Ladies and gentlemen, we are in crisis mode. Our Army chief recently revealed that our entire military is obsolete and could be taken down any time by a bunch of Chinese kids with Beyblades. This is a matter of national security and must be examined thoroughly, which is why I dedicate this column to cribbing about how much I need a goddamn vacation.
That’s right. I’m part of the overworked, exhausted elite — the kind that get paid well enough for its services, but only if those services include handing over control of our entire lives to clients who demand everything except the sacrifice of our first-born sons. And that’s only because we have no time to get into a room and initiate the baby-creation process to begin with.
(The first instance of this can be seen in the Old Testament, wherein a client, who thought he was God, ordered Abraham to sacrifice his first-born son. The idea worked. That book went viral like crazy, and clients have been trying to replicate that success since.)
It doesn’t help that the professional world has completely changed from what it was a generation before mine. Things seemed to be simpler then. The concept of job satisfaction, much like Levi’s jeans or on-demand tentacle erotica, was unheard of. You got a job at Whatever The Hell Place Hired You Ltd, pretended to look busy from 9 to 5, and were then free to umm, sleep and... err... sleep more? (I’m sorry. I don’t know what socialist India did for fun. Those wild ‘Krishi Darshan’ marathons on TV, maybe?)
Cut to the present, where almost everyone I know is insanely ambitious. I’m talking about writers, comics, actors, designers, photographers, entrepreneurs, marketers, corporate hotshots and ladies of the night, all of whom have one thing in common — I hate them for inspiring me towards hard work. A stupid fire is burning inside all of us, partly because of stress-induced acidity, which makes us want to go the extra mile because we’ve realised that there’s no room for mediocrity in Mumbai (unless you work at the BMC).
Mumbaikars, and Indians in general, lead shackled, vacation-less lives. A 2011 international study called ‘The Vacation Deprivation Study’ pegged Indians as the fifth-most vacation deprived people in the world. This may sound surprising given our tendency to celebrate every little event in the life of bazillions of revered figures — both real and religious — such as a birth anniversary, potty training anniversary, first pimple festival, coitus jayanti etc.
But according to the study, Indians actually forego about 20% of their holidays for reasons such as guilt or the more common, ‘My boss is a rabid dementor’. Vacations, much like the girl child, are still viewed as a luxury here. It makes sense, because for the longest time, a vacation meant an annual trip to the ‘native place’, aka ‘a place where your parents took you to meet the same people they bitched about for the rest of the year’.
Call me stupid, but come April, it blows my mind that we no longer have summer holidays. No more three-month periods of doing nothing. If I could, I would enforce that rule in the adult world as well, leading to a worldwide vacation, as essential services ground to a halt and the global economy crumbled to a point where we were back to trading tiger testes for rice. (As far as I can tell, this is what investment bankers have planned for us anyway.)
But until then, I must make do with the occasional trip down to my happy place. No, not that, you perverts. I’m talking about the place that defines me, the one place I will tell my kids about, the place where everybody knows my name...my office.
Ashish Shakya is a writer and a stand-up comic. He co-writes the TV satire, The Week That Wasn’t. Sometimes he’s even sober while doing so.