Monday, August 29, 2011

Anna at home

In a nation where hundreds of farmers commit suicide in Vidharbha for their inability to watch their family starve to death, how much power can fasting have? It seems a lot. It is ironic how powerful the tool of fasting is in a nation like ours where poverty still looms large. Anna Hazare has shown India that Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent methods, in which fasting was an important tool, are still very effective. The interesting part is fasting and even the threat to fast have been very powerful tools in India since time immemorial and it was Gandhiji’s intelligence to identify and use this tried and tested weapon. Women, since ages, have been using their soft power to get things their way by ‘blackmailing’ their husbands that “if I don’t get this (read jewellery), I will not eat”. And husbands have traditionally given in. Even today, it is used as an effective tool; the demands may have changed — Jimmy Choo stilettos or a Hermes clutch — but, nonetheless still workable. So, when Anna is trying to make the government more accountable and using the same method, I know he is using a power tool which is most likely to work. However, I also sympathise with the government just the way I do with the millions of husbands who have been ‘threatened’ by their better half. A friend of mine had once tried to argue with his spouse about how she could use such a tool when so many people are dying of starvation every day? She started crying and as a result, not only did he have to promise her to buy what she wanted but also had to promise an additional Cartier ‘gift’ to stop her from weeping. Logical arguments just don’t work and I believe the government has already tried that and failed. So just like my friend, the government may also have to pay a hefty additional price if they don’t give in now. The compensation may just keep getting fatter and fatter and might even cost them their power.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cabin pressure

This day, 367 days ago, I got a cabin for myself. In the parlance of the over 100-year-old organisation, it was called ‘room’ (a very Bong way of speaking). It was a moment of pride and joy for me as getting a ‘room’ was a sign of coming of age in your career. A move from cubicle to cabin is a huge leap, my seniors used to say, and having experienced it myself, I couldn’t agree more. Another reason why it was called a room was perhaps because it was made like one, with no glass panel, only a window and a door and concrete walls. The only difference — there was no bed.
I was quite excited as there was no supervision and neither was I to supervise anyone, I was alone in my ‘room’. I thought my cabin was huge until I saw the cabins of the senior management. The higher you go the bigger it gets, the best being that of the promoter, which was quite justified since he paid for my cabin as well.
All was going well until I started feeling deserted in my cabin with no faces around. My window, unfortunately, opened to a boring view. I started keeping my door open, so that I could see humanity. But my boss asked me to keep my door closed (demands of decorum).
The cabin pressure was mounting and — I hate to say this — I was missing my cubicle. The best part was that there were a few who were eyeing my cabin as they were deprived of it when I joined. I really felt like giving it back— I would have loved to, but couldn’t.
One year later, back from the corporate world to journalism, I am again a cubicle man. I am happy that I see so much action around me. The anger, the shouting, the frustration, the disappointment as well as the achievement of bringing out a good edition that make a newsroom come alive. Yes I missed it, it’s good to be back, but sometimes I do miss my room, too. The cabin pressure, in fact, is back. But now, it’s in a different form.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A slave’s life

A few days back, it was raining heavily in the capital and was time for office. Every time it pours, especially during the time for office I always tell myself with a sigh, “This is slavery. At a time I should have been enjoying the rains with a beer I have to go to office in the downpour and spend ten hours doing more or less the same thing that I did the previous day.” I wonder what made me a slave to my circumstances that even if I try to get a life I can’t. I am so tied up to my work that I can’t even allow myself to enjoy the nature for even a day, if that day is not my off day. Call of duty? Yes, partly, because being a journalist isn’t easy, it is a very demanding profession and the perk of the job is that you get to spend quality time with your colleagues who, like you, don’t have a social life, thanks to the profession. The only excitement in life boils down to the ‘lively’ environment of a newsroom. The average decibel level at the typical newsroom is way over 65 and the content of verbal exchange can only be ‘beep-ed’ out if it is ever aired on national television. But that’s the power and energy of live news streaming in -- it excites you and makes you an entirely different ‘animal’, as a senior journalist used to say. The closest that I can imagine is that of a Parliament in session. But there is something that grows on you, more of an addiction that every sacrifice seems okay. But well, it is time to leave for office, call of duty, remember? I got ready, carefully put the papers in my Louis Vuitton macassar sling and looked my Rolex Oyester Perpetual Datejust for time, admiring it for two seconds, and then the second reason for slavery dawned on me. Yeah, the credit card bill, I have to write an obscene cheque with my Mont Blanc writing instrument.