Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Barometer shows “High”

Blogging is like my barometer. You can judge the kind of pressure I am in just by looking at my blog. I use it to gauge how things are with me. When I write an “angry Merlin” or “sad Merlin” blog, you know how its gonna be. And when I don’t write at all you know the pressure has gone over the edge.

So that’s how it has been for the last few months. Over the edge. Waking up in the morning to a ringing phone.. escalation, urgent meeting or something. Dragging my laptop to my bed to see what is the latest catastrophe to strike my area. Stumbling out of bed and brushing my teeth while on a conference call and getting very embarrassed when I am asked a question and I have to spit out the toothpaste and answer. Thinking of strategies to appease the clients while showering and then answering mails while gulping a cup of coffee and breakfast… and sliding down the stairs and waving at the bus driver till he feels sorry for me and waits while I run to the bus stop. Getting dirty looks from fellow passengers as I try to check mails on the laptop on a crowded metro train.. and literally running into the office to be on time for a meeting. Hectic meetings, mails, phone calls, customer escalations… and then walking back home.. ready to collapse as soon as I reach home. Hit the couch, have some tea.. check the late night shift of mails (the US team is up and working), create some documents, dinner and then crash into bed. So if I say I didn’t have time to blog it would be an understatement.

Every culture has their own kind of PC… and it varies enormously. For the uninitiated, PC is “Polite Conversation” (please read THIS previous blog post for more info on PC), the stuff you do when you meet a person and don’t exactly know how to fill up the awkward silences. In India when you want to do PC, you ask “so how many children do you have” or “do you have family” (read as ‘are you married’) or "is your wife working or a housewife?" or "is your daughter/son married?". No kidding, these are NOT personal questions in India, its PC. Any stranger can ask you this stuff on their first meeting with you. At office, at the mall, on the bus. Its THAT impersonal. In most of Europe, you can risk offending a person you know if you ask these questions unless you know the person well. Well, in the UK, the most popular topic of conversation for PC is the weather, probably because its so crappy throughout the year. If you have ever been to the UK you’d know how much time the English people spend on pondering and analyzing the weather, or simply cribbing about it. The Swedes I think like PCing about weekends, vacations and trips to Thailand. So their favorite PC will be “How was your weekend?” or “What are your plans for the weekend” or “So howz your weekend progressing?” or “So how was Thailand?” or “When are you next going to Thailand?” etc etc. Sometimes its lost on me, because a) I don’t plan my weekend in advance, neither my upcoming vacation.. or the vacation the year after next b) I have never gone to Thailand, and do not plan to in the near future. So when people ask me about my weekend I wonder if I should get offended because a lot of stuff I did over the weekend was pretty personal, I wouldn’t like to share it with the guy who is from my competitor company at work. Strange, how PC can vary so much with different cultures.

So when everyone asked me “What plans for the weekend?” I simply said “nothing”. When Swedes have a hectic week, they try to have a more hectic weekend to compensate for it. I don’t understand the logic. When I have a hectic week, I simply cancel all activities for the weekend and spend it sleeping, taking long showers, cooking, watching Big Bang Theory, Simpsons, Two and a half men and lazing around. It rejuvenates me more than doing cross country skiing or visiting new countries or taking a trekking to the Norway fjords. I mean, I do all of that stuff (except the cross country skiing) but not to recover from a killing week. There's nothing like lazing around to rejuvenate a person. If this was India, I’d throw in a Kerela massage and ‘adda’ (chitchat session) at a relatives place. :sigh:

I was browsing through Facebook and noticed that one of my colleagues son has just turned one year old. Its strange how priorities change so fast for people. Not so long ago in college all we could think of was type of future job, starting salary, career, role... then it became boss, promotion, increment. Very soon the whole job fever went out of our lives. People started talking about marriage. So there was a lot of worrying about marrying the current girlfriend, worrying about arranged marriage, worrying about love marriage and loveless marriages and worrying about not getting married at all. Now, most of us are beyond this point (word to note here is "most", some are still talking jobs) So now the next phase of discussions are babies. Honestly, it makes me feel old. Not because I refuse to grow up, or “adopt” the passing of time, but I somehow am still stuck in the job mode (that’s the reason I am still having those hectic weeks remember?). Its funny because I made a passing remark to a younger friend (read as 25) who was shifting apartments… noting that this was the last time he would be shifting alone. And on being asked for the reason I told him, “next time it will probably be with a wife and a kid”. The look on his face was of absolute horror and disgust, as if I had just violated some sacrosanct rule by mentioning the unmentionable. After a few seconds of speechlessness, he just flippantly remarked, “Bah, it’s a LONG time before that’s going to happen”. What’s it with these 22 to 25 year olds thinking that they are going to be bachelors and enjoy their carefree youth till eternity. Guys.. open your eyes. Embrace the real world. You are an Indian. If you have not been Europeanized or Americanized by now, in a span of 2 to 4 years, ou will be married (you can hope its a love marriage, it could also be arranged) and in another 1 to 3 years you would be changing nappies. That’s not a long time off now, is it? Stop pretending its never gonna happen. Stop pretending that you will be “surfing” around till eternity. And stop making it look as if marriage means the end of the world. Do not forget the sliver linig. As our beloved SRK always says “Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!”

If the next week is not as hectic as this one (I hope it wont be) you will be seeing more of me out here!


  1. :) I was wondering where you had disappeared!
    Yeah, corporate world job pressures, I can understand...

    Interesting piece about PC's in different cultures! All we talk about here is also weather! "Nice day today, eh"! :D

    And my answer to "any plans for the weekend" is "not much, just laze around". Best way to spend the weekend I believe, especially when the weather is crappy as hell!

    Its improving though, thankfully and spring is just around the corner! :) Daylight Saving begins tonite!

    And yeah about that last bit...when I see my friends' kids and my nephew growing up, that is when I realize that we are getting older...In my head I am still 19! Hehehehehe!

  2. merlin, you sound like YOUR getting married!!!!

    the first paragraph had be laughing. the last 2 totally depressed me.

    thanks "stressed out merlin"
    way to stress me out too hahahahahaha

    * goes back to java project*

    btw, when you said "... then it became boss, promotion, increment. "

    I laughed at the increment part, such a programmer thing to say. ( i do it too)

    Level A Nerdiness: Achieved.

  3. a journey from weekend to my, you are indeed busy; with so much going on in ur mind! buddy.. :)

  4. @Jas: As long as you remain 19 in your head, theres hardly anything else that matters :). I hope spring comes to Stockholm soon too!!

    @Lost: Ah.. but didnt u know that in a few more years you'd be changing nappies too :P.
    Dont bother abt me, I am just evil. Just tackle your Java.. its shall heal all :)
    :takes a bow: @ achieving Level A

    @Neha: Thanks for visiting Neha :)

  5. i soo agree when you say how the talks change from college exams and career to job and then to marriage..most of the phone calls are brimming with the news of someone's wedding or engagement..
    looks like someone's thinking marriage:) to complete the picture..

  6. Domestic version of an action movie. Wow. Those Kerala masseurs have magic on their fingertips. When my 10 year old niece goes "you are too young for me to call you my aunt, I think I'll call you didi", that's when I feel sufficiently old and happily young. :)