Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Covidiot Managers

For most of us working in the IT sector, working from home or WFH is nothing new. But to a lot of people in other sectors it is not. WFH in non-IT sectors is complicated. It is like a mother unwilling to cut the umbilical cord, as a friend Ravi ( not his real name)  found out.

Ravi (calling manager): Sir...I am unwell
Manager: Gasp! Where are you?
Ravi: At home Sir.
Manager: Why you working from home huh? With whose permission you are working from home huh?
Ravi: Err we are all working from home Sir due to this Covid 19 situation.
Manager: heh heh yes, I forjetted. Hope you don’t stay close to me.
Ravi: I live a kilometer away from you.
Manager: Now would be a good time to move.
Ravi: What? Why!!!
Manager: I mean, now would be a good time to groove.
Ravi: hehehe you are right, we must all loosen up and groove.
Manager: But not too much grooving and all mind you!
Ravi: Gulp! No sir, I will do it within control.
Manager (suspiciously): What do you mean by within control. Does this mean earlier you were doing it out of control????
Ravi: Gulp, no Sir, you suggested we groove within limits
Manager: Ah yes! I forjetted.
Ravi: Coming back to the topic, I am sick and need  a day off today.
Manager: Tell me your symptoms!
Ravi:  I am feeling feverish…
Manager: Oho!!! Fever is a distinct symptom
Ravi: Of what Sir?
Manager: Err never mind, tell me more.
Ravi: I have slight body ache too Sir
Manager: Slight? On a scale of 1 to 10 how bad is your pain.
Ravi: Sir, it was 0, then it became 1 then 2, then 3 and now it is around 4.5
Manager: Idiot!
Ravi: What did you say sir?
Manager: Ahem, I was talking to my wife, Malliga good for nothing she is.
Ravi: My respects to Madam Sir, where is she working!
Manager: Nowhere! Pah! She is a MSc in Maths and does not work
Ravi: She is highly qualified. My wife’s college is hiring...
Manager (cutting in): She doesn’t need a job. She has a job.
Ravi: Oops sorry Sir. I thought she was unemployed.
Manager: Oh no, she is a housewife. She cooks, washes, keeps the house. Useless woman.
Ravi: Err…
Manager: Anyways what I was trying to say before you rudely interrupted me is why didn’t you take any pain killer when your pain was a 2.
Ravi: Sir, I generally don’t take pain killers, I try to avoid medicines unless it is very bad.
Manager: Look Ravi, we pay you to be pain free, fever free and disease free. So, ensure you take precautions.
Ravi: Ok Sir.
Manager: What other symptoms you have?
Ravi: I have an earache too.
Manager: Which ear?
Ravi: Right.
Manager: Did you take any medication?
Ravi (quickly): Yes sir, I took a tablet when the pain was a 1.
Manager: Good boy, but obviously you took some bad medication. You should take good medication.
Ravi: But Sir, the medication was prescribed by my doctor!!
Manager: Then change your doctor and get a good one.
Ravi: What!! Err ok Sir.
Manager: By your symptoms, it looks like you don’t have Covid 19, so you can continue to reside where are you staying.
Ravi: I don’t understand Sir.
Manager: What do you not understand?  I don’t want to be infected by you if you have Covid  pah!        
Ravi: Of course, Sir, I understand. By the way my brother in law came from Goa, he cycled across the border Sir. He has bought some Feni which I wanted to give you. ( Call drops) Sir, Sir are you there? Looks like the call dropped. Stupid Airtel.
The doorbell rings. Ravi opens the door to see a beaming Manager
Manager: My man, I jusht dropped in to check in on you. Jusht you put the bottle in my bag and I will be gone.
Ravi: Sure, here it is.
Manager beams and disappears.
Ravi: Where the hell did he disappear! He was just here!! 
The phone rings
Ravi: Hello!
Manager: Hello Ravi, so you were saying you have pain in your right ear…
Ravi: !!!!!!!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

City Greens

So, my family and extended family members called me an arm chair environmentalist the other day. Why? Chumma just like that. Guess they didn’t have their morning Kapi, Kanji or Kanjavu. Now if you are wondering about the three K’s i.e., Kapi, Kanji or Kanjavu, don’t wonder. It is a mallu thang.

It all started the other day at a family gathering when I was watching a Twitter video clip of two white foxes chasing a white furry and very cute rabbit.

Me (loudly): Run, rabbit, run, oh I hope he outruns them foxes. Run, run, runnnnn….runnnnn....

The video clip ended abruptly and I was left in anguish wondering if the cute fluffy white rabbit made it home. It was soooo cute to look at.

Then I saw a video clip of a fluffy Snow Leopard grabbing a mountain goat and the two falling from a steep cliff in a never-ending fall.

Me (screeching): No, no, nooooooo, we have so few snow leopards. Oh God, hope he gets the goat and doesn’t fall down and die. Please god, please god, please god, pleeease save the snow leopard!!!

The video ended abruptly and my 12 year old cousin tells me curtly that the leopard had died. I break down and sob loudly.

Family: Whose side are you on!
Me: Err… the underdog.
Family: Suggest you leave environmental concerns for the really concerned.

They are right!! I need to start watching less nature videos and do something real like going to the jungles and making a difference. If only I could get past the city crowds trying to do the same with their DSLR cameras and giant lenses and being shooed back by forest officials. Damn forest officials, they are the reason we “nature lovers” from the city never get to do some real field work.  

In the meantime, I am back to watching nature videos. I cannot give up on the environment just because some grouchy members of my family did not have their morning morning Kapi, Kanji or Kanjavu. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Work life balancing act

Sometimes in the 1990’s

Employee one: Whine whine whine whine
Employee two: Gnash, Gnash, Gnash
Employee three: Sob, Sob, wail, whimper, wails of despair…
Employee four: No work life balance, stressed, tired, burnt out, heavy sighs etc etc.

Management across the world decided to change the work week from six days to five days

Employee one: Yay!
Employee two does cartwheels, end up spread-eagled and is rushed to the hospital: Yipeeee!!!
Employee four: At last! Someone has heard the groans of the over worked underpaid employee!!
Employee four: Two-day weekends! This is too good to be true.

A couple of years later

Employee one: Grumble, grumble, grumble
Employee two: What can you do with a two-day weekend!!! Wail…
Employee three: I can barely recover from a tough week in two days sob
Employee four: No work life balance, stressed, tired, burnt out, heavy sighs etc etc.

A decade later management across the world decided to change the work week from five days to four days

Employee one: Yay!
Employee two does clicks his heels midair, end up spread-eagled and is rushed to the hospital: Yipeeee!!!
Employee four: THERE IS A GOD!!!  THERE IS A GOD!!! THERE IS A GOD!!!
Employee four: Three-day weekends and four-day work week! This is utopia. An employee dream come true! I will love my work so much now!

A couple of years later

Employee one: I am EXHAUSTED! I do in four days what I did in five groooaaaannnnn aaarrghhh I am dying of exhaustion!
Employee two: I am barely alive by Thursday. I wish I had another day to finish the week's work. Then I would really enjoy my weekend.
Employee three: I am sprinting to complete my work. It was so much better paced when it was a 5-day week sigh
Employee four: No work life balance, stressed, tired, burnt out, heavy sighs etc etc.

Some time after that, managements across the world give up on trying to please employees and do what’s best for the company.

Employee one: Whine whine whine whine
Employee two: Gnash, Gnash, Gnash
Employee three: Sob, Sob, wail, whimper, wails of despair…
Employee four: No work life balance, stressed, tired, burnt out, heavy sighs etc etc.

Management: Pffffft

Friday, March 22, 2019


John was a colleague in the US. He was a good graphic designer. We worked together a lot and shared a lot of laughter over Zoom and beer when he came down to India to meet the Indian marketing team. 

Then one day John got laid off and they moved his job to India. John cursed outsourcing and voted for Trump. Things went downhill after that. John wallowed in self-pity. He was too bitter to attend interviews paranoid that the next job would be outsourced too. There were plenty of jobs but John was not interested.

John: I hate this Silverine, I just effing hate outsourcing!!
Me: I understand your angst John. It must be terrible being laid off like that!
John: There has to be a law against this!
Me: Well, companies gotta do what companies gotta do to make profits. They are still employing a lot of people in the US, in fact 50%.
John: &%^%#$@$ US companies must hire from US only, period!
Me: But John, that is like telling me to hire from Bangalore only. I would be depriving myself of good talent when there are good people in other parts of India.
John: I don’t care for this bullshit!
Me: Sigh

He decided he will work in such a way that his job won’t be outsourced. Which meant he had to be his own boss. So he started his own gig. From one gig to a few more and he was finally able to pay rent and hire more people as his clientele grew. He worked from home and his staff of freelancers also worked from their homes. Business grew and his freelancers became his employees and one day John decided to pitch his services to me and his old company. I was more than happy to consider his services since he was a brilliant designer and had assisted me in many marketing campaigns.

John sent me a meeting invite for the pitch. The meeting started at 9 pm IST since John is in the west coast.

John: Hello Silverine, how are you!!
Me: Hello John. How are you!!!
John: I am fine. Since we talked last, we are now grown to a team of 10 designers!
Me: Wowwwww! Good for you John.
John: And our capabilities have grown too.
Me: Wonderful!
John: Let me introduce you to my team. On the call are: Sivaraman Sarvapalli from Hyderabad, Karthick Krishna from Salem, George Thottumkal from Kochi, Harvinder Singh from Chandigarh, Basavaraju from Bangalore, Swapan from Bhubaneshwar, Abdul from Calicut,  Robin from Goa, Joydeep from Kolkata and Sangma from Guwahati. They work from home but are part of my team.
Me: !!!!!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The evolution of the political vermin

The political worm or more popularly known as the political vermin (PV) is an interesting parasite. Among all the parasites out there, this is the only creature that evolves, yet doesn’t evolve. Now that is a contradiction, I agree, but let me explain it to you all by this scientific study that explains this unnatural phenomenon.

The PV Stage 1

PV is a grassroots level worker of some party at this stage.

Villager: Son, I need your help to get my son a seat in college. Please speak to your minister and help me. I earn Rs 1000 per month working as a farm laborer and hope to give my son a better future than mine. *Sob*
PV: Sure, but it will cost you Rs 10,000 uncle, I need to pay the party.
Villager: Sigh… I will make arrangements (sells kidney and gives PV the money who pockets it)
The PV Stage 2

Small land holder in Village (SLH): PV, I need a loan to buy a pump set. Please help me. I barely earn Rs 2000 per month and with a joint family of 10 people, it is getting hard to make ends meet. I do not have the money to buy a bicycle even *breaks down*
PV (who is now a party office bearer): Of course uncle! But I will need at least Rs 20,000 to arrange that. I need to bribe various people no! It is not an easy task you know!
SLH: Sigh…ok! I will borrow from your brother and pay you.
PV: Naice!!

PV pockets the money, of course!

The PV Stage 3

Small Shop Owner in a town near PV’s village (SSO): Respected PV, the Terror Brothers are exhorting money from all of us small shop owners in this area. Please help us. We barely make Rs 10000 per month and most of it goes in rent and buying goods for the shops. *Sobs uncontrollably*
PV: You are in a fix my brother. If you all can arrange Rs 1 lakh, I will take care of this.
SSO: We will try to raise the money Sir, but 1 lakh is too much for people like us who barely earn Rs 5000 per month!
PV: This money is not for me you know. It is to bribe the cops, the local area MLA etc. The Terror Brothers are not people that one lone man can handle. I need institutional support you know!
SSO: We will make arrangements.  :-(
PV: *Calls his henchmen a.k.a the Terror Brothers and tells them to lay off the area for a year* And please vote for me in the upcoming elections. I will make this area goonda free every year!

The PV Stage 4

Road Contractor:  MLA Sir, what do I need to give you for that road contract in the town?
PV: 50%
Road Contractor (spluttering): But, but, but that would leave me with no money to build the road!!!
PV: Why would you want to build a road, duh!!
Contractor (grumbling):  Ok! Ok!
And he goes on to fill potholes on the road to be redone and garnishes the road with some tar and sand. While PV goes on to line his pocket with the money.

The PV Stage 5

Business man: Sir I need a license to set up my 25th factory. Need your help saar.
PV: 25 Crores, I need to pay the CM, the area MLA, MP and other people.
Businessman: Fine! *curses under his breath*
 PV: And make it cash for er...'storability' purposes.

PV's aide then goes onto 'store' the money in gunny bags in the rice godown.

And the last and final stage 6

NGO type: Saar, we are building a much needed bridge in your village. If you could sanction some money like Rs 10,000 we will add another 10,000 which we collected from philanthropists, and the general public and construct the bridge with the help of a local contractor who is offering his service for free. This is a community effort saar. The people on the other side of the river have to travel 20 kilometers to reach the nearest town due to the lack of a bridge in this area.
PV:  Naice!! What noble intentions. I remember my mother swimming this river in spate to the other side to deliver me in the government dispensary *Sniff* I will definitely help.
NGO type: That is such a touching story Saar. We appreciate your help.
PV:  Give me Rs 15000 and the permission is yours.  I need to pay the panchayath and others you know. I will ask some businessman to contribute the money.  You just deliver it for me. This is not for me as usual you know.
NGO type: *rolling their eyes* But of course saar. Thank you.
PV: And do not forget to name the bridge after me. I will inaugurate it. Make sure the press and TV channels are in attendance.
NGO type: But of course saar *sticks tongue out* 

I rest my case.