“Multiobjective Piecewise Regressive Elitism Spotted Hyena Optimized Mapping”

That’s the paper I am editing at the moment. I can no longer even pretend to understand the subject matter. I satisfy myself with language corrections, which itself is hard because…read the first line of this post.

The jubilee

The earth has revolved fifty times around the sun since I was born.

So, what’s the score?

  1. A talented, humorous, kind, smart, beautiful daughter.
  2. A smart, loving, efficient, simple, passionate husband.
  3. The blessing of being there for my ageing father.
  4. The good fortune of holding my mother’s hand as she breathed her last.
  5. The good fortune of sitting next to my grandmother when she passed on.
  6. Friends who are my lifelines in troubled times.
  7. Good health.
  8. A satisfying career.
  9. Enough wealth – not too much not too little.
  10. A simple lifestyle with not many wants and desires.

What I continue to work towards.

  1. Give something back to society. Not sure how. Will figure it out.
  2. Mental calm.  Still running towards it and panicking in the process.
  3. Order and method, as Poirot would say.  Likely impossible, but no harm trying.
  4. Letting go of control. There’s potential, but much hard work required.
  5. Talk less.  This is a recent development.  I used to be a sparse talker, but perhaps it was the pandemic isolation or just ageing, these days I talk non-stop, even to strangers.  And I don’t make much sense, either. I am like this:

When I am done talking, I go “was I talking to her about…gas?” Not a good look on a 50-year-old, is it?

So my blessings outweigh my needs.  That’s a good place to be, ain’t it?

Meanwhile, my kid and better-half are plotting something for the evening and I am pretending that I haven’t noticed them pass meaningful looks and whispers between them when they think I am not looking. I suspect some glitter is involved.

Meanwhile, my child doodled this in a moment, and might I add that that is a good likeness of me. She of course, in her loving daughterly way, made me prettier in her doodle.

My childhood friends S & S (in three years, I’d have known and loved them for half a century) sent me this from across the seven seas.

My cousin and best friend within the family sent me this:

Yes, that’s a lot of cake.

My best friend from grown-up life sent me this:

So there we are.

The tiger by the tail

So much to write about, so little time. And energy.

And to add to my mental and physical chaos, Navarathri (nine nights of celebration) starts Sunday. I haven’t even planned anything yet.

I really need to roll back a little. On my job, on my non-job commitments, on everything. But But I am afraid to.

Mumming

I walked into my 18-year old daughter’s room when she was changing clothes. Context: We don’t usually close doors to our rooms – not in our culture. Besides, she has the upstairs to herself most of the time, so she is fairly private. Except, of course, on times I choose to barge in, which, according to her, is ALWAYS when she is changing. My complaint is that she is always changing clothes in life.

Kid: AMMA, you always do this. ALWAYS.

Me: Big deal. I am a woman too. What is it that you have and I don’t?

Without batting an eyelid the kid yells “DIGNITY”.

One of my close friends and I joke that once a woman has pushed a banshee out of her vagina, and has had all and sundry poke and prod her in the process, she loses all sense of dignity.

Sigh.

***

This morning, kid was already irritated because of work overload and stuff, and I go in to irritate her further with a bunch of instructions, and she goes “Will you please stop Amma-ing today?”.

Like that’s possible.

To work or not to work, that is the question

Matter hits me in threes. So far, there’s been two of a kind, and I am making up the third to complete it.

In a recent show, Trevor Noah spoke about this new buzzword trend called “quiet quitting”, defined as “a movement of professionals analysing the rewards of going that extra mile at work and then opting out.”  Noah was sympathetic of the concept, and went on to say that “working for da man” beyond what is necessary is unnecessary.

From 7:40

A couple of days ago, I read a post by one of my favourite bloggers, subtly disparaging the “taking work home” concept.

I am going to play the devil’s advocate here.

Don’t get me wrong. Despite being branded by all and sundry (including my immediate family) as a workaholic, I agree that work-nonwork balance is absolutely necessary and that the hustle culture (another quintessentially American origin buzzword) can lead to dissatisfaction and burn out.   However, where one draws that boundary line is subjective.

Consider me, for example, and the following factors:

  • I have my own company.  The level of success of my company is directly proportional to the quantum of work I put in.  I draw the line based on my nature and my experiences.  For example, I try not to take on work that would involve me hiring anyone new.  Yes, it results in less money, but also less hassle.  I however, never hesitate to take on more personal assignments, even if I must dip into my home life to work on it.  
  • It is all well for the privileged lot out there who have no responsibilities to talk of quiet quitting.  Some of us don’t have the option. I support my father financially and chip in for the running of my own home, along with the husband.  On months that my dad needs extra money for medicines, or there’s extra college fees to be paid, I take on a bit more work that dips into my home life.  But in my case, at least I get paid for the extra work I have taken up.  My domestic helpmate is the only bread winner of her family. She does not have the luxury of saying “no, I won’t help you grind the idly batter today because it is over and above my job profile”, because she can’t afford to piss me off. In Tamil, there’s a proverb – “Thoppulukku mela kanji” that translates roughly to “gruel above the belly button” – only those with the luxury of a full stomach can  afford to join the social media bandwagon.  Some of us can’t, even if we want to.
  • Sometimes, the boss or the client is not your enemy, and we are one large continuum of humanity.  It’s ok to help without an eye out for compensation.  One of my clients, for example, sent me a mail today, asking me if I could help him with an editorial – as a favour, and not as a paid project.  I agreed, immediately reorganizing my projects in my head so that I can make time for this extra unpaid work.  My friend’s son wrote to me yesterday asking if I can look over his job application letter.  I stayed up an extra hour at night to do it.  Another friend’s daughter wrote to me saying she needs to write an article for a college club magazine, and can I please critique it for her.  I would have to reschedule some projects, which I will, but I would do it for her.  It’s ok.  Not every action needs have a one-on-one monetary mapping.  
  • Why is “going the extra mile” a bad thing?  Most people around me do the bare minimum required of their work.  I can’t be like that. When I have a media report to write, I could simply use the matter given to me and convert it into a report.  I don’t.  I research the topic and add stuff to it that makes the media report better.  When I copyedit a document, I go beyond grammar corrections and suggest content edits as well.  I don’t charge extra for this.  Sometimes people don’t even notice it.  Still I do it because of my pride.  I love every document I produce because I go that extra mile to make it, if not perfect (perfection is impossible), at least worth my approval. 
  •  Finally.  Nothing has ever been achieved in this world without going that extra mile.  What achievement is could be subjective.  Earning enough to sustain life could be achievement in itself, becoming a millionaire could be an achievement, getting a Nobel could be one, or doing something that takes our collective humanity forward, even if incrementally, could be the goal.  No achievement is inferior to the other, as long as its one’s choice.  

Work-life balance is a misnomer.  Work is not different from life, it is a part of it. Where we draw the line between work and non-work aspects of life is person- and situation-based.  One-on-one mapping of work and reward is not always a good thing.

So, all you quiet quitters out there.  If that’s the life choice you make, great. If that’s a route you take because it is the cool thing to do, I pity you.  And if your life choice makes you look condescendingly at others who have a different approach to work, I dare you – show me one person who has achieved anything by quitting.

And to Mr. Noah (not that he would read this post).  Your rise from being born a crime in South Africa during the Apartheid to becoming the most successful TV show host of the century has not been a result of quiet quitting.