Monday, November 29, 2010

Life in the times of unemployment

I have been in Kolkata for a day now, and already I feel so different: life has suddenly slowed down; I don’t remember the last time I spent two hours in an 18th century library leafing through books, journals and newspapers, sipping my coffee, as the grandfather clock chimed 6 p.m. in the background. I looked up, startled, and surprise surprise, it was already dark outside. I hugged my shrug a little closer to me as I embraced the cool Calcutta winter, and here I use Calcutta deliberately. Somehow it reminds me of my childhood; Kolkata doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. A friend of mine who calls himself “Indian” because he belongs to mixed parentage and who hated Kolkata while he was here, but now misses it, very aptly put that even the dogs are slow here. Today, I noticed what he meant!

I also hereby declare that this weekend I finally ventured out to experience that famous nightlife of Mumbai. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I finally managed to visit a disc after spending six long years in Mumbai in the honour of my roommate’s bachelorette party (though we no longer share an apartment, I still call her my roommate) in apparently one of the popular South Mumbai clubs. Surprisingly, after a few drinks, I didn’t quite hate it as much as I thought I would! And somehow I feel a little more alive now: going out, eating out, shopping- things I haven’t done in the past six months are again becoming a part of my life…

And most importantly the big news is that my 21-year old kid brother (the one who also cooks, drives, leads his sports team in college and, in general, is the coolest person I know) has managed to get placed in his first job in one of the most coveted companies that most engineering campuses root for. He will be in Bangalore minting money and soaking up the nightlife in general and alcohol in particular (or so I am assuming) because there is nothing else to do for a college kid fresh out of college. Man, I so wish I was in Bangalore! Instead, I am still rotting in Mumbai where real estate prices have gone through the roof and there is nothing left to be done other than getting haunted by memories.

And yes, did I mention, I am writing too? Do check out my articles, and before you judge/criticize, please remember I get paid for this, and hence I can’t be completely footloose and fancyfree!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jobless and couldn't be happier!

If you thought the honeymoon phase was good, well, the unemployment phase is even better! Of course, aside from the fact that there is no comfort on the last Tuesday/Friday of the month when your salary gets credited, the going is pretty good! Also, real estate rates are at an all-time high, which is why I can no longer afford my posh existence in the happening Hiranandani area. So I have moved bag and baggage to the nearest railway platform (almost) and living out of my suitcase. But I still have a room to myself!! Cheers to privacy…

So I have been out of a job for 10 days now, and it feels sooo gooood!! I don’t know why people crib about unemployment so much. It’s god’s gift to mankind, especially after you have been working non-stop for 18 months, six of which you have spent in taking interviews/preparing for interviews.

What have I been upto? Nothing absolutely, and couldn’t be happier about my meaningless existence. I get up at 7:30, roll around on my mattress (point to be noted: I no longer have a bed) till 8:30, read the newspaper, have some coffee, and make some breakfast. Thereafter the whole day stretches in front of me as I surf the net, catch up with people (some who have no intention to catch up with me but are too polite to not reply), watch movies/Friends/HIMYM on my laptop, go window shopping, or simply walk around aimlessly listening to music. I take a bath whenever I want to, I eat (or not eat) whenever I feel like, and sleep for ages. No monotonous routine, no early morning rush to get ready for work, no crazy deadlines, and definitely no pretentious office parties or team lunches to attend. And yes, finally some time to do some freelance writing: a life as I have always dreamed of, except the sheer loneliness and emptiness sometimes gets to me.

I am off to Kolkata for two weeks after a year: have a wedding to attend, have a worried mom to convince that I don’t want to get married now, and have some nosey relatives to meet. Can’t say I am looking forward to it, but I can do with the home-cooked food, the driving lessons, and the pampering. And once I come back, sighhh… it’s back to square one, only worse! Yes, I have finally made up my mind about the company I want to join, and come December 15, I am beginning a new journey.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Two Beds and a Coffee Machine

It’s my last night in this apartment: the apartment I love so much, the apartment which has so many memories the apartment which gave me everything! But since the last couple of months it hasn’t been the same. And especially in the last couple of weeks, it’s been awful. People have been moving out and moving on, while I was stuck here, waiting and hoping, refusing to move on, alone in a 2 BHK, paying a rent which I can’t afford, especially in a month when I am unemployed. For the last year it has been more than just a rented place to crash, it was my home where I lived with people who were like family, but now it scares me, it freaks me out, but it keeps holding me back…

But finally it is over: I quit my job, and now I am moving out and hopefully moving on. As was in case of my job (I was taking interviews till the last day of my notice period), even in case of my home, I don’t know where I am going. I do know that I am moving out tomorrow though. Dragging out boxes and suitcases, emptying those huge closets, throwing away the junk I had accumulated over the last year, and most heartbreakingly, throwing away some of my books (albeit the ones I have never opened, not even in college, when I was supposed to open them). And cleaning out your closet inevitably throws up those little memories: the candles, the matchbox, that piece of paper, and of course the card.

Five things I shall miss about this house: (Let's restrict it to just five...)

1. The Friends and HIMYM episodes
2. The pizza parties
3. The cooking experiments
4. Sipping tea/coffee while sitting on the window sill and talking random stuff
5. The CKB sleepovers

Am I excited about moving on? Yes I am…
Am I scared? Most definitely…
Am I nostalgic? Of course…
Am I unhappy? Well, I am still making up my mind…

As of now, all my bags are packed, I HAVE to go (whether I am ready or not, I don’t know)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Greed is NOT good!

Well, may be greed is NOT that good after all! Last two days, I have watched two completely contrasting episodes of KBC.

First, there was an intelligent, educated, young guy became the first person of this season to win Rs. 1 crore, but then, became a victim of greed, and ended up losing most of it. Even though he managed to take home a hefty Rs. 3.25 lakhs, he would be kicking himself for missing out on something he deserved.

The very next day, there was this lady from Rajasthan, who earned a princely Rs. 4000a month in her job in the police department, who had a kid at home who needed an operation, and who was drowned in debt, cried on national television admitting that she valued money, and whatever she won would be used to solve her real problems- a refreshing change from the usual platitudes by the lucky ones on the hot seat! She may not have been highly educated, but she played smart well aware of her limitations, not taking any chances, and most of all, not being greedy! She gratefully took home Rs. 12.5 lakhs (previous guy must have been tearing his hair off) and even though she guessed the right answer to the question that could have won her Rs. 25 lakhs, she refrained from taking a chance. The mother in her stopped her from getting carried away, while the greed in her counterpart ensured he did get carried away!

The difference in the prize money doesn’t, in any way, reflect their capabilities, but it surely reflects their maturity.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Is it a happy diwali?

I remember my last diwali: six months out of B school, no real pressure at work, no real worry about where my career was going or what I wanted to do with my life; I had good friends, great colleagues, good balance, and corporate life was just an extension to campus life, except that I had more money, more freedom, and of course a rented apartment!

I remember last diwali: we dressed up in traditional clothes, lit up our place with diyas (me struggling as usual), my roommate suddenly discovered the child in herself as she blew up two grands in fifteen minutes on expensive explosives, and then I went to Pop Tates and got drunk! Ah, our contribution to the economic recovery…

Fast forward to this year: I am in the middle of a personal and professional crisis, I no longer know or care where I am going, my life is turned upside down and so is my house. My roommate of one and a half years, my friend for three years, one of my closest batchmates in Symbi, my fellow bong from Kolkata is moving out as she gets ready to start a new life of her own. As I see her pack up her stuff, as she carries cardboard boxes and suitcases into the car, as she divides up our utensils, and as she digs up old memories, I feel like shrieking out to her, “Don’t go. Let’s not change things. Let’s not move on.”

The transience of life never fails to take me by surprise…nothing is happy about this diwali!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Greed is Good!

“Greed, for the lack of a better word, is good.”

Gordon Gekko (Wall Street) may have made this is a legendary statement, but I think we all believe it and practise it to some extent. Otherwise we won’t be a capitalist economy, we wouldn’t have a nearly double digit growth rate, nor would our domestic companies swallowing up ailing multinational giants. So yes, we are ALL greedy.

But very little of this greed is actually in terms of money; after a point, the marginal utility of money indeed diminishes. In one of my interviews, I was asked about exceptions to the law of marginal utility. I didn’t have the guts to say the obvious answer, i.e. “alcohol”. But there are other things which are probably more addictive than money or alcohol, that makes us insatiable, that makes us almost blind to the extent of greedy.

Power is one, freedom is another, and love is the other…