Sunday, April 27, 2008

One Year Later!

So, it’s been one full year, and I am still at it: quite a surprise given my high boredom quotient… yeah, it’s been one whole year since I started blogging, and the best part is I just love it more by each day…

I was always in a habit of writing a diary, but now that I am adapting to modern technology, this has been quite an addictive hobby, and not just a passing fad that is usually the case… the major difference between a diary and the blog, is that in my diary, I can write anything and everything, whereas in this case, I become slightly constrained, a little more responsible. On the other hand, the feedback and the encouragement I have received in the past year, has simply been overwhelming. I am deeply grateful to everybody who has been patient enough to read through pages and pages of insane ramblings, post comments and generally been supportive.

A special thank you to Shankar Iyer and Raghav (whose blogs were the main inspiration), Aashay (the harsh critic who promoted my blog more than I did), Shivangi (my room mate who takes a pleasure in finding errors in everything I write), Abhishek (whom I don’t know, but who patiently reads through and adds his thoughts although he doesn’t belong to the SCMHRD circus), Ashwin and Arijit (for listening to my cribbings and then again reading them) and yeah, Usha Aunty- the only sensible, mature reader that I know, so your comments mean a lot!!

Okk, am done with my Oscar-like speech… so go lose yourselves!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Office Owes!

Now that I am back in an office environment, I am slowly getting used to my previous ways of navigating through restricted sites, of surfing the net secretly when I should be working, of pressing “alt+tab” as soon as I hear somebody coming, of writing a blog when I should be writing an “analyst report”…

But armed with two years of experience, I am a pro at it. However, it reminds me of the time when I was new to all these sneaky ways, and believed that as long as I deliver my deliverables well (which have never been compromised on) it’s nobody’s business what I do as my “extra-curricular activities”. But, clearly hypocrisy is a big part of corporate life which I learnt pretty quickly…

Situation 1: This happened within the first week of joining. I was still not on the job, and was asked to read up and generally get a hang of things. Being a fast reader, I finished it before day end, and was bored stiff. So I decided to take a break and started playing freecell in broad daylight. Before long, the secretary of the VP calls me up and sternly says, “Sir has asked you not to play games…” so that’s that!

Situation 2: I was still in my first month, when one afternoon, all the PCs conked off and there was no work to be done. So I happily crossed my legs and started reading the very entertaining Mumbai Mirror. As luck would have it, the Regional Head walks in and finds me in that “compromising position”. He calls me back to his cabin and what follows is a flurry of sarcastic comments alternated with “you will be fired” threats which really got me all freaked out (I was too ignorant to know about the stringent labour laws in India at that tender age)…

Situation 3: During the last six months at work, I took more unauthorized print-outs than all employees put together, thanks to the number of B-school forms I filled up. So on my last day, as I was doing the good-bye ritual, a senior guy wished me luck in Symbiosis. I stared at him, wondering how he knew that I was going there. He twinkled and replied back, “Unfortunately I need a lot of prints too!”

But in spite of all my misadventures, people still loved me there (being young and cute helps), and more importantly they loved my work. Irrespective of my partiality towards unpretentious display of my “hobbies”, I did more than my fair share of work (and did it fast) and even to this day, my ex-boss (who is no longer in IDBI) mourns that he misses the pleasure catching me red-handed and delegating more responsibility as a punishment!

Monday, April 14, 2008

This is ME!!!

Okkk, statutory warning: this post is not about Deloitte, not about Hyderabad, not about SCMHRD and not even about the self-deprecatory humour that is the hallmark of this blog (which explains the hits)…
This is a totally and completely selfish post, it’s about ME and it’s going to be boring and rambling and LONG!!! So people looking for cheap thrills, take a hike!! And err, on that sulky note, “Happy New Year”!

So today is the Bengali new year! My parents woke me up to wish me… I mumbled something in my sleep and hung up. Then my uncle called (the same uncle whom I worshipped even till a few years back) and complained that I have completely drifted apart and haven’t even bothered to give him my new number. I again mumbled some feeble excuse and hung up. My cousin sister (we were inseparable when we were growing up) had a baby a couple of days back and I still haven’t spoken to her… so you see a pattern here- I am slowly getting lost in my own world (and it isn’t even a very happening place) and in the process losing touch with my roots.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this… lemme go back a couple of decades. I was born in a strictly middle class Bengali family and my parents really had to struggle to make it through the month after paying the rent and buying baby food for me. Yet, I had the best childhood that one could possibly gift their children. Even without siblings and in spite of working parents, I never had the chance to feel lonely. I grew up in a small two bedroom rented apartment in a modest locality, my evenings were spent running around on the streets with children of “disadvantaged background” (most of them didn’t make it to college) and the concept of phones (mobile or landline), computers, video games and even television simply didn’t exist. But I had a family: loving sensible parents, a maid who scolded me but loved me like her own sister, doting grandparents and an extended family of n number of cousins, aunts and uncles who got together for every little festival! I did reasonably well in school (with the constant remark of “can do better” but I never did better mostly because I spent my time playing kabaddi and pittu and marbles). I religiously enrolled for dance classes, drawing lessons, swimming and thereby fulfilling the middle class dream of “jack of all trades, master of none”… but I did manage to complete two diplomas in Bharatnatyam in nine long years of rigorous training though I hated giving up playing cricket twice a week for it. And like every middle class Bengali family we went for vacations twice a year…

Then came my dad’s rather meteoric rise up the corporate ladder and with that a bigger house, a new car, foreign holidays instead of conducted tours in India, long hours in the office and less time as a family. I was a typical adolescent for whom friends became more important and parents, an embarrassment (come on, we have all been through that phase… don’t judge me, if you are still reading that is…) Along with teenage, also came the baggage: career choices, peer pressure, obsession with weight and er, boys! I automatically took up Science in my 12th standard because, well, because that’s what the bright kids do right, and my Class X board exams marks told me that I am a science wizkid, the next Marie Curie in the making! So yeah, the next two years were spent in misery as I tried to find my way through organic chemistry, respiratory systems of toads and laws of reflection and in the process got even more lost. So I royally gave up and instead found refuge in English literature- the only subject that still made some sense. I read whatever I could get my hands on and found refuge in my diary as I secretly shifted my role model from Marie Curie to Ann Frank! Also, the fact that the cute boy-next-door refused to reciprocate my teenaged infatuations along with my miserable performance in school gave plenty of fodder to a budding poet. I still don’t know how I managed to secure a first class in my boards but thankfully with all the cutoffs being over 90%, I made sure that I wasn’t allowed to enter the hallowed portals of engineering colleges. That would have been a disaster! So I did what any self-respecting person with below average marks will do: studied Arts- the godforsaken stream that no parent (especially if they are as educated as mine are) will let their children study… (Continued)

It's me (continued)

Then began a new phase: a new life in a new city- a city that made me who I am (not a very good person, but definitely, an independent, strong one). I took up Economics in a decent college and for the first time, discovered a world away from my family, away from the safe havens of a comfortable life in the laid back city of Kolkata. After two years of being relegated at the lower half of the class it felt good to be the topper, it felt good to be not lost in class and it felt good when people came to me for help with studies. Unlike seasoned toppers, I knew how it felt to fail: it taught me to be patient, to be humble and to be empathetic. Also, I needed friends in a new city, so it kind of worked out well for me… while Economics was no pain, being in Mumbai alone certainly was as I struggled my way through crowded local trains, the pigeonholes in the name of rooms (in the hostel), the choice between the terrible mess food and the expensive eateries. Did I miss my family- may be, but by then, I was learning to be tough. And when I did miss them, I went shopping! Yeah, I discovered the beauty of retail therapy… I also discovered what I thought was my dream career, i.e. MBA. So, for the first time I really put my heart and soul into studies- CAT, the mother of all competitive exams. So it was a heartbreak when I failed to convert a couple of calls I managed, and even my graduation results weren’t a consolation for what I missed out. Still, I didn’t give up on the MBA dream, and took up a job to strengthen my application. While working, I redefined the concept of humility, I learnt to respect all professions and to deal with situations: humiliating ones, pressurizing ones, sensitive ones…and then I discovered how it felt to fall in love, or the idea of being in love, that beyond all that jazz, the mush, the fancy dates it was still as annoying as being with your family, that no matter how old you are, you are still a kid, that the grass is always greener on the other side! Only that it isn’t… at least the MBA grass definitely isn’t!

The whole point of all this is that I have changed, for better or for worse! May be I have learnt to let go easily, may be I don’t get hurt so easily, but then again, people no longer make that much of a difference to me… that’s the whole point! And it’s not a good thing…

Friday, April 11, 2008

am an analyst!!

Today was my first day on the floor, i.e. I have finally completed my training (unlearnt everything taught in college and started afresh) and have been assigned to a “live project”. The best thing about being in a consulting firm is that every Tom, Dick and Harry has the respectable designation of an “analyst” which sounds awesome even though the job mainly entails a refined version of “cut, copy, paste”. But hey, I am not complaining: Deloitte has been really kind to me- be it facilities, treatment, knowledge sharing, time or money!
Right now I have a workstation at a far corner, sparsely populated, and the kind of work which requires very little interaction with people (which suits me wonderfully) and the nature of work is the closest to what I would love to do for a living: read a lot, assimilate the information overload and analyse it in a simple, precise form. May be it will become boring and repetitive in the course of time, but as of now I feel, well “peaceful and contented”.

But I suddenly miss IDBI- the familiar people, the familiar routine, the easy life and my recurrent banters with my boss! Most of all, I miss Pravin bhaiyya and Anil Kapoor, the two office boys who took very good care of me. I am sure they are not aware of the existence of blogs (especially mine) but yeah, I do miss you guys, the awesome coffee you made and the way you used to scold me if I missed my lunch!

Monday, April 7, 2008

In the City!!

My first weekend at Hyderabad turned out to be pretty interesting…. It was an extended weekend as we had an off day for Ugadi, the Telugu New Year.

I had visited Hyderabad some 10 years back and so it was a feeling of déjà vu as I revisited the Golconda Fort and once again, embarked on a rollercoaster ride through the pages of history. I haven’t studied history in 8 years, yet I still love it; I still felt that same rush as we explored through the rugged ruins of the fort, as we climbed 360 steps to get a bird’s eye view of the city, as we listened, enraptured, to the history behind the rise and fall of the Golconda fort: the royal princes, the tales of treachery, war and the eventual devastation of the fort by the mughals punctuated by the saga of art and culture that flourished, the romance that blossomed between the aristocrats and the gifted dancing girls that took many a nobel family by storm- it was all out of a history book but somehow when narrated by Amitabh Bacchan in his impressive voice with the fort in the background, it seemed so much more real, so much more romantic…

Our visit to Hussain Sagar and Lumbini Park brought back memories of last year when it became a target for terrorism, and the place was still reeling under the shock as the visitors were subjected to strict security inspection. I didn’t quite enjoy being felt up by stern, heavily built women in uniform, but I guess frisking has become a part and parcel of precautionary measures, albeit at the cost of the dignity of the common citizen.

I also visited Shivangi, my roommate: my sole purpose being to scare her out of her wits before she leaves for her summers next week. After all, it’s her first exposure to the dirty corporate world, and she is quite freaked out and I couldn’t resist the golden opportunity to add to her anxiety! But I also managed to shock her parents when I touched their feet on meeting them- they aren’t exactly used to well behaved respectful traditional children…
Not that I am one, but I faked it for a few hours!

Friday, April 4, 2008

I joined, my recruiter left!

The first couple of days of my summer internship have been just awesome! I don’t know if Deloitte treats all their employees as they are treating us or if this is just a short two-month fling where you get carried away with all the romance and mush and then after you settle down in the relationship you are taken for granted, and all that affection just fizzle out! But as of now, I am definitely enjoying all the attention and pampering!

To begin with they are paying us obscene amounts of money and honestly I don’t see why! Over and above, they have given us comfortable accommodation, breakfast and lunch coupons along with travel facilities- all of which is complimentary. And yeah, they took us out for dinner tonight!
At office, each of the trainees has been assigned buddies and team leaders who have been extremely friendly, helpful and ready to share. We have been extended a warm welcome and even the senior employees who recruited us have taken time out of their schedule, flown down to Hyderabad from Mumbai, explained to us about the organization, the different functions and their expectations from us. It’s a very well structured programme and our daily schedule is planned to make sure that we don’t even have time to visit the bathroom. It’s worse than the Symbi time table without the luxury of bunking lectures or sleeping in the back bench. The first week we are going to be on training after which we will be working with our designated project guides. I am in the Competitive Intelligence team(within the SR&I function) which essentially evaluates the performance of Deloitte vis-à-vis its competitors in the different functions like tax, audit, advisory and consulting and also tracks the other firms on a regular basis. I am glad it’s not hard core number crunching but it’s funny that I am department which has “intelligence” in its title and let’s just be honest: me and intelligence don’t exactly go hand in hand! Then again, that’s the irony of life…

I was so scared that after all the tall promises and impressive presentations replete with intimidating jargon, the reality would be quite different! I have known companies where summer trainees are treated as a pain in the neck who only get in the way. At the end of the day, in spite of fancy project titles all you do is get bored, check emails, google and chat away to glory punctuated with trips to the washroom and the vending machine. It takes a lot of effort and time to actually teach somebody and not too many people are keen to take up that responsibility.

Also, I kind of developed a tiny little crush on the VP from Boston (with the quintessential MIT accent) who had hired me and we had an awesome time during my interview discussing our common passion for literature. During the induction he spoke to us for about 2 hours and I listened, enraptured. Like my dad, he just makes a living out of finance, but he talks philosophy and literature: the language that enthralls me! Even after 6 months he remembered my name (and pronounced it correctly). But the sad part is that it was his last day in the Hyderabad office and now he is going back to Boston! Still we managed to steal a snap with him…

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

DAY 1!

After 6 months of waiting, my summer internship has finally started! Well, technically it will start tomorrow. But I am already in Hyderabad, all geared up to begin my first day at work, one year after I quit IDBI!

However it was quite a bumpy ride to the city from Mumbai. First my luggage was over the allowed limit, so I had to make one of the heavy bags as hand luggage. Incidentally it had all kinds of suspicious liquids in suspicious bottles (mostly “stolen” from different hotels) and so security asked all sorts of questions and informed that it wasn’t allowed! I managed to give him my innocent smile and wide-eyed vulnerable look, told him that I am shifting to Hyderabad for my first job and made my puppy-dog “how can I be a terrorist?” face! Thankfully it worked and I was allowed to board- with all my shampoos and perfumes and lotions!

Next I looked like a school kid weighed by three heavy bags, disheveled and with a sprained neck. Then I dropped coffee on my co-passenger and I swear to god it was an accident- I had no intention to make him look like he had pee-ed in his pants
But once in Hyderabad, things have been pretty cool so far! Weather is decent, the company guest house seems awesome (and I have single accommodation for the first time since I left home 6 years back… pity I have no one to enjoy the privacy with…) and every thing seems to be in order.

More updates tomorrow, once I go to office! As of now, I just have new shoes and good clothes and no freaking clue what I am supposed to do!!