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A Vacuum For Good Vibes

25 Sep

I had an interesting day yesterday. Deadlines at work were chaotic, the materials I needed were missing, and shortlists for two award shows were released. My entries didn’t make it. Bam. Sledgehammer to my chest.

For the first time, in a really long time, I felt frustrated. Unlucky. Mad at myself. But mostly, frustrated.

I needed to clear my mind. I needed to step out of the office. I was asking the universe if I was really, truly, madly, deeply going anywhere. But the universe would never answer. I will be left to fend for myself, to lick my wounds, as usual.

I was wrong.

When the elevator door opened, there it was, the answer I needed: a Nilfisk Alto Vacuum Cleaner. Enlightenment from a vacuum, what the hell right? But before you take me for a complete retard, let me explain myself.


Image courtesy of the Google Gods. May not be the exact model in our office building but you get the picture.

Image courtesy of the Google Gods. May not be the exact model in our office building but you get the picture.

When I was an intern in a web-outsourcing firm, years ago, I was assigned to the Nilfisk Alto account.

We were revamping their website and I was tasked to change the logo on each of their product shots. They updated their logo and I guess it was cheaper to ‘shop their new logo onto the photos versus having to reshoot all of it. Plus I was an intern, so labor was free. 

I had to edit thousands of photos with different layouts and perspectives. From their vacuum cleaners, to their pressure washers, to their floor sweepers, I edited them all. There was a man cleaning a warehouse, a woman cleaning a mall, a floor sweeper in front of a scenic mountain background — a Nilfisk machine for all occasions.

I could code. I could design. I could make websites. I could make games. But no, I was digitally sticking logos on vacuum cleaners. It felt horrible. It felt like I was never going anywhere.


Push lang.

Don’t stop.

The frustration I had yesterday tasted familiar but was altogether different. Like a two-week old pizza you left to ferment in the fridge. When I saw that vacuum cleaner however, the frustration was sucked out of me. It took away the fear. It was a gentle reminder that no matter how frustrated I am, I am no longer editing vacuum cleaner photos.

Goodbye bad juju.

I am in a better place today than I was then. I am going somewhere. I’ve just got to suck it up and keep pushing harder.

I am no longer a drone. I create. I ideate.

I may not be in this year’s shortlist, but at least I’ve come up with work that was good enough to become an entry. Work that stood a chance. I didn’t get in this year but I will, someday. I may even win it.

So thank you, Nilfisk. Thank you, universe. Thank you Lord. I am once again humbled. And I truly am a fan of your wicked sense of humor.



Love, Poppet.

13 Aug

Growing up with a strict specification for family was tough. There was always the dad, the mom, the grandparents, and the kids. My family didn’t follow the natural order and it felt like I got the short end of the stick. I was too young and too smart for my own good. I grew detached, disconnected.

Soon, I became the outsider looking in. Family dinners and reunions were a blur. And no amount of toys or chocolates could satiate my hunger for escape. There were so many ‘whys’ in my head, too many ‘whys’ for a child.

I was 4; four and desperate for a rainbow; four and searching for pixie dust. I calculated the number of milk cans I needed to bring if I took my infant brother with me. And every night, I would hope and pray for Rainbow Brite or Peter Pan.

They never came.

I figured that both Rainbow Land and Neverland didn’t exist, and it was time for Plan B.

The easiest solution: grow up.

I grew up fast. I grew up angry. And I was dying to turn 7.

Seven, based on my research – before Google was available – was the age when you could pick where you would stay. My mind was set on my grandfather. I would request to be under his custody and I would take my little brother with me. I was formulating the arguments I would make, wondering if they would let a 7-year old make an appeal in court. Whatever it took, I was going to break free of the Frankenstein family tree I was in.

Before I could put my plans into action, I met this old, Scottish lady with sparkling blue eyes. She loved to dance with her vacuum and on occasion, would fish dentures out of her champagne. She too, had a family that was almost as absurd as mine – zoo animals and all.

With tatas on fire, she showed me that I didn’t get the short end of the stick, that I wasn’t alone. She explained that there were all sorts of different families; no one size fits all.

My seven-year old mind was blown. Run over. Flattened by a truck like a latex mask on cold concrete.

I was balling like a child with the emotional baggage of a thrice-divorced, 60-year old. It was like someone threw an orange at me, tree included. My mind was as messy as her apartment and yet, with her magic, my Plan B became mere scribbles on a chalkboard. My anger melted like a snow cone in Phoenix. With puffy eyes, for the first time, in a long time, I felt like a child; that I had every right to feel the way that I did. And that it wasn’t my fault.

Thank you, Mrs. Doubtfire. Thank you for showing me that as long as there’s love – and restaurants with delivery service – I will always have a family.

And yes, I did turn out all right.


#RIPRobinWilliams. You are awesome.

Funny Mrs Doubtfire memes on Buzzfeed.