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It is appraisal time in my organization. People are putting up their best behavior, wearing clean clothes, ditching open-toed sandals – some are even deodorizing, with the hope of swaying the boss’ opinion with a strong whiff of Axe (hoping they don’t get the axe!). I thankfully could get myself appraised in half-tucked T-shirt and jeans and dirty sneakers. Even forgot to Axe – but hey, one can only smell one’s own breath on the telephone. πŸ˜‰ But this post is not about my appraisal (which went as well as I could have hoped) or about the misleading nature of deodrant commercials (can’t see any women tearing down the walls for me yet…)… this is about an appraisal that I did. (No, not you Fela…)

Ravita (name changed, as my neighbor would probably steal her) has been working at my place for more than a year now. She cooks and cleans. Alright,she makes sweeping motions with her arm to give the impression she is cleaning and she generally heats things up in the kitchen which are then presented as food. Ravita is very demanding – and expects us to be ready to open the door whatever time of day (or night) is suitable in her busy schedule. I am happy to say over the past year I have improved, and am now able to predict with sufficient accuracy her arrival patterns. I guess she is happy with my performance and I am rewarded with an approving nod now and then. (Note to Dee…this is sarcasm.)

Over the past two weeks she has been dropping hints as subtle as ingrown toenails, about a raise. “Bhaiya, 2106 mein jo didi hain, woh mujhe 200 rupiye zyaada deti hain.” (The lady in 2106 pays me 200 bucks more) I acknowledge this interesting bit of information about Mrs.Jain’s fiscal habits with a shake of the head as I stay entrenched in my newspaper reading about how American banks overspend. “Bhaiya, hum badi kholi mein rehnenge – rent 300 rupiye zyaada hain.” (We are moving into a new place where the rent is 300 bucks more.) I consider this piece of information in line with the property pages which I was perusing – so I shake my head again. Then she goes for the jugular. “Bhaiya, pagaar badhao na.” (Increase my pay.) I look at her wearily…as my boss would if I made that statement. Not wanting to sully my Sunday morning – I told her we shall discuss this tomorrow.

When I woke up next morning, I could hear the sound of vessels clanging in the kitchen. I checked my watch. 7:15 AM. Can’t be. And was the smell of ginger in the air. I gingerly stepped towards the kitchen – and there in full resplendent glory was Ravita making hot tea – for me. I raised an eyebrow or two at this atypical behavior – until I realized it was Appraisal day. Hmm…this was going to be interesting – I wondered to myself, what if, i use the same appraisal parameters which are used in my organization? With an evil chuckle I prepared myself for the social experiment.

After enjoying the first good cup of tea in months – I called her for the discussion. Wanting to be professional about this I sat on a dining chair and pulled one out in front of me – and beckoned her to sit. She appeared shocked and promptly plonked herself on the floor. Ok, this was gonna be a toughie. Not to be outdone I sat on the floor too. She looked at me suspiciously. I cleared my throat and started. (the following happened in a mixture of Hindi and unintelligible sounds – but transcribing it in English for the benefit of my foreign readers.)

Grimescene: “Section 1 – Key Performance Areas. So Ravita, what do you think are the key constituents of your job?”
Ravita: Look of puzzlement.
Grimescene (trying again): “What do you do, when you come to my house?”
Ravita: Face contorted as if working on a hard-level Sudoku grid. “I cook food, I wash clothes, I wash dishes, I clean the house.”
Grimescene: “Good. What do you think about the food you cook?”
Ravita: “You tell me, you are one who eats it.”
Grimescene (Slightly thrown back): “It is not very good…and it is boring. Your daal is sometimes uncooked, your vegetables have too much spice and your Rotis are hard.”
Ravita: Uncomfortable Silence.
Grimescene: “What about the cleaning? Do you think you do a good job?”
Ravita: Finally catching on to the concept of an appraisal. “Yes.” Dragging a finger across the floor and showing me.
Grimescene: “What about that?” Pointing upwards to the black ceiling fan which was once white.
Ravita: “It is too high. I can’t reach it.”
Grimescene: “Then stand on a chair and do it.”
Ravita: “What if I fall? Who will take care of my baby?”
Grimescene to himself: “Damn, should have seen that coming.”
Grimescene: “Ok, ok – Section two – Key Organizational Parameters. Are you being 100% quantitatively utilized?”
Ravita: Playing impatiently with her pallu. “Some days there is lot of work. Some days there is not so much work.”
Grimescene: “Which depends on whether I am at home or not.” Take that you numbskull!
Ravita: Like a chicken caught in tractor lights. “hmm…ahhh…gurgle…”
Grimescene: “What productivity enhancements have you implemented in the past 12 months?”
Ravita: Still on the Sudoku. “I only clean the toilets every three days.”
Grimescene: (Shocked.)
Ravita: Damage control. “I use less soap to wash the clothes these days.”
Grimescene: (Rapidly stemming what was turning into Truth or Dare…) “Ok ok, what do you have to say about your Project Management and Integration skills?”
Ravita: Finally at the end of her tether. “See saabji no one can do Project Management and Integration better than I. While the oil is heating, I quickly dust the furniture. Then while the food is cooking I quickly mop the floor. Then sometimes if I get bored of cutting the veggies – I take a break and clean the bathroom…
Grimescene: (Interrupting against his better judgement and not really wanting to hear the answer – like a horror movie deja-vu) “Do you wash your hands with soap everytime you enter the kitchen?’
Ravita: Confidently. “Usually, when someone has not occupied the bathroom…bhaiya, bhaiya? .”
Grimescene: (Regaining consciousness) “Ok Ravita – I think your performance sucks and it is amazing that we have not been hospitalized so far with a new form of virulent disease. Tell me…why should I give you a raise?”
Ravita: Finally getting out of Sudoku look. “Because, Itne paise mein itna-ich milega!” (You will get only this much in this money!)
Grimescene: “Gurgle, Gurgle…” (With two feet in his mouth)

P.S.: Don’t try this at home…

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