This Friday’s blog is about my struggle encountered last week. I was at a job interview. There was a lunch break between 12 30 and 1 30 pm. Multiple rounds of Interviews were happening pre and post lunch in a single room. In order to save time, the HR person had organized for a packed lunch which would be served inside the room at “sharp” 1 pm. As expected, the lunch arrived at an even sharper 1:20 pm. (Being from Hyderabad, any time given to me, I would discount it by at least 15 to 20 minutes). I was super hungry. To add to my woes, my next interview was supposed to start in 10 minutes time. Therefore, I was expected to be a Bakasur and gobble everything within 10 minutes. This Looked difficult but I told myself – “Impossible is Nothing Hari… Nothing! I will finish lunch in 10 minutes come what may.”
The lunch was served to me in a corporate meal pack. The office staff smiled and placed the corporate meal pack at the table along with a closed packet which was made of aluminium foil. I smiled back and the office staff left. That’s the end of his role in today’s blog. He reminded me of Anil Kapoor in Mission Impossible 4. Anil came and left in a jiffy in the movie. Sorry for the brief digression. Back to the corporate meal pack. I had 10 minutes left to devour the food. I stared at the corporate meal pack for a minute. It was a plastic plate with various compartments having dal, salad, curry, rice and some sweet. It was wrapped by a transparent plastic sheet. I wondered why an annoying plastic plate wrapped in an even more annoying plastic sheet is termed as a “corporate” meal. What’s so corporate about this meal… It looked plain… shitty packaging. Corporate I thought meant classy. This was more sleazy than classy. Instead of being a classy Kal Ho Na Ho song, this was a cheap Sheila Ki Jawani. Why the hell do people call this a “corporate “meal man? Some idiot would have coined this term and without thinking, we blindly follow this idiot like a herd of cattle and call this a corporate meal. I lost about a minute in these thoughts. I only had 9 minutes left.
I looked at the aluminium foil packet. At first, I thought it was papad sealed in an air-tight packet. I touched it to reconfirm but I found out that it was soft and mushy ,unlike a papad. I continued pressing this soft part for a few seconds. Before I could drift further into fantasy land, I saw that 2 minutes were gone. I guessed that this was chapatti and not papad and I tried tearing the packet. To my surprise, it just refused to give in. I tried inserting the plastic fork and making a tear. The bloody packet would just not break down. I tried another time. As I was at an interview, the idea of tearing the packet with my teeth didn’t sound appealing. I was scared that if I got caught doing this, the HR would have seen it through an imaginary web-cam and docked some points thinking this was an indication of violent behaviour. So, I gave up on the rotis temporarily. I focused on the “low-hanging fruit” – the CMP (Corporate Meal Pack).
I first tried to open the transparent plastic top cover by the edges. I tried really hard but I guess the CMP had seen my Wrestle Mania match with the rotis and must have understood that I was pretty lame. It decided to make life miserable for me. The plastic cover would just not break. I guess some joker pasting this cover on the CMP would have used all the available Fevicol in the world, having got inspired by its tagline – “Tootega Nahi”. BC- Toota Hi Nahi. Cover todney key chakkar mey Goti Muh mey aa gaye the. Ravi Shastri will be proud of this Goti comment. I tried an alternate strategy of trying to tear the cover. I took the plastic fork, and decided to launch a brutal attack. I used all the weight of my elbow to punch a hole in the middle of the CMP. This was the exact mid-point. The intersection of the two diagonals. My maths teacher would have been proud of the way I arrived at the midpoint and applied her concept in a real-world application. I punched the hole and Yo – it was first strike. I had found an opening. Hari 1 – CMP 0. I felt overjoyed. Having found an opening, I decided to go for the kill. I tried tearing away the rest of the cover. For a couple of seconds, I succeeded but then again, the Fevicol overpowered me. The bloody sheet was just not willing to tear open further. Even the fork could not go beyond this. Only a small hole had been created in the middle of the CMP. Nothing beyond this. I gave up with the Fork strategy. Hari 1 – CMP 1. I took a time out. I had only 6 minutes left.
This time, I decide to use the “Attack from the Corners – strategy”. A more abusive corporate jargon for the same would be “Flanking strategy”. I used to tear open the four corners one by one with my hand. This started to work. I took the extreme bottom left corner, used all my fist strength and found an opening. The cover started to tear from the corner. All the corners were part of the square shaped compartment. So, I tore two sides of the L shaped bottom right corner. I thought I had cracked the code. The score was about to become Hari 2 – CMP 1. Alas. The Fevicol started showing its strength again. While I had pierced the outer sides, the inner sides of the square shaped compartment just refused to give in…. just refused! I guess they were inspired by the Wall- Rahul Dravid. I used the flanking strategy for the other corners as well but same result. The two outer sides of the square shaped compartment would open but not the inner sides. My Frustration levels skyrocketed. I had only 2 minutes left. In 8 minutes, I had not able to open a simple CMP. Me– a so called MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur. What’s the point of a fancy MBA degree if you can’t open a corporate meal box??……
Hari 1 – CMP 2. At this point, I decided to use a more realistic approach. Make use of the available opportunities. I realized that the middle part of the cover, which I had cracked open had jeera rice. With a half open CMP, I started gobbling the jeera rice through the small opening. I only used to get 1/4th of the spoon in every serving but I thought I will repeat this action a million times and fill my stomach. After all, small actions create a big multiplier effect. This is what my boss had told me. I started cramming morsel-after-morsel. Hari 2 – CMP 2.
Suddenly I realised that in one of the corners which was half opened, there were items I could lay my hands on. So, like a street dog , full of heat, which wants to hump every other dog which it sees on the street, I decided to eat whatever I could grab from the corners. I could fill 10% of the spoon with the dal but that was good enough. I used the same strategy to pull out a few salad pieces of cucumber, two or three pieces of aloo from the other half-opened corners. I was now able to eat most of the compartments. Yes, I felt that I was eating an actual plastic compartment. It was 1:35. I guess the HR would have peeped through the window and thought – “Wrestle Mania ka interesting match chal raha hai. Launde ka match khatam honey do. Fir interview start karenge”. As most of the food was getting emptied despite the cover being half open from most of the sides, I could pull out the entire food and finish the entire CMP. I guess the CMP had given up. The CMP had mentally disintegrated. The collapse of the CMP reminded me of the “Sachin out- TV off” era where the other Indians would just collapse after Sachin’s wicket. The Fevicol, who was the Sachin of the CMP team, also gave up. I could tear open the entire cover and finish the food.
I was overjoyed. What a victory. Hari had played well in the finale and finished the match 3-2. Unlike the South African cricket team which chokes in most of the important matches, I had held my nerve when it mattered most. I was overjoyed. I stood victorious. In the WWF days of the 1990s, the Rock would win the World Championship and raise the WWF belt by standing on top of the ring. The crowd would give a standing ovation. I felt like standing over the chair and lifting the battered CMP and showing the world outside that I had conquered it. All these thoughts were going in my head until suddenly, the HR knocked at the door. He said he would send someone to clear the plates and start my next interview at 1: 50. I got back to reality. I had spent 30 minutes trying to eat a CMP. However, I was still satisfied that I had got the better of the CMP in a closely contested match 3-2. A feeling of pride was running all through me. This time, another Anil Kapoor came to clear the food. He smiled at me and said- “Saab, aapko roti pasand nahi hai kya? Aap toh roti khaya hi nahi?”
I looked at the unopened sealed in aluminium foil with rotis. Damn !!! Hari 3 – CMP 3.
Life’s a bitch.
P. S : Next Friday’s blog : Will YOU be OK if your child wants to become a bartender?