was a dream. I said, ‘daddy, mum misses you a lot and loves you more than anything in both the worlds’. He nodded with a smile and slept in no time. It was like, I was never gone. I smiled and cried and smiled a little more. Was I happy to see him, yes. But mom…I guess she knew about this all the while. I wish I knew too. But hey, now that I’m back, Sid’s school, walks with dad, funny fights with sis and a lot of screams from my cousins and friends, hehehe it’s gonna be a long day ;)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Confessions of a Dream

I see you…so far…yet so near…
close to my heart…filled with fear…
ever denying…keen on reaching…
to try is everything…with you gives meaning…
to have is ecstasy…to feel is reality…
to cherish makes me happy…guilty pleasure…
this I’ll treasure…listen closely…
you will hear…a tear a cheer a little more to fear…
I see you…so far…yet so near…

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

'26 pages of Nonsense'

"hey there, meet me, 'The 26 pages of Nonsense' "

After a nice long nap in the night, the only 2 things that I love to see early in the morning is - a bright shining sun in the sky and my dad with a cup of filter coffee in his hand, trying his best to get me off the bed. The tantalising smell of coffee is more than enough for me to rise and shine.

It’s the best time of the day, where dad and I catch up with each other, discussing about his work and his usual interrogation of what I’ve been up to. He always amazes me with the abundant knowledge that he has about everything happening around the world, current affairs, trends and anything & everything to do with banking & finance. A long chat that covers almost every event happening under the sun is what I look forward to, every morning.

What I have skipped to mention here, is a 3rd element that was once a part of our morning sessions, i.e. ” The 26 pages of Nonsense”, yep the daily Newspaper. Heights of creativity right ;)

It is irritating enough that I can’t get past through a few ads on the TV, that now, I totally would not want to waste my money on a newspaper that pays more attention to Advertisements than cover up the various events happening across the city, state, nation, world, outer space et al. wonder who keeps a tab on the content of newspapers (if at all there is any regulatory board, are you listening???)

Have a glance at it, and you’ll be done with the paper even before you are done with your cup of coffee. Not that I’m against the ads on the paper, but really, I find it unfair to come across more ads and that too in all kinds and sorts namely pictures, text, advertorials etc. Supplements that come along with these papers, surprisingly carry some of the news articles which are covered in the main sheet on different days, just that they appear with a so called glamorous image attached to it and yet again, more and more ads or irrelevant information.

It’s a shame that, these papers have totally taken it upon themselves, to not to stop at anything when it comes to promoting brands, but bring in a complete halt to providing news that is essential; news that serves the purpose of a newspaper. It’s almost like, if I start a paper, and cover news about nosy neighbours, gossiping friends and whining relatives along with a few candid images of babies and oldies trying to make it to 4 sheets of Page 3’s, especially when they are ready to pay any amount to be in it. I guess I have a successful newspaper as well :D

A national newspaper of 20 pages main sheet, when compared to the local newspaper of 12 pages main sheet, shows that national newspaper contains information worth only up to 8 to 10 pages same as a local newspaper that also carries information worth at least 8 to 10 pages. Agreed that the advertisements are more in a national daily when compared to the local newspaper. Agreed that they bring in revenue. But, are they running short of news on current affairs? Isn’t there anything at all happening around the world that is interesting and worth a read?  And yet somehow, there is an increase in the number of advertisements and the information that they carry about these brands in such in-depth compared to other relevant information.

How can anyone think of filling in 26 pages of nonsense and crap, plus wasting paper and still get away by selling it to the public at a cost? One thing is for sure, a team of managers from various departments sit together and ensure that they take all pains in making our mornings as colourful as possible and confuse or rather irritate the readers every morning with the amount of crap they put into it. There is no point of taking up initiatives and getting the youth to participate and filling in the newspaper with just that info. Hasn’t any of those readers questioned the agency about their ways of ‘making a monkey’ out of readers?

Not only does the paper disgust me in the morning due to its lack of relevant information but also has amazed me, that paid news has caught up so much that everyone has turned a blind eye to it rather than trying to bring about some change. The power of money definitely rules in every industry, it’s only sad that the most influential media has also joined the bandwagon of corrupt news and information or are they the actual inventors of this bandwagon?

Nevertheless, I would definitely thank the print media, for having made my mornings much more enjoyable with people who matter the most, my family. I guess that is a better tagline for these newspaper agencies to promote their brand. Although, my paper has a name that is apt to the present generation, ‘the times have definitely changed’ ;)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Childhood sweethearts’ - "Love at first Sight"

A great person once said, “It was love at first sight”. I always wonder who that person was!
When was the last time you felt that?
Mine started when I was in the 2nd standard. Too early you might say, but that’s how you feel when you fall in love. It was definitely love at first sight. His name let’s say was Sharad, a newly joined dentist at the clinic that I was a regular to. He was tall, fair, curly haired, oval face and so sweet. No boy had ever been so sweet to me and definitely had paid so much attention.
It was like an “event”, going to the dentist. It meant that I will be meeting him today and boy was I already blushing. He was a sweetheart. Always so happy to see me amidst the so many patients sitting in the clinic. He knew exactly the right things to say to me (like open your mouth, do aaaa and eeee: D don’t get pervy here. He’s a dentist remember?) But whatever, let’s not spoil the mood now shall we ;)
He made sure I did everything he wanted me to. And I would smile and giggle and show a few pranks. He laughed and carried me around for a while. (Don’t really remember this part, but what the hell! It’s all about love, making you go blind and not remembering too many things right? :P)
Anyways, like me, I’m sure you too have had someone in your life. Very special and dear. Good feelings, some sort of feelings, weird feelings etc. but something that made you realise that there’s some hormone that makes you feel that way in your body. It makes you dreamy, feel awesome and dance on the roof, in the rain.
I fell in love with a dentist. I don’t think I knew the meaning of the word Love, then, but sure was a great feeling. Made me feel special and it felt good. For once someone liked me just the way I was. Nothing to change and nothing to be hidden. I mean, a dental clinic, he would see my cavities, the worst thing really, I should hide myself under the bed and never come out. But nope, I didn’t even feel that way. So blind I was. Goodness, what a love it was!
One fine day, I had gone to the clinic with my mum. She had an appointment with another doctor. There I was, sitting in a small chair, next to the one mum was getting treated on. A curtain that hid the view from other patients. I heard his voice on the other side of the curtain and hearing his voice, made my senses so happy. It was like, there was a symphony in my head. I just wanted to jump out from behind the curtains and tell him, ‘hey, I’m here’ J
He was talking pretty loud to another patient. The patient giggled. The patient was some girl, of the same age he was or at least as tall as he was. I was in 2nd standard. How tall could I be? L
The girl was on fire, you see, he was cracking a lot of jokes and using most of the dialogues that he had used on me. Damn you DOCTOR! The girl could not stop laughing. What a stupid girl, making noise in the clinic, when other patients are in so much pain ;)
‘I thought we had something special. I thought I was your special girl’, such thoughts ran in my head. My heart crushed alright. It crushed real bad. Bad enough that the pain caused me to shed a tear. Silently of course. And that was my first heart break as well. I didn’t jump out from the curtain. He did see me later with my mum and gave me a smile, but it was too hurting to return it back. Way too embarrassed, I just hid behind mum’s saree and walked out with her. Never thought of him I guess. Or don’t they say, that after a trauma, the patient tends to forget a few details. I guess that’s what happened with me. It’s all blurry and I’m glad about that. The End.
I did realise that he is a doctor and he’s meant to be nice to all of his patients. There was nothing special about me or in me, except of course, cavities. It got better from then on. I had sort of grown that day. I definitely realised that everyone was playing their part and definitely stopped making a fool of myself. I wish I could say, that I stopped finding love, but then that would be so wrong ;)
I did see him after almost ten years, still working in the clinic. Turns out he had returned after a vacation. He had a moustache. All I could think of was, wow! Did I really fall for that guy: P I wanted to talk to him, but he seemed busy and I had an appointment with a different doctor. Was wondering how this new doctor would be, I had to get a root canal, and it’s painful. But god had answered my prayers, he had sent the most handsome doctor, ever, to do it. BLUSH!!!
PS: the new term coined for this is “crush” but I’d rather maintain the saying, “it’s the thought that counts” :D
Well, that’s my story of “love at first sight”. Sure would like to hear one from you.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"My Superman"
As a kid, I always enjoyed the times I spent with my grandpa. He was a freedom fighter, he told us fascinating stories of how he and his friends fought for our freedom and ended up in a jail more than once. I was so proud of my grandpa that I would never miss an opportunity of talking about him to all of my friends in school. He always got an invite from schools and other organisations to hoist the flag on Independence Day and give away a few words of advice.

My grandfather, a freedom fighter was also known for his generosity in our locality. There was not a single passer-by who didn’t know of him. They always made sure they visited him during the day, have a chat, share some news and views, a cup of coffee and a huge smile on their faces.

He always had a smile on his face. He was a man, independent in many ways. He did carpentry, he even had his own set of tools, ready to repair anything that needed his attention. I enjoyed helping him while he mixed cement and patched it around a few broken walls. The way he kept the rats from digging holes in the small godown we had that stored loads of banana plantains, gunny bags and anything worth a storage.

I remember hiding there while we played hide & seek with my brothers and sisters. It was always dark, chilly and smelt a mixture of the dampness, old newspapers and dusty gunny bags. You could spend an entire day excavating the place, listening to the stories he had to say for each of those items stored inside and all that we did was stare at him with wonder. He was a Superman.

My brother Varun and I enjoyed our special time with grandpa. Every Monday at 7.30, soon after the broadcast of the local news on TV, he and I would sit out in the verandah, with taatha (grandpa) sitting on a chair, smoking his Ganesh beedi, to listen to the most amazing horror stories. Yep believe it or not, the man who fought against the Britishers for freedom, had a few encounters with the devil as well. Wow! He’s such a brave man.

Before I get into details, let me describe him to you. He always wore khaki. A pair of white pants and a white half sleeved shirt. A sleeveless khaki jacket that was mostly green or brown in colour. This jacket had 4 pockets outside and 2 secret pockets on the inside. He always kept a matchbox and a beedi packet in one of the lower outer pockets. And his money was always in the secret pockets. Only Varun and I had access to those pockets. I’m sorry, but I have to gloat here ;)

We were 5 cousins, my sister and I born to my mother and 3 brothers from my mom’s elder sister. Our age group differed by a year or 2 from each other. We played together and danced together. We had a lot of ek minute contests between each other. Varun always won, when it came to “how many glasses of water can you drink in a minute’. Boy, he could drink. We were the Panch Pandavas of the house. Varun definitely being the Bhima: D

Coming back to my grandpa and his tale of ghost encounters. He had this talent of creating an interest out of nothing at all. He spun the stories well enough to keep us sitting as closer to him as possible. Sometimes to an extent of hugging his legs while he narrated his stories.

My grandpa, was a skinny man, with dimples on either sides of his cheeks. Really deep dimples. He had a few teeth and they were definitely long. He had lost a few canines wich made him gat toothed. He had a beautiful long nose and white stubbles, he was a smart man, fair complexioned, silver haired and grey eyes to make him look extra handsome. No wonder he had 2 wives: P

The story begins when he had a small grocery store in the heart of the city. It was a market place, with a theatre at the corner of the road, a fort opposite to his store and also a hospital closeby. Since during that time the late night show would finish only by 11.30 – 12.00 midnight, he kept his store open for those customers who would have their last few smokes for the night before they retired to their houses respectively.

So grandpa, always closed his shop much later than the other shopkeepers in the venue. He was helped by his younger brother in the store. They both would close the shop and go to a nearby pond at the back of the hospital to take a leak before getting back to their house. This pond was also closeby to the morgue of the hospital. The pond was shadowed by a few coconut trees. It was almost 1 in the morning, pitch dark in those days due to shortage of street lamps, chilly and dead silent. He happened to go near the pond and just when he got busy to take a leak, a handful of small jelly stones fell on the back of his head. Since it was dark, he couldn’t make out who threw them at him. He looked right in the direction from where the stones fell, but couldn’t find anyone there. He yelled on top of his voice asking who it was, but no one replied. They had these small kerosene lamps that they carried around with which he tried to see if anyone else was present apart from his brother and himself. But he couldn’t find anyone.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a black dog jumped towards him, with such strength that its legs hit his cheek hard enough to break a few of his teeth, making his mouth all bloody and yikes. He mistook the dog to be his own pet dog called tiger, and kept calling out his name hoping it would return back to him. He was so furious at what it had done, that he stormed back home, fuming with anger, ready to give the dog a piece of mind. He yelled at my granny asking for the dog, and why she hadn’t kept it tied at home. She was equally shocked to see his bloody face and to hear that the culprit behind that was tiger, since he was tied to the window of their house before everyone had slept. He saw the dog sleeping peacefully and realised that it was no dog that had attacked him with stones and broken his tooth, it was a GHOST!!!

Varun and I gulped our fear and asked grandpa to open his mouth and show us the teeth that he had lost in this encounter. And held our breath when he displayed his open mouth for both of us. And then it was the end of story time. Grandpa, having amazed us with his tale, would place a 10 paise coin in both of our hands. With a smile on our faces, and a satisfaction of time well spent and invested, we would run back to our houses. I would retell mummy the entire story and ask her if she knew about it and exhibit the ten paise that he had given to me.

The beautiful aluminium coin, shaped as a flower petal, would then be flashed to my sister to make her jealous and show, what she had missed. The smallest pleasures in collecting money and making it become 25 paise, just so I could buy a milk burfi, was always ecstatic.

Thus, my grandpa, a freedom fighter, a story teller, an entertainer and a man loved by all in our society, was definitely the best prize of my life. It’s been more than fifteen years that I lost him, but even today, his jacket hangs at the very same spot at my granny’s place where he always hung them. And the many tales of his bravery, encounters with the British and the ghosts, stays alive in my heart.