The phone as a source of anxiety

After I get back from work in the night, I check my email sporadically till I crash. I realize I do this only to ensure I am not missing out on some urgency that may have reared its ugly head. However, I feel a certain degree of anxiety every time I do so.

One Saturday evening, when I was chilling with a dear friend, I ended up checking my email and voila – I had an urgent query from a senior. I apologized to my friend for what I was about to do next – dug myself in my phone to send a cogent reply to my senior ( a tedious task when you’re three large pegs of Glenlivet down ).

When I got done, my friend commented – “dude, cannot believe you have work email set up on your phone.” Aghast, I questioned what was wrong with that, and commented that it was abnormal NOT to have office email set up on phone. Therein followed a healthy debate for 30 minutes on what was right – to have office email set up on phone or not.

On reflecting, my takeaways were :

– there is not much to be gained by checking email, especially if you are already clocking 12 hours at work … If any urgency arises, people can always call you

– a lot of it is expectation setting. If over time, you set expectation that you need to be called in case of emergencies instead of email, people will come around and reach you on your phone

– while it is tough to leave work at work, it can be learned over time. Trick is to practice the habit of walking away from email

So I’ve now begun my journey of not checking email once I leave office. Let’s see how far I succeed 

What do you think?










A date with self-doubt

To set the past week in perspective, my first working day of the week was Friday. I had worked from my room’s desk Monday through Thursday (the small pleasures of a start-up ), and started an independent consulting project on Friday. The week has been one long weekend. I’m writing this as I watch Tron on Z-Studio from the corner of my eye, and it’s well on its way to a rotten 10% on my personal TomatoMeter. All this lone time got me remembering how different my thoughts were in July, when I decided to leave my US job and return to India.

My reasons were personal: a longing to spend my life in India, a desire to be with my loved ones in a time they seek company, my affinity for a simpler life, and my hope of doing more meaningful, spiritually satisfying work that lets me help fellow living beings. After discussions with my loved ones, my enthusiasm multiplied as I learned we all wished for the same thing: to be together. The path looked clear. It was now a matter of breaking the news in my office, and preparing to leave.

And all along, there was doubt poking me on the side. Trading a high-paying job for unemployment? Exchanging security for uncertainty? Moving from the Promised Land to the crowded, chaotic homeland? All this, driven by some obscure ideals that usually invoke a raise of the eyebrows? The burden of my decision felt very heavy, as it felt like my entire life hinged on this one choice.

And here I am, four months later, drinking chai sitting on my terrace and writing a blog. I learned some things along the way:

  • No matter how heavy and critical a decision may seem at the time, life will always move on. All decisions, in time, become a matter of the past. Life does not stop.
  • Why fear making the wrong choice, when we can never fully comprehend the impact of our decisions? Life usually plays out differently from the way we imagine it. There is immense liberation in knowing you do not know what’s coming, even if you watch your steps carefully. In the Mahabharata, Bhishma pledged never to marry so his father Shantanu could peacefully marry. Although he did this to bring joy to daddy and Hastinapur, in time it led to war between Shantanu’s descendants. This would not have happened had Bhishma assumed kingship, and left no room for a new king. So we see even in our mythology, it is usually exhibited that we can never fully control the outcomes of your decisions. So why fret?
  • It is important to make a choice, and then make peace with that choice. If the choice we make does not bring us peace, we are subconsciously choosing what’s easier, not what we want. We live once, so why cheat the heart? If we truly choose what “we” want, not what somebody else wants, we will find peace.
  • It’s all summed up in this quote I read somewhere – “Life is so rewarding, even in mishaps, that to complain is to miss the whole point.”

So if a big decision awaits you, or looms in memory from the past, lay back, relax and tell yourself you did well – and it’s all gonna be alright.

Chilling my heels in Alleppey, Kerala
Chilling my heels in Alleppey, Kerala

Job ratings and relationships

It’s nine in the night and I’m sitting here in office, glued to my chair. Waiting for roomie to wrap up work so we can go home. I got a salary hike today. Very little but enough to bring spring in my steps. *Jump! Infact I was actually planning things out before I realized a. I’m not on the job too long (well, hopefully) b. its not so much money. Anyways, doesn’t take too much money to make this middle-class boy happy.

Some important things have happened of late. Not events, just things. Difficult to put my finger on them or tag them. Of the more important things, has been my eventual coming-to-terms with my actual expectations from my career.

I recently had my appraisal meeting. I would say it was a moderate rating, definitely not best-in-class. But amidst all those quantizations of human existence and grades flying around, I saw that my manager is really fond of me. The appraisal meeting was more of a chat session. Then few days later, my senior manager had an appraisal review meeting. She did not talk about a thing from work, just general sweet stuff. (At this juncture I must clarify that this blog is not a gratification exercise, I really feel this!) At the end of that 5 minute review, some heavy thoughts took me over. One being, it will be tough to tell my manager that I’m going, whenever it is, because she really likes me! And I do too! You see I am this non-competitive guy in the team who never snatches another person’s issues, never ccs another tester’s mistakes in a plan to the manager, who knows how to talk to developers about the errors in their code without offending them, rather making sure some laughs are shared on both ends. Maybe I am this way because I’m on this job solely to learn and not make a career. But that’s how it is.

But I’ve learnt that wherever I spend the next 20 years of my life, it has to be a place where I can build relationships. Not cut-throat-I-lose-you-trail. Maybe escapism but I don’t want to spend my life proving myself to those who don’t matter, which seems to be the foundation of most corporate culture, if not all. Maybe I’m just unwise, maybe I’ll wisen up and learn better. But I hope I don’t.

In other news, Nimish (ex-roomie) has lost 20 kg in 5 months! Hes become Wipro’s brand ambassador for some health campaign. Talked to him, apparently he’s got totally hot ladies coming up to him asking for diet and exercise advice. Kamti sir has arrived.