Saturday, October 19, 2013

Be Careful What You Wish For

Disclaimer: Now those who do know me well are fully aware that my if it isnt a narrative about something serious, my storytelling usually tends to get a little garnishing with the sole intention of enhancing its entertainment aspect. The two stories below though are completely stock. I havent changed them one bit. Scouts honour!

So my friend realised that the hard disk that he had recently purchased wasn’t working and went to the authorized service centre to get it fixed. After examining the hard disk in question, the service centre chap stated that it appeared as though my friend had tried to physically tamper with it and hence they would not replace it even though it was under warranty. Despite protesting against their false claim nothing happened and my friend returned an angry young man. A week later he thought he ought to try his luck once again but he sent his fiancĂ© with the very same hard disk to see if anything could be done. This time though the service centre guys said that they could not fix it and since they did not have a replacement for the 320GB hard disk with them, they gave her a brand new 500GB hard disk instead!


Long time readers know of my disdain for the ridiculous pricing of the iphone in India though I have to grudgingly admit that its screen is nice though it is not good enough to command a nonsensical premium. Now a month or so ago, Apple released a software upgrade for its existing customers that had all of its loyalists jumping up and down in unbridled glee. So a friend of mine promptly updated her iphone and found that it had bricked itself and was useful only as a paper weight though most paperweights were better looking. The Apple service centre guys immediately replaced her phone without any questions. Now this is where things get interesting.

My friend from the hard disk story incidentally also has an iphone and he too updated it at the same time and found that suddenly it had a ton of problems and was virtually useless. The Apple service centre guys took a look at it and then returned it to him saying that it was fixed. Over the next few days my friend found out that it wasn’t and he was forced to walk around with an old Nokia phone of his that was probably fashionable sometime in the later 90s. I told him about how Apple had replaced my friends iphone and so he sent his fiancĂ© to the Apple service centre only to find that they gave her a brand new iphone as a replacement straight away!

And the women I know say that they are fighting for equality …..

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Target Practice

It’s the season of targets and am I going to have a tough time meeting them or what?

There’s my sales target for the coming financial year that my boss has just shared with me and I don’t even have to be smart to know that I’m going to have a hell of a year trying to achieve those numbers. So much for my post Himalayan biking, inner peace achieving, work – life balancing mindset that was just about beginning to settle in comfortably. I’m sure everyone who told me that my bliss wouldn't last is grinning away to glory.

Then there is my book writing for which I need to set a target date if I want to send it to publishers. Its 99.99% done and I know that the finish line is in sight but something just keeps holding me back. All that is left is for me to spend a couple of days to polish the top 5 chapters before forwarding it and this will be followed by me keeping my fingers crossed.

Then there is my guitar work for which I need to set a target list of songs. My playing to be honest has been going good (pat on the back) except for my life long problem of not being able to remember the lyrics to songs so I am faced with the inglorious challenge of knowing how to play multiple songs but drawing a blank when it comes to singing them. So the only option left is to create a list of songs which will be my master set. If you ask for anything outside of it, I’ll be sure to tell you that I don’t know it. Now if you do have a special request, be sure to send them in while I am creating my master list and ladies, please don’t fight. One at a time.

Then there is my targeted bank balance which is nowhere near where I want it to be and is directly correlated to my work targets and my writing targets. Speaking of writing targets, once I do send the select chapters out, I need to start working on another idea that I have which is much more elaborate than anything I have ever attempted before. And that includes the 30,000 word masterpiece (did I just hear you say disaster piece?) on my Himalayan trip. This time I haven’t bounced the idea off my usual reliable pillars but that’s something I need to correct soon, assuming that they are interested in helping me that is.

To kick start that creative initiative I sat and started writing my initial draft on paper but the combined problems of my writing being too slow for my brain (it’s probably the only thing too slow for my brain) and the serious problem of content correction has made me realize I need to type that out as well, which is going to be another long exercise.

Which reminds me, the consistent (and understandable as well as expected feedback) that I received for my Himalayan travelogue was that it was too long. Well duh! But it turned out it was so long that even my occasional readers made an attempt and gave up while telling me that I needed to keep my posts shorter but with the same level of sweetness. With that in mind I had targeted 500 words for this post but I’m inching towards 600 instead. So much for meeting my targets!

Runaway Train

When it comes to corporate do-goody programs and initiatives, I think I am pretty much at the top of the cynics list. Having been gainfully employed for the last 5 ½ years in the same organization, I have become a part of ‘the system’ and along the way I have picked up more than a few tricks of the corporate trade. So when the initial emails on the worldwide marathon that our company organizes started trickling in, I quickly deleted them without even bothering to read their contents. After all wasn’t it a gigantic marketing exercise that ensured that ‘the system’ gained publicity and good will? My lack of support was ironic considering that if the system gained I too would gain, given that I am a well-entrenched part of it but I think it’s best to let that bit slide. 

This year though something changed. Maybe it was my boss’s long running (pun unintended) enthusiasm about having the team sign up for the event. Maybe it was my inner self saying that I needed to get rid of that tiny itsy bitsy bit of baby plumpness (What? Who says a 24 year old can’t have baby fat?). Maybe it was me trying to get a hold of how much I could actually push my right knee because for the last year or so I have only been jogging in moderation to stay in shape but in a controlled and sedate manner. This was after suffering a severely swollen right knee from running and a senior doctor had advised me to completely avoid doing so. Maybe it was just a little bit of everything.

Before I could change my mind, I decided to sign up but in a moment of extraordinarily questionable decision making, I decided to register for the 10k event and not the 5k one. Now I am pretty sure that I have never clocked 10 kilometers at a stretch. Ever. Surely I would be able to complete it through systematic practice runs and building my stamina while at the same time ensuring that my right knee didn’t give up on me. Or so I thought.

Work (rather predictably) decided to take a nasty spike upwards from the day I registered for the run and hence the slow buildup of my running capacity topped at only 6 kms as we approached D day. How I was going to complete the remaining 4 kms was anybody’s guess. To my chagrin the 10k run was to start at 6 AM on a Sunday morning which meant that I would have to wake up at 04:30 to get to the start line on time! So much for my weekend beauty sleep….

Based on my practice timings and my bad knee I was hoping to clock a time of an hour and a half which I felt was pretty reasonable given what had transpired.  But deep down I had a sinking feeling that I would be huffing, puffing, panting and in the end breathlessly dragging my sorry self across the finish line while my entire body cried out in protest and pain.

And yet none of that happened. By pacing myself through the combination of a running application and listening to my body, I was able to complete the 10 kms at an average speed that was much higher than my practice sessions. Yes I ended up running a much greater distance while doing so at a faster pace than ever before. Go figure. And no, my body didn’t feel like it was about to give up on me and except for the slight pressure on my soles that there were no real aches and pains and I felt that I could’ve done another 5 – 6 kms easily. And I was genuinely pleasantly surprised.

Now most of my friends thought that I wouldn’t even attempt the 10k. Honestly I had serious doubts about the condition in which I would finish the run. But here I am, continuing my mid week practice sessions weeks after the company event came to a glorious close with a performance by the marvelous band the Raghu Dixit Project that did remind me of the Dave Mathews Band on more than one occasion. 

That’s because I’m trying to see if my knee can take the stress of 21 kms which is my target for the Bangalore Midnight Marathon in December. Or if it will be able to let me get my time close to an hour for the 10k run at the same event. I guess it is safe to say that I may not be topping the cynicism charts when it comes to a certain topic anytime soon.