Fables and Fairy Tales

Posted November 21st, 2013 by Deepa and filed in Annika, Books, Raves and Rants
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photo 3Americans tend to be excessively politically correct. They shy away from using words that may have even the slightest hint of a negative connotation.  For example people are not fired from work—the company is merely rightsizing.  Stocks don’t crash – they underperform.   There are no beggars—they are panhandlers.  There are no poor countries/areas – these are low resource settings.  Janitors are now called custodians, secretaries are administrative assistants and so on and so forth.  The need to put a positive spin on everything is somewhat amusing in normal conversation but it takes on ridiculous proportions when it comes to children. Continue Reading »

What Not To Do At An Interview

Posted June 11th, 2007 by Deepa and filed in Raves and Rants
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A simple online search reveals a lot of useful advice on behavior during job interviews:  “How to behave in an interview”, “Top 10 tricks to ace an interview” etc. Most of these belong to the category called “Common Sense”. But, with the vast information at their fingertips, you expect people to know what not to do during an interview. But I have realized that some tips are worth reiterating. So you want some advice? Here it is. Direct From Me to You. (Sorry, just saw Chicago again!). Do not mention your personal troubles to the interviewer. They are not interested. I might sound as your favorite agony aunt but I still will not recommend you for the job!

Recently I had two experiences that prompted me to specify this. The first one was a about a year or so ago, when I was conducting a telephone interview to select a new employee for a particular position within the company. It was actually my first set of interviews. I was given a bunch of resumes, my task was to call these hopeful candidates and weed them down to two possible candidates, who would be invited for a personal interview. I called the first candidate and asked him a few general questions about his past experience, work profiles, qualifications etc. He seemed an excellent choice until a random question regarding ability to travel somehow opened floodgates…His matter of fact manner underwent a change and he assured me his willingness to travel. That would have been the end of the matter but he proceeded to expand on his reasons for that answer: and his current state of health. He was recently diagnosed with from prostate cancer, ( I make the appropriate sympathetic noise) , he has since successfully recovered (congratulatory murmur from me) but then he was suffering from depression, he has probably recovered from that (or so he said) but he is still on anti-depressant medications. Friends have advised him that all these pills may not be a good idea…he himself would prefer not to be drugging himself…don’t you agree that he should avoid medicating himself. ( weird noises from me this time). Natural way to come out of depression is always better; he is of course all right now, if only he could wean himself off these medicines.  (Stunned silence from me)

Another potential candidate went one step further. I am not sure at what point he forgot that he was interviewing for a job as opposed to being interviewed by Oprah. Before I could pause, he went on with his marital difficulties: recent divorce, wife who took away his beach house as part of the alimony,.it was a bitter divorce he clarified. He was left with the bigger house but it was far away from the beach and he really loved the beach house and his wife —sorry ex wife— was not a nice lady at all. This beach house was in addition to the alimony he was paying monthly… I am not sure if he thought that the sob-story would help him get the job. It didn’t

Recently I met a fellow Indian at a conference.  After initial hellos and exchange of home-town information, she told me she is trying to look for a job. I asked her to send a resume to me and I would  direct it to the right person within the company. She seemed quite excited about the prospect; I asked her a few basic questions regarding her educational background. She responded in true Indian way.
Do you have any kids?”.  I replied in the negative….
She consoled me “That is ok, you are still young”.
I shrugged my shoulders not keen to venture into a child discussion. But she wasn’t giving up.
I have no husband, no kids….I just drifting from one place to the other”.
I give a weak smile…my eyes are scanning if I can spot a colleague and make a getaway but no luck
Do you know how old I am”, she continues
I am old enough not to fall for that trick, so I shut up—Shut up and smile….
I am 35” She looks around 35.
Then she makes her big dramatic declaration. “I am divorced”.
Now I am back to making sympathetic murmurs.
By now she is launching into her life story to a complete stranger she has met hardly two minutes ago –one who might give her a job.
He was an Indian, but born in US, his parents liked me, I liked his family, my parents wanted me to say yes—so I did. Hamaare yahan to aisa hi hota hain na..”
I controlled myself from delivering a lecture on the need to take accountability for one’s actions…..
Unka mere saath to bana hi nahi…I even changed jobs and moved to where he is, I asked him what we can do but….
By this time I want to run away….I make a feeble attempt to change the topic, so what was your new job like? She probably didn’t even hear the question.
I tried to get to his place quickly because “meri pehli karva chauth thi” but he filed for divorce a day before….

I have seen enough Hindi films to know the response to that….I widen my eyes and look as shocked as I could. I even manage to wring my hands to show sympathy. I fall back to safe clichés  “Life is not fair” is a favorite one in all kinds of situations…By this time, I spot my boss…never was so glad to see him. I exited that place quickly.  Boss wants to know who the lady was. A potential candidate for our vacant post, I reply. Was she any good, my boss wants to know. I give him a brief gist of the conversation.  Now, he looks shocked too. I am guessing my boss is not going to hire her….what do you think?

Amma’s Tamasha

Posted October 26th, 2003 by Deepa and filed in Raves and Rants
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amritandamayiThe four-day celebrations for Amritanandamayi’s 50th birthday celebrations are underway in Kochi. Popularly known as Amma, she is also referred to by the media as the “hugging saint” or the “embracing guru”. This name is due to her marathon embracing sessions where she sits, decked up in a fancy dress, complete with peacock feathers, and embraces all the people who throng to have a darshan. All are embraced; a few get some soothing words murmured in their ear and everybody returns home happy. Amritanandamayi is an international figure now. She has her ashrams in several other countries, people of various faiths and nationalities as her disciples. Her native village, Vallikavu has been changed to a huge pilgrim center called Amritapuri . It astonishes me , that millions believe in her as an incarnation of GOD and pray to her. A large number of people in Kerala are her devotees. My maternal relatives are amongst the most ardent of them. Once there was a satsang conducted at my grandmother’s place in honor of Amritanandamayi. These satsangs generally had a disciple of Amma who would come and sing some Amrita bhajans and the rest of the people would echo him in chorus. After, which this “swami” would tell some stories describing several “miracles” that Amma performed and whats funny is that everything he’d say would be believed without a question. And this is in Kerala. The first literate state in the country…where even the beggars read newspapers and the village chai shopowner can knowledgeably discuss about American foreign policy. Anyway that day’s topic was Amritanandamayi’s visit to Bombay. In those days there was a sudden spate of suicides in the BARC in Bombay. The papers had given it adequate coverage stating how the obviously intelligent scientists are ending their lives due to the enormous stress they are under. The Swami went on to say how these people who were intelligent who were scientists still had faith in god and in Amritanandamayi. He claimed that after she visited BARC colony and hugged the poor scientists there , there was peace and calm and the number of suicides have totally stopped. (Which ,as I told my relatives, was utter nonsense…I had several cousins in the BARC colony who had just had told me of two more suicides that occurred the previous week, in fact one of them occurred right in front of my uncle’s office) Obviously Amma miracles were shortlived!

However I do appreciate the fact that she has managed to do a lot of good things. An hospital sponsored by her, called the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, is one of the best hospitals in India today. It has state of the art instrumentation and employs latest techniques and offers patients low cost if not free treatments. She has founded and funded schools, universities, engineering and medical schools and orphanages using the money that millions of devotees have offered her. Despite her social service, I am very irritated by her pretensions to divine form. Isn’t it a pity that people have no hesitations in offering their life savings to a saint but will never do that to a non-religious social organization? And that such obvious godmen and woman who benefit from all this. For nobody knows how much of this money goes to line her coffers or those of her immediate assistants. Despite having a history of obvious fake babas and devis, people still continue to believe in them. Wasn’t it recently that another similar baba, the Puttaparathi Sai baba was embroiled in an alleged sex scandal and smuggling charges. I wonder when the Amritandamayi’s true self will be exposed. Rationalists and a few have already pointed at the sudden wealth of her relatives.

Mother Teresa created the Missionaries of charity to serve the poor in Calcutta. She was a nun and was quite obviously a devout Christian. The reason I respect her and not Amritanadamyi depite both doing social service is that MT did not intimate that she had any kind of divine powers. She personally went about serving the people. She might believe in GOD but nowehere did she say that she was GOD. On the other hand you have Amritanandamayi who dresses up in fancy clothes and sits hugging people and claiming divine power and having “true” knowledge. That is why Mother Teresa is a saint and  Amritanandamayi is a mere imposter.

An aunt who is an ardent devoree paid for an annual subscription of Amritandamayi’s monthly magazine, “Amrita” to be delivered to me each month. Much as I detested Amritanandamayi and the mass hysteria that she has created, I still read them ( that’s because I read anything and everything ). Each book described her monthly schedule, her visits and her messages of love and affection. Not that I have anything against her preachings about universal love. But I refuse to respect any person donning the garb of GOD and displaying “extra powers”. As a rational intelligent person I cannot accept the fact that she can turn water into panchamritam ( sweet dish ) as she claims to have done. Nor can I believe that she cured a leprosy patient by regular hugs. If that’s the case then she need not have sponsored a hospital…just hugged all the patients and voila you have a cure for all problems in the world!! It is this obvious façade that disgusts me. Add to that the tendency of speaking of herself as Amma and I think we have surefire charlatan. One of my cousin brothers left the house in his early twenties to join Amritandamayi’s cult. He had unemployed parents and two elder sisters who were probably depending on him to get a job. I think of him as a shirker of responsibilities. Another aunt took up voluntary retirement and decided to settle at Amritapuri after donating all her life savings to Amma. She surfaces occassionally for certain functions and behaves like a sanyasin, much to my irritation. I have relatives who claim attend every single celebrations at Amritaputi. And now we find the Prime Minister and the President too have nothing more to do rather than pay their obeisance to a fake God? And APJ is the person who propagates scientific thinking in today’s youth…That is certainly not an example to follow.