Thursday, October 05, 2006

Two to Tango

Year: 'yir
  • The period of about 365 1/4 solar days required for one revolution of the earth around the sun.
  • The time required for the apparent sun to return to an arbitrary fixed or moving reference point in the sky.
  • The time in which a planet completes a revolution about the sun.

Source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

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5th October 2004, Tuesday, 12:00 noon:

"Welcome to Daksh ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to IBM Daksh!"

The words echoed in my head for a while.

A short announcement followed, informing us about the events to follow. By 7:00 pm, the time the joining formalities were over, I had written down my particulars over twenty times and signed around 30 delarations of various kinds. I was exhausted.

The only settling factor was that everyone who had joined with me in that room was in the same boat. If I remember correctly there were 9 of us. I was the youngest, and one of two freshers.

I didn't utter a word throughout the day. I was nervous, unsure of what to say, not wanting to put my foot in my mouth. I remember this lady (also a new joinee), Aditi Malhotra, attempted to strike a polite conversation with me. I think the couple of replies I did manage were monosyllabic and without a hint of enthusiasm. She gave up almost immediately. Little did she know that this lost soul would come around to haunt her, and maybe even make her cry one day.

When all the formalities were over, we were informed that we could leave. As I walked out of the building and started walking towards my car, I felt disappointed to the point of being unsettled.

Thought: That's it? That was my first day at work? Isn't the first day supposed to be memorable? Aren't you finally supposed to feel in control of your life, untangled at last? Why is this happening? Maybe I'm not ready for this. Maybe I should go home and get back to travelling.

My thoughts were interrupted by a loud "Bye!" I waved back at Shweta, the DU History teacher turned housewife turned Voice and Accent Trainer at IBM Daksh, who had also joined the same day.

As I settled into the the driver's seat of my car, I finally felt in control. I welcomed the feeling, considering it had eluded me throughout the day. After I turned on the ignition, I pressed hard on the accelerator. I think I did it just because I could. Then with the push of a button, I had U2 calm my nerves. Well, almost.

"Is it getting better? Do you feel the same?

Will it make it easier on you now, if you got someone to blame?"

The traffic was heavy. My head, in comparison, was still heavier with the thoughts from the day. And now, these lyrics. I should have changed the song then and there, switch to happy music. Something like I'm like a bird or whatever.

Did I disappoint you? Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?

You act like you never had love... *Click*

I switched off the music system.

It took me almost two hours to reach home. Sitting in the car that day, crawling home at a snail's pace, I did something I hadn't done in a long time. I thought about where my life was heading.

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5th October 2006, Thursday, 5:00 pm:

Two years, three managers, four office spaces and a different department later, I can safely say that I'm one of the familiar faces around. It's a comforting feeling. A walk through the corridors, or lunch at the cafeteria involves making polite conversation with almost everyone. I think they think of me as the nice guy who's been around.

Aditi Malhotra, well... Adi (she insists I call her that), sits in the adjacent room. I think she and I moved out of training around the same time. I moved into quality and she moved into Research and Development. We're the only two left in the training division from the bunch that joined that day. The only difference being that Aditi was promoted to the post of an assistant manager in April.

I receive an email from the HR department congratulating Adi and me for achieving this 'milestone.' The mail is copied to every one in my business unit. Within a minute, I 'm in the process of deleting the clutter from my inbox and frantically replying to congratulations messages from people I don't know of, haven't met or ever said hello to.

I get this email from Karishma Bajaj. It says 'Congratulations Fossils.'

The phrase stays in my mind for a while and I continue staring at the colourful screen. Flowers, satin ribbons, twinkling light and designer font make for stylish viewing. I remain unmoved, wondering when the nostalgia will kick in.

Viren (close friend and colleague) backslaps me rather violently, ordering me to join him for a smoke downstairs. I look at my watch, 5:10 pm; time for the hot chick from Tower-A of the building to come down on her smoke break. We don't want to miss out on the limited viewing pleasure we have at our disposal. So I lock my desktop and we hurry downstairs.

After two cigarettes and a little disappointment (the chick never showed up), Viren suggests we go back upstairs and get back to work. While we are in the lift lobby, I ask him to carry on and tell him I'll be up shortly. He asks me if everything is alright (I hate perceptive people). I say Yes! and he gives me the look of How did you know I was going to ask you that??? He doesn't protest, and takes the next elevator.

I walk out of the lobby, into the open. I go straight to 'Costa Coffee' and buy a cold coffee. Once out of there, I light a cigarette and go park myself at the far end of the building. The area is dimly lit, but provides a fantastic view of the commotion around. It's also an area where you can find class four taking their beedi breaks. And every now and then you can spot a couple, desperate for some alone time.

Today, strangely, there is nobody.

As you may have guessed, the nostalgia had kicked in the elevator lobby.

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6th October 2006, Friday, 3:51 pm:

Yesterday evening, as I sat there with my cigarette and cold coffee, I reflected on the two years gone by. It was more an act of recollection than actual pondering over the events.

Here is what I could remember:

My first day at work. In retrospect, that day does hold a lot of significance. It may not have been eventful but memorable it was, simply because I will never forget it.

Rohit Chopra. Inspirational boss and fantastic manager, now reduced to a detail in my phonebook. Even now, when I wear floaters to work, I think of how he used to pull me up and urge me to wear formals. I'll never forget that smile of his, a smile of general well being and of unconditional acceptance.

Mimansa. Colleague, dear friend, angel. She taught me how to dress, where to party and in many ways, how to live. She doesn't work here anymore but I try and meet her as often as possible, even if all she has to offer is a reality check.

Viren. Best friend, fellow negro, golfer, dancer, and in many ways, a philosopher. He taught me how to appreciate video games and vampires at an artistic level. Currently, he's teaching me how to play golf. Every now and then he also tries to teach me how to dance, much to his and my frustration beacause I'm still pathetic at it. He also taught me that it's never too late to make a best friend.

Chinese and Thai Cafe, Gurgaon. Nights of endless alcohol, useless conversation, dancing in the parking lot to Alan Parson, and more. Half my income is in the club's bank account.

Sugandha. Trainer, gambler, wanderer, friend, guide, snob, philosopher, critic... the list is endless. 'Sugi' is my inspiration in many ways, and I think she knows it.

Leon, Maxwel and Siddharth. A comic, an achiever and an alpha male. A day at office is incomplete without Leon's useless (and fantastic) jokes, Maxwel's favours and Sid's almost dictatorial pieces of advice.

IBM. I love being here. In some trying times, I've often wondered why. Maybe because of the space and comfort I've been given, or maybe because it's my only means to a socially acceptable identity.

U2's One. Club, Disco, Parking lot, Dance Bar no bar. Whenever this song plays, you will find Tanmay, Leon, Viren, Mimansa, Sugandha, and whoever else is there locked in a group hug, singing loudly and out of tune. There is something about this song. I wonder now, as to why I turned it off in the car on my first day at work.

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There were a lot more flashes of people and places, of accomplishments, disappointments, embarrasments and more. But the cold coffee was long over and my last cigarette had just died on me, almost burning my fingers.

When I came back to reality, I found myself sitting cross-legged on the grass. I got up immediately and dusted the dirt off my trousers. As I walked to the elevator lobby, I thought of how much these last two years meant to me.

I am more complete as a person today than I ever remember being, good or bad notwithstanding. A subject matter expert in training, a reasonably good colleague, an amature golfer and writer, a socialite. When my trainees meet me, they never forget to flash their widest grins and try to convince me about how often they think of me. I think I must've made a difference, however miniscule, in improving their life. My colleagues always tell me that I'm great with meeting deadlines. And Viren never forgets to talk about my flair for golf when we're in mixed company. As for the writing, I'll let you decide.

I think all this makes for an interesting profile for a 22 year old.

I feel it could do with a little improvement though, I still can't dance.

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14 comments:

Harpreet said...

Nice and effortless.

Viren said...

BRILLIANT! very moving Negro.
Can't think of anything else. At a complete loss for words.

Astha said...

Really enjoyed reading it. You made me miss my time in Gurgaon!! Dang. Now I'll be nostalgic all day.

Anonymous said...

aahhaa..
u have graduated.
yes.
the best piece till now.\
hope u continue improvising!

Aniruddha Sen said...

1. Revelation - Viren's a philosopher
2. Dancing in my opinion, is a preamble to very passionate sex. Even though that doesn't seem to be a problem for you, I am sure a little more of it did no one any harm, so carry on learning
3. You guys have a GREAT job, as I am sure I have re-iterated before

Overall, great piece. A welcome break from the incessant morbid pinings that's a trademark of our generation and times

Anonymous said...

Oye....u make me feel stupid man!!!!!...didn't give my 2 year milestone so much thought..Or maybe it wasn't a milestone after all....! thanks for mentioning me though...flattered..maxwel.

tanushree said...

read it today..well written ...and m sure loadsa ppl have done it already..but here goes
congratulations...and all the very best in life

Ankita said...

Hey u've gotten me all nostalgic bout school out of all things....its the best time i ever had...its great how ur feelings reflect so beautifully in ur writing...u can capture moments, hold them and then pour them exactly the way they exist, in ur posts.....good going....like i always say u'll be a great writer someday.... :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all ur reminders i finally thought of reading ur blog :)..and i enjoyed every bit of it..it made me think of my first day at office..and people at office whose company i cherish..The fact its so close to reality it becomes real easy to relate to it in someway or the other...u are going great guns Tanu..keep me informed...Prateek

P. said...

Love it, love it, love it.

Enough said! :)

Ujjwal said...

Its great that you document important milestones in life..sitting back a few years later you would feel good that you wrote this piece..

Good luck with work

Anonymous said...

My favourite is the second last line of the write up.It is so amazing that inspite of the schedule that we work in you keep some time apart for yourself thinking and then penning it down.Toady I can confess that I love IBM too.

Saurabh B said...

Dude, waiting for your next posts, Don't you think its kind of delayed now?

TS said...

@Saurabh: Soon. Very soon.