Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To many

I thought one of the best things about not being part of an organisation is not having to deal with Lotus Notes on a daily basis. It was as though writing emails was a necessary evil and the most preoccupying thought while writing a mail was who do you mark it to, and in what order. It has always been a tough one for me, so I took the alphabetical way out and pretended it was the norm and nothing untoward happened, so I kept at it.

Sometimes, figuring out who stands where in the order of hierarchy and therefore in your mail is enough to give you ulcers. How do you decide who’s the recipient and who’s the cc when there is a very thin line? Do you have to cc all that cc you? Can anyone butt into a cc chain, even though they haven’t been addressed/spoken to? Does every mail have to be grunted to, even though nothing in it is of any consequence to you? As for the bcc, well, that’s another can of worms. Whoever invented it had a devious little mind and I am sure is having a hearty laugh.

May be all HR departments should conduct an email orientation to new employees explaining the fine nuances of mail protocol, because sooner or later, it will become the bone of contention.

Ironically, I am married into a reply-all family and one of the toughest things about the marriage is keeping people ‘in the loop’. I did it for a while, and even believed in the theory that cyberia is the best thing that happened to the modern family, but after a series of back-patting and wowing at pictures and things, I realised it is not my scene, so I have now left the husband to do the dirty work, which of course he hasn’t done in months.

Having said that, I am still slightly embarrassed about having mailed people to “Become a fan” of this column when a friend set up a Facebook page for me. It seemed vulgar. But as my friends and husband suggested, it’s the age of self promotion, and the whole world is doing it, so what’s wrong with it? I am still ambivalent about it, but the damage is done.

As for forwards, it’s plain lazy. And the closer you are to me, the more I hate a forward from you. That’s about it. There are mails about making the world a better place, but only if you forward it to nine other people, else you will be doomed. Then there are those about life-threatening substances in your blood or deodorant or garbage liners and how, if you don’t do anything about them, you will die in 64 days.

The joke spammers are another lot. I know funny is funny and sharing laughter is such a noble thing and all that. And there are the inspirational messages on how to be happy (while all you are thinking of is how to get rid of this person without hiring a supari killer) and what is life and love and other deep four letter words. But do me a favour. Surprise me. For once.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sheikh-en and stirred

It's funny how moving away from your immediate habitat puts you in a neutral space almost as you enter your port of take off. I have always been an inveterate traveler and to me, it is the best way to declutter your mind. You are suddenly insulated from all the stuff that gets to you, even though you are the same person and capable of feeling essentially the same things, there is a kind of distillation that happens to your thinking.

Traveling sort of neutralizes you. It’s like sometimes life gets to a point where there is too much acid or too much alkali and then you add the opposite of what it is and render it to pH seven. And strangely, all seems well. People who travel a lot will get this, and will also get the fact that it’s not where you go, or who you go with, but whether you really do.

As mother to a ten-month old, I have been strangely dissuaded from my adventurous spirit by “How will you manage? What about food?”, and other such banal preoccupations, so I figured I will start small. So with baby slung on my shoulder and a suitcase full of adventure, off I went.

So here I am, on a holiday in Dubai and for once, I don’t have any male-bashing to do. The Sheikhs with their clich├ęd harems actually turned out to be the gentlest men, full of charm and niceties, and having an infant in my arms seemed to have more perks than I had imagined as far as breaking lines and being driven in airport carts went.

The husband is away, and hasn’t done anything to annoy me in the last six days, the parents and siblings are also at bay, thanks to a deactivated roaming facility, so life feels quiet, and sort of contemplative.

As for the cats, their absence is not being felt that much, thanks to a resident feline seductress who goes by the name of Misri and who has a not-so-strange duvet-excavating kink that fluctuates between endearing and exasperating, but she doesn’t really give a damn.

The infant is, to my relief, adaptable, and has been so from the word go, even though he has been breathing a fairly sterile air for the last few days. He of course couldn’t differentiate between the well-manicured porcelain-faced airhostess smiling beatifically at him, and the farsan-eating, bush-shirt wearing passenger next door, who was constantly asking the stewardess for “Cock” and whose shiny watch dial the infant took a shine for. To the child, almost anyone is worthy of a grin, the only prerequisite is that they should grin back.

And before I know it, there ends my jaunt in the mecca of shopping, where, ironically, I have done more food and beach than retail therapy, and where, to my relief, no one gives you the look if you stride up and down the beach in your bikini even though you haven’t exactly been on a size zero regimen for the last few weeks. May be it’s my arm candy.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oh boy!

It is politically correct and rather fashionable to say that you can’t marry a man and expect to change him. So much so that we have started believing it. But almost every woman I know is subtly and steadfastly working on her man to at least change him enough to be able to live with him. For instance: Change what he eats. How often he sorts his paperwork. What he wears. What he buys. How much he talks. How much he doesn’t talk.

For most men, marriage is the ultimate and possibly, the cheapest rehabilitation program. Let me officially rechristen it to MRP (Man Rehabilitation Program). Coincidentally, MRP in its other avatar is a trivia most men love staring at. For example, the husband examines every bit of packaging, from a tooth brush to a jar of mustard for manufacture and expiry dates. Funnily enough, my father does the same, and so does my brother, and the former even sniffs everything like a dog would.

As if one MRP wasn’t enough, most of us are on multiple ones. I am on four, since I have a father, brother, husband and son.

I know what my friend meant when I told him I was taking a baby sabbatical and he said, “No, you are not. You are making a man.”

Had it been a girl, would he have said, “You are making a lady?” I guess not, because it is assumed that unless something really untoward happens, all girls grow up to be ladies and there’s really no work required. For boys, everything is a work in progress, whether they are seven or seventy.

Most of us have had fathers, brothers or both as projects when we were growing up, and did our best to redeem them. They either ate badly, flung clothes around, smoked too much, played the television too loud, messed up the kitchen, had bad friends or were just being themselves.

Yet, we go and get married. And then wonder, how did the men get by life thus far? And let’s not even get into lousy wardrobes, bad accessories, cholesterol friendly eating habits, electronics overdose or retail junkiness.

And then some of us go and give birth to men. And then actually end up doing more work in not getting him to turn out a certain way.

Curiously, the rehabilitation never ends. And the men aren’t really complaining, although it is considered macho to whine about it in male company. But secretly, they are grateful that someone finally makes them look good.

The husband has one redeeming feature though . The love for order. On a totally superficial level, but there it is. Call it OCD or what you may, but it gives me one less thing to do. Perfect.