Sunday, January 22, 2012

Let them have cake

I wondered about a lot of things after receiving my fellow intern's text message. It had been a long physically exhausting year at NDTV. It had even been an emotionally exhausting year. I wondered about what the intern had just told me, that she'd heard that a number of NDTV's shows had ended up winning at the ATA and ENBA awards. I was at home that day, but she had a shift at work. She told me that the famous faces of NDTV were celebrating on an upper floor with cake and champagne. Some of them were a bit tipsy too. It was a big achievement, winning those awards.

Only a few weeks earlier I had been temporarily pulled off a show that I had been helping transcribe footage for and made to help the intern who had been assigned to help put together NDTV's submissions - correctly formatted showreels and application forms - for the ATA and ENBA awards. They were already past the deadline and needed all the help they could get. Every passing day was like a dragon breathing fire down our necks. These were the shows that NDTV is famous for. A lot of famous tempers would get upset if the submissions didn't make it. A lot of smaller heads would roll. Ours were the smallest, so the blade of the guillotine hung silent and sharp and extra large over us.

The intern and I worked hard on those award submissions. We managed to not get caught in the politics that was playing out between the two fulltime employees who were managing the submissions. We stayed back late, really late, like until 5 in the morning, in the edit cabins for a few nights even. Those were the nights of soggy Subway sandwiches and McDonald's deliveries. At some point we started to get the feeling that one of the two employees was starting to dump her own work on us. We started to feel taken advantage of. Sometimes she was hard to get a hold of. Sometimes she tried to psyche us - unpaid interns who were actually paying for the training - into doing more of her work, but we were told that we were already doing all the work she should've finished earlier. It was difficult managing all of it. But the intern and I finally got the bull by the horns and got the submissions ready into nice little efficient manila envelopes all by ourselves, one envelope for each show, complete with neatly filled out application forms and two copies of the showreel burned onto separate CDs. Everything clearly marked out with black markers. The whole thing had been so unmanageable and disorganised at first, it was satisfying to look at those manila envelopes, so well-behaved in their crispy bulging yellowness. The intern and I had done a great job, we were so proud of ourselves. All those late, late nights at the edit machines, all the panicky running between archives and evasive employees and half answers and uncooperative middle people and technical failures. We had taken over from a fulltime employee on a task that we had known nothing about and had executed it like professionals. Because of the two of us, NDTV would make it to the awards that year.

So that day, with my cell phone in my hand on my day off, I wondered what colour the cake was. I wondered about the feelings of exclusion and anonymity that were suddenly squatting stupidly in my stomach. I felt like I had just found out that I had been dumped because an acquaintance had seen my lover with someone else. Celebrating my insignificance with cake and champagne.

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