Monthly Archives: August 2017

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Getting a desk job at the age of 31

( A santised, edited, sanskaari version of this article appeared last Saturday in the Bangalore edition of The New Indian Express. I write a weekly humour column called Urban Bourbon. If you live in Bangalore and are jobless, you should read my column.

I will be publishing a dirtier, foul-mouthed version of my articles here on my blog).

 

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When I was 16, I ran away from home with the confidence of Amitabh Bachchan in the 70s.

I couldn’t stand my parents, having lived alternatively with both of them. Their morals, their lack of empathy to my aspirations, their ideals and expectations of me were too warped and illogical.

I had nurtured a baby-dinosaur of an ego in the 15 odd years I’d spent on this planet. I wanted to live on my terms, earn money and pay for my fantasies, such as buying the latest MP3 CD of Lucky Ali, or the latest BSA SLR bicycle.

When you’re in your teens, the universe conspires to tell you that it’ll all be okay. Even if the universe doesn’t tell you that, you mistake all its messages for precisely that – let’s see what happens. And so, armed with the confidence of Vijay Dahiya facing Australian fast bowlers, and no real skills except fluent English, I set out to find my calling in life.

What I found instead, was a call centre. In the years since, I have worked in travel agencies, PCO booths, sold investment plans, drawn up press meets and conferences, dubbed for TV serials, advertisements and infomercial campaigns, worked in customer care centres. I have burnt the midnight oil as a teacher, writer, bar singer, M.Phil scholar, sports commentator, copywriter, stand-up comedian and calligraphy instructor.

I know it sounds impressive when I put it all out like this. Sounds like I went through a sea of experiences that changed and shaped who I am today. That it was a time of struggle and survival. In reality, it was not. I was honestly tripping. Each part of these jobs is intrinsically linked to one or the other narcotic substance.

Like for example the Customer Care Executive job where I had to answer 400 calls a day from customers all over Orissa. I used to report to work at 3, and wait for the bhang shops to open at 4.30. The first two hours were torture – assholes calling with strange complaints like:

“Hello! Your network is fucked up. I have two phones in each hand. I can’t call from one to the other”. 

OR

Hello. Your network is bad on Wednesdays. I have to stand in the toilet or the balcony to get any network.” 

OR

Hello. I want to fuck you, baby! Aah *hangs up*

I tolerated it all, waiting for the clock to strike 4.30. I would then shoot out of the office for a smoke break, and gobble up a big ball of bhang. The rest of the day was smooth as butter! I spoke to the customers with a smile on my face (my colleagues attributed it to my patience!). I listened to their problems with empathy and solved their issues.

Every single job has been a whirlwind journey of sorts, a blurred mix of memories and intoxication. I have followed my passion, plunging right into it, even if my passion changed drastically in a few weeks.

And finally, after years of searching for my passion, I took up a desk job at the ripe age of 31.

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Most of my friends have desk jobs, and I would listen to them complain and crib all day. I would hear them bitch about their bosses, and shiver with excitement as Friday approached. Their stories were all the same – their bosses were assholes, the food in their office was shit, HR executives got paid a salary to make their lives miserable, and Fridays were for ethnic dressing.

Thanks to their constant cribbing, I’d nurtured strange ideas about a desk job. I detested having to wear formals, disliked the control that managers exert over employees. I was wary of bosses constantly prying over their employees’ work; and mundane, boring work.

But like Shakti Kapoor says in every movie where he accepts a bribe – Paisa toh paisa hota hai. I got an offer for a job and took it, fully armed with the complaints and grouses that my friends fed me. Each of my assumptions fell flat on my face, like a sidekick in Bahubali.

I work for Microsoft, and write content for Game of Thrones – a series that I am obsessed with. My work involves watching older seasons of GoT, looking up conspiracy theories, and tripping on Wikia – the 2nd greatest website on earth after Reddit.

My boss has never come to see me work, he doesn’t even work in the same floor. On my first day, I came to work dressed in formals. I was shocked to find everybody else in shorts – looking like hippies in Dev Anand’s Hare Krishna Hare Ram. I travel using a cab-sharing app, get to travel with other people along the same route, having interesting conversations and making friends on a daily basis.

So what do I do all day?

Well, a number of things. Firstly, there’s an Amul fridge near my desk. I keep a close count on how many ‘Cool Kafes’ there are in the fridge, and give dirty looks to those who take more than one with them. I play Table Tennis for an hour a day, getting smashed by a homo sapien belonging to a new gender, race, and age everyday. I smile at the boy whipping up my salad, hoping he’d add a few pieces of chicken for free. He doesn’t.

It’s been a month now, and contrary to what I believed about myself, I have no qualms to admit I wait to come to work the office everyday.

However, if there’s one group of people who are unimpressed by my taking up a desk job, it is my stand up comedian colleagues. They look at me like I’ve let down the entire institution of stand up comedy by choosing to do a job. To rile them up further, I carry my tag even when I go on stage!

I have come to realise that having a job is not necessarily a bad thing. All the wonders of the modern world, all the tools you use to pursue your passions, were created by passionate people with desk jobs. They fused their passions with their professions so you could better pursue your passion!

And yet, all our films constantly push the same idea. Of not being ‘trapped’ in a job, to venture out and ‘seek’ your passion. It was with great catharsis that I read the news recently about a couple who quit their jobs to travel the world. They used to post breathtaking pictures on Instagram (created by hardworking people with desk jobs!). They are now cleaning toilets to survive!

Or look at Ranbir Kapoor’s films like Wake up, Sid!, which invariably involve him finding his passion in photography, videography, theatre, singing, and politics. I am waiting to watch a movie where Ranbir Kapoor’s passion is to find his passion!

What the fuck is this passion that our new-age India keeps talking about? I have followed each and every one of my passions, and honestly, I regret following half of them. I see this everyday. During my stand-up shows, I ask people where they work, and they mumble apologetically, ‘IT’ – like it’s a crime, it’s something to be ashamed of.

For some strange reason, we have made a whole generation of IT workers embarassed about their jobs. Made it seem like they’re taking the ‘easy way’ by doing a desk job. Fuck Ranbir Kapoor, and fuck his passions. Seriously.

I am happy with what I am doing. I can’t guarantee it’ll go on for too long, given my history of running away from jobs – but it’s been a month of fun. Of course, at the end of the day, while my ‘artist’ friends buy Sai Baba Beedi from the shop, I’ll smirk over my scotch. Suck on my passion, assholes!

When I look at my life, I realise it is a Ranbir Kapoor movie in reverse. I was pursuing my passion(s), and was beside the love of my life. Today, I’m single, and have a desk job.

I should call it Go to Sleep, Hriday!

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public-embarassment

To the teenager who mailed me about Masturbation

 

In the ten years that I’ve been running this blog, I get mails from a number of people on a daily basis. Some of them compliment me on the articles, and some of them put forth their requests (Bro, you need to write an article on Tushar Kapoor!). Some of the mails are strange requests (Bro, I’m coming to Hyderabad. Can you arrange some weed for me?’). And some are critical of the stuff I write (How the fuck can you write about Sachin Tendulkar? Kabhi jaake District cricket mein khelke dikha, chutiye).

I have always replied to these mails, and some of the friendships from the blog are intact to this day. But every once in a while, I get mails that make me sit up and take notice. And it was with some curiosity, that I opened a mail from a teenager a few months back.

He had written to me to say that he was masturbating regularly, and it filled him with shame and guilt. It had made him a recluse, and he stopped going out to meet friends and family. He sounded in pain, and I wanted to tell him that it would be okay.

However, I got caught up with the vagaries of life, and the post never materialised. So here it is, dear teenager who mailed me about masturbation.

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Firstly, thank you for writing to me.

You don’t know me in person, and yet, to open up to me about something like this means that my blog must have become an important part of your life. Or at the very least, you felt I’m the sort of person you could share your fears with. When I started this blog, I had no idea it would touch people’s lives like this. So thank you!

Now, let’s get to the topic at hand. Masturbation.

There’s no shame in saying it, no shame in doing it. Let’s just say the word a few more times. Masturbation. The act of masturbating. To pleasure oneself.

It’s not as uncommon as you think. Everybody does it. Literally, EVERYBODY.

Close your eyes and think of anybody in your life, or anybody in the world – and they’ve done it. Sachin Tendulkar? He’s done it. Steve Jobs? He’s done it too. Stephen Hawkings? Well…

Masturbation is completely natural. All your friends, their parents, their neighbours, and their parents have done it too. It is a completely normal and human thing to do. However, we live in a country that aims to become a developed nation, but chooses not to include sex education in schools. A government whose ministers dish out quasi-scientific facts in the year 2017, a government whose ministers believe sexuality is the subject matter of the state. How can you expect such a society to be accepting of homosexuality?

Which is probably why you feel such shame.

Which is also probably why elders peddle such lies regarding the act of masturbation. While growing up, we heard rumours that if you did it too much, hair would begin to grow on your palms. We were told that excessive pimples and acnes were a result of spending too much quality time with yourself. In fact, there was a book called Health In Your Hands which informed us that the half-circles on our nails were indicators of how much sperm we had, and if we spent it all, we might fall sick. I remember checking the half-moons on my nails after watching a Hindi film, or reading the latest edition of Filmfare. Other sources told us that doing it too much could give you AIDS!

As you might have guessed, these were desperate attempts by a prude society.

If anything, masturbation is beautiful. It gives vent to your fantasies. Much like you, I grew up full of insecurities. I studied in a boys school and had no exposure to women whatsoever. And since we were growing up with each other, it was quite common for guys to shag each other off. What is a common practice in most boys school, became a matter of shame and guilt. Coupled with my own insecurities, I was a mess of nerves. When I encountered a pretty girl, I was both guilty and nervous.

Amidst such colluding complexities, it was ‘spending quality time with myself’ that helped me cope. And boy, I was a machine!

Your generation must be used to porn videos on your phones. Tap a button and a million options pop up in front of you. Unfortunately, I had to use both my hands and my imagination.

During compulsory meditation sessions, I would imagine imaginary situations with my crushes, which mostly involved me rescuing them (Sorry! I had watched a number of Dharmedra movies!) and then taking them to an abandoned haystack. I would play out the scene for hours, teasing myself, and then rush to the teacher and excuse myself to go to the washroom!

Magazines and newspapers, sunday supplements and Very Personal columns by Bina Ramani in The Asian Age – during my teen years, the entire world was an outlet of emotions. With the arrival of Internet, our focus shifted to poorly photoshopped images from film posters. Or Indian sex stories that had all the finesse and literary skill of a horny 14 year old from Ludhiana.

Stories that went ‘Mera naam Mukesh hai. Main ek din bus mein jaa raha tha. Mere side mein ladki thi. Maine usey jamke chod diya…’

When the Internet wasn’t available, there was television, and that blessing to teenagers across India – Zee Cinema! There was no stopping me!

Fact is, you’re at an age when your body, nature, and the entire cosmos – wants you to procreate. And it is completely alright for you to indulge in yourself. So go ahead. If you like reading, may I introduce you to the dark, sinful pleasures of fan fiction. If you have the aesthetic sense of Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, there are sites that aren’t gross. If you are tired of porn sites (for they have a way of making one feel gross at times!), there are audio books. There’s a world wide web of options in front of you. So go ahead; give wings to your imagination.

Which then brings us to the most important question – how much is too much? Is there a problem with too much??

Medically, the side effects are fatigue, nausea and weakness. Honestly, coffee has more side effects. But there are other aspects to it. There is the issue of desensitisation. Especially if you watch Indian porn videos. Indian porn videos are the worst – they are poorly made, and most of them are regressive amateur/revenge videos. They are all shot without the girl’s permission, or are exploitative in nature. Guard yourself against that.

But there’s the more important issue of time management. You must be at an age where your decisions might impact you. Don’t let the habit take over your life. Once you understand that it is completely normal, you will probably learn to regulate yourself better. Step out, make friends, develop a hobby. (Sorry about the generic gyaan! :D)

If you need to take a break, may I introduce you to the fantastic people at NoFap – a Reddit community dedicated to people like you – who touch their member too many times to remember (sorry about the puns too!).

So get rid of the guilt, and go ahead and indulge. Just remember to treat it like a treat to yourself – like gaajar halwa. Don’t make it daal-chaawal, ‘cos what’s the fun in that?

 

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I hope this post helps you get rid of your guilt in some way. I hope you become happy and confident and find yourself a girl (or boy!), and I hope you continue to read my blogs. If you still have issues, please feel free to write to me.

Happy fapping! 🙂

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(If you have an issue that is troubling you, and want me to respond, please feel free to write to me. I have been running out of issues to write about, and generally find that I like counseling (even if I am terrible at following my own advice!). You can write to hriday at writetohriday@gmail.com – I know, I know! :D)