Thursday, September 30, 2010

Taking compliments graciously…

…has never been my forte. I simply am at loss to respond courteously when I get a compliment.

“Seema these kebabs are delicious! How did you ever make them? Seems so time consuming”

Regular people’s response: “Thank you. So glad you enjoying them”

The Seema response: “It’s damn simple. Nothing to it. And I think the salt could be lesser”

“Your dress is simply gorgeous”

Regular people’s response: “Thanks!”

The Seema response: “Thanks but it’s really old”/ “Thanks. But it only cost 25$”/ “Thanks but it’s not mine. Borrowed from my friend” (at least I say "Thanks")

“Very good presentation. Well done!”

Regular people’s response: “Thank you.”

The Gloater response: “Thanks. I was working till 2 am on it.”

The Kiss-ass response: “I learn from best. I have observed how you all talented people present, and I can only but try and emulate..blah blah blah...”

The Seema response: “It was easy. No biggie.”

“You have lost weight!”

Regular people’s response: “Thanks! I am working out.”

The Seema response: “Really? No ways! Weighing machine does not say so. Also I have been eating a lot!!”

When I responded to a weight loss compliment like this last week, my friend just replied “May be the last time I saw you, you were way too bloated”. OMG! I complained that he was mean. And he advised that when anyone compliments, one should smile sweetly and say thanks. Rather than disagreeing with the complimentee. (Yeah yeah, Microsoft spell checker has already highlighted that that’s not a word)

The worst one was when a college friend commented on my photo and said “You look just the same as you did back then”. And I turned around and blurted “So I looked this old in college?!”

Sigh! You get the drift….

I think taking compliments is an art. (As is giving them. And here is how NOT to give compliment).

Taking a compliment the Seema-way does one of the following:

1) Makes the complimentee feel you are not gracious/grateful/courteous

2) Gives the impression you are arrogant/too full of yourself

3) Give people another chance to think “why is she so weird?”

So my plan is now to grin and enjoy it…so keep those compliments flooding in ;)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What’s in a name? That which we call an iPhone, by any other name would still be a touchscreen

This evening I finally bought a new phone. And the only reason I did so, was my last phone was stolen (which in Singapore context means left behind in a cab). Before that I changed my age-old Nokia for a not-as-age-old-Nokia for a 2-fold reason

Reason no 1: Sanil said “Mama, you have had this phone since I was a baby. Since then Rose has got 3 new phones”

Reason no 2: Location- Asia Pacific conference in Bangkok. And I casually put my phone on the table. The Business Director from Korea very innocently asked “Is that a phone?” Yes the ground should have opened up and swallowed me.

When I first came to Singapore, I was a part of a conversation between 2 locals.

Local 1: “Wow. You spent 700$ on a new phone?!”
Local 2: “Yes it’s the coolest, blah blah technology, blah blah features, blah blah...”
Local 1: “There are so many better things you can spend 700$ SHOES!”

As an Account Exec, with a princely sum of 2300$ per month to my name, I did not really have much to offer to that conversation.

Cut-to recent phone loss. EVERYONE (including my mum) asked me if I was going to get an iPhone. Many assumed that I naturally would. And most others were most amazed to know that I would not be getting one. People sneered, sniggered, rolled eyes (all except call out a witch hunt against me). And none could decipher my motive...and yes I had a few:

a) I have zero hand eye coordination. And using the slide-unslide function coupled with the touch screen pad to write SMS...too traumatic

b) I don’t see the fuss

c) Sanil wud use it more than I would
d) I always have and always will be on the side of the underdog (in this case Nokia)

e) The most popular choice is never mine (case in point Shahrukh Khan, KJo movies and Titanic- for me its Aamir Khan, Anurag Kashyap movies and Shawshank Redemption)

f) Even my plumber has an iPhone- where is the damn cool factor that everyone raves about? How can something so mass, still be so cool?

g) I am the most untech savvy person I know. I use a phone to talk (gasp!) and SMS (I do embrace useful technology) and sometimes to take pix of Sanil

h) And frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn

And I really hoped less people would care about the phone they owned, the car they drove, the house they lived, the school their kids went to and the number of zeros in their annual income.

Why do we use objects to define ourselves?

• An iPhone makes you cool

• A BMW car makes you hot

• An Armani suit makes you popular

• A LV bag makes you glamorous

Is that what it’s all come down to? I am not being philosophical or spiritual. And I am guilty of object-affection too. I don’t define myself through objects, but I let objects rule my life. Besides Sanil, what I love most in my house are my books (and my sofa). I am a location snob and can’t imagine myself living in parts of Singapore (or Bombay) besides a select few locations and I am prejudiced against people who don’t read. I use objects to evaluate my state of happiness and my opinion of others too.

One of the definitions of object is: something material that may be perceived by the senses.

It is material and it is simply perceived by our senses. We attach labels to something inanimate and then we further assign a value to it. And then we extend that value to the person owning (or in my case, it’s usually not owning) the said object.

Let’s try and break free from these shackles. It’s time to focus on the subject i.e. us, and give lesser importance to the objects.

So next time you meet your friend compliment her on her smile (instead of her dress), get impressed by your boy friend’s witty remarks and charming personality (instead of his new watch/bike/car), praise your neighbours cooking skills (instead of eyeing her new furniture).

Objects will always be there and it’s important to acknowledge, appreciate and be grateful for their existence. But when they take centre stage in our life, it’s time to re-write the script.

p.s. for the ones who simply HAVE to know, I got myself a shiny new Nokia C6 or is its C5- well what's in a name, right? ;)