Friday, November 17, 2006

Rookie Blues

For someone whose average job tenure has been only thirteen months so far (totally skewed by the first job), I post below an article by one Thommen Jose, a Creative Consultant with Mudra. His situation is different from mine, wanted to get into advertising from other avenues, whereas I wanted to explore different communication channels. Yet, the doubts and the societal (especially parental) pressures of career switches remain the same, keeping you perpetually guessing of the aptness of your decision. Here it goes:

Since high school, I used to make ads for cars and condoms and get thrown out of class. Even if the biology teacher pardoned me for the descriptive anatomy illustrations, I didn’t really get away with words like ‘pleasure’. But at 31, I am no veteran in the industry.

“I want to be in advertising, dad”. I am not even thinking of passing the buck, just an attempt at social commentary on perceptions.

“So you want to put up cinema posters past midnight?” He asked me. You bet he had my best interests on his mind. When I was small, my dad bought me a book, ‘Small Gasoline Engines’. I didn’t get past the first page where I put my newly discovered signature. He sent me to entrance classes for state engineering as well as IIT; while my more illustrious classmates toiled away with sines, pis and thetas, I caught Baazigar back to back.

Right from my pre-degree days, I travelled to the nearby town and did copywriting and got the occasional and much-needed Rs 300 or Rs 500. As I bunked classes to do it, my folks never came to know. Besides the ruckus it would have created, I didn’t want my allowances to take a cut either. At times I think I should have, and spared them the trouble of buying a seat for me at some engineering college. But I didn’t take the seat either. Sometime later, we struck a not-so-happy mean and I took up a job (a job) as sub editor with an English newsweekly.

I lost track, though not the steam. Three years in the place, I decided to call it a day with journalism. I didn’t really care where the item girl I was interviewing met her husband. I wanted to make a comeback. I started to detest myself for wasting so much time catering to social and familial mores of working secure, with PF et al.

What did I have in my resume? Do you have something to show? they all asked me. During my programme in communication and journalism, I worked for a dozen different outfits in the city as copywriter. I got money. The contacts got me into modelling and I made some more money. All well-spent on girls, booze and cigarettes. I had my column ‘Cityscan’ in a daily, I reviewed films for a youth publication, I walked the ramp, I sold second hand bikes. But had nothing to show. As in show and beam.

It was Kerala, before the bigger outfits came to town. When the first big one opened shop, I was called. I went there, fought with the creative director over some past issue and walked out. Most agencies I part-timed after class took me in after a major copy test. I loved the tests – five of them – because I got selected over guys and girls with M.Phils and PhDs in literature. Well, maybe because they might have thought it would be like a UGC or SET exam. Whatever, I always got the post. But I jumped, worse than a monkey, I kept on jumping. The slippery branch was just a matter of time. Yeah, did I fall!

But I knew I would bounce back. I believed in myself. Though my mom kept praying for me, she had by then given up all hope. And dad took it like the man he is… stoic, silent and strong. And I took the easy way out – I took off. I went abroad, worked as content editor for a business website, researcher with a hospitality industry consultancy firm, editor of a lifestyle magazine, apprenticed in realty, wrote for newspapers and partied and partied. I was making big money. My folks and friends were happy. I wasn’t. I felt like someone who ditched true love and got married to somebody else for the hefty dowry. When you are never happy, you take recourse to a lot of stupid things just to make sure you are alive. My life was hovering over the edge, the plunge could have happened any time. What held me back, I don’t know. I buckled up. “You pass this way but once,” I told myself. So gotta be happy. And live as long as I live. True love will always be there, waiting. Convincing her could be a mite tough, you know she wants you back and you want to be with her too.

My first return stint was with a creative director I worked with before who loved to have me back. But, by then, I had learnt my lessons the harshest way ever. I decided to be ruthless. I moved on to a bigger agency when they were calling. Another copy test and I remained there for close to one year.

I made a fairly decent portfolio. Above all, I took a breather from my jumping jack suit. Trust me, I looked better without it.

I swear I am not into pedagogy. My motto was and is never to take free advice. Like a dear friend who is a big gun in advertising once told me, I believe I have no right to voice my opinion on something if I haven’t been there and done it. I know she is right and I have taken her advice to heart.

So, a word of caution to rookies who want to make it: Be restless, but let it manifest not by the number of places you have worked in; rather, by the number of your works. Trust me, I know what I am talking about. And my friend’s advice wasn’t free either.


svety said...

lovely post abhi but stop being lazy and write ur own...its been ages and i'm facing withdrawal symptoms

xanjukta said...

i agree with that... when are you going to write some original stuff???? by the way, the piece rings a bell... powerful stuff... but really, get on to writing some thing...

Abhigyan said...

original writing keeps getting stuck in corporate and personal ruts...and i guess the next thing to move me sufficiently is going to be casion royale.

Shaswati said...

What's casoin royale? I guess Casino Royale? How was the new Bond in love?

Abhigyan said...

Yep it is..sorry cannot do a spell check in comments..

And review and my own love story for 007 coming up..