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Archive for the ‘work life balance’ Category

Late Shift Blues

In Artist, freelancing, Office humor, Organisation, SlavesInc, vitamin d deficiency, Wage Slaves, work life balance, work stress on June 8, 2017 at 20:13
‘You again?’ he said. You could have said the exact same thing but you stick to the more traditional, ‘Hi.’
This must be the seventh time you have ran into the man on the last train home. You vaguely remember him in the audience at one of your dos. You don’t recall ever asking his name and it has not hampered your acquaintance for lack of a better word.
Train Kandivali
You fill him in on all that has been happening in your little version of rebellion. He listens with amusement but that is about it. Then you ask him about his…work. Not that there is much excitement he can share about the ERP offshoring project that is gainfully employing him. Then you try silence for a while and it catches on. Till it’s time for you to say goodbye at your destination. The empty rake takes the man home only to repeat the cycle again tomorrow. He didn’t seem sad but he didn’t look hopeful either. A version of you in a parallel universe. It was a rather Fight Club moment, like meeting your spirit animal.
There is something about late night shifts that brings about contemplation even in the most wound up of automatons. May be it is the moonlight, the relative coolness or just the silence. The sweepers on the platform, the rickshaw drivers waiting for a last ride home or just an excuse to call it a day and you on your post-gig high seem to share an unspoken camaraderie, a loose brotherhood of odd-jobers. Going through the motions of their respective mime acts. Like you were in a video for a blues song together.
New York Workers

PhotoShop always was a latent need of the market.

Some days you see your ex-colleagues on the other side of the tracks, on the right side of market sentiment and the wrong side of traffic. Their belts struggling to contain their impending cardiac episodes and the compartment barely containing the class struggle. As you wave at them from your empty compartment going upstream, the success is almost cinematic in contrast. But it’s not the end, it never is. There is always a higher plane to abdicate to. And unfortunately life is a series of sequels no one asked for.
Rat Race.jpg
Man is a creature of habit. All creatures are. Meaning can always be retrofitted. From training troops to telecallers, most mission calls are euphemisms at best. Lies we decide to believe collectively to make life bearable. One should always be weary of replacing one drudgery with another.
Slice of Life Dexter
Small talk about traffic, weather and elections is just static filling the emptiness of your years. You can choose to wake up or sleepwalk through the rest of your life, no one will notice either way. But at least pick the shift that feels most defiant.
– Punit Pania

Inflation and the Myth of Satisfaction

In Motivation, Salary, work life balance on April 20, 2017 at 17:05
The really premium stores are the ones where you can’t even make out what they are actually selling. It is difficult to tell what’s on offer, the crockery, the antique toy cars or the staff’s mime act.
Kama-Ayurveda-Store
Italian decor, Indian prints and African drum music because…why not? You can’t tell if the staff has an accent or they are struggling with queer product descriptions they have been made to memorize. You can’t tell if the look on their face is irony or a perpetual shrapnel up their ass.
Kama-Store
And they are always empty. You could either feel like you are one of the chosen few or you stumbled in mistakenly. Either way, you have never felt so out of place since the time your Mom left you alone with Grandma and her Poker Club friends.
The price tags have detached themselves not only from the inherent value of the product but from gravity itself. And yet it feels impolite to walk out without a purchase but not to price a scarf at 5695 bucks in the first place!
It’s only numbers afterall. In a world of rival religions and vicarious recreation, numbers are the only real thing and they rule everything we do.
Your salary, your BMI, your EMI, your credit limit and your per capita GDP. All numbers; manifested in the struggle you call a life. The jumble of neurons you call a consciousness. And competing hormonal levels you call a personality.
And somewhere down the line we decided that they should all move upwards, double digits, year on year, more chaos, more dollars, more entropy, less sleep, no stopping. A death spiral of consumption, diminishing returns on investment and the myth of satisfaction that always lies beyond your salary bracket.
Clooney Boat
But you don’t know when to give up. You never do. Make do with the MRP bars and save for the birthday bash. Wait for the online sales and splurge in Diwali. Scratching, clawing and ducking into another financial year of accounting obscurity.
Sure there are alternatives and different trends but the shop selling detox depends on the shop selling liquor. And the only right answer to any question is: More!
When the last tree has been cut down
More and more till the last beach is turned into a carnival and the last forest is strip-mined into a grave. The centrifugal force of consumption is so great that only the blessed few with resolve can resist and that too only within the sanctuary of their minds. For the rest, life will be at best a blurr of alarm clocks, plastic pop songs and credit card due date reminders all held together by a constant primordial anxiety to belong, never really getting there but never realising freedom can be as simple as turning the WiFi off!
Don’t you give up, nah-nah-nah
I won’t give up, nah-nah-nah…
– Punit Pania

Being Polite is the Slowest Way to Die

In Communication, Organisation, work life balance, work stress on March 5, 2017 at 15:39
‘Being polite is the slowest way to die!’ you had heard in a motivational workshop. But that was for sales guys.
Now you are in an air-conditioned office where interactions can be more hostile but language always has to be civil to the point of flippancy. Words like help start losing weight and assume a life of their own. And some words are hunted to extinction. Like the sweet and simple No.
Image may contain: 1 person, standing
No is decisive, firm and has gravitas. No doesn’t wait for regret to seep in, No moves on, No has a life. Which is why it has no space left in corporate life. ‘I’ll get back to you’ has taken its place in perpetuity. Because with enough euphemisms, we will all be immortal one day.
And in the midst of this nihilism you have ended up saying yes to another stinker of a project. Coz it came in the garb of help. Help; a word so versatile it can never go extinct. It’s scale is quantum but it’s demeanor is benign. You can keep helping blind old ladies cross the road remembering that Jesus too once helped us by taking one for the team.
Image result for jesus brb
As you now type away into the wee hours of the evening instead of being home with your family of online subscriptions, you begin to wonder is it that difficult to say no? You wonder how all the succesful VPs and up-and-comers get through the muck of life and come out clean and gleaming. You wonder how people can get away by simply saying ‘I need your help’ instead of ‘I know you hate doing it but there is no way I am going to do this myself so we are in this together now’?
Image result for shawn michaels suck it
But it is difficult to say No. Increasingly so, in the minefield of power structures, dotted line reporting and 360° appraisals. And beyond the niceties and tea parties, No has to come from a very real place deep inside your hollowed conscience, beneath all the layers of conditioning and anxiety. Do it when you are ready, when there is no looking back and there is no regret. Life in the wild can be brutal but life in climate control is excruciating.
– Punit Pania

Bachelor of Commerce

In humor, SlavesInc, work life balance on January 4, 2017 at 17:46
‘I can’t afford one more baby,’ you say instinctively as the collections start for Govind’s second child’s first gift.
Ideally Govind should have been saying it. Perhaps he did but after it was too late, because the script demanded it.
Everyone is running their own story based on their myths, their favourite band’s lyrics and the last movie they saw. So are you. But while the Lone Ranger, the hopeless romantic and unrequited love are celebrated on celluloid, 9 to 5 bets its money on conformity and predictability.
Bachelors are the new Social outcasts and unlike the Wild West, you don’t even have a Sheriff’s badge in your defense let alone a sidearm. And there too many occasions on which you wish you had a gun, from Baby showers to BringYourSpouseToWorkDay.
rolling-stone-charlie-sheen.jpg
Bachelors have fewer rights than Syrian refugees on Thanksgiving Day in Oklahoma. Need to show that expat from Barcelona around? Someone’s got to stay back in office to ensure the file transfer is complete? Someone needs to represent us at the conference on Sunday? Who you gonna call?
– The Bachelor.
What hurts more than not having a life is the general assumption that you don’t have one. And how is ‘You don’t have a family to go to home to’ still a valid argument? It’s 2016, the only lasting family anyone has is their collection of now defunct smartphones.
Image result for bachelor funny
Buying into the societal concept of legal marriage seems to be like getting a Presidential level AmEx Platinum Card. The privileges are many and ridiculous. How could you not want this lifetime membership?
Any contract that is permanent gives you the qualms. And the budgets for these baby shower gifts keep inflating every quarter. With more people chipping in and more Chinese kids working in factories around the clock; before you know it you are buying a baby carriage with a jet pack and a drone mode for stealth bombing…all for a kid who has not even taken its first breath of polluted air yet.
Image result for baby showers funny
But Bachelors have to play their part, everyone does. Kingdoms are built on division of labour where the King gets to be the biggest asshole the land has ever seen and everyone else gets to clean up after him. At least now you get to pay your taxes to the ruling class and go home and cry in peace.
– Punit Pania

Freelance Warrior

In Big Brother, Blogging, SlavesInc, Technology, Wage Slaves, work life balance on January 2, 2017 at 18:45
It is easy to fall into the ‘Pen is mightier than the sword’ wordplay. But one man’s knight is another man’s mercenary.
In a post-modern WiFi inundated world, knights are often slouched behind desks following up on their pizza home delivery. Nature is inherently violent and only the fittest survive. But what is fit is changing and physical violence is now translated into the language of money and economics.
Image result for american psycho gif
Most of us visualize life as this long epic battle for which we are fighting, suffering and sacrificing everyday so that day one day we will reach Graceland. The Big Payoff, the Big Promotion, the Big Offshore posting – which may or may not come and if it does it may or may not seem worth the life force spent in chasing it. One would think it would be hard to sell this world view. But it’s not because the scriptures themselves prescribe daily drudgery in lieu of otherworldly salvation. And we have all bought into Jehovah’s stock-options that will not mature in this space-time continuum.
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The ads selling you fizzy drinks and fitness bands, your employer’s mission and vision statements and the condolences you offer yourself every night before setting the alarm again – all adding to a loosely bound narrative that keeps you in a trance you call a life.
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You do a have choice though, increasingly so. A choice of sitting it out, hitting the eject button on the rat race, watching the circus from the sidelines. Live a little bit of Graceland everyday, happiness in small daily installments. Mutual funds are always subject to market risks but Ponzi schemes are only subject to your ignorance.
Freelancer, rebel, outcast or just social slacker, at least you have the freedom to own your mistakes. That’s better than being an extra in someone else’s Forbes dream.
– Punit Pania

Switch off the damn WiFi

In Big Brother, Blogging, Motivation, SlavesInc, work life balance on December 20, 2016 at 15:46
It’s been an hour since you’ve been staring at your screen, a month since you took a break and a year since you put out a blog post.
But Facebook is the new blogging, Insta is the new Facebook and SnapChat is the new Insta. You don’t even have to wait for the next InstaSwipeClick thingy to take away any residual need left to think or even simply take a deep breath. It just keeps coming, like wave after wave of zombies. You can keep striking them down but drowning is only a matter of time.
Sure you have friends and something akin to an employer and a guiding deity. But they are all increasingly mute. Just acting out their parts in mime unless double clicked to say more. Just one more thing to scroll past on a never-ending conveyor belt to oblivion.
Pearl Jam Virtual Reality.gif
There are happy moments, funny cats and morbid quotes but they are all faint proxies for a real-world cousin who doesn’t even matter anymore. Neither do you nor your blog nor any other form of documentation you force into a habit.
But you do it anyway more as an exercise in free will than in any meaningful defiance. In the flat, hot, post-truth world, creating, holding and relishing an independent thought in your head is by itself revolutionary.
And detox is always just the flick of a switch away. So switch off that damn WiFi and start some real work.
 Merry Christmas!
– Punit Pania

Work and Play

In SlavesInc, Training, work life balance on March 1, 2015 at 19:27

Work and play don’t mix. But that doesn’t stop your overlords from trying. Outbound fun they call it. Predictable logos and free-size t-shirts are made. And very quietly, it is mentioned that participation is not voluntary. Everything else seems to be, voluntary i.e. From the menu to the venue. So you, the cubicle mice, have the freedom to decide. These are like all freedoms that are given away without asking, inconsequential. Carlin Illusion of choice The agenda is classified, sort of. Not many give a hoot. But most are able to fake it. Yet; all the manufactured enthusiasm in the world can’t come up with one original idea. Which is why Head Slave does the only thing left to do. Incentivize. modern_life_work_home_play_sleep ‘Surprise Gifts’ are announced for suggesting innovative lodging, boarding and catering. Between not too much fun and not too much cost, there aren’t many places left. You can’t for the life in you think of a place that is new and can pass off as fun-come-work. One sign that you have been around for too long is when waiters at hotels start recognizing you.

‘The gifts are not working, just come up with a damn place,’ Head Slave tells you in his cabin.

‘What is the gift?’ You ask to make conversation.

‘Just book a new place so people are not switched off before coming,’ he says entrusting you with the inside job.

‘It isn’t coupons again, is it?’ you express your concern.

‘Just get it done, I will personally handpick your gift,’ HS tells you.

You have reached a comfort level with the man, which is scary.

You decide on a new ‘Adventure Sports’ place up in the hills. Their website tries very hard to look casual before getting in to the Corporate Discounts section.

Post three days of zorbing, ‘team building exercises’ and compliance training, everyone is moderately satisfied. It is a mixed feeling, like the one you get at the end of every month. Bart all work and no play True to his word, HS hands over a gift to you. It truly looks like his choice. It is a vase, sort of. It is unnecessarily ornate and has a red pearl at its centre which looks like an evil eye. Actually, there are two evil eyes, one on top of the other. It could easily pass off as Mogambo’s head gear but not a vase. The Vase You don’t take it home, you can’t. But you don’t throw it away either. It stays on your desk to remind you that work and play don’t mix. Forcing them to would be like marrying science and religion, inconsequential.

– J.

Not a Morning Person

In Health, humor, Office humor, work life balance on June 2, 2014 at 01:02

As related by a friend and fellow slave

 

As the minutes pass into hours and hours turn into the morning, you realise time is unforgiving. It is cold and consistent. No wonder you are not on good terms with it.

If you were to plot a graph of the number of hours you sleep, it would be a morbidly declining picture. But wake up you must for you have got for yourself what is called a day job. And after years of doing it you have realised that it would be fair to say you are not a morning person.


not a morning person

After your second visit to the loo and the third rerun of Two and a Half Men, you shudder to even look at the watch. Various methods including multiple alarms on different devices, keeping the curtains ajar and paying the watchman to knock on your door at 7 am every morning have ensured you hold on to your job. In hindsight it seems like one continuous nightmare with interludes of hazy wakefulness…at least it pays the bills.

two-half-men-charlie-sheen

And it has taken a toll on your circadian rhythms. You find yourself wrestling with sleep even on weekends. It is hard enough training yourself to be one type of person; there is no place to fit in a weekend mode in there. It doesn’t help that the watchman doesn’t keep track of what day it is.

It is 3 am and every cell of your body is crying for a reboot. You tell yourself to power through it for one more day even though you know by now that the tomorrow of work-life balance never comes. The tomorrow when you go to bed early, have an apple in the morning and ditch coffee for green tea is a modern day myth.

Lack of sleep or lack of coffee

You check your calendar: One client visit, two meetings and three con-calls. So you decide to suck it up, you double check your alarms and order your brain to stop thinking. Being professional is a 24-hour job.

coffee-you-can-sleep-when-youre-dead

At ten minutes past eleven, you realise being professional is overrated. A full blast of sunlight through the window is accompanied by a half-cake recipe being discussed on the telly. The morning rush has passed and all you can hear is a distant dog barking, a bored baby crying and maybe even an odd bird chirping. It’s like you hit a fast-forward button in your brain. You even get a fleeting feeling of what they call…peace.

Truman In case I don't see you

Then you check your phone: three missed calls, two skipped meetings and one defaulted radio taxi pick-up. But the world didn’t end.

Calvin Stars

There are more missed calls coming in. You switch off the phone and look out of your window. Time is cold, consistent and unforgiving. The least you can do is forgive yourself once in a while.

 

– J.

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

In humor, Interpersonal, work life balance on September 18, 2013 at 23:43

A long lost acquaintance suddenly pings you on LinkedIn. Now, if it was a long-lost friend, you would have been pleasantly surprised but with an acquaintance, you just do the bare formalities: Alive? Working? Married? Kids? Good.

This acquaintance is likely to be one of the slower kids in school or the guy with the thick frames in college.  Let’s just say he would not be on your list of people you wouldn’t mind being stranded on an island with. But he is also the kind of guy who makes you feel sorry for feeling sorry for him.  So you play along.

Banya Seinfeld

A couple of pleasant surprises later, he asks you out. To a cup of coffee. At this point, it is ok to be a little worried. I mean, a tangential orientation would explain a lot, not that you would know.

Cover of "Don't Say Yes When You Want to ...

It seems you will have to buy the book ‘Don’t say yes when you want to say no’ by Herbert Fensterheim. But before you do, you have one awkward cup of coffee on your hand. It isn’t for the first couple of minutes until your acquaintance asks: ‘Tell me about your dreams. What do you want to be in life?’

flying-car

You give him a wtf look. And supplement it with a quick summary of your CV. He says, ‘No no, I want to know your dreams. We all have dreams but in our busy schedules…’

And he lays it on you. His spiel. The pitch that will change your life. The whole nine yards. Boy, is he going for the homerun or what? A mix of startlement and amusement keep you from breaking his onslaught.

im_less_awkward_coffee_mug

At the end of it, you deem it appropriate to counter with an anti-climax: ‘I will think about it. I will call you.’

You would like to think this is the end of it. But it’s not. Several phone calls and a face-to-face with one your acquaintance’s ‘Senior partners**’ later, you are finally off the program. All you could say was, ‘I don’t think so but I will get back to you.’ And you had to say this at least fifteen times before they let you go. It was hard for them, seeing as in how they were going to change your life and stuff.

They never told you what they were selling. ‘The product is not important,’ he would say, ‘we can sell anything.’ He didn’t exactly say, ’We are in the business of selling dreams.’ And that would not have surprised you.

Singapore-Sky-Garage-Apartments

You find out later that several of your friends have endured the same coffee shop routine. In fact, at the same coffee shop. The same pitch. The same shit about dreams. Just a different acquaintance and a different lead.

Asaram-Bapu

Your garden variety employer does not talk to you about your dreams but puts on paper the means to achieve them, should you choose to accept it. Godmen do not talk about the means, not scientifically anyhow, but keep brainwashing you about the end. And nothing short of eternal happiness at that. Multi-level Marketing poses as the best of both enticing you with the yuppie notion of ‘Do what you love, love what you do’.

But if you like it; it would not be work, duh’. And if you don’t like making cold calls to every last contact in your sphere of reference over a forcefully pert cup of coffee, tell them so.

Awkward Coffee Meetings

SlavesInc. recommends: Don’t freaking say yes when you want to say no.

– J.

2012 in Omnishambles

In Blogging, Office humor, SlavesInc, true enlightenment, work life balance on December 31, 2012 at 21:31

If you were to make a flip book of yourself sitting at your desk through the seasons, you would get changing surroundings and decor against an unchanging expression on your face. Quarters, interns and festivals come and go. You and your desk endure. But don’t pat yourself on the back yet.

Seasons
Enduring is just the start of it. Each year brings with it a realization of the pedestrian nature of things and the Olympian effort needed to break free of it. It is like the beginning of a sequel where what you thought was the climax turns out to be just foreplay. And like all sequels, you don’t want to have one too many, lest it starts to stink.

superstorm       Vote Gangnam

Between Superstorms and superstyles, the world almost ended. At least it was fun to think for a while that it would. But the best we could get was Omnishambles.

DKR

2013 will hold similar promise for both the mundane and the magnificent. There will be rickety printers, pointless meetings and machine coffee to keep you busy. There will be Mondays, multi-tasking and motivation (sic) to keep you distracted. You will find humor in new places while some of the old stuff won’t even seem funny anymore.

Greatness v/s obscurity, Open skies v/s fluorescent lighting, Freedom to fail v/s Stress to succeed. You will feel like an ant that has to move a mountain, a twig that has to resist bending in a storm, a pawn too small to matter in a system too big to fail.

bankersThere will be times when you will miss the good old ignorance, the days of clueless pursuit and nights of dreamless sleep. Innocence lost is not a big price to pay. For life begins with awareness.

Master Oogway

 

2012 SlavesInc. Annual Report.

Here’s a patronizing excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 25,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

– J.