Monday, May 30, 2016

Mantra ...Quietly gorgeous



I've crossed Mantra many many times. It has always made me curious, so one fine Saturday I finally decided to step in.

Mantra is an Ornamental Interior Decoration outlet – which sells Bronze ornaments. There are both religious artifacts as well as well thought out creative home décor items.

Their product line ranges from small statuettes, even pen holders, candle stands, lamps to medium sized center-pieces, wall hangings, statues to huge works of art. Most of the bronze work is designed personally by the owning couple – adding a personal touch to the whole experience.

The artifacts are finished with gold / silver/ copper and bronze coating. Mostly, each item has multiple colours – brought out by various combinations of the coating metals. These finishes give the metal artifacts a retro look – where the antique and modern are married off in style. Quitely gorgeous 

Going into their shop is like stepping into a small museum. The products span over two floors. Strategically planned and spaced out.

Though they do have an online store – they sell a lot of the customized bronze artifacts only in their outlets.

It’s definitely worth a look into.


















Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spotted!

Theres this little creature in my life. It had been very quiet and MIA for a couple of days last April. We'd even given a shout out in the family whatsapp group, and got no response. And then there I was, scrolling aimlessly through my facebook feed - like we are wont to do these days, and I FOUND IT !!!

This is how that scene played out:

Me: I found it!!! (Excited and tickled)

Dad: What? (Looking disinterested)

Me: *Thrusts photo in front of his face*

Dad: (still not interested) Whats that?

Me: See see SEEE !!!

Dad: Is that the carrot?!

Me:Yess !!!

Dad: Idhukka avala anga annupi uttaen!! (Is this why I sent her there ?!)

Me:😂😂😂😂😂

Dad: No wonder she s been so quiet *sigh*

Oh the hilarity in suddenly finding your sister (I'm almost sure that purple thing is she 😉) [who is supposed to be busy with projects and reports, I must add!] all dunked in colours and grinning away to glory! 



This is a fond memory that I'm happy to be documenting and sharing!

This is also my entry in the 'tagged' contest by author Kaarthika along with 'the Chennai bloggers club' - with the theme of Fun or Memorable moment with Facebook :)


grin emoticon

Black heart


Chapter 4

It had been eight years.

Since watching someone else getting blamed and prosecuted for what he had done. He had perfectly orchestrated the arrest of his carefully prepared scapegoat. Of course, the scapegoat did deserve it, also, he didn’t like the competition. And the idiot was stupid enough to leave trails.

Oh, it had been thrilling. The press, the publicity. Everyone talking about his amazing act. He had been the hero. Well, the others would have considered him the villain, but he knew that a villain is just what the scared people called the hero.

It had been hilarious to watch how they treated him like the hero but referred to his actions – which they obviously were too stupid to realize – as villainous.

After the buzz had died down, he had decided to lay low for a while. There was some limelight near him, and he didn’t want to be in it. He was too clever, too great to get caught by being careless.
When the cravings had been too strong, he’d been discrete about it. Took a vacation. Carefully performed experiments that he knew would alert none. He closed the experiments well. Even displayed so much mercy as to let the poor families believe that it was an unfortunate accident or a natural cause that struck too soon. He had trained himself well.

But, he craved recognition again. The excitement was almost as gratifying as the experiment sometimes.

Yes, he’d stayed around to watch an enraged relative or two in those minor instances that he hadn’t bothered to – or been too arrogant to – clean up. But that didn’t hold a candle to everyone talking about it.

He fondly remembered all those imaginary theories that people had come up with. Calling him Jack the ripper! Religious associations… those were ironic- anyone could tell it was all about the science!
Making references to the red colour of her clothes – when it was the red of pure and fresh human blood that excited him…excited him. They had gone as far as to declare that sales of red sarees had drastically reduced!

Eight years he’d held it in, and the night before – he’d given in to the craving. Actually, it had taken over him. It probably was the red saree, he now thought, laughing to himself. It had been so long that the people seemed to have forgotten and this girl was proudly flaunting her red saree.

One that would have looked so much better bloody.

And the high he had gotten in carefully getting that note written – sheer ecstasy!

He got up from his now pristine white again workstation. The sample of the intestine expertly preserved and neatly named. He looked at it with pride – his trophies – and carefully shut the box, locking it.

It took him less than a half hour to completely clean the room and rid it of all other traces of DNA. His living room – not some locked away basement– he was no coward. He loved his life, his experiments and his home – one he had carefully done up in soft pastel shades, and expensive pieces of art.

He felt good now. Content with his last experiment. And gleefully eager about the buzz that is probably brewing right then.

Oooh it was going to be so good!




Note : This post is a part of the “Tagged” Contest by writer Kaarthika and The Chennai Bloggers Club. Kaarthika’s book is being released on May 29.

P.S: Now I tag Mary to take this forward :)

After the Floods

It has been six months since Chennai last saw rain. Six months since the greatest flood the state had witnessed in a hundred years!
Six months since the water started drying, the land became dry, and the ground water scarcity started cropping up again


Two months since the use of geysers dwindled to a slow stop. Since the summer collections became famous in retail outlets. Since watermelons started being stacked up on roadsides.


One month since the temperatures soared so high that we wondered if we would all roast right here. One month since deliberations began about the actual position of Chennai / Tamil Nadu being closer to the Sun than Mercury is. One month since the Mango season begun.


Yes, almost every Chennai-ite prayed for a relief from being constantly scorched every day. A relief from all the incessant sweating. A relief from the heat. All that heat. So much heat! Heat from the sky...heat in the air… heat from the darned earth!




Three days since the rain begun. It hasn’t stopped since.

Everyone’s happy?

No.

Not even fifty percent!

This is just a baby rain. But once bitten.

We used to be strong folk. We loved the rain. We’ve had an uncountable number of songs that celebrated rain. Innumerable heroines who expressed freedom by dancing in the rain. Movies dedicated to rain! 

We used to be.

Now, stepping into the second day of a drizzle – people are scared. They’re scattering like they’re being hunted. There is too much well-meant advice given along “Leave quickly!” “The roads are going to be jammed” “There will be water logging everywhere”.

A friend of mine cried yesterday – said she can’t go through another flood. That she didn’t sleep all of the previous night, as she kept getting up to check under the bed to see if water had come in. again. The fear is all too real. Too close to the skin. Too close to our hearts. Too fresh in our memories. I get it. I understand.

There are too many posts giving updates on waterlogged streets. Too many people listening to the weatherman. He has gained importance now. He once used to be irrelevant.
We once used to describe our land as having just 3 seasons – Hot, Hotter, and Hottest.

Now we scram and hide at the face of a baby rain.

It’ll take a while since the fear is contained. I heard on a TV show yesterday that the part of the brain that controls fear reacts much faster than the part of the brain that controls reason. Sometimes, the reaction to fear is so strong that there is no option to reason with it.

So my dearies, worry not.

It's just a baby rain.
This will not hurt you.
We know these summer showers.
We’ve witnessed a lifetime of these and loved them for all they have been to us.
Yes, we had a terrible flood last year, but this is not that.
This is just a baby rain, one that’s come as the relief we needed...wanted. This will come and go soon enough. Even if it becomes harder, this one will not harm you.
This is the same rain we used to love.
Hush now… it’s just a baby rain J


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Happy hair :)

I've been blessed with good hair.
If you ask my hair, it'll tell you that it's a curse.
I've been using the excuse of having low maintenance hair to scrunch it up, and in many ways abusing the poor thing.

It really had fallen to a sad state in the past few months. I kept telling myself that I will do something about it, and that luckily happened when Bounce Hair Salon decided to promote Moroccan Oil.

So off I went to Bounce Anna Nagar assuring my hair (knotted up in an unseemly bun) that things will be better - so don't lose hope! Trust me, my hair thanks me now. It's happy again! And begging me to not stop treating it to Moroccan Oil!

A sweet hair specialist analyzed my hair (kindly not glaring at me for the state at which my hair was!) She directed the stylist to wash my hair with Moroccan Oil Moisture Repair Shampoo, post which my hair was treated to an Intense Hydrating Mask and left to absorb the moisture.

As this was happening, and my poor hair was being richly revived, I asked her about the Moroccan Oil. You see, I had assumed that it was just an oil, but obviously turns out that the spa included Moroccan Oil Shampoo and Mask as well. So she set out to tell me the story - and we love stories!


It all began a long time ago when the lady who founded the brand ended up with a botched hair coloring job. Her hair which was supposed to end up in Auburn or some dark shade had ended up bright red. She had to get to a wedding at Morrocco, and since recolouring hair immediately after it's colored is not advised, she decided to get to Morrocco and get it fixed there.

She went there and landed at a small salon there. The stylist she noticed, first used an oil on her hair before applying the correct color. Being from a nation where oil is not used all that much on hair - she was apprehensive but didn't show it. When the hair coloring was done, and he went on to use the oil on her hair again - she freaked out this time. But being in a foreign country, she didn't show it.

On leaving to the wedding. however, she noticed that her hair felt not just soft and smooth but completely alive. And it smelt great!

She went back to the salon and found out that the oil used was the famous Argon Oil from Morrocco. She bought quite a few bottles of those and took them back with her to the States. There she made her stylist use it for her hair, and also shared it with many of her friends. 

When they came back to her, asking for more, raving about the awesomeness of the Argon Oil, she knew she had to get down and do something about this! She went back to Morrocco, decided to partner with that Salonist who introduced this oil to her - she patented it - and named the brand Moroccan Oil so everyone knows that it's the famous oil from Morrocco,

And thanks to her efforts, my hair is completely happy now!

The story got done as my hair was well hydrated by the mask. The stylist then gave me the bestest of hair massages with Moroccan Oil Hair Treatment Oil.

It's been a good 4 days and my hair is still really really happy :) I've got myself a bottle of Moroccan Oil Hair treatment, and I know it's gonna be awesome!



Tuesday, May 10, 2016

27 - A Year in Review

Yet another year is over ...
I am now Twenty Eight years old!
I don't consciously feel it yet. But I know it has happened - know it not just from the number but also because of where and how I am in life.
The Twenty Seventh year was a testimony to that.

Prominent Achievements:
  1. I bought a car - not a starting, base segment car, but a decent mid segment hatchback. FINALLY!
    AND, I've paid off the loan for it, so it's completely mine now!
  2. The story I wrote got published (again, finally!) - Crystal Cacophony
    So I'm one step closer to the dream ;)
  3. I switched jobs. I finished exactly 3 years with my last organization, and now I'm in yet another brilliant organization with an amazing multinational team, with a bigger scope of responsibility and getting to do all that I love!
  4. I went as a Guest Speaker - to a university, to speak to a bunch of  MBA grad students.
Happy Things:
  1. I have learned to drive comfortably now. (Thanks to very patient friend who helped expedite this process!)
  2. I wrote and blogged more over the last year - happy to be writing a lot again!
  3. I tasted some amazing yummy food - ate a lot!
  4. Family, as always was there anytime needed :)
  5. I have good friends - and I'm blessed to have them!
Major Regrets:
  1. Having to let go of a few really amazing people who were in my life. For not being able to like/ love them as much as they did me, and the imbalance was obviously not fair on any of us.
  2. No international travel last year
  3. I didn't stand up strong enough for myself during a case of harassment.  
  4. I ate too much :/ And didn't balance it with working out enough. 
Major Lessons Learnt:
  1. Life goes on.
  2. No point complaining if you're not going to do something about it!
  3. If I want something, really want something, I can find it by all means available to me
  4. Gifts don't necessarily buy love. Neither does good food. But Food is closer.
27
That was the year when I experienced an actual flood. Saw water surround the house. We were some of the lucky ones who didn't incur heavy damage. 
That was the year when the biggest awesome things that happened to me were almost all in my control - it made me realize that being a grown-up is not so bad after all. Being single and accomplished is something I am - something I am proud of. 

27
Personal life wise - very calm. Maintained status quo. Maybe I needed that stability there while I established professionally. And now I'm ready to make things happen in this arena as well. Maybe!

Twenty Seven ...in retrospect, you've been a good year!
You've helped me dig deep into myself to find the courage, resilience, will power and positivity to march on ahead. For that, thank you :)

Look forward to how the Twenty Eight is going to be!

Yours always,

Someday's Dreamer 

Monday, May 9, 2016

No More Tears?



I had gone to conference on Gender Equality a couple of weeks back. It was organized eWIT (Empowering Women in IT).

The conference had many amazing sessions, about the various facets of women in the work place – Health, being empowered, finding their niche, The identity of Women away from their men, and so on. Among these was a panel discussion with many questions ranging from “How did you find your place in your organization?” to “What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to do as a woman?” and “How do I survive in the male dominated world”.

This is when it happened – one of the women panelists (there were two men in the panel as well) chose to answer “My male counter parts are not letting my reach my full potential by coddling me and patronizing me. How do I deal with this?”

Her answer was standard – “Make sure that the quality of work that you deliver is the best and in no way less than that of your male counter parts. Once you’ve established, if it still continues, call your manager and talk to him. Address the issue. Tell him this is how you feel. No emotions. No tears. Just focus on the issue.”

Good advice? The girl who asked the question seemed to think so.

But I have my doubts.


Women and Men may or may not have equal capabilities to perform a task in the professional set up, but they are by no means equal. Women are emotional creatures. That is neither an advantage, nor a disadvantage – it is just a characteristic. Men are territorial, and that’s how they are. Yes, men have emotions too, and women also feel the need to protect what’s theirs. I’m talking about dominant traits. That’s where it’s an irrefutable fact that women are emotional creatures.

So should women be more like men, to be treated as “equals” in the work place? Wouldn’t that mean that women are confirming to a standard that men have set for professional behavior, and women are merely adapting? How is twisting and bending into their idea of ‘ideal’ behavior result in ‘equality in the workplace’?

A Gender Equal workplace would be a place where men can be men, and women can be women – both contributing their strengths to the tasks at hand, in the way they are best at. (Don’t you dare have the thought that women can be women best at the kitchen, I’m sure the men will have to start going hungry in that case)


Women should be able to be emotionally free and work. Men should be able to cook in whatever way they find peaceful! That would be tending toward gender equality. Asking a woman to be someone she isn’t – is not anything close to Gender Equality. If that’s the advice we’re going to be giving, we have a long way to go yet.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Turning Organizational Culture Around - Life at Ramco : A Case Study

Organizational Culture is something that's in the DNA of every organization. We all experience it, and read about it, and some of us study it. It's there, it's essential, and it's not a deniable variable of an organization's overall experience.

Over the last couple of decades, organizational culture has been gaining tremendous importance. The concept of "Best Places to Work For" have become a popular and established method of assessing an organization's quality and worth even. 

'How to make the workplace suitable for the Millenials' is a discussion that most HR professionals have witnessed / attended / if not directly been a part of.
And a question that many companies are having to face.

How does one keep the- easily distracted, not exactly loyal, adventurous and comfortable with quitting to find a better fit or even just to find oneself - workforce as their workforce?
The recruitment teams are stronger than ever. 
[Almost 30 years ago (Just 30 years ago) when my dad was recruited to his first company, he said there was an operations manager and one guy from HR. There was no recruitment guy, and most definitely not a recruitment team! But the law of the land / rules of the game - whatever you call it, it has all changed now.]

And yet,

Attrition is at an all-time high - some companies embrace it, some accept it, some resent it, some are trying to do something about it, and very few are actually succeeding in doing something about it.

Theoretically, it’s simple. The workforce has changed, so all one has to do is change the work culture to fit the workforce. Right? Easier said than done.

The big giants like Google and Facebook were clever and forward enough to be the change, and in a way start the trend. They let the world know that work needn’t be done from cubicles, or even from desks while wearing formals.

(Open space workplaces were first started around 1950 – when after the world wars, resources in general were scarce, and it was easy to set up tables with dividers in a large open room, rather than build separate cubicles for each employee!)

Luckily for the world, what started as a resource saving technique turned out to become an organizational culture shift strategy.

Open spaces have since become a part and parcel of the common organizational structure – the norm. The initially shocked baby boomers accepted it. They keep the Gen X happy.

Gen Y and Z came along, and open spaces were not enough anymore. They wanted perks. Extra amenities. So organizations started introducing small things like “Team Outings”, Small attached gyms, Food Courts, Sports Day and so on to keep them happy. Which worked well enough.

Then the Millennials. Like I said – companies like Google and Facebook; which are the ones that actually accelerated the rapid changes in the generation gaps, empowering smarter technology – have been able to keep up with the pace they set. Many start-ups with their small teams and big ideas manage to keep up with the pace. What about the more established traditionally run companies?

How do they adapt to the swift changes of the current world?

The Ramco Story

[ #LifeAtRamco – A Case Study of Ramco Systems ]





As someone who has been avidly following the changing trends in management (As keenly as some of this generation follow Game of Thrones!) I was very interested when I was invited for an evening at Ramco – to specifically experience “Life At Ramco”.
No further details were given. But it got my curiosity aroused.

[A brief background – Ramco Systems, a very tradititional Indian company, is one of the top players in the ERP space. ]

You see, I’ve been to Ramco for a meeting about four years back (in 2012). It was as boring as any corporate setup.
Start naked white walls. Contrasting blue felt, and the occasional green on the neat workstation layout. A plant in one corner. Some random motivational quote made into a poster. (I know many of us are either thinking: “Tell me about it!” or “Hey! Don’t make my workplace sound so dull!)
Why do I remember something so unremarkable? Because I was made to wait for an hour on a boring couch, and the girl who I met after the hour (who made no apologies for making me wait) said she’d called me back, and never did.

I went out of curiosity, and I accept, some spite. I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised!

Every organization derives its culture from a variety of aspects, including, but not limited to:
  1. Top management vision
  2. Top Management's management style
  3. Core Values - The written and accepted ones
  4. Core Values - Unwritten and understood
  5. How well the management style percolates through to the lower levels
  6. The work environment
  7. The flexibility offered
  8. The dress code 
Ramco has taken the trouble to change each and every one of those items on the list above. They’ve been able to transform from a boring old company of the last century to a happening work place of the future!
Let’s go through them in the logical order – Why, When, How, Where and finally What the change is

Why:
Any such major changes start with a vision. Here it was the vision of the new CEO. He realized that they need change from a traditional company – in their policies, work style, work space and general outlook if they wanted to gain market share and make substantial profits again.
His vision brought out the theme that employees shouldn’t wait for Fridays. They shouldn’t have to balance Work and Life on separate scales. Work Life on its own must be amazing.
Just vision is not enough for a company to get ready to invest a huge chunk of money into things like infrastructure. Though we know that the people make the company, it is not an easy decision for the company to invest so majorly on the top line.
Here is where the belief that the management team had in the vision came into play. They backed his decision, and have been fully supportive.
Many of us repeatedly asked the various employees (who had turned temporary tour guides from the evening) “have these changes actually affected your bottom line?” “Have you been able to prove substantial increase in productivity?” And their answer: A laugh and “Of course!!! When work is so much fun, productively will obviously increase!”

When:
The transformation process was started three years ago (from 2013)
It’s still an ongoing process, they tell me. Like continuous improvement. Ramco has realized that there is always something more that can be done to make employee’s work life better. So they keep at it!

How:
Ramco realized that if they’re changing, they might as well do a damn good job of it.
Changes in the company are right from the HR policies – Flexible work times, Work from anywhere, no formal dress code.
Flatter reporting structure to the extent that – an organization that not so long ago used ‘Sir’s and ‘Ma’am’s to refer to one another is now completely on a first name basis. THAT is the most radical change if you ask me. It’s easy to go from wearing formals to casuals, even for the senior members of any company. But to suddenly have junior members be allowed to call them by first name – that takes conscious acceptance of the change by each and every individual.
They have redesigned the entire work space into a colourful, fluid and fun concept.

Where:
In all their work places – in all the branches across the globe, except those situated inside government offices / or customer sites.

What:
In two words: Almost Everything!
Yes, it hasn’t been overnight. But they have managed to turn the place around – completely!
It’s a workplace that’ll keep any millennial happy and content. If it’s distractions that keeps a normal millennial away from work – it’s distractions optimized that’ll keep him in Ramco.
They’ve got Fooseball tables to keep the adrenalin pumping, Zumba to keep fit, Zen corners – for those who want to work in peace, Plush soft couches to sink into, in house masseuse, A café with pumping music, Games screened, A full restaurant scale canteen that offers a wide variety of cuisines, Healthy snack dispensing vending machines, Swings in lieu of seats,  themed sitting areas … You get the drift (I’m stopping as I’m feeling a jealousy surge all over again!)
I’d like to highlight however, that each of those aspects seem to have been well thought out and carefully picked out. None of them are things one would get bored of in a hurry! And almost everything can be replaced or upgraded as necessary. Good strategy I’d say!
I’ve got some pictures here which will tell you more than I can describe J




After seeing all that, the question screaming in my head was: “How do you get any work done here?” And I managed to ask it to a few managers as well as team members.
And the responses?
 “Sometimes, when I’m bugged, I look at my manager – and he looks at me. And we both pack our laptops and go over to the café, and continue to work there in peace. I think the corner table there is more mine than my actual seat!! Haha
Here at Ramco – this Ramco, not what he had 3 years ago, even staying overtime for a deliverable does not feel like work at all!
I’m really good at Fooseball now, as I have so much practice at it. But I’m very good at my job too!
Our productivity has increased so much, and we’re just getting started!”
We all love to work here. And we want to do our best for the company that does so much for us!”

All that can be said for Ramco and Ramcans now is:



Monday, May 2, 2016

Those moments of weakness

Those moments ...
When you don't long for that person
But wish their presence next to you
When you frantically search through a hundred mails just to find that deleted number ...
To save it
Just so you can look at the latest display picture.
Reassure yourself that they're doing fine
Ask the universe to let them know that you're fine too
-Despite these moments-
If they ever wondered, that is.
Those moments
When you close your eyes
And you're caught between a smile and a tear
And a strong wave of nostalgia
Remembering that feeling
When you imagine the scenario of bumping into each other
Practice what you would say
How you would look
And react
Run it over in your head
Just so that, when that moment arrives
The moment you dread and anticipate
You're not stuck staring
Like a blubbering fool
Ah well
Those moments when you wish..
Just to, for a brief moment, remember how it used to feel
How life used to be
Who you used to be.