The end of an era? A new beginning?

Today is the last day of my job. I belong to the probably rare breed of people who really love their jobs. About three years back, I had just moved to NYC with my fiancé after spending a year in a terrible job in upstate NY. I was apprehensive about the new job. What if I hate it like the previous job? What if I dislike the people like I did my previous colleagues? What if they don’t like me and throw me out? How will I pay my education loan off?

I still remember the first day of work. I was introduced to F, who was supposed to be my mentor for my first project. I met with him in the morning and the first thing that struck me was that he’s so friendly! He treats me like an equal, not like a member of the workforce. It was almost unnerving how different he was than the colleagues I had in the previous job.  

As time progressed, I learnt a great deal too. My colleagues actually liked me! And I them! Some of them were my personal friends too! I was treated so well there. My opinions were respected. I was given time to learn. My inputs were considered and brought into execution. Most importantly people treated each other like equals irrespective of their positions. 

I have learnt a lot here. I have had my ups and downs, for sure, but have learnt from my mistakes. I have had a lot of opportunities to prove myself. Have gone a couple of rungs up the ladder. Have mentored other people. Have spoken to clients. Handled end-to-end development of a couple of projects as well.

And now the time has come that I move on. I am emerging more confident about myself than I was three years back. Will I love my new job? Will my new colleagues be just as friendly? Will I be loved and respected as I was here? Time will tell. For now, I am taking it one step at a time. Have to attend my send off today, catch a flight, go home, get married, come back and join my new job. It definitely is the end of an era. I hope everyone who made my life easier in my old job does really well in life and is happy wherever they are.

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To the end of bachelorhood!

People who have known me for quite some time know that I have always been commitment-phobic. Don’t get me wrong. I have always been faithful to the (3) men I’ve been in a relationship with, but the idea of spending the rest of my life with the first two always got me rattled. Probably deep down inside I knew they weren’t “the one” for me. All this until I met Sam. A couple of months into our relationship I knew he was the one. But to my closest friends, it came as somewhat of a shock when we announced we’re engaged. And the last weekend a few of them threw me a great bachelorette party to usher in the new era. 

N called me and asked if I was free Saturday and Sunday. I was free the entire weekend as Sam had his bachelor party the same day. His bachelor party really involved the guys going for lunch at Saravana Bhavan, followed by watching a Tamil movie – Vishwaroopam (which he strongly disliked) and then an evening of bowling at Bowlmor Lanes in Times Square, with a dinner at Mamoun’s Falafel. When he announced his plan to me, I casually asked, “Umm and when are you going to the strip club?”. I received a very dirty stare in response and I let it drop. And then he asks me, “Do you want to come?”. Sigh. The idea of a bachelor party is lost on him. 

Anyway so I met the girls for lunch which N whipped up. Consisted of kadhi khichdi, rice, aloo parathas with achar and raita, homemade spinach-paneer samosas and the pièce de résistance  was her “paneer patiala takatak”. All in all a sumptuous spread. After stuffing ourselves with generous helpings of the delicious food, we left for an afternoon spa session. Had a wonderful time pampering ourselves with mani-pedi, followed with a deep conditioning and hot oil treatment for the hair and ended with coloring and styling. 

Feeling refreshed, we went back to her place, decked ourselves in our evening wear, covered it all up with thick winter wear as an afterthought (it was -15 outside) and left for dinner. Dinner was at a Sri Lankan restaurant called Sigiri in SoHo which K picked. The food there was delicious! Even after our super heavy lunch at N’s, we had Dhal Vade and Sri Lankan spring rolls as appetizers, Kotthu Roti and egg Adai appam with dhal curry in the main course. The restaurant was BYOB, so we carried a Merlot red wine with us. 

After dinner and drinks we headed to this elusive dessert place called Spot Dessert again in SoHo. We’d heard of it a lot from many people so decided it was the right day to try it out. And boy were we glad! It was a teeny tiny place, almost a hole in the wall. We ordered a honey toast thing with ice-cream and strawberries (oh so delish), a green tearamisu (passable, not for people who dislike green tea) and P wanted to stay simple so ordered a plain vanilla with chocolate pearls and syrup (simple and awesome). Washed it down with some vietnamese coffee (strong and ideal for a cold day). Bottomline – if you happen to visit NYC, you have got to try this place. Check it out here – http://www.spotdessertbar.com/

After dessert we headed back to N’s place. She recently became the proud owner of a 60 inch TV, so put some movie (I don’t even remember which) and I went straight to sleep. All in all a great bachelorette party, filled with great food and awesome conversation with some of my best friends! Oh and here’s a pic of some of the dessert we ordered there.

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Ethical grey area

Today I gave someone some advice that I probably should not have given. 

A colleague of mine (actually he’s more of a friend than a colleague) took me out for lunch today. We went to a Mexican restaurant called Pinche Taqueria nearby. Ordered a couple of tacos and margaritas (I know it was lunch, so what?) We got around to discussing about jobs, and my new job. I don’t know if it was the margarita, or if he just sees me as a friend, but he blurted out his salary to me.

Now this guy has a bit of a back story. He had to join this company in the middle of recession 3 yrs back as an unpaid intern or he would need to return to his country (he’s from Qatar). After the internship he was hired full time and has been here since then. He was a mentor to me when I joined, and is now a tech lead. 

The shocking part is, his salary is very very very very low. By low I mean Mariana Trench low. Forgive the dumb metaphor, but I felt very sorry for the guy. We live in NYC, where expenses are sky high. He’s so bright and hardworking. He has done a part time Masters after he joined here. And the worst part is, he did not even know he’s terribly underpaid! 

At first I didn’t know what to say. I loved working here and I love the people here. They have lost quite a few employees in the recent past. If I tell this guy the truth, would he choose to leave? 

Anyway, I decided to tell him. I said, “Erm Jim, you know you deserve to get way more than what you do right now, right?” He just thought I’m being nice to him and shrugged it off. I decided to go all out and told him my salary and my fiancé’s salary. He was dumbfounded. He really did not know that software developers do get paid a decent amount. I urged him to speak to our manager or if that doesn’t work out, just look for a new job.

I am not sure if I did the right thing here. Because of me the company may end up losing a really brilliant guy. Also, Jim likes it here. Money isn’t everything right? Job satisfaction is also important? What if he ends up getting another job that pays him well but that he doesn’t like as much? 

I do hope the company gives him what he’s really worth and it works out for everyone!

Catch up

It’s been a while since I visited this space. A LOT has been going on. 

The wedding prep is in full swing, with less than a month to go. I have been pampering myself. Got deep conditioning hair treatment done, which was so blissfully relaxing. Got a facial and microdermabrasion done just because I had a coupon. The woman couldn’t see any acne marks on my face so seemed a bit confused but did it nevertheless. Not that I noticed any change after the facial.

The big news is, I quit my job. Finally. I have had another offer since 6 months now. Due to all the H1B formalities it took this long a time. I will be joining the new job in March when I get back from my wedding. The present company expressed deep sorrow in having to let me go. They’re going to let me hold on to the stock options though, which is awesome!

I will be a Lead Android Developer in the new place. Its going to be a welcome change from all the iOS oddities that I’ve had to endure in my present job. I will also be managing a small in house team and a slightly larger offshore team. Good stuff!

The neck and shoulder pain persists. Visited a physiatrist recently but ran out of her clinic as fast as I could when she suggested acupuncture. Ugh.

Culinary experiments continue as well. Both mine and Sam’s. Mine have been slightly more successful than his. He tried making Sakkarai Pongal using this recipe. Used a big hulk of jaggery as he failed to noticed it recommends using half a cup, heaped. Result was a gooey mess of melted jaggery with a few grains of rice and dal floating in it. Promptly made it to the trash.

The weather is cold. Woke up today to find a 5 inch thick blanket of snow on the ground. Had to wade through the slushy ice-water to work today. *Shudder*

Well, that’s about it. How have you been?

Sam the snoop!

If you’re my fiancé Sam, get out of this page RIGHT NOW. I’m going to complain a lot about you now.

You’d think why the sudden burst of anger after all the reasonably lovey-dovey posts. That’s because Sam read my blog! I was doing a great(?) job hiding it from him, but Chrome’s bookmark syncing let me down 😦

Anywho, this isn’t the first instance of Sam’s snoopiness. He constantly reads all my email, all my whatsapp conversations, even pretends to be me and messages people! It’s almost like I have no privacy at all!

So Sam, if you’re reading this (which you shouldn’t technically be) BACK OFF. And don’t forget you’re not the only snoop 🙂 I know about your Google Reader subscriptions 😐

“Hey, I have a very interesting business idea”

This happened a few months back. Sam and I had recently moved to Secaucus, and didn’t know anybody there. We were in Walmart getting some essential stuff. I was decked in a salwar kameez and jewellery as I was to meet Sam’s cousin for the first time later. While I was looking at cups and saucers, a desi female exclaimed, “wow what an amazing outfit! you look stunning!” Now, the salwar was decently okayish, but by no means a stunner. However, I decided to humor her and said my thanks. She introduced herself as Geet, and her husband Pranav (names changed to protect identity).

Geet, Pranav, me and Sam had a brief conversation in which they mainly inquired about our professions interspersed with compliments related to our looks, clothes, jobs and the like. I was suspicious, but on leaving them Sam said “What nice people!” And seeing the self-satisfied look on his face, I let it go.

Sure enough, my fears were not allayed when Pranav called Sam the next day and said something like the following.

“Hey Sam! Remember me? Pranav? We met in Walmart yesterday. Hey listen, me and Geet are coming to Secaucus tonight. Can we come over? Well, the thing is, we have this great ecommerce business idea, and you guys seemed so bright that we want to discuss it with you.”

Now Sam and I do want to start some kind of a software-related business in the future. But to me this did not sound like something we may want to get in. Sam on the other hand seemed excited, and when I asked, “What if it is something like Amway? You know how persuasive those guys are! We just don’t want to get into all that right now.”, he replied “C’mon! These people are software engineers. They won’t do such things. This may just be the opportunity we are looking for!”. I decided to give them the benefit of doubt and told them to come over that night.

They came over rather late, at 11.30pm on a week night. They delved right into the business proposal  with a pretty impressive looking video presentation that declared their business idea to be “Amazon + Facebook”. Sam and I were glued to our seats. At one point I thought, maybe I was wrong. These guys seem to know what they’re doing!

Around the 17th minute of the video, when I was dreaming of a work-free life with truckloads of money (“yeah right”, I know), they paused the video to ask if we had any questions. I shrugged, but Sam asked, “Just the one silly question. What is the name of your business?”. Pranav replied, “It’s called Amway. Have you heard of it?”. I caught Sam’s eye and we both burst out laughing. It was so uncontrollable that we were clutching our sides and almost fell to the floor, while Pranav and Geet looked on with confused glances.

Sam recovered first, and said, “It’s a personal joke. Never mind.” I recovered shortly after and said, “Yes, we have heard of Amway, and are not really interested in that sort of a business right now.” They seemed sorely disappointed and tried convincing us about how lucrative this business really is. We faked mild interest, but tried to get the meeting done with asap.

Sigh. Our first opportunity of having friends close to where we live didn’t really end well. Eventually a couple of our friends moved to the same apartment complex as ours and we have some friends nearby now. But we did learn a lesson from this, desi strangers rarely compliment anyone or start small talk without an ulterior motive!