Sunday, February 24, 2013

Con-ference 101

Con-ference 101: sarthakahuja.blogspot.comConferences, especially those that are aimed at keeping you abreast with the latest happenings in your industry, serve a much higher purpose than just updating your knowledge about recent changes in law. I attended one such conference yesterday, and it wasn’t surprising to see that it was exactly like a bazillion other seminars that I attend every month. Here’s presenting a list of all the essential elements of a typical professional seminar (with bonus “Rules to Follow” that will help you survive any such meet in the future).

Better Late than Early to Gate

You should never really rush to reach the venue of the conference at the time specified on the invitation card. Reaching at 9.30 in the morning will not just make you curse yourself for watching videos online till 3 a.m., but will make you truly hate yourself because even though the speaker was doing just the same on the previous night, he gets applauded for walking in an hour late for the program.

Also, absolutely no sensible or productive talk will ever happen before the morning tea break. The dais will be occupied by people who will be extremely happy about having a name placard and a Bisleri bottle placed in front of them. The only new piece of knowledge that you can gain during this time is finding the reason to why these experts burst crackers on Diwali. I mean, if it takes them an hour to light one diya, can you even imagine how much of their precious time will actually be lost in case they decide to light a few oil lamps on a semi-winter night! Plus, I doubt if their wives will thank them for their “precious time” and offer a token of appreciation to acknowledge the same.

Mr. What Am I Here For?

I hope you didn’t confuse the name with a person in the audience. The Mr. What-Am-I-Here-For normally sits right next to the podium, giving company to a speaker who is not important enough to be given a position at the center of the table. This person’s sole duty is to give the welcome address which he will unfailingly, always start with the word “friends” and then follow it with a couplet that is only worthy to be put behind an auto rickshaw in Delhi.

Exhibit 1: “Friends, Har kisi ko mukammal jahan nahi milta. Kisi ko zameen, kisi ko aasman nahi milta! A very good morning to our Chief Guest for the day… (blah blah)… ladies and gentlemans.”

Koi is gaddhe ko yeh samjhaaye ke school ki debate nahi hai jo style maarne ke liye good morning se pehle sher maar raha hai.

And, why in frig’s name are people so obsessed with this one particular sher? It’s sad how so many of these guys actually need to go to the Book Fair in February and grab themselves a copy of popular quotes and couplets instead of memorizing the two lines that even my barber can recite peppered with BC/MC at a Pahar Ganj Literary Festival.

Mr. Photographer’s Favorite

The photographer’s job pretty much ends after he clicks pictures of the ceremonial lamp being lit. We all know why he sticks around till lunch time. But again, he’s not as shameless as Mr. What-Am-I-Here-For. Our photographer will go on doing his duty of clicking photographs from different angles of the people sitting on the dais. And why shouldn’t he? He always finds the one person who will be more than happy to smile at the camera even when an audience of five hundred is looking straight at him.

This person on the dais is again someone who is not worthy of being given a chair to sit on the carpeted stage. He so easily assumes that everyone in the audience is looking at the speaker, and his attempt at getting a new picture for his facebook profile will go unnoticed.

Sadly, he’s also known as Mr. What-Am-I-Here-For. Double shame on you, sir!

Mr. What Should I Do To Look Important

This person is normally the youngest on the dais. It’s not been long since he passed out of school after having flunked grade seven and eleven twice, each. Here’s what his inner monologue sounds like.

Yes! Aaj toh dais pe baithne ko mil gaya. Facebook status daalunga tea break mein.”

“Bhai, kitni der se bol raha hai! Is bande ne time pe khatam nahi kara toh hum baaki speakers kab bolenge.”

“Paani! Haan, paani pee leta hun glass mein daal ke bina awaaz kare.”

“Yeh saamne toffeeyan padhi hai bottle ke saath. Uttha ke khaaun toh ajeeb toh nahi lagega?... Um, hamaare liye hi toh rakhi hain. Kha leta hun. Do minute toh katt hi jaayenge.”

“Shit! Saamne audience ghoor rahi hai. Kya karun ke ajeeb nahi lage? Ah, neeche dekh ke notepad mein kuchh likhne ki acting karta hun. Ya, sardar ki drawing banata hun. Bas yeh mere saath wala na dekh le.”

“Wah! Is bande ne ek sher maara. Aise lag raha hai ab iski speech khatam ho gayi hai. *raises hands to clap; realizes that there’s more to the speech* Shit! Shit! Shit!”

“Haha! Yeh speaker kitna gavaar hai. Dengoo ko dengee pronounce karta hai! *looks down to hide the smirk on his face* Bhai, isko speaker kisne banaya!”

And, as soon as the speaker finishes, this guy gets up, takes the mic on the podium, and thanks the speaker. I’m sure that by now you can recognize him as our very own Mr. What-Am-I-Here-For. Kya baat hai, sir!

Mr.  Lunch Joke

Out of all the speakers scheduled to enlighten the not so bright professionals sitting in the audience, the organizers make sure to put the junior-most immediately before the scheduled lunch. No one really cares to listen to this guy as the Chief Guest’s late arrival has messed up the program for the day. People sit impatiently, waiting for the great orator to finish his speech before 2 p.m. so that they don’t miss out on the 5 star lunch, which is the only thing that made them pay for this stupid conference in the first place.

This is actually the most crucial time for the members of the august audience. If the speaker finishes late, they’ll have to run at full speed to the lunch area after his speech. Facing the dilemma of letting others judge them for rushing to snatch a plate, or having to stand in line for fifteen minutes before they reach the dal makhni is a million dollar question. But, wait for the catch!

As soon as the speaker finishes, Mr. What-Am-I-Here-For will jump from his seat and say: I’m sorry to stand between you and your lunch *pause* but thanking the speaker is also important *audience laughs* So please remain seated for another two minutes.

After the five hundred odd mortals rush to grab a bite, he will keep beaming with a smile, feeling proud of the fact that his wit won him a few laughs today and the lunch joke was so funny!

Let me slow clap for you, Mr. Lunch-Joke. It’s surprising how, by now, you have more titles for yourself than KRK has on his twitter bio.

Mr. Highway On My Plate

Sadly, Mr. I-Wish-I-Could-Bash-You-Even-More doesn’t have to worry about fighting for food as his position on the dais earns him a private spot for lunch with the other “dignitaries”.

Now, you’ll just be left worrying about how you will fit the noodles on your plate without letting them mix with the Shahi Paneer gravy, which is already occupying half the space on your platter. Ah, well, there aren’t any free lunches in the world after all.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

So Cool, Don't You Think?

So Cool, Don't You Think?:
My friends cannot stop pointing out how I use the phrase “I’m so cool” as sparingly as toddlers say “mum”, “boo” and gurgle with a spray of spit. But there are times when I wish I’d have not used those three words together, ever. I think it’s because the phrase in question is not something like a ma behen ki gaali which will sound funny no matter how many times you say it. (I think I’ve laughed harder at jokes that end with a punch line which has something like a “bhenc**d*” hidden somewhere.)

The phrase “I’m so cool”, I now realize, is like the example of an ice cream in the Theory of Diminishing Marginal Utility. For those of you who haven’t studied Economics, it’s like an “I love you”. Y’know, how the fuzzy effect of these three words goes away if pronounced too often.

There were two things that happened last week which made me feel like I should’ve saved “I’m so cool” for. Before you read on, I should warn you that I’m really bad at humble-bragging. Oh wait, who am I even saying that to, really? I am pretty much seventy-five percent of this blog’s audience on my own. So here goes a diary entry for why I am so grateful to dada-dadi, mummy-daddy and all well wishers for their aashirwad and pyaar that made the past week so important.

Main ek din Public Speaker banoonga!

There have always been only two types of situations in which I’ve not felt stage fright. One, when I’ve been a part of a skit or a theatre performance. And two, when I’ve practiced dry humping the lectern and the mic during show rehearsals with my peeps in school.

Public speaking was something that always made me tremble with fear. It started when my class teacher in the twelfth grade pushed me into joining the Debating Society in school. I remember learning all the words of my debate by heart, because I knew that the words would make no sense to me when I’d be repeating them on stage. Fumbling on just one word would make me forget all that I was talking about. Looking at a few hundred mortals staring at me, standing right under the spotlight, did not make me feel like God. It was something I believed that could make me take a dump in my pants if I ever tried it again. Project presentations in college were not easy to deliver, either. Such was life until about a month back.

A few days ago, I wrote a letter to an official at the Institute of Company Secretaries of India, requesting him to let me conduct a few training sessions for students of the CS professional course. My CV and a list of topics on which I wished to impart training were neatly enclosed. I don’t really know what made me take such a step. Maybe it was the idea that my request will never be accepted. But, my phone rang a week later and I was asked to conduct a session on Leadership Skills and Motivation.

I was extremely nervous before the session. The podium has never looked anything like a shield to me on the public speaking war front; and deciding on what kind of a “trainer” you’re going to be for people to take you seriously as well as have fun is pretty darn nerve-wrecking. But much to my surprise, the session was not just fun for both, the participants and me, but also, I went on to speak for four hours even though I was scheduled to speak for three.

Two days back, I took another session, of a group of about thirty students, on Web Designing and Internet Marketing. I don’t know what made the fear go away. Maybe I’ve grown up. Or maybe, the fact that I decided to give it a shot helped me sail through. The chutney icing on the dhokla cake is that the organizers really liked my sessions and I am promised more such programs in the future.

It feels good to have conquered a fear. Also, it feels great to receive messages and calls from participants telling me that they enjoyed the programs and would love to participate in more such events.

This deserves an “I’m so cool”, don’t you think? :D

Arrey, Web Designer bhi bann gaya?

The number of students pursuing CA in the country is way more than all the students of IIPM, Amity and Chaudhary Charan Singh University combined. And going by the results of the ICAI every six months, it won’t be surprising if all of these students might just wake up frustrated one day and boycott the course for the lack of hot girls, or the poor pass percentage, or both. Telling them that engineers have a hard time getting over Elisha Cuthbert, and any other female species in their campus who has no knuckle hair, offers no solace. What is more irksome to them is the fact that all engineering students eventually have a degree in one hand and aching masturbatory nerves in another. CA students are never sure about if they’ll ever turn out victorious in this game of 40 pass, but 49 fail. Hell, they don’t even have the time to please themselves in the bathroom.

To bring this clan of frustrated souls some relief, my friend Vinit and I decided to build a website which would offer all relevant resources and guidance required to crack professional courses like CA, CS, CMA, CFA and CPA. Complete with all relevant details about the courses, relevant forms, mock test papers, suggested answers, etc., Career in Commerce ( took about a month of dedicated hard work to build. The initial response from friends, family and fellow students has been great and we hope we’ll be able to keep the project going.

The intention of creating such a site was to give back to these professional courses in some way. Even though our work isn’t something to be too proud of, we’re happy that we could contribute in this little way.

I don’t know if I’ll pass in the CMA result which is going to come out in the next five days. Nor do I know how many attempts it’ll take me to clear my CA finals once I sit for them for the first time in November 2013. But, if our little work provides much needed guidance to less privileged commerce students in even one corner of the country, we’ll think that it was a job well done.

I hope you will support us in our cause by giving us your valuable feedback on the website. Your contributions in the form of motivating or inspirational articles, as well as help in spreading word about this free service for students’ benefit will be hugely appreciated.

Here’s a chance for all of us to say that we’re so cool, don’t you think? :)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Nullifying Love at Nalli's

Nullifying Love at Nalli's:
I’m not saying that The Hindustan Times is generally full of a lot of great news in its 35 odd color pages, but the time of the year when its contents get reduced to just news about off season discounts and sales in Karol Bagh, is fast approaching. I’m thankful that my mum doesn’t read the newspaper. She’s not too much of a shopper, really, but I don’t fancy trips to places like Meena Bazaar and Nalli’s with her, even if it’s once or twice a year. She may not be tempted to buy all that is advertised in the papers, even if she gives it a quick glance, but let’s not take any chances.

There isn’t just one reason to why I hate this sale season. You may not share the same feelings as I do about the whole Delhi sale fest, but I’m sure your experiences must’ve been more varied than mine. Or, maybe you’re just a girl, you sissy pants.

One major reason for why I so tremendously loathe the shopping season is because no matter how much I dream about running into and having a bit of a future with some hot girl buying a Punjabi suit at Meena Bazaar or a Kanjivaram saree for herself at Nalli’s, the thought never materializes. I make it a point to dress up a little appropriately when I’m out shopping with my mum. And with “appropriately”, I mean taking extra pains to groom myself better by shaving on a Sunday afternoon, wearing shoes in place of chappals or sandals, and being extra cautious about wearing a perfume in such a way, so that my mum doesn’t notice that I’m wearing it, but the prospective pretty girl friend does.

I walk into either of the two aforementioned ladies’ stores with a subtle swag, the kind which shows the world that I’m the friggin’ daddy, yet helps maintain the poise of a good boy entering a place with his mother. I look around in a very non-suspicious manner, scanning all floors of the store while climbing up the stairs to the floor where things of my mum’s interest are stacked against the walls. Whatever my mum asks for at the store is normally available at one of the top floors, which makes her complain about having to climb the steps, and at the same time, relieves me of the pressure to come up with an excuse to go up to the floors above and check out for any “nice stuff” for my mum.

I notice a girl pointing at a saree, and asking the saree wale bhaiya to show it to her. The saree’s color is a specific blue that had caught my attention a few minutes ago. It’s a color that I won’t point out to my mum because I’m sure she won’t like it. But this girl’s choice is so much like mine! Her mum doesn’t look very scary either. But in less than a minute, her dad walks up to the place after having relieved himself at the store’s two square feet toilet. His gray hair and bald pate, along with the bushy mustache does not give a very gentle picture of his personality. It’s somehow hard to approach girls with their mothers only when their fathers are around.

There’s another girl trying to match a dupatta with her new suit, but as soon as she opens her mouth to speak, you decide it’s better to let her take the decision of what color goes best with her suit all on her own. On another floor, there’s a girl prettier than the prettiest girls I’ve ever seen, but as soon as you look at the reds and pinks sprawled across on the white mattress in front of her, you know that she’ll be getting henna tattooed on half her body to match the designs on her saree in another one month.

It’s sad how the end of an academic year at schools or colleges never coincides with the off-season sale. I mean, even if it does technically, the end marked by the official farewell never does! So, all the eligible girls are actually shopping for sarees at these places during months when my mum is working on excel sheets at her office, and I’m complaining about how none of the hot girls ever take up CA as a career option.

Well, now that I’ve started talking about it, you should know that my sister is in the twelfth grade, and she had her farewell a week back. My mum found the time to take her shopping for a saree only two days before the farewell. They said it was really daring to make a purchase so late since the stitching of the blouse normally takes two days. But I motivated them enough to believe that it was nevertheless possible. (Muhuhahaha!)

I accompanied them to a store in Karol Bagh, late in the evening, after office hours. Should’ve known that all the girls who go saree shopping for their farewell parties do it at least a month in advance. No doubt that it saved my sister from all the jerks who’d have checked her out during the peak of the farewell shopping drama, but it also meant that there were no girls left for me to check out either! And before you decide to picture my face every time that the word “jerk” comes in front of you, thinking that my intentions hadn’t been any different, you should also know what followed. Not just did I have to sit there at the shop for more than two hours, constantly looking at my sister reject one saree after another, but I had to sit through one hundred and twenty minutes of looking at the salesman draping different sarees around his slender body, just to show to us that they looked really great when worn!

As you make up your mind about not thinking of me as a jerk, but just smiling and saying to yourself that I’m such an idiot, I should go ahead and say it again: I hate the off season sale fest in Delhi!

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