Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Just got off the hook after organizing A Halloween Lunch Party at work. The spooky decorations and witches and candies were all put out a few weeks ago throughout the office- I guess for lots of folks, being in HR means just "OB-adichifying" with parties, office events etc. It does mean doing all this, but involves lot of physical work and also creativity. Employees love to have a nice atmosphere at work and it is one of the duties of HR to boost their morale by coming up with all sorts of ideas for every special event.

This year for Halloween, I decided on doing a costume party, cos many folks in our office loves to dress up in their Halloween costumes and I haven't yet got into the costume group (for which some folks look at me and say "You need to set a better example as HR".....and my response to them is, "Yeah..I am setting up an example in other ways, not just by wearing a costume).

Anyways, came up with two categories- Most Frightful Costume and Most Creative Costume for the Event, ordered and picked up Gourmet Applewood Pizza (which is thrice as expensive as Round Table or Chicago Pizza), got half a dozen variety of candies, cookies and treats.

The pizza lunch followed by a secret ballot voting for the Best Costume of the Day in each category ended well with people thanking me for all the efforts. Can't wait to go home and hit the sack. Guess those with kids have a lot of Trick or Treating to do this evening.

Attached are pictures from our costume themes- Most Frightful and Most Creative Costumes of the Day.

Happy Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hobbies for Pleasure

"Happy is the man who can make a living by his hobby!" Prof. Higgins in George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion".

Recently, I came across a few people's opinions on a random survey conducted between ages 12-70 in a certain community event. The topic and questions thrown at the folks were- Have people bid goodbye to hobbies or are hobbies still being considered essential to our lives?

From my personal view, I feel that a hobby is an activity or interest pursued outside a person's regular occupation and engaged in, primarily for pleasure and interest; otherwise it loses its purpose.

It was interesting to read some of the responses and opinions that people shared about pursuing hobbies.

From my daily experience in reviewing resumes, atleast 15% of them have a final paragraph on hobbies and often times I wonder, if this is a mere ornamental additional to a resume or is there more to it than that.

Hobbies can be anything right from surfing the net for constructive purposes, blogging to more traditional ones like gardening, cooking, playing sports, reading, listening to music, art and crafts etc. Whatever be the hobby, it needs an investment of time and lots of passion by the person to keep it going. Due to the technology advancement, computer and video games and watching cartoons on TV have taken precedence over outdoor hobbies.

Some examples that I found worth sharing are-

An older generation Indian mother after relocating to Indonesia, was part of discussion groups to share her knowledge of India with foreigners. She also taught English to adults and children from non-English speaking countries such as Norway, Korea and Indonesia. She found that sharing her knowlesge with the wider world makes an interesting hobby.

Another Indian lady who is a homemaker in Australia spends her weekends making glass paintings and mehendi designs for functions and also earns an income out of this.

Here in Bay Area, there are tons of Indians and their families who conduct classes in Carnatic music, dance, cookery, Tamil language etc. and not only pass on their talent and knowledge but also make a decent living out of doing this. They meet a lot of people and thereby form new friendships and contacts.

Some folks voiced that due to time constraints, they made their profession into a hobby, not sure to what extent that kind of a parochial view can be taken.

Anyways, the bottom line was pursuing a hobby that one enjoys contributes to making a person's life stress free and happy.

Would be interested to hear some of your thoughts on this........

Monday, October 23, 2006

90th Post- 6 Weird Tag Questions

My 90th post - Tagged by Raju, 6 weird Q&A responses......

1. Psycho in me: Aaaha!! The psycho in me gets triggered when a women is put down or when her opinion is not heard of. Worst yet, can't bear to keep quiet when an older generation man, old school thought, South Indian brahmin man acts as the dominating chief in the household and the rest of the family needs to fear him and obey.

2. Thinni pandaram: Absolutely! I love everything about good food- any cuisine, only vegetarian stuff, ever partial to sweets, pastries, ice creams and cakes. Of course, love to cook the delicacies as well.

3. Kids: Love to cuddle other people's babies,afraid of holding them in my hands, though. Not too fond of them as they grow older.

4. Dreams: Often have the most weird occurences in my dream. Last night, dreamt that a tiger is in the loose in our neighbourhood and it may enter our apartment. It took a while for poor K to rouse me out of my sleep and calm me.

5. No weird: What is the question?

6. Bore factor: Having to stand before the wardrobe every morning and decide what to wear to work.....

I am sure most folks would be bored by tagging them...but will not be the spoiled sport here- so my tagged bloggers: Anu, Renuka, Priya, Shankari, Sundar and jinguchakka........makkale- please don't curse me for doing this!!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Diwali to All

Wishing all bloggers Happy Diwali!

For the NRI folks: Enjoy the weekend by eating the delicious goodies (home made or brought from store),wear new clothes, visit your nearest temple, be prepared for the crowds in the temples, have a nice lunch and don't miss the Sun Tv programs, if you have cable connection.


Today’s the `Festival of Lights’ all o’er;
A joyful day for minds and hearts and souls;
And people throng the Temples to offer,
Prayers, resolving to take better roles.

And most of them are richly clad and clean,
And eat such dainty foods and sweets with mirth;
Whilst noisy crackers burst, their lights are seen,
It seems to be a happy day on Earth!

But are there not hearts woe-filled, very sad?
Denied of laughter, smiles for days;
Today’s the triumph of Good over bad;
But what about the wastage in much ways?
True joy is when you see someone else smile!
True charity gives joy in Heav’nly style.

Sonnet by Dr John Celes on the Festival of Lights.......

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

NRI Diwali Special Part I

Its three more days to Diwali and I am sitting at work writing a job description for a new position that needs to be created, classified, posted, recruited, interviewed and hired as soon as I can. Well, what else can we, other NRI's who work and study here in the US do other than fantasising about their childhood Diwali days and buying calling cards to call India to ask about the Diwali preparations at home.

Earlier, during school and college years when I was in Chennai, I wasn't a big fan of Diwali, mainly bcos I was afraid of crackers. My fun with crackers was restricted to the sparklers aka "kambi mathapu" and flower pots aka "boos vaanam". Vedis such as electric pataasu and even cape guns were banned in my house since I would crawl under the bed with my ears stuffed with cotton and my heart beating loudly at every sound made bya cracker in the neighbourhood. But, what made me still look forward to those Diwali days back then?

A week or so prior to the Diwali day, my parents would take me to Naidu Hall and Nalli etc. for Diwali shopping and a salwar or a midi would be the choice of the day. Today, as I look at all the online apparel business and hear about the crowds at the shops in T.Nagar from my folks, it seems like a lot more gala has been added to the festivities, simply bcos new fashion apparel like modern designer clothes, traditional silk saree varieties and even so many latest trends for men's wear and kids- the new tinkerbell pattu pavadais etc. coupled with the Diwali bonanza, mega sale at Pothy's, Saravana Sotes, Globus, Lifestyle etc. has made the whole package more attractive.

The crackers- What with Subhiksha and many shops offering all the latest types of crackers and lamps-diyas etc.it is indeed a kids delight to celebrate Diwali.

Of course, when we call our parents, they keep saying, now that you've all grown up and gone away, there is no one to burst crackers, so we haven't bought any, just a few sparklers for namesake.

Then, the sweet and savory making time at home. The women of the household-ammas, grandmas etc. would all join together or exchange recipes on making laddos, thengoyal etc. Of course, the special Diwali "legiyam" would top the list, so that it will do good for digesting all the goodies. Slowly, even that started to change. My mom mentions that since all the youngsters have grown up and nobody has the enthu anymore, they have resorted to Krishna Sweets, Grand Sweets and other outsourced Iyer mami's to order their muruku, badusha etc.

On Diwali, visits to temples and grandparents and relatives houses, adjusting the visits such that we don't miss the special programs on Sun Tv would always be memorable. Today, when I see all the advertisements for the shops and Diwali sales and also the preview for the special programs that are going to be screened on Saturday, it touches a memory chord to the years spent in India.

Well, without adding more senti- its still good to have those memories, but living far away here, we can still make do whatver is feasible and fun for us.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Random Ramblings

It is Friday afternoon and I just finished organizing a baby shower for one of the employees in our department, we had delicious Mocha Chocolate Cake and some fun games. I am ready to leave for the week........just some random thoughts put together in a blog....

1.Thalaivar SuperStar became Super Grandpa on 10/10/06. Being the hero of TN, he distributed sweets and Rs.1000 to all Appollo Hospital staff on this joyous news. Poor Dhanush (whose role isn't too significant as son-in-law, he is 25 yrs old and is younger to his wife Aishwarya) told media that his son would be named by Thalaivar on a grand auspicious function.

Inspite of Rajini attaining grandpa status, his fan crowd and status of hero amongst Tamilians is still at its peak with the successful shooting of his next mega budget Sivaji.

2. Heard that the new movie "The Departed" that has all the major star cast is very bloody, more so that Munich for its violence. So, wondering if we should go for Jet Li's Fearless instead tonight?

3. Want to make some gobi manchrian this weekend.

4. Want to go watch the Pumpkin Patch festival and carving at some close downtown.

5. This huge piece of choc cake that I ate this afternoon is still lingering in my mouth, maybe workout during the weekend?

More meaningful blogging next week......................Happy Friday!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Indra Nooyi of Pepsi: An Inspiration to All Indian Women

Indra Nooyi is President and CEO of PepsiCo, Inc as of Oct 1. As many of us are already aware of this, I am drawn to this not only in seeing the elevation of Indra to CEO, but also the fact that everybody has noticed it.

Indra has been ranked amongst the top 50 most powerful women both in Forbes and Forture 500 company magazines. Prior to this, she was Senior VP and CFO of Pepsi, US and played key roles in the Tricon spin off, acquiring Tropicana, merger with Qaker Foods and also in the public offering of Pepsi Cola bottling group.

Unlike other Indian CEOs what makes Nooyi distinct and special?

First of all, she is a woman, an Indian-born girl who garduated from Madras Christian College and IIM, Calcutta. Her fiery urge to come to the US in 1978 to pursue her Master's degree in Public and Private Management at the Yale School of Management was aptly rewarded.

Secondly, she wasn't an American, but an outsider. This implies that she had to be twice as good as her peers to be considered half as good in a white dominated corporate environment. Her first job at the Boston Consulting Group for six years gave her the strategic background and later enabled her to join Motorola as VP and Director of Corporate Strategy and Planning. Later, her move to Asea Brown Boveri as part of the top management team brought her career graph higher.

She joined PepsiCo in 1994 and broke the glass ceiling by clawing her way up the ladder to become President and CFO in 2001. In her current position, she is responsible for all of Pepsi's corporate fucntions, including finance, stretegy, business process optimization, innovation, investor relations etc.

Lastly, Indra's uniqueness comes from the fact that she wears a sari to attend PepsiCo's corporate events and thereby comes across as a woman proud of her Indian heritage and upbringing. This has made other Americans look to her with a difference and they welcome the genuine woman that she has become. It has opened up a whole new vision for the Indian CEO's, especially the stereo typed Gupta, Dutta Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who have changed their names to blend in with the Americans here unlike Indra's distinctiveness.

Interviews from Business wekk and other articles talk highly about Nooyi's other responsbilities as mother of two daughters and a wife to her husband Raj. She claims that her religious nature and background that she maintains in her puja room at her Connecticut home along with Lord Ganesha's grace always help her handle the several roles that she has to play at home and at the office. Her extra curricular activities aren't limited to playing the electric guitar at office parties, but also span reading a book everday between 11pm to 2 am to keep herself up to date on innovation.

To the average American, Indra Nooyi's CEOship at PepsiCo has come to symbolize the "entry" of the Indian woman immigrant. Today, as Indra stands apart as one of the most successful and powerful businesswomen in the world, she personifies that for Indians to come up and rise in the corporate ladder here in the US- education, hard work and moving into lucrative areas such as finance, HR, law, medicine, entertainment and engineering makes the difference. We need to take the paths that Jews have undertaken before and inspite of the 9/11 after effects, understandably, we would still need to work through to carve a niche for ourselves.

Nooyi deserves to be noticed and applauded for her feats and for drawing the attention to Indians breaking the bastions for top positions in corporate America. She may not be the first immigrant to get there, but she definitely has made a difference with her grand entry.

Kudos to Nooyi who is an inspiration to all Indian-born US educated career women!!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Indian Women: Job versus Career?

This has been a long pending blog topic for me and finally here I am writing about something that is of great significance to me. It has always been a struggle for me to clearly distinguish between a non-working woman (which is easy to comprehend), a woman who has a job and a career woman.

The differences have never been more pronounced in my entire life than when I got married. I come from a household where almost every woman, except my grandmother, went to work and also took care of the house. My husband comes from a family where the older generation women haven't gone out trying to be the breadwinner but have stayed home baking the bread for the family. Does that mean that one is better than the other?

First of all, everybody has a right to choose their life and decide what they want to do with it. In my grandmother's time, even the SSLC educated women had to stay home and go through a rough patch with their in-laws and going to work was as impossible as having an interest to pursue higher education. Even if that happened at home, cooking, housework, doing services for the older in-laws and having babies were the priority. Even focussing on your husband was taboo without the in-laws consent.

Two types of women personalities emerged out of this experience when their daughters and sons grew up-

The women who were supressed and deprived of a lot of rights in their younger days grew to become aggressive mothers who educated their daughters (our mothers) and sent them to work and got them married and still urged them to continue working so that they would have a better life than their mothers.

Another type of women personalities who went through the same hardships and even forgot to think independently, taught their daughters and sons to have a good education and imbibe the family values and tradition of respecting the opinions of the older generation and that staying home was not a bad option, but a wiser one to raise a good family and let the man be the sole breadwinner. This was applicable to the daughters-in-law specifically who got married into these households.

As a result, the same two types of mother personalities evolved with the ones having daughters and going to work themselves, supporting their girls to go overseas for graduate studies and welcomed the idea that their daughter should also have an equal partnership in matrimony and contribute to the economic upliftment of the quality of life by going out and working, be it here in a software company in the US or in Bangalore.

The other kind of mothers who themselves weren't employed in their life, did not urge or encourage their daughters and daughters-in-laws to have a job. Instead, their focus was on telling these women, in fact, many of them who are independent in all ways that neglecting the husband and home to bring income wasn't necessary and frowned upon as having too much freedom etc.

But, sadly these people (includes the spouses of non-working women) never see it that way. With the changing trends in the world's globalization, Indian women are storming traditional male bastions both in India and here in US. They are pursuing careers these days. Of course, there are many women out there who are satisfied with just having a job to earn money and gain economic independence. But, a lot more women these days are churning out to become career oriented- they want to do more than a job, they want to pursue personal and professional goals. Even though that kind of change is slowly happening, the success rate isn't that high yet. Such kind of career women don't have their path cut out so easily- they need to be able to climb the professional ladder and yet make sure that they are successful in the home front as well- right from organizing the house, ensuring that the equally hi-tech husband does his part of the home chores and also raise kids in a western environment. And the higher you grow in your position, the more challenges one must face. If it is a business or marketing position, then travel becomes part of your job description.

Finally, since many women have the tendency to play superwoman- trying to excel in all her roles, planning and maintaining the work and balancing the personal life becomes critical. Also, this career graph can never be plotted without the complete support of the spouse, not only in a verbal fashion, but also to sort out all issues that evolves, since a career entails sacrifices and compromises.

Hmmm......have we come a long way from our grandmother's generation.....keep the spirits alive and share your comments.