Driving all the way

I started getting ready for yet another freaking 11 hour-day in office. I wrapped myself in two scarfs-one to cover my head and hair, and the other to cover my face, just leaving only my eyes uncovered in my head, which eventually I would cover with my Fast Track shades after some time. My 3-year old nephew who sees me stares at me as if seeing a monster, and tries to stay away from me. I myself am taken aback for a moment when I see myself in the mirror, and no wonder my nephew, neighbours, and others look at me as if I were a weird species.

But if you are a girl travelling by auto all alone from Kondapur to Hitech City, you might understand my need to over-cover myself. With the speed with which the auto walas drive, your hair would be flying in all directions, and bathing in smoke and dust, which eventually would lead to hair loss, dandruff, and all those things that no girl wants. And, most importantly to mask yourself from auto drivers – surely you do not want to trigger their conjugal senses, and get raped!!

I finally manage to catch an auto, pay the auto wala whatever he demands, for I am too tired of negotiating, and get down in front of my office.  My company ABC Ltd (of course, name changed for obvious reasons) is another freaking-and-sucking place. Ok, if not my company, at least my department is. Our company has quite a market standing, has employee strength of over 2 lacs, and is listed as a great company to work for in Forbes, and many other magazines. A population of 2 lacs surely has its share of psychopaths, and unfortunately the topper of the psychopath list, landed in our department as our manager.

I literally feel like tearing my hair and shouting at people who say ‘You are lucky to work in ABC Ltd’.’

‘Can you tell me..What is luck here..reporting to a manager with whom the conversation goes this way:

‘What were you doing at 11.45 a.m. on the 24th of September, 2015’? she asks.

I ask confused, ‘I don’t know…but we are already in Jan 2016, and why are we talking about September 2015 now?’

She says, ‘So, that is what you are…you easily forget things. You went for a tea break when I asked you to fix issues in your storyboard’.

I ask frustrated, ‘What issue was that?’

She says, ‘You missed a period at the end of the sentence in the storyboard’.

Dejected and depressed, I ask, ‘But that was three months ago, and just a period!!!’.

She says, ‘It speaks of your attitude towards work, blah blah blah..and finally she says, ‘What are you looking at my face now? Go back to work’.

Can you beat that? I am sure even Vivekananda and RamaKrishna Paramhamsa-like would be frustrated too.

Frustrated, I go back to my desk. And continue working, only to be disturbed by another manager who says, ‘How far are you done with your work’?

I look at him without expression and say, ‘Well, but I started just now..’

‘But it is 12.00 noon now. What were you doing until now’?

Inside me I am screaming, ‘WHAT? THERE WAS A SILLY STATUS MEETING FOR AN HOUR. AND THEN MY OTHER MANAGER LECTURES ME ON MISSING A PERIOD IN MY SB THREE MONTHS AGO, AND NOW YOU ASK ME THIS.’

Somehow I manage to put up the face of a Buddha and say, ‘I will report the status and send the bugs by 4.00 P.M’.

‘Ok then, will catch up again at 4’, and leaves.

I make another attempt to resume my work. I sense somebody behind me. I close my eyes, and pray this time that the apparition, fed up with standing for so long just goes away. But it just doesn’t.

‘Hi’ the apparition, err my team lead says.

Now, I really have no choice. I turn back again and look at him and say, ‘Hi’.

‘So?’ he says.

(My team lead has this habit of speaking in phrases and expects you to make a ton of sense!)

‘Yaa’ I say.

‘What’s your plan’?

‘Plan for what’?, I ask again.

‘Ok, let’s catch up with Venkat then’, he says.

Venkat is our department head.

‘For what’?, I ask frustrated+tired+hopeless. I am using these two words for the second time in our conversation now.

‘Come over to Venkat’s cabin’ he says and walks away.

‘Me, my team lead, and our department head together discuss again all the things already discussed in the meeting we had in the morning that day. I give rehearsed answers (as I am giving the answers the second time!!). And finally get back to my seat.

‘Let’s go for lunch’, my friend and colleague Swetha asks me.

I tell her my situation. She nods in understanding, without me having to explain much. We are all trying to make the best sense of this utter chaotic place. She pats me and goes off to lunch.

Its 1.30 P.M. Two meetings-one lecture-four people trying to manage me!!

Well. So you got it! That’s how my life went about. I desperately wanted some light to shine on my existence!

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My friend, Santosh and I got my new car from the showroom, with me in the driving seat. Every now and then, he had to steer away from me hitting some guy who has this sudden-urge-to-cross-the-road while I was driving, or pull the hand brake. Driving can be quite trying, as trying as my office people.

My driving lessons start with Santosh coming to my house at about 7a.m, with me driving or rather he controlling my so-called crazy driving, with steering away, hand brakes, and a few ‘sorrys’ to a guy here and there, who, if it were a good guy would eventually understand, or give a disgusting look, or even show his middle finger at times.

After a few days of learning to drive, I felt like giving up. I was so tired. In spite of Santosh doing his best to teach me, I guess I was not picking up. I envied all the chaps who bought a car on one day, and just drove the next day. And after a few more days, I started regretting my decision of buying the car. I spent 3 lacs out of my hard-earned money in getting screwed up at my office, and am even more screwed up now as I am just NOT ABLE TO DRIVE. Huh!

A small ray of light to my frustration came one day when I stopped the car at a signal. Beside me, Santosh was saying, ‘Ok, when you move, one final rule – the engine should not switch off. It’s like the nth time, I am telling you’.

‘I will try’ I sigh.

As the signal turns from red to yellow, my adrenalin accelerates. ‘Let the engine not stop this one time’ I tell myself. And then it turns green. And my car just moves – with the right speed! And I was able to drive in neck-to-neck moving traffic. And not once did the engine stop!! I think I kind of got it. I felt good about myself.

From that day, my driving improved. After a few days, I was on my own. A bit scared at first, but managed to get over it.

My little metallic grey machine was working on my personality too!!Probably I slowly was shifting from the I-am-ruled-upon phase to Maybe-there’s a way phase  – when you are stuck in neck-to-neck traffic, you have no other option than to pull through it. Getting pissed off doesn’t just work although you can’t help it..nor does swearing and saying ‘shittt’ a number of times! In other words, you can do nothing except-wait for things to move by themselves, and doing your bit along the way.

May be I felt it so, or it was really happening – I do not know, but office started getting better. Every time I came across a new problem which made me feel like gritting my teeth and tearing my hair apart, or make my manager eat her skull, I managed to refrain from the temptation and keep my muddled head straight for some time, and think ‘maybe I can overcome this..lemme give it a try’..

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