Freelancing – a retrospection

So when you begin to get congratulatory messages for something you are unaware of, you have to find out why! I figured out a few days ago that I had completed 3 years as a freelancer. Time flies!  3 years since I had broken myself free from the corporate grind or had I?

It was time to retrospect:

  • I became too flexible. Is that what I wanted? I travelled wherever I wanted to. Despite bagging myself a decent and an on-going client at the very onset of my freelancing days who adjusted happily to my travel times, he finally gave up on me! The weekly breaks became longer sometimes and there came a point that I even relocated to another country since I could “carry” my job with me. After all, what I wanted was just myself, my laptop and my sound equipment. The relocation brought many side effects along.
  • I was never the networking woman. And you can’t freelance/ do a business if you can’t build a network. I continue to have twisted logic and possibly ego hurdles when it comes to network building. Obviously, no networking meant no expansion! I  have seen a boutique owner in a mall running behind the mall-visitors talking to them about her boutique and giving her business card to them. Could I ever do this? No. She has done quite well for herself looking at her boutique.
  • I could not promote myself. Imagine being in the online world and looking for work and not having any samples on my profile page to show-off ? Or even having a website (when it is so easy and free to create one). Most of the work that I have ever got is through auditions or sending a hurried cut-paste sample of my recent work.
  • I didn’t work on the job’s limitations. As a voice-over artist having a professional sound equipment but not a sound booth meant that I could only work when there was silence and that is night time and that too very late (and being at the mercy of airplane sounds, security guards whistles, dog barks and what not!). I could give my clients a studio-like quality and I lost a few more projects like this. ‘Studio-like’ after all is not ‘from a studio’. I never took the thought of getting a studio built seriously. I didn’t think big. I was happy with the ‘jugaad'(hack).

Now what?

Ashwin Sanghi’s book 13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck was an eye opener. He referred to a thoughtful theory by Seth Godin from his book, The Dip. It tells you to distinguish in which situation you are in :

1.cliff –  things that are fine at present but will eventually collapse

2.cul-de-sac – things that look appealing but go no where; you have hit a dead-end

3. dip – temporary setback

So I might have reached a cul-de-sac and applying the reverse gear is not what I am good at (literally!)

(image courtesy: http://freelancefolder.com/wp-content/uploads/freelancing-dreams.jpg)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 – my year that was

2015 was a crazy year.

I returned from the UK once again! This was the third time (and the last – I think, no, I am sure). I do love the country and will continue to remain in its debt for all the things – little and big – that it taught me. And mostly for the support it lent me when I needed it the most – as a struggling single mum. I don’t remember struggling at all for anything in life prior to that and precisely that’s why I yearned to go back to where I always lived on my own terms – India. I don’t know if a life without struggle is a blessing or a curse for I continue to be in inertia all these years. I live a happily vicarious life and I don’t seem to be complaining.

IMG_6073

In retrospect, I now wonder if, like everything else in our universe, was my return also to serve a cosmic purpose? My father had an awful double whammy – a leg accident which made him temporarily immobile followed by the mother of all diseases – carcinoma! Carcinoma, you ask what is it? It is that miserable disease starting with C. No, I am not supposed to say THE word as mum considers it a taboo. I used the word many times initially as a matter of fact, however I was reprimanded by both her and my darling maternal aunt. As much as I would like to call a spade a spade I respect their wishes and will take it that you have worked it out what it means. The last quarter of the year was the toughest for all of us at home – especially for my father who went through the terrible 6 weeks of radiation therapy. My mum who usually is seen as mentally fragile shocked us all by being the strongest. She, who cries at the drop of a hat, was on her toes throughout this phase. Relatives and friends also stood by us. And I believe somewhere I was a good nurse. I was a good buffer for both of them and kept hold of sanity. Hence, my return was perhaps all destined.

IMG_7750

Well, that was the personal front. Professionally, I went back to square one. Travels, relocation and mostly, increase in my voice-over rates saw a drop in my clients. I however randomly did end up taking English tuitions of an office goer on a special request of a friend and realized that it was fun. It kept me disciplined and gave me that power kick. I felt good. It boosted my confidence. I hope to take up tutoring seriously this year and see how I can revive my voice-over work.

Vocationally, in my free time I wrote a children’s story early last year which my daughter loved reading. My long time mission of writing something for her got fulfilled. Hopefully, it will get published someday after my friend-cum-(very fussy) editor is satisfied (three drafts already!). And then I started this blog too last year where I pour my heart out and also hone my writing skills.

story-book

So, what did I learn from last year?

  1. Healthy matters.
  2. If something has to happen, it will.
  3. You need to be strong throughout and as Rhonda Byrne says, count your blessings. I do …every single day.

MB_Count+Your+Blessings+14x6

 

 

(image 1: on our flight from the UK to India in Apr last yr)

(image 2: my daughter with my father in Bhubaneshwar in June last yr)

(image 3: courtesy: http://www.contentcreatorz.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/story-book.jpg)

(image 4: courtesy: http://www.multipleblessings.com/bw/wp-content/media/blogger/MB_Count%2BYour%2BBlessings%2B14x6.jpg)

Audacious Audits

 abddd

                                               (image courtesy: http://thiagobarbosa.e-monsite.com)

Auditing of a company is a big deal and after having worked for many years and in a variety of companies all I know that it is not merely to do with the inspection of accounts (at least that’s what I understood!). I have been asked to read and memorise the company’s fact sheets just in case the supposedly God-like auditor stopped by at my desk and asked me a random question! The whole organisation is shook up then for a few weeks that lead up to those crucial 3-5 days of auditing. At my level I never took it seriously. I was doing my job and that was it. Of course I did go through the fact sheets and did all those things that I was never told to do in the first place. Well, nobody ever showed up at my desk and neither did I even remotely realise when the auditors were in the building. I however did get to know when they were gone as the bigwigs of the company followed by their minions heaved a sigh and everything was back to its original form!

My whole perspective of looking at the auditing process changed when I become an observer of it recently. It happened in a premium hospital. The hospitals have their audits too I realised!

So as I fell into an unwanted yet unavoidable slumber one night on the bed next to the recovering family member in the hospital room, little did we realise that my family member’s cannula ( a thin tube inserted into a vein through which fluids and medicines are administered) had come off – his only source of being fed! I could faintly hear the movement of the night-duty nurse around his bed and trusted that all was being taken care of. Only the next morning, after he started to get splitting headache (due to empty stomach/post-surgery effect) we realised that all was not correct. The nurse came strolling in the room and still didn’t seem in any hurry to get the cannula fixed. How difficult would it have been for her to fix it? Considering that most patients have a cannula inserted prior and post their surgeries it shouldn’t really have been a big task for her. She instead just checked his ‘vitals’ (bp, sugar, etc) for her daily record before she said that she would be back after attending another patient.

And when our young nurse did return, she was again in no mood to re-insert the cannula! Was the patient supposed to be left hungry all this while? Instead she started to open the drawers of the little cupboard that was assigned for my father. She began to arrange all the things properly. I really thought she was looking for something but all she did was clean up the drawers (took good 10 minutes) and then started to fumble in her coat’s pocket for something. And then she took out a key and locked the cupboard!

Hello, what about the cannula? Oh, I have to attend to the other patients too. Maybe she meant attending to the little cupboards of the other patients but she said she would be back soon! Finally she came back along with a senior nurse who helped in getting the cannula reinserted.  So, she didn’t know as a professional nurse working in a premium hospital as to how to insert a cannula! She could have called her colleague many hours ago too!  And cleverly, this was all done just in time before the doctors’ morning round began! She could sense the disappointment on my face and quietly came up to me and said, ‘we have our audits going on.’ No wonder she was taking care of the other mess like the drawers first!  And then she sheepishly said, ‘please don’t complain to the doctors!’ I could see her nit-infested hair strands and really wished she didn’t come any closer!

My relative was much better in the hours that followed and I didn’t complain about the nurse. Hospitals, as I realised looking at the plush services offered to the patients, are of course like any other profit-making organisation and so is its auditing system! But should a patient become a victim of the organisation’s auditing process?  Organisations,  hospitals in particular, needs to re-look at the whole process of auditing. Perhaps they should make it a daily affair so that everyday each and every detail as per the auditor is taken care of ..the cupboards can be kept clean everyday! Or the auditors need to make a surprise visit so that it keeps the whole organisation on its toes daily- just like the taxman who can knock on your door anytime.

Humanitarian auditing, at least in private hospitals is not difficult to achieve, is it? The patients are anyway not getting any discount on their fees so why should they tolerate the nuisance surrounding the audits!

 

 

 

 

Being a non-native in your native land

600x600xI-Know-That-Voice.jpg.pagespeed.ic.kX4SfuqMs8                                 (image courtesy: http://www.voiceovertimes.com)

As a freelance voice-over artist with a distinct Indian-English accent I only look (but obviously!) for clients that are also specifically looking for an Indian/foreign accent and the demand is pretty disappointing when compared to the UK, the US and Australian accents. Freelance voice-over is still a niche market here. It doesn’t upset me that much to see online job pages full of voice-over work for other accents than to see an Indian client for the Indian market seeking a western voice!  Our fixation with west can get frustrating.

I have lived in the West and have never seen or heard a foreign (non-native) English voice for their local TV and radio programs unless it is a foreigner who is doing the talking!  It is understandable in countries like the UAE where the country has to cater to thousands of English-speaking expats who live there.

What’s wrong with our accent anyway that some of our very own prospective clients don’t want to give us work? Ok, we don’t sound ‘posh’ like the Brits and have many Westerners poking fun of our accent but that’s how we will be speaking all our lives.  Variety makes us distinct. Imagine all of us speaking alike, what good that will be? Imagine all birds tweeting alike! I live in an area where I am blessed to hear sounds made by different birds and I enjoy guessing the species of the bird by the sound it makes – sometimes it is a koel,  sometimes a parrot and sometimes even a peacock with that voice that deceives its graceful appearance and sometimes all these sounds just overlap! Now, imagine all of us speaking the same accent and having a similar intonation! The world will be a boring place.

And why just voice-overs, we are so fixated with everything West. Why do you want your ramp model wearing a heavy Indian costume for fashion shows that are showcased in India and are exclusively for Indian customers? How many times do you get to see a foreigner wearing a sari other than it is a celebrity attending an Indian function!

We are not a cosmopolitan country like the UK where you see people of many diversities living together – natives, hispanics, Asians, middle-eastern. It certainly makes sense to showcase global models for the fashion shows there.

Ours is an outright Indian market. And if we are so obsessed with the West let’s also pick up good things from them. Like the other day my beautician was telling me that instead of copying all the ‘special days’ like kiss day, flower day and even a slap day (I didn’t know there was a slap day!),lets pick up some civic sense too from them! Instead of just taking our streets and roads for granted and throwing about garbage just about anywhere lets also make an effort to throw it in the right place!

As much as I hate to write this, it does please me then when I see an out-of-the-blue Indian model on the cover of Gap. It is a rarity. And that unfortunately got popular for all the wrong reasons!  Maybe Gap had a reason to make a Sikh guy its model and it must have been indeed a big deal. They chose a very unconventional model belonging to a minority even in its own country of origin. You don’t have many turbaned-sikh models and actors in India too!

gap-sikh-hed-2013(image courtesy: http://www.adweek.com)

Well, the only way I see the demand for Indian voice-overs and everything else that should be Indian atleast in India going up is when a foreign client pushes the demand for it. Why would they do that, you ask? I have no clue! But then we, well many of us and there is no denying that, ape them and it will certainly work!