The phone rang, the voice on the other side of the receiver said excitedly, “What are you doing, ghar nahi aarahi tu?!” I replied apologetically, “making pasta yaar… a college friend is here..”. In reply, “Kya auntiyon wale kaam karti hai humesha… kaun banata hai khana chutti ke din shaam ko.. chal bring your friend along, lets all go out for a drink.. … ….”.
In another conversation I heard, ” I am afraid in this wedlock I will forget the yo-lingo, I wouldn’t understand new fancy words, the only topic of conversations I would indulge into would be the price of vegetables in market or the melodramatic twist in saans-bahu serials!”
The topic of conversations. The medium of expression. The language, the tone, the body language. The animated faces, the controlled expressions. The polished smile, the carefree loud laughter. The people, the crowd. How often it all change, how subtly you change with it, or should I say metamorphize yourself and mix with the environment.
How does a typical off-work-early-on-a-weekday evening looks like in corporate life? Three-four friends who are also team members wonder how to use the evening which is so seldomly theirs. We can go for a long drive to a hill at the outskirts of the city, but the traffic is too much. We can go for a walk in a parade ground, enjoy the sunset. But what after the sun sets? Lets go clubbing. We can talk, have a drink or two. And just relax. Or maybe get drunk and light-headed.
In the lift to the thirteenth floor of the building: “You went to the Empire State Building in NYC, the lift there is so fast, you cover some 100(?) floors in some 60 seconds”.
We truely live in a global village. The distances aren’t the barriers anymore. There are deeper barriers in travel now.
Enter the pub. Dim lights. Balcony seating. Light music. Cricket on huge LCD screens. Cool typical bangalore evening breeze. Beautiful people. Thin and trendy clothes. The hushed laughters, the pretty smiles over the bouncing candle flame, the peach coloured thick pinacolada in manicured hands.
M: What are your plans after leaving Bangalore?
A: ….. …… …….
M: Oh, so you are not just shooting in the dark?!
A: Ofcourse not!
What are your plans for future?
A: What about the dream of becoming a prof/teacher?
M: Those are long term plans, they can be implemented anytime in life. Right now, I have time and energy to go for other things.
A wonders: What are those other things? How does one decide to do an MBA from a foreign univ? What does an MBA teach you, really?
A: Why is an MBA from abroad more relevant?
M: When IIM guys are working right with us, whats the point of doing it in India?
<Pauses.> Gossips section.
S: You know our recently married manager hasn’t yet brought his bride to Bangalore!
A: Oh I thought he was supposed to bring her in early March.
M: Ya but it never happened. I wonder what could be wrong?!
S: He’s so gay!! He touches M all over..! He said this… he said that…
A: I m sure his wife n he has an understanding and she is with some other guy and blah blah blah.. and some more bullshit <the frozen margharita is taking its toll>
……………… …… ………
<Pauses.> Hypocrisy section.
S: You know Indians are known in the States to lie. They lie in their resumes, they lie in general.
M: The work culture in the US is very different. Those folks hardly take any tea breaks, they come early morning, take a quick lunch – sometimes on their desks, hardly go for coffee/tea breaks, work till 6 in the evening and go home. No nonsense approach. They work the same hours as us, but their productivity is much higher.
S: And all that we do here is take tea breakers. You know my manager, B was taking a half hour tea break in morning, and then he came to work, hang around for 10 mins, then went back for another tea break! We have that laid back approach, where if we don’t get something, we just accept it and chill out. nahi hua to nahi hua.. kya ker sakte hein..!
M: That’s why I want to experience different work enviornment. Abroad.
S: I m not sure if I wanna do that. You can have a relaxed chill life here. Which is not possible in the more stressful environment, which is there in the States.
A wonders: You want everything. Job satisfaction, without working your ass off?!! And you blame it to work culture? What is work culture anyways?! Can’t you yourself create a culture around you?
<Don McLean sings Starry Starry Night in the background. Soothing music.>
More topics come and go. My attention wavers too. Another trip to Pondicherry. The pathetic institution of arranged marriages. The hottest girl in the office. The comfortable silence. The first love. The proposal. The need to be in love. Are you in love with the person or in love with the feeling of being in love? Who knows? Who cares?
Never has these lines made more sense:
Beautiful faces and loud, empty places
Look at the way that we live
Wastin’ our time on cheap talk and wine
Left us so little to give
That same old crowd
Was like a cold dark cloud
That we could never rise above