Hey, What’s up?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In life, we have always encountered questions and always will. Some are absurd and some make us feel absurd. Some we can’t find an answer to and some we don’t want to find an answer to. Some we like to ask and some we like to answer. Some we learn how to answer and  some we learn how not to answer. Some question our doubts and some question our beliefs. Whether we like them or not, we can’t deny their importance in our lives. Our educational credentials are based on how we handle them.

There would always be a set of questions that bothers you. Over a period of time, that set gets replaced with another set. Some carry over (like ‘What I am doing with my life?’) but most of them don’t.

About three years ago, one of the questions which bothered me was ‘Why do you want to do an MBA?’.  I was asked this question a few times in interviews and I asked this to myself almost every day while I prepared for management entrance exams. Although, a web search returns back many hits on how to answer it or rather how others have answered it and in the interviews, that’s how I answered it then. It convinced the person who asked it but not me. So, I chose not to do an MBA.

Now-a-days, I get stumped by a question which I am asked about ten times in a day and I never know what would be the appropriate response to it. The question I am referring to is ‘Hey, what’s up?’. Sometimes, I think whether I should choose a ‘response of the day’ for it and use it through the entire day. Unfortunately, it doesn’t works out well as I am supposed to answer this question differently based on my surrounding environment, my level of acquaintance with the other person and my activities in recent past or my current activity.

In office-like surroundings, when I am asked this question, I consider for a moment replying like ‘Ceiling’ or ‘A Pixar animation movie‘ but then I don’t as this joke has become so stale that even I don’t find it funny now. Then, I wonder if I can consider this as a rhetorical question and ignore with a smile. At this moment, most of the time, the other person understands that I mean serious business only and they proceed towards asking more ‘business-related’ questions. But sometimes, I get back a smile. Then, I consider two options. First, asking back the same question ‘What’s up?’ to throw back the ball in other’s court. Second, give the small-talk-ending ‘nothing much’ response. Either of these options work well most of the times to cut down the small talk. If I take first option, the other person takes second option often. However, when the other person replies back more elaborately with details of something exciting he has done recently and when he ends up with ‘what have you been up to?’, I feel a peer-pressure to reply back with almost similar level of detail of something exciting I did recently (or let my imagination run to make something sound exciting).

At this moment, I feel that this post is incomplete as I am supposed to elaborate what thoughts I go through when I meet people in not office-like surroundings but I will skip that as this is not an essay where I have to cover all points to maximize my marks.

Locked Out (again)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Has it ever happened with you that by mistake you shut the auto-lock door while going out but the moment you slammed the door shut, you are like ‘Holy Shit! Left the keys inside’? And then realize that you even forgot your phone inside. *Another curse*. And that you were staying alone in the apartment as your roommates are out of town till next week? *Another curse*. And that too at such an unfortunate time that even your landlord wouldn’t be available till next day to bail you out? *Another curse*. And then you can’t help a smile thinking that it had happened again.

Almost 4 years back, I had gone through the experience of feeling homeless for 3-4 hours in a foreign land(Switzerland) having locked out the door accidentally but forgetting to take the house keys. After that incident, I developed the habit of double checking that I have the key to ensure that I don’t end up in a similar situation again. However, taking precautions may not always prevent the accident but it may only delay the accident to happen.

Unfortunately a few days back I went through the almost same ordeal. It happened when I stepped out of the apartment in the night around 9 pm to check the mailbox downstairs. I checked my pockets (by habit) to see if I had keys and I did have a key (but it was just the mailbox key!) and then I shut the door thinking I had the house keys. And when I reached the mailbox, I realized what the hell I have done. I started thinking about ways how I could get in the house.

  • Contact leasing office to get duplicate keys, but its closed and will be open only next morning 9 am.
  • Break in to the house through balcony but it was too dangerous and I could have ended up spending night in jail if I was seen doing a break-in. And secondly, the balcony door was closed.
  • Contact a friend to whom I had given the duplicate keys to house but who is living 15 miles away. I neither had the phone to contact him nor a vehicle to reach there, nor did I have the wallet to pay for taxi.
  • Contact my neighbor and take his help to contact my friend who had the keys.
  • Go to a friend’s house which was nearby and spend the night at his house and come back to leasing office next morning to get duplicate keys.

After having thought of all these possible options, I felt that there was no need to panic. So, I thought let me meet my neighbors (who didn’t even know that I was their neighbor) , try explaining to them my crisis situation and seek their help to contact my friends. The neighbor was a Spanish guy who was quite friendly and welcomed me inside his home. I requested him to contact the leasing office and check if there is any chance of someone doing a night shift who could help in such emergency situations. He called up the leasing office but as expected no one was there to pick up. Luckily, two of my friends turned up at my door and they were knocking my door and calling my phone (which was inside the home). I wasn’t aware that someone was at my door as I was inside my neighbor’s home. Then, they said something to each other and I was able to recognize a familiar tone and I opened up my neighbor’s door to see those familiar faces. I can’t tell how delighted and relieved I felt to see them. I thanked my neighbor for his assistance and then went with friends to meet the friend whom I had given keys earlier this morning.

Phew! And I felt great relief to come back to the warmth of home after missing it for about an hour 🙂

(PS: I was watching this movie ‘The Hidden Face’ (SPOILER ALERT!) today where a lady ends up locking her inside a secret room and is helplessly trapped there for a month as she forgot the keys to unlock the door of secret room. I wish I had seen that movie before and realized the importance of keys!)

Things that amazed foreigners

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Recently, I had chances to interact with a few foreigners who came to visit the Incredible India for official purposes. It was a great experience interacting them and getting to know how different and how similar our cultures were. Despite the cultural and geographical differences, we discovered that there are a few things which we all find interesting like Beauty and Booze. I guess, such worldwide interests act as the unifying factors for people across the world.  However, there were quite a few things that they found different or fascinating about India or in other words, the things that they couldn’t fathom. The things for which we could not explain the logic behind them since the most apt explanation for them in India is “chalta hai” , whose most closest English variant would be “that’s the way ball bounces”.

Autorickshaws: A thing which fascinated them

So, here goes my list of things I think that amazed them:

  1. The traffic: They were amazed to find that despite so much commotion, there were no accidents taking place. They were amazed to find a motorcyclist overtaking a bus with just an inch gap and the pillion rider showing no signs of anxiety as if the bus just behind him was non-existent. They were fascinated at the sight of seeing so many yellow, little-thingies on the roads, better known as autorickshaws in India.
  2. The food habits: They didn’t understand why the Indians always like to dip the bread(roti, naan etc.) in curry(sabji, daal etc.) before eating it. They didn’t understand why the waiter in the restaurant waited for a minute for them to order curry when they just ordered naan.
  3. The common language: They were surprised to know that English is the language which is closest to being the common language spoken across India. They were amazed to know that officially, there are 22 languages spoken across Indian and there exist several variants of each language.
  4. The hospitality: They couldn’t understand why the people were always so courteous towards them. They didn’t understand why we always offered them to take the seat whenever they came around to our desk to discuss something.

 As Indians, we sometimes find it hard to understand what is there in India which could possibly interest the foreigners. Maybe, we need to reassess our cynicism and think about it from a neutral(foreigner’s) standpoint of view.