Jul 23, 2009

Stay Connected...

She was holding the mobile phone in her hand. She could not sleep. It was one hour into the new day. She has never been awake for so long. She was anxious and seemingly disturbed. She was clearly waiting for an important call. She sent a text message again. There was neither a reply nor a call

A couple of months back, Sitamma got a surprise gift from her son. A mobile phone. Nokia 1100. Indeed, it was phone for India. Sitamma never was a great fan of phones .She still believed that nothing can be as effective as hand written letters. Mobile phones were totally out of her comfort zone. She would never have imagined that one day, she would be texting! The Son gifted Sitamma a mobile phone, with a purpose though. He was travelling abroad to work and earn. Something more than written letters was needed for the mother and the son to stay in touch in this ‘fast and furious’ world. And it was the mother who took that extra pain to learn to handle mobile phones. It was a phenomenal gesture from the 50 year old Sitamma. She had to learn from scratch. From picking and making calls to texting messages. She had 2 weeks to learn that. And she did learn to handle mobile phone .Clearly, every mother steps up like Sitamma did when it comes to caring the kids.

The Phone finally beeped at 1:53 AM. She was so excited and relieved. The first thing she checked with her son was if he had received her text message. The conversation continued and ended on a happy note. Sitamma sunk into the bed peacefully, Thanking Mr.Nokia from heart for keeping her connected with her son.

Jul 17, 2009

Coffee ‘breaks’- A 20 minute Joy ride!!

It was over twenty minutes the scheduled end time and Web conference cum Dial in meeting was still on. I had to hang on to this mandatory meeting as ‘instructed’. Monday mornings can’t get better (or worse?)

“Dude! Move it.” mimed my friend who was couple of seats away. I knew it was well past our Coffee time and I was just waiting to slam the phone down and teleport myself to the pantry. That did happen after a few minutes, and when it happened, It was a moment of relief. Freedom at its best. I rushed to the pantry and the ‘Gang’ was already in, brewing a fresh pot of 50 grams Caffeine. Oh! The aroma was at its ‘intoxicating’ best. I was ‘flying without wings’. Almost.

The ‘Gang’ was made of four hard working blokes, way too responsible at work (Yeah! People say that ;) at the same time never miss a chance to break loose. I was in the gang. 

The 10 to 10:20 AM slot, every working day was ‘blocked’ for coffee breaks. Typically, this coffee break sets the tone for rest of the day. The morning routine starts with checking those countless official mails and respond to them (call it to flush out of your inbox! ). Once you are done with this, invariably, you would look to get out of your work space for a break. This is why the 10 to 10:20 AM slot is so critical as the urge to take a break and refresh oneself is at its peak.

The brewer beeped. The pot was brimming with hot espresso Americano. Carefully measured scoops of sugar and one tenth pint of fresh milk, in exciting proportions, added with THE liquid, Viola…I found the Elixir!!

Each one of us took our share from the pot. The first sip I took went into the mouth gracefully. I didn’t swallow it immediately. I allowed my tongue to get soaked into the hot sip. The warmth in that sip slowly transferred onto the interiors of my mouth, perfectly obeying the science of heat flow. The liquid went in , leaving behind the strong taste of caffeine, after transferring its warmth completely. God bless ‘Coffee plant’ ! It makes sense why every commercial on Coffee is so refreshing and rejuvenating.

The next 15 minutes of discussion in the ‘Gang’, with a cup of Café latte each, would always be of top quality and on issues that really mattered to the world at large ( See!..That’s what a cup of madness can do!) From why Chennai super kings lost in the semifinals, why the project manager’s dressing sense was so bad to counting the number of ‘thank you’s Obama would utter in his presidential campaign speeches!

With each sip, the rationality and the quality of our discussion would only go up! And up! Until the cup drains when things come back to normal and we regain our foolishness.
Needless to say, many such ‘gangs’ enjoy the coffee breaks and the reasons seemed to be quite obvious. Apart from the usual characteristics of caffeine, coffee breaks give time to keep work aside and discuss with buddies, think beyond work and free up your mind. A free mind is any day better to work with than a confused one. The best part is, you get to just sit back and relax until you finish your cup.

“Its 10:40 AM, I have a meeting at 11:00 AM on the migration project”, said my friend. He was indirectly telling , “ Break over fellas, get back to work!” He was right. It was time to justify our pay checks.

The rejuvenation will sustain until the next coffee break at 3 PM!!

Till then, if you feel your mind is not in place, grab a cup of coffee! Trust me, you will be a better person!

Jul 12, 2009

Wrong person Worng place

Neatly dressed in business formals, I was furiously running in the middle of the road at 8:15 AM .This was in response to a frantically waving hand at a distance.“Innaikum bus vitutengala saar!” (“you missed your bus today too!” ) asked suresh smiling at me.

Suresh works in the Tea stall next to the bus stop where I board my company bus. He is a very bubbly character and has opinions or suggestions for every topic on earth. To know him better, all you had to do was to get a glass of tea from stall and throw a topic in the air. Suresh will promptly air his ‘expert opinions’. Nobody misses to notice his demeanor. His day typically begins with washing used plates and glasses from the previous day, cut vegetables for sambar and poriyal, prepare idlis for breakfast. All this before he ensures that I catch the bus in time.
Most of the days, If not all, he has been my savior. But for him, I would have had to suffer the moments of insanity in madras public transport where ‘you are never alone’. And today was one such day. Hoping for the best, I moved on for the day.

Next day, I started a few minutes earlier. For a change, I wanted suresh to take a break from watching and holding the bus for me. I completed the 500 m walk from my door step in under 5 mins. I peeped into the tea stall. It was unusually silent and I did notice the unwashed plates and glasses. I realized that suresh didn’t turn up that day.

I enquired with the stall owner.

“Suresh is lucky sar! He is the special guest in our area school today”,

I was surprised. It didn’t make sense. I checked my watch. It said “14, November 2005”
Oh yea! It was his day after all. Apparently, the nearby school was celebrating children’s day and the theme this year was “child labour”.

Pondering over the owner’s words on “lucky suresh”, was he really lucky? Where was he and where he was supposed to be? And worst of all, how I did not realize that suresh was not at the right place. Was it because he was holding my bus everyday to ensure that I don’t miss it? I kept pondering.

“Seekaram yerunga sar!” (“Board the bus quickly, sir!”), screamed a voice. That was my bus driver and he was waiting for me.

I moved on.

Jul 4, 2009


“Trrrrrrrnnnnnnngggg” blared my alarm at 3:30 AM in the morning. It was just half an hour back ,I had hit the sack after spending exactly 6 minutes to pack my bags ( I felt even those precious 6 minutes were too long to stuff in two unwashed pair of jeans and a couple of ‘god knows when last washed’ tee shirts.) I had an early morning 5:45 flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco….well…..had to settle down for such an ungodly take off time as anything beyond a 5:45 Am flight would burn my already empty pocket. I sat up on my bed after thumping my alarm down. Silence retuned in my room. The fire place was giving such a pleasant warmth in a cold December morning in an otherwise dark room. I peeped out of my window,…beyond the veil of the fog, I could see the neighbour’s Santa smiling at my plight…It was Christmas the next day..Poor me…I cannot afford sinking back into my bed which would have been the case any other day..but today was special……..certainly priceless…… The Plan was to catch up with my school buddy at the silicon valley for breakfast, whom I did not meet after moving out of school……eight years back….

Although we remained in touch after moving out of the “no worries” zone of school……we only managed to do that…..be in touch and not meet……..It was not that we didn’t care for each other, our priorities started shifting and being in the current circle mattered a lot…to some extent this was beyond our control….nevertheless…we were happy to be in touch and know each other’s progress….A year back, I moved to Los Angeles on an Onshore assignment and my friend reached San Francisco couple of months back………we exchanged phone numbers and continued to do what we were best at…..Stay In touch…… In one of those usual conversations, my friend invited me to san Francisco to spend that Christmas weekend, thereby end the jinx of not meeting for 8 continuous years…Now that gave a ‘feel good’ feeling for me….It was not a bad idea at all….after all I have an unenviable record of being idle during long weekends…perhaps time to fix that…..

My iPhone flashed that three hours and fourty two minutes have passed since Dec 24 was born. I jumped out of my bed and got ready to catch the 4 AM taxi. All the while cherishing our school days……..I rushed out of my home….Damn….I was trembling despite having a jacket on……it was cold and windy...fortunately, the cab was waiting…..we took the I05 West freeway and reached the Tom Bradley terminal….the clock tower screamed 4: 48 AM…….The check-in and baggage drop counter would be closed in 12 more minutes..and there were scores of visibiliy excited holiday travelers ahead in the queue…but did I care…?.not a bit…..I just had my hand luggage and headed straight to the gate, which was on the far end of the terminal……phew…a long walk indeed……I reached the gate well ahead of the boarding time…..had 20 more minutes to kill before the take off….Ideal for 4 of A R Rahman’s master pieces!.I plugged on my iPod…immersed myself into rahamanism….time flew……..suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder. The American airlines lady furiously directed me towards the jet’s entrance…Not again...I was the last person to board…… I settled down quickly into my seat and relaxed myself for a little over an hour’s flight…I looked down the window when the flight took off……LA was still in dark..I was excited….a bit sleepy as well…..and actually dozed off even before crossing Malibu...minutes ticked down….the captain announced the landing preparation….

I woke up….and saw below, the SFO airport surrounded by the beautiful Bay at 7 :15 in the morning…….I gave a call to my friend…..there was no response…..I came out of the aircraft …the coffee shop in front of me was too inviting to resist…I persisted….I wanted to have that first cup of coffee for the day with my friend with whom my last meal together was 8 years back…… I continued with my long walk towards exit…
I couldn’t wait any more and wanted to give it another try to reach my buddy on phone…I noticed something strange on my phone…there was an unread Voice mail for ,god knows how long…….while still trying to figure out on how it missed my attention ,I checked it and…….was heartbroken…. It was my friend’s voice mail sent the previous day….
A disappointed voice conveyed the professional emergency and my friend had to leave the city for the next couple of days…I was dejected….

Was it luck….or….bad luck? ..So near yet so far? ...Are we destined not to meet for eight more years? Only time can answer……

I went back to the “inviting” coffee shop …grabbed a tall café mocha and settled down in a corner window, overlooking the run way…I sipped down the coffee and glanced through the wet window at a taxiing Boeing 737 amidst the beautiful San Francisco drizzle……The truth started sinking in…..certainly, being lonely, at times , helps retrospection……….I began to realize that despite not meeting my friend, which was my only purpose of this visit, over the past four hours of this day, there were little moments to cherish sprinkled all over…..Be it the cold LA mornings, the excited holiday travelers in LA airport, the joy of immersing into rahmanism at 5 30 AM waiting to board, a showery and overcast san Francisco airport and finally…the last sip of Café mocha ….

I listened to my friend’s voice message again…….I felt much lighter..

What is priceless?? Meeting my friend was not the only purpose of my visit to SFO…I have learnt to take a step aside, look at things around me and be sensitive enough to cherish the tinest of moments that happen around me....

Life is much better when you can see things ,which always existed, but ignored………

Jul 2, 2009

Words Words!

" My dream is to be in Muck 'n See and jumpstart my career", retorted one of my friends.I did not get what he was conveying. I quickly referred to Answers.com to find what exactly Muck means? Well it actually says "Something filthy or disgusting"! . Was he insane? Why would he want to move on to a 'mucky' place and risk his career!??. Or was he referring to his current work place which he hates so much that he was planning a 'move on'. "Dude, I didnt get you, where u said u want to be??", I asked with sense of "what the heck" look on me.

"Muck'n See bro..One of the BIG 4", he beamed. Only then I realised that he was referring to 'Mckinsey consulting' all the while.

Phew.......Now ,under which ethinc accent should I categorize the Mckinsey<----->Muck'n See transformation??...I was clueless... However,I did learn that with increasing number of people aping different accents as a part of 'globalization', there is a whole new bunch who are creating one....Call it the Hybrid of accents :)

Not sure if its for the good though!!