A Confederacy Of Dunces

One of the hallmarks of this blog is that it holds every rogue up for “analysis”. There is of course, a reason. The greatest motivating factor behind this blog is admittedly Wimpy Kid’s foresight:

“Later on, I will have better things to do than answer people’s stupid questions all day long. So, this blog is gonna come in handy.”

The only sense in which my career is remarkable is that all the five bosses I have worked with in my life were willing to roast in hell forever if I were to join them. When I walk out of my apartment, I look back and forth to make sure my detractors are not hiding somewhere behind the bushes. My detractors tend to be shorter than me, but they also tend to have access to stronger goons. If they frame me, or get me killed, this blog is gonna come in handy. The readers and the police will know who all are deserving of some healthy suspicion.

There are of course, many dangers involved in this. My blog is in many ways my biggest “abuse delivery machine”. But, I am feeling a little shy to publicize my highly nuanced observations about the nitty-gritty of office politics. Because, the gracious editors on Facebook who politely forward my CV to their Delhi-bureau bloke will not hesitate to openly state:

“Hehe. But,will I hire this boy? Of course, not! He is painfully nice to me, but that is a clever pretense. Once he gets a foot in the door, I will be his next target. I am no Albert Einstein, but no one has emptied my head. It is not in my self-interest to hire him. My employees might be guilty of a lot many sins including what he calls “ineptitude”, but they are definitely not “attitudent people”. But then, all that I love would count as vices in his dictionary, wouldn’t they?”

Welfare Bum

I do not know a single creative mind who is a news junkie!

Though, I despise the news culture, I was a full-time blogger and part-time magazine writer for months. In the past six years, I had read the hard copy of a newspaper only once—when the “managing editor”, Mr. Brilliant arranged some copies for me the day I joined this Magazine. On the front page of a Newspaper, I saw Mahesh Bhatt expressing his opinion on the Lokpal Bill. He said that corruption is good. Parvin Dabas claimed that he had slept with his producer. I could also see a girl with a tattoo, and an elegant picture of Salma Hayek. I closed it. Likewise, I think that almost all Magazine content is worthless. But, this Magazine (Careers360, an Outlook Group publication) had put me on roll, or to put it more precisely, on “welfare”. I loved it.

I was the most underpaid guy on the planet, but I am not exaggerating when I say that it was the coolest job I have ever had. I almost never had to work. I was supposed to say “Oh, Yeah” to Mr. Brilliant once in a month. I played ping-pong 29 days a month, and finished my work in the next two days. Besides, it was amusing to work with a funny guy who called separate meetings for everyone because he feared that I will insult him in the presence of the girls in the office. “But, Mr. Brilliant, you are wrong!” says me, and there goes one more article into the dustbin. I also loved that thing called the “pay check”, though the publisher Maheshwer Peri was barely “capable” of paying me on time. But, I heard that this clever dude has now installed a fingerprint-reading machine to make sure that no one else can shirk toil. I hope that my ex-colleagues would institute a mechanism to make sure that he earns some dignity.

The Dud Menace

So, what did I learn in all these days?

The failures were all incompetents that God had marked them for the ditch, not man.

Lesson 1 (Theorem):I totally buy H.L. Mencken’s view now: “As I came to manhood and began to deal with men myself, I noticed quickly that the failures were all incompetents that God had marked them for the ditch, not man.” I suspect that the leftists know this way too well, because I saw an expression of horror on the face of Mr. Brilliant when I once said “Meritocracy Versus..” while suggesting a theme for the versus page. Mr. Brilliant stared at me as if he were a frightened zombie, and said, “We should think of something else”. It is not a coincidence that liberals are also the biggest critics of I.Q. tests.

When a lady I would like to call “God’s-Perfect-Exercise-In-Structural-Mathematics” asked the editor whether we can have stories on men who have actually done something, instead of social workers or some such losers, I again saw an expression of horror. Palms out, he said, “No. We will not be doing such stories. We will be doing a story on a polio patients inspiring quest for mobility.”  It is again not a coincidence that “God’s-Perfect-Exercise-In-Structural-Mathematics” is the only person left in the Magazine who can write a decent sentence.

I had read the Magazine only thrice.  The first time I read the Magazine—it was to point out the mistakes of Mr. Brilliant. The second time, I read it to point out the mistakes of Mr. Marx. The third time I read the Magazine—it was to strike up an online conversation with “God’s-Perfect-Exercise-In-Structural-Mathematics”. When I once told her, “I do not want you to assume that I am not talking to you because you are “God’s-Perfect-Exercise-In-Structural-Mathematics”. I am just bored.”, she replied, “It just went above my head.”

Lesson 2 (Corollary): There are proof readers who do not know what the political concept “state” means. There are managing editors who cannot tell corporate finance from corporate financing, and are think that single currency and common currency are two different things. There are editor-in-chief’s who do not know what the word “invariably” means, and still uses it three times in a sentence. And there are editors on all levels who are incapable of writing a decent sentence.

Illustration Through A Concrete Example: To have some mischievous fun, let us read this Intro on their website: “Education and career planning are intertwined concerns and have larger societal implications, especially in an opportunity-starved nation like ours. Asymmetrical flow of information exaggerates this problem further.”

The appropriate word is of course, “aggravates”, and not “exaggerates”. After having a close look at the “retarded” choice of words, I suspect that it was written by my prime detractor, Mr. Brilliant.)

Mr. Brilliant


Mr. Brilliant happens to be my most disappointing detractor. He is known as the easiest boss to work with, but that is because he is a sissy.  He is the most obvious candidate for the title: “The quintessential wimp”. Sometimes I wished that he was not as lame as the shy toddler that once walked into our office crying “Michelle Didi”, with his funny foot wears and computer sketches. He was not even looking at our faces.

I once had a really clever dude as my detractor. As much as I hated him, I did not pity him half as much. On some levels, I respect my smart enemies. When they do clever things, I take out my little diary and make a note of what had happened. It has helped me more than anything.

There is of course, a reason why Nimesh Chandra was christened “Mr. Brilliant” by me and a colleague. We shall name this colleague Ms. Michelle.(Her real name is Shiphony Pavithran Suri) She is an exceptionally smart girl-a clever cookie. She is a character from which every future novelist will profit, and I sensed it the first day itself. I shall have a lot more to say about her. When my articles reached him at breathtaking pace, I used to hear him scream: “Brilliant!” After a while, it became comical to the point of being ridiculous. It struck him that it was time to stop only when he saw me and Michelle grinning at each other while he was rehashing the same old trick.

The day I joined, Mr. Brilliant gave me the dumbest work I have ever done in my life. When I finished doing it, I heard him ask: “Did you enjoy it?”, in his soft, sentimental voice. Deep inside, I uttered an expression which would have struck him like a thunderbolt. I understood that this was a guy who cannot be trusted. I heard from Ms. Michelle that this they put all new recruits through such ingenious torture, for strategic reasons. I was relieved when the quality of my work sharply improved after that.

I was amused when the first story idea Mr. Brilliant suggested for the finance section was on “intellectual property rights”. I felt sorry. I said that it was not appropriate to have a story on intellectual property rights in the Finance section. I saw him turning his face, and more than an expression of humiliation and shame, he was trying to tell me that this was simply not acceptable to him. Gross ineptitude in elders evokes pity of an unidentifiable nature in me. Perhaps I am supposed to feel: “Geez, you are lamer!”, as they suspect that I do. But, the truth is that I just find this sad and sickening.

I had a very similar experience with a young colleague, Mr. Shaky Voice. When I joined the office, he came near my desk and said in his shaky voice: “I am a qualified CA. I had also cleared the Civil Services Mains three times.” I felt that he was struggling to say many things at once. I looked at him, and smiled politely, in silent understanding. When he left, I told Michelle what my smile meant: “But dude, why am I not impressed?” She laughed: “God, you are so mean! He is such a big dud, yaar!” When he once suggested a blurb for an article of mine, I leaped , dismissing what he had said. He turned silent, and did not respond to anything I told him for long.

Sensitivity when it comes to hard facts is the silent confession of a fundamental inferiority. At workplace, nothing unsettles people

more than being told that they are wrong–that they are not good enough. It is the hatred of the inferior, a feeling of discomfort—a state of high tension and fear. It is something not to be talked about, but only to be understood. The saying that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a contemptible fraud.

Needless to mention, I hated compiling News items for the Magazine. When Mr. Brilliant said, “You cannot escape such work. Everyone does it. Even I do it.” I thought, “But, you are not as smart as you think, Mr. Brilliant.” Whenever I went near his desk, he would paste the news items in the common folder. He used to point at the low IQ work he had done , to say, “You can put it here-Like this”. I often smiled, thinking, “I am sorry, but you are being lame!”

I remember a day in September when I did not see people inside the office. When I asked a colleague “What happened? I cannot see anyone here!” he replied, “Once in a while, you should take your eyes off the screen and look outside. You will get to know what happened.” There was a cloud burst in South Delhi. The media can inform you of such incidents. However, I do not gain anything else from reading the news other than such “useful trivia”, the opportunity cost is too much to justify the time and effort I spend reading news. It is quite possible that I can create alerts, or learn from my Facebook or Twitter feed.

Mr. Marx

I am not a hard-core Marxist, but I do admire Marx.

The “editor-in-chief” of the Magazine is Mr. Marx (Mahesh Sarma). The day I joined the office, he said in a tone that barely betrayed his effort in faking intellectuality: “I am not a hard-core Marxist, but I do admire Marx. But, more than Marx, I am a follower of Polanyi.” Once, many Indians were proud to be Marxists, though most of them were hardly capable of getting through “The Communist Manifesto”. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many of these communists are embarrassed to say that they had even liked Marx. Some of them have told me with a shy smile: “But, I think some of Marx’s ideas actually make sense.” hoping that I might agree with them.

Marx said gleefully: “The staff here is dead slow. I want to sack all of them and bring in a new team. I am happy to have you here because it is not possible to have a meaningful debate in this Magazine.” Struggling to suppress my laughter, I thought, “He looks like a dud, but he has already started giving me hints. He is trying to tell me that I will also be sacked if I turn out to be as incompetent as the unfortunates who will soon be packing their pretty little bags.” I sat there silently, amusing myself observing how he cloaked the threat in a strategic compliment.

The edit meets of Mr. Marx were really hilarious. The first edit meet went on for hours. I heard “Yes, boss” several times from different corners in a low, ritualistic manner. I noticed that I was yawning throughout the meeting while others were laughing. Is it plausible that I am not evolved enough to enjoy such humor? But, it was hard to miss that there was no way an average teenager would have gotten away with such jokes, irrespective of his friends circle. Something was truly amiss.

While walking out of the “conference room” whining that Marx took the life out of me, Michelle said: “The edit-meets are boring, and everyone knows it. The tactless Marx does not know when to stop, and these sycophants push him on.” I did now know that these people were simply pretending to live a lie. This is not too complimentary to my intelligence. As an economist would have put it, it was “reminiscent of Alice’s Wonder-land: Everything seemingly is, yet apparently isn’t, simultaneously.”

It reminded me of a fictional scene in which a popular kid in school asks his hanger-ons, “Hey, what is that high-pitched noise?”. His hanger-ons said: “Yeah, I hear it too!”, and “Ow! Ow!”. Our popular kid suddenly chuckled and said: “I’m just kidding. There is no high-pitched noise.”, while his hanger-ons turned silent, struggling to hide their shame. Mr. Marx is dumber than anyone I have seen, but his subordinates laughed at his jokes no matter how dumb he made them look. The only difference was that Mr. Marx would not have been popular in any teenager’s hangout. He would have been subject to the meanest ridicule and ostracism.

With a wicked smile, I noticed that the most intelligent thing in that meeting was said by Mr. Marx himself: “Ours is a very egalitarian organization.” At this point, the roles were reversed. I started laughing when others were grim. He stared at me as if there was something unseemly about my laughter. It appeared to me that he was mocking his hanger-ons in a way they wouldn’t have sensed it, in his humanitarian manner.

I find the concept of irony appealing since I heard my unspeakably corrupt ex-boss saying that the people who pay bribes to gain access to electricity or water do not have the right to speak against corruption. But, the height of irony will always be the picture of a woman lying in a bed and telling her boy friend that her husband is not smart enough to trust her. Perhaps the old saying, “Truth can be stranger than fiction” is true. Or, perhaps this nerd is in the middle of a high-paced dream in which truth and morality are subject to severe mockery and punishment.

In my previous job, a colleague had told me, “Inside the office, the boss is always right.” We all know some places in which the key to being treated fairly is saying that the loud hillbilly that barges into his room like a truck driver is not a contemptible moron. I am here, of course, making a general, categorical statement not intended at anyone in particular. Conformists are actively scheming to make a virtue out of a vice. We live in a topsy-turvy world in which imbecility becomes tact and cowardice becomes sophistication.

When I started working, I wondered why some duds in the office happened to have done a PhD. A PhD wouldn’t get them money, and these duds in all likelihood have no use for abstractions. Some of them are still going through the motions, mouthing esoteric concepts like “capabilities approach”. When I heard such a girl speak about her course work, I smiled kindly, thinking: “Quite a mouthful. Isn’t it, my child?” Michelle’s said, laughing: “Sheesh, did you buy that? It is an inside secret that our Marx couldn’t even finish his PhD. You should have seen him then. He looked like Baba Ramdev and had a really difficult time finding a suitor.”

In a mischievous moment of mine, I had asked Marx whether he did his PhD at JNU. His answer was cleverly framed, though in a grand, pompous tone: “Of course. I was at JNU for seven years.” I chuckled: “Sure, but are you supposed to boast about it?” I laugh when I hear people misleading without lying. Perhaps, I can save all this for later use.

When we moved to a new building, I sat behind his room. It would soon be clear to me why the wheels of the organization were not turning. I never saw him doing anything meaningful. When I told Michelle that the actress Nithya Menon regularly appears on his screen, she uttered an expression to this effect: “I pity the fat man.” One of the cutest things I had seen was him pressing his cursor on my profile and reading my status again and again, as if he were unable to trust his eyes.

The status read:

“Would you rape your sister if ordered to do so by your commanding officer?”

I once saw Mr. Brilliant too moving backwards from his screen in fear, and looking at me, while I was talking in a high-pitched tone to the little girl near me, because he had just seen my status:

“Keeping a polite front while doing things behind your back risking others funds, property and reputation is the forte of lowly women. Men with a backbone will have more confidence in their own work and far more self-respect. But, then, I am talking of men. I should sue the ones who do not have the courage of their own malice!”

Miss Handicrafts

Awww. Who is this cutie pie?

Another evil boss(Merril Diniz) who tried to mess with me was a funny lady I shall call “Miss Handicrafts”. When I once hinted at the hypocrisy of panegyrists of the past, she replied to my amusement: “I am actually a walking advertisement for Handicrafts. Even my chappals are handmade.” Her Facebook profile had a note: “I sleep around for pleasure. In business, I use intelligence.”

Her Facebook wall had a string of comments like, “Awww. Who is this cutie pie?”, when all I could see was a stray puppy hauled out of the dust bin, and was in for adoption by some nitwits seeking new modes of amusement. Once I saw her glancing at a job notification for “sanitation supervisors” whispering: “It is quite interesting, isn’t it?” I thought, “Ha! The age of political correctness. In less enlightened days, they were known as garbage pickers. Madame, I would rather take hundred lashes.”

In the last meeting I had attended, I remember Mr. Marx asking her: “Did we have to fabricate too many letters?” She replied, “We had enough letters this month. So, there was no need to fabricate them.” When I laughed, wondering whether it could be true, I saw some girls stating with pride, “In February, We did it.”

An ex-intern said that she kept him waiting for one and a half hours while feeding her stray puppies. He said, “Her handwriting is worse than that of my five year old nephew. My professors could not read her. She spells worse. She misspells simple words like “professional”, but her salary comes from spell check.”

I was enjoying my vacation in Kerala when a lady editor called me to ask whether I could come to her office for an interview. I boarded a flight to Delhi the next morning. When I reached the magazine office, I gathered that it was a fourth rate magazine in a rundown building in Safdarjung. I waited for hours. After a few hours, she called me and stared at me with intense disapproval. She said that I should have been more sensible in communicating with her. “You did not have an appointment or even a resume”, she said. I did not say anything. She herself had fixed the appointment. She said with naiveté typical of clueless older women, “You have to be a decent writer.” I said, “I think I am a good writer.” She said, “Oh, you are a good writer? Good.”

I did not attempt to write a proper resume because I would have had to list the colleges I had dropped out from, and the jobs I had left. I got my previous jobs and assignments without such hassles. She later told Mr. Marx: “A guy came here. He was so weird”. On the day of the interview, Mr. Marx asked me sarcastically: “Have you taken your resume and everything?” When I reached into my bag as if I did not understand what he meant, he said that he did not want it.

Miss Handicrafts was surprised when I later said that she should not expect me to be an idiot to not know that I am expected to fix an appointment and carry a resume. She wondered how I can play such pranks on my prospective employers. My reasons, however, were simple: I had glanced through the Magazine while traveling. I was soon convinced that I will get the job, because everything I had read in the Magazine was awfully written—unspeakably so. She had interviewed a lot many stupid people the last day, and had no reason to believe that I might be smart. “You were also so socially weird.” she added. “Now, I would say that you are socially unique.”

I had read her blog before joining, and it said many nice things like compassion for underprivileged children and stray puppies. “After the tiring battles with my evil detractor at the think-tank, It would be a joy to work with compassionate women.”, I told myself. But, when my internet guy came the third time to get a document signed by the editor, she said sternly, “It is a private company. He will come again”. I stood speechless, wondering, “Good God! But, what about the sweet things that I had read in your blog?”. The editors in small publications can be pretty unimportant people, and has no scruples sprawling on all fours for a few bucks. But they can be pretty rigid when it comes to showing common decency.

As Michelle had warned, Miss Handicrafts had some ‘school-teacher like’ tendencies. Once when she attempted to scold me, I said, “You can extend your compassion to hapless employees like me too. It is not just about cute little puppies and underprivileged children.” She did not understand what I meant. I explained, “I do not have anything against cute little puppies or underprivileged children. I do know that these are all noble, praiseworthy causes. But, that is not the point.” She said naively, “Sure. Sure”. For a while, she became my guinea pig. She later said, “I was really mad at you, but then I noticed that the words you used were very funny. Then, I thought that I should chill.”

I would soon see her shirking toil to talk for six or seven hours at a stretch on Google Talk. She later told Michelle, in a pompous tone, “Yesterday, I couldn’t finish that work. I had a lot many other things to do.” I once pulled a prank on her by saying that I had stopped to observe her short skirt. With great pride, she claimed that shorter hemlines can have that effect. The next day, I and Michelle rolled out in laughter seeing her in the same old skirt. Michelle once asked me whether I talk to her because many new words like “highbrow” had entered her vocabulary.

She often wondered why I always said, “normal people”, and use “I” three times in a sentence. I explained, “By the phrase ‘normal people’, I mean the average Joe–the Low IQ people we often see around.” When she asked apprehensively, “This is so condescending. But, the guy who sweeps your floor in your apartment is not exactly a high IQ guy. Do you mistreat him?”, I said that I live by the wisdom of Nietzsche:

“When the exceptional human being treats the mediocre more tenderly than himself and his peers, this is not mere politeness of the heart—it is simply his duty.”

I think I understand why people are uncomfortable with the personal pronoun ‘I’. Eight years ago, an Indian Magazine had published the work of a brilliant reporter. It illustrated the root of all the ills that plague humanity in a way not one man in a million could recognize. He ended up with an inner conviction which mirrored my darkest rationalization: “If natalists can be caught thinking of mandatory sterilization, it is hard to blame others.” When I was done, I noticed that the personal pronoun “I” was rooted out from his story with ruthless commitment. I could have said that this is a far graver mistake if it weren’t merely a symptom of the problem the story projected.

Miss Handicrafts manned the low IQ section. Every morning of mine was spent sulking, because I hated doing it. One day I purposefully delayed my work, and I heard that she scolded some girls who work with me. They told me, “You are her darling. So, she takes it out on us.” I told her that she should learn “The Law of Comparative Advantage”.

“Smart people may excel in all activities, but as the law of comparative advantage reveals everyone’s better off if people with high IQs outsource their less challenging tasks to others. In a society of Einsteins, Einsteins take out the garbage, scrub floors, and wash dishes. What a mind-numbing waste of talent!”

After a deep pause, she asked, “Is this a low IQ angst thing? You do not have to go to the lengths of sharing a complex theory to tell me something. No work is beneath our dignity. When I had to do low IQ work, I never considered it beneath my dignity. If I had considered it beneath my dignity, I would have been mighty ashamed of myself. Why don’t you talk to your boss?” I asked, “Who is my boss?” She said, “Your boss is Mr. Brilliant. Great things won’t come your way if you simply work, sitting in that little corner of yours. No one will come over there, and place things on your lap. You should be really vocal about your needs and capabilities.”

I was bewildered, “Oh, but I did not know all these things.”

She said, “You are guilt-tripping me now. First of all, you should have a good plan of action. Tomorrow morning, the first thing you should do after reaching the office is to present your problem to Mr. Brilliant. You should not forget your mission.”  I said, “Of course, I will never forget my mission.” The next day, I reached the office earlier, and waited and waited. I went to his desk the moment he came in. I saw her laughing, when I was hemming and hawing as an overture to my proposal, which he rejected saying “You cannot escape low IQ work.” I was upset the whole day.

She was more aggressive than anyone in that Magazine. But, when the publisher entered the office, her voice became as soft as that of the kitten my brother dumped in the canal near our home.

One day, after working for two days straight, I came to the office to write my darling novel. Miss Handicrafts sent a little girl to ask me to do some low IQ work. I said, “I will not be doing it”. The little girl made a funny face and left. After that, Miss Handicrafts messaged me on Google talk saying that I have to go in front of her and say that I cannot do this. I thought, “Good God! Dominatrix fetish!” and said, “Of course, I will.” When I went near her and questioned her, she understood that things are going beyond her control. She said apprehensively, “Dude, chill. Nothing happened.” After that, she did not have the nerve to ask me to do low IQ work.

What happened was this: One day, I made fun of her cute puppies on her Facebook wall. That day evening, when I went to a restaurant, Miss Handicrafts was there, with her underprivileged children. The underprivileged children looked really happy, but Miss Handicrafts gave me a dirty look. I sensed that something was wrong.

I could have said:  “We talked on Google Talk the whole day. But, in the evening, I made fun of your cute puppies on Facebook. I know that this is why you trapped me into losing my temper, and then mailed everyone saying that I am not doing the low IQ work. Tender Care Love. TCL.”

These petty people have no moral scruples. They have no self knowledge.

I heard that she told the little girl and others in a conspiratorial manner, hiding her embarrassment: “You can give him low IQ work, but I will tell you when the right time is.” Later when I saw her, she was playing with her puppies, and she was not even looking at my face. That is how I escaped the low IQ work.

Sweet Talk and Sarcasm

If he indeed rendered some mysterious service to the Magazine, I could not see what it was. It would have taken a shrewd sleuth to untangle that mystery.

I often wondered how our Marx fit into all this. If he indeed rendered some mysterious service to the Magazine, I could not see what it was. It would have taken a shrewd sleuth to untangle that mystery. But, Miss Handicrafts gave me a painfully articulated answer: “I think the publisher hired Marx because of his honesty.” Haha, honesty! I gathered that what they all felt towards Marx was, for very obvious reasons, “condescending respect”. It was a delicate sensitivity which was often expressed through a deafening silence and sentimental rationalizations which suggested that he was not as incompetent as he appears. But, deep inside they knew that it was a lost battle.

The publisher himself, however, lacked such sensitivity. The week I joined the office, I remember him dropping into the office to ask, “Is Mr. Marx taking care of you properly?” When I said, “Yes”, helplessly, he replied, “You must be joking. I know that he is not capable of anything.” It would soon become clear to me that he meant it. He once had fourteen Magazines, and from what I have heard, he did not inherit these Magazines. Unlike the editors ejected from JNU, he probably has a decent IQ. He must be a clever dude.

Michelle had a far more subtle attitude towards handing out compliments. The feminine malice of her compliments would inflict pain in so insidious a manner. “Mr. Marx is very down to earth, but an utterly incompetent manager.” “Mr. Marx is nice and everything, but when it comes to substantive matters, he is a sleepy boss. He never gave me any feedback. There were two very good journalists here. They had to leave because of this nonsense.” When she spoke, it was with great sadness and a sympathetic expression on her face. At best, her compliments meant that “He is a very humble person who has a lot to be humble about.” I am the biggest fan of being nice, but to me, there is nothing more unbearable than thinking of myself as someone whose sole merit is interpersonal nicety.

Humility. Ha, the all-excusing virtue!

Her back-handed compliments had a distinct flair. They were unsurpassed in its lameness, and were often along these lines: “God’s-Perfect-Exercise-In-Structural-Mathematics tries to be a big fashionista, but she does not have taste or discretion. But, I really do admire her spirit.” “Miss Touch Me Not is smart and talkative, but it is not hard to see why she stays up in the night.” “Miss Doll is very articulate, but lacks substance. I admire such people, because I do not have that talent. God knows what she did at Economic Times!” “Good body. God’s-Perfect-Exercise-In-Structural-Mathematics would look great if we cut out her face.” “Mr. Marx’s wife looks very old and ugly, but I am glad that his search for a suitor has finally come to an end.” But, when she glared at a regional language actress we saw in the market and screamed: “So simple, but she looks so mediocre.” I had to run. The actress had looked at us affectionately.

My capitalistic detractor Barun Mitra had a far more strategic approach. Like Mr. Marx, he too had an impeccable talent for cloaking his threats in compliments. When he once said, “With this kind of attitude, all your knowledge and rationality will come to a naught.” he actually meant that he still cannot get over me yelling at him in front of giggling female colleagues.

When he said, “With all your intellectual ammunition, you cannot see this! What I am worried about is you, and not me.”, he actually meant that I am a noob to miss the fact that messing with him can be dangerous. When he told my father that a boy who is always on Facebook cannot be normal, he meant that if I stayed anymore in Delhi, he will soon be having yummy wheat balls for his breakfast.

When he once screamed in his shrill voice, “Our contractor is like my brother. The job market is about relationships. That is why I invested in my relationship with you. If you are convinced that it is only competence that matters, go to the job market and see!” he had self-interested reasons to say so. To scare that dude, I had indirectly hinted at the contractor’s role in informing me about the corrupt practices in the think-tank. I later heard that the same evening, all his contracts were cut forever.

But when his wife said, “Use your words carefully”, she was trying to ask, “Why are you doing this to that sucker?”. And when I replied sweetly, “There are things which go unmentioned I cannot bring myself to utter it. Given my kindness and compassion, the last thing I want is to hurt another person’s sentiments. But, sometimes, I feel that I should have laughed at their faces, or at least slapped, but it all goes unrewarded.”, I was merely hinting that if he were “man enough”, he would have been capable of paying his employees on time.

Sarcasm is spanking for adults. It should grant them self-esteem to the point that they would not be able to sit down for the rest of their lives. Yet, they would be forced to pretend politeness and friendliness, and beg.

The contractor however, was not good at sensing my sarcasm, perhaps because of his poor grasp on the language. When I once told him, “I cannot apologize enough for helping you lose your biggest contract.”, he replied with benevolent gratitude, “No issues, brother.”

Miss Michelle

Mr. Noob is apparently kind-hearted. He will be doing all the leg-work for us!

I and Michelle soon started staying up the whole night for chit-chat. But, there was no trace of sleeplessness on our faces when we reach the office at sharp 9. Things went on well for weeks. One evening in September, I got a friend request from someone on Google Talk.  He talked incoherently to the point of being unintelligible. I was about to block him. Soon, I saw a head popping up from the other end of our section, and saying, “It is me.” It was a designer. I shall call him Mr. Noob (Rajesh Chawla). I calmed down. To people I see in the real world, I am extraordinarily polite. In between, I heard from Michelle about the wonderful gifts he gave her, and the “brotherly” relationship they share.

An ex-intern had told me, “Mr. Noob is a retard. Period.”

We used to give each other strange handle names on Google Talk. The little girl near me often wondered why I was always talking to fairy tale characters like “Cinderella”, “Snow White”, “Alice” and “Cleopatra”. I was shocked when I heard from Michelle that Mr. Noob somehow figured out who “Cleopatra” was, though he had a hard time spelling it. He spelled it as “Cla”. He rarely comes near us. So, it must either be because he has “real intelligence” without the trappings of education, or because he is watching us like a hawk. I easily ruled out the first possibility.

One day, Michelle insisted that I make a list of the songs that we both loved. I felt that there was something unseemly about her being bent on this, but I did it nevertheless. Later, Michelle said happily that Mr. Noob had downloaded those songs. He was conned into believing that it was for her. When I inquired about the ethical aspects of her deed, she reassured me, “You need not worry about him doing all the leg work for us. He is apparently kind-hearted.”

A few days later while we were walking through Deer Park, someone called me on my phone. When I picked up the phone, there was a dreadful silence for a minute before he hung the phone. Michelle was silent till he hung the call. She quickly asked me whether the phone number started with 4. She was right. She said with a chuckle that it must be someone from the office trying to figure out whether we are having fun together. Later, she tried hard to divert my attention. The next day, I did not ask any of the usual suspects. But, I asked Mr. Noob. He denied it.

Tell me, Mr. Noob. What bothers you at midnight?

The Magazine production was going on in those days. I used to skip sleep continuously. I went to take a short nap before midnight. Mr. Noob woke me up, and asked me whether we could have a talk. I had expected this for weeks.

What followed was a desperate cry. “She was my best friend for the last three years. She left me the day you joined. Please give her back to me. Consider me as your brother.” I said, “I am not sure I need any more siblings.” He uttered a Hindi word, which I did not understand. After a long struggle and verbal gymnastics, he suddenly said, “False promise. She gave me false promise.” He continuously pleaded that I simplify my speech.

I asked him, “But, Mr. Noob, there is one thing which I do not understand. You are much older than me. You have told me that you are a father of two children. You have a little daughter. I might be a bohemian, but if I am not wrong, people like you believe in something called “Bharatiya Sanskriti”. Aren’t the things you do very wrong,according to your own code?” He said that I was right, but he pleaded again, “Three years later, she might leave you too. So, it makes a lot of sense for you to give her back to me.” I laughed, “Yes, but if I should go by this logic, why do you even need her?” He agreed that I make sense, but still maintained that his plea stands. Michelle has a husband too. His full name is Abhinav Suri.

“She is my everything. I wish not to say more, because I do not want it to be public. I know to what extent you both have gone in this relationship.”, he cried. It became clear to me that he had read our online conversations. He said something to the effect that she was into this for money. I ended the conversation saying that I will do whatever that was possible. When we climbed the steps of the office, he threatened me, and I said that he will not be having a career if he speaks this way to me. The guard in the Outlook office woke up and peeped out of the door, in bewilderment.

My status message read, “He felt many emotions toward his fellow men, but respect was not one of them.”

Mr. Noob came near me, bent forward, and asked, “Is your status about me?” I thought, “Mr. Noob, you are so funny!” The whole night, he pestered me. He spelled “She” as “C”. He could not make heads or tails out of anything I said online. That night, I was cruelly sarcastic to Michelle. She repeatedly asked me whether Mr. Noob was near me. When we ended the conversation, she said, “I should sleep. I feel very tired. I do not know why I ended up like this.” I asked her what she meant, and she replied, “You know it, Shanu. You know it.”

Around early morning, I noticed that he had forwarded our conversations to his mailbox. I went near him. When everyone in the office was near his desk, I asked him to open his mailbox. He opened his mailbox, shuddering. The mails were not there. What followed was a high-pitched shouting. I asked him, “Did you delete those conversations?” When he said blindly, “No”, I said, “You are such an idiot.” He did not know that I asked that question only to trap him. It was the stupidest answer he could have granted me. The dispute ended when Mr. Brilliant asked me to leave it. While standing at the other end of the road, I saw Mr. Noob and Mr. Brilliant walking out of the office together. The birds of the same feather flock together.

But, I hadn’t the slightest anger towards Mr. Noob.

Michelle hadn’t slept that night. I knew that she wouldn’t. In the evening, Mr. Noob called me, and apologized, claiming that everything he had said was wrong. Michelle said that she had gone to his home to threaten his family saying that he had destroyed her reputation. His wife begged at her feet saying that she should not destroy his career and family. I could not think of any reaction to this, other than “Yuck!”. In between, she cried, “Such a bad world! It is such a bad world! This is what I get for all the help I had done for his family!”

Oh, now the world is not good enough for her?

After a long silence, I asked contemptuously, my temper flaring up “If I am not wrong, you are from a family like that of mine. Or, am I wrong?” She said, “Definitely”, in a manner that the answer needed emphasis, and then there was a long pause.

In those, she often whined endlessly, weeping, placing her head on her desk, hoping that I would notice. I would take note of this all with a wicked smile, and talk as if nothing happened. To every sarcastic jibe of mine, like “You know, Sexual promiscuity is genetic, i.e., inherited from one’s parents.”, she cringed and replied shamelessly, “You just made me smile.” I wondered why the picture of a bald, unappealing man in a marriage album came back to me.

After many such days, I took her to Deer Park. I heard her say, “I am so happy for this outing.”

She had once taken the underprivileged children on the top of our office to JNU campus. While traveling back, it was too late in the night, and the girl child started crying saying that her father would punish her. I was nervous because I knew that it might happen. That night, I had wondered how she could miss it.  It was only later I would understand that she had used those children to “manufacture drama”.

The day after she took my “Wimpy Kid series”, she leaped from behind and said, “It is so cute. It is so cute.” I did not respond to her. Because, the day before, she had pointed at the picture of some underprivileged African babies, cooing, “It is so cute. It is so cute.”

God, Isn’t that Mr. Noob?

A few days later, I and Michelle left the office at 5. When I neared my apartment, I felt as if my vision was blurring. My knees shuddered, and my coffee flask almost fell from my hands because Mr. Noob was standing near the steps of my apartment, waiting for me. When I threatened to call the police, he left saying that three of us will have to die together. He wouldn’t have known my house and reached there before me if he hadn’t stalked me before. She cried like I had never seen anyone cry. I did not know whom I should sympathize with.

But, her cry turned into a giggle when I said that he waited at my door to catch us with our pants down. That night, I had to stay in the market when the power went off, because my room had suddenly become unsafe. We had named the room, “The Black Hole.” The next day, Mr. Noob told her with a beaming face: “Tumhara Bachcha Dar Gaya.” She translated, “Your baby was scared!”

I told Michelle that I have no option other than to complain to the police, and to Mr. Marx. I insisted that she tell the whole truth, whatever it is, because Mr. Noob had set out to inflict harm. The punishment for cyber crimes, I said, was severe. She denied everything. She said that there was no point in informing his family, because they did not have common sense or education. I told Mr. Marx. Marx said, “Mr. Noob has been working with me for the last three years. I have never had any problems with him.” I said, “He is not normal. If this happens again, I will register a complaint with the police.”

Mr. Marx looked nervous. He said, “He is normal, Shanu. It is pointless to call the police. The police will be glad to listen to whoever pays them the most. I will talk to him. This will not happen again.” I know what he had feared. I said, “He is trying to malign the reputation of my friends.” Marx pretended not to understand what I meant, but I later gathered that he understood everything. Our affair was a public secret. I was perhaps the only one who did not know this.

The next day, I woke up from my daytime slumber hearing a noise from Michelle’s desk. A tiff was going on between Michelle and Mr. Noob.

But, Why oh Why?

Michelle had to pay a huge amount of money to Mr.Noob. She had cleverly evaded it for months. But now, the push had come to shove when he insisted that she should pay him back. When I asked for an explanation, she said, “I really had a blackout in my mind. But, I threw the money on his face. He took it silently, because he is not a man.”

But, there was no blackout in her mind when she talked endlessly of the unrepayable debt his family owed her.

I put her through hell for months. In November, I spent four uncommunicative days, writing a 10,000 word note to someone I shall call “Virgin Mary”. I had long made it clear that I had no intention to commit. At the end of the fourth day, it was clear to her that it was a lost battle. She believed me now.

She turned silent. I asked her in a tone of manufactured anger and helplessness, “Michelle, why are you not talking to me?”. She said, “You have been very nice to me. You have nearly spitted on my face.” I chuckled, “Haven’t I been doing it for months? Why did it take you so long to see it?” She finally admitted that she had refused to pay back Mr. Noob. Things came to an end.

She said, “I can never forget this.” I replied, “Neither can I.”

The next day while I was talking to Mr. Brilliant, on his screen, my status read:

“Drama Queens can be amusing: I have loads of responsibilities. My father has clotting in his brain. My brother is insane. My husband just ditched me, and I am a lifelong patient.” Why can’t they simply say: I just want to get laid!”

Below it, her status read, “I am surprised seeing how much you care!”

I wondered, “Good God, what is she trying to do to me?” I understood what she wanted.

I was polite to her. When I once said, “I am reading an evolutionary psychology paper which explains why spinsters have bleeding-heart tendencies. It explains why men fall for compassionate women, and why women use it as a signaling mechanism. It is a costly signaling mechanism, nevertheless. So, women use it only when men are noticing–mostly when their mate value falls.”, she replied, hiding her shame, “You are making me laugh.”

The Hatred Of The Inferior

No man takes what is mine.

I was shaken when an article of mine on central banking was given a title that completely misrepresented my position. When I asked the designers whether it could be changed, Mr. Brilliant said calmly from a corner, in his soft, sticky voice: “We had given it to the printer.”

It was only later I understood that he had decided to retaliate.

In the next few months, I left the office at odd hours like 5 O’clock in the morning to come back after three hours, only to see my articles packed and gone. Initially, I believed that this was just an inevitable outcome of Mr. Brilliant’s terrible incompetence, and “lack of co-ordination”. I was not convinced that this was purposeful.

Once the proof reader insisted that I capitalize the “s” in “state” (The political entity). In the last one decade of reading, I have never seen it capitalized in the middle of a sentence. I could not believe that a 51 year old proof reader (Rajaram Sukumar) did not know what the political concept “state” meant. Pathetic! I insisted that he substantiate his case, and he refused to listen. I had to change it myself.

The next month, I noticed that a reference to the “inherent conflict between the poor and the greedy rich” was smuggled into an article of mine. I am amused whenever I hear someone argue that the wealthy are greedy, and still argue for redistribution of wealth. I can, of course, claim that I am a virgin because I am not interested in sex. But, does it make any sense if I still demand that women should be forced to share my bed?

I went near Mr. Brilliant and said firmly, “I will never write a sentence like this.” Mr. Brilliant looked at me nervously. He was keen to know whether I had discussed it with the proof reader. Later, I understood why he was scared—because, it was written by Mr. Brilliant himself.

There is of course a reason why I love one lady boss who yelled at her incompetent male executives, “You’re eunuchs. How can your wives stand you? You’ve got nothing between your legs.”

Perhaps. But, then perhaps!

Once I asked Mr. Brilliant:  “Is it possible to change the pictures you have chosen for my articles?” He had wrongly chosen the pictures. He lost his temper, but in a moment he regained his consciousness and asked, “What is the big deal? It is a picture.” I thought, “If this is no big deal, you wouldn’t have felt so humiliated, Mr. Incompetent!”. But, when I looked at the production schedule, I noticed that he had decided not to publish one article. When I asked him why, he waffled and walked away.

When I asked for a final copy of my articles, Mr. Brilliant said with a clever smile that I can see the published version when the Magazine is out. The next month, the proof reader suggested that I should ask for a printout when he finish editing my article. When I asked the designers, I heard that the proof reader himself had finalized it. It was clear to me that these dunces were messing with me for months.

It is totally beyond me how they get away with such behavior from other writers. Don’t they have any self-respect? Don’t they care whether their position is being misrepresented and put in the public domain?

The next day, when I noticed that Mr. Brilliant had wrongly replaced an expression of mine, I corrected him.

The most pleasureful experience while working here was saying ‘It is an expression’, before arrogating the keyboard to myself and changing the text in the Word Document in Mr. Brilliant’s computer.  He stood speechlessly with a visible movement in his throat, as presumably, Miss Handicrafts was watching from behind. It was the cutest thing I had ever seen.

Whoa! That must have hurt. It must have hit where it hurts the most.

The next day while reading the draft of an article, he said, “If you were brought up with some capitalistic worldview, you can write it on your own blog.” I was just amused. The next day, his tone was firmer: “You can write for your own blog.” I said, “I’ll have to see”, and left. Later, he threatened in a child-like manner, “I have discussed it with Mr. Marx. You’ll see.”

I had heard that Mr.Marx and Mr. Brilliant were batch mates at JNU. I wondered why the image of a stray puppy which howls, yelps and wags his tail flashed in my mind. Perhaps, it was an unrelated imagery.

When I said that I will have a talk with Marx, Mr. Brilliant was nervous. He glanced at me calmly, and said, “I do not have any problems with you. It is you who is making an issue out of this.”  He said, “The pictures. I did not take it personally. But, you did.” I chuckled, thinking: “It has been months. Are you still not able to forget it, honey? Did I hurt you as much?”

I saw him nervously moving his hand through his hair. We all got an unprecedented mail informing us of the production schedule. I understood that he was running like hell. When I raised the issue to Mr. Marx, Mr. Brilliant claimed that he did not have any problems with me. But, the next day, I could not find the reference books on my desk. Mr. Brilliant had taken it away.

Sheesh, Rat!

Month after month, I saw the designers telling me with a naive grin: “Rajaram finalize kar diya.” This month, I shouted, “I do not care whether Rajaram finalized it or not. I do not care even if the Prime Minister had finalized my articles.”, and I saw three printouts flying out of the machine and falling into my hands. When I saw the nervous expression on the face of the proof reader when I said, “I have been telling this for the last five months”, I was sick with pity. I do not know what is his role in this racket, but isn’t he much older than them? How can he take orders, like a rug under their feet?

The next month, there was no edit meet. Mr. Brilliant, I suspect, feared that I will humiliate him in front of the girls in the office. In a personal meeting, he said, “I give you demanding articles because I know the capabilities of everyone. If I give it to say, Miss ‘Way of Living’, I know that it will not get done because it requires a lot of reading. We have fired that photographer who chose that pictures, because it is not just you who have problems with her. She is a novice. If you have any problems here, you have to tell me.”

Good God, did he use me to get that photographer out?

Miss ‘Way of Living’ is a JNU PhD student. Once when I wondered how smoke was coming out of the front seat of Michelle’s car, I noticed that this kid was busy smoking up. When I once said that smoking is not good for her health, she retorted contemptuously, “It is a way of living, Yaar”. Mr. Brilliant had once said in a meeting in which she was not present, “She has got no perspective at all.” I wondered what she must have done to humiliate him.

The day after the meeting, I moved to a new house. The next day, I had cold. But, that evening, Mr. Brilliant got three of my four essays–all of them well-written. There was a beautifully written five page essay on sustainable development. When people who observed me often wondered whether I ever worked at all, I used to give them long speeches on my teeth-clenched determination and will power. But, Mr. Brilliant presumably got an honest answer. My keyboard does the job. I barely have to work. It humiliated him.

I knew that he would soon retaliate. I was proven right.

Even after many weeks, he did not send back my essay on “sustainable development”. During the next Magazine production, I stayed in the office skipping food because I knew that Mr. Brilliant has been waiting for long. Around 5 in the evening when I was asked to wait for the computer, I noticed that Miss Doll (Papia Lahiri) was playing on my essays.

Miss Doll was shaking her head as if she were reciting a nursery rhyme with those thick glasses perched at the end of her nose. There was a smug smile on her face, and it was not easy to miss the impudence in her affected voice. Mr. Brilliant knew that it was the best way to manufacture a fight, because I had some history with her.

I had heard that it was a public secret in the office that I had live commentary on Miss Doll on my Facebook wall when I joined the office. With updates like this:

“It is not that I enjoy being in a room full of girls–all of them constantly trying to impress each other. Through the crack of my earphones, I often hear: “When I was with Economic Times, I practically ran the whole organization. Later, I went on to do my Post Grads in Medieval History.” and such like nonsense. I am rolling my eyes.”

“I can see a girl through my glasses who shakes her head like an obedient High School girl–when someone tells her something. The moment I saw her head shake, I understood that this is her first job. Every morning she comes at 9, moves her hair from one side of the head to another and picks up the phone. But, she is so clever. She conned me into doing more low IQ work today.”

The truth was just that I found all this funny and cute.

Once when my status update said, “The best thing about winters will always be women taking off their jackets! One of my prized possessions is Nabokov’s Lolita. I love it not so much for the literary merit, as for its beautiful cover with a young girl’s legs in tiny socks and saddle shoes. Winters remind me of Lolita.” many were convinced that I am worthy of suspicion, and that she should be careful! But, as it happens, it was not intended at her.

Miss Doll once came to me to insist that I should send in my work soon. I agreed that I will finish the work as soon as possible. She came near my desk couple of times to see to it that I was not shirking. When such things happen, I know at the back of my mind that the esoteric agenda is something else. But, I dismissed the thought inwardly and bent over backwards not to sound dismissive.

Mr. Brilliant asked me to work on another article on an immediate basis. She again appeared and said with a twinkle in her eyes: “I will report.” I was amused, and was suddenly reminded of how a classmate sulked in LKG: “I will complain to the class teacher.” The three year old me had cried. I wondered why I was turning all misty eyed and reaching for those rose tinted glasses. But, I soon forgot the whole incident.

Many days later, I asked her when the meeting will be held. I heard her mumble hysterically, as if she was spitting venom. I was always slow to grasp. I was taken aback, but later things fell into place. She was burning in humiliation for the past ten days, waiting eagerly for an opportunity to strike back. Her hidden agenda had failed. It was understandable. The dichotomy became visible. I understood everything.

But, when this liberated young lady tinkered with my property, did I throw her out on her pigtails as I should have done? No! I was too much of a gentleman for all that! But, I saw her springing up from her chair and walking like a toddler, her hair bouncing from one side to another, only to speak in a way reminiscent of a child that screams: “Mommy yelled at me today!”

Yes, but Mommy yelled for a reason!

I told her firmly that he was not supposed to give it to her. No one knows my position well enough to improve upon it. I gathered from the way she spoke that she was very much part of the game.

If they would do anything for money, why do not they sleep with their bosses?

Mr. Brilliant had grossly misrepresented my position in the sustainable development article. Now, this is criminal. I rejected his changes. When I was back after having my “dinner”, he had cleverly finalized one article of mine. When I asked for a copy, taking him to task in front of everyone, he snarled, “Go to hell. You can complain to anyone you want!”

After a while, he messaged me on Google talk saying that he had scrapped the finalized article. He knew that I wouldn’t let him publish it that way. He chose to say it on Google Talk because giving me a copy would be an admission of defeat in front of his team. It was a cry of humiliation. Aren’t all these shameful games at the expense of the publisher?

But then, I had heard of old-fashioned artificial constructs like dignity, honor, self-respect and ‘holding ones head high’. I am not supposed to kill his self-respect-not even his pretense at it, as even that is lacking. I wondered whether he even has a backbone.

I sent an email to the publisher and editor saying that if nothing is done, I will have to substantiate all this in as public a manner as possible. In my interview, I had given them an anarchistic article of mine because my convictions are of utmost importance to me. This is a left-of-center publication, and I was jobless in Delhi for five months at that point. The next day, the publisher came to the office and waved his hand at me twice, in a cleverly conscious manner, perhaps hoping that I might forget it. So, the publisher felt that I was kidding.

In the evening, a sweet mail went to Mr. Brilliant, marking everyone who writes for the Magazine, including Mr. Marx and the publisher.

 ”Dear Mr. Brilliant,

Corporate Finance and Corporate Financing are two different things. We learn the latter as a part of the former. Please let me know if you face similar problems. Even in the last issue, you had written “Single Currency Vs Common Currency”. As you should have been able to see, it was “Single Currency Versus Multiple Currency”. Please do it properly, because this goes out in my name. It is a request. It is far better to leave it to be corrected by me, than to leave the judgment to the readers. I sincerely hope that you understand the gravity of the problem.”

Mr. Marx promised to ensure that it will not happen to me again. At the back of my mind, I knew that they were scheming. In the next few weeks, Mr. Marx gave me much of the work for the anniversary issue. When I looked at the production schedule, my articles were not there. I shouted at them and walked out.

Mr. Marx also received a sweet mail saying I am tired to work anymore with people who do not have common decency, or culture. It began this way:

“Dear Mr. Marx,

Though I do not write for the Magazine, I often notice that many words and expressions are used inappropriately. For instance, in the “From the Editors Desk” in March issue, the word “invariably” was used many times, and in an inappropriate sense. “Minimization of entrances” is an incorrect expression in that context. It is used rarely. Even when it is used, it refers to the entrance of, say, a street. The language has to be more mature to attain respectability. I think it is possible. After all, it is a Magazine on education.”

I hope that he will soon be able to sit down properly.

I decided to leave, and refused to send in my stories. I received an email from Mr. Brilliant saying that it would be better if I say a “Good Bye”. At the end of his mail, there was a “See”. He was trying to tell me that he had backstabbed me. I asked him: “What else have been I telling you guys for long?”

Yuck! He is not a man.

The next day, Mr. Marx sent me an SMS: “Where is that idiot?” When I replied, “Intelligent people would know to hurl far more sophisticated insults, Mahesh”, he called me. He started crying, “Shanu, You have not sent me a single story yet. Are you not working anymore? I am your employer. I have a Magazine to run. I have a deadline to meet.”

Marx knew that he had to implicitly beg, because he had heard from Michelle that I wanted to legally proceed against them. I knew that she played no insignificant role in these political games. I said, “I do not want to hear anything. Others too have deadlines to meet and dues to pay. The Magazine has never paid us on time.”

A girl’s status message often read, “I am so poor that I cannot focus.”

One day I heard from Michelle that she and other girls in the office yelled at the accountant for an unrelated reason. I told her, “I know why you did it.” She turned silent. It is far more enjoyable to shout at the publisher.

Mr. Marx claimed that the salary was never delayed. When I said that I had documented it, because my previous employer had conned me, he sounded apprehensive. He promised that he will send an email stating that he will pay me on time.

The accountant was funny: “We were never late to pay you. If you are a member of a family, you should understand this. If his parents take away a child’s toys, there probably have good reasons to do that. But, it does not mean that the parents do not love their child. The company loves you, Shanu. The company loves you!”

In those days, the King Fisher employees were on a strike because they were also denied their just dessert. The day my responsibilities were over, the Publisher Maheshwer Peri felt a pressing desire to express his outrage on his Facebook wall:

“If your kingfisher flight got canceled recently, go to a bar, order a Kingfisher beer, and just when they open the bottle, cancel the order.”

Part II: The Hilarious Case of Manu Joseph


  1. George S.

    Hey Shanu, somewhere else you mention that this article “was shared on Facebook 400 times in less than three days”. So it is a bit surprising that this is apparently the first non-pingback comment. Mysterious, that you have a large and silent readership.

  2. Haha. 1) I changed the URl of this blog post once 2) I had the habit of removing all the comments from my dahsboard without really reading till I found a way to reduce spam. But, I get very few comments on my blog, My post on Aarushi Talwar was read nearly 1500 times in two-three days, but there are only two comments. I do not know why my readers are so silent. This is a brilliant piece, as you can see.

  3. George S.

    Hmm. The silence may be explained by the wisdom of Albus Dumbledore:

    “The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

    Your readers may have been so petrified by the truth that they were rendered speechless.

  4. Yes. People are petty. They do not value the unmatched brilliance of mine. When they post comments, it is to make snide remarks. Or to abuse my parents. But, you can see 388 Facebook likes/shares, on top.

  5. George S.

    This is a story of the underdog reacting; it always gets followers.

    You had not earlier put in people’s names, had you? That is new, if memory serves me right.

    I just searched a bit on your ex-boss Maheshwer Peri. It seems he himself was the underdog in a fight with Arindam Chaudhary and spent more than he could afford in legal fights. Could that possibly the reason behind his cash troubles?

  6. Look, this is a brilliant piece. No one ever made the observation, that this is a story of an underdog reacting. People are more prejudiced against people with a certain personality style than they are prejudiced against people with a large wallet. You really got to admit that this ant-capitalistic mentality is not about money. It is about envy.

    In the industry, people see you as a traitor when you turn against your own firm. People instead sympathized with my bosses. Believe me. All the comments I got under this post and a post I wrote on ManU joseph (I deleted all of them in bulk long ago) were abuses. Abuses against me and my parents. I find it hilarious, but it tells me more about people. No one ever was supportive, in all these days.

    Maheshwer Peri got into this battle thinking that his Magazine will profit from it. He is one of the most unethical fellows I can think of.

  7. George S.

    Pardon me; I am detached from the scene; so I am bound to get many things wrong. But that is ok, since I am not all that much into the particulars of New Delhi magazine journalists scene.

    Anyway, it was a fun and interesting article even if I didn’t understand everything. Just look at “Tumhara Bachcha Dar Gaya.” If blogs had video and music in the background, here the the scene of Gabbar Singh in Sholay would have been most suited!

  8. Lol. Thank You. I liked that too. She told me that, and I laughed a lot thinking about it. When I write, I laugh more than any reader probably would laugh. Largely because I can see the subtleties so well, and because I can picture it in my mind. That is the primary reason I write.

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