Thursday, November 27, 2014

the agency

​This place is a madhouse. 

There’s someone wanting to breed cows, there’s an ex-chef of a fancy hotel, there’s an angry young man threatening to leave every day (“fuck you all!”), there’s another stumbling about drunk and grinning stupidly at everyone. There’s this chap who simply refuses to look anyone in the eye or smile, there’s a girl who blurts out what she thinks with an endearing lack of discretion. There’s the rights activist posting frantically on facebook, there’s that guy walking up and down in a silent, unnerving way, sneaking up behind our computers. There’s the world-weary, resigned chap in the corner, there’s the unperturbed illustrator lost in his own world. There’s the tomboy, with unexpected displays of girlishness, there’s the classroom bully with a heart of silly putty. There's someone killing us a little bit every day with his bad jokes, there's someone else who mysteriously disappears for really long hours during work, calling it lunch. There’s someone who laughs to himself periodically, making us all wonder whether he’s insane or whether he’s secretly laughing at our insanity.
Mornings usually begin with the santoor, go on to Telugu carnatic remixes, touching some Illaiyaraja on the way, before drifting into 90s Hindi film songs and some clean blues guitar. At exactly 10:30 a.m. every day, the gratingly overdone Nothing Else Matters is played by aforementioned angry young man with a seriousness I find amusing. On darker, busier days, Sadhguru spreads his gyan to a mix of believers and skeptics, after which plays a song about samhalofying zindagi such that it doesn’t become mauth. On some afternoons, violins and flutes spring to life, and on others, stand-up comedians on YouTube have their stage. Dog videos are regulars; whole movies are watched.

There are politics, there is bitching, there are friendships.
Everyone seems be ready to attack, counter, defend, prove. The energy level is high, frustration levels are higher, and heated exchanges take place every few minutes. There are arguments, disagreements, disappointments, pull-your-hair-out moments. Heads come together to put together some brilliant stuff, whiteboards get inked in and abstract ideas bounce, fly, spin, shape up and get converted to the tangible. Brains tick, fingers type, hands draw, and the greys take on colour. Sketches are shared, criticism is selectively digested, approval is received with relief. 

It’s incredibly satisfying to have cracked something and see it come to life... It's like learning animation and finding that something actually moves. 

After five years in academic publishing and working with scientists, educators, researchers and professors (your typical khadi-kurta crowd), this is a breath of fresh air. After five years of Dears and Warm Regards, the lack of salutations is strangely liberating. After five years of careful, polite speech, the vocabulary took on colours within a week of being here. After five years of a silent editorial floor, the noise is more than welcome. I desperately wanted change, and that part is taken care of. 

The very newness of it all is enough to sustain interest. There is constant food for the brain, there are a hundred stories and comics packed in a twelve-hour span. There are enough characters to fill a series. At the end of the day, everyone’s passionate about something, be it at work or outside work. There’s never not enough to talk about. Conversations aren’t boring. People aren't boring.  Everyone comes in a distinct flavour. Everyone brings a different approach. Everyone draws a different tangent to the circle - and that's making this ride worthwhile.

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