Stinky Rat – Part II

Well, the weekend came and went. It was like the Axis of Earth tilted and moved back for me. Things happened which I can’t even begin to describe…No Worries – I will live! Nothing or No One has ever been able to make me stop doing THAT!

Well, did not go to work on Monday. But come Tuesday – I return to find that the stinky rat was in my CPU….we did not see it when we had checked it on that day. Apparently it was quite small.

Well, now the wires are disconnected and the computer mouse has disappeared. I am actually writing these words from someone else’s PC (at work – *sneaky*).

Well as soon as the tech guy makes his appearance, one shall have a working PC.

Meantime – am enjoying the smell of fresh air – after stinky rat has been unceremoniously evicted!

A few words for the Stinky Rat:

Oh Stinky Rat,
I know you went
to a place far, far away from here.
Oh Stinky Rat,
I hope that you
find your peace, and come back never.

Rest in Peace Lil’ fella!

Stinky Rat

We have a stinky rat lying dead somewhere among the wires and what-have-yous in our office. For some reason, we cannot locate this bugger and management says that we have to bear this till the weekend, when they will clean up the place. This is a poem dedicated to this dead rat in office.

(to be sung on the lines of “Smelly Cat” which is Phoebe’s Song.)
Stinky rat, stinky rat,
where are you lying now.
stinky rat, stinky rat,
its not your fault.

So here we are spraying room freshner and burning incense sticks all day long in office , thinking of scintillating recipes for “eau de stinky rat”.

Thank God my job is part time and I go home in the afternooon! Feel sad about the rest of them tho’.

Casino Royale

So my boyfriend and I watched Casino Royale yesterday. This is again, of course, a remake of the older one (I hear). I don’t know. I have never seen the earlier part. I can only comment on this one.

Daniel Craig as “Bond, James Bond” was not so great – OK OK I am being kind – he just won’t do! I fail to understand why he was touted as the sexiest Bond ever, but he is not. Sean Connery was sexy, Pierce Brosnan was very, very sexy. Daniel Craig is not sexy.

Apparently, the plot is centered around the timeline before Bond got his 007 status. But then – way back then, we did not have internet and Sony Vaio laptops, did we? The whole “Le Chiffre” bit is also quite hilarious with this guy bleeding from one of his eyes.

All in all, one fails to understand why this movie is a Bond Movie in the first place. I give it 3 out of 5. I am kind.

HR – Why?

My straightforward opinion about HR employees is that they consist of such people who cannot do the actual job that they hire people for, and most often they themselves do not understand what the job is all about.

Given such conditions, the HR department is involved in hiring personnel for jobs. They may have a job specification or a job description with them. However, they still do not understand what it really entails. So they end up hiring people who they think fit the ‘profile’.

So many times, people send their resumes to a company. It has been my observation that the HR staff do not even bother to read the CV. [Once I submitted my resume to this HR recruitment company. And it contained my contact information *obviously*. However, the next day, I was asked to submit this information. When I asked the employee in question if he had bothered to read my resume as it contained the said information on the first page itself, he smiled sheepishly and still asked me to fill out the form.] ???

When they hire someone for a job, they rarely know what the job entails. They may be hiring for a profile so much higher than their capacity for understanding. The only reason most employees get selected is because they appeal to the HR employee who interviews them. There is no documented or quantifiable process whereby any reason can be given as to why a potential employee appeals to the HR personnel.

And then there are the HR initiatives – especially in my experience in BPOs. They are actively involved in conducting entertainment programs, and quizzes and parties – which 90% of the employees cannot attend due to their shift timings. And if anyone does attend these programs, then they must stay back and finish their work load for the day. There is no adjustment that occurs with the output of work. If such initiatives must be taken, then the HR really needs to look at the average employee’s workday and load and then decide.

But all in all, I will always stand by the 2 things that I have mentioned at the start of my post:

  1. HR employees absolutely cannot do the actual job.
  2. HR hires people for jobs that they themselves cannot understand.

A long time ago, I had heard someone derogatorily saying that ‘those who can’t, teach’ – but given the circumstances, I am amending that to ‘those who can’t, HR’!

BPOs in India: Modern Day Sweat Shops.

The BPO boom has taken a strong foothold in India. Youngsters these days have a lot many opportunities to work and explore several career options as soon as they graduate. When I graduated, those options were not available. I myself have worked in two such BPO companies and have experienced the life and the lifestyle.

Why is it cheaper to outsource? What happens when you outsource?

BPO companies are modern day sweat shops. The staff might be working for a supposedly good pay, but the pay is still about a tenth of what similar positions are paid for in say America or UK. When someone is an employee of a company in these ‘developed countries’, they are entitled to several benefits like insurance, overtime and pension. Outsourcing is cheaper because these benefits are not given to employees in the BPOs. If insurance is given, it is adjusted from our salaries. Overtime is simply out of the question, but absolutely necessary for every employee. And of course, you get an educated workforce which is ready to work hard because they have ‘dreams’. Also the starting pay for such jobs is comparatively higher than other regular jobs in the market.

Health and food.
The employees of the BPO companies work nights – so as to serve the daytime clients abroad. This plays havoc with our systems – digestive and otherwise. They say that they will rotate your shifts, but that rarely happens. These BPOs provide food. This food is either free or subsidised – but either way it is not at all of a good quality. If you keep on eating this food regularly, you will suffer.

Work Environment.

The work environment provided is supposed to be of an international level. Maybe so. But the working staff is, unfortunately, very much Indian. Therefore, the same old politics still occurs. You have almost 100+ people manning the telephones or doing data entry on the “floor” at any given time. Out of these, the people who do get promoted are not those who really work hard or well.


Ideally, every call centre employee must take approximately a 100 calls a day – which eventually causes them to develop ear problems because of the headsets. This is not often the case with the employees abroad. Why such a distinction?


We do not get Indian holidays – even for our festivals. We are told that we would get American / British / whichever country holidays. We don’t because invariably there is a high work load on those days.


And of course, not to mention the racism that we end up dealing with day in and day out from the customers on the phones. Yes – Racism still exists, even today!


So why do some employees end up cheating – stealing money and selling data? Simple. Today’s youth gets used to having so much money so early on in life. Lifestyles change. Credit cards, hep cell phones, drugs are a part of that lifestyle. You end up needing more money. Then the pay is not enough. So you steal – to enjoy such luxuries. I am not condoning these crimes, nor am I justifying them. I am just trying to explain the rationale behind the motivation to crimes committed by educated professional youth.


There are laws in every country regarding employees. To the best of my knowledge, no such law exists in India about these BPO companies. Most employees do get provident fund (but even that amount is ‘adjusted’ from the employees’ salary). However, there are no legal bodies or unions for the employees to voice their grievances. Most HR departments of such organisations boast of having such forums. But trust me, things get nowhere with these forums. (More about HR personnel in my next blog post.) Often the employee becomes classed as a ‘troublemaker’ and is shunted away to some obscure corner of the “floor”.


So what are the benefits – you may ask. Well, there are some. Youth these days have more options to choose from to explore career choices. An exposure to different cultures happens right here. Boldness and confidence can increase. Apart from employment options, this has helped create an urban working environment, where one can develop and hone one’s skills without having to jump the country. Interaction with the ‘angrez’ on a regular basis has made everyone realise that they are just like us and nothing really great.

The technology sector in India has had a chance to grow and explode in this boom. New and new things are being introduced into the electronic systems of the country due to the easy availability of knowledge in the country. Most of the educated and smart techies now have a place to go to right here in their own country. Brain drain can be arrested massively.

Overall, the good and bad points do exist for BPOs. But the bad still outweighs the good. Sit up, take notice and do something about it – we must!

The Departed – Movie

Watched “The Departed” yesterday and enjoyed it totally.

Apart from the obscenities which were flowing in profuseness, the movie plot was quite fine, if overused. Such mafia-cop rat movies are fairly common. So whats different with this one. Really – nothing! Jack Nicolson is good as the mafia boss. Matt Damon leaves a lot to be desired though. Leonardo Di Caprio seems to be growing up – his acting has improved. I did like him in “The Beach” as well. This movie shows his talents somewhat. Although the director could have used them some more. Matt Damon comes across as too stony. He had shown a lot of promise in “Good Will Hunting” and the director could have used his talents more too. Overall, the movie comes off as a showcase for Jack Nicolson more than anything. And of course that guy is good! No issues with that.

If you are gonna take an old, overused storyline, then you’d better make sure that the treatment is good, but this movie is no great shakes on that score. But in one word it is good entertainment.

Most of the viewers in the theatre seemed to be more impressed with the constant flow of obscenities though. It seems to be a catching trend in India to have movies with more slang and more obscenities – Omkara (one of the recent Hindi movies) did quite well because of the profuse use of them. Not that I mind it so much, but nowadays the trends in Indian movie goers, especially the urban youth who go to watch the movies at the Malls seem to like the so called ‘realistic’ touch to their movies.

You know what they say about Art imitating Reality and so on – I for one say that both draw equally from each other.

All in all I give this movie a 3 out of 5.

Umrao Jaan

I watched the remake of Umrao Jaan yesterday. This was the version with Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan. To be honest, I quite liked the movie. It was quite well done. I also liked the shayari and the songs – probably the only reason that I still dont end up humming the tunes is because I still have the tunes of the earlier version looming inside my head.

The locations, the dresses the ambience – all have been maintained quite well in this movie. Except for this one shot where Suneil Shetty sits down next to Aishwarya and we see the rubber soles of his footwear – did they have modern shoes back then? I wonder.

Aishwarya of course cannot compare to the inmitible Rekha – somehow, with whatever roles she essays, she comes accross as somewhat wooden – never quite giving into the character totally, and always holding something back. I had thought that this problem of hers would somehow resolve itself with more and more movies that she does, but it has not. With Ash one always gets that feeling.

Also, the plot does differ here and there from the earlier version. For example:

1. When Amiran is kidnapped, the earlier version shows that she is with another girl, who does not get selected by the Madam of the Kotha. Later on Rekha’s character ends up meeting her at a function and they lament their ‘kismet’ because Rekha’s character lands up at a Kotha while the other girl is raised in a good family.

2. Rekha’s character ends up interacting with the dacoit character while she is on the run from the mutineers and after she has been ditched by Farook Sheik’s character. Whereas, in this new movie, Aishwarya’s character ends up meeting him even before.

3. This version has Aishwarya’s character going after Abhishek’s character till a long time. In the earlier version, Rekha’s character has given up on Farook Sheikh’s character a long time ago.

There is a beauty in this movie too. The costumes, I am told are very much in keeping with the costume styles of those days – especially with regards to courtesans.

I enjoyed the movie. Have a look, you will enjoy it too!

Now we come to another interesting question..Was Umrao Jaan for real or is she a fictional character. Searching for answers to this question on Google gave me links to these articles. Here, I am copying the articles and their links.


Was Umrao Jaan for real?
Syed Firdaus Ashraf

November 02, 2006 13:41 IST

Who was Umrao Jaan?

Many people may like to believe that Umraojaan existed for real, but to this date there is a controversy on whether such a courtesan existed in the 19th century, as depicted in Umra-O-Jaan-E-Ada, a novel written in 1904 by Mirza Mohammed Hadi Ruswa.

Says writer Javed Siddiqui, who wrote Muzaffar Ali’s 1981 Umrao Jaan, “There have always been two opinions. I believe she never existed in this world. If she existed where is her grave? No one knows till this date. The book of Ruswa became so famous and an Urdu literature classic that everyone thought that Umrao Jaan is a real character, but it is not true.”

Born in 1857, Ruswa was a teacher, poet and an author and wrote only five novels in his lifetime. This novel is the story of Ameeran, a girl from a lower middle class family. She is kidnapped as a child and ends up a nautch girl, rechristened as Umrao Jaan.

The only work of his that enjoyed acclaim after this was the novel Sharif Zada. Ruswa eventually moved out of Lucknow and settled down in Hyderabad before he passed away in 1931.

Amaresh Misra, author Lucknow: Fire of Grace believes Umrao Jaan really existed.

“Ruswa met Umrao in 1882 when she was reduced to penury,” says Misra. “She was living as a destitute and she told her life story to him.”

In his opinion, Umrao Jaan left Lucknow for Bhairach district in 1858 after Lucknow fell to Britishers, and moved back only much later in life, at an old age.

Amaresh is convinced Umrao was real because he feels there is historic evidence backing him.

“The character of dacoit Fazal Ali existed and he was killed in 1856. He was from Gonda and people of Gonda fought against Britishers in 1857 during the revolt because they killed their leader. This fact is recorded in history.”

In the book, Fazal Ali meets Umrao and falls in love with her after Nawab Sultan refuses to marry her.

Fazal Ali’s character (called Faiz Ali in the movies) was played by Raj Babbar in 1981, and will be played by Suniel Shetty in the new film.

“Secondly,” says Amaresh, “there’s the character of Azizunbai, the famous courtesan. When the Britishers deposed Azizunbai for plotting against them in 1857, she said she was a disciple of Umrao Jaan, and this fact too is recorded in history.”

The British executed Azizunbai, and till this day her grave exists in Kanpur.

Interestingly, the new Umrao Jaan will be Bollywood’s fourth attempt at telling Ruswa’s story. The first film came in 1958, called Mehndi, after which Zindagi Aur Toofan followed in 1975. Then came the 1981 classic by Muzaffar Ali.

The latest director J P Dutta says, “There is still a lot of speculation and awe about Umrao Jaan in Lucknow; whether she was really there, if she is a real character or Ruswa’s imagination. Some people also say that she was Ruswa’s mother.”

Concludes Iftakhar Imam Siddiqui, noted Urdu poet, “I believe Umrao Jaan was not a real character and Ruswa wrote that character reflecting its time. His character Umrao Jaan became more famous than him.”


Mystery of the real Umrao Jaan

Wednesday November 1, 09:56 AM

Lucknow: As J P Dutta’s Umrao Jaan is set to hit the silver screen this Friday, Lucknow is trying to trace the last remains of the 19th century courtesan. Though not many people know that Umrao Jaan lies buried in what looks like an ordinary passage in the city, flowers have been placed as a tribute to Umrao Jaan under a tree in that passage. People claim she lies buried under the concrete, long lost and forgotten. Not everyone agree though. “People say she’s buried in the Imamwara or Karbala of Azim ullah Khan, which is in Talkatora. Some say she’s buried in Faizabad, while others say she’s buried in Banaras,” says a descendant of Wajid Ali Shah, Nawab Jafar Mir Abdullah. Meanwhile, the nawabs of Lucknow are angry with JP Dutta over what they call wrong portrayal of the Awadhi culture in the film. They are also upset because the site called Karbala, or the holy place of Azim ullah Khan, who fought in India’s first war for independence in 1857, hardly finds any mention in tourist guide-books. The place shot into limelight only after the new version of Umrao Jaan was shot there. Like Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan, J P Dutta’s version is also based on Mirza Hadi Ruswa’s book Umrao Jaan Ada. Those well-versed with the history of Awadh say the 19th century courtesan, first played by Rekha and now Aishwarya Rai, could well be a fictional figure. While there’s no documentary evidence of Ruswa’s work, the nawabs of Lucknow are not ready to accept a distorted portrayal of Umrao Jaan’s character on the silver screen or neglecting what they call her place of burial. “Showing Umrao Jaan in a swimming pool romancing the nawab sultan is absolutely degrading,” says Nawab Jafar Mir Abdullah. The nawabs claim the filmmakers have minted money, but never bothered to look after the place. If Muzaffar Ali had spent even one per cent of the money he made, Karbala could have been improved,” says Nawab Azam Ali Khan. So, J P Dutta’s Umrao Jaan, slated to be released on November 3, may have to face some flak and it will certainly miss the Awadhi ambiance.

Make what you will of this!!