Thursday, February 28, 2008

Scent of the Bench

For those who do not belong to the fast-growing Indian IT industry, "Bench" is a state in which the person is paid for not doing any work as there is no project for him to work on. He/she who is in Bench is provided with 2 hrs lunch time and an hour break after every 15 mins of staring at the blank computer scren. Sleeping in the dormitory in the office hours is a bonus subject to the vacancy available due to the increasing number of bench (non)workers. The term "Bench", I believe is derived from sports where they call the reserved players as "The Bench". A fast check in Wordweb dictionary tells the same.
Every person working in Indian IT industry would have experienced the taste of Bench at least once in his career. Though being in Bench appears to be a luxury for most persons, there are some unlikely persons like me who find it otherwise sometimes. Belonging to the side with very few persons of Satman's What if theory, the day without work appears very difficult to accept for me. Though few days of bench time is acceptable to me, when it extends more, it becomes a different situation. For example, when I returned to Bangalore from UK and was waiting for the US VISA, I was not allocated to any project which in other words, "I was in Bench". The first 2 days went fine as I was busy chatting with all my old friends. But when I pinged them on the third day, there came the unexpected reply, "Busy now! Will chat later". Then when I tried to get my colleague from previous project to the canteen, he replied "Can we go after an hour. I have a meeting now". It was as if the whole world is away to save the world and you are left playing with marbles. Not ready to use the bonus of using the Dormitory, I wandered around the campus watching my fellow "bench-sitters" doing the same as me. Finally, I had to spend the rest of the week reading John Grisham's "The Broker" and Chetan Bhagat's "One night @ the call center" under the comfortness of the bench(real park bench) beside the trees. Blissful! someone might say. Sitting under the trees with the breeze blowing softly over you brings sleep too. I do enjoyed it for a while. But when the books were finished and days passed, it appeared so different that I felt I was not in office at all. The guilt of getting paid for reading novels started to awake in my mind(damn it) and it also created an envy on all my colleagues who would rush to work early from lunch. Finally, I went on to the managers to hunt for some work to keep me away from getting mad at myself. Yeah! I know what you are thinking. I am a big LOSER.

While I went away from the "bench days" soon after, sometimes I face the bench in hidden forms even while working in a project from onsite. This includes the last few days in which the important work I had done in office is writing proverbs on the white board of my cubicle and finding out how much time it takes to walk from my cubicle to Srikanth's. But still, when Satman asked while returning from lunch at 2 PM, if I want him to drop me at home instead of office, I said no.

I had left the ipod in office and I need it in home.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gains reveal the losses before

I found a reason to hate my employer today. Working in an Indian IT services company; you are expected and bound to work after hours. To be politically correct, After hours starts when you are snoring loud in your sleep. If you do not usually snore, then you are unlucky to have no after hours and you must work 24 hrs every day. But this had never been a problem to me. For me, it is like what the hell. It is just another hour of staring at your screen. Not a big deal. So things were the same and fine till yesterday. We are working on the client site where after hours are perceived in the dictionary way. Any minute after 6PM at local time zone is termed as after hours. For some, any time after they leave the office (might be even 2PM on Saturdays) are termed after hours. And people don’t really like to be disturbed with work at that time. And for the last few days, I had been following the client time leaving office early by 6PM itself. Don’t ask me why? Many of my colleagues are aware of this blog and they would know the secrets.

So anyway, I was back in my home very early yesterday and after seeing the evening show "Hoodwinked" took a short nap. It was at 10PM which is the time I used to return from office, my phone started to beep. It happened to be a colleague from the client side who wanted me to look at check some code. Though the code was just two lines, the call went on for at least 10 mins more on the courtesy "Were you sleeping?", "Sorry for disturbing you so late?", "I feel so sorry", "You are really helpful" and so many regretful words which made me doubt if the time was 3 or 4AM. 10 PM was the time, I usually think about dinner or time to relax away from work. In the next 15 mins, the job was done and I had to end the call after getting compliments for being so helpful. I felt I was saving the world again. This was not really the reason to hate my employer. If thanks and praises were not enough for working for 15 mins in the early evening, I found a large packet of 100 chocolates at my desk in the morning. Though my employer had given such compliments through "Thanks" mail and Pizza for dinner, a pack of Hershey milk chocolates for 15 mins of work post office hours is like getting paid for working after hours which is a strange thing to happen in Indian IT industries.

Granted with the benefits
I deserve; angry I am,
For the rightful rewards
I was denied earlier.

Changes that changed life forever

"Know what's weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change. But pretty soon, everything's different.” Calvin says about being in this world unfair always against our side.But if you ask me, things rarely change for me. "Day by day we find something new. Each day has a difference from the previous one. But when looking back after a while, we are still the same." At least that what I felt till my college days. After that, things did change. The day I joined work, I felt I was on my own. Parents who were there to look after you are there only to look at you. The first time I paid for the bus tickets to home for dad from my own earned money, I felt really weird. Something has changed in my life. All the time before, when any change happens in the day to day activities, it did not make any change. Losing your pencil box in School did not make you bankrupt. Low score in exams just meant two hits from a stick. Quarrels with friends in college didn’t create a barrier for us next day. Flunking in exams weren’t a threat for the future. Failing in the job interviews just meant there is something else ahead. Though the ship of life sailed rough and hard, we steered on the same direction. But things were not the same there after. It was not until two years back, I would not have believed that what you do changes your life forever. I believed turning right and then a left would get back to the same direction again. It never seemed that it was making any difference to the journey ahead. But I found myself sometimes caught in the storm. Spinning hard in the whirlpool; the directions changed as I came out of them finally. And before I knew it, life is different. Things I never thought could happen hit the reality harder and harder. It appeared to be surreal more like a nightmare and I would think that I will wake up anytime then and things would be back to normal as they are supposed to be. But it was happening for real and the ship has indeed changed its path. Life changed in ways I did not expect. People were not to be blamed but myself alone. The dream I lived long and considered everlasting disappeared before I realized it. Leaving the helm of my ship in someone else's hands and also obviously the doubt and fear of my own route I took had shown its effect. Every day, I look high in the sky and hope that things will go back to the best way as it was before. Longing for the same persons around me; speaking nothing that can change the winds; finding happiness in sharing the sorrows we meet; laughing at each other; never bored to do the same thing everyday; not a difference from any other day; thinking its going to last forever. Time came to make a decision and though I understood the life is going to be changed, never realized the consequences that it is going to create. Trying to guard the left eye, I left the right eye unguarded and hurt, later finding tears in both the eyes. Again, I was wrong to assume that only eyes are affected. The pain was all over my body and I got more than I asked for. Life can never be the same. But I can not leave the world as it is. I had given time the only remedy available its chance to heal the wounds. Now I hope to see if the damage is recovered or at least the pain to have passed away. It needs more than will to look back at the catastrophe you created. Courage that I lack has to fight the cloud of guilt to move ahead in the field to restore the peace that was there with everyone who sailed with me. Do I have the heart strong enough to enter the land of misery I created still remains a mystery.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Writing Essay on Jodhaa Akbar

Watching a full length history movie and not to forget it is in Hindi is not something I prefer. History had always been a difficult subject to me as it is always references with years. Being a guy who thinks "What" is important than "When" does not help in the history lessons in School. During the good old school days, I will easily know the result of history exams by reading the "fill in the blanks" questions itself. If the first 4 questions are about years, then we know the next 10 questions will be similar ones and it is not really my area of expertise. Though I would often remember the 1000s and final digits of the year, the 100s and 10s will confuse me all the time. As my errors would either be in decades or centuries, I could not even get grace marks that the teacher might give for closer answers. It is always confusing to me, when the whole point of learning history is to understand what our ancestors did, why should we know the exact years things happened. This is not like Rocket science that forgetting the years would cause Armageddon.
The biggest confusion next to years are the king names and their kingdom. Seriously, what is the relation between Gupta and Maurya dynasty? If both are different, which dynasty Chandra Gupta Maurya belonged? And where does the Mughals come in-between? As if North Indian history is not enough, we will have Cheran, Cholan and Pandyans in South India. These lessons were not much troublesome; thanks to our Tamilnadu state government for naming the various bus corporations by prominent personalities/kings of regional/national importance. There was Pandyan bus for Madurai; Cheran for Coimbatore and Chozhan for Tanjore. Though we all welcome the change of this practice to just TNSTC (Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation) to avoid communal violence, it is regretful that the current school students are borne to get confused with South Indian history also.
Ignoring these hurdles, the post period to the history exams are always fun when the teacher distributes the papers back. The rule for essays is always simple. 6 pages at the least with minimum of 4 sketches that might include maps, tables or charts depending upon the questions. The whole class will forget their low marks when we read each others' essays. It must be known that some of the strange and interesting histories are created in these exams only. For example, only in our exam papers will Adolf Hitler with the help of Wilson (Student was playing tennis lately) Churchill bombs China (obvious confusion) in World War 1 which ends with the Treaty of Constantine. There will also be some inspiring dreams like British fighting for Independence from India and Lord Mountbatten is a famous peak of Himalayas and India was discovered by Vascodagama in the year 1947. Many times, the teacher would be impressed and would award full marks for the essays just because the essay had 10 pages. He/she will even be pointed out as the outstanding student of the class and a girl who had written 4 pages for the essay with each word repeated exactly from the book will have to learn from the great historian. But luckily for me, I would never have to do any of these for the exams. The moment I reach the first essay question, the time would be almost up and I would scribble whatever that comes in my mind and finish 8 pages for each essay with 10 to 15 lines per page. My friends who are fast writers with nice handwriting will have to write 22 to 25 lines per page and will think hard on how to fill more than 6 pages. Though filling more pages will guarantee you 70% of the marks, if you need more you will have to employ the magic of the colorful sketches. Even though you are unsure whether Napoleon is from India or not, underlining his name, century he lived and important places that you remember the teacher telling you in the class added with adjectives and verbs which can help you expand the gap between two sensible words related to the essay guarantees bonus marks. Though I was not a historian like my friends, I do contribute my share for the history by changing the name of treaties more often. Treat of Versailles have ended French revolution and the pact that brought an end to Sepoy Mutiny is called the Treaty of Sepoys in our own versions of history.
So with such a level of learning history in School, watching Jodhaa Akbar on the big screen raised few questions in the mind like why is Akbar was never called by his name. This was clarified later when they announced that Jalaluddin Muhammad was his Original name and Akbar was a name bestowed on him at a later age. I am not sure how much the movie was truth with the history. May be the screenplay writer was like my friends in school and they added few contributions to the history on their own. There were scores of evidence for this given in wikipedia. Also the scenes in the movie like duel between Jodhaa and Akbar, Sujamal speaking for 20 mins before death and the final one-on-one battle between the hero (Akbar) and the villain (Sharifuddin) while the whole army watches silently reminds us of the countless bollywood, kollywood and tollywood and every other wood movies we have seen in the past. But leaving the history behind, this movie is definitely a major delight in terms of glory and richness of details and information about Akbar's rule. Though much information including the identity of Jodhaa appears to be fictional and controversial, the movie stands out and is a definite entertainer like Asoka starring Shahrukh Khan. And not to go unnoticed is the background score by A.R.Rahman especially for the war and song sequences. You can feel the horses galloping in the battlefield. He has proven himself once again. To sum it up, though Jodhaa Akbar is not a biography of Akbar it taught me few history lessons without any years and is big achievement in Indian movie industry and recommended to be seen on the big screen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In this Weird World! - Wallet

Its so ironic that we keep
IDs, credit and debit cards,
money and all that we seek;
in a wallet over a spot,
close to where the bark
should have bit you hard?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Twice Folded Letter

************************ DISCLAIMER************************
As always, this is a pure fictional story that my right brain created out of pure imagination. Resemblance to any real life incident or real person is coincidental and the author(thats me) can not take any responsibility for any of your assumptions.

[+/-]At first sight

It is the day I started my career. But that is not important now. It was the day, she entered my life. And its also the same day, he crossed my life. I was in the company provided Guest house waiting for the bus to take me to the first step of my career life. I was tensed for the big day ahead. Being the only person from our college to join the company, I was left alone searching for any face that might say hello. The bus honked and I walked to the bus when he crossed me and ran ahead as if catching a running bus. I slipped and almost fell on the road. While hoping no one noticed me, I got into the bus found him sitting on the first seat. And next to him was the only seat left. I took it and we sat silently for a while. I watched around and could realize most of them are new like me. And most importantly, more than half were girls. I wondered if girls are dominating even in this bus, we really should join the equality rights here. When the bus stopped, few more persons got into the bus and everyone were girls. With no place to sit, they have to stand except for the one who got in last. He stood all of a sudden, almost pushing me from my seat and showed her the seat. Now, I have to give my place for others, else it will look look as if I don’t have any manners. As if I am not the only guy to have the thought, few more guys stood giving up the seats for girls. But every guy who stood were staring angrily at him who was shaking his head too much when she thanked him. My anger on him went away the instant I saw her face. Not a bad decision. I smiled at him who was still blushing for her thanks.

[+/-]The clock and the colors

I was trying hard to stay awake in the boring training session and all I have written in my notebook is the title. He rushed to the training hall and hit my back. He dragged the chair and asked "Where is she?". He was late as usual and all he was worried was about her. "Can't you at least say Hello before you can ask about her?" I felt annoyed. "Ok dude. Hello for today and for every day I am here. Now where is she?". He never gets distracted. "10 'o' clock. In white next to Indigo." I replied and looked back at the trainer. He looked towards his right at 2 'o' clock and asked "What color is Indigo?". Not feeling surprised, I just turned his head towards 10 'o' clock and pointed at her. His head did not turned back for the next whole hour. Then he hit my legs hard enough to make me limp for a day and said "She looked at me!". "Freak!" I said and found her looking at everyone in the class bored. Then she saw me seeing her and smiled back at me. We are introduced well to each other as she takes the last seat left in the bus next to me everyday. And please remember that it is his idea of not coming in the bus so that she can find a seat to sit. I rejected his request asking me not to come in the bus so that he can sit next to her.

[+/-]Reflections of a smoking mind

Our company had a peculiar way of assigning the employee number to the trainees that the order did not appear to be in alphabetical, age or college wise. And it happened in a way that she was seated next to me, while he is behind us turned back. Therefore, even if he turns, he will see only the back of us. The troubles he went in switching places were futile as the employee numbers were already stuck in the respective desks. "Hey! I got an idea" he said and moved his system to the right of his desk so that he will be diagonal to her. Then he placed a CD supported by his cigarette lighter at my desk facing her seat and another CD at his desk facing the CD at my desk. So by the reflections theory, he was able to get a blurred ghost image of her seat. He smiled at me as if waiting for me to award a noble prize for that. "I will give you a better idea. Why don’t you sit next to me and appear as if you have doubts all the time.", I asked. But he was quick in his reply to that. "Dude! She would think that I am dumb". "What about me? I already think you are dumb." She returned back to her desk and we turned to each other's desk as if nothing has happened. Her eyes rested on the CD at my desk. To avoid any questions, I took the CD and kept it inside my book. Looking at the cigarette lighter that was holding the CD, she asked "You smoke?". "Why? Does it bother you?" I asked back. "Yeah! I hate men with smoking habit." she said with a displeasing expression. "So do you prefer women smoking?" We laughed and she thought and replied "May be, you are right. Women do look cool when they smoke." His face turned white who was overhearing our chat from behind. There was no use telling him that she was just joking. When I told him that I can never ask what brand she believes to be cool, he started investigating which brand most girls prefer. I would try to leave him whenever he asks the salesmen about "girls-favorite-cigarettes". Anyway, if there is one thing that came good because of her, it was that he stopped smoking from that day. As a non-smoker, I welcomed it very much. My house can at last be a smoke-free zone.

[+/-]You got mail

Our training days are over at last and we were waiting for the posting letter. Everyone had their fingers crossed praying to be put in their home place or anywhere nearer to it while he was there praying in every religion to be placed in the same place as her. I turned around and she was also in prayer watching the mailbox closely. "You got mail" was all everyone was looking for. And then it happened. A cry came from the far end followed by screams at the other end. People were jumping high and congratulating each other. Outlook beeped in my system and I was also jumping high. There were many who looked dejected and few were crying too. And sadly she happened to be one among them. Obviously, the posting was not as she expected. I turned to him and he was still waiting for his mail. It popped out and I found it to be the same as mine, which means it is not the same as hers. She surely would have felt happy if it is the same location as ours. He was looking at her and he felt sad and pinched me. "What is her posting?". I really did not like to answer. So I told him to ask her directly. When we both looked at her, she was looking at us with her sorrowful eyes. She told something to her friend and her friend looked back at us and nodded. Not knowing what they were talking about, I stood there with blank eyes. She came towards us and stood near me. I could feel her cries within her and before she could say anything, he spoke. "So where are you posted?" It was a big surprise to me for it was the very first time, he has ever said more than Hello to her. She looked at him feeling worried. He added, "I am posted in this DC itself. Where are you posted?" His words had a hopeless expectation as if the question was asked even though he knew what the answer would be. She said "Can you swap with me?" softly. Tears were on the verge of leaving her eyes. Even my heart stopped a beat that I would swap places sacrificing myself by becoming a savior for both of them. But I know it is much harder for him. He can not disagree to her for it would be against the nature of his affection to her, but if he agrees, he would have to leave her away to a far away place.

[+/-]Home Sweet Home

"I told you already about that apartment. It is too costly and it will be difficult for us to get bus from there." I was stubborn. We have developed good friendship in the training days and have talked a lot on anything that might relate to her. So when it became clear that the company will provide accommodation only for the training days, I became the obvious choice to him for a roommate. But moving to that apartment in question is unnecessary and I would be wasting most part of my salary as rent. An apartment with swimming pool and lift access to a three storey flat guarded by a security guard is not important to me. But his point is a clear one. When we both were dumb struck at her request asking if he can swap the transfer with her, as if time was on our side, another guy intervened and asked her if she is looking for a swap to our DC. She thanked that guy hundreds of times and even gave a treat in the canteen. When he heard about this, he took it hard saying that he should have agreed to her; because getting a treat from her is worth staying away hundreds of days away from her in hell. To hell with him I thought. And then when the question of finding accommodation came into picture, I recommended that apartment to her as it is a very safe place and many other girls from our company are staying over there. She is sure of fixing that apartment. With no point in talking with him, I threw the paper at him with ads circled on it which I felt suitable for us. He looked into it for a while and said, "May be we should try the one in the K.T street". It is definitely not near her place. Actually, everything I circled in the paper is far from her. Why is he interested in that place? I raised my ear brows. He looked at me casually, stretched his hands and said "We may not live in the same street, but we will live in the same house number 7."I could do nothing but hit my head on the wall.

[+/-]Nice talking to you

Days passed with all of us busy in the projects. As luck was against him, he was assigned to a different project than hers while as the same stroke of luck kicking me hard; I was assigned in her project. This was not good at all. Because apart from helping with her work, I had to explain him about her work in detail and he would raise questions which even the project manager can not answer. The reason is that he is making sure that she is getting work to the level she can handle. If there is anything that he feels difficult for her, he would automatically allocate it to me. I can not disagree with him as the chance of having a good dinner from his cooking is at hand. As she sits adjacent to me we had a lot of hello & smiles and casual talks too. Also, I can listen to all her conversations including her prayers to God whenever she compiles her code. It is always fun to listen her scolding God if the code did not compile successfully. The moment I told him about this cute behavior, he started talking with God every day. "If she can scold God, He must be close to her. So I better familiarize with him" was his response. The phone at her desk started to ring. She picked up and said hello. As part of my spying job, I have to listen to her conversations for hostile entities (boy friends). "Yeah!... Oh! How are you?... I am fine. Thanks…. No no… I am at my desk only." She sounded casual but with a touch of talking to a stranger. "He is at his desk only. Do you want to talk with him? Sure. Nice talking to you anyway… hey!". She held the phone towards me. Now who in the world will call her to reach me? I took the receiver and there he was. "Dude! Did you hear that? She said it was nice talking to me." "Yeah! So?" I was really annoyed. There was a pause and some strange words echoed in my ears which I later realized to be swear words he have reserved for extreme cases only. I disconnected the call and stared back at my screen. "Is that your friend who used to sit behind us in the training lab?" she asked without turning away from her screen. "Yeah! Why?" I acted casual. "Nothing. The voice sounded familiar. That’s all" she sounded casual and got back to compile her code and started praying again. I am surely going to get a big treat if I tell him that she remembered his voice.

[+/-]Riding my bike

"Why am I not invited??" He pulled the plate from me again.
"She did. She told me to invite you too." I pulled the plate.
"But that was just a formality. She never told me directly" The plate was in his hands again.
"May be... I mean may be... she would have called you if you had talked with her before... and talking means more than hi and bye and showing a blushed face." With much force, I pulled the plate away from him while he took the chicken from my plate.
"But you were invited." He said still holding the chicken roast away from me.
"That is because I am sitting next to her in office for the last 3 months"
My eyes were fixed on the chicken all the time. It was a big mistake to tell about her invitation to her sister’s marriage while having dinner. My chicken roast was taken from my plate as he left me like a dog looking at the bone in its master’s hands. I sure have to jump, roll over or catch my tail if I have to get my food.
"I got the invitation only today morning though she is leaving for home tonight." I added desperately trying to get the food.
"What??? She is leaving tonight! Why didn’t you say that to me?"
Oh! Oh! It is another stupid move I made. I did not say anything. I just stared at the chicken roast.
"Which bus is she leaving?"
"The usual one at 10 PM"
Furious, there was only 20 minutes to 10 PM, he dropped the chicken on my plate immediately and ran to the room. Greeted with the greatest gift, I started eating the chicken trying to finish it before he takes it again. After few seconds, he came all dressed up with a key in his hand.
"Hey! That’s my bike. Only I will drive with that. That’s the rule." I shouted.
He just stared back at me and I understood that there are more chicken pieces left and I should keep quiet if I want it. So with priorities set properly, I decided to take two more chicken pieces.
When I had not even finished the first chicken my phone started to ring. It was her number. Things have changed a lot lately. She has become a good friend to me and we used to chat often in phone. She has told about her family, friends, her experiences in life and even the love letters she had received in college days. For some reason, I did not tell him about the love letters. I picked the phone and said "Hi! Where are you? I thought you are going home tonight."
"Yeah! I am in the bus stop. The bus is delayed and I was bored. So I thought I will bore you for sometime."
"No problem. You can try your best. But I will get bored only when you disconnect the line."
"That’s funny." She giggled.
"Anyway, sorry for not able to come to the marriage. Unfortunately, I couldn’t show the invitation as certificate for the only sick leave left."
"That’s ok. I understand." she replied.
Not knowing what to speak about, I kept quiet while she too did the same. With few minutes passing without any words, she said "hey, I think the bus has arrived. Gotta go. Bye" and disconnected the call.
And then almost immediately, my phone rang again and it was his number.
"Where are you idiot?" I asked.
"On the road only. Now listen. Where are the vehicle registration papers?" he asked in a hurry.
"What do you mean? They are in my shelf only. Wait a minute. Don’t tell me that you are caught by the police."
But he was not listening to me at all. He just said "Why would you keep it in home?..... Leave it. I will take care" and disconnected.
I just stood wondering what I could do to help him. After all he is riding my bike. With no idea coming from my mind, I decided to take a break. After 15 minutes of finishing the first chicken, before I could get any ideas, he called me. "Dude! Don’t worry about me. I am fine. It just cost 200 bucks this time."
"Who the hell cares about you? I am just worried about my bike. Where the hell are you?" I shouted at him not able to understand his cool behavior even after being caught by the police.
"On the way dude." He was answering while driving. "listen. She called me and the bus would have probably arrived already. So just return back." "Damn! If it was not for that ________________ (better left unfilled) I would have got her. That ________ (close your eyes and ears again) spoiled all my plans. I was really irritated by his behaviors. For one, there is no plan. All he would do is stare at her from far away which would mostly beyond a sniper range. At most, he would pass her fast in the bike behaving like he never knew her and will make sure she never notices him. So the words about losing her because of the policeman was like India losing the cricket match because the ball was white in color. It doesn’t make any sense. "Whatever. Are you coming back or not?" I asked. "Dude! I am letting this go away. I will catch her in the next stop and come back only after seeing her" "What the hell are you talking about man?? Just come...." That’s when I heard a loud horn followed by shouting noises and the phone went dead. It all happened in a fraction of a second that I was still talking in the phone with half of my mind saying that he probably can’t hear me. The phone is dead after all. I stood frozen for few minutes not knowing what to do. Trying his number again and again though I knew nobody would pick it up. After several tries, his phone started to ring and he answered the call. "Dude! You bike is a mess. I think you have to go to office in bus for the next week"
"To hell with the bike! Are you alright? "I was completely confused how he can talk nuts at this time. Anyway it just made me feel that he is ok.

[+/-]The greatest deed

With the bike still in the ER with the mechanic for more than a week, we got the last company bus to office and were standing all the way in the traffic. He was still looking worried talking to himself on his lost opportunity of getting her due to his encounter with the traffic police. And that’s when my mobile rang and it was she at the other end. "Hi. Whats up?" I said. "Why are you late today?" She asked. Her voice was very low and was not clear due to the traffic. I turned back to him who was in his own world filled with miseries. "Nothing. I woke up late after the big booze yesterday night." "Really! You should have called me." She said. "Sure. We have one more bottle in our house. Do you want to try?" I commented back. She giggled and added "So that’s why you and your friend still appear to be in drowsy state." It stuck immediately that she is also in the same bus and I turned all around but was not able to find her. When I was raising my head to look at the far end, someone pulled my hand from behind and it was she smiling at me. She had been sitting just behind me and very next to him all the time. My minds raced back if we had mentioned anything about her in the bus and relaxed as we did not. Surprisingly, a seat was available next to her and she moved in to give me some space. He was in his world all the time not realizing how close she was sitting next to him. Though I first wanted to avenge him for crashing the bike, with my good soul interrupting me and not ready to get angry faces from him, I spoke in the phone in low voice, "Do you mind him taking that seat. He is still not feeling well." She hesitated a little. "Don’t worry. He is harmless like me" I told her. She giggled and said "That’s ok." I shook him and showed him the seat. When he came back to the real world and his eyes fixed on her and his face was getting red and I was trying hard to suppress the laugh looking at his bizarre stare at her. He took the seat and saw her watching the traffic through the window and turned back giving me a big smile that had thanks written in red all over. I could sense some romantic song singing through his ears. I smiled back like the Almighty except without any halo behind the head. I just hoped he never finds out that I told her that he drinks alcohol.

[+/-]Time to click Good-bye

I was at my desk trying to do some work and when I heard her saying "Yeah! He is here. Hold on a second. Nice talking to you." I turned and took the phone from her. "Of course, I got that." I told him before he could repeat about her nice-talking-to-you words. "What’s up now?" I asked him impatiently. I have to finish of five more modules before leaving to the other DC on a short term transfer. "Nothing. Just wanted to see if she is there. Bye!" he said. "Great! Bye" I replied and disconnected the call. I got back to my work and within few minutes a light flashed across the room. To my surprise and shock, he was there with a camera in hand. "Just thought that we should take a photo together before you leave." he said loud enough for her to hear. She turned around to see us while he looked only at me as if he did not notice her even if it means staring straight into my eyes. Then he looked in all sides trying to find someone to take photo of us and by chance he appeared to have found her looking at us and asked "Could you please take a photograph of us?" She got the camera and focused at us. One can easily say he was staring right into the camera lens. I was glad he was staring only at the camera lens. At least that’s what it appeared to be. Once she took the snap, "Dude! You know what? You should have photo with everyone here before you go. Something that can remind you how great and wonderful people around here are" he spoke like rehearsing for a play in front of the mic. And with similar dramatic pose, he looked at her and turned back to me giving a classic look, "We must take a photo with her." Before I could wonder where "WE" came from, she replied "Yeah! I will like that". Now not ready to get any more damage, I just did what he said and walked next to her while he adjusted the camera for a self timer shot. I could clearly see that he have kept me out of the focus area. With me grinning at him as he smirked back trying to get the perfect shot of her with the imaginative wolf standing next to her; there came the villain to the scene. "You can join. I will take the photo for you." It was our Project manager who is always ready to help us. "Any problem, come to me. There will be no problem" are his famous words. Not able to refuse, he gave the camera and stood next to her. Still happy to have his photo taken with her, he gave a big smile for the photo. Later, his plans of cropping me out of the photo did not work as our no-problem PM had covered the flashlight and everything was dark in the picture. More strange words echoed back in our room for which I do not want to know the meaning ever in my lifetime. By the way, I did not tell him that she asked for that photo next day.

[+/-]The Phone Call

"Dude! She has not come yet." He told me for the fifth time in the last 10 minutes. "I am in another call man. I will call you back." I replied and disconnected the call. Things did not improve even after being away on a short term transfer. I would have to listen on when she came to office, what she had for breakfast and lunch, who she was talking with and how it made him so upset that he couldn’t code properly on that day. None of his code ever was passed by QA is a different story. There will also be daily notes on how many times he saw her and how many times he thought she looked back at him and of course how many times, he would have called my old desk number mistakenly and would have got her "Nice-talking-to-you-anyway" words. But most of them save a few that involves him would be a repeat to me for she would have told the same in our calls already. After all, she is working in the module that I was looking at before and I have to help her most of the time. He called me again. "Dude! She has never been late before?" "I am in an onsite call now. What do you want me to do idiot." I said controlling my temper. "Dude! Try calling her and see if everything is fine." "What am I supposed to ask her?" I was furious and mocked "Hi! Why are you still not in office? Don’t ask me how I know that. Because I have super human powers which lets me watch any surveillance camera as and when I want. Also I have access to the company security records that send signals to my brain when you swipe your identity card." I was completed irritated by his whining and couldn’t control myself. "You $#%&^%&$" was his reply and it stuck hard on me. It made me realize that he has never used such words at me before. We both became silent for more than a minute and I understood I have crossed the line. I calmed down myself and kept his phone on mute and spoke in the office phone that was on mute earlier. "Yeah! Sorry about the interruption. Where are you right now? ok.. just asking.. nothing.. its just my friend.. Shall I call you back after sometime? Yeah! Sure. Call me from your desk." I disconnected her call and returned to his call. "I am really sorry that I spoke like that dude. Chill down. She should be there in anytime. I will call her and check. Is that ok." I told him with lot of guilt and lies. He too became cool and replied "That’s ok dude. I am also sorry. Just one more thing. Ask her why she is late?" "$#%&^%&$", I screamed and threw the phone.

[+/-]The taste of Margarita

We were seated at three corners of the perfect triangle in a round table for three. It was an uneasy situation and a very awkward one for him. She of course did not know what to do. We were just sitting silently while the entire crowd is chatting and laughing happily over New Year eve. Someone had to break the silence, but it is not going to be me. "So, if your manager around?" he asked though he know the answer to that. It is a definite "No". It was a client sponsored New Year party in a five-star hotel and coupons are provided only to the project members. It was just another way to make people work on New Year Eve. After I returned from my short transfer, I was back in the old project with her. His case was not the same though. The reason how he knows the answer to his question is that he is using her manager's coupon. But still it is worth an attempt for starting conversation. She said "No" and returned back to staring the empty wine glass and I at the half-full Margarita. The main idea of getting her manager's coupon was to sit next to me and stare at her while she enjoys the day with her girl friends at the next table. But things never happen as we plan. I and she were stuck working late in office and had to take a cab together to the party. The only place available was a small round table he has reserved for me. And here we are sharing the table for three.
"You must drink tonight", he said out of the blue.
My eyes just rolled over to his side. One thing was clear. He is already drunk. The vodka shot has already started its work. He was absolutely out of his mind.
"No. Sorry! I don’t drink." I decided not to comment and rolled my eyes back to the drink.
"Yeah! You should at least taste wine for sure. It is New Year eve. Whatever you do today will become past in few hours", he nudged me to help him out. For a moment, I was not able to understand what was going on. A shy guy whose cheeks would turn red at her sight is asking her to drink wine! When I nudged him back disapproving his request, he decided to turn me out. "You know, this is exactly what he would say after getting drunk. He will hold the glass behind his back and would shout, 'I don’t drink! I don’t drink'". She started to laugh looking at me while I just poked his shoulders. But her laugh created different effect on him. One who would give a treat if she says "hi" was able to talk freely while selling out his friend's secrets. "Do you know then he would start talking to the chicken pieces, saying sorry to each of them before eating them." Both were laughing hard while I was the point of humiliation. I also joined with an empty laugh and poked him back. "Stop this or I will have to tell about you too?"
"Like what?" he laughed showing clearing that he was not in the listening mood at least after seeing her happy making fun of me.
Anyway, I decided not to interrupt the fun. After all, the only topic all the three of us can talk is about me. It is the only thing common in the table. So I let it happen and sometimes laughed along with them. The talks went on from my expertise in making puri that look like pappads and snoring at nights to my fear for roaches. His voice would sometimes attract the crowd from the near by tables and more were having fun at my expense. While I joined them for all of them, things went different as he crossed the line. "Do you know about his girl friend?" he said with a broad smile after the fourth vodka shot. Stamping his legs was of no use. "What?" she asked with excitement and confusion on her face. "He is just talking stupid really. Its not true" I said but still got a surprised look from her. I hit the back of his head "What are you saying idiot?" He was completely drunk and continued laughing and pointing his finger at me as if I am hiding something and turned to her "Ask him with whom he is talking every night after 10 PM? He only told that it is his girl friend." She wasn't laughing to that. Neither could I. We both know who that girl was. "Dude! I told that just to drive you away. It is not true" I tried hard to hint him with a strong glare. But it was of no use.
"How does it taste; the drink?" she asked all of a sudden. At first, I didn’t realize what she was asking about. But when I looked that she is pointing to my Margarita, it was strange. I had a slight feeling that she is just trying to change the topic. "It... it tastes good. Bit sour... but good." I managed to say in between her surprising words. She giggled with a mixed smile. "How much will it take to say I am drunk?" she asked again with a big mischievous smile. "Excuse me..." I added though I heard every word of hers. He of course was in complete shock with eyes and mouth wide open. She casually took my Margarita and took a sip slowly. Both of our eyes were fixed hard on the tequila disappearing within her lips. When she kept the glass back, there clearly was a change in liquid level. "Not bad" she said looking at us. We just nodded.

The Countdown
"One glass of Martini please", she added boldly to the waiter. A glass of Margarita and a shot of vodka started its work on her. Though my thoughts were saying that she is drinking above the limit for a fresher, I couldn't object her. For some strange reason, she looked more beautiful with her giggling smile while drunk. I turned to my other side and saw him drunk too. He looked awful as every other men when drunk.
She waved her hands towards her friends in the far table and went towards them.My mind was becoming restless more and more and it had something to do with him sitting on the left side of me. "Why dont you tell her?" I asked. He looked up and questioned back "Tell her what?" he asked.
"That you are crazy about her and torturing me every day talking about her." I moved closer to him.
"Come on dude! I dont torture you". He was cool as always.
"Yes, you do. I am completely irritated by you. She must know about your love tonight" Though my thoughts never want him to express his feelings on her, my mind conveyed that it is the right thing to happen. His crazy love on her has been killing me for a long time. "What love?" he asked with a surprise. "I dont love her" he said still showing his eyes wide open.
"You are drunk", I was getting tired of him.
"I am drunk. But I really dont love her". Somehow he sounded serious. "Seriously. I dont love her."
"But you are crazy about her, you idiot"
"Yeah. I am crazy. But that doesnt mean I love her."
I was getting confused.
"Now listen. Do you remember the Rolex watch with golden strap that we saw in the mall last week. I said that it looked amazing. But I did not buy it. Do you know why?" he asked a rhetorical question.
"May be becuase you dont have the money to buy it?"
"No dude. The point is though it looked marvellous and we were all amazed by it, it didn't suit me." he finished his theory with no explanation. Looking at my confused look, he continued "Its similar to her. Though I am crazy about her, admire her, feel enchanted when she is around, it doesnt mean I love her. I cannot love her. She is differnt and I can never be a perfect match for her." He was sipping his drink after the big speech while I could not decide whether it was the alcohol talking inside him or is it the real explanation for all the commotions he created for all these months in the past. While the both of us were staring at each other. the waiter placed the martini she ordered and without much thought I emptied it immediately. I was completely undecided on any reaction to his unexpected answer.
"You drank my Martini!!" she complained with her childish face as she sat back with us. I just nodded back and looked at her. She looked much more beautiful with her fake complaining face while drunk. And then the countdown for the New Year started and everyone started looking at the huge screen at the center of the hall. They were holding each other's hands in the table in the form of a chain. Following the crowd, I took her left hand and his right hand. He stretched his left hand towards her for completing the chain but it appeared she had no intention of holding him and didnt even bother to keep her right hand above the table. He extended his hand further trying hard to get her attention while she did not notice him in any way and was smiling at her friends in the other table. As the countdown was closing down to ten, everyone was counting aloud with screams and laughter all around while She just kept on smiling at friends and he was trying his level best in bringing her focus back to the table. Then there was just two more more seconds for the New Year. That is when it happened.
"I Love You"
She heard it and turned around surprised.
The New Year was born. Everyone was cheering and wishing each other. The hall was covered with screams and laughter. But it was very silent for me.
"No!"... he said with shock.
"I Love You" I repeated again.
Her look didnt leave any clues of her feelings and I looked deep into her eyes trying to find the answers. I am entirely not sure why I said those words though my heart was longing forever to let her know. The time stood still and it was as if the world had stopped at the beginning of the New Year. We stared at each other's eyes for seconds while the world froze around us. Then came out a tear out of her eyes and it reached the little smile on her face.
Without any words, she lifted her right hand slowly and held out the letter she had been hiding all these time under the table. I reached to it and it felt like holding the whole world but in the weight of a feather. She left the table smiling and ran towards her friends.
"This is not happening!" He exclaimed.

The twice folded letter in my hand
still stretched out in the position
I had received it from her;
my voice stopped all of a sudden;
Every part of me that is left conscious
sending signals to the brain asking
whether it is a dream; my eyes see
only her walking away from me;
left the brain cells creating visions of
the last 12 months that had every day
with something to say about her.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Apple guy makes a sale!

I made the first iPhone sale yesterday. For people who are not aware, I have been an ambassador for Apple for quite sometime and been helping people get their hands on the Fruit of Knowledge, Apple and its products. It is not a tough job working as a sales person for Apple. Actually I do not even have to lie like an ordinary sales person. If Apple ever decides to pay for my survives even at a rate of 10% of the selling price, I would have already made about 480 dollars that includes 6 iPods, 3 nanos, 2 Macbooks and an iPhone. My next target is to sell at least one Macbook Air. It is going to be hard convincing someone that they don’t need a DVD drive. But a sight at the thinnest laptop ever is good enough to make the sale.

PS: If any of you reading this post learns about such intentions of Apple, do let me know. Your help will be appreciated with thanks as well as 10% of my commission.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Growing up on Wheels

It has been exactly 60 days since I bought my car. My own vehicle after the BSA SLR that I drove till my 12th. Thinking back, it is the 4th vehicle that I called it as my own in all my life. The first one was the tricycle that I had when I was one or two years old. I still remember the days when I would cycle around the hall continuously all the time. Though everyone knows it’s just a cycle, it had acted as a Bullet-Enfield bike and would make similar sounds though it always comes from my mouth instead of the non-existing exhaust pipe. It had also acted as sports cars and even space ship in which I would fly around space dodging meteorites (furniture) all around me. And if you think tricycles are very safe, I even had an accident and injured my sister who was sitting on the back seat. But that never stopped me from driving my tricycle. Unfortunately, my growth did stop me from riding it. Slowly things got changed and by the age of 8, it was time for reducing the number of wheels in my cycle.

My dad and uncle were great tutors and would do the same thing that every tutor does. They lie about holding the back of your seat all the time and when you want to know how to use the brakes and would turn around to ask them, they will be standing far away from you and you need not ask them anyway as you might have already hit the floor hard. The interesting part for me was I knew what was going to happen as I had seen the ways in which my cousin was taught. Also people like my sister are always in a suspicious mood and will turn around every few seconds to check if my dad is still holding the bike and had tough time learning. After tough learning that gave entrance to the big world of two wheelers, I was riding the kids bicycle taken for rent. It would be charged 1 rupee for an hour and you don't need to place any deposit to rent one. So time flew by while my tour went larger than the hall this time and extended to the whole neighborhood. I drove my cycle in all stretches of our town and sometimes would go to the immediate villages nearby. No reason was needed for the ride. It was a wonderful time going around the same houses, ringing the bell often and holding the steering bar with just one hand. It was also a cool thing to try riding without holding the bar at all and it rewarded bumper prizes many times with wounds and bruises.

My second vehicle to call as my own was my cousin'ssmall old bicycle which he gave me when he got Hercules MTB considered the latest talk of the town. But I was not dreaming that high because I was not that high in height. When you are a kid of 8 and have friends who also have their bikes, it would mean only one thing on weekends. Race! My bike had always won many races and that is even against big bulky stylish bikes of the town. This small bicycle was so close to me that I was driving that even during my 6th standard. But it was time for a change as everyone in school started addressing me as "The kid with the small bike". And coincidently, there was BSA SLR waiting for me that was wrongly brought for my elder sister. With the new bike, it was always time to show off that I wanted to drive as far as 30 miles to my home town. But all I could drive was for 3 miles to our Fiber factory which has a large ground similar to race tracks. I would drive fast and faster until either I get tired out or the tires get burst. Best remembered memories were during the 10th standard by which we have already formed a team of bike racers with race everyday from our home to the tuition center. Races were considered much serious than exams and racing fast with all energy to win. Notable events include hitting hard on the road with cuts on elbows and knees and the race with the friend who is very new to town and forgot that he didn't knew the route to tuition. The race ended and I was the clear winner with no sign of him at all. He had lost the way but somehow managed to return home while I was searching all over the town for hours.

Things needed to be much faster during the higher secondary days as we had to travel long distance for tuitions. Dad's bike slowly took over the bicycle time but I couldn't visualize how much the use of my cycle was reduced with need for engine power. And when I went for college in a different town, riding bicycles became a rare opportunity for me. And before I could realize, my BSA SLR worn out and I do not know what happened to the bicycle that was part of most of my travels around the town. The days at work in Bangalore and Hyderabad also didn't demand the need for a two wheeler so there was no vehicle to be called as my own since my college days. And here I am holding the keys to my own car and as I look back, I have driven a long way to reach here and there is also going to be long journey ahead in the future.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

First step towards the dream

I have been thinking for the last two days on how best to tell this good news, but couldn’t get the right words. I think it is better to say it in simple words.

My sister got a job in TCS and I am very happy she is moving towards her dream at last. The surprising and wonderful part in this is that she cleared three stages including Group discussion and HR interview to get the job offer. It should be noted that this is only the second company she is getting interviewed. Born to a traditional family where everyone thinks women are destined to be rulers of the home, I welcome her changing the tradition and walking towards an independent life. Though our family knows the importance of education to girls, going to work is considered a burden for girls and we have inclined towards having them a comfortable life away from the clutches of work. Hats off to my sister for trying to break the chain. I must admit that I am sorry that I couldn’t provide her the inspiration for doing higher studies as she wanted, but it is comforting she is able to do what she wants after her marriage. Wishes to my brother-in-law for rising up for her and ready to share the daily chores in the kitchen. All the best to both of them.

This is going to be having your own sister on the other side of the competition(TCS). But I think I can handle it as we both know that I am always the smart one in the family.