Oct 29, 2014

I Haven't Read As Poignant A Poem As This In Awhile-- On India

An Old Woman
by Arun Kolatkar

An old woman grabs
hold of your sleeve
and tags along.
She wants a fifty paise coin.
She says she will take you
to the horseshoe shrine.
You’ve seen it already.
She hobbles along anyway
and tightens her grip on your shirt.
She won’t let you go.
You know how old women are.
They stick to you like a burr.
You turn around and face her
with an air of finality.
You want to end the farce.
When you hear her say,
‘What else can an old woman do
on hills as wretched as these?’
You look right at the sky.
Clear through the bullet holes
she has for her eyes.
And as you look on
the cracks that begin around her eyes
spread beyond her skin.
And the hills crack.
And the temples crack.
And the sky falls
with a plateglass clatter
around the shatter proof crone
who stands alone.
And you are reduced
to so much small change
in her hand.

Oct 8, 2014


It's been such a long time since I wrote, but an amazing friend here in India and I have recently connected on the topic, and he's pushed me to get back into it. Sharing this on the only space I feel comfortable doing so. 


"Last seen today at 19:43"— how damning,
Because it is now a minute past eight p.m.
And I know you’ve read my messages;
The double-ticks gave you away, duuuude.

How did we get swept up in this irrepressible
Tidal wave of emotion, texting, endless
Hoping, waiting, coming and
Going. —I think that’s where this is

Headed...not so much torn asunder as 
Gently separated, not unlike what 
Happens when you add the best, darkly viscous 
Balsamic to a lovely clear green 

Olive oil. —It's now five past, and I'm
Hungry. What for though, seems to be 
A separate inquiry. I can barely process
The nth World Cup heartbreak I suffered last

Night. In the sunlight things always look
Different, clearer, almost--
And I went away so

You wouldn't hear a thing. 

Aug 25, 2014

Startup Life in Hyderabad

Why should you work at a startup? It's certainly not for everyone, but here are my reasons why. 
So last month, I was thrilled to see my Apprentice bestie, Ningku! We, along with Sam from the show, were also very kindly invited by the good people at Wells Fargo to conduct a panel discussion with their management leadership trainees and graduates. It was an absolute blast getting to discuss interesting issues faced by all in the workplace and with careers. 

One interesting question we got was why, after the Apprentice, all 3 of us left our jobs to join startups. And it's also a question I get asked a lot. Why choose a new company that's trying to find its feet over an established name with multiple offices and a good corporate structure? Here are some simple reasons why:

1) Change Is Constant: I enjoy change and new challenges, and in a startup environment that is a daily occurrence! From tweeting updates, to writing a video script, to reviewing contracts, to bug-testing the app on multiple phones... every single day at work is different, so make sure you're comfortable with moving parts. That's one of my favourite parts! 

2) You Matter: You're never going to be a cog in a giant machine. Startups are all about being lean and mean, so it's a good bet you'll remember everyone's names by day 1, 2 maximum. The great part about this is that you get to see the difference which you make, and that brings lots of satisfaction knowing that you can see the fruits of your own labour. Taking responsibility for tasks is really key here. 

3) Things Move Fast: don't expect a monthlong orientation, followed by HR processes, and a few team talks along the way. You're right into the thick of things and that's how it's always going to be. Agility is another hallmark of startups, and being flexible and adaptable as individuals will ensure your team and your organisation is correspondingly so. Technology doesn't wait for anyone, so be prepared to dodge bullets and live in sprint cycles. 

These are just 3 simple things that characterise the startup experience...but One thing's for sure: it's not for the faint of heart. There's no hiding behind a big desk, a mountain of work, a complicated corporate structure, or bloated teams. You are you, and your work will face scrutiny. I think the 3 of us certainly agreed during the panel that startups are exciting, and that we're each enjoying the variety of experience that we get. I hope this gives you a bit more insight into startups! 

Feb 16, 2014

Mozzie Attack

It's officially been 5 weeks in Hyderabad! (cue polite applause, occasional wolf whistle).
One of the main issues I've had to deal with here is the relentless attack of the mosquitoes. You would think that being from the tropics, mosquitoes are 
de rigueur, but NOPE-- to set the record straight, Singapore, in its typical fine form, has successfully waged a genocidal war against those bloodsuckers. Suffice to say, the same cannot be said of India. 

Which brings me to the effects of these mosquitoes: 
  • itching (obviously)
  • marks on body, particularly shins and feet
  • awkward scratching of foot using other foot in bid to stay surreptitious 
One of the products I've consistently used over the years is 3M's ULTRATHON range, which promises sweat- and water-resistant coverage for 8 hours. I'll admit I picked it because the name sounded badass, as did the bottle design.

A bit more research yielded the information that the product contains almost 35% DEET, which is the active ingredient you always need to look out for when choosing an insect repellant product. It's what actually keeps mozzies away- not all that softy citronella lemony stuff. THAT DOESN'T WORK. DEET is the formula recognised as the effective active ingredient. If you don't believe me, ask the US military. or any other decent standing army.
Since moving to India, I've discovered two other products which apparently are in common daily usage here. Odomos, an Indian brand that is literally a household name for insect repellent (in the same way that the brand Pampers is now shorthand for baby diapers...), is found on every street corner and in every pharmacy and grocery store. Cheap and good!

The second product is something the whole office and house has plugged in to every room, every office cubicle, every power socket if I had it my way: All Out. It releases the repellant liquid and all you need to do is replace the chamber containing the repellant whenever it runs out. It may just be in my mind (although I don't think so), but it's been pretty effective. 
Not sure how this ended up being a post on mosquito repellant products... but either ways, I'm bracing myself for the monsoon season. Everyone who lives here, local and expat alike, tells me I ain't seen nothing yet. Fingers crossed my feet don't become even more hobbit-y than they already are. 

Jan 7, 2014

Preparing for the Move

So I'm moving to Hyderabad in a few days... I fly off this Friday and aside from getting over the fact that I'm in denial about the move, there is just SO MUCH to do:

  • Pack up my life
  • Get medications and the like
  • Get my skincare and toiletries in order (girls will be girls...)
  • Decide which clothes to bring
  • Books, stationery, electronics...
Having tasks to complete means not having much time for reflection or contemplation-- at least, not as much as I'd like. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but a quick blog post seemed to be the best solution for this conundrum. It definitely reminds me of the therapeutic value that writing has. 

But rest assured- this is one of the few posts that will be as self-serving as this. I see the new LiT as a much less self-absorbed place; it will not be where I vent or unload. I'd really like to share the journey of my adventure, and hopefully glean new insights about life along the way. 

To be honest, I don't think Hyderabad isn't one of those places where I can think (as I usually do) "I'll just buy what I need when I get there". SO I'm trying to be a bit more careful about this particular pack-up, and get back to it right now.