The 18th March Project – Post 4

I travel by public transport. The Metro, to be more precise. In the mornings I prefer to travel in Gold class. It’s the cabin at the front or rear of the train that has better-cushioned seats, folding tables on the backs of some seats and costs double the regular fare.

I get out at Union, one of the interchange stations, and make my way with possibly hundreds of others from the Creek platform to the UAE Exchange platform. I’m usually among the first on the escalator because the Gold class disembarkation area is very close to it and the stairs to the Concourse.

I’ve been doing this regularly for at least a year. Watching people go up the stairs or the escalator from the Creek platform to the concourse is what inspired the analogy.

I began to see the similarity between this daily struggle, and Life.

If you have certain advantages – money, or position – it’s easier for you to get on the escalator and ascend faster.

There are those who through sheer will power will climb the stairs and beat those who get on the escalator before them.

There are those who get on the escalator and do not wish to add their own steam to the kinetic energy of the escalator, propelling them upwards. They couldn’t care less about the people who come after; they will even block the way, not through any malice, but just because they aren’t using their brains nor are they aware of the world around them.

At some point there are so many of these people of the escalator that taking the stairs actually becomes the quicker option.

And isn’t the world just so much like that?

The 18th March Project – Post 3

I’ve been a bridesmaid once and a maid of honour once, and I’ve attended several weddings in various capacities, so I naturally feel my vast experience allows me to pass on some advice to those who come after…

  1. Don’t try to out bride-zilla the bride.

It is not your day.

It is her day.

If she wants to stay up till all hours of the night making takeaways or photo-booth props, do not engage.

Calmly tell her you will do it, and then get her to go sleep.

She’ll need it.

  1. You are allowed to shout at the bride if she hasn’t eaten or kept herself hydrated.

Because you are not going to carry her if she faints.

3. Pockets.

Or a bag.

Make sure you convince the bride to let you carry or wear something you can stuff band aid, bob pins, tissue to swab the makeup and sweat from your faces, makeup for touch-ups post-swabbing, biscuits, scissors, needle and thread, your phone (and hers) in.

Groomsmen’s pockets can’t hold as much as you need. Trust me on that.

  1. If you can’t help out as much as you would like to –or she needs you to – be upfront about it.

Tempers tend to run high around weddings, so if you flake on your promises, it will be remembered.

Hell hath no fury like a bride-to-be let down.

  1. Be at the wedding for her.

I don’t mean don’t have any fun, or stick to her like a leech.

Be present and ready to do whatever is needed- there are a million things to do that you won’t even remember the next day, but that will all contribute to making her day (and by extension, the groom’s)

Fluff the dress. Dance near enough for the photos to look amazing, but not so near that the groom isn’t visible. Carry the veil. Frown at the people who want to wish them while they’re enjoying themselves on the dance floor. Orchestrate shots of the dress and shoes and bouquet and all the other little pieces of the wedding symphony. Protect them from whiny relatives – they’ll have to deal with that soon enough, and for the rest of their lives together.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes.

Much love and heartiest congratulations to A + R, who recently – only last week – tied the knot there’s no untying.

The 18th March Project – Post 2

I’ve been in the workforce for close to a decade now.

Because this seems to be a year of retrospection, let’s see what I’ve learned:

  • Not everyone follows an upward trajectory; some people grow horizontally (career-wise, and physically)
  • The more multicultural an office is, the greater the chance you will work with someone who believes in the stereotypes about your country. Say we sound like Apu again. Go on. SAY IT.

(My advice? Forgive, but do not forget, their ignorance. Maybe it’s hard for their minds to take in the fact that people are individuals, and not

  1. an archetype of their nationality or
  2. a mishmash of every <insert nationality> character they’ve seen in different media)
  • A manager who can truly see past East and West is a rockstar. Heck, one who can see you as an individual with specific, personal goals and dreams and can get you to use your skills and knowledge where they are best suited is a treasure.
  • The worst workplace has its pros; the best workplace has its cons. Choose what you are willing to put up with.
  • It’s not all about the money, but money plays a big role. Sometimes it’s about flexibility, or learning opportunities. It is *mostly* about the money. Don’t work for someone who isn’t willing to pay you fairly. You will definitely grow to resent it.
  • Karma gets everyone. Even in business. So don’t be an ass.
  • Not everyone believes you all belong to the same team.
  • Having friends at work is important. These are the people who understand your frustrations when a deliverable is late, or show you another side when you’re venting about a co-worker.
  • Another thing that’s important is knowing your rights. Read your contract thoroughly. Ask questions. If you have to make compromises, negotiate first. Only you know what’s best for you. And if you don’t ask, you usually don’t get.

The 18th March Project – Post 1

A brother from another mother (hurrah for rakhis!) asked me to write everyday as my birthday present to him.

It’s an unusual present, and one that is very selfless, because he frankly doesn’t gain anything from this.

The one condition is that I publish something every 15 days.

So here’s a post that brings together a few things I love: farming, TV, equal opportunity.

__________________________________

10 things I’ve learned about farming in Australia from watching McLeod’s daughters:

  1. It’s expensive to run a property.
  2. It isn’t the most rewarding work for your farmhands either.
  3. If you go organic, the whole property needs to be organic, and that can take 5 years to happen.
  4. It’s a good idea not to remove ‘weeds’- they keep the soil together and their roots prevent water from running away too fast.
  5. Australia has officials who determine who has the right to use water, and how much.
  6. Aussie farms don’t all have merino sheep ( 6th grade me feels quite let down).
  7. Fences need to be checked and repaired frequently, or cows might get out. Or sheep. Or llamas.
  8. People steal cattle. Yes, even in this day and age. Guard your stock.
  9. Make sure you aren’t foolhardy, but learn to take some risks.
  10. Use water wisely.

100 words 100 days: Day 88: A meal with the five people who have inspired you the most

My mother.

My father.

L. M. Montgomery.

Roald Dahl.

Maya Angelou.

And Jesus. There had to be room for Him at this supper. And I can definitely fit six people in my house- there is enough space for that number. However, they won’t all be able to sit at the table, unless I rearrange the furniture.

I think Jesus might steal the limelight. Everybody will want to talk to Him and ask Him questions.

Still, you can learn a lot just by listening. I bet Roald Dahl would find a way to twist the story. Maya Angelou would kiss her words and breathe poetry into them. L. M. Montgomery would battle with her own demons to bask in the glory of the Saviour her husband would have preached about. And my parents? They would help me cook, and set the table, and probably ask a couple of questions, their humility and goodness shining through, 1-carat diamonds beside a crown jewel.

And Jesus would smile, and suffer the little children to come unto Him.

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Day 89: Write a funny how-to

100words 100 days Day 87: Open a book to the 153rd page. Look at the third line. Make that the start of your story.

Every feather in its long tail had a decorated eye.

But that wasn’t the only reason the dreamcatcher was the most eerie thing I had ever seen. It exuded a translucent plasma-like quality similar to a ghost or a jellyfish. And in its centre, nestled among the threads wrapped around a discarded bangle, was a very large spider, the brown, furry kind. It had already begun weaving its strands across the hoop.

Everything about the dreamcatcher made me feel like it was observing me, preparing to snare me in its little web, and hold me in a world that was not quite real and not quite imagined. Whoever had made it had done so with the intention of subverting the true purpose of a dreamcatcher, with the express intention of making me feel the negativity that seeped from it.

If only I could reach it to take it down!

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Day 88: A meal with the five people who have inspired you the most

100 words100days (ish) Day 86: A manual for an exotic pet

I tried keeping a couple of snails as pets when I was a child. They were the kind that were abundant during the monsoons in Goa. Sludgy, squishy, interesting creatures, with bodies the colour of doce bhaji (similar to oats porridge), and translucent, fragile shells in a light earthy brown.

How to look after these amazing and environmentally important creatures:

  1. It’s better that you don’t keep them as pets. They are not domestic or domesticated.
  2. If you have taken them from their natural habitat because you are trying to conserve them, make sure you put them in a safe place, i.e. preferably one they can’t get out of only to be stepped on.
  3. Take some leaves from the plant you found them on- at least you know they eat that.
  4. Do your research. And record any observations you make.
  5. Don’t pick them up all the time. It just triggers their shrinking reflex (scientific term not googled)

Postscript: If you think you can look after a peacock or a panther, I need to tell you- you’re probably wrong. We really need to stop messing with ecosystems. Please adopt a dog or a cat.

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Day 87: Open a book to the 153rd page. Look at the third line. Make that the start of your story.

I picked up I sweep the sun off rooftops, by Hanan Al-Shaykh, from my To Read pile.

The line I got, serendipitously enough, is about peacocks. But does it have to be?

“Every feather in its long tail had a decorated eye…”

Day 85: Why MOOC’s do (or don’t) work

It’s been a long while between the last 100 days post and this one. In fact, I think it’s been more than a hundred days.

Just 16 posts to go to actually complete this (perfect timing- this exercise will help me get in the groove for NaNoWriMo)

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A Massive Open Online Course is one that is open to people all over the world, broadcast via the levelling medium of the Internet.

As is the case with most methods and media of learning, MOOC’s work in specific situations, with specific audiences.

If, for instance, someone signs up for a MOOC because he/she is truly interested in the topic, the MOOC will definitely benefit that person more than someone who is vaguely intrigued by the syllabus.

For a MOOC to benefit you, you have to be willing to put in the time and do the work. Nobody is going to chase after you to complete your quizzes or peer reviews. A MOOC is an instance of self-directed learning.

It’s not just about motivation and curiosity: not having access to the internet is a big obstacle to participating effectively in a MOOC.

From a trainer’s perspective, a MOOC may not work in the following situations:

  1. There’s no system to follow up with your trainees post the MOOC in order to ensure transfer of learning
  2. Trainees are forced to watch the videos, and complete coursework, thus leading to sub-par participation and retention
  3. The MOOC is not customised to the requirements of the organisation. (Some people can apply what they have learned in a different setting, some can’t)

Whether you are a learner or a trainer, if you don’t try new methods, you’ll never know. Go MOOC!

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Day 86: A manual for an exotic pet

Day 84 100words100days: explain yourself to your parents (fiction/non-fiction)

Dear Mum and Dad,

When I was younger, you didn’t want me to care so much about those outside the privileged inner circle. Now I’m older, and you wish I cared more.

The thing is, I’m not going to be able to do things at the pace you did them. I might never do the things you did. I might do many things you didn’t.

I might spend my whole life “finding” myself. I might never truly know what I want. Or want what I know. Or I might want the things and people and experiences you don’t approve of or don’t fathom. Or, at some undefined point, I might want exactly the kind of life you want for me.

I need support from you. I am still an idealist, hiding under covers of cynicism, waiting to throw them off and dance in the rain while the sun promises a rainbow at an opportune moment. But my idealism is fragile. I don’t need you to be the voice of my worst fears- I have inhabitants in my mind who prepare me for the worst foreseeable outcomes always. I need you to tell me that in some places the sun does always shine, and the conditions are just right. I’m nearly at the start of my fourth decade, but I still need you to tell me things can be okay, that the world can be a wonderful place. I want to believe that it can be, and if you say so, I know I will.

I’m finally coming to terms with things I can’t change- my height, for instance. The fact that I allowed other people’s ideas of what women can and cannot do to define some of my major life choices. I know I can’t hold you responsible for issues like these- and I’m working on that. In my own way. In my own time.

Much love,

FED

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Day 85: Why MOOC’s do (or don’t) work