Thursday, April 30, 2009

Writing an 'About Page' with Sincerity

For a long time, my friends and readers have been advising me to get a new 'About me' page for my blog. I can understand that and appreciate their concern as the one I had before revealed next to nothing about me. Living in a democratic country like India persuades me to respect the opinions and perspectives of others. So I decided to do that one step at a time. I have been pretty unhappy with my 'About' page so I just re-wrote it. So, I checked out the best tips on making an 'About' page.

It wasnt too easy because I started to examine who I am, why I write the things that I do and why those things should matter to my readers and friends. It is almost like those blurbs that you skim when you pick up a bestselling novel or book. You really look at the blurb to understand why you want to spend your precious time reading that book.

I remember picking up Jodi Picoult's book, 'Nineteen Minutes' because the blurb stopped me in my tracks. It read, " “Your son says the bullying was unbearable. But his revenge was murder. What would you do?” I can't think of a more sensational blurb to parents, teachers, teenagers, moms, bascially the world gets intrigued by those gripping lines. It makes you want to finish reading that book at the very moment. I loved that book, of course. Every page of it.

Another book that I picked up just by skimming the blurb is 'Almost Single' by Advaita Kala. I totally loved every chapter, laughed my guts out and recommended to all my friends.

The blurb goes like this, 'My name is Aisha Bhatia, I am twenty-nine years old and single. I work as a Guest Relations Manager at the Grand Orchid Hotel. I dine at luxury hotels and stay in five-stars during my travels; I can name old and new world wines with great √©lan, and can tell my cheeses apart. I tolerate my job, hate my boss, and bond big-time with my friends, while routinely suffering from umbilical cord whiplash. I don’t really care for my vital stats at the moment, and I don’t have a cute/funny nickname either. Hence this introduction: it stinks, but it sticks. In fact, sometimes I think there should be support groups like the AA out there for people like me…’

So you see, I wanted something simple and interesting to describe my blog without sounding too casual, boring, bland or wickedly irreverent. Since I am not famous for my sense of wit or laugh-aloud funny jokes, I decided to keep my 'About' page true to me and what I write.

It took me considerable time to clarify it to myself before I could go ahead and make that real for those who read my blog. The effort has been decent, thanks to the tips I found online. Do check it out and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Scorpion 1 of Egypt Scores High on Spiking Wines

Everything about the Egyptians fascinate us. Whether it is beauty sleep, beauty baths and now even their wines which were believed to be spiked with herbs by the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. That news really got me hooked coz I love finding out new things about wine. Gets me intoxicated:)

Archaelogists published a report on April 13, 2009, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It seems the tomb of Egypt's first pharaoh , Scorpion 1, which dates back to 3150 BC was found to have resides of herbs like sage, coriander, mint and so on in the wine jars.

A cheeky thought leapt to mind, were the Egyptian pharoahs drinking the South Indian spicy appetizer 'rasam' as wine? Of course, its not true. Our dear friend, the respect Scorpion 1 was a real wine connoisseur for sure. His tomb had 700 wine jars. Wish I were an Egyptian, and that someone would build me a tomb made of delicious wines.

Just yesterday, i had read about a wine called Syrah which has the notes of white pepper but this piece of news appealed even more.
Coming back to the use of herbs by the Egyptians, it seems our last finding on the use of herbs in alcoholic beverages pertained to China way back in 1200BC, with strains of tree resin and chrysanthemums in it.

Wine experts are debating about the reasons of spicing up wines. Maybe the Egyptians did it for medicinal purposes or to enhance flavors. The debate continues. Who cares about theories on wines? Its the flavors that matter.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Want to know your Blog Personality Type?

Bloggers, do check out this interesting website that I found through another fellow blogger. It is ww.typealyzer.com.

You can't miss it if you love your blog. All you have to do is put your blog link in the site and it tells you about your blog type and personality type. Dont forget to share it with me too. Apparently, my blog reflects ISTP the mechanical type. It seems this category reflects people who are highly skilled, loves to work with teams to solve problems and avoids any kind of interpersonal conflicts. Well, this analyzer summed up my personality better than a shrink.

Cheers to Typeanalyzer. I recommend it heartily and trust me, no body is paying me for it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No Place Like Workplace

There is no place like workplace. Trust me, I really believe that all I've done at my workplace is learn and communicate with people who have great potential and brilliant minds. In this context, communication is the golden key. You dont agree? Let me explain it a little more.

Lesson 1: Communication is open to interpretation, so take care!
Communication is all about growth and perpetual learning. When you shut yourself from doing and experiencing that, it's like shutting the windows out to block the sunshine. You dont realize how badly the darkness can pull you down but the truth is that it really does. You have to open your mind and intellect to experience communication like never before. That is why today's workplace is such a powerful place. Emotions fly high and so do relationships.

At your workplace, if you got angry with someone, do you think that person will understand without being told? Usually, that doesnt happen. But you dont have to take out verbal swords to make a point. So many different forms of communication are available to make things so much easier and structured. You can choose a conversation by telephone, or email, or letters or just call that person over for an open discussion. So many ways to solve conflicts through communication. That in itself can be a great learning. If you look back and see how effective you have become in communicating with the people you work with, that represents your growth and learning curve at the work place to some extent. Think about little things relating to workplace communication. When I think about a colleague who is very caring and perpetually worrying about me, the name "Ranjit" and the image of a slim, intense and professionally dressed girl comes into my mind. She has her little ways to getting me to drink water, take a walk so that I stretch my robotic frame and unwind just a little. Fantastic person she is, it's accomplished without too much articulation or talk. Silent and noble, thats her way of communication. But when it comes to work, she is more intense and capable of bringing out different facets that are vital cues to understanding a project. She makes you really think about things. Interesting, how different people add value to our life at the workplace.

Shambhawi, a young and pretty colleague of mine, with whom my interactions were always about work, shared a quotation with me that she found thought provoking. The quotation was from a book by John Updike titled 'Dentistry and Doubt'. The quotation read like this: " I grant we are apt, prone and ready to forsake God; but is God as ready to forsake us? Our minds are changeable;is His so likewise?" Then Shambhawi told me that this sentence made her think deeply because she often had existential notions about God's presence.

I am sure that I always respected her views but this piece of communication and sharing took it further. I realized how much one can learn from others and utilize it to think deeply and act with sincerity through such interesting tidbits of communication. It made me look back at my life and the lessons that I've learned with greater understanding.

Just by this communication she shared with me, a bond was developed, a sense of trust and understanding formed. It made me see the wonderful person she was. You see what I mean? That is the power of positive communication. It doesnt have to be always related to an immediate task. It can be sharing ideas, thoughts about books and anything that you feel strongly about.

Another time, I was chatting with a new person in my team on Yahoo Messenger and I happened to say something like "Great" and to this, the response was, "Please do not say that. Only God is truly great." I really found that interesting and insightful. It also spoke volumes about the 'real' person.

Remember, the truth is that communication at the work place or any place is open to interpretation by the person who recieves it. Thats why it is always advisable to not respond by email to anyone when you are angry or upset about something. Take time to think it through. Respond and remember to read and re-read before you press the sent button.

Lesson 2: Learning from Differences in People Behavior
I've met so many interesting people across the years. Different values, backgrounds and all that. In fact, its like being in school. You get to meet people who are so different and interesting. Some have great talent to become something in life, but often dont realize it. Another interesting thing about the workplace is that personal traits come to the forefront without people even realizing it!

There was a lady in our midst whom we code named Poodle. Sorry, we couldnt find a more apt name for this lady who was very classy, posh, and wore only designer clothes. She had great style and oozed it till she opened her mouth to speak. Well, the rest is history. She would call her fiance from her cubicle and lambast him and say a lot of terrible things about his parents. She would crib about his gifts not being expensive enough and things like that. Those of us who had admired her style and designer clothes stopped wondering. The funniest part was that she got married and didnt invite us in person but gave non verbal indications that our probation sort of depended on attending it. You cant imagine the kind of tension, heart ache and discussion that we got into, not knowing whether to go for a wedding we hadnt been invited to and whether to accept the veiled threat. Well, obviously, we were raw dorks at the time. Of course, we got angry about being taken for granted. Of course, we dressed up in amazing kancheevaram sarees and attended the glitzy event, even posed our plasticky smiles for the cameras. Now we look back at this episode and laugh about those crazy days when any one could take us for a ride! We learned that its best not to judge a book by its cover:) Ms Poodle gave us gals a piece of advice for our personal benefit:) and this is something interesting: "First thing to do, ask your husbands to give you expensive birthday gifts in advance like diamonds or a tour. Dont let them buy what they want. Demand your right, or else you will get nothing. Once you are married, dont let your husband support his parents, turn him against them otherwise you will be out." Now, you know what I meant when I said 'different,' right? But lets face it. We meet all kinds of people and the important thing is to learn the good things from them and let go of the rest. Easier said than done, I know. But i really work at it even when there are days when I have wanted to scream when I first started working.

Maybe thats why we, grown ups, evolve and grow more at the work place than any other place. It teaches us to communciate, grow and change with times in a way that school education never did. It helps us grow our personality, trim the not-so-good habits and maintain a momentum in learning how to deal with challenges and still strive for excellence. It is not always fun to deal with people who are selfish and mean at the workplace. Sometimes there are those who make it a point to get meaner by the day.


I remember when I first started out in my job in Delhi. It was the most interesting time of my life. We were a team of newcomers from different backgrounds and there was just one guy in our midst. At first glance, he seemed a sweetheart. Suave, well spoken, good looking, posh accent and a hygiene freak. He brought his own expensive coffeemug and flask from home. He wouldnt touch anything from office that may be 'contagious' and got admired by all the girls. After all, who among us knew a guy so literally 'clean' that he would wipe off the coffee smudged marks on his mug with a handkerchief so that it would stay clean. He always looked so clean and well groomed that it was painful to be around him at times. He brought his own expensive coasters so that he could cover the coffeemug from dust or any other particles that hovered dangerously in the air.

You couldnt hope for a more well behaved and sophisticated guy in your midst. Naturally, girls flocked to him but it didnt take long to understand that things didnt look so buttery after all. This guy, lets call him M for Mr. Mean, okie? Yes, I guess you guess that i m being mean but wait till you hear what he has actually been like.

Mr. Mean hates any one coming remotely close to him. If his desk phone rang and rang, you may pick it up to take a message but Mr. Mean will glower at you coz you have trespassed his privacy and 'polluted' his physical space. You have touched his property without asking him first. That sparks off the row. So many of my friends have got totally upset by his remarks because most remarks are so personal and mean. In short, Mr. Mean becomes your enemy no.1. Next day, you reach office. You get some nasty anonymous mails and that continues for days. The desk looks messier than you left it as well. Your desk phone doesnt seem to worka at all. Of course, Mr. Mean has nothing to do with it.

The more interesting part is yet to come. When Mr.Mean wants to give you a file, he slams it on your desk with a look of satisfaction as if he really slapped you on your face. If anyone looked in the direction of his sweety pie girlfriend, he would send hate mails, nasty calls and even threatening calls. It happened with some seniors who filed a police complaint and the calls got traced directly to our dear Mr.Mean. He was unrepentant of course. What did you expect? He said he would do anything to protect his girl friend's honor. I dont know what honor he was talking about. She was the most cunning and know-it-all flirt in our entire department and had boyfriends in every department. Lucky girl, she had brains!


Enough about Mr. Mean but I am sure you got an idea about what I meant. Remember, people at the workplace come from different backgrounds and behave differently. It is difficult to make people behave the way you expect them to. Most of the time, you've got to let go of such expectations and focus on harmonious working relationships. These are the two main lessons to learn and apply when you relate to communication at your workplace.

Ending on a Twitter note that caught my eye just now, and it read, ""There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew." ~Marshall McLuhan, 1964



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