My three month long holiday came to an end about twenty days ago, which is to say I’m back to being employed. I suppose I should sound more enthusiastic, but I do miss binge-watching TV shows and movies. I want(ed) two things: a) To be able to enjoy my job, and b) To like my workplace. When will I find both? I’ve been told I sound petulant.
My new workplace is the kind of office setting where the male-female ratio is approximately 30:1, and where there is not one woman in any managerial position. [Imagine a scenario where all the unemployed young men in Velaiyilla Pattadhari found work as engineers in a firm. How many women do you see? This is a trick question; the answer is none.] This is the kind of office where people typically speak in Tamil, and forget that they can be courteous while doing so – “What do you think you are doing?” “Don’t you have any sense?” or the generic “You people are a pain in my neck, can’t you do a single thing right?” – all in Tamil. Interestingly, nobody reacts the slightest bit when spoken to this way, leaving me wondering if I’ve suddenly become too sensitive for my own good. This is also that office where the number of hours you stay put in your seat is a better indicator of what a hard worker you are, than how well or how quickly you finish your work; where you learn to be more deferential than you ever were (“Yes sir” “Okay sir” “I’ll do it sir” “I was wrong sir”).
There is one other girl in my team (and my floor), with whom I have (already) had many interesting conversations.
Girl (performing calculations in her mind): So you finished your Master’s, worked there, and then there, and now here. You must be 26?
Me: Close enough, yeah.
Girl: How come you aren’t married yet?
Me (smug smile): What’s the hurry?
(Here we go, took barely two days for people to start probing.)
Girl: It’s not nice, what if you just find bald guys?
Me: Is that so important?
Girl: Definitely! I’ll work for two years, quit, get married, have two children.
If only I had that kind of clarity…regarding anything. Here I am, still second-guessing my choice of profession (feeling frustrated that I haven’t “settled” into a job yet/ feeling like I have too much time ahead of me to figure things out/ feeling angry that I’m constantly being informed I should have everything figured out by now), and wondering if I should stop trying to be a mediocre engineer, and instead attempt to make money from writing (while simultaneously questioning my arrogance in thinking so and wanting to determine if I’d even be able to write once there is a deadline involved, and also seeking comfort in the fact that many people found their true calling quite late in lives). Phew.
Manager to Girl: Is the new girl (=me) a Brahmin?
Girl to Me: Are you a Brahmin?
Girl: Because you eat a lot of curd.
Me: …(Furiously thinking of comebacks; I’m usually good with those.)