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...