Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Secutiy Guard

When I started blogging, I vowed not to talk about my job for fear of getting fired. Like all other promises, today I am going to break it. Before you preempt my thought, let me tell you that I love my job. Inspite of that, I have my share of hyped up gripes and understated compliments about different aspects like office facility and procedural convenience. But every job puts at least one stone in your shoe that you would feel you can never get used to. The stone in my shoe is the one-week-per-month night shift. Well, there is a valid reason for its existence. So, I don't blame my management for it. But if I am still in shape inspite of gobbling up so much food from all over the city indiscriminately, I trust its because of what I go through in that week (talk about hyped up gripes!).

Months passed between productive day shifts and demanding night shifts. One not-so-fine morning, when I reached home after surviving a night shift, I found that my apartment management had decided to employ a night time security guard. He was in wonderful physical condition for a man who is probably in his late forties. Too bad his graying hairline exposes his age. Otherwise, this tall and dark bloke could still turn the heads of young girls. As I reached the gate he shifted the baton to his other hand and opened the gate for me with a smile. I can't help but stopping to talk to him though I was tired as a dog.

"Are you working at nights?"
"Haan, saab"
"What is your timing?"
"8 to 8, saab"

I looked at my watch. It was 6:45 am.

"Where do you live?"
"ECIL saab"
"What?!!", I was dumbfounded!
"How long does it take for you to come here?"
"About an hour and a half by bus, saab", he was still smiling humbly.

His face had no sign of self-pity or remorse. I turned and started walking inside towards the stairs without another word, my mouth still wide open. As I came close to the staircase, I passed a wooden chair and swirls of used mosquito-coils next to it. I turned to look at him once again. He was swinging his baton playfully looking at some thing that amused him on the street. The whole thing took an endless moment to sink in. This guy travels one-and-a-half hours one way for a 12 hour night shift among mosquitoes for 7 days a week. I, on the contrary, walk 10 minutes for a 9 hour shift for 5 days a week in an air-conditioned cubicle and earn about 10 times more.

When I put myself in his shoes, I was sure I can do that 12 hour shift. I have had prior experience (in my previous job). I can even take the bus travel, since it won't be crowded while traveling up as well as down since he is traveling "against" the conventional crowd both ways. And I am used to mosquitoes too, thanks to my life in Chennai. May be, just may be, I can do this 7 days a week. The odds are less, but who knows. Need for money makes people do crazy things. But after taking so much hit, after being man-handled so much by reality, I can never ever manage that easy-going, humble smile. Some people are incomparably better than I am. Our night time security is clearly one of them.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Of reservation and relevance

A social worker working for the upliftment of SC/ST (who I happened to meet in train from Chennai to Hyderabad) told me how difficult it is bring them to school. We all know about how bad India is in literacy. I think the case is stronger to push mandatory school level education across all social classes. But I don'’t see it being discussed anywhere at all. Reservation should not be handled as a separate issue. It is my opinion that if you get enough people from all across the society into 12th, and bring about reforms so that at 12th pass-out can actually earn his living, reservation based on any parameter (like social or economic status) can be made totally irrelevant.

I have seen this work in the US. If you see the percentage of high school graduates going directly to college, it was close to 18% the last I heard (about a year ago). But there is so many jobs a 12th pass-out can do to earn his living and save for college. A lot of people go back to college education (both bachelors and masters) after working for some time. So, the real question that we should as ourselves (or the govt. to itself) is "What reforms can be done to give jobs to high school grads". I wish I can answer this question. But it is worthier spending time on this issue. Of course, to stop at school level is a taboo today. But once relatively better earning jobs are available after school education this will change, especially if the worth (interms of earnings) of college education is projected, this taboo will fizzle away. Well the idea is arguable. That is precisely why it is brought to discussion OverTea.