I Quit! Now What? by Zarreen Khan | Book Review

I remember reading a quote by John Ortberg which said, ‘I have always heard that you need to give yourself a long time to unplug when you do a sabbatical. I unplugged so fast I was a little concerned that I was losing brain capacity.’

I couldn’t help being reminded of his words when I started reading I Quit! Now What? by Zarreen Khan:

As the title explains, Nimisha is exhausted. Of endless weekdays, working weekends, making presentations, working with complicated Excel sheets, handling a boss with time-management issues and the general politics of the workplace. Sigh! After eight years of this life, her only personal insight is that she’s terribly unambitious and constantly struggling to be an average performer in the competitive corporate world.

When a colleague flashes the glint of a golden sabbatical, she catapults into it headfirst. After all, one has to find one’s calling at some point in one’s life.

So, will the sabbatical miraculously change her life forever? Or will she go rushing back to her pocket-money-generating job?

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Khan, having chosen a single, twenty-something female professional as the protagonist, speaks for all the unmarried women today who are looking to take a break after a seven-to-ten year career track.

The fact that Nimisha is inspired by a colleague who is four months pregnant, itself speaks volumes. I, for one, have never understood why it is considered normal for a married woman to take a break from work, but when a single woman decides to take this step, everyone – from her company’s chief (insert name of your company’s top honcho – man or woman) to the chaiwallah outside her office building – has an opinion; her own relatives included.

The first obvious question is what said single woman will survive on, without the luxury of a regular salary being credited to her account. The author tackles this in an understated way. She lands a sharp punch on the nose of all those who think a single woman sitting at home is only living off her parents money. (Hello Uninitiated! Are you familiar with the term ‘Savings’? No? Look it up!)

In addition to her overt subtlety, Khan also has a definite flair for humour. This is evident from the opening scene and is carried throughout the book – Only one of the many reasons I ended up reading this through the night. It comes naturally to her and she infuses it at the right places, often coupled with eye-rolling sarcasm that makes you roll on the floor from laughing so much it hurts.

The story is told in two parts – The Corporate Life and The Sabbatical. And these pictures couldn’t have described it better. (Kudos to whoever came up with the idea….I love them!)

When she does eventually bite the Sabbatical bullet, and begins her quest to discover a new passion, Nimisha is supported by a loving family, two adorable nieces, a gang of 2:00am friends and, last but not the least, the quintessential best (boy) friend.

Wait, don’t start jumping in excitement just yet. There is a (boy) friend, yes, but this is not a romance novel. So, don’t pick this up if that’s all you’re looking for. You won’t find it here.

What you will find though, is a lot of cupid confusion, which is just about the amount of romance I can handle. 🙂

As Nimisha soon finds out in her preparation to dive into this new phase, armed with a list of activities she has been meaning to pursue, it turns out there really is a technique to live and enjoy a sabbatical. No wonder John Ortberg said what he did about the time needed to unplug.

I Quit! Now What? is a fun read, with the perfect mix of dreams, fantasy and practicality. Zarreen Khan has definitely made her presence felt with her strong writing and should consider making this a series. I will surely be lining up to get hold of her next book.

Title: I Quit! Now What?
Author: Zarreen Khan
Publisher: Amaryllis – An Imprint of Manjul Publishing house

ISBN: 978-93-81506-97-4
Edition/Year: First Edition 2017
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction/General
Pages: 296
Source: Author/Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

Available on Amazon.

About the Author: The author, Zareen, is NOT on a sabbatical. She is a mother, cook, maid, doctor and magician for her kids – a very demanding job! And when she gets time off, she works as a marketing consultant.
Zarreen loves writing and has been secretly maintaining piles of self-written storybooks since the age of eight. I Quit! Now What? is her first novel.
She lives in Delhi with her husband, Moksh and children, Zayn and Iram.
Follow her on Facebook to know more about the author and her writing.

Note – I received this review copy from the Author/Publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

This post is participating in #MyFriendAlexa because I am taking My Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter.

UPDATE 3rd Oct 2017: This review is now also published on womensweb.in

Picture1 Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com
Picture2 Courtesy: Amaryllis - An Imprint of Manjul Publishing house
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Bag it All by Nina Lekhi | Book Review

I first came across the Baggit Brand in 1999. It was at the Shoppers Stop in New Delhi – A first-of-its-kind store that had opened at the first shopping mall in the city. With all those firsts, naturally, my friends and I were curious enough to make our way over one morning, after having finished an early class at college.

Being the bag lover I was, I distinctly remember being drawn to the product displayed at the Baggit counter. I was amazed at their price tags; couldn’t believe my eyes. I came out of the store that day with my first adult wallet. It was a beige compact tri-fold by Baggit which I went on to use for the next few years. Served me well too.

When I heard about this book about the Brand and its Founder, I was reminded of that first purchase and was curious to learn more about them.

The seeds for Baggit were planted by Nina Lekhi at the young age of 18 when she failed her First year of Commercial Art. What started in one half of the children’s bedroom in her parents’ house, only as a means to move forward from her failure and to prove herself, has today grown into a 100+ crore company.

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Along the way, Lekhi became a wife and mom, and navigated the new paths and destinations of her life. As the business grew, she roped in the support of her family who continue to be actively involved in the running of the Brand alongside her.

During her journey, she also came across Siddha Samadhi Yoga and became an ardent follower. She has imbibed their principles to maintain work-life balance as well as create a harmonious work ethic at her company, which has yielded profitable returns in both spheres of her life.

Bag it All is a management lesson that unfolds right before you on its pages. Lekhi tells her story of how the brand was created, the risks she took, and the practices she adopted.

The book is broken down into chapters that progress through the growing phases of the business, while also imparting a valuable entrepreneurial lesson at the end. She shares the practices that worked, as well as the mistakes that taught her valuable lessons.

Lekhi strongly believes that women can have it all –  A loving family, a successful company, and the opportunity to follow our passion. She reveals the secrets of her inspirational success story, that comes with a full serving of hard work and determination, along with a generous helping of good design and aesthetic which helped her take off.

In doing all this, she has created lasting business relationships with her employees, vendors, and clients, which go a long way in making Baggit the successful company it is today.

Title: Bag it All
Author: Nina Lekhi as told to Suman Chhabria Addepalli
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
ISBN: 978-81-8495-981-9
Edition/Year: First Edition 2017
Format: Paperback
Genre:  Non-Fiction – Business, Entrepreneurship
Pages: 250
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

Available on Amazon.

About the Author: Nina Lekhi is Founder, MD and Chief Design Curator of Baggit India, a market leader in bags and accessories. She has won several prestigious awards from the Indian government and media for her contributions. Baggit has achieved recognition from PETA for being a cruelty-free, vegan brand. Nina is an ardent follower of Siddha Samadhi Yoga (SSY) and maintains work-life balance by shuttling between Mumbai and the hills of Katarkhadak village (adopted by her to ensure rural employment and overall welfare) with her husband and daughter.
She can be reached on Twitter @ninalekhi.

Picture Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com

Reference Check Or Reality Check

Are you looking for your Dream Job? Or maybe, you are from the select group of fortunate people who have already landed it.

Whatever the case may be, you are likely familiar with Reference Checks that a company conducts before finalizing candidates. These give the recruiting company valuable feedback, which they use to make hiring decisions.

While some consider this a mere formality, it is often a key step in the selection process.

Application For Employment” by phasinphoto

Every once in a while, I too am approached by former colleagues, asking if they may list my name as a professional reference at an interview. If I know the candidate and have worked closely with them, there is no reason for me to refuse.

Then there are instances when colleagues working on the same extended team, but in no direct Manager-Subordinate relationship or parallel working role have requested to list me as a reference. That too is acceptable, as long as the recruiting company is made aware of the relationship between the Candidate and Reference contact.

Now it so happened that last week I received communication from 2 former colleagues asking if I would be willing to provide a reference for them.

In the case of The First Candidate (Let’s call them that, for purposes of anonymity), we had worked very closely as I was a direct supervisor. Thus, I was able to give pertinent feedback and, without the need for any prior discussion, both our responses matched up beautifully, which satisfied the recruiting company (as also remarked by them). The First Candidate will be receiving the Confirmation of Recruitment, tomorrow.

Then came The Second Candidate, with whom I had no direct work relationship. We only happened to work on the same team, where The Second Candidate’s boss and I reported to the same person. However both of us (The Second Candidate and I), despite having moved on from that company, are still in contact on a personal level and consult regarding professional decisions from time to time.

So, I was asked to provide my email ID for the recruiter to send me a reference check form.

Checklist” by holohololand

Now this form explicitly asked if the candidate had worked in any capacity directly in my supervision; the answer being an obvious no. There were many other questions and ratings, all of which took me over an hour to complete.

A reference check can literally make or break the hiring deal, so it is not something you want to rush with.

Hand Choosing Worker From Group Of Businessmen” by Sira Anamwong

25 minutes later, I received a message from The Second Candidate stating, since I had mentioned no direct work relationship, the reference check was invalid. I was taken by surprise as I had no idea that it may have been suggested otherwise.

Upon mentioning this I was told, there being no other reference contacts from that company (as they were all likely to give negative feedback), my name was given as supervisor.

Okay, we have all experienced a situation where we don’t get along with a manager and would choose not to list their name. I totally get it. Nonetheless, I have found in such cases, it is best to be honest with the Interviewer. They will surely understand.

But hey, Second Candidate! You have absolutely no right to put me in a situation where you expect me to lie. That is unacceptable!

And when you have made the mistake of doing that, do not, I repeat, DO NOT accuse me of being honest. I will not have it!

Whatever you may gain from this interview, whether you may be hired or not, you have definitely lost at least one person’s trust and respect. Moreover, at the risk of sounding diabolically vindictive, I will have no choice but to question your integrity in any future association.

So think before you act! It may be wise to do a reality check before considering a reference check.

Image 1 courtesy of phasinphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image 2 courtesy of holohololand at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image 3 courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net