That scary math test.
The finals of grade Eight.
The matriculation that came next.
And Engineering that gave me a fright.
And now a year at TCS has also gone past.
The room is silent except for the relentless thumbing at the keyboards and the slow murmur of my associates chatting in subtle and flawless malayalm like hushed school children.I am sitting in my square cubicle walking down the memory lane tracing the collage of events that led me here when my PL comes to me and suggest that I check my e-mail. Well, there is almost never any good news in the e-letters posted to your official id except on the very last working day of the month.The payroll tells you exactly how much of tax they have decided to keep to the last denomination, which is ALSO bad news.
In a workplace, there are three types of irresistible e-mails to (not) look forward to.
1. Your PLAN. The irony being the fact that you don’t get to make your own “plan”(s). These are priority number one. This is the only kind of e-mails you just cant afford to miss. Worse, you might would even want to probably keep a screenshot of it on your desktop, or pen them down on to your cute little sticky notes. It is a healthy practice to not take them lightly.
2. Then there are gentle reminders. Except for the very modest subject, there is nothing gentle about them.They tell you loud and clear that some work that was supposed to be done in the past is still lined up for your immediate attention and action.
3. If credit card calls from customer care centers annoy you, you might want to relax a little bit and take these easy.There could be days when you miss the breakfast, but no single day gets to escape the wrath of system generated e-mails. For those who don’t want to start their day to empty mailboxes, they are good news.
So, today, I receive this stand out e-mail which do not belong to any of my categories. It was from our very own leading lady Linu appreciating our team for our fantastic work in our ex-project.Of course I’m flaunting, the customer satisfaction survey figure reached up to an unprecedented 97 percentile.Considering the fact that with it came another good news that our boss has finally given me the permission to initiate the well-needed transfer, it is great news.
It is common practice for cubicle dwellers to be dribbled around to different projects to cater to business requirements. And dissolution of a team after a project is successful is only too normal a norm.But for some reason, even if it is not meant to be, this hurts. Didn’t we move apart from our class mates in school? In college? At training? I mean now that we are adults, we are expected to embrace the idea more gracefully. The show must somehow go on. Our teachers did tell us that everything in the world is temporary. What they did not say is that things last shorter than what the definition of temporary would have implied, and that things would change, even if that’s not what you want.
This is one of those moments.I still remember the day I walked in to this office to be interviewed by our now-onsite and extremely cool-cooler-coolest leading lady Asha along with the most humble and erudite Sheena chechi in the account who is the oxygen to every project going live. They took me to this really sophisticated looking conference room where the entry is restricted by a crazy anagram of letters and numbers.I was a little tensed and a little excited about my first project interview but somehow managed a confident face before them. Before they sit down, they ask for my name. The feminist in me smiled inwardly to find two women in the panel. And contrary to widespread belief, I found that interviewers do actually smile. They ask me a few questions. I tell them a few answers.
Next day an e-mail arrives confirming me to the role of a Designer/Developer. Tailing along the e-mail, I find an attachment which is supposed to carry the list of candidates confirmed for this project. I open the list to find my own name with another name next to it which read – Mangayarkkarasi Selvaraj (Although this mention might seem atrocious, it is also inevitable). The name ended in a vowel following an unsaid naming convention, suggestive for women(Like mini, devi, preeti, arundhathi and the likes).I started making a mental picture of my new team mate- a woman straight out of one of those Tamil daily soaps. I won’t make enemies by spilling out the essential figments of my wicked imagination but it did include lavishly oiled hair with flowers pinned to it.The next moment, I receive a phone call from mangayarkkarasi (whom I will shorten to Mangai from now on) and I hear her speak impeccable English at the other end of the line, that too without an accent. Felt as if someone had just shown a middle finger on my face. Well, I totally deserved that. In that moment, I realized some thing about myself. Deep down beneath the layers somewhere, there was a pathetic pretentious judgmental racist in me.
We walk into our new territory and try to remember the corners of the place by heart as we walk past each hallway. One hallway lead to another and then to another, each time you take a 90 degree turn you walk into a similar junction that look exactly like the previous one. At some point, you feel that the maze symmetrically loops itself. Finally, we enter the room to find an array of clean cubicles. The rooms are illuminated by the brightest lights, just the way I like it. The kind of lights which do not have this depressing shade of retro yellow to it. Everything around was so clean. No crumbled papers. No trace of dust. No soiled clothes. Or traces of spilled water. Or littered corners. Everything near perfection. This somehow upset me. I always believed perfection had something to do with not being human. I feared if this environment is a professional adaptation of a convent school. I started picturing a spectacled boss and indifferent colleagues with bad temper.
Contrary to my expectations my project did not practice any form of professional hierarchy explicitly. No bigger cabins for the bosses the way you see in a TV series. Darn the TV series. Here, everyone sits next to everyone else. Fair enough if not more. But this comes as an unseeable bait for freshers like us. You just would not know when to stay cautious. I mean it is good to be yourself but then a little bit of extra professionalism before your seniors never harmed anyone. I knew the lesson, but I just didn’t know who my seniors were. The smartest and age-old way would have been to look for older people but then sweet Jesus, there were no old people in our project, none at all . Bingo. I knew the names but couldn’t remembered any faces initially. My brain couldn’t decipher and store so many pixels in a day. In that state of chaos and confusion, we kick started our career.
And then we got introduced to our team mates. Everyone smiled. No one so worked up that they give you frowns (Darn the TV series) Our ex-PL never overburdened us or patronized us but was skillfully smart to push us to do our best with a smile on his face. The positive thing was that the project was new and we were all equally ignorant. Our additional responsibility was to learn the professional jargons that every IT professional needs to know and effectively blend to their daily conversation. My dictionary just got richer with words like dependency, appraisal, competency, escalation, onsite, critical resource etc.
Work slowly gains momentum. Thank God for Suraj, I know there is someone like him everywhere, who is always willing to help. He starts with the do’s and don’ts and even takes the pain of sharing his own experiences as a fresher in the team. As he is gearing up to pursue his higher education abroad, I wish him all the best. Had it not been for him, we could have faced some major fall-outs in the execution of our project starting day one.
Luckily for me, one fine morning, our extremely versatile tool just crashed over three times, each time conveniently erasing all the previous data I had so earnestly entered into it over time. This would have made any normal women mad, but it caused some really untimely embarrassing body fluids to flow out of my eyes which destroyed my bad-ass reputation among my teammates. I was being unprofessional, I knew. That day my ex-PL Saneesh (chettan ) came to me and told me to chill. He told me it was okay. Faith in humanity restored.
There are all sorts of people in a crowd. Each one of us do have a few moments which we are not exactly proud of. But right here in my team I met a woman who refrains to fit into definitions. You give her a million dollars or you rob her off a million dollars, she will just smile at you. A woman who is by far the most soft spoken, tender heart-ed, kind and wholesome person I have ever met in my life. She is a tight slap on the faces of men who think women who do not complain are gone with the dinosaurs. For those men who are single and are looking for a peaceful future, Roshan is the kind of woman you should hunt down 🙂
The training process will scare you to death. They will warn you about arrogant managers, opinionated Team Leads, strict deadlines and heaps of monotonous ruthless coding. I want to believe that our project is a mysterious miraculous exception. Our lead is not only funny and friendly, Linu chechi is just the darling woman who knows how to handle a team replete of dumb freshers and yet drive them to get what she wants. The first thing and probably the only thing that makes your life easy at work place is an approachable and empathetic lead, and we just got lucky 😀
As our project gained pace, we got ourselves three new resources. The three ladies who brought in the well needed entertainment to our team. Divya is just gonna tie the knot is a woman I have known for years. I call her entertaining because she always has news for you. She has pictures she wants you to see, she has wedding plans which needs our immediate attention, she needs us to get past her bridzilla syndrome in dignity. Men might call this gossip, I call it knowledge sharing- we always always find the inevitable need to tell each other about what just happened to a friend who got married. About her major cooking fails. Or about the not-so-welcoming in-laws. Now, isn’t that supposed to help my innocent friend to prepare for the worst? She always has a smile and she never says no. I guess she would even think twice before beating a mosquito to death.This woman is patience and peace personified. In the previous birth, she would have been the kind of Mother Theresa because she is always willing to take the exxttraaaa effort.
Then there is Richu, the most adorable creature who is a diva and is in charge of keeping foolishness and sinful stupidity alive in our team. She is the kind of woman you should hang out with if you want to live a longer life. If minions were for real, she should have been one of them. Then there is Vidya, this lady who is funny and if you are not close to her, you would never know that she is real competition to Kapil Sharma. She would just come up with the most amazing, out-of-the-world replies to the most mundane things.She is one of the very few people I know who are still worried sick of their grandmother. We just love our copy paste queen who is not scared of being out-rightly genuine.
Anna is the silent tutor who took on the mighty task to technically equip us with information was one of the most under-estimated resources in our project before she got hijacked to this new project. Now she is her own lead, team member and manger, because she single-handedly handles this stupendous project which leaves her desktop with codes all the time. The codes, Oh yes, those codes which always gave me goosebumps. We love her, we are going to miss her in the new ODC.
Then there is Krishnan- the impossible man. I do not know much about him to write a gripping note. What I do know is that when there is an issue which no one can resolve, he is your man.And I find it outrageously impressive because no matter how compelling a task may seem, he always figures the smartest way to do it.
I am sorry that there are no cruel anti-heroes in the story to spice things up a little bit. The closest it got was to leave us to handle with this outright ambitious Business Analyst (Amith- my personal favorite). The only one in the team who knows the professional jargons by heart and who practically never chooses to leave office. Our very own king of redundancy whose opinions go round and round who loves the a/c and coffee and visibility just too much. With every review he makes, you get to spent some more beautiful fruitful hours in your cubicle.You might even think that he is getting paid to make our lives hard. But here’s a man who takes his work seriously. Here is a man who takes an effort to belong here.Side effects of being friends with him comes with gaining extensive knowledge about the behavior of impulsive aries women or about what is trending in the economic times. Having said that, I should add that he is a sweet go-getter who makes the most pointless arguments sound sensible and the 97 percentile wouldnt have been possible without him..
Last but not the least the not-a-womanly-woman of our team and my bestie in the house is mangai. I have mentioned her already, but then that is never enough. My personal walking health monitoring device who can’t stop giving me gyaan about vegetables, diet, health, exercises and other things I don’t actually care about. She is married to her laptop and is in a lasting relationship with various TV shows she can’t pass a day without watching. Also diagnosed with mild shopaholism, she is a woman who believes that a woman without a man is like a fish without bicycle. An insane whirlwind of fun, she is warm and unpredictable and crude and everything you wont expect her to be.
This team is special not because it is my first job. Not only because I was a part of it throughout. Not because I hangout with my teammates all the time. Or because we are all alike here.Or because I had some crazy days here.It is simply because they are a bunch of extraordinarily different people who actually somehow mysteriously compliment each other gracefully. For appreciating my writing and for motivating me to write more. And because you guys did not make our first year horrible. And because you somehow made a positive influence on us all along. For not being impatient or snappy at our ignorance. And in the process, transforming amateurs into professionals. And for making the world a better place.And although I hate to be cheesy, I miss our TEAM already. 🙂