The Clandestine Games One is Forced to Play When Switching Jobs

Published: 15th September 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th September 2015 11:04 PM   |  A+A-

Landing a new job while already working in an organisation may be the easy part — the hassles of browsing for relevant vacancies, applying online or through snail mails, attending interviews, answering a bunch of tricky or silly questions, negotiating salary and all other related paraphernalia notwithstanding. What’s more challenging is the art of keeping the new job a closely guarded secret, for a multitude of reasons, and stretching the revelation up to a convenient time and venue chosen by the job-hopping employee.

The more one wants to keep the new job under wraps, the more the others become curious, and they employ every devilish trick in their trade to come out with the ‘breaking news’. “Oh, you don’t know where Charles is going to join. He’s taking over as the new finance manager in XYZ Company,” an owlish employee would chatter over a cup of tea, surrounded by a gang of gossip lovers who’d drop their jaws at the conjecture or perhaps, a cracked fact let loose before them. In an establishment that I worked, Gopal (name changed), a star of a senior management-level employee and blue-eyed boy of the management, tendered his resignation and shocked everyone in the company. “Why should he resign when everything is rosy for him here?” was the talk of the town. All levels of management quizzed him on his probable new move but he did not let the cat out of the bag. Many people had resigned themselves to the fact that, after all, they might not know where the star was headed. Such acknowledgement, you will agree, generally elevates their BP and alters their biochemistry.

It was at such a moment of desperation that the employees had assembled in the lush green lawns of the township of the company on a weekend evening to watch, in a laid-back style, the screening of a movie displayed using a 35mm projector. Gopal too occupied a chair at a prominent place, flanked by his family that included his little son of five. The movie was racing to its climax and the director had embellished its impact by total silence for a couple of minutes. But the eerie stillness was shattered by Gopal’s kid who asked him in a loud voice, “Dad. The movie’s boring. When are we going to the new town of Athur?” “What?” many seated around them shouted in unison at their Eureka moment. At once, the industry located around the spilled bean was decoded and people found out in a trice where Gopal would join next. Their heads escaped the ignominy of a loud shatter for want of vital information, thanks to the angelic kid who hardly knew the secret of keeping secrets! Gopal flushed with embarrassment, and by now the movie’s much-touted and famed climax stood pathetically consumed by a much greater denouement.

If changing jobs in India can pose so much anxiety, one can imagine the intricacies of expat Indians switching jobs in overseas countries. Generally, there are restrictions on a change of job in the West Asia and one false move or unwarranted leak could deprive an employee of greener pastures. Once when I left a job in the Sultanate of Oman, my fellow employees continued to grill me and wanted to know if I would return to India, rejoin in Oman or switch to other places like Dubai in UAE. I enjoyed the fun of misleading them. One day, I’d innocuously ask one of them, the driving rules in UAE. Immediately, the news would spread like wildfire. “Sure, he’s going to join in Dubai.” Next day, I’d ask another in the core ‘breaking news’ group the rental value of houses in and around Bangalore.  The ‘Oh! He’s going to settle down in Bangalore’ storyline would leak out. Finally, I managed to hoodwink everyone and join another company in Oman itself, due processes complied with, of course.

When they spotted me in the new organisation, which none had been able to hazard a guess, they couldn’t hide their displeasure of losing out in the battle of secrets, and they simply said, “We knew months in advance that you’d join here.”

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