Thursday, November 10, 2011

Belle of the Management Ball....

I am still recovering from the strobe effects of the super glam Hello! Awards,aptly titled 'The Hall of Fame.' It's in its second edition this year, and the team was wondering whether or not it was possible to top the razzle -dazzle of Year One. Well, tough as it sounds, they did it! Despite the lack of grace and co-operation from The Trident Hotel where this high profile event was held. "Never again!" I overheard the Hello! team muttering after they were denied a meal, post-event! Besides these sort of hiccups, the show went on splendidly, with everyone from a Mukesh Ambani to an SRK turning up and participating with gusto. I enjoyed myself thoroughly.... but am seriously worried. What happens next year?? Watch this space!
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This appeared in The Week recently...

Belle of the Management Ball…

Recently, at an intense workshop for high powered female managers from across India , I was initially startled and then vastly amused by a particular response. I had posed this ‘simple’ question – ‘Who am I?” to the group, which was made up of forty, fiercely determined high achievers. Most of the ladies who had volunteered to share their answers, stuck to predictable statements such as, “I am a mother, a wife…a daughter…” and little beyond that. The clichés kept coming. A few variations were clearly aimed at impressing the bosses who were present, “ I am a leader… a great motivator…” Finally, one woman got up and announced defiantly, “I am a thief, a cheat and a liar.” Suddenly, every person in the room woke up and was on red alert. What? Was this woman totally crazy? Did she not care about her job and the poor impression she was creating? She had obviously anticipated just such a reaction. Calmly, she explained what she meant: “ I cheat on my husband by feigning interest in his conversation at the end of a long day, when all I want to do is put my feet up and relax. I lie to my bosses and pretend to be sick when I want to spend time with my baby daughter. And I call myself a thief for stealing time which does not belong to me to pursue my personal interests during work hours.” After the shock value of her opening remarks had died down, and the real import of her words sank in, all the women present – her colleagues and competitors,started clapping and cheering enthusiastically. She was the undisputed belle of the ball. Why? She was the one person who had spoken the truth. And given the tense ambience, that took a lot of guts.
I talk to professional women’s groups quite a lot, and the one commonality that often disturbs me is the lack of humour and the absence of poetry in their lives. Most of these women give the impression of being too uptight and wound up. Yes, they make a lot of money. But look at the irony of their situation – they have zero time to enjoy it! Yes, they get married, produce a child or two. But again, by the time they get home after putting in a twelve hour day at a soulless, impersonal work station, they are too exhausted to laugh, hug, chat or cuddle. The high pressure in the office robs them of any joy… worse, it completely depletes their energy levels. Often they are dealing with demanding clients from different parts of the world, functioning in time zones that are crazy for us in India. There are goals and targets that have to be met. Performance reviews that entail deep scrutiny. There is always the threat of an aggressive rival ready to displace the person and move into that vacated chair. Combine that with the so-called team spirit that has to be strictly adhered to even if you harbour murderous thoughts about the rest…. ooooof! Is it really worth it? What about an early burn out? And to get down to basics – what about a healthy sex life? These are women in their prime. And making love is a luxury they can’t afford! Tragic! I boldly asked them if they made the time for sex in their young marriages. Most shook their heads and sighed philosophically. One of them shrugged, “Who cares? What use are husbands these days?” This was getting sadder and sadder.
At the end of my session, as I was walking out with the bright, ambitious supervisors who were pretty pleased about the response to the workshop,I asked one of them if they had a recreational facility in that vast, green and cheerful complex. A facility where these stressed out ladies could relax a bit, enjoy a foot massage, get their hair and nails done, feel a bit pampered, listen to music, enjoy art, flip through magazines and books, maybe catch up on a movie. The answer was a flat ‘no’. But all you have here is an army of trained worker ants , I pointed out. I barely spotted a genuine smile or even a cheerful face. The women looked tense, preoccupied and miserable. How can they be productive if they are so robotic? The supervisors exchanged meaningful looks and answered mysteriously, “We have our own ways to keep them motivated. Our subsidized cafeteria has the best chefs in town. We feed them well!”
Gulp. That was my food for thought. Sorry to say, I could barely digest it.

19 comments:

Uppal said...

Hi Shobhaa,
How true!Working women anywhere in the world've the same predicament.They're hardly ever relaxed. Worries about growing children, household management and giving their best at the work place consume them completely by the end of the day.They've forgotten to smile and suffer from health problems because of constant stress.Now the question arises,what is the way out?

Ambika said...

You talked about recreational facility, getting nail art done, flipping magazines. That's BLISS because in some office's there aren't even LRs to go to on one of those days of the month.
It's so damn frustrating when you have to sit on those hard chairs when you just want to lie down for a bit to ease those cramps. Those few minutes of lying down could be BLISS, but some fools don't have LRs in their building/office plan. DUMB! DENSE! STUPID!
PS: You know why I am ranting like this...

Desi Babu said...

Dear Mrs. De: This is an extremely well written article.

One of the major problems for working women with kids is that India is yet to wake up to the concept of good day-care and after-school care services. Women are almost "expected" to quit after having kids. This is not a problem in western countries as the necessary support system exists.

My wife, a corporate honcho, had to face this problem quite a bit after we moved back to India. The "high job stress - kids - family stress" business is not just unique to women. Men face it too.
I admire my wife for handling it so well, and still doing so well at work.

My advice, if you are trying to lower stress, would be to smoke certain types of leaves that are dear to Lord Shiva. There is nothing like exhilaration mixed with levitation. Although, the absence of gravitation is only felt by the person involved in the divine experience. And stress, disappears.

Peace!
Desi Babu

P.S: I could also use a good salon at work. Someone tells me that I need a haircut and a shave. Badly.

venkat gaddam said...

Hahaha i love the way you ended your article.
me likes your sense of humor! :D

true, they dont have a lifeee! someone needs to educate them. They might realize it, but at a state they'd regret about their present scenario. you know?

चंद्रमौलेश्वर प्रसाद said...

So long as the family system exists, a woman will always be a mother, sister, wife and when livi-in relationship begins, she is only a woman to be used and discarded!!!!!!!!!!

Divya Virmani said...

Mrs. De
Agree with you 100% percent. I've seen so many women dealing with such problems. Work, stress and zero time for family... This has become the norm these days. That's why either you can make a career and excel in your field or raise a family and became a perfect wife/mother...
Props to those women who have maintained a life where they enjoy the both worlds!!! :)
http://divyavirmani.blogspot.com/

Bubblegum.... said...

Lovely ending!!! with a *gulp*!

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glimpses said...

worst is women going the family way are given only 3 months of leave in most Indian companies...whch is said. I have seen heavily pregnant women slogging their way to office ...that seems inhuman. Why cant offices give 1 year maternity leave with a option to work from home...women should be given part time working facilities and part from home till their child turns 5...else its too tough on the young working mom.

NAT said...

"One of them shrugged, WHO CARES? WHAT USE ARE HUSBANDS THESE DAYS? This was getting sadder & sadder."
Pretty sad state of affairs. getting to a complete disastrous situation, broken homes, broken families. It is only "I" who matters.
Not long ago, it was the woman and even man who would sacrifice all to keep FAMILY together.

You ask for facilities for women to de stress, on the other hand women and children/girls are being molested,raped and killed, even here in our own lovely Mumbai.
Now they have become so bold that they even started killing the courageous young boys who tried to protect their dates.
They even had the guts to tell their supporters that they will be out within the week. If there was no hue and cry, we would have a repeat performance of the Monikalal shooting case...

Tsomo85 said...

Great article! I completely agree with you, and thank god someone so smart & special to me has already taught & enlightened me about the (importance & needs) of happiness in our life rather then playing it safe & pretending to be successful & powerful women. Now, he has completely changed the way how I see things and ever since I've always enjoyed & value my life much more! One of those strange things where our parents try darn hard to teach us the ABC of life or anything that is just as much important as what out man would teach but sadly we adore our man's gyan more & it has never failed to exceed it as well. #girlsfact haha Feel blessed to have wise man!!! Wonderful & smart article again. Thank you for sharing your real opinions, will make such impact on lot of women from east!

:-)

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Anil Kumar said...

Coming to MISS-management, Kingfisher is in trouble and needs our sardarjis help to bail him out. The breaking news is Sardar manmohan Singh thinks that something needs to be done to bail Mallyas kingfisher out.

May be Sardarji can send Sardarni Gursharan Kaur to do cheerleading in IPL matches to save the huge bills of those sluts hired by Mallya and sons during IPL matches and he can also use the services of his soon to be BAHU - Deepika Padukone for cheerleading and put these savings back into KINGFISHER.

What an idea sardarji !!!

authorharb said...

This article is as good and even dhyana-drawing as that ladies words..."yes I am thief..." yet both at the end of the day are still false. Some day some one will come with real "I am a thief" words, not goody-goody thief of time or heart or this and that but real thief, thief of money, valuables, lands and so on. It will be only later when once this is really recognized by one, accepted, digested and then outgrown that real relaxation will come. Before that the talked about relaxation will be as good as the tension itself albeit going a bit subtler.

Jyostna said...

Yes, they get married, produce a child or two. But again, by the time they get home after putting in a twelve hour day at a soulless, impersonal work station, they are too exhausted to laugh, hug, chat or cuddle. Very Very True!!!! What you have written is 200% truth which a lot of women do no realise.

Reflections said...

Heart this post:-)!!!!!

Err...Desi Babu was not serious was he....abt chewing some leaves & stuff;-D

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