The #AllINeedIsLove Project! It’ll Make Everything Right

Evidently, I’m not having a good day. I’ve expressed myself on Twitter and Instagram too.

But while moping, I remembered something and it caused me to take on this project.

I was going through my Hotmail inbox (yes, I still have one) and I found an email from a wonderful lady who’s the co-founder of a singles’ community. It was an invitation to write for their blog. I replied much later with one of my famously long emails and signed off with love. I literally typed ‘Love, Dhruvi’.

I had no idea then what I had started. But she wasn’t having a great day and she read my email and smiled. She thought to herself, ‘Of course, love can make everything okay.’ And she told me the story of how this little gesture altered her communication with others. I had no idea what I had started.

If there is one thing I know to be true, it is that ‘love’ is kind and it can grow if we share it. It can heal and it can blossom if nurtured. So, I’m going to take on this task of spreading love. Simply message me privately here or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with your postal and email address. In no time, you’ll received a handcrafted love note from me. And when you do receive the love note, upload a picture to your own social network and hashtag it #AllINeedIsLove.

#AllINeedIsLove

Sounds good? Let’s do this!

Why I Refuse To Be An Employee Starting 2017

2008. I graduated from St. Xavier’s College.

2008. In the month of September, I landed my first job.

Let me point out right now that this is not a rant. It’s going to be a lot of words. And all of them have meaning and are carefully chosen. If you are going to be judgemental, feel free to leave or stay and assume or deduce what you may, but I’m not trying to reach out to you for sympathy. If you are receptive and open to know what I have to say, thank you. You’ll probably take away more from this post. And lastly, I’m not angry. Neither am I victimizing or feeling sorry for myself. I am, in fact, in a position where I’m detached from the situation and making observations and recounting instances.

2008. I started with a minimum salary. Reason cited, I wasn’t “qualified enough” and should have earned an extra degree in journalism and re-applied for the job. Besides, it was my first job and that’s all they could offer. Also, I didn’t “need the money”, right? First day on the job. The person who hired me doesn’t show up until after lunch. I’m made aware through various people who I wasn’t really required, I was hired because the management was told to. I spend my first 6 months in the “prized film magazine” office looking through compact discs of pictures from Bollywood parties and captioning a shortlist of the said pictures. The editor doesn’t know what my interests or skills are. 2009. Recession hits India. A week later, I am fired. Yes, called to the editor’s cabin and asked to leave because I haven’t taken initiative to do any work. Coming from someone who probably knew nothing about my background and was never around to assign or provide feedback on any of my work. 15 days later. My family has a word with the management. I am called back. I sense that the editor despises me. I am not wrong. I am regularly taunted. “Queen of nepotism”, “Girl with the acid tongue”, etc are titles loosely thrown around. Circa end of 2009. My boss has become pally with me and thinks it’s appropriate to pick up the phone, call me and open the conversation with, “You should break up with your boyfriend.” No explanation. A major scene is going on in the office the next day when I walk in. “I am not going to be in the same room as Dhruvi’s boyfriend.” Did my then boyfriend work in the same office? No. Did I introduce him to my office folks, no? Was I asked to? Yes. Was he befriended? Yes. After shit had hit the roof and multiple conversations with friends and one colleague in particular, I decided to quit my first ever job. The role I had vied for growing up. The words on the pages I had carefully read and stored in my memory. Nobody was more upset than I was. I have the conversation with the editor/boss. And the only words I remember. “You don’t leave the job because you’ve had a fight with your boss. I even let you hang out with your friends. What are you going to do sitting at home? Your family will get you married.” So many assumptions, so little space for receptiveness, no concern for a 23-year-old female employee. Just brutal high-handedness.

2010. A blogger opens the position for a writer on her team. I apply. I get through. I am not paid for the first month. It’s a trial. I am compensated with a gift voucher. In the next 5 months that I slog for close to 12 hours a day, I am given a salary of less than 10k. I break down. I also break up with “the boyfriend” in the series of break-ups to follow. I seek professional help. Having not even made a cumulative 50k in 6 months of working on this site, I quit my second job. Someone very close to me says, “The peon in your family office probably makes the same amount.” I am devastated.

I take a break for 6 months.

Somewhere around then, I freelance for Sunday broadsheets and try my luck at odd jobs, I am paid 2 Rupees a word. My morale is at an all time low.

2011 or 2012. I interview with a television show. People who acknowledge my skill and appreciate my work. The boss has the awkward conversation about money, admits it’s a low figure and also says I don’t need to work more than 5 hours a day. I really like the frankness of the conversation and genuinely respect the lady. I probably worked for 15k for a whole year but I didn’t feel cheated. The personal issues came to the foreground heavily again. The television show’s season ended and I wasn’t asked to renew my contract or stay either.

2013. I go back to working with the blogger. This time, there is an actual physical contract. I am on the payroll. Of course, I have my doubts but the first 6 months are not as unfair as they were in the last stint. As with all good things, this run came to an end too. I was performing 3 roles at once. I was also consistently the last person to leave office, sometimes, shutting the door and latching it myself. Newbies were hired but the responsibilities kept increasing. I was made to call the boss’ personal friend and check her schedule. And then co-ordinate something between the both of them. In effect, I had become a personal assistant. Lots of liberties were taken. I was even made to sit down and made to realise that I was the among the 2 highest paid employees in the office. Thank you. I was heading the team. I wasn’t being paid in millions or demanding a share in the equity. I was being paid to do my job. That is not a favour. But it did seem to come across as one. When the time of contract expiry came closer, I decided not to renew. I was feeling suffocated again. I needed a break because my personal life was suffering again. It was bound to. I was spending those dreaded 12 hours at work again and constantly wired to the ever-growing “Whatsapp group”. When I suggested freelancing with the site to continue providing content, I was asked to work for “free”. Yes, not be paid for any work I might do, so the investors could be given my example of commitment and dedication if I was to be “rehired”. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t do it. I had developed some amount of courage to say no and stand up for myself.

2014. At the end of the year, I went to Los Angeles to study an 8 week programme in screenwriting at the New York Film Academy. I came back in March. They were the best 3 months of my life. One very significant observation I made thanks to my working Indian friend in LA was that Americans are paid by the hour. Because every minute you spend at work is accounted for. Labour is neither free nor taken for granted.

2015. I come across a job opening in an update on Twitter. I write in. I’m called for the first round of interviews. The person interviewing me is actually a junior in the field. And doesn’t understand my field or range of experience. A copy-writer in charge of operations at a website trying to turn into a serious publication. Granted, I clear the interviews and an offer is made. I demand a higher CTC. It is agreed upon with the disclaimer that I will have to put in more work. I start work. Toughest first month at any job. My work is not proofread or edited by this person. It is rewritten. And goes through multiple rungs of “editors” in the head office in the capital city. One evening, I receive a hilarious phone call. “There’s too much copy in your article. Remove all the text and just leave the captions under the photographs. I’ll publish it after that.” Advertising – 1. Journalism – 0. Dimwit – 1. Writer – 0. 3 months later. The team has grown to 6 in number. The bosses from the capital come to the incubator in the city of Bombay. Things not agreed upon are demanded of the “employees”. Half an hour deadlines on a stopwatch are given to turn around ready-to-go “viral” articles. It is suggested that we can be called at 4 in the morning to push out articles. This site has primarily received traffic for being the “Indian version of Buzzfeed” before Buzzfeed came on the scene. After 3 hours of discussion on a Monday evening, 5 of the team of 6, present in the office, give in their resignations. Including the person who had interviewed and hired me. The first 3 resignation emails get responses in diminishing length. The last 2 don’t even get a response. Accounts are suspended, etc. That is the end of that. Other journalist friends find out, the word spreads and the act is dubbed as ‘mutiny’. More fodder for gossip mongers and another story to run in a competing publication.

2015. September. 5 of the above mentioned are instrumental in formulating and launching a site, channel, publication, whatever you want to call it in another company. Rewind a little bit. “The team” that stuck together, quit together, was fucked over together were hired by another company for reasons known to the them. The unity and strength of the team was tested at every stage and constantly pulled up. Some cracked under the pressure. And some survived longer. The incident that tipped things over the edge for me was being yelled at continuously for 2 hours in the office up to the point of being brought to tears. By whom? An outsider to the company at the time brought in as a “free resource” to keep the team “in check”. Schedules were made, tools were found and targets were set. Consequently, the content lost importance and quality obviously suffered. But of course, content was not the priority. Volume was. And delivery of volume was ensured. I take a stand again. After 7 years of working in the publishing industry, I will not let work take toll on my health. I ask to have a conversation with the person who thought it completely fair to yell at me and never offer an apology. Before I know it, I am sitting with the pair of bosses and being told it has been decided that it is my last day in the company. Great, I walk out.

I haven’t been on payroll or taken up a full-time job since 23rd December 2015.

If you have read the instances I have cited and want to know what I have taken away from these experiences, please do continue reading.

  1. I did not ask for the salary I deserved and so, I did not receive it. I should work on my negotiation skills because Indian companies, especially start-ups want you to give up everything for the job on the basis that you opted for it. There are no health or medical benefits. There is no insurance of any sort. The notice period means nothing. You will not be compensated for any damage because clearly, you brought it upon yourself.
  2. Ethics? What is that?
  3. Experience? What is that?
  4. You’re a girl. You have a family that takes care of you. You have a house to live in, food to eat, clothes to wear. Why do you need anything else? It’s not like this career makes any difference to you.
  5. If there is a managerial position open and there is a boy in the running with you, he will be picked by sheer virtue of him being a boy. That’s how it is. Get used to it.
  6. If there is a boy slightly less qualified than you and with not as much as experience as you, he will still be paid more. Why, you ask? He’s a boy. That’s enough explanation.
  7. You don’t deserve respect as an employee. You will be spoken to however the boss pleases, depending on his/her mood.
  8. There is not understanding of time. You will receive a work message at 4am or 6am or 9pm. It’s work. You better read your Whatsapp.
  9. There are no standards set for anything. The rules and guidelines are made up along the way.

I have now written 2058 words and I haven’t even broken the tip of the iceberg. But I will leave you all to mull over this now. And write another post on why I think we have leaps and bounds to go over before we reach semblance of logic in the workplace. That is the unfortunate truth.

Playing Second Fiddle to Alice

Hello everyone!

Usually, when you land on this blog, you’re expecting stories and reviews from Alice. But there’s been a recent addition to Alice’s family. Me! The “new intern” as Alice has dubbed me and I guess it’ll remain that way.

Vidhi Rambhia

My first day at Alice Wandering… was on the 10th of January and Dhruvi was shooting for a short film (wait for it!). On my first day itself, I was introduced to two new people, Kannan (the director) and Kevin (the sound man). Kevin is the mystery man with long hair (tied in a ponytail) and Kannan looks like one of those strict bosses I wouldn’t dare to mess around with. Well, jokes apart, they were all very welcoming and it didn’t even cross my mind that it was my first day on the job.

Kevin, Alice and Kannan shooting for the shortreal

As the shoot for the short film started, I began taking notes (trust me when I say I was taking this very seriously!), and made some boomerangs (of course, Dhruvi had handed her phone to the young intern ;)).

We took a break from the shooting, the crew, Dhruvi, her family and I bonded over lunch.

When we got back to work, I helped Dhruvi style her looks for the next schedule of the shoot.

Just like that, the first day of work ended and I’ll admit, it was quite nice.

I filled you all in on the first day of my internship but I didn’t even tell you how I met Dhruvi and decided to work with her. So, Dhruvi was looking for interns and one of my friends spoke to me about the opportunity. That’s when I decided to meet Dhruvi and figure out if I wanted to take up working with her.

Alice’s call for interns

Our first meeting was quite funny. By the end of our conversation, we had discovered so many mutual connections, friends and relatives! I guess it’s pretty normal if you’re a Bombayite.

She explained the work to me and I happily took up the job. This is going to sound weird. I have my own blog. Now, the question is, if I have a blog of my own, why would I work with another blogger?!

The reason is pretty straightforward. I took up this job to learn and experience new things. Dhruvi has been in this business for years and I want to draw from her experience. As people say, one should never stop learning!

So, here I am, at Alice Wandering…, playing second fiddle to Alice.

Try A Different Kind Of Massage Therapy – An Ayurvedic One | My Review

I’m a self-confessed spa enthusiast. I have gone for a massage even on a holiday in Goa. Make that every holiday. I remember the time I initiated myself to body massages. It was a building dedicated to massage therapies, in Pattaya. There has been no looking back since. Every vacation I go on, I will try the authentic massage that spa has to offer.

Considering the information I just gave you, you won’t be surprised when I tell you I enthusiastically took up the opportunity to try a therapy/treatment at the NuAyurveda Clinic in Mumbai.

I went in for what is called the Abhyanga Ayurvedic massage. I was as fascinated as you presumably are and had read up on the site what it would be like.

I arrived at the clinic in Andheri (West) just in time. The room was set up and the therapists were waiting for me. As if I was an ABCD in a Hollywood movie, they instructed me to strip down completely for the massage. I assured them, in Hindi, I was aware that that was the procedure.

One of the therapists gave me a head massage to begin with. A few minutes later, I was lying flat on the massage bed. And heaps of fragrant, warm oil were poured on me. Before I knew it, I was completely relaxed, seconds away from falling into deep slumber. What struck me the most was the rhythmic movements that the two therapists employed for the massage. It was like they were following a beat in unison. It was extremely satisfying to the brain, somehow. My body felt symmetric too and I understood how this treatment could bring awareness to oneself and relieve you of any stress.

While there would be many benefits, the ones I could immediately feel were the effects of the oil on my skin. The oil definitely had a medicinal quality and aromatic fragrance. The second would be the release of toxins. I felt lighter and relieved soon after. And lastly, the calming effect of the strokes. The 45 minute long treatment came very close to listening to a guided meditation. The rhythm quietens the mind and brings a sense of awareness.

There are still a few days left in 2016. You should book yourself for a treatment if you want to feel renewed for the coming year.

*This is not a sponsored post. I did receive the treatment complimentary in exchange for a review. Thoughts expressed here are genuine and original.

Movie Review: Dangal | 5/5

Dangal

The film opens with a television set projecting white noise. And by the time, you walk out of the film, everything else will feel like it.

Mahavir Singh Phogat (played by Aamir Khan), an amateur wrestler has a big dream and a straightforward goal, he wants his country, India to win a gold medal in wrestling. While he hopes for his children to fulfil this dream, he is blessed with four daughters. It takes him a while to realise that the sport of wrestling need not discriminate between the gender of its participants.

And once this realisation hits him, he’s unstoppable in training and preparing his two older daughters to emerge as winners for the wrestling arena.

From the innocence of Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar playing the young Geeta and Babita respectively to the shining performances of Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra as wrestling champions, the spotlight doesn’t rest on Aamir Khan alone.

To categorise it in any other way than a complete film would do Dangal injustice. It is the best in every genre it straddles, be it sports or family or entertainment.

The film had me in a riveting emotional grip, chuckling at the humour for relief, cheering as if I were watching a live match in the wrestling arena, beaming with pride at Geeta’s achievements and extremely satisfied at the end.

Every moment in the film is so beautifully crafted and seamlessly takes the storytelling notches higher.

There is a raw energy and passion exuding from the screen that makes you feel, rather than think. It brings out that child like fervour of watching a film in a cinema hall.

You’ll see for yourself that it makes you extremely proud of your roots, automatically give a standing ovation and not fall short on the applause.

Writer-director Nitesh Tiwari has given a gem of a film in Dangal. If Aamir Khan is the one who ensures a good outing at the cinema on Christmas, everyone else, including the writers, producers, cast and crew have evidently put their heart and soul into Dangal.

Some scenes and sequences won’t leave you. If parents and fathers, especially, can spend their entire lives for the success of their children, girls can be unstoppable and make the country proud, filmmakers can deliver cinema like Dangal, the least we can do is enjoy it and tell everyone about it.

This one is a gold medal winner in audience’s hearts and box offices alike.

Book your tickets for Dangal at www.goldcinema.co

Alice’s Authenticook Experience | Finger-licking Delicious

Whether or not you’re a travel buff, call yourself a foodie, or simply love the “local experience”, you have to have to (repetition for emphasis) check out Authenticook.

Authenticook is the brainchild of Aneesh Dhairyawan, Priyanka and Ameya Deshpande. Quite simply, Authenticook allows you the opportunity to share a meal with strangers (albeit as passionate about food as you) prepared by a home chef in their home. When they mean a “local experience”, they deliver a local experience.

I was fortunate enough to taste a Gujarati Rajwadi Jamanwar with Home-chef Jyoti in her cozy home in Sion. In fact, I was so happy to go there as I realised I had crossed Pai Hospital (my place of birth) on the way. Chef Jyoti was extremely welcoming and her son, a budding restaurateur gave us a fun history lesson while we were enjoying the meal. Apparently, the brass silverware we ate in originated in the time of wealthy Gujarati merchants. They would serve a feast in this silverware on special occasions like birth of a child, marriage ceremony in the family, or conquest.

Of course, the menu was finger-licking delicious. See for yourself.

Priyanka quizzed me on what I knew about indigenous cuisines other than my own. Of course, I knew very little. We’re pretty much stuck in the trap of eating the International cuisines available to us in city restaurants or at our disposal when we travel. But being Indian, we haven’t tried a Tamilian Iyengar lunch or a Maharashtrian Brahman jevan. There are several reasons for it, but primarily, it’s the lack of awareness and accessibility thereafter.

Authenticook beautifully bridges this gap and not only takes you into the home of a native Indian family but also makes it comfortable (no awkwardness whatsoever).

What more do you need to know before you request a meal? I’d say log on to the website and do it this weekend!