"So, what's your passion.... Have you asked yourself yet?! "asked the trainer with a wide grin. The grin being greeted with only blank faces of the audience. A few of which were probably already asleep with their eyes open. And others, busy stealing side glances at their phones (that were made to be kept on silent mode) so that they don't miss answering any messages from their bosses. As, bosses don't like hearing to such lame excuses... Do they?!
It's only when the trainer began to torture by singling out each one when they were forced to quickly come up with an answer. And in a room full of almost 30-40 trainees just 3 people had interesting answers to that question which truly did sound like their passion. Rest stuck to that safe answer that they were trained at since the time they had scouted for that coveted MBA seat and jobs thereafter. Yes, that 'must have' passion, the 'intellectual' sounding 'impressive' one that is 'READING'. Have you ever said that as your hobby and passion yet... Well, then are you reading this long post :P!
At lunch, apart from cribbing on that one hopeful element of such trainings, that is the food, we came to the compulsive mocking and ridiculing soon enough. As if our jobs allow us to fancy a passion was the common statement vehemently agreed upon.
"But, didn't the trainer say if you have a passion you would definitely find a means to follow it" someone reminded on the lunch table.
"Yup, and what was that other statement, there are always a million reasons to not do it" guffawed another.
"Yes, and just one reason that rules those million reasons....PAYMENT OF BILLS" concluded one gentleman for the table.
"But does that mean we do not even have a passion ?" the devil's advocate nailed it.
And the discussion on passion that had come alive on that lunch table that day went back to its perennial hibernating mode. Well, passion didn't have much of a whiff of a serendipity let alone stroke! In fact it kind of got habituated to remaining in its deep slumber. For hibernation was definitely better than being flung and disregarded any day. Not that passion hadn't tried to peek or poke its nose in desperation. But, after being thrown mercilessly out of the window of those tall tinted glass building structures of brick and concrete, where formally dressed people had to always keep busy (in reality or portrayal didn't really matter), passion must have decided to rather sleep than die!
What about the out of office hours you might think. And if that thought has come to you while reading this you must have never worked in Mumbai! If you did, then you would know passion possibly cannot even anticipate to fit into those jam packed local trains or the bumper to bumper traffic of the roads where life goes to standstill but the blaring horns don't. And if you happen to be an introvert like me, then well, apart from secretly patting yourself for making through the cacophony of the work day, you would know how draining it's on your energy in maintaining that much aspired for 'corporate visibility'.
So, if you happen to throw a pebble and ask the first person it hit as to what his/her passion was in Mumbai, you are bound to be judged as an asylum inhabitant. And that's where I resided, no not in the asylum but in those tinted glass tall structures, behind a laptop screen, unaware if a passion even existed inside me.
As a child long back in some other life (because that's how it seemed), I used to love to scribble and write stories. But then I was made to believe that's just a child's play and doesn't really carry any material value. And so I believed. Because, what carried material value was writing hundreds of reports, information memorandums, power point presentations and excel model juggleries. And the art here was not to write them or make them but to get it approved by your bosses in the first instant which ironically was next to impossible. I would write in points and boss would want a story. I would write a story and boss would want in points. Sometimes, to show that he was 'the boss' he would even ask "Didn't they teach you English from where you earned your degrees from?! ". And it's a completely different matter of fact that your degrees might be of better repute than that of your boss. Well, you are aware of the corporate exercise and the trysts, which the HR trainings of the kind I described above like to portray as a cake with icing on it.
So, yes I was still writing, passion or not. I guess that was the silver lining if not the material value that it carried. As it took a long long time for me to realise that those "Bills Payment" (behind which passion was dying a thousand deaths) were never ending. And the biggest irony was that I was the one who had bloated those bills and made them to be never ending. If I was any saner, I should have realised that to reach that word 'value' in 'material value' the 'material' needs to be encashed or dropped at some point. In other words, I was mentally conditioned to earn, save, earn and each time one bill got paid to add another bill into that list. Well, you know that vicious cycle. But I didn't know how to put a stop to it. Relax. Enjoy what little I had saved working hard for all those years. Which was the biggest joke here. Because, isn't that our very goal in life for which we willingly or unwillingly break our backs in those tall structures clad in those uncomfortable formal clothes wading through the office politics.
On retirement you can enjoy you say, but that's near to sixties! By then the 'joy' in the word 'enjoy' would have vanished accompaning 'passion' along the way!
And that's when fortunately or unfortunately Covid struck. We had moved to Netherlands as a family and the chances of finding a job looked bleak. Remember, as I said I didn't know how to stop and get out of that vicious circle. Thanks to the virus (yes, every bad thing does have a silver lining) and the lockdown that I discovered, if not wisdom, but the answer to that question on the lunch table discussion of that day. As to what was my passion and if I even had one in the first place.
Since, I had no reports or memorandums to write or presentations to be made, I scribbled as an alternative. And this time when I wrote, I wrote for myself, not for an approval from a superior. It felt different. It felt nice. But my mental conditioning didn't actually see any 'material value' in it though, I confess. It felt more like quenching an urge and kind of a therapy than anything else. And so, I just pursued it blindly. I wrote to keep sane.
"All you need, is to follow your passion, and everything else will follow". I had seen this, read this, heard this innumerable times but never truly believed in it. Rather, I almost placed the saying under the category of pep talk. Until, that very saying knocked on my door one day and welcomed itself inside to my awe making me realise that there can be an element of truth in it. It was very much possible! And this happened when I saw my desperate scribbles win an award in a literary event, convert into a published book 'Dots & Streaks' and feature as an Amazon India bestseller within days of its release.
Now, I had an answer to that question on passion. And I am glad whether I found it or it found me... Atleast I now know, that I have one!
Link to the book 'Dots & Streaks' is:
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