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“You’re in with the good people”: Seoni 2

July 17, 2013

Someone once said to me of social work that you may never be sure that what you’re doing will actually matter, “but you’re in with the good people. That matters more than you might realize right now.”

In Seoni, I was in with the good people. The first one I met was Gaurav. He was born in one of the villages near Seoni and save for the last three years, his story is typical of rural “successes”. He left town to be educated in a larger city, Bhopal, graduated with a degree in Engineering and secured a well-paying job in the booming telecom industry. “It was a wonderful job, actually. I really enjoyed it. Lots of road travel, getting to set up networks. I got to see so much.”

He was soon disillusioned, though “I hated the corporate culture. Telecom in India was wild back then. There weren’t set guidelines for how to work and no regulatory bodies to keep things in place. So companies expected much from their workers. The hours were very long. People around me were being exploited and I knew it. I started fighting with my manager every day. But I was a good worker. I pulled long hours (16 hours, 20 hours sometimes) so they kept me. I stayed.”

“I don’t actually know why I left, but the story of how I quit is a good one. I had travelled overnight from Bhopal to a smaller city 400 km away. I worked the whole day. I didn’t seem to find time to eat. The next day, again, was full of work and when I and my team finally ordered food in the evening, I looked down at my food and saw an insect in it. I lost my appetite. Again, I had no food that day.

We decided to drive through the night to get to another site rather than rest. I was in the car with one of my co-workers and a driver. He took a shortcut and so we were in this strange part of town when all of a sudden the car stopped working. And it started to pour rain. We had to get out of the car and push it ourselves for 4 km. When I was outside and the rain was pouring, I looked around and suddenly had this thought that it would be my last night ever. We started the car up again, finally. It was 4 a.m. I sat in the car and watched the sun rise and that was when I decided to leave the job.”

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