Working with the devil


Zubin D’souza

My father believed in corporal punishment while my mother did not. My dad could return home from a hard day at work, get a download of all the trouble I had been up to and accordingly reflect and desire the severity of the punishment. Milder infractions would be sorted out by a yelling that was loud enough for the neighbours and casual passers-by on the street to participate in as well. The subsequent embarrassment ensured my compliance. When we moved into the realm of higher degrees of mischief, there were a slew of physical penalties that spanned a wide variety of instruments. Although everything was quite orderly in my father’s mind, I was left guessing as to whether I was to be at the receiving end of the cane or be feeling the business end of a belt. After I had received my just dues, life slipped back to normal till I regressed back to my core tendencies.

My mother on the other hand is a gentle soul and never got physically rough with me. But she could really nag! And she had an amazing archive retrieval system where she could pull out all the past incidents when I had strayed away from the chosen path. And the diatribe just never ended. In fact, more often than not, I wished that it was my father dealing out the punishment. He had a brute force approach that I could connect with. More specifically because it began with the ambiguity of not knowing what to expect but when it finally did end, we were never to revisit the topic again.

Now if my parents who love me very much could go through such lengths to punish me when I was wrong, how do you think that a boss who has absolutely no emotional connect to a person would react?

And if you thought that the tirades that the chefs demonstrate on reality shows were only for TRPs, then you must prepare to be unpleasantly surprised. What you see on television may be a scaled down version of the meltdowns that a professional chef is capable of. Chefs, like all creative individuals are rather fastidious about their conceptions and they cannot handle deviations easily. A small mistake here or a hiccup there and the repercussions can far outweigh the original


Chefs are known to throw tantrums on an epic scale and some of them would hold grudges where the levels of animosity defy rational logic.

A couple of years back, a McKinsey report had detailed how 85 per cent of employees actually quit their bosses and not the job. Luckily the surveyors focused on the white collared financial corporates. If they had even slid down a few notches to engage with employees of hospitality segment then the story would be a whole lot scarier.

There have of course been scores of changes that have swept across the industry from the heyday of the bad boy chef. But in the culinary world as in the corporate world, interns are more likely to stay mum about situations of harassment just not to mess up the opportunity that they have received to work with the luminaries of the field. This in itself poses a far larger problem. The intern after going through the grind and finally reaching a position of status then starts behaving in the same manner as their mentor. It is a classic case of the alteration of the neuro-architecture.

Some people refer to it as maturity, others believe that it is assertiveness and still more think that it is the flowering of the creative peak. It happens to be none of what I have just stated. It is simply a change in personality; the replacing of innocence with something far more sinister.

And the young people who venture into this amazing industry are just not equipped with the right tools to deal with the mental carnage that can be wreaked on them.

And so the cycle continues!

You can bring in legislation or hold sensitivity workshops; you can choose to fire the erring leaders or suspend them. It will always be too little, too late. You would be treating the symptoms and not the disease!

If anyone wants a happier tomorrow, then it has to be the torchbearers of that

future, our present young generation that has to be treated and educated with far more attention.

Or they may just end up like my parents who stumbled through parenthood without the adequate amount of support.

I would like to believe that I turned out okay; but not everyone may be as lucky!