Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Confessions of an ITwallah - Heavy Steps

With heavy steps, cloudy eyes and even cloudier heart, I take a final strolls inside company campus, three years doesn't quite sound to be a big number, still when I say 36 months and  multiply it by on an average 10 hours per working day , it does seem to be infinite. When I look back, I always wonder when we try to recollect something, it's only the good people and good memories that we always carry with us or rather we always wish to carry. There is always a session of goodbyes and good wishes that marks your final moments, it's ironical that you willfully decide to leave a place and yet these last minutes keep you pulling inside, pulling towards your scanty cubicle, a company property of course but still you kept calling it your own. This is the day when you wish to capture every moment, you wish if time could pass a little more slowly.

This is a day when I feel, there is an organization, then there is me, there is an id card I keep calling a mangalsutra, there is a company bus, a cubicle, a machine, a laptop, dingy chair that I find is always missing when I come back from wash room, there are projects, there are deadlines, then there is a client, there is a manager, then there is an appraisal, there is a rating and then there are e-mails, there are arguments, there are meetings, coffee breaks, there are colleagues, there are gossips, there are chics around, nerds, geeks and politicos around and then there is me who is nowhere among them, he is there just to register his physical presence and to make ends meet, just because he couldn't do anything else preferred to end up here.

Let's admit that I am not a person with emotional outbursts. Love to have nothing but professional environment around, avoids too much personal level interactions, strictly believe that there are only colleagues at a workplace and no friends. And yet, on this day, I increasingly disprove my baseless perceptions. Whenever one leaves a place, one misses nothing but the people and there are always some special Goodbyes to carry along...

The journey continues.....

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

पाऊस असा रुणझुणता...

पाऊस कधीचा कोसळतो अंतरात
काहूर अनामिक एक, दाटते स्पंदनांत...

'पाऊस' ह्या निसर्गाच्या अविष्कारातच जणू मला एक प्रकारची गूढरम्यता वाटते. परीक्षेत निबंध लेखनासाठी माझा आवडता ऋतू असा विषय असला की पावसाळा सोडून दुसरं काही खरडल्याचं स्मरणात नाही. आधी दादा, आणि नंतर लक्ष्मण, द्रविड, तेंडुलकर असे एक एक रथी महारथी एका पाठोपाठ निवृत्त झाल्यानंतर, मरगळून गेलेल्या भारतीय टीम मध्ये अचानक कुठूनसा विराट कोहली उगवावा (हो, कितीही उध्दट आणि माजोरडा असला तरी एक फलंदाज म्हणून तो आवडतो) आणि त्याने लाजवाब फटक्यांची आतषबाजी चालू करावी अगदी असंच काहीसं होतं जेव्हा ऊन्हाळ्यातल्या आग ओकणार्‍या सूर्याने रापलेल्या, म्लान होऊ घातलेल्या मातीवर टपोर्‍या थेंबांचा शिडकावा होतो आणि अक्षरशः वेड लावणारा मृद्गंध रंध्रारंध्रांत व्यापून जातो, महागडे, इम्पोर्टेड असली बिरुदावली मिरवणारे परफ्युम्स सुध्दा तिथे झक मारतात्. माझी एक फँटसी आहे, घराला मोठी गॅलरी असावी, बाहेर मस्त पाऊस चालू असावा, आणि हातात कॉफीचा वाफाळता मग घेवून खुर्चीत बसून , बशीतली गरम गरम कांदा  भजी खात खात ( पाऊस , कॉफी अन भजी, काय होली ट्रिनीटी आहे ना )तासन तास फक्त बाहेर न्याहाळत बसावं. झाडांच्या फांद्यांवरून, पानापानांवरून ओघळणारा, रस्त्याच्या कडेने नागमोडी वळणे घेत वाहणारा, रिमझिम, मुसळधार, संततधार, भीषण, रौद्र अशा असंख्य रुपांनी बरसणारा पाऊस मनात साठवावा. एरवी येवढ्याश्या आवाजाने त्रासून जाणारा मी , पण खाली गळालेल्या शुष्क पानांवर जलधारा आपटल्यावर जो टप टप चा लयबध्द नाद होतो त्याने मात्र सुखावून जातो. मुळात पावसाची जातकुळी रोमॅन्टीक असावी, म्हणूनच तो कित्येक कवी, लेखक, गीतकारांना इन्स्पायर करतो, प्रियकराला प्रेयसीच्या जास्ती जवळ आणतो, जातीचाच सुंदर गुलाब, पण पाकळ्यांवर पावसाचे एक-दोनच थेंब पडले की एखादी लावण्यवती गालावरच्या तीळामुळे आणखीनच गोड दिसते तसाच टवटवीत होवून जातो. एरवी ओकेबोके वाटणारे डोंगर सुद्धा अगदी ब्युटी पार्लर मध्ये जावून आल्यासारखे दिसायला लागतात. ह्या पावसाला कधी कधी हुलकावणी द्यायची खोड येते, एखाद्या दिवशी असं अचानक अंधारून येतं, काळे कुळकुळीत ढग कुंद आभाळात दाटून येतात, मधूनच एखादी वीज लपंडाव खेळून जाते, सोसाट्याचा बोचरा वारा अंगात शिरशिरी भरतो. पण थोड्याच वेळात सगळं पुन्हा नॉर्मल. एखाद्या फ़ास्ट बॉलर ने जीवाच्या आकांताने धावत येवून सुंदर यॉर्कर टाकावा, फ़लंदाजाचा बूट चाटत त्याला काही कळायच्या आत त्याची दांडी वाकवावी आणि जल्लोष सुरू होतोय तेवढ्यात अगदी चंद्रचूड सिंग पेक्षाही मख्ख चेहऱ्याने अंपायरने नो बॉल चा इशारा करावा, असंच काहीसं होतं.

काही लोकांना पाऊस आवडत नाही. पावसाने रस्ते घसरडे होतात, सगळीकडे चिखल होतो, खड्ड्यांमध्ये पाणी साठते, गटारे तुंबतात, पूर येतात, सगळीकडे घाणेघाण होते, डास होतात, रोगराई पसरते इ. इ. अशा एक ना अनेक तक्रारी करतात. पण मला कधी ह्याचा त्रास वाटला नाही. कुठेतरी पावसाबद्दल एक प्रकारचा आपलेपणा जाणवतो. त्याला काहीतरी सांगायचं असतं, ढगांच्या पोटांत साठून साठून एक दिवस तो अनावर होतो आणि उभा आसमंत  कवेत घेत घेत सहस्त्र धारांनी बरसत मनं आणि शरीरं दोन्ही चिंब इ करत सुटतो. माझं सुध्दा असंच होतं थोडंफार, खूप काही बोलायचं असतं, सांगायचं असतं, पण ब्रम्हदेवाने एक म्यान्युफ्याक्चरिंग डिफ़ेक्ट ठेवला कदाचित आणि बोलकेपणाचा कॉम्पोनंट टाकायला विसरला बापडा, असंच मग सगळं साठत जातं, आणि एकदिवस ढगफुटी होते आणि सगळं अस्ताव्यस्त कागदावर पसरतं.

पाऊस कितीही जोरात आणि भरभरून असला ना, तरी ना ओंजळीत पकडता येतो ना तो कधी अळवाच्या पानावर थांबतो, अगदी क्षणिक सुखासारखा, कितीही पकडायचा प्रयत्न केला तरी शेवटी तेच कोरडे पान आणि तीच रीती ओंजळ. ह्या क्षणिक सुखाच्या आठवणी मात्र एकदम उलट असतात, रेंगाळतच राहतात. ह्या तथाकथित सुखद आठवणीच डोळ्यांत पाणी का आणतात कोण जाणे , ओंजळ सोडून गेलेलं पाणी डोळ्यांतून बाहेर पडत असावं बहुतेक.

लहानपणापासून जसं मला आठवतं तसं आमचं राहतं घर पावसात खूप गळायचं, जागोजागी वाट्या, पातेली ठेवलेली असायची घर जास्त ओलं होवू नये म्हणून, तरीही भिंतींमधून ओल न चुकता हजेरी लावायचीच. ह्याचा सगळ्यांत जास्त त्रास आईला आणि आजीला व्हायचा. आजीचा दमा वाढायचा, आणि आईचं काम. मग आम्हीही कामाला लागायचो. तरीसुद्धा ना मला कधी त्या घराचा तिटकारा वाटला ना पावसाचा. वडील गेल्यानंतर जेव्हा ते घर विकायला  काढलं, तेव्हा सौदा करताना शेवटी पाऊसच डोळ्यांत धावून आला.

असो, बाहेरचा पाऊस, अगदी चेरापुंजीतला सुध्दा दोन महिने तरी विश्रांती घेतो. पण आतल्या पावसाचं काय करायचं, तो तर सतत कोसळतच असतो, अगदी अविश्रांत….

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Confessions of an ITwallah - The Bus business

Life sucks!!! Yes, it really does. And, you feel the pinch even more intense when your anything but comfortable company bus is dragging its way on a dusty, humid and jam packed pot-holed road in a hamlet called Hinjewadi. This whole business of commuting by bus is a surreal one. You come running to the bus stop, you are late by a fraction of a minute, and you don’t see anyone around and after a while you agonizingly realize that it has dodged you. You make a vow to reach early next day, and actually reach the bus stop 10 minutes earlier only to find yourself waiting for next 25 minutes as bus is late. You travel with the people you feel you know but you don’t really know. On a non-descript day, I get into bus, and jump onto front seat which I don’t usually occupy, but on that day, I just happen to sit there.  On the next stop a lady gets in and starts giving me venomous looks, I get confused only to realize later that this is her usual seat. Suddenly, the usually benevolent bus starts having hick cups, the driver starts rolling the wheels with the speed of a jet and he has been possessed by a clone of Michael Schumacher. The mobile girls (those girls, who stick to mobile phones once they get into the bus and keep speaking in an ultrasonic tone and language that only their boyfriends and fiancés understand) find it a bit irritating.  Some of the over enthusiastic freshers on the back seatstry to take advantage of the situation and bang into the chic next to them. But, the real ordeal starts when the bus takes that fatal turn to Hinjewadi. The moment I hit that road, I feel as if the world has come to stand-still. Day by day, this crawling has taken a toll on me and has developed a phobia for traffic jams. Frustration is an understatement for my mental state. I take out my blackberry and start reading already read mails. In the meanwhile, I get jealous of co-passengers who easily doze off during the travel. I have this hugely irritating problem of not being able to fall asleep while travelling, and all the stress, all my worries start attacking my tiny brain during such hour. The bus somehow crawls upto that crowded, filthy Hinjewadi chowk and drops an anchor to satisfy the pot-bellied traffic police constable. My desperation to come out is reaching its peak, fresher enthusiasts don’t stop blabbering, mobile girls don’t stop indecipherable chatter, lucky ones don’t stop snoring and the poor driver and poor I can’t hide helpless apathy on our faces. I get a call from Chhagan. He says he can’t come today, that to an extent brings smile to my lips and suddenly it seems, I have become luckier, the bus picks up the pace, surprisingly, there are no more jams, the driver gets possessed by Schumacher once again and bang!!!In less than five minutes, I find myself getting down at the company gate, as I get down; I see my floor’s hot chic in hotter apparel and this time without her stud boyfriend around

“Not bad!!”, I mutter and start waiting for the elevator along with bunch of apathetic crowds men …

Monday, March 25, 2013

कोलाज


शनिवारी सकाळी सहा चा गजर वाजतो. मी डोळे किलकिले करत उठतो, आज गावाला जायला निघायचंय. आई नेहमीप्रमाणे माझ्याही आधी उठलीये. गाडी साडेनऊला आहे. मी तोंड धुवून नेहमीप्रमाणे ग्राऊंड वर जायचा विचार करतो आणि बूट चढवून निघतो.
"लवकर ये रे..", आई जवळजवळ ओरडतेच.
मला का कोण जाणे मागील ४-५ वर्षं न चुकता अगदी सकाळी सहा च्या ठोक्याला पळायला घेवून जाणार्‍या मित्राची आठवण येते. त्याच्यामुळेच तर ही एकच चांगली सवय लागली. गेले वर्षभर मात्र तो अमेरिकेत आहे. नुकतंच लग्न झालं त्याचं. परवाच फेसबूकावर फोटो पाहिला. माझ्यापेक्षाही बारीक असणारा आता माझ्या तिप्पट झालाय. पण अधून मधून न चुकता फोन करतो आणि प्रत्येक वेळेला व्यायाम सुटला रे चैत्या असा सुस्कारा सोडतो आणि मला मात्र सकाळचं पळणं सोडू नकोस असं कायम बजावतो. असो, चालायचंच.
मी राऊंड मारायला सुरूवात करतो. ग्राऊंड च्या बाजूचे रस्ते म्हणजे बेवारशी कुत्र्यांचे अड्डे आहेत. त्यातलंच एक कुत्रं विजेच्या खांबाला यथेच्छ अभ्यंगस्नान घालत असतं. दोन-तीन कुत्री फाटक्या बूटाच्या तुकड्यासाठी भांडत असतात. बाजूने दोन काकू भराभरा चालत अर्धं मराठी आणि अर्धं चुकीच्या इंग्रजीतून मोठमोठ्याने बोलत असतात. ग्राऊंड मधल्या एका बाकड्यावर एक कॉलेज मधलं कपल हातात हात घेवून बसलेलं असतं. मी पळता पळता आपोआप मोबाईल मध्ये तिचा नंबर पाहतो. मागच्या वर्षी काहीशा क्षुल्लक कारणावरून भांडण झाल्यानंतर तिचा फोन ही नाही आणि मेसेज ही नाही. मी सुध्दा, चल, गेलीस उडत च्या अविर्भावात काहीच भाव दिला नाही. तिचा नंबर मात्र अजून डिलीट करवत नाही. असो, चालायचंच.
अचानक एक ओळखीचं कुत्रं जोरात पळत पळत एका आजोबांचे पाय चाटायला लागतं. ते आजोबा त्याला बिस्कीट टाकतात आणि कुरवाळून पुढं जातात. गेली चार वर्षं त्या आजोबांना आणि कुत्र्याला पाहतोय. रोज ह्याच वेळेला ते त्याच कुत्र्याला बिस्कीटं टाकतात. आजोबा आज काल काठी टेकत टेकत चालतात. ते कुत्रं सुध्दा आता थोडं थकल्या सारखं दिसायला लागलंय. कदाचित ते सकाळ चं एक बिस्कीट दोघांनाही दिवसभरासाठीची ऊर्जा आणि उत्साह देत असेल. असो, चालायचंच.
मी आज राऊंड निम्म्यातच संपवून घरी परत जातो. पाच मिनिटांत आंघोळ करून आईने केलेले गरम गरम पोहे खातो. आईची नेहमीप्रमाणे अखंड बडबड चालू असते. त्यातलं काही मला समजतं, काही समजत नाही. आई खूप अशक्त दिसते आज काल. बाबा गेल्यानंतर आम्हा दोघा भावांचं शिक्षण पूर्ण होईपर्यंत तिनं खूप सोसलं. डॉक्टरांनी आराम करायला सांगून सुध्दा तिचं दिवसभर काही ना काही सुरूच असतं. तिला येवढी एनर्जी मिळते तरी कुठून? असो, चालायचंच.
मी हातावर दही घेवून घरातून सटकतो. बस स्टॉप वर पोचत नाही तेवढ्यात स्वारगेट ची पी एम टी मिळते, ती सुध्दा चक्क मोकळी. आज कंडक्टर सुध्दा कसलीही कटकट न करता मला सुट्टे पैसे परत करतो. मी आश्चर्यचकीत पणे भरगच्च पीएमटीतून लटकत केलेल्या जीवघेण्या प्रवासांच्या आठवणींनी स्वतःशीच हसतो. बाजूचा माणूस, कोण वेडा आहे अश्या नजरेने माझ्याकडे पाहतो. असो, चालायचंच.
स्वारगेट वर सांगली-मिरज च्या फलाटावर जाऊन बसतो. आज जवळ जवळ तीन वर्षांनी सांगलीला जायला निघालोय आणि फलाटावर येताच लाऊड स्पीकर वर गाणं सुरू होतं .. संथ वाहते कृष्णामाई.. वा!! इतकंच माझ्या तोंडून निघून जातं. बराच वेळ झाला तरी सांगलीची कुठलीच गाडी येत नाही. बाजूच्या फलाटावरून कोल्हापूरच्या चार गाड्या इतक्या वेळात सुटल्या सुध्दा. कधी कधी करवीरकरांचा हेवा वाटतो, पुणे बेंगलोर हायवेवरून जाणार्‍या कुठल्याही गाडीत बसलं की झालं. असो, चालायचंच.
सांगली ची एक एशियाड मिळते. आज नशीब चांगलंच जोरावर दिसतंय. मोकळ्या बसमध्ये व्यवस्थित खिडकी जवळची जागा मिळते. मी विश्रामबाग चं तिकीट काढतो. दोनशे चौर्‍याण्णव रुपये. मला लहानपणी सगळ्यांनी मिळून केलेले सांगली-कोल्हापूर-जोतिबा प्रवास आठवतात. आजच्या इतक्या सारख्या बस नसायच्या तेव्हा. त्या प्रचंड गर्दीतून जाणं मला अक्षरशः नकोसं व्हायचं. सगळ्यांच्या तिकीटांचे पैसे जमवता जमवता बाबांचा जीव अगदी मेटाकुटीला यायचा. पण, सगळ्यांचं दर्शन व्हायलाच पाहिजे हा हट्ट. असो, चालायचंच.
नवीन कात्रज बोगद्यातून गाडी निघेपर्यंत माझा डोळा लागतो. अर्ध्या झोपेत पुढे प्रवास कसा होतो कळतच नाही. हायवेवर एका फालतू हॉटेल बाहेर गाडी थांबते. मी तोंड धुवून फ्रेश होतो आणि पुन्हा झोपतो. अचानक गार हवेच्या झुळुकेने जाग येते. बस आयर्विन पुलावरून जात असते. नकळतच कृष्णामाईला माझे हात जोडले जातात. आणि एकदम वारुळांतून मुंग्या बाहेर पडाव्यात तशा मनाच्या पुरचुंडीतून आठवणी बाहेर पडू लागतात.
एखादा दिवस असा उगवतो, जेव्हा जुन्या वहीत लपवलेलं पिंपळपान अलगद पणे बाहेर पडतं. त्या पानाला पडलेल्या जाळीतून जेव्हा तुम्ही आरपार पाहता तेव्हा पलीकडं एक स्फुट, वेगवेगळ्या शेड्स चं, थोडं अंधुक, थोडं स्पष्ट, थोडं नकोनकोसं आणि तितकंच हवंहवंसं एक कोलाज उमटंत जातं. ते पाहता यावं म्हणूनच कदाचित त्या पानाला जाळी पडत असावी. तुम्हाला आवडो, अगर न आवडो. असो, चालायचंच.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Confessions of an ITwallah - Party Time!!

Today is D-day, the auspicious occasion when it's a Friday and also annual company event. There is an air of excitement on every floor decorated to its core. Chhagan is excited as he is going to get some corporate excellence for cost reduction in project SDLC award (as he has saved on bonus amount to be distributed amongst his team members by ensuring low ratings), Maddy is excited as he can see a lot of chicks draped in hot dresses, made up from head to toe, and not just that but even an average looking girl is going to ensure every inch of her limited beauty is flaunted, Rashmi is excited that she will get to wear her highly expensive and to an extent revealing party outfit which she has reserved to use as her last weapon to seek Sumit's attention. And me, well speaking of me, nothing gets me excited more than the idea of getting FREE drinks, drinks of all expensive foreign brands, drinks that the meager number of peanuts I get at the end of the month do not allow me to buy myself. To my luck, today doesn't have any major task to be delivered, those annoying and probing client calls get cancelled and we sail smoothly to the party venue.

As the DJ starts playing loud and obnoxious music and dance floor is declared open, Maddy gets hyper and he tries to intrude a group of hot girls, just to find himself deserted in a few seconds, Rashmi is full on with makeup and her revealing dress and her eyes fixed on every move of Sumit. Every time she tries to get close to Sumit, she finds him giving her a cold shoulder and turning to that hot chick of our floor who is looking way hotter today.I am constantly looking at the bar and eagerly waiting for it to be open so much so that  I might not have waited for my first salary this much. And, finally the moment arrives, no sooner does the bar tender appears, he looks to me like an angel and I literally attack with several other carnivores like me, but this time I prove to be better than others,

"One large whisky with ice and soda",  I  love being a James Bond while ordering drinks and also love it when that bar tender calls me a 'Sir', it feels like someone's tickling me when I hear it.

I get surprised to see myself joined by Maddy carrying a large glass of Vodka.

"So, Hero, din't get any partner to dance with?" I ask sheepishly
"All these girls are morons, they like half dudes and half nuts and not real men like me..", he replies aggravatingly and for next two minutes or so, I hear some authentic North Indian abuses involving lot of sister and mother words.

It's only my second peg and already it seems as if it's hitting me hard. This doesn't happen with me usually. When I say this to Maddy who's already beyond everything, he suspects that these bloody bar tender has mixed some cheap local brand and that's why we are finding it hard. So, he heads straight to bar and starts abusing the bar tender, he being a wise man, pours some more Vodka and Whisky for us respectively and we gleefully accept it and head to snacks counter to get even with alcoholic effect.

As we are walking, we see some HR guy calling up people and dividing them in groups for making them play some foolishly and forcefully funny game .Such games which are favorites among girls, I strongly believe are management tactics to distract people and save some money on drinks. The only thing we understand that he has divided a group of people in some teams and given them some numbers and has asked people to come up with special characteristics of their team members. We find it hard to understand anything further and anyway I strongly believe that HR is the most inefficient and incompetent department in any organisation, so I decide not even give a damn to it and head to snacks counter.

As I am busy in choosing from snacks plates, someone pats me from behind. I look back and get surprised to see that same HR guy.

"Hey, which team are you from? ", he asks courteously. Ohh, you son of a bitch I think, you are really fake.
"Testing team." I answer innocently.
He smiles lamely, "No, not that one, the team no. 1 and no.2 in our game"
"Ohh, is it? I am sorry bro, I am completely on high, so you better buzz off from me.", I am very blunt when drunk.

"Ohh, ok. " he becomes ultra defensive and backs off.

Maddy can't control his giant laughter at this.

"Bloody chu**** HR guy", I spit out the venom.

A nondescript girl who's overly excited in playing that foolish game approaches Maddy and asks him
"Hi, please tell me one special thing about you."

Maddy observes her carefully, then gives her a look as if he's looking at a house lizard and laughs out and answers
"Madam, I don't like to be bothered while drinking hahahaha"

She gets scared and disappears into crowd.

I am sitting on the couch with my fourth peg and fried chicken thigh. Rashmi comes in and sits next to me. Sad is the only word written all over her face. She's constantly looking at Sumit who's dancing with that hot chick and getting cozy in between. It seems as if Rashmi can start weeping any moment. I wink at Maddy and start singing Ghulaam Ali's ghazal in my unbearable voice. Rashmi ignores for a while, then gets up and disappears into the crowd.

Meanwhile, Maddy is looking for Chhagan as he wants to get even with him for this year's appraisal, but he can't find him anywhere. Looks like, Chhagan is in luck today as last year he had faced brunt of my anger, I don't clearly remember though what all words I had said.

We decide to have dinner. Maddy is the ahead of me in the queue. He picks one white napkin and and tries to wear it over the chest. While he fails to do so, the man behind the tandoor counter says softly

"Sir, that's not a napkin, it's a roomali roti."
"Ohh, is it? no problem."

Maddy keeps it in the plate and continues filling his plate with everything that's laid on every counter. My plate also doesn't look different from Maddy's. We stuff ourselves with all kinds of meat and vegetable curries, various rotis, naans and chapatis, pulavs and biryanis as if we haven't eaten for last six months. Our mothers will be proud today seeing how their respective sons have eaten their plates clean.

We decide to leave now. We go to washroom to empty our bladders. we hear lot of strange noises there.

"Look at these faggots", Maddy points out.

Some guys are puking it out. Just as Maddy says this, and he too vomits it huge.

He then says..

"Don't worry bro, it happens some time due to acidity.And, I am going to drop you home, no worries."

I nod without much resistance. I sit behind him on his heavy bike. The engine roars, and next thing I understand is that I am in front of my home.

"Good Night Chaitanya bhai. See you tomorrow."
I thank him and he sets of with a speed of Jet.

Before going home, I find a local paanwaala's shop, stuff my mouth with aromatic beetle leaves, go home. My mom complains about how late it is. However drunk I am, I make it a point to take full care that my mom doesn't realise it. I say, I am very tired and literally fall into bed and it's all dark. My mom keeps whining about something and the next thing I remember is I am waiting for my bus next morning on the bus stop with a few other losers around...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

एक विमान हरवलेलं...


झी मराठीवर दर शुक्रवारी रात्री साडेनऊ वाजता मधली सुट्टी नावाचा एक छान कार्यक्रम असतो. सलील कुलकर्णी अँकरींग करतो. वेगवेगळ्या गावांतील शाळांमध्ये जावून तिथल्या विद्यार्थ्यांशी एक सुंदर संवाद साधायचा असे ह्या कार्यक्रमाचे स्वरूप आहे. एरवी तो सलील त्याच्या रिअ‍ॅलिटी शोज मधल्या भाषणांनी कधी कधी डोक्यात जातो, पण हा शो मात्र मला मनापासून आवडतो.तर,ह्या आठवड्याच्या भागात, सांगली जवळच्या एका खेडयातील जिल्हा परिषदेच्या शाळेत शो होता. सलील चा नेहमीप्रमाणे मुलांशी संवाद सुरू होता. त्याने मुलांना एक प्रश्न विचारला की, तुम्ही सगळे तर लहान गावात राहता, तुम्हाला कधी मोठ्या शहराचे, तिथल्या गोष्टींचे आकर्षण वाटते का? वाटते तर कशाचे वाटते? तेव्हा एका गोड लहान मुलीने तितकेच गोड उत्तर दिले की मला ना मुंबईचा समुद्र खूप खूप आवडतो आणि तिला फक्त एकदा समुद्र बघायला मुंबईला जायचंय.
माझ्या तोंडून लगेच वाह निघून गेला. त्या निरागस मुलीची इच्छा सुध्दा तितकीच निरागस होती. तिला ना मोठमोठ्या बिल्डींग्स चं आकर्षण होतं, ना मॉल्स चं ना मल्टीप्लेक्स चं, ना मॅक्डोनल्ड्स ना पिझा हट चं. तिची स्वप्नं अशीच निरागस राहावीत असंच मात्र मला राहून राहून वाटत होतं.
त्या लहान मुलीने मला चांगलंच अंतर्मुख केलं. तो साधेपणा, तो निरागसपणा कुठेतरी एका कोपर्‍यात बंद करून ठेवलाय आपण. लहानपणी मला असंच टांग्याचं, रेल्वेच्या शिट्टीचं, नदीवरच्या पूलाचं ,त्या पूलाखालून संथपणे वाहणार्‍या कृष्णेचं, गावातल्या लहान मोठ्या वाड्यांचं, आकाशात मधूनच दिसणार्‍या विमानाचं प्रचंड आकर्षण होतं. कधी लांब विमान दिसलं की त्याचा अगदी ठिपका होवून जाईपर्यंत मी जणू त्याचा पाठलाग करत असल्या सारखा पळत जायचो. आज सुध्दा मी पळतच आहे, मीच नाही तर माझ्यासारखे बरेच जण पळताहेत, पण ते ठिपका झालेलं विमान केव्हाच हरवलंय आणि सगळेच जण केवळ दुसरा पळतोय, मग मी सुध्दा पळणार आहे असं म्हणतात आणि पळतात, पण कशाच्या मागे हे मात्र कुणालाच माहित नाही. असं ऊर फुटेस्तोवर आपण धावत राहतो आणि दूर कुठेतरी कोपर्‍यावर आयुष्य आपल्याला खुणावत राहते. मग त्या कोपर्‍यावर आपण बरंच काही सोडून दिलेलं असतं, तिथे असते गल्लीतली हाफ पिच क्रिकेट मॅच, आजीच्या हातचं गरम गरम थालीपीठ, पु.लं ची हसवत हसवत नकळत डोळ्यांत पाणी आणणारी कॅसेट, मित्रांबरोबर करायचा राहून गेलेला तोरणा-राजगडचा ट्रेक, मैत्रिणीसोबत पाहायचा राहून गेलेला सिनेमा, बायकोसाठी आणायचा विसरलेला गजरा, मुलाच्या शाळेतला मिस केलेला गॅदरिंग चा कार्यक्रम असं काही अन् बरंच काही. हातात काहीतरी अनामिक, गूढ पकडण्यासाठी जीवाचा आटापिटा करायचा आणि तोपर्यंत आयुष्यच हातातून कधी निसटून जातं हे समजतच नाही. म्हणूनच मला वाटतं की कधी कधी उगाच काहीतरी लिहायचंच म्हणून पाटी गिचमिड अक्षरांच्या वेड्या वाकड्या डिझाईन्स नी भरवून टाकण्या पेक्षा ती तशीच स्व्च्छ आणि कोरीच ठेवायला काय हरकत आहे.
असो, माझ्या मनातलं ते ठिपका होणारं विमान जसं हरवून गेलं तसा त्या गोड मुलीच्या मनातला, स्वप्नातला अथांग समुद्र कधीच हरवू नये हीच ईश्वरचरणी प्रार्थना..

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Confessions of an ITwallah - New girl in the team

Just as I am contemplating my total insignificance and complete lack of importance in the project, staring at huge number of unread e-mails in the outlook, I hear whispering sighs from my neighbor. I  look around and spot Rashmi, looking from the corner of her thick glasses towards the hot chic in the front cubicle. Rashmi seems to have put on a dejected era on her face. I look at the hot chic,she is talking jovially with Sumit. They seem to be bonding quite well over a loud conversation. Well, Sumit is a tall, dark and (not so) handsome guy in our development team. He is the guy whom Rashmi secretly admires. Rashmi's sighs grow heavier as their conversation grows louder.

Suddenly Maddy, the junior most member in our team starts singing in a very low voice
"Here comes the Dog, here comes the dog.."
Startled, I look at him interrogatively.
He points at the entrance in the remote corner. I see Chhagan approaching, shaking his heavy belly and carrying laptop bag on one elephant sized shoulder. Chhagan, being a manager has reserved the privilege of working out of the office in city and once in two weeks he visits the labor force where we sit, the place around 20 miles from the city. Practically, everyone in the team finds his presence utterly irritating. Just as he approaches closer, I can see a petite, fair,a little more fashionably made up girl, dressed in a rather skimpy cloths following him. Rashmi raises her eyebrows a little higher than usual, Maddy opens her mouth wide and starts licking his dried lips.

Chhagan slowly comes and greets us all and then introduces the girl as Amruta, a new member of the testing team. Then he takes her to the development team and repeats the ritual. Whilst she shakes hand with Sumit, Rashmi's fury up-scales.

Amruta reclines in an empty cubicle, playing with her hair. Just as she tries to re-lax, a manager from some team, we don't have anything to do with goes to her and introduces himself and shakes her hand for a little longer than usual. Then, there starts a flurry of sexually starved creatures from our floor peeping at and some of them without any reason introducing themselves to the new object of their secret desires. I imagine a single sugar-cube in a kitchen that's full of ants.

"All men are a big cesspool..", I hear Rashmi muttering agonizingly.

Suddenly, Chhagan pats me .

"So, Chaitanya, we have this new requirement to be tested within one week. Go through it and provide me with an estimate in next two hours. Involve Maddy as well."

There are hardly any 'could you' or 'please' when he speaks to subordinates. I fail to understand that if something has already been slated to be completed in one week, why it would need an estimate.

I turn to Maddy. He's finding it hard to keep his eyes off the new entrant. I nudge him and say..

"Chhagan wants us to provide the estimates for this new requirement.."

He hardly sounds interested and with his eyes fixed where they were, he casually replies

"Ghantaa..... Ask him to rather estimate his mouth against my dick", and he bursts out into a wicked laughter..

I also join in and then bear with huge number of abuses and curses hurled at Chhagan.

Rashmi finds it unbearable though and gets up, calls Amruta and both head towards Wash room.

I quietly start preparing that estimate document. Maddy is still not out of her awe.

After a while, Rashmi comes in and sits, her somber mood seems to have dissipated and a wry smile starts playing around her lips.

"She's a real corporate airy snob." She announces.

And then she exclaims,

"Guys, a real bad news for you all."
"What?"
"She's happily married. Her husband is a senior project manager in our company itself. Moreover, he's a friend of Chhagan, and with his very reference, she has joined our project, so, hard luck and better luck for future" ,and she blinks her one eye and starts observing Sumit again admiringly.

"All these sons of bitch managers are damn fuckingly lucky..", announces Maddy and continues chatting with his friend on communicator.

I keep dreaming of getting promotion at least this time and click the send button in outlook to present the estimates to Chhagan...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Confessions of an ITwallah - Green day at the office

On an ever gloomy and lugubrious Monday morning, with the steps heavier than a Japanese sumo wrestler, I drag myself to my cubicle and recline into the chair. With increasing years of my work experience, these Monday blues are getting more and more horrible. Just as I set my Laptop up and switch it on, Rashmi approaches her desk

"Goooood Morrrninggg..."
She says in an enthusiastic voice.
"Good Morning." I say coldly
She almost screams once again, compelling me to finally look at her.

She is wearing some traditional attire, I don's understand what they call it. She has put on a rather heavy make up making her look uglier than usual. She looks at me expectantly. I smile earnestly and throw her a compliment she is dying to get.

"Looking lovely today."
She blushes and says thanks.

And in a moment, she frowns, looks irritated and once again shouts at me.
"What's this Chaitanya, why are you not wearing anything green and traditional? why this usual formal apparel."

I wince for a brief, then look at my usual carefully ironed clothes, don't find anything wrong, look at her once again carefully, and finally realize that she is clad from head to top in green , lipstick is the only exception. But, I fail to understand the affinity for this particular color.

"Green? Why?", I ask innocently.

"Ohh no, don't you even remember what we discussed on Friday among the team?"

Friday?, I try to stretch my memory. The only thing, I remember about Friday is that I had worked till 11 o' clock in the evening ,testing one issue in live and Rashmi had left early citing the reason of her great grandmother's poor health.

"Sorry, but no.", I sound even more innocent this time.
"Check your inbox, the mail by DHAMAKA group.",

Ahh, DHAMAKA group! Now it seems like I am getting it. This is that usual group in our company which organizes the events like dance, music, Rangoli, cubicle decoration kind of competitions, some meaningless social events, some kind of theme days or traditional day competitions. I haven't told anyone about this but I have a rule in my mailbox which sends all such mails which are of least interest to me into Deleted Items and I clear the folder once in a month.

Out of curiosity, I check my deleted items for 'that' mail. I see some colorful message which announces a celebration of colors of India festival, and as a part of that, the first day was announced Green day with traditional wear and cubicle decoration competition with Green color as the theme. Three best teams would be chosen and there were attractive prizes to be had such as Free meal passes and free breakfast for three days in Office canteen etc. As I despise these kinds of activities, I don't read too much into it and try to somehow push myself to work. I hear Rashmi's blabbering voice complaining about my disinterest and concern that because of me, the team will not fetch that coveted prize.

Just as I finish giving updates to Chhagan (our manager) about Friday's issue and my heroics of working late in the day, I see the hot chic in the opposite cubicle setting herself in. As always, Chhagan doesn't even appreciate me nor says a thank you. I hang up without being bothered and sheepishly stare at her in a constant state of awe. She is wearing a bright green sari. She meticulously flaunts her vital features. The smell of her imported perfume drives my nostrils crazy. She says hi to Rashmi, but doesn't even look at me. After giving compliments to each other they start gossiping about the lady who cleans ladies wash rooms.

After a while, I see Amit , wearing green sherwani and bringing cubicle decoration items. Now, I understand that for this very reason, he had taken 100 Rs. from me on Friday. Amit always takes interests in such girly ventures so much so that I have started doubting that he is Gay.

He comes in asks me
"Man, what's green about you today?"
I silently point at the Green dust bin in the corner. He seems perplexed, and continues with decoration with the help of Rashmi. I see an abundance of Green everywhere on the floor, Green Clothes, Green posters, Green cubicles blah, blah, blah.

In the Lunch, they serve palak paneer in the canteen going with today's theme. Palak is something I truly abhor.Whilst that irritating taste of palak lingers in my mouth, some of Rashmi's friends show up. All of them are dressed in Green and heavily made up. They want to go outside and click a snap together. As Amit is busy in decoration, Rashmi requests me to be a photographer. I look at her friends. Although some of them are actually good looking, I don't see myself wanting to sleep with any one them. I say that I am busy with something important and refuse. Rashmi calls me a 'Grinch' for it and seeks someone else and goes out.

Thankfully, I have a two hours training session and I sneak away. In stead of concentrating on the session, I get distracted by the lady trainer's looks. She's also made up a little more today and looking sexier than usual.

By the time I finish the training, it is almost the time to leave. Today, not being a really busy day in terms of work, I find myself being able to catch 6 o' clock bus. I hear Rashmi speaking to someone in a worried voice about tomorrow's theme being White and she does not have anything white in color to wear. She seems so genuinely worried as if Pakistan has launched nuclear war against India.

I pack all my stuff in my Laptop bag, bring the utmost innocence on my face and ask Rashmi sincerely,
"If you don't mind, may I give you an advice that can solve your problem for tomorrow?"

"Of course Chaitanya, don't be so formal.", She maintains a fake smile.

With all the innocence in the world, I say,
"You can get your hair painted White tomorrow.", and I burst out in a wicked and a sadistic laughter and before Rashmi throws whatever she catches at me, I run away outside leaving her fuming in rage...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Silent Waters

It was eight in the morning and I was back from my grueling Gym work out. Well, I am Mr. Vivek Deshpande, I am a little over 45 now, father of two, a caring Son of aging parents, a loving husband and a very efficient Executive vice president in a reputed MNC. After a really humble beginning, I had reached this position owing to my hard work, my parent's blessings and of course by the grace of almighty. Whenever I look back, I feel obliged to hardships my Mother and Father had been through while raising me.

I parked my Audi outside a newly purchased two storied Row house in Baner. We had recently shifted there from Kothrud. I always make it a point to have breakfast with Aai and Baba as I never have a fixed schedule for dinner, so that's the only time I get to spend with them during a weekday. We sat across the table, Rekha was being helped by maid whilst serving thali peeths, my favorite Maharashtrian delicacy. I looked at Rekha. She has been a real loving wife and a caring daughter in law. I remembered my initial days of struggle, and how she always stood by me. Without her support, I imagined, these days of luxury would not have been possible. I considered myself lucky for having her as a companion.

Just as I was busy chewing a big piece of delicious thali peeth along with ground nut chutney, my mobile phone rang. Usually, I prefer to switch my mobile off during this time, but somehow I forgot. It was Ganesh. Ganesh is one of very few school friends of mine whom I had been in touch with. He had made it big in a scrap business in Pune.

"Yes Ganesh, tell me."
"Arey Vivek, I am in a little hurry, so will tell you a bit fast. This Saturday, we have organised a reunion of our School batch. And, nothing doing, you are going to join us no matter how busy you are!"

This was typical of Ganesh and I knew he wasn't going to listen to any of my excuses.

"Arey, reunion? what's special?"
"Mr. Vice president, you might have forgotten, but we were in 10th standard once. We are commemorating thirty years of passing out. We will have a small function and a kind of get to gather. As I told you at the beginning itself, you must be there."

"But Ganesh.."

And he disconnected. Ok, I said to myself. This weekend did not have anything in store, so I decided to make it to the function.

Thinking of School, 10th standard, batch-mates made my mind race thirty years back. My father was in a Government job, so as a child I experienced shifting from this village to that village, from one town to another . Therefore, I never had a stable school. It was in a small town called Sangli about 150 miles to the South of Pune, it seemed as if we had settled down a bit. From my sixth standard on wards, we were staying in Sangli and I ,thankfully had one stable school to boast of till 10th. My school was a typical conservative Marathi Medium school with quite a name in that area. It was a co-ed school , however hardly six to seven girls used to be there in a class of fifty.My father had rented two rooms in an old Wada just next to the school. As far as I remember, we paid a meager rent of Rs. 15 or something. I really enjoyed the school and the surroundings. My school was just beside the banks of river Krishna. We had a real big playground. We played Cricket with friends for hours, bunked school in between, climbed tamarind trees around, sometimes swam in the river. Those were really alluring times when money was never a thing that really mattered in our lives.

I didn't even realize when the 10th standard exams came and went by. It was a long vacation afterwards. Most of my friends had gone somewhere or the other. We too had planned to go to my Uncle's home, but my father was suspecting a possibility of another transfer order this time round, hence we had stayed back.

I vividly remember that day. Just as a fun, I decided to go to School and see how empty classrooms would look. I was standing in front of the Gate looking at the statue of Shivaji Maharaj.

"What are you doing here?"

I looked back. She was standing, wide-eyed. I was quite surprised to see her in a completely different avatar.

She was wearing a bright pink Punjabi dress which I had never seen here before in. In the class, I had always remembered her in the school uniform of green and white frock, two ponies tied behind with a ribbon. There was hardly anything in her that made any heads turn. But, today I found her quite pretty. Her face was glowing. She had a plump figure, and the tight punjabi dress that she was wearing was accentuating her curves. Those pair of ponies seemed to have vanished, and their place was taken by carefully pinned henna colored hair.

I was stunned to say the least when she spoke to me. I had never spoken to her in five years, forget her,
such shy boys that we were and such was the conservative aura of our school, neither I nor any of my friends, I believed had ever talked to a girl.

"I just wanted to visit school once.." I barely managed to speak

She laughed and said,
"They won't allow you in, today it's a cleaning day. And what's this, why are you staring at me like this?"
I was embarrassed at being caught.

"aahh, you.. look.... so.. so.. "
"Yes?"
"So.. different.." Ohh, I managed to bring something out of my mouth. Actually, I badly wanted to say Beautiful instead of different, but somehow, it didn't come out.

"I know" She blushed and asked me,
"Should we go to Riverside then?"

I was too preoccupied by her presence to say anything. I just followed her through narrow lanes of old town. Sangli wasn't so urbanized back then. Most of the people would know each other by name. Even though it was merely a 500 meters walk to river, I was just praying that no one should see both of us together ,otherwise it would make a big news in the by-lanes around my home.

We went and sat on the banks. The wide river bed of Krishna was adorning the the limits of the city, Her waters were not as polluted those days are they are now.The lush green trees, and sugarcane fields were decorating the banks on the other side. The cool breeze that blew made her hair fly around. I just sat, quiet ,throwing pebbles in the waters. I was secretly trying to peep and get a glimpse of hers. It seemed as if a great silence presided between us. The quiet, deep, serene and pristine waters of Krishna were running as deep as our emotions. Just as the Sun set, I looked deep into her eyes, my heart was beating 100 times faster than usual. I had never been in vicinity of a female this way before. With my hand trembling, I touched her soft, milky white cheeks, and it sent shivers of shock through my body. Her cheeks turned dark red, I felt embarrassed and immediately withdrew. She was taken aback. She suddenly stood up and said,

"It's late now, I think I should go."

I sat there like a statue.

"Aren't you coming along. Your Aai must be worrying for you."
"No, will stay here for a while. You carry on."
"Ok, bye, don't be too late."
She waved a hand and smiled. That was the sweetest smile I had ever witnessed in my life.

I sat there, don't know for how long throwing countless pebbles into river. It was all so so different and so so appealing to me. It felt like I was in a different world, a world of dreams, a world of fantasy. With these dreamy eyes, I went home. I thought, it would be a good deal of scolding from both Aai and Baba for being late. Instead, I found them doing busy doing packing.

"What's the matter", I asked

"It's pack up time now, I have been transferred to Pune." Baba broke the news.

From that moment on wards, I was busy packing, running around and helping at home. No less than in a week, we had shifted to a newer, bigger city. It took us quite a while to get to terms with Pune. In between, I missed her, but there was no time to keep thinking about her. When I had gone to collect my 10th results to Sangli, she was nowhere to be seen.

Times just went by. Baba somehow managed to avoid any further transfers citing the reason of his poor health. This meant we were to stay in Pune for good. My college, Engineering, new friends, various jobs, stays abroad, marriage with Rekha, two kids, promotions in jobs, more than one factor contributed towards burying the memories of that one special evening somewhere in the corners of heart. But today, when Ganesh talked of this re-union, they all came to surface as if I was 15 just yesterday.

It was Saturday, and I landed in Sangli. I was at re-union just for one reason. The School had a specious tall building now. Classrooms were a lot more specious. Those worn out, dilapidated wooden benches were replaced by a solid steel coated, there were glass boards in every classroom, with special chalks to write. The change was so apparent that every classroom actually had a working ceiling fan. And yes, the Wada that  we stayed in was no more there next to school. Its place was taken up by an ultra modern society with a Swimming Pool and a Club House.

The function was good. There were some entertainment programmes, a few speeches by now retired teachers. Almost everyone of the batch had turned out. Ganesh had done a good job as organizer. But my eyes were searching only one person. And to my surprise, there she was, sitting with other girls, ohh sorry they were all ladies by now. She was wearing a pink Sari. Calling her fat would have been an understatement . She was almost round. She wore expensive jewelry. What stood out though was that big Mangal sutra that she constantly kept playing with.She seemed to have done the latest fashioned hairdo. Like that evening, those two ponytails were nowhere to be seen. Two big dangling golden earrings were caressing her big bulging white cheeks. And suddenly our eyes met and seemed like time was still. She showed no reaction and looked elsewhere.

After the delicious lunch, as all of us were enjoying a quiet time, I excused myself from the company of Ganesh, and headed to her. She was sitting in one corner, quiet.

"Hi. May I join you?" I asked earnestly.
"Ohh, hi Vivek. So you can speak too. I thought you were mute or what?.", She said mischievously.
"So, let's speak from where we had left. Should we go to riverside again?".

The moment I asked this, there was a brief silence and we both broke into laughter all at once. Both of us knew that it wasn't possible now. Much water had flown now. The waters of Krishna now, were not as clean and innocent as they were then.

The silence prevailed for a while, and I broke it to her surprise.

"I must say you are still so beautiful, but a lot fatter now."
She nodded.
"Yes, that's what my husband keeps saying. He urges me to go to gym."
"Ohh really? Tell me about life, where are you, what do you do?"
"Well Vivek, I was married off quite early. Owing to my looks, my parents found a real good family. My husband is an IAS officer. So, since then, I have been enjoying travelling all over the country, being a home maker.I have two kids, both of them in college, one is doing his post graduation and the other one in his final year. What about you? what do you do now a days? Did you get married or not?"

She was all questions suddenly about me.

"Yes yes. I work in a private company. I too got married, but not as early as you did. I am a father of two, both still in school and I have been in Pune since we passed out 10th and doing good by the grace of God"
"Well, I am happy for you. Is your wife beautiful?"
I wasn't expecting this question.
"Yes she is. But not as beautiful as you are.", today, I did not want to disappoint her.
She just chuckled with same innocence as the one like before 30 years.

We barely had anything to talk more. And, suddenly, her mobile phone rang. She spoke for a moment and said.

"Vivek, I must go now, the driver is waiting for me outside. My husband is posted at Kolhapur now a days and I must leave to reach by evening."
"It's Ok, it was more than nice meeting you. Hopefully next time, we can sit at riverside once again."
She didn't reply.

As a courtesy, I went outside to see her off. There was an ambassador, with an Indian Government board on top of it waiting for her. The driver came out opened door for her. She slid her heavy body in and closed the door and the engines roared.

Just as I was about to turn back, she looked outside the window, waved her hand and widened her lips to smile at me. And that was the sweetest smile I had ever experience in my life after thirty long long years!!!

-Chaitanya Kulkarni





Saturday, September 1, 2012

Confessions of an ITwallah

I have stuffed myself with horrible pohas that Company's canteen has to offer.I have had a fight with Bus driver for playing noisy songs aloud and have threatened him to complain today. I have settled myself in my dingy cubicle. I am at my recalcitrant best while staring at black Unix screen. A new chic in the front row just comes in. The moment she comes in, what hits me is the strong smell of her imported perfume. Just as she sits down, trying to pin her hair, she looks damn hot. While she bends to take out some branded face wash from her drawer, I spread my eyes wide open.

"Don't dare Mr. Kulkarni." , I get deflected by a murmuring voice of Rashmi. She sits next to me and always enjoys spoiling my party

"Her boy friend is a real Stud."

"How do you know?", The moment I ask this question, I curse myself for it.
Rashmi adjusts her specs, looks at me as if she's looking at a dead rat and starts preaching

"Beta, we call this as Wash Room bonding. We don't go there just for answering nature's call. Therein, we exchange views, share news, get to know about latest sales and offers, we find out about relationships,marriages and break-ups ..."

I cut her short and ask slyly
"Is it bonding or gossip?"
"Whatever. I just wanted to alert you about her boyfriend, a 6'3" stud, works in the next building."
"Let him be, anyway no matter how much I look at her, she would never stare at me that's for sure."
"Hmm, that's right too, not even the ugliest girl on the floor gives you a second look." and she bursts out in her quintessential wicked smile.
I am sick of her insinuations.I imagine her like a witch as they would portray in the 90's cartoon serials. I have a real strong urge to tell here how ugly she looks with her braces on and thick specs while she smiles, instead I give her an apathetic look and immerse myself into executing my Test cases.

My phone rings after an hour. It must be Chhagan, I think and pick it up.('Chhagan' is an honorific we have conferred to our manager. In fact, some of the team members call him 'Chutiya', but I prefer Chhagan. Sounds more decent). He needs some updates from me. He goes over everything twice taking longer pauses that even Mr. Vajpayee would take, asks some idiotic queries and extends an hardly ten minutes conversation to half an hour. I answer each and every question patiently. Finally the ordeal ends and I feel like a monkey is off my shoulders.

It's just ten more minutes and he calls up again. He asks same set of questions saying I wasn't quite clear last time. He really has got an uncanny knack of irritating people to the core.  This time, I feel like losing my patience and actually want to call him Chutiya. Instead, I re-phrase myself and explain things once again patiently. He seems satisfied, still doesn't even say Thank you and disconnects. I keep wondering that I am mastering the skill of hiding my emotions.

We are in a queue in canteen, all standing like beggars for subsidized food as if they are serving nectar instead of water. Somehow we get through. Canteenwalah does not have change as always, he promises to return next time.Finding a place in crowded canteen is a task in itself. One of our team members does this job lucidly today by reserving a table for us.Everyone around me is cribbing for the quality of food, I too join them and make a resolution to bring food from home.

A walk after the lunch provides a little respite. Now, it's a time for a design walk-through meeting. We struggle to get the projector in the conference room working. We call an IT guy and he takes another twenty minutes to make it functional. Whenever these Business analysts and Designers speak, I feel they are talking in an alien language. I always doubt that everyone except me understands everything in the meeting. Hence I just keep nodding. In the Question-Answers session, I don't clearly remember but I ask something, someone says it's a good question, I have no idea why? They give some cryptic answers, I pretend to have understood everything. We thank each other and depart.

Just as I am reading a 'Be careful' forward mail from a friend, Swati, one of Rashmi's many friends shows up. I hastily close the mail window.She' s not all that bad looking, today she seems to have put on a little more make up. A friend of mine secretly admires her and always requests me to introduce him to her. Rashmi asks her what's special today. She blushes and breaks a news of her engagement. Rashmi suddenly gives her a tight hug. I feel as if my eyes will go moist at their bonding. Swati shows her to be's photo. Rashmi gives a WOW reaction and hands over the photo to me as well. He looks like a South Indian film's villain to me. I congratulate Swati feeling sorry for that friend of mine. Rashmi and Swati head towards washroom. After returning, Rashmi asks me,
"Yuck!!, did you just see how he looked? Must be some African breed."
I just admire her for her switch on and off skill, but don't feel like commenting anything.

Suddenly, I see a mail from my client manager Luka dotovasky appreciating for my weekend working two months back. I feel like replying to him and telling that I am still struggling to get weekend allowance from finance department. In stead, I just send a thank you note.

By now, it's almost 5:30, buses leave at six. Rashmi has already buzzed off. I carefully draft end of day status mail. Spell check in outlook sometimes is very time consuming, every minute counts now. Finally, mail is sent.  I pack everything with a speed of Jet and set off. Thankfully, I get a seat in the bus. I look out of window, It's setting down nicely, a faint shade of rainbow garlands the sky, and the bus takes off. This time, driver has played Jagjit Singh's gazals. He looks at me and smiles. I give him an approving look and with the blowing wind and soothing sounds I just doze off.