Skip to main content

Hello, Goodbye

21st April was my last day at work. It was not easy to accept the finality. How could it be? You don't put your heart and soul into a place for 2-and-something years and walk off, nary a qualm. At least I don't.

I've quit two ad agencies prior to this and the only feeling I had both times was relief. At the end of 2013, I was determined to work in mainline, desperate to get away from a ship that was drifting and a captain whose obsessions and excoriations made Ahab look like a choirboy. The next workplace was in Fort and it was simply terrible. A sweatshop where I lost 6 kilos in 11 months and almost gave up on advertising as a career. I jumped that ship without a life-raft, lifebuoy or land in sight. I'd swim to safer shores or sink into another line of work. Just as the sharks began to give interested looks, my most recent workplace threw me a lifeline, for which I am and will be eternally grateful.

Having an eccentric, eclectic and sometimes downright brilliant yet moody boss has its own charms and challenges. I joined the best team in the office on 5th Jan 2015. We truly were the A-team, the group other juniors hankered to join. By the time I said my farewells, we had become the W-team, the people in our boat frantically rowing in unison but inching towards the lip of the waterfall nonetheless. Office politics can be brutal and I had grandstand box seats to the tragedy of a team casually broken apart by a leader with an absolute lust for power and control and all the charisma of a moldy cube of paneer.

But the office and my boss had saved my career. So, I gave it my all. Fighting with the servicing over ridiculous deadlines, berating the planning for a complete lack of any planning and chivvying my team-mates along to push us over the finish line. Day, week, month, year. My longest holiday was 2 days, initially because I just couldn't afford to take a break and later because I did not know how to. We saw some successful days and many more middling ones, the kind where we'd just want to get the assignment out of our collective hairs after one too many rounds of feedback from our clients.

This job can break you. I almost did go to pieces, sobbing uncontrollably in my boss's cabin on one memorable occasion. It doesn't even have to be anything big. Just a lot of small frustrations and stresses, piling up on your shoulders over time until an off-the-cuff remark punches a neat hole through your equanimity. You, your colleagues and your seniors can keep talking about not taking the job so seriously but try telling that to an Indian marketing manager or brand associate. I have yet to meet a more repulsive species of person in my line of work, though there are a few senior people in advertising who are no better. We seem to have replaced our 333 million gods with just one - money. And he is a powerful god, able to transform into the sword of Damocles within a minute.

"If this is how long the work takes, this will be the last time we will be working with you."

"Either do this job or I will call for an agency review."

"We're calling for a pitch."

"Client ne bola hai... karna hee hai."

These are the sentiments that grease the sprockets of the ad industry, never mind what one big-shot has written in his autobiography. If anything he's probably single-handedly responsible for clients thinking it is okay to ask for work at 10 pm or on the weekends. And while my agency personifies this subservient attitude to a high degree, there are many others who are slowly being sucked into the morass. Or walking into it voluntarily. Everyone needs the money.

I woke up this morning with a dreadful thought. That I've stepped off the train at a junction and am watching my colleagues wave to me, even as their lives move on. My path, struggle, journey and destination are no longer theirs. It's not as if I won't jump back into the bogie with them. I can't.

Many of my colleagues said they'd miss me. I did not know how to respond so I smiled awkwardly and mouthed empty platitudes. But the truth is, in my mind's eye, I am watching the train disappear in the distance.

And it feels like abandonment.

Song for the moment: Don't you forget about me - Simple Minds

Popular posts from this blog

Night Boat

I usually don't write honest pieces. They're true to facts but I tend to lather my emotions and thoughts with a heavy dose of attempted humour or misdirection. This post deserves some raw emotional honesty, though.

Yesterday, 29th August, a Tuesday (or should I say, another Tuesday) was about me making choices. It was raining quite heavily when I left for office, sheeted down the windows of the train throughout the 1-hour journey to Churchgate and kept going with renewed intensity by the time I made it to the entrance, looking verily like something that had drowned in a gutter and lain there a while before being discovered by a cat and dragged in. I made the choice to go to work as I suspected my boss would be there and not because I wanted to go.

I was right about my boss but that cardiac fizz of being right flattened out rather rapidly once I realised, around 11:30 am, that no one else from my team of 20 had bothered to make a similar effort. And, some of these guys live 5 …

Drink up and be somebody

Dear Reader,

History will boldly testify that your favourite blogger is usually slow on the uptake, a state of affairs that's blooming with each passing year like a reverse-Revital. "Why this self-harshness, G", you may ask? Well...

I've been doing the Bom-Pune-Bom trips for 9 years and it's taken about that long to accept that MSRTC Shivneri, still the best bus service of them all, simply cannot (or, realistically, will not) cope with 3-day weekends. Since my job profile does not allow me to plan my travel in advance on said Fridays, I land up at Dadar, view the queue of potential passengers snaking a long way from the ticket window and mentally prepare to arrive home at the hour of morning reserved for sheepish teenagers and dacoits. The Expressway doesn't help anyone's cause thanks to truck drivers spreading themselves generously across 3 lanes and clogging the Lonavala pass to a point where the traffic jam is about 3 km long. A stretch that would tak…

Country Comforts

Part 1

With timing that was far more impeccable than their usual service, the MSRTC went on strike 2 days before Diwali over a pay dispute. I've traveled on their buses for close to 9 years and know full well just how popular they can be just before a major holiday. The chaotic crowd at Dadar is so dense, one would only need to introduce a few Naga sadhus into the mix and hey presto! we've got ourselves a brand new Kumbh Mela. Albeit one where getting out of Bombay ASAP is the only kind of salvation devotees seek. 

News and newspapers being what they are at present, I was unaware of the jolly bus crisis until Wednesday morning when a well-wisher asked how I proposed to go home for the holidays, flourishing the paper in my face with the reluctant panache of a small-town magician. Realising the gravity of the situation, I looked up train schedules and was stunned to find General category seats available on an outstation train departing later that afternoon. As far as I could see, …