He is standing on top of his 16-floor tall office, with a cigarette between the index and middle finger of his heavily jeweled-with-different-stones left palm, already nearing its filter now. A thousand stars, a hundred thoughts, a chilly night and just a half step for the penultimate ending of the story. He takes the last drag and stashes the bud, among the pile of other buds on the floor. He looks up in the sky. But that is not where the thousand stars lie. The zooming cars with their headlights set on high beam below, the street lamps, and the neon signs of Deloitte, Yahoo, Microsoft and other giants around, are the stars that are visible now. As he looks up, and inhales the smoke in a long deep drag, and feels the familiar sense of satisfaction and relaxation spread through his body, followed by the unpleasant sensation of burning in his throat and lungs, he mentally reminded himself to cut down. But now was not the time to think about himself, there were far more important things to deal with right now; and the tobacco converted into smoke vanishes into the cold air with fog.
Things had taken such great turns in life, that he forgot what the stars in the sky looked like anymore.
“Is it over now? Is this it?”
He asks himself. He no longer remembers what the fight was for. He no longer remembers what brought him here. In this moment, in these times. He knows he must run for it, but the question is,
“Run for what? What is the final destination? When am I supposed to stop running? When does it end?”
He looks at his palm. Shaking today, not the firm and stable palm he had just yesterday in the meeting room. He can’t understand why is it shaking, even when the telecom giant, InterNetworks had won the deal. Another feather in the hat. Last three-quarters had seen an exponential growth in the value of his company. A company today, a young start-up yesterday. Maybe it is the cold winter air and the only-good-for-looks business suit that can’t keep him warm.
10 years. It has been 10 years since he started out with his life like a Phoenix. Burnt to ashes and rose to heights. For 10 years the only thought he lived with was to reach a point where the world knew who he was. Of course, in that everyone was hidden just that one whom he wanted to win back.
I woke up to loud arguments that were leaking into my room, despite the heavy wooden door being closed and latched in a failed attempt to restrict all sound vibrations from the outside world, for me to enjoy my sweet nap in the cool pleasant weather of Ranchi. The previous night, cable was running back to back episodes of How I Met Your Mother, to which I was glued to, till 3 in the morning. Because why not?
With closed eyes, I ran my hands all across the bed to find the small rectangular bar. My Nokia. 10:20 am. I woke up with a jolt. Not that I was running late. My meeting was scheduled for 2 pm that day. But guilt. In Delhi, 8:30-9 am had become a regular wake up time. Besides, I had to find out what were my caretaker and cook arguing all about!
Flipping aside the thin sheet, with which I had a battle for the better half of the night (you know, when you are not sure if you’re feeling cold or warm and hence you put one leg out of the covers, and other one inside!), I stepped out, pulled down the latch and came out into the room blazing with sunlight.
Okay pause! This song just started running in loop as I am writing : Sunlight Hurts My Eyes
Okay. Let’s carry on.
I entered the common area of the house, rubbing my eyes and picking out on the mud in the eyes. The cook zipped her lips as soon as I entered, looked down at a declining angle of 45-degrees, and walked off into the kitchen to make me some tea. Now, this one is tricky. I am not sure if she left the room, leaving the argument, out of respect, or she walked-out, out of embarrassment. Because suddenly I realized all I was wearing was a pyjama, with the right-side sleeve rolled all the way up to my knees and just a vest. Now let me tell you. I look like the guy from the gym. Just that I am that guy who registered just today, to lose 20 kilos over the next 1 year. So I walked to the balcony to grab a T-shirt, making it look like I did not have any t-shirt to wear as my clothes were drying up.
Sanju kept the cup of tea on the table. And as she started walking back into the kitchen, I caught her throwing looks at Vijay, the care taker. So I asked, “kya hua bhai? Kyu ladd rahe ho subah subah? (What happened guys? Why are you fighting early morning?)”. And soon enough, I regretted asking this. Big mistake. My next 1 and a half hours, that could have been enjoyed over omelette and fresh juice, while looking at the brilliant green view over the Kanke Dam, got wasted into a burnt toast, sugar free tea (i meant sugar less), and tears and yellings and phone calls. The old refrigerator was being replaced by a new one. The question was what to do with the old one? This started the battle for the contenders to get the old refrigerator! Vijay had asked the previous night if he could take it home. And obviously, Sanju wanted it too. The argument began between these two, the premise of the argument being who has been working in the house for the longest and been the most loyal one, thus, being the deserving candidate to receive the fridge! By 11:30 am, Sanju had to leave for another shift. Things seemed to have settled down. But I was mistaken. The Hindi proverb, “ek anaar, sau bimaar” was turning out to be true. Within moments, Vijay received a phone call from one of the drivers, asking not to take away the fridge, as he had been working with “saar (sir)” for more number of years than him. I quickly grabbed by ear plugs, and zoned out. I could not deal with another long hour of explanation to why the explainee deserves to take the old fridge.
I kept looking at my mobile time to time, to check the time, hoping that it was time for me to leave for my meeting, and reach there before the scheduled time. (this sentence gave me a word-gasm at the time of writing!)
It was noon. I started getting ready for the meeting when another phone call arrived. This time some lady from the office, who was managing this entire staff – drivers, maid, cok, caretaker etc. Soon after the phone call, Vijay came to me and said, “saar. Abhi madam ka phone aaya tha. Unko poora kissa bol daali Sanju. Dikkat ho gaya. (sir. Ma’am just called-in. Sanju must have told her the whole case. There is a problem now.)”
I asked, “Why? What happened? Did she scold? Got angry?”
Vijay, “nahi saar. Ab toh madam ko bhi fridge chaiye! (no sir. Now, even madam wants the fridge!)”
After completing my bachelors, and entering a professional environment, there are couple of revelations I have had, within the first week. I thought humans, around the same habitat, spoke same language. In my case, I thought Hindi and English, and maybe a little Punjabi, would be the languages of choice, where I work.
But I was wrong. Surprisingly, the office habitat is not the same as the realm outside the glass windows. The working professionals have their own thing going on. And I shit you not, it is a crazy world in here!
Now, I shouldn’t have been that surprised. I mean, the small little evidences were always around me, in the University. I had my suspicions, but then I suppressed them, calling it a fragment of my imagination. But now here is the real deal. Women at work, a WHOLE DIFFERENT LANGUAGE. I mean, it might sound as English or Hindi or any other language. But I kid you not, it is incomprehensible! Most of it, you will never understand!
They might sound as something that is usual to your ears, but your soul will be lost, like the little kids in Jurassic Park! On one of the days, I remember this happening.
Some lady dropped by the HR Department, and apparently had some issues regarding Leave Policy. Now, she sat down with her “friend”, the HR Executive. By the sound of it, the executive amicably told her that she will not be able to help her, as according to some policy, her leave would not be counted. Everything seemed fine so far! It sounded like simple English. No problems.
Now the HR Executive needed some help from the fellow lady. She needed to use her mobile phone. What she says next, will blow your mind! (thanks to Diply.com in making things sound overly-drastic).
“Sorry ya! I wont be able to help you, because my SIM card is not working, so now it won’t unlock at all! ”
Whoa! What was that? SIM card not working, so the keypad wont unlock??
While this still might sound like something spoken in normal English. But now let’s reverse the tape and try to understand this in Female language.
Woman walks in, hoping her friend, who works in HR dept, to oversee her negligence, and miscommunication, and grant her the leave that she had requested.
HR Executive refuses to help partially because she is self righteous, and partially because, “When was the last time she ever helped her.”
Now the HR executive needs help from the same lady in front. The lady in front, “this is why I don’t help you! Just now i needed a favour, to which you refused. Let the game begin!”
LANGUAGE DECODED!! Boom. Chapter Females closed.
Office politics is something that I do not find the works of over-smart geniuses trying to grip on to the game of thrones in the office environment. I think it is the game of fools, who prefer wasting their time to pull down others, rather than climbing up the ladder themselves.
“Would you be able to handle the work?”
“You are a fresher. How will you face the transition from college to work?”
“So you are the IT guy. What exactly would you do to help the organization?”
Totally felt like ragging days in college! I was selected into the organization through a selection process that had couple of interview rounds. But the secret is, those interviews were only so that you can wear the company’s leash around your neck. There are next set of interviews awaiting once you enter the premises. Now those interviews are there to feed the egos of the ones who are going to be sitting around your table for the rest of your life, while at the same office, if you survive it.
There are moments when you feel you are not being questioned to know you better, but to question your talent. To question your right to work in the same office.
Thankfully I had one weapon, that shut all these questions. One reply to starve people off their hunger of ego.
“Yes, of course, I mean I am a fresher. But I was interviewed by the CEO of the company, which means he saw something in me. So any question about my existence here, actually means questioning the authority, intellect and the decision of the CEO”
*OUCH* That burns!
Coming on to Life Around Cafe
Now office is not as bad as it looks. There are those 15 minute breaks when workers become persons. They share their stories and jokes during the coffee breaks and lunch times.
It is fun hearing how someone is living in a family where the in laws turn up every time when the husband-wife try to get cozy at some run-away spot! How they always accompany, when it was supposed to be a romantic dinner. There are young people with young problems. How there never are enough clothes before a party! The foodies are there to talk about the fancy place they visited over the weekend! Every Monday begins with “how was your Sunday?”
Moments like these evade the rest of the negativity around work, and office timings become pleasurable. And as long as there is healthy competition, it is all fine and merry!