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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No country for young men

”Yaar Mehte, yeh kaisi jagah hai yaar …”

- NN, on a long office day when he missed his love,and maybe his datacard too.

Disclaimer: Abhay Sen, it is terribly unfair that your name does not find mention here, alas you were in a different department. But do know, you are 'our baby' and there will be a post on you much before I move into another job.Nod.

Preface: Somewhere in the outskirts of the city of Ahmedabad, lies an eerie jungle. Abundant in Nilgai, a beautiful wide eyed animal belonging to the antelope family, the forest has also courted fame and tourism for being home to a primitive specie known as the Prehistoricus GBicus or GB– very lovable with its long mane and body but best known for adopting a baritone and accent whenever a female of its specie is in proximity. Rumour has it that this strange land is the capital of Gujarat, but of course we don’t believe everything, do we? We call our home - Gandhinagar.

On the 19th of Jan, the Government of Gujarat recruited six people from the class of 2011 and since I was not present on campus then, let me now appraise the chosen few of what they have gotten themselves into. The rest of you can emote expressions as per the rollercoaster nature this riveting read embarks upon and I will give you marks for, skill and another wonderful trait called loyalty.

The Juna Sachiwala campus, a stone’s throw from the Vidhan Sabha, is a series of dilapidated old buildings in pink and brown. On your first few visits, it feels like you have been thrown into a different civilization, a country of old men and older women. Stunned, you turn on your toes like a dog chasing its tail, but nothing changes. It is as if all the oldest people in the country have been thrown into one campus, a thousand A.K.Hangals in one piece of land. There are dinosaur fossils in Cambodia that are younger than the brunt of GoG’s populace.

And then, they ask us to make print ads on ‘Vibrant’ Gujarat. Aaah, the irony.

The office in itself is not like any place you ever interned or worked in before. It is a world of tea served in aluminum kettles and peons waiting on every command of the commissioner. Rooms are large, piles of folders sitting on dusty desks and jokes and laughter being thrown across from all corners. Cubicles are a notion, and privacy unheard of. You tend to not care too much about being aloof or secretive when you spend twenty to thirty years of your life with the same people, day in and day out. All over the world, camaraderie breeds in such environs.

However, ‘in a stroke of luck’, Mican recruits have an air conditioned cabin to themselves. So, when you do enter here as you will the first day, do feel free to greet Nitasha and Mihir. When your eyes move upon the empty chairs at the other end of the table, hopefully you will nod your heads in reverence of the three swashbuckling buccaneers who once gave honour to those seats - Monsieurs Mehta, Banerjee and Narayanan.

There is a certain code of conduct that we inculcated in the cabin. Gaurav does not like to be disturbed when he is watching a movie, come crucial time-bound assignment or enraged, ballistic commissioner. And nothing enrages Abhay Mehta more than an important question related to work when he is in the midst of typing an eloquent comment on Facebook. Of course, once he has typed out the ‘hehe’ or ‘aww’, he becomes his cheery self and will listen carefully to your doubt, right till the moment he finds another status update where he can put the same comment. And me? I have to necessarily move a berserk chest or a vulgar hip every time I play ‘Woofer tu meri meri, mai tera amplifaaya faaya’ so you need to find the little breaks when I don’t, if you really want to converse with me.

Jokes (?) apart, we, the Communication Consultants to the Government of Gujarat are in the business of promoting and developing the brand that is the government of Gujarat and the man who sits on the highest diwan. Print ads, speeches, news letters, magazines, content, website, advertorials are our daily companions. In the lakhs of crores of investments and MOUs signed in the Vibrant Summit, hidden somewhere is the hard work and contribution of the Information Department of the Govt of Gujarat. It is a decent profile that may not drill in you the best practices of advertising, but rest assured you will touch more aspects of communication than your peers in the same year. Also, hopefully, when you sit in the press office some late night and eat dinner with a deputy director, a designer and a chauffeur on the same table and see them laughing and backslapping each other, you will understand that there does exist an India that sometimes frees itself of the forces of inequality and allows itself to laugh gaily. You won’t see much of that in a Proctor & Gamble, but yes do make the switch if you get a chance!

If only that bloke sitting on the big chair did not make us redo pages only because his skin was not appearing the snowiest of whites in the accompanying snap… In this last one year, I have stared at his features with more concern than the fulsome admiration with which I gazed at Pamela Anderson’s womanhood throughout my teens. As GB, Mehta and I stand near a signboard that reads ‘Dreams’, we wish you all the best in your new journey and selection of ‘fair’ photographs. Enjoy!

p.s Long before you enter the den, Gaurav and I used to daily enter it … err late. Please. Mother always told me that I should have my eight hours of sleep. Anyway, as we’d rush to the big man’s chamber, late as usual, the old peon standing outside his room would smile at us. In the last thirty years, the man had never seen anyone so unmindful of the boss’ aura or authority. As we would run past him we would know that he had tried to save us again and we’d smile back, half out of gratefulness half out of habit, before rushing in to face the music.

He’ll cover up for you. But do make sure that there are amongst you some who are even less punctual than us. You see, I would like to be remembered as a good example.


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