Of Ambition…

ambition: a strong desire to do or achieve something

“Something”.

‘Something’ could be defined in many ways, by different people. And yet, people at large seem to think it has a single definition, one that involves taking a single path and winning a specific kind of rat race that has been programmed into their brains. Even within that race, there’s a single defined method to win, often defined by gender-biased traits and behaviors. So even if someone is ambitious, they’re told repeatedly that they’re not, because they don’t demonstrate the requisite traits and behaviors.

As if one has to prove that one is ambitious.

As if ambition lies in the eyes of the beholder, and not in the inputs of the person.

As if ambition means only one thing, and couldn’t possibly reach where your imagination cannot.

As if my definition has no meaning if it doesn’t conform to your definition.

I am ambitious.

You are no one to tell me I’m not, irrespective of what I say or do. My definition isn’t yours, and it never will be.

 

Note: I’d love to say more, but everything I want to say, has been said here. So, yet again, Fuck Ambition. At least, your definition of it.

 

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We are a startup, and so…

We will not use a single point of contact for communications with a vendor. Instead, we expect people to follow up with different people for different parts of the process, and those people won’t talk to each other. Let the vendor rework stuff multiple times, that’s simpler.

Our feedback will be as random as to suggest re-doing work in an entirely different style, when all we wanted was to make things darker. We will not put this on email, however, because we only give clarifications on the phone with no paper trail.

We will blame our delays on another external consultant, because we don’t want to take any ownership for any breaks in our (non-existent) process.

We will have a person who claims they are a sign-off authority, but whenever there is an unpleasant decision to be communicated, we will hide behind “our team thinks…”

We believe “empathy” means not having to take accountability for our actions. We will throw around the word whenever someone pushes back on us, to claim that they do not have “empathy”.

We will claim that there’s no one person over-seeing this relationship. However, the person will suddenly show up out of the blue just to send emails at midnight, based on one person’s word. We will not give the other person a chance to share their side of the hassle. Because, we believe “two-way empathy” is about us.

In short, we don’t have a process because we are growing and trying to accomplish a lot with minimal resources. If you have a suggestion on how we can work together better, don’t tell us because we don’t want to hear it.

After all, why should a startup have a process? That’s a big company thing. We are so nimble, we will instead communicate vaguely, go back on our commitments and approvals, and if someone dares question us, well, that just means you don’t have the empathy to work with us, right?

 

Of being offended…

These days, my blog is becoming a very rant-y place. If you’d like to read something more fun, I suggest going to the Wanderlust category instead).

Offended (adj): resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult.

The feeling of being offended is a very interesting thing, in that different people get offended for different things.

Some people don’t like it if someone swears.

Others don’t like it if people pull their legs or make jokes about them.

Still others may get offended just because they don’t like the timing of what you said.

It’s easy to say that if everything could offend, you may as well not say anything, because that way you don’t offend. Except, that’s another form of offense, too.

Sounds confusing?

It is. It is, because, offense, like beauty lies in the eyes of beholder. And many times, you can offend not by what you say, but how you say it. That’s why it’s so important to think through what you say and when you say it. You may not think that what you said was offensive, and you may think a puff of smoke blew away all the anger in the room.

But that may just be in your head.

Because, like I said, offense lies with the beholder and not with you. And therefore, when the beholder tells you about it, try not to get mad at them the second time. This isn’t about you, really, it’s about other person and why they felt what they felt, however illogical it may seem to you.

Listen, apologise (preferably meaningfully, if you are a big enough person), and help make things better. Remember. It may be nothing to you, but a lot more to someone else. Especially if they are in a minority to start with.

Just. Be. Nice.

And for those who watch this stuff unfold, and say nothing – you are a perpetrator, too. You are silent, and complicit, and you let this happen because you didn’t have the courage to stand up for someone who needed it. So if you think you’re ok because you weren’t involved, think again, and think hard.

You’re as much to blame as the other person.

 

 

Of metro rides and being independent

On Thursday, my personal space was invaded, and I was physically shoved.

My problem isn’t really with the fact that I was shoved. It’s also not with the fact that this happened at the metro turnstile, which meant that I wasn’t able to scan my card not once, but multiple times leading to a man (not the one who shoved me, or maybe he was?) yelling at me. Not once, but thrice in a row.

My problem also isn’t with the fact that I tried to call this entire experience to the attention of the metro staff and that they refused to try and isolate the perpetrator (I don’t know who shoved me, and whether their attempt was to shove me, or grope me). Forget the person who invaded the physical space, they didn’t even rebuke the guy who yelled at me for not moving fast enough for his liking.

My problem is with the fact that the female guard at the turnstile believed that if she apologized on behalf of the other passengers, I’d let things go. Even though she and her colleague let the men RUN scot free while I pointed and yelled that I wanted them stopped so I could change the person’s final destination from the railway station to the police station.

My problem is with the fact that the metro supervisor tried fobbing off the entire incident with varied excuses ranging from the fact that the lady officer empathizes with me “because a woman understands a woman problem”, to “excessive crowds to control”, to “we cannot do anything, Madam, passengers should behave like educated people”. The last was the point at which I stalked out of his office because I realized there really was nothing I could do.

My biggest problem, though, is that thanks to this entire incident, the next evening, I called V to come get me when I couldn’t find an Uber to get home at 8.30PM. I live 2 KM away from work, in Bangalore. I’ve lived for four years in Gurgaon, and I never once had to ask someone to bail me out of a situation.

I always prided myself on being independent, and I actually (kinda) like public transport. And yet, here I am, trying to decide what bothers me more – asking my husband to come pick me up, or driving myself to and fro the one location that’s best connected to my house by public transportation.

Bangalore Metro, you just made me lose a portion of my independence, and for that, I cannot forgive you.

Note: The best (and only) outcome of my kicking up a fuss was that the guards started yelling out a public service announcement at the turnstile – “Please move away and give the lady passengers some space.”

ET, when did you become a neighbourhood aunty?

Dear Economic Times,

Last I checked you were a business paper. That’s right, BUSINESS. I understand that conception and fertility are businesses now (and probably bigger than most other businesses), but that still doesn’t give you the right to judge those of us who are a “tad late” by your standards. Brilliant piece of reporting by the way, what with the use of that phrase, in addition to quoting “a research” that states whatever point you’re looking to make, with zero data or methodology or even a source. I’d love to know if this research was carried out by an intern in your office as a full-fledged summer project, or whether she came up with it over a tea break just in time for you to send the article to press.

I’m also curious by that photograph you used to illustrate your point – are the treatments and doctors you quote (good job with the subtle paid advertising gimmick Aveya Fertility and Cloud Nine group!), also guaranteed to give you the Caucasian skin the model in your stock photography sports? I’ve seen enough of these models in fertility clinic ads around town, so maybe the idea is to wait till one is a ‘tad late’, and then get a double whammy of fair skin AND a baby (or two, or maybe more because anyway one must be freezing ones geriatric eggs at 30)?

My favorite portion is your section on prenatal precautions, which tells me I HAVE to quit smoking, but I only need to ‘limit’ my drinking. Is this a concession for today’s generation? I mean, what is this limited drinking – how much do you think an average woman drinks, and therefore what’s the limit? I got my drinking chops in Gurgaon so I’m a “tad” worried that I may be over your limit. I’d also like to understand what are the so-call ‘acceptable levels’ for weight. Your esteemed professionals don’t really tell me this, just like they don’t tell me how I’m supposed to “keep my pre-existing conditions under check”. I assume they mean continue to take the relevant medication, but it sounds like you want me to will it away. I will try that and let you know what my medical practitioner thinks of my attempt.

Basically, you claim you’re telling me the pros and cons of my choices, but all you have are sweeping statements, generalizations, and enough quotes to convince me that the 3/4 of the page this article took up was paid for by these so-called concerned healthcare providers. By the way, did you consider the fact that the planet is already groaning under the weight of the people we have, and maybe, just maybe, not everyone needs to necessarily procreate?

ET, I think you should go back to what you’re supposed to do, and what you’re actually reasonably decent at, and report on business news. Dr. Shenoi and her ilk can work with other papers in your group, and maybe Aveya can be a part of the Ads for Equity program, given that they’re only a few months old.

After all, there are enough well meaning neighbourhood aunties as-is, without your having to take on the mantle of one.

Best,

Me

PS: For those concerned, this is the article in question. The top search result leads you right to…surprise surprise – the Cloud Nine website. I guess there really isn’t a doubt on who’s judging those of us who are “late”, and how much they benefit from fear mongering to aid their business?

Hypocrisy

So you teach your kids that everybody is equal.
You teach your kids that people are people no matter where they come from, or what they believe in. You teach your kids not to make fun of others for their mannerisms, their accents, for things they can’t control. You teach your kids that they should look beyond the trivial externalities and truly appreciate people for what they are. You teach your kids not to discriminate between rich and poor, between religions and castes, between those who can and those who cannot.

And then once your kids grow up, you expect them to forget everything you taught them.
You expect them to forget because the world isn’t as open as you claimed it was. You expect them to forget because you forgot to tell them that all this works as long as the “others” are contained outside the box that “you” live in. Because the minute someone from outside has to step into your box, they are no longer equal. They are no longer people you want to associate will. They are no longer people whose accents and mannerisms can be controlled or tolerated. They cannot be appreciated for what they are. They are now poor, of the “wrong” religion, the “wrong” caste. They are no longer people, they are just wrong. They are right as long as they stay in the periphery of your world, they were never supposed to enter your world.

You talk of “principles”. Do you know what your kids hear?
They hear the sound of hypocrisy, they hear the shattering of the faith they had in your open mindedness. They hear that the world is the way it is because ultimately everybody is ok with the “others” only if the others stay outside their world.