Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Refer a Friend.......or Not

I always tease my husband that we should open a employment recruitment agency. On a weekly average, we see about 3 resumes coming our way, or receive as many calls from friends, parents of friends, or people we don't know at all, asking if we can help them find a job. While my husband generally entertains these requests and will work to at least get the person scheduled for an interview somewhere, I'm not so keen on the whole idea. I mean, I look at it as though it's my reputation on the line. As a people manager for the past 6+ years, I consider whether I'd want that person on my team. If the answer is no, then I won't refer them.
What's becoming increasingly common, however, is the number of people that approach me to find them a job in the US. Or help them figure out how to get a US visa. Here's a few things you should know: I was born in the US. I've never had to get a visa in order to stay/work in the US. What the heck would I know about it? Additionally, I'm not going to find you a US visa sponsor. I'm not going to hook you up with a friend or family member of mine and put the burden of them of being financially responsible for a foreigner whom I barely know. You can find people that will do that, but should note: it's sorta illegal. Secondly, as I live and work in India, I can't say I'm privy to the job scene in the US. I've worked for the same company since 2006 and I've not spent my time over the past 7 years searching for a job elsewhere. If you want to find a job, you have access to all the same employment sites I do. Last time I checked, I didn't have www.monster.com tattooed across my forehead.
Yesterday, I was approached twice by people asking for jobs in the US. One of them was asking on behalf of a friend, who didn't even care whether they landed in the US or another country, as long as they had the option to leave India. Let me tell you something: it's EVERY Indians dream to leave India. No one wants to stay here. Perhaps if you ask the older generations, they'll say they're too old to start their lives over, learn English, etc, but every member of our generation wants out. So, this girl asks me whether I know of any jobs for her friend. I said "How would I know? I live and work in India." She says "Well don't you have any friends there that can give a referral?" Right. I don't know you. I don't know your friend. You're asking me to have my friend, who doesn't know you or your friend, give a job referral?!?! Am I missing something here? Maybe I put too much weight on the whole job referral scenario but unless I know something about the applicants personality, work ethic, integrity level, I'm not referring them. End of story. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Christmas Cake

Photo Courtesy of www.anncoojournal.com
I've found myself caught in some rather awkward conversations regarding the Christmas holiday since I moved to India. It's happened on maybe 5-6 occasions and I never get fair warning before getting pulled into such discussions. These discussions don't occur at the end of December in all cases. I was just pulled into one last week.
One thing you should know: I'm a hijabi. That means a hijab wearing Muslim. I wear a headscarf when I step out of the house. Therefore, it's no secret when people meet me, or even before they meet me, what my religious affiliation is. In the states, wearing hijab leads people to ask you questions like "Where are you from?" and "How do you like being in the US?" In India, and in Hyderabad with an estimated 27% Muslim population, people look right past the hijab. Instead, they see my white skin and blue eyes and proceed to launch into some or the other Christmas story.
I've been invited to Christmas Mass, being told "I must miss going to mass (note: I've never been Catholic). I was also invited to a church dance. The first year I was here, my husband even asked me if I wanted a new dress for Christmas. The strangest to date, was last year. After we returned to the office after having a Christmas Day work holiday, one of my co-workers, who is engaged to a Muslim and had Iftar (the meal Muslims have at sundown after breaking fast) with me every single day last Ramadan, asked me if I went to church for Christmas. Ummmm, no? I played it cool and explained December 25th is my brother in laws birthday so I went out to lunch with him. I was totally confused. Someone who knew I was Muslim was asking if I had gone to church in honor of a holiday Muslims don't celebrate.
Last week, a Hindu cab mate, who sees me every day in hijab and who I had a full conversation with last week discussing the differences of fasting for Muslims and Hindus, found it appropriate to tell me about an office Christmas party complete with a small tree, Christmas cake (it's the same gag-gift fruit cake), and how she wished they could have had Christmas wine (whatever that is) but because it was an office party, it wasn't allowed. I was just sitting there, staring at her. It's the middle of June. No one mentioned anything about Christmas. Christmas isn't a Muslim holiday and she knows I'm a Muslim. Why was she telling me this?
Then I got to thinking. Do Indians think Christmas is a US holiday? I mean, less than 1% of the population here is Christian. The only real exposure to the holiday that people have, is the movies. Most Indians probably don't even know any Christians and the only exposure they have to the holiday is what they see on TV. Think about it. Who are the stars of Christmas movies? White Americans. Seems logical I guess.
Is there any other explanation?  I have to admit, I get a little miffed and am tempted to tell the next person that brings it up "I'm a Muslim. It's not my holiday." Is it my place to educate them? What's your advice? Post it in the comments below and Happy Holiday's Everyone!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

There's No Such Thing As Free Size!

Before I moved to India, I shopped like a fool. I was really worried I wasn't going to find much in the way of western wear that would fit. Even by US standards, I'm not a half-pint. I generally prefer an XL size and was certain that an XL in India was NOT the same as an XL in the states. I was right. When it comes to Indian clothing dubbed as "traditional wear" I don't struggle too much. I can find kurtis, leggings and patialas that suit me just fine, although some run a little short as I'm taller then you're average Desi. Overall though it's not an issue. Generally when shopping, I immediately seek out the largest size available and see if that will work. As is the case everywhere, size by brand varies, but I've found some brands that fit really well and try to stick to those.
What is an issue, however, is this concept of "free size." The only thing that should be dubbed as "free size" are handbags and scarves. Nothing else should be in that category. Yet in India, when I ask the sales girl, "What's the largest size you have?" I often get a response like "Okay madam, no problem. It's free size." It's a dress, there's no chance it can be free size! I've been given this response when shopping for everything from anarkalis (see Say Yes To The Dress) to t-shirts. That's the same as saying what fits my 5'8 XL frame is going to fit my sister in laws 5'2 S frame. It's not gonna happen!
One size does not fit all!
Today I was browsing an Indian retailers website, searching for some long sleeved t-shirts. They had an awesome collection and offered what I was looking for in every color of the rainbow. The problem: the t-shirts were "free size." Take a look at the photo to the left and tell me if the mannequin and I wear the same size? The same website has full sleeve shrugs, which is another item I've been searching for. Again, in free size. I'd be like the hulk trying to get out of this thing!
I can assure you, one size does NOT fit all. I really can't understand why clothing manufacturers would even have such a thing. Especially clothing manufacturers that specialize in women's clothing when half the allure of the outfit, is in how it fits! Granted tailors are abundant here and you can always have something taken in or hemmed, but you can never make it bigger and I can assure you, you itty bitty sales girl, there is no such thing as free size and it is a problem!