Writing about the various happenings and characters in a supposedly fictitious PSU, Ramendra Kumar chronicles the challenges of a corporate executive in essays that are rib-ticklingly hilarious and introspective too. Santosh Bakaya reviews the book, with a chapter reading.
Chronicles of a Corporate Executive: An Insider’s Take on the Indian Enterprise
Author: Ramendra Kumar
Publisher: Blue Pencil [New Delhi]
Year of Publication: 2021
Available at: Amazon
A collection of 27 essays, the book, meticulously published by Blue Pencil, is a delight to read. For me, every essay was an eye-opener. It was with a mammoth effort of will, that I had to hold on to my head as the humourist had left no stone unturned in making me laugh it off, glibly writing about the machinations of a PSU, the stooges and sycophancy, of humbugs and hoardings, absurdity and asininity, of promotions and parasites, of compromise and corruption in the PSU.
As the back page says, it is a book that explores ‘the sublime, the ridiculous and everything in between…For the fresher, the book offers a rare insight into the working of the Indian enterprise with several pragmatic tips and case studies. For the veteran, it is like treading the familiar path with a brash guide who specializes in cocking a snook at the smug and the sanctimonious.’
The foreword of this delightful book has been written by Dr. Mrinal Chatterjee, Professor, and Regional Director, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, [IIMC], Dhenkanal. Yes, I agree with Dr. Mrinal Chatterjee that the book is a Matryoshka doll, a Russian doll within a doll. To put it in his words, “the reader is taken on a joyride through the kaleidoscope of corporate life, which is a metaphor for life in the country.” He further says, “He employs several kinds of humour – the benign type, the tongue-in-cheek type, the banter type, the satirical type. From wordplay to situational comedy, he has several tools up his sleeve and uses them liberally.”
I have also known Ramendra Kumar [in the virtual world], as a man with a great sense of humour, an incisive wit, a deceptively bantering tone, a trenchant tongue, which hides satirical punches with a subtle panache and takes the readers with surprise. Before I met Ramen (virtually of course) I was deluded into the belief that I was the only insane person around, but alas, I was proven wrong! I believe I have a streak of madness in me, but this man has a plethora of streaks – and madness and genius go hand in hand, I am now convinced. This book proves it beyond an iota of doubt.
He seems to have a finger in every pie – a dancer, a riveting storyteller, a mimic, a satirist, a humorist, and what not!
It is Rajat, Ramen’s alter-ego, the protagonist, writing about the various happenings and characters in a supposedly fictitious PSU. Most of the essays are rib-ticklingly hilarious and many made my eyes pop out of their sockets, and many made me introspect. In one essay, he talks of someone’s assiduously cultivated, American twang, in another about a highly ambitious officer, who in a spurt of vindictive rage, transfers a junior colleague from protocol to public health, where his role is only to navigate cows and pigs during VIP visits! [Who cannot but laugh at this bit of information!] In another essay, he writes about the peccadilloes and idiosyncrasies of certain characters, many with sharp brains and trenchant tongues, useless meetings and futile functions, some disgusting and deplorable happenings behind apparently laudable looking events.
Without mincing any words, and with a poker-faced finesse, he calls a spade a spade, enlightening us that in the PSU, an officer’s efficiency was gauged by how many charge sheets and warning letters were issued by him. I don’t know whether what he has written has been written with his tongue firmly wedged in his cheek, or whether it should be taken with a pinch or with buckets of salt, but I took it all with my face sheathed in an expansive smile – some character sketches continue to bring smiles to my face, long after I have finished reading it.
One of the essays, The Sordid Saga of the Sari and the Suitcase, had me in splits. As I closed the book, one line from the very sensitively written essay, Human Resource Dehumanization refused to leave me. When the protagonist, Rajat, in charge of Personnel and Administration is profusely thanked and also given a box of sweets as a token of gratitude by one of the employees for being instrumental in getting him his salary which was stopped due to some red tape involved, Rajat wonders, “That really set me thinking. The HRD Department had set the benchmark so low that an officer doing his bare minimum duty was almost venerated.”
A highly recommended read.
Chronicles of a Corporate Executive | Video Book Review and Chapter Reading | Santosh Bakaya
Ramendra Kumar, popularly known as Ramen, is a writer by passion, a storyteller by obsession, a mentor by aspiration, a communicator by profession, and a dancer by inspiration. His family thinks he is insane.
He has authored 42 books; his writings have been translated into 30 languages, having found a place in several textbooks and anthologies.
He has also been invited to literary festivals held in Greece, Denmark, Sharjah et al as well as Indian events such as Jaipur Litfest. He has been conducting Workshops for Parents and also taking sessions for institutions and corporates. Many of his stories have been showcased by popular audio streaming apps including Spotify, Google, and Apple, etc.
An Engineer & an MBA, Ramen was General Manager (Corporate Communications), SAIL, Rourkela Steel Plant, when he took Voluntary Retirement to pursue his passion, in August 2020. His Website is www.ramendra.in and he has a page devoted to him on Wikipedia!
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