Friday, March 20, 2009

Why water cooler conversations are on the rise at the DNA office

In the last couple of days, consumption of coffee, tea and water in DNA's Mumbai office has shot up. At the drop of a hat, one could see people making a beeline for the water cooler, or the coffee machine not necessarily to consume those beverages. In the process, they ended up discussing, probing and scaring themselves.

But honestly, it wasn't the drop of a hat that started it off.

I think it was a simple web link that did the evil trick. And journalists at this newspaper - by now, well tuned to chasing stories about which company is laying off how many people - began chasing a story about their own lay-offs.

(Reminds me of Darna Mana Hai, where the characters narrating spooky tales realise they are in one such tale themselves.)

So, everybody in this office is chasing this story. And this office today resembles a Big Boss set (not that we're locked up here) in gossiping about what are the chances of being eliminated.

Even women's washroom gossip is something along these lines I think. (Note: I did not eavesdrop standing next to the women's washroom. But I understand women well enough to guess.)

"What have you heard?"

"How many wickets down?"

"30 people? Who all from your team?"

"Oh my God! But he's a senior journo, yaar!"

"The newer employees are not much of a liability."

"Why the fuck did they launch Bangalore at a time like this? Someone told me, we've over-staffed there!"

"Shit! God knows what's going to happen to us."

"Does one have to serve a notice period? We get our Basic, right?"

"What's the point of sacking him? His salary was what - Rs 18 grands or something?"

"Why doesn't the CEO take a pay-cut? The top management earns in lakhs!"

And the works.

I could sense something was up when the day after TOI announced some cost-cutting measures on increments, the lights were on till late in the night in the cabins of the promoters of this newspaper.

The top brass obviously must have got huddled together to discuss what now. Its always like this. The market leader blinks and the rest follow suit.

Anyway, its official now. The pink slip epidemic has come home. And some livelihoods will be lost.

Nowadays, folks sport glum expressions on their faces and they break into nervous laughter when somebody cracks those pink-slip jokes.

We're working harder. And being nice to our bosses. My boss has supposedly told us he's going to try his best to ensure we're not laid off. All I know is that we're a young and inexperienced team, and do not command fat pay-checks. We didn't have the right to.

Shit. What a life! Just when my life's parachute was beginning to take off, the recession eagle punctured a hole into it.