Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Corporate Douchebagization of an erstwhile decent old chappie

I guess it had to happen sooner or later. It's just how systematic and step by step the process is, that gets to me. The corporatization of an individual, that's what I am talking about.

I've always been a sort of a scraggly, unkempt kind of person. Not unhygienic or smelly (clarified with whoever I can ask such a thing!), mind you, just not somebody who liked to keep every strand of hair in its place and be all prim and proper all the time. Sort of bored me, the whole thing. Especially because coupled with my completely unspectacular looks, that sort of a thing would have made me look completely boring. Atleast this way I could get some attention, even if it was on the lines of 'How could he have hair like that?!!'

B-school was perfect for something like that. I grew my hair for months, and the omnipresent humidity of coastal Kerala (is there a non-coastal Kerala?!) made it turn into curls till I had difficulty convincing people that, I had, umm, straight hair. Yes, perfectly straight, not a wee bit curly. And there it was all round and round, till I had people asking me what did I do to make it look like that because they wanted to do it too. Guys. Don't ask. So I had this majestic basket of curls in Term 5, and it looked awesome.

I never really bothered too much with clothes too. I mean yes, I did try to look presentable, but I was too bored, not to mention stingy, to go out and buy really good clothes. And so I wore the same old faded tees and bored jeans and a couple of comparatively jazzier 'party' shirts which I repeated for every goddamn party on campus, till I started having trouble remembering which was which when I saw the pics. Until Term 5, of course, when the length of my hair made things pretty clear. Some forceful cajoling by some batchmates did add a whiff of fresh air to my wardrobe, but I got bored of maintaining those darn things. I mean who's going to troop half a mile to give the thing for ironing and then troop back the other way, when I could sleep instead and wear it crumpled. All of it looked the same after a couple of ones anyway. Even to the others! Worst, on the rare occasions that I did give it for ironing, I promptly forgot everything about it, only to turn my room upside down trying to look for it when there was a occasion for which it was the *only* decent thing by miles. That was followed by a visit to the ironing place, where I would find it in some dusty corner, looking much worse than it would have in the first place if I hadn't bothered. In short, it was all too much work, I didn't particularly care, people around me did not too, and all was well in life.

Until, I came back into the corporate world.

Now, Mu Sigma wasn't that bad a place for this. Sure, there were a bunch of folks who really dressed up and came looking all swanky, but most of them were just overworked, bored freshers (add a year or 2 for some) who had enough trouble keeping up with the official formals from Monday to Thursday rule. Interpretations of the same were fairly liberal, and that kept things easy for me. Just a bit of a nip and tuck and I was fine.

Alas, L&T is a completely different ball-game. Not that I was expecting anything different, particularly in the Corporate Strategy team, but what I had not reckoned for was the fact we would also have a fair number of consultants from all those fancy firms swirling all around us, in their fancy shoes and never heard of labels, looking all chic and suave. And next to them were specimens like yours truly and Sanket Bhale. These scallywags raised the stakes considerably, and sooner or later I knew that I had to fall in line. Not that I agreed with it in principle, mind you, for I simply do not see the point in dressing up just to come to office, unless you have clients to meet. Looks all a bit like a fancy dress party to me, to be honest, dressing up only for the usual office people. Kinda pointless. Anyway, so things inexorably started moving that way.

First came the hair. I came out of b-school with the fierce determination that I'd regrow all that I'd chopped off for placements, and whoever had a problem who do the whole bridge thingy. Well, too much talk and too little action. It all went off in a few weeks. The few times that I did manage to grow them beyond a couple of months, the bloody things started twirling towards their ends, no, not like proper curls that I had on campus, but just an inch or a half towards the end, which made me look, to save on adjectives, really silly. Imagine a fella who's supposed to be helping you out with your Working Capital or something similar having hair which kind of bobbed when he moved. Bad idea. And so, with a silent sigh, I subjected them to the barber, who gleefully asked 'Shorter?' with a broad grin every 5 minutes or so, until all I had left was a fine sprinkling of stubby growth on my pate. Now, to counter the mess that the top was, I'd also grown a sort of a goatee. Unfortunately, that also decided to stop behaving itself and grow all over the place, until I started looking like I had a kitchen sink cleaner attached to my chin. Again, does not go so well with the whole image I was supposed to have. Out that went too, after a 3 month struggle in taming it.

And then, how could I forget the clothes? Now I have somewhat decent clothes, nothing exceptional (refer para above. I do NOT see the point). Unfortunately, the few costly brand shirts I did have, had the amazing tendency to look like I'd worn them straight out of the washing machine, a few hours into the day. Even when I'd actually got the darn things ironed (I do iron all formals, I'd be stretching things too far if I didn't!). Amongst other clothes, I had a combination of shirts with their collars scuffed (doesn't it hide behind the hair? No, I learnt, especially when you have a sodding hair cut), a few ones with slightly weird colours (gifts) and a variety of trousers of various lengths. I have trousers which can fold up and reach my knees, ones which mysteriously shrunk the week after I got them (unless I miraculously grew a couple of inches at the age of 27), trousers which looked smashing when I buy them and then catch all the lint in the world with every single wash. What I have also realized that the bottom of the class from tailoring schools goes to altering departments in malls all over India. And so, I decided that enough was enough. I was going to join the club, simply because I was too bored to worry about something like this all the time. This is perfect fodder for a neurotic soul like me :| I proceeded on a shopping spree and got some fairly good looking stuff.

Last came the accessories and habits. No, not good looking belts and I-just-made-another-species-extinct leather wallets. But stuff like the small comb which you keep in your back pocket. The habit of actually using shirt pockets to keep stuff like boarding passes, bills, and other random paraphernalia. Switching from a nice informal-looking, actually useful and really comfortable backpack to a stupid, pain-inducing shoulder laptop bag.

In short, I have been reduced to a well-dressed, decent-looking, clean-shaven guy with short hair, a laptop bag, and a small comb lurking out of my back pocket. The lowest point was when somebody at work actually complimented me for looking really good today. I, Harshad Karandikar, am now officially a Corporate Douchebag. Aaaaaargh.

No comments: