Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is life supposed to be this way?

It was again there today. My friend said it to me. Ever since I started working it has become increasingly hard for me to ignore. At first I thought that only I am having it bad, then I suddenly I started seeing it everywhere, and by everywhere I mean my remaining point of contacts with the world, Gtalk, Facebook, the occasional tweets and phone calls of friends. Status messages saying how sad their life has become, how hard their boss is coming down, status updates saying their job sucks or the exhilaration when they changed it. The phone call which said that I have quit my job because I was going crazy. I tried to ignore it thinking maybe people liked to exaggerate, liked to bitch about their boss and work or maybe it was some kind of fad when everyone started proving their life is more miserable than the other. Then one of my senior in my office quit, he was constantly ignored by the boss, made to do shitty work and was passed over in the recent annual appraisals. He finally quit. Then I met another senior who was from Calcutta, he just mentioned that how he was having it tough in Pune, no time to see his wife and kids, whole life had become office to home to office. He was travelling 20 days in a month. He tried to keep it subtle but the pain was real.

Call me naïve or ignorant or immature, but nobody told me about this deal. To earn money, which most people now agree or will agree in the future is the key to happiness; you had to be away from your loved ones, slog in the office for 12 hours, travel like crazy to attend meetings, trainings, functions. Take abuse from your boss; maybe even pass some to your sub-ordinates. Listen to demeaning things, engage in office politics, back stab people, see gross slip ups but stay silent to present rosy pictures, stay in office later than your boss just to show you are a sincere worker, staying in alien cities, giving up your hobbies. And all this for what?

A pay hike which adds 5000 Rs to your monthly salary, a promotion which changes nothing but your designation, one pat on your head from your boss meaning ‘good dog’. A drinking problem, rift in your family, never being there to see your kid grow up, lifestyle diseases, alienation from the people you spend most of your waking hours i.e. your co-workers, depressions, affairs. Spending money on shopping, expensive restaurants, imported liquor and gadgets you never needed just to feel happy, just to prove to yourself that you are happy and successful? I had updated once on Buzz and twitter that one beer should be made compulsory after work. My friend had replied in the affirmative saying that he has realized why a daily wage laborer spent half of what he earned on buying liquor, otherwise he can’t sleep with all that hard work and abuse.

When I think about all this, I always remember a scene from DDLJ. For most people it was a great romance, a big song and dance spectacle, a tribute to true India and Indianess and blah blah….. For me it was the pain of Amrish Puri, staying away from home, not seeing his loved ones, wanting to go back but not able to, why? Because of money, his store, his source of income. If I remember correctly the dialogue was “Roti paer kee zanjeer ban gayi hai’. His feeding the pigeons had they were the only ones he identified with, mind you he identified and shared things with the pigeons, not even with his family. “Inka bhi meri tarah koi desh nahin hai, jahan daana dikha wahan ruk gaye, paet bhara aur ud gaye”

But what is the alternative? Sit at home, do nothing, molly coddle your wife and kids all day long. Watch TV and pursue your hobbies, take out one hour every morning for Yoga and then sit back and reflect upon the uneventful day’s happenings? Will your wife be happy if you couldn’t fulfill her basic necessities, will your love be enough for the kids when they have no education and no material comforts so to say, nothing what the kids in the neighborhood have, and how will you pay for your TV and it’s electricity, not to forget anything else in the world. But most of all, will it not trouble you if you didn’t have anything to do whole day, nothing to contribute to the world, no sense of achievement. And what would it be, maybe a world full of mediocrity? I don’t know. Like most situations in my life I don’t have any answers, only a few good questions.

I sometimes sit and ponder over it like I am doing now. When I used to see people taking it easy in their work, acting lazy or even not willing to work harder I used to think, what’s wrong with these people, why don’t they wanna work hard, don’t they wanna progress, become someone in life, at least work is place where extra effort always shows. Now I am in the same boat, I am not working, blaming it on everybody else, my boss, my senior, the company, the fact nothing is going to matter even if I did try a little harder. When people in HR used to talk about employee satisfaction, job enlargement, job fulfillment, employee engagement, team spirit we used to laugh our ass off “Saala ye HR waalon ko to bakar karne ke hee paise milte hai”. But not anymore, ever since I started working I realized these factors are all out there, and now it’s not so easy for me to laugh at them. I still laugh at the solutions HR people come up with for these problems, but not at the problems.

But what are they doing about the problems I mentioned above. Is anybody at all? I don’t know. I don’t know why nearly everybody I know hates their job, I don’t know why nearly everybody I know hates their boss, I don’t know why nearly everybody I know wants to change his job no matter what job he or she is in. I don’t know why nearly everybody I know is away from home or away from the people he or she wants to be, I don’t know why nearly everybody I know says his is bad company. I really don’t know.

As I have said I have no answers, only questions. I can go on for some more time but I’m afraid it’ll be tautology. So I leave you with one question – ‘Is life supposed to be this way?’

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