Zero email policy!

I suppose it is an occupational hazard of being in the echelons of upper management. Let a flowing river flow and pretty soon people start questioning why you are there, if the river is flowing perfectly well by itself. Put up too many dams and you have environmental groups shouting that their dearest wish is to see you drown in those very dam’s waters. So, what is a person supposed to do? I’ve noticed that anyone who comes in sees an immediate need to do something.

Give a child some clay and he will blend and mould the clay into flowers, or worms. Give him some building blocks and he will build something. Give him people and he will re-organize. There is a sort of dull resignation to these re-organizations that come over the ages.

But, this is new.

This company decided the change is not in making Paul report to Tom instead of Harry, but to make Paul, Tom and Harry stop emailing each other. Email can be a waste of time, but it isn’t without its advantages. Any day, give me email over SMS and pagers. I mistakenly thought that what these visionaries were going for was increased efficiency because of the barrage of emails throttling their system. Turns out I was wrong. I quote:

That’s why he hopes the company can eradicate internal emails in 18 months, forcing the company’s 74,000 employees to communicate with each other via instant messaging and a Facebook-style interface.

I don’t understand how this is supposed to work, but isn’t this a bit like saying “I will throw the wood chunks in the river, and you stand along and fish for those that have an interest to you.” Some days, you can stand fishing or wooding all day and come up empty, so, you decide that enough is enough and get down to do some work, when the crate of wood meant for you flowed down the message river, leaving you looking pretty stupid.

There is this though. One can always rely on the echelons to give us musing material.

Art & Science of Idli Making: Foreword By Shri. Kapil Sibal Ji

When I read articles such as this, I have a lump in my throat. Such altruistic cabinet ministers we have. They spend all their lives just giving and giving. In the article, Kapil Sibal (acting Information Minister in the Govt of India) summons representatives from Facebook, Google and Microsoft and asks them to use humans to scan and approve content before it is posted.

“In the second meeting with the same executives in late November, Mr. Sibal told them that he expected them to use human beings to screen content, not technology, the executive said.”

I don’t blame him. Kapil Sibal is auto corrected to Kapil Sins. Now, we all know acting cabinet ministers don’t sin. They don’t even ask anything for themselves – all they ask for is increased employment. In a country of a little over a billion people, why can’t Facebook/Google/Microsoft employ all of them to scan all the content being generated by the World Wide Web and approve only what is not objectionable?

Since people are touchy on the topics of religion and caste, let us take the case of idli batter for this exercise. (
Case : You are a staunch believer of the theory that idli batter needs eight hours to ferment and thereafter needs 7 minutes of steaming on cloth for the best results. Your idlis have been proclaimed to be the best in the country by admiring neighbours, nephews and nieces. Rose petals have gone away scrubbing moisturizer on themselves because they feel hard in comparison. You have spent a good 56 years and 3 months making and giving idlis. Therefore, you are deemed the idli expert and given the daily idli content of the web to review, correct and approve.

The first one is by a girl who calls herself “Dimmi” (“The name you give a dog!”, you think disparagingly and her name has already set her back in the idli content quality in your mind.) To make matters worse, Dimmi says it is best to use a mixie and ferment for 6 hours leaving the oven light on.
The lips purse a bit. Does everybody have an oven? Lips pursed, you continue.
Then, take the batter and make idlis she says.
The pursed lips purse a little further and the need to correct the procedure is overwhelming.
Use a pressure cooker for best results she says and has photos of the whole process!
There being no more space for pursing the lips, and no opportunity to meet Dimmi to correct the procedure by lovingly showing her how best to make idlis, you think it preferable to not allow these dubious idli recipes on the web. “Best if I write something on the best method to make idlis”, you say to yourself. But after reviewing the 67000 pages of idli content, you are tired and the 6000 that did pass your stringent standards were still not up to the mark. Yet, they would have to do.

One day, you would write a whole book on the Art & Science of Idli Making, and the foreword would be written by none other than Shri. Kapil Sibal Ji. Till then, all the youngsters can continue using the sub-standard idli recipes. It makes Dimmi want to try harder….


The One-way Parrot-xysm

I still remember the time aunts shouted into telephones while talking to people far away, as if they needed to magnify their voices to be heard. It is often the other way around – you need raised voices while addressing someone right next to you because they are busy with their laptops, notebooks, phones, tablets or ipods. But for as long as I can remember, the telephone signalled two way communication. All that changed for me last week.

I could savagely bray the Kolaveri song without fear of retribution the same way that monstrosity was dumped on the unsuspecting public. The song has poets either turning in their graves or else yearning to rush into one as soon as possible. When one does something, it is only basic human courtesy to see the effect it would have on people, is it not? I digress, but really? Kolaveri?!

Anyway…I had been for a walk stopping to gaze at parrots and dogs when the phone rang. The tendency to talk has been a congenital disorder: I realised somewhere around the 22nd sentence of the phone call that I could not hear the other person. I hallo-hallo-hallo-ed for a bit and seeing a parrot look down with disdain at me shelved the attempt at parroting. I hung up and tried calling another friend. Same thing: I could talk, they could hear, but could not respond. Ha!

The husband suggested that maybe I was married to the phone. (“The wife could say what she wanted and assumed the husband listened, and not expect any nonsense by way of back-talk”) I gave him a frosty look that the comment was totally unappreciated, but it was wasted on the man who was thumping himself on the brilliance of his own joke (I know!)

But even I can’t deny the possibilities this opened up. I could call telemarketeers and give them a sample of their own medicine. I could call the husband and pile on chores that he wouldn’t touch with a barge-pole otherwise. Then I could accost him for not doing it, squashing the argument that he never agreed to do it, because guess who did not hear that he refused?

I did none of that. I am a loving wife and I also needed him to take my dear phone to the store near his office.

Anyway, the long and short of it was that I was able to go my way telling people what I thought, and my communication felt like living in the age of fancy telegrams. I was never much of an SMS person, but the phone had me spilling my guts on SMS. A number of intentions were miscommunicated with the helpful hand of auto-correct. (Auto-correct is begging a separate post from me – shall get to it one day)

I am sorry to say my phone no longer does that. It has been fixed. Two way communication has been established, but I can’t deny that I enjoyed the one-sided deal for a while.

Babyhood & Titanic Fusion

About once a year, when the holiday season rolls in, I get to see my Prince Charming as he looked on the night before his wedding. The way my father imagined a son-in-law to go to work everyday. He places a frantic call to me asking if I can dust up the old suit, since the holiday party dress code says it is formal. He swirls the word ‘formal’ around his tongue like it is something unpleasant. But I look forward with glee. I love to see people dressed in coats and suits – a lifetime of seeing all the authority figures in my life and school dressed that way no doubt, but I love the crispness of it. I love the way, it slaps your shoulders out of that slouching position and the shoulder pads make one looks like a gladiator in charge of his arena as you stride through.

So, once a year he gets out his suit, gets me to make the tie for him, and off we go – he resolving to lose weight as the pants remind him of a slightly expanding waistline, and me looking proud, happy and thankful that Women’s clothes are more forgiving when it comes to waists.

This year, the party was aboard a ship. I can’t tell you how romantic the notion was. Well…it was filled with folks from his office – that isn’t the romantic part, I mean…the notion of being aboard a ship finely dressed like the adventurers of yore. That is.

After a while of smiling my way through a banquet filled with things that moved till a few moments ago; we decided to take a walk to the hull. We stood there for a few minutes gulping in the skyline of the distant city, when I heard my man don a dreamy look.

How does one hear a dreamy look? Well…the husband likes to clarify these things with sound acoustics and switched on a look that in others would have had me asking if they needed a eye-check-up, but I refrained, because he had also started using his falsetto to hum a tune.

He had a Leonardo DiCaprio-ish air about him. I think he was thinking of spreading his arms, but was hesitating.

He was humming a  tune ‘Ta-na-nan-ta-na-nan-ta-na-na-na-do-da-ta-tan’. I scanned  the horizon for a running giraffe, and found nothing but a bay ahead of me. I looked at him quizzically to which the maestro said,

“Titanic…duh!” Confidence was clearly not one of his problems.
I looked at the poor fish with pitiful eyes and clarified
“No…that is the Baby Einstein tune for a giraffe running in the Savannah!”

Babyhood has finally got him. I told him it was futile to resist.

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