A day in the life of …
Hi I’m Emran. Until a few months ago I was an ambitious executive at a leading multinational Oil Marketing Company. I fell a victim to downsizing and am now an intern at Mamujee Suttarwalla Threads Co. which also happens to be my family business.
11:02am: Load-shedding for the day begins, which is a good reason for me to get out of bed. Dad leaves at 8AM but I don’t reach the shop before lunch hour.
12:08pm: I board the community bus; perhaps the only benefit of belonging to a business community is the subsidised transport. I have a Corolla XLI, which now mostly stays in the parking area of my house. Even if I could afford the daily fuel expense, where would I park it in Bolton market at 1pm?
1:12pm: The nature of the business is threads and other apparel industry supplies. My job description is to sit, surf and help with emails. I’ve now become so good at Gujrati that I could launch my own Gujrati to English dictionary.
The minute I reach the shop I check the emails — some are from other retailers and some from Chinese suppliers. I have to draft replies and check my horoscope before 2pm when the power outage starts.
2:10pm: It’s when I‘m sweating profusely that I get flashbacks of my employed life. The nine-to-nine air-conditioned environment, the barrage of deadlines, the ever-so-frequent chat sessions with co-workers — I miss all that. Right now, the high level of pollution is killing my lungs and even if that doesn’t get me, one of those million pushcarts that I keep bumping into, will one day rupture my spleen.
3.23pm: The flashbacks are interrupted by the sight of some high-fashion ladies who have probably been sent by their designer boss. This market is for garments and artificial jewellery so you get to see a lot of designers’ assistants, students and embroidery workers from Orangi and Paposh. The high-fashion women in sleeveless outfits are perspiring and cursing their designer boss in fake British accents.
5:32pm: A lady from my neighbourhood stops by the shop. She asks Theek-che (All well?) I nod in agreement. She hasn’t asked me what I’m doing here which means she has heard about my unemployment.
Ever since I got the boot, I’ve had to cut down on my expenses heavily. From going to cafe Zouk four times a week, I now go there once in four months. Now all my shopping has shifted from Zamzama to Zainab market. All my magazine subscriptions have been cancelled and I no longer invest in all the latest gadgets.
Up until six months ago I had a lifestyle, now I just have a life.
7.10pm: Time for closing. Usually dad and I go back home together. Although no one says it out loud, the business hasn’t been doing so well. Instead of two steady incomes, the house now has one limited income stream but I’ve never heard a word of complaint from my dad.
8.15pm: I get a stipend from the family business which I’m using to watch every new movie released in the city. Today I’m going to watch ‘Zindagi Na Milaegi Dobara’. Hopefully it will help me forget the drudgery of my unemployment and perhaps make me a little more grateful of my supportive family. Isn’t that all anyone really needs?
Things you can do when unemployed:
1) Enrol for University of London’s distance learning courses.
2) Become a faculty member at colleges/universities.
3) Volunteer at any of the local NGOs.
4) Swallow your pride and take up a low-paying job.
5) Work for your friends’ or family-run businesses even if it’s poultry farming.
The writer is a personal branding consultant.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2011.
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