Return Of The Yo-Yo: The Yellow School Bus :)

Three interesting things happened yesterday, which forced me to come out of my forced hibernation and write a post, in order to enlighten the world about the interesting things that happened yesterday. By the way, I’ve been experimenting with redundancy in my sentences, and I think it’s working quite well.

1. The Yellow School Bus:

school-bus1:30 in the afternoon, melting under the unusually hot sun in the middle of Bangalore, sitting hunched up in a tiny auto with two other people, afraid to move for fear of falling out of the ridiculous excuse for a motor vehicle, and wondering when the horror would end. We were on our way to a meeting and the ride would normally take 40 minutes. But yesterday, we stuck behind a yellow school bus for most of the journey, and took us close to 90 minutes to reach. Once we reached, we had to resort to acrobatic stunts (that would’ve made the Russian gymnastic team from the last Olympics Games proud) to get out.

I didn’t give it much thought at that time, mainly because I was too busy setting my spine in order, but then, as the day wore on, I realized it was something ominous.

2. The Yellow School Bus:

school-bus5:15 in the evening, stuffed into a small white cab, driving back to office after the tremendously long and boring meeting, and wondering when the horror would end. The ride back to office usually takes just 30 minutes because of the general lack of traffic in that direction. But yesterday, we were stuck behind a yellow school bus for most of the way, and it took us more than an hour to get back.

I was beginning to think something was up. I glanced up at the sky and heard the faint hint of laughter fading away. Was the yo-yo trend coming back? I shuddered and ran into the safety of my cubicle.

3. The Yellow School Bus:

school-bus9:30 in the night, loud music blaring through my ear plugs, I was riding my rickety bike back home. the roads were surprisingly devoid of traffic last night and I was beginning to think that I’d make it back home well before the usual one-and-a-half hours it takes me. But then, I got stuck behind three yellow school buses that were rolling gently in the middle of the narrow road, leaving me with no chance to overtake them. I didn’t bother honking. I resigned to my fate and thankfully for the heavy music, I did not hear the cacophonous laughter up above.

Open Question: Am I ‘down-to-earth’ if I give up my suit and tie for tattered jeans and T-shirts and fly to the next town in a helicopter?

Let’s Have A Conference Call, Folks!

conferenceSingapore. Canada. California. New York. And, to ice the cake, Bangalore. The conference call was scheduled to start at 9:30 in the morning, and at 9:29, I realized that the phone in the corner did not have an international calling facility. I was sitting there, all prepared, my papers spread out in front of me, my pen handy, my head going over the different methods of opening the conversation, saying “Hi” or “Hello” or “Good morning”, and then, I sat there listening to the sweet yet hideous female voice telling me that this service isn’t available on this phone.

I wondered what to do. The clock ticked away the seconds of the one minute left for me to sign into the call. I gulped and took a decision that I knew I’d regret. I flipped open my mobile and punched in the numbers. I prayed hard, hoping the call would end in a few minutes. It didn’t. It lasted for an hour and fifty minutes. I sighed and resigned myself for a fat bill this month.

Conference calls, according to me, are a supreme waste of time. I think more work can be accomplished through an email. The first twenty minutes are obviously spent in introducing all the people in the call. The next thirty-odd minutes go away in outlining the agenda for the conference call. The remaining hour or so is spent in asking people to speak up; apologizing for loud cell phones; apologizing for the rackets behind their respective backs; and finally, asking everyone present if they understood the last point. More often than not, there will be at least three jerks who would not have paid attention, and they would ask you to repeat the last point.

The frustrating thing about these conference calls is that you cannot abuse anyone verbally. If the same meeting is held over emails, then before sending each and every email, you can let out the wonderful stream of expletives, and feel good about yourself and the other person’s lack of knowledge. You can question his/her ability to think straight, his/her man-/womanhood, his/her ridiculous name, and lot of other things.  But on a conference call, you have to hold your tongue and treat even the most outrageous of jerks with an amount of respect. It takes so much out of you. You can’t even make fun of funny names!

Anyway, I have had too many conference calls till now. I think I’ve devised a formula to survive each one of them. I call it “Apparent Indifference” – if you give the impression to the other jerks on the call that you’re indifferent about the outcome, then they’ll fall over themselves to spell out each and ever point of concern and make sure that each and every doubt has been answered. This, of course, helps me in making the meeting a success.

Oh, I hate conference calls. Of course, the only advantage the conference call has over board-room meetings is that you can fart loudly and get away with it. :D