The Cubicle Manifesto: The Perfect Way to Reinvent Your Life, Mainak Dhar, Random House India, Pp 115, Rs 150
What is meant by ‘to cubicle’ you might ask? Well it implies the act of sitting in a confined place for extended hours, stifling interpersonal communication, creativity and any other expression of individuality which makes an individual forget life beyond the immediate demands of the job.
One forgets one’s family, friends, relations who all are an integral part of life and we hear a lot of buzzwords like work-life balance. The cubicle is a small compressed half room where we spend half of our working lives bored, stressed and secretly planning holidays, where imagination and creativity die a slow death and ‘out of the box’ can mean only one thing – leaving the office.
Mayukh, a young and harried manager, spends his life entirely in office except for the few hours at night when he goes home to have dinner and drop off to sleep after a hard, tiring day. He opens his laptop as per his practice on reaching office every morning and finds that a virus has afflicted his laptop, setting in motion a strange turn of events. He sits back in his chair, thinking hard about what he has just seen. As he digests it all, realisation dawns upon him that his office has clearly taken over his entire life. He has been so immersed in his career and his need to succeed at it, that he has started taking the rest of his life, especially his family for granted. He has no idea how much to read in the graph of the virus but the gravity of the message is suffocating for him.
Then comes the day when he decides to take a vacation from the tiring office schedule. He realises that his own liberation from the ‘cubicle tyranny’ lies in forgetting about his office. On his return from the vacation, when he looks at his laptop, he realises that he has to chalk out his own ‘cubicle manifesto’, wherein he tells himself that he is the master and not the slave to the ‘cubicle tyranny’ and that he should prioritise his opportunities for himself. He has to take himself and his staff out of the box, cut off the leash of the blinking red light when he leaves his cubicle, remind himself of what he is inside and outside of his cubicle and carry his personality into his cubicle to show who is in charge there.
By following this manifesto, he gradually becomes free from the tyranny of pressure and the shackles of stress.
(Random House India Private Limited, Windsor IT Park, 7th Floor, Tower-B, A-1, Sector 125, Noida – 201301; www.randomindia.co.in)
Hanuman, as the divine force within
The Hanuman Factor: Life Lessons from the Most Successful Spiritual CEO, Arvind Krishna, Global Vision Press, Pp 210, Rs 195
The author, born in Indonesia but of Indian descent, begins with the life story of Tulasi who wrote Ramayana different from Valmiki’s. Tulasi belonged to the Brahmin caste which was considered the elite of the society. The author says that “the same elite group caused India’s downfall millennia ago, beginning with Gautama Buddha who rejected the authority and constituted a similar elite group by changing the name from Brahmin to bhikshu.” Subsequently Adi Sankara came from the South and helped to pass the quality and power from Buddhist monks to the new genre of sannyasi or mendicants.
A caste-ridden system arose with weak rulers facilitating divisions in society at different levels. With this the nation turned weaker and facilitated invasions by the Afghans and Mongols and Mughals, who systematically looted the country. It was the time when Hanuman ruled that Tulasi took birth. As he grew up, he noticed the country in shambles and decided to pen down his Shri Ramacharitmanas. But here the author says that the popularity of this epic was surpassed by another of Tulasi’s works, called Shri Hanuman Chalisa which brings us closer to the mystery and myth of life. Here Hanuman is extolled as the most successful spiritual Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
The author takes four verses from Shri Hanuman Chalisa and explains the message that the verse conveys. For instance, if the following verse is taken:
Shri Guru charan saroja raja
Nija manu mukuru sudhaari
Barnaun Raghubar bimal jasu
Jo daiku phala chaari.
The verse says that we should start our journey with auspiciousness and that guru is the next step after God realisation, where the guru is said to be dispeller of ignorance and rids of all our doubts which only act as hindrances. We have to keep faith in our ‘self’ and live in the world of mud, without becoming muddy in the world; clean the mirror of the mind so that it may project a life worth living and then spread the glory of Raghu or Lord Rama so that we can receive the four goodnesses which arise as a result of the clarity of mind – dharma or righteousness, artha or meaningful life, karma or fulfilment and moksha or salvation. We have to become aware of our capacity or ability by becoming aware and intelligent. The mind has no limits. We should pray for our growth and progress to be vast. We may have strong muscles, but muscles without brain are of no use. We should disassociate ourselves from people around us because no relation is permanent as we have to part from everything. “If we do not part in life, then we part in death. Our associations, hopes and expectations are the source of all our miseries.”
The message the author wants to convey is that those who think, act and speak in ‘Hanuman consciousness’ become free from all kinds of trouble.
(Global Vision Press, 4855/24, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi – 110 002)
MK Kaw: A distinguished bureaucrat’s reminiscence
MK Kaw: An Outsider Everywhere, MK Kaw, Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd, Pp 212, Rs 595
This autobiography by a civil servant presents charming vignettes of the protagonist’s family life, excerpts from his poetry and his innumerable verbal duels with politicians. Kaw narrates incidents from his career with wit, subtle humour and adherence to principles without any compromises to show what an able and effective administrator can do if he really wants to do something.
Kaw hails from a Kashmiri family, is born in Kashmir to a Pandit family but who, after the exodus of 1990, leads a retired life in Delhi. He served the IAS for 37 years and is the first civil servant in his family and he says that as soon as his result in the civil service was announced, “We received congratulatory phone calls and messages from all over.”
He describes his days as a young boy who did not go to any school for formal education but who later on goes on to pass matriculation from school at the age of ten-and-a-half years. He does his graduation and post-graduation from the Punjab University to become a postgraduate at the age of 16. He describes his days of training at Mussoorie, particularly his attempts at horse riding which simply terrified him. He talks of how girls pursued him for marriage because an IAS officer was considered a good catch at that time.
His narrative of the work culture at Bulandshahar in Uttar Pradesh, where he is first posted, makes for humorous reading. Here he receives the message about his grandmother’s illness but by the time he reaches Delhi, she passes away at a young age due to a weak heart and the trauma of migration from cool Kashmir to warm Delhi. “Hers was the first death of a near relative that I saw physically and it was a traumatic experience.”
Next he is posted to Chamba in Himachal Pradesh., where he discovers that the men-folk have a nice time, imbibing “a lot of local brew and taking a snooze whenever they had a chance. All the hard work was done by the women. Most of them smoked.” His father comes forward with many proposals and ultimately he approves of a young girl called Raj, who soon becomes his wife. Meanwhile he gets posted to Delhi as Deputy Commissioner, Tees Hazari. He describes his tenure in Delhi and how a strike by Central Government employees in 1968 becomes a blot on his career for no fault of his and for which he is transferred as Deputy Commissioner of Solan district. From here he moves to Dharamsala where he becomes Finance Secretary and ultimately Secretary, Civil Aviation and gets posted to Delhi.
Then with the change in government at the Centre and with Prime Minster Atal Behari Vajpayee coming to power, Kaw finds a good equation with him, but is rather critical of Ananth Kumar who takes over a Minister for Civil Aviation with whom “things were awkward right from the word go.” He is shifted to the Planning Commission as Advisor where he has differences with Farooq Abdullah, who goes around complaining to anyone who would care to listen that “there was a Kashmiri Hindu officer who was mortally inimical to the interests of the state of Jammu & Kashmir.” The author says, “I am sure Farooq must have heaved a deep sigh of relief when I was shifted to HRD,” from where he retires after 42 years of service in the government.
The author has a style of conveying even a nasty point in a light-hearted vein.
(Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd, 206 First floor, Peacock Lane, Shahpur Jat, New Dlehi-110 049; www.konarkpublishers.com)