Saturday, September 10, 2011

The first pay check

I chuckle every time I recall this episode.

At my first job; I met with few other freshers and we hit it off instantly. Young blood, like-minded people; who all seemed to have struggled in life in one way or the other. Each one coming from a lower middle class family who struggled to even get Rs 10 as a pocket money; for most of us the first engineer from the family; but intelligent, bright and raring to go and achieve something in life.

This is not some decade old story but something that happened 6 years ago. The gang comprised of 5 folks; including me - the only girl. Each of us were from different college but we all got placed even before we completed our engineering graduation. I would not call it a dream come true for us; because we could not even afford to dream such a start for our career in one of the largest technological companies of the world - it was more than pride to be associated with that company. It was all merit and our hard work that paid off.

The compensation offered by the company for freshers was competitive and among the highest in the industry; which means the interview process was grueling as well. Anyway, for each of us who only a couple of days ago struggled for Rs 10; the thought of drawing 3.6 lakhs per annum with other benefits did not sink in. We did our math.

3,60,000/12 = 30,000 Rs per month. If we get to lose 3000-4000 in tax and other stuff, we still take home 26,000/- Wow!! wow!! The first month went in induction, introduction, getting to know and settling in along with counting days for end of month. We looked forward with anticipation and when the day came; we all went in collectively to collect our pay check as our salary account was not in place yet.

The cheque read "Eighteen thousand" only. What? We could not believe what we saw. Seeing a 5 figure against our name and holding the cheque was the most memorable moment for us; but at the same time the anti-climax. It did not match our expectations. One said "Hey there should be some mistake in this". Another one just sulked while one said "Maybe the first month, they deducted more for some reason, coming months should be fine".

We discussed over lunch. "Maybe we should just check with HR-Finance; they would correct the mistake." None of us still seem to believe that the salary amount was right. The thing was when we were called to accept the offer letter; the guys just seemed to ogle at the HR and admire her eloquence and beauty than concentrating on the salary break-up she was explaining. With me; I just dont understand numbers. I was more interested in the job - I would work for free even - why not; if its an world renowned organization as this? The ID that I wear to work everyday with my company name was sufficient.

We did go; as vikings dressed for a war; marching one behind the other will polite but grim faces. The HR was busy; but was kind enough to listen to us. He explained us once again the concept of cost to the company, flexible benefits, special allowances, tax, deductions, PF and others and how we need to apply explicitly for some components like HRA, conveyance to get that as part of salary. This was the first month and next month onwards; once we logged in our FBP plan, our numbers would improve(It did improve after a month once we adjusted our FBP component) We just nodded our head and left his office with a "Thank you for your time".

We walked out silent and one blurted out "My uncle offered me a job in Mumbai. He said he will pay be 30,000. I told I want to be in an MNC as a Software Engineer. I need this!!".

All of us looked at each other and burst out laughing. You see, it was not the amount of money; we were definitely earning best among our peers; no complaints as the technology we were working on was cool and the work environment was the best. But our expectations; what this salary meant to each one of us. How we budgeted our household and personal expenses around the expected money. We could indulge in a cellphone now or pay off a loan or here onwards our parents can relax a bit and all that.

We grew fonder and had memorable time for a couple of years till each one drifted away - a couple of them went on to do Masters in US; others moved to a new job. We regularly keep in touch; each one happy for the other for the growth and prosperity. We rarely meet but whenever we do; this incident always comes up and we have a hearty laugh over it. So innocent we were then :)

I still have a photo copy of that cheque with me:-)


  1. That was a lovely run down the memory lane.
    I hate to say this, but like most people do and something I always avoid to do - to narrate a parallel story in my life - my first salary in 1980 was 650/-. A week later I was sent to Hyderabad for training. I bought my mother a Pochampalli saree, which she used to wear for many years...

    But what I distinctly remember more and cherish is when in 8th std, I was given a prize of R.55/- for being the best student - I went home and gave it to my mom - I remember how proud and happy my parents were! That was sometime in 1969-70.

    Memories! How can we live without memories!

  2. As for my first salary , i didn't declare my FEP and hence just received the basic component which was so less that i could just pay for my rent and food :( . everybody was buying gifts and new things and i was just sulking on the mistake i did but only till the next month :P. The next month i got quite a handsome sum ;)

  3. B, "Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes"
    Like the Beatles.The journey you made down the memory lane is a lovely one.

    To be conscious and faithful to accept one's origins and the road traversed is an exceptional quality not seen in many once they scramble to the top of the mole hill.

    That was quite standing out in your narration. Perhaps you presented your loved ones with the first pay cheque, like Balans' gesture to his mother!

  4. :) I remember my first pay cheque too - 1000 Rs, when I was in 12th standard. That was a good enough amount for me then. I had joined the job to pass time in vacation and wasn't expecting any money as salary :)

    I can understand how you must have felt when your salary was almost 10k shorter than what were you expecting. But having handled HR too for a month, I know how that works as well :P

    Lucky you still get a chance to cherish those moments. I have long ago lost my salary days. sigh!

  5. What a special memory .To every person the first pay cheque is very special.Most of us think of our parents when we hold it for the first time.Well i worked for only four months for others as i always wanted to work independently. Around 22 years back a sum of Rs 7000 in cash was paid to me by my then boss Firstly i made an extra long STD call to my fiance .I kept aside some money for religious offerings. I remember buying two sarees one for my mom and another for my aunt ,a watch for my dad ,T-shirt for my brother ,a silk scarf for my sister ,coffee mug set for my uncle, sweets ,chocolates for everyone ,a shirt for my regular autowallah .I was completely broke when i reached home that afternoon.

  6. made me nostalgic. my memories go back to 7 years when i received my first pay check. we were informed that we got our salaries credited to our newly created bank acct. all of my folks lined up infront of an atm. it was first time for most including me to use an atm. didn't take longer to figure it out how to check the balance. my experince was opposite to yours. i saw 20% more amount than expected. we were happy and thought we were being treated for our first salary, but later found out that travel and accomodation expenses during our training have not yet been deducted and were deducted in the next salary. hmmm...the look on our faces when we received the second paycheck is every memorable. we cursed our ceo for robbing us poor souls :) anyways, nice post. am new to ur blog and hv to say, i will keep coming back for more.

  7. THats a lot of money .. The first job i got Was 5800/- YEP thats it .. but it had free lodging, free food and travel .. Still WOW to your cheque..

    but now it hurts when i see my salary 22% goes in Tax and 9% in national insurance .. so not happy Want to find ways of cutting that TAX :)


  8. Thats a truck load of money for a first salary !! Many many congratulations (although it seems to have happened in the past) !!

    your post took me to my first salary cheque !!! LIFE has come a long way

  9. Awww. That is so sweet. I remember the first cheque I picked up was a stipend of 5K when I was doing my summers during my MBA. That was such a high. I remember just treating everyone among friends and family and the money was over :). Such a sweet memory.

  10. Though it is long time ago,but, when I got my first salary cheque,I kept it besides me when i went to sleep

  11. I got a bit Nostalgic over this read. I was crazy to see the first salary slip with the figures as expected in my name. I went to a nearby ATM the same evening and withdrew a mini statement which I still treasure along with my most precious belongings.

  12. Balan,

    Thanks. the first time is always the best, isnt it?

    True, memories fuel us :)


    I think most of us had the same experience with FBP :)


    Haa :) Remembering how you started keeps you grounded and enables you to appreciate little things in life and not let you take for granted anything or anyone. :)

    Yes, I did :)


    I used to work part time during my 11th and 12th. It was special but not as special as this one - maybe because this was the real career :)


    Hahaha :) I am better; I was broke only 2 days later :D

    Day Dreamer,

    Welcome to B Log :)

    Haaa sad but you did feel elated; thats what matters :)

    Thanks for sharing your experience; keep visiting


    Thank you


    :-) It was!! Yeah I am wary of taxes as well, but we cant help


    Truck load? Hahaha, I wonder if my HR thought the same way and we cribbed :)

    Thanks a lot :)


    :-) Getting our first pay cheque is one of the memorable moment of our life :)

    Chowla sir,

    Wow! sweet.


    Nice :) It would definitely have been a memorable moment for you as well.

  13. We never forget our first pay cheque. i still remember the day I got it.

    Very nice trip to memory lane.

  14. I got Rs 9000 as my first pay check..we joined in the middle of the month and hence received half the amount...I remember calling my dad...I had received my first pay was something special..Though I do not remember...where did I spent the amount ;)

  15. Lovely narration. It took me years back too.

    My first pay check was Rs. 4000 in 1995. It was not a big amount for me even then since my Father used to give me more as pocket money. However I was proud to have my first salary. I gave all to my Father and he just took Rs. 1 from it and returned to me. Memories of first salary also brings to my mind his love.

  16. A,

    :-) Yes, thank you


    :-) Haha all of us have the same story pretty much


    That was a sweet gesture by your dad. Thanks Stranger

  17. I read the post twice but couldn't find which company you worked for. I mean your first company.

  18. Because of the exams, I couldn't read your blog regularly. It's feels good to be reading your writings again. It's really refreshing. Thanks!

  19. Nethra,

    Haha I would be bang on with the company name if I wanted to. I dont like to reveal the name here :) Sorry about that.

    Welcome back, hope you did your exams well. Glad to know my space refreshes you :)

  20. I remember my first paycheck too. It came directly into my first brand new bank account. I think I used to go the ATM machine to check it frequently. Just to see the MONEY under my name. :) Yes, Its a feeling nothing else can beat. And that is the only part of being employed that I actually seriously miss! :(

    Nice Trip down the memory lane. :)

  21. Juxtaposition,

    Long time no see? Welcome back.

    Haha, I had chaque so didnt have to make ATM rounds. Its a memorable moment for all of us right? Even though you change jobs and get more hefty paychecks, first one is always the best one

  22. Aww!! good old fresher days....

  23. :) hehe. I also remember what blog post I wrote when I got my first cheque.

    Calculating from what you earned 6 years back, how much are you earning now. but shushh, I am bad with numbers as well.

  24. :-)

    Haha, I hope you got it right whatever I earn now ;-)

  25. So sweet Bindu. Reminded me of my first pay check.. I guess we blindly do the math & divide the sal by 12. But the moment these invisible demons like HRA, PF etc come into picture, the sal figure just loses its sheen :)) Loved the way you described it. 'Vikings' indeed.. well written!

  26. lostworld,

    :-) yeah; we are naive to understand those components.

  27. Ha ha... Now I am nostalgic about my first job. :-) Loved the post Bindu.

  28. Gautam,

    :-) Good. Glad you liked it Gautam

  29. Wonderful post, lovely memories and a cool pay check!!
    For me it's always counting my chickens before they hatch!! :D

  30. Shilpa.

    Thanks a lot :)

    haha, we did exactly that!

  31. I could very well relate to your disappointment on getting your first salary credit. I got mine 5 yrs ago when I joined a so-called dream company and found that along with all the FBP, PF etc, there was a bonus component to be deducted from monthly pay that I may/may not get by the end of year :(

    It is also true the disappointment stayed with me for the next 3.5 years...till I did a job change :) Now my salary credit SMS does make me happy esp when I think of how proud my parents would be :)

  32. Elizabeth,

    Welcome to B Log :)

    Thanks, yeah fortunately my bonus is/not included in my CTC :)


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