Sunday, February 22, 2009

F(R)ight to Vote

My attempts to get a voter card started long before the citizen awakening which the "Jaago Re" campaign ushered. But those attempts have remained fruitless because I have still not got my right to vote. The reasons for having deprived me of the Voter's card have been ridiculous. 

The first time I submitted Form 6 to the Election Desk set up in a dingy school compound was two years ago. I had gone to the desk with a copy of my passport (which according to me is one of the most stringently scrutinized documents in India) and a then recent electricity bill because I was told they needed a photo identity proof and a residence proof so I thought these would suffice. But I was sent back because I didn't carry a copy of my ration card (on which any one can add a name by bribing the municipal officer a mere Rs.100!). I went back the next week with the documents and they accepted my application.

On asking how long would it take to get the Voter's card, the person in-charge said "at least two months." I like a complete idiot was waiting and waiting for the card to be delivered at my home, but it never came. So I went back again, but they said they didn't have the list to verify if my name was added to the constituency's list of registered voters. I told them I would fill a new application if that was the case, but I was told that new voter additions had not begun for the year, so I would have to wait till it is announced again. Later, I found out from the lady who had come to verify the list of voter's at my house that my name had never been added. 

I forget about it for almost the next 18 months. Somewhere in October, the citizen awakened in me again. I thought it was the right time to apply, so I did just that. This time I went all prepared, submitted the form  with the documents in one go, collected the receipt and then began another period of waiting. 

Today, I went back to the same office where I had registered myself initially to check if the addition had happened. They checked around four voters' lists but my neither my name, nor my building's name was present on the list. They directed me to a different office.  This time, I did find the name of my building in one of the lists. I was hopeful that I will see my name on the Electoral Roll. There it was, my family's list of additions. It had name of all the adults in the family except mine!

I was shocked. So I asked him what could have gone wrong? He asked me about the documents I had submitted. I gave him the answer and he couldn't point at incorrect documentation as the reason. Then he asked me if I checked my name online on some local MPs site. I told him "Yes" it was not there. In fact none of my family member's name  showed up online so I had no hope of finding mine . Then he said it could have happened that they have made a mistake and put my name in the Electoral Roll of another contituency. I enquired "How would I know if it in deed was the case?" He told me I could find out at the chief election office of my zone. 

I wasted my entire Sunday morning returning home empty handed. And I will waste another morning running around at the Election Office. All this is especially difficult if you have 9-6 office hours! Why do we have to fight for our right to vote?

PS: I just realise but I crossed 100 posts on my blog with my last post on "Team Spirit". I am very tempted to revamp the look of my blog in celebration but I cannot afford to indulge in such luxuries when I am so time starved :( 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Team Spirit

It has been one of those phases – I have been doing everything I should but I haven’t been getting anywhere. And its timing could not have been more wrong. Not that I am not happy with whatever I am doing, but I don’t see how it is taking me towards my larger objective. I am practically drifting (yeah, this year’s first ‘drift’ post is here)

But luckily drifting has had its benefits. I have been putting in a lot of quality time at work, which has allowed me to gel better with my team.  It is only because of them that despite being the most hectic, the last few weeks have also been some of most enjoyable ones I have had at work. I have learnt but I can’t see the difference just yet.

The mention of the word ‘team’ reminds me how much I want to write about mine on the blog. In fact it has so happened that whenever I have wanted to blog, I have had no time, and whenever I have time, I have had no inclination. Since I have both this Saturday evening, I think I will get over with it once and for all.

I had heard loads of stuff about teams at workplace – politics, backbiting, oneupmanship, inefficiency, disharmony, rivalry and all the negatives that made the prospect of working in one really scary. In fact some of my batch mates did face one or more of these issues. But after two months of working with my team, I feel none of it.

The team dynamics are pretty much the contrary. All those aforesaid negatives are surely real because I have faced them in college level teams I have been a part of, but then generalizing the trend is being a little too judgmental. I will tell you why.

Working with Team Aurora (that’s our nick) has always felt like an extension of college. We have so much fun in between work that work never seems tiring. There is a soft hierarchy which is essential for any team to work and I am right at the bottom of it, but I have never felt so, because I have been allowed to work with independence and take decisions concerning the work allotted to me. And whenever I have had problems, some of the senior team members have always been around to assist me. More so, the team has always taken responsibility for mistakes by individuals, which are a part and parcel of work life, but we have come out even stronger.

Five of my eight team mates are from different parts of the country (literally one from each corner). It is a great experience knowing about the cultural nuances which make our country so vibrant. Our discussions go beyond work based on a million topics about each other’s lives, relationships, likes and dislikes, families, habits and what not. Team lunches are perhaps the best time of the day!!

A lot of what I have told you can be attributed to the leader of the team (TL). My TL has been an absolute dream, leading the team by example at every stage. Her passion for perfection is contagious. She will keep cribbing about how tired she is of working and yet stay back till 11PM for an entire week to set things right for others in the team, when it is truly none of her business. She is so approachable that you don’t hesitate to ask the stupidest of questions related to work and everything otherwise. She even once mentioned “Mujhse koi kyun nahin darta? (Why don’t you people get scared of me?)” Frankly we have never reached a stage where she needs to resort to scolding people so the question of getting scared is never a possibility. She is an ultra-professional but she maintains a personal touch by surprising you with these handwritten messages on decorated stars to appreciate good work by any one. Imagine, she has even make a good 30 page scrap book for her team member who is leaving the team for good? (Of course, we all chipped in but she was again the coordinator-in-charge)  It is not surprising when you hear a team is as good as its leader. And I say we are good because our reputation to deliver quality work is known and appreciated by our clients.

“Together Everyone Achieves More” is truly what working in groups all about. I am fortunate to have seen the principle work so early in my career.  

There are quite a few myths which Team Aurora has shattered for me.

Myth 1: “You cannot make friends at work.”

Myth 2: “Personal and professional lives should be kept strictly separate from one another.”

Myth 3: “A boss is a two horned devil who derives sadistic pleasure in seeing you slog.”

Myth 4: “Being transparent to your team members gives great windows to your detractors in the team to pull you down.”

Myth 5: “Professional life is all work and no play.”

 PS: Again, it will be foolish to generalize my opinion to all teams at workplace. My only intention was to change the preconceived notions which freshers (not that I am very old to corporate life) have on this front. 

Friday, February 06, 2009


I decided to walk back home from the station since I had reached much before my usual time. It was the usual chaos on the street – crowded streets, traffic jams, blaring horns, screaming street vendors – loads of noise. And the usual remedy to the maddening noise is to shut it out with music from my iPod. 

I was enjoying watching the pandemonium playing in mute, as I slithered through whatever little space which was available on the road. Finally, I was not thinking about anything but just walking. It had been a while since I manage to empty my mind. It was barely three songs before I reached my building, but I didn’t want to go. I decided to walk further away from home. 

On my directionless stroll, I spotted three street urchins, cute little kids, between the ages of three to eight. In tattered clothes and unwashed bodies, they seemed to be a happy bunch. They had found their own little game with a few pebbles and self-created rules. But it didn’t matter to them as long as they were having fun. In the middle of the game, they would remember that they were not here to play but beg – for money, clothes, food, anything which helps them get through the day. They asked me too, I could make out from the movement of their lips. They seemed to be shaping the words “Sa’ab ek rupiya de do na.(sir, give me a rupee please)”  One of them insinuated the other to touch my feet, which she did. But I didn’t give them money. I kept walking until she gave up. 

Around a corner, I saw a grocery store. I had to buy a few items for home, so I stepped in. After having mentally cross checked the memorized list, I approached the cash counter. The thought of those kids struck my mind again, so I got an additional packet of biscuits. It was but a feeble attempt to wash away the guilt due to the stone heartedness I had shown to them.     

On my way back, I stopped over and gave it them. I told them “Baantke khaana.(share it amongst yourself)” They smiled. Seeing the bread in my bag, the other one asked, “bread milegi.” I told her “Yeah ghar ke liye hai. Sorry.” 

I don’t think I needed to explain to her, but I felt obliged. I don’t think I said sorry because I was sorry for what I did, but because I felt sorry for them. 

“Sorry is a funny word”, I said to myself. Once again, my mind was brimming with thoughts.