The world is full of 'Attitude'

Today morning, I saw the following post from a page admin in facebook to all the followers:

"People who are not actively following this page can kindly unlike the page so that we will know the exact number of followers of the page"

I was appalled. Really! In the first place, people who are not active on facebook would most likely miss the post since they are not 'active'. It's obvious that the post is directed towards the regular readers. It was an indirect way of begging readers to like the posts, but it was full of 'attitude' or more accurately 'arrogance'.

I don't want to go into the details of which page, when, how etc. I had happily 'unliked' the page.

Now-a-days I am encountering attitude everywhere.

When you ask a vendor if the vegetables are fresh, he shows his attitude: 'Take it or leave it amma. You won't get this quality everywhere.' When you go to a five star resort full of foreigners, the staff show their attitude, even though you are paying the same amount as the foreigners. When you approach a playschool and ask them to reduce the fee, the manager shows his attitude: 'This is the best playschool in the city, madam. We already have a waiting list. You should pay the full amount regardless of the age or number of hours'. An intelligent employee shows his 'attitude' to his boss: 'I work like this only, at my own pace. If you don't like it, I'll resign.'

Ironically, we have tuned ourselves to believe people who show attitude. We buy vegetables from that vendor only, we go to the same resort everytime, and we join our kids in that playschool only. The more the attitude, the better.

Why did people suddenly forget the word 'humility'? When is this going to change?

A few years back, parents used to teach their kids to be humble. "No matter how much you grow, you should never forget your humble beginnings" was taught to me. Kids used to respect elders, shopkeepers used to respect customers, employees used to respect employers. All that has changed. 'Attitude' is the buzz word right now. 'Humble' almost became synonymous to 'weak'. Even the movies are portraying arrogance as heroism. Heroines are shown as falling for arrogant guys. Is this what we want to teach our next generation? That arrogance equals heroism?

Don't delete this mail: A short story

I reach my office in frustration, covered in sweat and dust. Bloody traffic! Travelling by a two-wheeler in this traffic pure hell. In addition to that, I had a verbal argument with a reckless car driver. I abhor driving on Indian roads. However, I have no choice. I hate depending on my dad to drop me in office everyday, and I hate travelling by public transport even more.

I plonk my handbag on the desk, switch on the computer, push back the chair and close my eyes. The system, as usual, is taking a long time to start up.
The AC in the office starts cooling me. After about ten minutes, I open my eyes. The system is showing the start screen.

I open my personal mail instead of Outlook, hoping to relax before starting work.

I am wrong.

The first mail is the chain mail with ‘Don’t delete this mail, bad luck will follow you’ in the subject line. I normally don’t get worked up about that kind of mails. I coolly forward them and continue reading other mails. I am ‘why take the risk’ kind of person. There’s no harm in forwarding the mail. People who don’t believe in it can kindly ignore it, and I will be saved from whatever bad luck is written in the mail. But today, I get all worked up.

Why should I believe in this nonsense? Am I not educated? How dare someone suggest that I’m going to face bad luck just because I didn’t forward a mail? How can someone force me into doing something I don’t believe in? Yes, I don’t usually believe in superstitions. But, if a black cat happens to cross my way, I go back, sit for a few seconds and start again, just to avoid the ‘risk’. Today I'm going to take a firm stand. I am not going to believe in this nonsense. So, for the first time, I delete the mail and continue reading other mails.

As soon as I close the mail, I see my boss standing behind me.

I look at him, surprised, and say, ‘Hello, Sir, Good morning. I didn’t see you there,’ trying to inject some authenticity into my fake smile. I know he looked at my mail. We are not supposed to open personal mails in office. My boss particularly hates it.

‘Can you come to my office?’ he asks.

‘Sure,’ I say, wondering what he’s upto.

I follow him and we both take our chairs in his office.

He comes straight to the point without bothering about niceties.

‘I have a bad news for you, Anusha. Since you’ve been on leave for four months in the last year and also failed to perform well after that, we are keeping you under probation. If you fail to improve in the next two months, you may have to face the pink slip,’ he says gravely.

I look at him utterly stunned. I was on leave to get well from a car accident. I lost my friend in that accident. It took me a long time to recover from the trauma of the accident, which may have led to my less than desirable performance. But, this is cruel. What happened to all those years when I got consecutive ‘A’s in appraisals? Why happened to all those years of faithfulness to the company. I didn’t leave it even though some of my friends left it in the first year itself.
I simply nod my head, not knowing what to say.

I walk out of his office and head towards the coffee dispenser, unable to face the work. Just then I hear my phone ringing and see that Mum is calling. Thank god!

‘Hi! Mum,’ I say, hoping I’d find relief in her words at least.

‘Anu! Did you see the news?’ she asks in a tone full of agitation.

‘Why? What happened?’

‘The train—The train your dad was travelling in met with an accident. I—I don’t understand—’ She’s unable to speak coherently.

My head starts spinning. I could hear my heart beating. My legs are becoming weak. But I gather myself. I have to be strong.

‘Mum, please don’t panic. I’ll call the helpline,’ I say and drop the call.

I try dialling the helpline but get a continuous busy tone.

I retry in frustration but nothing happens. Should I call back Mum? What would I tell her?

I try calling the helpline again. I get the same busy tone again. A lot of people are probably dialling it right now. Tears are rolling down from my eyes. Why is this happening to me? Oh god! I stare at the cell phone screen in helplessness.

Just then I remember the mail from the morning. I didn’t even read it.

Even though it’s foolish to read the mail when I should be calling the helpline, I go back to my system and reopen the mail from trash.

There’s a photo of a God with a message that ‘If you forward this mail to ten people, God will bless you with good luck. Do it within ten seconds or else bad luck will follow you.’

I consider forwarding the mail. Perhaps it will save my dad. 

I try to do it,but something is stopping me. If I succumb to this irrational thought today, I’ll never be able to take a firm stand again. I’ll become a slave to a superstition. No, I can't go on doing things in the name of avoiding risk.

Don’t think about it! My heart is warning me. It’s no time to think about logic. It’s your dad’s life at stake. All this is probably happening because of the mail.

Quickly I add ten people from my address book and try to press forward, but, in a moment of decision, I press on delete message forever. I have done it! Somehow I feel lighter. For once, I didn’t take the ‘why take the risk’ route. I didn't go back on my decision. I’m not going to believe in superstitions.

Just then I get a call from Mum. I lift the phone apprehensively, praying that I shouldn’t listen to any bad news. I’ll never forgive myself for deleting the mail.

‘Anu, thank god! You father just called me now. He was one of the few people who escaped from the accident.’ Her voice is high with excitement. I sigh in relief. Thank you, God! 

Review: Love Story by Erich Segal

This is one of the books I’ve always wanted to read but couldn’t due to various reasons. However, yesterday, I’ve decided that I would give it a shot. It’s Saturday, I had nothing better to do, and I was in one of those rare moods to tolerate a romantic love story (After child birth, I started considering myself as a mature woman, so it’s been increasingly becoming difficult for me to tolerate gooey romantic stuff that I used to enjoy as a teenager. I hope it is just a phase).

I wasn’t expecting anything great. After all it was written long back, and I probably couldn’t relate to the story anymore. But I was wrong. I was absorbed into the story from page one. Having seen several Bollywood and Tollywood movies with the same outline, the story did not appear as anything new. But it had its charm. It was a short read, and when it was over, I felt bad, wanting to read more.

Plot (Contains Spoilers): The story was told and retold in so many ways that it appears old now. A rich boy (Oliver) falls for a poor girl (Jenny). His parents don’t like that so he severs all ties with his father for Jenny. He studies law while she earns for a living. He becomes a top lawyer, and when everything looks fine, tragedy intervenes. Oliver discovers that Jenny has Leukaemia in advanced stage. She’s going to die. The doctors try but fail to save her. And so, the story ends on a tragic note.

I loved the quick-witted responses of Jennifer. She’s strong even when facing death. I loved Oliver. He’s any woman’s dream lover. To be able to leave everything for the one you love is no mean task. Every woman deserves a husband like that.
I would give 5/5 stars, just for the evergreen story. 

The joy of rereading novels

Reading old novels again and again is a kind of comfort, isn't it?

We need not guess the story, so there's no tension involved.

We can read it at our own pace, so we need not stay up all night just to know the end.

The characters feel familiar, so it is like remembering old times and talking to old friends.

We tend to concentrate more on each word, so there's a good chance we'll add a new word to our vocab.

Sometimes I miss the depth of meaning of some sentences in a hurry to finish the book, which I understand in one of the rereads.

Some books I reread all the time:

Harry potter series ( I know it's childish of me to read them even now, but I can't help it! Those are the books I first fell in love with as a kid. It's like when you are flipping the channels you suddenly see Tom and Jerry and stop there, just to enjoy it one more time even though it appears childish )

To kill a mocking bird ( It's such a comfort read. Changes your mood when you are low)

Wuthering heights ( It's supposed to be a classic love story, but I don't find love in it. However, there's something in the book that makes me reread it again and again )

Shopaholic series ( It's a chick lit series, but it uplifts my mood instantly )

Bridget Jones diary ( Another chick lit. But the humor is so natural that I tend to laugh out loud everytime I read it )

Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry finn ( Another set of children books, but I love them )

Great Expectations ( A long read, but a good read )

The time traveler's wife ( A sweet love story )

All Sherlock Holmes novels ( I simply love the character of Holmes ) 

A lot of books get added to the list for I tend to reread books a lot. So, what are your favorites? 

Review: The One You Cannot Have by Preeti Shenoy

Finished it! In four hours! It's a short book, and a good read. My rating 3/5. And here's the review of Preeti Shenoy's book 'The one you cannot have' :

The main theme of the book is 'Everyone will always have the one you cannot have.' The author conveyed her point well. The book talks about acceptance of your past and moving on. The plot is a no-brainer. Anyone can guess it from the title. Aman, a north indian, and Shruthi, a south indian, are star-crossed lovers. After four years of togetherness, they believe that nothing is going to stop them from getting married. However, fate interferes in a cruel way and Shruti is married to a another guy, Rishabh, from her own community. Even after two years, Aman and Shruti struggle with the ghosts of their pasts. It affects Shruti's marital life and Aman finds it difficult to commit himself into another relationship. How they found acceptance of their past and moved on is the rest of the story.

The story moves at a brisk pace. The shifting of perspectives at the beginning of each chapter, a technique every author is employing these days, helped me understand them well.The characters of Shruti and Aman are excellently developed. Their love truly appeared magical. Until the last page, I hoped they would get together again, and once again the magic would happen. I particularly like Shruti's narration. I would often find myself skipping Anjali's part. It's not that her part was boring,but Shruti's was interesting.

Moving on, there are loose ends in the story. Like the story of Vikram and Dipika. What happened to them? And why did the author introduce the subplot in the story when she didn't want to give it a proper closure? Is Dipika's character introduced to show us how bitter marriages can become and how it would drive the women to extremes? The other complaint I have is that the author drilled into reader's mind that marriages become boring after some years. She should have shown atleast one happy couple. It's a pretty depressing thought.

I felt that the ending was abrupt. How did Shruti and Rishabh reconcile? I know she wrote an epilogue, but I felt it was insufficient since we invested so much time on them.

The major complaint I have is why are mothers always shown as pestering? About baby, marriage or otherwise? The author tried to show it as affection, but frankly it was repetitive.

Well, those are some of my thoughts. If you want to read a good story of acceptance and moving on, without worrying about the fate of other characters, then this is the book. I would have given it 4 stars if the story was a bit more well developed without loose ends. 

I wish...

I wished...

My brain were a memory card,
so that I could keep what I wanted to remember and erase what I wanted to forget.

My eyes were a camcorder,
so that I could record some beautiful sights I had seen.

My body would operate on battery,
so that energy refill was as simple as plugging yourself to a charger instead of preparing and eating three elaborate meals.

My body doesn't need sleep every night,
so that I could accomplish so many things everyday instead of wasting time on sleep.

But then I realised that I was wishing I were a robot.

It is a blessing

to be able to forget,
for we can move on in our lives.

to be able to eat,
for we are blessed with the feeling of taste.

to be able to sleep,
for nothing could replace those wonderful dreams.

It's a blessing to be human.