The fortunate corporate
Now and then, everyone has one of those weeks. One of those weeks which pummels you into zombie eyed submission as days and nights merge and work-life balance becomes almost as mythical as the Trojan horse. One of those weeks when the lyrics of the song “ Hard Day’s Night” ring a bit too true for comfort. Or alternatively if you think that the Beatle is a bug but do twerk to Rihanna, think of the song “ Work work work”.
Anyway I had one or two of those weeks not too long ago. It affected me sufficiently enough to have that occasional questioning of purpose that affects most millennials (and wanna-be millennials? I’m not entirely sure what my age makes me). Stay up late into the night, despite being dead-tired, to read internet articles on “ 10 reasons why you should quit your job to follow your passion” and other related click-bait. Perhaps I even looked up one of those dime a dozen ‘travel the world’ blogs even though planes almost inspire an Asimovian reaction in me.
In short, I was feeling sufficiently shit as I was driving back home that Friday. Even though I was finally done with everything, the thoughts of discontent had festered and the weekend appeared to be just a brief gasp of desperate breath before plunging back in the icy waters of the modern corporate career.
Yes I was feeling like crap. Till my eye caught something. Something I see everyday on my way home to work and even to work. But today for reasons I do not know, I not only looked but I saw. And when I saw, I remembered. And suddenly things really were not bad. They were outstanding. Absolutely amazing in fact.
Don’t worry, there’s no mystery here. What I saw is just the title picture of this article, my hand on the steering wheel. Nothing remarkable, definitely not the speed I’m doing. (And fret not, internet vigilantes, the photo was taken while completely stationary). So what was it that struck me?
The answer lies not in that moment but in the past. In remembering.
So I remembered a little boy growing up in late 1990s India. Other than the usual Indian middle class childhood staples of back wrecking schoolbags and condensation moistened tiffin boxes, there is something specific about this little boy. That he is more crazy about cars than chocolate and toffees, which is saying something. The Indian automotive market, being what it was in that time period, the most exotic car this guy got to see in real life was probably a Honda City. Hence pictures in car magazines and 1:18 scale models that he scrimped up weeks and months of pocket money for were the closest he got to the cars of his dreams.
Till that day when across the road, wonders of wonders, did he really spot it. He had run across just to be sure and then there it was. A real life “Ultimate Driving Machine” He definitely didn’t get a chance to touch it or even see it too close; that would take another few years and shifting to another country for college for that; but it was there alright.
But looking was one thing. Actual ownership was far enough from conceivable reality to be relegated to a dream or life goal. A prospect that served to inspire when those aforementioned heavy school-bags opened to reveal heavier books and studying schedules designed to make a Goldman Sachs internship look like a break. It may inconceivable in the developed world that a relatively ubiquitous manufacturer like BMW could seem so out of reach to become a car of one’s dreams but I think all you need to is see is median income levels and the crazy import duties levied on foreign cars in most of the developed world.
So let us imagine that HG Wells lends us his time-machine and we get a chance to go back to 1998. Looking more like the Honeymooners than the Jetsons with our Retro-Hipster craze hairstyles, we tell the little boy about his ownership of a 306 horse-power BMW 335i. It takes no sooth-sayer to predict his reaction.
Happiness was there all along. All I had to do was remember that I am that little boy. And never forget.
Utkarsh Mohan is the Brand Operations Head at P&G Malaysia Singapore Brunei and the author of the pan-Asian fiction novel “The God of Sex & Gold and Rock’n’Roll”