Purpose

Great to know your thoughts… Everyone has some deep mindful exercises going on in their minds. It’s an inspiration to do blogging regularly. Thanks a lot.

Peek Inside My Mind

You know, I envisioned this blog as my personal diary, a forum where I could dish out my most happy and saddest moments. Both my triumphs and tribulations. My expectations and grief. That has only partly come to fruition because guess what?

Writing about your life isn’t easy when others are peering in. It’s tough to be totally honest when you have friends, family and peers watching, reading and probably judging. It has turned out to be much harder than I thought it would be.

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Grass still Greener on the Other Side

“Even if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, keep to your own side; it’s where you belong. There you can plant your own grass and tend to it.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich, Slaying Dragons

It’s a human attribute to see the beauty outside him, in people, places, things and everything which are not his. But he feels sad that he doesn’t have them. There is a rage in him telling him all the time, that he’s lost the race.

I learnt about this anomaly while I was trying for moving abroad. I began my career with an Aluminium Smelting Company in Chattisgarh, India in 2004. It was one of the best technologies available in India at that point of time. But I was always thinking to move on. Gradually, some of my colleagues left for the middle East, where they had some big expansions in 2006. I tried earnestly, but failed miserably.

I was in Operations when I started my career. I always felt, maintenance was much better. Being an Electrical Engineer, I always felt that Operations is not my cup of Tea. So I was always on the look out for openings in Maintenance, Finally, I convinced our Operations Head to move me into Maintenance. After about 2 years in Maintenance, I started feeling ‘Grass is greener Outside’ syndrome again. I was feeling monotonous and increasingly restless, doing the same things again and again, day after day.

In 2008, like a double whammy , I got married & also got transferred to a new location in Orissa, India. It was a new epoch in life as well as in career. The new job role demanded long working hours as well as new skills like Inspection & Project Handover. My partner was supportive & adjusted a lot. She never complained. But the stress was evident. Finally, I started looking for Greener pastures.

I finally made my move in fag end of 2009 ,to a company , regarded as the doyen among the Aluminium companies in India, having it’s footprints in 42 countries. They were putting a 0.5 Million Ton per Annum Plant with the latest technology available from Pechiney, France. These were glorious times indeed. My eldest daughter was born in 2009. The Greenfield project gave me immense learning in technology, Project Management and most importantly, to handle people. I understood, that one has to develop his leadership & soft skills more than his technical skills to progress further in his career. 2012 was a key milestone. I was promoted as Manager & my second daughter was born. But by 2015, I had again started hunting for new openings. I still had that yearning for exploring new shores. I even thought of immigration seriously. I spend a lot of time and effort preparing documentation for Canada, which seemed to be a good bet those days. Lot of money was spent in Consultation fees, Exam fees and bribing my University officials for getting transcripts. But nothing happened. Home was a nightmare, with me & my wife quarreling and debating on a daily basis on the poor show. Canada was not happening. I had believed it to be a cake-walk then. To make matters worse, I was also in late thirties. This was reducing my CRS scores on a consistent basis. In 2017, I landed with a Head of Department role in a Group company. With no other options available, I took the plunge & relocated to Nagpur. Although the Unit was loss making, the location had strategic benefits. It is an Educational and Medical Hub. Prime Rail & Air connectivity made it very convenient for us to do travelling for leisure as well as going home in Kerala, more often. Kids were in a good school, one of the best Educational institutions in the country.

On the flip side, my Unit was performing poorly in the Reliability front. We used to deliver an awesome figure in a month & follow with a pathetic show in the next. The HODs were always in the firing line. Staying late & returning in the morning became a norm. Breakdowns were rampant. Our Team strove hard. Finally, there was a reversal of fortune. Breakdowns came down. Then, our Corporate people thought, Preventive maintenance procedures should be strengthened with more focus on Predictive & Condition Based Maintenance. The onus was on Planning & Engineering success. This was interesting till the last appraisal. I was expecting a promotion for my efforts & timely recognition of my new role at the latest Unit. I got shocked, when I was not given my due. I started looking for new avenues with increased vigour. Immigration abroad attracted me again. This time, it was Australia. I took great efforts to finish my documentation for submitting my CDR & got a positive outcome from Engineers Australia, who ratify the Engineering qualification of applicants. I was just about to write my PTE, when Covid-19 struck.

I’ve also landed a job, just before the lockdown in March. The joining date is in June. I really don’t know, when I can move to the new workplace. But , I certainly hope the new place is Greener. I wish I can finally plant some more Grass there & tend to it.

I feel, it’s inherent in us to look for something better always. We keep on searching and finding throughout our Life. Sometimes, it was destined to keep Human Nature that way, so that every person, every place gets a taste of us. We are unique creations, who have mysterious purposes in life. We never know our true potential, until we experiment and reinvent ourselves. Innovation is the spice of life.

Signing Off,

Francis

A job Change in Covid Times

It was destiny. I was looking to change my present job, since the past one year. It so happened, that I landed with job offer & put in my resignation on March 11th. Then, like a bolt in the blue, Covid-19 came visiting. As always, our human minds are trained to react with ‘ This will also pass’. I had put in my last date as May 29th. I was expecting the lock-down to open by May 3rd. i.e. after 40 days. But the Covid numbers were still rising & still spiking in many hot-spots like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai & Indore. Even at Nagpur, within a week’s time in May 1st week, the active cases rose from a 100 to 250.

So here I’m caught in limbo. And to make matters worse, employers are anxiously trying to trim their work-forces to reduce the Pandemic damage. So people, who have resigned or in the southern part of performance statistics are shown the door, with impunity. And on the flip side, employers who have floated offer letters, are trying to deffer joining & even cancelling offers in extreme cases to mitigate the losses due to the shutdown.

I’m more than convinced that Mental health after Covid treatments are the most required medical care at this chaotic times. Sitting idly at home, has this severe pitfall of overthinking & sense of deep gloom, which can drive any sane man to lunacy. Here, you see your kids and your wife all the time & try as much as possible, your mind brings you back to your imminent job change. A positive reinforcement is much needed to kick-start your mind to stop brooding over the crisis & it’s shadow over your job change.

Every organisation is trying to engage it’s employees with a new paradigm called WFH ( Work from Home). MS Teams, Zoom, Google MEET,… ( to name a few digital platforms) have made it possible for professionals to collaborate and discuss, while co-creating presentations and projects remotely. At the same times, kids are having to deal with e-learning sessions and other on-line chores. This brings us into a new fundamental right – The right to unlimited data Speed & Data. With almost all households, hooked to the internet, Data speeds have dropped significantly. This causes increased stress to the employees, who are now discerned on their ability to collaborate digitally with lightning speed. This seems to be the new Normal in the post Covid world. I’ve learnt this trait in this crucial juncture. I hope & pray, that we can utilize this new learning to develop further our expertise in working remotely.

Saying this, I still long for the office room discussions with colleagues, where-in we fought, we criticized and finally agreed on action plans. I’m certain to miss my old work place. But I’m hopeful, I can restart my traditional routine in the new workplace ASAP, with increased vigor & zeal. Hoping for joining as expected on the given day,

Signing Off,

Francis

Food for Thought

Protagoras Paradox
Over 2000 years ago, in Greece, there was a lawyer named Protagoras. A young student, Euthalos, requested to apprentice under him, but was unable to pay the fees. The student struck a deal saying, “I will pay your fee the day I win my first case in the court”. Teacher agreed. When the training was complete and a few years had elapsed without the student paying up, the teacher decided to sue the student in the court of law.
The teacher thought to himself: ‘If I win the case, as per the law, the student will have to pay me, as the case is about non-payment of dues. And if lose the case, the student will still have to pay me, because he would have won his first case. Either way I will get paid’.
The student’s view was, ‘If I win the case, I won’t have to pay the teacher, as the case is about my non-payment of fees. And if I lose the case, I don’t have to pay him since I wouldn’t have won my first case yet. Either way I will not pay the teacher.’

This is known as Protagoras Paradox, which ever way you look both have equally convincing arguments, one can go either way in supporting the teacher or the student and would not be wrong.
Those of us in medical practice often come across such situations, either in making a diagnostic or therapeutic decision. One physician can recommend a course of treatment based on scientific evidence and another can recommend a diametrically opposite course again based on medical evidence. Right or wrong, but some merit would exist on both sides. Often the physician himself is having an internal struggle to make a decision about the most appropriate course of action, Protagoras & Euthalos are arguing in his mind, to do this or to do that. The horns of dilemma are tearing him apart.
But what prompted this essay was a tweet by Donald Trump, ‘hope the cure is not worse than the disease’. I hate to say, but I find some merit in this tweet. This might be the only bright tweet ever by Mr. T.

In our global attempt to flatten the COVID curve, I hope we do not flatten the global economy curve. The question is what’s the best way forward. One group recommends ‘total lockdown’ to break the transmission chain, based on evidence from China, they managed to control the spread of the virus by ruthless lock down and 3 months later they are showing that disease is controlled in Wuhan. On the other hand, the other school of thought is graded isolation & protection of elderly and very young and those with co-morbidities, let it spread amongst the young and healthy, after all the disease ultimately will be controlled when we achieve ‘herd immunity’. The medical community is divided in these two groups. To enforce complete lockdown or Graded isolation?
To complicate the issue the epidemiologists have joined the bandwagon with cacophony of statistical analysis. From Rosy to Dooms day predictions. If we don’t do a complete lockdown then a million people will die in 1 year. No say some more like 90 million will die in 1 year. Whose data analysis is correct. Some suggest do nothing, nature will take over in a few months and all will be well, they quote historical data to justify their recommendations. On whose inputs should we base our disaster management strategy.
Then come the economists with their doomsday predictions. If this continues till May our medical resources will be overwhelmed, Agriculture will suffer, food shortages will occur, production will come to a standstill. There will be an economic crisis of the proportions that world has not seen ever. So, break this lockdown nonsense and let’s get back to work as usual.
What will our political masters do. My guess is they will listen to medical experts, epidemiologists & economists. Then they will decide what course of action will ensure their survival, what will get them people’s votes and they will run with that. At present ‘Lockdown” finds favour with them. Boris in UK had to abandon the recommendations of the medical community about graded response, because the people’s perception became that our Government is not doing enough to protect us citizens. That means revolt against him. So, screw it, lets go with total lockdown if that’s what the people want. Gradually people will get tired of lockdown and demand- let life go on. Then with equally convincing arguments the governments will say the time has now come to lift the blockade, we have controlled the contagion, we have won. Unfortunately, the costs in either case will be huge, both lives and money!
Incidentally the Protagoras Paradox has not be resolved till date. Students in Law school still hold mock trial and give arguments on both sides. With out any resolution of the dispute.

I’m thankful to a lot of WhatsApp friends for the theme of this blog.

Keep Safe !! Keep Blogging !!