Yesterday, it was finally there: the occasion we were all waiting for with bated breath. No I don’t mean the end of India’s humiliating whitewash against the Aussies. I assure you it was more life-changing, more significant and more important than world peace, environment and Presidential Elections in the US. It was the day when bonus and hike numbers were announced in our bank.
We were already repeatedly brainwashed to keep our expectations low. Fed with constant stories of cost cutting, headcount rationalization and slashed bonus pools due to the economic downturn, we half expected the bank to TAKE money from us. As if to prove a point, it also announced that it was offering junk bonds as a part of the bonus component to senior executives.
Now the communist Bong that I am, any blatant discussion about money embarrasses me. Though the only reason I am in this industry IS money, I wouldn’t be caught dead admitting it. Yes, I am hypocritical that way. So when my boss called me up to discuss my numbers, I maintained a staunch silence, and after he probingly asked me if I was happy with the revision, I hurriedly jumped into an incoherent explanation on how it was NOT all about money and the intangibles go a long way in defining my satisfaction. For a change, here was someone quoting obscene amounts of money AND apologizing that it was a bad year. All I could think about was all those coffee breaks I took or the time I spent writing nonsense or reading unrelated stuff or following flipkart, cricinfo, makemytrip and bookmyshow during office hours. Suddenly, I felt guilty, but thankfully got over it soon. However, this was where it ended. No phone calls to gush about it, no pondering over it and no comparing with other people. I smsed my dad who conveniently ignored it, only calling me at night to tell me how much additional tax I would have to pay.
Honestly speaking, I had not given much thought to the compensation aspect. I was happy with my appraisal, I was happy even with my current remuneration and any increase would barely make any difference to my life. I don’t have any financial responsibilities, debts or materialistic ambitions and the concept of diminishing marginal utility of money is very pronounced right now. It was good to know that I was valued enough for them to make a generous offer without me asking for it. Having said that, I know that the i-banking world is very fickle and short term, and I could well be discarded next year. I also know, that the increase in money will make no difference to my philosophy, i.e. if I feel stifled or micromanaged, I won’t think twice before quitting. However, more money does increase the exit barriers and make it all the more harder for me to give it all up to permanently retire to a writer’s life.
Money can’t buy a dream, but it CAN make it a disturbed sleep…