"Did the right thing. The last thing we want them to know is that we're desperate. If you let a shark smell blood, then you're doomed", I replied.
She was talking about a client who had approached us last week. They wanted comprehensive GIS software made which would be used in the mining Industry, to locate the prospective ores etc. Mom told me that even though we could do it, it was a pretty complicated project. After calculating the approximate price of the contract, we sent them a financial and technical proposal, clearly stating that we would require some amount of advance to get the project started. Although they liked the technical part, they felt that the quoted price was too high. We re-evaluated and cut down the price by 40 %, and sent it back to them. After taking their sweet time to 'consider' the proposal, they replied after 2 weeks stating that they wouldn't be able to give us any advance.
Tension was already running high with the already low funds, expenses were being incurred, outstanding salaries continued to pile up, and the receivable payments were nowhere in sight. And yet, we could not show that we were desperate for money. Because this very mistake had cost us a lot of money (that could have been saved) in the past. Vulnerability. Desperation. Need. Want. These emotions (if expressed) can only cause you damage in the corporate world. Infact, any emotion can cause you damage in the corporate world. Because boss, there is no room for emotions in business. Only money.
Mom stopped pacing and sat down on the bed. When was the last time I had seen her smiling? Maybe last month. This month has been a ride through hell for her. I hugged her and she hugged me back. We sat like that for a while before she said, "How's school?”
I let go of her and said, "That's not important. What's important is that you need to be fed, bathed and tucked into bed. School can be discussed later"
She gave me a 'I'm-your-mom-you're-not-my-mom' look. But I had seen it too many times to react. Infact, it only strengthened my 'Shut-up-and-listen-to-your-daughter' attitude at times. I dragged her to the dining table and made her sit down. The least I can do is make sure she eats well. Trying to be cool, I wore the big chef's hat and tied the apron around my waist.
"Presenting...The craptastic chef - Nainaaaaaaa Sharma Aggrawal!", I exclaimed in an exaggerated voice. To make things even more filmy, I turned on the radio and tuned into the channel that usually played old songs at this time. I turned up the volume and an old hindi song burst through the speakers.
Hey Jai Jai Shiv Shankar Kaanta Lage Na Kankar
Ke Pyala Tere Naam Ka Piya
Ho O O Gir Jaoongi Main Mar Jaoongi
Jo Tune Mujhe Thaam Na Liya
O Sau Rabadi
I started dancing around the kitchen like a maniac. While the food was being warmed up in the microwave, I was trying out various silly antics infront of mom to lighten her mood. As the song came to an end, her face was adorned with a smile. And I knew that everything was going to be okay.
"So where do we start from?” I asked. We, Nandita, Vivek, Ayush and me, were at Nandita's place. We had decided to meet outside school to get the project started because all of us knew that school was the last place to get anything 'done'.
"Hmm I did a little research and came up with this. Wikipedia was, obviously, a great help. But there is information from other sources aswell", Vivek said while handing the file to me. He continued, "As of now, we need to decide as to how many mathematicians we're going to include. I say we include only Indian mathematicians. It sort of gives the impression that we're trying to highlight India's greatness. What say?"
And then Ayush and I said something at the same time. I said, "I agree", and he said, "I disagree"
I looked at him in a 'what-the-hell' kind of way and said, "Why not ? He has a point. Besides, the world owes alot to India for it's contribution to mathematics. I think we should focus on India"
He sighed and said, "Yeah okay, India's great, but millions of presentations solely based on Indian scientists, mathematicians, astrologers etc etc have already been made in the past. I think we should increase our scope by including mathematicians from all over the world. I mean, when was the last time someone included an african mathematician?"
Nandita chipped in and said, "He's right. It's the age of globalization anyway", and before she could even complete her sentence, she realized what she had just said had no connection to the discussion, whatsoever.
"Yeah, right. What has globalization got to do with any of this ?", replied Vivek. I looked at him and said, "Yup. I don't see the connection"
Ayush spoke up, again, "As a matter of fact, I do. Everything in today's world, right from the food we eat to the airplanes we travel in, have some or the other international shade. The number of multi-cuisine restaurants in Delhi is equivalent to the number of Punjabi dhabas. Our clothes are being mixed and matched every season to cover every country's apparel. Hindi Cinema is opening up to hollywood and vice versa. Multinational companies are trading with India. Our cars are german, clothers are french, gadgets are chinese etc"
"Yeah Ayush, we know what globalization is", I interrupted as Vivek and I chuckled.
He didn't seem to pay attention to the interruption as he continued, "So my point is - what's wrong in acknowledging International mathematicians ?"
"Well the point is that amidst the blitz to cope up with 'globalization', I think we've forgotten India's indivisual development along the way. I think blending our culture with other cultures is a wonderful thing, but what's going wrong is that in the process, we've started demeaning our own culture. Given our background as slaves, it is in our genes to always uphold the western culture higher than our own. Right from cricket to english, both our given more importance than hockey and hindi", I said, now completely in my 'nerd' persona.
And in no time, the project was completely forgotten. Ayush and I were now absorbed in a heated argument about 'US sucks or not', with me taking the 'It sucks' stand, and him taking the 'It doesn't' stand. How we went from Globalization to this topic is unknown, but it seemed to happen spontaneously without either of us realizing it. Nandita and Vivek were reduced to being the audience witness to this verbal war. In the middle, they kept saying "I agree", and that's about it. Vivek was with me and Nandita was with Ayush. It seemed like one of those episodes of "Seedhi Baat" that aired on Aaj Tak.
Our debate was brought to a halt when Nandita's mom knocked on the door and said, "You guys need to keep it low. I can't even hear what my friend is saying over the phone"
Vivek and Nandita burst into laughter and Ayush and I stared at eachother sheepishly. Finally, we both seemed to agree on one thing - If Vivek and Nandita didn't stop laughing now, we would pounce on them and sew their lips permanently.