Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Shut up, Sayesha. That's not your daughter!

23rd November was the birthday of someone very very special to me.

There was a time when this person used to bring a lot of joy and laughter to my life. But then I had to let go.

So today, her ex-tutor (moi) and current tutor (CT) took the little girl (LG) to Swensens for a belated birthday treat. CT and I are colleagues, so we left the office together after work. He was in super panic mode.

"You know she has never stepped out into the city on her own? I hope she doesn't get lost. "

"She won't get lost, CT. Her sister is accompanying her to the train station, and we will pick her up there. The sister will stay with her till we reach. And later, her mother will pick her up."

"Yes, but I'm very nervous. It's a big responsibility to take someone's child out, you know. You have to even careful of what you say to them."

And suddenly it struck me how right he was. And how unprepared I was.

Gosh, now I had to think before I spoke to her? Although she and I used to be very informal with each other when I was teaching her, most of our jokes were related to what I taught her. So now, without the books and the desk and the stationary, I had to strike a conversation with her that did not involve chlorophyll and photosynthesis and xylem and arteries!

Now I was going into panic mode.

We met LG at the station. She had grown very tall from when I'd last seen her. And she looked different from the LG I was used to seeing, the one in old pyjamas, with hair all wet (she used to take a bath just before tuition), sitting on the chair in front of me, waiting for us to finish the lesson so she could tumble into bed.

And now, she was all dressed up like a doll!

I opened my mouth to exclaim something jumpy and typical of me, but suddenly remembered CT's words. Gosh, it was very difficult for me to control the way I spoke and my choice of words.

What I almost said: "Whoa LG, you're almost a babe!"
What I actually said: "Hi LG, you look nice. And you've grown taller!"

We chatted on the way to Swensens.

"So it's school holidays now!
You have the whole of December before school starts again, don't you?" I asked.

"Yes!" She grinned happily.

"But I've spoken to her mother. We'll resume tuition for Primary 6 soon. LG, shall we start on Tuesday?" CT said.

I looked aghast. LG looked aghast.

What I almost said: "Are you kidding me?? The poor thing just finished Primary 5. Let her chill for a while, will you?"
What I acually said: "Yes, maybe it's a good idea to start studying for Primary 6 early so you get a headstart. Make use of the holidays. Don't spend all of it playing, okay?"

A voice in my head said, "Bah!"

Then she started telling us about her exam results.

"My Chinese quite good. My Maths and Science also okay. But my English marks not very good leh! I very scared about English in my PSLE (Primary School Leaving Exam) next year! I don't know what to do!" She said.

"Well, first of all, LG, you should stop speaking in Singlish." I said.

"Yeah, Sayesha's right. Start speaking in proper English, LG." said CT. "Anyhow cannot speak like that, you know."

What I almost said: "CT, WHAT THE...??!!"
What I actually said: "Errr... yeah, what he means is that you should avoid speaking in Singlish, okay?"

"Yes, you must top your class in the PSLE next year. Soon you will be in secondary school, then JC and then university! So what do you want to become when you grow up?" CT asked.

"My mother wants me to become a doctor. But I don't want!"

"What do you want then?"

"I don't know! That's the problem. I don't know!"

What I almost said: "Haha! That's hardly a problem, girl. I did not know what I wanted to become even at the age of eighteen. Just chill, you'll figure out sooner or later."

What I actually said: "Hmmm... it's good to have a goal in life. You should think about what you want to be in future."

The voice in my head spoke up again, "Bah!"

We had reached Swensens. The staff seemed incredibly amused to see this very odd trio. I think they concluded that it was an inter-racial family. Though I'm sure they must have wondered why the 'daughter' did not look anything at all like the 'mother'.

After we ordered the main courses, we resumed the conversation. It was mostly us asking her questions.

"So what have you been upto? Are you going on a holiday this year?"

"No plans yet. But I want to go to Genting ." She said.

What I almost said: "Oh Genting! Maybe you'll come back a millionaire! Haha!"
What I actually said: "Oh Genting! Yeah, they have a lot of fun rides, you will enjoy yourself."

After dinner, it was time for dessert. LG simply loves ice-cream.

"So what ice-cream do you want?" I asked her.

"Oh, let's order the Earthquake for her!" CT exclaimed.

I was aghast. The Earthquake is a giant 8-scoop ice-cream.

"No no, I don't think I can finish it." She said.

"Of course you can! You're young, you can eat all you like, you can't get fat."

What I almost said: "What nonsense! Of course she can get fat!"
What I actually said: "CT, don't force her now. LG, why don't you order what you think you can finish?"

It was just so different. I had to think so much before I said anything.
And that person making those 'heat & eat' idealistic statements, was so not me! Aaarghhh! At many points during the evening, I felt like such a hypocrite. But I reminded myself again and again, "Shut up, Sayesha. That's not your daughter!"

And I couldn't help but wonder -- a mere change of settings can change so much.

I never thought LG could look different from how I remembered her.

I never thought I'd have to think and rephrase my thoughts before I spoke to her.

I never thought I'd run out of things to say to her.

I never thought I'd have to be an adult when talking to her.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Who's your angel?

A brown leaf floated about in the air and slowly landed on Sayesha's head.

Nope, it wasn't autumn.

It was a half-rotten leaf that had just detached itself from its tree and decided to use Sayesha's head as its helipad.

Sayesha looked up and just about missed something white falling from the sky.

No, it wasn't the first snowflake.

It was the first evening offerings of the bird sitting high up on the tree, looking down and grinning at her. (I know birds don't have any grinning apparatus, but apparently they can.)

So where was I?

Remember the company course that was cancelled due to hilarious reasons? Well, they finally held it today. It ended at five and I had a full three hours to myself before I met my friends for dinner. So I decided to go on a date. With myself. To Orchard Road. Not just for some girly shopping. I had been really curious about the tacky Christmas decorations Banana had described in her blog, and wanted to go check them out.

It was all that she had written and more! The decor was horrendous. Huge, ugly, tacky, loud.

In other words, my dil went yikes!

And as I walked along the road amidst the very distasteful Christmas decorations, threading my way through the busy crowd of people, all in a hurry, suddenly I felt a sudden rush of joy inside me. It was Christmas! And the gaudy decor , the rotten leaf, the bird-shit, could not do anything to dampen my spirits. My spirits were high, and it wasn't because of the orange juice I'd had in the afternoon. And I realised something -- the spirit of Christmas, more than around us, is in us.

The lady I bought a necklace from, said, "So how come you're here in Orchard Road on a Monday night?" I told her that I wanted to see the Christmas decor, and also because it gets so crowded during the weekend, that I figured the best day to come here would be a Monday night.

"Oh, you celebrate Christmas?" She looked amused.

"Yeah, I do..." I grinned back at her.

I do.

I'm not a Christian. And I don't really follow a religion. The only place where my religion shows up is when I have to tick that little box while filling forms. Other than that, I am not a religious person. I don't pray and I don't preach. (Perhaps it's because I don't like the idea of praying only when I need something and not praying otherwise.)

However, I do believe in celebrating. And I celebrate every freakin' thing that there is to be celebrated.

My earliest memories of Christmas go way back in time. When I was a little girl, my sis and I would hang stockings on the cords of the mosquito net on Christmas eve. After we had gone to sleep, Dad would fill our stockings with potatoes and onions (every year!!) and put them on top of the mosquito net. Sis and I would get up in the morning, all excited to see the stockings filled to the brim. We would turn them upside down and scream in indignation. My sis would go, "Dad, not this year too! It's not even funny anymore!" And I would start bawling. Dad would be grinning and Mom would watch the whole scene with a "I've given up on this guy" expression. And finally, the real Christmas gifts would come out. Every year.

And I would make a little Christmas tree with shiny green paper, and decorate it with all kinds of shimmery stuff. And there would be an angel at the top.

The Christmas angel. The one who would make all my wishes come true. The one who would spread the spirit of joy and love.

I am 25 years old now. There is no Santa. There is no Christmas angel.

Or is there?

In Kal Ho Na Ho, Jenny tells her kids, "Whenever we're in trouble, God will send an angel for us, who will take away all our tears and fill our lives with joy." And the kids prayed and waited. And then Shah Rukh turned up. Just another human being, just a neighbour. But an angel for that troubled family. (Now now, I am not praising the movie here, we all know SRK sucked in that movie, I'm only looking at the basic script of the story.)

It set me thinking. Is an angel really going to turn up one day to take away all our tears and fill our lives with joy? Or are we waiting in vain? What's the angel like?

Who is an angel really? If it's just another human being, could it really be that neighbour? Or perhaps that friend of ours? And most importantly, why do we need to wait for our angels?
Why can't we be our own angels? Why can't we be each others' angels? We certainly have the ability to take a few tears away, and the ability to bring some joy into the lives of those around us.

And if we're all angels, then whom are we waiting for?

Christmas is almost here. I can feel it in my bones. It's the season of loving and giving and sharing. (Gosh I'd better stop, I'm starting to sound like Joey Tribbiani now!) It's the season of love and showing it to those you love. It's time for yet another celebration.

A celebration that I needed real bad in my life right now.

Sayesha is happy today. Really really happy.

To all the angels I have in my life, I want to send a big kiss and a hug, and I want to thank you for being the angel and taking away some of my tears and bringing me joy.

Our wait is over. We are Santa. We are the Christmas angel.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

What's your movie like?

Today I was missing a friend rather badly.

And when I miss my friends, I listen to their favourite songs on loop. Even if I don't like the songs myself. It makes me feel close to them.

So I played this song from the movie 'Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahin':

Tu pyaar hai kisi aur ka
Tujhe chahta koi aur hai
Tu pasand hai kisi aur ki
Tujhe maangta koi aur hai

Loosely translated:

"You are someone else's love
Someone else wants you.
You're someone else's choice
Someone else asks for you."

After I had heard the song like ten times, I remembered its picturisation. It's a party scene. Aamir Khan is singing this song of lost love for Pooja Bhatt who's dancing in the arms of some random guy. And I started thinking of them one by one.

About what the movie means to each of the three characters in the song.

Aamir Khan - "This story is about me. I am the leading man. I am in love with this girl Pooja. I am trying to fight off random guy and win my lady love."

Pooja Bhatt - "This story is about me. I am the leading lady. I am in love with this guy Aamir. I am marrying random guy but I don't want to. I want to marry Aamir."

Random guy - "This story is about me. I am the leading man. I am in love with this girl Pooja. Random guy Aamir Khan is trying to take my lady love away from me."

That set me thinking.

Each of our lives is a movie. We write it ourselves, we set the direction, we pick the lighting, costumes, songs. We choose the characters we want in our movies, we choose how much screen time we want to give these characters. Along the way, we may even change the screenplay, and realise the potential of some of the actors and give them better roles. We may even 'kill off' some characters whom we don't want in the movie of our life. Some of them may magically come back into our movie if we want. Sometimes we even look around at other movies, and get inspiration from award-winning movie-makers, and turn the course of our own movies. The shooting of this movie goes on forever, and changes at every step.

But the most important thing that does not change is that each movie-maker picks himself/herself to play the lead in his/her movie. No matter what the genre is, no matter what the story is, no matter how the movie begins and ends, we are the focal points around which our movies revolve. Sometimes it may not seem so, but in the end, it is always about us.

There may be random guys in our story like the one in the song above. Spot boys. Extras. Make-up artists. And because we play the lead, they are insignificant. See that spot boy over that? He's there somewhere in your movie. He doesn't make much of a difference, and his work can be done by any of the millions of other spot boys you have. Random guy actually.

However, in his story, the spot boy is probably you. Or you could be the extra. Or the junior make-up artist. Basically, you are 'the random guy'. Because he chose you to be so. And there's nothing you can do about it, you can't ask for the lead role.

It's his movie, you see.

Sometimes, our movies overlap, the characters overlap. They cross paths, but they are all playing different roles in each of the movies at the same time. Playing the leading guy in their own, and playing the random guy in others'.

So that kinda balances everything out, doesn't it? You can make your movie as great as you want, and pick the best to play the roles you want them to play, but your role in others' movies is confined to what they want you to play.

But the best part is -- no matter what the box-office results say, no matter how heartless the critics are, no matter how bad the reviews are, no matter how much you think your movie sucks, someone somewhere, is watching it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

:) and yet :(

So I had some good news at work. Brilliant news, in fact.

It was a proud moment for me. I was very happy.

I think.

But every now and then, my heart would sink. As if something was wrong somewhere and I could not figure it out. What was it that was not letting me fully celebrate my moment of glory? What was that odd feeling that was gnawing at a corner of my heart, causing such ups and downs? Why were my eyes teary, why was my heart breaking? One moment I would be so elated, and the very next, I would come crashing down. Something was not right still. What was missing? What was it?

It just didn't make sense. It was supposed to be all happy. Sayesha, happy happy happy. Happy!

But why was I sad?

And then I remembered the little girl.

The one on the red bicycle, rushing home from school after the annual day, almost tumbling off her bicycle in her excitement to get home, not even parking it properly, but just pushing it against the wall of the house, tearing through the door, "Mummy!!! See, I won I won! Your daughter is first!" And she ran and put the medals around her mother's neck, and placed the trophies in her arms. Her mother beamed with excitement, while her father quietly looked on with a smile on his face, not wanting to be part of the almost embarrassing mother-daughter drama, but proud nevertheless.

How tacky. Sounds like a chocolate ad, doesn't it?

But this scene is straight from my childhood.

And that's when I realised. That's what was missing.

Phone calls... emails... naah! Nothing quite beats family being there on the spot, physically present, to see our moment, to share it, to live it with us.

Perhaps that's why I was sad in spite of my happy news.

Because somewhere inside me, that little girl still lives, and just like the old days, she wants to dash through the door, show mom her report card and say, "Mummy! See, I won I won! Your daughter is senior editor!"

But she can't.

Damn these long distance relationships...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Just bossing around

It all started with a missing intern.

Yesterday my intern disappeared without a trace. Poof! No call, no sms, no email. Fearing for the deadlines first and her well-being later, my managing editor and I managed to get her mobile number from the other intern at work, and called her. She told me she wasn't feeling well.

"You should call in sick in the morning so I am kept aware of your whereabouts." I told her.

"Uhh.. yeah. Sorry."

I forgot about the incident soon after. I was ready to let it go. She's a kid after all and she’s too new to the publishing industry. She probably did not realise that if you miss a single deadline here, half the world comes crashing down on you.

Later, my managing editor sent me an email advising me that I should "keep a closer eye on my staff".


Of course he had a valid point. And he meant it in a good way. But, ouch.

I thought I was doing well. I usually don't like to micro-manage my staff. My working style is very typical – if you have a good attitude, are eager to learn the multitude of things I am eager to teach you, give me good-quality work, are willing to use your creativity, show initiative, are not lazy, don't miss deadlines, I won't breathe down your neck.

So far, I have had the good fortune of having a brilliant team of editors. Fast learners, excited about things, and the best part is -- they have a sense of humour (without which, one would die in the pressure cooker environment of this industry.)

Apart from the occasional reminder about punctuality (I am a sucker for punctuality and believe that even ridiculous work hours such as 8:15 to 6:03 pm should be respected), I don't run a very tight ship with my team. In fact, I have often been accused by other colleagues of spoiling my editors.

During the peak season for textbook publishing, things can get crazy, and editors often have to stay back at work after midnight. My team usually leaves work on time. And I encourage that. In spite of the odd looks that other teams give us. I wish I could tell them -- leaving on time does not mean that my team has a very light workload. It just means that my team is efficient.

If we should not let our personal lives affect our work lives, well, it's only fair that we should not let our work lives affect our personal lives too. That is my motto. And our personal lives starts at 6:03 pm. So I say, come in on time and leave on time. Unless of course you have a deadline.

And things seem to be going fine for me and my editors. But yesterday's incident made me go "ouch." For the first time in three years.

A year ago, I was happily skipping along like a little lamb when I bumped into a promotion. And suddenly, my work wasn’t just my own stuff anymore. There were so many other things to think about. Training my staff, motivation, workflow, fighting for my editors’ rights at the update meetings, making sure they are not given subjects they don’t want to work on, arguing with other departments, especially Marketing that threw impossible demands at us with amazing regularity.

I freaked out a bit.

"You mean I will be mutilating other people's work like you mutilate mine?" I asked my senior editor.

"Haha! Yeah. We feel you're ready to do it." She said.

"Gosh! And I'll be rejecting people's work and asking for redrafts? And what about the editors who are older than me? Will they listen to me? Will they respect me? Will they abide by my instructions? Will they really even listen to me?" I had a million and one doubts.

My boss gave me a little talk to ease my fears about leading a team of editors. “It's all about knowledge and experience. Your age does not matter.” She said. “And you have both, so you already have the authority. Don't worry.”

As I stepped into my new position, I realised how difficult a supervisory role is. You have to not only set the right examples, you have to hide your prejudices so the morale of your team does not get affected. You have to be the bridge between upper management and your team so that everybody is happy and productive.

Some time ago, someone remarked that most working bloggers are either planning to eat rat poison or feed it to their bosses. Now here's why I wouldn't do it. We can crib all we want about our bosses, but it’s only when we step into their shoes do we realise that they're also going thru as much shit as we are. Possibly more.

I think I only had the rat poison situation at Company #1. In my present company, I have had the good fortune of having bosses, each of whom has taught me something important. Each of them had a different style and I learnt a bit from each, put it together and got myself a working style.

Today, I am reminded of all the bosses I have worked under and learnt stuff from. They’ve been of all kinds.

Now book publishing presents very unique problems. We have too many ‘freak-out’ incidents. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Here are just a few of the freak-out incidents:

  • WHAT? The Ministry of Education wants the conceptual framework in two weeks?? But we don't even have an author yet!!
  • WHAT?? The colour printer broke down? But the proofs are due for submission this afternoon!!
  • WHAT?? The artwork is delayed? But the first proofs were supposed to be in yesterday!!
  • WHAT?? The website link given in our book has transformed into ahem ahem… something not so suitable for kids anymore??
  • WHAT?? Another designer quit??
  • WHAT?? Three editors quit??
  • WHAT?? Colleague X joined the competitors?? But I had discussed all the plans for next year with him/her!!
  • WHAT?? The cover got rejected by the publisher?? But it was supposed to go to print today!!
  • WHAT????? What do you mean the soft copy of the book got corrupted???
  • WHAT?? The magazine is two weeks late? But it must reach the schools before the holidays start!
  • WHAT?? What do you mean the author used the wrong syllabus?? She's written practically half the book!
  • WHAT?? The freelance illustrator took off on a sudden vacation without completing his work??
  • WHAT?? What do you mean the author got arrested? We're launching his book next week!!
And every time, surprise, surprise, there’s a new problem. And sometimes, it's so unexpected and unprecedented, you just don’t know what to do with it. So you go to your boss with the problem.

Here’s what happened to me when I did that with each of the bosses. I want to document all this so I can revisit and remember why I do what I do.

Boss 1
The first senior editor I worked under was this fierce lady who had an incredible amount of experience, and an incredibly short fuse to match. She knew her stuff all right, but she was absolutely terrifying. Diplomacy was something she probably did not believe in. In fact, one of the male editors told me in my first week itself, "Beware! Every female editor who has worked under Boss 1 has cried at least once." I was determined to not join the group of the crying editors. But boy, was it tough.

I dreaded meetings with her where she would go through pages and pages of my work that she had mutilated with her infamous pencil. Going to her with a problem was like entering a lion's den with raw-meat-cologne sprayed all over yourself. I was so freakin’ scared of her that it actually made me more thorough and diligent with my work just because I did not want her to find any flaw in my work and scream the place down. Also, I wanted to prove to her that it wasn’t true that engineers were no good as editors. And one fine day, when one of my editorials came back from her, not only untouched by that infamous pencil, but with a 'good!' written on it, my joy knew no bounds. I had finally cracked the wall.

Boss 2
Boss 2 was a sweetheart. She adored me to death, and had such immense faith in my creativity and project-management skills that it was almost embarrassing. “Oh Sayesha, I am sure you must have already thought of a solution. I have faith in you.” So there was no choice for this over-rated Sayesha to think up a solution and execute it. “See, I told you, you’d handle it fine!” She’d say. She made me believe in myself.

Boss 3
Boss 3 was funny, funny, funny. It was amazing how she saw the humour in even the scariest of problems. I learnt from her that work should be fun. That a boss does not have to be a hard-nut ass-kicking slave-driver. She taught me that happy editors are productive editors.

Boss 4
Now Boss 4 was strict. Ooooh, very strict. But more diplomatic than Boss 1. But she expected me to be very very independent. She did not want me to go to her with problems, she wanted me to go to her with solutions. “So? What is your plan of action to counter these problems?” My thought bubble, “My plan of action? Errr... I thought you could advise me... you're the boss..” But she would look at me in the eye till I came up with a plan of action on the spot. So the next time I went to her with any problem, I always remembered to take a plan of action along with me. And a back-up. And that attitude is such a big help today.

Whatever I have learnt today, I have done so by watching my bosses, by analysing how they deal with situations. And that kinda puts the pressure on me today when I deal with those situations.

Sometimes I tell myself, "Be a good boss. You have to keep your composure, show little emotion, not freak out, cos your editors are watching you. They are learning from you. Don't make them freak out too!"

But at times I can't help it, and I don't stop myself from freaking out. Right in front of them.

I guess it just makes me a more human boss I suppose?

Now would you please excuse me while I go and sort out another freak-out situation.

WHAT?? What do you mean the pregnant author’s hormones are kicking in and she refuses to complete the book??

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

From bloggers-not-so-anonymous to MACs

Dammit. Today I wanted to blog about the very interesting case of the missing intern, but looking at the hoo-haa on Munnu's blog, I feel that this post is more called for. So at the risk of inviting more unwanted MACs to Sayeshaz, here's what I have to say.


Dear Mean Anonymous Commentator (MAC),

Thank you for anonymously subscribing to our newsletter. Welcome to your third consecutive year in Commenting 101. We hope you will enjoy these lessons as much as we at bloggers-not-so-anonymous have enjoyed putting them together for you. And we hope you will finally graduate this year.

Before we proceed to delve deep into the subject, let us give you a refresher course on blogs, since you seem to forget it every now and then.

1. A blog is a web log. It belongs to an individual. It does not belong to you. Is that clear? Underline that. It does not belong to you.

2. If point 1 is clear, you would realise that since it does not belong to you, it belongs to someone else. Someone else, okay? Now that's a whole other person. And no, it's not you.

3. Since the blog belongs to a whole other person, that whole other person has the right to write whatever he/she wants to write on his/her blog. We know we keep harping on this, but we have to, because some of our more intellectually challenged students just don't seem to get it. If you're so keen on dictating content on a blog, get one yourself. It's easy. And free. (unlike these very expensive lessons you're having to attend).

4. We bloggers do not ask for praise. Neither do we ask you to agree with us on every point. We write because we want to write. Hell, half the time we write nonsense. And we know it. But a blog is for our thoughts. If there is nonsense in our thoughts, there will be nonsense in the blog. You cannot control it. We repeat, you cannot control our thoughts. (Hell, even we can't!)

5. You're not tied to a chair with your eyelids pinned open and the blog in front of you. You have the choice to close your eyes. You have the choice to close the window. You have the choice to shut down the computer. You have the choice to run away from the 'evil blog that insults your intelligence'.

6. Be clear about what constructive criticism is. What you are doing, is not. There are plenty of intelligent commentators here who give us constructive criticism. Learn from them.

7. Before you judge us, look at yourself. We bloggers are mere mortals with all our flaws. And we display them on our blogs. Not for you to take the high-horse attitude. If you are so perfect yourself, why don't you spread some love around, instead of spreading malice and possibly ruining someone's day? Most of us bloggers don't care about your comments, but some do, and the rest of us will stand up for those. Bloggers are people too. Treat them as you would treat people whom you talk to in person. The mask of anonymity does not give you special meanness privileges.

8. You are not forking out your hard-earned money to read anyone's blog. It's purely your own choice. So do not complain about QC.

9. We bloggers are open to criticism and disagreement, but only if it is mature and leads to an intelligent debate. Statements like "What crap!" or "You write nonsense." or "You're so pathetic." are of no use to either you or us. It may boost your ego for a while, but think of how pathetic you are if your ego is boosted by thoughts of how pathetic you think we are.

10. Think about your comment after you comment. Remember, everyone makes mistakes. Just that blogger gives you the option of going back and deleting your mistakes. Use it. Be a good guest. Don't let your host clean up after you.

11. Why do you post as anonymous? What are you scared of? Most MACs have blog accounts. Use it. Sign in and then post. Let us see you just as you see us.

12. If you do not have a blog account, get one and walk a mile in our shoes. Think of how sad it is that you are criticising someone's online thoughts, when you don't have any yourself.

13. Trust us when we say that none of us bloggers wants to block anonymous comments, many of which are incredibly insightful. Some of them are our friends and we respect their right to not have a blog in order to comment on our blogs. Just as we have the right to put ourselves on blogger, they have the right not to.
So do not let your deeds give a bad name to all non-bloggers.

14. Face it. Most of the time you post mean anonymous comments due to a personal grudge. The same post by a friend of yours triggers a "Haha, you're crazy, man!" comment from you, but if someone you dislike writes it, your comment magically transforms to "How much crap do you write? I'm disgusted at your blog." Personal grudges are not good for your well-being. Get rid of them. (This, coming from us, who don't even care so much about your well-being!)

15. Do not make it your duty to do internet policing and criticising content on the net that is not upto your 'high' standards. Think about how much value your juvenile comments are adding to the 'high-standard' stuff.

That's all for the day. Because we fear it may be too much knowledge for you to digest. We hope this lesson has been enlightening for you in some way.

We know you may not change your ways just by reading this.

But maybe you will. Who knows.

Yours truly,

On behalf of

Monday, November 21, 2005

Do you have any babies?

"Where IS the damn bus??" My fidgety classmate (who has a five-month old baby) exclaimed in exasperation as we waited at the bus stop after our evening class that ends at 9:30 pm.

"Patience, my dear, patience. What's the big rush?" I was very amused at her jumpy behaviour.

'Well, I just get very restless after class. Can't wait to get home to go see how my baby is doing, and what's generally happening." She confided. "You'll know when you have a baby." She smiled.

And suddenly it struck me. I do have a baby! My blog is my baby! I can't wait to get home after class/work to see how it's doing, and what's generally happening. And I am fiercely protective of it.

What is a baby really? A cute,
precious, helpless little bundle that you have to take care of, that you have to watch over, so adorable that you just can't help hugging and kissing it.

Don't we all have babies that are not our babies? Haven't we all felt that immense sense of affection (that almost chokes us at times) for certain people, certain things? It may not be as deep as a real mother's love for her baby, but it's as close as single people can get to having their own baby. All of us have this basic maternal instinct (yes, even the guys do, though they may not like to admit it) for certain people in our lives. Your best friend, your friend's baby, your nephew, your niece, even your elder sibling (I know mine is!) could be your baby. In fact, there are at least three people on this blog itself whom I can call my babies because every time I think of them, I am filled with immense affection and the compelling need to protect them from whatever troubles them.

We all feel like that for certain people, don't we? When I first joined my company, a colleague of mine used to tell me, "I don't know why but I have this urge to 'baby' you, take care of you, make sure you're doing okay, check on you now and then." Now it's another matter that the advice this 'mother' gave me ("Get out of here as fast as you can. Publishing doesn't pay well and it's a high-stress, high-responsibility job.") is something this bratty baby never listened to. (In December I complete three years in the company.)

And then there are the things that are our babies. Things we're possessive about, things we are proud of, things that make our hearts go all warm and fuzzy. I feel like that about my magazine. It's my baby. Every time I go to 7-11 or a bookstore, I look out for it, and my heart fills with pride when I see it. And if it's hidden behind some bimbotic glossy magazine, I make it a point to pull it out and move it to the front. My baby should be visible. How dare the bimbo magazine try to cover my baby with its fat ass?!

Actually, for an editor, every book is a baby. Two years ago, I embarked on my biggest project at work. Working on a school textbook package with the Ministry of Education is no joke. In my company, the editor is the project manager and does everything from conceptualisation to editing to author-management to scheduling to budgeting and more. (So all those who think that all an editor does is sit at her desk and correct typos and grammatical errors all day, boy, you should never apply for a job in my company!) Such projects are incredibly exhausting, and often last 1-2 years, from the time we do the market research, finding authors, deciding the style and look, editing, artwork, photography, layout, reviews, to the submission of the book to the ministry, to getting the approval and to finally printing it, there's no end to the processes that an editor has to initiate and stay involved in, all the way. Like a friend said to me today, it is really about creating something out of nothing. It is therefore no surprise that most editors call their books their babies.

And so, this year in July, when my first textbook was launched, every time I looked at it sitting pretty, I'd melt and go "Awww... my baby!" I'm sure my co-editor Banana, and each of the designers who worked on it, felt the same. My editorial manager came along, picked up a copy of the book and remarked, "Your book is beautiful, Sayesha. You must be so proud. Your first baby, isn't it?"

'Yes, my first baby. Thank you. Am very proud of it." I said as I cradled my precious book in my hands.

"Next year's going to be very hectic for the textbook market. So are you looking forward to your next baby?" She asked.

I gave her a look of horror.

"Errr... can I adopt a one-child policy?" I asked. I don't think she was very amused. But I had a point. Creating the baby had been very hard work. This book had sapped quite a bit of my energy and creativity out of me, and all I needed was a break to just sit back and admire this book and watch it 'grow up' and tell myself proudly, "I was part of the team that made this beautiful book happen."

My other babies? Frodo and fat chick, of course!

Look around you, you will find so many babies of yours. Apart from the people in your life who're absolutely precious, it could even be your cricket bat, your soft toy, your X-box, your F1 steering wheel, your ipod, the piece of software you wrote. Anything.

So? Do you have any babies?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A poem for anon?

Some things take on a totally different meaning when you look at them years later.

I found this poem in an old folder, from like a million years ago. I'd written it when I was in school. And today, when I read it, I wonder what was in my mind when I wrote this. Who is it addressed to?

God? But I was never really a believer.

Or was I talking to myself?

Or perhaps I was addressing life itself?

What could it be? I have no idea.



In the evening

as I sit watching the sunset
And the blue sky
with streaks of red and gold

Scattered with kites
each one of a different colour

My eyes look up
to the red one flying the highest
Bright it is, and ambitious
with a desire to touch
the upper limit of the sky
The wind is its mate
taking it higher and higher
till it is just a red dot
in the vast sky

"Isn't it flying too high?" I wonder
But the child holding the string
does not pull it back
and in a struggle to escape
and fly yet higher

the kite suddenly frees itself
from the hold of the string

But without the support of the string
down it comes, and fast
and the children below
watch it falling, and wait
and then rush towards the spot
where they know it will fall
each one wanting to possess
this rare treasure
that has seen such heights

Numerous hands tug at it
and it is torn to pieces
The little boy looks on
at the kite that was so bright
so colourful...
But not any more

Even its owner couldn't save it
from losing its existence...

I watch everything
and I think of you
Understanding comes to me
that my life is a kite
with its string in your hands
lending support to me
Neither too firmly
nor too gently

I fly in splendour
in a search for heights of success
You make sure
I am flying, as I should
And when opportunities arise
you loosen your hold on the string
and let me fly like I wish to fly
as if there is no string
to ever pull me back

You let me attain the heights I yearn for
The heights that I can reach...
The heights I should reach.

As soon as the winds of ambition
begin to take me beyond that height
you pull back the string, gently
so that I should not separate myself from it
in a bid to rise higher and higher
For it would mean
the same fate as of the red kite

I would fall
down... and fast...
to such a depth, where like the red kite,
I too, wouldn't be what I am today
And then even you
like the red kite's owner
would not be able to save me
from losing my existence...

Friday, November 18, 2005

See ya in the next life!

Last year, I used to religiously follow this TV serial (till it got really ridiculous) on Zee TV called 'Tum bin jaaoon kahan' ('Where do I go without you?'). A guy and a girl were in love. The girl died in an accident just before they could get married. And their love was so strong, she was born again, to come and take him back. Problem was that he was 25 and she was 2. So the only way they could be together was if both died at same time, and were united in the next life, third for the girl and second for the guy. And that was the focal point around which the story revolved.

I was fascinated by the concept because
for the longest time, I never believed in the concept of the next life.

I've lived all my life with the "Ek hi zindagi hai, jee bhar ke jee lo" ("There's only one life, live it up.") attitude.

But lately, I have started to think. What if...?

A few days ago, a friend of mine said to me, "If I like something, I make it mine." His words swirled around in my mind for days.

"If I like something, I make it mine."

Easy. Especially if it's an object that can be bought. You walk into a shop, you like something, you pay for it, and voila, you've made it yours.

A bit more difficult if what you like is a person you wanna make yours. Harder if they are already someone else's. But I guess the situation is still not entirely hopeless; last minute surprises are always possible and are happening all around us.

But what if what you want is entirely impossible? What if there's just no way it can happen?

There are things about your life you can change. And there are those you can't. And you wish they were different. You may wish you were born in another country. You may wish you had a different set of parents. You may wish you had studied in another school. You may wish your first job had been something else. You may wish that that accident hadn't happened to you. You may wish you had trained to be a cricketer instead of a programmer. You may wish that you'd never met certain people. You may wish that this particular person had fallen in love with you instead and married you. You may wish you had not gotten married. You may wish your first-born was a girl instead of a boy. You may wish you had blue eyes. You may wish you were the only child. You may wish you'd been one of twins. You may wish... the list is endless.

I remember the scene in Kal Ho Na Ho where Aman tells Rohit, "Naina may be yours in this life, but promise me that she will be mine in every other life after this." I thought that was beautifully done.

There may be things about our lives we can't change. There may be stuff out there that we may want to make ours, but we can't. There are reasons so compelling that we can't.

What do we do then? Is there no second chance for us?

Perhaps there is.

Perhaps there really is a next life.

For all the things that this life is not sufficient for.

One can ask "Does it matter whether there is a next life? Or whether we get what we want in it? We won't ever know, will we?" True, we won't. For all I know, perhaps I am already living my nth life, and I have acquired all the things I'd desired in my last one. Perhaps this whole next life thing is really a consolation-thought, to give us hope.

But isn't hope what we live by?

This is not about not being happy with what you have in this life, or living in misery and complaining because what you desire is something you can't have in this life. You can be perfectly happy with this life. You can celebrate this life and fully live it up with what you've been fortunate enough to have. No one's saying you should kill yourself 'cos the next life's list looks better than this life's. At least, in this life, we know what we have. In the other, we don't know. I actually find this a very positive attitude. Instead of thinking about and brooding over all the things that can never happen in this life, how about we put them in a thumb-drive labelled 'To-do list for the next life' and tuck them deep in our heart somewhere, and then forget about them and live the beautiful life we have now?

What's wrong in making a little list of 'what ifs' for the next one?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Anyone to validate?

There are some things which seem incredibly funny to us, but which get no reaction from others. In fact, we ourselves may not find it funny some time later.

On the day of my second exam, everyone was already inside the exam hall except for this classmate of mine (who incidentally, is eight months pregnant). About five minutes before the exam was to begin, the heavily pregnant woman slowly sauntered in just as the invigilator was making the standard announcement "You're not allowed to bring into this examination hall any unauthorised material or object."

It was too much for me. I know it was a serious examination hall and all that. But I just could not help it. So sue me. I found it funny. I had to literally cover my mouth with my hand to hide my smile. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing.

One of the invigilators was looking at me with an odd expression. Perhaps he thought exam stress had made me go bonkers. But surely others were laughing too? I looked around. Nope. Na-ah. Zilch. Serious faces. Everywhere. Not a single muffled laugh or smile.

What?? No one found that funny?? No one?

This is sad, I thought to myself.

"No, Sayesha, you are sad." popped a voice in my head.

'What?? Excuse me?"

"That wasn't funny, Sayesha."

"Well, excuse me for finding it funny! And I'm sure some others do too!"

"Oh yeah? Show me one."


Backing. I needed backing.

I looked around again. I looked in front, no one was laughing. I looked back, no one was laughing. I looked to my right, no one was laughing. I had almost given up by the time I looked to my left.

And there he was. Hope personified.

The guy on my left was looking down at his desk, trying hard to hide his chuckles.


Most of the time, we don't need any validation for our own thoughts or feelings. Especially not for our judgement of what we find funny.

But sometimes, we do need validation. Especially if we project our thoughts and feelings on to others.

And all we need for validation is just that one person who thinks like us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sayesha rebranded

Yeayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!! :D

Sayesha's exams are overrrrrrrr!!!

Sayesha does an extremely silly victory dance.

(Stop it, Sayesha, people on your blog are starin' at you!)

Oh what the hell.

You go, girl. One more time, from the top!

Three... two... one...


And here's the actual post for today:

Yes, yes, they are finally over. And they have taught me more than just communication theories.

People say that we only realise the value of something once we lose it. I say we only know we had something when we don't have it.

I used to think "I work so hard... such long working hours... from 8:15 am to 6:03 pm (yes, I said 6:03 pm, don't ask.) I have no time for anything in life... or to have a life even!" Then I started my master's course and struggled with evening classes on top of work. And I realised that I could fit it in. Somehow, I had been able to make time and space for it.

And now that I have no classes and no exams, I suddenly feel like I have so much time. The time which I never knew I had.

This time, the time will be used for a rebranding exercise.

Yes, another one.

My company recently underwent a rebranding exercise, new name, new logo, new stuff, new working style, heck, they even repainted the office building in the corporate colour (again, don't ask). And I thought to myself -- it's not just companies that are rebranding themselves. We're doing it too. All the time.

That new haircut, that new wardrobe, that change in outlook to a more positive one, that deciding not to jump off the cliff, that new boyfriend/girlfriend, that getting over a heartbreak, that new friend you made, that carrying out of the resolution to get that killer body you always desired, these are all part of rebranding, aren't they? But rebranding is not just about changed appearances, it's about changed feelings, about changed ways of thinking.

The last few times I rebranded myself were in uni, once in my second year, when I developed that attitude that said "The world sucks and is out to hurt me." complete with
that haircut that made me look like I'd just been electrocuted. The second was in my third year when I lost all the extra weight I had gained during my first rebranding, gave away 90% of my wardrobe and used all the money I'd earned during my internship on getting a new one. For a thinner me. Complete with a "The world isn't that bad!" attitude.

Then was the one I got after I came back from a holiday in Goa with cousins I had not seen in years. I had a brand new haircut with highlights, which sadly even Alan has not been able to reproduce, and a brand new attitude, and my heart was full of love for all these new people in my life that I had rediscovered. I looked and felt different.

And the last one I had was after my Cambodia trip. I have no idea what that simple little country did to me, but I love it. I found myself at a totally different level of thinking and believing and loving after I came back from Cambodia. The world was a great place. It was such a magical feeling I can't even begin to describe it. And it has lasted. Made me the person I am today. And I know no matter how many times I rebrand myself, I know it will stay. You can take the girl out of Cambodia but you can't take Cambodia out of the girl.

Zoom to the present. Rebranding. We all do it. Sometimes without knowing it. Every now and then, we change something about ourselves, either the way we think, or the way we work, or the way we look. (It's mostly the way we think, but the looking different part is just there to remind us of the rebranding.) We're not really changing ourselves, we're merely turning into what we want to be.

All we need is a bit of motivation, a bit of a push (preferably from a loved one) and a strong mind.

So Sayesha has decided to do a rebranding exercise in all the extra time that she apparently now has. If this works out, I will not need to make any resolutions for the new year.

Here's the list of things to do:

  • Finish writing Hopscotch. Top on the priority list.
  • Bring back the discipline in my life. Yes, I am disciplined, but I need to get better. This is the age and time to push myself.
  • Start work on my dissertation before the new semester starts. I don't wanna struggle at the last minute of the last semester.
  • Travel more.
  • Resume gymming with a vengeance.
  • Give away 50% of my clothes and buy new ones.
  • Experiment with stuff I'd normally not wear.
  • Try growing my hair for a change.
  • Not get lazy. About anything.
  • Catch up on my basic Mandarin and French.
  • Do more crazy things.
  • Get eight hours of sleep every night, especially if I have work the next day.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink more water.
  • Start cooking again.
  • Avoid MSG-laden food.
  • Resume my weekly detox diet.
  • Work hard. Play hard.
  • Eat like a pig. Run like a horse.
  • Remember to have my meals. Yes, I tend to forget! :(
  • Take better care of my hands and feet and hair and skin.
  • Keep my house and room cleaner.
  • Super-glue every damn thing that I've meant to fix since September 2005.
  • Carry out the 'How many cats can I photograph in one evening?' campaign I've wanted to do for the longest time.
  • Sing more.
  • Make time for people I care about, but who only see me less than once a month.
  • And finally, inspire at least one more person who's been wanting to rebrand himself/herself and could do with a friendly reminder-nudge now and then.
Every time I rebrand, I feel like a fresh new person. I feel good. Maybe we should all remember to rebrand ourselves every now and then. Do that thing you always wanted to do, look the way you'd always wanted to look, feel the way you'd always wanted to feel.

When was the last time you rebranded yourself?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

May I have a word with you?

Some clothes just don't suit some people. The clothes may look good on the outside, and even be of the right size and cut, but once you try them on, you can tell something's wrong somewhere. They don't suit. They don't look good. They don't bring the true personality across.

Our words are clothes that our thoughts wear. And sometimes we end up dressing our thoughts in all the wrong clothes. Maybe because they look good, or look like they're of the right size and cut. We proudly put them on without realising how wrong they are. And we send these words out to others, who get a completely wrong message about what our thoughts were.

Words can hurt. They can pierce, they can stab, they can hurt real bad.

Technology has given us a wonderful tool called 'save draft'. I use it a lot. When crazy authors email me with even crazier stuff, I write my reply but save it as a draft for a couple of hours, before reading it again and sending it out. When I get what I think is a very rude sms, I key in my reply and save it in my outbox for a couple of minutes before I send it out. When I get a really random thought and I want to blog about it, I write the post and save it as a draft first.

Often, I delete many of these saved drafts because minutes, hours or days later, they don't seem to make sense. Sometimes, they sound totally different from what I intended to say in the first place.
Perhaps it helps to read these saved drafts again later when you are in a different frame of mind. Often, I realise that I had dressed my thoughts in all the wrong clothes. If so, I promptly decide against sending the drafts and delete them. And as I delete them, I breathe a sigh of relief about not having sent them out.

Actually, the 'save draft' tool is not a mere technology boon. We have had it for years, in our own minds. The ability to think, save and process our thoughts in our own minds, before sending it out to others.

But sometimes, we don't pause to think, and we don't delete these drafts saved in our mobile phones, email boxes and minds. We end up sending the saved drafts that should have never left the boundaries of our mind, heart and lips. The words we wrote or spoke are misunderstood. Someone is hurt by them. Then words are sent back to us. Badly dressed again. And this time, we're hurt.

Is there a solution? What do we do if drafts that should have been deleted were sent out? Is all lost? Is everything over?


Upon receiving them, those who truly love us will understand. And they will delete the drafts themselves and forget they were ever sent.

I have deleted yours.

Wouldn't you delete mine?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Scarred for life

When I was seven years old, a little bubble pagri sardar (term copyrighted by Weird Hair Anil) who was happily running in the school playground, trying to flee from his friend, without looking where he was going, rammed straight into me. His sharp metal kada (bracelet) went straight into my right eyebrow, just about missing my eye. Suddenly all I could see was a spurt of blood, which started gushing down, covering almost the entire right side of my face. It was horrifying.

I blacked out for a while so I can't really remember whether I was rushed to a doctor, or a doctor was rushed to me. But I do remember the large bleeding gash on my eyebrow pressed with a large white handkerchief, which was turning red at an alarming rate.

Later, someone reported the matter to my class teacher, who incidentally adored me to death. She took out this thick cane, tucked the end of her sari pallu into her waist and charged forth on a mission to find my assaulter and whack the hell out of him. Later, as I made my way back to my class to get my bag so I could go home, I saw what were the last few strokes from the cane of the very furious teacher. And to my horror, I realised that she had been caning the wrong guy black and blue without listening to his protests!

I know the name of neither the actual culprit, nor the innocent guy (I do hope Virdi is not one of them!) but I have certain things to say to both of them.

Actual culprit - Damn you. You owe me a lifetime supply of eyebrow pencils.

Innocent guy - For some reason, I wanna apologise to you for the beating you got. It was all a mistake, and if I had made it to the scene of crime in time, I'd have stopped the teacher and rescued you from her wrath. But the damage was already done. I hope you harbour no hard feelings against me, buddy. And in my heart, I hope you are around somewhere, reading this blog post with a forgiving heart.

Just remember this -- if you were scarred for life, so was I.

Quite literally.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Who holds the custody of your remote control?

When I was a little girl, I never bothered about exams.

My parents would tell me, "Tum achhe se padhai karo, achhe marks apne aap aa jayenge!" ("Study hard; good grades will find you on their own.") I remember listening to them, I remember nodding, but I do not quite remember doing the "achhe se padhai" bit. I guess I was too busy running my gang, and bashing up boys of the neighbourhood and playing gully cricket. But the second bit was true -- somehow I managed to get good grades. "Just chill and you'll be fine" was my motto. But I knew. That as long as I brought back good grades, Mom and Dad would let me have the illusion that I decided things about my life. That I was in charge. And I have no regrets. I needed that 'safety net'.

As I grew up, there were more decisions to be taken. And there was always someone to do it for me, or help me with it. After each of Dad's transfers, Mom and Dad would decide which school I should attend. In the 12th standard, when we had to pick a subject between Maths and Biology, my Maths teacher had decided that I would be dropping Bio. "You're gonna phodo (blast) the Maths exam! Drop Bio!" My Bio teacher sad, "Drop Bio? Are you crazy? You're gonna phodo the Bio exam! Drop Maths!" They even 'advised' my parents on what I should take up. In the end, the four of them left it to me, "Ok, you decide what you want to do." I gave up and took up both Maths and Bio because they seemed to have made the decisions for me anyway. Another false impression that "I made my decisions." But again, I didn't mind 'cos I liked both subjects. And because it made all of them so happy.

In 1998, when I got notification that I had been selected for the SIA-NOL scholarship, Mom and Dad told me that I was free to make the preliminary decision. If I wanted to take it up, then they would start thinking about it and tell me their opinion. So all of a sudden, at the age of 18, I was to make not only the first proper decision of my life, but also the biggest. It was daunting. I made the preliminary decision and they supported it. But I guess it wasn't really 'my decision'. If they had said no, I'd be in India now, and still have no regrets about rejecting the scholarship. I'd still be happy with my life.

This wasn't over. I came to Singapore, joined NTU, and the Ministry of Education had already decided my course for me. And so I studied something as incredibly boring as Electrical and Electronic Engineering. NTU had decided which hostel I was to stay in, who my room-mate was to be. And yet, I never regretted not having full control over my life. I was enjoying the experience of seeing where life was taking me.

So basically, all this while, I'd been using others' suggestions and advice as my safety net for making decisions.

And now, I feel like I am finally out of the warmth and safety of my cocoon. I am ready to take full control of my life. To make some decisions by myself. To take on the world. To hold the remote control, press the buttons with steady hands, and not regret it later. To not have to justify. To not be questioned.

To wake up suddenly, feel like doing something, and actually do it. By myself.

People often ask me, "So why are you doing a Master's course?" I tell them, "Well, I woke up one fine day and suddenly felt like it." I get surprised looks, but it's true. Frankly speaking, I don't think I have fully figured out what exactly to do with a post-grad degree, but at least I do know that I want it. So there. I asked no one, consulted no one, no one made any decisions for me this time around. It was a bit scary, yes, 'cos this time, there was no safety net, it was purely my decision to juggle my stressful job with the part-time course. I realised that there would be a change in my lifestyle, and I'd have to give up certain things, and that it would eat up all my savings. But I believed in it. I knew it was something I chose for my life. And that realisation helped my fear to subside. The remote was really in my hands. It wasn't easy, but who said it would be?

And that’s when I realised that these exams are different from school exams and the "marks apne aap aa jaayenge" is not gonna happen if I don’t "acche se padhai karo". Sheesh. But true.
So suddenly, I found myself studying for exams. Actually studying for exams. Seriously. And not to forget the lucky charms. I believe that wearing/carrying gifts given to us by people who love us, fills us with positive vibes. So I had on me as many gifts from people as I could -- a silver pendant, silver earstuds, perfume by Guess, a white top, an anklet, an Egyptian bracelet with my name engraved on it in heiroglyphics, the works... before I marched into the exam hall.

I'm gonna do all I can to do really well in this course. Because the decision was mine and mine alone, and I am going to stand by it. Even though I know that no matter what I decide for myself, or how I carry it through, or how many mistakes I make, I will never regret it.

I have finally signed up for full custody of my remote control, and there's no turning back.

Just jealous!

[Ok fine, I gave in to temptation! Just this post, may I? Pleeeease?]

Some time ago, we had a course on creativity in the office. As an ice-breaker, the trainer asked the audience, "Do you know anyone who is so happy and so cheerful like all the time that it just makes you sick??" There was a general buzz of agreement and almost everyone in the audience grinned and nodded at the trainer. Except me. I have never really felt sick to see a very happy person who was cheerful all the time. If anything, I'd feel inspired. So I did not nod, and being the minority in the poll, kinda slunk back into my seat, having no desire to explain why I did not nod.

Boy, was I in for a lovely surprise. The trainer paused, looked at everyone and said, "Well, it proves you guys are just jealous. That's all."

Whoa, amazing turn of the tables! Everyone around who had just nodded in agreement either laughed nervously or looked away sheepishly. And I could not stop grinning for the entire duration of the course.

What a great lesson.

All those who are mean to you for apparently no good reason... who think you're too happy for your own good... who get bugged by your cheerfulness... who read your blog only to post nasty comments... who try to make you uncomfortable... who try to make you feel bad about yourself... are just jealous of you!

Certainly explains a lot of things and makes life a lot simpler, doesn't it?