The Rise and Demise of my First Part-Time Job

February 2014:

I was in my second year of college, living in the M.S.U. hostel which was a drabby experience. I knew I’d be needing more work space later so I thought it well to shift out, and so I decided I need to start earning so I could shift out by the next semester. And I’ve done it! Two friends and I are renting a lovely, bright apartment near college. Circumstances are far more enjoyable now. Anyway, I was sitting in our college canteen one day when my friends were talking about an opening at the Red Earth Art Gallery and I enthusiastically went to grab the opportunity. It wasn’t smooth, here’s how it happened:
I went to the gallery, as anyway, they were displaying K.G. Subramanyan’s recent works – so both for the show and meeting the boss. There was a lady sitting at the reception desk, who said the boss was not in, so I left my name and number with her on a yellow post-it, trusting she would hand it over, telling her it was about the vacancy, and hoping for the best. She was a nice lady. And I spoke to her a little, hoping to make an impression even, which would have hopefully made her remember to pass on my message. I honestly felt like it worked.
But I didn’t receive a call anytime that week. I decided to ask around for her number, which I finally got from a senior.
I made the call. I was very nervous, butterflies in the stomach and all that. And when she asked me to “send over my resume and she’ll get back to me when she returns from Mumbai”, I was shy, but my response was honest: “Actually, ma’am, I’m just in my second year right now and I really don’t have much of a resume.”
…”Well, alright then. I’ll return on Friday. Call me then and we’ll set up a meeting.” I called on Friday. She was sick, her husband answered. I called the day after that too, even if I felt annoying. Finally the following Wednesday, she decided she could meet me. I was intimidated by the whole office atmosphere, seeing it for the first time – her dressed so professionally, the height of the ceiling, the cool white walls, the glass, the gloss on everything. In the meeting, I was completely honest. I was also honest about my reference – an ex senior had left the job apparently without saying a word, just stopped showing up, and I heard about it from her. She said she would be cautious that she was my source so we’d start off with a pay of Rs 5000/- month. Agreed. And then, from the following Friday, February 28th, my shifts began: Three hours a day, I could choose my hours (4:30-7:30)
It’s funny. The receptionist I met at the K.G. Subramanyan show was only temporarily volunteering to babysit the paintings. So during our first show where was made to sit at the reception desk, I was going through stuff in the drawers and guess what I found. My unattended to little yellow post-it with my own name and number on it. It was quite funny. I was glad I persisted finding her number.
It’s been six months. I’ve learned the basics of the workings of an art gallery, what happens pre and post exhibition, and most importantly what words cannot say – time management and how not to be. Be however you are, but do not be inconfident or dishonest of whatever you are and what you can do; do not be forgetful – take notes, maintain a proper book for your job; do not be flaky, or your boss will think you can’t handle it; do not be overbearing – your boss needs to know what you can handle and she will understand; and most importantly, do not be overly-apologetic – she’s said she’s “sick of my sorrys” – apologize too much, and both your boss and yourself will lose faith in your problem-solving abilities.
I’ve made quite a number of mistakes, but I’ve learned. Once, I fucked up so badly, in her scolding me she said “You came here with NO experience, and I took you on anyway because I saw it in you that you could handle this!” That line hit like a dart. I had some work on the eighth floor of the building that day, and decided to walk all the way up an down just to blow off steam. That was a bad one. And the worst? The self-inflicted aftermath of my quit quote. I usually write to her through the gallery’s email address, but here is my forshadowing-resign email:

August 2014:

Ma’am, 
I thought this only appropriate to write from my own account.. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I regret to tell you that I’ve been considering quitting my job in the gallery. 
It was a great learning experience, but the timings are really not working out for me. Now that my third year is on a roll, I’m sorry to say that, as things are getting more hectic, I can’t successfully manage classwork and my shift any longer. My classwork and personal work (though both are almost one and the same) are really at stake.
However, I have a suggestion. I know the documentation work is necessary to continue in a flow, and until you find somebody else, I wouldn’t mind continuing that from home and updating you on it’s progress every two weeks. You can cut my pay to just this project.
I don’t mean to disappoint you. But my studies need to be focused on right now. I honestly thought I’d be able to stay for longer but it’s really unmanageable. And I know college is only going to get more involving from now onwards.
I just wanted to give you a heads up via e-mail. I hope we can meet soon and talk about this face to face.
Thank you for even considering me in the first place, though. You’ve been a very fair boss.  
Yours sincerely,
Sumera.

And she replied:

Sumera,
I’ve gone through your email, I had a feeling about this. 
I havent been able to come to the gallery recently, but I would like for us to meet up n talk  on monday in the gallery. 
Till then pls continue with the documentation.
But I’m a risk taking little twat. This was three days ago. I didn’t go to the gallery yesterday, and I got a call around 5:30:

“Sumera, are you in the gallery?”

“No ma’am.”
“What? Why?! I told you to continue with the work till we meet on Monday. I had some jobs to give you today. You can’t be behaving like this, Sumera. Even if you did just decide to take a day off by yourself, you should have told me.” 
“…Yes ma’am, I really should have told you.” 
“Anyway, let me know when you get there tomorrow and I’ll meet you on Monday.” And then she sent this text: 
“As you are working for me currently, it is extremely unprofessional on your side to not have informed me and decided to take a day off from work again. There is no regret in your voice or no apology. I had never expected this from you. Truly shameful.” What happened was, I was trying to avoid apologizing thoroughout the conversation because as she’s pointed out before, it was becoming redundant. It made my tone very careless, I suppose, because along with my thinking, my voice became sort of monotone.  Anyway, I replied like this:

“I really apologize for that tone, but since you have pointed it out before, I was trying not to say “I’m sorry” directly. I really meant it when I said “I should have done that”, but I was trying to avoid the phrase. I hope you can forgive my tone.. I meant no disrespect. I do apologize. I’ll be in the office tomorrow and will inform you when I’m there.”

And here I am, posting from my office desktop. I guess from how the phone call went, what I learned most importantly is that it’s terribly necessary to find a balance in your behaviour and what you say. Ration your words and be thoughtful of what exactly you’re saying at all times. Balance. Keep your cool. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed or else, the aformentioned hot mess is an example of a consequence.

Why does this all matter, why am I posting all this? As you can see up there, she’s said things on the lines of “I had never expected this from you” ..time and again. Expectations and image matter in your job, even part time. Forget the whole “top of the ladder”, occupational strata thing… managing your job teaches you to manage yourself – your emotions, stress; managing your job teaches you to contain yourself so as to prove your capabilities, to improve your capabilities and to surpass what you previously were. Image is important here, no matter how menial you find your tasks, for image demands challenges if you hold it up the right way. And challenges teach you about yourself, your potential and your will.

Anyway… With all that said, I’m forfeiting this job because ultimately, I’m here in Baroda to study, and the gap in the day just doesn’t help. Could I have pushed myself to start waking up at 6 and thereby get about ten hours of unbroken work time? Perhaps I could have. But for now, I think I know myself enough to say that wouldn’t work out for me, for many reasons. And there are other jobs out there that I can accomodate better in my schedule. I’m working on that now.
No regrets. Learning to trust my capabilities and moving on.

 

route!

Managing a Part-time Job and College – My Experience.

Since the end of Februrary, I’ve been working part-time at an art gallery called Red Earth in Baroda. The experience has been good so far and it’s a great place, plus the pay is decent. Three hours a day at Rs. 5000/- a month. I initially decided to take up a job so I could move out of the university hostel this year – that place is a dump. My rent is Rs 4000/- a month now. That’s the background story.

I study Painting in a Fine Arts college, and I work a three hour shift, an hour of travelling – it’s basically become quite a hassle to manage class work and my part time job. I’m a little sad to say that after six months of the experience, I fell like quitting. The hours I put in here, 4 – 8 pm, used to be the time I’d stay back in college and work on my assignments. Fine Arts isn’t really a course that allows you much free time, for there’s a very thin line between work and play. Even during the times you’re just sitting around, you’re constantly in a process – thinking, observing, and you’re free to work on your ideas at any moment it demands. So more than a distraction of material time, it’s a distraction to my process too. It’s difficult to get into work when I know I have to head for my job, and equally difficult to immerse myself in work when I have sleep to calculate after the part-time hours. It’s honestly not working out for me. I keep trying to trick myself into believing that it is, but really… no.

That’s how it’s been for me. I’m tyring to find out ways that’ll work better. Freelance content writing, which can be done from home, seems far more manageable because I can do my own hours. Also, comission work, which may be hard to snuff out at first but I’m getting help with that. I’m getting help from my godfather with that.
One more thing, I had a talk with my family in the summer about this: I found it a little embarassing that they had gotten me the opportunity to sell a painting to a clinic owner because he was their friend. I saw it as a “favour to the daughter of my friend”. But no, my parents talked me out of looking at it that way. Everyone apparently starts off with a little bit of help. And I shouldn’t “expect my name to just pop up in the art world out of nowhere”. It’s okay to use contacts for a while, because the wanting of your product is genuine anyway.

So that’s all for now. I must admit though I feel kind of guilty considering quitting because.. my boss is really sweet and it has been a good experience overall, but I’m here to study, and if it’s not letting me study, that’s that.

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My featured image is my cycle route from home to work. It made me feel kind of cool, 12 km a day. But if I’m quitting work, I’m definitely starting morning cycling. My friend just mentioned at dinner last night: “I’ve never seen a girl with such a big appetite.” I said that was really flattering because I used to have a really shitty appetite, before cycling. Really improved my lifestyle. Doctor Sumi suggests a little work out for everybody.

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I have internet now! Back in college. I need to get more regular on this.
Currently in the process of searching for an apartment. I came to work early today so I can get off by six for checking out a place.
A new kind of journey this is, finding an agreeable place. A week of college has passed. Third year Bachelors now.
Now since my savings are finally going on the place, I’m also devising ways to earn more. I’ll work harder here at the gallery, and I might take up another job in a month as well.
So much is on my mind, so little to say. Just posting as the journey continues.

Posting from my office. I work as an assistant at ‘Red Earth Art Gallery’ for three hours a day. I’m updating the gallery’s collection’s documentation format right now. So today’s featured photograph is a work of Amit Ambalal’s. Hope you enjoy. ^^


 

Friends and I

Are We Human or Are We Denser?

I did my best to notice
When the call came down the line
Up to the platform of surrender
I was brought, but I was kind

And sometimes I get nervous
When I see an open door
Close your eyes
Clear your heart
Cut the cord.

Are we human? Or are we denser?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we denser?

Pay my respects to grace and virtue
Send my condolences to good
Give my regards to soul and romance
They always did the best they could

And so long to devotion
You taught me everything I know
Wave goodbye
Wish me well
You’ve gotta let me go.

Are we human? Or are we denser?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we denser?

Will your system be alright
When you dream of home tonight?
There is no message we’re receiving
Let me know, is your heart still beating?

-The Killers.

[On the band's official website, the biography section states that Flowers is singing "Are we human, or are we dancer?" and also says that the lyrics were inspired by a disparaging comment made by Hunter S. Thompson, where he stated America was raising "a generation of dancers". ] -Wikipedia.

But sometimes I like to change a few words of a song and dedicate them to my contemporary. This is one for now.

 


I just turned twenty some days ago. My birthday was during my summer vacation, so I’m at home rather than at college. I’ve been home for about a month. I miss the college atmosphere. I study in an art school, going to my third year now. I think, more than skill and art and seeing things differently, the course has taught me how to truly become my self.
When I’m at home though, it kind of undoes itself.. It’s probably the expectations – ones based on my past failures. It scares me, honestly. I realised recently that I often tell myself I’m “bad” – a bad daughter, a bad student, bad girlfriend.. What that does is, it keeps my past mistakes cling-wrapped to my skin and doesn’t let me breathe and be myself. And myself, I’m actually not that bad. I have a lot of potential, of that I’m sure. We can always change, if we see our past as inspiration rather than as a threat to be feared.
What I’ve especially realised though is that I actually have the perfect life and the most understanding and wonderful parents. My problems actually only occur from my own laziness, but moreover, fear of being “good”.

As I said before, I just entered the twenties. I’m new here, so I don’t know much, but leaving the teenage heart of things is a huge change. The change started for me at age eighteen on wards when I entered college. The change is this: I see people around me learning to disconnect themselves. We’re all learning to be “more independent”, but it’s as if ‘independent’ is synonymous with ‘cold’. Not that I don’t have the warmest friends in college – we know we’ll be there for each other completely and all that, but.. they’ve taught me their belief: that sharing one’s issues is to become dependent and one should grow out of that and will grow stronger. That is not incorrect. But when we grow into that belief, as I did, sometimes maybe we take it too strongly and after over analysing, hardly recognize what’s worth sharing from what’s not anymore. I’ve become quite comparatively silent with this exact confusion.. Every time I’m about to speak, my immediate afterthought is “is it worth saying, really?”.
So I’ve been wondering what it really means to ‘grow up’. I don’t like it yet, but it’s probably because I haven’t found a proper balance between shutting up and speaking. I say I’m open-minded, but I tend to generalize, and it’s probably not totally like this outside the people I’m experiencing, but … this is how it’s been for me.
I’ve been wondering if ‘growing up’ means to become denser than human – teenage years are so beautiful in the sense that they are full of unavoidable expression. ‘Maturing’ seems to mean becoming colder and discouraging a society where people ask for help; it seems to mean entering a place where the obvious truths become more secret, just for the sake of a trend.

What I’m trying to express, essentially, is my relation to the song with my thoughts of recent..
This might seem like complete non-sense later, but I’m going to go ahead and publish this.

Hello, WordPress!


In news though, I started this blog mostly because my parents just bought me a smartphone and now I can take and upload pictures. Lots of stuff, artwork, and a journey to follow.
P.S.: The featured photograph may seem totally irrelevant but… it’s of the present, as is this, so.. I just went for it. Two great friends and I.