Thursday, June 29, 2006

City of Dreams - Episode Zwei!

The realms of software...
I stole a glance at the guy sitting next to me. At first, he appeared to be writing something on his notepad. I wondered what he could be noting down. We already had handouts of all the ‘information’. A closer look appeased my doubting mind. He was in another world. A peaceful look spread across his countenance as he shifted to a more comfortable position. After all it isn’t easy to sleep sitting on a straight-backed chair! His pen was etching aimless tracks on the paper. Occasionally his eyes opened, and he tried to focus on the man droning away up front. Seeing the instructor look his way he nodded to indicate that he had grasped what was being taught in its entirety. He hoped there wouldn’t be a test on this. The façade didn’t last very long. Soon his head drooped and his eyelids lost the battle to stay open. He was back in his world. I envied him! Looking around the whole room seemed to be in a state of suspended animation. This state of existence only changed when the session was over or when the break was announced.
That was one of the typical scenes
at the training sessions we underwent. They lasted for more than two months. The non-technical training was quite entertaining and resulted in the group bonding very well and having some memorable times, be it dumbcharades in the training room or a trip to the beach. However the technical trainings were almost always as described above, with a few exceptions. And those were usually the moments when someone muttered something funny and we had to somehow maintain a straight face. It surprises me as to how in such situations, even little things make you want to burst out laughing.
The first paycheck evokes a plethora of different emotions. It brings about a feeling of financial independence and the realization of the fact that for the first time in life one doesn’t have to look homewards the moment the pockets are empty. No wonder we checked our online accounts each time they logged on to the net to see whether the deposit had been made. In their minds many were already indulging in their long suppressed passions.
Even though we had been together for just a short span of two months we had shared a lot of firsts with each other; first job, first pay… the list goes on. Each person’s birthday was celebrated in style and it felt like family. The fact that not one person in the group was from Mumbai probably helped things towards this end. However, all good things come to an end. This was no exception. Towards the end of the training session, the group was split unevenly into 10 and 6. The larger part would go into Java at SEEPZ. The rest of us would end up at ‘Haria Center’ to work on Siebel. I can safely vouch for the rest of the group in saying that we didn’t have the least idea about either!
All in all, it was a very happening time. We were getting accustomed to a new city and a new lifestyle. Terrorists added to the happenings with a few bomb blasts on buses. On the 19th day of September 2003 we shifted from the modern Vile Parle building to Haria Center (very few know of its existence!). And thus began our tryst with software.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

City of Dreams - Episode Eins!

June 23rd 2003 - I-Flex Solutions Ltd.
It took me some time to find the place. Actually I almost entered another building along the way which looked like the perfect setup for a software firm. Another victim of preconceived notions… Interestingly, I still do not know what that building houses! As I waited, people began to turn up in groups of two or three. Soon there were about eight guys murmuring away. It was apparent they knew each other. I turned to see my friend and prospective roommate from college arrive. A familiar face at last. Finally, we decided to go inside. While the regulars just flashed their cards to enter, we had to wait till we were let in by the security guards. We waited at the reception on the comfortable sofa sets, looking at the new faces and wondering if the others felt the tinge of apprehension too.
Soon we were led up to what would be our camping grounds for the next three months; the training rooms. The first thing we noticed was that the temperature in these rooms was significantly lower than the rest of the building. Never figured out the reason for that, though it led to a lot of humorous discussions.
Once we were settled down our instructors organized an introductory session. It turned out that there were sixteen of us; four from COEP, four from IT-BHU and eight from IIT-KGP. It was a diverse mix of 16 engineers just out of college. We were made to sign an endless number of forms that made us unwittingly accept a lot of things that I fail to recall now.
Looking around I wondered whether I would get along with the lot. And I am pretty certain that similar thoughts were traversing the minds of some, if not all the others too. Over the next year I would be spending some of my greatest days with this group, or at least a part of it. But, being unable to foretell the future, I did not know that then.
The evening was spent in search of accommodation. After a few visits to ramshackle apartments being leased at exorbitant rates, I wondered whether the starting of this new life was to be in a dingy, odious apartment. A long bus journey back to the defense guest house followed by a hot meal was the culmination of day one.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Into The 'Real' World...

(6th month of the year 2003)
The BE final semester exams were over a few days ago. COEP had a deserted look compared to the bustle during the exams. However the final year students still came at times in order to finish pending work related to their projects or at times for their final project presentation. The 500 odd students of the 2003 batch were suddenly out of college. During the four years they spent there few thought about how they would feel once this life was over, and now that it was, few knew what to think, or even feel. It was again one of those transitional phases in life. When one is forced to move out of ones comfort zone and re-learn to live.
These were some of the myriad thoughts that went through my mind as I waited for my project partners to arrive. It was the day of our final presentation. A few days earlier we had given a demonstration of the project, and that had almost been a major fiasco due to no fault of ours. It worked out at the last minute as was often the case in engineering and we got through. Were we lucky that we scraped through or were we unlucky to get into the stupid situation in the first place? One of those questions whose answer always will elude me. Anyway, that is a discussion left for another day.
The project presentation went quite well. At the end of it the external examiner was peacefully snoring, our guide looked mystified while we were just relieved that it was finally over. We packed our stuff and left. Once I reached home it hit. I was out of college. I was an engineer. And I was to leave home for my first job in two days. Two days, that’s all I got to get ready and step into another world. Little was I to know that this was a precursor of things to come. Ironically the day I was to leave was my birthday. So once again it heralded the beginning of a new life. And as our group assembled at my house I looked on, and wondered. Would we ever sit the same way again? Would we ever chat away without a care in the world? Would we see this whole group together ever again? To this day the answer remains in the negative. But we dint know that then. All we knew was that each one of us was heading out to new lands, across the length and breadth of the country. With promises to keep in touch we parted. That was the last birthday I celebrated. And that was the first day of my new life.
I made my final preparations and set off that afternoon with my parents. As the train slowly pulled out of the platform I quietly looked out of the window, soaking in the sight of the city which had been my home for nearly 22 years. Each message on my cell phone made me painfully aware that there was no looking back. The train, immune to such emotions, went nonchalantly over the tracks it knew so well. The monsoons had arrived and the Western Ghats were adorned with lush green foliage. I dint know green had such a wide variety of shades. As I looked into the misty valleys it brought back childhood memories of the times when I wondered what lay in those uninhabited valleys. And then imagination took over and conjured up a plethora of possibilities, each more ingenious and exciting than the previous. "Beep beep"… I was brought out of my reverie by the all so familiar message tone of my Nokia. Another of my friends was wishing me good luck. Yeah, I needed that.
It was late evening when the train pulled into one of the busiest stations of the commercial capital of India, Dadar Junction, Mumbai. As I looked at the teeming masses rushing past me I realized I was there, in India’s city of dreams; into the real world.

Monday, June 12, 2006


The Orkut world, where some are discovering new ways to keep in touch while others are learning of new ways to make a nuisance of themselves. It’s almost a race to add as many people as possible to ones list of friends, as if it were a popularity contest. And most of these wannabe ‘friends’ make complete fools of themselves and seldom realize that its there for the world to see. An entry in one of my friends scrapbooks read, I quote, “hi i m also maharashtra. can we make fnds”…!!!! Well, the poor guy was named after a state; Talk about creativity. And imagine asking a totally unknown person whether either of them possess the ability to make friends!! I rest my argument.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Fresh Start

And so it shall begin...