Work-Life Im-balance

My profession lays great stress on the elusive achievement of work-life balance: an equilibrium even Buddha would be proud of! Blogging weaves an interesting catch-22 around this unending quest for peace of mind and wallet: work hard and I won’t be able to blog; blog and I will be hardly working! However, blog I shall, even if it means destroying a delicate balance and as the title suggests; this one’s about anecdotes from work, my life and the resulting imbalance when the two clash!

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Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

We have moved...

As with most things in life, you grow old and want some change in your life. I have not been untouched by the same trend. Hence the occasional blogging has a new location - please do visit and say hi!

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

The 2 X 2 of Life ©

DISCLAIMER: This is the original intellectual capital of the blogger spawned out of sundry experiences in the corporate world. While this profound management concept will find direct relevance in the corporate sector, the author feels it is reasonably applicable in any walk of life. The author acknowledges the premier consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group, from whose share-growth matrix (also called the BCG matrix), this involved concept is inspired. The sentiments expressed in this post, as in all other posts, are personal and quite close to the author’s heart and people who do not necessarily agree and are infuriated by this post should close this browser window, take a deep breath and get themselves a life!

The 2 X 2 of Life © occurred to me while I was staffed on the project I just finished at work. It is believed that the toughest of times bring out the true character of man. Well, I can vouch for the fact that the last few months have been tough times indeed but what they seem to have brought forth are some intriguing ideas and thoughts, most of which I cannot share, for fear of retribution that may prove too costly to afford. The 2 X 2 of Life © is a distillation of some of those un-shareable thoughts. Have a look at it. It is quite self-explanatory and where I felt there was explanation required I have provided one.

About The 2 X 2 of Life ©

The Axes:

  • Temperament in life is your general disposition in your work life: whether you take life frivolously(happy) or take it too seriously and fret and fume over consequences(crappy)
  • Ambition in life is your drive/verve/ enthusiasm towards work: whether you strive to outdo the competition and yourself in every endeavor of yours (raise the bar!) or you just look at work as a necessary evil and are more enthused about good food/music/lifestyle than the latest excel model or presentation that you made!(chhod na yaar!)

    The Quadrants:


You have fought hard to be where you are today. A little bitchy voice within you constantly reminds you that you don’t deserve this and it may all be snatched away from you if you didn’t strain every single sinew every single second that you work. You think you’re doing good work but your insecurity does not let you feel happy about it. It not only keeps you on your toes all the time but also makes you do hideous things like sucking up to everybody at the workplace who could get you up the hierarchy. You have become the top management’s bitch in the organization and suffice it to say, you lead a SAD life!


You’re weird! People like you are rare at the workplace but they most certainly exist. You are the cynic who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anything at work but is also full of energy in trying to prove to everyone around you what a miserable life they are leading by working in this organization. You crib for the sake of cribbing. It’s not that you are unhappy with the work; it is fundamentally impossible for you to be happy with anything in life. You should loosen up and take life less seriously!


You’re fundamentally a nice guy who knows what he wants from life. You give work its due importance and are also convinced, at some level, of the worthlessness of it all. Yet you have a competitive streak (which may be hereditary or acquired) within you that makes you go the extra mile. You are a stud at work and if not for your competitiveness, you would be a star. For you, there is hope!


You’re the man! You’re the Buddha of the workplace, the embodiment of equanimity that neither fears retribution from the bosses nor desires accolades for his work. You work because you have to. You know that you are above this ‘moh-maaya’ (mirage) of work and are already planning some cool career move like Ramesh Rao (of WagonR fame) where you will spend the rest of your life in the company of your deeper passion in life and what’s more important, hot looking women. The only problem is, STARS like you exist only in myths and the fantasies of over-worked corporates! Yet even your mythical existence give millions (including the author) hope and we all strive to be you one day!

Purpose of The 2 X 2 of Life ©

Nothing really. It’s just a tool to benchmark oneself as to which god forsaken quadrant does one fall in (it’s ok if you don’t fall anywhere or are a mixture of several quadrants – even I don’t know where exactly I fall). The idea is to move towards the STAR from wherever you are (something which is already indicated on the slide). If you’re a BITCH, however, you are really up against it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Flight Mishap

Alarm clocks have the habit of going off at all the wrong times: mine went off at 5 am this morning. Groggily, I opened my eyes to find my mom standing on my head. Damnit! no more snoozing today. Just as well. I had a 6:50 am flight to Bangalore to catch and today, I did not want to get late. I gave myself credit for being sensible enough to sleep early yesterday night and got off the bed wide awake now.

5:35 a.m. I checked the watch as I came out from a hot bath, all fresh and ready. The car was waiting downstairs and in 10 minutes (I calculated) I should be off for the airport. But then, what fun is life if all goes according to plan. I spent a little more time over the chai and toast, a little fussing over the tie-knot which wasn’t the double Windsor I wanted it to be and by the time I walked into the waiting car, it was 6:00 a.m.

6:05 a.m. As the car sped across Siddhi Vinayak temple, I smiled & reminiscined my last two flights out of the Mumbai airport. Here is an abridged summary:

Trip 1: 6:25 a.m. flight to Hyderabad. I had woken up at 5am, got out of home at 5:50 am with clear instructions to the psyched-out driver “Drive as fast as you can!” He had done the best he could in the circumstances. We landed at the airport at 6:10 am by which time, the lady at the Jet front desk told me, the flight had already been closed. But I had tele-checked in, I protested. BIG DEAL, her eyes seemed to tell me. But I didn’t care to find out and asked her for options. As it turned out, I took the next flight to Hyderabad at 8a.m. and ended up waking up at 5 in the morning for an 8 o’clock flight!

Trip 2: 9:45 p.m. flight to Ahmedabad. Swap picked me up from Haji Ali at 8:15 p.m. and we took a slight de-tour to drop some important stuff at Anu’s office. We had 90 minutes and like all conscientious frequent fliers, we had tele-checked in. Thanks to the Friday evening traffic, we were still at Mahim Causeway(about 6km away from the airport) at 9 p.m. Panic started setting in when we were still 5 minutes away from the airport and it was 9:15! We ran into the airport at 9:20 p.m. only to be told that the flight was about to be closed. Luck was on our side this time though. The front desk women deliberated and checked us in. As we headed to the security check, Swap sounded disappointed: “Damn it! We were late, the flight was full but they did not upgrade us!” “DUDE!!!” was all I could say, thankful that I had not missed 2 flights in a row from Mumbai airport, while he rattled off proud narratives of how he had held up flights on several occasions. Phew!

6:12 a.m. As I saw the glo-sign of Hotel BAWA International in the distance, I smiled to myself. 35 minutes early, I calculated. Enough buffer to ensure I didn’t have to run. Minutes later, I strutted into the Departure Lounge only to find a long queue standing outside each and every Jet counter. No worries, I told myself and stood in front of one that said “Hand-baggage only”. As I looked around to see if my boss was also checking-in somewhere, I spotted RamG in the queue ahead of me. Poor chap! he does this every Monday for a living, I said to myself. And to imagine, he could have avoided this junk and would have been selling junk bonds and making millions instead on Wall Street. Funny how we make choices in life! Anyways, I called him on his cell to grab his attention since he wasn’t listening to me while I shouted from behind the queue. What time’s your flight, he asked. 6:50, I told him and checked my watch. 6:23 a.m. Enough time to still get the boarding pass. I had tele-checked in after all!

As RamG slipped out with a ‘See you later’ and a boarding pass, I waited my turn. 2 more people in front of me. 2 mins max. Relax! You should be able to make it. It was about this time that I heard one of the ladies in a neighboring queue being told by one of the Jet Airways ground staff that the flight to Bangalore was closed!

Flight to Bangalore? Closed? WHAT! Impossible? I checked my watch as my heart sank. 6:29 a.m. But there were still 20 odd minutes left. And why the hell did they not announce they were closing checking-in? I held my ground, hoping that I had heard wrong. I was angry and desperate at the same time. A really sorry state to be in, if you ask me. My boss’ words came flooding back. Please be on time for this flight, she had quipped in jest, fully aware of what had happened last time (refer Trip 1) There is no other flight till 9:30 to Bangalore and we don’t want to get late for this meeting, she had warned in her characteristic I-may-say-things-nicely-but-I-mean-every-word-I-say manner. My mind was preparing a desperate plea to be put on the flight but there was anger lurking in the background as I wanted an explanation why they were closing the flight early without warning. It was about this time that my turn came to present the ticket.

“This flight is already closed, sir!” came the concerned yet crisp reply from the other end and this time, I was prepared for it. A mixture of anger and desperation came out in the form of a tirade which roughly resembled an incongruous combination of “I have been waiting in the queue for 10 minutes”, “I had already tele-checked in”, “How can you close the flight without announcing it?”, “It is absolutely important for me to get to Bangalore”. These sentences were uttered with such speed, volume and an angered conviction that it seemed to unsettle the poor lady at the counter and she went and spoke to another of her ilk. The two of them fervently looked at a computer screen while I was trying to think of a good excuse speech for my boss. People around me didn’t seem impressed with my outburst and were giving me derogatory glances. Hey, I wanted to shout out to them, it’s not my fault if these guys don’t follow procedure!

And then I saw it! It was the most beautiful sight I had seen all morning… a boarding pass coming out of the printing slot with my name on it! It was a different color but who cares as long as it gave me a ‘ticket to ride’.

6:33 a.m. Lady in blue came upto me with the boarding pass and a “We’ve upgraded you, so you should be happy about it” look on her face. I checked the boarding pass. They had upgraded me but I wasn’t going to show my gratitude for this one. I was right in landing 30 minutes before the flight and if they have to fly me business class for their clumsiness, so be it.

6:35 a.m. As I strutted smugly out towards the security check-in, my eyes fell on the big black board announcing flight departures. My eyes settled on the one flight of significance:

9W 411 BANGALORE 06:40 Now Boarding

I read it and then re-read it. I checked my boarding pass for the flight time. Sure as hell it said 06:40! But how can that be? This flight was supposed to be at 06:50. I checked my ticket: it said 06:50 too! I checked my watch … 4 minutes to flight departure… and for the first time that morning, I felt really embarrassed. My mind raced through all calculations that I had made regarding the flight time in the past half an hour and tried to subtract 10 minutes from all of them. I quickly willed my mind to think in another direction. It is not a happy feeling when you think about it and realize what a jerk you;ve been ! My angered outburst seemed to have won the day for me, but how misplaced it was only I knew. Anyways, there was no time for harbouring embarrassed thoughts as very soon I was being escorted through the security check-in by 3 of Jet’s ground staff, frantically shouting into their walkie-talkies that 4Charlie was on his way!
7:20 a.m. As I tucked into my Gobi Paranthas and Rasewaale Aloo on the flight, I tried to recall the name of the guy who passed some comment about, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. What a joker!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Overheard at work!

Came across this beautiful couplet while at work:

"Jinme ho jaata hai andaaz-e-khuda paidaa,
Humne sunaa hai woh but(statue) tod diye jaate hain"

Thanks Rishu and Vikram for sharing this.

A matter of perspective

The other day I was sitting at a meeting when my cell-phone rang. Now, I don’t personally like meetings. They are things which people higher up in the corporate food chain like to do by the hour-fuls. However, no real work gets done at meetings. At best, work may get planned but nothing concrete ever came out of any meeting since the times of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

However, that is not the point. The point was my cell-phone started vibrating during the middle of the meeting which is not a happy state to be in. No matter how frivolous the discussion going in a meeting, people hate it when somebody’s phone rings. It’s almost like you have spoiled their private party in a vicious way. So, as soon as my phone rang, the whole room went quiet and as I clambered out of my chair, I could hear someone muttering under their breath.

I was trying to salvage the situation by disconnecting if only I could trace the number. Unfortunately, this call had originated from a number I knew nothing about and I had to answer it. Hurriedly exiting the room, I answered the call, “ Hello!”

“Hi sir…” a pretty female voice answered the phone. No strange pretty voices ever call me (apart from my girlfriend whose voice is, of course, not strange) and therefore, I was even more intrigued. This can’t go on for long though, I told myself, the meeting beckons.

“Sir, I am xxxx, (no, I don’t want to safeguard the confidentiality of the person, I just didn’t catch the name) and I am calling from Domino’s Pizza.”

I was right! No pretty voice ever calls me just like that.

My mind was trying to figure out possible reasons for her calling up. Did I forget to pay the delivery guy? Unlikely. Did I over-pay and they wanted to return the extra amount? Highly unlikely.

“Sir, did you order Domino’s pizza last Sunday from us?” she asked.

“Yes, I did”, I replied, still clueless.

“Sir, did you order Garlic toasties from us?” she continued.

“What is this? Some kind of 20Q? And that too, when I am in the middle of a meeting”, I wanted to say. Instead, I replied, “Yes !”

“Sir, did you like the Garlic toasties” she asked sheepishly.

“What!” I blurted out.

“Sir, we wanted your feedback on the Garlic toasties and how you liked them.”
I had had enough. So I replied (rather curtly) “Listen I am in the middle of a meeting here; so why don’t you call me sometime else and I will tell you!”

I said the last few words in a tone which said don’t-ever-try-calling-me-again.

“Ok, have a nice day sir” she said, sounding visibly (ok, audibly) distraught.

I disconnected and returned to my meeting.

On the ride back home in the evening, I was re-playing the afternoon’s incident through my mind. Even though it was a ridiculous call to get, I couldn’t help feeling for the girl on the other end. She was doing her job; trying to get one more data point for her feedback survey. It was a crappy job, no doubt. But her life would have been simpler had I told her that the garlic toasties were actually quite good.

My current job requires a lot of data collection and nothing gives me more pleasure these days than data that is easy available in the form I wanted it. Yet, I chose to refuse her the information she sought, dismissing it as outright ridiculous.

They say, “The wearer of the shoe knows best where the shoe bites” (or something similar to this; however that is not very important as long as you get the point).

Life is all about perspectives and I certainly didn’t have the right one that afternoon.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Koh Samui: The Paradise Island Posted by Hello

Friday, May 20, 2005

My Dream Company

I came across the website of this wonderful company that does management & strategic consulting. Besides having a cool name, it sports the coolest working styles. I'm sure its a place people will kill for to get into. I wanted to forward my resume as well but unfortunately they don't mention much contact info.

Do check out the website:

I'm sure people in the consulting arena will relate to this more than anyone but its a great site for others too!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The room with a crow-view

People often compare and find similarities between one’s first job and first love affair. I agree. I think both (the job and the affair) bring with them a bundle of expectations and uncertainties that excite us. Uncertainties always have a seductive charm about them: the mystic and the occult; however risky and treacherous it might be is still so much more alluring than the mundane and the run-of-the-mill.

The bigger attraction around one’s first job or love, I think, is the curiosity to find out how one would behave in these untried situations. In the days when I was single, I was amazed by the silliness of the behavior demonstrated by couples in love. ‘Losers’ I used to say, ‘I’m sure if I fall in love, I’d stay away from all that mushy, romantic shit!’ I always wanted to know how “dignified” a lover I’d make: not because I was unsure, but because there was a point to be proved to the world and the responsibility of doing that lay on my shoulders! Almost two years into a relationship, the results are not very encouraging. I don’t know if I made a “dignified” lover. I just realized very quickly there was no point to be proved. After that, I didn’t really care to differentiate between the silly and the dignified.

But I have digressed; the theme of this piece is not love. It’s a crow! So like my first love, I was waiting, bubbling with excitement for my first job to begin. Training was a drag; I think that’s precisely what trainings are for: to drain fresh enthusiasm out of people and replace it with equanimity, a more balanced view of things so that if (and when) expectations crash the fall is not too hard upon the knees. So the day training ended and we finally received our seating plan, I eagerly scanned the plan to see if I had a corner that faced the sea. In my office, each of the cabins accommodates four people in as many corners. These cabins either face the sea or the concrete jungle of Mumbai. The corner allotted to me faced the concrete jungle. Damn!

I faced the situation with a generous dose of training-provided-equanimity. So what if life was a bitch, there were more significant things to look forward to; like my first case (in consulting parlance specific to my firm, we refer to a unique client problem that we strive to solve as a ‘case’). I set out in all eagerness trying to understand the problem in all its complexity. My first week on the case, I spent most of my time at my desk, poring through presentations, documents, etc. It was on the second day of this week that I noticed it. My eyes were weary from staring at the laptop screen. As I looked outside through my window, there it was, perched on the steel frame that held an air-conditioner in place. A dark, black crow. ‘Caw!’ it greeted me, staring back. Damn! Damn! Damn!

I’d like to clarify that I have neither love nor disdain for any bird. But a crow is no ordinary bird. I mean I wouldn’t have cared if it were a sparrow, a parrot or even a peacock. But a crow is not exactly the most pleasant of things to look at when you are tired of staring at presentations and need some relief for those weary eyes. And if you have read ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allen Poe, you’d definitely agree that a raven (which is a cousin of the crow, I guess) or a crow is the last thing that will soothe tired eyes.
Dammit, I thought, it will soon fly away and turned my attention to the presentation. But it did not fly away. Every day, every time I looked out, there it was: hopping stupidly on the iron frame; mostly cawing and sometimes flying out and returning with a twig in its beak. Every morning, afternoon and evening, it would greet me with a throaty caw whenever I cared to look out. Sometimes it collects twigs for a nest that I can’t see; other times it just hops nimbly on that frame giving me company. It’s been over a month now and the crow is still there. I’m sort of impressed by its constancy and its fidelity for the iron frame and my window. I mean I’m sure the blue skies and the vast expanse of the shimmering sea would be quite a temptation for the crow and yet it chooses to spend most of its day perched up against my window. I would never be able to see if its nest is complete or not but I can see that irrespective of everything, it’s still there and I don’t loathe it anymore. I’m sure I’d be concerned if it flew away, never to return again. My crow-view seat, as I proudly proclaim in my office, will lose its name and significance.

My girlfriend dismisses my narrative as bullshit. “Crows don’t build nests! Concentrate on your work.”