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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Freelance Diaries

Penned during my time as a freelancer .... (A fancy term to be used for a hustler)!

My eyes were sealed shut as amma shook me. “Wake up beta, you have to be there at 9 am “.I shook her away, still sleeping, but this time she was insistent, “Utho Srikant otherwise you will be late.”  Groggily, I sat up, and then it struck me that today was the first day at IMS. Shaking my head I made my way into the bathroom and splashed some water on my face.

It helped.

10 minutes to eight I was at the breakfast table, having paranthas. I had recently quit my job after graduating making it 2 jobs in 15 months .It sounded better in months than in years, I thought wryly. I had begun my career as a piping engineer, but soon I realized the work was just not for me. This was then followed by an analyst for a consulting firm. Three months in it; I thought, I can do the same job on my own, and make better money. It also helped that the firm was paying me peanuts. And to top it all they had introduced a service agreement for 2 years which I was not told about earlier. That was the last straw. I had no intentions for sticking around 2 years, working my butt off for peanuts. I packed my bags and vanished one fine day. My dad was kind of worried on what I wanted in life and honestly even I wasn’t clear. But I was sure that I did not want to work doing what I didn’t like to , to put it mildly( and those activities seemed quite a lot ! ).And of late I had this thought that things could be better if you could actually do it yourself.

For the past couple of weeks I was running through various advertisements and job vacancies and also looking or any novel opportunities .Using the net I was able to gather a lot of information. Late night yesterday I had come across a freelancing site hosting all kinds of jobs from writing articles to graphic design. I had spent the entire night just figuring out how things work in the freelancing world. I had jotted down a list of activities which I think I could do others I could learn. The money was not very good and I had the suspicion that it would be sometime before I could actually get enough projects to make a steady buck. So I looked at the conventional job market too. A friend of mine directed me to an age old coaching institute that specialized in aptitude training. Recently the institute had branched out into UG professional courses. The money was good, but I did not whether I could act as a teacher or not. I would know soon I thought as I gulped down the last of my tea and rechecked the address.

The place was in West Delhi, which my family had been for a long time back. Metro had made it possible to travel to that place in about half the road time. I waved goodbye and made it to the garage and kicked off in my bike to the metro station. 

I had no trouble is finding the location as indicated by a number of people standing outside. It was 15 minutes to 9 and classes were to begin at 9 am. The centre manager was not yet in the office. In typical Delhi isthyle,  I though it would be at earliest at 9.30. For a minute, I focused on the crowd outside; it seemed like a fashion parade. Pretty girls in nice clothes (! ) and  some had actually come down in luxury cars .For what I thought ; getting coaching that would lead them to a college and then hopefully a job that might not even afford the fuel costs of the car they were driving. One of the boys walked to me and asked, “Yaar ,  what classes do we have today ? “ .I smiled and replied back , “ Not sure boss am new too.” Inwardly I made a note to wear shirts and try adding some years to myself. I decided the manager’s office would be a nice retreat till I know what is to be done.

5 minutes to 9, the centre manager walks in and introduces herself. “Sorry sir,   slightly late, I hope you had no trouble in finding the place “. “ Not at all madam it was exactly as you said it would be, “I replied with a smile. “Ok sir, we have 2 new batches beginning today, and both are in the rooms at the top floor. They are scheduled for Problem solving 1 session today. “I replied, puzzled, “PS 1?  I was told to take sessions on percentages and averages” .I was directed to this place by their central Delhi office and that was what they told me. Meenu looked slightly worried” Both batches have been scheduled as PS 1 session and only PS 4 covers averages and percentages”. Ah the communication divide is here too, I thought and replied gently, “madam its ok we can tell them that the session has been rescheduled, I will handle it, don’t worry.”

Ok sir then we better start the class it is nearing 9 15. “Fine madam, just hand me the questions to be covered.” I did have my set of questions but decided to play it safe. Meenu said she would send it up soon and summoned the helper to dig out the handouts.

I made it to the top floor, took a deep breath and entered in. Contrary to my perception, the class was not very noisy. In fact they seemed to be staring at me expectantly. I started off with a cherry good morning. The beginning of the session was concentrated on introductions what is expected in the exam and how to go about it. Then I slowly started off with the topic. I had a bit of experience preparing for aptitude exams and was aware of the shortcuts so I did not stress on the formula part. Rather I tried to uncover the logic behind using averages and much to my relief and a little bit of delight, the batch was very responsive. In fact some of their answers forced me to think too!

The handouts arrived almost after I had finished off with the concepts. Leaving the class to work out the questions I decided to go in for a tea break, as surprisingly tea was not yet offered. As I came down, Meenu smiled and said “have some tea sir, did not want to disturb the class “. Slightly mollified I accepted the cup and filled her about the class performance.” That is one of the best batches here at IMS, a couple of other batches are pretty unruly. I would recommend that you treat them like kids, stern in action “. I listened, sipping the brew thoughtfully. It too early to decide on what to do, I thought but again meenus comment couldn’t be brushed away.

The other sessions passed comfortably and it was time to leave. Thankfully the metro station was pretty near to the centre. Armed with a bunch of papers for the forthcoming sessions I bid adieu and started off to the station and soon reached home. When I reached home it was nearly 4 pm and I was famished. All I had was paranthas early morning and lots of tea in between classes. Amma prepared lunch and I sat on the bean bag with my niece for company and had a hearty meal. I felt drained though; it almost seemed like a full day at office, the only difference being here I was paid by the hour!

After a short nap I set off to prepare for later sessions. This was new to me and I did my best not to goof up. Soon it was night (dawn for ruddy Americans!), and I wrapped up and made it to my computer. A few bids on projects here and there and then I came across an interesting project related to a green energy blog .Seems like this guy needed a person to regularly write on alternative energy technology for a blog. The term blog was not very clear to me .Google search reveled a lot of info. Seems like blogs were the new “intellectual think tanks “, there was a possibility of making good money from writing. And my previous job had educated me regarding research methods and writing on technical issues. The money he offered seemed to be better than that offered by other projects. I drafted a mail to this guy and by the time I finished it was well past midnight .I decided to call it a day and made it to the bed.