This Is What Being Jobless In India’s Silicon Valley Looks Like

You put down your papers at your current company with half a smirk and a “can’t touch this’ look to your boss. You’d had enough. You’re qualified enough to land a better job. In fact you’ve almost got the hottest job at the hottest startup in the Silicon Valley this side of the globe. You’re not scared of being jobless in India.

The D day is here, and some part of you would like to see a cake, a bit of a hype around your last day, a lil farewell jig maybe? None happens. The HR emails you a ‘gentle reminder’ about returning the laptop and ID card, and collect your experience letter. You’re too validated about your decision to quit and too excited about the good things in store to care.

being jobless and happy

No stressing over metrics and ROI for the next few days, an exotic vacation, a coming-anytime-now offer letter from awesome company, and 2 new countries on your already chock-a-block passport? What could ever go wrong?

The email “Thanks for interviewing with <x> We enjoyed talking with you. I’m afraid at this point we won’t be able to go ahead with your application.” as you’re sipping expensive beers at a hip bar in a foreign country.

You can’t tell if it’s the alcohol or the ground has slipped from beneath your feet. You also wish that WiFi wasn’t available everywhere.

And then it starts. You’re at a night market on the last day of your holiday and your basket is full of the choicest of souvenirs the place has to offer. As you extend the freshly-exchanged foreign currency to the seller, it hits you. Every bit of the cash spent on “non-essential stuff” right now is being dug out from your savings.

Oh it’s okay, that’s what you’ve saved up for all these years.

The vacation comes to an end. You come back exhausted but grateful that you don’t have to get to work ridden with post vacation blues (or get goodies for colleagues.) You pull the blanket over your head even harder as you see your partner scurrying to make it to office barely hours after you landed. Schadenfreude.

You log in to Facebook to upload your travel photos, end up seeing one of your ex-colleagues sharing the news of your (freshly-ex) startup just having been funded for a few million dollars. Of course the company is throwing a ‘success party’ in Phuket. All those months in the company and not a trip to the next door CCD. It’s okay. You’ll find better, you tell yourself.

You begin making a mental checklist of how you’d use this golden time to look for other jobs, while also working on your holistic development. Yoga, art, literature, music, Coursera: you’ll be even awesome-er after this period.

But you can’t wake up early enough for Yoga, because come on, you won’t get to sleep in once you have a job again. You want to ring up long-lost friends and meet them during the week because you *can*, but everyone’s busy at work.

Coursera won’t load because the internet at your home works at 512kbps.

You begin to finally embark on your job hunt. (albeit like a jilted lover looking for a rebound.)

All those “dream companies”, you go to their careers page, and hit apply.  Come on with THAT resume? First job at Fortune 10 company, manager at 25, and 6 years of solid work ex in the hottest field in this side of the century?  It’s only a matter of time till you’ll be flooded with offer letters.

Days roll by, no calls come. It’s ok, you have worked long enough to have *earned* this sabbatical you say to yourself.

Weekend arrives, or does it? You’re beginning to lose track of which day it is, every day feels the same.

You wake up, check your empty inbox save for “Monday special menu” emails from your once go-to-office-saviour food startup, you click on the ad not to order a meal, but check if they have openings, (only delivery boys), read the papers, eat, sleep, walk your dogs, peek at your inbox (still no offers), sleep.

This one friend agrees to meet over the weekend “after work”. They hold forth about what they’re working on, aside from pouring out their gripes at work. You have none to share. There’s no bad colleagues to bitch about, no boss from hell to bemoan, and no goss on the latest office scandal.  Suddenly, all those things you hated about your job are the same things you begin to miss. The bill comes and when you realise you just paid 500 bucks to listen to someone else’s office stories, you even begin to miss that god-awful filter coffee from your ex-office.

It’s been a month now, and you’ve had enough. You’d like to get back to work now. You begin pinging every friend of yours who works to have them refer you at their company. “Hey Rahul, I was wondering if your company has an opening in digital marketing.”

*Message sent*

*Message seen*


That job opening you just got an email about from Naukri came to naught because the company was on a “hiring freeze”, or so you learn after 15 days of radio silence from the friend who was at a “senior influential position” at said company.

Heck, even those pesky “People <Insert Any Word>” consultants who’d call nonstop when you were in the thick of employment are now drawing blanks.

A startup that almost offered you a job has (un)expectedly shut down yesterday.

What sorcery is this? Is this recession again? Is the universe conspiring against you?

being jobless in India

Tomorrow is another day.

You begin updating your Naukri profile almost everyday. You’re now more active on Linkedin (After realising you have a profile there) than Facebook and Twitter combined. You’ve even made an account on IIMjobs despite not being from the IIMs or an MBA. Despite hitting ‘apply’ on half the jobs in your daily feed that looks like an Excel sheet, standing with a “looking for a job” placard at Silk Board Junction might have been more useful than that website.

The rare job call that you get is from a company you wouldn’t have touched with a bargepole during your former professional glory days. You lap it up. “Yes, I can move to <Town whose name I can’t pronounce> for the job.” “Yes, I excel at Excel” as you hurriedly Google what concatenate means.

Another consultant calls one day, while getting your name wrong, telling you about this opening at a startup you’d vaguely heard of, and are not in the least kicked about. But you go anyway. “Just to have a backup”. You arrive for your scheduled interview in time, partly disinterested, partly desperate. “The interviewer isn’t free right now. ( Or for the next 48 hours apparently.) Can you come back on Monday?” the said consultant tells you. You lose your shit there, you tell them you won’t come back, they suck at the ONE job they have, and on your way back home, peer at a big hoarding of your ex-employer through almost tear-soaked eyes.

Your Uber driver decides that this is the perfect time to strike up small talk. “Where do you work madam?” “Nowhere at the moment”, you tell. “How’s yours? Do you earn okay?” you ask. “In good months, I can earn 80-90k Madam”. You shut up.

You’re bored and slightly depressed, some retail therapy would help. You take your time in putting beautiful things into online shopping carts. You put stuff, you remove stuff. You put some more. You’ll check out “the minute you have a job”.

You decide to use this “limited free time” to finish some errands. Renew your now-full passport for one.  One of the accepted and the easiest address proofs is a letter from your current employer. Thanks, you’ll get a gas bill instead, after registering for one first. The passport has arrived. But it’s unlikely to be used in the near future. There’s noone free to go with anywhere. You decide to travel solo to a music festival. The tickets cost double of your last drawn salary.

This is not what you’d signed up for. Where’s all the jobs? Where are all the people who could get you the jobs? (And earn themselves a great referral bonus.) Where’s your inspirational story on the “I quit my job to <x>”? Why’s your long-distance boyfriend in a team meeting all the time (YOU want to be in a team meeting all the time) and why’s your waist size exploding much unlike your self-esteem?

You go for a small walk to clear your mind, come back home. Even the dogs aren’t *that* excited to see you. You’ve dun goofed.

“In good months I make 80-90k madam” that Uber driver’s words echo in your head. Followed closely by the gnawing realisation that you can’t drive.


[Author’s note: This article has been contributed exclusively to OfficeChai by a guest author who wishes to remain anonymous, unless to accept job offers. ]