Ave, Duci Novo, Similis Duci Seneci

They say the more things change, the more they remain the same.  We’ve crossed the border, if not the Rubicon, but some things are exactly the same as before. Some of us still roam around wearing shawls and windcheaters (and threaten to bring parkas); and some of us keep asking why the air-conditioning is turned off. The amount of time it takes people to reach office has apparently gone up by anything between half an hour to forty minutes, but the moment of arrival or departure for most people has barely changed by four minutes here and there. And despite having everyone on the same floor, some people are never to be found at those ‘Stop Press’ moments!


But there are some things that we did leave behind, when we left the old (dis)Functional Industrial Area. There are those who have called 482/483 fie a quirky office; but quirky doesn’t begin to describe it really.  


When an office occupies two buildings, getting lost is almost inevitable. An ex-colleague wandered into a Very Important Person’s office on her first day at work because she forgot which floor her department was on. She was most courteously redirected of course, but was thereafter so embarrassed that she soon moved to a different continent.


Another colleague would regularly climb down to the basement, and instead of turning right to enter the hr domain, would walk straight on and only stop when she realised that she had reached the absolute nether regions of the office (read, Finance).


From the reception on the ground floor, it was perfectly possible to spot someone on the first floor, but since the first floor connected to both buildings, it was equally possible that said person would have utterly vanished by the time one toiled up that inordinately steep flight of stairs.


Oh yes, avoiding someone you didn’t want to meet was only too easy in that labyrinth. Finding conference rooms, however, could be more exciting than the quest for the Holy Grail; especially as people who had been there for ages often gave absolute new-comers directions like, ‘Oh X hall is in the basement’, and conveniently forgot to mention that they meant the basement of the other building.


As I said, quirky doesn’t cover everything that office was. For example, the thing I miss the most about the old place is the (wash)room on the roof.  On our floor, there was just one washroom. And to get to it, one had to step out onto the terrace and take a dozen steps or so. I know this may not sound eccentric, or exciting, but consider this. If it was a summer afternoon, the terrace would be a cosy 40°C; if it was a winter evening, then there was a nip in the air which was not quite pleasant; and if it happened to be raining, well, the choices ranged from being patient to making a dash for it. There is this to be said for the new office—with all its well-planned amenities, it does seem unlikely that I’ll ever need an umbrella to visit the loo.  


But this office has its own share of…umm…interesting features. For one thing, one mustn’t forget that this is a green building, which the old one wasn’t. Which is a surprising claim in a way because the old office had veritable hanging gardens whereas the only significant greenery on these premises is the grass. And yes, the power generators are painted a deep green. But if they say it’s a green building, who am I to argue?


And of course there’s the daily excitement in the parking lot. In the old office, we had a solitary, rather benign looking parking attendant. He took the keys from one in the morning, with a look of calm assurance, and when he returned the keys in the evening, you knew your car had been in safe hands. Here there’s a whole fleet of parking attendants whose single-minded devotion to their duty would have been most touching, were it not for the fact that their duty consists of telling people to move their cars one foot to the right, or three inches to the left. The idea of course is that if one maneouvers one’s car three-quarters of an inch to the left, they will be able to provide parking space for the people in the other offices in the building. Did you ask, what people? Never mind.


These days there’s the added pleasure of being told, after one has wooshed into an empty parking space that one will jolly well have to woosh out and park the car in reverse. Apparently the building will lose its coveted green status unless every car in the parking lot faces the same direction. And if you try pointing at another car which is also parked illegally, as it were, you will, in all likelihood, be told that the driver is a novice who doesn’t know how to reverse his car. Oh, how glibly they perjure their souls for the sake of beautifying a parking lot!


But of course the latest happy news is that in a short while the little antics of our parking lot attendants will cease to matter to many people in the office because they won’t be parking their cars on the premises at all.


There are a couple of things about this new office which are really quite amusing, if you have the right perspective, of course. For one thing, the work stations are perfectly designed for a bpo, with enough space for a desktop (with the keyboard) and a phone. Never mind the editors; they just imagine that they need a lot of space for half a dozen reference books and four page proofs. Who needs proofs and reference books anyway? And now of course there’s this. So first we have the office in a place where the only reasonable means of transport is a car, and then we don’t have a place to park said car. Nice planning.


Delirium, once Delight


Post script: I can never resist the chance to tell a story; no matter how indirectly related it may be. When I was in college, I spent two years in the same classroom. No, I didn’t skip a year; my class refused to move out of the room. The third year, we were forcibly shunted out. And a professor philosophically (and not a little irritably) told us, ‘A classroom isn’t made up of four walls and benches, it’s about the people d****t!’ This post wasn’t about the new office at all; it was a long-overdue elegy to a place I was before.


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This blog is for all employees of Pearson in India . We hope to share updates - both personal and professional - from the worlds of education and publishing.