Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The side effects of recession

The 'R' word is out officially. The government has confirmed that 'it seems likely that the British economy is entering a recession'.

People dread the R word mainly because of the way it affects almost all walks of their life - and not in a good day! So if you are an average Joe suddenly finding yourself in the R whirlpool, these might sound too familiar for comfort.

  • You might lose your job, if you haven't already.
  • You postpone your annual vacation. You don't want to come back and find the bosses took the liberty to fire you on your first day of the vacation.
  • You are forced to cut down on your extravagant shopping.
  • You don't have the luxury of buying 'organic' groceries and veggies anymore as the prices are on a steep northward trip. If you haven't started collecting the coupons, NOW is the right time.
  • You forget when was the last time you ate out without worrying about the bill that's gonna be presented to you.
  • Google phone being launched? Well, the gadget junkie in you will have to wait.
  • Suddenly you are very much interested in thrifty ways of getting things done.
  • Your Prozac bills suddenly shoot up!
  • Planning to buy a house? No loan for you mister. Even if you are a 'super safe' customer risk wise! No one's a safe customer in these days!
  • Already own a house? You might need some extra Saridons to keep the mortgage headache under control.
  • Where there's a will there's a way. You pull out your children out of the private school. They have your smart genes and will do equally well in public schools.
  • Car broke down? Good riddance. The bus is more roomy and I get to snooze and read about the 'R' on the Economic Times.
  • Newspaper? Why buy when I can read it for free online or nick it after the guy in the bus snores once he finishes the puzzles page.
  • Toilet paper? No way! Water's better.
These are a few of the worries that the uglies - recession and credit crunch brings out in most countries. But in India, there are other consequences too. If you are in the wrong industry during a recession, it might mean that you stay single for a tad longer than you hoped to. For all the romeos who were hoping to get on the big-fat-arranged-wedding bandwagon and a get a good bargain thanks to their cushy job in IT, the table's suddenly turned!

And for those who are engaged, hold on tight to that ring....and the gal!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I loathe meetings

You just can't escape them in this world whatever profession you are in. It somehow creeps in and seems to gobble up most of your precious time and leaves you deflated and useless at the end of a long one. On my average day at work I spend around 3-4 hours in meetings.

Meetings are alright, really, they are alright if run properly. By properly I mean, people come on time, only required people attend it, there's someone managing it, there's a set agenda and it's followed, and you reach at some logical next steps by the end of it. I can live with all that. But what I simply cannot tolerate is the small talk that precedes these meetings. Especially here in the UK, it's as if the small-talk is a mandatory Step No. 1 in the agenda. You just can't do without it. And it irkes me cause I never seem have much to contribute to it!

It is a Monday afternoon. I have scheduled a meeting with three other colleagues to discuss some issues. Two of them arrive five minutes early and we all proceed to wait for the third person. And it starts.....
Colleague 1: Nice day, innit?
Colleague 2: Yeah, sunny and bright. Loved the walk after lunch today.
Me: ( notices the weather for the first time in the day and nods along)
Colleague 1: I hope the weather stays put for the weekend. I have a trek planned with some buddies.
Colleague 2: Oh really? I just got back from a trek in the Alps this weekend with my girlfriend. And I proposed at the peak.
Me: Wow, that would have been something. Congratulations.
Colleague 1: Congrats mate. So when's the big day? I hope it's not next Summer. I'm off to Athens on a 20 day tour.
Colleague 2: I am off to Athens this weekend, I'll let you know how it was.
Colleague 1: Thanks! So Priya what you upto this weekend?
Me: Hmm....er....nothing much. I guess I'll do some washing and general cleaning up and maybe curl around with a book.
Colleague 1: Oh ok. Sounds like fun. Have a good one.
Colleague 2: Yeah, I never get time to do my washing!
Me: (If you stay at home some weekends, you might!)
And so it goes on......
Another day. And it's a Friday! And it's a weekly team meeting. Everyone arrives early for the meeting. But you just can't start talking business. You need some warm-up. And we dive right into it.
Bob : So weekend's here eh? What you upto Rob?
Rob : Well, nothing much. I am taking the kids camping on the shores of river Ness. They want to stay up and watch out for the Lochness monster.
Bob: Oh that's sweet. Do take your barbecue kit with you. Nothing like it. We did that last summer.
Rob: Thanks mate, will do. Do you have anything fun planned this weekend?
Bob: Just going cycling. In Wales. Hoping to conquer around 50 miles of a hilly rugged cycling route there. What about you Susie?
Susie: Oh I am going sailing! I have been taking lessons all year now and I just can't wait to try it on my own.
Rob, Bob: Crikey! That sounds brilliant. Have a good one!
Susie: Priya, what about you?
Me: hmmmm....er.....I am off to the library to get some books. And er.....yeah we are driving down to the beach.
Susie: Sounds good.
After the initial experiences at these warm up sessions, now I have learnt my lessons too. First of all, I am trying to be more active and not be a couch potato over the weekend. A slow but sure start.

And secondly and most importantly, I have learnt to cook up creative things to talk about. That makes it much more easier. When I prepare for the meetings, I spend a couple of minutes deciding what I did fun in the last weekend. Especially if the meetings are on Monday or Friday. So I go skiing some weekends, trekking and scuba-diving the other weekends - all in my mind though! But it makes the meetings much more enjoyable now.

Offtopic: Did you know that you lose 82 hours of your life each year if you live in a busy city? All thanks to the dawdlers! If you find yourself without time to exercise or to sleep, blame the dawdlers!