Sample Chapters

A Noise In My Dream by Ranjan Kumar

Chapter 1

LUDHIANA LIVING

Oct 1996

It was a dull afternoon in my GT road office at the headquarters of the company, in Ludhiana, where I worked. I was fed up with my exciting but frustrating job at Smart Bicycles Ltd. – a large bicycle manufacturing organization in Ludhiana, as the Head of Exports. I was busy with my secretary Sukhi, dictating responses to customer queries regarding pending orders. Sukhbir, fondly called Sukhi, was a twenty-three years old Sikh lad, hailing from some nearby village on the outskirts of Ludhiana. He was supposed to type the messages on an electronic typewriter on A-4 size company letterhead, get signed by me, and send the letters by fax. I had reserved the afternoon for responses as I had to spend the rest of the day with various teams under me for numerous other tasks.

Suddenly, recalling something, I took out a folded cutting from my wallet, taken from Business India’s employment section. The ad was about two vacant positions – General Manager and Deputy General Manager for a manufacturing and trading company, for their new unit in Dubai. I was eyeing Deputy General Manager, the second-in-command position. I was already heading the export division of a considerably large corporate here, and my present designation was Deputy General Manager- Exports. Working in a conservative, tightly held family-managed company, title hardly mattered. What mattered most was my getting a reasonably OK pay package for being a graduate engineer with five years of pre-MBA and five years of post-MBA experience, both from premium institutes.

In my present assignment, to assist me in my work, purportedly, I had an eight-membered team to lead directly and several others indirectly. I was frequently and freely interfered with by MD- Vivek Shorey off and on. His son, Amar Shorey, had no official designation 10 A Noise in My Dream but was a regular attendee in the office, seated in a plush cabin adjacent to mine. He often “learned” from me in a novel way, which was nothing but a random and authoritative interference in my work. Additionally, two of MD’s nephews- Arun and Amit, his elder cousin brother’s sons, nicknamed by me as Changu-Mangu, operated from their office in the adjacent building, ostensibly “managing” an independent exports company within the same group. Devoid of any grey matter in their heads, compounded with inexperience and arrogance, both were typical of wealthy family spoiled brats. They were thoroughly dependent on me for most of the day-to-day operational issues, decision-making, and expertise in execution.

By the mid of the 1980s, the phrase ‘take-home salary’ – that used to be the basis of final negotiations on interview tables was cunningly replaced by the term CTC (the Cost to the company) by the contemporary HR gurus. Grades-specific designations just disappeared, and “open-ended” salaries came into vogue. CTC became an illogical logic wherein anything could be included within this blanket term to inflate the figure artificially, much higher than the actual, to attract potential candidates. For instance, all the usual perks for senior positions like free furnished accommodation, telephone with free calls, club membership, free magazines & newspapers, servant allowance, utilities, household maintenance, a car with fuel & driver; and even the contributory provident fund, medical facilities, annual family leave travel allowance, etc., anything and everything was pushed under the umbrella of CTC at the whims of decision-makers.

Designations also had become fancy. Titles like ‘supervisor’, ‘junior assistant’ or ‘senior assistant’ were replaced by ‘executive’, ‘senior executive’ or ‘assistant manager’. The erstwhile rare species of ‘manager’ became too familiar everywhere. The only difference was the earlier special privileges and facilities, tagged with the manager designation viz. an independent plush office, a dedicated office boy, personal secretary/ steno, just disappeared. In some organizations, the supervisory level gradually started with the ‘manager’ designation at the lowest level. E-mails hadn’t come into existence, and desktop computers were used as a typing devices with MS-Dos format. In practice, the corporate offices were using faxes for business communications worldwide, and telex machines were still in vogue, though to a limited extent.

My current job was impressive in content but frustrating in terms of available resources and the constraints I was supposed to perform within. The company struggled to look like a large corporate house. It was successful to a great extent, through massive advertising of its brands in print and electronic media, featuring film stars, and spending generously on its ad campaigns and media agencies.

Coming back to where I left… applying for an overseas opportunity. I had to draft a CV first or precisely update my two-year-old CV, which I had used to enter into this job.



 

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