Re-establishing contact with Suresh
has brought a tide of vivid memories of 'good old' days - when one was much younger and when many things used to appear in a very different (and more flattering) light than they do now. Here is how my first day in the so-called IT-Industry went:
[Background: On completing my Masters in Computer Science at Hyderabad, I face some trouble finding a job; A former Teacher of mine helps by recommending me strongly to a Software firm in Chennai where he had some serious 'influence'. I am interviewed by a bright, young manager (let me call him Sid) and a couple of others - I am told this is an essential formality - and am offered a S/W engineer's post. I soon reach Chennai and camp with Suresh - the idea is to stay (illegally) at IIT for a few days till I find an apartment - and report at their office for my very first day at work]
"Well, welcome to ---!" Sid says as I am ushered into his presence. "Today we will be introducing you to various aspects of the work we have for you. But, at the outset,... (there is a pause), some plain talk will be in order. You have been appointed .... you know, on an experimental basis. Your credentials and experience do not quite match your age, you are almost 30, right?" I nod, deciding against mentioning the correct number.
"Incidentally that is more than my own age!" Sid continues "Anyways, you do not have much background in programming except for that short MTech Degree. And you don't know C++, right?" I nod again.
Sid pauses ominously and takes a (very audible) sip from a steaming cup. "Btw, do you want some coffee?" "no thanks" I say, wondering what is to follow.
He continues: "You will need to show a lot of energy to learn things which are new to you and ramp up to the level of some of our bright young people, who have, compared to you, the advantage of youth and also technical skill. Unless, this energy is shown, well, I won't have any use for you; you know, you can leave the company!"
I am bit shaken but manage to sit tight and (hopefully) show a straight face. "Well, you know what is what now. I have some work to attend to. Please wait outside in the guest cubicles. When I am free I shall tell you more and introduce you to people." Sid concludes. I step out, wondering what exactly is going on.
As I sit in one of the guest rooms, a guy who was on my Interview panel with Sid (let us call him, well, Dick!) passes by and says "Hi, you joining today?". I reply in the affirmative. A few further pleasantries having been exchanged, he moves into the next room and has a short talk with some other chaps who are presumably lounging there. The language is Tamil and the tone, a bit hush-hush but rather audible since the partition is of wood. I listen since there is nothing else to do (and since I do know Tamil); and listen with progressively greater intensity as things pick up...
A voice: So, this new guy has joined up, he is from IIT ... right, Dick?
Dick: IIT? Bullshit! Nothing. He is just another 'Mallu'; out here that's enough, right?....this company has too many of them.
voice: But then, you took his interview. And he must have done well, right, else he wont be here!
Dick: ****( expletive)! For even simple questions, he had no idea; like, I asked him how to triangulate a polygon and he gave a stupid 5 minute lecture. I switched off and nodded, politely. That is all.
(there is a pause)
Dick (continuing): Actually, you know, he HAD to be selected. Sid said he had no choice, really. The chap was recommended by ---- who has too much of this Mallu-Mallu thing going.
Voice: Bad scene, really. But then,... I think I did hear he has done something at IIT!
Dick: Bah, he has done ****(one more expletive) at IIT!
A pause; the conversation veers to other matters and I switch off.
My wait continues. No one talks to me except an office assistant who asks politely: "Sir, want some 'water-keeter'?". Eventually, I smell food and hear chatter from the other side of the partition. I note that the time is past 1. I tell the assistant that I shall be back soon and step out to grab a bite.
Back at the visitor's room (I try a different seat this time), the indefinite wait continues. Tired and bored, I search my bag and fish out a half-read copy of 'Daivathinte Vikritikal' ('God's Caprices', I guess would be an okay translation) a Malayalam novel. I proceed to read it slowly and with some relish right thru the afternoon. The novel (which has had a promising beginning) goes thru a very evocative development of events and characters but unfortunately, melts down in a very unsatisfying and contrived anti-climax. By now, the time is well past 5; I prepare to pack up for the day and ask the office assistant for Sid. I am once again taken to his room. "So, how was your day?" says Sid. "I was waiting.." I answered. "What for? "Sid interrupts. Then probably recalling our morning talk he says: "Oh, yes, I had a meeting so could not spend time with you. We shall do something tomorrow. Anyways, hope things are more productive hereon!"
Back in 'Brahms, 308', Suresh asks me how my first day went. "Very peaceful, actually. I had nothing to do but wait and wait; so sat back and finished 'Daivathinte Vikritikal!". "Scandalous!" He exclaims (the actual word he uses is 'Konaappu!', a difficult to translate Mallu word) "what a thing to do on your first day at office! At least you could have tried to read some C++ or something. Careful, Bhai! people would have been watching you; and ... well, you are no longer a student!"