Monday, January 13, 2014

The times I hate my job

When I began working in the 'NGO sector', my then boss VP gave me a single bit of advice.'NGO wallahs should be like fakirs' he said 'You go to a place empty handed, stay there for a few years, and leave empty handed. And somehow, leave the place better for your being there.' I don't think he realised how it would stick to me. In all the years that followed, that was the parameter by which I judged a job.

And now I am in this one. I go to a place, escorted by the people working there. I see the work they show me, speak with the people they introduce me to. And while I speak with them, I am looking for stories, looking to create some heroes, to add drama to my article. All this I do within the span of a day or two. My job is speed-dating.

The only consolation is that as far as possible I use public transport. Sometimes I see more and converse more during my trips to and fro than during the visit itself.

Until this time. I was visiting North Bihar and the organisation I called up flatly refused to let me go gadding about by train, bus or tempo. It is not safe, not in winter, not during the fog. We don't want you stranded at some junction. If you come, they said, we will hire a car for you that we know and send a colleague along. I agreed.

When the car came, I recoiled in shock. It was a gleaming metallic beige tavera- about as discreet as a set of gold incisors. And in that huge, flamboyant vehicle sat I as we slowly rolled down impossibly narrow village lanes, brushing thatched roofs, scaring goats, crowding children. I got down, I spoke with some people, I got in, I drove off. Ugh. What a pompous, self-serving visit.
I hate speed dating. I hate this style of insulated interaction. And here I am expected to do both.

I need to defend the people I was with though..The little I interacted with them made me respect them immensely. And no, they don't do the car thing. They do local train and tempo. But they were understandably nervous of my being stuck at a junction in the middle of the night.

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