Friday, August 07, 2009

Change of Work

He was a hawker. A popular one. Every morning, he and his wife woke up early
to cook. Cook generous amounts of hot samosas, kachoris, rasgullas and vada pav.
And then he would carry them all in boxes that he expertly maneuvered using his arms
and legs that got stronger by carrying them everyday. Every noon, he would
dock at the same spot. Prepare some hot spicy chai, toast the pavs (breads) and mash some samosas to a chat just in time when the matinee show finished. That's when he attracted the most customers.

People hounded the 'tela' (stall) to buy the 1 rupee chai and a pair of mouth watering samosas
with tamarind chutney and yogurt garnish. "This is just like how my mom makes at home!", cried a little kid by the stall. Everyone loved his food. Everyone..except the other hawkers.

"Look at him. He looks so frail but look at how much business the bastard does!", ranted a hawker.
"I tried to offer food at my stall for a lower price for a long time, but people swear by him..", another roadside vendor sighed.

Every evening, when there was no more food to sell, he would pack it all up and go home carrying the empty boxes. Famished. Tired. But satisfied. He and his wife were hoping to shift to a home soon, one made of clay. The thachted hut they lived in was too hot to bear. It seemed as though they were set on fire.

One day as he went to his spot, he noticed there was more crowd. It seemed like a procession. Lot of people had gathered in, shouting slogans and carrying banners. He smiled to himself. "Good, I can probably sell everything sooner today", he thought rejoicing the idea.

As he settled down and boiled the tea leaves, he heard a gun shot fire in the air. By the time he looked behind, there was a stampede in progress. People pushing each other, some holding each other's throats..He realized the police had charged on them with 'lathi' and someone fired a gun.
He threw the boiling tea on the ground and swiftly hauled his stuff in boxes and ran into a nearby basement. He emerged out of it after several hours. Several people crying over limp and injured bodies on the ground. Medics and people rushing to help the hurt.

He went back home cursing and had a restless sleep. Restless over all the food that was not sold. The next day he set out as usual. He decided to reheat the food and serve. He could not afford to throw them all away!

As he approached the spot, he saw police around. Cordoning the area. One of them spewed paan on the ground and screamed at him "Don't stand here. Go home".

"Sahib, what is happening?", he asked. "There is a curfew the rest of the week. Go home.", said the cop.

He sighed and went back home. He kept cursing the rest of the week.

He went back determined the next week and found some laborers around digging the ground, where he set his stall everyday. He looked confused. He went upto them and asked one near to him, "What is this? What are you doing?" One of them said, "Didn't you know, the sarkar (government) has ordered to build a memorial here."

"What??", he yelled. "What..but how. Why?", he could hear his heart pound fast, faster..
He found out that some shops also would be razed to ground soon. One of the hawkers passing by saw him and spoke, "Arre bhai (Oh brother),we cannot come here anymore. Sarkar has plans for this place and they are moving all the hawkers from here. We are planning to do a dharna (protest rally). Would you come join us?"

He declined and went back home. His wife and him thought about what they should do and decided they have to change their work. Atleast for some time. The memorial was built in a week. He went back to his usual spot. Only now he painted himself silver and wore round rimmed glasses and dhoti with a stick in hand. Dressed like Gandhi. Standing right near the memorial entrance, rain or shine. Begging. It was business as usual.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Do you know Chow Chang Woo?

Yes, so I get this strange call from Citi that goes:

"Sorry we are unable to talk to you right now. We know you are busy. Thank you for choosing Citi.
However you need to call 1-800-***-**** immediately. Blah blah"

Oh so you know I am busy, then why the heck you call me so many (odd) times!

So I decided I put an end to this goddamned call. And then they ask "Whom are we speaking to?"
I go "Manju Vijayakumar". And then the million $$ question "Do you know Chow Chang Woo?"

"Woo who?"

"Chow Chang Woo"

"No, I haven't heard that name. Not even in my dreams"

"(LOL) Sorry ma'm. The system dials your number everyday to reach Chow Chang Woo. But apparently it is a mistake. I will update the system."

Chow Chang Woo, where are you?

Ivy league vs The rest

For a long time, me and A have been debating on this topic.
"Does being in Ivy League settle your life forever?"

The answer is Yes. And A agrees.

"Do I have less opportunities than an Ivy League graduate?"

The answer is No. But A won't agree to this.

We pondered on what are the reasons that people at an Ivy League get chosen over others - great reputation, strong alum, lots of resources at your dispose. And that's it? What about the basic 'intelligence'?

I personally know few people from the Ivy colleges, who aren't as "intelligent" as you think they should be. Period. And yet they make the best job offers. I cannot quote who they are and what they did, for me to reach this conclusion. But it is true and it is a fact.

Of the few places I have worked, I met some of the smartest and some of the dumbest. Both from Ivy. Coming back to the question, do they have more opportunities than you? They certainly get those opportunities faster and easier than others. Its simple, there alum is very very strong and they have a better reach. In the States, nothing works without references. If you know a few people who can get you to the top, that is all there is to it. You can "fake" your way to that initial job, without getting stressed out about it and without knowing what the job expectations are. You are Ivy right, you are in :)

It really wonders me how people get into such top institutes without the strong basics that are expected of them.

But like I told A, you can dig opportunities, if you want to.
You can climb the corporate ladder, if you want to. You can get to start a company, if you want to.

Ivy or not, it is your determination to push yourself and make your own way.

Who wants an Ivy League degree when you know you can achieve more by walking that extra mile..

PS: I totally think A is much more smarter than those douches from Ivy I met:)