Raj’s professional life started out with a bang, but since then he felt like a crash test dummy ramming into a wall in slow motion. First, he was posted in Kolkata, which in relative terms was a great posting, because most of his peers started in smaller towns. Staying in a metro, despite it not being his home city of Bangalore, was a big deal. In fact, it was better, because visiting Kolkata had been his dream since the sixth grade. His science-oriented mind wanted to see India’s largest bridge and his interest in rock music wanted to explore the rock scene in Kolkata, which was touted as the only other city as evolved as Bangalore in this genre. However, he found himself with deplorable company there, hobnobbing with goons that would give him a Glock for a gift.

After spending a year in Kolkata, he was posted to Chennai. Another metro and another great opportunity for his career. More importantly, he could share an apartment with one of his best friends, Sachin. Yet, the anger at his career only compounded. The general loathing of India’s hygiene and living standards, even among its metros, exacerbated by the scorching hot weather of Chennai, drove him to incessant drinking. And drinking to the extent of committing irresponsible acts like burning the house he lived in.

Keen to get out of India, he landed a job in Dubai. A developed economy with another best friend, Thomas. However, matters only took a turn for the worse here. More than anything, good conversations were paramount for Raj, and he had none of it in the apathy-ridden populace of Dubai. He now began drinking in solitude here, which he had earlier sworn to never do. And he also began directing his spite towards his best friends. It’s one thing to be in contempt of your colleagues, but a different ball game if that is directed towards your best friends. Because in the case of the former, you can just quit your job, but what happens if you ostracise your best friends?

Raj found himself back in Bangalore after spending the first three years of his post-graduate professional life outside, one each in Kolkata, Chennai, and Dubai. He began to wonder if he was just being handed a raw deal year after year, city after city, or if there was something wrong with him where he just couldn’t find “happiness” or at least what he saw in his friends as “happiness”. He just felt angry all the time, burning bridges with colleagues, companies and even best friends like Thomas.

He found a small startup to work in Bangalore. It was not as fancy as his previous two MNCs, but he hoped that within the familiarity of his home city and in his parents’ house, he could jumpstart his career. However, after two years of trying to achieve some semblance of professional success, he found himself at the bottom of the same abyss he was plunged into in Kolkata, Chennai and Dubai. He couldn’t understand why all his friends got along with their chosen careers, how they could tolerate their shitty jobs, day in and day out. They even got married, starting with Thomas almost three years back, which made it even more dreadful. It nauseated him to think people could simply settle and be content with what he regarded as mediocre jobs and marriages.

Doesn’t it seem like everybody is trying so hard to conform, to fit in and basically trying not to offend anybody? This is especially true of my work atmosphere. Talk the same, think the same, look the same...any sign of individuality will not be tolerated. They say that the meek will inherit the earth, but will it be worth inheriting by then? What is so wrong with the way I speak and the way I think? I don’t hold classes to ensure that everybody begins and ends each sentence with the F word, so why must everyone else teach me “values”. Fuck that!

Moving cities, moving jobs, and with nothing satisfying him, Raj began to question if this was all there was to life. All those talks back in school about success being defined by how much you’ve travelled or how much you’ve earned, Raj had done all of that, repeatedly, and yet found no joy in it. Somehow his friends seemed satisfied, and he just couldn’t understand why or how! He would ask them about it and would never be satisfied with the answers he received.

Unable to find an iota of job satisfaction even in the city he loved, he decided to call it quits once more and just stayed home playing video games over more solitary drinking. Social norms dictated he do some job or the other, and there were frequent checks of concern on this regard from his parents and friends. To quell this menace, he decided to create a fake company and a fake job for himself. Thus, began the spate of lies from Raj. He simply wanted to be left alone, and if it was an interesting story that people wanted from him to achieve that, he would feed exactly that to them.

He told everyone that he was setting up a new firm in Bangalore, which would be the Indian extension of the firm he worked with in Dubai. To make this more believable, he brought in Vinay, who worked in a similar industry, to partner him on this venture. Vinay was himself in between jobs. He had just concluded interviewing with the Alshaya group in Kuwait where he faced six grilling rounds with different people only to be told at the end of it that they had hired someone with local experience. When he met Raj and heard him out, he decided to help him given he had no other interviews lined up for himself. During their initial conversation, Raj was also curious about Vinay’s interview process in Kuwait and asked him for a lot of details about the same.

Raj went on to explain the requirement process for his new job. He needed to establish a team in Bangalore for the India rollout of the Dubai-based firm. They began interviewing junior candidates, many of them from organisations they had both worked at previously. Raj would use this as a platform to vent all the frustration he held against his previous employers. He would bully these juniors and tempt them with “take it or leave it” on the spot job offers. After a few rounds of interviews, Vinay realised there was something wrong and decided to conduct some background checks of his own.

He soon figured that it was all a hoax, and the Dubai firm had no intentions of creating an Indian extension. This – the job, the interviews, the recruitment process – was all just a story concocted by Raj. He confronted Raj with this information, and it turned into a big fight between the two. At the end of it, Raj lost another friend.

Excerpted with permission from Gin Soaked Boy: A Tale of Love, Laughter and Depression Hidden Behind a Bottle of Alcohol’, by Sandeep Mathew, Leadtstart Ink.