A Show of Hands

A Show of Hands.

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A Show of Hands

Once I visited a palmist along with my parents. My parents are very much interested in palmistry and astrology. I do not disbelieve such forecasting methods but I tend to shy away from getting too involved in them. I am not that interested to know what the future holds for me and also it can be very intimidating. It is almost like tempting fate. So, I am really not comfortable with it. Anyway, during that visit, the palmist said some positive remarks about me. One of the interesting remarks she made after looking at the intersecting lines on my palm was that I will be doing two jobs simultaneously or something to suggest that I will be having two careers at some point. I was happy to hear this because I was already getting disillusioned with the kind of work I was doing.

I was working as an IT technician during that time in Mumbai, India. During job interviews, I was often asked- “Where do you see yourself in five years time?” I would bluff. I would say- “Working as a Network Specialist in a big company” when I knew deep down that I wanted to actually be involved in music or with musical instruments. Also, even prior to the visit to the palmist, I knew that I would be doing something closer to my heart and I was already working towards it. I was seriously trying to learn the keyboard and even attended classes on a regular basis. The money from my work would go into music and music books. For all the relatives and friends, I was this guy having a great job in big companies. Well, superficially yes; but I knew what it was like working for them. Most of my work involved blowing the dust from the computers, fixing loose connections and applying lubricant on stubborn dot matrix printers. I like technology but I like the creative side and the historical aspects of it. However at my work place, it was more or less the same routine. I am the sort of person who gets bored very easily.

I must admit that I did get some opportunities to make it big. For example, I was suddenly thrust into this environment where I would be climbing telecommunication towers and fixing internet telephones for busy call centres. But, I was a bit of a slow learner (always have been) and I needed a nurturing environment. In my place, we were not that cared for. Everyone was expected to be aggressive and kind of one step ahead of others. We were expected to learn ourselves and learn quickly. I needed someone to feed me with a spoon but I often felt I was at gun point. My seniors were all haughty. Office politics and rigid work environments were other issues I had to deal with. Another problem was that I was doing part-time studies as well during that time. So, it was difficult to manage everything. In the end, I was so determined to get out of that kind of rat race and robotic environment that I deliberately avoided to learn anything further in terms of my job. I even started questioning all these mantras for success and philosophies needed for living a quality life. It might be nature’s law when it talks of survival of the fittest. What about misfits, then?

I knew I had something in me but I needed to stay away from the chaos, needed to be in control to explore myself. I remember while I was in school, I used to look outside from my school bench and watch the trees and sky. Then I would dream about foreign shores… the other side. At home, I indulged in more or less the same things. Keep some music on or read some books (particularly Enid Blyton’s books and Tintin comics) and drift away into an imaginary land. Some of my hobbies during the time were also indications of my interests- music, stamp and coin collections from around the world, going through world maps and History. If my mind were an atlas, then I wanted to be a Geographer. As a result, by late 2005, I left for UK- the land of dreams and where most of my favourite music and literature originated from. My impression of Britain from a distant place was Victorian. The images were about big Gothic churches and buildings, houses with thatched roofs, green rolling hills and gardens. When I first landed here, it was more or less like what I imagined. For the first few months, I was literally living in a dream. It was almost like being in a wonderland. Everything looked like toys and pictures here. It was so unrealistically real.

However, slowly, reality reared its ugly head again in a different place and in different ways. Well… not quite but things are never as smooth as it seems from outside. It is something everyone has to deal with I guess. So far, I have tried my hands in some odd fields in Britain along with my studies. I remember one of my first job applications in UK was for working as a clown in a biscuit factory. But strangely I didn’t hear from them. I think they probably found a more efficient clown. Then, I worked as a volunteer in a community radio station preparing tea and coffee for musicians. Eventually, I got a job in McDonald’s! Over there, I was banned from the kitchen for being slow and useless except for washing dishes. I was a sorry figure at the till because I couldn’t make boxes quickly and I was mixing up drinks. I was doing most of the work in the lobby and outside. I was actively clearing dustbins and cleaning toilets. I remember getting £2 from a lady when she saw me working outside in the rain. Then, I worked as a cleaner in the hostel of University of Glamorgan until one day I was caught watching posters on the kitchen walls instead of scrubbing the dishes.

In March 2008, I went to see a music band called The Cure at Wembley Arena in London. I travelled all the way from Treforest in South Wales where I was living. During that time, I saw all these stewards working there. I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to work and also see live music! So, when I moved to London about two or three weeks after that concert, I visited Wembley Arena again and got the phone number of this security agency. I contacted them, sent my resume through e-mail and within a few days I got this job. I am working in that company to this day and have seen few memorable events, particularly Jean Michel Jarre’s concert, horse racing, boxing, football and some Disney events. However, this is unsteady work even though I am only a few steps away from becoming a qualified bouncer.

In the winter of 2009, I worked as a traffic policeman in a car park in a place called Brent Cross in North-West London. It was the most horrible winter and was considered the coldest in 30 years. This car park work was so tedious in such a harsh environment. During that time I was even dreaming about traffic control and cars going in and out all the time. There used to be a lot of violence involved in my dreams as well. This was actually triggered by all the unpleasant events at work. Interestingly, most of these were linked to women drivers. Why do they ever get so emotional while driving a vehicle? I have never quite understood this. When I tell them to park in a better place and try to help them, they would just get so nasty. I received a death threat from a lady after I told her that she was creating a traffic block. One day, a lady was trying to park a big lorry in a place fit for a toy car and I told her that she should go in the front because there were so many parking sections. But no! She went- “I want to park here and in this spot”. In the end, she ended up five minutes reversing and going forward without any success. Then a major traffic warden came and shouted at her for causing a huge traffic block. I really felt happy seeing this. Then she got even more emotional and started defending herself. One day, a girl broke the mirror of another car while parking and she got a firing from a couple who was in that car for parking improperly. After the ordeal, she started taking pictures of the cars! Then, while going back she dashed into another car. Insane! One lady always wanted to park in the same place as if she was someone special.

I was having a completely different impression about women drivers. I used to think they were really good. Women are careful while driving (or are they?!) but they should leave their unwanted emotions at home. It was not all that bad; I was once offered a box of chocolates by a girl who was driving past me. But I graciously declined the offer as it was not the right moment and the box looked empty, anyway.

Once I worked for a digital music distribution company as an intern in London. They selected me on the basis that they were changing their physical distribution setup to digital versions and they were going online. It was interesting and something I had never experienced before. It was actually a six-week internship. But by the end of two weeks, all of a sudden, they announced that they did not need me anymore. They said something indirectly about some “minor” problems which I was somehow accountable for. For goodness sake, this was internship where they were supposed to be train me and it was not a full time paid job anyway. What on earth were they expecting from me?! They indulged in such a cheap way of using someone to do nothing but rip contents from CDs, put them on servers and upload a database. When they no longer needed my help, they decided to kick me out for some lousy reason. Anyway, thanks to those scoundrels, I have written one of the best songs of all time called ‘The Rear Side of 77’ where I expressed my discontent about that internship. One day I will release that song and use those traitors to distribute that very song without even their knowledge. The name of the company is currently withheld for obvious reasons.

Out of all activities, the one I think is the most relevant and meaningful is what I am doing with music. I play in a band and I have got my solo project as well. To me, I do not consider that as work even though it can be every bit as hard as it can be. However, that pure joy I get out of making music and playing music to people is inexplicable. I am discovering myself. There are so many areas that I didn’t even know that existed within me. The rest of the jobs are needed to function in real life. However, there is no lasting value to hardly any of them.  I don’t trust traditional jobs. I don’t trust most of the people who represent various corporations. Therefore, rather than dance to their tunes, I’ll make my own music and make them dance to my tunes.

The palmist was not at all wrong. In fact, it even surpassed her forecast. Now, I am doing more than two jobs, simultaneously and studying as well. My work has become multi-dimensional and I have become a schizophrenic.

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