Friends and Genuine Humor make a super combo!

Our life is full when we have friends who can laugh with us and at us with no malice. Over the last week, WhatsApp (of all places) showed me this truth emphatically. Friends from my college group came up with entertaining quips, friendly leg-pulling, and sincere support – these are invaluable in today’s world.

Friends at work are a similar breed. I am lucky to have many, and the camaraderie and banter help move things along nicely. When leaders exhibit such behavior, teams follow. I bring this up to a friend at work, and he shares an interesting observation. When we start our careers, we all experience this malice-less and unconditional rapport. It is the passage of time (and pyramid climbing!) that have made this less common. Pyramid climbing, in particular, can give you agendas, which puts people on guard. That’s the watch out – people always have a funny bone; it’s the agendas that play spoilsport.

I see this play out on Social media too. There are genuinely fun handles – they have us laughing and at no one’s expense. There is also Satire; we need a true story-teller to make it enjoyable, though. Irony and Satire have their part to play – they get us to reflect on broader issues. It’s the others – masquerading malice in the form of humor that is a bore! Indeed, we have to resort to our friends, unfollow and mute, to safeguard ourselves against these!

I know appetites and mileage differ for each of us. What type of humor attracts you – as a creator and a reader?

An ode to Distraction in the time of WFH! Habit Journal Day 12

Why have distractions gotten such a bad rap? They provide us with a few minutes (ok a few hundred) of consolation and joy every day. Why would we want to deprive ourselves of this simple pleasure?

Let me paint a picture. It’s Friday afternoon, and you have a report to complete, You are upset with a guy for stealing credit for something you slogged a weekend. There’s smoke coming out of your ears. What better way to let off steam than by tuning into Twitter – where everyone is anyway howling away? You don’t even need to know why they are screaming. Just witnessing the noise is soothing. It’s like having access to WWF 24*7 or a Gaul village fight. Just make sure you aren’t in the ring!

LinkedIn has proven Shakespeare right. All the world’s a stage. LinkedIn users continually share life advice, and endless forwards “for better reach”. Reading the posts, you suspect these angels are here to help us succeed big time. Hold that thought. That angel may well turn out to be the troublemaker from the next cubicle. But remember – the world’s a stage, and we play our parts in it. So switch on your halos and be the Do-Gooder you never were. And don’t forget to pass along endless WhatsApp memes. And the forwards “for better reach”.

There are diversions peculiar to WFH. Domestic duties, walking the dog, watching T.V. channels on mute during meetings – these are WFH specialities. The joy of watching a YouTube video or a Facebook feed during an official zoom meeting is priceless. Make that an extra fun experience when Big Beard from management is taking sermons on how to improve sales for the next year, and you are watching a cat video on the sly. How could you even recreate this in an office atmosphere?

We didn’t even touch upon WhatsApp (the conspiracy machine) or Instagram (instantly forgettable moments!). We already have enough to rest our case. We shouldn’t knock Distractions. We’d do better to elevate them to the status of National Pastime. Would you agree with me?

P.S.: Thanks for adding this post to your Distraction inventory. I hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to complete your report soon – have a nice day 🙂

A tale of 2 storms…

The last week belonged to sandy and nilam, no matter what Obama/Romney or the congress/ iac say. Sandy hit the east coast of the USA, while its cousin played havoc on the southern coast of India. And here’s what intrigues me – I cannot imagine where they got their names from.

Sandy wasn’t sandy, she was very water-y – as the journalists kept pointing out standing in knee-deep water – I guess to emphasize how water-logged the place was (and no, it was the real thing, not a bath tub).

Her Indian sister Nilam was windy, noisy and scary – but comparing her to a blue sapphire (which is what the wikipedia assures us Nilam means) boggles the imagination. A friend helpfully mentions there’s a species of mango named Nilam too – but then why would we name a storm after a fruit!

Ok we’ll let that go. Perhaps the weathermen had too much vodka the night before, or maybe someone asked the bureaucracy’s spin doctors to name them…

The relief efforts deserved a clap for sure. Removing fallen trees, dispensing food and aid, restoring power and bringing the city back to normalcy was done with express speed in Chennai. And the US is bouncing back with alacrity too – per the papers and the lady on tv (now on more firm ground – and we can’t see the water anymore – or anything for that matter though – perhaps because she’s now emphasizing that we have a power problem!).

The social media played a wonderful role too – sharing information on dos/ donts, location-specific information etc. – i’d think it was a god send for all those who lived through the storm – and allowed their loved ones across the world to stay in touch.

I guess it’s worth saying a special thanks to the efforts of our friends, support infrastructure and administration, media and the technology innovations that have helped get us through the crisis. Spare a prayer, a kind word and a penny or two for those who have been affected adversely by these storms(or whatever these “nature’s fury” acts are called). Don’t forget to have an extra helping of turkey this thanksgiving or a sweet during Deepavali for having made it through.

Anyway, we are back to normalcy now and the politicians can heave a sign of relief and get back to their business. Will it be Obama or Romney?

On the Indian side, we have equally heady affairs to be sorted out. We have an incumbent government that’s being accused of being corrupt and inefficient (so what’s new?), an opposition party being accused of being no better and a people’s movement which is suspected of harboring political ambitions (and hence making selective allegations..). If that doesn’t sound like a Len Deighton whodunit plot, I don’t know what does…

How wealthy are you?

I guess it depends on which currency you measure your wealth in.

If you asked the uncle next door, he would lookup your bank balance and total up the USD, GNP, Euro (but with a prayer!), INR (with a bigger prayer!)..This wealth ages well – you can live off your grandfathers’ savings even today.

The doctor at the neighborhood clinic wouldn’t entirely agree. Money’s important but isn’t pedigree (number of certificates and the institutions which issued them) worth more – if you had the latter, you could get fulfillment and money

The merchant would think it was information alone that deserved to be the best currency. As long as he knew more about the market than the farmer and more about the farms than the buyer, he could make a tidy sum.

If you asked your friend at wall street, he would talk about his stocks and what he thinks they are worth. He may confess that the value of the stock depends not on a physical asset/ company performance but on market perception. And perception is fickle – remember man is kind, men are evil!

The youngster at work would elucidate the number of LinkedIn contacts he has and the number of testimonials he’s obtained. He may also flout his klout score and the reputation he has in the virtual world.

The teenage girl may carelessly show you her enormous friends list on Facebookand the massive likes she’s earned. She sure is popular, as she bobs her head to a blockbuster soundtrack on her iPod.

Her grandfather would shake his head reflecting on the ignorance and innocence of youth as he fondly remembers the titles he’s earned (not quite knighted by the queen but close) and the clubs he’s a proud member of. Did he mention the viceroy once gave him a memento – the only one in his entire province to have received the honor?

The social activist shudders at the selfishness of her dad’s generation as she goes to salvage the poor from poverty, provide education to the masses and save the girl child.

We finally stroll down to the ashram where the saint is seated under a tree smiling serenely. The saint realizes he doesn’t have any desires left nor has he the random thoughts that agitate the common man. For him less is indeed more.

Who amongst these is right? Or is anyone or everyone? Who would you like to be?

And here’s a lovely list of attitudes from Seth Godin – that may help clarify what you are after…