Sunday, April 19, 2009


Spring is here.

I saw my first spring flower, a tiny dot of bright yellow, on my way back from work last week. I have been able to stay up late and wake up early, all without an alarm clock. I can smell the new buds in the air. Looking closer, the buds are deep red like new born babies, waiting for the perfect cue to surprise us. Bulbs have started sprouting out, and some have even stated budding. Birds keep singing, never mind that is is still around zero degrees here.

Spring is here. The the students of Helsinki have suddenly transformed the city into a more colorful place, wandering around in groups, decked up as peacocks in all their university finery. The deep thunder like rumbling of motor bikes fill the city, and bikers zoom past as small slices of speed and adventure. Cyclists chime their bells, and scurry from one corner of the city to another like impatient grasshoppers.

Spring is here. There are more movies in the theater. There are more couple outside, each pair into their own worlds. Suddenly there are more avenues to explore in the city. The balloon sellers and the clowns can be found wherever the families are.

Spring is here. My apartment is listening to more songs. The orchid is budding, the color of the flowers yet unknown. I switched from boots to shoes. My spring cleaning is still going on.

Spring, is here, like a coy young bride too shy to lift her veil off her face.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Last fight

The morning was like any other monsoon day with the rain waking you up. The roads outside are all flooded, water flowing down in torrents, thanks to drains overgrown with weeds and stuffed with semi dead plants that the houses throw out.

I try walking on the tiny, makeshift brick pathway, with is just about elevated from the flowing water. I have to reach work. I have to log in into my laptop, I have to listen to people tell me about how bad things are, and then talk to their manager who will insist that things are always fine. The flooded roads make taxis and other modes of transportation impossible, so I walk in the rain, balancing an umbrella and a laptop bag for 45 minutes so that I can get to the main road, which hopefully will not be flooded.

I see the queue first. It is pretty much straight, and has at least hundred people in it. Taxis and autorickshaws come to the start of the queue, and people get in. The rain is on a break now, for a few hours before it will start again.

I have been standing in the queue for almost two hours now. Next is my turn. There are three girls standing a bit to the side of me. They have been there for ten minutes or so.

And the taxi come, and as I am about to get inside...

One of the girls give me a shove, and gets inside.

Big mistake. I am rage. I am at my tipping point. I throw my bag into the seat next to the driver and try getting in. I am pushed again, what can I do, a mere mite of a girl against three women, all bigger than me?

I am not sure what entirely happened next, three minute tops, and I am inside the car, alone. I remember asking them to step out as I have to get it, I remember them telling me to go fuck off.

Next thing I know, they are outside and screaming, and I am inside and have little bits of skin under my nails. I am pretty sure I kicked someone in their stomach. My ribs hurt. The girls scream at me like banshees. I ignore them and ask the driver to go forward.

At work, one of my friends come over and said that she had seen me fighting, when she was being dropped. 'Remember me to never mess with you again.' She says, half playfully.

I tell myself to never get that violent again, to keep that in check. I have been doing it so far, but I do know it is in there, somewhere.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

New resolutions for spring

So looking back at my To Do lists for the year, here are the status updates. The first one is a list from last year, for this one, and the second one was done sometime in early January this year and scribbled out on a piece of paper.

1.I want to run - started off well, but being sick put frequent dampeners on it. Planning to resume from when the temperature hits 10 degrees or when I work out of office.

2. I want to give away stuff - Success, it has become more of a habit now.

3. I want to jive - doing that, loving that. Dancing makes me drink less as I get my high just from music and hydration from tap water.

4. I will invite more friends home - success, I was requested for invites and requests were made of specific foods. Having one this Sunday, may have another this Saturday.

The paper list:

5. Climb the Parliament steps : did that in the middle of the night and during day time. Night view was much better.

6.Go to a rock festival : Got the tickets, it is in June

7.Go to Greece/Tuscany/Paris/Venice : Not yet. Still searching Expedia for good deals.

8. Write regularly: It has been happening. Averaging about 150 words a day without writers block. Mixing up old stories and making up new ones rather nicely.

9. Give everything to a friendship or relationship without any expectations and see what happens: It was an interesting experience. Got a lot of material for #4.

10. Go on a trip alone: It is something of an annual ritual for me. Not sure where to go this time.

11. Go to a bar alone: I am grateful that I have been unable to do this so far ( big thanks to all those lovely people who have been giving me company). Guess I will cross the road and go to the neighborhood bar one of these days. Or may be to the jazz bar.

12. Make Sushi: Will do, as soon as my Indian meal experiments will end. And planning to experiment on the Indians this time :)

Which brings me to the new list. Assigning one event for a month, including April, I should have a total of nine things in my to start list. And here they are:

  1. Run at least 3 hours a week.
  2. Go to Greece/Tuscany/Paris/Venice
  3. Go on a trip alone
  4. Go to a bar alone
  5. Make Sushi
  6. Play more board games
  7. Take up a new hobby which will exercise my body
  8. Go to Srilanka/Nepal/HongKong
  9. Go trekking/hiking
PS: And I already have two more added to my paper list. Lets check back in three months as to what all have been done.


On a dance floor in Helsinki. Sometime before midnight. Sometime this year.

Ha. ok. So the good looking cutie wants to dance with me? Who am I to deny? Especially when looking like something the cat dragged in ( note to self : always dress up for the possibility to party when you get out ) your ego gets a kick when some young guy wants to dance with you. But once HR then always HR, and my instincts told me that there is something wrong, somewhere.

So somewhere in between getting high on music and taking hydration breaks, I ask him:

How old are you?

I am 21.

How old do you think I am?

My age?

I am tempted to lie. But no. I am pretty much sure that he is not speaking the truth either.

A bit older.

Twenty two?

I do not reply and get back to the dance floor, the music is glorious, the music is beckoning, and it is a crime not to dance a homage to it; a young Nordic God notwithstanding. Towards the end, decide to take my water break on one of the sofas. My friends have already left. I am on an all time high without even a shot of vodka. This has been a good weekend.

And somehow unsurprisingly, I have got company.

And I resume my third degree questioning.

How old are you again?

Dont you believe me?

No, not really. I dont say this, but just shrug my shoulders.

I am seventeen. Are you twenty two?

I have heard people talk about hitting on sixteen or seventeen year olds and having random sex with them. But those were (a) guys, (b) they were actually twenty two (c) and looking for random sex.

All of the above does not apply to me. And I work in HR. I take a deep breath.

I am twenty seven.

I dont really care.

The reply, which came fast, was not really surprising. He had, even at that young age, the easy assurance of those who always got what they wanted.

How did you get in then?

I am more curious to know the know how of subverting the age limit.

I am shown an ID card. I am told that it is a fake one, and that is how he got in. I am asked if I need any drinks. I decline. I am happy with my water. He insists, and I ask for a coke.

We sit down, and we talk about books and music. He dissects music with casual assurance, and talks about books passionately. He even like F1. He talks of technology, the telecom industry and about world politics. He gets my Cartman quotes and Family Guy references. I do not get it when he goes on about video games. And every woman that walks past us glance at him. And he has eyes and ears only for me.

And he is only seventeen.

We go back, and dance some more to the music. The night is finally over and those of us left walk out of the door.

He wants to know if I would be interested in watching Opera later in the week, as he has already got tickets. And may be we can go to Carelia later for dinner, if I do not have other plans.

Give me your name and mobile number.

He thrusts his iPhone at me.


He is seventeen.

Not even your name?


Dont you want to know mine?

I smile, reach up and tussle his hair. He is smart enough to know that I do not want to meet him again. His knows he is being rejected, but is still unfailingly chivalrous.

I can drop you home, my car will be here soon to pick me and my friends up.

No. I am calling the taxi now.

And I leave the most perfect person I have ever met in Finland, with a hug and a parting wave.

Because he was only seventeen.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Firing 101 : Aka why HR mad skills are important in your life too

The first thing that many non HR people ask when you tell them that you are working in Human Resources is:

" Can you get me a job in your company? Hahahahaaa! Just joking! But seriously... can you?"

"You work for Human Resources?" *deep silence wondering what the hell the HR person is doing at a barcamp/ devcamp / tweetup /geek meeting /IEEE meeting*

"So can you get me a job?"

But what many people do not realize that the other side of hiring is firing. You need to know how to lead up to a humane firing - there are no good means of firing someone. No one is going to look back and say that it is the best firing they ever had.

And what has that got to do with life actually?

Lets talk about relationships. And breaking up. ( Yeah, 10 points to the discerning ones who figured out that all is not well. Nothing to see here, move on!)

Breaking up with someone is quite similar to firing someone. And as the dumper and dumpee, you can always take a page from the HR.

Aaand.. here goes:

#1. Feedback, feedback, feedback.

This is one of the most overlooked, yet important aspects of breakup you can learn from good HR practices. As a good Manager will give an employee regular, straight forward feedback on how things are going, it makes sense to talk to your girl friend or boy friend about where you want things to be and what your expectations from them are. And men, going silent when the women talk about things do not work. Ladies, changing the subject is not the same as actually talking about it. And once in the process of dumping, can the feedback unless the other party asks for it and dont have any potential weaponry on their immediate vicinity.

#2. Don't do it in public.

As a good manager would never fire an employee in public, you should never dump someone in public expect when the said party is in an orgy of which you are not a part of.Ideally, this should happen in the dumpee's home and face to face, and you get extra points for thoughtfulness if you already bring everything they left at your place and hand it over to them. If it consists of kitchen knives, hockey sticks etc. then its better to send them via post - men, they might look tiny and fragile, but in these situations, you never know how they are going to react. If you are in a long distance relationship, a phone call initiated by the dumper should suffice.

#3. Deliver the message quickly.

A good manager will tell the employee the bad news within 20 seconds of them being in the room. Do not start the breakup out with a list of the stellar qualities of the dumpee. That would only make the other person wonder what if you have bipolar disease. Keep your tone neutral. Do not talk about getting back together after a break unless you really mean it. Women, this is how most stalking start. You are NOT being nice when you say, may be we can meet up later. No, no, no. Let them go. Ambivalence is for wimps and wimpettes.

#4. Don't give them the promotion, the cool assignment, the public awards.

Unless it is a layoff, a good Manager will not - and his HR manager will not allow him to do that anyway - do any of the three. Similarly, if you are planning to dump a person soon, never stay over or allow the person to stay over or allow them to leave their stuff around at your place, dont do favors for them, and do not meet their friends or introduce them to yours. Men, all of these are considered by women as signs that things are going good, you might just want to chat to her friends about getting a job. Women, just beacause a guy does all this does not mean that he is totally committed to you, it might just mean that he likes your friends and is a slob to leave stuff around.

#5.Respect the history

The way a good - okay, great - manager will fire an employee who has been with the company for many years is very different from the way she would do it with someone who has been with them for a few months. Respect the commitment made over time, respect the emotional investment.

#5. Don't cry. Don't beg. Don't blame. Don't look back.

This one is for the dumpee. One of the most unprofessional that you can do when you are fired is to breakdown in front of the person who is firing you. Use the rest rooms or the smoking balconies for that, in the company of your work friends. Dumpees, don't cry. Respect! Don't even think about begging to give it another chance. Don't start blaming just now. Take your time, reflect, and check out the new opportunity that you always wanted to try out. Life is too much full of awesomeness to brood over what is lost.

#6. Don't burn the bridges.

Good managers and smart employees never burn the professional bridges. I am not saying that exes must hang out - it depends on what both parties are comfortable with - but you never know - your ex might know some awesome people whom you haven't met yet. And I am not even talking about the midnight fringe benefits.

So.. what do you think? HR is pretty useful, eh? Would love to hear comments on this :)