Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Media-savvy exponents of the noble profession and their claims to fame

One of the lesser pleasant species of humans that I’ve had the misfortune of coming across during my brief sojourn as a TOI reporter is the publicity-friendly educationist. This species particularly, takes it for granted that they are the official proprietors of the publication that their school is subscribing to (note for the accidental reader: It is in fact the students and their parents who pay for the subscription, and not the school.)

In my very first week on the job, a gracious lady, asked me, in not-so-gracious terms, to take her interview. For what reason, even she did not know. (I had called to ask for the school board topper). Ignoring certain schools is simpler. You can just stall and ignore them. Eventually they forget their whims and get on with life. And you can get on with yours.
Then there is the category of tech-savvy educationists. This species is easy to evade, and even easier to deal with. That’s chiefly because you hardly have to directly interact with them. They usually send a copious number of emails on various topics to you. More often than not, they attach a photograph of themselves to each email. For example, if a child has broken some record, it’ll be a photograph of the child with this teacher (admittedly it’s a simpler job if you happen to be the principal in such cases). A sub-species is the educationist who ALWAYS stands out at the forefront of even the biggest mass-photo. It’s like they have radar attached to detect where the photographer might position himself. Spooky.

Another sub-species is the slightly middle-aged tech-savvy educationist. Members of this category usually send mails with the matter in a bizarre font of size 24, in Bold and sometimes in Italics. Then they usually proceed to invoke God’s blessings in the report itself. On the rare occasions, they even manage to super-impose their photographs on certain other images (vivid reminder of political campaigns and flyers).

Yes. It looks like that. There are instances where a teacher has sent me reports on how he and his better half celebrated their silver jubilee wedding anniversary. Yes, that’s right. Wedding anniversary. And that’s not the end of it. This particular specimen sent me his silver jubilee wedding anniversary ‘report’ 2 years in a row. Déjà vu.

Then there are the compulsive names-droppers. Educationists from this category give me the vibes of a PR professional who is not very good at her job. This reminds me, I have a solemn confession to make. I have a strong allergy towards PR people, and I admit, that I have successfully ruined more than one great friendship because of this phobia. It’s not something that I am particularly proud of. Anyway, the names-droppers, as their nomenclature suggests, keep dropping names and events and facts about any topic under the sun, and expect you to do nothing but nod your head enthusiastically and ‘hmmm’ away. Later they corner you and demand coverage, again sorry to say, even their school magazines would be unwilling to carry.

And then, of course, there is the all-important category of an ‘education mogul’. There is but one person who stands out in this particular category. Let’s just call him ‘Freezer’. Freezer is like the America of the modern day unipolar world. I have named him Freezer because of his striking resemblance to the common household appliance. Cold and frigid, takes up more space than you like, and inadvertently releases stuff that is harmful to the atmosphere. And god help you if it somehow manages to fall on your poor toes.
Freezer doesn’t come to the media. The media come to HIM. That is his idealistic situation, apparently. Anyway, my respected bosses do very little to dispel his schizophrenic notions of being the owner of TOI. It’s bad for business, you see. It’s interesting, actually, to see people who are supposed to be your superiors, turn into servile sycophants in front of people like Freezer. No doubt, it’s the toxic effect of the CFCs he releases.
Comically allegorical, Freezer and his institution strikingly resemble America’s republican ‘Big Brother’ effect. Very like the Non-proliferation treaty, the Kyoto protocol, and the waging of unnecessary wars to meet their own selfish demands. In a nutshell, ‘Bully’.

Am I bitter? Definitely. But I really must go out on a limb and thank everyone whom I have mentioned here so far. Without them, I would never have been pushed to the brink of frustration and despair, and without that, this blog would never have happened. A sincere thanks to all the perverts, bullies, idiots, sycophants, opportunists, weirdos and prospective mental patients who have inspired this dimwit to muse. Inconsequentially, but muse nevertheless.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Divine interventions and work

Life goes on, though it now alarmingly resembles a fresh, steaming and stepped-on pile of doggy droppings. Ah, how one can seriously underestimate the destructive powers of a dead-end job. I recently came across this quote on a friend’s profile on Orkut: ‘An optimist is what a pessimist is before he has a job.’ Something like that. Very Murphy-like, and also equally true. The TOI office is fast turning into something which uncannily resembles Azkaban, the wizard prison in the Harry Potter novels. The management, or as they would prefer to be known, ‘the gods’ suck out the happiness from all other lesser mortals, and the office is chilly enough to give Antarctica a serious run for its money (the chill is also an indirect result of the Dementor effect, as the gods have given specific instructions to keep the air-conditioning at around 14 degrees Celsius.) Brrr.
Anyway, the gods live on a staple diet of, nay, not nectar, but self-praise, and the praise showered on them by a bunch of sycophants (prominent stereotype often found in government offices and most other bureaucratic establishments). Burp.
The gods set brilliant examples for the mortals, and teach them the virtues of working hard. On their part, they painstakingly trudge on the deadly and treacherous roads to meeting their targets while being confined to their office, surfing precarious websites (a.k.a. Orkut and Facebook), striking deals left, right and centre, all while sitting and surfing. Talk about multi-tasking! On some days, when the work pressure is back-breaking, they fight all odds to go out of station for a well-deserved break, a 3 hour long lunch, for I have forgotten to mention a very important factor. Of the thousands of virtues that the gods possess, their true superpower is but one: Delegating. From finding a phone number online, to striking deals, the gods have the supreme power of delegating anything to anyone they can catch hold of. But of course, when it comes to taking the credit, the gods, of course, take it all. You can’t mess with divinity, can you? After all, ‘sab kuchh bhagwan ke haathon mein hai, na?’

Lastly, after working for nearly 18 months in this organization, I would like to compile a few things.

Signs that you are working in The Times Of India for too long:

1. You start off the week with a countdown of how many days are left to the weekend.
2. You routinely suffer from chronic depression and suicidal thoughts as soon as Sundays arrive. Alternatively, you fall sick every weekend.
3. You prefer roaming outside during peak summer or torrential rainfalls pretending to make calls, rather than coming to office.
4. You are already suffering from body aches and illnesses that usually afflict people twice your age.
5. You get so familiar with press releases, that you unconsciously start writing them yourself.
6. The rare days that you take off are frequently interjected with phone calls from office. So much so that it stops feeling like a holiday.
7. You are so habituated to taking crap from people that a crap-free day leaves you feeling incomplete and unfulfilled, not to mention generally dazed and light-headed.
8. The first thing you do after reaching office is to check job sites and your email (again to check for any mails from prospective employers.)
9. You seriously contemplate becoming a gold-digger and marrying for money, just so that you can quit the job.
10. While talking about anything related to work, your normal speech is generously sprinkled with ‘censored’ words that you previously found too offensive to use before you started working.