Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Noisy rendezvous under the cubicle

It's 21:20pm on a Monday. Am sitting in office minding my own business, which includes doing competitor analysis, sprucing up the project report, checking mail every 5 minutes and chatting with my K juniors.

Me and the tech guy are the only people in the floor. Usually, as soon as the other people leave for the day, this guy hogs the telephone and starts calling up all his ‘friends’, who, apparently have such shrill voices that though I try not to listen, I end up hearing most of their conversations, which by the way is nothing but balderash....…I would have enjoyed it if it was a little mushier or even a little bolder. But this is just talks about mundane stuff and lots of hmmms and aahs and haans.

Today the tech guy decided to do something different. He arranged for a meeting with his ‘friend’ in the office and his friend, according to him, has threatened him that she would run away to Gujarat if he doesn’t marry her. Which by the way had me wondering why on earth was this guy telling me his problems in life. I realised the reason after 10 minutes.

He wanted my sympathy. So that I won’t complain when he brings his ‘friend’ inside the office at 9:30 in the night when there’s no one else in the floor. But unfortunately for him, these days I am working late and working hard on my project. How he would have cursed me and my project!

Right now, while I am typing this, the tech support guy and his ‘friend’ are engaged in some ‘friendly antics’. That too some highly noisy friendly antics!

God! If this is the case how do you expect me to complete my project in just 3 more days? Or is this some kind of test for me from you after CAT? A test on whether I’ll be a good employee and report this to the ombudsperson or whether I’ll be a sympathetic romantic at heart and go out for a walk and give the friends some space or whether I can shut out all distractions and churn out gyan on business strategy?

Why me?!

Hmmm on second (very wicked) thoughts, maybe this is the time to put my camera phone to its use and come out with some tehelka style pics! Very wicked smile!

Now the ‘friend’ is telling the tech support guy how she was vomiting yesterday!

And she is crying!

Hey bhagwan! Tomorrow I am bringing my headphones to work.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The BIG difference a T-shirt can make!

I am glad I carried my Media Cell IIM Kozhikode T-shirt out here to Delhi. It’s a black Tee with IIM Kozhikode that one cannot miss. I make sure that I wear it on all Fridays (when casuals are allowed) and whenever else I get a chance. Why?

6. I or K?
I don’t know why people have the misconception that K is the youngest IIM. Every single person who I have talked to about K, believed with conviction that IIM Indore was established before IIM Kozhikode. Not that it’s of any significance, considering the fact that junta had seen the news of an IIMK student bagging a foreign offer of 37 lakhs in the last placement season and remembered it well enough to bring it up in our conversation. I make sure that I tell them – No, it was IIM Kozhikode which was set up before IIM Indore. And yes, we have our own campus. And yes oh yes, it’s a resort where they teach. :) Some lucky ones get to see the pics in my laptop too.

5. My contribution to Kerala tourism.
Once they see the pics of IIM Kozhikode and some other typical-all-green-Kerala-pics 60% of the people I have interacted with have made plans to make a trip to Kerala to experience the hill stations, trekking trails on Wayanad, houseboats in the meandering backwaters, the tree-houses, Guruvayoor temple and what not!
Venugopal ministerji, are you listening?

4. Networking.
I make more acquaintances on the day that I wear this T-shirt compared to the other days. It’s so easy to start a conversation when the topic is already in place and you are very passionate about it And the biggest advantage is that the IIM tagged T-shirt attracts only the right kind of people and keeps away those 100% flirts who hit on anything female at every chance they get.

3. Media Cell at work among the junta.
There have been people who have come up to me and talked to me with genuine interest about IIM Kozhikode – in some cases the conversations have spanned more than half an hour. I am happy that I have spread the ‘light’ of IIM Kozhikode among a small population in Delhi/Noida.

2. Can you pronounce it?
There’s a catch. You have to do it in the mallu way. :)
No one I have met here (I am talking about the Northies) recognise IIM Kozhikode when I pronounce ‘Kozhikode’ in the way it is to be done – that is the ‘zhi’ is pronounced the way Americans roll their rs. When I say Kozhikode, people look at my lips, amazed at how I am able to produce such a sound! Most of them try their best but still can muster only Korikode or Kosykode!
Yeah it’s very cosy out there in our campus. :)

1. My fav reason
It makes the men look up from their ‘usual angle of vision’ and look up at me as something else other than just a member of the opposite sex to be looked at from head to toe when she passes by. The mix of respect, awe, incredulity, a little bit of jealousy in their faces is what makes my day!

But then this applies to only a small percentage of the population who know what an IIM is. Sadly, the rest stick to their usual ‘angles of vision’.

Monday, May 23, 2005

It's not all hunky dory here.....

These days all taxi drivers and auto drivers or anyone who in Delhi look like potential rapists to me. Not to mention how I avoid those sleazy looking jaywalkers in the road like the plague. Maybe I am overreacting, but it IS scary! Everyday you have at least one page coverage on rape cases and then you have a half a page ad that gives women tips on how not to get raped! Maybe I too should get one of those Pepper spray cans.

Made plans to go for a movie with friends over the weekend and what do I hear? Bomb blasts in two cinemas here over some silly (maybe not so silly for the people who planted the bombs) religious issue.

If I just say that its hot in delhi these days it would be an understatement. Everytime I go out it feels like I step out into a huge sauna bath....Sauna bath in formals anyone?
The situation is not very different even if one ventures out only after sunset. And if you thought you could get back home and cool yourself by having a nice cold shower, you are very much mistaken. The water would still be hot enough to make Maggi noodles in it. So what do I do daily? Run around the entire house and collect the first cup of cool water from all the taps!
Maybe today I should try out ice cubes.

Isn't it just too expensive in Delhi? Come summer you definitely need those ACs/Coolers for a comfortable sleep. Come winter and you need to spend an equal amount on geysers etc to keep yourself warm.

And not to mention the distance one needs to travel to get to some place.

Thanks to the above and many more other reasons, Delhi is currently not in my consideration set of cities I would want to finally set up my little home.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Tread softly.............

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
-- William Butler Yeats

Such a romantic piece of poetry! Sitting all alone in office at 4PM on a lovely Saturday, feeling lonely and happy at the same time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

What a quote!

"We could really speed up the whole process of drug improvement if we did not have all the rules on human experimentation. If companies were allowed to use clinical trials in Third World countries, paying a lot of poor people to take risks that you wouldn't take in a developed country, we could speed up technology quickly. But because of the Holocaust ..."

says Mr. Fukuyama, a member of the President's Council on Bioethics and the director of the Human Biotechnology Governance Project.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Gaming - ammo for your grey cells?

Isn’t that something you always told your mom when she screamed at you for gaming continuously for hours on end without even bothering to have your dinner, but she never believed?

The Tribune also takes side with mummy. While glorifying the 10K computer from India in its editorial, Tribune goes a little bit further to say that “Encore’s computer will not have the facility to play games, which will enhance its value in the eyes of parents.........”

I can imagine my mom, if she comes to hear about this computer, deciding right away to replace both our PCs at home with this 'gameless' one.

But not so fast. An HR at Charles Schwab quoted - “The people who play games are into technology, can handle more information, can synthesize more complex data, solve operational design problems, lead change and bring organizations through change.”

Reason for all those gaming freaks who want to clear CAT, make it big and ‘bring organizations through change’ to be happy and to hold on to that joystick with a renewed passion. :)

Next time you go for an interview don’t be surprised if things take a very surprising turn.

HR - “Do you like Video games? Have you been playing it right since childhood?”

You, the impeccably dressed but nervous Interviewee, breaks into a sweat as he/she decides whether to go by the Harischandra route or whether to portray a games-are-for-sissies attitude. Finally you decide to keep it short and sweet and go for it.

YouGulp "Yes."

HR – "Good. You are hired. Here’s your spot."

You - Speechless.

HR - Aloud Placecomm, please filter the resumes according to the hobbies. I want to see all those who have put Video games as their first or second hobby. Yes. You heard me right. Only first or second.

But then it remains to be seen whether the same HR would like it if you pursue your 'business-skill enhancing' hobby in the office.

:P

Here’s something more for all those CAT-aspirants and those who love to simply tickle their grey cells and those who are plain vela and those who are puzzle freaks and of course those who wanna prepare for an Infy placement test.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A sad opportunity

This is a real incident and if you can identify with the people and circumstances in the following text, it is NOT a coincident.

Another cab ride. This time I am sharing the cab with 3 other people. They belong to the new generation of workers in India – the BPO employees. Teenagers, good looking (Delhi seems to have plenty of this variety), big-mouths, latest model cell phones, junk jewellery, tinted and spiked hair, independent-and-loving-it kinds.

Thankfully this time I was a silent listener. Though it was entertaining in the beginning, it was depressing to listen to the entire episode and find out the reason for this conversation!

The below text is an approximate reproduction of a cell phone conversation I overheard during the cab ride back home. Let’s call him LM1 for Loud Mouth1.

Hello? Reliance customer care?

Yeah, I bloody well want your help dude.

I got a f****** bill today morning and you seem to have charged me for calls I won’t even dream of making. There are two calls to Texas, 3 to New York and 5 to God-knows-what’s-that-place.

You want more details? Yeah my f****** number is 98719xxxxx and my name is Loud Mouth1.

Yeah that’s right. Look up your frigging records.

Yeah I will wait. But you better put on some nice music.

Looks at his friends LM2 and LM3 in the cab and gives them a thumbs up sign.

Hey what’s taking you so damn long? By the time you get back I think I would have got a new bill.

Don’t sorry-sir-me you b**b and tell me what’s the f****** problem.

You don’t know? What kind of a customer care executive are you?

You earn 15000 per month don’t you? And still you don’t know what to do?

Come on……speak out. Cat got your tongue? Say something. What’s your salary?
Confidential information my a**

You know what, I am going to complain about you to your team leader and your manager. Transfer the call to them, bimbo.

Makes faces to let LM2 and LM3 know that the guy on the other side is totally freaked out now.

You can’t? What kind of a call center is this? Where is your office? Gurgaon? Noida? Where?

Oh even that is confidential information huh?

Oh well then what do you plan to do about my problem?

You don’t have enough data? What more do you want dude?

You want me to send you a mail with my details and the problem? Tell me your mail address.

Cuteboy453@yahoo.com? Are you allowed to check mails on your operations floor?

Then how will you help me?

You need more time?

What do you think? I have nothing better to do? This is it. I need to talk to your Team leader.

Oh you can’t transfer the call. Okie then gimme his mobile number

He’s busy? That’s okie, I’ll call him after sometime. Now gimme the number NOW.

98-7-1-6-2-3-5-4-3? Okie dumb-box. Just wait and see what I am gonna do. You can kiss your job goodbye.

Hey one more thing, there should be some email in which I can register a complaint about your service?

Yeah. Tell me that mail address and also your team leader’s address.

Takes down the mail addresses and signals a victory sign to LM2 and LM3 who are equally excited.

Okie a**hole. Just wait and see what happens. Hope you have a really stinky day.

Goodbye sweetheart.

I was wondering why LM1 was so rude to the customer care executive. I expected that ideally LM1 should have been sympathetic to the dude at the other end cause they both do the same kind of work.

But later I learnt from LM3 that LM1 had got a ‘ripe’ call that day from a firangi who used all sorts of ‘ripe’ words at him. So what I witnessed was just ‘normal’ stuff that they do to relieve their tension.

It’s not very difficult to understand the mindset of a call center employee, especially when you see the dynamics unfolding right in front of your eyes(or ears.....whatever!)

- You have a neat call center job.

- You work night shifts.

- Like the latest BPO ad shows you land up at home early morning when your newly wed is just about to wake up in time for breakfast. I wonder what the ad is trying to say? "Scared of spending the nights with your spouse? Come join our BPO."

- You get screamed at by some irate customers who get even more agitated when they find out that you work in an outsourced call center and just your luck this person’s ex-girlfriend’s cousin got laid-off because of people like you.

- You get screamed at by your boss cause your ‘quality’ of work is not good enough since customers scream at you. Isn’t that a vicious circle?

- You get screamed at by your wife and kids (if you ever manage to have them at all, considering the problems you have with your spouse) who gets to see only a very sleepy and irritated person who takes out all the screaming tension on them.

- You realise after a couple of years that there’s only so much you can grow and earn doing the kind of work you do and only a very small percent of the entire janta gets promoted.

- Peer pressure hurts when you see that your other friends have very satisfying jobs and happy family lives.

Let’s not even talk about the health problems.

So many complications!

Is an 18 year old ready to take the tensions that tags along with the good salary package of a BPO job?

Keeping in mind the present growth rate and attrition levels of the BPO industry, within 10 years there would about 12 million people who have either worked or are working in this industry.

What a goldmine for psychiatrists and marriage counsellors and divorce lawyers in India!

Monday, May 09, 2005

18 degrees of frustration

I hate the autowallahs in Delhi. They think nothing of charging 50rs for even a minimum distance ride. They have perfected a cartel so that finally consumers like me who have no other choice are forced to shell out the dough after an unsuccessful attempt at a bargain.
What autos are to other places, human tongas are to Delhi.


BPO employees are hep. Some are fat. Some are really really fat. Some are hot. Some are super hot. Most of them are dressed to kill. I am sure everyday they take more time preening themselves than reading the newspaper.

A cabmate of mine wears Rudraksha beaded necklaces to work for the guru effect. My uncle wears it cause he is afraid to sleep alone and believes that the rudraksha will keep the evil spirits away.

A handshake is a universal token of friendliness here. Be it in office, or at home or in the street when two cab drivers greet each other. Something that may not be done even in offices back in Trichur. North-South effect?

Idlis and Vadas are to northies what Navaratn Kurma and Mutter Paneer are to southies. People celebrate lunch time here when south indian breakfast items are served for lunch.
Almost staple food of one part of the country becomes exotic at the other end.

Cinna stix with apple sauce from Domino´s rocks.

My appetite for junk food has expanded these days. So has my midriff.

It feels so good when every day I go back home to two very naughty and adorable kids who call me didi in their own special inimitable way.

My project and I are not on talking terms anymore.

I love the mornings and hate the evenings in office. Does it have anything to do with the fact that I try to work in the evenings?

Mother of all surprises - the vending machine in my office serves the best tea I have ever tasted. I guess someone is trying hard to convert a coffee person to a tea person eh?

I hate it when paychecks don’t arrive in time. Do these people how much an auto ride costs these days?

My office is super cooled. It has to be 18 degrees, not a degree more not a degree less (cause that is the minimum setting). Employees who try to turn it up get a rude spanking that the server has to be kept at 18 degrees, otherwise it may not work at its optimum performance level.
Okie. But how about my performance level? What if I die not because of the meningitis epidemic in Delhi but because of the gelid conditions in the office? What about the shock my body experiences every time I walk out from an 18degrees room to a 40degrees atmosphere?
The admin guy doesn’t care.
Bottom line - I am dispensable. The server is not.

A 1 foot diameter masala dosa and sweet salt lime juice can be a deadly combination.

A puny looking guy has set up a small makeshift shop just outside my office. He calls it the 'Tyre Pencher shop'.

Punchline of the day - No But, sirf Jatt! (courtesy Sunny Sardar Deol.)
Song of the day - Teri to by Bombay rockers. (K junta - we have to have this song in our next K party.)
Book of the day – Who says elephants can’t dance by Louis Gerstner, Jr.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The longest cab ride

This is something that really irritated me today. Why do some people want to pry so much into other people’s lives? That too just becuase I happen to be a Mallu. I can understand small talk – Karunakaran’s new party or the houseboats or Mallu movies or anything else but this!


Some background – Swamy and I are sharing an office cab and commuting from one office to the other.

"Oh hi Priya. You are a mallu too?"

"Yeah, partly. You too a mallu? Your name?"

"Swamy."

"Nice to meet you Swamy."

"So Priya, where are you from?"

"Trichur."

"Where in Trichur?"

"Right in the town itself."

"Oh, where?"

"You have been to Trichur?"

"No."

Sheesh! Then why do you ask?

Silence for 2 minutes. I entertain myself by looking at the pics in my camera phone.

"I noticed you since you are the only person who comes right at 10 to office."

I give a very plastic smile.

"So what’s your full name?" He tries hard to read my name from the document I am carrying with me.

I change the subject. "Hey how much more time to get to the other office? I am already late for my appointment with the VP."

"It will take 10 more minutes. So what is this meeting about?"

"Well, I am summer trainee here and I have my project review with my guide."

"Oh, why don’t you try getting a job here."

Why do I always end up with such people. "Well, I am a student right now. Will think about jobs after 6 months."

"Okie. You know there are no Malayalees in this department."

"Oh?"

I am really surprised to hear that. They say that when Apollo landed in moon, they saw that a malayalee had already set up a chayakkada(tea-shop) there.

The department I am working in employs only CAs and CPAs – I wonder whether that would be the reason for the absence of mallus. Not many CA/CPA mallus who have worked in the Big 4? Or maybe it’s not as lucrative as a gelf job or a chayakkada in one of the heavenly bodies.

"Yeah. But you know T department has a lot of mallus. Especially all the top people."

Now he’s talking my language. Maybe I can get some insider info from him. "Oh I see. Who are they?"

"There’s one Mr. X."

"Oh yeah I’ve met him."

"Then there’s Miss Y and Mrs. Z."

"Okie." Not very interested cause I realise that I won't get anything more than Mallu statistics from him.

Silence for another 2 minutes. I start taking pictures of the traffic with my phone-camera. Swamy tries his best to take a look at my project report that lay between us in the seat. I casually take it and put it inside my lappie bag. I don’t feel very comfortable with this person and once I feel that way towards a person, I can be as closed as nun’s panties. I had read this usage some days back and couldn’t resist the temptation to use it here! :)

"So where do you stay?"

"Well, I stay with some relatives."

"Oh. Where?"

I give a vague location. "Sector 51."

"Oh where in sector 51?"

This time I had enough. I don't care if he thinks that I am rude. "Why do you want to know?"

"Just asked."

I give a cold stare. "I am not very sure. I am new to this place, you see."

"Okie."

Silence for one more minute.

"Hey there is there nice Mallu restaurant near the office. They serve the best Chicken biriyani in NCR."

"Oh great. But I am vegetarian."

"Oh."

I am sure he must have thought…Mallu and a vegetarian? This is typical reaction I get from people.

You know I have been in Delhi from 5 years now....... I think - Wow!, it would have taken a lot of effort to preserve that simbly suberb accent!...... And earlier I was working with RDT Inc and then I was staying at Nala Vihar and then I quit at 2001 and started working for YTE corp and then I moved to Mast Vihar and then in 2003 I joined this place…..

I look at this person in amazement. Self-motivated speaker. I don’t even take the effort to nod to whatever he says, but still goes on.

I start staring intently at my Qutb Minar Wallpaper of my cellphone as if looking for some treasure. He doesn’t dare to disturb me for 2 minutes.

So what do you study?

I pretend I didn't hear that question.

"Huh?"

"What are you studying?"

"MBA."

"Oh. From where?"

"IIM Kozhikode."

"Kozhikode. My wife’s family is from there."

"Great."

"How many mallus are there in your college?"

"I am not sure. I haven’t counted."

"Oh. But even then give me a rough figure."

"Around 10."

"Okie."

I look outside the window and out on a deep-thought expression on my face while praying that he should please shut up for some time so that I will have some time to think about how I should go about the project discussion.

"So what time are you going home today?"

Whoever said perseverance is good? "Well……around 7."

"Okie. I am also going by 7. But we won’t be in the same cab. I live in a different direction."

Phew. Finally, I am happy to hear something from him. It cheers me up a little bit. "Okie."

"I think my cab number is 234. And yesterday you know what happened……."

Me to the driver - "Bhayya, radio lagayiye please."

Driver - "Radio nahi hai madam."

That trick also failed. As usual the whole world is conspiring for this. From the moment I got placed in this company, I knew something was in store. But I had no idea all that was for this one cab-ride.

"Okie bhaiyya. Aap gaadi jaldi chalayiye. Hum late ho rahe hain."

"Theek hai madam."

Swamy starts talking again as if it is his birthright.

"So who all do you have at home?"

"Everyone."

"Okie. Your house is terraced or tiled?"

"Both."

"Oh. How old are you?"

I almost lose my cool at this point. I decide that maybe I should also play the same game.

"16"

He thinks for some time.

"16? But you are doing your MBA......"

"Yeah."

"How is that possible?"

"Well, I was a really smart kid so they promoted me to 10th right after 3rd. They said I would scare off the other kids in the class."

"Oh!"

From his expression I could see that he believed what I said. He looks at me with a sort of awe+disbelief in his eyes.

"Yeah. It was there in Asianet news 3 years back."

"Oh. I didn’t see."

"Okie no problem."

He doesn’t say a word for 3 minutes. I am happy that finally I was able to shut up this garrulous guy. I tell myself that there should be a warning against such people.

Warning – Mallus beware. Will ask about your potty habits right after shaking hands.

But it doesn’t last for long.

"I had puttu for breakfast today."

"Okie."

"What did you have?"

"I don’t remember."

He thinks for sometime and changes the topic.

"You know there is a gym in the office. Complete with A/C, style speakers, shower rooms blah blah blah…"

"Yeah. I know."

He looks at me in great detail and stops looking when I give him the you - look - at - me - once - more - like - that - sonny - and - I’ll - skin - you - like - they - skinned - the - poor - snake - in - the - Madlives - special - I - saw - in - Discovery - Channel - yesterday look.

"But I don’t think you need to go to gym."

I literally glare at him. "Excuse me. I have to make a call."

It's not a coincidence that my call lasts till I reach the office.

Sheesh…….I can't believe such people exist and are alive and kicking!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

In search of a tree to hug

I came across this piece of text…………

"Beyond human beings, we are nature beings, created from the same source as animals, plants, even rocks. The earth calls for us to connect so that we can feel balanced and whole; a part of the universe. All jokes aside, hugging a tree feels good. The strength of wood is a comfort in its solidness and we feel supported when we lean against a tree. It feels natural to wrap our arms around the trunk, as if the tree is hugging us back. The leaves sing to us on a breeze, reminding us that we are loved."

…………and reading it made me feel so good that I decided to hug a tree and to ‘connect’ with nature! I could picture myself hugging a tree with BLISS written in Garamond and 30 size font all over my face.

Someone always says when you feel so strongly about something, you should go ahead and do it at the nearest opportunity.

So today morning during my morning walk, I went in pursuit of a huggable tree for the experiment. A tree-hug cannot get better than an early morning one when both the parties are fresh.

But it wasn't as easy as I had thought it would be. It's definitely not find the nearest tree and hug it. Only when I started to look for a tree that I found out that the decision tree had more branches than a normal natural tree. And I also had to turn down lots of specimens mainly because

- Some of them grew so close to the wall enclosing the colony that I wasn’t able to ‘hug’ them properly.

- To be frank, some of them did not look good enough for me to even include them in my consideration set. (My dear trees, no offence meant. But you were just not my type.)

- Some of them were already being used to ‘connect’ to the nature by the doggies in the colony that even before I approached the tree, my olfactory senses started saying "No way I am gonna go near something that smells like that".

- 70% of the specimen available for my inspection were neem trees. And a neem tree somehow gives me the itchy feeling – must be it’s connection with Chicken pox. How can I hug such a tree when my mind says NO?

Finally I found the perfect tree. A small tree with a pretty little creeper hugging it like no one can! I made my bold move, ignoring the questioning glances from the other joggers and the kids in their complete school gear waiting for their tonga. I hugged the tree slowly but surely. I slowly encircled the tree with both my arms and gently pressed my cheek to the trunk. I have to admit it did feel good. It felt so good that I closed my eyes, squeezed the tree lovingly, absorbing the energies the tree was happy to give me in return. I could imagine the satisfied smiling face of the tree and felt very proud and happy about myself.

Total hugging time - Has to be close to 5 minutes.

But little did I know that I was allergic to that pretty looking creeper. I got rashes on my hands and my cheek and I feel like I have chicken pox and someone is throwing neem leaves at me and it's prickling like hell!

Tomorrow I am gonna hug a tree after doing a proper allergy test.