Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Back after a long hiatus, one would think I found a new job but alas not so and trust me I tried! So its back to writing for me.

I have just joined a new team and was for a brief period of time lulled into a fake sense of security that - hey, this is not bad - perhaps I can actually do this and then BOOM! you get staffed on a project where you get killed and suddenly you realise that it still is as bad. I was told that my new team is a " lifestyle " team and I happily accepted it. Ya, sure you leave a bit early - midnight instead of later but hey, that is a certain type of " lifestyle" after all....... Moral of the story - different people, same BS.

But more importantly, this post is about the holy grail of what most investment bankers toil day and night for apart from the big fat bonus - something called Closing Dinners & Tombstones. So for the unaware - the closing dinner is usually a VERY fancy dinner at the expense of the client to celebrate the holy matrimony of merging two unrelated companies together under the promise of attaining something mysteriously called as synergies. A tombstone is usually a fancy trophy provided to every soul who sacrificed their life in conducting that marriage and is usually a mark of a banker's legacy and prowess (More tombstones = no life).

So picture this setting - A fancy 2 Michelin starred restaurant with a waiting list of usually 6 months is booked completely for all the advisors (read glorified pimps) to gather together and  feel smug in their glory.  So what you do find is a lot of people in black suits, nervously fumbling blackberry's while trying to appear comfortable in a formal setting and having to actually converse with human beings and not a desktop. The Big Kahuna's - the MD's obviously appear to be prattling away with other bigwigs with effortless ease while the rest of the folks hang around the fringes of their conversation pretending to " act cool" and nodding and laughing in unison.

I had earlier decided to break the monotony of black by wearing green hoping that the women in other banks use their sartorial sense by wearing color to a formal dinner, unfortunately even the women believe they should dress like they are attending a funeral OR confuse themselves as semi-male. So this resulted in me sticking out like someone planted a christmas tree in the middle of the room and turned the lights on.

If the social awkwardness of all this is not enough to make you cringe - then they have seating plans! So how this works is the tables are numbered from 1-7 and you can guess which tables the analysts and the associates are seated on. Someone also did the courtesy of placing against table number 1 - Very Important Persons as if ensure that the Very Unimportant People (hereby called as V.U.P's) are instantly repelled.  Now, even between them, there is hierarchy so tables 2-5 are the mediocre V.U.P's - the ED's and VP's. (Infact my manager actually decided to announce the glaringly obvious fact to all and sundry - " Aaah, see they seated us as per designation, how clever....)

Obviously tables 6-7 are the Associates and the Analysts - if our designations and workload is not menial enough - yes, please by all means, invite us for dinner and then insult us even further by segregating us, what next - different cutlery (silver for MD's and plastic for analysts) and toilets?!!

If that was not bad enough, Sir I-am-Chairperson-of-the-company-paying-for-tonight told us that life is not about buying and selling companies but about producing, creating something and making a decent,honest living. Everyone applauded and looked at him a bit confused trying to figure out if he just praised us or shafted us!

In the end, we all finished our very pretentious meals with horribly small portions, received our tombstones in what suspiciously looked like mini-caskets and left - just happy to get an excuse for a free evening and we all lived happily(??) ever after.

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