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Walk-ins and their daft questions: A reason why I hate interviews!

So, here is the fact. Recently, I attended a walk-in interview, why, because I needed an upgrade in my career, and in my salary of course. But, in this process, I realized that the selection process in the walk-in interviews is as banal and pointless as the questions asked in them. Looks like, some companies prefer the age-old, primitive methods and questions much like we prefer those ‘dadi k nuskes’ for fever or chicken pox.

Firstly, walk-in interviews generally happen on weekends and experience a horde of job-seeking candidates who can be categorized based on their body language and expressions. Some of them resemble the first bench students who pretend know everything; excited and prepared to answer any question popped to them. Some are excited like the kindergarten kids for getting a ‘Call Letter’. Some of them are so nervous that they prefer to sit or loiter around the washrooms and constantly memorize from the text books to the extent that their poor brains might explode any moment. Some of them are so frustrated of getting rejected from every interview that they are least bothered/interested about the happenings and outcome of the interview process. Some come to spend the weekend with friends as ‘there is nothing much to do’. So, basically, out of 100% only a few percent of candidates are the sincere job-seekers.

The interviewers are also irritated for spending a precious weekend scrutinizing so many candidates so that few ‘lucky’ ones get a job. How can a brain, devoid of rest and weekend party and alcohol, dig out some sensible questions for the entire herd? Thus, they too have some common insensible questions, as a revenge for spoiling their weekend, that somehow determine the fate of these candidates. If you ask me, it’s not their fault actually that the candidates fail to impress them by their doltish answers; the questions are too outdated to have a sensible answer.

Having waited like the chicken in the flock for two long hours, I finally got my turn to face the equally frustrated interviewers. I remembered the etiquettes I was taught in kindergarten and statements like ‘May I come in?’, ‘Thank you for having me’, [I will sit] ‘After you’, etc. started. The initial technical questions went well, and I constantly thought to myself, ‘Please spare me the cliched questions’, when the interviewer stared at me like a deadpan for few seconds and blurted these questions.

Tell me about yourself?. (Let me think! I have already handed over the information that you should know. Other than that, I like beer, cannabis and sex. Will that suffice?).”I am an experienced professional having…”

So, where do you see yourself in five years from now?”. (Say where? 5 years? I don’t know in which restaurant I see myself in for lunch right after this interview and you want to me step in a utopian world and travel 5 years ahead of time). “As a satisfied individual, holding a mid-management level position, probably conducting interviews as well”.

Why did you choose our company? (Duh! I am looking for a job and you just posted a vacancy. A good opportunity, you see! Or you wanted to hear that it is my dream to work with your company, you silly fellow!). “Well reputed, development prospects etc.”

How well do you think you fit into this company/role? (Lady, I’m hungry and right now I fit best in front of a large pizza and coke. Just tell me what you want to hear, and I will repeat your words). “I’m helpful, confident, dot, dot, dot..”.

Do you enjoy working in a team? How good are you a team player? Tell with examples ([Game of thrones music behind] The lone wolf dies but the pack survives). “I enjoy working with a team but can also perform as an individual contributor because…”.

Are you willing to travel occasionally?”. (So, you see, I am greedy and obsessed about getting my passport stamped as all the pages are still empty and I am already nearing 30. So where are you sending me? UK? US?). “Yes, I am open to travel and have a valid passport”.

Is your expected salary negotiable?. (Of course not! How could you even think such a barmy thing? I have not wasted my entire day sitting here and answering your silly questions just to let you lower my wage). “My salary is negotiable considering other benefits provided by your company”.

And many more. Last but not the least, then came the bumper question.

Why should we hire you?. (Like really? You really want me to give an answer to this preposterous question. Isn’t it obvious that I need a job to pay my bills and rent? Honestly, I don’t intend to die starving, so I need money for food. Oh! And, my grand-mom used to tell that I have sterling stars and am lucky (Subh) for others. So, if you want to have more business on your table, just trust my grand-mom and hire me). “Your company provides many services that I have had experience with, in a variety of capacities. [quoted few examples here]. I believe that my familiarity with the industry would make me a good fit for this position”.

Till this date, I presume they probably heard the honest, loud noises in my head that made them hand me the offer letter. Well, I guess sometimes age-old practices and dadi k nuskes do bring colors of joy in other’s life.

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Low-visibility weight-loss goals and a smoggy dinner

Sometime after lunch: Having expanded our bellies after eating voluminous portions of Afghani Chicken and Tandoori Chicken for lunch, I declare to the man of the house that starting from the coming day, I will resume my morning running schedule to shed those extra pounds that I have collected over months of indulging in some high-calorie, mouth-watering delicacies. I hand over a set of low-calorie recipes and menus that I have planned to prepare starting the next day to keep both of us in good shape. The man of the house intensely looks at the piece of paper, scrutinizes the weight-loss schedule and the recipes, rolls his eyes, laughs and walks off the table.

“This might be the hundredth thousandth time you have announced this, and nothing happened”, he remarked blatantly.

Pushed back into the dark zone of truth, I realize what he is telling is probably right. It is true that I have viewed million weight-loss recipes, chalked out innumerable weight-loss diets, been the most inconsistent student at the gym, and yet shamelessly chose Afghani Chicken and Tandoori Chicken over healthy salads. It is true that I have failed uncountable times in my eternal quest to lose weight, and witnessing all this, the man of the house has lost more faith in my weight-loss promises than the amount of weight I have actually lost.

“This time for sure, you’ll see”, I replied grumpily. I meant it. This time, I was all pumped up to resume my strict regime and fit myself in the shiny party wears that have merely transformed as my cupboard decoration as I no longer fit in them.

6.00 pm: It is a regular schedule at home to upgrade our general knowledge by watching National and International news while sipping hot tea. I prepared some green tea for myself and regular milk-sugar tea for him and sat in-front of the ancient television that we’ve been planning, since ages, to replace with a ‘naya zamane ka tv’ (new generation tv). Even the television, or any gadget enhancement as a matter of fact, never fail to make us feel old with such generation-wise nomenclature that sometimes sounds like ancient scriptures, too difficult to understand.

No sooner did we open the infamous news channels, all we could see and read in the headlines was the news of the deadly smog blanketing Delhi and Delhi NCR, all thanks to the crop and paddy field burning in neighboring states, mass constructions, and many more. The air quality has worsened to a hazardous and fatal level with AQI values soaring as high as 420 and above in certain places in the national capital that doctors have suggested the residents to refrain from morning walks, runs and all sort of outdoor exercises should the residents wish to add few more extra years to their lives.

“There goes my morning walk schedule and weight-loss goals vanishing in smog”, I mumbled in a disappointed tone. If the situations remain as co-operative as the current one, my eternal quest to shed those extra kilos will also gradually diminish in the heavy smog, much the like the visibility in the national capital.

I suggested the man to buy some protective masks to shield the fine particles and other pollutants from entering our active bodies.

9.30 pm: Having flushed my morning walk plans through the window, I decided to prepare something good for dinner. After careful observation of the available ingredients, I decide to make Rajma-Chawal – a North Indian delicacy relished by my husband. I am a very passionate person when it comes to cooking and love to prepare any dish to complete satisfaction. So, I ended up making a wok full of thick, rich and dark rajma gravy, and a good quantity of rice. Amused by my culinary skills and the kitchen accomplishments, I called out to the man of the house after serving the much-awaited delicacy in a restaurant-style manner (To be honest, I copied the serving style from a popular cooking show – a (inverted) bowl of rice placed in the center of a white plate with thick gravy smeared on top).

As we were having our dinner over a discussion of the critical state of the national captial, out of all the odds in the world, my husband thanks me for his favorite rajma-chawal saying this – “Mast bana hai aaj, smog-wala rajma”. I was absolutely taken aback and speechless, not because I was elated by his gesture, but because I could not derive what sort of appreciation was that! Did he really appreciate the dinner, or he is thanking me for my mere efforts of preparing his dinner? It didn’t even occur to me to say ‘welcome’ to such ambivalent sentence.

“What do you mean?”, I asked with a totally blank expression. “Is it not good enough?”, the passionate cook in me wanted an explanation.

“It is an appreciation, pagli, nothing bad. The rajma gravy is exceptionally thick (like smog) and tasty”, he chuckled as he relished a mouthful of it.

Well, I thanked the Almighty that he has not ‘tasted’ the smog so far, but secretly prayed to HIM to clear some smog in his head to avoid such dubious one-liners in the name of appreciation while I gulped down some of the smoggy rajma chawal silently.

Looks like smog is truly the new flavor of the national capital.

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Trick or Treat: Tricked by many, I treated myself with a chocolate cake this Halloween.

I am a woman with no super powers. Like million others, my life is molded in a simple schedule. The mornings comprise of the completion of some mandatory tasks with feverish haste before I leave the house to earn my daily bread. The appointed maid has vowed to share a part of the task and take charge of the cleaning chores daily. Hence, the part played by my eccentric maid holds a great importance in both my life and schedule.

(Few days before Halloween)

7.45 am: I am restlessly waiting for my maid to arrive to start off the daily chores. I have absolutely no information so far if she is has chalked some evil plans to ditch me at work or if she is running late. Honestly, I hate it when she makes me wait. This might sound like a rant coming a from a vexed boyfriend who is waiting for her tardy girlfriend at the park. But this is a complain coming from a woman who is solely dependent on her eccentric maid to finish the cleaning chores so that the woman can reach office on time. Suddenly, the morning silence in the house cracks with my glass-shattering ringtone playing loud, heavy strumming of electric guitar with lyrics from Rajinikanth’s super-hit movie, Kabali, ‘Nerrupu da, Nerungu da, Mudiyuma…’. It is a call from the eccentric maid to inform, at such sarcastically early hours, that she won’t be coming for work. Now, I will have to do mine as well as her tasks before I leave for work. Sometimes, I wish I had no phone to be the bearer of such horrible news.

9.00 am: Still in the process of completing the regular tasks, I complained to my husband how unfair life is with us, the corporate people. Taking in consideration the monstrous lay-offs happenings in the corporate world, somewhere deep inside the heart, everyone is skeptical about their jobs. Dare we behave like these eccentric maids and blatantly declare about our absence from work, the possibility of one final mail or a warning letter is inevitable. Some great men invented the ‘loss of pay’ concept that is used as a master weapon by the companies to make people avail their leaves at the cost of their salary (a part of it). I grudged that if we dare to use either of these punishment tactics: termination mail, warning letter, or worse, loss-of-pay concept, on these eccentric maids, more difficult and cursed days (to find a maid replacement) would befall upon us. Such is the irony of fate! His intermittent laughter echoed in the hall.

5.30 pm: The bearer of bad news beeps again. I have received a message from the bank stating that my beloved salary is credited in the account. It is true when the husband says that I wait for my salary more than I’ve ever waited for him. But wait, there has been some heavy deductions from the salary that I know nothing of. I approach the finance department, and after long hours of discussions, mail-checking and verifying, they confirmed the calculation mistake from their end, and assured that the balance would be credited with the next month’s salary. I silently wondered what mayhem the eccentric maid would have created had I done this to her even with valid reasons, smiled at the finance department personnel, thanked him for this wonderful Halloween gift and left the room.

8.30 pm: While baking some chocolate cakes for dessert, I informed the husband about the Halloween gift I received from office. To regale myself, I googled and read out about Halloween’s ‘trick or treat’ game. As the bright screen flashed in my eyes, I read out loud to make sure the husband listens to me, “Wikipedia states, the word ‘trick’ implies a ‘threat’ to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no ‘treat’ is given.”, to which I immediately blurted out, “I was tricked by all despite giving all sort of treats. My salary got deducted despite me working hard. The eccentric maid skipped work despite getting so many leaves a month.”

9.00 pm: While putting up the decorative pumpkin lanterns, fake cobwebs, and rubber spiders, the husband recites a small poem he’d learnt in his primary school, “When witches go riding, and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers, it’s near Halloween.”

With the husband satirizing my situation with such heart-warming poems, the finance department of my office deducting a substantial part of the salary, and the eccentric maid evading daily work, looks like this year Halloween has started early for me.

Happy Halloween.

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Not exactly a honeymoon, eh?

All my life, I have heard that the first trip a married couple takes together is called a honeymoon where two adults, who have recently vowed to be with each other, do all the merry things together, for the first time. For couples who have had an arranged marriage (a typical custom followed in India where the bride and groom are selected and finalized by their families after a lot of horoscope-matching, personal and official scrutiny of the individual, especially the bride), they get to know the other person to whom the martial promise was made. For couples who have had a love marriage, they wear their hearts on sleeves and flaunt their new status as ‘newly-weds’. In either cases, the bride’s hand, full of red-white bangles that are popularly called ‘suhaag choora’, and are an imminent part of the marital fashion trend, exhibits the happiness of being a new bride. Likewise, I and my beloved husband went on our first trip together post marriage, but we both, in equal voices, abstain to call it honeymoon. Rather, we unanimously agreed to name it as ‘The first trek of Sharmas’ instead of ‘Honeymoon’.

Me and my husband – we have known each other since quite a few years before we agreed to tie the nuptial knot. So there wasn’t much of knowing-each-other remaining as is prevalent with the couples of arranged marriages. We knew the pros and cons of being with each other. One common thing between us is that we get easily tired (Now that we are talking about married couples, I must mention that we get tired ‘On certain occasions only’), and love to travel to shake off the lethargy.

After we have finished all the rituals of an Indian Hindu wedding ceremony that is incomplete without the great pomp and show, loud music and ‘thumkas’, over-excessive eating and drinking, prolonged broad smiles in front of multiple cameras that keep flashing in our eyes, incessant holding hands and posing, and being surrounded by so many people (let me get this clear – we haven’t done all this while were dating; we are a very straightforward couple), our hearts longed for a break, a proper vacation where we would give some rest to all the weary muscles in our bodies. Hence, we decided to visit Mussourie, a wonderful hill station in Uttarakhand, and a perfect place for honeymooners.

We have been blessed by our beloved relatives who gifted us, the newlyweds, a handsome amount of money. All thanks to them, and also to our most-beloved salaries, we booked one of the best rooms in one of the finest hotels, Country inn & Suites by Carlson, in Mussoorie. The room was clean, had optimum temperature, elegant lighting, glass bathroom, an exquisite view of the mountains and the city from the balcony. The service was top-notch. As soon as we checked-in the room, our eyes gleamed with joy when we saw the crease-less, king-size doubled bed with a spotless white bed-sheet inviting us. It was the best, silent invitation offered to two tired adults by any hotel bed so far!

As far as my memory goes, we both were engrossed in slumber for the entire day. The next afternoon, we made plans of touring the city, as it was the first visit to Mussourie for both of us. I still don’t know which God sarcastically blessed us in our slumber that we decided to tour the city of Mussourie on feet! We were there for a short period of time and decided to keep aside few places for the next visit (Talking of this, I have to start buzzing in his ears to plan the next trip soon!) Thus, sacrificing the leisure of vehicles, we braved ourselves to start the infamous, not-very-honeymoon-like tour by foot.

Disclaimer: Do not try this if either of you have breathing problems. It can land you in serious trouble.

We trekked up and down to the following places:
• Gun Hill
• Lal Tibba
• Camel’s Back Road
• Company Garden
• Christ Church
• Kellog Memorial Church
• Happy Valley

Refer this link to know the places of visit in Mussourie.

Each day, after we reached the hotel room, sarcasm had the last laugh, because we had come to give ourselves good food and proper rest. But now, we were horrified to recognize ourselves in tanned skin and we couldn’t even feel our legs owing to the tremendous amount of walk. The hot shower and the relaxing bath tub were the ultimate rescuers that saved us from getting a sprained muscle. I would like to emphasize that amidst all this reckless trek, we took some really candid pictures and captured pretty awesome moments together. We also ate like a horse, and slept like a log.

On our way back, the new Mr. and Mrs. Sharma joked about how to describe this trip, as we both knew the curious relatives would have all their ears up to listen to some spicy, tittle-tattle about our ‘honeymoon’.

We chuckled at each other and remarked, “It’s true that we both went with our ‘honey’, but thanks to our adventurous spirits, we definitely saw some ‘stars’ above our heads instead of the ‘moon’.”

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An eggy morning

9.15 am: I wake up with the alarm, that has been snoozed over and over again in the last few hours (I set my alarm at 6.00 am with an everyday-hope of waking up early and going for a morning walk), with the thought of preparing some delightful French toast and hot tea for breakfast for both of us: myself and the apparently-pretending-to-be-asleep man of the house.

9.20 am: Still lying semi-asleep on the cozy bed, I recollect the ingredients of French toast in torpid head: milk, spices, eggs, bread…okay! everything is available in the kitchen. French toast for breakfast can be a possible reality today. It is already the onset of winter and leaving the warm, fuzzy blanket is a heavy task during these days. Somehow, I manage to cross the first quarter of difficulty level and leave my bed to start preparing myself for the remaining difficulty levels of the day.

9.30 am: I still have two hours to reach office. Few days ago, I have decided that I would do the lucrative second shift that starts at 11.30 am, thus giving me ample time to wake up, think and then re-think what to prepare for the day, sing along and cook the meals, get ready at my own sweet speed, and then go to office. Having so much leisurely time to spare, I zombie walk to the kitchen in my loose tank top and pyjamas. Rubbing my forever-sleep-deprived eyes, I manage to mix good proportions of water, milk, sugar and tea-powder and keep the proportionate mixture of everything on the stove to transform itself into fine cups of steaming, hot tea. Meanwhile, I initiate my preparation of making the much-desired French Toast without having the slightest possible idea of what was coming next.

9.45 am: Almost everything done. I only need to add the eggs in the batter, give it a good whip, dip the breads in the mixture, and fry. French toast would be ready in few minutes from now. The tea is ready and served in big coffee mugs. The steam from the coffee mug is spreading the essence of aromatic Darjeeling tea. ‘What a wonderful morning, the day seems to have a good start’, I thought to myself. Soon after, I take the eggs and off goes the first one in the batter. All good so far. Then, I take the second one, tap hard with a spoon to crack it, I see some black liquid spill from the cracks and whaaaam! It is a rotten egg!

Some seconds after 9.46 am: The foul smell of the rotten egg emancipated quickly from the cracks and the spilled liquid, and spread all over the house. I am frantically running in every room, opening all the doors and windows, switching on all the fans, and grabbing everything possible to cover my nose from the nauseating, stomach-churning smell of the rotten egg. My indolent brain and body sprang into action to save myself from the rancid odor. My brain, now in a state of shock from having cracked a rotten egg for breakfast in my hands and in the wonderfully prepared French Toast batter, is frozen, and momentarily I had lost the capacity of thinking and reasoning.

For those who have not encountered a rotten egg so far, you’re as lucky as the passenger who gets out of the stuffed metro compartment before another passenger silently lets out a deathly smell of mutton biriyani mixed with all the other stuffs he (or she) ate two days ago.

9.55 am: I have almost emptied the bottle of my Yardley Lavender deodorant by using it as a room freshener, yet my stomach is convulsing, and I am feeling heavily dizzy from the stench of the mixed odor. The house smells so unearthly that is beyond my capability to put in words. I have visited the toilets innumerable times to retch out the remaining food in my stomach.

10.00 am: The odor has penetrated through the multiple layers of protective covering and reached the apparently-pretending-to-be-asleep man of the house. He jumps from his bed and gasps for fresh air. Bewildered by the deathly odor, the man makes his way to the pit of the death and finds the cause behind the morning distress. I exclaimed that I am not in a healthy state, mentally and physically, to clean it up, so it is him who must take the honorable duty of saving his wife and his house. I provide the cleaning accessories and scoot off.

The man cleans the black liquid and throws the batter of hope and delight in the kitchen sink hole. I looked at it as it washed down and morosely wondered ‘There goes my French Toast in the gutter. There goes the good start of the day and a delightful breakfast’.

But, I must not take away the credit from the man of being a savior. Today was one of the very rare moments when I visualized him as some hero with some supernatural powers who saved me from the horror and torture of the rotten egg like how Batman saved Gotham city from the horror and torture of Bane’s reign. I looked at him with sparking eye-balls and a melted heart.

In this morning pother, the aromatic Darjeeling tea had lost all the aroma and was as cold as drinking water or fruit juice. I was, anyway, tired, hungry and running late. We both gulped down the only edible part of the breakfast – the cold tea, and he politely (or maybe he felt terrible pity) decided to drop me to office.

As we quietly drove to my office, I pondered for how long the scientists tolerated these malodorous eggs to arrive at a conclusion of naming the odor ‘Hydrogen Sulphide’, and what urged them to find out the chemical reaction to reproduce this gas in laboratories to teach young children how rotten eggs smells like. I recollected, with a smile, how desperately I wanted to run away from the chemistry lab on that awful day when the lab-in-charge taught us about Hydrogen Sulphide with the most devilish grin on her face.

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