Friday, December 31, 2004

The Matrix

I didn't get to talk to my room mate for past few days, so as I was about to board the train I was giving him some last minute instructions as to that I have kept the rent cheque on dressing table and other things there and that he needs to take care of all that now. He told me that he might not go home this diwali as his leaves are not sanctioned.
I have always wanted to be at home on diwali as like many other guys and gals who are away from their home for studies or job or some other reasons. But for me diwali was the most important of all the festivals and may be not in other fests but I have always wanted to be home at diwali. The coziness and warmth of the family can be felt clearly at this time of the year. Winters start at this time and new year is also near by, may be the feeling of working for the whole year comes in and we become so tired that we want to be with our family and enjoy the last few days of the passing year. And for me one more reason could be the Americans, they also enjoy this time of the year with their chirstmas and new year party with their families and loved ones. So when once my boss asked me to work on diwali and take leave on christmas and new year, my reason was, when they can enjoy their fests then why can't we? I wud go on diwali be whatever. May be an acrimonious feeling has set in me from that time which keeps on reminding me that we are also humans and thats what keeps me up against any injustice and to keep us at par with the americans.
Well whatever be the reason but joining the family on diwali is a feeling which has to be felt and trust me, can't be expressed in words alone. I was ready to board this train called Jhelum Express which will take me to my destination (not exactly though). The scene was not much different then last time when I was borading this train that also happened to be a novemeber day and then too I was going on diwali vacations, so yea it has been an year that I wasn't home and after an year again on diwali holidays I was going to my home.
The train was packed though it has good patches of free spaces to keep your feet ( coz at times it really becomes that bad), mostly the crowd was young, students who have got diwali vacations and working professionals who have taken out a few days of leaves to add to their diwali vacations given by their respective companies.
As I entered my coach and looked for my berth I saw a a group of guys sitting on the seats around me. One of them boasted with the infy t-shirt. Just looked around for a few minutes and set up my luggage and then went out as the train was to start after 10 minutes and sitting in a still train is really boring. So I came out and stood on the window facing my seat to keep an eye on the luggage, the good old words of mom always keep coming in mind whenever I travel,"keep an eye on luggagge", "keep the money in different places", "don't go away too far from your luggage" and so on. Though I must admit I don't follow many of them but yea some of them which even my consciousness tells me are right, I try to follow them according to my convenience.
one of my colleague and friend was also travellling with me so that was sort of good as the journey upto my destination from train is around 22 hrs and yea after that i have a bus journey to do.
The train started and I was till then settled on seat, I had a middle berth and so as the train started so I was sitting on the lower berth with others. I had a sneaking feeling that we are more number of people sitting out there than the number of berths. In one compartment we have 6 berths and 2 berths sideways and the number of people sitting there were around 8 -9 and 3 on the side berths. But I knew from my past experiences that these things are common in a train in India and when groups of boys and girls travel along, many of them sit everywhere except their own seats.
So yea I was sure that was the case. As the train moved on, the usual talking started and slowly and gradually it became a usual indian train. While I was standing on the window side on the station, I saw a guy with a C-DAC bag sitting on my side of the seat, some memories did came flying by. This was the third time that I was going to home in diwali from Pune. The first time I went home from Pune was when I was doing C-DAC and we had mid term break and that time I remember taking my C-DAC bag with me. So yea the memories of first novemeber from Pune came back to me. Pune has always been good in terms of weather and in the months of nov, dec and jan also its not very cold. So that bag reminded me of those days and I thought that some student from C-DAC might be going home and then came the feeling might be he is from my institute so I can have a light chat with him about how the institute is going on and what all has changed and things like that.
But now as I sat their and was listening to the talks of people around me, I came to know that mostly all were working professionals except a few who were I guess preparing for CAT - MBA exams. So I found out through the converstation between them that there were around 3 different groups sitting around me and two of the groups were linked to each other through one person.
Gaurav, if I correctly remember his name was that linking person. These two groups were having berths in our compartment as well as couple of berths after 2 compartments. So one person from their was sitting on our side as he was friendly with a few of them. The usual chat started as where are you going and how many days of holidays have been sacntioned and all that stuff. The guy told that he has just left KPIT and joined Geometric a week ago, the reason? got bored working their so tried in geometric and got through. Technology?? the next question, I thought must be dot net but the reply was VC++. A sense of respect came within me for that person as in this tech field we have been inculcated with the habit of respecting the people working on VC++ and geomertic was a good company after all and I regularly see its building as it is just opposite to my company's building and moreover they are getting their new building up which he also confirms. One day I went to that construction site of geometric and had asked my friend that we can put up a few stones and our names will be in the foundation of geometric.
Another thing that I was amazed was he has just joined the company a week ago and he is going on a 8 -10 days vacation, that was unusual for me coz I have always thought that its not good to ask for leaves initially in company but then geometric is a big company then mine and may be they are having different rules and regulations towards the leaves.
The chatting around me was now in full flow as mostly all of them knew someone or the other around. Subject: company's performance, new technology and the projects.
There at the extereme end of the seat I was sitting on, was that infy guy with a blue infy T-Shirt on with the caption "A billion dollar company". Their was a time when respect generated within me after looking at such t-shirts but now that I am into this industry and know the ins and outs after interviewing many of the fellows these things don't impress much and rather it seems like a show off.
The voices from within comes like 'who the hell are you telling you work in infy?', 'you won't be able to answer simple things if I ask you'. But yea then there is also an accepting voice, oh yea he got through infy and he has all the rite to wear that t-shirt and boast of that achievement.
But fact is also that this is sort of trend in Pune to wear t-shirts of the colleges and institutes you are studying. The first time I was going home in the same train 2 years back there were these students of symbiosis who were donning their colors and so proud as if they have achieved great heights in their lives. Some how I have never liked wearing the organization accessories out of the organization premises or in contests where your are representing your organization.
So this infoscion was talking to this other guy consistently and during their conversation I came to know that the other was also an infoscion though not in infy t-shirt and both were roommates. They were discussing on the proposition of traveling by air rather than train. The other infoscion without t-shirt one was arguing that you people were not decided on the date so he could not fix for air tickets and also they reserved the seats so late that they got one waiting.
What man we are getting 25-26k in hand and still we have to travel by this train which takes almost 2 days to take to our destination, had it been air we would have been their within 3-4 hours, he argued. I smirked at them thought they didn't seemed to notice it. It was true, harsh but true. Eight years back when I used to go to dehradoon for my SSC then also i used to travel in trains and with reservations and now after eight years when I am earning then also i am travelling by trains. The only thing that has changed is that previously dad used to pay for it and now I used to pay myself but other things remain same, the trains, the long time they took, the late schedules of trains and the jostle and fight to get your reserved seat. I also didn't liked this proposition but still didn't had much of a choice. Have read in the newspapers and all that airfares have reduced and all but by how much and how many flights do we have to reach to my place these are the factors that were still hanging in the middle and that’s how we were left with no choice than to travel with train.
I had heard from some one that in mumbai that a person earns 4000 or 40,000 all have to travel by local trains. This seemed true to me for those guys and me too. As I was in these thoughts that I was questioned by someone, 'Are you in cybage too?' I turned my head to see a short, stout and a happy go lucky sort of person asking me that question. No I replied, 'oh many people sitting here work in cybage so I thought that you might also be in that company', I smiled. "Then where do you work?", I was expecting this one,"Digital infotech". " Where's that?" bang on target. Every time I have answered the former question I have been thumped with the latter. I tried to keep it short and sweet and replied "Hinjwadi". No further questions. I have always hated the situation when you have to tell the location of your company after telling the name. I guess that was pretty ordinary, every techie wants to work in such an organization which has got a good name and when someone asks where you work the name should be enough to stop further questions. So that has been my idea too but by and large I was coming to terms with the reality that brand name isn't everything. It was all coz I came to know people working under big names and working on something timid and some working under big names and fetching package far less than me. Initially when people used to insist that brand name is not everything I as a fussy child used to reply ok let me go into such an organization and then I will also say that. But yea when you really come to terms with reality many of your beliefs change and many of your dreams get molded. Today I was more than happy to sit in my company and getting to work in what I was working on but yea still questions like that do bother me till date, so I mostly try to ignore such situations.
The train moved on, after the T.C. has gone by after checking the tickets, my friend who was in the other coach walked in, made some place for him to sit and while we were enjoying a cup of tea I saw both the infoscions climbing to one side berth
I talked to my friend for some time and the talks mostly related to workplace the technicalities surrounding the project, what does H1B mean and what are pros and cons of a business visa and things like that.
There was this guy sitting opposite to me and talking to the other two guys sitting besides him, initially I thought that he is also a working professional but came to know that he is going home for MBA prepartion and after coming he is going to give CAT exams. The usual jokes between them was about how much are you prepared and will you study after reaching home. I remember being much more serious than him while giving CAT the one and only time but yea still didn't got through and a thought came to my mind that after failing CAT he will get enrolled to one of the several B-Schools in the country and ask his parents to pay the hefty fees and after 2 years he will also be joining the job market.
God knows why but if you give me a situation like this then I can wove a complete story out of it, with my ideas and expriences, I have never questioned myself as to is it right or wrong. May be every person is like this or may be I am the only one like this, but I am sure of one thing we can only wove such a story if we have expeirenced something like that or we have seen such a thing happening.
So at last I was happy someone in that compartment is out of the worries of the projects, away from the tensions of reporting to TL's and clean from the office politics.
The person who asked me my company's name was from Wipro, he was telling someone else. But some how if i had been given a multiple choice then also I wudn't have voted for him to be in wipro. But thats how it is, what you expect the least happens the most. And as he said wipro, a real good scene came before my eyes, those sexy girls working in wipro. Wipro spectramind has its establishment near my office and gosh!! what sexy girls are working in that call centre. I have always believed and told my friends that the prerequisite for getting into spectramind for a girl must be a good figure and must be beautiful altogether. So whenever wipro's name pops up those scenes always come before me.
Well so all in all I could very easily say that was a software train that was taking the techies to their destinations. Techies who involve themseleves working day and night, developing softwares that will make life easy for many and automating the procedures that has been taking too much time. We have made many a things easier in life but is the life really easy for us? We still have to travel days to reach upto our destinations, we still have to fight for our resevered seats, we still have to stand in long queues to get our tickets done, we still have to go down infront of govt, officials to get the work done, we still have to pay bribe at places to get the work done quickly. Still the world is same fighting on caste marriages, murders for a piece of land, use if people for political favours, banners and posters of the politicians thronging all thorugh the city, drains still getting choked, roads still damaging in one rain, minor rape, old age problems, its just that in a five day working routine we never get time to think that there is world outside the company premises also and more or less I never feel bad about being in that premises as my problems are restricted to that premises for 5 days. The day you step out of that premises for a long time you start to come to terms with the realities of the world and I must say they are very tough then solving the technicalities of a project.
As these thoughts were going in my mind I felt the last light going off in my compartment, all the techies were down on their berths(those two infoscions on one and some techies with waiting ticket were sleeping on the floor too), everyone was too tired as most of them including me have to rush from the office to catch up this train and now I was sure no one wanted technology to be discussed for a week or so, all them wanted to return to their real world, out to face real problems, out to feel real happiness which was with their families not with their colleagues, most of all out of the matrix....