Before I begin let me declare that I have nothing against goats.
With his French beard he looked like a goat – a black goat to be precise. Of course we do like goats dark or otherwise. Goats – at least – make for good mutton but he offers little food for thought.
Unlike any goat, he walked in with not a swagger but a peculiar gait – yes the one people seem to put on when they assume they have a world wrestling federation type body. But I tell you that all he is made of is pulp not muscle.
He was born in a quaint, laid back and at times inaccessible part of Chennai. Old temples give this fast-growing suburb a feeling of calm. This is where the “Brahmin” community flocked to buy apartments. His dad was in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and mom in Accountant General’s Office (AGS) (if you hear AGYES office, then say the same thing and don’t go around looking for an expansion). Anyway when you hear such fancy acronyms, you can be assured that goats…sorry…children come from affluent families.
Immediately after his college, he went from this suburb where they let goats graze their Jasmine to a world where goats pass for a meal: the kingdom of Saudi Arabia or “Saudi” as he put it.
Here was a man who loved his girl. Yes he had approached many girls with proposals but none fell for his charms. Finally, one fell in love with him. He was a dark “Iyer” and she a fair “Iyengar”. So he decided he must make big money and continued calmly (having done a B. Calm) to some advertising firm where beer was free. Then he went to “Saudi”.
Once there, he was loyal to his girl and never dated any other girl. Only he visited a few prostitutes. All fair in love…
Don’t give me the crap that a man needs it. How many men while in India visit whores or can’t control it for years? To me a man who can’t wait is no man. Especially if he loves his girl.
He spent “3 point 7 years” over there. He earned a bit for his marriage and took the first flight home. After all she was getting older and could be married to some rich US-based-software engineer anytime.
In “Saudi” he was a writer, graphics person, content writer, technical writer, and prophet knows what else. And he had worked for prestigious clients too. Of course when you are in the Middle East the stress on your English is as good as the need for camels to wear pullovers.
And he was no poet.
So a dark indigo shirt is what he wears and walks in. Another very well mannered guy with no claims to technical writing expertise welcomes him and takes me along to interview this goat returning from Saudi. It is apparent in the first few minutes that he can’t stand a clean-shaven younger-looking guy asking him so many questions.
“So explain to me how you go about writing a document in your company” I ask.
“The same as everywhere. Write, edit, review, and check-in” he says.
After a few minutes he gets irritated and is ready to go. Then I make it sound so simple “you gotta take a little test”.
“What? A test for writers?” He bleats.
Then he thinks and says “so be it”.
For the next two hours he sits there staring at the new Dell monitors and starts to type away. It is clear that he is irritated and impatient. His girl friend is waiting in the lobby too…
He gets the offer – 3 lakhs and 50 thousand an annum. His writing is worth much less. He is in despite my scathing mail and enough red ink on his test. He does not start as promised and suddenly disappears. After a while when the company management wants a decisive answer, he suddenly gets chicken pox. But when the company gets ready to offer 30 thousand more, he readily agrees and his chicken pox leaves no mark!
He says it was not him who got the pox but the chicken. To the Chicken of the world: beware of goats!
Soon he starts and the one who wanted him in is out. Mr. Goat now gets goose bumps. He is tense and worried: would I be asked to go too?
He has another shock when he comes to know that my friend is his sworn enemy.
Then the politics start!
He makes friends with a brat developer and an artist who could well have campaigned for any of the political parties in India. He sees that the company offers unlimited freedom – which he interprets as the following bullets:
· I can write however I like it and get away with it too
· I can watch porn movies anytime
· I can talk like a saint and say that politics is the reason for all the calamity in this world (the world incidentally includes office matters too)
Soon the seasoned pro starts digging deep into parallelism and squinting modifiers and writing without errors. The one who gets the goat goes. The goat gets hay fever and thinks it is those who have the writing skills have written his fate…
Then things get hot and I am to lead the goat and a chameleon.
A devout Christian whose father is Hindu and mother who is first Hindu and then Christian joins the fray. He is so devout that he works for the Church during work times. Somebody save the Lord and give him a proper user manual. Somebody save the user manual too!
So the Tsunami misses us all at the beach party I host. I hear the Goat’s intentions and I hear whispers in the salty wind.
The Goat gets married and I once overhear him discuss the ability to “perform” on the designated night. Would he? Is he? Was he in? Doubts discussed openly…
There are even more doubts about his ability to string together a few simple sentences. If I do it better and talk to the Irish lady, he bleats aloud “it is all politics”. Of course, it is her fault if she says that I write better than a goat! What an insult to me and goats!
They formed a herd as the going got tough. The herd had the intention of toppling the ones who drive them everyday through sentence constructs, prepositions, and logical flow.
Mr. Goat was never content and used to turn his head away during the weekly team telephonic calls. He could not see any reason why someone should be talking about text on screen captures matching that written in the description. Nor did he take a fancy for ensuring that a heading did not follow another.
The goat got stranger and stranger – black tees on Monday’s, purple formal shirts on Fridays, sulking at anything technical writing, chewing cud er gum and skipping lunch, forwarding e-mails on team building – till peculiarity was normalcy.
If someone had said that goats drink I would have said – “they eat chicken too”. He used to drink every Friday and wonder how someone could drink so much and yet not get high. And wonder how someone older than him could workout so hard at the gym. And wonder how someone could love writing so much…
Mr. Goat was at his best whenever his work was reviewed. He would get fidgety and upset and bleat his favorite line “it’s all politics”. I wonder if that would make a great first line for a song. He could have composed one to the beats of the Tabla which he played well.
Mr. Goat could never understand why anyone should review documents and why one of them never got any negative points. I tried for my part to graze this goat only to hear talk of cost to company (CTC) and how recruiting female writers could harm “the team’s” after-office, porn-watching spirit, and how getting north-Indians would have an impact on the language dimension (not necessarily in the books we wrote)…
Today, I hear there are three women in “his” team. Surely, he does not watch them the way he used to watch those…
The US trip would motivate him to write better – wow if that were true all I would need to write a best seller is go to the US!
And I don’t believe anything a bit further than Bangalore is North India.
Like all things evil that would rely on other things evil he started scheming in the company of his friends while walking with an air of righteousness. He wanted to be independent – which in his dictionary meant “just do anything he pleased without any reviews”.
So the tale continued till it was decided that she would go as the costs over there were too high. The cost of anything good is high. The cost of something exceptional would be even more…
If she left, that would be the final good thing to leave and I would be in the company of people who drink and talk about another’s salary and going to the US. No more talk of books or travel or temples or music or writing or history or stamps or chess or…
Personal tragedy too struck a few blows below my belt. Mr. Goat was happy without appearing to be.
He wanted me out of horns ways!
His Capricorn-goat birthday party in January was not without politics.
I knew I would gain something if I left too. I left but recommended Mr. Goat to lead when I left. I knew it would someday hit him hard: kindness to him despite all his misgivings…and his inability to string together a few simple sentences.
Tail piece: when I left, I wanted to follow Mr. Goat’s advice and took a few “offers” from a few companies, “bargained” on the CTC, and when asked the reason for not being able to join a company said that I had chicken pox!
“Baaa…It’s all politics!”
Note: of course Mr. Goat, I know who “hacked” my Yahoo and Gmail accounts or helped someone in doing it. Had I been living in a country where democracy was “real” or companies took complaints seriously or if you would fight me by looking in my eye, I would have put you in place. However, you have lots of “contacts” and would use nefarious ways to win.
“Baaa…It’s all politics!”
This piece is about a former colleague, a technical writer who was “saint outside, sinner inside”. He caused me personal harm but I cannot do anything because he has “contacts”. Of course, I will never get justice without spending money. I will not even be able to initiate any action from the companies in which I had the email accounts.
Therefore, I must add this reluctantly “any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidence”.