30 August 2007

Will you take orders?

I was asked this question, when I went for an interview with an organization few months ago. I had not submited my resume, but was invited for a discussion. Like every interview should be, they asked me about myself and I presented to them my best cases for leadership, responsibility and initativeness, a trademark of any individual who is ambitious and goal oriented. At the end of the discussion they asked me "Will you take orders? What guarantee will you give me that you will follow our orders? "

Few days ago an acquaintance who owns a company asked me the same question. As global as New York city is for its people, it was intriguing to note that both the organizations belonged to the same geographical region in the world. That brought me to my next chain of thought - whom do they want to hire - somebody who is responsible and creative, yet demure ? Somebody who would help the organization grow or somebody who would play a passive role?

My thoughts led me to arrive at certain inferences - Both these organizations - one a consulate in new york and the other a health care industry, were headed by people whose countries were ruled by foreigners for long - the French, the Portuguese , the English and the Persians. Their lands and minds were conquered and still today generations are reeling under its influence, good and bad. So what if the people are intelligent and hardworking ? Though they head organizations they are not sufficiently savvy!(for lack of an alternative word ) and may be do not have enough confidence to make decisions that will help themselves and others in a different light - A light that will help them realize that they are the creations of God and nobody can let them believe that they or others are small in any way. May be they feel threatened ? And they see themselves as their erstwhile rulers - oppressive, abusive, giddy with power and want to make their employees feel as subjects of exploitation ?

How would you respond to the question, Will you take orders?

The image is a painting picked up at a yard sale.

25 August 2007

G. WhiTman

The story goes something like this...
A college student went around town rummaging through yard sales. It was a moving sale and so the wares were in plenty. Her roving eyes danced and stopped at this painting which was stashed in the far end corner of the huge yard. After all this was a suburban yard in an upscale home in New Jersey.This was the last day of the 3 day sale and still there were plenty of things. She then focused on other people who were looking around, afraid that the painting would catch their attention.

She walked towards the painting, praying that people who were standing near it would not pick it up before she did. With a silent prayer in her heart she picked up the painting and examined its condition. There were water damages at the bottom . There were rips and folds too. The painting was signed G. WhiTman on the bottom right hand side. She cared less about the condition. She knew she would not be able to afford a painting which has so much depth. The breath taking yellow and the size was a bonus. Little did she have any idea who the painter is either. Taken in by the sheer beauty of the mountain, the woods and the stream she decided to make it hers if the price was in her budget. The owner cared less and said it was $ X. On hearing it she knew it was hers.

She left the painting in her husbands apartment and went back to school. This was in the summer of 2001. The painting sat on the floor for the next 3 months. When she finally came back she took the painting to the rag shop to get it framed. Shocked at the price given by the sales representative she decided against framing it. The painting found a space on a barren wall in the apartment. She admired the painting and was glad that she found it. Friends who visited had something to say about the painting. Now and then she googled for G.WhiTman, but did not find information. But today when she googled she found WhiTman on Askart.com she found many others who has a G.WhiTman painting and everybody is glad to have found it.

From the above site I gather "WhiTman is listed in the 'Artists in California 1780-Current', was born 1860 and died 1939. Almost all whiTman paintings are views of Mt. Carmel" posts Gregory Lorenzo at askart.com. Many other people who have left comments adds others notes with skepticism and are seeking information on the artist.

16 August 2007

Traffic Jam

Sitting in one of the worst ever traffic jams in recent years my mind ravelled across many things at the same time. Miles of cars were ahead of me and the bridge that would take me across could be seen far ahead. In times like this I truly wish for a boat to sail across. After all I am surrounded by water on all sides and If I have to get across anywhere I have to take a bridge or go under the water through the tunnel.{ It is said that there are more than 1000 bridges in New York and New Jersey combined}.

In the ancient of days when the wheel was not yet invented we had water ways. Not the high end canoe or the kayak that we see these days but one made of barks- bended and twisted, of weeds , sticks, logs to carry goods, produce and people. Using a compass, lighthouse, winds and sails man has travelled great seas and mighty oceans to discover for himself land for his progeny to live in. and the thought that follows after the new find is a sense of gratification, " Life is going to be better ahead "- Hope for a better future.

And traffic jams are just one of the features of that future, which is our present. Comfortable and speedy journeys in hours which was not possible or would take days now takes only hours. Only what was for the adventuresome to travel to faraway lands is now possible for anyone who would want to see new places and people. The lands near by the water would have been densely populated if it weren't for the bridges and tunnels that has made it possible for us to stay anywhere and everywhere. So when you are in traffic jam next time, be glad for it, since we can travel, which was once not possible for our forefathers and you are one of those, what do we say, - widely travelled wise women/men.

Image by Jim Frazier

08 August 2007

Street Vendor for a day in New York city.

For those who have visited any metropolis, street vendors are not new. They are part of what makes a city a city! In fact if you are new to the city, they are the ones welcoming you. I was glad that I was part of this group even if it was only for a day. My friend, lets call her Q, who is a savvy business woman wanted to set up one more mode for selling her goods. Just below her office she contacted a street vendor who put her through Karen, a licensed street vendor who agreed to put Q in the street vending business for a day.

Last weekend on saturday, we packed a folding table, our wares, and other things needed to set up our table and drove into Manhattan bright and early. We walked towards our assigned street in anticipation to meet Karen, with whom a deal had been struck . While waiting for Karen we spoke to the other vendors. An hour had passed and Karen was nowhere in sight. No response inspite of leaving a voicemail.
Determined not to go home without setting up shop Q and I negotiated with another vendor who agreed to be our licensed vendor. I was told that in order to be a street vendor one must have a license, which takes almost 10-15 years to procure. Our being a street vendor for a day could only be possible because one licensed NY vendor, lets call him X was standing in for us and we were working for him. That's how many of the street vendors operate.

We moved right over to the Battery park walkway and arranged our wares. Little did we realise that placing our goods would take one and a half hours . The tourists were pouring in. We did not have a placard big enough to see that the wares were only 5 dollars and up. And the sun was blazing upon us.


Then came the park enforcement officials and asked us to move. Our licensed vendor, lifted the table along with our nicely arranged items and moved us to another spot- this time right in front of the Bowling green station .By then the sun was beating down. Besides us there were other street vendors selling perfumes, T-shirts, caps, and other NY paraphernalia.

Hot and Humid the only thing that was selling fast was ice cold water and the ice cream which was being sold 2 blocks away. We were told that were at the wrong spot. And tourists are not interested in jewellery as much as NY paraphernalia. Each block in New York caters to specific products. bags on Canal street (near china town), funky jewellery in SOHO ( that's where we should have been), paintings near Washington square park, african masks, bags near west broadway, NY paraphernalia near all tourist spots. With not too much success we decided to leave during mid afternoon.

But come again some other time and when the weather is good we may decide to sell at the right spot this time!
Image by Smaku

06 August 2007

Proverbs

Half of the books that are read are not published
Half of the books that are published are not sold
Half of the books that are sold are not read
Half of the books that are read are not understood
Half of the books that are read are misunderstood
- A french proverb.

I was wondering about the books that everybody reads and everybody writes. It is one of the ways to learn, but better still are one's own experiences ?That reminds me of another adage - The wiseman learns from others' mistakes.


The book of Proverbs in the Bible teaches many lessons. But each time you go through it, you perceive it a little differently. Though some of us may like reading a particular author or a book, don't we all analyze the book from different perspectives? Authors are often scared that the reader might keep the book down even before finishing the first paragraph. I was once told by a mentor that it does not matter how many books you read, if only you could analyze one of them thoroughly. I guess that applies to proverbs too - they are snippets of wisdom.

Image by Norby

02 August 2007

It's cultural.

Have you ever wondered why typical Scandinavian design looks very fresh and uncluttered ? clean Lines, no extras.
While the western world and now some certain parts of Asia is constantly trying to ape the contemporary! style, I wonder why inspite of having Scandinavian furniture in their homes the place does not have the inviting and the hip retro feel that Scandinavian homes usually exhibit.

Certain cultures are very consumptious. "I have to have the new iphone and the new apple computer and a new headset." is a common thought for anybody in a consumeristic society. Five gadgets to hear the same song.!! The furniture is four years old and it is time to throw it out is another common thought. These and so many other shopping patterns are a norm. Time is spent shopping to buy that will rejuvenate their life. Though American stores sell Scandinavian furniture at a premium, I was wondering if they are doing anything to make the customers aware of how Scandinavian furniture was built. These days minimalism has become a style, not a function.

My curiosity prompted me to call a friend who now stays in Finland for some answers. How does Scandinavian homes radiate warmth, with such minimalistic and simplistic looks? She said, it is 'Lagom'. It's a norwegian word ( some say it is swedish or finnish ) and difficult to translate. At best, the english equivalent would be ENOUGH. 'Nothing showy, just enough to be comfortable.' They live by the law of jante. My next question was, don't they ever have the need to indulge, to buy something absolutely luxurious - may be a fancy mansion, or even a designer watch. In short, according to jante, to be flashy is to be considered gauche and disrespectful to others who have less.
Images from Damiel's photostream

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