Monday, June 30, 2008

Harsh reality

It was just after my 10th exams that I got the idea to rush to my native place, a village in the countryside. With images of beautiful, exciting days from books, I reached there full of hope. Mainly, to see the never-ending paddy fields, the splashing of water and the sweet noise of birds. Awaiting me was harsh reality. The fields were being filled in by large earth-movers. The water in the river had dried up due to a dam upstream. Birds did not have any home and I saw only crows. The night under a fan was no different from the city.

As I departed, I saw the black, smoky hands of urbanisation enveloping my sweet old village.

Manu Chandran, XII
Thiruvananthapuram: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan S.S. School

PS : This was my first published work; in Quest,HinduSo I thought it needed a space here. This is the link.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A tale of one city

“We are screwed up dude….” , we were sitting in the Amritha restaurant, first floor, Nila having two masala doshas each.

Twenty minutes back
The power had just gone and heman was staring at the lappy with the power level near 20% and swearing all the god-damn-words he has picked up all through his life. My PC just lost its power. I was sighing in relief, I had saved all my data 2 minutes back.

Me: “O, Cmmn man, we got 5 days more to complete”
He: “O,ya ? two weeks back we had 3 weeks of lavish time to complete and we are not even 20% over”

Me: “But man now we know all the fundas, all the booby trap holes… it will be easy.. don’t worry.. I am sure u will find some dates in between to get married off.”

He: “manu chetta ( in his rajastani accent) , u miiiiii… ; What the fuck man, this bloody protocol wont let me get married and wont let u get off this job”.

Me: “commn heman, we are going to make it, u will plenty of time b4 marriage and I am going to go to this new job. Ok.. now let us move our ass and get something to eat. We will be back by the time power is back.okiey?? ”

I took my key chain, which I always keep inside my helmet so I don’t forget the helmet. I choose not to take the helmet today.We got out of the office, or more of what it was. It was pitch dark outside. The guard was having his dinner besides his emergency lamp. We informed him that we would be right back after the dinner. Justise chettan(guard) gave a knowing smile. Can’t really blame him, he has been seeing this scene for the last some 3 weeks. Thanks to the notorious Kerala electricity Board we were having power failure quite often and thanks to the cold war with technopark we were left with no back up power and a Damocles sword of deadline hanging above us.
We took the bike, went to Sharma dhaba. It was almost past nine forty five. The place was so crowdy with people from the night shift of UST. Some people were discussing how bad a night shift was. Oh,really? So how about working from 9 in the morning to three late into night? Almost around the clock, around the week without even the “Oh, thank god, Sunday is here”. Howzzz that buddy? We looked at each other ,didn’t say anything, the price we have to pay for daring to be different, daring to be in a small company.

We were really hungry, so we thought we will go to some other place. Off in the bike, to the next junction. The whole place looked as if it has been ages since the shops are closed,it was just past ten. Ya, that is how the city of trivandrum is. Always lazy. You can feel the laziness in everything from the transport to the style of shopkeepers. The little old, sweet, lazy trivandrum. It is a great place to settle as family. No hassles of traffic jam, very clean air, good food. Capital of Gods own country.

So here we are back at our good old amritha deciding to settle the dinner with two masala doshas.
We were discussing so many things, about life, about future dreams – mine of building robots and his of starting his own company, about having no girl friends or having so many of them or in short how FUBAR life has become. U don’t know what is FUBAR? Fucked Up Beyond Any Recognition. Ya, and how similar it was to the code that we were trying to get up running. It was a perfect analogy, a frightful one.
We went back having had the small dinner, enough to keep us awake for another 3 hours. We also packed up some paratha and curry so that we wont be hungry late into night. We decided on doshas cos, a heavy dinner makes u a lot sleepier after around 1’o clock. Wisdom from experience forced us to buy food so that we were sure we will get hungry at around 1 and now back to the FUBAR protocol.
Only two of us were there, and we had the same taste in music. Thanks for being in an audio company, we had the highest quality speakers that you can find only in professional studios. So we started up with our usual start up song.

” Thu hi meri Zindingi…Thu hi meri har ghushi…Kaise phoolegi mera naam…“

And u know what? Even in my new company if I really want to focus on work and nothing other than work. I get my mp3 player into this song, and I am into the “in**P” work mode. Focused, full of energy, only issue being I cant sing along or play the rhythm on the desk and missing the nice smile of my comrades.
So, ya after working about 3 hours more, with lot of banging-head-on-desks , we go for our second round of foodings. Though heman looks fat , it is I who take up most of the food during our these dinners. Again a set of new songs and work till 3, and we reluctantly agree, “man, we are really screwed up”. We make up new plans, new routes to take the program and decides to sleep.

This was happening all the time all the days and usually we go to heman’s place since my home was some 20km away. There were also days when I went back to home reaching around 4am in the mornign, got in house with my extra keys and see the surprise on dads face next day morning when he finds me home. But today, it was really cold. I thought aloud

“heman why not sleep here itself? “.
“are u sure man? Where? “

“ hmm, we will arrange the chairs and sleep on it.”

We slept at the office that day. (No, we are not gay, just in case your perverted mind started thinking so). Next day morning one more lesson added to the book of wisdom. In case u want to sleep at office, sleep on the floor or the table, not on cushioned chairs,cos cushioned chairs get the hell of ur body and all day u will have pain on your body.
Almost the same drill the next some days, with the exception of going home or hemans place after work and a little early like after 1am. We found that we cant go without sleep for many days, cos our productivity was declining rapidly without sleep. There were times when we were finding NO solution at night; we wake up next day and within the first 15 minutes a hell lot of bugs get cleared.
So ya, a lot of lessons, a lot of musings on the good old ICT days when the whole office was awake till one with even discussions at one o clock with the master brain rakechan leading and cracking his well known “ki ki ki “ smile, and how hard the protocol is and all.
There is only one way to describe it and a man had done it better than me, none other than Charles Dickens.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,

we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way
in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil.”
-A tale of two cities

May be an outsider or ‘some’ managers couldn’t really understand and appreciate what it meant. But for the working black horses, who really pulled the weight, can easily understand all the words, phrases, the inner meanings and the twist and the turns that Dickens wanted to convey. Even the last two sentences mean a lot; if you read those once more.( “in short…noisiest authorities…” ) :-)
If someone thinks that they had any part in our successes, not this alone but any we had at the office, I just want to reaffirm here that “We the pillars earned every bloody penny and nickel of it”. I am sure, all the load-bearing pillars of this office know the truth and that is what matters. We finished many a project in time, We the black horses.
Hats off to you, comrades. “It was the best of times…It was the worst….. The Saga continues…

Signing off, MC

Please read the comments also. It is quite interesting.