Thursday, June 28, 2007

Far and dear

When your authors are from all over the world, your typesetters are in India, your proofreaders are in the US, your bosses are in Boston and you, the editor, are in Singapore, work can be really fun. First of all there are the teleconferences and videoconferences with the US which, due to the 12-hour time difference, happen either early in the morning or late at night. Sometimes when the meeting is scheduled for my mornings, it's quite late for the US people and they dial into the meetings from home. I remember this particular meeting which sounded something like this:

Me - Work-stuff-blah-blah...
Boston colleague - Work-stuff-blah-blah... yes honey, I'll read you the story, let Mommy work now?
Me - I'm sorry?
Boston colleague - No, I am. My daughter just came into the room.
Me - Oh that's okay... Work-stuff-blah-blah...
In the background - WOOF! WOOF!
Boston colleague - Can you take him out?
Me - Huh?
Boston colleague - No, I'm asking my daughter to take the dog out... sorry...
Me - That's okay... Work-stuff-blah-blah...
Boston colleague - THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Me - Oh no problem...
Boston colleague - Oh I'm thanking my neighbour... I think my dog ran into the street and the neighbour got him back.

Unprofessional as it may sound, but I really appreciated her dialing in from home for the meeting, the rest of which went on pretty smoothly.

I have this adorable proofreader who makes it a point to remind me in each email of hers that day for me is night for her. So her emails always start with "It's my day and your night!" or "I will work while you sleep." or something endearing like that.

Then there are the typesetters. Even in my previous company, one of the divisions used to outsource the typesetting work to India. For obvious reasons. I'd heard my colleagues rolling my eyes about the typesetters, but I had had no direct contact with them. So when I found out that I will be working with quite a few typesetting companies in India, I was excited and yet a bit apprehensive.

I started off with extremely polite emails because I did want to make a good impression and have the workflow going really smoothly between us. But then... Well, I had a messy start with one of the typesetting companies when we had a disagreement over file formats. Tum log typesetters ho toh kya hua, apun bhi ex-engineer hai, I wanted to say. I was so sure I was right I even got the IT guy to endorse it, and in the end the typesetters gave in.

"All right, that's it, they hate me now." I thought. "I'm 'the conceited NRI chick who is just a month old at the job but thinks she knows everything'." Sheesh.

But surprise surprise, the next morning I received a very cheerful email from Alka. Alka of Akshay and Alka, the two people who randomly choose to reply when I send an email to their generic company email address. (Names have been changed to protect identities.) So Alka sends me the files I had asked for, and adds, "The weather is sooo nice today! It's ossum!" I smiled when I read it. Only an Indian would say "Ossum".

So I replied, "I thought it must be hot in India right now!"

"It's raining. I don't feel like working." came the reply. Holy cow. Although we were independent parties in two different countries, we were behaving like colleagues in the same office.

"Ah, you're welcoming the monsoon. And making me homesick." I replied, feeling a bit guilty for talking non-work stuff in a work thread, that too with a third party.

"Don't worry, I'll enjoy on your behalf too." She said cheerfully.

Then there's Balagopalakrishna (also not his real name). He works in another typesetting company and has no idea whatsoever about the time difference between India and Singapore. I often get emails from him at three in the afternoon that start off with a very cheerful "GOOD MORNING, SAYESHA!" before proceeding to tell me that my proofs are ready for downloading. The strangest thing is - everyone addresses him in emails by his full name. It is a long name to type, and I often wonder if I should just call him Bala. But in an environment like this, you're just dealing with names. No faces. And you have no idea whose sensitivities you may hurt. Perhaps he'd think I was taking liberties by calling him Bala. Perhaps he prefers Gopal. Or Krishna. Or perhaps he prefers something that has nothing to do with anything. You never know. So every time I type out his full name (it takes a few seconds to do it) in my emails to him, I wonder when he will get sick of signing off with his full name and give me a damn nick for heaven's sake. Till then, I am seriously considering creating a new signature in my Outlook that starts with "Dear Balagopalakrishna" and ends with my signoff, because considering the number of emails I have to write this guy, I am losing valuable company time with each email.

Though I've heard how inefficient and disorganised some of the India-based companies can get at times, so far I have not encountered any major issue. Touchwood. I've found them pleasant, cheerful, and accommodating. They still sound excited and not jaded in spite of having done the same things for years, and they adhere to most of my deadlines. Perhaps it's too soon, perhaps I will be rolling my eyes soon, being so used to the clockwork efficiency that Singapore is known for, but what the hell - there is a part of me that is very happy to work with India. I have never worked in an office in India, and I'm curious. Sometimes I wonder what these people look like, what their offices look like, what time they report to work, what time they leave, whether they have to work late because of us. Perhaps the next time I go to India, I can pay a visit to all these people, and then we will hang out and laugh about all the serious work stuff. Perhaps, somehow over the computers, cables, servers and networks, a real connection has been made. Yeah, I think I feel connected. Connected to home.

And here comes the cheesy line:

My company may like to work with Indian companies because they are cheap, but I like to work with them because they are so very dear.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sizing me up

I was very aware that I hadn't gone to the gym all week. I feel really bad when I can't go to the gym. Worse if I have not been playing badminton. Worst when I don't feel motivated to exercise. Sometimes even a self-motivated person like me needs a push, some validation, some encouragement. And sometimes, that comes when you're least expecting it.

Late night meetings with the Boston office lately had left me with no time to do anything but crash as soon I got home. Fatigue can crush motivation in a second. So on saturday afternoon, I decided to hit the gym with a vengeance.

As soon as I entered the gym, I stopped in my tracks (no pun intended).
There she was, sitting on the treadmill (yes, sitting, actually sitting on the treadmill like it was some wooden bench at the park!), a woman of at least seventy.

"Hi..." I said, not quite sure what else to say.

"Hi..." She grinned at me.

I'd barely got on the (other) treadmill when she said, "I like your size."

Holy cow.

"My what..?!"

"Your size... it's very nice." She repeated.

I wasn't sure of what she exactly she meant, so I did not know whether to thank her or glare at her.

"She means your figure..." boomed a voice from behind. I turned around to face
a younger woman doing weights.

"That's my daughter..." said the old lady.

"Oh... okay." I said.

"My son also lives in this building... in the block opposite... but he travels a lot... he's the CEO of his company... CEO, yes?" She turned to confirm with the daughter who nodded.

"Hmmm..." I said.

I figured very old people are like babies that have just learnt to talk. They are adorable, they have a lot to say, they will talk to anyone and everyone, and most often you don't know what to say in response to the things they say to you.

I'd barely stretched my hand to adjust the settings on the treadmill when the old lady spoke again.

"You know... I can't run on these things..."

"Hmmm... me neither... bad knee. So I do some really fast walking. I guess you walk too..?" I asked, not quite sure where this conversation was going.

"Naah... I can't even walk. I need this to walk." She pointed to the large blue Giordano umbrella lying on the floor next to her feet. I brushed away the visions floating in my mind -- of the old lady furiously walking on the treadmill holding her blue Giordano umbrella.

"Hmmm..." I said again. Oh, bless the guy who came up with the versatile and universal H-word.

I started walking.

"Your size so nice, why you exercise?" Suddenly she asked again in typical broken Singaporean english. I couldn't really hear her so I paused the treadmill.

"I'm sorry... What?"

"I said - your size so nice, why you exercise?"

Before I could even think of how to respond, the daughter had answered her question.

"Her size so nice
because she exercise."

And suddenly, just like that, I was re-motivated.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dissertation bole toh..?

Some time ago, I mentioned in one of my posts how my supervisor remarked that my dissertation was written in too interesting a style for an academic paper. He was absolutely right. Years of writing for kids had cultivated an urge to make everything I wrote fun and breezy, and I just couldn’t help it. One of my blog readers Sowmya commented on that post, "So did you start off with "Yeh apun ka thesis hai.."? And I thought to myself, "What if...?" I started writing that post, but decided to publish it only after the dissertation got approved. So here it is - the sequel to Sayesha Bhai B.Eng - Sayesha Bhai M.MC.


Kal raat apun ke sapne mein Bapu aaya. Bola “Bhai, yeh sari paap ki kamai… yeh kala paisa… kisi ache kaam mein lagao, kisi gareeb ki padhai mein lagao…” Apun Bapu ki baat kaise taalta? Nikal pada gareeb ko dhoondne. Aage dekha, peechhe dekha, oopar dekha, neeche dekha, left dekha, right dekha, pata chala akha Singapur mein sabse gareeb toh sala apunich hai! Toh laga diya apun ne paisa khud ki padhai mein… socha aur ek degree ho jaaye? Aaj kal Bhaigiri mein bhi competition hai, qualification aur experience se kuchh nahin hota, upgrading toh karna mangta hai na?

Dara dhamka kar jaise taise le liya admission. Padhai kar kar ke apun pak gaya. Tab pata chala ki degree ke liye dissertation likhna mangta. Ek professor ko padka aur usko poochha, “Dissertation bole toh?”

“Dissertation bole toh… thesis… uske bina degree nahin milegi.” Prof bola.

“Toh thesis bolo na… ramayan-mahabharat ki tarah dissertation kaiko bolne ka?”

Phir lag gaya apun thesis ki taiyaari mein. Din raat ek karke topic par topic dhoonda, supari dekar approve karwaya. Prof ne bulaya aur bola ki topic mast hai bhidu, likhna shuru kar.

“Sections mein likhna hoga” Prof bola, “Sections maloom hai?”

“Arre maloom hai na! Sections bole toh dafa! Dafa teen sau do ke tehet apun ke kitne bhai log tapak gaye! Apun ne toh Indian Penal Code ke har section mein PhD kiyela hai!” Apun ne Rajnikanth style se chashma pehna aur bola.

“Nahin nahin!” Prof Hema Malini maafik chillaya. “Sections matlab alag alag hisse. Main likhkar deta hoon, tum follow karke likhna.” Usne ek parchi par likhkar diya – Title, Introduction, Literature Review, Research Question, Methodology, Case Study, Results, Conclusion, Limitations, Recommendations, References.

Saath mein Prof ne achhi wali angrezi mein taital bhi likhkar diya - Marketing tourist destinations via movies - Can Krrish help boost tourism in Singapore? Sunne mein kya solid lagta hai, nahin?

Toh apun parchi uthaya, ghar pahuncha aur bas dhadaadhad likhna shuru kiya.


Section 1 - Introduction

Introduction?? Arre! Yeh toh bhot aasaan section hai. Introduction deta hai na apun! Apun Sayesha, pyaar se apun ko log Sashbhai bolte. Yeh bhaigiri ka dhanda apun bachpan se hi karta aa rela hai... tang aakar India ki pulis ne tadipaar kar diya... ma aur babuji ne bola "Beta, Singapore jao, kuchh ban ke dikhao!" Toh apun ban gaya na. Engineer. Bole toh.. dhakkan! Kiya apun engineering do-teen maheena... phir wahan se kalti mara... dhanda badal dala... bole toh editor by day and Bhai by night. Mast chal rela hai life... ek bar hai apun ka... chhota sa... supari/hafta ka headquarter hai... apun ke gang ka chhokra log abhi akha duniya mein branch khol ke baithela hai... network toh chaadar ki tarah phailela hai lekin apun Singapore se sab sambhalta hai. Bhot ijjat hai apun ka.

Prof ne bola tha introduction likh diya toh bhejo, dekhne ke waaste. Dekhkar bola - Introduction aisa nahin mangta. Toh kaisa mangta? Bole toh - research ko introduce karne ka, khud ko nahin... aisa kya system hai? Research toh apunich kar rela hai... apun ke baare mein nahin likhega toh ghanta thesis hoga! Chal abhi isko baalti mein daal, agla section likh liya jaaye - baad mein dekha jayega.

Section 2 - Literature Review

Arre teri! Yeh kya hai re? Pikchur ka review suna, yeh Literature ka review kya hai re? Waise bhi apun ka dissertation pikchur ke oopar hi hai, toh apun pikchur ka review hi likhta hai idhar...akha duniya mein doich raapchik pikchur hai. Bole toh? Munnabhai I, aur Munnabhai II. Baake sadela doobela hai sab. Aur Krrish? Poochho mat! Hrithik khali peeli baal badhaya, bandar maafik dikh rela tha pikchur mein! Singapur ki dhoop mein kala lycra ka suit? Sala moam ki tarah pighal gaya hoga uske andar! Usko dekhkar akha theatre ko paseena aa rela tha! Kya sadela pikchur banaya re baap! Uska baapich banaya na? Bete ke career ki toh waat laga di re!

Section 3 - Research question

Research question?? Apun ko laga kisi cheez ko do baar dhoondho to re-search ho gaya... lekin Prof ne bola research question kuchh aur hi hai. “Woh sawaal jiska jawaab tumhaare research se miley” Prof ne bola. Arre paile bolna tha na! Hai na apun ka research question - "Kya re shyaane, Krrish pikchur dekhke Singapur mein chhuti maarne ka kya?"

Section 4 - Methodology

Methodology bole toh method na? Khali peeli picchu 'ology' lagakar confuse karta hai khajoor log... woh Circuit aur apna baaki ka chhokra log sabka ek hi method hai... khopche mein le jaake achhe se kharcha-pani dene ka... isse achha method akha duniya mein hai kya? Bole toh - sample doon kya?

Section 5 – Case study

Apun case hi toh study karta aa rela hai… India mein apun par chhappan case hai, court-kachahari toh roz ka aana-jana hai... aajkal chhokra log bhi chhota mota case mein kam aur bade ghotale mein zyada phasne laga hai... chhokra lok ka tarakki dekhkar apun bhi emotional ho jata hai kabhi kabhi...

Section 6 – Results

Arre apun ko yeda samjha hai kya? Chor bazaar mein apun result paileich chhaap diya iska matlab tere ko abhi dikha dega kya? Apun ko akkal nahin hai kya? Exam mein toh baithne do! Waise exam mein bhi apun baithega nahin, Pakiya jayega, apun ke paas taim nahin hai. Woh kar rela hai jamkar padhai ghar par abhi...

Section 7 - Conclusion

Prof ne bola research ke baad kaun si baat saamne aayi? Usko likho conclusion mein. Apun ka conclusion yeh hai - Abbe khajoor, pikchur raapchik nahin banayega toh tourist log Singapur dekhne GHANTA aayega!

Section 8 – Limitations

Limitations toh bahut hai apni life mein… saali Singapur ki pulis itni imaandar hai, waat laga ke rakhi hai! Hafta do toh andar karne ki dhamki deti hai!
Bar mein bhi free flow hai... Dhanda bilkul manda hai baap! Bole toh... rokda kam, bewda zyada!

Section 9 - Recommendations

Recommendations toh bahut log dekar jaate hain, lekin aaj ek raapchik wala suna. Apun ki dost hai Shub, shareef type ki hai, lekin phir bhi apun dono ki banti bahut hai. Bolti hai cable bar khol lo. Apun sochta hai - idea bura nahin hai... cable car mein bar... saare log automatic high, apun ka daaru ka kharcha bhi bach jayega, kya?

Section 10 – References

References?? Abbe Bhai se references poochhta hai? Teri toh... Arre ek pooch, apun hazaar dega! Mumbai ke Inspector Martode se lekar Dubai ke Shyana Shaqueel tak… apun ka sab reference hai… kisi ko bhi apun ka naam bolne ka bas naam… kaam phataaphat ho jayega!


Prof ne apun ka thesis dekha. Sar pakad liya. Bola yeh dedh page wala thesis ekdum faaltu hai, isko submit kiya toh university se apun ko nikaal denge! Waapis likhna padega, dhang se. Sau page. Sau page??!! Apun ne bhi sar pakad liya.

Phir bhot der baad... apun ko ek jhakkaas idea aaya.


Sala apun sahib ban gaya! Kal apun ko university se chitthi aaya. Apun ka dissertation paas ho gaya.

Poochho kaise? Apun ne akkha dissertationich outsource kar dala! Kisko?

Apun ka do partner hai partner… bole toh alter ego… apun teenon bole toh tridev type ka hai (oye oye!)... ab yeh likhai padhai apun ke bas ka nahin toh un dono ko pakda diya likhne ko… ek Sayesha Smitten showbiz kitten, aur doosri blogger Sayesha. In dono ko kaiku pakda, poochho?

Ek hindi pikchur dekh dekh kar thakti nahin,
Aur ek blog na likhe toh jee sakti nahin.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Taken for a ride

The problem with getting married to your buddy of almost a decade is that your 'dates' tend to be either fun or sporty, but rarely romantic. In fact, romantic dates appear kinda ridiculous and tacky.

However, thanks to my friend K's spectacular wedding gift, Viv and I were set up on a 'romantic' three-course dinner date in a cable car!

Well, it was not exactly romantic, but it was good to catch up, considering how busy at work both of us had been over the past few weeks. Of course, the bloke took work calls which made me wonder what would be more fun - flinging his mobile phone off a kayak or off the window of the cable car.

View from the top of Harbourfront Tower Two

The area for the dinner cable cars was tastefully done up.

I noticed this 'proposal cable car' with red roses, glasses of wine and teddy bears, all set up. No this one wasn't ours (thank heavens!)

Holy cow! There was a red heart hanging inside with the words 'I love you'.

They gave us a drink while we waited for our cable car.

The table set-up area

Notice the chefs hard at work?

Waiters carrying the whole table (!) with the food to our cable car

The menu

The first course - cream of tomato soup served with garlic crostini, and smoked salmon salad with mascarpone cheese - was yummy!

Off we go in our cable car with ships sailing past on the water below! It was a little scary at first, and reminded me of our bungy-jump in New Zealand earlier this year.

Other cable cars going past ours

The cable car took us all the way to Sentosa island, and then back to Harbourfront Tower for the second course. Our cable car is entering the 'cable car park' here.

The second course - it looked better than it tasted.

Towards Sentosa again - the Merlion's eyes had been lit up by the second course. It was beautiful to see the same sights but in a different shade of evening light.

And the last course - dessert and tea!

The final picture - Singapore by night. It's only when I take pictures like this that I am reminded of how beautiful the country is.

Thank you, K, for the romantic gift. Even though the only conversation we had that came close to being romantic was this:

Viv (looks down from cable car window) - Hey, you think you can bungy-jump from this height?
Sayesha (looks down) - Hmmm... Can you?
Viv (still looking down) - I think so... You?
Sayesha (still looking down) - Naah, don't think so.
(still looking down) - Really?
(still looking down) - Yup. Not by myself. Tandem with you..? maybe.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Thank you for asking

hey.. hows' u doing? just wanted to check on u if u r alrite.. :) coz i got some ppl searching for 'sad sayesha' landing on my blog.. lately havent been blog-hopping so didnt catch up with ur posts. Hope all is fine.. tk care n keep smiling.

It's amazing how an email, partly written in sms lingo, from someone you've never met, can move you.

Thank you, dear, for asking. This one's for you.

They bump into you on the street
And ask - how have you been?
You know you want to say something
But you don't know where to begin.

They read something that you wrote
And ask you if you are okay
You nod your head and smile at them
What else is there to say?

When you look blue and they ask how you are
Now that's easy, it's not an art
It's when you're fine, yet they suddenly ask
Now that's the one that touches the heart.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Between Mars and Venus

You know you're one of the guys when they call you to play badminton with them on a saturday morning.

You know you're not one of the guys when you agree to get up at 6.30 am on a saturday and catch the 7 am bus to go play badminton.

You know you're one of the guys when the guys straightaway ask you to play a game (with points!) instead of letting the shuttlecock shuttle between the players with the rather general aim of getting a good workout. (And they say girls like to 'play games'. Hmmph!)

You know you're not one of the guys when every time someone shouts out the score "1-love", you think of Blue, Shaan and Abhishek Bachchan.

You know you're one of the guys when they don't bother being nice to you by sending the shuttle right back to you but make you run around like crazy.

You know you're not one of the guys when all four of them royally kick your ass at every game.

You know you're one of the guys when one of them actually admits you're better than he was when he first started playing with the other three.

You know you're not one of the guys when the other three say, "Come on now, you're not that bad. You're actually pretty good!"

You know you're one of the guys when you actually play for most of the 2 hours that the court has been booked for.

You know you're not one of the guys when you're shocked at their suggestion of going to Burger King right after the two-hour workout.

You know you're one of the guys when you tell them over Burger King burgers that you think Fight Club is one of the most gripping and brilliantly crafted Hollywood movies ever, and they are utterly surprised that a girl should say that.

You know you're not one of the guys when you get home, take a shower and your hair takes half an hour to dry.

You know you're one of the guys when you don't think it's necessary to do stretches before you go to sleep after you've been playing badminton for two hours.

You know you're not one of the guys when you wake up the next morning with excruciating body ache, especially in your butt, thighs and calves, obviously caused by not doing stretches before going to sleep.

You know you're one of the guys when you commit to playing again whenever they play next, notwithstanding the body pain.

You know you're not one of the guys when you spend the whole of sunday wondering whether your aching legs will allow you to wear your high heels to work on Monday morning.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

You go, girl!

Once, when I was a kid, I took part in a fancy dress competition as Suraiya, singer/actress from the 40s. I had fixed tiny curls around my forehead, and a long one dangling in front of each ear. I behaved all coy like her, twisting the end of my dupatta around my fingers, and sang one of her songs in her typical nasal style that went something like "Gun gun gun gun bole re bhawarwa". Of course I sing a different gun song now (dhishkyaooon!) but those were the days. The judge couldn't stop laughing when she saw me (I took it as a compliment) and I got the first prize.

I was reminded of it when I bumped into this video on Youtube. I was looking for the Oprah show where Aishwarya ties a sari for Oprah when I found something more entertaining. This video shows the performance of the first female contestant on the Great Indian Laughter Challenge. (The show, by the way, is utter crap, and makes me want to hurl a shoe at Siddhu, but I don't do it because my monitor will shatter.) But this chick - Arti Kandpal - does a great job mimicking various actresses. I've seen many male comedians mimicking male actors from Dilip Kumar to Dev Anand to Govinda to Shah Rukh, but I'd never seen anything like this. Watch out for the part where she mimics Aishwarya. We all know Aish can't act, but I never thought you could mimic her acting. I almost fell off my seat laughing at the part where she goes, "Mar jaati... toh mar jaati!"

Video courtesy Titurawat

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Order of the day

It's not always waiters and waitresses who mess up our orders. Sometimes, we do it ourselves. The reason can be anything, but it makes the server go "Huh?"

Overheard by a colleague in the lunch queue at Subway sandwich yesterday:

Server - May I have your order, sir?
Hungry guy - Uh... One football please.
Server - Huh??

(Correct order: foot-long meat-ball.)

Overheard in my university canteen many many years ago:

Thirsty guy - Aunty, can I have an iced milo without milo?
Drinks lady - Huh??

(Correct order: iced milo without ice)

Viv (at McDonalds) - Can I have a sausage Macmuffin without the sausage?

Got a story to share?


Added from the comments' section:

Creepa - Can I have chocolate-flavoured vanilla ice-cream?

Overheard by Oxymoron - Can I have a hot 'iced latte'?

Playing in the head of Thisisme - Can I have a chicken terimaki?

Friend of Bivas - The cold coffee is too cold.

Belinda -
Auntie, can I have dry wanton noodles but without wanton, add extra char siew please, thank you.

Dhaval - E
k ek ek glass juice dena.. means ke ek ek ek karke teen glass juice dena.

Overheard by Neihal - Mirchi bhajji, theekha kam.

Manchus - Pizza without cheese.

Cliche - Can I have a sausage Macmuffin without the sausage?

Art -
Can I have a mushroom and tomato soup without mushroom?

Clueless - McChicken without the chicken, please!

Clueless again - So what flavoured vanilla rolls do i get? Strawberry?

Confused Soul's nephew -
Can you please heat this ice lemon tea for me?

Sandew's friend at Subway - Veggie Delight please.
Server- Which veggies?
Sandew's friend - Err none ?

Naresh - One Chicken Pizza without the chicken pieces please!

Friend of Sugar n Spice -
One chicken do pyaaza. Usme onions mat dalna.

World Girl's cousin - I want an egg and bacon muffin without egg and bacon.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Work it out

Rachel - I know I know!! He's a... he's a... transponster!
Monica - THAT'S NOT EVEN A WORD!!!!!!

Fellow fans of the TV series F.R.I.E.N.D.S will know what I am talking about. This is one of my favourite scenes from the series, not just because of the way Chandler reacts to none of his close friends knowing his occupation, but because of how true this phenomenon is.

For years I have faced questions like:

"So Sayesha, how's the newspaper going?" (What newspaper??)

"I heard you're like a journalist and stuff?" (Where did you hear that?)

"So do they send you to places with natural disasters for news reporting?" (Huh??)

"Is your job dangerous?" (Yeah, very. Editors of kids' books and magazines are shot on the streets of Singapore.)

"Man, I heard you're the Chief Editor of the largest newspaper in Singapore! That's cool yaar!" (I wish! Actually I don't. Newspapers? Bleah.)

"So MBA over?" (MBA? Who's doing an MBA? If you mean Masters in Mass Communication, yeah, that's over.)

And that's when it struck me - instead of being glad that most of them at least know vaguely that I have abandoned engineering for good and plunged into publishing, I go "What buggers! They're supposed to be my close friends and they don't even know what I do!" without wondering for a moment if I know for sure what the hell they do.

I mean face it, your friends, your cousins... do you really know what they do? I for one, don't. I mean I know some are in IT, some are in banks, some are doing their MBA degrees, some are doing random things, but if you ask me exactly what they do, which company they are in, what their designation is, what they are studying, I have no clue most of the time!

Take for example this cousin of mine. Every time I speak to him, I ask him the same question. In fact, I've been asking the same question for years now, "So have you graduated from university? Got your IT degree?" And he keeps saying he hasn't. So either he's flunking every year, or I have been asking him the question since he was in primary school.

When you become friends with someone, the first thing you find out is what they do. But the closer you get, the less it matters what they do, and after a while, it stops mattering. And by then, not only have you forgotten what they do, but you're such close friends that you have missed the window period of friendship when you can actually ask them, "So what exactly do you do?" Even trying to be smart and asking them, "So what's up, man? What have you been upto?" will get you answers like "Same old yaar..." or "Still working in the same place..." while on the inside you're dying to ask, "And what exactly was the same old?" or "What is that place again?"

And that's when I discovered this wonderful solution called Orkut. We may curse it for all the random "frand shib requests" and "Nice profile. I want to friend you. You want to friend me?" messages, but the truth is - it can help you in a way no one can.

Every moment of every day, long-lost friends are getting in touch through Orkut. Visit the profile of any of your friends and you will see messages like "Hi Bhaiya, remember me? I was your junior in school, you used to snatch my tiffin box!" or "Man, you look so different from school days!" or "Hey, remember me? We were in the same IIT coaching class!" or "I can't believe I found you after so many years! How are Uncle and Aunty and Didi?" Now the trick is to follow the trail of these long lost friends of your friends, for they are bound to ask your friend at one point or the other, "So what do you do?" And when you see that, bingo! You go to that person's scrapbook, read your friend's reply, and lo and behold, you know exactly what your friend does for a living!

Of course, do remember to disable 'profile visit views' before you go on your spying spree or you may just end up with a message like "Why you visited my profile? Now I want to friend you."

Friday, June 08, 2007

Now you're talking

Blogs started out as a platform where people could anonymously rant about the not-so-good bits of their lives. They were un-googlable. They could say all that they wanted to say to people without saying it to their faces. Things they would never let anyone read. 'Blog-therapy' they called it.

However, somewhere along the way though, it got tiring. There wasn't enough rant-able stuff happening. So we started blogging about happy stuff. Random stuff. Non-secrets. And it did not matter anymore who was reading.

On the bus today, I was wondering what it would be like to blog the way blogging started out as -- to talk to people without talking to them. To say things you would not say to their faces.

Here's some of the stuff that floated about in my head in the last few days, but never left my lips:

  • Your hair is so beautiful that sometimes when you're talking to me, I am actually admiring your hair.

  • I still remember how messy things got, but I am glad you guys found real happiness in each other.

  • Yes, you are a bit neurotic. But it's fine. We all are.

  • He's one of my bestest friends. When he married you, I was apprehensive. I did not know you. Now that I do, boy am I glad he married you.

  • Why are you so grumpy? Sometimes it's very difficult to be around you.

  • You look really pretty today. But I've noticed that compliments make you uncomfortable so I won't say anything.

  • Just smile and say "Thank you."

  • Please don't be depressed. Your depression rubs off on me.

  • I'm so jealous that I am not at the party in India right now. I hate you girls. But I guess I love you. All seven of you. Damn you for having the party without me.

  • I used to think you're a dumb chick, but you're actually not.

  • Everybody's life sucks at one point or the other. Yours cannot suck all the time. Quit whining.

  • This, right here, is a fake smile.

  • You owe me money. Why are you pretending that you've forgotten?

  • Yes, I am very "Indian". You got a problem with that?

  • Yeah, I think she's quite a bimbo.

  • I admire your ability to not get riled up but I won't tell you because you will use it against me to get all patronising when I get riled up.

  • I know. And you know that I know.

  • Why are you guys so mercenary?

  • If you say that one more time...

  • I can't understand how you can be so plain-looking and yet so sexy.

  • Duh!

  • How hard is it to smile back when people smile at you?

  • Either you slap that brat of yours, or I'll do it!

  • How come you asked Viv where he's working, but didn't ask me?

  • It has been almost two years, dude. I'm losing my patience now. If I do not get my DVDs back by end of this month, I reckon a large part of our friendship will be O-V-E-R. Am not kidding.

  • Ummm... I don't care, you see.

  • If you lost some weight, you'd be a total bombshell.

  • Would you quit your "leave the couple alone" thing? It really annoys "the couple", you know.

  • I want to like you. I'm trying.

  • It's the weekend! Don't just sit there. Get out of the house! Do something!

  • Lazybum, start playing squash again, will ya?

  • I think you think I like you, but I don't.

  • You wanna charge me 385 bucks for a haircut and perm? THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FIVE BUCKS?? Dude, are you totally whacko-nuts?

  • Why do you call it a digital perm anyway? What the hell is digital about it?? Are you gonna photoshop perms on to my picture and charge me $385 for it??

  • I'm not really listening to you, you know.

  • You know how you blame everything that girls do on pms? Quit it, it's not funny.

  • Dude, look at yourself before you complain about the lack of female eye-candy.

  • You crossed the line. All it would have taken is a simple apology. And we'd still be friends.

  • Leave her alone. Please.

  • I know I shouldn't have yelled at you. But now it's too late, and ummm... I don't feel like apologising.

  • How could you just flick it off the net and claim it as yours??

  • I'm so glad that I never met you.

  • Dude, are you aware of what you have gotten yourself into?

  • Sometimes I wish you didn't read my blog.

  • Oh puh-leez.

  • I am nodding but I don't believe you.

  • I want to try and understand your viewpoint, but I just can't see how you could do what you did to your friend.

  • You'll never make it as a road-romeo. At least sing the correct lyrics. And in tune.

  • Why didn't you tell me before??

  • If you swore off my blog, why are you still here, reading this?

  • I work in an industry with a bit more of a soul than yours. I don't earn as much as you do. Can we remember that when we pick a restaurant?

  • Of all my friends' boyfriends, I approve of yours the most.

  • No, you do not have fat thighs. Sheesh.

  • Okay fine, you look fat. Happy now?

  • Quit now. Really. You deserve better.

  • I think your boyfriend is a bit racist towards me. The problem is - he covers it up with jokes so I can't really give it back to him.

  • No, I'm not holding any grudge against you. I have forgiven and forgotten. Really.

  • Give up the accent. Not real. Not cool.

  • Why are you guys so lazy?

  • Who the heck are you to tell me I have too many shoes and it's bothering the neighbours? Even my Mom won't dare say that to me, and you're just the security guard of my condo.

  • Damn you, I know it was you who complained to the security guard about my shoes. Watch out, old lady, I've got my eyes on you.

Ah, that was therapeutic indeed, though in a rather frightening way. Try it, it really brings out your most judgemental, hypocritical and ridiculous side.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A big surprise

Hell hath no fury like a blogger whose comment space is hijacked by commentators to talk about something that has nothing to do with the post. This post of mine was mercilessly used to discuss the tremendous amount of weight Adnan Sami has lost. So yesterday when Rebellion sent me a video link, I thought - I have to put this on the blog. If nothing, for Adnan's sake who for his hard work (and no 'alternative methods of weight loss' I hope), deserves more than a few comments on an irrelevant post. At a stage where any lesser mortal would think he's gone too far and give up, the extremely talented Adnan persisted, and how.

When I bumped into him in Pakistan last year, he was in transition, but now... sigh, how do I put it? Well, some (ahem!) may just say he actually looks hot! I know I sound judgmental, but finally, his presence in his own music videos romancing hot babes in skimpy outfits seems justified.

The Before

The After

Way to go, Adnan! Special toast at the bar to a new lease on your career! :)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A victim of location-ism

Some time ago, my friend Bananapen sent me an email with a link to a job vacancy - Localisation editor (Singapore).

"I've found the perfect job for you!" She said.

I grinned. I’d already applied for it.

Two months passed and nothing happened. Yesterday, I heard from them.

Hi Sayesha,

Thank you for your interest in Google. We carefully reviewed your experience and qualifications and while your background might be right for the 'Localisation Editor' position, we are only considering Hindi speakers who are based in India.

We wish you well in your endeavors and hope you might consider us again in the future.

Thanks again for considering Google.

Google Staffing


I am NOT feeling lucky. :/

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Funny sign Viv noticed at Singapore's Changi airport this morning.
(Humour best appreciated by those who don't know Malay but know Hindi)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hafta wasooli

Bhai is back to work!

The first week at the new office was fun. Boley toh - solid hafta wasooli!

Day 1 - Monday
I was shown around the office and introduced to my colleagues, many of whom I already knew. I was pleasantly surprised to note that my cubicle is actually not a cubicle, but a cube! (Okay wait, which is the bigger one? The point is - I have the bigger one!) In fact, it is so big that I can keep Frodo, Fat Chick AND Nemo on my desk and still have plenty of working space!

As I admired my new desk, new stationery and new computer, the manager suddenly screamed, "Oh my goodness, where is your computer????????" I had an urge to point at it and say, "Ummm... It is right here, woman!" when I realised she was actually looking for the CPU, which was nicely hidden behind the flat panel monitor. And that's when it struck me - the first image in my head when I hear the word "computer" is that of a monitor, but to her, it was the CPU. Though technically she was right (ex-engineer Sayesha thunked herself on the head with her signature hypothetical rolled up newspaper), I wondered if there were people for whom other parts counted as the 'computer'. The keyboard, even the mouse perhaps?

I was given a copy of the training schedule, which nearly caused me to faint. 9 days of training! 9 days of training from morning till evening. 9 days of no work! 9 days of sitting in the training room and listening to the trainer. How would I survive it?

I did not dare to go to sleep in the middle of training for three reasons:

1. My new boss (she joined on the same day as me) is also undergoing training with me, and any sleeping activity during training could severely affect my annual appraisal.
2. There are only two of us in the training room, and thus any sleeping activity would be highly visible.
3. Most importantly, I was really keen to learn what the trainer had to share.

The day-long training was exhausting, made tolerable only by the very pleasant and likeable trainer. There was a lot of information to absorb, and I was lost several times but I was told that things would start making more sense as the days went by.

Day 2 - Tuesday
Things did start making a lot of sense, though I still wasn't happy about the no-work status. I welcomed lunchtime like a child welcomes summer holidays. We even did a bit of window shopping after lunch. The office is located in a central area in one of the most impressive buildings of Singapore. Actually, I have never seen a more beautiful office building than this one. As I admired the exquisitely designed lobby, a colleague told me that if you ordered drinks at the bar there, an "angel" suspended from a metal cord would descend to your table with the drinks. Holy cow. Now that's what I call getting really high.

Day 3 - Wednesday
The manager told me that the trainer was on sick leave! Yipee! I didn't yippee the trainer being on sick leave, I just yippeed the fact that there was no training! I was free! Free to work! So I went around begging my team members (who are eventually going to report to me) for work. It's not every day that your boss comes to you begging for work so they were more than happy to hand me a thick stack of manuscripts to work on. It was enough to keep me occupied till the end of the day.

As I worked on the manuscripts, I sent a few silent curses to Nirwa. Reason? She'd written something about the song "Nani teri morni ko mor le gaye, baaki jo bacha tha saare chor le gaye!" in one of her emails and I could not get the damn song out of my head. It was really distracting to work when a song like that is playing on loop in your head. By the time I was midway through the manuscript, in my head I was already at the song's antara "Achhi nani pyaari nani rusa rusi chhod de, jaldi se ek paisa de de tu kanjoosi chood de!" noting very carefully that it was actually pronounced "pa-ee-sa" and not "pai-sa" in the song. Sheesh! Damn you Nirwa.

Thankfully, I was distracted by an email from a colleague asking us to suggest a uni-sex name for her cactus. Someone suggested that she should name it 'Cactus' with a capital C. Apparently, said colleague has a tortoise called Tortoise. After a few crazy emails with suggestions such as 'Tez', 'Spiny', 'Prickly' followed by the cactus-owner's surname had circulated, she picked "Mr Pricks." Since the unisex requirement was out, I suggested that 'Hardy boy' sounded better (since cacti are one of the most hardy plants) but allegations of the name being too porn-ish were hurled at me! What the...?! Nobody read The Hardy Boys in school?? What deprived childhoods man... sigh...

I found out that I get upto 50% discount on the books my company publishes. Though the company's blogging policy (Yes, they have a clause about blogging in the IT policy!) prohibits me to disclose the company name or website on my blog, all I can say is that a clue about its identity is hidden in this very paragraph. It's for the smart ones to guess, not really for dummies. ;)

While roaming around trying to find a lunch place, we passed by Maggi's, a Thai/Chinese eatery. We'd eaten there before. The food wasn't great, but the view was spectacular. The view of the very good-looking Caucasian guy we spotted, that is. Apparently he was a regular there. We'd actually secretly taken his picture using a colleague's phone camera. The girls had of course found enough reason to quickly scurry inside and grab a table, while the guys started whining about how girls could get away with secretly photographing guys using mobile phones, but when guys did that, they were branded perverts. We told them we agreed and found seats from where we could get a clear view again.

Lunch discussions hovered around the results of the recent Miss Universe 2007 pageant. I overheard the guy at the table behind me exclaiming, "Finally an Asian wins the Miss Universe crown! It has never happened before!" I wanted to dunk his head into his bowl of hot tom yam soup and scream, "Which continent do you think India is in, you dhakkan???"

Day 4 - Thursday
Vesak Day - Public holiday! Read Jhumpa Lahiri's 'The Interpreter of Maladies' from cover to cover. Beautiful writing style. Watched Rakhi Sawant's Koffee with Karan interview on Youtube. Went for a walk to the beach, and caught up with ex-colleagues. Chuckled at the sight of a bunch of people wearing Shrek ears and playing Twister.

Day 5 - Friday
I opened my office email first thing in the morning and saw an email from a colleague sent to everyone. The email had been sent on Wednesday night, had no body text and a subject line that went "I'll be OOO on Friday." I wondered if there was an office Halloween party that I was unaware of, and dressed rather inappropriately for, when it suddenly struck me - OOO means "Out Of Office." Sheesh.

Went over to say Hello to Mr. Pricks. He doesn't really look like a cactus - more like a cross between a miniature cactus and a miniature aloe vera plant.

Got full marks in the training assignment. The trainer said, "Well done." I said "Dhakki tiki". In my head of course.

So that was it - my hafta wasooli this week.

As for weekend plans, guess I'll just be