turning unreasonable anxiety into unlikely ideas

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IT Manager

IT Manager introduces performance rating at home, faces backlash.

Harish, a manager at one of the largest IT companies in India, decided to introduce performance rating system at his home.

“My expenses know only one way, up” Harish

“I had my annual performance review sheet open along with my personal expenses sheet. It appeared odd that my appraisal depends on not just personal performance. Team, business unit, company and even market performance matters. On the other hand, my expenses know only one way, up. It was then I decided to change things.”

facing

Meet

Eleven years had passed since I saw her last. So much had changed since. In fact, everything should have changed but didn’t. Isn’t that how time is supposed to work? I still wanted to know her.

I would appear a different person to those who knew me in school. Now, I talk more, fighting hesitations for good. I had amusing stories to fill conversations. More importantly, I realized that if you just listen to people they’ll feel the conversation was great. Humor was my best friend. Sarcasm helped say things while keeping a guard on feelings. I preferred facts over opinions. Actually, I avoided saying what I felt, until that day.

I had geared enough courage to ask her to meet. We were strangers acting as friends. She didn’t like me. Nothing close to a certain boyfriend who kept calling her. While she talked, I wondered what to say next. Kept reminding myself to not startle her with questions. We took turns asking and answering. Bouts of awkward silence threatened to bring an abrupt end to the meet.

“It was nice to see you,” she said.

Here it ends, I panicked, “Really?”

“Yes!” She shouted.

“Would you have preferred to spend this time with someone else?”  That silence lasted for an eternity or two.

“I still remember your house and phone number. Those days, phone numbers were six digits. But even if they were twenty, I would have.” As I spoke, with little doubt and exacting details, she looked puzzled by this turn of events. I knew I had a couple of minutes.

I still remember her birthday, school bag and details which I decided not to mention, fearing it’d sound creepy. Back in school days, if you liked someone you wanted to know everything about them. You had to rely on your ability to memorize, there was no Internet. If you didn’t have anything to note, you kept repeating it until you can’t forget. This is how alphabets and number tables were taught. Perhaps, that is how I remember all this about her. Sadly, nobody taught how to forget. I miss not memorizing things now. However, these days I can start forgetting by deleting them from my computer or a website. Out of sight, out of mind. This couldn’t be done for this case.

“When I won my first debate you congratulated me. Since then, anything I write had to be good enough to deserve that handshake. By the way, I won a lot of them. Remember the Annual Day at school? We were made to do those stupid drills, everyone wanted to skip. I’d go to the art room. Once you sneaked in there. I was making giant red letter boxes for a play. I made you glue them together. You couldn’t notice but I had written your name on them. Clearly, the silliest thing ever done. Life isn’t half that fun now.

When you broke the net in tennis court. You kept crying while Kajal smudged all over your face. The stupid sports teacher shouted at you and called your parents. I wanted to hurt him but couldn’t decide why.”

Like always, I had no clue what she was thinking. So I continued.

“One day, we’re stuck in traffic. Then I saw you, standing on the scooter deck, in a blue saree. Must have been the first time you wore a saree. You looked wonderful. Later, when someone asked what my favorite color was, I’d say blue. I’d come up with these excuses to call you. Genius excuses by my standards. While rehearsals went smooth, calls met a fate worse than death.”

Finally, she smiled.

“I remember this day when stuck in traffic, I kept staring at you. You noticed and waved goodbye. I didn’t know what to do. I turned around as if looking for the person you were waving to! You made me act stupid. But pretending to look for someone that I wanted to be, I figured what I didn’t want to hear from you.

That is exactly what I came here to say. Goodbye!”

Abilene Paradox

The Abilene Paradox

Can fear be squashed like a bug?
Jatin

Here’s a short story I wrote. In an Abilene paradox a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is counter to the preferences of many (or all) of the individuals in the group. Sometimes, the phrase “Road to Abilene” is also used to refer to this.


(Opens as PDF in Google Drive)

The Dinner

The Dinner

Garett frowned as he tasted the food. He looked at others for reactions. Moira looked at him and knew what he wanted to say.

Ferris kept eating.

“This is terrible!” Garrett said.

“I didn’t expect the food to be so bad, perhaps they should fire the cook. How can anyone eat this shit?”

The manager, after listening to Garrett, apologized profusely, offered a complimentary drink and got all food replaced.

“I think Ferris enjoyed it. Man, are you used to eating stuff like this?”

“No”

“Then why are you eating it?”

grown up

Grown up

It is a pleasant summer evening, the car is steadily heading home. In the backseat, a young boy is sitting by the window, cool wind flowing through his hair. Songs from the 60’s are playing on a cassette. He knew the order in which the tracks would play. Right now, side B is playing which means they’ll reach home soon.

Lyrics weave images in his mind. Some new unexpected ones, others from videos he had seen on TV. The current song’s video had a group of villagers singing and dancing. When the hero or heroine steps forward, rest of the group dances behind them in celebration. The boy wonders why these songs, when played on TV have no colors. Is it because of the weather in old times? Does the weather change so drastically? What would it change to when he grows up?

The next song would be about a traveler comparing himself to a wandering cloud. He looks up at the clouds and wishes the drive lasts longer. He wants to grow up so he can do what he likes.

The bus is getting colder and traffic isn’t moving. One of the two employees in the bus is sitting at a single window seat. He dozed off several times in last hour and woke up feeling a numbness in his cheeks. He takes a deep breathe as runs his hands through the hair, joining them in front of his mouth. He looks at the traffic countdown display. The bus may not be able to cross the signal before it turns red. A bus beside them revs up its engine. It spews a dark smoke that hits the window and fades like the gaze of people closely packed inside. He closes his eyes and reclines the seat. The iPod is playing this season’s top charts. Every week he replaces all the songs. He wants to get out of the bus and break the routine, now and for ever. But he is a grown up who has chosen what to do.

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