Tag Archives: experience

A little bit of patience

Impatience has almost been a way of life for me. Fortunately, I realize that it is one of my pitfalls, and I have been working to improve on it for quite some time now.

Greeting my colleagues with a “Good morning” everyday is a habit I’ve fallen into willingly. Firstly, it is the right thing to do. Secondly, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Who would want a grumpy colleague trying to get back at you for some perceived injustice you did the previous day, anyway?

At times when the good mornings turn into small talk, I try to avoid being the jerk and participate in the conversation, even though I would rather tune out the small talk, and mind my own business. But that is how far I can go. I despise meaningless small talk with people about whom I wouldn’t care after work. Admit it, every one of us has a few set of colleagues who we wish would disappear from the face of he earth.

So, one such colleague of mine, chats me up on my office communicator and asks me a question that questions my work ethic. I am the kind of person who accounts for the 1 hour permission I take to leave early from work, when the masses generally skip the 2 hour late entry they make. So I found the question very offensive, and clearly stated that he was under a false perception. And when this colleague of mine, repeated with the “Are you sure?” I got pretty mad. “You can check with records, to make sure that you’ve got it right”, I stated matter-of-factly and put an end to the conversation. Now, I was downright annoyed with this petulant conversation, and hoped to never talk to him again.

So, for the next few days I try to avoid being in any place where I would be forced to come into contact with this colleague of mine. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen the way I want, and as this colleagues chats me up the next day I give him one syllable responses against my usually long ones. I guess this indifference must have irked him, because he began to take jabs at me, for which strangely I did not react. I kept giving numb responses like I couldn’t care less. So this keeps happening over and over again, that is, him taking shots at me, and me replying indifferently.

Normally in such situations, I would have let the other person get under my skin, and would have blown off my top. Fortunately this time around, I didn’t. Usually the person who ends an argument with “Whatever!” has lost the argument. For once, I did not mind losing. And it so happened I did not. Because, a few days later, I was talking to a friend of mine when he walked past us. He stopped dead in his track and started poking fun at me again, and I kept mum as usual. And then it happened,”I’ve been trying to provoke you so many times, and you seem not to react. What’s up with that?” he asked, trying to guise it under his comical tone. “I’ve gotten used it”, I stated calmly. And he mumbled,”Whatever!” and moved on.

That’s when I realized by not allowing him to get under my skin, I got under his. Even though he tried to push it aside, he was clearly frustrated that I did not get worked up by his constant annoyance, and was taken by surprise by my retort that he had to resort to “Whatever!” “Gotcha”, I thought to myself, and just grinned. For once, I had handled a tough situation even as trivial as might be in the right manner. I was pretty pleased with myself, and I still am.

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Parisien Times

We often read in our newspapers, how the European nations are struggling to find their foot in the current global economic crisis. France is one such nation. People are trying to manage their funds in the right manner; worrying about savings, and most of all what the future holds.

With all those imported clothing costing so much, I thought the French were probably lavish. That was so racist of me. And I am ashamed to have thought it that way. My French visit, for the most part was more enlightening than fun. In a way, it made me appreciate India in all its goodness.

You would be surprised, to see how conscious people are while spending money. They would not waste a single cent, on useless stuff. A lesson that Indians of our generation have to learn. On the other end of the spectrum, you can clearly see that they wouldn’t cheat their government of a single cent. We’re not saints on that front either.

We Indians, especially those of our generation, roam around the streets wearing gaudy t-shirts with barely intelligible words scribbled in a scrawny font that reads, “Ruck Fules”. Yes, we are that cool! Not.

In comparison, The French have rules for everything. Even for filling water in the coffee machine. And every single one of them follow it. Amazing!
What was even more amazing was their sense of traffic.

See a red light? Stop
See a yellow light? Stop
See a green light? Is there a pedestrian waiting to cross the road? Stop, and wave signaling the pedestrian to cross.

Yes, it was that damn amazing!

I was a bit paranoid when I first landed there. I was worried about how the people would react to me, and my being there. I was worried I would feel homesick. I was worried I would have no friends. To summarize, I was worried A LOT.

It took me just one day at work, and a day at the domestic supplies store to lose all my initial prejudices.

From gesturing me to join him in the queue when I was standing alone, lending a jacket for the weekend because it was going to get colder, to showing empathy towards the minor earthquake in India, Xavier(our application manager) epitomized the gallantry the French men in general personified.

Well, the only other race I’ve known being our Indian men, I can surely say that I have never seen a more gallant race in my life.

[Some of our men, stomp you on your foot; don’t ask sorry; whine when reprimanded; and finally mock you on Facebook saying, “You want equality? This is what it is. So deal with it!” In their twisted mind, this somehow is something clever to say!]

At work, people held doors open. Waited for me to enter the elevator.
At the hotel and work, I always had the men working there wishing me good morning, and good day.
Even though I wasn’t any good at French, I was appreciated for the effort that I made at work, and at the hotel.
Every time I lost my way, someone helped me out. After some time, Xavier even taught me how to use color schemes to get to the place I wanted to reach.
I had a total stranger carry around my supplies, because he thought it was too heavy for me.
And when I had no clue as to what to buy in the wine section, I had another stranger help me out.
On board the flight from Paris to Dubai, a fellow passenger helped my get my stuff into and out of the overhead cabin.
At the airport, another fellow passenger carried my hand luggage (that was so heavy) to a table nearby, since I had my hands full.

I felt happy throughout my stay there. Most of all, I never felt alone. I always had someone to help me through. Sometimes, I asked for it. But most of the times, I was helped out without me asking for it.

I am guessing the French men are polite not just to women, but towards men too. It is just the way they are. But this being new to me, it felt amazing.

All these were simple acts of kindness. But they amount to the larger part of my trip to France being pleasant and memorable.

As an added bonus, most of them are smart, funny and handsome 😛

Airport Drama: Part 2

“Hi”, I said to Esakki as I was waiting for my luggage to come down the conveyor belt. “Where are the others?” I asked, searching for Kanagaraj and Saravanan amidst the foreign crowd. “I don’t know. They should be somewhere around”, he said and started looking for  his luggage. “Oh”, I paused and then continued, “But you did see them, right?”, I asked, feeling a bit wary. “Yes, yes”, he assured me.

For some odd reason I felt happy, and started looking for my luggage again. After a good few minutes, I caught a glimpse of the blue ribbon I had tied onto the handle of my luggage. Esakki helped me get my luggage off the conveyor belt and onto the luggage stroller. I was happy, all set and ready to go home. Well, home at least for a while.

We waited some more time for Esakki’s luggage to make its way down. But, nope it just wasn’t coming. I started to wonder if something wrong had happened. It was just then that I saw the other two guys. They were a bit frantic. I assumed it was due to the lost luggage at Dubai. Since it majorly concerned my being late, I felt very guilty to have felt happy just a few minutes back.

I went up to them and asked Kanagaraj, “What happened? Registered a complaint against the lost luggage?” I could sense that he was tensed too. I did not know why, until he said,”Well, we did not get our checked-in luggage”. “What?”, that was all I could offer. I was exhausted. He continued, “Yeah, we had already lodged a complaint. It was possibly because of the weight of our baggage. It was too heavy. So, they are probably bringing that on the next flight”. He seemed quite sure of it. But, I did not think so. It was my damn luck, plain and simple.

Meanwhile, Saravanan had found an Emirates staff, and was explaining the situation about the lost hand luggage. As soon as I noticed that, a sense of almost criminal guilt overcame me. Saravanan was trying desperately to make the guy understand what had happened, while I was looking on helplessly. I said a silent prayer, “Please God! Help him get his luggage back”. Obviously God had other plans, because the guy wasn’t being helpful. All I could see was… He was big. He was intimidating. And obviously did not speak much English.

I did stop feeling “that” guilty in a while though. Saravanan could have simply put it this way. “She was late, and I lost my luggage in the commotion” or even “I lost my luggage because she was late.” But this is what went down. He kept referring to me as “this girl” so many damn times that it kinda made feel less guilty. I am thankful that he helped me all along, but to be honest I did feel mildly annoyed at his pointing-fingers-school-girl-attitude. I might be a little wrong here to have felt annoyed (After all, he had helped me). But I am just being matter-of-factly honest.

I was doomed, and was on the verge of a melt-down. “Why is this happening to me!” I wanted to whine, but somehow I held it together. And then it happened. A lady clad in the standard Emirates attire came up to us. She was lovely. She was polite. And thank God she spoke English. So, Saravanan repeated the pointing-fingers-school-girl-attitude style complaint again. I rolled my eyes this time, and hopefully he did not look. She let him jot down the list of his stuff, and offered us much hope. He thanked her. I thanked her, and I was all but ready to leave.

As if there wasn’t enough drama for the day, Saravanan lost his camera. He went berserk. He did not know where he left it. Kanagaraj offered that they search the places they were roaming around. “It is a DSLR”, Saravanan exclaimed. So, they both ran in search of the lost camera. And I stood still; in awe at how many more things could go wrong. The lady at Emirates was baffled. “How many more things is he going to lose?” she asked. It was both rhetoric, and mildly funny. Funny because, at least she thought that Saravanan had lost his had luggage not because of “this girl” but because of his carelessness.

So, after a few minutes, they came back with the Cam. I think Kanagaraj had found it at the Immigration Check Booth. I don’t remember exactly. By this time, Esakki had returned from the Emirates complaint booth. And when I looked near the exit Gandhi stood. He had promised to come pick me up, when he realized how scared I was to travel alone by cab. No words could tell how relieved I was to see him. I ran up to him, pushing my stroller ahead of me.

I explained the whole lot of stuff to him in a record two minutes. He just smiled. God, he could be so calm. I introduced him to the others. Since Esakki was staying at the same Hotel as mine, Gandhi asked him to join us. He advised Kanagaraj and Saravanan to offer nothing more than 45 Euros for a cab ride. So, then we said our good-byes and made our way to the parking lot.

I noticed Esakki carrying his documents in a plastic folder. Suprised I asked him, “Why are you carrying important documents in a folder? What if they fell down?” It was as if an alarm went off in his head. He froze,”I missed my passport”

“Oh, Good Lord!” I thought.

A trip to Paris – Airport Drama

I’ve been laughed at and ridiculed by my friends for not knowing places in the city that I’ve lived my entire life. Firstly, I shrugged it off as, “Hey, I’ve never been to that part of Chennai. I’ve never been required to go there. So why would I know? And why should I know?”

Off late, I’ve come to realize it’s just not simply that. I am not travel safe. I’ve been lost so many times, even with Google maps at hand.

So under normal circumstances, traveling to Paris alone should be one helluva ride for me. To tell the truth, I was scared out of my wits. For days I was telling to myself, “Vith, you’re going to be well prepared. Not clumsy. Not klutzy, and super careful. No drama this time around”

My mind kept constantly reminding me of all the things that could go awfully wrong.

1. Lose my passport.
2. Miss the connecting flight at Dubai.
3. Lose my cash/card.
4. Laptop doesn’t work
5. Fall sick
6. Get stuck between racist flight passengers.

I was pacifying myself, “Vith, this time you are going to be prepared. You’ve got a satchel in which you will have all you documents, and you never going to leave it behind. Not even when you are visiting the Loo” talking to myself. My mom reminded me, “Keep your passport safe. With your track record, you should lose it within 10 minutes in the airport”. “Perfect”,I frowned muttering to myself.

I met up with a few of my colleagues(Saravanan, Kanagaraj and Esakki) at the airport. After some searching and a lot of phone calls of course. With me, nothing is simple. Everything has to be complicated. Sigh. They were helpful enough to get to me through the security check, and immigration without any trouble. Well, not before the immigration officer questioned me a 6 year old girl about the purpose of my visit. My damn luck!

I boarded the Emirates flight from Chennai to Dubai at around 4 AM IST. Thankfully I got a seat by the aisle. The passenger next to me was a Firangi as we Indians call. He slept through most of the flight, and had beer first thing in the morning(which kinda alarmed me). Perhaps it is quiet normal in his country. I do not know. Anyway, the point is he was an okay fellow passenger, except for his mild snoring.

The problems started right when we landed in the Dubai International Airport. My seat 35D E zone was neither located near the front end nor the rear end. So, by the time I got to climbing down the ramp, the two buses waiting to transport the alighting passengers were already full, and probably my three colleagues took off in that.

Now, the flight landed at DXB at 7 35 AM, and my connecting flight to Paris was at 8 20 AM. As I waiting for the buses to return, I was thinking, “I’m so screwed. I am definitely going to miss the flight.” I was so goddamn scared. Worried that my colleagues will miss the flight because of me. I cursed the DXB for arranging just 2 buses. They are stupid! They already know that the flight was late, couldn’t they at the least make do with another bus? Or at the least give preference to passengers with a connecting flight? Damn them! It took a good 20 minutes for the buses to return, and 10 minutes to the alighting point.

As soon as I got down, and cleared the security check I saw my colleagues waiting for me. God, I was so thankful that they waited for me. They were anxious. “Why late?” one of the them asked as we started dashing towards the some random direction. “I missed the first buses”, I admitted admist short breaths.

After some scurrying up and down the DXB, we were about to board the flight(on its final boarding call) when one of us realized he’s left his hand luggage behind(Oops! Probably because of my being late). We had no other choice except to report it, and board the flight. I said a breathless hello to the stewardess, and handed over my boarding pass. She politely offered, “Oh my! You came running? Please have your seat madam. It’s on the right.” I said a thank you, and started walking amidst an almost full flight.

“Oh my God! It has started again”, I thought of my ridiculous luck, as I walked down to my seat. I had a window seat. I frowned. Of course there is the great view, and additional space. But I can get up and walk around as I wish. If I did so I’d be a pain to the elderly couple sitting beside. I took my seat, greeted them with a reluctant,”Bonjour” The lady smiled, and replied,”Bonjour,” and a whole lot of fast French. Embarassed I said,”Mon Francaise rudimentaire. Parlez vous Anglais?”(Translaton: My French is rudimentary. Do you speak English?) She laughed, “Yes yes. Have a pleasant flight”. “You too”, I smiled. After that I left them to themselves. The flight was 6 hour long, and  I made the most of the time in my flight by… sleeping through the entire journey 😛

A Lisa Kudrow(in her 20s) look-alike woke me up in half sleep, and offered me my lunch, which I thanklessly took, put it away and started to sleep again. Sleep makes me forget manners. I later offered her a sorry, when she came up with a tray of coffee. I took the cup, for which she replied,”The entire tray’s for you darling”. “Oh!” I said sheepishly and took the tray; this time with a thanks. She smiled and went away. The weird thing is, the only thought that came up to my mind at time was, “Whoa! She’s hot” Weird.

After landing in the Charles De Gaulle airport, I was lost again. Like a sheep following the herd, I went wherever the French went. I passed through immigration, and started looking around when I saw a sign”<- Sortie Luggage”. A few electronic boards suggested the Check-in baggage from Flight EK 073 can be collected from station 13. I went up, and saw no one. I started looking around, when a Chinese looking man came up and asked,”EK 073 luggage?” I nodded. “It’s over there”, he pointed in another direction, with a ton of people waiting near the conveyor belt. “This is business class”, he said. “Oh!” I said and walked towards station 14, and I collected my baggage. So much embarrassment!

Wow. Even after zero clumsiness, zero klutziness and super carefulness, I end up being in a soap opera. So much for the “No drama this time around”. Sigh. I started looking around.