Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Of my emotions in this job hunt.. today was a first. I am feeling so very amused.

This morning I was speaking to the hiring manager at a company about an opening they have. We talked about the role, he discussed the merits and demerits and in the process talked a bit about his career background. The conversation then moved to him talking of taking a break to study, and suddenly from job conversation shifted to me giving advice on different schools, the application process, my school and what they look for etc. Well, the role I had called for was too junior, but was feeling so very amused when I kept the phone.

This evening, I met someone about another job. The conversation started with the role and once again moved to studying, whether the course was worth it, again more advice on my school, costs, scholarships - the works. And once again, me leaving feeling very amused.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Random thoughts from here and there

The days are fast becoming shorter and it's rapidly becoming colder. I have a love hate relationship with the weather. I hate the rain, I hate the wind, I love the cold. It's not cold enough to turn on the heating, so I bundle myself into a shawl and sit all day at the computer.
I think I need a time-sheet because I have no idea how I spend the entire day in front of the computer.
Some more on the weather. Everyone is advising us to buy our overcoats now. So London people and those from other cold places.. need some help .. any hints / advice on what I should look for / avoid when buying an overcoat. Any particular shops you would suggest?
Today I had to step out to meet some people for potential job leads. It was better than a couple of days back when I went to a place and there were a bunch of kids who grilled me like BBQ meat and so far have done nothing about any leads. Am so mad! Today was better, but I froze since my jacket can't be worn over my suit. Worse, my suit is made for tropical weather, thus is more cotton than wool. Had to thaw myself with two cups of coffee when I got back.
Talking of jobs. I have tried to step up with an all out effort now. . and am talking to as many people as possible. But am so fed up at some level that answers come out taped. Predictable questions - what did you do in X role in abc company - I press play, answers start rolling and my mind starts wandering. Very bad!!
The height of excitement in my life at the moment is winning two free movie tickets in a competition and getting back half my train fare for a journey which got delayed (The national rail for however ridiculously expensive it is, has been the rare example of good customer service I've seen here. We were going to someplace when the train was delayed by over an hour. The staff came around handing out the refund forms and explaining the process). Given everything being low, low, low .. got cheap thrills from getting free stuff.
More unrelated stuff - last night I saw a rat in the kitchen. Urgh!!!!! Gives my shivers thinking about it. Shut myself into a room and sent Bee to chase it out with the broom. Fifteen minutes later he reports there's nothing. Not sure if it was hiding or I just imagined it in the shadows .. but am keeping my distance from the kitchen. Today I stepped in for five minutes to make a cup of coffee and kept looking around expecting a 'tiger' to jump at me.
All day I've been thinking of something I had studied long back. About anchoring (not the ship kind). It's about how people can't come up with a number / idea from thin air so when we have to come up with an answer for something totally unknown (like say the weight of a Boeing 777 aircraft) we try to work it out based on something we know.. however unrelated. (Sorry, that's a pretty bad explanation). Basically, we are not good at coming up with something completely random. I started thinking about it when I was thinking of names I use on the blog for people I know. .and how I always link it in someway to the person .. or use 'xyz' ... as opposed to a random phrase like say 'rgp'.There are many studies to show how we anchor etc and it's useful in negotiations / marketing where this is often used. It has been demonstrated in many ways and I find the concept fascinating.
Firefox 2.0 is out. It looks slicker. There's lots of interesting add-ons. - try it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Diwali

Hope everyone gets to celebrate it some way. I am not a very religious person, but to me its a festival of fun and being with family and friends. I don't have nice diyas this year.. but will make do with lots of candles and keeping the windows open to avoid the fire alarm from going off.

For those who mark the beginning of a year year.. Here's wishing you a very Happy New Year.
(Image from http://www.seattleindian.com)

Sunday Morning - The Diwali update
I couldn't have asked for more. Had a lovely day with lunch at a friends place. Good food, great wine and a good film (which was more like background music). After a relaxing day we got out our salwar kameez' from the back of the cupboard and all the forgotten bindis and bangles - everyone was looking great. A short and nice puja followed by a all of us trooping over to a big Diwali party. When I was in Delhi I couldn't step out on Diwali because of the fumes in the air which triggered massive sneezing reactions in me. This year, with limited fireworks I actually got to be a part of it. The fireworks were nice. . and after all the Diwali feeling is never complete without it. All this followed by more drinking and a lot of dancing. I was 20 once again .. and by the time we got home my feet were killing me. . so much for those matching shoes! Should have just said cared less and worn something more comfortable and conducive to dancing - lesson learnt for next year. Bee made a foot soak for me when we got back .. but the feet are still killing! Today have woken up with a happy feeling inside ..the sun is peeping through the clouds and the day looks good... but am slowly getting back to reality.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Its a small world after all

I had a friend visiting during summer and she insisted I sign-up on Orkut. I never understood why she would rather write me a one line scrap for the world to see over a one line email. Anyway, it was easier to sign up than continue arguing and so by the time she left, there I was with my one page on Orkut. I am sure I have the shortest 'Friends' list (even my tech-unfriendly sister has a list 4 times longer!). I also never understood why I would want to put my photographs up and subscribe to communities which would tell the world where I studied, my profession, holidays I've been on and who all I know. So as might be obvious I'm not a big fan of Orkut and prefer good old email any day.

Off late though, I've made two discoveries (yes, I have too much time to waste, that's what the jobless population does!) - 1. The obvious - It's a really small world 2. People I've lost touch with 20 years ago.

I know there's supposed to be only a few degrees of separation in the world, but still. In my small world of people who I've always thought are totally unrelated .. it is amazing how I find that x who I know from college went to kindergarten with someone I know from work and such and so forth. It has taught me a lesson - never to bitch about anyone henceforth - really hope I don't forget it in two days.

The second has been nicer. I've actually found someone who I studied with 20 years ago. Since I was nine when I left the school I kept in touch only with my 'best-friend' from that school, it was too much effort to write long letters to everyone. So this friend, CS was with me from Class 1 when I joined the school till I left at the end of Class 5. Writing to her brought back so many old memories. The funniest I remember is of CS, Best-friend and I having a secret club (influence of all the Enid Blyton we were reading those days). We had badges that we would wear on our shirt under the tunic, we even had passwords and a secret meeting place in school. During 'break' we'd meet there and share secrets which we swore never to tell anyone. Amongst the three of us, best-friend had a huge house with a room to herself and having an elder sister also had a large collection of books. So we'd have slumber parties at her place where we'd stay up till 10pm reading Enid Blyton and having cookies (yes, that was thrilling for us since my regular bed-time was 8:30!).

So now CS, best-friend and I are once again mailing, catching up on our lives without the thrill of secret clubs and passwords, but its nice all the same.

Friday, October 13, 2006

We didn't start the fire

Grammy award nominees 1989. In terms of the Grammy's this is by far the year I remember most. I'm not sure why .. maybe after this we grew up to Pink Floyd and no longer cared for the more contemporary music (which personally I feel has gone down hill since then) or perhaps it's to do with the launch of cable television in India soon after. Till cable TV hit us, we had very selected TV viewing more out of a lack of choice than discipline. One of the big must watch' was the programme on Doordarshan in which they showed the videos of the Grammy nominated songs. To this day I vividly remember 'We didn't start the fire' and 'Don't worry, Be Happy'. Found the videos on YouTube and linked them for the other '80s kids.

The other thing that the song represents to me is how much times have changed. Not because of the lyrics .. though that was actually a great lesson in world history for me! But the way we look up information. When this song was released we got the cassette and played it over a 100 times with our ears glued to the speaker to get the lyrics. After we got our version of it (I say our version because we never managed to decipher some of the words like 'liberace', 'toscanini' & 'payola' and put in our own substitutes for them), we then set about researching it. It was a painstaking process looking up the encyclopedia in the school library, asking my mother for hints for ones I couldn't directly reference. By the end of it I knew about a lot of events and with all the effort in researching even learnt the lyrics. . .which to this day comes naturally to me as soon as the song is played. And this is not just with me, I've met lots of friends who can sing along with 'We didn't start the fire'. So getting back to the point of changing times, today, all I need is a search engine to get not only the correct lyrics but I also get a neatly laid out page detailing out all the events. Researching is just so much easier these days. I wonder if the amount of time put in has anything to do with the amount you retain but then the richness you get is unparalleled. The impact of Internet on our lives is for another day. . .for now I'll go play my favourite Billy Joel album.. I still like listening to music on my system rather than some radio channel on the net. Oh no, I clearly see the generation gap setting in !!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

For those in London.. lots of interesting films coming up from next week in the BFI 50th London Film festival. Not cheap .. but there's an endless list to choose from. Have fun.

(Logo from the film festival website)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

You give some, you get some

Durga Puja just came and went this year. I barely noticed it except the ten minute visit to the puja in Camden. We had guests at that time and didn't get around to coordinating with friends, so when we did go to the puja it was just Bee and me standing in a sea of people who knew each other. There was also no new clothes, nothing special done and so different from when I was a child. As a child, our biggest excitement related to durga puja was the windfall of new clothes (it's a tradition to wear new clothes during that time). We not only had enough for each of the five days, but had a few extra for the evenings. Towards the latter part of school when I was in Calcutta, we'd go out at night in a group and walk around the city soaking in the lights and festivity. It was not so much a religious occasion, but a social occasion for us. And now it's a time we stop a minute to take the effort to go to Camden before getting on with everything else.

I've also been missing home recently. My aunt was visiting and she pampered us with yum, hot, fresh food each day - what a far cry from the soups and salads routine. Today before she left, she even cooked up seven days worth of meals! It reminds me of when my mom visits and the two days before leaving turns into a marathon cooking event. . which is amazing since my mother is a very non foodie person. I wonder if I lived closer to home whether I could meet them more often. Maybe not, even when I was working in Bombay I couldn't make it home more than once - twice a year. Maybe its the unfamiliar surroundings, the foreign land which makes me feel further away.

It's not all bad. We recently went to watch the musical Wicked. What a fantastic performance it was. The sets and effects were stunning. Idina Menzel as Elphaba was awesome, what a wonderful voice she has. I thought it would end with more of a bang, but overall it's a performance I can go for many times over (Do go if you can). If I were home now, this is not a performance I could go for. This and so much more is what I have gained. The last two years have been very enriching for me. The angst of job search aside (though it is a very big angst, not too easy to push aside), I think if I were at the cross roads again, this is the path I would choose.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

This too shall pass (?)

Once again the oh-so-familiar and I-can't-stand-it-any-longer 'reject letter'. I had so badly wanted this job to work out. I always thought that if you want something really badly you get it.. it doesn't seem to work any more. I really feel my luck has totally run out . . it's a dry well and I can hear the echo of the bouncing coin with which I make my wish.

I know it makes me sound like such a whiner, but I am feeling so so lost. I have a friend and my aunt visiting. Thankfully my aunt was out for a play when I got the call. . because I howled and howled and howled. Poor friend was so lost. Thankfully he's a close friend from college so I don't feel ashamed with all the water works. Poor Bee left work as early as he could and rushed home. All I did was sit in a corner (literally) and look miserable while they tried to cheer me up. Its just that I feel the strength to go on ebbing very fast. I just can't take this any more. .especially the expectations of others and the shame I feel of being unemployed. I no longer feel like meeting people . . the first question is always.. 'How's the job search going?' .. how do you think, given that am not giving you happy news of some fantastic offer I've got.

After the most horrible beginning to the week, once again I pick up the threads and continue. Not sure how many more times I can do this. I know people have bigger problems in life and I am lucky to have some very important basics in place like a loving family and all ... but its tough to focus on the positives. Right now, am just clinging onto the hope ..that this too can't last forever.