Managers, Experts and Masturbating Monkeys

As I go through my everyday work life, I often get figuratively kicked it the nuts. If you're a guy, you already know that even a metaphorical kick to the groinal area can be very very painful. And this happens every time I have to deal with people at the workplace, who do no work.
No work at all.
I'm not talking about people who take multiple breaks for coffee, walks, smoking, blogging (*smirk*) and downloading Sarah Palin posters. Even the most compulsive break takers do some work. I'm talking about people who do NO work.

Many experts fall into this category as well. You know? Experts? The guys who have not done anything useful for at least the last 7.3 years. They are still basking in the long faded glory of this one product he designed using techniques that are outdated, that introduced features that are today routinely found on (or in) toilet bowls, and fulfilled a market need that can now be successfully addressed by Chinese made cigarette lighters. Some of these experts have actually not even done that one product, however long ago. These guys have just read up everything available on a a very narrow area, and avoid helping budding engineers by answering questions with incomprehensible blather like "Given the thermal geodynamics of the varying nature, if you're really interested in using the winged schema in your product spec, you should look at the drive architecture of the compounded spoilage in our last generation product."
They never actually do anything except pretend to advice. They sit in on review meetings and ask irrelevant and inane questions so that they can get their name on another patent. And whenever I have to deal with one of these guys my scrotal contents cease to effortlessly swing about and commence to shrink violently into tiny pain points.

Obviously many senior managers, directors and presidents fall into this pain causing category. They are supposed to manage, direct or preside, but there's a bunch of these guys who do nothing but postpone decisions till only one option remains open. They play a sick version of "passing the parcel" whenever something actually lands on their table so that every request becomes intertwined with so many departments that nothing will get done. And if all else fails they will create a board or a committee or a task force and get their rocks off by reviewing actual work done by others Whenever I have to deal with one such management flunky, I feel like I just got kicked in the you-know-where with a steel toed boot. You could replace these kinds of managers with bald masturbating monkeys. Same effect as the erstwhile manager - a disgusting display of flailing arms and self pleasuring.

But the most magnitude of pain is caused not by Experts or Managers. That happens when I have to deal with Expert Managers.
People who used to be good at something as an engineer, line employee, or supervisor, and have now been unfortunately promoted to manager, but have refused to give up their expertise in one or many technical area. They not only want to retain their expertise, but they also want to continue to be seen as the big dick expert in whatever area they used to be the expert in. These guys continue review the tiniest detail, ask questions about the most irrelevant aspects, and sometimes even take over interesting assignments to execute themselves. They impede the progress of projects and development of their staff, and are the worst possible kind of expert and the most ineffective manager that you can find.

At least the monkey works for peanuts

Busting Monopolies

Have you ever seen somebody who loves their IT support?
How about somebody who can’t stop praising their HR?
Or somebody who would give their right leg for their facilities maintenance team?

I’m guessing the answer, on average, is a resounding “fuck”
You know why?
Because these centralized support functions are lasting political monopolies.

By lasting political monopoly, what I mean is that these organizations have been placed in a position of a monopoly without having earned it, and have no specified limit on the time for which they are allowed to function as a monopoly. Unlike, for example, a patent, which is a Limited Apolitical Monopoly where the owner earned the patent, and has a time limit imposed on the monopoly powers it gives him, the DMV, is a Lasting Political Monopoly, where from now until the end of time, only the DMV has the power to issue licenses to drive.

And these lasting political monopolies are terrible things. Generally they will result in
1. Higher Pain: Either in pricing, or in cases where pricing can not exceed a certain threshold (like in our centralized support functions), in the actual experience, the monopolies will create excruciating pain for most customers. Badly designed databases, insane forms, irrelevant categorization procedures and labyrinth-like procedures are all signs that your support group does not care about you.
2. Lack of Innovation: Monopolies don’t need to innovate. The market is their slave. They laugh at innovation. Even in creating horrible customer experiences, they will not innovate. They will do it the same terrible way every single time.
3. Inefficiency: Without pricing pressure and competition for their business, the monopolies become inefficient, sloth like, and apathetic. With time, these monopolies get infested with incompetent employees who can not so much as understand your problem, much less actually solve it. I think that in a few years, all support functions will be staffed by comatose people on life support systems. And whats more, nobody will notice the fucking difference.
4. God Complex: These paragons of inefficiency eventually realize that their customers have no power over them. As soon as that happens, these bastards will start bossing they customers around, telling them what they can do and not do (You can not use a taxi if the travel company is not authorized by me), telling them what they can have and not have (You can have a pen to take notes, but you can not have a black pen), and telling them when they can have it (The lead time for getting a hall organized for your team in 145 days), and finally, telling the customer what is wrong with them (Why don’t you invite ME to your review meetings. Maybe the perspective I have gained by my years of experience ignoring your requests for service will add value in a discussion about cloud computing)
And in companies in India that are remote sites or development centers for their parent companies, this situation is made worse by the fact that more often than not, the heads of these support functions are placed at an organizational level that is a few notches higher than the heads of their customer organizations. In addition to that, their American or European overlords more often that not do not care about little manifestations of the bigger problem. And even if they do want to talk about it, they are easily slowed down by the monopolies by throwing some region specific sand - like legal and regional compliance directives – in the overseer’s eyes

So is there a way out?
Is there something organizations can do to prevent their support functions from turning into torture chambers for the rest of us?

For starters the regional support functions should be clearly told that they are accountable to the regional business unit managers.
Second, for every regional support function, one business unit manager should be assigned as the outside reviewer to review progress and performance on at least a monthly basis. And this manager should change every year. This has two benefits. Not only does the support function get reviewed by a customer, the customer gets a feel for what the support functions need to be successful. (Coz lets face it, not all customers are right all the time either. There are incompetent bastards among all of us)
We’re trying this in our business. I’ll let you know if things change.

If any of you have any other brilliant ideas, lemme know!

Moving on after Bombay

It feels odd to begin posting about random and minor aggravations after what has happened in Bombay, but I guess we can't stay stuck on that forever. The part I am struggling with though is that all of us try to move on individually, the society moves on as well, and then what happens to the focus required to systemically prevent such attacks?
The media will move on,...
I was glad to read - in the front page of a daily "newspaper"- that Brad Pitt is shocked at the events in Bombay, and that "full service was now available at the Bangkok airport" - Happy ending anyone? And many TV channels continue to claim inane non-events as exclusive news, and I'm as sick of Darkha Butt being touted as a great reporter as I will ever be.
The politicians will move on...
RR Patil (Deputy CM/Home for Maharashtra) was sacked or resigned, claiming moral responsibility. Shivraj Patil (Home for the country) was sacked or resigned, claiming moral responsibility. And Deshmukh (CM, Maharashtra) was sacked or resigned kicking and screaming, on the principle of acconutability (whatever the hell that means). I guess only Manmonia Singh does not have any moral responsibility or accountability in this matter. The buck stopped somewhere on the way to his desk... Everybody that comes to replace those poor bastards will probably begin with frank and open statements about admissions of failure. They will because none of that failure will mar the crispness of their white politicians garbs. PC has already begun by admitting intelligence failures. The question is, will these new guys do anything significantly different?

But move on we must.
To maintain our sanity.
To maintain our illusion of safety.
To maintain our ability to function.

It would be nice if there were one guy who was tasked exclusively with the dual tasks of apprehending the bastards responsible, and fixing the system. That one guy could give the country an update every week in the beginning and then every month or so. That way, the focus would remain. People could move on, snug in the belief that someone somewhere is working to keep them safe. But for some reason I do not think that anything remotely like that is going to happen here.

Speech in response to the Mumbai Terror Attack

Yesterday, our beloved country was placed under attack.
Without any provocation, we were invaded by a small force that aimed to disrupt normalcy and peace in our effervescent city of Mumbai. Their force was too small, and their acts too weak to shake the spirit of our Mumbaikars, but they will rue the day they decided to take the lives of our citizens, our visitors, and the brave souls that defend the freedom and the way of life in India.
We do not yet clearly know who the perpetrators of this cowardly act are because unlike people with honor, they chose to cower under the veil of anonymity.
We do not yet clearly know what cause the perpetrators are waging this war for, because unlike people with a true passion, they are unable to articulate their desires.
Our country has a long history of tolerance, and is renowned the world over for it's staunch opposition to being the first aggressor under any degree of conflict. We are patient, we are calm in the face of adversity, and we are committed to a fair process. But the perpetrators of this unprecedented attack on our soil, have misunderstood this for weakness.

Now we will answer these merchants of terror.
We will answer them with a force they have not yet seen.
With a speed they can not comprehend.
We will smoke them out from their hiding holes and bring them to justice.

A deluded gang of thugs have brought disquiet to the peace loving citizens of our country, because they misunderstood the strength hidden in our humility and the ferocity of our resolve. Every grain of this land's soil - every last quantum of our boundless energy - will be used to bring them to book.

We will be strong.
We will be firm.
But we will be just,
Because we are the Sovereign Republic of India

I wish our PM would make a speech like - and preferably forceful than - the one above.
And then I wish he would mobilize the country's resources to follow up on the promises.
I am sick and tired of these violent sons of bitches waltzing into my country and wrecking havoc in any city they chose to.
Fuck 'em.
Fuck every last one of them.
Bloody spineless motherfucking insane bastards.
I say lets bring Rumsfeld over and make him defense minister. Lets bring Bush over and make him president. Lets elect to authorize a tripling of our fiscal deficit. I dont care what it takes. Raise taxes, let inflation go back to 10 percent, let the traffic jams continue to fester like open untreated wounds, let apathy in government offices continue to increase the days taken to open a new business, let FDI go up or down, let the stock market do it's dance, let all of that go. Because none of that shit matters if we cant stop events like the one happenning in Mumbai.

I say we stop every industry incentive plan, every policy development and infrastructure development plan. Let everything be status quo for a while. I say we make every fucking minister a defense minister or a home minister. Lets find these sisterfucking sons of bitches and bring them to justice. THEN we'll see about the rest.

Rambling On

I had decided not to post anything again about the Bombay attack, but I'll put that decision on hold to just say one thing: A message from me to all the politicians from Pakistan and India who have been posturing and blowing hard over the last two weeks.
Guys - You haven't done shit about solving the problem. Either the short term one or the long term one. So do us all a favor and save the fucking hot air you're blowing back and forth. Maybe you can use it to inflate your girlfriends.

Back to business.
Speaking of hot air, I frequently find myself in the company of hot air filled know-nothing managers who have to disguise their ignorance with a cliche every time someone with common sense points out a gaping hole in their chosen plan of action. I call these people Phrase Managers - Managers who go around managing by cliche.

What are these cliches, you ask? Here's some

  1. You must look at the big picture: What the fuck is the big picture man? Something from Reliance's stable of non-products? I hate this. And the thing is, this big picture doesn't really exist. It is complete fiction. Metaphorical. Like saying "You must look at the unicorn". Next time somebody uses that on me, I'm going to say "I've seen the big picture, and it's Hrithick Roshan fucking an aardvark with his seventh finger."
  2. You need to manage expectations: Isn't it funny how when managers are talking about spending money on your project to meet some customer demands, they say you need to manage expectations? Fucking bullshit, if you ask me. Next time I'm in a performance review and the manager says I didn't meet expectations, I'm going to tell him that he needs to manage his expectations.
  3. Think outside the box: What box? The box that YOU fucking put around me? You put restrictions on money, time, people, travel, training, collaboration, and everything else. You fucking boxed me in, in the first place. Now you ask me to think outside the box? What the fuck is this? A lab rat experiment gone awry? How about tearing down some walls for crying out loud
  4. Hit the ground running: How about I just hit YOU and start running, moron? Hitting the ground running is something that you either do or you do not do. You can't walk up to people and say, hey I want you to hit the ground running. If they can do that, they probably already are running. Away from you, that is...
  5. Don't reinvent the wheel: I get they feeling managers say this just because they do not want you to claim that you did anything innovative. So before you apply your brains, they want you to spend a few weeks dredging through out inadequate process/product documentation, and uncooperative senior employees who will not share what they know. What better way to hit the ground running?

RIM Shot

My boss got a Blackberry three or so months ago.
Fucker's so addicted to this thing that I get replies to emails in less than 5 minutes. At any time of the day. Even in the middle of the night!!
was sitting at work attending one of those meetings where the on-shore tyrants begin by exhibiting their fake empathy for you having to stay late, and then go on to talk about stupid and irrelevant details for hours on end. I usually entertain myself in these meetings by first finishing off my emails, and then entertaining myself with online games.
In going through my email list, I came across an email sent to the entire staff of my department, telling them that the new t-shirts had arrived. My boss had replied to that email. "Thx", he said.
Then I saw an email that had been sent out by production support to members from my division who had requested a particular software install to be completed, telling them the job was done. My boss had replied to that email as well. "Grt work", apparently (even though the damned thing was done 5 days late.
There were many other spurious emails which should actually never be sent: over-eager reminders, meaningless internal surveys, hyperactive celebrations, unintelligible information updates, unnecessary announcements and so on. And my boss had replied to every one of them, expressing satisfaction, dissatisfaction, agreement, disagreement, or enforcements and exhortations.
He was making a mockery of himself. Coming across as a trigger-happy, clueless, mindless, nitwit, who had nothing better to do than send out unnecessary comments on things that didn't matter to anybody.

There were two causes.
The first was obviously the Crackberry. In the new Crackberry universe, every email came with insta-alert, and for the frail minded, this means every email comes with a reply. And in this universe, every reply came shortened spellings that mocked the wonderful and whimsical relationships between vowels and pronunciation in the English language. 'Thanks' becomes 'Thx', 'Great' becomes 'grt' or *shudder* 'gr8', and 'Please do not ever confuse efforts with actions' becomes 'Pls efforts <> actions'
The second was that so often when bastards send out emails, certain key points of note are buried in obfuscation of tons of words. The job has progressed, but will will miss it's deadline? There will be an email of Vikram Mehta proportions about how the job is being done, while the risk to completion on time will be in an incomprehensible sentence in the middle of the email and surrounded by conditional words and false platitudes. E.G "While the team realizes that the detailed analysis necessitated by inanities may cause us to finish on December 14th, quality always comes first." (Note that nowhere else in the email, will the original commit date of September 1st, 2007 be mentioned). And when these emails require you to scroll down till your thumb bleeds, there is only so much you can take before you reply: 'Thx, gr8 tmwrk.'

Just because of his inability to deal with the immediacy afforded by technology he was not earlier used to, my otherwise brilliant handsome and ever so effervescent boss who only rarely, but sometimes does, read blogs, was turned into a caricature of his former formidable self.

I fixed that yesterday.
He was out of his office, and his berry was on the table. I modified his settings that emails don't have any audible or vibrate alerts any more. Last night was probably the first night in three months that he has had uninterrupted sleep.
I did him a service.
And hundreds of employees will agree.

How to Hire

I posted yesterday about how I was doing interviews the whole day.
An interesting thing happened the week before. I was asked to take a class on management, hiring and team building.
This consultant, teaching the class, had a great job. We paid him upwards of 10K (INR) a day per person to go over obvious homilies from a PowerPoint presentation so old even the electronic projection looked faded and dog eared. Fucking motherhood and apple pie bullshit.
So I decided to have some fun with this guy.

One of the truisms he bandied about repeatedly while in the hiring section of the mind numbing exercise he called a class, was "A good manager always hires people smarter than himself".
Fucking turd.
When the turd masquerading as my teacher repeated that for the thousandth time, I asked him a question, and the following conversation ensued:

Me: That means, if I'm a good manager, my team is smarter than me.
Turd: Yup
Me: That means the boss is dumb?
Turd: Uh
Class: titter, titter
Turd: Uh... Ha?
Me: And his boss is dumber still?
Turd: err...
Me: That means the dumbest person is the CEO.
Turd: Now..
Me: Either that, or they're all bad managers, huh?
Turd: We can't take the messages too literally, now...
Me: Yup. Excuse me while I use the bathroom.

Two Unrelated Items

Item Number 1:
The VD government (Vilasrao Deshmukh, not venereal disease, although the difference escapes me ) is plotting to reserve 80% of the jobs in the Maharashtra government for locals. Locals being people who have resided in Maharashtra for over 15 years.
I do not know how many people migrate from the corners of the subcontinent to come work in the MH government. I don't think it's that many. My gut tells me (by way of my ass) that it's probably around 20%. So I deduce that the government is just doing this to take over the spotlight from MNS honcho Raj Thackerey. VD is probably thinking that nothing will change. I think what his government is missing is that this is going to make Raj and his cronies livid with anger. I predict that they will carry out some outlandish acts in the name of protecting the sons of the Maharashtra soil. Watch the news this week...

Item Number 2:
I just spent a long time interviewing multiple candidates for multiple positions in my company. Every one of the guys I interviewed had exaggerated his accomplishments. Some guys lied, some guys embellished and some guys committed non-full disclosure, but in every case, there was some reason to probe further. For example the most impressive team projects on each guys resume was something that they had contributed the least to. Like maybe sit on the wall in one meeting, or carry documents from the company to the vendor. And in at least one of the software packages they claimed expertise in, the expertise came from a 3 day certificate course conducted by a fly by night school. And 99.9% of them listed Microsoft word, excel as areas of expertise. One even had Outlook on there.
Interviewing in this country is tiring.
My question though, is what the fuck is HR doing? Shouldn't they be able to dig a little bit and ferret out the weasels or weasel out the ferrets so that I don't have to talk with 548209 candidates before I find the one guy who is competent enough to do the job and ethical enough to admit it?

So this is what happens...

...when you're out of commission for a month: The whole fucking country turns surreal.

To start off, smoking got banned in public places.
The ban was educational in the sense that it taught me that restaurants and bars are public places too. I spent multiple hot afternoons a couple of weeks ago trying to chill out inside one a/c restaurant or the other without ordering anything, and the restaurant owners turned hostile - even more so when I pointed out that since this was a public place, I was free to come and go as I pleased.

A couple of days later, Rahul Gandhi stated the vicinity of alert journalists that he was not opposed to the idea of becoming Prime Minister. I've got something to share with those alert journalists who thought this was news enough to print in their newspaper:
Your newspaper is just a fucking tabloid that relishes pasting semi nudes in color pages in the back to increase sales.
Give up the pretense and stop fucking printing this horseshit.
You want news? I got news for you. NOBODY is opposed to being Prime Minister themselves. It's how many OTHER people are opposed that matters, you dumbfucks.

And, then, if you hadn't already noticed, the entire fucking economy turned decisively toward shit. Which, I believe, is a good thing.
I think it's going to be a good thing for those snot nosed fresh graduates, and those job hopping frenzy feeders who have never seen a serious downside in their short lived careers. When the 50% pay raises for switching and the I'll-give-you-800K-to-start-if-you-can-fog-up-this-mirror ends, I think we will all have some sanity back in our lives.
Now don't get me wrong. I realize the coming months are not going be easy. Most companies have already started doing the detailed analysis that comes before massive reductions in force. (The word analysis, in this context, comes from combining the Latin root anal, meaning 'of the ass/arse', with the Greek root ysis meaning 'to pull a number').
As a result of this analysis, a lot of good people are going to fall on hard times. And I feel for them. In their honor, I believe the Investment Bankers who perpetrated the sub-prime crisis* should be shot. Or at least taken to jail. The bankers who gave out these sub-prime loans should be taken to jail. Or at least given 50 lashes. And the bastards who falsified documents to spend a month in a million dollar home just to leave when the first payment came due.... Those guys should be sent to work as menial labor for the guys who are going to loose their shirt in the next few months.

*Note: If you do not understand the sub-prime crisis, perhaps this short explanation will help. Hapless service industry employees are routinely driven around in call center vehicles by spastic uncouth drivers in a rash and unsafe manner, on roads full of potholes, where traffic is managed by cops who don't understand the larger traffic control needs of the city. This can lead to serious damage to the property of innocent bystanders, and perhaps their lives.
Similarly, Mortgage Backed Securities were stuffed into Special Investment Vehicles, and driven around by spastic uncouth Investment Bankers in a rash and unsafe manner, in an environment full of potholes, where transactions were managed by regulatory bodies who did not understand the larger impact of certain regulatory decisions they made. This HAS caused damage to the property and lives of various innocent bystanders.

Spell My Name

I have a simple name, and a fairly common - infamous even - last name. But every time I talk to somebody at a call center, they make me spell it out for them. I have to go through the A for apple, N for Nagpur shit, and in spite of all that when I get my ticket or "parcel" or whatever, it's always addressed to Dare Antulay or Dave and Thulay.
I don't hold this against them. They probably go through a lot everyday - like having to deal with the fact that Sharman Joshi is going to play one of them in a movie.
No, seriously, I think they go through a lot everyday like trying to figure out the precise hour my irregular motions take me to the loo so that they can call and enquire whether or not I need a personal loan.
No, seriously, really, they go through a lot everyday like trying to figure out which pub I'm going to try and get a quick beer at so that they can show up and display their pre-puberty gregariousness at a table too close to me.
But anyway, regardless of the reason, I figure that it doesn't matter how I spell out my name for them, these semi humans at the call center are always going to get it wrong. So I' decided to come up with my own smart-ass spelling scheme that I'm going to use from now on. Some of them - as you will see - proved to be a stretch for my creativity. If you've got a better suggestion for any one of them, lemme know.

A as in Aisle
B as in bee
C as in cent
D as in Djibouti
E as in Istanbul
F as in ephemeral
G as in jijaji (I hate this one. Gotta be a better one for G)
H as in hour
I asinine
J as in gesticulate
K as in knee
L as in elicit
M as in emit
N as in known
O as in oesophagus
P as in pneumonia
Q as in queue
R as in argument
S as in pseudonym
T as in tea
U as in yuletide
V as in wheel (Come one, you know it, all desis say veel and not wheel)
W as in www
X as in exhale
Y as in why not
Z as in xylophone

I hope the next time I try to book a ticket the call center moron has a sense of humor, and doesn't book me to fucking timbucktoo

Truth in Advertising

I drove past a billboard yesterday that featured a woman trying hard to look proud but really only looking standoffish, or defiant, you know? Like somebody who was about to challenge me to a duel? And next to her was the tag line - "It's harder to get into IIMB than it is to get into Wharton." Or something to that effect, followed by "Bangalore is in my DNA" or some such.

I almost threw up.

And No. Not because I went to Wharton, but because it is a line that is neither true nor false, and it is calculatingly used to misguide people into thinking that IIMB is better than Wharton. And guess what. I've never heard this tag line used by IIMB, It's always by some namby pamby ass to generate a hollow sense of pride in a city and it's institutions, in the hope that the emotion will translate to higher sales of something or the other

Lets look at that statement - IIMB is harder to get into that Wharton.
I've got a few questions.
Q1). For who?
For middle managers with 10 years of management experience and a track record of acadmic excellence sa well as executing in the real world? Sure. For sharp cocky quick wits who have a knack for multiple choice tests, but have never really been tested out in the corporate jungle? Not really. They would get into an IIM much easier than a Wharton.
Q2). Says who?
Comparing acceptance rates (number of applicants admitted divided by number of applicants) is not valid unless the populations that apply are similar. I'm not asking for rigorous proof here, but come on. We all know that the type of people that apply to a Wharton are very different from the type that apply to an IIM. The comparison of resulting acceptance rates is just not valid. It's like saying that a Suzuki Swift is better than a Benz because the wait on a Swift is longer.
Q3). Does it really matter?
All MBA schools are about 30% education, 30% network, and 40% opportunity to find a new job at a higher pay. So what is really important is, how good are the education, the network you build and the brand value of the IIMs, as compared to the US schools.

So the statement is totally meaningless comparison designed to take a statistic and turn it into newspaper sales. This is what all advertising is about though, isn't it? Getting an emotional reaction out of the viewer and hoping that the emotion will drive sales.

There's other examples too. Some coaching classes were saying on the radio that you should join that coaching class because 50% of the students admitted to IIM had enrolled. What kind of shit-for brains thinks that statement makes sense. If it's you, let me just tell you that if a percentage were to make sense, it would be what percentage of XYZ students made it into IIM. If you buy the logic of the original statement, even with the coaching classes, all you're going to do is pad the IIM acceptance rates even more.

But kind of statistical misdirection works. Suckers get taken in by some numbers, and then they feel a surge of misplaced, unnecessary and false nationalism or civic pride. Get desperate for a better city or a better life, and run to the store to buy some product which will give them only more stress and a lighter wallet. Or they go out and hold rallies and burn public property because of that fucking civic pride.

And I think that's just a little bit sad.

I saw another one, this time with a dude, who was asking "If Sepang can host an F1 race, why can't Bangalore?"
To that dude, I would like to say -
"Are you out of your fucking mind?"
"Can we just finish the fucking NICE road first?"
"Are you from IIMB?"

Maybe Bangalore is just not in my* DNA.

*thanks anon - I hate making these errors, but I guess I'm not yet competent enough to find and nuke 'em all

Rickshaw Bandhan

This whole Rakhee holiday isn't really my favorite holiday, and not just because it reminds me alternately of an unnecessarily large woman that was hoisted upon us unsuspecting cinema goers back in the fucking day, or a freewheeling three wheeler propelled by a leering uncooperative toad.
So I am going to steer clear of the damned holiday but not before I mention how I just remember that some valiant Rajput (or Mughal) king was fooled into protecting a Mughal (or Rajput) queen because she sent him an curiously rounded erstwhile Bollywood actress in an envelope. So this Rajput (or Mughal) king rides over to protect the queen from marauding rapists or whoever it was that threatened her honor.
I've always suspected that this story was a lie, 'coz in the days of horseback traveling, neither the enveloped rasagolla looking actress' journey to the king nor his subsequent gallop to save his now sister, would have been completed fast enough to prevent a determined pillager from making away with the sister's dignity. But my teachers brushed away my questions by banging a stiff ruler repeatedly against my knuckles, and ensured that I took away the correct moral from the story, which is,
If a male receives a horse, he must ride Rakhee till his evil sister goes to town with some fiends.
Or maybe it was
If a male receives a Rakhee, he must ride a horse to the town of his sister and rid it of the evil fiends.

It was tough to assimilate knowledge about so many bloody rulers while simultaneously being battered with a fucking ruler.

What I really wanted to get off my chest was the god damned Rickshaw drivers.
What is wrong with these people?

First of all, they never want to go anywhere you have to? What are they waiting for? A fare to fucking Nepal? Listen to me VeerabloodyAppan HallifuckingGowda. You gotta go where you are asked to go, especially if your meter proudly displays the upright "For Hire" sign. It's upright for a reason. Even if you're not.
Second, if they don't want to go where you want to, they can't just say no or drive off. They make this nasty scowl and shake their heads looking down as if to say the place you named is a pestilence ridden crime infested open sewage drain, and not a respectable address. I just want to let a tight one from the back of my hand ricochet off their mangy cheeks when I see them do that. And I would, if I wasn't afraid that all the surrounding rickshaw drivers would take a few minutes off from refusing to ferry passengers and gang up on me.
Thirdly, and I would be more than happy if anybody could explain this to me, these idiots will refuse any fare that is a short distance. Seems to me like short fares, lower than half the minimum fare distance would be something these guys would kill for because they would make more margins in those. But no. I had to lug a fucking 40kilo bag and a mattress over a kilometer because every god damned Rickshaw dude didn't want to make a short fare trip.
Finally every once in a while, I will have a rickshaw guy ask me for "Meter maylay 20" or Meter maylay 10". But I have a a great retort for this. I say "Muh maylay, phir meter maylay" and triumphantly stride away into the sunset leaving confused rickshaw driver scratching his nuts.

I'm just starting to think that half the Rickshaw drivers in this city just don't want to drive. I think they just like sitting in hideous sheet metal furniture with three wheels in ugly brown uniforms and leering at anything that passes and looks somewhat non-male till May 1st or whatever day it is that they hoist giant red and yellow flags and drive around town displaying nationalism.
They're just a horde of pests that have invaded our city and are slowly eating our peace away from the inside out. We need to put a stop to this.

I implore you, if you're female, to dispatch a curiously rounded bollywood starlet to Deve Cowdung, and please have him rid us of these damned rickshaw driving fiends.

Top Ten People Who Should Retire Right Now, But Wont

  1. Deve Cowdung - from looking for election partners to deceive
  2. Leander Piss and his Bhu-patni - from their incessant dick waving
  3. Sachin Tendul-kuch-kar-nahin-raha - from painfully dragging his career
  4. Ms Dhoni - from his inflated social standing
  5. "Saliva" or is that "Thaliva" Rajani Saar - from throwing chewing gum into his eyes and sunglasses into his mouth or vice versa
  6. "Megastar" Konidela Siva Shankara Vara Prasad - from polictics
  7. Amitabh Bunch-o-crap-an - from hawking everything from Chavanprash to Cut-pieces
  8. Salmonella Khan't Dance Sala - from movies
  9. Shah Rukh Khan't Act - from anywhere my eyes land, AND FINALLY
  10. Mr. Narayan "I'm so simple" Murthy - from public life,

Initiate an Initiative

Pop Quiz: What's the name of the guy from Bangalore that won the Lead India campaign and then had his opinions on various topics of the day gratuitously forced upon us via the Times?

I'm not being disingenuous, I've really forgotten his name, and I have no idea what - if anything - he did with the prize money from the sms contest he won. That is probably because the ToI has itself tired of him and has stopped asking him for sound bites.
I expected that from the Tabloid of India.
First they started the DO initiative, which didn't DO anything but put Amitabh on screen at some half finished sea bridge in Bombay talking about how India was rising. (I'm still trying to find out what India is rising FROM, exactly, but that's just me being an ass). I'd like to know from somebody if the bridge is done or - a la airport bridge flyover - it's still waiting for some politician or the other to put his thumbprint on a past due payment or for some overloaded judge to rule on some asinine objections.

Next was the Lead India initiative, which started off same as the doo-doo initiative and then morphed into a TV show that encouraged the sms slaves to send in scores of rupees to the ToI-Telecom company nexus.

And I don't know if you have noticed, but there is now a TEACH INDIA initiative. Where we are all supposed to get together and teach people about something or the other. (I'm not really clear on what it is we have to teach them, exactly. Probably how to send sms-es).

I think I've figured out why the ToI needs all these initiatives for India: Money.

See they were supposed to print the news. That didn't make them enough money, so they started printing pictures of women who paid too much for their clothes and men who paid too much for their women, drinking it up at various parties throughout the week. That got the ToI some eyeballs for some time, but there were only so many people attending these DO's - which is why if you notice - THEY'RE ALWAYS THE SAME PEOPLE ON PAGE THREE.
So they decided they have to DO something and hence was born "DO India - A ToI initiative" (to make money). Of course the didn't print the parenthetical part of the title.
Eyeballs must have poured in, and there may have been some impact on circulation, so they decided to take it to the next level and came up with "Lead India - A ToI initiative" (to make even more money). Same as the Do India thing really, but with SMS-es. More eyeballs. More money.
What next? "Teach India - A ToI initiative" (to see how many times we can do this shit to make money).
I wont be surprised if there is an SMS contest to elect the best teacher from amongst the unsuspecting innocent well-intentioned hordes that will surely join in on this Initiative

Meanwhile I'm going to come up with my own initiative. "Screw ToI Initiatives - A Screw ToI Initiatives Initiative". It's simple. All you have to do is switch to a newspaper instead of the ToI (which is not a newspaper, when you get right down to it), and then - of course - SMS me at 56789 with "The Screw ToI Initiatives Initiative" .

Now to figure out how to get the telecom companies to share some of that moolah...

Being Cynical

One of the eight people that return to this blog on a regular basis is - bless her soul - my mother.
My mother is a saintly soul who shuns strong language, scathing sarcasm and bitter cynicism in totality. If you've read my posts, you will see, as I do, that all the cussing, sarcasm and cynicism that used to be part of my mother rolled up into a ball, festered in that uterus for 9 months and then popped ready to spew unnecessarily strong venom at the world.
My mom still reads through my bile once every week or so.

Yesterday, she called me.

Mom: Hi Son
Me: Hey ma.
Mom: You know, I was reading your blog, and I think you're really a good writer
(of course my mom thinks so. She thinks I was cute when I was born, when in actuality I looked like a sun dried tomato)
Me: Good to hear ma.
Mom: But why do you have to be so bitter?
Me: bitter?
Mom: You seem like you're complaining about the most minor annoyances. It's not necessary.
Me: Yeah it is
Mom: Why?
Me: See this woman and her son were walking down a beach when a giant wave came down and washed her son away. Immediately, she gets on her knees, folds her hands in prayer and says" If you return my son to me, I will visit the temple everyday and donate a coconut". Another giant wave comes down and the son is back, in perfect health. She looks up at the sky and says... "You know, he was wearing a hat when you first took him."
Mom: Hahahah
Me: See. She was complaining about the hat, and it was funny.
Mom: You don't HAVE to be bitter to be funny.
Me: Ma, I HAVE to. I'm not good enough to be otherwise.
Mom: Yes you are.

Only she believes that.
This is one of the reasons I can't stop loving her.

That and her cooking.

Debased Databases

How many databases does YOUR organization have?
I know that databases are supposed to be repositories of important information, but they've morphed into huge piles of fetid trash.
Most databases are vile collections of (mostly) useless information arranged within carefully constructed "schema". It's called "schema" because the villains known as database administrators are "scheming" to prevent you from getting to any relevant information that may have made it past their defenses.
(Of course these database admins are only the second line of defense. The first line is the IT department which will ensure that you don't have the software, the computing power, or the login information necessary to access the database, without first signing away your life and securing approval from your VP's mother's dogs left testicle, but more of that in another post, later)
The most irritating of all databases are those will their own "work flows". Of course, they're there not to make work flow, but rather to impede the already glacial pace of work. They're called "work flows" because the database administrators want to demonstrate that they have a good grasp over the concept of "irony". Maybe you are not familiar with the concept of "work flows" because your backward company does not have a database. Fear not, o deprived one, I will enlighten you. A work flow is a series of steps that relevant information must stop at, be nitpicked over, changed unnecessarily and sometimes clubbed with a mallet and roasted over an open flame, till it is saddled with enough unnecessary accouterments to hide it's actual purpose, and is delayed long enough to not be timely anymore. Maybe you're thinking that "work flows" are unnecessary, but that's only because you are a lowlife cretin who does not understand that if work flows did not exist, you would never be able to ensure that any information is shrouded in templates, hampered by standards and is approved by people more in touch with the devil than you.

Don't get me wrong. I see the value of databases. It's not those mute tables that drive me up a wall, but the idiots that build them, encase them in rules and render them useless. Every moron who reads up on SQL code on the net wants to develop his own database because corporate databases wont cut the ice for his own specific microscopically unique needs, and so he runs off, downloads MySQL or Access and creates his own specific database and front end. Soon every company ends up with a gazillion little database, each of which contain one facet of information about their products or processes or people and none of which can share that information with the other. So just in case you are actually looking for information that will help you solve a problem, you have to first figure out whether or not that information exists, then figure out which database in exists in, and finally lay prostrate before the owner begging him to understand that your need is indeed a genuine one, before you can actually get your hands on the information.

Beset by similar woes last week, I devised a deliciously brilliant solution.
I'm going to start a database of databases. Every database owner must register in my database - without which his database will be wiped off the company servers. There's just one snag. I must lay prostrate before the gods in the IT department and convince them that my need is indeed genuine.

And our IT VP's mother dog is a bitch.

Watch out, all you cabbies and support groups!

I understand anger.
For example, when irresponsible (not to mention un-bathed) idiots behind the wheel of a rampaging call center taxi swerves in front of me so he can get to the speed bump a millisecond before I do, I loose it. I hurl invectives at the fecal matter in the drivers seat of the white Sumo with venom. And when I notice that my cursing has had no effect other than coat the inside of my windscreen with a thin layer of spittle, I flip the guy off. While that action seldom has any effect other than cathartis, I understand how anger can cause normally docile, timid, cultured, intelligent and handsome people like myself to behave as if the only culture they were ever exposed to was something that people in white lab-coats in pharma labs are trying very hard to kill.

I also understand frustration.
For example, when after thousands of emails, voicemails and meetings, people who are in a support group behave like animals in a zoo (meaning that they scratch themselves, generally look disinterested, emaciated and mangy, and don't respond to your commands to sit, stay, play or roar), I lose it. I find myself wondering if they are actually as dumb as carpet mites, or if they're actually just smart enough to figure out that they can put on a nice veneer of smiles and yes-saars and not really do anything, and I wont even be able to hurl abusive language or finger gestures at them because their support-group friends over in HR would promptly walk me over to jail.

But even though I understand anger and frustration - at some level anyway - I dont understand terrorism.

Maybe it is because I do not hold many beliefs to be undeniably true. And those few beliefs that I DO hold to be true, I dont believe to be universal. Maybe that is why I do not understand that there can be any entitlement so fundamental and universal that being denied it could lead you to lives of random civilians.

Like I said above, I understand how people may get frustrated with negotiation processes. I also understand how people may get angry because of certain acts. But I don't understand how the frustration and anger of a few people could get to the point where they collude to fill shopping bags and tiffin boxes with nails and bolts and ammonium nitrate and set them off around unsuspecting citizens. An it amazes me that they don't see the futility of such actions.

Several camel-oriented nations have been at this terrorism nonsense since I've inhaled my first lungful of pollutants on this blue marble. They still haven't gotten anywhere. So if people who perpetrate this kind of utter nonsense believe that it is going to get them a solution or even the right kind of attention, then they must be more than simply deluded. They must have the intellectual ability of a single celled organism. (And when I say single celled organism, I leave out the mighty and respectul yeast, which, despite having only one cell has figured out how to turn sugar and wheat into beer, which is far more impressive than the achievements of some organisms with thousands and thousands of cells, like, for example, Deve Gowda.)

Anyway - to get back to the point I was laboring to make - these bomb-planters are beyond stupid. But what I suspect is that the people who walked around unnoticed in the shadows of a crowd and placed their little bicycles in various areas around the city are just the tip of the iceberg. The real evil-doers are the people who cammandeered these unintelligent life-forms and blathered enough emotion-filled rhetoric around their cranial vacuums to fill them with dangerous ideas, irrational conclusions, and incomprehensible hatred.

Nothing frustrates and angers me more than the thought that these guys are walking around free right now. And while even this doesn't anger me enough to want to run out with sticks and swords and committing random acts of further violence, I fear for the safety of the next slimeball in a Qualis that cuts me off, or the next guy in a support group that fails to stock adequate paper for the printer.

Change That

People love to change. They change all the time. They just don't like it when somebody ELSE asks them to change. And why should they?

I was talking with a friend of mine last night who had just received a steaming hot pile of management bullshit from one of his fearless leaders. Apparently this dude, in an all hands (and no heads) kind of situation, lectured an entire division on how they should be flexible and adapt to the changes that the business was making.

Every time a company changes anything - either because
a). the business environment is changing, or
b). they want to increase profitability, or
c). some executive believes that you are drinking way too much free coffee for your own good
- whatever the reason - every time a company changes anything, the employees get the short end.

This company I'm talking about is going through a tough business cycle. So they're planning some changes. I bet they will be one or all of:
  1. additional product cost reduction programs,
  2. reduction in training and travel expenses,
  3. reductions in non essential spending (Bring your own coffee, pens, papers etc)
  4. Stifled promotions and raises
  5. reductions in workforce,

What are these changes going to do for the company?
More money and more profit? Maybe.
Happy shareholders? In the short term, maybe.

And what are these changes going to do for the employees?
Higher Workload? Check
INcreased Stress? Check
Reduced Job Security? check
Reduced earnings (adjusted for inflation)? Check

So every change makes it tougher on the employee, benefits the employer.
Which is fine.
Business gets tough and tough shit happens.

But it really ticks me off when a management executive comes down and lectures the hordes on how THEY need to be more flexible.
No bitch.
How about YOU being more flexible with how much money you want to make?
How about you making YOUR BUSINESS more flexible so that you don't have to panic every few quarters for a few pennies per share?

All said and done though, you know what is really sad? The executives are right.
They've got us by our short and curlies.
You've got to change. Because if you don't, you will hurt more than those who do.
Adjust and adapt to the changing demands, and you may be able to keep your job.
You will remain stressed, overworked, underpaid and wretched. And when you come in to work, you won't even be able to swig on muddy dark drown thick goo that used to be your free coffee. But you will retain a paycheck.

So is there no solution?
Yes there is: Change faster.
F than your company can.
Move roles. Add positions, responsibilities on your resume. Change companies. Change whatever. Just do it fast.
Faster, preferably, than allows for any realistic assessment of your performance. That is, before anybody has the chance to find out that you really don't know what you're doing, move.

People like this get promoted my friend.
They get put in CHARGE of change.
Then soon enough, you'll be the executive that waltzes down to India and lectures the teeming millions on how THEY must learn to adapt.

And if you've not had a sip of your own Kool-Aid by then, you will enjoy the irony of it all.

How would YOU like to be rejected?

What do you do with the candidates you reject?

Lets start with the interviews themselves.
Actually, lets start with HR.
Isn't it funny how long it will take you to find a list of 5 candidates whom you actually want to sit down and talk with? And this is NOT because India is facing a huge talent shortage (although Infosys and their brethren aren't really helping by vacuuming up graduates by the millions and not really helping fill the pipeline).
No - it's because HR cant be bothered to actually take the time to understand what the fuck the job is all about, and what kind of skills (other than the rudimentary English, C++, and *insert degree here*) the job role might require.
Even if you had to hire an astronaut, and you asked HR to send you some resumes, they'd begin by asking you - what degree should your candidate have.Lets say you declare that it should be aeronautical engineering or astrophysics. Then they'll sleep through the rest of your well thought out detail on what the candidate may require, and flood your in box with a deluge of resumes who will all have degrees that begin with aero or astro. Aeronautical, Aerospace, Aerobridge, Astrophysics, Astronomic, Astrology, you name it. There'll be a candidate from it. OF course, they will all have about 3 to 7 years of work experience (since you said you wanted someone with 10). And all of their experience will be in software services companies, on projects that are in no way related to their degree.
In hindsight, I shouldn't have started with HR - that is a tangential take-off into a mindless frustrated rant, just waiting to happen

Anyway. Lets say that a few years later, you have found your 5 guys.
You call 'em in. Then for each candidate, you go through the mandatory minimum of 3 reschedules to accomodate for HR fuck-ups, candidates having urgent projects (which probably means they are interviewing somewhere else), and a inevitable 1 to 2 hour delay before the interview (the candidate is stuck in traffic, car broke down, security wont let him pass without a farcical bag check etc). Then you interview the candidates, and say you rank 'em from 1 to 5.
You go with an offer to candidate 1, but by the time HR has processed the offer, he has joined Infosys.
You go with an offer to candidate 2, he accepts (hurray!). You're on!

Now what.
I tell you what you do.
You assume that HR takes care of the other three candidates.
Lets them down gently.
Tells them that they narrowly missed out because a candidate with a slightly better fit in experience and qualification has expressed intrerest, but that they (the candidates) had a promising resume, and if ever anything similar opened up, HR would immediately throw their hat into the ring. And since they had already come so close, maybe they would make it to the second round of interviews directly.

They only way HR will do that is if you sit in a conference room and insist that they do it in front of you.

Otherwise, this is what happens:

You: Praise be to you O! HR representative (that's how you have to address HR - metaphorically speaking)
HR: Speak
You: As you know, candidate 2 has accepted. Would you be so kind as to get in touch with the rest of the candidates and inform them?
HR: Done.


Candidates Phone: *Ring*
Candidate: Hello?
HR: Candidate 3?
C3: Yes?
HR: Hi this is HR Rep from Acme Rockets.
C3: Yes. Hello. How are you?
HR: Yeah. You failed the interview.
C3: Oh?
HR: Yup. You sucked at it. And what was that about the amount of money you wanted?
C3: Huh?
HR: Ha.Ha.Ha. You must have been kidding.
C3: Sorry?
HR: Anyway. Whatever dude. We'll call you if we need you.
C3: What?
HR: You're pond scum. Loser.
C3: hey! Waitaminute, you can't talk to me like that!
HR: Blow Me. *click*

Of course, I have exaggerated the exchange above for effect. But trust me, not by much.
Whether or not your HR folks use those exact words, the effect they have on a rejected candidate is very similar.

It never hurts to handle your rejects well. They become ambassadors for your company. (Not those white bulbous four wheelers, you jerk.) I heard terrible things about a very prominent company from a candidate they rejected. Instead of letting him down gently, the threw him off the roof, and tossed a bag of cement after him. Then they had the company bus run him over.
We're not talking fresh graduate level. We're talking middle management.
He looked like shit when I talked to him that evening.
He's never going to work for that company is his life, he told me.
And he drew conclusions about that company's culture, it's values, and it's relationship with it's mother among other things from the way he was handled.
Nobody's ever going to hear a good thing about this company from this guy.
A good, capable, connected guy.

Their loss.

Shut your mouth

Don't you just hate the guys who can't stop walking up to you and talking their ass off for an interminable hour about stuff that even they know you can't possibly give a shit about?

Some of them want to impress upon you how hard they're working. Every day the see you, they will try hard to look nonchalant while the desperately scout for an opportunity to mention how they had to take a call at 6 in the morning. And a few minutes later they will - almost inadvertently - mention that they were up till 3 in the morning as well. It's obvious that there motherfuckers are not working so hard or so late. If they were, they would either be getting promoted or dropping dead. Neither of which seems to happen to them. I've got a message for these guys too: Nobody cares how hard you're working. Get your shit done in 1 hour or 8. As long as your shit's done on time, that's all that matters. Stop telling me how long you worked and how hard you worked. Nobody cares.

Then there;s those who just come by and will talk about whatever it is that they can, and will NOT leave your cube. Even if you patently ignore them and stare at your monitor and type away while the speak. To these guys, I just want to say: Get a life dudes. You're boring us normal people. We pretending to work even though we don't have anything pressing to do. We prefer working on the dregs of our priority lists to conversing with you. That's how much we like having you around. Now leave.

And how about those arseholes who will call you when they're commuting. These guys are so not used to being by themselves, that when they're on the bus or in their car, they have to fiddle with their phones and call you up so they can ask you a transparently unimportant question or give you a frighteningly unnecessary update. And if you make the mistake of answering the phone, they wont hang up till they're conveniently close to home or if the call drops. To these guys, I say: Get a life. Are you really so scared about being alone with your thoughts for a few hours? Can't you get a radio in your car or your phone and listen to crappy nasal renditions of the Himmesh kind? And do you think you're fooling us when you scream over honking maniacs to talk to us about an update on what the IT guys told you about how to get your email signature changed? You're annoying both us and the people around you. And no the call isn't dropping and the cell network doesn't suck. I just like hanging up on you.

There's these guys who can't stop talking about their children. Well, I got news for you. Nobody likes your children - especially your newborn children.
Your newborn children are cute only to you. And I wonder why given how they look more like they were born when the creature from Alien fucked a California Sun Dried Prune. I understand you're all gung-ho about the kid you just had, but really there should be a limit on how long you should be allowed to talk about them - especially at work, with people who might actually qualify as total strangers except for the fact that the logo on their badge matches the logo on yours. I mean, if you like them so much, why don't you quit wasting your time, finish your work and go spend some time with those precious little runts inside your house where neither they nor you can bother me while I furiously try to get to the next level at my favorite online free game.

So… How much do you make now?

I need help understanding something.

There’s only so many kinds of jobs. And there’s only so many levels. Right?

Let me explain what I mean through a long winded example:
Say the entrepreneurial bug wafts by gives you on day, and give you a good chomp on your rear. Right after you yell “FUCK!”, it’s likely you will run out and start a small business.
Say it’s a restaurant.
You hire a few people. A cashier to handle the cash, a buyer to scout for the deals in raw materials (a few veggies, a brown gravy and a red gravy), a chef to decide which gravy color to use, a waiter to plonk the things on the tables, and a disheveled minor to pick up the empty plates and clean up the ash trays.
Say you do well in this business.
And you grow.
Are you going to create more jobs? As in – more job types?
Probably not. You’ll promote those that haven’t yet been lured away by Infosys and hire under them some assistants or more thambis, and annas.
If you start serving beer, you may add a barman and a bouncer.
If you do really well, you may add a valet.
You may even add a guy in marketing that tells you when to air annoying jingles and sponsor irritating contests on the radio.
But that’s it.
So there’s only so many kinds of jobs. And there’s only so many levels.
And, what’s more, as a business owner, you know how much you want to pay for what kind of job, at each level. Right?

Ok there’s not one number, there’s a range for each level which may vary based on how good that hostess will look. But still, generally, for each level, there’s a range of salary outside which, you wouldn’t expect to pay. And once you’ve seen the new hostess and you’ve “interviewed” her about her “skills”, you will have a pretty good idea how much you should pay.

And here comes the leap – stay with me now – you NEVER need to know what she is making today.

With me so far?

So here’s the part I need help with.
Why is it that these HR guys in India are always asking to see your last pay slip?
I think it’s fair for them to ask a job seeker how much he/she wants, but not how much he/she currently makes. So OK, I’m no babe in the woods, I know that HR is not really out to be fair. Or intelligent. They’re just out to lunch – in the metaphorical sense. So I’m OK with HR asking for the pay slips. What blows my mind is that PEOPLE TELL THEM!!!
People tell them even before they ask.
They put it on their resumes that they send out.

Are these guys some kind of dimwits, or what?

Look you idiots, the biggest bargaining chip you have is that these guys don’t know what you make. So if you’re confident that you’re getting considered for the job, (meaning that you are going to be entering a negotiation for salary), then telling them what you make currently is like opening up your cards even before the ante’s on the board.

Whether you like it or not, HR here (in India) has a policy of hiring somebody at the lowest pay the guy will accept. They don’t believe in paying for the job. They believe in paying for the candidate. If that sounds suspiciously like whoring to you, I don’t have to tell you who’s being the whore in this bargain.

Then again, if that needs to be spelled out to you then you deserve what’s happening to you.
And you know what? The company will get what it’s paying for.

The thing about tall cubes

I used to have a nice cubicle.
Ample storage for stuff I never used, A whiteboard for doodling while on long drawn our phone calls, a pinup board to stick up motivational posters of the deviant kind (it's OK, they were fully clothed) and short walls so I could look around.
Then the facility god moved me. They put me in this corner cube, which was supposed to be more "special". I've still got the storage and the whiteboard and the pin-ups, but I've got tall walls.
I hate it. You know why?
Two reasons.
For one, I can no longer see the nitwits approach me. They just sneak up behind me now and stand there for a few seconds till I get that weird sensation of being watched. And when I turn around, they're standing there looking at my computer screen as if captivated by the pastel colors on the powerpoint presentation on upcoming cost cutting measures. But this is OK. I'm never really looking at real sensitive information while sitting in a cube. They worst that they will see is me amusing myself with Knuckleheads while pretending to be working. So this is just a minor moan. Here's my major bitch - my second reason - about the tall cubes: Previously, I could see people approaching me, and now I can't.

Everybody has people they don't want to spend time with. Especially people from organizations that are always trying to get you to do their job. So whenever I saw one of the people approaching, I would open a serious looking excel file that I built in one of my more productive meetings. It has multiple charts, a pivot table, a couple of dollar signs and looks like a business review template, but it has numbers that mean diddly squat, and column headings that are random acronyms like AGHM, HHTG, and TRGS. So, I would open up this excel file and stare at it like I was trying to melt the computer screen. When the offensive intruder got close enough and said something patently useless - usually something like "Hey D, can you review the 987657 page procedure I wrote up for ordering pencils to stick up my ass, and give me your feedback?" - I would just excuse myself because I just HAD to make sense of the excel file. I have that file on my desktop and it's called "savior".
Another technique I used if foul colleagues approached, is that as soon as they got close enough to my cube, I would get up and start walking away, pretending to talk on my phone. If they called after me, I'd just point first at my watch and then in some random direction, all the while saying "On my way, coming, coming." into my phone. I would then raise an arbitrary number of fingers to signal a vague time for me coming back (could be 30 minutes, could be 3pm). I'd go take a walk or a piss and come back to my peaceful existence.
Now I can't see people approaching.
I'm trapped.
I'm frequently unpleasantly surprised by irritating idiots who walk up and first ensure that I am doing nothing remotely important looking, and then pounce on my free time and club my motivation to death with their dull personalities and inane ideas.
I think they only put me in this "special" cube, because they were onto me.
The scheming bastards.

I hate it.

In Flight Irritations

Last weekend I took a trip on a renowned low cost airline, and the experience was fairly detestable.

For starters, they had done such an admirable job of turning the plane around quickly that my seat was still warm from whose-ever ass was on it before mine. I don't know why but this puts a vague sense of discomfort through my being, even when I KNOW the person who has left his bodily warmth on a seat for me.
Then I had the best travelling companions I could ask for.
  • A restless dork ahead of me who would move his seat back up and down every few minutes, with a vengeance that could only have come from WANTING to take out my knees,
  • A kid behind me who kicked MY seat back repeatedly because he was spoiled little brat and because his parents are probably ugly un-caring trolls
  • A guy next to me that was big enough to be his own republic, and who had that smell that seems to accompany only the grotesquely large specimen of our kind. And of course he insisted on unburdening his experiences in Bangalore on my hapless self.
The only person who talked more than him was the pilot. He insisted on telling me how high up we were, what turbulence was coming and how, if I scrunched my nose up against the window (which I didn't have to put much effort to do, since my desire to get away from the ginormous idiot next to me had already put me in said position), I would be able to see some landmark that I didn't care about.
And this captain would come back on the speakerphone to bring me up to date on the fascinating fact that he had either turned on or off the seat belt sign.
He did have a deft touch though.. When we landed, he seemed to skim off the runway much like a stone skims over the surface of a lake, only - thankfully - we didn't all sink at the end of it. (Is that a terrible analogy, or what?).

Anyway, the most interesting part about my flight was how anxious everybody seemed to get off the plane. It seems like only a few nanoseconds had past after the first time the rear wheels touch the runway that half the plane sprang out of their seats and started shoving each other out of the way to get their bags out of the overhead compartments and got ready to walk out the door. How much sooner are these people going to get out? And most of them stand staring at the empty baggage conveyor for hours after their hurried exit out of the tube. I don't get it.

But the highlight of the trip was that the flight was on time, and the chunk of change I saved on the tickets allowed me to consume a copious amount of cold alcoholic beverages at my destination.

And that was almost reward enough for me to try low cost airlines again.

Quality Experiences

That's a word I have come to severely detest.
After I moved to this country, I have had low quality employees in the Quality division all over me trying to get me to support their hare brained process documentation and audit passing schemes.
These idiots believe that all you need to do to be a quality organization is write everything down, link up a bunch of word documents in a ridiculous home grown kluge of a database, and then sit back and relax as the auditors waltz in an out of your facility asking mind numbing questions and making non-value added remarks.
Of course you get certified - you paid the auditors for that - and then the Quality organization picks up their bonus check and smiles their annoying smile on the way to the bank.

Now here's the rub.
Sometimes you get smart, scheming people. They know how the system works, they exploit it to get paid, and they end up with large sums of money in their back pockets with nary a bead of sweat on their forehead. They're bad, evil people. I detest them.
The people I've met, who work in Quality, are not these kind. They're people with the IQ of a glob of sputum, who just are in a system that helps them get paid. I detest them even more because I'm jealous that they receive the recognition and financial rewards that I get only when I find enough time from my job to sneak in a nap long enough to allow me to dream.

I'm struggling to understand why the Quality division has the lowest quality of people in the organization as a whole.
These people believe that the tool is more important than the outcome. They will spend insane amounts of time and money to come up with a database/automated scorecard/statistics package and what have you without ever trying to understand what needs to be stored/measured/analyzed.

The most irritating aspect is the scorecard part. They will measure things that don't matter, reach conclusions that are just plain wrong, and take actions that don't even justify their conclusions! It's truly amazing to me.
They don't have the ability to generate a simple root cause analysis. I was -probably inordinately - pissed off with a (low) quality employee who had completed a root cause analysis and arrived at an explanation so startlingly inadequate that it seemed he did not understand what "root" cause even meant. I found out later that this dude's entire understanding of RCA was to ask the question why. And this guy wanted to do a six sigma project. **shudder**

So Quality dudes, here's some advice for you, which, if followed, will help you and your parent companies actually get some benefits. In fact, you should write out the parts in bold and stick them in your cube.

  1. Screw the tool. The tool is not the end. Team Force India will beat Ferrari every time if Ferrari chose to seat you behind the wheel. Sometimes the tool is not even the means. In fact, screw the tool, it's the last thing you need to develop. Focus on the intent
  2. Think before you measure. (I know I know, thinking is hard, it makes your head hurt, I know.) Measuring the wrong things is worse than measuring nothing. If you select "number of times your employees take a dump" as a metric to indicate "productivity", You're not going to end up with higher productivity. All you're going to have is a smelly workplace because your employees are shitting their pants.
  3. Any actions you recommend based on one metric is wrong. Metrics never tell you causes. They only measure things. You have to analyze to get to the cause. And to analyze, you need a couple of things (a) some basic intelligence, which means you have to evolve a brain that is a little better than your current single celled thing (b) understand the business process you are measuring, which means you gave to get down and dirty with the boys who actually do the work
  4. Documentation is step 0. Documenting a process and putting a bunch of crapola in a database so you can show it off to a bunch of asinine auditors (and trust me these guys are the bottom of the barrel even in the Quality organization) doesn't achieve anything. You have to understand the process, ensure that it reflects reality, and then set about improving them.
So stop nodding your heads and question if you truly understand the four things above.
If you do, please spread the word in any forum of Quality morons you attend, and maybe some day the world will live as one.

On Visions and Slogans

Do you know your company's vision?
If you work for an MNC, or for a company that primarily serves MNCs, I'd be surprised if it didn't have one. It's supposed to be a compelling description of your desired outcome. Something that energizes and motivates you to get up and come into work everyday and beat your head against the brick walls of bureaucracy. Many companies take pains (as in - pay consultants a gazillion dollars) to come up with a sufficiently inspirational vision: Something that is inspirational, catchy, and sometimes involves improving the world at large and making every body happy. But more often that not, it turns out to be just a sticker people put on the walls.
Isn't it ironic that a vision is also something you get when you consume copious amounts of illicit hooch or something sufficiently hallucinogenic? Read your company's vision and tell me if you think that people were on drugs when they came up with it.

And a related thing is slogans. Each one of our big companies is coming up with slogans, closely related to their visions. I don't know about visions. I've never really had a religious experience, and I say no to drugs (even though they don't seem to be listening when I talk to them, and passers-by think I'm on them because I'm frequently yelling "NO" at white powdery substances, but I digress...). But here's one related thing that i DO know about - Slogans

All large companies are coming up with slogans. And it's really simple to come up with one.
Step one: Write the following words on small pieces of paper: Application, Innovation, Imagination, Solution, Thought, Quality, Your business (engineering, services, construction, whatever)
Step two: Fold the pieces of paper, jumble, and throw them on your desk.
Step three: Pick one
Step four: Convert the noun into an adjective or a verb. E.G. If you picked "thought", convert it to "thoughtful" or "thinking"
Step five: Pick another.
Step six: Combine the two and you've got your slogan.

Some examples:
Innovating Thought
Thinking Innovation
Imagining Quality (probably not a good one there)
Qualtitative Engineering (also one for the dustbin)

You could also come up with variants by combining the two words to form one. E.G. Thinklity (Thought, Quality);
Or you could use prepositions. E.g. Application at Services, Imagination in Quality and so on.

Now you have the basics in place. You could expand on your list of words, or pick three istead of two and use the same logic. Either way you will come up with a slogan that I'm sure many companies would pay good money for.

You think I jest? Just look at some examples I dug up while merrily traipsing around the net:
Applied Innovation (Wipro)
Applying Thought (Wipro)
Imagination at Work (GE)
Think Different (Apple)
Innovation (3M)
Empowered by Innovation (NEC)
Keep on Thinking (Infineon)
Imagineering (L&T)

And to think. I could have been a millionaire. I should have struck it out on my own. I even have a slogan for my company - Thoughtfully innovating in sloganualityneering

Starting Block = Writers Block

So I started this blog thinking that I would post eloquent rants on workplace frustrations and other related aggravations, but as soon as I registered my blog and did the usual introductory posts, my mind kinda shrivelled up and went on a holiday.
I'm still surrounded, baffled, and just as frequently irritated by the idiosyncrasies of corporate life as I was before, but somehow I can't seem to write about a topic where I can be funny and simultaneously make a point of some consequence. I figured that maybe I have ambitions that are just not supported by adequate skill. Or maybe I'm just worrying too much about the quality of my writing given as how I'm probably going to be the only one dropping by this nascent neighbourhood.
So I thought I'd drop by some workplace humor blogs to see what existed, what they were posting about, and maybe generally get some inspiration.
Logging into Technorati and searching blogs tagged workplace humor turned up 37 blogs.
Mad Kane, by far the most poplar of these (by authority) was actually more of a light humor blog with limericks and song parodies and stuff. Not really workplace humor as I thought I found find.
And in a fit of rage at not finding what I wanted, I signed up for the limerick prompt.
Here's my (lame) limerick.
I'm a newbie to blogging too,
frustrated by work I've got to do.
Limerick-ing is lame
coz it's a rhyme scheme game
But since I'm a deviant, I'm just gonna end it whatever way I want in a shameless attempt to get hits to my blog

The others that showed up on the rankings didn't interest me, OR fit what I was looking for, so I thought I'd try searching for Corporate Humor.
Pointless Drivel, by far the most poplar of these (by authority), is now closed. That's kinda sad, because I looked through some old posts, and it was at least funny, though not what I was looking for.

From those excursions, I realized two things:
1. I still haven't found what I'm looking for
2. That is a U2 song.

So I figured that looking for similar blogs as a search of inspiration is pointless, and that I'd just as well go on and write up some stuff, throw it up here, and see how it goes. And given how many words I've put out here in spite of my brain being shut out on vacation, I may be able to get a hang of this pretty soon.

Radio Ga Ga

As if it was not bad enough to begin with, radio in Bangalore has really started to get worse.
There is nothing that differentiates one station from another save the inane by lines they have.
Indigo (apparently the colour of music), Fever (which I guess is the disease of music?), and Mirchi (Sucketh lots maga), who used to play some English and Hindi stuff in addition to a little Kannada have now all shifted to a mostly Kannada format.

I have nothing against Kannada music other than the fact that I don't understand it. But doesn't any one radio station want to set itself apart? Focus on a genre, a language, a niche of some sort?

There's GOTTA be a large population in Bangalore that doesn't understand the state lingo, and I'm sure they're sitting in the parking lots that Bangalore roads turn into during rush hour and banging their heads against the steering wheel because regardless of the number of times they wildly switch radio stations all they hear is Satyaaa is in luuhhhve...FLIP... Ay Mutttu Mall-Laye...FLIP... suthide yaako elloooo.... FLIP... And this is Rohit Barker wishing you a....FLIP.... Radio One FM 94 point... FLIP.... Oh Gunavantaaa.....FLIP....Satyaaa is in luuuhve.....

Cut us a break somebody. And play something different. My steering wheel is getting blood on it.

Oh, and Rohit, get rid of that accent. You sound like you've taken one too many accent neutralizaton classes at call center operations.

Welcome The Deviant Cynic

Q). In the immortal words of Pete Townshend, "Who the fuck are you?"
A). I'm another one of the teeming millions who moved to Bangalore over the last few years to work for an MNC, got sick of the traffic in spite of the weather, got drunk on weekdays in spite of the 11 0'clock travesty, got raped on the rent in spite of living 30 kms away from work but still loves it here in spite of being sick of it.

Q). Deviant Cynic?
Deviant is the nick name I picked up in college. It's a play on what my real name sounds like. It's also a fairly accurate adjective for me - I don't always meet the norm or the accepted standards of society.
And my faulty vision only allows me to see things as they are, and not as they should be. So that makes a Cynic, says Bierce...

Q). And why in blazes are you intending to impress your deviant cynicism onto hordes of unsuspecting surfers?
A). I have opinions that I can not express publicly for fear of damage to my physical configuration and my cash flow situation. I also can not keep them bottled up for fear of my brain exploding from the pressure. Solution: Blog