Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It takes all sorts

Strange guy, my boss… He is an outcast here. You will understand why.

Proof One: All of us sitting round a table and brainstorming change requests. During a break, the discussion turned to my ethnicity.

Boss: "Oh! So you come from a very poor part of India."

This discussion is not taking place in India, mind you, where anybody, including bosses, can get away with having a foot in the mouth disease. All the other polite people in the room look mildly stunned.

Me: "Err… Well… Not exactly… Kerala's per capita income is higher than the country-average and most Keralites have a high standard of living compared to the rest of the country.

Boss: "No. No. My mother was in Kerala teaching Catechism to the people in the coastal region. So I know."

Me: "Oh! The coastal region! But they are a very small minority."

Boss smiles indulgently. My blood doesn't boil. I wonder why. Truly, I don't care what this guy thought about my country. And I never have the urge to correct/ convince people I don't care about. But I have to say something for the benefit of the audience, I feel.

Me: "But may be your mother would have spent her time more effectively if she had taught Catechism here. Legal gay marriages are not very Catholic, are they?"

Boss: "Well…"

One all. Audience gears up; I get the feeling that I am the favourite to win.

Boss: "Anyway, we import only the best of Kerala here." Indicating towards me.

That did it!!! This time my blood reached its boiling point. But there was no way I could react to that and still look unruffled.

I give up, oh boss. There's no way I can beat you at this game. You, who can make a compliment sound so disgraceful; you deserve the title. Take it, man, take it; and can we get back to business?!

Food for Thought for me: Do I, who value dollars and euros more than rupees, have any right to feel offended when I am considered like an import / export good?

Proof Two: Another meeting; this time there's just me, my colleague and our boss. My colleague has recently had a pre-mature baby, born after just 6 months of gestation. The baby is in the incubator, but he goes to visit her twice daily. He is worried about the baby, but doesn't talk much about it.

When my colleague takes the seat next to me, I move two chairs away and end up sitting next to my boss.

Me to colleague: "I will keep a little away. I have a cold."

Boss, who had his head in some papers until then: "What? I didn't hear what you said."

Me: "Oh! Nothing. I was just sitting a little far from A because I have a cold and he has a baby."

Boss: "But, what do you mean? I have kids too."

Me: "Oh!"

Boss points to a picture on the wall. One overweight lady and 3 teenage girls.

Now I am having fun.

Me: "Oh! I am so sorry. I had no idea. Please excuse me."

I shake my head at my thoughtlessness. I get up slowly, walk to the farthest corner of the table deliberately and settle down, all the while looking at that picture.

Boss looks a little surprised, like he was on the verge of getting the hint. But the moment passed and we got on with the meeting.

Amazing guy, my boss.

Recent Developments

Boss speaks disparagingly to a pregnant secretary about how useless she is since she became pregnant. She apparently has no qualms about reacting to thick-headed, thick-tongued and think-skinned men. Boss looks around at the people within hearing distance, shakes his head paternally and gently asks the secretary to cool down. She is left wide-eyed.

Boss rambles on and on in a meeting in long wound-out sentences. Someone interrupts him for the common good. He rambles on unheeding. All eyes in the meeting room turn towards the interrupter and follow him with unprecedented attention and interest. Boss is left rambling, but I notice from the corner of my ear that he finished his paragraph.

The man never ceases to amaze.

- Aval

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