Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Baptism by fire....

I heard this phrase for the very 1st time in 2005 at someone's promotion speech as they described how the assignment that got them promoted had been one of their toughest ever. This was 3.5 years ago. The phrase stuck cause it felt cool to enunciate. I repeated it to myself for a few days, finally relegating it to the status of a fancy term I'd like to use given the opportunity.

Which is when the powers that be decided I needed to learn through experience. Enunciation was just not good enough for Ms. Tic.

There was October 05 to Feb 06 which had me working non-stop under the most stress I had ever encountered in my sheltered existence. It wasn't just the deadlines. It was the deadlines coupled with the need to suddenly grow up at work and outside it. It wasn't just the late hours all week; it was the late hours with no one to go home to. And there were no weekends worth speaking of. It was all work and more work. And then some more.

By the end of a 3 month spate of long hours, I was close to a breakdown and had to go back home on what could certainly have qualified as 'medical' leave.

Of course, when I look back upon this time, it strikes me as the era of my best ever work in the assignment. What we started back then amidst the hours and the late nights is a legacy that has stayed on even after every single one from the original team moved on.

Today, I remember very little of the long hours or lonely evenings. What I DO remember rather clearly, is being productive and being amply rewarded for it. :-)

Then there was 2007.
The year that as it started had 'personal hell' written all over it. Replete with what seemed like earth shattering disappointments, it seemed like the year would beat me down by the time it ended. There were days so awful, I had to physically force myself to just go about doing the things that constitute living - cooking, eating, writing, working and the like.

And yet, when I look back at the year, it's tough to remember many specific instances of pain. There is the fleeting memory of bad phases, but most of all what has stayed in mind is how it turned out to be one of the richest as far as personal accomplishments go.

The 100th and possibly 200th blog post were written within this year. A very fun production was kick started. My 1st ever solo trip (New York) finally happened (setting into motion a series of events I would never have anticipated). Mogambo made her presence felt. The Penguin made her grand entry. I discovered Jamie Oliver, Curtis, Nigella and reveled in the joy of dishing out one new dish after another in my poorly constructed, yet well stocked kitchen. After putting it off for almost 3 years, I enrolled for singing lessons and actually enjoyed them.

With the Penguin leading the way, I entered one new experience after another with a mind that decided it wanted to be more open than closed. Auctions, new resturants, random plays, funky recipes - you name it, I tried it.

And for the 1st time in my life, I think I learned how to embrace optimism. And perhaps cultivated the slightest ability to laugh at myself. Precious! :D

Worth a mention here is that the year marked my 1st ever interaction with the world of Bharat Matrimony.
Fun fact: Every guy I was introduced to through BM ended up getting hitched within about 6 months of having met me. To another woman, of course. In exactly the order that I met them. EXACTLY.
(Incredible, I know!)

And although I whined and cried through it all, wondering why I had to put myself through a process I had little or no enthusiasm for, I do believe it helped the cliched process of self awareness and might have played a big role in making me realize what kind of person I wanted to be with.
No small feat, that!

And finally 2008.
While the dust settled on other parts of my life, this year gave me reason to wonder if I could ever continue in a job that was starting to get so physically and mentally exhausting. With my health sauntering coolly out the door, the hurting hand made me snappy and impatient at work and curtailed my physical ability to put in even a few extra hours if I wanted to. I questioned everything from my willingness to my ability to perform and went through intense self doubt and more intense physical pain.

And yet, in retrospect, 2008 seems like a year that was WELL worth living through. The work was great and more importantly, projects that took the most out of me turned out to be worth every minute that was spent on them. I have new found respect for my health and have learned my discipline with medicines the hard way. Most importantly, the lessons I've learned in the last 8 months at work, bitter as they were to experience, have provided perspective I would never have acquired otherwise.

Cliche after cliche, I know. Yet, all of it true.

It didn't dawn upon me until recently why the phrase 'Baptism by fire' was termed as such.

Now I understand. That moment when you stand at the exit door of an experience that was all agony as you went through it and look back. That moment that you feel cleansed and richer for the experience. That moment that you *know* why it all happened.

That moment, when you finally accept that the goodness of the outcome is so overpowering that it drowns out the memory of everything bad that happened, it's when you've had your personal baptism by fire.

Baptism, indeed :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

WTF to culture

Read this.

*Culture* is soon going to become a basis for defense pleas. Don't be shocked to hear reports of - "Dear members of the jury, I killed only to protect my culture"

It's beyond comprehension how so much hatred can be directed to a person who was born of another bloodline, in the name of *Culture*, while calmly taking in and tolerating more serious issues like
- men who beat up their wives ('He has the right to, esp. if she behaves badly' - Ref Indian Culture)
- incest (Have you read Bitter Chocolate - the common response to this within households is "He's a man, he has needs, so what if it's his daughter/ sister")
- marital rape ('There IS no question of consent, lie beneath the man and do his bidding when he feels like it' - Also Ref Indian Culture)
- not letting daughters go to school ('I don't understand why women can't just learn to stay home and make chapattis for their husbands' - A very cultured Mr. Muthalik)
- Dowry deaths (Still rampant, in case our insulation from the event leads us to believe in its non existence)
- Female infanticide and the stigma associated with giving birth to daughters (Chromosome lesson time perhaps? The man controls the sex of the baby, not the woman. Of course, getting this into skulls that are worrying themselves with which other brahmin person in the vicinity has been corrupted by non brahmin influences is probably a tad difficult.)

All of which, just to be clear, is not only not opposed, but almost condoned by this fantastic culture thingie we hear about ever so often.

This is not even counting basic indignities like abusing your wife in public, expecting that women will pick up leftover food after men, that women will eat after men, that it's OK with all your education and so-called metropolitan upbringing to insinuate in your son's Bharat Matrimony profile that his job is more important than that of the woman in question and hence she needs to move across continents to be with him - like the alternative is not really an alternative at all.

Not to forget insane cultural mores like spending atrocious amounts on money on lavish weddings that are absolutely uncorrelated to the quality of the marriage that follows, feeling obliged to conduct some ten ceremonies and invite a million people just to show them that you love your children and can provide for them, expecting men and women to be asexual creatures until the time that they are lawfully wedded and then expecting them to overnight (literally) create babies, treating cooking as a matrimonial resume bullet point for every woman vs. a life skill for human beings in general.

I'm better off without this ridiculous notion of culture. I'm better off figuring my way through life without referring to an invisible book somewhere that preaches how I must live.

If I hear the word Indian culture one more time, I'm going to give the person a serious piece of my mind. Whether it's a 'well -meaning' relative telling me to *adjust* with my in laws or some aunty somewhere asking me why I'm 28 and not married.

And for THIS Culture we have people dying and taking lives? Pah! Seriously!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Pink Chaddis! :)

Oh cmon! You HAVE to join this one!

Please send every (Good Indian or otherwise) woman you can think of to this page. Please please!

Some super tips on how to be a Good Indian Woman (GIW, TM) coming right up ...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Indian Culture

The subject has fascinated me ever since the Mangalore incident took place. And I've wanted to write my plans to adhere to Indian Culture (TM, obviously of Mr. Mangalore women beater, the Shiv sena and sundry others who plan to save us from the cultural pitfall that is Valentine's Day) in the next few years.

Work has been insane keeping me up at nights either actively doing it, or simply thinking about the fascinating things I'm learning from this new project. (Geeky I know! But I swear I stayed up tossing and turning most of last night thinking I have all this amazing information to share on Monday, and worrying about how a 1 pager will ever do justice to it!)

And today is more work + a short film shoot (finally!), so I promise I'll make the time to write down how I plan to be a GIW - Good Indian Woman (TM, of the aforementioned parties + parents of 'eligible bachelors' on Bharat Matrimony who define the GIW as an ideal blend of traditional values and modern outlook.)

After all nothing motivates one to action like public commitment. And an awesome topic like this.

More later ... till then, enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Good things...

Post my blissful vacation from the last week, promise to the self has been to keep thanking stars and sundry others for the good things that prevail despite some utter crap that still exists.

Listing is my way of thanking. Here goes.

1. Look ma, hands but no pain!
A new prop up mechanism for the laptop and a separate keyboard that make typing/ working/ blogging wince free for the 1st time in about a year. Lovely admin assistant who sourced it for me in 24 hours of the request being issued. May she live a long happy life.

2. Snow:
Seeing actual real falling snow for the first time in my life. How very awesome to put the face to the air and and feel little light cool things land. Lou is came.

3. Clarity:
When the thought of ending something brings nothing but gladness and relief, that really says something about how much it is meant for you and vice versa.

4. Action:
When long planned things finally start to move into action phase, the thrill of anticipation even with the associated uncertainty is awesome compared to the frustration of sitting still and thinking through in circles.

5. Happy mom:
She passed her 1st semester of the correspondence MBA. And I heard laughter in her voice after a LONG time. Cherish worthy.

6. Cloudy days:
Singapore's been nice and cloudy since I got back from vacation. As if to say, OK let's keep you in hungover from holiday state for as long as possible, woman. How sweet. For this cloudy thing alone, I'd consider moving to Seattle. I'd say BYE to the sun in a jiffy if I had to. Sigh.

7. Luck by chance and slumdog M coming up:
Good movies and good music is such a treat. Also have you heard Delhi6? Verrry nice the music it is. That Mohit chauhan boy I might add to my list. You know, THE list.
{Boys who can do musical things are very IT for me. *Tingles down spine* (wait, is that my hand starting to hurt?)}

8. No travel until April
YAY! YAY! We're out of budget to travel on work. NO MORE LIVING OUT A SUITCASE FOR 3 MONTHS!!!! YAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!

9. Pesto sauce:
What? I just really like.

10. Folks with a sense of humor at work:
Make the place worth going to every day.

11. Work from home days:
For someone with an E profile of 2% on the MBTI scale, staying insulated from the deluge of voices at work once a week is official (hah!) bliss.

12. New Camera coming up:
In funky color too! Not your usual gray! @ amazing rate too! rocks.

13. Happening weekend coming up:
2 parties, 1 short film shoot, 1 new movie, 1 catch up with long time no see frand = Happy in my heart dil dance maare re.

More later ... my hand still feels fine, I want to dance from the happiness and liberation of it all. :)