Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Book Review: The Name of this Book is Secret



The unusual name of the book though is secret (pun intended) and a 4-plus rating on Goodreads gave me the confidence to pick up this one. The story starts in an interesting way, where the author keeps warning you page after page to not read the book. At the start it feels exciting and gives a newness to the writing, but I wish I had paid some attention to it. Guess he was trying to play with the human psyche, and knew that people go ahead and do what they are asked to refrain from. Anyways, coming back to the story, after several warnings by the author to not read the book, which you happily choose to ignore, starts the plot wherein again the author tries to keep the thrill alive by not willing to talk much about the characters (though by the end of the book you realize it didn't make much of a difference anyways). He almost gets to a point where frustration creeps in with the constant 'I wish I dint have to tell you this', and 'I still warn you to not continue reading this' disclaimers!! And after so much hullabaloo about the dangerous secret, the reader would definitely expect something concrete and worth calling a secret, but the author fails to live upto his promise of delivering the same. 

What I liked about this book was the concept of 'Symphony of Smells' and the world of synesthestic people which I was exposed to for the first time. I knew this book was for children, but this one is strictly only for them. It gets very predictable as it reaches the end (though the author refuses to write a concluding chapter and wants us to do all the hard work for our own selves).

In fact while reading this book, I wished I had an adolescent daughter/son and also imagined myself narrating this story with all drama to her/him. 

All in all, I feel instead of announcing disclaimers about not reading the book, the author could have been more specific saying that 'If you are above 14 years of age, you read the book at your own risk, and don't blame me for the disappointment'. This way he could have shifted the onus of dissatisfaction on the reader, and this would have saved himself of some critically devastating reviews. 

But you now what, given a chance I do want to read the 4 other books in the pentalogy, somehow i'm still curious and am willing to take the risk of further disappointment. Funny but true!





Book Review: One Amazing Thing


Well, the initial plot seemed quite interesting where a bunch of people get trapped in a crumbling earthquake hit building, and then decide to share 'one amazing thing' or story from their life to divert their fearing selves from the catastrophic end they are ill-fated for.

The book starts well, and without wasting any time gets straight gets to the main point where earthquake strikes. I picked up this book for the 'one amazing thing' stories that the trapped people would be narrating. However, the disappointment starts with the first story itself, and continues to do so in the stories that followed, as I did not find any thing worth admiring in any of them. The stories lack drama, and while one or two of them were really boring, these everyday life stories had nothing in them worth calling amazing.  Also, I hated the fact that the stories were not narrated in the first person voice, and were written as if the writer is saying them. This made it difficult to connect to the characters and their feelings, and thus maybe failed to get across the 'one amazing thing' of their story. Infact, as the book progresses you get more interested in the main story about the survival of the earthquake victims, and the stories of the characters rather seem to be interfering. Also, the abrupt endings of the narrations and then the incomplete end to the book, gets even more frustrating. 

All in all, neither the intensity of their suffering from earthquake moved you, nor the emotions from the stories touched you. This was my first Chitra Divakaruni book, and I hope the next in my 'to-read' list -- 'The Palace of Illusions' does not leave me discontented.



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Baselines, Pastocity, Flexors and Extensors and the Color of our pen - G...

http://www.youtube.com/v/CjefXRFAJq8?version=3&autohide=1&autoplay=1&showinfo=1&attribution_tag=uXnknBhvdvz1LRKQNHBBWg&feature=share&autohide=1

Friday, December 21, 2012

An Act of good deed…


While recruiting for a position a couple days ago, came across a strange candidate. I discussed about the profile and his interest level with the candidate (whom I’ll name Mr. X here) and got a positive response from him. So next day, I tried calling him again to communicate his interview schedule to him. Well, the number on which I had contacted him very strangely was answered by some another guy and he got harassed with me and repeatedly screamed wrong number. But I being an aggressive recruiter would not want to lose him. So I decided to try the 2 alternate numbers written on his CV (Thank God for that!)
So now, while the other mobile number temporarily did not exist, the landline number was finally answered. Seeing some hope of getting a number to reach Mr. X, I started conversation with the lady on the other side, who I found was the aunt of Mr. X. The lady learnt that I had spoken to Mr. X just a day before. And then came the twist in the story; instead of providing a number to reach him (which she did not have) she requested Mr. X’s number from me. Well she sounded quite distressed, so I asked her what was the issue. Had a selfish interest too of knowing where exactly Mr. X was. So I understood from her that Mr. X lived with this aunt in Pune and was absconding since the last 15-20 days!! And the poor aunt did not know where to get a clue of his whereabouts from. After consoling her that I would definitely tell her if I got in touch with him, I cursed Mr. X and disconnected the call.
However, believe me I’m really aggressive when it comes to recruiting. With a little amusement and curiosity about what I had just witnessed about an absconding candidate, I was reflecting on this; when it struck to me that I must check his contact details on the portal too. And what my experience has taught me, I was right. The number on his CV and number on the portal were altogether different. So hoping to get in touch with him I dialed, and YES! I got him. Well this guy seemed to have settled in Thane (Mumbai) and was working there. (this critical information was hidden from me, when I spoke the earlier day). Well, all my efforts to reach him were now in vain, as I wanted someone from Pune.
But this did not end for me here….. I was disturbed yet with the worried aunt of Mr. X and thought of doing a good deed. So I called this aunt of Mr. X and shared the contact details of the latter. Obviously conniving that she does not reveal the identity of who has given her the number. Now I definitely did not want to get into their personal matters. And the point of writing this ‘No Big Deal’ story is that…………… ‘HOW GOOD DID I FEEL DOING THIS!!!’ I was delighted that I had done a tiny-bit act of goodness. I was happy that I helped someone in whatever small way I could. Getting a little filmy here, I would say I was happy that I played a small role in reuniting the aunt with her relative!
And when you come to think of it….. ‘How many such instances does one remember, where one has tried going out of the way to help someone?’ In my entire life till date, I think I can really count such instances on my fingers. Not many….ya!
I remember once helping a blind man (who had by mistake entered into a ladies compartment of a local train in Mumbai), and was really helpless and dint know what to do. While many fellow ladies just stared at him with pity, no one stepped further to help him. He was pushed and dodged from this side to that, and finally when I couldn’t bear to see his plight, I asked him which station he would get off at, managed to create a seat for him so that he was no longer tortured, and got him off at his destination. And I felt the same like I had now felt helping this aunt of Mr. X.
Coming to talk of trains….how many times have we sacrificed and offered our seat to old men and women? How many times have we helped ease the burden of a lady in our neighborhood, who with great difficulty is carrying heavy bags of groceries for her family? I am sure we all feel empathy for the one who is in need of help, but we all hesitate to come forward and do an act of good deed. We hesitate, because we think we are busy in our lives and do not have time. We hesitate because we think, we ourselves are too troubled to offer any help to others. We empathize, but…….. we ‘think’! And when we think, we rationalize. And good deeds do not happen after rationalization. It should just come straight from the heart, impromptu… without speculating about the consequences. Compassion …. That’s the key!
Let’s all strive to make each day a “Good Deeds Day” and touch the lives of others to spread smiles and joy!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

HR . . . A Friend in Need OR A Friend Indeed ! ?


Where employees see HR personnel as a devil’s advocate (devil refers to management here), and management presumes HR to serve them as an advisory, HR is always expected to play with this double – edged sword effectively. And here comes the most difficult role of walking along the tight rope of managing expectations. This funambulism does not come easy to all, and needs to be acquired/developed. However amidst all this, HR feels trapped in a dilemma whether to be sociable with the employees, or to always keep the ‘professional’ approach in dealing with the staff.

There are 2 perspectives to this theory: (a) The HR Angle (b) The Employee Angle. We shall look at both from the HR point of view here.

Let’s first take the HR personnel’s angle. First and foremost argument I would like to make here is that “HR Personnel are people too.” They too are individuals who seek a confidante amongst people with whom they spend 8-9 hours in a day. HR people too are individuals who walk in with emotions much alike any other employee.
But again, they have a job to do, of ensuring discipline and managing conflicting-interest situations. They have no option but to fear such predicament, because a true HR professional should not be affected by personal biases and prejudices. Better safe than sorry! You undertake a risk of being misquoted, as what you have said or done in personal capacity or as a joke might be perceived as an act by an “HR” of the organisation.

However, it is also necessary to keep yourself approachable, since employees need to feel free to talk about their issues to the HR. Most of the times, what they just require is a good listener. Also, it helps HR understand the culture and systems prevalent in the organisation. It thus becomes imperative for an HR professional to be able to clearly distinguish between personal and professional effects in a relationship. If one cannot do so, he/she must refrain from friendships on a personal level with the colleagues. It is essential to understand that organisational commitments have precedence over personal bias.

Looking at this from an Employee’s Perspective, where some people fear coming in close quarters with HR, some employees purposefully connect with you. Very starkly, we can see employees being very conscious of what they say/do when HR is around. You find them abruptly changing the topic of conversations, or hush when HR unexpectedly appears in the scene; may be because they feel that HR is always judgemental.
Often, ‘being friends’ with the HR is seen as an option by the employees, not by choice but by compulsion. They do take extra efforts to ‘update’ / ‘inform’ HR occasionally about their achievements, especially when it’s something beyond the demands of their role. Well, some employees see to it that they make the so-called ‘true’ friendships with HR, with the sole anticipation of extracting confidential information that HR is expected to have. These are the testing times for HR. For a mature HR professional, difficult here is not that he/she needs to choose the organisation over friendship; but to not choose friendship over job commitments. It requires strong will, risk-bearing ability and clear professional & personal goals, making emotional stress a part of routine.

All said and done, it is absolutely indispensable for HR to be friendly with the employees. Being social with colleagues outside office might be a riskier option, nonetheless they always need to be aware that every move they make or every word they say, must be well-thought upon to measure the consequences. Performing a balancing act during the working hours also becomes elemental. While keeping the ‘human element’ in our profession alive, we sometimes need to forget that we too are human beings with emotional needs, we too have issues that we need to share with ‘friends’, we too need to enjoy and spend some casual moments with colleagues without calculating costs and risks that we might have to bear. May be we need to change the very definition of “FRIENDSHIP” that otherwise applies to us in the outside world. . .

- VAISHALI PARGAONKAR

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Rozabal Line, by Ashwin Sanghi – BOOK REVIEW


           The Krishna Key, Chanakya’s Chant, and The Rozabal Line…. Thankfully that’s the order in which I read the 3 creations of Ashwin Sanghi; yet less than half-way through the last one. And I’m already having second thoughts on whether to complete this one, or relieve myself from the overdose of research that rather leads to a very mystifying storyline.

The story (or should we say excerpts from history) revolves around different timelines from B.C. to A.D. to the present day. Well, I could have fairly attempted to manage that, but Ashwin Sanghi wanders with his knowledge of history across the globe at the same time. And not to forget, his simultaneous endeavour to connect to several religions deviates you from the main storyline… if at all there is one!

The writer loses grip over your interest, as there is no one central character to the tale. The plot is interesting, but it takes a toll on you to be connected to the same. With 2 new characters being introduced on every other page, you are nothing but left baffled.

I think I will yet make an effort to complete this book, but this time… I will attempt at reading it at a stretch. Hoping that will make some sense…!

-- VAISHALI PARGAONKAR



Thursday, October 25, 2012

RESUME BLUNDERS! (Part - II)


         In accordance with my promise that I will continue to collect more artefacts (pls refer my earlier blog @ http://vaishalipargaonkar.blogspot.in/2012/04/resume-blunders.htmlONLY FOR THE SAKE OF HUMOUR! ... here is the 2nd set of Resume Blunders for you.

          Hope you have a hearty laugh. Have cited my comments (VP) for each …. Enjoy!

1) Objective: 

My first intention is to use my knowledge to understand my work. As a result of this my work will become easier and I will understand the strength of my knowledge. It may be beneficial for all and I would get the fruitful results.

VP: A flowchart representation of intentions and abilities ... 


2) Summary : 

I myself  xxxx  have qualified CA Exam. with in three years both groups in one sitting. 

VP:  What an achievement to boast of! I'm sure my CA friends do comprehend this.


3) Candidate Text Resume : I don\'t wish to disclose now.

VP: Resume of a secret agent ... I guess!


4) Others:   

I am very passionate about my physical and mental fitness. I do Gym every morning for workout of 60 minutes and also listen to classical music for urban stress busting.

VP: Now this can really get me a good job .....  hmmm! Any takers?


5)  I MR xxxxx HAVING xx YRS EXPERIANCE IN CIVIL WORKS WOULD LIKE TO APPLY FOR THE ABOVE SAID POST IF GIVEN CHANCE TO WORK IN YOUR ESTEEMEED ORGANISATION WILL WORK WITH FULL LOYALTY TOWARDS THE ORGANISATION ALL GIVEN INFORMATION ARE TRUE MY KNOWLEDGE FOR YOUR KIND APPROVAL FOR THE SAME

VP: Breathless! This gentleman does not believe in punctuation. 


6) Current Designation: Additional General Manager – Projects

VP: 'Additional' ... ??!!  I would never want to be an 'additional' whoever. 


7) MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING ELSE YOU READ IN THIS RESUME IS THE FACT THAT I CAN GET THINGS DONE. I CAN MAKE THINGS HAPPEN.

VP: Resume of Rajnikant ... yenna rascala !!


8) Career objective : 

With my knowledge and good communication skill I assume my self in a position in an organization where I can contribute towards the development of organization as well as hones in all my assignment. 

VP: No comments... just laugh :)


9)  OBJECTIVE :  

TO JOIN A HOTEL AND GROW  WITH IT.

VP: Please apply at infancy stage of your life!



10) OBJECTIVE 

To provide the best service wherein being continuously, as a part of a team that dynamically works towards growth of the organization and to achieve excellence there of.

VP: Yes... finally we have a Shakespeare in the making..!



And like always... I have saved the best for the last .... 

11) I have been able to consummate advanced techniques with self initiative ability to work effectively to lead the team effort to its achievements.

VP: Yeah ...  I know its dirty thinking... hahaha!


              Hope you guys enjoyed reading this. And as promised, I will keep up the good work of collecting such artifacts. If you have come across any creative work, please feel free to share …. 

ONLY FOR THE SAKE OF HUMOUR! 

                Hey and do not forget to mention which one you liked the best!



- VAISHALI PARGAONKAR


Monday, April 23, 2012

RESUME BLUNDERS! (Part - I)


Resumes flow in and out of my hands characteristically, being in the HR profession. I come across some innocent, sincere lines mentioned by candidates many a times, which convey a different meaning altogether than what is intended.

Here are a few such examples. Have inserted my comments (VP) for each…. Enjoy!

Disclaimer:  Please note that this article is posted Just for Fun, and has no intention to hurt, ridicule or insult any person in particular whatsoever.

  1. Please see last Left for Educational Summary
VP: Seems like some direction for a Map!


  1. Designation: sales exicativew
VP: Tried real hard to get it right!


  1. Job Profile:-
Independently looking after Vice President of project ………
VP: May be he is applying for a nurse’s job!


  1. ACHIVMENTS successfully construcated the residentian, commercial.molles. scheme "shravan apparment from shihagad road & vagholi from row housses & raje contruction,cumarsial bilding(8 floor)&ambegone
VP: Read the sentence without taking a breath! Hoooosssshhh!   


  1. I possess the ability to relate a wide range of people and capable of achieving personal goals and objectives performing with my professional carrier till date.
VP: Achieving personal goals with ‘professional carrier’? …. Hmmm!


  1. Having good respect in Organization with family status.
VP: I still dint get this! If anyone of you gets it, please post a comment to explain!

  1. OTHER SKILLS :                  INDIAN DRIVING LICESES.
VP: Obtaining an ‘Indian’ driving licence…. Does it require any skill? I doubt if it even requires driving skills for that matter.


  1. Saved company money by taking on several job responsibilities.
VP: Now that’s a real achievement!


  1. Marital Status-Married
Hobbies-Body Building


VP: hahahahaha! No comments!


  1. Note-Now I’am free for my new Corse I.T.I Serveior Exmanation as a Temperary leave from- -company.
              VP: Thanks for the info. I shall remember!

11.    Industry Type             : Real Estate
Product                       : Multi Storage Apartments’.
VP: Storage for humans!

  1. HOBBIES           : - TOURRING AT OUT SIDE.
VP: Does anyone have a hobby of Tourring at In Side too?


13.   Willingness to learn, keep passions & cool in nature, believes in hardworking as well as smart work.

VP: Keeping passions is a valuable trait really!


  1. PROJECT WARK DONE:- Panting work & Advantage & Disadvantage of panting
VP: Hahahahaha! You corrupt minds. He is talking about ‘Painting’! How a missing ‘i’ can bring laughter to our innocent souls!

  1. SEMINAR:- All type of vibrater use in construction
VP: Again, No comments! What are you thinking?

  1. EXTRA CURRICULAR:- Social Work
Hospitality of pilgrims every year

VP: I always thought extracurricular meant sports, reading, dancing, cooking etc.!

  1. JOB RESPOUNCEBILITY:
VP: Quite a pouncing one that is!


  1. About Myself
I AM WORKERS AND SINCERE IN MAY JOB HAVING GOOD QUALITIES OF ESTABLISHING AND MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIP WITH PEOPLE HONESTY INTEGRITY FAITHFULLNESS AND JOYALLY ARE MY STRENGTHS I ALWAYS ENJOY TO ACCEPT NEW CHALLENGES IN LIFE.

VP: In Marathi they say 'Bhavana pohochlya', means 'got the point'.


19.   Summary:Plz dont look after my Profil. I m Fresher in this field.I m office Admin in XXXX  pvt ltd. From 2years

VP: No one dares to see his profile, got it!?


  1. CAREER OBJECTIVE
To, pull the best from within to rice to the occasion, only to leave the marks where I work.

VP: Seems like an application for a farmer!


  1. STRENGTH:
Able to work for longer period without any mental and physical strain.

VP: Superman!


Now, these 2 have been received as emails:
22.  Respected Mam,               
        As per your contacts to me, you have called me for interview today. But, today at 1:30 pm. our companie's C.M.D are coming our site for visiting propram. So, there some meetings are achived among us. So, I'm sorry for this situation!  I will come soon with my c.v. in office for iterview!                  Thanking you!               
        'GOOD DAY'!!

VP: Though, I truly appreciate that he bothered to inform in advance!


  1.  feb-11 & mar-11 not open excel sheet pls this convert be excel-2003. apr-11 to jun-11 salary sheet open only two month not open salary sheet.pls send repeat
VP: My job is at stake! I wonder what I’m supposed to do here!


Hope you guys enjoyed reading this. I will keep up the good work of collecting such artifacts. If you have come across any creative work, please feel free to share …. 

ONLY FOR THE SAKE OF HUMOUR! J

Hey and do not forget to mention which one you liked the best!


P.S.: Fun continued... blog posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012


- VAISHALI PARGAONKAR

More Fun @ 1)  Funny Stupid things people write in a resume
                       2)  150 Funniest Resume Mistakes, Bloopers and Blunders Ever

4 comments:

  1. LOL...yeh sab padh ke mujhe apne common friend ki yaad aayi..he is still not in contact with me..
    ReplyDelete
  2. LOL... which version of excel does u use ....
    ReplyDelete
  3. My personal favourites:
    1) Marital Status-Married
    Hobbies-Body Building

    2)PROJECT WARK DONE:- Panting work & Advantage & Disadvantage of panting

    3)feb-11 & mar-11 not open excel sheet pls this convert be excel-2003. apr-11 to jun-11 salary sheet open only two month not open salary sheet.pls send repeat
    ReplyDelete

    Replies


    1. TOURRING AT OUT SIDE. hahahha.... lets go to toor at in side ulsoh...
      Delete


Friday, March 9, 2012

Performance Appraisal of the Performance Appraisal System


         March end is nearing and its time for Appraisals. All eyes are focussed on the one most important thing ‘Appraisals’ and ‘Increments’. To an HR professional, these two words have distinguished definitions. But, to a layman Appraisals mean Increments and Increments mean Appraisals.

For all those who still think they mean the same, here’s the dictionary meaning for both:

  • Appraisal - an assessment or estimation of the worth, value, or quality of a person or thing

  • Increment - The process of increasing in number, size, quantity, or extent.

These two terms are related, but not the same. However, in a typically traditionally managed, family owned business, there may be not be much of a practical difference between the two, but in larger organisations Appraisals and Increments have a larger system in place called the Performance Management System.


          There is much ado about effective Performance Management Systems (PMS) and a lot many theories have been conceptualised for building a robust PMS. The most popular amongst these are the 360 degrees, 180 degrees, Management by Objectives (MBO), Ratings Scale methods.


Organisations invest a great deal of money, time and efforts in formulating a PMS system that suits their organisational needs, culture and business plans. The effectiveness of any PMS depends on many factors from Goal Setting Process to the Evaluation Methodology and the Feedback Mechanism, but the major factor that influences the success of an organisation’s PMS is the ‘buy-in’ from the top management.

When you talk of Appraisals, employees imagine a herculean task coming forward i.e. of filling up pages and booklets of information. Amidst targets and deadlines, employees struggle to manage recollecting and providing information not only about their own performance, but also for their colleagues as in the 360 degree approach. What do companies do with all this download of information? Are the companies effectively utilising the data generated for the benefit of the employees and the organisation? Do companies review the Performance Appraisal Systems viz-a-viz the results it generates?


         In a webinar on "Designing an Effective Performance Management System" hosted by SHRM India; the speaker Aniruddha Limaye, an Independent Consultant, pointed out indicators that we need to be sniffing for, to understand when to start instituting a new PMS or get rid of the existing one altogether. According to his theory, the key indicators that we need to look at are:

Employee related issuesunfavourable feedback from employees on PMS, increase in employee attrition linked to appraisal cycle

Performance related issueslow ownership by line managers that requires tremendous follow up by HR, lack of team work / turf mentality, organisation struggling to achieve goals, difficulty in implementing any new decisions /changes / initiatives


         In most companies, Performance Assessment becomes just an HR or Admin process. HR does play a role in setting up of the process, coordinating the execution, and for normalisation. But Forced Ranking, Bell Curve Method, Jack Welch’s 20-70-10 principle come into picture as regularisation methods, which might prove to be de-motivating for many employees. “By implementing a forced ranking procedure, organizations guarantee that managers will differentiate talent”, says Dick Grote in his book ‘Forced Ranking: Making Performance Management Work’. Does forced Ranking mean appraisal of the manager’s ability to appraise his subordinates?

If PMS does not have the status of a ‘Business Process’ the organisation should think of scrapping it rather than redesigning it. PMS is not an HR process, but should come as a buy-in from the top management. Without an objective Goal-Setting process and a strong & positive Feedback Mechanism, performance cannot be reinforced. Hence, if an organisation’s PMS lacks these two important requisites, it is always advisable to scrap it rather than having a negative impact on employee’s expectations from the system.

        As quoted by Limaye, “You need to catch someone doing something right and then reinforce it!”

       When in spite of incessant initiatives of reviving the Appraisal System, there is still demand / need for change, performance appraisal systems could be eliminated with no harm done. No Performance Assessment System will work until the organisation is completely ready for the change it desires to bring in with the system.

          All in all, performance review is a daily activity, and not an annual ritual led by the HR delegates.

- VAISHALI PARGAONKAR




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