Thursday, May 20, 2010

The years keep passing by...

So another year has gone by. Tuesday marked the completion of another year of my employment with Asian Paints, the count of which now stands at six. Needless to mention, I am now part of an extremely small minority within my MBA batchmates that are still with their first job. And I admit that I do get the occasional look of disbelief,  sometimes laced with a tinge of sympathy or fascination, when I tell people I am still attached to my first company. More often than not, the inevitable statement follows: "You must be having a near-dream job, and working in a great organization, in order to put up with it for so many years, isnt it ?". And to be very honest, I still don't know the answer to that one.

But I have wrestled with this question for quite some time : "What binds people to their jobs ?". Especially on evenings after a rough day at work, I have spent considerable time trying to come up with a reply. And of course, since I cannot speak for others, I will only answer that for myself.  Strange as it may sound, I feel what actually 'binds' me to my job is the fact that I don't bind myself to my job !!!!.. Let me explain. By this, I mean that if one treats his/her job as nothing more than a source of livelihood (उपजीविका), then one will not develop that emotional attachment with his/her current job. More importantly, there will also not be that attraction towards the greener grass outside. And therefore, all jobs (current as well as prospective) would seem the same. This is, of course, not to suggest that one should  not love his/her current job.  And I am also not talking about being disinterested or, even worse, disloyal to the job. But then, lets face it, how many of us are in the jobs that we truly want to do ??. So my mantra, don't attach undue importance to a job and you will be fine. Here I am reminded of that great Marathi personality Pu La Deshpande's words "नोकरी म्हणजे लग्नाच्या बायको सारखी, दुसरी चांगली म्हणून पहिले सोडायची नाही !!, शेवटी सगळ्या नोकरया, आणि सगळ्या बायका, सारख्याच !!!" (A job is like your wife, you don't leave her just because some one else looks good. Finally, all jobs, and all wives, are the same !!). Of course, I would also like to acknowledge my luck in getting a good employer, great compatriots and, above all, being in my home city. To be living with parents, and having most things given to me on a platter, is a joy and help one can never forget. I could not have imagined myself lasting six years if I was living alone in some other city.

Finally, I would like you sign off with the thought  (especially for those who are compulsive job changers) that if one has a life beyond a job (even at the cost of slightly less money) and finds time to pursue his other interests and ambitions, then that person is better off and will really not bother what he does, or where he works, between nine to five daily.


Saturday, May 08, 2010

Timelessness of the Epic !!

The Mahabharata continues to remain an enigma to us. Over time, I have developed more than a passing curiosity about this great epic. For me, the beauty of the epic is the fact that it is open to interpretation i.e. there is no black and white in it. And over the years, there have been multiple interpretations of the story seen through the eyes of its various characters. Refer to my earlier post regarding Duryodhan. Before and since then, I have also read other books related to the epic, notably 'Mrityunjaya' and 'Yugantaa' by Iravati Karve - that takes a matter-of-fact look at some of the events as well as views the epic from the point of view of the principal women in the epic. And each time, I learn something new about the Mahabharata.

The latest in the series of books about the Mahabharata that I am currently reading is the near provocatively titled 'The Difficulty of Being Good' by Gurcharan Das. Here, the author of India Unbound talks about his discovery of the Mahabharata over the course of his three year sabbatical in the US and how the moral questions it raised are as relevant today (though it talks less about the present than about the epic itself) . At the core of the book is Gurcharan's discussion on the true meaning of the word 'dharma' (धर्म). It brings to the fore Yudhisthir's dilemma on what the true 'duty' (synonym of 'dharma' ?) of the king is ? Whether to practice ahimsa and peace or to engage in combat if only for the benefit of his subjects ? In arguing that 'dharma is subtle', the author drives home the point that there are no easy answers to the question 'what exactly is dharma' ?' The book also talks at length about Arjuna's despair when he is forced to take up arms against his own elders. Another interesting essay from the book is regarding Karna's status anxiety. Here the author argues that all of us suffer from some sort of status anxiety that often frequently results in us making the incorrect choices (as when Karna sides with Duryodhan just to get his place amongst the kshatriyas), sometimes with disastrous consequences. All in all, an interesting book and a must-read for all those who are into the Mahabharata at more than a superficial level.

To add to the 're-discovery' of the epic comes Prakash Jha's forthcoming movie 'Rajneeti'. Said to be the story of Mahabharata applied to contemporary Indian politics, it sure promises a lot. Of course, Prakash Jha is not the first one to get inspired by the epic. Nearly three decades ago, Shyam Benegal had made an all-star cast 'Kalyug' that set the Mahabharata in the corporate world (with Shashi Kapoor playing the unfortunate Karan/Karna). At the time, it may have got lost in the parallel cinema movement and hence not endeared itself to the general public. Hopefully, Rajneeti will not suffer a similar fate. I, for one, would be queuing up at the ticket counter (sigh, these days there is no such thing, Book My Show takes care of everything !!). And I hope to be back real soon with the movie review.