Wednesday, 4 June 2014

No Woman Should Face This in Life

I recently heard about this blog that publishes stories of women who’ve faced tough phases in life only because they were women. That’s when I also decided to share my story with the world.

I’m Shivapriya, a victim of the tortures of the corporate world. Since I was a graduate, I didn’t want to waste my life in the four corners of the house. I searched and found a job as a Customer Care Executive with Airtel. I was happy to be a part of a nice team that was led by a lady boss. After a few months into the job, I got married and was happy with both my personal and professional life.

This is when things started changing. My boss decided to increase the targets to a level where it was difficult for me to achieve. When I was carrying, my doctor advised me bed rest for a few days. When I went and requested for two weeks’ leave, my TL first agreed to it. Later, she spoke with the higher management and decided that I would have to work from home. Since mine was a voice-based process, work-from-home was not possible.

Though I had other employees who were supportive, my TL made it difficult for me to survive in the company. My health got deteriorated. Owing to ill health, I had to take a day’s off from work. When I came back, what I heard was that my TL had complained against me stating that a client had complained against me, which I later came to know was a cooked-up lie. All these pressures led to my miscarriage.

This was beyond what I could bear. I decided to quit my job, the corporate world was not for me. I’m a mother now, but I still dread the corporate culture and the mention of office still makes me shudder!        

Saturday, 17 May 2014


By Karthika

I was inspired to share this story after reading an earlier post on this blog about female bosses... In my experience, contrary to what we expect, when it comes to women's problems, it is the female bosses who often have difficulty in believing us. One would think they would be able to identify with us and help us.

In 2010, for a few months I worked in a firm owned by a couple, both of whom were architects. There were four of us working under them; of which three were girls. All three had difficulty during our time of the month, it was especially worst on the first day. Most of the times, we had to take leave and rest at home on that day. However, we all were very supportive of each other; if one was on leave, she would update the others so that work will not be affected.

One day, the lady boss, who is a mother of two, called all three of us to her cabin and accused us of pretending to have cramps just to take leave. We could not believe it - that she would think we were lying to escape work. The incident left us very irritated and angry.

We assume that a woman can understand and support another, especially in matters that only a woman would know. When this lady began to doubt us in something like this, it was difficult to respect her. I quit that firm after seven or eight months of working there.

After that incident, I made up my mind that I will not work for a woman boss again - for one thing, most men do not go into the details, and for another, if he doesn't understand or doesn't support, or even if he accuses us of lying, we would not feel so betrayed.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Doing what you like

(Reblogging with permission from this blog)

"This job requires working late, as our clients are Europeans and their day starts after our lunch", the interviewer said.

"That would be a problem", said I. "I need to get home by half past seven. I have a small son, you see."

"Oh! Half past seven? Hmm-mm."

"How late do you think it will get ?"

"Around eleven-ish? It happens only once a week, maybe twice a week."

"Eleven is too late, I don't think I can take up this job."

"Why don't you go for teaching," the lady said kindly, as I got up to leave. "Get an M.Tech and join a university. It's a cool job. You get vacations, classes would be an hour or two a day and you can reach home early. Perfect job for a woman!"

I was silent. She went on about the benefits of being a lecturer.

"But I don't want to do that", I thought. "why can't I do what I want and still be able to manage my personal life?"

Saturday, 26 April 2014

One Midnight At Work

At 6 pm, R knew she would be late. The build was not released. Fixing the pending 'major' issues was bound to take an hour or two at the least. Creating the build would take almost an hour after that. 

She called up her home and informed her mother that she would be home by nine. "The baby is fine," said R's mother. "We went out for a walk. He is playing with his toys. He does look around expectantly every time the door opens, though."

At nine, there were still a few major issues. Ten of her team members were huddled over their computers, discussing, trying, struggling. "Perhaps I should go," she said to herself. "I am hanging around just because everyone else is. Who knows how long this will go on? I am not needed, strictly. Someone else can take my place. But how can I leave?"

She looked around at her manager. He knew she had a small son, of course. "I wish he would tell me to go home. How can I go to him and beg when everyone else is here?" The rest of the team consisted of single men and women. 

"I should be at home at least by ten, to put my son to sleep. But how can I abandon my team in an emergency? What do I do? What do I do?"

She prayed that the issue would be fixed soon. If the building of the release began, she could go. Please, please, God.

Twelve o'clock. She sat watching the team at work, chatting among themselves. None of them planned to go home that night. They could all be leisurely and calm. A "night-out" was nothing new to them. They would go as soon as the release was done, and sleep throughout the day. The team member who was onsite was coordinating the activities. It was 2am where he was.

She had called up her mother. "The baby fell asleep at ten," the mother said. "But he keeps tossing and turning in sleep. I am with him. It's okay, you work." 

She felt pangs of guilt. Her baby felt her absence. 

Her mother usually slept at ten too. R was inconveniencing both her mother and her child. At ten minutes past twelve, she rose from her seat and approached her manager. "I need to go home," she said hesitantly. He looked up in surprise. 

It was true that the release was critical, she thought. It was true that everyone was spending sleepless nights over this. It was true that my presence could help. But it was also true that my son, who didn't yet know how to ask "Where is my Mother?" was spending a disturbed night because his mother was not near. 

The manager's look well conveyed his dismay. The Team Lead wanted to leave when the release was not even ready? How irresponsible was that?

She didn't wait for his reply. She pretended not to have noticed that look, concealed her guilt and asked the team to call her if there was anything urgent. 

As she went home that night, she wondered whether that feeling of guilt was justified, whether her duty was towards her son or her career. Whether it was really possible to balance personal life and work. Whether it was possible to take care of her son as well as give due attention to her career. Not for mothers, she concluded, her eyes becoming moist. 

Two years later, she bid farewell to her software development job forever.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A lady boss who made my life hell..!

By Anonymous

Just out of college, I had no clue about the corporate world or the corporate culture. To my eyes, everyone were as they seem on the surface. Entering my first job, I had an eye for detail and a heart to excel in what I do. Luckily, I got a good team to work with too. Now you'll wonder what makes me a victim here. You've heard of men who abuse women and ill treat them, here I'm going to tell you about a woman who decided to make my life hell.

I joined a team led by a lady Sarah. Sarah was sweet to me and taught me everything, and saw me grow. It was those days that I met Prem and fell in love with him. Though we got very close soon, our interactions at work were professional. Somehow I could see that Sarah never liked me interacting with Prem. She used to show her displeasure by calling me to her desk as I spoke to him and by shouting at me in front of the whole team for the faults she imposed on me. Though Sarah tried her best to convince me that he's not the right one, Prem and I got married. Luckily, we were allowed to work in the same organisation.

Sarah started playing her cards subtly. She started deleting my updated work reports and other documents to show that I wasn't working efficiently. It was then that I came to know that she still had a dirty affinity towards my husband, which she wasn't ready to admit.

I was lucky that everyone at work except her supported me and I was shifted to a different team where I could work at peace. This is my story. Even a woman can turn against women for selfish reasons!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Speak out instead of Holding it In

By Anamika, aka @NameFieldmt 

After months of recurring UTIs, my mother was diagnosed with 4 kidney stones in December last year, and last month, she underwent a procedure to get rid of them. It was a traumatic experience. Of course, every amateur doctor who came to see her blamed her for bringing it on by not drinking enough water. And rightly so.

But then, while playing the blame game, I discovered that the blame ran deeper.

My mother worked in this office that functioned out of a quaint outhouse of a British era bungalow. It was a small office, with just her boss, an accountant, driver and peon. She was the only woman there. While the office itself was done up in pretty pink curtains and leather sofas, there was just one toilet that was shared by all, including the boss.

It was an uncomfortable situation, sharing the toilet with the boss and three men. To make things worse, the boss was one of those assholey (not a word she used) types and every time he heard her walk past his room to use the toilet, he used to call her on the intercom and then accuse her of ‘never being at her seat when he wanted her'. Of course, the male employees managed to be bladder-free superworkers in the boss' eyes since they used the small woods outside to do their thing.  And so, to make things easier, my mother just stopped drinking water at work.

I work in one of those IT parks where toilets are called restrooms, all pretty and tiled, and have uniformed women scrubbing them every ten minutes. It took me a while to even understand how my mother's office and the toilet situation there worked, let alone relate to it.  And that is when I realized that easy access to toilets is a luxury that most working women do not enjoy.

That girl who mans the photocopier in the Xerox Shop under a staircase. That salesgirl in the tiny shop tucked in that alley where you buy your pretty blouse pieces. That receptionist girl at the real estate broker-cum-investment advisor's tiny office.  The woman who hands out tokens at the doctor's clinic, the one that is sandwiched between a pharmacy and a hardware store.  The girl in the mobile phone repair shop at your street corner.

Where do they all go to relieve their bladders? How do they manage that time of the month? What do they do when their lunch disagrees with them?

There's a girl who works in a lawyer's office near my place. She knocks the doors on friendly houses in the neighbourhood when she needs to use the toilet. Her boss, the male lawyer, uses the convenient gap between two compound walls. My cousin’s office is in a municipality owned complex. It has no toilets, but is close enough to a public toilet, again run by the municipality. But she says she'd rather suffer kidney damage by not drinking water than pick up any infection from the filthy public toilet. She has a handkerchief steeped in perfume that she holds over her nose in case of emergencies.

My friend S wished the earth would swallow her up when her boss once delicately asked her to ‘be careful when using the toilet’. She was the only woman in the office and it turned out that some idiot had spat paan in the toilet and the boss assumed that it was something else.

And I’m not even going to start about those lewd remarks that some men make each time they see the woman get up to use the toilet, a toilet that she sometimes has to walk to across the street to use. A toilet that may or may not be clean, may or may not be safe.

We hear the ‘Toilets before Temples’ chant these days. Awareness messages telling Pappu not to do potty outdoors. Yes, the villages and rural areas certainly need toilets and this kind of awareness campaign. It is a priority.

But what about those women in that in between zone? Those working women, not rich-not poor, not so rural-not so urban women.  Those women working long hours in non organized sectors, those women whose workplaces aren’t in large commercial complexes, those women rushing back home after a long day of holding it in because of no toilets, dirty toilets, assholey bosses, creepy men or all of the above.

Of course, one cannot expect every 10X10 office or tiny little shop to have separate toilets for women. At the most you can wish for understanding bosses and less creepy colleagues.

But is it too much to expect the government, a government that runs a liquor shop every 500 meters, to also make sure that there are clean, safe, accessible toilets for women?

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Employee-Unfriendly Side of Flipkart

Probably this article would gain me more enemies than friends, as I’m going to talk against one of your favourite brands, Flipkart. Yes, they are one of the leading e-commerce companies in India. The customers that they’ve gained over the years know Flipkart as one of the trusted ways to buy products online, for their prompt delivery and efficient service.

There is something more you need to know about the brand Flipkart. Though they are customer friendly, they aren’t employee friendly. By saying that they don’t favour the employees, I mean to say that they don’t hire young mothers as employees.

I was one of the victims who went through this trauma a couple of years back. Before I was called for the interview, I had disclosed that I was a mother of a 4 year old. They were fine with it and called me for the interview. One whole day was spent there in written rounds. After clearing all, I also cleared the interview with the senior editor. After that the Catalogue Manager (not disclosing his name here) took the interview. He had a mobile in his hand and was behaving as if he was about to break his latest Temple Run record. I was prompted to tell him “Excuse me sir, I suppose this is a round of interview and I expect you to keep that device aside and focus on the interview.”, but kept quite as I didn’t want to screw up the interview reaching the last stage.

The questions shot at me by Guru (the Catalogue Manager) didn't have a professional touch. All I was asked was if I could stay back after working hours if there is a need, if I could stretch till late nights even if there is no cab to drop me, and all such questions, to which I responded in a positive way that my husband will pick me up from office however late it is. I almost felt I was being interviewed for a call centre or a BPO. 

After waiting for nearly an hour, I was informed by the HR exec that I didn’t clear his round. What?! What did he ask me to know my knowledge regarding the work I’ll be assigned?! I asked the exec for an explanation. When she was sure that I won’t leave her till she gives me a reason, she said “Maybe the management thought you wouldn’t be able to handle work and your child together. Please don’t get disheartened. You can still apply after 6 months of a freezing period.” I was totally broken. I thanked her and left the premises.

Here I’m attaching a response of a reader to a Forbes article that spoke against the ethics of Flipkart. To my surprise, her reply wasn’t taken into consideration by the Flipkart authorities. Once a brand grows and reaches a certain level, anything is possible. No bloody person is gonna question you even if you do such shit to the public.

I was stopped by my family against filing a complaint against this. They all feared that I would get into a controversy and ruin my career and my life. For a moment, I thought all these dirty things happened without the knowledge of the higher-ups. I wrote a personal message to one of the Bansal brothers on Facebook. As expected, there was no response.

This post has only one intention behind it – to make others aware of what’s happening in Flipkart and on what grounds the employees are being recruited. Till that day, even I was a fan of the brand, but now I am sure it is one of the words I hate to pronounce. We women deserve much respect. No one can just underestimate a woman only because she is a mother to a young child. If the company is not to recruit young mothers, let them make it clear while calling the candidates for an interview. We better choose to live unemployed than being employed at such an organisation. Thanks.