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Namaste meets McJobs

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SLAM DUNK Slicing it right with measurements
SLAM DUNK Slicing it right with measurements

New jobs mean a rise of automatons who connect to the culture

Suddenly namaskaram, namaste, namaskar are the buzzwords as a new generation of entrepreneurs uses the age-old Sanskrit word for greeting and doing business. Ride into a Shell petrol vend or one of the newest retail outlets selling vegetables and fruits and the greeting at the door is the bowed head and folded hands that air travellers across the world have known for years. Only now the Maharajahs are the auto drivers, the potato eaters and the deal hunters who are getting to hear the word as well as the politeness that goes with it.Cultural czars are delighted as are the people who are getting this treatment for the first time but everything is not hunky dory. The young people in stretch pants with pre-pubescent moustaches and their first jobs too are delighted. But the delight has its end when the long hours fail to end. And when the message of the stretch pants sinks in, there is a sinking feeling. The message is: You come and you go, the stretch pant remains. And you will never find anyone older than a teenager."We should quit this job. Anything else would be better than this," says one of the employees to another outside a burger chain as they try to fix the plumbing. Another place, another time, inside the atrium at a shop, young couples take a break sitting and chatting with touching scenes of affection. But wherever the young employees hang out, the smoke rings meet despair. The salaries range between Rs. 2500 and Rs. 7000 at the upper end. As most of them are classified as managers or trainees or apprentices or associates they don't come under the ambit of labour laws.Inside the burger joint are nearly a dozen young boys and girls with their names on their shirts. Packed into 12 X 12 ft space their work can easily be done by robots. If Rohit is to service the counter no 1, his job is to just put on the tray what blips on the computer screen, which happens as soon as the order is placed. Ah! The word McJobs? It was coined by a Canadian Douglas Coupland in Generation X where it meant a "low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit, no-future job in the service sector". But elsewhere in Hyderabad it is: "Kadeer bhai do egg noodles, ek butter chicken aur ek chicken 65 lagao," as young men in banians and Ts sweat behind the hot counters in a kebab joint. The choice for young men and women? It doesn't exist. SERISH NANISETTI

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