I was very pally with the students –
Students usually started coming to me for small issues – like visa renewal letter, change of address letter, probation certificate etc .. not only because I gave it well formatted but I gave it with immediate effect. It was all drafted and lying in my folder – it took me 2-3 minutes to change name and date and give him/her the print out – & I always judge others by my standards (A grave mistake actually)- I never like to wait – so I try not to make others wait – But the scenario here was a bit different– the first thing (response) that a student had to hear on any request – any , be it any, was : Come a little later – I’m doing some work.
The ‘little – later’ could be anything between 15 mins to 1 hour – he will completely forget about it also – unless the student knocks once more to remind him that he is kept in waiting!! On top of that – instead of making up a the situation by maybe saying : yeah! Sorry I was about to call you – they say : oh! Ho ! I completely forgot about you !!– such utterly straight forward and innocent of them really !! isn’t it? (Bengal suffers exactly for this reason—Zero Diplomacy, zero etiquettes, sarcastic and acidic tone while dealing with customers, couldn’t careless attitude.)
You see students who join Arena are more or less 16 plus on an average – by this time one develops enough brains to understand what’s going on! Firstly , the ‘I am doing some work’ – is a work that is clearly seen via the glass door – Arena is totally glass – a see through environment ! The student could clearly see what WORK is being done – whether private or official !!
Some such students came to me and even complained about it ! There are students who come from a lot of distance – maybe 2 -3 hours journey – and they have a special time for train departures – one train missed – and 2 hours gone – it takes all sorts to make this world – so the carelessness of a single colleague – could bring about discontentment among students – because that ONE student will certainly tell his batch mates on how he reached home at 11:30 pm because he was made to wait unnecessarily by the Arena Team member…as he had clearly seen through the glass pane that he was just browsing through the net !!
I told this to my colleague – so to this he had replied that : Students will never be happy – even if they are given the stars ! and do not pamper them so much – they will get on your head and do potty…as when I was new – I did the same blunder of being over helpful – but later I had to face the consequences !
Hmmm…(deep sigh) – Well I had nothing more to say about all this. I never told Boss anything directly because I thought it to be very childish. Anyways, I never did spend much time with Sir in his chamber because of the fear of the most despised rumor: Oiling the Boss !! Because when someone went in – the others used to say such things about him and he was made the laughing stock in the Office. And moreover , Sir and I have the same year of birth- 1970 !and he is pretty smart looking too-so rumors could be even worse. Fearing all this I seldom used to enter the Boss’s cabin – and whenever I entered , it was mostly along with Partha da. Later, after a particular incident, I did start talking face to face with Boss .. and let him know a lot of things .. about what actually goes on in the office – that event was Digiquake – coming up later.
Men are good people after all- an episode :
Since I was the only Lady in the entire office – I had no one to gossip with (girlie talk ie.) – so the only way out was – talk to who ever is there !
One day I saw that most of my colleagues had encircled around a table and discussing something very heatedly , I suddenly entered – to catch them in the middle of their conversation – they all became silent – and I mischievously asked – So what were you all discussing! To this Sourav said – Okay Aparna – see this Lady – and tell me what do you think of her.
I looked at the front page photo of some Indian model/actress wearing a cheap & revealing outfit.
Without a moment’s delay I said: She is a Prostitute!
Others in the room were amazed at my reply! Sourav said – Aparna , you mean to say that you agree to the fact that she is a prostitute?!
I said: Well of course she is – there is no doubt about it ! Why?!
Sourav : Well ! we thought that you would probably say that she is a modern woman and she has the right to wear such cheap outfits and blah-blah – on Women’s Liberation!!
I said : Oh! Of course not – the truth is just One. It cannot have any mixture.
The rest of my colleagues looked very relaxed with my reply – they were happy with the fact that at last some Lady accepts the fact that cheap outfits do not make a Lady modern!!
After that I often used to be in their discussions – they used to discuss about their children – school – play time – toys – stories of their children – their pranks – and seemed very happy and elated while discussing it. So Ladylike I thought! But I came to know that there are men who have such affectionate feeling as well – since in The Park and HCL – I had started to look down upon men – the entire clan – I thought of them to be very insensitive & of a very dry personality !
The one thing common among my colleagues was that all of them had ‘Love Marriage’ – maybe this is the reason of their peaceful disposition towards themselves !!
‘Sahaja’ happened to me !!
I often used to talk about spirituality and meditation and Reiki. After Art of Living – I had done Reiki Level I (Aug-2001) and Reiki Level II (Dec 2001). It was around June 2002, when Partha da casually told me about a student whose parents are into meditation and that they hold such meetings once a week. I jumped at it. I told Partha Da to introduce me to her. Priyanka Guha was her name. Partha da introduced me to her and I asked her about it. She invited me to her home and then the rest is history (will discuss it elaborately under another topic …maybe “ How My Spiritual Quest Ended”).
Well folks, I had been waiting for exactly this. Just this. And then I must confess here that I started giving a lot of my time in studying and understanding Sahaja. We had got the 24 hours net connection – I downloaded all possible news on Sahaja – I read it all during Office Hours – but I used to take good care of enquiries and still updated the database – though a slag was coming – but till then I had seen the others work around me – they were not maintaining any methodologies – they were pretty cool about everything – so – why should I be so paranoid about Corporate look etc. I thought. And I dedicated a lot of my time knowing, understanding and making Power Point presentation of Sahaja. I had become obsessed with it – I actually had. I started sending my presentations to other Sahajees – but did not get any encouraging remark though – I realized that with over 1000 sites already available on Sahaja – who would be interested in my work. In the meanwhile I could hear a whole lot of murmurings from my other colleagues – the fact that I am only doing Sahaja yoga study !
It was not true ! The fact that I was capable of multitasking and that my processor was rather fast – compared to the rest – was probably not realized by many !
And frankly speaking the gossiping behind my back did not matter to me much – because I knew that in spite of working for sahaja – the quality and time I give for Arena work is far better and higher than those coming to office and pretending to work solely for Arena !There is a saying “Making a mountain out of a mole” – I never was very good at it – but the rest were a lot good at it !!
I used to :
1. Make id cards, library cards and distribute among students.
2. Keep track of Invoice forms and distribute among students.
3. Do proper filing of all the Admission forms along with searching for the relevant Enquiry form and filing it along with the Admission form.
4. Updated my enquiries in the CAS regularly.
5. Continued doing Mail merge etc. as and when the occasion came.
6. Continued writing & designing Letter content for various occasions.
Continued implementing ideas – as and when Boss came up with one – although everyone used to be at the meeting but final implementation – was more or less done by me. Basically – every one appeared very attentive and made appreciative facial gestures when Sir used to come up with some idea – but once the meeting was over – all of them got busy with their respective jobs – like the following:
~Surfing the net for personal use.
~Doing own work of designing web sites
~Use the office telephone for personal work – and mind you a personal call used to last for 45 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes – right in front of other colleagues – shamelessly – boldly !
~This was one of the reasons that no one said anything about the other as everyone knew the weak point of the other – hence there is a lot of unity among the colleagues!
~Sorting out family problems / love problems (in case not married) …..
~On seeing my enthusiasm of implementing the Project – I could hear ridicule from them – things like – Now Boss will make Aparna the Vice President of Arena Kankurgachi.
~One such occasion , Sir actually made me the Head of a Project – which was an Arena Portfolio cd – to be given away to enquiries – when I tried to explain in the class room what I wanted – I was snubbed even before I could start – and the main fellow who was responsible for making the cd – and who had reluctantly accepted the idea (since he was the one busy doing personal web site designing along with ‘his’ kind of students)- said that: I have heard it – you needn’t speak anything further on it !! I and Parth da were the ones who were counseling – we know what the enquiry desires to see/know – we were in a better position to tell about the contents – but NO! the EGO is more important for such loser bengalies – and he was definitely one of them! More about him later.
~Obviously counseled enquiries.
~Obviously Followed up.
~Took Personality Development classes for the Students (did’nt expect anything extra for it – just the sheer pleasure of my students and working during the lean season ).
Anyways, the rest of them were the intelligent lot I guess – I was the foolish one! They worked for what they were paid for – they said – not less – not more!! So intelligent…so obviously such intelligence will gradually seep into me as well – and so when I used to surf the net for Sahaja work – I did not feel guilty about it at all ! In fact one day – someone complained about my being on the net at Sahaja to which I heard Boss saying : But we cannot stop her – she is working for God! (Boss is a very God fearing person – probably the reason of his sweet nature).
The first incentive of my life !
I never got any incentive ever in all my career till Arena. I used to see at HCL, the Hardware selling girls used to take home – Rs.4000/- to 5000/- as incentive but I was not entitled I suppose ! Because I was into software selling – whereas the profit margin of PC selling was very low –In spite of all that the PC sales girls were given incentive but Dragon Naturally Speaking S/W was available over the net for Rs.10,000/ – only whereas we were charging Rs.17,000/- for the Preferred Version. Point & speak and Proessional were the other 2 versions of the same s/w. Anyways , I knew I would be kicked out anytime from HCL – so I never bothered to ask for any incentive – once casually I had mentioned and Santanu (my reporting head in HCL) had given me some non-convincing funda – so I just let go.
My first incentive cheque was Rs.5000/- or so ! I was very glad on that day – genuinely glad – I was so happy – with so little – another mistake on my part I guess – I never understood my worth….anyways that was another attachment that got built for Arena – a place which gave me incentive for good performance !Later once I got Rs.12,000/- and the ultimate was Rs.30,000/- for the year 2005 !!..just before Puja Holidays.
A new recruitment – and the things that followed !!
A fellow faculty left and Boss asked to find a person with immediate effect. The fact that WORK had to be done – ie. Looking for the right candidate , giving an advt. on newspaper, schedule interview, interview him/her etc. was considered a kind of a head ache for the person in-charge. Many Interviews had taken place earlier with several resumes (hard copy) in the databank – but the Office Administrator never took the responsibility to file the resumes/ keep a back up ready – I mean these are such bare minimum things that you do in office!! So when again the situation arose – we had to begin from scratch !
So he casually asked us if we have some Resume – to which we searched the ‘over loaded with paper’ drawer (which I failed to keep clean – in spite of weekly cleaning ) – and found a forced application by Mr. X (as a rule folks – I’ll not mention names while I am criticizing as I do not want some one to suffer for me – by losing job etc.). He was called for the Interview – a typical loser looking fellow – could not speak good English – but then I was told – English is not important – knowledge is important – the In-charge was averse of taking headaches –of holding many interviews and doing the normal recruitment process – so he gave a ‘YES’ to the candidate – after some typical online test etc. held by Aptech – which is more or less a farce.
Anyways, he joined. His timing was 9 am to 7 pm.
He used to come to the office at 9: 20; 9:30, 9:45 and even at 10am sometimes – and the students used to wait outside the class – looking towards me (remember the glass/ see through cabins ?)- I was the one who had said/shown great dreams to them – about Multimedia being the ultimate weapon – Express Yourself – guaranteed Placement, Corporate Culture environment, difference between mushroom MM Institute and Arena MM – is its Professionalism and blah-blah – and here we were waiting for the Faculty for more that 45 mins – for the class to start !
It could have been overlooked (so they say) if he had been a good & knowledgeable Faculty –but sadly it was not so.. and now you may ask how come I know it. So here are some facts:
It so happened that somehow or the other at least one student from each batch used to become my pet – it wasn’t deliberate – it just happened that way – Divine intervention I would say – and so one of the students , let’s call him by his initials – AK – used to come and tell me about what goes on in the class room.
AK : Aparna di he just talks utter crap for the first 35 mins of the class then somehow manages to show a few tools and the time gets over ! What’s he up to?! Where have you all recruited him from?! He knows nothing – absolutely nothing (the fact was that AK belonged to the field of Creativity so he knew what the software is capable of and what was being given to him..and the rest of the class !)
He used to be very famous in the class and was spreading this rumor about him that he knows nothing, he comes in late and on top of that he speaks like a Tapori (Uncouth, street-mongrel like!)! This was an alarming situation for that Mr. X. He somehow managed to fill the Administrator’s ears – by giving him liberal offers of free cigarettes and encouraging him in his personal business – rather buying things from him – that AK better be ousted !!
In the meantime I used to regularly tell Boss about his late coming and regularly Boss used to call him to his cabin – give him a lecture- and resumed work – as a kind gesture – for 2 -3 consecutive days , he used to report at 9:15 !! (WOW) and did us a great favor by coming at that unearthly hour (whereas students used to reach within 9am – coming after a journey of 1-2 hours by train) – Mr X used to stay in Dumdum – and it takes around 20-25 mins in motorcycle !
And to top it all –when by chance he came on time – He had the audacity to ask students entering his class at 9:20am – as to why they were late !!! Such an utter Idiot a Faculty he was my goodness !!The students were used to his arrival at 9:45 – so obviously they used to be relaxed while coming to Arena. And therefore the Drop out rate increased !And at the end of the month, Boss used to call me and Partha and asked for an explanation as to why students were dropping out ?!
Why were they dropping out ?! Is it a question to ask us! – we do not teach the students?! How are we answerable to this ?!
The students used to categorically tell me how frustrated they are with the faculty – they asked me to change their faculty – but that fell on deaf ears !!..why? because the Administrator maintained his co-operation with everyone – he was a goody-goody boy – suddenly ‘Arena Team’ conscious – we are a Team – no one can break us –if a few students are dropping out – it’s their problem not ours!! And since Boss was too sensitive and humane –he did not know how to oust a team member – whatever the cause !
So this AK student was ousted from Arena Kankurgachi – because he dared to tell the truth – he was a bit rude to speak with – but then truthful people are pretty much blunt and straight forward – so this was called politics ! I was shocked at the decision really !! Anyways, Boss was convinced by other Faculties about Ak’s misdemeanor – so he was asked to leave!!
Episode II: Same Faculty Mr. X:
A student joined – a vulgar looking, fat, wearing revealing blouses and utterly cheap to look at – a divorcee. Frustrated. Mr. X was the faculty of their batch. I started hearing rumors that he gives more attention to her than others. He goes to her house – and is specially bent towards her !!S he had got a lot of money after the divorce and she used to spend it on him liberally – she had given him a mobile – as a gift !!
In the meantime Mr. X also got married to a Programmer – a lady who drew more salary than him! Amazing I thought – what a fool that girl must be – marrying him (arranged marriage) – who is drawing a lesser salary !!Marital strife was evident – he used to spend more time with the divorcee – and – maybe because of inferiority complex, spent lesser time with his wife – they headed for divorce – and he gladly accepted to live together with the divorced student !
They also managed to rope in a rich student from Jamshedpur – he was a student of Arena Multimedia – his father had expired – so he was confused – Mr. X roped him in his personal business and made him spend money like water – all this I came to know when the student himself came and confessed how he was being duped by both Mr. X and the divorcee student !!
I blasted him obviously – because he was counseled by me ! He then further confessed that he had fallen in love with a girl here in Arena and had even bought her a diamond set from Tanishq – worth some Rs.75,000/- and as usual – she had left Arena and joined some Airlines – forgetting all about him – so out of frustration he had gone and joined Mr. X so as to get over her !!! My Goodness !!- What a filmy story I thought.
In fact it was from him that I eventually came to know the reason of Mr. X’s late arrivals – he used to stay awake till 3 – 4 am at night doing some production work !! and used to go to sleep only at 5am – obviously it’s not possible to reach Arena within 9 am – he is a human after all – his blood is red – he needs some rest folks !! Isn’t it? This is what Bengal is made up of – selfish, thankless Idiots. Period.
So what eventually happened? Students used to come to me and pour out their frustrations – I had to listen (smiley faced) – because I was in the false position – it was our faculty who came in late, it was our duty to change the Faculty with immediate effect. But I guess , I was the idiot – I should not have heard the students but should have sent them directly to Boss – the mistake that I did was – I managed most of the unrest by saying sweet somethings and diverting their attention…..also because Boss was reluctant to throw any faculty – come what may – so the best thing to do was – give them a patient hearing and swallow their insult and frustration and appear to be undisturbed at all times – for what !? For who?! – I still fail to understand my own psychology ! Why was I standing their misbehavior ?! Maybe I was in love with Arena – for a very simple reason : Sahaja happened to me at Arena!!
Another Episode : I told Boss that I would put up poster of spreading Sahaja among students. He granted me the permission. I put up the posters in every class – made it look beautiful by putting glitters etc.
Suddenly Sir called me to his cabin.
He asked me gravely: Aparna, are you trying to make Arena a ‘Sahaja yoga’ prachaar centre’ (a centre for spreading sahaja yoga)!
I was surprised at his remark !
I said: But Sir, I asked for your permission.
He said: Students are complaining about it .
Me: Really! Which batch?! Whose students?! What complain?!
Sir: Well, Mr. X’s students were asking him questions about it!
That did it – that ‘beep’ knew that I used to complain about his late arrival and other cheap tactics to Boss so he was taking a kind of revenge from me! I knew the ‘beep’ was lying – but I kept cool.
I then called students of his batch and just jokingly asked him whether someone commented about my A4 sized poster. Most of the students hadn’t seen the poster only !!and replied that no one passed any such comment! I even asked the other faculties about it – they all looked bemused – and said – why would anyone say anything to us –it’s clearly written there to approach Aparna di for further details – and all our students can read English!