Friday, March 23, 2007

'Shesham Screenil'

To be interviewed by a TV channel for one of their woman based programs. "By God, are they so desperate!!" was the uniform reaction from friends and family. With no claim to fame in any form, how could I blame them.

Susan, my friend and colleague had asked me a few months back about this. Her sister, a very successful entrepreneur and one of the well-know personalities in Cochin knew this producer. She herself has and keeps on appearing in similar programs. My first reaction was ‘why not’. For a teenager who grew up on Prannoy Roy, his “World This Week’ and election coverage, being a microphone wielding journalist was one of my secret dreams. Needless to say, the dream got lost somewhere along the way. Well, if I can be on the other side of the microphone, so be it.

Months went by and then this phone call. “Hello I am ….. This is regarding a TV interview”. Oh, ok, better late than never, I told myself. Then the next shot “Madam, I’ll call you tomorrow. By then, can you have a CV of yours ready and about 20 questions which we can ask you?”
“You are a CA, right? Something relating to your profession, how it affects you as a woman etc.”

For a few minutes, I didn’t know what to say. Never thought interviewees had to provide the script too. Then light dawned. Who am I, that a total stranger would know what to ask me about myself? He needed someone to fill in his program, someone had given him a lead, and the closet narcissist that I am, had taken it up without any second thoughts. Served me right.

Too lazy to spend time on the phone talking about myself, I offered to send something through mail. “But madam, I don’t have a mail id. I’ll create one and then send you the details”. A media person without an email address?!! Well, it takes all kinds, I guess.

Weeks passed and another call. “Madam, is the CV ready?” How could I say “Not really”. So, the next best answer “Yes, sort of. I’ll mail it to you.”
“But ma’m, I still don’t have an ID, so can you just summarize your life over phone?”
A summary of my professional CV and some feminine jargon, he was satisfied. The date and venue was fixed.

I was having second and third thoughts everyday. Turned to my closest friend, confidante and the one most trusted to give a frank and honest opinion about anything. Manu said, “ Go ahead, what do you have to lose?” and added in his inimitable style “kai vittu pokumo?"

Being at home for more than two months, all my hennaed gray hairs had turned back into their original colors. So off I went for a complete refurbishing not for once forgetting the old adage “kaakka kulichaal kokkaakumo”. Still, even an once of extra confidence is worth it. The day dawned, turned into noon and there I was at the Infopark cafeteria waiting for the camera and the crew. Half an hour after the scheduled time, the producer and his team turned up. A young girl, with a very familiar face, all painted up, walks up, smiles and starts talking to me.

It is obvious that the man is not happy with the ‘location’. “No choice”, I have to say. Office is out of bounds, thanks to BS 7799, client confidentiality and the usual stuff like that. To add to the discontent is the fact they cannot connect they high voltage equipment to the available power points.

We start in natural settings in even more natural lightings, what a befitting background for a natural beauty!! First question from the girl “Everyone has a preconceived notion that CA is a very difficult course. What do you say about that?”
Tongue in cheek I reply, “Of course it is difficult. But it is not impossible for those who study systematically and religiously. You have to be really focused”. Like one of my friends say,” You can afford to say whatever you want once you have cleared it. The one question no one should ask is how long it took you”

To be honest, it was a very informal session and I didn’t realize an hour was over. And I don’t remember much of what she asked or what I replied. The funniest part came after the session was over. The girl asked the cameraman “ Reactions?” Then she started making faces at the camera, literally. Nods, ‘aha’s with an enlightened look on her face, amused laughter, all the reactions we see on an interviewer’s face on TV. Little do we know how artificial all the natural looking stuff are on celluloid. I burst out laughing when she told me I have to do the same. But she did a good job of it, asking me some more silly questions to get the required reactions.

They said they’ll let me know when it is to be telecast. As they say in the old movie notices, “Shesham Screenil” , that is if they decide to show it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Death, before and after

She was the youngest and the prettiest of the four sisters. One look at the first three and you would immediately know they were sisters. But not her. Straight brown hair, very fair, a slightly upturned nose and perfect white teeth, she was the best mixture of the paternal and maternal genes. She was the pet of her elder sisters and the perfect partner for their only brother, the youngest of the lot.

Right from childhood, she was different from the rest of the brood. Her sisters used to rag her saying she never grew up, was always mama’s pet in spite of a much sought after son who came eleven years after the first girl and then three more. The girls fought tooth and nail with each other while they grew up. The fights inevitably ended with a standard dialogue from one of them “ I am not your sister and you are not my sister any more. Don’t come to me for anything again.” Of course, the pledge was seldom followed strictly for more than a day, maybe two in case of an especially sensitive brawl.

In aspirations, ambitions and outlook towards life, she was closest to the eldest one. But the younger one’s was more matured and mellowed and less rebellious. The eldest one’s earliest memories of her is that of a doll like five year old in a blue pinafore, clinging to her skirt, refusing to go back to her class after lunch. One in the sixth standard and the other in the first of the same school and lunch coming in the same packet from home, they were forced to have it together. She would have to wait till the class teacher came back to hand over the crying one and rush back to her own class. How she used to hate it those days, she herself on the verge of tears most days. And now she realizes those are what fond memories are made of.

The brother was born when she was a little more than five. The two of them were a sight to behold. A little one carrying a tiny one all around the house and the neighboring houses too. As both of them grew, fights were routine. But one could see the deep love and affection between the two. One could not live without the other and couldn’t be separated for more than a few days.

Unlike the lazy elder ones, she joined the ‘Girl Guides’ in high school. One of the most active members and the trusted lieutenant of the teacher in charge she would be right at the front for all the marches, rallies and camps. That is why even the mother didn’t give too much of a thought when she started complaining of pain in her joints. The doctor who stayed close by also said it must be because of the strain of too many activities. She was in her ninth standard when the pains started getting worse and then a well-known physician was consulted. One look at her and the symptoms, and she was immediately referred to a cardiologist. ‘Rheumatic Fever’ it was, something which children between the ages of five and fifteen are prone to, if their tonsillitis infections are not treated properly.

The elder sisters too had severe tonsillitis infections, but staying at a different place, a different doctor had treated them and none of them had any problems after that. By the time the younger one developed the infection, the family had moved to a different locality and to a different doctor. Not a single day has gone by since then when the mother has not regretted not taking her youngest one to the same doctor.

No one in the family knew what to say or do when the cardiologist said one of the valves of her heart was already affected and she had to be on some strong antibiotics immediately. She was also referred to one of the best-known heart institutes in the state capital. Sooner or later, she had to have the affected heart valve replaced. And the earlier she got herself registered, the better, he said.

Tenth standard and her biggest dream till then came true. That year, the President’s Scouts and Guides from the district were to go all the way to New Delhi to collect the award from the President himself. Needless to say, she wanted to go with the rest of her friends. The doctor was not too happy but left the decision to the family. Maybe the mother had a premonition of what was to be, and she wanted her daughter to be happy.

Off she went on a two week trip, that too in the cold winter of the north. That she would enjoy it was a foregone conclusion, the only worry was how it would affect her health. Rashtrapathi and his Bhavan, all the customary tourist locations including the Taj Mahal, she was thrilled. On the way back, they met someone in the train who professed that he could read palms and predict the future. She couldn’t believe her ears when he told her that she was ailing from a heart disease. And her joy was boundless when she was told she would be all right within a few years. The sheer elation on her face while she narrated this to her family was a revelation to them of the anxieties she was going through daily.

College days brought new friends and dreams. For graduation, she selected Commerce and went to a co-ed college. She was the favorite of her class mates, both boys and girls. Her sisters would tease her about one particularly affectionate boy. It was so obvious that he adored her. And he was a sweet heart too. She had a couple of very close friends but none of them knew about her condition. She wanted to be a Chartered Accountant and in her final year degree had already applied to one of the largest firms in Cochin.

The monthly consultations with the local cardiologist and the yearly ones at Trivandrum continued. During one of the routine consultations, the doctor suspected something was not going on as expected. The valve had deteriorated further and the surgery had to be much sooner than expected. Strings were pulled and a date for the surgery was fixed a few months after she graduated. Her CA dreams had to be put on hold for the time being.

Finally, she had to tell her friends. Her best friend would not talk to her for days and then she cried and cried. She just couldn’t believe that in spite of the umpteen sleepovers at each other’s places over the years, she didn’t have a clue about this. The teachers were also shocked, but were confident she would come through in flying colors just as she had in whatever she did all her life.

The year after her graduation was special for the mother. The daughter was at home with her throughout and the two got very close to each other. By this time, one of the elder sisters got married and had a daughter of her own, and the other two were studying in different places. Distance made the hearts grow fonder by leaps and bounds and the sisters were closer than they ever imagined. There was nothing under the sun, which they couldn’t discuss with each other. The mother, herself young, and the father joined in and the brother grew up amidst this girlish chatter and nonsense. They made fun of each other and there was no way one could think too high of one’s self when there were so many to bring you down to ground with a loud crash.

She was admitted to the hospital on 19th of a December and the surgery was scheduled to be a week later. Today, someone tells you about something, you log onto ‘Google Search’ and all the information you need is at your fingertips. The only information one could get in those days were what the doctors deigned to tell you. The success rate of such surgeries was supposed to be very high and the patients were expected to have a normal life for years after that.

The surgery went off without a hitch, she responded to the artificial valve well. For a few months, she was advised to monitor her temperature in the morning and evening. Even a slight variation would mean something was not as expected. The variations started a week after the surgery. The valve was working perfectly and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Her condition stabilized after a few days and she was discharged on the 19th of January.

The hospital did not allow any one to be with the patients and the visits were restricted to two at a time, that too for two hours a day. The mother stayed with her uncle and visited her very day. When her sisters came to see her, they pulled their mother’s legs together saying she was getting very friendly with the young doctors there. The youngest would tease her saying one of the doctors even had a crush on her. The mother would play along with her daughters.

She reached back home after a month and every weekend after that was a celebration with the other sisters returning home religiously. The family had their first instance of worry when she vomited after a particularly riotous dinner session when everyone was in splits for hours. A few days later, when the mother was giving her bath, she noticed that the wound had started festering. The doctor was consulted immediately and she was put on another medication. Her temperature started rising slowly. The look on her face after seeing the thermometer readings in the morning and then again in the evening betrayed how much she knew about the seriousness of her situation.

Asked to go back to the hospital in Trivandrum, she was admitted again on another 19th, in March. The married sister was expecting her second child and the other two were preparing for their exams and none of them could visit her as frequently this time. The eldest one wanted to meet her so much, she coaxed her aunt to go with her.

At least once in their life, almost everyone would have thought of how life would be without their dear ones. But seldom does any one think of what if they knew they had only a few days left to live. The look on the younger sister’s face that day is something, which the eldest one will never forget in her life. In place of the effervescent, ever pleasant, bubbly sister was someone with a blank look on her face. Not listening to any of her attempts at making fun of their mother, she just sat there, neither listening nor talking. Then she coughed and spat out some blood, and the elder sister could understand her silence.

Two days later, another 19th, a phone call in the early hours of the morning, her sisters knew it was over. The loss of a very dear one how much ever expected it may be, is still too painful for words, they came to know. The tears in their parent’s eyes when they brought their little one home broke the sister’s hearts even more. The brother sat in one corner of the room, staring at his closest sister with a stoic look on his face. What thoughts would have been going through his mind, others wondered. He didn’t shed a tear even when she was taken out of the house. Prayers and final kisses were over, she was lowered down into her final resting place, and then he broke down, totally and completely in his eldest sister's arms.

The day passed in tears and condolences by dear and near ones. The real feeling of someone not being there forever, hit later. Her sisters and brother started noticing an empty space everywhere. A sudden and deep void. Anything and everything would trigger off a host of memories, their hearts would swell up with emotions and eyes with tears. The excruciating pain subsided slowly, but the memories would always be fresh. Years have passed by, the sisters are settled with families of their own, and the little brother has grown up to be a young professional. With kids of their own, they now know what their parents would have and still would be going through.

It has been eleven years now, and I still miss my youngest sister, oh, so much.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Kahlil Gibran

My all time favorite.

No one has defined marriage as well as him. Even almost a hundred years back, in what must have been a conservative and orthodox society, he writes about how important personal space and individuality is in a successful relationship.

On Marriage

Then Almitra spoke again and said, "And what of Marriage, master?"
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow

Most of us today's parents have so many dreams and aspirations about our children. He reminds us - " You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts."
How much better life would be for so many kids if their parents read this once a day.

On Children

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

With so much simplicity he says what prayer is or should be - God knows our needs, our need is only Him. " For if you should enter the temple for no other purpose than asking you shall not receive."

On Prayer
Then a priestess said, "Speak to us of Prayer."
And he answered, saying:
You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.
For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether?
And if it is for your comfort to pour your darkness into space, it is also for your delight to pour forth the dawning of your heart.
And if you cannot but weep when your soul summons you to prayer, she should spur you again and yet again, though weeping, until you shall come laughing.
When you pray you rise to meet in the air those who are praying at that very hour, and whom save in prayer you may not meet.
Therefore let your visit to that temple invisible be for naught but ecstasy and sweet communion. For if you should enter the temple for no other purpose than asking you shall not receive.
And if you should enter into it to humble yourself you shall not be lifted:
Or even if you should enter into it to beg for the good of others you shall not be heard.
It is enough that you enter the temple invisible.
I cannot teach you how to pray in words.
God listens not to your words save when He Himself utters them through your lips.
And I cannot teach you the prayer of the seas and the forests and the mountains.
But you who are born of the mountains and the forests and the seas can find their prayer in your heart,
And if you but listen in the stillness of the night you shall hear them saying in silence,
"Our God, who art our winged self, it is thy will in us that willeth.
It is thy desire in us that desireth.
It is thy urge in us that would turn our nights, which are thine, into days which are thine also.
We cannot ask thee for aught, for thou knowest our needs before they are born in us:
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

kerala syndrome

Smart city, IT city, BPOs, the talks go on endlessly. Glad tidings in plenty for the young Indians. Open any business magazine and there are articles on the new avenues in outsourcing, why India is going to be 'the destination' for the next 20-25 years and so on and so forth. Yet, a common thread that runs through all these talks is a major worry - the demand supply disparity. We talk about lakhs of young boys and girls graduating every year. Not to forget the engineers and management graduates who come out of institutions, which have mushroomed in every nook and corner of the country during the last few years. Experts say just about 10-15% of these is readily employable. The rest are well - graduates, engineers and managers in paper. What has or is going wrong?

I am not so sure about the rest of the country, but of Kerala I have a good and fair picture. And this is based not on any hearsay or business article, purely on personal experiences. The organization that I am a part of started operations in Kochi about 2 years back. The start was in a small way, but the plans were to ramp up massively in a very short span of time. The company is part of a New York based organization and is a pure play Finance & Accounts outsourcing service provider. Their first office in India is in Bangalore. Now, why did they choose Kerala and Kochi as the second destination? You look at any office in any city in the country and you would at least a few commerce graduates from Kerala. Most of the boys who graduate in Commerce go out of the state in search of jobs. The reason is obvious to everyone. The management was sure if there were so many outside the state, there should be even more here and many who would like to come back to their home state.

We started with a core team of around 12 people who were selected a few months back. There was a major press conference announcing the opening of the center in Kochi and plans for the tremendous growth in a couple of few years. There was wide coverage in all the newspapers. There were also reports how hundreds of commerce graduates would be needed for this major expansion. The fun started the very next day. First it was phone calls then the walk-ins started. Somehow news spread that there is this new BPO who wants commerce graduates in hundreds. Every morning, we would be greeted with a crowd of hopefuls at the door of our temporary abode.

One had to see and listen to our youth to believe it. In a couple of days I could understand the reservation of my colleagues in Bangalore had about the kind of people they could expect to get in Kerala. In would walk one guy in a shabby shirt with rubber chappals on. Believe me, I’ve seen ladies with torn blouses and lazily draped saris walking in with husbands in tow. If hundred people walked in a day, we would be happy if we could select at least five. The qualifications are good in paper, no doubt absolutely about it. Sadly, most of them could not speak two sentences together properly even in Malayalam, their mother tongue. Many wouldn’t even look at you straight in the face. There were qualified accountants with years of experience who couldn’t talk a single sentence in English properly. Politicians are talking about job reservations for locals in Smart Cities and the like. Are they really aware of the basic requirements of an industry like this, I wonder. Whatever you say about westerners, one thing I have noticed is they are not bothered too much about your accent, but you have to be clear and confident in what you communicate to them.

We sure did get a number of excellent young boys and girls amidst these hundreds. For them also the going was good. A world class work environment, good pay packets, a comfortable culture and all the amenities that an ITES company would provide for. All the projects got off to a good start. There were hiccups in plenty. Anyone who has worked in the initial stages of a project on any industry would know the challenges that come along with it. This is especially so when the industry, the kind of work, and the culture of the people you deal with, in fact almost everything is entirely new.

After a few months, comfort level started setting in. The reservations which our counterparts in Bangalore had about the quality of work here were already a thing of past. Happy clients, work going on smoothly, we had a good work force, but the party could not last for long. Slowly, the so much talked about Kerala syndrome started setting in.

This industry works best as teams and as managers we were always conscious of how one mistake by one team member could affect the whole project. The client talks only about whether their requirement is met or not, and not how person 1 fared compared to person 2. We always made it a point to talk to our team in groups and also individually to gauge their comfort levels and to identify any potential problems even before they started. Casual talks were revelations to us.

The first round of formal feedbacks came with the yearly appraisals and along with it some very interesting observations too. Many of them came with “I am not so sure about the future of this industry. I feel like I am not doing creative.” Well, why did they join the industry in the first place? A couple of others wanted more than hundred percent hike in their pay. Mind you, this is after just a few days more than six months with the organization. Then the qualifieds. One had started giving hints even before the process started. “I have some other offers in the pipeline. If the company is not able to match what they offer, I will have to quit”. And he quoted some out of the world figures. That too, from a person with 7-8 years experience but could not talk to anyone senior without his knees shaking.

Being part of the team who interviewed the initial batch, I could remember the attitude of most of them at that time. Desperately in search of a job or ready to jump for an extra thousand bucks. Many of them were asked to go back and come dressed properly. Not even six months into the system, they start making demands.

Pay and content of the work is just one side of the coin. Being part of the graveyard shift, food and transportation is provided free of cost to everyone. It was a luxury at first, and then the grumbling started. Complaints galore about the quality, quantity and variety of food. And the less said about on the transportation front, the better. The company has an excellent policy of female staff being dropped off at the doorstep after the night shifts. The vehicle leaves only after ensuring that she is safely inside the house. Now, the day shift girls wanted that too – to be dropped off in front of their house at five in the evening!! The guys were no better either. They want pick ups and drops from all parts of the city and even beyond that irrespective of the extra cost and time. The saddest part is all these are demanded as a right and not as requests. No wonder people say, “In Kerala everyone have rights and no one has duties”.

These are just a few instances of what goes on daily. Why do we behave this way or are people everywhere the same? Desperate to get a job, and once in, everything has to be as they want it.
Even after years of experience and approaching their thirties, a majority of them have no clue about what they want from life. They just know they are not happy, but do not know what will make them happy. There are boys and girls who have been writing their CA exams for years and expect a month long leave every six months!!. Where are we going wrong? Is it our education system, is it the way we bring up our kids or a combination of both? If yes, how is it that the attitude changes out of the state?

Not all is bleak, I should add. There are a few middle aged members in the team, whose attitude is amazing, to say the least. Probably because they have seen what it is like to work in a traditional organization, they realize the value of a free and congenial atmosphere like this. They are the first ones to be there when the work load increases and the last ones to leave. And then there are the young ones who have worked outside the state or in mutli culture organizations. The difference in their attitude towards work is unbelievable. So when I see campus recruitments for companies out of the state, I am too glad. Let our boys and girls work outside for some time, come back and train the youngsters here. The difference would be mind blowing and Kerala indeed will have a bright future.

Friday, March 9, 2007

taste is in the buds

ever wondered why one person can't stand another's favourite food? has to be the way the taste buds are habituated in childhood, i'm sure. for a true blue "kuttanaadan" like me, any talk of food begins and ends with “appam”, “duck roast” and “karimeen fry”. my cochinite husband and malabari brother-in-law can’t for the life of them figure out what is so special about these.

anyone who has ever been to that part of the world as a guest to one of the Syrian Christian families would vouch for the relish with which these delicacies are served by the mothers there. when my sister got married, my mother’s main grouch was that the new son-in-law didn’t know how to eat “karimeen” properly. eating “karimeen” is an art in itself. the tail portion is easy. it is the head that beats a novice. a true connoisseur would leave back a clean and tidy skeleton, which would be the pride of any zoology lab.

then she got her second son-in-law, my husband, another big disappointment on this front. finally, the last one, from Alleppey – one after her heart. and his favourite – duck roast. you have to grow with the taste to enjoy it. it is a little difficult to acquire this late in life. for the city breds who are used to skinned broiler chickens, pieces of duck with the skin in tact and the fatty tissue just underneath are anathema. especially scintillating for us is that special aromatic smell of all those spices. the very same aroma, which is said to be disgusting to many. “kuttanaadans” in any part of the world would die for a Sunday breakfast of “appam and duck” .

talking about duck is particularly nostalgic for me, makes me think of my grand mother’s famous duck roast. talk of guests and the table is full, literally. and at the center, decorated in her inimitable style, a full duck, stuffed with all sorts of delicacies inside and roasted till golden brown. how I miss those days. having grown up like this has its own drawbacks. cooking for guests, I am almost paranoid about the taste and number of dishes. and of course, the table has to be at least half full.

even I make all the appropriate sounds of disgust when people talk about far eastern delicacies like snakes and monkey brains. the feeling must be the same for my vegetarian friends when I talk about chicken and duck and fish. again, it is the kind of food you grow up with. sometimes, we are forced to make conscious changes when our health doesn’t permit, couch potatoes that we are today. i sure do envy my grandfather at ninety who still enjoys the same diet that he used to have seventy years back.

Monday, March 5, 2007

elephants with ID card!!!

elephants in Kochi are being provided with ID cards. all their details will be inscribed in a microchip and stuck behind their left ear!! talk about technology advance!!
just imagine, all your info starting right from the moment of your birth, or maybe even before that, installed in a microchip and implanted somewhere in your body. it gets updated automatically with new info daily. wherever you go, there will be an invisible scanner, so they know who you are, what you prefer, even what you might be thinking!! sounds scary, right? one bright side could be crimes may be avoided even when someone starts thinking about it. but what about the surprise element in your life? soemone or other always knows where you are, what you are upto...
ugh..hope it doesn't happen in my lifetime

Saturday, March 3, 2007

where are my friends?

a compulsary bed rest has confined me to my bed and room. that's when i thought i'll give a try to one of those online communities which anyone and everyone was raving about. sure enough, found an alumni group of my school and college.
reality sometimes hits you hard. years have passed so fast. almost all the members there had passed out at least six or seven years after me. can't say i couldn't meet anyone i knew. started getting messages from my younger sister's friends. now i am more in touch with them than my sisters.
but, what happened to my friends? am i the only odd one out? or is it that i refuse to grow up?
i would prefer to leave it at - maybe i am one of the few ones who is in tune with the changing times!!!