Home / Opinion / Goodbye Cubiclenama

Dear reader, if you are holding a hot drink, a small child or a motion-sensitive explosive, please place relevant item in a safe location before reading any further. Yes? Good.

This is the last and final edition of Cubiclenama.

Gasp. Horror. Shock. Awe.

No. I am not being fired. And no, I am not quitting this newspaper to join the nation’s burgeoning breed of journalist-politicians. (Unless, of course, the voice of the public demands it. In which case who am I to say no to a minor ministership in the coal, oil or telecom ministries.)

In fact I will continue to write in this space on a weekly basis, as always. It just won’t be about office culture any more.

What has happened?

Many things. But, most of all, I have decided to pay heed to some of the very same advice I have doled out in this column since I first started writing it around six years ago in December 2008.

Over the many dozens of editions of Cubiclenama I have badgered my fellow cubiclists to find ways of injecting excitement and enjoyable turbulence into their professional and personal lives. I have asked many of you to question status quo, contest social and cultural norms, and generally shake things up a bit every now and then. And I have often poked fun at the predictable, often bizarre sameness of corporate life.

Yes, yes I have often done this in the form of nonsense and non sequitur. But hey, even when I was making you shed tears of disappointment at my jokes, my heart was mostly in the right place.

But what good is an advice columnist who doesn’t follow his own advice?

A few weeks ago, after I had dutifully shared a link to the latest Cubiclenama on Twitter, I had a conversation with one of my online friends.

“Your latest column is nice. But it was a little obvious I think," he said diplomatically.

Of course, I was instantly defensive. I am a human being, not some economist-turned-politician. I have feelings.

“Yes. But the column isn’t really always about original thought," I countered. “The whole idea is to discuss workplace issues, even if many of them are age-old and unchanging. It is good to revisit them with readers."

Later I felt sheepish.

This was precisely the kind of thing I have lampooned in these pages. Where people try to defend their stagnating jobs, instead of seeking to instil more meaning and purpose to their work.

Of course not everybody can do that. Not all cubiclists have the freedom to alter their profiles or daily activities to make them more interesting and enjoyable. (Chartered accountants come to mind. Also morticians.)

But I was a columnist. I had uncommon latitude for this kind of rethink and course correction.

So I sat down and began to (re)think.

I’ve been writing about office culture, office politics and workplace issues for around eight years. Much of that for this newspaper, but also for other titles. Been there, done that, written the novels, self-printed the T-shirt.

Eight years on, the columns were beginning to get a tiny bit harder to write each time. Increasingly I was beginning to Google ‘column idea + Sidin Vadukut’, to see if I had already written about something.

And you know what? My online friend was right. I was perhaps running out of interesting new things to write about. Perhaps I was resorting to the obvious. Sure, I could occasionally riff off news events or current affairs to add a bit of zing here. But the fact remained that this column and this columnist were in danger of running out of vitality and originality. How many more Sodexo jokes can I make?

There were a couple of other minor factors too. Such as the onset of middle-aged grumpiness and the lack of diversity in my own work-environment—the latter increasingly made me less equipped to write about contemporary office culture.

But the threat of becoming hackneyed and predictable trumped all these concerns.

Earlier this year, I had written about how we should all try to find time and space to pursue our childhood passions in our work or outside. I’ve always been passionate about history and historical research. I’ve also occasionally written about such topics for this paper, and expanded this interest into other larger projects.

So I wrote an email to the editor. Always worth a shot.

Starting next week, Cubiclenama will be replaced by a new column called Deja View. Deja View will seek to place current affairs and ideas, both in India and abroad, within their historical contexts and antecedents. And it will aspire to do so in an entertaining way. But more on all that in the future.

I want to thank all my frequent and infrequent readers. Especially those who often write to me. It has been an exhilarating experience writing this column. I hope it has added some value to your professional and personal lives. Next week we start afresh.

Take care. And please, if you can help it, never settle.

Cubiclenama takes a weekly look at pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at

To read Sidin Vadukut’s previous columns, go to

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