Saturday, March 21, 2009

Corporate culture - Part 1

There's more to work than just the desk,the PC, the heaps of files and documents,bosses,suppliers and the likes. Each day (day in office I mean) is an event in itself. but some things never change.I have ,quite flawlessly, managed to maintain my (unofficial) reporting time as 9 am ,every day; which is actually a very blatant, 15-min violation of the official time of 8.45 am. Without sounding proud or emphatic, I should say "its an art well mastered". Even in my wildest dreams, never have I fantasised myself swiping in at the official company time.

Just as I trudge into our posh, brightly-lit office, I am greeted by a half-filled office which makes me look like an early bird. Not surprising!!I give myself a pat on the back, mentally. Then the junta starts trickling in slowly but gradually. Some people wait with bated breath and count down seconds for the shrill 'breakfast' bell to ring at 9.30 which is a signal for everyone to put down everything before them and have a bite. A few minutes later, the 'breakfast' place strewn with samosa or 'bhajji' pieces and cups of tea resembles a battle-field thanks to some clumsy idiots who haven't been given a crash-course on eating properly.

As i make my way back to my place, to my right, I find 'Shaktimaan' seated comfortably in his place, typing away furiosuly on his lappie and debating hard with a supplier on a quote I guess . Shaktimaan (obviosuly not his original name) has been christened so because of his daunting, 'Salman'esque frame and a heavy walk to go with it. His (body-hugging) shirt looks like it could tear off any second due to his Popeye-like bulges. He is known to follow a very religious health regimen at the company gym despite his busy schedule. Shaktimaan's intimidating physique is enough to psyche out all his suppliers to the point of ' no more negotiations'. Shaktimaan in his new role has been buried under heaps of responsibility lately and he still plays mentor to 'Virus'.

'Virus', 'Viral fever', 'Tame tiger' whatever you say, points to just one person. Seated in the cubicle adjacent to shaktimaan, you are forgiven for mistaking him for a 8th grade school boy. He gives you that confused look that seems to suggest that he hasnt spoken for ages in an otherwise boisterous department. Some people even observed that the last time they heard him talk was when he had conducted the morning meeting on Monday, a good 2 months ago. He is the junior-most addition to the department and touted to be the dept's bright future.

"Viral" shouts Shaktimaan and gives him the 'khunnas' look as if he would bash him up then n there. Viral gets up with a start, half startled by the sudden call of duty. Shaktimaan asks Viral for a blow-by-blow account of the activities which he was supposed to complete just like a school headmaster asking a child the status of the previous day's homework. Viral apprises him accordingly. Shaktimaan gives him the 'satisfied' look and along with it a few words of wisdom. Viral then starts off work in his trademark fashion which appears like a slow-motion sequence from a movie; be it removing a file from his shelf or typing a mail. I meanwhile, manage to wave a quick 'Hi' to Viral.

Sai Baba looks on, as he sees Shaktimaan sounding some instructions to Viral. Baba is amused to the core. This morning he has carved out a special look moustache like one of those heavily-loaded telugu movie stars. Baba is famous for his versatile cooking skills which could put any living female to shame. Easily one of the most shrewed guys around, he is one capable of arranging a training session on notoreity ("jhol" as we call it). He can be heard giving the supplier an earful. But the catch here being that he doesnt distinguish between genders and that sounds awfully confusing to the listener.

"Sir, tere ko pata nahi target date kab hain. Material kab laayegi?
Material kabhi aayegi. AAyegi ki nahi aayegi?" (Pauses)..
"Tu mere ko commitment date do" (Bangs the receiver into the resting position, sits expressionless).

A cubicle even further away is 'Yogi' who has worn a'happy' look this morning due to the absence of his boss who literally 'stares him in the face' while at work. He dials he number and as the voice answers he starts of in customary fashion.

" Hello? Hasmukh bhaai..main yogi baat kar raha hoon... Aaaj kya banaa raha hain?? Achcha theek hain, 200 piece bhej do."

Kya bana rahaa hain??? Now, What kind of a question is that supposed to be??? It would have made sense had he posted the same query to the halwaai-waalaaa or the roadside chaat-waalaa after seeing the menu-card.
Anyways,Yogi seems to float around in a world of his own completely unmindful of what is happening around him. He is perhaps the tallest guy in the whole of the company and the primary target of all his banter is his immediate neighbour 'Saab' and 'cheerleader'.

Saab is a part of a very rare species which is a combination of a metallurgy and an MBA degree in marketing. Formally dressed, bespectacled, oily hair side-parted to perfection to the smallest micron and an aura of a scholarly saintliness. And then you realize why the name is 'Saab'. Hearing him speak, you cant help but wonder if he was actually paid to sell ideas or really outrageous fundaas. People are still willing to bet their money on what his responsibility in the organization actually is. But for the moment, he is seen as the partner-in-crime to none other than 'Bala'.

Then suddenely the momentary silence is interrupted by a very familiar female voice.
"Chalo, Lunch..Lunch ke liye jaate hain."

Enter the cheerleader!
The outdoor expeditions and picnics that she is part of earn much more coverage than her office work. Infact there are times when you can see her working too. Although she wouldnt admit, but her fetish for a lean figure makes sure she counts the number of grains of rice on her plate. C'mon, a lone chapati hardly qualifies as 'lunch'! And she ponders over it for ages till it begs and cries to be eaten.
Her fervent calls for coffee breaks in the late afternoons have dwindled somewhat in recent times. Her flirtatious exchanges with 'Saab' are a notable feature, but Saab appears too busy (with what??) and steadfast to fall for it.

As the clock strikes 6, the cheerleader is the first to pack up what looks like a shopping bag. The others pretend as if they are still enagaged in 'important' work (some really are). By 7.30, the whole office wears an empty look.

And you thought it was just about work!!