Showing posts with label job and living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label job and living. Show all posts

Monday, December 5, 2016

The US VISA experience: You need a little bit of luck as well!


The US VISA experience: Yes you need a little bit of luck as well!

Three months have passed since I am back from the US trip and very often I get flashes from the beautiful stay that was in the US. It was a trip that would be hard to forget for several reasons. These I am going to pen down gradually here. The first part of the US Visit starts with "The ultimate VISA experience". The US VISA - as much as it sounds fascinating the actual process may not be so. But if you are one of the luckier few like me you may crack it just like that.

The ultimate US VISA experience

I did my homework. Yes, quite a bit of researching on the internet and what I realized was that you may manage to get a brownie point if:

You are rooted to your country as in job, property, family. All of these would make you want to return to your country no matter what. 

Apparently I scored a zero and my prospect of the US visit seemed a faraway dream. I am single. I don’t own any property. I am not a professional. All are outright down points towards getting the visa.

I presume, I was snapping at everyone who was already congratulating me on the soon-to-be US visit. I told them that I was not getting the visa. I myself was pretty much convinced of it.

The US Visa procedure has two parts. The Biometrics and the Interview. After filling the form online, I chose the two dates. It’s a simple form and you do not need to know rocket science to do it. I remained honest. Every bit of info I provided was true to the tee. This was what my boss had told me do. By disclosing the truth and the truth only you will most likely to get away with the untoward questioning session during the interviewing process.


I was called in right on time after an initial screening of my passport and the confirmation of the online application. I had to enter without anything but the passport. They put me through a manual security check, scrutinized nails and palms and sent me to the final counter for the photo click. The lady had great deal of trouble getting my snap. She was finding it difficult to adjust the camera to my height. She finally she could capture my photo. She also recorded my fingers prints and I was done with the Biometrics.


There had been a gap of 20 days before I could get to the interview date. I was much before time and it was a real long wait at the entrance. And then my time arrived. I had to go through an exhaustive security check where I had to leave all my stuffs. Yes all my stuffs! I was frisked really bad. It gave me a feeling of being a convict.

In the second phase my passport and the supporting docs were screened after which I was made to wait in the waiting room along with few others. It must have been more than thirty minutes that I was called in for the third phase. There were 4 counters attended by Indian officials. I was guided to one of the four counters. The lady went through the docs. I was carrying a NOC from my boss, sponsorship letter from my father, bank statements, the salary slip etc. The ladies put the rest of the documents (bank statements, my father’s asset details etc.) aside since those, she felt, were not relevant and asked me to wait for the 4th and the final phase.

After a wait of half an hour I was called for the interview. It was a similar counter with no apparent difference from the previous one. One American lady on the other side of the glass barrier greeter me. Then she had frowns on her face. I assumed that she was eyeing through the application form on the monitor infront of her. I was tense. Then she looked at me and asked me:

What is your salary?
Rs…
What do you do?
I work as the secretary to the director of cardiology at….
Which are the places you have visited?
The UAE
Why UAE?
My sisters live there.
You mentioned that your parents are old. Are you the only caregiver?
Yes
Since you will be away who will look after them?
My aunt will come over from village and it is just as matter of 22 days, I guess...
Do you have children?
No

Then she asked me to place my thumb on the screener in front to me probably to match it with the Biometrics. And then, she looked at me, smiled and uttered the golden words. "Your VISA to the US has been approved. You will be informed about the date of your passport collection soon."

That was all!

Still in disbelief, I thanked her, managed to come out and called my mother. She was overwhelmed and so were the others. I went around with a halo the rest of the day. It was an amazing feeling! The day after I received a text from the US embassy to collect my passport. On proper identity screening, I received the passport. My Visa to the US was imprinted there in golden letters. I was granted the US visa for 10 multiple years. What more could I have asked for!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

8 Tips to stay productive in workplace


Jane reaches office just about. The traffic was miserable and it was a long pitiful drive to workplace. Having parked the car, she punches the card and rushes to the desk. Then she gets herself a cup of black coffee like always, sits herself comfortably and gets down checking her inbox. Then one after the other she switches to the personal web pages in several tabs. This has been a routine practice since forever. She is in every possible socializing site - twitter, facebook, Instagram - you just name it, and she has to have logged into each one of them before she gets herself to work.

Even before Jane could sit down to download her work emails, she is occupied. Her brain is scattered and loaded with all things but work. Her productivity at work is indescribably dwarfed by her sloth brain. Besides, her optimum cognitive skills are not explored to the full. No wonder, Jane struggles to catch up and sits on the never ending backlogs slogging in the supposedly productive hours in office. Not surprising that her appraisal showed a down curve and the increment was not at par early this year. She is on a look out elsewhere since. Amidst this Jane found herself very upset little realizing that it is not her supervisors but her erratic work pattern that has been getting on her productivity. Thriving on the alluring toxicity of the junk boxes in work hours, in the work place is making her slog, unproductive and a unsatisfied.

Jane is not alone - this is our story as well. 


So, what is coming between us and our productivity?

1) Obsession with the virtual world

Checking the inboxes and texting every minute, several times a day do little to keep us up to date. On the contrary, we lose our productivity and creativity at work. Switching off personal phones or put them on voice calls helps maneuvering more efficiently.


2) Streamlining the to do list and understanding the priorities

At the end of the day we have only 24 hours of which about 6-7 productive hours. So, we need to prioritize. What should come first and what should be done first, understanding the need of the time and doing things at the right time will make us both productive and happy.


3) Declutter: The 5S of total quality management

Workplaces in Japan are well‐known for their cleanliness and orderliness. The logic behind the 5‐S practice is that organization, neatness, cleanliness, standardization and discipline at the workplace are basic requirements for producing high quality products and services, with little or no waste, while maintaining high levels of productivity. There are five 5S phases are "sort", "straighten", "shine", "standardise", and "sustain". Following these simple 5S we can actually improve our productivity greatly. Also, meeting up small targets, one by one, instead to multitasking helps in completing a task fast and well.


4) Saying no to procrastination

Many of us sideline the major task and hang on to the peripherals. Saving the crux for the last doesn’t always help, especially, when you are multitasking. We should do the main tasks first when our mind is still refreshed. The tertiary would be done no matter what. Procrastination is one deadly sin that keeps us off from being productive.


5) Eating lunch at office

You are so bogged down with job that you even want to work in lunch time. So much so that you are snacking all the time while working and do not quite getting up, stretching back, walking straight , looking up, breathing the fresh air. This doesn’t do any good to the quality of work you are doing. As much as we think that eating lunch at office would extend the working time, it actually eats up the quality time. We slouch, snack often and slog at work stretching one hour to four hours job.


6) Working late at night

Whoever coined the adage, ‘early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’, was certainly a wise man. Staying up late at night, working late hours does little to increase our productivity. We need a good sleep after the day’s work. Our biological clock doesn’t understand deadlines.


7) Drinking too much coffee


Caffeine does not give us lasting energy; caffeine that’s loaded with sugar is toxic. The sugar in the coffee is likely to make you hyper, spike your insulin levels, crash, and then get stored as fat. In other words, it’s not really the best thing for boosting productivity. Eat a good fat low carb full breakfast instead to keep your energy up.


8) Stay away from petty office politics

The best way to keep you off from petty politics is to ignore the people who donot matter in workplace. Ignore what others have to say about you. Do not hold grudge and stay congenial. Researches show that happy employees who rise above office politics are more productive and more creative too.



Photo (C) ~ Fastcompany

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Nepal Earthquake: Loss of humanity, history and more..

Nepal, 25/04/2015: Earthquake Magnitude 7.9

At about 11-30 am today, Nepal and the Sub-Himalayan belt are hit by a horrific earthquake. An earthquake that most certainly would be considered as one of the century's tragic demolitions of mankind and history. This was also the third and the worst conceivable earthquakes that I have experienced ever.
I was in the office, sat comfortably doing my usual thing when I realized that something not quite right was happening. I felt lightheaded, dizzy and indescribably hollow. Was about to attribute it to my skipping breakfast thing when I noticed that the mirror and the towel in the ring were swaying unusually. It went on for about 10 seconds. I was still confused when I heard someone screaming, 'it's an earthquake, it's an earthquake'. By then everyone had left their desks and started to move out. Though late, my boss and I headed towards the portico with our phones on trying to reach our homes. People were panicked to death. The patients in wheelchairs who came down for investigations could not figure out what was happening. Unnerved and dazed, I realized that our phones were not working.

Everest Climbers Are Killed as Nepal Quake Sets Off Avalanche

Nepal’s Landmarks, Before and After the Earthquake


It was after about half an hour later that our phones started working again. We contacted our homes and were relieved to know that they were all safe. I rang my niece in Sikkim. She was safe too. People who live in high rises were struck terribly. Utterly shocked and distressed, it took them some time to come down. Besides, the towers were wavering - moving forth and moving back. It was horrific. To top that the sky started down pouring. People were distressed, horrified, drenched and were all on road.

Later in the evening, I came back home to a bitter reality. Nepal met with a deadly shudder killing thousands of people and leaving several more on the roads. Makeshifts tarpaulin tents were everywhere to accommodate as many people as possible. People digging rubble to pull out bodies and looking for beating lives. Then the rains started pelting and an avalanche set off in the Himalayas.  It was testing time for Nepal.

It was so unnerving to see Nepal in limbo. I am shattered to see the destruction of several century old revered monuments. The quake has left a dismal remnants of the history. People were still stuck in the rubble and as the army and the people try to rescue them, I, sitting not so far away, pinch myself. It could have been me!



Since the last few days my evening strolls were cut short by erratic show of thunderous silver lines in the sky. The lightnings, rumblings and the rains. Then, yesterday, I was watching the horrific pictures of fresh volcanoes in Chile and today this earthquake. Something very serious is going on inside our earth and we have earned this like we do most accidents. The hot lava twirlings the untimely shudders and the break outs deep down the earth - I can only wish that people stay safe and stay together. 

The factual details:

-7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal and areas of India, China on 15.04.2015, Saturday killing nearly 2,000 people in Nepal alone.

-The quake struck at 11:56 a.m. local time (2:11 a.m. ET) and was centered less than 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu. It occurred at a depth of 9.3 miles, which is considered shallow and more damaging than a deeper quake.

-The earthquake triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest killing at least 17 people.

-About 35 aftershocks highest reaching 5.5 magnitude followed.


But what I read in NYtimes is very striking. Kenneth Chang say that this was inevitable. Here's the excerpt from the article published soon after the earthquake.

Ancient Collision Made Nepal Earthquake Inevitable


More than 25 million years ago, India, once a separate island on a quickly sliding piece of the Earth’s crust, crashed into Asia. The two land masses are still colliding, pushed together at a speed of 1.5 to 2 inches a year. The forces have pushed up the highest mountains in the world, in the Himalayas, and have set off devastating earthquakes.

Experts had warned of the danger to the people of Katmandu for decades. The death toll in Nepal on Saturday was practically inevitable given the tectonics, the local geology that made the shaking worse and the lax construction of buildings that could not withstand the shaking.

GeoHazards International, a nonprofit organization in Menlo Park, Calif., that tries to help poorer, more vulnerable regions like Nepal prepare for disasters, had noted that major earthquakes struck that region about every 75 years.

In 1934 — 81 years ago — more than 10,000 people died in a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in eastern Nepal, about six miles south of Mount Everest. A smaller quake in 1988 with a magnitude of 6.8 killed more than 1,000 people.  

Update: 26.04.2015, 12-45 pm 

Similar kind of shudder is felt for about 6-7 seconds. The aftershock was of 6.9 magnitude. This time the epicenter was Kodarib.



You may also read:

We felt the tremors, the shudders of the earthquake !









Tuesday, April 21, 2015

More than two years, four semesters and several coffee cups later...

More than two years, four semesters and a result day later I take this trip down the memory lane. The trip, rather a deliberate one, is an endeavor to unfold the series of sequences in my life for the past two years. After almost ten years of similar work pattern in office, I wanted to take up something different. So MBA it was. My choice of taking up MBA was partially greeted by father and fully by others who matter in my life.

I was dwelling in a comfortable office environment with decent package, post and an ever understanding boss. I was contemplating it too. The decision to pursue MBA came all of a sudden. And amidst that suddenness I stood eligible, completed the process of registration and got myself enrolled in a leading B school. It was a two years course comprising of four semesters. Each semester had five papers, five assignments and a Project in the final semester. As much as the process was simple and methodical,  I was swept by the grandeur of the books, papers, pens, colors, academics. The idea of reliving the school days was just fantastic. 

It was tough though. I pulled through the first semester with extraneous zeal, with fewer timeouts and I  refrained myself from all kinds of internet trails, socializing and pleasures that would make me happy. I was studying all the time that I was at home. That was but a few hours after office and before sleep. That came to only three to four hours of studies every day. Meanwhile, I learned mean, mode, median, central tendency. I learned debit, credit, financial statement, bill of materials. As much as I dreaded the thought, I loved the practice sessions. I scored well in them too.

Semester II got really hard. Given the enormity, I decided to change the study pattern and started looking at it from a different point of view. I took up a subject and disliked it, then I took up another subject not it liking it again I took up another. It was like a vicious circle and soon I came back to the first one. I started studying the subject yet again hoping that it might just work this time around.  I was intimidated by the quantitative techniques. My sister tutored me on Skype for a few days but given the vastness, it seemed just like learning the vernaculars. I was exhausted. The sampling methods, data preparation, Manova, Anova etc. My friend came everyday to help me with the debit-credit but it was not my cup of tea either. I was struggling with every page and every day. I was half-hearted at work and was continuously hit by the idea of not making it.

There must be some truth in the adages and perseverance indeed gets us closer to our goals. Also, it's all about doing thing differently and with lot of conviction too. So, I strategically took up the assignments and as I went along solving them  I was learning too. I looked up for every term new whenever I confronted with one. And I was delighted to realize that the system was working.

By the end of Second semester I was smart. It didn't feel awful after that. I was neither complacent nor insecure. MBA is supposed to be tough and by then I had fallen into the groove of dozens of unusual things. I refrained from everything that felt good. I said NO to me-times except for the pre shower hours on Sundays. I learned to let go of the tempting materiality and learned to be more poised.  Even in the in-between semester periods I tried to stay focused with not so much of aberrations. I carried a long to do list which I gradually checked and by the time the new set of study material arrived I was done with the list. Not only did I manage to create a solitude all around me I started loving it also. Lack of human presence did not bother me anymore and I was continuously trying to sneak in extra time for studying. I was falling asleep too and sooner my sleep pattern changed. I turned into a cat-napper.


The third sem brought in lot of fresh air since I could finally get to study the subjects of my choice. Also, I came in terms with everything bizarre, everything less exciting and everything so unsurprisingly books. All said and done, I was still waiting for the Project Work. The synopsis that I had sent after the second sem was approved in full. I was very excited since I was looking forward to start off with my project. It was on a subject matter that I have been observing very closely for many years. The strategies, methods, hypotheses, sampling, the surveys, questionnaire, test runs etc. - I was living it.  Finally after a series of edits I finished the Project Work. By then, I was truly, madly and deeply in love with it.

The fourth semester had unwanted technical issues. Like the hard copy of my project was sent to a different address and I had to redirect it to the correct one, in one of the papers in the third sem I was incorrectly marked absent and I had to sent series of mails to get it re done, the 4th sem center was far off from my home and I tried my best to change it but in vain, etc. The Project was the most exciting and the most time consuming too. I could concentrate on the academics only after I had completed it.

And finally it was over! It was sudden too. One morning I was simply without books! I had yearned for this moment to arrive when I would divorce myself from anything academics, anything MBA. But it felt like an undefined void!

So, almost four months past my final semester, more than two years of studies, several email trails and countless coffee cups later, I humbly admit that I am figuratively smarter than some people on earth. I am a MBA.



Photo (C) ~ resourcefreak

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The magic of beautiful people

Being in recluse is a nice thing. One thing amongst many is that it helps us revisit some special memories and some special people. Talking of which I am reminded of an incidence that occurred not so long time ago in my workplace. 

I was feeling very bad about a patient who was upset over the doctor's consultation fees that he was charged by the hospital. You can do little about such things. The hospitals and the doctors are supposed to charge - nothing different about it. 

Haggard looking, distressed and unstable on feet, the patient came from a remote village. The fact that he was in crises was apparent. I saw him counting money several times before he paid up. His waiting time was accentuated with queries which I tried to explain to my best. He also told me about how he would have to walk back half the way for he didn't have enough money, how hard he work every day etc. 

Our hospital is one of the best in the city and is known for its top class service and goodwill. People come here for the good service. It's never been criticized for its high pricing policies. It was apparent that the man came to consult a good doctor and the hospital brand didn't matter to him. 

I felt bad but did not know what to do. After a while I told my boss, a renowned cardiologist, about it all. He listened to me and instantaneously took out a one thousand rupee note and asked me to return it to the patient. It was that short and simple for him.


Although, that was not the first time he did something like that, I was overwhelmed. Flabbergasted, happy, peaceful - with medley of emotion and series of lumps inside my throat, I handed over the money to the patient. The man broke down and could not thank me enough. I was choked indefinitely.

Today, as I reminiscence this, I realize that life is beautiful because of some amazing people who never fail. Yes, we come across many people in our lives but some are unfailing in their magical gesture. They are unfailing every time and all the time. I call them beautiful people.