I thought I was smart. I can figure out a lot of stuff, stuff a lot of others can’t fathom at all.

I started realizing a flaw in the above logic a few years back. To be precise, almost around 15 years back when I did a tiny course on “Finance for the non-financial”, even got a book by the name. The course was great, and I learnt so much, probably more than I have ever learnt from a 3-day course.

And then I suffered from short term memory loss. Now where finance is concerned, my brain is like a sieve, the numbers and logic just filter out and what is left is a fuzzy soupy liquid with some keywords floating around which I vaguely understand and cannot possibly relate to.  I was good at math, once upon a time. I understood compound interest and derivatives and statistics. Probability, well, ahem, I always had probable answers, which turned out probably wrong slightly more than 50% of the time, as statistics proved. But I always knew how to solve the problem as soon as I knew the solution, isn’t that uncanny? I mean that is sheer reverse engineering.

Problem with being part of the corporate world is that a ton is about numbers (it is about weight too, if you know what I mean). You need to be able to read (and interpret) financial statements, profit and loss, cash flow and other such blah when you are talking to your boss, who keeps rattling numbers and jargons. Or when sitting through meetings with the CxOs of the organization with incomprehensible terms like COGS and CAGR and ARPU and ACV floating around, you must fight hard to make head and tail of what people are trying to communicate and plug in the torso too. Being the person who still needs to count how many zeroes in a million (is it five or six?). (on her fingers, stupid), and still calculate like 20, 200, 2000, 20000 and so on till I reach the required number of zeroes needed and I am reasonably confident about the excel sheet, you can imagine how accountable I feel, pun intended.

Then there is taxation which is heavily taxing, despite rebates. Why the hell do they have to have so many sections under which you can possibly save, and then sub heads. To me 80 CCD only makes me wonder about how many Café Coffee Days outlets are there at Pune. Every year, when it comes to computing taxes, and figuring out saving, advance tax, net income, and translating questions that my spouse and CA have for the finance teams, understanding the responses, gets on my nerves. I mean, why can’t they just talk to each other and be done with it. And why don’t they use English for that matter? So we end up fighting every year, without fail, whenever this topic comes up, because I don’t get the net, and my husband doesn’t get it and is grossly upset. And every year I resolve that next year, I will do this on my own, it is not rocket science (that may be easier?). I will definitely, positively, next year.

God forbid if someone starts talking stocks and assets and liquid and solid funds and expects me to make an intelligent response, they have another thing coming.  They are like far far beyond imagination, like an afterlife, I have heard about it, maybe they do exist, I am sure, and people who understand it, I am sure, have supernatural powers. I have never, till date, figured out the market. When one sells, another buys, and both of them think they are helluava smart! Really.

My mind has learnt to quietly shut down and think out of the garbage whenever a discussion around such topics come up, while all the gibberish is debated and discussed around me. I am the kind of person who If asked to balance the cash, would bring in the scales and start measuring. But I pay a lot of interest, to my work and the movies I watch and whether my maids are cleaning the house properly. These days there is always a hot debate in every forum on GST with people chiming in favor and against the same. I realize then, what good a listener I am. I mean, I can nod at all the right places, and intelligently.

Sometimes my employees start talking ESOPs and ESPP, my heart starts beating faster, question 1 simple, cleared, question 2, medium complexity, managed it, now what the hell does he mean by that question no 4? Then I rattle off something about a critical urgent meeting that I forgot and promise to come back on his questions, on mail of course, so I have the time to google it, before responding.

To further add to my woes, my son talks finance, and in my office, I am surrounded on all sides by teams who are nicknamed as AP and AR (If you have read so far, you sure know what these mean). Recently I have been asked to perform a marathon task called financial planning, I am going to look it up in the dictionary. I need a tax-man to save me now. Or maybe an insect like an account-ant.




A license to drive

31-Oct-2017- It is almost 10 pm and my flight to Pune is delayed. Amidst the tantrums thrown by passengers, the tearful attendant, the abusive fellow and a lot of noise, my musings and imagination starts working overtime and the best way to spend my evening- beyond wa and fb is to write. The flight was delayed at 21.10 from 21.10 to 22.10 (a mouthful) and finally took off at 22.50. So, a story I had been meaning to write for some time was born.

Part 1: The beginning

13-Jun-2017 – My driving license expired. I was blissfully unaware.

20-Jun-2017 – I don’t know what made me look at the booklet. It was made in the era when the license used to be a book. In the 20 years I had it, some of its pages were torn off and my photo didn’t look like me, primarily because I had aged and the photo was still in twenties. But it still served its purpose when the guy in white wanted to check, they would look at it disdainfully like it came from another planet and give it back reluctantly. And then phew, it was no more even a saving grace, it died.

I was about to travel to Bikaner and it was earlier renewed in Bikaner, cool, I could get it done in a week. Problem solved.

22-Jun-2017 – Oh no, it was renewed in Barmer. Now where the hell is Barmer on the map? I don’t recall ever having travelled to the godforsaken place. Doesn’t matter, it is still in Rajasthan, I should be able to renew it in Bikaner, it is the digital age, I thought with all the confidence of a person with little experience of sarkaari daftar.

25-Jun-2017 – Back from Bikaner. Laws are laws (and in-laws are by-laws- no relevance, but J). And the law says that once a license is made in Barmer, it can only be renewed in Barmer. And if you want anything different, you require a complicated document called a No-Objection-Certificate. Really? Who and Why should anyone have an objection? I can drive.

I wondered how I ever got it renewed there? Think, think. Am I a time traveler? Of course, my dear mil was posted there hence I got it done in absentia (shhh, proxy used to work in those days)

Now how do I get a NOC now? I am sure mil knows someone who knows someone. Found the “someone”, and went a call, sms, wa, reminders and more.

30-Jun-2017- I am getting fed-up, why am I not getting a simple thing called NOC?  Someone please remind him again.

5-July-2017- I got it, looks like an NOC. Read it with the reverence it deserved. And reread. What was this again? They got my date of birth wrong? (How can someone sitting in an unknown RTO in an unknown city get her highness’s DOB incorrect?) How did they dream up this date? But then I can’t use this. When I go with my id proof which mentions a different date, someone is going to throw this NOC out of the window. I need to start the process all over again.

6-july-2017 – Now I had to find someone really jugaadu, who could undo this atrocity. So found a twisted friend who just happened to be posted at the B city. Told him the whole story. He just said, ho jayega with the nonchalant confidence of a Government officer.

15-jul-2017 – wa- anything happened on DOB. Friend: hold on, I am busy.

18-jul-2017 – wa- a gentle reminder. Friend : kal pucca.

20-jul-2017-  Friend: The RTO guy is adamant. He says his file has this DOB so it must be correct, his file is nothing short of the Bible. hence all the id proofs must have goofed up somehow. That lone guy knows that the world is wrong about when this diva was born. So what next. I told him, I don’t care. Clean up the mess. Twist the tale from the tail. I guess he smiled. And said something like- I must sit with him till he solves it. Will he take money? Maybe, we will find a solution, thus spoke the guy with 6 pack brains.

1-Aug-2017- wa- Friend: yeah, got it done, sending it soon.

16-Aug-2017 – Finally I got the godforsaken paper once again and it was correct this time. Ah bask for a few minutes in the glory of having fought a govt system and having won!

Part 2: The Conclusion

Visited the nearest driving school. Can you get the license made quickly? Yes we can. It will cost. That is fine, my time is costlier. Deal done.

8-sep-2017 – I get a call from the driving school. You need to go down and get a backdate entry done since your license is an alien one. Why is that my responsibility? I am paying you. No mam, you have to do it yourself. Sigh, ok.

11-sep-2017 – drive down to RTO (without a license). Reach the specified window. Nobody there (at 11.30 am, I though office started at 10.00 am) but several folks queued up. Waited for a few minutes twiddling my thumbs and toes. Finally, someone took pity and told me to go to another window, where a harassed looking woman was noisily sipping her cold saucer of tea and doing what looked like sorting papers. After a few minutes of watching this, I looked for the opportunity to tell her, excuse me and parroted the issue to her as she deigned to look up from her busy schedule. She disdainfully took the papers and stowed it away in one of the many piles. Come after a week. Why, should be a minute’s job. She looked at me exasperated look there is something called backlog. I will get to this in due course. Phew. Ok, can I get a receipt? She gave me a what-is-a-receipt-look and decided not to respond to the superfluous and silly query. I was mortally afraid she would lose the holy grail called NOC.

18- sep-2017 Went back and lo and behold, she had got it done. Promise was a promise. I got a 12 digit number. Wow, looked at it with even more reverence, a number after a week of effort (more than a month, but what the hell).  Went and gave it back to the driving school. Ok, that out of the way, we will submit everything and call you if needed.

29-sep-2017 It is needed. I got a call. Please show yourself for the biometrics. Third visit to the RTO and got my thumb printed and mug shot taken. When do I get the license now?

Soon, he promised. (No driving test, do note)

29 Sep-2017 Called up the driving school. Where is the license? Oh, you don’t have it yet, we will check and revert.

Two days later, I hear some music. It is processed, will come by speed post, Can’t I collect it? No madam, that is the process, the driving school receptionist was also exasperated by this time.

23 Oct-2017 Got a tried-to-deliver note at the door.

24-Oct 2017 – went to the Post office and got what is finally looking like a license to drive.  Just in about 3 months and a few days later. Man, aren’t we efficient.

PS: An intermediate visit to the RTO on a working Saturday revealed locked doors. Maybe it was a achcha din.


Fedup with Fedex

Deliver us from our sins, so said the delivery man. When life is moving along without a hitch, trust these guys to sprinkle an overdose of exasperation. There is something called business cards (the paper ones) still used, which my office finally decided to Fedex from the US of A. It is a different story why from US and why it took a couple of months to get around to it, maybe another day).

Now I was blissfully unaware of the catastrophe blooming ahead. One gloomy rainy afternoon, I get a call from a Noida number. Hello madam, your package has been received; is it for official or personal use? I really have no idea, I confessed. So, the guy rattled off a big number. Now numbers are numbers, that specific sequence did not, in my mind, create any spark of enlightenment. He carried on, unaware of my distress, you need to submit, your id proof and address proof and. Hold on, send me a mail, I pleaded and spelled out my email id to him slowly.

He didn’t, however, send an email. Couple of hours later, I get another call from the same number. Madam, your package, parroted the number, and before he could complete, I reminded him gently of my email id and please, can he send me details over email- and again gave him the spelling slowly just hoping he would get it right.

Of course, I get a call for the third time that day, and trust me, I managed to keep my patience and gave the same details all over again. I counted 100 backwards, did not lose my cool. End of day 1. Still no emails. Am I so obfuscated? Is it me or is it Fedex? I mean how difficult can it be to send an email.

Next morning, I got up with greens (as compared to the Monday blues) (yeah, bad joke, I know). And I got The Call. Since all paths to tranquility failed, I was so ready to be upset. Why can’t you get it into your heads that.. and the half-wit interrupted- madam, are we talking about the same package? That stumped me. Dutifully he repeated the numbers again. Yes, it is the SAME blasted package. Madam, see na, I am calling from a different department. What? Are you IRS?? I asked with trepidation. No madam, KYC department of Fedex. Really? So, I gave the details yesterday, use it and send me a bloody email. No madam, he was pretty calm, we don’t share information between departments, confidentiality you know!!! He said with a strong overbearing attitude. Seriously, given that you have my package, my phone number, my company details, what confidentiality is being violated by email id?? But then argument would have just resulted in a headache, so I gave him once again, my email id, to get some peace of mind.

First hurdle cleared. I got The Mail. I was ecstatic. I had managed to persuade Fedex to do what they didn’t by default. Wow, I was powerful.

Like expected, they asked for several documents, which I dutifully shared. I wondered, during moments of idle clarity, a deck of business cards, probably would have cost be 150 bucks to print and deliver in India, here I was spending my precious time giving 20 documents to retrieve that! And I am not even counting the cost of printing in Trumpraj and international shipment.

How would the stork know the delivery address? Musing, at least there would be a few storks that had to be bad at their job (babies delivered at wrong home kind). They asked for address proof and I provided the agreement with Regus Biz park, where my office currently is. They blatantly refused to accept it. Madam, we don’t accept “online” agreements, it has to be an agreement approved by the GoI. Digital India, where are thou? I don’t have it, my dear, I explained to the imbecile. I just have this. No madam. Can u give us Telephone bill, Internet bill, Light bill, some damn bill that proves you are a legitimate?  Yeah, company registration, Certificate of Incorporation and Pan Card did not prove that, I guess. No I can’t. Please get it into your head. Everything is in the name of Regus. The guy was staunchly stubborn. we cannot accept it. Notice that now they were sending mail after mail, all they did is just stopped listening. Bhai, please accept online agreement. That is the best I can do. Think about it. There are hundreds of offices that work in this co working space model.

A headache later, I sat down to talk, but they picked up the call fifteen minutes’ post ringing. Explained the whole story with growing impatience. The bell rang but did not ring a bell. Can I talk to your supervisor? Mam, he will tell you the same thing. !@#$, let me talk to him, maybe he isn’t as much a moron as you. After ten more minutes of persuasion, I got the esteemed supervisor on line. As expected, he echoed the same rote line written in his text book. Please understand, I tried negotiation skills now. I can give you in writing that my office is located here. He was puzzled, that clause is out of syllabus. I bribed him that I could write my address on the company letterhead and sign it. Okay. Let me see. I will come back to you. He didn’t know how to deal with this and neither did I!

Couple of hours later, another email, same statement, we don’t accept online agreement. By this time, I was ready to send the package back to US of A. Went home. Cup of tea and a Crocin later, I had a brainwave. I sent Fedex the Regus lease registration with the landlord. Lo and behold, they accepted it. Seriously, that document didn’t even have my company name on it. So much so for the process. All they needed was a registered deed, no matter between what parties.

And btw, the most interesting discovery of the episode. Out of curiosity, I opened the lease deed of Regus and saw the owner name “Hrithik Roshan”. Didn’t register. There can be multiple people by that name. Can’t be The Hrithik Roshan. Then I read further “son of Rakesh Roshan”. This can’t be a co-incidence. I scrolled down to the bottom of the page, and the well-known Greek God smiled back even in a photocopied passport size image.  Oh yeah, the building I work in is owned by The Bang Bang guy.

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PS: Even after this long blog, the package did not arrive till three days later and follow up twice because according to them “the business was closed” on a Monday which is not possible. And to think I had such high hopes ever since Castaway.