Monday, February 14, 2011

The pursuit of happiness

It has been seven months. Seven months and five days, to be exact. July 9th to February 14th. Yeah, today is St. Valentine's day - the Lover's day or the loser's day, depending on whose side you are on. It has been seven months and five days since I quit the corporate world.

"Why did you quit?" and "What would you do next" were questions to which I had no definite answers at that particular point of time. I have produced a lot of flak over the first questions, such as "I hated the work-life imbalance", "I did not like the work" or "The company was shifting to operational consulting, something I was not very comfortable with." The truth, while encompassing each of the above three elements has been that despite putting in much more effort than I am accustomed to, I was not getting the results on a personal level. Here is a sample of what I mean:

(Characters: I, and two senior consultants (S1 and S2). Time: Saturday 10 am, in one of the small meeting rooms in our office, even though it is supposedly a 5 day week.).

I: Why are we even here today? (whisper, I have a bad hangover).
S1: To DISCUSS the recommendations we will make to client.
S2: It is very important to DISCUSS these.
I: Did you go through the recommendations pack I made and sent you. I was in the office till 10 last night, making the pack, and all the recommendations are listed there. You can now see which ones to incorporate. Why am I needed? I need to catch up with an old friend, who has just landed in Delhi from Switzerland, and will be here only till 1p.m. It has been six years since I have met him.
S2: We all need to DISCUSS. It is very important for all of us to DISCUSS. All of us need to be present. Without DISCUSSING, we will not be in the same wavelength.
S1: I think we need to go step by step in our recommendations. Zubin, you project the recommendations presentation on the screen, and let us go through it.
I: Yes, S1,S2, our first recommendation is .....
(And I make them go through the recommendations I had made the previous night. I take 10 minutes explaining the entire set of recommendations after which the discussions begin, usually between S1 and S2, while I am generally quiet and angry. The discussions include an half an hour of discussion on whether the designations be written in capital or small letters. It goes on till 10 p.m., and it is a Saturday).
The end result is a "revised" version of the document I made the previous night, with only a few cosmetic changes. No recommendations are dropped, while no new recommendations are added. And this took 12 hours. At the end of which, I showed my irritation by whispering something like " Fuck!! You wasted an entire Saturday", which I guess someone of those two heard.)

Now, the following conversation is something that I only suspected happened. I am pretty sure this is how it went based on the feedback I got - about being insincere and non-hardworking. This, when for the past two years and two months, I had spent, on an average, 60 hours a week in that fucking office.

Characters: S1 and S2, Manager (M) and Partner (P).

S1: Sir, we have come up with a list of recommendations.
S2: Yes, sir the DISCUSSIONS helped us to come to a consensus on the results.
P: Wow, great recommendations! This is impressive. Who did this?
S2 and S1: Sir, we discussed it among ourselves, working all through Saturday.
M: These two work very hard, sir.
P: Cool, I will make the two of you managers. And you, M, will become a senior manager. Was there anyone else on the project.
M: I think there was a consultant, but I forget his name.
S1, S2: Ohh, it was Zubin, but he has a horrible attitude. He shirks away from work. He has plenty of potential, but he doesnt use it. If we were not there to guide him, this work would never have been done.
P: So its decided, promotion to S1, S2 and M. Give Zubin the lowest rating possible, but call it the average rating. And we will loan him to another team and make them send him to some plant. I dont think I like his face.

And I lived a two years and two months with that shit. For someone used to high Return on Investment philosophy, the no returns after investment was not something I was ready to live with.
So, ladies and gentlemen, was why I quit.

"What will you do next?" was a question I had no answer to. So I just told people, "I will write." And so started writing, but it certainly has not been a smooth sailing so far. Most times I think about what to write, and even when I have it all figured out, I cut the script a number of times, and hence, after seven months, I have just 30000 odd words to show. And a story that is not going anywhere.

I have not traveled much these past seven months, and the month long trip to China and Singapore discounted, the only trips I have made are the three trips to home. It has not even been a dazed seven months, and I have cut down a bit on alcohol too. Have played a bit of tennis, and made some new people.

However, this time has been, both literally and figuratively, a blast. I have had a great time doing nothing, and I feel I have become a much happier person. Moreover, my hair has blackened and I have had the time of my life. I dont have to suck up to someone, I can do my own thing, and my finances are hanging up pretty fine so far. All in all, its been a good life so far, and I would not trade it for a corporate slave anytime.

That being said, my finances are going bad slowly, and I recently did interview for a position with a company known for its good work-life balance. However, the first question I had to answer was, "What was your GPA in IIT and IIM?" And that kind of sort of set the tone for the rest of the interview, and it re-emphasised what I had known all the time - that the corporate world sucks. You are being pulled down for your weakest points than being appreciated for your strengths. And which is why, not being in the job with someone to suck to, has made me so much happy.

And you might say that this is the sour grapes fuck up, as people will probably do, but I am actually happy. HAPPY and more importantly, satisfied. And the interview fuckup probably happened to prove a point to me - Never trade happiness for anything else. :).

To quote Will Smith from a Pursuit of Happiness, "This period of my life, this little period, is what I call happiness."


nikhil said...

This is one HAPPY post,from a man who is no longer given to moping.
as for the depleting finances,why not work from home?

P.S-believe me,grlfriends are like bosses,some even worse.

arts said...

Respect for you to quit the 'consulting world'.....but maybe you can still reconsider the 'corporate world'.

abhishek said...

happiness is neither in idleness nor in overwork.

zubin said...

@Nikhil - So we are not even taking a gf, now are we now, mate? :D. And how do I get an opportunity working from home?
@RT - I tried doing it, hence the interview, but I guess bygones (read: My low GPA) will not be bygones. Am off the road for a while again now. :).
@Abhishek: Dude, for you happiness might not be in anything, but for me it lies 100% in idleness. Pure and complete :).

Witness said...

Straight from the heart, yet again:)

gini said...

you can teach.Half-a-day job.
try ur hand at teaching.
not corny atall.
mm...private tuitions?

or writing?
Cm'on,nobody there will look at these low GPAs.

Abhijit said...

Hey! Did not know about this! But now that I know, it does not come across a surprise.
I have shifted over to another one and have had a decent time relatively.

Corporate life in itself may not be bad, its always the people. And it takes a really great bit of luck to have the right kinds around yourself! :)

All the best for whatever you do!

sid said...

bhai,did you leave craporate job coz there were smarter people there?
with better GPAs?

Anonymous said...

totally enjoyed it, specially 'why did you quit' portion of blog..and about corporate world and life...this is it or hate it..and actually second option 'hate it' exists only on u have to love it

Anonymous said...

Simply Loved it! I can so very well relate to it. I was at home for the last few months and i just loved my freedom. Life had never been better than this - no tension of work, no worries about appraisal etc.

Anonymous said...

All the best for the future Zubin! Better to be happy everyday doing something u like (with good finances :)) ... than dreading each day at work.

PS: Why dont u try a startup/non-profit ? Perhaps it'll be more enjoyable ?

zubin said...

@Shweta: Thanks :).
@Gini: I guess I could, except that I think I will also be a horrible teacher. The freelancing something is a better idea, I guess.
@Bhavsar: True man, and I really enjoyed my time in the first project. After that my teams changed :(.
@Sid: No bhai, you have not understood my remarks at all :).
@Anon1: Thanks, and hate it also you can, if you do not want to undergo it.
@Anon2: Thanks, and yeah unemployment rocks!!
@Anon3: Thanks a lot, and thats a nice suggestion. Lemme think about it.

Robert Frust said...

Godspeed! Loved your description of the "DISCUSS"ion epidemic :-)

Mr Mojo said...

how will ya now enjoy your weekends?
sloth is a of labour can be found in passion.
find thy passion

prateek said...

Who says you're idle?
world cup makes all see very busy days ahead.
keep snack bowl full.

Karan said...

I couldn't agree more.Corporate life sucks big time.But life leaves men with no other option,even if it's only to afford the best of basic amenities.

zubin said...

@Shalabh: Am sure, being a consultant, you know the epidemic as well as anyone else :). And what else happening, long time, no see?
@Mojo: Love of labour is a hallicunation. As far as enjoying weekends go, we will see.
@Prateek: LOL, true.
@Karan: But then, well earlier there were no jobs at all and people still lived. More happily maybe :).

Phoenix said...

I can so see your point, and I wish you good luck for your pursuit of happiness. Hope you get a (earning lots of money, so she's busy and rich) girlfriend though, so life gets even better and you enjoy your idleness creatively

Anonymous said...

life is good.Jobs are bad.Maybe you've exhausted yourself with years of education and overwork.Leave the land fallow for another few years,and yeah,you're quite gutsy to have people have another question to badger you with-"why are you jobless",besides"why not married?"

Oddly,I'm compelled to put it as-GMMMMMMMMM (God Made Man Man Made Math Math Made Man Mad)

harsh.setia said...

U should have fucked up those guys since u were already leaving ;)
Start something of your own .... Me too in for this .... can pull in some more ppl ..... and how are ur coin tennis and book cricket going ?

Anonymous said...

Seriously Zubin, if you have not played Facebook poker at office, you haven't lived corporate life.
Another shot-boredom induced.

zubin said...

@Anon1: Haha, in my case its like, "I am unmarried because I am jobless, and I am jobless because I am unmarried." A vicious circle.
@Pethe: I didnt fuck them, and its a pretty big regret I have. And I do need to talk to you, will call U sometime. Hows married life treating you?
@Anon2: Haha, I have played Facebook poker at work. It was the only thing that worked. :).

R said...

have spent more on education than earning outta it,not even to repay the loan taken for edu?

Rohan said...

Am happy to have come back to your blog and to have read this post.

That too at a time, when I am about to let go/very close to letting go. Can do (any) more of this.

Am also waiting for the book!

and look forward to seeing you at the wedding this month :-)

Rohan said...

*can't :)

Anonymous said...

"and made some new people."


zubin said...

@Rohan: Waiting to meet you too :).
And give me the updates.
@Anon: Haha, you perv. I meant met. This was a typo. Take back your respects :).
@Taru: I missed your comment. And that is the best anyone has ever wished for me, Thanks a lot!!
@R: In my days the education was a lot cheaper, and I did not have to take a loan.

Bhushan said...

All the best sir for your writing pursuits! I have been following your blog for quite sometime now and there is no doubt that your story telling and writing skills are exceptional!! :)