Friday, June 28, 2013

A tiny, irrevocable Statement of Truth

I started this blog one night in 2008 on a whim, because I was sick of studying and wanted to vent (five years later, I'm still studying, heh. That's a different story, though). I barely took it seriously until about three years ago.

After a longish spell of abandoning all types of writing last year, I've been prodding myself to write more consistently again. 
I'm perfectly clear about the aims of this blog: not self promotion, not the number of followers, but simply the pleasure of writing. The fact that it's online simply aids in putting a bit of pressure on me to keep at it. Because I can be incredibly lazy sometimes, even when it comes to doing the things I love. Maybe this happens with everyone, I dunno.

The fact that it's online makes me think that someone, somewhere, at some point of time might stumble upon my writing and so I have to try to write in the best way that I can. I keep honing my writing. Rewriting, double-checking several times over, which I know I would not have done otherwise. 
Besides, even when I do write things offline, I don't go shoving them under people's noses for feedback, you know? So putting them online is a good compromise, precisely because of the low readership and all. If someone does like something I've written and wants to say so, or has something to add, that's great. And if not, well, at least I have the feeling that someone might. And that eggs me on. Plus, there's the whole big blogging community, and if you're well connected, it can be a lot of fun. (Note: I'm horribly connected...but it's still fun).

Why a sudden introspection of this blog that I know barely has any regular readers? No, it's not some silly blog anniversary, I think those are corny. I hate to admit it, but a few weeks ago,I felt slightly dejected that I haven't been getting any sort of a response to anything I've written in a while (except for this one time I accidentally published a draft that was never meant to see the light of day or darkness of night. It was a very very bitter rant about the bad week I was having. K. got in touch immediately and then proceeded to send me many funny pictures so that by the end of it, I was struggling not to laugh out loud at the workplace).

I don't publicize the blog on Facebook or the internet in general, least of all because it's anonymous. Which I realize doesn't matter much. It's not like I'm dishing out scandalous details of my extremely eventful, fascinating life. I mean,I literally haven't spoken to anyone face to face but the cashiers at the supermarket all week. And the concierge of my building, because my kitchen counter sank last week when I put a pot full of potatoes on it. Sank, as in it is now uneven and if I spill some water on the stove, it trickles down to the back. Because my kitchen counter is slanting. And that, that was the most interesting thing to happen to me probably since spring started. It's because I'm writing my thesis though, not to worry. My dead social life will revive in precisely a month and a half. But I digress.

This blog is in need of a makeover, name and all, because as it was recently pointed out, I am the complete opposite of a cynic. I was a firm believer when I started out, but things have changed over the years. I also need some people who know about this stuff to help me out, but right now, I only have time for my thesis. And aimless day dreaming about visiting home. And all the people I will meet and the things I will eat. And the things I will eat. Did I mention the things I will eat?

Anyway, I suppose I wanted to put pen to paper ('fingers to keyboard' will never have the same charm, so shut up if you were going to correct me) and say it to myself: it's okay to want a little validation sometimes. Who doesn't?

Also, I disagree with the band of people who think that blogging is such a self involved and selfish thing to do, that people just do it to get attention, that they think it makes them feel smug in some way (said people were unaware that I blog). It's a mean outlook.

Aaanywhichway, to those who say these things, if you don't like blogging, then do stay away.

I am fully aware of the fact that my epic declaration will probably not garner so much as a cough in way of responses (which is okay, really), but here I am anyway. Very, um, determined. And strong. 

Determined and strong. Looking like this at everyone who happens to read this post:

'Choo lookin at?
Via Allie Brosh at this brilliant blog.

The Cyniqueen

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Being an Intern (The Flip Side)

If I hadn't finally, at 26, been a few months away from starting a career (that's right, 26 and starting a career. Not 'building upon' or 'improving' or 'progressing ahead on an already brilliantly successful path', but starting.), I would've called this blog 'The eternal Intern' - really, I would've.

I've done, let's just say, several internships. And lucky for you, I'm in a wisdom dispelling mood today. Now, I'm a sneaky little intern. I'm not going to tell you which thing I learnt or did or didn't do where. I'm not naming any places I worked (or might be working) at, on account of I don't want to discredit anyone and lose my own credibility with them. And respect and stuff. So. Here we go:

Things about being an intern that you should be aware of (the flip side):

Starting out at the very bottom
You will have to put your ego aside. And you will have to do this for many aspects of the job.In India, in a lot of places (especially government organisations) they have 'chaprasis' or 'peons': people whose job entails doing errands, making chai and serving it, carrying files and messages across and so on. This is not the case in Germany. Everyone does everything here. That's the official version.

So your position as an intern is very low. Imagine a deep, mouldy well with smelly fungus at the bottom and rainbow cakes on top. You live in the slimy fungus. Now, in some companies, a few rainbow cake crumbs might be scattered your way (good quality work assignments, new things to learn, etc) and sometimes, they literally send across internship caviar - this is usually when they're short of a colleague and so you have to do the job. Except you do it for free.

Just to clarify, I have never done an internship where I wasn't respected and the people weren't really nice. I'm only talking about this in terms of the sort of work you're given. Or not given, as the case may be.

Show me the moneh (or don't)
How shall I put this: you're literally not even going to be paid a cent. I have never been paid for doing an internship (although I have earned money for articles I've written while doing the internship, yay!). And it sucks. And it really makes me think about the way interns are sometimes exploited, where doing the internship as a part of a course is obligatory and you're doing a full time, unpaid internship. How is it fair if you have to pause your student job in lieu of an unpaid one?

When you have an interview for an internship, it's tricky bringing up the topic of payment. I've gotten used to asking it as a sort of customary question which is always answered negatively. Don't be surprised if the question is met with muffled laughter - it hasn't happened to me, but there was this one time I asked the question, I was answered with a "sorry, we don't pay interns" and I swear I almost heard laughter and this subtext: "bwahahahaha. Oh, honey. NO."

I've just remembered, I did once get a gigantic packet of toilet paper rolls at an internship because they had ordered too many. I genuinely thought that was awesome of the boss. Does that count as some form of payment?

No one has high expectations of you
Which is horrid when you first thing about it, but it's great because (a)you're starting with a clean slate and (b)you can ask for and will receive honest feedback without feeling bad about it because the whole point is that you're there to learn. Which makes me think that people are probably more careful when they start out, they try to do their jobs better, you know? Like how you drive more carefully when you've just got your licence and five years later you're swerving like it's the bat mobile and not the pot hole filled roads of India?

Your time is the least important in the entire organization
Not having anything to do while you'e an intern is arguably the very worst bit. I detest it. I mean truly, completely abhor. If it was a tangible thing, this waiting, I'd go find one of those clubs they show in prehistoric age cartoons and batter it and beat the crap out of it till it was no more.
But this is something that my experience as an intern has taught me - your time is less important than the lone office fly every one is trying to swat. And less important than the people trying to swat it. Less important than the boss who calls you into their office via telephone (via telephone, this bit is crucial to what follows) to DIAL NUMBERS for long distance calls they're making. This actually happened to me.

It's bad. But you just have to learn to deal with it. And while you're dealing, find ways to kill time while still managing to look busy (basic tip: don't surf cat memes with mouth half open). Step one while doing useless internet surfing at work? MUTE THAT COMPUTER. In fact, you know what? The very first thing you do when you start an internship? Mute that computer! You don't want to leave the sound on and then accidentally click on the video of the dog that laughs like a hyena. Or a Harlem shake video - imagine that blasting in your office space.
My point is, you're going to spend a lot of time doing nothing. A LOT. A lot, a lot.

I'm not going to finish this off by tying a pretty little bow around the whole thing and saying that oh, it's not that bad. You still meet new people and learn how not to be. You start forming your own professional network. Because you do. Of course you do. But I'm not spelling it out.

Because the good stuff spoils you and let's you think life's alright. The bad stuff, however, turns you into a tough mofo and lets you know that being a grown up is not easy.
Not easy, but still, it's good fun. You get full freedom to decide when to clean up the cat poop in the living room. And, no one forces you to eat your greens.

The Cyniqueen

P.S: Seriously though. It's pretty okay. Don't be afraid.