I remember a teacher in school asking us what we wanted to be when we grew up.
It wasn’t serious, or meant to inspire; we were too old for that – 12th standard. It was a free period and the teacher was doing whatever she could to stop us from stabbing each other. When it was my turn, I stood up and said, ‘Ma’am, I want to be a House-husband’.
You know, the kind of thing you do to sound funny in class so that the pretty girl acknowledges your existence. And yet, after all these years, I suspect there was a pinch of truth in the statement.
I hate jobs. I hate the timings, the commuting, the rushing in the morning, the sleepiness in the afternoon. I hate having to describe every minute detail to a person who’s not necessarily smarter or wiser, just senior in age. I hate wearing boring shades of clothes that are forced to look formal; a tuck here, a nip there. I hate having to deal with morons on the road, more so since my motorcycle is actually the ghost of an old grumpy horse that has possessed a seemingly harmless vehicle. I have been done so many shitty jobs since my teen years that a few years ago, I put my foot down.
Perhaps a few of us aren’t meant for the race, you know. If the entire world became successful and drove in snazzy cars, who’s to write disgruntled blogs about them? It’s been more than two years now, and I haven’t done a single job. How do I make do?
I write. Not books, as I had foolishly ventured out to do a few years ago. But articles, and some blogs. Some content for Social Media, a little Copywriting here, a little market analysis there. When there are stand-up shows, or calligraphy workshops, I make a little extra money. I had set out to write books, but I couldn’t. And yet, like Konkona Sen Sharma in Luck By Chance, I’m happy doing whatever writing I do. I wear clean clothes once a week and go to the Advertising Agency I deal with, and have bath in the evenings and attend Open Mics or Comedy shows. I’m not saying all this to ask for some donations (though those are more than welcome, please ask for my Bank details by writing to Hriday @ firstname.lastname@example.org). The thing is, my hatred for jobs has grown manifold.
It has reached a stage where I feel claustrophobic when I enter a corporate office. I feel like punching the clean-shaven faces and smashing the perfectly aligned glass cabinets. I don’t, because I’m mostly there for a Corporate Show and those guys have something I don’t – PAISA. But the hatred, the absolute unadulterated disgust still boils like froth in my heart.
I have to take a few deep breaths, remind myself of my unwashed clothes, and silently make it out of the place without harming man, woman or machine.
The last month or so has been quite the revelation.
After dealing with the hustle-bustle of the city, and the trippy, Yo! Let’s-Change-the-World naivety of University Idealism, I have found my peace in a tiny hamlet far away from Cyberabad and its Cyber-bullshit.
‘Sitaphalmandi’ literally means a market for Sitaphal (wrongly misconstrued as Sita’s fruits, which, well, let’s not get there). The area is closer to Charminar than Cyber Towers, and the difference is starkly visible.
Temples and mosques jostle for space on the roads; and for frequency in the airwaves early morning. Surrounded by three universities, the place is a hub for foreign students, not from the Americas or Europe, but from Libya, Iran and Nigeria. The older houses belong to families whose children have chosen to settle in the snazzier part of the city. There is a local train station right next to my house, with a strange maroon train marked ‘Maula Ali’ permanently parked on the Narrow Gauge tracks.
This is how I spend my days.
I wake up to the sound of trains rushing in with sleepy drivers and passengers in a mild hurry. I prepare breakfast for Her (not every single day, but pretty regularly), and then drop her off at the station as she leaves for Cyber-land.
The walk back to my place is joyous and cheerful, as I walk with a spring hydraulic mono-shock absorber in my step. The day is all mine, and I finish the basic requirements first – food, a joint, and masturbation (I know, I’m not proud of it!). After that, I have the day all to myself.
I play my Cajon to some of the greatest voices in rock and roll history. I whip myself up a salad, or cook an omelet (my only culinary skill). I clean the house, do the dishes, and if the load gets too much, I pull the curtains and plunge into a glorious afternoon nap.
It’s evening by the time I wake up, and the sun is smiling gently. The school in front of my window has shut down for the day, and different cricket leagues are competing with each other for the ground, while shooing away goats. I feed the turtles, have a bath, and sit down to finish the writing scheduled for the day. I then pick Her up from the station, before leaving for a show/Open Mic, if I happen to have one that day.
There are a few exceptions here and there, but this is more or less my schedule on weekdays.
This is great. In a way, this is all I had imagined for myself years ago. This is exactly how I’d wanted to live my life.
…the human mind knows no end to desire.
It has been said by Buddha (I think), that when man achieves one desire, another quickly takes its place. Now, who am I to refute the wisdom of The Buddha?
And it’s true. I should have been satisfied, should have thanked the heavens and one of the many gods who claim to control the collective destinies of the world. But god can kiss my ass. I have brand new desires now.
It might sound hypocritical, and completely loony, but it is what my heart feels.
I want a job.
Not a serious job, or a high-paying one either. A regular government job in a regular government department. Nothing essential, like Power or Water Supply. I want a job in a department that could be immediately dispensed with in case of an alien attack. Like the Archaeological Survey of India, or the Department of Culture. A job where nothing really hinges on my shoulders, and yet I’m a cog in the wheel churning on and on.
I want a job with lots of Optional Holidays, the ones marked in orange on official government calendars. An office that has no corruption, not because the people are honest and sincere, but because nobody gives a flying fuck. A job that deposits a fixed amount of money in my bank, one where I could come back home for lunch and sleep for two hours, before rushing back at 4 PM over a cup of chai.
I want a job where there is no need to think. One where I have to make some entries on an old register, with those dual-coloured pens on each side. A job with dusty yellow walls and paan-stains on the sides of the older walls (preferably away from my personal desk). I want a government job where even the peon is called ‘Ram Babu’. A job that gives me Railway tickets for free every year, and access to Govt. Circuit Houses in every tourist destination in the country.
Life, then, would truly be magical. But till then, we make do with what we have. I wonder what Buddha would have said about IT jobs and flexible work hour options.