Friday, February 23, 2007

managerial quotient

My roommate comes back from a motivation session at his office to tell me that his manager knows exactly when to pat an employee on his back and when to prick his ego with a pin. He rambles on that his manager keeps every little thing in mind when he dishes out dispensations, and that his actions are invariably timed. This manager doesn’t interest me a wee bit. But the whole image of his profession does. I’ve never been able to entirely understand the need for sleaze in the shrewdness required of people who manage others.

By acknowledging the smartness of a manager, we understand his tactics, i.e., we know the motive of his actions. And by that, mostly we realize that his motives are ulterior. So, in effect, we know that what he does or say may not truly reflect what he feels about us. Armed with this realization, we still gloat over public pats and frown over dressing downs. This reveals 2 things: (1) we’re smart enough to figure out genuine accolades from fake displays, and (2) we still fall for it and take it at face value or just refuse to see through the veneer.

It’s like your brain that would’ve shouted out, “saala, dikhaawa hai,” if your colleague would’ve been wowed, now, when heaped upon with praise, revels in the sweet shit. As much as it is no earth shattering revelation, it is one of those helpless things in life. To just understand it isn’t enough. On the other hand, your reactions will just insult your intelligence time and again and make you wonder if you would’ve been better off without the knowledge.

Until here, of course, we have been passive agents, the ones who have been at the receiving end. Very soon, we’ll become one of 'them,' serving opinions with very precise motives in mind. I don’t know if we shall pause to think about how we viewed this tribe of managers or, even if we do, just banish it out of mind like when asked upon to account for a bad habit.

Is there a honest way to go about managing people? How much will being genuine cost? Or is this the scrupulous way?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

living and leaving

The thing about having spent your childhood in a small town is that a sort of indelible identity, a signet, is left on your persona. This thing just pops up time and again like a turtle’s head.

Right now, I wish I were home, throwing out buckets of dirty rainwater. Come the monsoons and our house would be flooded on at least two or three occasions with a mixture of rain and drain water. And then all of us would get together with buckets, trousers rolled up, saarees folded, working in a frenzy. Sometimes, if we were lucky we would catch a fish or two. Mostly, kowoo maacha (Sadly, I don’t know its Hindi or English name).

I’m glad I lived in a small town for as long as did. Only then could I come out and appreciate the difference. It suprises me why we want to travel abroad, especially when we have seen so little of India. There’s a vibrancy, so unmistakable, in every nook and corner. As a part of the huge migrant populace that shifs jobs, hopping from here to there, but does not care to belong to the places it stays at, I have the chance to see things somewhat objectively, rather than be disinterested and stay as an outsider in my country of birth.

There’s so much to see. In Bandra, the other day, I eat the heavenliest malai ice-cream, then walk past ancient houses (like Sir Dorabji Tata's), with a burial ground in the middle of a residential place, into a small building that houses 5 theatres at once. It isn’t a multiplex; far from it actually. I then understand why the place is called "getty." Gem, Gemini, Glamour, Gossip, and Gaiety. English Gaiety is Indian getty. Like as a child what I used to hear as "septi pin" (safety pin) and "salu tape" (cello tape). Indian twists to English legacies.

The one screening “Flags of Our Fathers,” Gem, is no bigger than a spacious drawing hall. It is so cosy, like a Sunday afternoon movie at a friend’s. In the same complex, a Bhojpuri film is being screened (I forgot its name!). The guy beside me, on phone, in fluent English, schedules a meeting with a client in Bangalore and the one to my right speaks crass Bambaiyya Hindi. And both of them aren’t really disparate; just a similar kind of people caught in different situations. We, as Indians, stand for this dispersal within. An expanse of defining traits encompassed within each entity.

Where do I belong to? My fealty lies with finding this out. Nothing else is as riveting, as worth it. The other day, I bought a Lonely Planet guide to India and went to a recommended restaurant for lunch, book in hand. The lady opposite me, a firang, was leafing through the same tome. Both of us smiled at each other in the shade of a common ignorance, a shared zeal to discover. I realized then that I have as much to explore, more maybe. Because this is my country, and it is not enough if I just know it like any tourist with a travel book.