Ok, I can't believe that I work in technology and never thought about doing this. Ofcourse my reasons for not posting were always 'too much effort'. However, with a phone that can email, I really have no excuses do I?
Here is to documenting my life more often so it maybe read in the future....
The stench of human urine permeated the otherwise odourless air on Steuart Street, San Francisco. I passed by homeless person 1 surrounded by an odd colection of blankets and pots. She looked like she was doing her nails. I walk a few more metres and spot homeless person 2, he is enveloped by various bedding material also. He is asleep, looks peaceful enough. An overwhelming urge possesses me to buy him a coffee and sit down and have a long, meaningful, satisfying, deep conversation. I resisted the urge and continued walking to my destination..work.
My life to date has taken form from being scattered across multiples cities, countries and continents. The constant uncertainty and movement has given an undeniable obsession for the very same thing - change and discovery. I choose to explore, drop connections made through months of hardwork and move on as with no care in the world. This is not true as I am constantly reminded of the consequences after the fact. These come too late, they come at a time when I truly need what I left behind.
At this very moment, it is a conversation. A friend - a female friend. In part, I trust my insane ability to transcend culuture, etiquette and close bonds to forge new relationships in the new country of my residence. After all, this ability has allowed me to do so well at work and in part regain my sanity after some terrible experiences in teenagehood. That could be summised as a rude lesson in cultural shock and ways to cope with this as a 13 year old. I could write a book on this particular topic alone, however I won't.. not right now anyway.
As I have grown older, the lense through which I see the world has gotten more unique. This has marred my so called ability to build really deep personal relationships easily. It has in effect moved me along an ever narrowing pathway from close friend to attainting more acquaintances. I seem to hoard more and more of these everyday that play various roles in my life but none that special ever loving, understanding, always ready to support true female companionship that I so ruthlessly left behind in New Zealand, Brisbane and Sydney. Now, perhaps I am ready to finally embrace the immense value these relationships played and continue to play, albeit through email, facebook, chat and twitter :) I thank you for being in my life...
I write this as I sit on an seemingly never ending shuttle journey home at 9.02pm listening to the beautiful tunes of Mad World by Gary Juleswondering why I have not acted on my impulses to write a post in a month.
It could be because I have been a very big mix of sad and happy in the last few weeks. The ability to translate these emotions in to words or the reasons for them have not come easy and clearly. In the interest of continuity, I have decided to explore them here regardless.
Sad : Another manager change ...
Happy : This inspired me to take stock of my own role and my aspirations. I have been having some great conversations with managers and directors about their choice to become people managers and their journies. This has been revealing, inspiring and sometimes just funny. I look forward to hearing more but here some of the things I have heard so far...
+ Feel your success through the successes of your team
+ Sacrifice individual results to see help your team achieve results
+ Understand what motivates you, on some level, the pattern is people
+ Listen to the inner voice if it is telling you that listening to people's problems is inspiring
+ It is very rewarding watching people change and grow
+ It is no longer about processes but all about emotions....
The last one really resonated with me as I am a very strong thinker and thinking has anything but dominated my career. I am now getting the urge to feel more....to venture into the depths of people's emotions. This scares me and excites me all at once but first I have to navigate the pathways to find this opportunity. Here in lies my first challenge.
I write this post as I reflect on the last 5 hours of my day spent drowning in little black and white numbers strewn across Excel. I only have Imeem.com and my wonderful cube mates in San Francisco to thank for helping me keep my sanity.
This made me think about my favourite songs and why I keep going back to them. In my most cross eyed moment 30 minutes ago, I searched for 'Indira' on imeem.com and was comforted by the Tamil song 'ThodaThoda' . This took me back to the running through the green rice fields of India with my Indian silk skirt swishing behind me. It took me into my late grandmother's kitchen with the intoxicating smells of sweet tamarind and spicy cumin. As I dream, I am gently reminded of the attraction of being somewhere and doing something that is so far from the present. I ponder this whilst sitting in a dimly lit cube wearing rather uncomfortable-to-be-in-for-8hours non swishy Jeans eating non fat organic yogurt and drinking 'honest organic iced tea' that is 'just a tad sweet'.
Another song that makes me weak in the knees is 'NilaKaaigirathu', this invokes entirely different memories of being perched next to my cassette player pressing the pause button every 5 seconds to write down the lyrics. This practise was usually followed by the relentless belting of the song in the stairway of our apartment with my friend Dhanya. We thought we would become Indian classical singers :-)
I seek immense pleasure in the magic of music to be able to transport me to places that seem happier, places that allow me take a deep breath and smile. I find it hard to get the same pleasure from most Western music. I have always wondered why I dislike 80's music however I have been seen once or twice singing along merrily to 'Livin' on a prayer'. Why is it that I draw my energy from Indian music even though I have lived most of my life outside India?
I think music helps embed memories, may it be sad or happy. For me, I seem to pick music from my time in Dubai as many of my happy memories formed its root in the sun burnt and eclectic country - United Arab Emirates.
What kind of music brings back sweet memories for you?
Indeed you heard it - there is such a thing as the best job in the whole wide world and it exists in no place other than the one I left behind - Australia. You may have heard about it in the media, the job is to be an Island Care taker on Australia's Great Barrier Reef for 6 months getting paid $150,000!
I found this fascinating for many reasons. One being "Are you really serious?" Who on earth would actually find the motivation to apply for this job and then actually think that they'll get it. The criteria is ridiculous, it pretty much lets anyone apply. Ofcourse, I personally know that I would be thoroughly bored swimming all day, taking videos of my self swimming all day and then writing about my self tanning and swimming all day! Oh what a bore.
Ofcourse, we all know that this is a brilliant attempt by the Australian tourism board to show the world some of the amazing places to visit in Australia. Oh and you know what? Good on them! Why not? And good on all the incredible people applying for the position with great hope just like the millions that buy a lottery ticket.
Apart from the cynicism, I am insanely jealous of the person who will win this and insanely in admiration of those that make the effort to apply. I mean to underscore the word 'effort' as watching some of the videos on the site left me quite disappointed. At this opportune moment mid paragraph is where I am going to make the shameless plug for my friend David Griswold who has entered the competition.
Watch his video and while you are there, vote for him. If anything, he deserves the job for having the best TV/Radio voice in the world! The one you hear on the video is completely natural, like I say some people are simply wasted in their day job.
Not another blog post on this movie, oh no, let the controversy stop. ;-) I am sure that is what the producers are thinking or not. After all, there is no such thing as bad publicity.
Anyways, here is what I think. The Indian culture has been increasing in popularity in the Western world. I am seeing more best seller books written by Indians, increased posters advertising bollywood dancing and you know the west is embracing something when you have white people teaching the dance! much like peering behind the kitchen of a Indian San Francisco restaurant to reveal that the chefs are well - not Indian.
However, I digress. The classic way in which I see that the West is interested in the East is through the movies. In the beginning, the movies portraying Indian culture were largely in artistic format, going unnoticed apart from winning the hearts of the avid foriegn film fan. Now, I am surprised to see that Slum Dog Millionaire has taken on quite a bollywood approach but still winning the hearts of mainstream movie goers outside India.
As an Indian foreigner, I actually like the fact that India is in the spotlight. Even if the move shows some of the uglier sides of the country, I also think it did a good job in showing the side of Indian culture that I am proud to associate with. This is the genuine compassion in people, the hardworking go getter attitude and ability to have a good time no matter what the circumstance! Some parts of it are certainly gruesome but here is to hoping maybe, just maybe we can starve the beggar industry by not giving money to the begging children in India.
I also particularly like this article from Time.com on the movie, it captures the themes in the movie from many angles. The frustrated Indian viewers, indifferent viewers in India who have become somewhat blind to movies showing 'real' India (they are happy sticking to bollywood as they see real India everyday) and the slum dwellers themselves. They didn't however cover the enthusiastic brought up overseas Indian who is thirsty for such movies or any other film/documentary/tv show/book that educates the western world of the rather complex and confusing country that is India.
I think this quote from the article puts it well "The film only shows what is real," says Rakesh Nair, a driver in New Delhi. "If it's set in a slum, there's going to be garbage. It's those who are making lots of money who are cribbing about the film showing the dark side of India. Those left behind are loving it because they can empathize with the film's hero."
That is the question that has been on my mind lately. I have been wondering if I am emotionally ready to share my thoughts with the world and to welcome their sometimes harsh and honest comments. I am a closet blogger, I can be found on Google - 7th down after the various social networking profiles but that's about it. Why do people want their blogs to be read? that is my question. Why do I suddenly feel like I want my writing to be read? I think the question is the answer. I want to hear what others think.
Maybe I should tell my friends about it? Maybe I should post this entry on facebook? Maybe I should get my husband to read it first! (quick check with him confirms that, no, he has not read it)
For now, I am going to keep writing till I feel ready for the world to know...
My husband brought home his results from the Myers-Briggs test the other day. We spent the whole night dicussing the various repucssions of being a certain personality type. He was an INTJ and I am an ENTJ. You know what? this is kind of pleasing and depressing at the same time.
Why? Well the description on his paperwork rang very true of my personality "Frank, decisive, assume leadership readily. Quickly see illogical and inefficient procedures and policies, develop and implement comprehensive systems to solve organizational problems. Enjoy long-term planning and goal setting. Usually well informed, well read, enjoy expanding their knowledge and passing it on to others. Forceful in presenting their ideas"
I had one thought that pinned me here which was my profile started with "Frank, decisive..etc" but the some of the others started with "Outgoing.." (ESFP) or "Warmhearted.."(ESFJ) or "Warm, empathetic" (ESFJ) but the real question is why did I want my description to sound like that? My husband had a good theory (this is why we get along, we are able to talk about abstract concepts and invent theories to solve it for hours on end). He said that those characterisitcs that I longed for are probably accepted and expected in woman. There was also statistics at play here as only 0.9% percent of the Adult Female population in the U.S is represented by the ENTJ while 19.4% is presented by ISFJ. My type is the second least common in women after INTJ (my husband's personality type!).
This made a lot of sense to me. I never had too many female friends growing up and I always thought I could be more ...gentle. Moreover, I find myself attracted to other personalities like me without even knowing it! My latest addition is Penelope's blog and recently found out that she is of the same type too.
Going back to my description above. The strange thing is that it describes exactly what I do for a job right now - and research shows that ENTJs get on smashingly well with INTJ/INTP - does this mean that my life is perfectly matched and therefore I must be the happiest person in the world right now? Statistically speaking apparently, I should be. This page would show that ENTJ/INTJs form the type that is more educated, with the highest income and generally married!
If only for the moment, I am going to be pleased with the generalisation and the broad statistics.
Some of the things I have come to appreciate in managers over time...
1. Listen before responding...no, really listen, not just hear : simple yet so difficult to execute
2. Be the remover of obstacles not the creater of them.
3. Take the liberty to justify tight deadlines, your employee will appreciate you for it.
4. Empathise : nothing worse than a manager that seems like they just don't care
5. Empower : no need to give your senior employees minor tasks, instead take the time to make big comments that will empower them to solve big problems.
6. Ask questions : This usually yields what the employee is really thinking and it shows that you care.
Flipside - as an employee, how can you enforce the above?
1. Allow them to listen, try to keep to your point. If you still feel not listened to, repeat your point in another way. Don't give up. Don't get intimidated. Your manager will appreciate it.
2.Kindly say to your manager that by XYZ is currently stopping you from progressing on ABC
3. Ask, if not given the justification - simply ask for it...nicely.
4. This one is hard. "I'd like it if you could see it from my point of view which is...XYZ " not great but worth a shot?
5. Call them out on it! Again that is hard so instead say 'These tasks look like they'll keep me busy! I wonder if you could comment on how we could solve XYZ"
6. Hard again, how do you get someone to ask questions? Well the only way is to go ahead and answer the questions you wish they asked. This will help to get in a frame of mind that explains your point better.
Most importantly... persist. Don't give up till you feel like you've been understood.
I am no means an advocate for starting fridays on a negative note but I feel the compulsion to do so today. My rant is about timing and the respect that ensues it. To me, the most valuable thing I have is time and I find it the more offensive than anything else when someone impinges on it.
Today, I had someone tell me that they can't meet me for a scheduled meeting 5 minutes before the meeting as they had a clash but offered to reschedule. I have had this happen on more than a few occasions, what would you do in this situation?
1. Say 'No problem, lets reschedule'
2. Say 'oh no, in the future, I'd appreciate it if you let me know a few hours in advance'
3. This is unacceptable, no I don't think we should reschedule. Additionally, I think this is type of thing that encourages a culture of irresponsibility and inconsequentiality (not sure if that is a word but I am keeping it.
I said 1. I should've said 2. I was left with the feeling of 3.
Well I am not sure what more I could add to the subject line to constitute life's complexities! These are things that have gotten me absorbed in the last few weeks. When people ask 'how's married life?' This is what I say 'Great! just like normal' whereas what I really want to say is 'actually, I am left a little goal less' I don't say this ofcourse because saying this would be like really saying How I am to the 'How are you?' questions posed by others while they rush to the kitchen to make tea.
What do I mean by goal less? well.. during our 3 years of relationship before getting engaged, we had long distance to survive, then the moving in together, then the engagement and how we can forget the wedding planing. Ofcourse, after which came the planning and move to another country! We survived this all and in our case we think it made us stronger. Now we want more. Such is the selfish nature of the Gen Y that we are.
I have reading a lot about when to start a family and how it affects career etc. There are some amazing bloggers out there and I am particularly addicted to this one the Brazen Careerist.
For now, I continue to ponder and marvel at the human beings that multi task the 12 hours days with child rearing as I wonder how to manage my 3 hour commute combined with a gym-less 14 hour work day.
After several weeks of unrelenting 'can we get a kitty cat?', Matt agreed to a little SPCA trip. This SPCA happened to be based in the darker side of the Mission, San Francisco. We took our little joy ride on the bus which is always entertaining as we got through the madness of Chinatown. The hundreds of people with little plastic bags, melons tearing through the bottom, trolleys tripping teenage boys and the commotion of unknown language all makes for an exciting bus trip.
We reach animal heaven, we were shocked to see a hotel room style setting available for the cats. TVs, lots of beds, toys etc Better living conditions than some people are forced to live in. There weren't too many playful cats, they were mostly shy and trip was somewhat depressing than fun. The staff were amazing though, they were clearly passionate.
We left fairly unsatisifed but with the clear view of not getting a cat in the near future...
We are in Lake Tahoe, California near the beautiful snow peaked mountains. It is 31st of December and I am in my cute new years dress waiting for our house party to kick off. It is here and now that I contemplate the emotions of learning sport as an adult.
Lets go back 3 days to day one of snow boarding on the Heavenly mountains. Stunning day, blue skies and glistening pure white powder. I strap in one foot and I slide confidently towards the my first chair lift ride of the season. We ride up the incredible mountain in one swift lift and pick motion. We sit admiring the view as we wait for the adventure to begin.
The few moments before getting of the chair lift can be best described as fearful anticipation coupled with jittery excitement. These two emotions can describe almost all of my experience really but why stop, lets keep exploring some more emotions.
I fall off, ofcourse. I knew I was going to fall off so I did. Emotion number #1 Damn it Damn Damn it. I sit down and strap both feet in and I get up. Emotion #2 Big Sighh..Oh yeah - me, myself and Isis can do this.
The next phase of emotions roll in amongst ultimate loss of control, petrified gaining of speed and crash! First big fall of the season, oh it hurt so bad. Fall 2,3,4,5,6 and 7. Damn, 7 hurt. 7 was spectacular, it was a fabulous slide down the snow on top of the mountain with the wind blowing snow in my face and to finish to show I kick up a great amount of snow in my face. My face felt like it was snap frozen.
Back to the emotions. You know what you are going to go through when learning a new sport because you are an adult. You think this makes it easier, but it only make it harder as you beat yourself up for wanting to stamp your feet and cry loudly as you make you 20th glorious fall on the hard ice. You keen going despite the pain. You feel strong and determined. You then see all your friends waiting for you patiently trying to teach you. You want to scream and say 'leave me alone!' As an adult, why does it feel so desperately embarrassing and patronised when your other adult friends are only try to help you? You don't know, but you think about it for hours anyways.
Anyone back to the first person, I convince my friends to go enjoy themselves and go off happily to find other silly adults doing spectacular falls. Harmony is restored and I simply enjoy the pains of having no control as I find my peace in the quiet nature of speed.
My husband and I recently spent our Honeymoon in Peru and the Galapagos Islands. I am going to start writing about this trip as random thoughts pop up and I just had one. This one is on tourism. Peru is peculiar in that it came out war and hard times only recently so you could argue that it is still learning the wicked ways of commercialisation. In most cases, kids run up several 100 metres at high altitude as they see us huffing and puffing up the mountain. They then lay their wares out on the path in front of us and smile. That is it! that's usually their sales pitch. Most of the times, kids chase us wanting lollies or bread.
Here is a picture of things changing perhaps...this lady stopped us in the middle of the path in Lake Titicaca. She said 'photo' to me and I thought 'oh how cute' and took a photo of her. Promptly after the click was heard, she put her hands out, tiny wrinkles forming a sly smile, "5 sols". Brilliant.
I have been asked this question a few times since our arrival here a month and a half ago. The other one is 'do you like it here?' I've considering an appropriate but meaningful answer to these questions but have concluded that there isn't one at the time. It is always 'Yeaahh! I love it!'. However, I have given myself liberty to expand in this post.
As with any city, there are positives and others that many not be necessarily be the most positive from my perspective. I like the people, it seems that there is a concentration of open minded, friendly, somewhat San Francisco obsessed, fascinating people! It would also seem that people love the notion of Australia with its sub burnt land, ever expansive freedom and glorious beaches...
Of all the aspects that mark this country's external image, one is true. The land of opportunity. I feel this acutely in every conversation, that people are willing to work together to create opportunity. They want to work hard and create something special. I like this.
The other thing is that the American/SF way of doing things surfaces a lot of little things that make sense. Anyone that knows me will vouch to my painful obsession for things making sense and efficiency. Anyhow, I digress. An example of a little thing, the address format here is 123 Blah street, Apt 100, CA 93100. In Sydney, it would be apt 100, 123 Blah Street. In many ways the former makes more sense, its simple really, you find the street and then the apartment! Ahh, this makes me happy.
I miss Sydney, I miss the general reliable available of good coffee and food. Ofcourse, this is not to offend the amazing selection of culinary delights in SF. However, my point is that you can generally always trust that food in Sydney (city and surrounds) will be good. The cappuccino here is often espresso with forth on top. On the other hand, I love that you can get great pasta on street and around the corner is Chinatown with great dim sums!