Life’s Hidden Disclaimers

I had once mentioned in an earlier blogpost that I find corporate policy documents quite entertaining . I suppose I should have  listened to my mother and pursued a career in law, as something about legal jargon and the law, in general, fascinates me.

I see legal lexicon as an interesting offshoot of language. I wonder why English language courses do not have a module on just this. Not only are policies and disclaimers interesting to read, they can be very empowering and they really help to draw the line between what is allowed and what is not, what is right and what is wrong. There is no such thing as a grey area. Only if the law or disclaimer is fairly new and does not have at least 5 appendages to it, it may have grey areas. (A classic example being a law which gives a live-in couples in India the same rights as a married couple, but does not state HOW they can establish themselves as a live-in couple in court.)

I hate the colour grey because within grey there are different shades. Black or white only has one shade – and nothing can be clearer than that. I find most people are uncomfortable with such stark truths or rules. People like me are either considered too clinical or too “split-personalityish” to not appreciate the different shades of grey. I do not like shades of grey, but that does not mean I make fun of people who do.

According to me, life is full of hidden disclaimers. Society and its norms are probably what make up for all the disclaimers. They may include things like:

  1. The legitimacy of a child is important to grant him rights to respect from his peers. It also enables the child to have access to inheritance. Medical and educational provisions can be arranged for easily if legitimacy is established.
  2. Legitimacy is possible through the legal and socially sanctioned norm known as marriage.
  3. Marriage insists that you be with one partner for the rest of your life. This, in effect, includes putting up with farts and burps and watching thick manes turn to receding hairlines and see fab abs turn into paunches.
  4. Women on the whole will typically be portrayed as giggly and feminine, while men will typically be portrayed as macho and stern. This might also explain why the law typically does not acknowledge alternate sexualities or behaviour as “normal” or “permissible”. This however, is being reviewed by many legal systems the world over.
  5. You are allowed to have subjective opinions that may not represent the opinions of the nation; however, remarks, comments or jokes that tend to denigrate people on the basis of religion, caste, gender, culture, sexuality, race or nationality will be dealt with severely. The definition of ‘denigrate’ will be decided based on the current socio-political mood swing of the nation or world. For example, any anti-national statement made during war might be deemed as denigatory and might result in death of the individual who made the statement.
  6. Man is a social animal and tends to co-exist peacefully in any society. This includes “rebels” who claim to hate society but fail to realize they are a part of it anyway. Life is easier, be it in the form of the availability of basic sanitation, medial provisions or security when you live as a society.
  7. While most people do not follow set rules for basic sanitation (some people segregate paper and plastic, some others dump garbage from their windows) or medicine (some people visit the doctor for a headache, some others wait till they are rushed to the emergency ward) – things like marriage and education have set rules and timelines that all are expected to follow. Failure to follow these timelines may result in the formation of socially unacceptable persons such as an uneducated youth with poor career prospects, or lonely individuals who breed negativity or find wrong channels to deal with sexual repression. Such persons are likely to be a nuisance rather than a benefit to the society and/or nation.
  8. There are very few legal provisions for those who do not wish to abide by the norms stated above. It would either mean living in isolation, which can be difficult, or compromising.

Would you like to add any to this list?

The Greep Files – 2

Not sure why I decided to publish this after four years…but I just did.

A persistent greep (geeky creep) kept harassing me via email (official mail if you may) for many months when I was a fresher in this very same office, and when my parents and best friend happened to be abroad. This was years before they set up an anti-harassment cell. When it was commonplace to sing Hindi songs to women, wave at them, follow them, stare stare and stare (I wondered if staring at a computer all day made IT workers compulsive starers). When HR would say “It’s ok ma..we do not want to fire a good employee…just tell him to stop and leave it at that.” When I would go nuts wondering if my neighbour who happened to work in the same office was this psycho. When I quit the company because I stopped having faith in it.

I never got to know who this psycho was, but I do know that my workplace is very different now. No one stares at me. No one dares to. Either the anti-harassment posters have educated many an IT worker, or some girls just manage to get the no-nonsense look after going through a lot of nonsense.

Now, I have faith in the system, in the anti-harassment cell, of being very well versed with corporate law, and in the power of reacting, instead of staying silent.

I posted the first set of the greep files back in 2005 when it happened. I am completing the story now.

FILE FIVE:
sub: hello

Hello,

I hope u must be comfortable by now at new location.In my last mail I asked for ur cell no. These mails & my career are heavily related; technically these mails constitute an unacceptable term in any company following best practices.

Actually, every time I want to ping u, past 24 yrs of my life, flash in front of my eyes in a moment’s time. [Popularly said – just before death u get glimpse of ur life in few seconds]

All those days cycling and going to school, coming back studying hard for engineering entrance, then recognizing importance of a Management degree and securing admission in a B School. Always sitting in front row of the class (unwillingly) and asking unwanted questions for securing class participation marks and meeting Profs personally, helping them in their projects and technical papers as a part of Outside Class Participation. The whole process is (un)popularly termed as RGgiri (RG stands for relative grading). The picture can be better understood if u read Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone. All this for a decent job. Which I feel, I have now. Actually I don’t want to throw away hard work done all these years for such a relatively trivial issue. I hope u understand my concerns now.

Btw ur new look is pretty. U r looking gorgeous. U must be flattered by now and would have decided to offer me a cup of coffee (Pls say yes). So ur cell no. and preferred meeting place/time???

I hope I am not disturbing u all these days.
Sincerely waiting for ur reply.
________________________________________________________
MY REPLY :
(which HR asked me to tone down, since I had first mentioned going to the police and all…after which I never heard from the guy again)

Hi,
Since you are so concerned about your career, my advice to you would be to stop all forms of communication henceforth. Please do not try to contact me OR any of my friends or I will be forced to take the necessary steps.

I wanted to meet you in person to figure this out with you, but you are obviously too frightened, and I do not know how you can expect anyone to give their phone number to a faceless, nameless person.

You are aware of the fact that what you are doing is WRONG and you still continue to be persistent. So much so that when I ignored your mails, you thought contacting my friend was alright.

Please note that this is no way to communicate or make friends with anybody.
__________________________________________________________________
Email sent to my best friend, the same day:
I am purposely sending off mail from gmail account….figured its safe. I’m missing u a lot.

That stupid loser will not stop…and I hav tried to sweet talk him into revealing his identity..friends kinda suggestd that.. but he just completely dodges me. I got frustrated and sent a “stop botherin me” mail based on what HR told me. They said they will try n trace him…try it seems..all big chickens..psychos and management.

I fully told off MS to help me try and trace this guy’s id….even he was like “what does this guy want..wants to pester you..but does not want to meet you” and the funny part is when I told him how the psycho wants to meet for coffee and get my number …he was like “he has a chance in hell..I could not achieve that even tho I was on the same floor for 10 months” hehehehhehee

Seems with each new creep..the previous one seems like an angel in comparison…..I suppose MS is nicer cos he’s an open creep……and suddenly even doodh waala bhaiyya with the oily hair who kept singing filmi songs seems like a nice guy..at least he was openly obnoxious…

do see the loser’s latest mail and my reply..and i dont think i will EVER read five point anyone 😛

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Goodbye, Hello

So I’m the Time’s person of the year, and so are you and so is everybody else 😛

So we learnt the meaning of a shrinking world, we crossed boundaries, respected differences, ego-surfed, narcicissed, plagiarized and so on and so forth.

We read between the lines when no lines existed, we hid behind anonymous identities secretly spewing opinions. We abused, we tolerated, we made friends, we learnt and perhaps un-learnt.

In my own life, office creeps paved the way for good, decent male friends.

Jennifer Aniston decided to steal my new year resolution of being single and happy. Of course, I don’t want people to think I copied her idea, so I shall not write about it on my blog – “my little space” where I get to rave and rant about silly things that affect me so.

The public has taken the place of the private, we prefer leaving scraps to sending emails. We fish for sympathy from our blogger friends because we are too scared to hear the truth from our ‘real’ friends. We have the occasional ‘psycho’ enjoying the freedom of invisibility so much that voyeurism, e-stalking and pornographic avatars are now ‘cool’ things to indulge in.

Virgins are becoming a minority in India. If you choose to wear a chastity ring, you are frowned upon as being a new-age weirdo who is too scared of ‘defying’ an antiquated moral system. There is no such thing as peer pressure when you have crossed your teens, or so is the belief. You are supposedly old enough to think for yourself, whether you are 20 or 60.

I noticed that being parents is not easy, and being grandparents is perhaps even more challenging. Grandparents have not only gone through the arduous task of bringing up their children, they worry for their grandchildren, neglect their health, and live up to the responsibility of being role models for everybody involved.

I met people who eloped at 19, divorced at 24, people who feared they would be single for the rest of their lives, and a woman who chose to get married at 40 and have kids at 45.

Asthma is on the rise and I fear I may soon become its next victim, as is the case with every other person in my city.

I hated the corporate world two years ago, but I have also had many a reality check here. Very few people think. My doggie tag is now an access card that is nothing more than a mere access card. I have outgrown my communist student days and have started embracing capitalism for what it is worth. ‘Selfish’ no longer has a negative connotation in my dictionary.

I want to stop being a coward and learn to make up my mind without being so obsessed with having a plausible ‘business case’ every time. I now firmly believe that while opposites attract, they are worst things that can happen to each other. It is frustrating to always explain your jokes, your opinions, your point of views etc etc to someone who thinks so differently from you. I’m now on the lookout for a clone, at the same time, I want to give the present my very best shot, and appreciate every moment, because moments are after all, fleeting.

I might become a voice-over artist some day…some day….some day…

Till then, I sincerely pray and hope that everyone gets their chance to turn into a new leaf, if it was ever on their agenda.

Advice Needed

I want to talk about an issue that is actually more than one issue. I work at an MNC and am often labelled as a ‘militant feminist’ becos I do not tolerate staring, ogling, singing and any other form of workplace harassment. I’m known to make a big hue and cry about things that i feel are wrong. Staring is a something that REALLY gets to me and what upsets me is the fact that most people dont want to believe that staring IS harassment.

Coming to the point, I will be shifting to a new floor in the office building. I went to scout the new office space with a couple of my colleagues and the first thing i noticed were eyes…leery eyes everywhere..staring at us girls as if they have never seen girls in their life (common story…i know). One guy was impertinent enough to actually nudge his friends and divert their attention to us as we walked by. And these people were not teenagers just out of college…they were all 20 something-ers with ample work ex. What was sad was that one my male colleagues was rather disgusted at this sight, saying that all his life in the company, he never witnessed this sort of behaviour.

The real point being that my new workstation is at the extreme corner. It isolates me from my team, but I will be in good view for all the other teams, and perhaps those creepy men. My back maybe towards them, but I will be seen by most of them anyway. To add to that, I will have the added irritation of sitting next to a lady who loves talking about her husband day and night..about what shampoo he bought for her, what conditioner, how he once dug his nail into her hand because he was angry, how he has taught her so much, how never spoke to her for six months because he suspected she was having an affair, how her silence made her win his love back..

Keeping all this in mind, my first instinct was to get to speak to my supervisor and get my seat changed. (The way things work in my company, you need an approval for sneezing). I do not want to go through the trauma of having eyes looking at me everyday…I do not want strangers coming up with vague excuses to strike up a conversation on the pretext of ‘friendship’, I do not want to see men walking up and down the passage near me, giving me seedy smiles (a sight I have witnessed way too often) i do not want to hear about the life of a woman who is CLEARLY in denial, I have tried helping her, listening to her, but her ‘everything is fine’ attitude depresses me big time, and I know i cannot be of any help to her, because as I said, she is in denial.

On the other hand, am I being a real wimp when i seek out ‘escape routes’ like the one above? Will I ever learn to become thick skinned like the other girls who were with me today, who have become so accustomed to workplace harassment; they did not even see it? Will I ever learn to focus on my work despite knowing there are probably 50 eyes looking at me? Without being paranoid about why that guy is staring at me? And believe me I can get paranoid! Will I be able to listen to the denial lady’s stories without letting them affect me so much?? So much so that I want to say away from her (perhaps I also prefer to be in denial) Will I ever become a stronger person if I let every little thing affect me so much?

So should I get my workstation shifted or not? Please advice

Single, not ready to mingle

I wish I were single
For the rest of my life
I wish people did not brand me a commitment-phobe just cos I prefer being single
I wish my reasons for wanting to marry were stronger than wanting to have legitimate children and safety from creeps
I wish I could take my mother’s view of seeing more boys…arranged or non arranged more seriously
Perhaps I should start meeting boys
Perhaps I should meet some lesbians
I want to know what true love is all about
I want to know if this is true love
I want to meet the one
I wish I were strong enough to make anyone the one
I wish I was not so confused
I’d like to believe there is no such thing as the one,
and if there is, I’d like to believe it’s me 🙂

A.m. I a narcissist?
A.m. I really too full of myself?
Could the auto-correct please stop printing ‘am’ as a.m.?
Do I use the word ‘I’ too often? In my blog? In my chats? In regular conversation?

I wish he did not get away
I wish he did not return
I wish things happened the way I wanted them to
I wish nice guys knew how to sing and dance
I wish I was a wildlife photographer
I’m using the word I too often

I hate wannabes, but have been accused of being one
I hate hypocrites, but I know I’m one
I hate having to fight with the people I love
But sometimes, I feel good letting them know exactly how I feel
I wish I could have a spiritual make-over, and ‘grow up’ as my sibling says
I wanna be a lady and go to charm school
I wanna be a radical and never wax my legs

I need to go now…..