Monday, October 30, 2006

Eyes and ears only.

Just after I had passed my Bachelor of Commerce examination in 1956 and was planning to do post graduation by thesis, an unusual job offer came my way. A cousin of mine used to work at that time for the Central Excise Department and was attached to a factory. Its personnel officer apparently was on very good terms with him and asked him to find a young person willing to be the eyes and ears of the management. In those days, trade unions were powerful and wielded a lot of clout in collective bargaining. The new recruit was expected to work as a clerk in the dispatch department and join the Union. He would then keep his eyes and ears open and report to the personnel manager all the gory details. For his trouble, he would be paid a handsome amount in addition to his regular salary. The moral implications of being a snitch did not bother me much. In fact, I hardly even thought about them. What dissuaded me from even considering the offer was my inability to absorb and reproduce gossip. Because that’s exactly what the wannabe spy would have to do. Later on, after doing my Master of Commerce I worked for the Forward Markets Commission as a research assistant. One of the assignments I had was to visit the commodity trading markets and pick up the market gossip. I was a failure at it and was soon returned to a desk job. I did however manage to write a few good notes about the happenings in the commodity markets and my analysis of them. Gossip continues to be my Achilles’ heel even to this day. I cannot simply be bothered with it.

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