Friday, February 26

There's a kind of hush

Two things happened today that brought an involuntary wistful smile to my face. One, whilst leaving for work this morning, I realised my trousers & shirt were the exact same ones I'd been wearing on my first day of work (of course they've been washed after that day). Two, as part of my handover, when going through the numerous folders and documents that have accumulated over the year, I chanced upon the very first piece of work I'd been assigned.

It has been just over a year since I started working at this organisation and today is my last day. It was a good first job; not very demanding and convenient in many ways but in the long run, not the most ideal of workplaces. Every employee among you must have collated a list of negatives about your respective office & I am no different. However, I will not be airing the dirty laundry in public except to say that I have learned a fair amount over the last 13 months, though sadly none of it had anything pertaining to my work. Instead, I've got a very good idea of work-culture in India. This was my first proper employment gig and I was laughably naive about office life and group dynamics. Not any more.

I want to say I feel sad or nostalgic about leaving but it would be a lie. The truth is I was tired of working here. Having never worked in a large corporate office, I'm no expert on office politics there. But its also pretty rough working in an office with a small staff and even an even smaller team. Its especially tricky when other people in the team are long established. I realised very gradually that these people may loathe each other and not respect any contribution except their own but are forced into an ambiguously-twisted symbiotic relationship to keep their jobs. Don't even get me started on the sycophancy permeating the team. Suffice to say, I want to salute the tenacity with which things seem to get done in an atmosphere more suited to a shabby murder-mystery. You know... whispered conversations, endless gossip, pointed looks and childish attempts to introduce difficulties into the simplest of processes.

I am going to miss a few people though. They all seem to be the ones with a sense of humour I can relate to and who know how to mind their own business. In their own way, they made the hours tolerable and I am thankful.

Knowing what I know now, I did not forewarn the new employee who's coming in to replace me today. Like mine, this is her first job & she has a right to choose to learn the lessons I did.

Today, the clock will tick calmly towards closing time & I will take a final glance at my desk with the piles of papers & other stationery that prove I existed here professionally till now. Lying around for a better part of the year in that naturally higgledy-piggledy way, they will now be stacked neatly. Too neatly... hinting gently that at least one person won't be back here on Monday morning.

Over the year, on many a frustrating day or stiflingly slow afternoons I have written blog posts sitting at this computer. This is my last post from here & the only thing left to say is "Bonne Chance".

Song for the moment: Long nights - Eddie Vedder

Update: So, I felt a little bad after all.

Tuesday, February 16

Running back for more

Following the match yesterday on Cricinfo, I got the feeling I was watching a baton being passed. VS and ST were phlegmatically taking apart the South African bowling & even as they went about their business, the cricket fan's emotional wagon wheel came full circle for me.

Sachin's batting has reached a level of sublime where one is left with no words, just sighing admiration. There was a time when his batting was described with adjectives like brutal, explosive and the spectrum of others basically implying destructive force. For the fan, there was Sachin's successful innings or there was the t.v off, ennui and much wringing of hands. Of course, this was largely in the LOI's. Test match cricket was a different world in the early 90's. Sidhu was a decent enough opener but his partner was usually whoever drew the short straw on the morning of Day 1. Then there was Manjrekar, who had very nice technique but this funny notion that he was batting at nets all the time. Even the ball despaired on reaching his bat for he would stifle it into travelling about 2 inches. If he was having a bad day. On a good day, the ball would turn back in mid-air and everyone pretended they loved the game. Azhar, Jadeja, Mongia and Prabhakar, when not attending interesting calls on the telephone, might just make a match of it. Certainly Azhar, he of the magical & mysterious wristy technique, remains the biggest tragedy of the match-fixing hoopla. And then there was Sachin, who may have played with more freedom, if the rest of the batsman could be depended on. Guffaw.

So, he reserved the majority of his savagery for the LOIs. Never mind Australia at Sharjah. Everyone and his uncle knows that he gave the bowlers diarrhoea. Never mind his overall awesomeness either. No, the match that always makes me smile is the one against Zimbabwe. Remember that chap, Olonga ? Remember him getting ST out in one game ? Remember his stats in the next game ? 4 overs for 41 runs. It was molestation. Sachin still does give bowlers a fright every now and then, but he's reached a level where the surgery is under anaesthesia. He is now clinical. And how.

There was a point when the heart would physically hurt when ST got out. Watching the match yesterday, I realised that, while there will always be a wince-inducing twinge (for which cricket lover can be a child of the 80's - 90's & claim immunity) when that happens, the punch-in-the-gut feeling effect has been taken over by Sehwag. And let me tell you, fan of today, you are god-damn lucky he's there to make you claim you love test cricket. Because that man is a test-batting juggernaut who seems to be getting to a point where only he can get himself out. Pertinently, in many a fan's mind, he owns the adjectives describing destruction now.

But here's the thing. VS (no taking any credit from him whatsoever) can make the bowlers cry for their mummies, safe in the knowledge that Dravid, Sachin & Laxman (and Ganguly) are waiting their turn at bat. Read that line again. Let the weight of those 3 names sink in. And then tell me VS worries about getting out.

Today we have the luxury of Sehwag & Gambhir (probably the best opening pair in Cricket) at the start of the innings. They in turn have the luxury of RD, SRT & VVS to follow. There's a point in that somewhere, but it's implied.

On more than one occasion, I have blogged about our fortune in being of an age when the mind is still in top form & experiencing the keen pleasure of revelling in the names of our top 6 batsmen. I know that the likes of Sachin & his genius, Dravid & Laxman, their exquisite technique, temperament, good nature and discipline will never grace Indian cricket again. The changing trends of the game will finish off the purity of technique and the poetry of the arcing blade meeting ball, caressed to perfection. I'd like to think Sehwag knows this too as he plays with the joy and fury that we have come to know so well.

Song for the moment: Sultans of Swing - Dire Straits

Saturday, February 13

After forever

The end of innocence.

No matter how close to home previous attacks have been, Pune has never actually suffered one. No, it has always watched nervously while Bombay bore the brunt of those Mofos' ideology and perhaps let out a very very quiet sigh of relief that it had escaped another one.

After Bangalore, Delhi and Ahmedabad, how many Puneites shook their heads at the telly, massaged tired eyes with their fingertips and stared of into the distance for a while. Wondering.

Not any more. The first line of this post is actually untrue. We haven't been innocent in a long time. And I suppose I can say there's always been that thought buried deep - how long before ?

Well, we're now officially in the club. Puneites can now join the previous victims and live a life tainted with apprehension. A quietly whispered prayer when a loved one goes out. A moment when the heart beats a frantic tattoo as we walk into one of the many crowded places in the city.

Walking out of our houses, feet crossing the threshold, without having to ever consider the possibility that we may not come back. Yea, that's gone for good.

Tomorrow's dawn will see a new Pune; one stained by doubts, fears and that gnawing, nameless, helpless despair other Indians have come to know so well. At least, I know I will feel all of these.

What an age we live in.

Song for the moment: The Sound of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel

Wednesday, February 10

Carnival of rust

Q. How do people at work react to your resignation ?

A. Scenario 1 - You are treated to a display of facial contortions ostensibly expressing regret, a few "tch tch" noises and terse congratulatory statements.

Scenario 2 - All colleagues gather in the downstairs lobby for an impromptu yet impressively coordinated Rumba session and a few of them are seen glancing wistfully at the heavens. Or at the damp spot on the ceiling.

In any case, there is a period of time (a few days) when you are made to feel like the version of Moses who, halfway to crossing the Red Sea on foot, realised that it was all a mistake and hailed the nearest boat.

Then the fun begins.

From the activity status of that Vastu bamboo shoot thing, you are catapulted to the role of hand-wash soap. Everybody who is anybody will devise ingenious ways to use you to get writing work done. You can't protest since the relieving letter, experience certificate & recommendation letters aren't in your hands yet. Since you and irony are such close friends, you are mentally prepared to be asked to write the letters you need at the end of the month.

In all this, 3 things keep you going.
  1. No more ISO.
  2. No more Badnera Junction, Amravati.
  3. You found a free online scrabble website.
Song for the moment: Snow - Red Hot Chili Peppers