'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Friday, November 04, 2005

"You Are No Longer A Student!"

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. "Sit, sit.. 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! 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 ok, 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, 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!"


  • At 7:20 AM, Blogger Myna said…

    I have become a regular reader of this blog and must say that you have a knack in writing. If you look at people who have become successful it can be easily understood that they became so by following what they like and good at. There are times when one has to cling on but not for long. I believe (strongly) that you have got potential for a lot other things than programming and could be seen only in a limited set of people. Here comes the difficult part. Believing in self and following our dreams with a bit of hard work take us to better heights, I am sure.

  • At 10:29 PM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said…

    thanks suresh, for all those kind and encouraging words.

  • At 2:39 PM, Blogger Sunil said…


    a nice sign of world-class corporate standards there....clearly :-)

    so...did you ever learn C++?? :-)

  • At 8:37 PM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said…

    thanks sunil.

    whatever be the corporate evolution, a man is a man primarily!

    C++, well, let me quote myself from the days when i used to teach programming to engg. undergraduates. "C is a sea and C++ is an ocean; one can keep learning it for ages."

  • At 12:46 AM, Blogger Random Vandamme said…


    Shall we say swimming instead of learning? That's a good analogy.

    But neither C is a sea nor C++ a ocean. But the proportion of the analogy seems like a good estimate. Getting more sceintific (as opposed to romantic), we can proabably come up with ghood estimates for comparing lanaguges by generalizing from the general program complexity metrics. C hardly has about 15 constructs and associated semantics. C++ has many more though. To learn C, one has to be clear about just these 15 odd constructs. That's about it. The mosters that many C/C++ programs turn into, is not because of the languagues; it is because of the people who coded them thought in a rather , shll we say unneccesarily, complicaetd way.

    Suresh, I got something to tell you: my fellings about Nandu are very close to those of yours. He initiated me to Indian Classical Music (Hindusthani/Karnatic). He laso initiated me to Budhist caves. And he was instrumental in making me realize my trekking ambitions. To state Nandu's forte in one word: 'perspective'; that's what sets him apart from most of the other 'random blokes'. Probabaly it is his decades of intimate romance with Paintings that makes him look at things with that Nanduish 'perspective'.

  • At 12:49 AM, Blogger Random Vandamme said…

    And I am NOT sorry for the spelling mistakes. Shall run a spell check before my next post.

  • At 2:23 AM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said…


    thanks for that insider's perspective on c and c++.

    and thanks for your kind words as well.


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