I’ve never been one for New Year Resolutions, and as always, I don’t have any for this year. But I do have a small wish. Small, but deeply felt. And it has to do with what any individual would cherish most.
Being oneself. The freedom to simply be who and what you are. Where’s the problem with that, you might ask. “Go ahead. Be just who you have always been. What’s stopping you?”, you might even say.
For me, it has been the hardest thing to accept and come to terms with, the past two decades, almost. Even being out of work for all these years hasn’t been so difficult to deal with. But someone trying to change you into someone else? No, that isn’t even something I should have to accept. Why should I? I am who I am and have lived out almost 60 years of my life being that person.
I have spent over a good couple of decades of that time building a career in advertising and brand communications in India. As a writer, first. Then, over the years, honed my strategic skills. Thankfully, spent the formative years of my career at the best training ground there is in the profession: Ogilvy. I grew and matured as a writer, sharpening my analytical and strategic skills alongside. And I dare say, pretty quickly too. I have also had the privilege and the honour of working with colleagues in other communication disciplines, such as Direct Marketing and PR and gained a complete understanding of the communications business and its role in brand-building.
Worked with several other advertising agencies as well in Delhi and in Chennai. Some stints were passable, some just plain awful. None compared with Ogilvy, of course. Worse, the last couple of places I worked at – BBDO in Chennai and Perfect Relations in Delhi – have been nightmares that I have to endure even today. I spent just six to eight months at both organisations in 2003-4 and 2006-7 respectively, but the bosses of those companies seem to think they have a right to meddle in my life even today.
And most of the meddling has to do with trying to make me a different person, as I have written long ago on my blog. They think they can make me my father, my mother (who just passed away last year), my younger sister, my cousins, my aunt… and of course, any of my old colleagues and friends.
In the years that I was focused on building my career in advertising and brand communications, I was also building friendships and a home. I know what it means to have friends one has known since childhood, one of whom I was even married to, for ten long years. I have lived on my own as a single woman in Delhi before and after marriage, when it broke down. I am quite used to managing home and a career on my own and I usually don’t take nonsense from anyone. As I have written before, my parents raised me to be an independent woman with a mind of her own, and with knowledge and skills to match. Why on earth should I now be expected to be or become someone else?
As I have written before, being who you are shouldn’t be something that is even up for discussion, let alone negotiation. But, as I have learned over the past couple of decades, when unprofessional bosses at unprofessional organisations have plenty to cover up, or sweep under the carpet, they can make life a living hell for those who once made the mistake of working for them. Not just for me, but for my aged parents as well, towards whom I have had responsibilities for the past couple of decades. They haven’t been spared either.
I know just what my mother had to endure at SMRC hospital as she battled for her breath and her life for over two months there and only recently wrote about that as well. How the doctors and staff dealt with her illness and how they also spoke to us, was a complete change from what the hospital has always been for my parents and my grand-mums in the past. Even before my mum taking ill, the unprofessional idiot bosses had meddled with the hospital to get them to stop Covid vaccinations, as soon as my father had had his second shot. I was forced to take my second vaccine dose in a government vaccination centre at Vasco. That is not all. The unprofessional idiots had even meddled with the CoWin website to send my dad strange messages on his mobile regarding my second vaccine dose. They have also ensured that the CoWin vaccine certificate we downloaded from the website shows that both my vaccine doses were at the government vaccination centre in Vasco, when in fact, my first dose was at SMRC, a private hospital.
For the kind of nonsense both these unprofessional organisations have perpetrated over the past couple of decades, besides wrecking my career, they ought to be put in the dock and thrown out of the corporate world. They have no place in the world of business, since they know little about work and know even less about how to conduct themselves, or their businesses. Their only single-minded pursuit for the past 15-18 years has been to make me someone else, so that they can cover their tracks and hitch themselves to my work and career. If only they could make me our maid in Goa, Sri Devi, so that I can then become Devi Cherian or some other idiot at a circus of a PR agency.
Their attempts at identity theft – for what has gone on these past years is nothing short of it – even includes getting a silly book written by Francis Fukuyama called Identity, which I have written about before on my blog. They have completely ruined the world of media and publishing, getting all kinds of nonsense written, including by well-known writers, both in fiction and non-fiction. I have just finished reading a book by Peter Drucker, which I cannot believe he could ever have written. And have just started on one by Michael Porter, that too cannot be the genuine article. The one by Michael E Porter, called Competitive Advantage is one I particularly wanted to read since it could be related to my current thinking on brands in many ways. More about these as I write about them later on my blog.
The circus bosses have had the temerity to meddle with my luggage while it was in storage at the packers and movers’ warehouse in Chennai for many months, before I decided to bring it home to my parents’ place in Goa in 2005. And some meddling has also taken place when I was returning from Delhi back to my parents in Goa in 2008. Some of my old books that I tried re-reading weren’t even the same old ones! Why, an old book of Kipling’s that belonged to my grandfather came back a new one, when all my father had requested his friend in Goa for, was a rebinding of it since it was in a bad shape. I have reviewed that Kipling autobiography, Something of Myself, on my blog and you can see why that can’t have been the original book.
They meddle at stock image and stock footage websites, with the daily news whether it be print or television. As I have written before TV news these past many years are nothing more than a costume drama, with the focus only on women’s looks, clothes (especially colour), hair and make-up. Sadly, they have even managed to ruin The Economist, which doesn’t say much about the publication’s editors and managers. Besides their mischief with images which has gone on for a few years now, a recent article of theirs which was about a book on four women economists in the UK even referred to one of them being mistaken for a cleaning lady!
If there is a single-minded purpose that these unprofessional circus bosses have, it is to try their damnedest to make me someone else, so their unprofessional nonsense during the time I worked with them and thereafter, is never known. And if it means I have to become a maid, driver, cook, or cleaning lady, so be it, you see. Having experienced their past antics with trucks and truck drivers, that I have also written about earlier, I wouldn’t put it past them to cook up some major disease that I suffer from, on which they can then blame my being out of work for all these years. They are just the kind of people who would resort to such dirty tricks.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if they are the mischief-makers who have got Samsung and Google to suddenly deactivate Gmail on my mobile way back in August last year, with no warning or prior notice. After my complaints on Twitter and LinkedIn, I finally visited the Vi office in Vasco, Goa as well as a Samsung showroom there, only to be told that Gmail is “not supported on my device”, and that the Samsung service centre which used to be in Vasco has now shifted to Madgaon. The lady at the Samsung store told me that they don’t have the service centre phone number, either! In my broke state, I have had to recently buy myself a new mobile; the only consolation is that the old one was due for replacement.
I feel terrible about the fact that I have been home and out of active work for so many years, when I have had responsibilities towards my parents and grannies. Now, there is just my dad and I, here in Goa. Thankfully, we are doing alright though we miss my mother a lot. My father has just had his general medical check-up done after 2-3 years, thanks to Covid-19 and thank goodness, everything seems to be alright. I have mine due later this month, and I shudder to think what kind of test report the hospital might put out for me, since I seem to be the target they clearly have in their cross-hairs. Besides, I have seen quite a deterioration in SMRC’s medical care, thanks to meddling by the same unprofessional circuses.
I have written before about the bosses’ fantastic ability in extrapolation; they can extrapolate anything from almost anywhere and take it to a different realm, and mostly where it has no relevance. While indulging in one of those extrapolation exercises which is between the corporate world and the world of politics, state chief ministers are stand-ins for branch office heads, while central PM’s office is to be read as national heads. This is how they have even got media organisations to report news, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. I have come to realise that this is not merely extrapolation; the two circuses have actually meddled with governments at all levels, from the panchayat to the PM’s office, thinking that might save them.
Sorry. If there is anything as justice still in this country, the unprofessional bosses of these organisations ought to be taken to task and blacklisted from the industry for all the nonsense they have engaged in. On my part, in sheer exasperation and indignation, I finally wrote an email to the bosses of BBDO India and Perfect Relations a few months ago asking them to stop meddling in my life and my work since I have nothing to do with them, having quit their circuses years ago. I also said that if the meddling continued, they would be forcing me to take legal action against them, which I am now determined to do.
I cannot believe the extent of unprofessionalness in so-called good organisations and the appalling quality of leadership one sees at the highest levels. If they had spent all the time, energy and effort that they have put into meddling in my life for the past 15-18 years, into their work and their organisations, they might not be the circuses that they are.
I have the same request to make of my friends, the few that I might still have, since I am not much in regular touch with anyone. And by the time, the unprofessional bosses are done meddling with, and through them, I might actually have no friends left! My wish is to simply allow me to just be who and what I am, and to not impose their views, beliefs, expectations, etc. on me. And to not try and be me, either.
Enough of this impostor nonsense that has gone on for a couple of decades now. If they cannot understand that being who and what I am is the very essence of my being, then they were not real friends in the first place. In fact, it is so important to me that I am prepared to forsake any such friendship that was grounded on different principles. I also happen to be too old for any dramatic change at this advanced stage of my life!
It is with this simple wish that I begin 2022. After enduring decades of unprofessional nonsense, it can’t be too much to ask to simply be left alone. And to just be who one is.
Always worth remembering what Oscar Wilde is believed to have once said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”