Chennai Journal
Monday, June 18, 2007
Shimla--third time the charm

I went to Shimla again over the weekend, since I was in Chandigarh on business on Friday. This time the weather cooperated. The shot above is the same one I took in September---but now you can see the mountains.

There is a temple above the town, past the landmark Christ Church which was built by the British when they first started using Shimla as a hill station in the early 1800s. Winding through residential areas all the way up, the last bit is quite steep, and left even the school boys out of breath when they reached the top. They rent walking sticks for 5 rupees, which are as much to beat off the monkeys as to aid in the climb.

I made the climb in 45 minutes, which classifies me according to the table above as "absolutely fit."

One thing I noticed here especially, even more than Chennai, is the way people are used as beasts of burden. Almost everywhere (and you see this in Darjeeling as well), men are laboring up the hills with huge loads---the guy at left is transporting lumber, and the one below is stopping to take a rest after coming down the hill to the shops below the church.

And, like everywhere, construction consists of several people (and a foreman who only watches) laboriously moving rocks and dirt on bowls carried on their heads.

Sunday, June 10, 2007
Letter to a Young Job Hopper
I've written before about the recruiting market here, and how young people tend to hop jobs for things as mundane as the canteen food. This week I got a CV from one of them for a position in HR. Usually, I don't even read these, but forward them to the recruiting team, unopened. However, for some reason this one caught my eye and I read the young man's write-up as well his letter to me ---"Dear sir" ---"give me a chance and I will never let you down."

Here is the letter I wrote in response:

Dear Senthil,

After reviewing your CV and your note, I cannot consider you for employment in our organization.

First, you address me as "Sir." Detail is important when you are applying for a job. You should have checked my gender and proofread your note before sending it.

Second, your email to me--which is clearly a form note-- is sent in the middle of the afternoon, when I imagine you should be working rather than looking for another job. We are looking for people who will put their full attention on their job responsibilities.

Finally, and most important, you have jumped companies three times in almost as many years. Past record is the usually the best indication of future behaviour, so I must assume that this trend will continue and you will quickly become dissatisfied here as well.

Your present organization is a very reputable one, and the head of HR there, who is known to me, is an accomplished professional from whom I am certain you could learn a great deal. My advice to you is (1) stay with your present organization long enough to make a real contribution and (2) if you must job hunt, do it on your own time, not your company's.

You know the story about the boy who walked along the shore, where thousands of starfish had washed on the beach and were dying. He started rescuing a few of them by picking them up and throwing them back in the sea. He was observed by an older man, who counseled him to stop, saying "there are thousands of them, how will you ever make a difference?" And the boy, holding one starfish in his hand, replied, "but I will to this one."

While I doubt that this starfish will stop his search, he did write me back apologizing for calling me Sir and saying that "all the suggestions are really precious."
Sunday, June 03, 2007
A Restful Weekend

This weekend I spent a night at Fisherman's Cove, which is a resort hotel on the East Coast Road, not far from Mamallapuram. I've been there for dinner a few times, but had not stayed overnight since Marty and Sara and I spent the weekend there in July 2005.

Marty has been nudzhing (sp) me for a while now to get back into yoga and meditation, both of which I enjoyed and did a lot of in the States. Ironically, since being in India, I've done very little of either, other than taking the Art of Living course. This weekend I had a chance to change that and
had some sessions in yoga practice as well as an Ayurvedic consultation.

Last night after dark I did trataka, concentrated gazing, using a candle. In this meditation, you stare a candle until your eyes water, and then close your eyes and try to hold the "after image" steady for as long as you can. The practice is to develop powers of concentration and focus. This morning I did two others, Surya Namaskar and Hirdayakasha Dharana. One of the foundational poses, or asanas, in yoga is the Surya Namaskar, literally "Salutation to the Sun." There was a whole class just on this pose, which took over an hour. The instructor, Anand, was from the Bihar School of Yoga, (publishers of Yoga Magazine) and was both patient and very knowledgeable--- it almost felt like he was an instrument of the teaching, rather than the teacher---a place that few Western teachers of yoga reach. The Hirdayakasha Dharana, which literally means "concentration on the heart space" was a guided meditation to open the heart chakra. I found it very powerful.

When I went to the spa yesterday afternoon to make appointments, I was carrying a book that one of my staff had given me on Friday---the team had a celebration for my 20th anniversary with Ford---Ken Blanchard's Leading at a Higher Level. The Ayurvedic doctor spotted the book and asked if he could look at it. The spa wasn't too busy, so over the course of the next day he read about half the book while I did yoga sessions with Anand. Finally, I also did an Ayurvedic consultation with him as well. He didn't try to sell me a lot of medicines but gave me some oil to rub on my legs and feet to help with the neuroma (enlarged nerve) I have in my left foot.

Both of them were really lovely and spiritual people, and made the stay not only relaxing but uplifting as well. How much time I make to get back into regular practice is another matter...

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