I don’t know if many of you readers noticed—for the sake of my self-esteem I am hoping you did—but there was no edition of Cubiclenama last week. Instead this space carried a guest column.
First of all I wish to sincerely apologize for this oversight. Many readers were shocked by this development, and several wrote in to say that I had breached their trust. Some said they have forever lost their faith in newspaper columnists. While they always suspected such things happened in the 20-paragraph online format and 50-paragraph magazine formats, they never expected this malaise to extend itself to the classic newspaper format.
Also Read Sidin Vadukut’s previous columns
Thankfully, the Anti-Columnists Slacking Unit of the International Columnists Council has promised to look into the matter and issue a thorough report...
Wait. I am so sorry. I am being completely carried away by some other recent news developments. You know how it can be. Please ignore. I really crossed the line there. But it has been fixed now.
The second thing is this. I have very valid reasons for why I was not able to file my column last week. The thing is I left for office last Thursday morning and suddenly realized I was low on fuel. So I went to a petrol pump to top up, when their credit card machine stopped working. I ran to an ATM not too far away. But at that moment they were refilling that ATM with money. So I had to wait for another 20 minutes.
By this time rush hour had begun and I got stuck in slow, crawling traffic. And then suddenly the road caved in and a DTC bus fell in. By the time I was able to navigate through the Delhi Cantonment area, and get back on to the main road, it was already almost 11.30am.
Which is when it began raining. The roads turned into slush and things got even worse. I finally made it to office at around 1.00pm. At which point I got called into a meeting with someone really important which went on for three hours. (The video link kept dropping.)
By the time I got free to sit down and think of a column it was already 4.30pm. Still, because of my commitment to readers, I switched my computer on, powered up a Word processor and began to think.
Which is when my computer crashed. At first I thought it was just one of those Bajaj Chetak situations where you restart your PC a few times till it starts working.
Alas. My computer just kept rebooting itself. So I had to call the guys in IT. Who came and tried to reboot my computer. I told them there was no need to do this as the computer had already tried this itself fruitlessly. Then they ran some tests on it and told me that there might be a problem with the operating system.
They took my laptop and went away.
So I commandeered a colleague’s computer, even though I only had 20 minutes to file Cubiclenama. Which is when I remembered that I had promised to attend an 18-minute conference call with a foreign party. These foreign parties are not used to our way of doing things. So I couldn’t postpone it.
Therefore, the column was canned. But you know what they say in Delhi:
“The columnist is like the baraat at a Punjabi wedding. There will be a lot of noise and hullabaloo and it will look like he is going to file his piece any time now. But sometimes he doesn’t. And you have to carry a guest column instead.”
Which is eventually what happened.
But what is the point in using my very next column to tell you this long, sad, heartbreaking story of under-delivery?
See the thing is, if you pick up any newspaper these days, there is hardly a single piece of good news to be found.
The Commonwealth Games is a mess. No one likes Rahman’s song. There is dengue in Delhi. Cricketers are being paid big money to throw matches. Food is rotting in our godowns. Sixty years after independence we still can’t handle rain in our cities. Roads are caving in, power supply is poor, and there is still no sign of the iPhone 4 in India.
And that new building at Delhi airport already has a slogan—“Termin-ator-al 3: You’ll never be back.”
Our country is falling to pieces.
But amid all this misery we forget one very important thing: Indian office-goers have never had so many things to blame when they slack off and screw up things. Never, in the history of independent India, have the stars for cubicle dwellers aligned so perfectly.
On the one hand, our salaries are high because of our economic prosperity and rapid growth. (GDP growth this quarter is again some insanely high number between 3% and 15%. The government is currently running a teaser campaign, and will reveal real numbers shortly.)
But on the other hand, there are so many infrastructural issues and systemic problems everywhere. You can spend months never turning in a piece of work, and never attending office, because of rain, traffic, passport police verification, floods, riots, farmer demonstrations, railway strike, auto strike...
Comrades, this is a golden age for slackers. It is time we stopped cribbing and did…nothing.
(But all those things really happened to me last week. I swear.)
Cubiclenama takes a weekly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org