Thursday, August 18, 2011

A visit to the police station and a "bribe"

Yesterday on the eve of the agitation of Anna Hazare against curruption in India, I visited the local police station for address verification for passport renewal. Everything in the process ran with utmost smoothness and efficiency. In the morning I submitted some ID proofs and in the evening I was asked to come and see the inspector for final approval. As I walked into the station office in the evening, I had decided firmly that I am not paying bribe to these guys under any circumstances. And then came my little interview with the inspector. No one asked for a bribe, and I was out in 5 minutes. And then came the fun part. As I walked out after the last formality of signing on a paper, a constable collecting the papers, comes and says to me, "Your work is done here without any bribes. But we do a lot of work on these papers. If you feel satisfied with how we served you today, you can please give us some money and the amount can be what ever you wish. No force on you. Even if you do not pay me, your work will be done".
I (and a person behind me in line) almost burst out laughing and controlled ourselves. I had never expected this statement from a policeman. He was not asking me for a bribe, he was requesting me for a little reward! I lost my resolve.
I paid him Rs.100 and smiled all the way home. I still am smiling at the incident.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The opium of a job

Unemployment is not pleasant. It never was meant to be pleasant. These days more than the sheer loss of income for that period, what is stressful is that it actually translates to a period when a person has to think on his own all the time. When we are doing a job either for someone else or self-employed, we actually like to fall into a routine. Routine gives us comfort, to some extent the "daily routine" is like a mild dose of opium. It's predictable, it keeps us occupied, keeps us happy and numb. Our minds are conditioned to continue to do what it always does. Like a state of inertia. Same as a drug addiction. When unemployed, you are suddenly thrown into a sea of unfamiliar mental space. Well, at least for a short while, because after that you may perhaps even get used to unemployment and be extremely uncomfortable when you take up a job again. That explains why most people take a lay-off from their job so badly. They are totally distressed and unsettled. Very analogous to a opium addict suddenly cut off from his daily dose. The pain is less about the impending short term loss of income but more about the looming uncertainly and the necessity to kick start their brains again to wriggle out of this situation. People who have faced either forced or voluntary unemployment are better equipped in my opinion to think through problems and figure out ways. The mind hates to think, and that's what a job provides. Repeated steady tasks. Like the stuff they teach IT professionals in CMMi training: everything has to have a pre-defined way to do to take away all creative thinking and hence the fluctuations.
One other important thing that unemployment does is makes you focus on your priorities once more. There is a lot of things a person wishes he could do or stop doing. All those are dusted and brought out for evaluation. It's like a purgatory; washes everything off and forces you to start with a clean slate and with priorities properly rearranged. It's a double edged sword.
There are clear drawbacks but then there are some very subtle benefits as well if you are willing to use the opportunity.

Monday, June 13, 2011

the home circus

Many times at home these days I feel that Trupti and I are orchestrating a little circus. The day begins at 6:45 sharp with the wail of the girl "Thaki" or "Tanvi". Correction the day has already most probably begun at 3 am or 2 am or lets say the day is a continuous flowing stream with no start or end.
So basically the girl's is full of attitude. She smiles only when she wants to and rarely cries. Sometimes she is bored and sometimes she wants to not eat anything at all. And the boy "Bandya" or less popularly called as "Gautam" is the most gentle personality in the house at the moment with a winning smile. He's not like her. He always smiles and is willing to play. Their smiles are the only fuel keeping up going at the moment. There is a non stop cycle of feeding, cleaning, bathing, playing, crying, doctors, maids coming in and going out, parents coming and going and in the middle of all this the two of us trying to make some sense of our lives. We feel our life turned from a breezy evening jog to a formula 1 race overnight. The house is littered with hundreds of objects all over the place and we have long since stopped asking each other what each object is or what it is doing there. The local chemist and pediatrician know both kids by their first names since we are frequent fliers. Twins are God's way of reminding parents that life can kiss you on one cheek and slap you on the other at the same time.