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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Career Vs Canine.

I live in Muscat, Oman, a place where generally people are not very fond of pets. Hardly does one find a stray dog or cat walking down the streets. Unlike India, where a cow comes and settles down in the middle of the road and people touch and pray to it instead of clearing the animal so that the blaring ambulance can pass, it is very different in Muscat where even finding a camel is scarce. To be frank, the only animals you see are the ones in human form (which can be spotted at workplace).

Mom and I were fond of dogs, whereas Papa was totally against any four legged creatures. My sister still seems to have some kind of an innate aversion to non-humans and thus even lost puppies were treated like terrorists in our house. I don’t know somewhere in the course of time I got this idea that pets are okay but giving them too much importance or spending money over them is too extravagant and dog-shows were conducted for those golf playing old gentlemen and their sophisticated wives for time pass. However I was married to a home where there is a dog for security purposes and it has its place – the animal is well fed, played with outdoors and taken care, but no one ever combed its hair or took it to the vet because it had a ‘cough’. So my idea that a dog should be treated like a dog took a stronger grip.

Recently, a very close friend once said to me, that his friend is moving to Muscat as her husband got a job here. Her resume was sent to me with a request that it be forwarded to my employer on priority. I did that promptly. Next day I got a facebook friend request from this girl whose resume I forwarded. She was working in India, and now that she is moving to Muscat she also wants to continue to work. Finding a job in Muscat is not very easy due to the industry and IT in an early budding stage. There are not too many opportunities to choose from. Sometimes one may want to go out of their areas of expertise to land a well-paying job. The maid at my house who now does the cooking cleaning and babysitting for us, is a qualified nurse in India who couldn't match the standards of expertise required in hospitals at Muscat and is hence doing this job to make ends meet. Her two sons are studying in CBSE School in Kerala. Their fees, medical charges, and house loans - she could not afford to sit idle with the ever increasing liabilities that gaped wide at her. Hence she was ready to forgo her education just to support her husband financially.  Not just her, I know many qualified women who have taken to babysitting, tuition for primary and junior school kids, stitching and lots of other activities to support their families and to stand on their own.

I rarely accept friend requests on facebook from strangers. But this lady seemed to be really working on the job front, so I added her just in case she needed any information on that, since she will eventually be settling down here. The next day after I added her, she pinged me. The conversation went something like this:

She: Hi Anita!

Me: Hi. How are you?

She: All well. I wanted to talk to you, since we are moving to Muscat soon.

Me: No problem. I have forwarded your resume already. They will contact you when there is a vacancy. Meanwhile check other options and upload resume in the job portals of Oman as well.

She: Okay actually I wanted to ask you something else.

Me: Yes, please.

She: Do you have any pets at home? Actually my husband’s employer will give accommodation as well, but I am worried whether it will be a dog friendly apartment, you know. Do you know about any dog friendly apartments in your area?

Me: I don’t know even one person who owns a pet here. In fact I recently moved to a bigger apartment after a lot of exhaustive efforts, for my child who now needs more space.

She: So is your home dog friendly?

Me: I guess it is child friendly.

She: Okay. How is the climate there as of now?

Me: The summer has almost died down, now the heat is bearable and evenings are pleasant.
She: Oh so the dog will have no problems…I guess. Do you know the formality of bringing the pet in international flight?

Me: I honestly have no idea about pet rules on airlines.

**By now I am at my wits end ***

She: Oh okay. I hope I find something soon.

Me: Yeah wish you luck on the job front.

She: Yes. I meant for finding the right apartment.

Me: Okay, bye.

What do you say about this woman? I mean, on one side, my educated maid’s woes of working in my kitchen to pay off her loans, and another female who cares only about housing her canines and whose job hunt comes second. I don’t blame the latter, but I really think that at least while relocating to another country one should reset their priorities and also get themselves a reality check once in a while. 

P.S: I love dogs. I do not disrespect any dog lovers with this post.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The e-wardrobe !

Write like no one is reading, they say. 
So I am going to do just that by declaring, I have problems with my wardrobe. Many times I tried folding everything up to the smallest piece of clothing, but the very next day I find myself searching for that stuff which I haven’t worn in the last decade and thus end up wrecking the whole thing. I’ve got to see kitchens and living rooms of others, dirtier than the adjacent slip road, and patted my own back for the spotless living room I own. But rarely do we get to see another person’s wardrobe. My friend in Bangalore has one which showers clothes as she opens it, and her attitude is my inspiration ever since. I know many of you must be making designs on your foreheads with all the tweaking of eyebrows, but that’s what I am, folks. You can stare or laugh at me all you like. I am writing like no one is reading, remember?

So being a programmer myself I have a wonderful idea for an application. It’s nothing but a wardrobe, which is driven by software, so let’s call it an e-wardrobe.

Here is the blueprint:

·         It folds clothes, categorizes them and places them neatly. This is performed by default.

·         If I try to put a used dress into it, it beeps and shines a red bulb with a message that the dress in question is to be put in laundry.

·         The application should have a dress sense. I mean early morning when I put on black pants with a black shirt, the application should tell me diplomatically, I repeat, diplomatically, that the brown trouser goes better with that shirt. The app should, by no means, use the words ‘suck’ or ‘ugly’ while saying these things which may make the user want to trash it immediately.

·         When clothes are back from the laundry and kept randomly inside the wardrobe, it should fold them neatly and categorize them and the most recently used should go to the bottom.

·         When a dress is picked on Friday which was worn on Monday of the same week, the app should diplomatically, I repeat, diplomatically, remind the user that it was worn few days back and gently ask ‘Are you sure’?

·         The app should be user friendly. In the sense, if a combination of kurti with leggings or a trouser and top is well matched, it can pass a compliment or two which sounds moderate, something like , ‘ Omg you look so pretty!’ or, ‘Noone can make a better combination’, or,  ‘That girl at your office is not even competition to you’. Of course, the compliments should be very gentle and precise, like the above.

·         If a combination made by the user is not apt, the app should either keep quiet or make subtle suggestions but NEVER comment on what is already worn.

·         Again there is a twist. The app should check the time first. If the user has ample time to choose and wear the above suggestions and compliments are welcome. If not, and the user has just a few minutes left, e-wardrobe should shut the hell up and close the wardrobe promptly when the user is done.

·         The wardrobe cleans, disinfects itself.

·         The wardrobe should detect the mood of the user. For example, early morning if I am in a bad mood, the wardrobe should just open and close and should not do any of the talking, even if there is ample time. The mood detection can be done by measuring the force applied to open the wardrobe or closing it.

·         If the user enters the e-wardrobe room humming a tune, the wardrobe greets her by the time of the day, and when she is done, says ‘Bubye Gorgeous!’ or few lines from a good poem, or something which is as subtle as that.

·         Additional functions: The wardrobe can have an add-on, which is a dry cleaner which occupies negligible space. This also irons the clothes based on fabric and thus adjusting the temperature.

I personally think if such a wardrobe, once implemented, will be the best seller gadget of all times and solve half of the world’s problems. This also reduces the pressure some women put on their husbands by asking about their look or dress about which the latter has absolutely no idea. I mean in some ways the e-wardrobe provides excellent emotional companionship and boosts one’s self confidence to supremely high levels.

P.S: My billion dollar idea is copyright protected.

Disclaimer: If any woman buys an e-wardrobe and then decides to ditch her husband, then it is her personal choice and e-wardrobe has nothing to do with it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A hate chronicle.

Ten years ago. It was the last session for the day at college, and time seemed to stagnate. My yawns got heavier and longer, cheek muscles stretched out. Neither did the repeated glaring at the watch prove useless, vigorously shaking it to make it go faster invited attention from the teacher as well. The rest of the pupils who were at their acting best were bored too, but they controlled the yawns that kept coming. The teacher pretentiously went on with the lecture, totally aware of the plight of students who were at the verge of falling into a slumber. Finally the bell rang, which came like music to our ears.

As usual, the boys who had to board trains and college buses pushed their way out sooner than us, while we had all the time in the world to stroll peacefully to the hostel which thankfully or not was in the same campus as the college. I closed my book, opened my purse and put the unused pen in it, and got up just to see a gang of boys coming towards me. The one who led the group had a stack of cards, which by appearance looked like invitation cards. I stood at the edge of my bench, facing them, and the rest of my bench mates farther away from the fast approaching bunch of guys. The gang leader announced that it was his sister’s marriage, and that he wanted to hand over personalized invitation cards. He started with the last girl in my bench, called her by name, leaned forward in front of me and extended the card to her. This continued until it was my turn. I waited, with expecting eyes, and to this day I curse that moment. To my surprise, he acted like he was completely oblivious of my presence, overlooked me purposely and kept distributing to the next row of girls and to everyone but me. I noticed the smirk on his lips and the evil in his eyes. The other boys in the gang, who were just behind their leader, booed and howled at me, when one guy, Sai, pointed at me and laughed humiliatingly. I realized the intention, and walked out of the classroom burning with anger and disgust of the highest degree.

When I went back to the hostel the girls were already talking about the royal wedding. Many of them were aware of how I was ruthlessly uninvited, but I guess girls in college get some sadistic pleasure from such incidents and only pretend to be sympathetic. If you ask me, yes I was genuinely shattered for a moment or two especially the laughter of Sai which kept ringing in my ears a little longer than it should have.

Thankfully, I had a couple of genuine friends who blasted me for even feeling bad, as the guy who did this was a pest of sorts. He dint even deserve our time, I was told and was not allowed to talk about this incident. However I secretly nurtured hatred towards Sai.

Let me explain why they did this to me. These guys were like an isolated entity by themselves in our class. They never interacted with anyone but themselves. They scored negligible or no marks at all, and boycotted University exams with ease. They were a pain to any teacher. To top this, they dressed like goons. The month before this catastrophic incident, it was my sister’s marriage and I invited only a few of my friends from hostel and college to it. This supposedly triggered a revenge plan among them against me, and I don’t understand why on earth they could expect to be invited, given that none of them have ever talked to me or acknowledged my existence. So the marriage of the gang leader guy’s sister came like a blessing to them and they utilized the opportunity to perfection.

Days passed and it was exam time. One fine exam eve, around noon, I was walking in the corridor, daydreaming with a book held just for formality, when a friend came running towards me with panic in her eyes. She halted near me, and said…’ Your classmate…’ and gasped to take breaths….I asked.. ‘Who?’  She continued, suppressing breathlessness that ate into her words..  ‘your classmate, Sai, had been in a serious bike accident’. She continued to puff and pant, and I heedlessly exclaimed ‘Where!’..She continued, ‘He was going to another guy’s house for combined study... He wore a helmet as well, but he was hit by a lorry and the helmet dint help... he has a head injury and is in a coma now’. With that I almost dropped my book. I couldn't believe my ears. The news of the accident spread like wildfire and I was totally blank to think anything. 

I was surprised with my own mindset- I hated this guy to my very core but I never wished or cursed that anything bad should befall him. We sat together at my room in hostel, each of us silent and in our world of memories about him. None of us had anything good to say, but we just couldn't let go of a batch mate like that. No, nothing would happen, we wished.

The hostel did not look like an exam eve anymore. Usually the place would bustle with activity, group discussions and combined study, students looking very modest and intelligent all the way. However the news had fallen hard on us and we had stopped thinking about the examination. Nobody talked to each other.

Suddenly a phone call at the warden’s room stifled its way into our thoughts. It rang louder than usual as it echoed its way into the unusually silent corridors. The warden answered it, and talked for like 30 seconds and placed the receiver down. She looked at the corridor blankly and in a few seconds gestured to my friend to go to her room. They talked for at least five minutes and she walked back to us to say, ‘Sai passed away’.

Days passed.

I wondered about the lost time which could have been spent being friends, but was misused to hate each other. That sometimes an untimely demise of someone we know is what it takes to make us realize that the present is actually precious and the future, completely clueless.   

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