Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ponder this...

'Bangoon Ophaen', shouts tejas over the phone.

'What's that?' I ask her.

'It means, I'll come to Bangalore on an aeroplane.'

* * *

I have an early morning flight to delhi tomorrow morning and a connecting flight to Jammu. Our new airport is outside the city, almost 50 kms away, which means that the taxi fares are exorbitant and people rely on public transport. Since there are no buses so early in the morning, I have to bargain with the taxi guys, so I call them up.

'750 rs,'says the guy over the phone.

'It's too much,' and the calculations begin. 'Why not go there the previous night, catching the last bus, wait in the airport and catch the early morning flight?'

'Or, why not stay at Anand's place in Taponagara, get up early and ask him to drop you to the airport. It's nearer I guess.'

'The bus service starts at 4 a.m., so why not take that bus, just take a chance, if that's okay.....'

It's hard to shell out 750 bucks on a one hour taxi ride but then I begin to wonder what's the difficulty in that. Why? Why should I start thinking about putting myself into inconvenience in order to save a few hundred rupees? I understand it if money is scarce but when that isn't the case, why do these numbers cause a flutter?

We have a couple of new guys in our team, both less experienced than I, who take up less work, lesser pressure, but take home a slightly bigger pay packet. A pang shot through me when I came to know their take-home salary. And now there's a new guy with 6 years experience whose pay packet has gone through the roof and it's a topic of discussion at times.

'You've stayed in the same place for too long,' observes Nazeer. 'Change companies, job-hop and the salary will be good.'

Cool. Numbers again. I don't deny the practical aspect of it but still, these numbers sort of dictate the course of our lives, without our conscious knowledge. They decide the quality of my work, the people I work with and the environment I work in, 9 hours a day, for years together. And I hardly notice that.

It begins to disturb when the same numbers start interfering into the relationship equations. My maternal uncle who owned a flourishing business in bangalore two decades ago, fell into bad times and had to pack everything and retire to his native village. He descended into poverty, partly by his own fault and is still struggling with an uncertain job and salary. His standing in the community and relatives circle closely followed his economic status. The same people who surrounded him, coveted his attention and paid fearful respects in his good times began ignoring him, ridiculing and even insulting him at times. And without anyone explaining the situation very clearly, it came to be accepted as a natural behaviour--you respect someone who's financially sound and don't give a shit if he's penniless. The numbers in your bank account decide your social status, decide if you're worthy of respect and affection. Absolutely no exaggeration.

Is this how the world works? Is this how society has been designed, how life operates in the modern world, everywhere? Maybe yes. Is it healthy? I have my doubts.

Dave pollard's futuristic blogpost about living a money-free, hassle-free life, full of harmony, abundance and joy makes one wonder if that's how life will gradually turn out in the coming days and years. And Ranprieur is one guy who's living such a life, right now, 'in the gift economy' as he says. His entire blog is, apart from many other things, a meditation on the 'money-economy we currently live in vs the gift economy we need to move into'.

This is a huge subject and these are my initial thoughts.

* * *

A guy who's two rungs up the ladder calls a meeting and says,'Our office time is between 9 and 6.30, with a half hour lunch. Many of us are not following it strictly, so the CEO has sent a memo. Starting today, this duration will be strictly followed. You have to be here before 9 and leave by 6.30...'

'These are signs of things to come,' says Nazeer. 'Just watch, how many terminations will happen on this account.'

Two days later, there's another meeting. 'How many in your team are arriving after 9? If anyone comes late, tell them to take half a day leave...'

The next day almost everyone's in by 9 except the rulemaker, who arrives at 9.30. The look on his face---priceless!


  1. Money does drive everything. It shouldn't but it does. Money IS important, but it does have a place and should not be the most important.

  2. money talks and numbers don't lie.