Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I created a record of sorts this morning. I flagged down almost sixteen rickshaws and none of them would ferry me to my office, which is a good three to four kilometer away from home and should ideally fetch the guy a good bauni i.e. the first income of the day. My office is in a commercial hub and it’s not like these guys would end up stranded without their next passenger. Maybe there was an outbreak of swine flu in the area and these guys got wind of it. But that was the least of my troubles. Because my office was close by, by Mumbai standards, I never thought of keeping a ‘buffer time’ in a situation of getting late. Considering this I started walking towards my office and I met all these sixteen aforesaid good Samaritans on the way. But it was not long before I reached the half way mark and realized that I didn’t had enough energy left in me to do the remaining half and now with even lesser distance left to travel I was afraid to ask a rick driver lest getting ridiculed by one. So the only option left for me was to trek the remaining distance. And when the boss asked why I am showing up late I said there was a rick strike (is this not a strike or what?) and I had to come walking all the way. Look at all the brownie points I stand to collect as a model employee whose commitment and sincerity made him walk the length of the Great Wall of China to reach office. But this post is neither about how often I have to walk to office nor about how arrogant and ill-mannered the rickshaws drivers are (my brother would love if I could throw some mean words on this spineless tribe). Let’s isolate the rick drivers from the scene and focus on the one other thing that happened very prominently this morning, which is something I am sure you would have experienced in your life as well. Being “rejected”- does the word or feeling sound familiar? Yes sir, it does.

In the evening, after I reached home and yes I got a rick this time because surprisingly they had called off the strike, I thought that this was not the first time I got rejected or for that matter ‘we’, but yes in my case I did set a record of sixteen rejection in an hour and maybe that’s why I was so pissed off. There are other negative feelings that we often encounter: failure, deceit, hatred, disappointment, frustration, enemity, jealousy. So is the feeling of rejection grave enough to be put up on the wall of shame? The answer is both Yes and No. ‘YES’ because though rejection by itself is an effortless process the person who gets rejected stands motivated to do great harm to the others. And ‘NO’ because ‘No’ is the basic expression or tool to convey the decision of rejection. Sometimes this simple ‘No’ is accompanied with such contempt and disregard from the other person that one feels humiliated and is provoked to do harm. Like some of the rickshawallas who looked at me with disdain and reacted as if I was asking them to hand over the map of Eldorado.

If you look back in time you‘ll see a lot of instances of rejection in life, some outright funny and others painful. You wanted to go play with the kids in the colony but mom thinks you are better off sulking at home; rejected. You fancy a toy in the shop but dad won’t let it come any nearer than that; rejected. You want to take a piss but your teacher thinks your bladder can hold it right there until her class is over; rejected. You want to watch an English movie but your friends think you are a prude and you end up watching a Tamil one; rejected. You propose to a girl, she likes your courage but not you, rejected. The foreign university you applied to saw through the lies in your ‘statement of purpose’; rejected. You apply for jobs but none of the companies can spare a desk or even a chair for you; rejected. Your manager thinks you can’t get your own work done leave alone others, there goes the team lead position; rejected. The bank decides that you don’t earn enough to use their credit card to make merry and so is the case with the personal loan, rejected. The consulate is not convinced that you are going to return back from your so called ‘training assignment” in the US and stamps your passport as – REJECTED.

So why does it hurts to get rejected? As human beings we would be contented if we could get all things done by ourselves and in the way that suits our liking. But however healthy, strong and intelligent one might be it’s impossible to get all your needs fulfilled just by yourselves. Else we would have all created our own operating system and Bill Gates would be just another guy staring out of the windows. And this is the basic premise of living in a society. We are dependent on others to do certain things for us. This dependency creates a sense of insecurity because we are not sure if the other person can really understand our needs and whether he would be able to deliver it on time and according to our specification. This sense of diffidence is very strong and coupled with the fact that the other party has the freedom to say no to your request results in a very anxious and disturbed individual. And when the counterparty does say ‘No’, it’s the sense of shame, failure and deceit which makes the experience a bitter pill to swallow. But there is more to it. It also greatly depends on what value do you assign to the outcome or the proposition. For example getting an admission in a foreign university would mean more to you than being allowed by your teacher to go take a piss. A lot of times we unconsciously start dreaming and relishing the fruits that lie at the other side of the bargaining even before the coin has been tossed. We become so foolishly arrogant and naively overconfident in our daydreaming, forgetting that there are always two sides of a coin, and when fates calls our bluff our ego takes a fall into the gulf separating the real world and the dream.

So what should we do to not get rejected? Same as what you would do to not get killed today. Death is another form of rejection, from the powers above that you are not allowed to go about doing things in this world. First of all, and this is the most important one, stay away from places where there is certain rejection and no two way to it. So if there is something that is surely beyond your reach and a certainty that it would remain so then don’t stretch your hands for it. Just like you would stay away from a gun battle, provided you have got nothing to do with it, for not getting killed. The enlightened ones among us would say that this suggestion is a pessimistic one. One should always reach for the stars and beyond. That brings me to the second most important point, however easy an event might look or however well prepared you are to enter the contest, where the power to say Yes or No or to influence the final outcome rests with another individual there is always a possibility that after all is said and done you might have to settle for a No or a rejection. So go reach for the stars, maybe beyond, go for Krypton but then don’t think you are Superman. Always give due thought to the possibility of rejection and not the certainty of success. So you have realized that you are not Superman and that there is an equal probability that things might go wrong, what else can you do? Increase the number of mutually exclusive events. You apply to ten universities for admission rather than just one. If your father is not ready to buy you the toy then ask mom, if not her then there is granny. If you can’t become a Team Lead in this company go look for another job, another company. If this bank doesn’t issue you a credit card try it with another bank. If you can’t go to US try UK. As the chicken would say it - don’t put all my eggs in one basket.

Now some of you might say that you can do things or not do things to not get killed but what about a freak accident or getting run over, where you have little say in the proceeding. So it’s like somebody might reject you even before you could do something about it or to influence the judgment. Let’s face it then, if you are born then you have to die. So as much as you do, you will get rejected once in a while. So it might happen that tomorrow the very first rickshaw I ask will agree to ferry me to office, will save me the pain of walking and the humiliation of getting rejected, but once in office it might happen that my manager would tell me that he does not require my services anymore and yours truly gets laid-off. There is no escaping rejection. That’s why I am putting it up on the wall of shame. Sayonara.

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