“Happiness is, Waking up without a Hangover”

It was past midnight. The curtains were drawn, and the sheets pulled over. Aside from the occasional creaking of ceiling fans in the three rooms, all was silent in the house. Chests heaved in a rhythmic motion, some releasing gentle snores. Although a weekend, it had been a long day for everyone in his family. His three sons and their wives had come together to celebrate the yearly harvest festival. Looking after eight members was a daunting task. Besides the usual chores, preparation of festive delicacies arrested major time and attention. It wasn’t possible without help. Unless they lived in the same number day in and out, which wasn’t the case. Each son worked in a different city. All said and done, the bottom line for this household was people. They gathered for reasons, festive or melancholic. They considered their togetherness the pinnacle, whether they united in person or otherwise. Oneness was of prime significance to every one of those eight members, irrespective of the side any coin flipped. Even if that meant exertion in terms managing the household. Which incidentally, was neither unknown nor unanticipated. At the end of the day, the family was together. There was a sense of belonging, despite individual differences. And that’s all that mattered.

Lights glowed in the hall. It was half past twelve. Of the three rooms his sons had slept in, no one stirred in the last one. A slice of fluorescence crept underneath the creak of the closed door. Noises swept in as one of his sons opened the doorway. They heard yelling in the main hall. It sounded like a conversation that was reeling a heated argument. They did not take long to understand that the conversation was over the phone. Also, there were no prizes reserved for guessing the caller. Another of those countless verbal battles with no visible head or tail to it was in progress. The same battle whose end had become invisible over time. Between the three siblings – the father, his brother and sister. Their tugs of wars were like tunnels with no sight of light. They always had been. The three would pick a side and pull the rope on their ends. Neither did the three pick the same team once, nor did they give the rope away. Alas.

Years had passed. The siblings’ families had grown. They had become grandparents in one way or the other. And the radius of their oral wars had expanded proportionally.

She screamed from the other end of the phone at her brother for being irresponsible despite being the eldest amongst the three. She bawled at him about how their mother mustn’t be abandoned; not when she was inching towards her ninth decade. She spoke of their mother being unattended to in the past couple of days and how she was increasingly growing unwell. His sister’s lecture demonstration was unceasing. More than once, the father’s family of eight mistook her tirade of abuse for the lyrics of Breathless 2.0.

No amount of interruptions or conversational break-ups coaxed his sister. Her brother listened to her, first in wonder then in vain. He did not discourage the youngest of his siblings from having called in the middle of the night. He did not tell her off for having spoilt everyone’s sleep. Not that she was willing to listen to an explanation in any case.

He knew the conspirator of this call in the thick of the night. It was his power-hungry, middle brother.

She wasn’t patient when her eldest brother wanted to offer a reason for not picking up their mother earlier. She didn’t respond to questions he put forth when didn’t understand portions of her monologue. She had no answer when he asked of her denial to pick up their mother when he had visited them a few days ago. She wanted to be the only one to speak. And she expected results. Immediately. She wanted him to collect their mother from her place then and there. She wanted him to travel from one corner of the city to another right then. At one in the morning. On the night of a festival. She couldn’t keep their amma for another day as she felt indulged in too many conflicts of her own. Out of the blue. She began covering the same points in a loop as if she were on the dais reciting an oration. She was stunned of running out of reasons ten minutes into the call for she had probably wanted to make an impact. She began playing with words by repeating bits and stances and shifted her attack to the past. To their yesteryears. About how their mother had taken care of them when they were young. And how they ought to repay her now. Maybe, she expected claps towards the end for having made a moving speech. Or cries and breakdowns for making her brother’s family realise of their negligence. Towards a ninety-year-old lady. Ironically, the one who was the creator of them all. The womb from which the prizefighters of today had birthed.

Apparently, the sister believed in her midnight discourse. That she had a justifiable ground to dictate a permeable verbal exchange. All at an hour when one would have liked nothing more than to shut their senses.

Her spectators – the brother’s family of eight – were patiently watching a dispute, that made no sense to them, unfold. They stood through the tolerance; painful it was, for it sprouted from a different generation. Compromising and adjusting had probably bitten their father, uncle and aunt at some point severely. Though they had stopped trying in the aftermath, they were hung over each other even after years. Their plans and inhibitions had taken a backseat given their choice to pay prime importance to people lay long forgotten. Had Maslow still been around, he would have listed this case as an exception. Or, maybe not. In their resolution to involve sympathy-seekers, the three had conveniently forgotten to tighten their knots of disagreements along the way. And the fire had spread outside the radius, infecting burns on those who had watched the show from the front seats. Why shouldn’t it; the fencing lay forgotten, after all.

“Sometimes when you get hammered till the small hours you feel pretty good in the morning, but really it’s just because you’re still a bit drunk. That old hangover is just toying with you, working out when to bite.” Jojo Moyes, Me Before You

There is always a morning after the night before. What if on some days, there did prevail that sunshine for a spotless mind? For one, people hangover could be brushed off. And second, alcoholic after-effects wouldn’t have appeared friendlier to deal with.

Because even spirit-inflicted hangovers heal, if given time. Sometimes, within a day.

Valparai

Let’s Build a Résumé

In 2009, when I was pursuing my MBA in Bengaluru, the university administrated a workshop on résumé building. We had a visit from two industry experts who spent a couple of days with the students from our batch. They started with a lecture, where they stated that a résumé is like its owner’s table of contents. And that, we cannot elaborate our chapters. We must not. Our episodes must be pitched in shorthand; much like those one-liners we note in our diary when struck with a catchy line or thought out of the blue. They went on to address our earnest gathering of 150 that selling oneself through a résumé is an art. And not everyone gets it.

If only, there was an algorithm that spelt the surest success. Archery as a sport should have been banned long ago.

Musée Rodin, Paris
The Succession Crisis :: What lies behind the Gates?

Résumés help form the first impression. Sometimes, a great one. To presume that this impression is a foolproof image of its creator is a gamble. It is like asking the sun to take cover behind the clouds for a day. The skies could humour the asker and colour themselves grey for a drunken splash. However accidentally. They may not oblige the next day. Persisting rains improve one’s mood and the climate, no doubts. But it isn’t enough. Plenty of sunshine is. It could be. Résumés needn’t be all in and about a person. For my money, I do not believe in the art of selling through them. Because I’m not good at it. Or so I feel. Paraphrasing isn’t my forte. Not yet. Summarising and I are like the like poles of two different magnets. We repel. That’s why, holding my future in the hands of bulleted specifics, printed back-to-back on an A4 sheet makes me apprehensive.

I’m judged. By someone else. For having done something. Or, for not having done enough.

Atop the Eiffel Tower, Paris
Let’s opine on this

These days, applying to any profit-making enterprise requires a push and pull. Inside the corporate firewalls. There must be somebody in the management ladder who can own and drive the recruitment process. And is influential enough to pull the reins in their – the applicant’s – favour. Protocols need moisturising. Such that the joiner’s on-boarding feels like smearing vaseline on a patched elbow on a chilly morning. The applier’s résumé here only tests of their fit into the team. Those with prior work experience fetch flavours of precursory achievements. But, there is nothing to stop one from learning. So, why should a piece of paper carrying not more than 500 words be a predominating criterion?

I took up a job after finishing my MBA. With no prior work experience, I found my résumé not to add much value. Neither a whiz kid at school nor recreationally active, I was average when it came to studies or extracurricular activities. I found it daunting to carry through even a couple of hundred words on my résumé.

I still do.

At the résumé building workshop in 2009, the experts called me for my one-to-one with them. Following their lecture. As a part of this tête-à-tête, they went over everyone’s résumés and shared their feedback and recommendations. I felt insignificant then. As an individual. My esteem searched for hideouts because I did not want anyone to find me. I felt useless, incapable and inept in all that I had become, until then. I had my educational degree to lean on. Excellent grades? Extraordinary achievements? Extracurricular activities? Volunteering? Organising? Meh. Before my face-to-face with the two industry experts, I remember I had indulged in different font styles and sizes. For a long time. I wanted something – anything that would help my résumé look ‘presentable’. If not in terms of my work, then lengthwise. Upon meeting them, they suggested me to introduce jazzy verb forms to ‘colour up’ my summary. ‘Conceptualised’ replaced ‘idea generator’. ‘Collaborated’ substituted ‘worked with’. And, ‘guidance’ superseded ‘support’. I also remember they had recommended me to swap my order of listings. Begin your résumé by introducing yourself. Follow it up with other headings. Start with your recent work experience(s) and trace it back to your school grades. Not vice versa.

If one were to draw a perspective, a blank portion of a résumé could mean that the applicant holds an open mind. And that, the rest is open to the recruiter’s discretion. Who’d choose to read spaces when written lines are louder declarations of one’s worth? I love swimming; it didn’t occur to me to collect certificates of appreciation. I love working sudoku in my spare time. And that’s all there is to it. I travel. A lot. How fair would it be to attach all transport and toll tokens with a note that read ‘PFA with my résumé’?

If someone’s work experience crosses particular years, their education could be discounted. The weight could then shift to recommendation letters, testimonials on online profiles and/or networking forums. Like the deciding factor of a salary package – which is usually in comparison to what one earned last, and not from where they pursued their graduation. Cover letters, online presence, blog space (if any) can replace as the influential factors. Not only will these introduce headhunters to characteristics of the candidate, but also they are likely to discover the latter’s recent contributions. Why restrict to using the 500-word document as a primary judging criterion?

They say they do not have the time to go through pinned pages of a résumé. They also say the grass is greener on the other side. Too little to add, and it feels inconsiderable. Too much to introduce, and it feels boastful. Where is the greenery?

Paris
Here, maybe?

Ideas, workarounds and solutions are spontaneous. They smite you at once. Or not. It is in time that one builds on it, works around its technicalities, improves and improvises upon it. If it doesn’t hold the spark to grab your attention the second it is expressed, it probably isn’t worth your scrutiny. What if, a similar logic were to hold good for an individual too? If they do not have what it takes for you to connect with them, your exercise might be not worth it. Irrespective of how word-perfect their résumé matches to your requirements. They might fit better elsewhere. Indicating you to look up from their lifetime’s summary and call in to examine the next one’s.

Because you either find them to be a fit or not.

Tour Eiffel
Tour Eiffel, Paris

What do I know? I’m still working on increasing the length of my résumé!

(Pictures: Musée Rodin, Paris; Atop the Eiffel Tower, Paris)

“In a Minute, there!”

A couple of days back, I was returning after catching a teatime movie show at a nearby theatre. The night drew closer as I was reaching home. During the short walk from the bus stop to my apartment, I noticed a star in the sky playing catch-up with the moon. It looked brighter than usual, this star. The eyelid of the otherwise clear skies was drooping. Gradually. And mechanically. The shift in its hues was rapid and had surpassed from a grimy grey to a spotless black in a matter of minutes.

The moon had settled, free from premonitions. As if it were allocated its favourite couch. Irrespective of, and indifferent to the time lapse transpiring in its background. That night, the crater-impacted disc had rented a hammock’s guise. It was propped against the heavens in a curvy stupor. Three-fourths of the moon had sunk under the black horizon, while the rest peeked out cheekily. Lying perpendicularly to the earth, it showed no interest whatsoever. Neither in its whereabouts nor surroundings. At first glance, one could have mistaken it for being lethargic. But its attitude spelt nonchalance. Blithe could have been its mood. There was a lull in the atmosphere that surrounded it. My attention shifted to the glowing limb that was trying to reach the moon. Or so, it appeared. If the star were personified, it would have looked as if it was flailing about its arms and legs. The moon could have been completely unaware of its efforts. The might and luck it was putting in, to come at par with the moon. The star could have believed the defendant to be its destination. Which, to an uninformed onlooker appeared a few inches apart. Near, yet so far.

What do we know.

venus_crescent-moon_south-manchester
When the star was particularly close to the moon | Credit :: @showcasemassive

Mahavir Singh Phogat, an Indian wrestler and Olympics coach, begins his daughters’ – Geeta’s and Babita’s – training in the sport in their school days. Wrestling is the spine of Dangal, the movie I had watched at the theatre that afternoon. Dangal in Hindi means ‘wrestling’ or ‘to wrestle’. Childhood yields when left to self-exploration. If a juvenile mind is refrained from doings, which to any kid sounds luring, it wavers. In the movie, not only does the father step in as the girls’ coach but also abstains them from indulging in spicy, tasty and street food. He introduces chicken in their otherwise vegetarian eating habits to supplement for proteins. He directs the earth is their source of entertainment, and the only television channel they must flick through. And that, the sands of time are their props for playtime. As kids, both girls dislike the ‘boxed’ outlook. They begin to feel that they have lost their free will. Mahavir Singh wants their lifestyles to revolve around his vested interests in wrestling, but tables turn. One day, the quick-witted lasses delay the alarm to abandon their practice. A friend’s pre-wedding celebration gathers significance over another day’s dose of physical exertion. Needless to mention, Mahavir Singh Phogat isn’t pleased.

What if, Geeta and Babita had gotten their way? What if, they had left coaching in an excuse to relish their girlhoods? What if, their father had given in? What if, he had let go and not expressed his displeasure on finding the girls at that social gathering? What if, they had stealthily grabbed edibles they weren’t allowed, even if morsels? What if years later, they had wanted to pursue the same sport they had abandoned in their youth? What if, they had hesitated in the wake of a tomorrow to begin giving wrestling serious thought? Could their father have supported them? Would they have received a similar training from him as they did when they were in school? Could they have achieved all that they had already done by then? What if, after years of education, they had discovered of their interest in wrestling? Would they have swung about their arms and legs to reach out to their moon? Just like that star?

Procrastination is that best friend who never ceases to bring along excuses to cover up our rear. When it deserts us, we continue to exist. And tell tales of how it turned out to be a vicarious villain in the name of companionship. Every. Single. Time.

Each morning, I set the alarm at five o’clock to practice singing and writing. The silence and pale skies help to focus. It’s a boon to hit the snooze button in the mornings. I feel grumpy thinking if it is time already. It turns into a bane when I wake up two hours later. The loss of time fetches a hangover so bad that the day feels drab. Disorientation sets in and works like that snake-charmer humming their listless tunes. You feel like you are left with no options than to dance to them. We led ourselves to it, after all. The silver lining in the horizon peeks out, and you find yourself in the middle of making a resolution. That you’ll no longer be an idle mind in the wild. Finding no one in sight, you bump your fist into the palm of your other hand. You’ve struck a deal. You’ve made a pact. With yourself.

Only that, the instance repeats. The next day.

garfield_lazy
Source :: Internet

Margazhi in Chennai, also known as the December Music Season, is a month to hop from one concert to another. To watch live music and dance performances. It brings together artistes drawn and created from sticks long and short, new and old. They are discussed at length. And sorted into the viewers’ files of likes and dislikes. The fine arts fraternity, a person’s journey to make it to the centre stage, and their performing nuances are coffee time banter for many concertgoers. What if, these performers had befriended procrastination every time it had grappled them? What if, they had prioritised a degree, a job and household over years of learning, unlearning and rehearsals? What if, they had not imposed boundaries on their lifestyles to maintain and enhance their modes of expressions? Would we have had examples to cite today? Would we have had inspirations to look up to? Would we have had quotes from who’s who to help us self-drive? The ones we copy on post-its and stick on the inside of our wardrobes. To motivate ourselves.

december-music-season-chennai
Source :: Internet

What if, that star in the sky were personified indeed? What if, it had received just a little help to make it to wherever it wanted to? Could it have done it?

Or, would it have left hope because its help had delayed this time?