A couple of days ago, I completed a year at my job. Unremarkable, perhaps, but for two facts taken in tandem – I am now 29 years old, and this is my first real job. Oh sure, I have been paid a stipend for teaching in grad school, I washed dishes in a cafeteria for minimum wage, taught kids at summer camp, even made a few bucks my freshman year fixing people’s computers. And I got myself through my last summer in the United States by playing poker (nothing on the level of some on this site, though). But this is my first salaried-with-benefits, qualification-based, full-time job. I started it a month after I moved back to India, which makes a month ago the anniversary of my return, and it’s an occasion.
Or is it? I never thought that I wouldn’t get through a year. Perhaps it more a celebration of staying in one place for a year than having a job, perhaps the occasion is the validation of my commitment. But I love my job, it pays me handsomely, I get two-day weekends (very rare in India). I would have been a fool to leave.
What, then, makes it something I (or people around me) need to make a note of? Anniversaries are nice, whatever the reason, because they give us another mark on the life-chart I am sure we all keep; we collect dates and durations as, perhaps arbitrary, indications of progress. Still, I don’t think that’s what it is. I get the feeling that it is linked to my larger, trans-continental, move; it is symbolic of a level of “success” in satisfyingly transitioning not only from one culture to another but also from debauched student to proper adult. And as soon as I type that, I laugh out loud.
Most of my money has gone toward a tricked-out PC, 50-odd DVDS (The Criterion Brazil kicks some serious ass), 20-odd video games (Oblivion kicks some serious ass), eating out, beer, assorted electronics, and around 300 cheap books (I’m talking 90 per cent off list price). I’m not boasting – I just think, for me, that’s the whole point of having a job: being completely immersed in what I want and being able to get it. I’m swimming in materialism, indulging my desires, and dying of glee.
Oh I believe in what I do; I believe in education, publishing, editorial responsibility and all that. But at the end of the day, I am yet to move completely into the realm of “responsibility” as seen by the world I live in – being unmarried, kid-less, mortgage-free allows me to extend my student sensibilities and aesthetics into a sphere where I can always get the things I want.
Shameful? Definitely. Perhaps one day soon this will change. For now, I am happy with the thought that what society (specially Indian society) demarcates as desirable and what satisfies my hedonism can, actually, be reconciled with such little effort.
Now if only this fucking job would give me the time to play Oblivion.