Saturday, November 13, 2010

Missed Call Part 2

Water was very cold. But to Sanjith that was just good enough to cool his head. He stood under the shower for ten minutes before applying soap. It was yet another bad day for him. Standing below the shower he relived the conversation he had just half an hour back.

From the voice at the other end on his third attempt to call Manjusha, it was clear to Sanjith that it was not she. So his reply hello was more of a question than a greeting. Then there was a silence.
  “Can I speak to Manjusha ?” he broke the silence after a few seconds.
  “Manjusha is not here, this is her friend”
  “Oh.. Did she forget the phone while going out?”
  “Err.. Well she has gone home since we don’t have classes for next two days and then it is the weekend. “
   “Oh and did she forget the phone? “  Sanjith asked in a disappointed tone, thinking about the lost chance to meet her during the weekend.
   “Not actually.  Well, I want to tell you something, only if you have the patience to listen.”
    As if anyone is going to tell he does not have patience! “Yeah tell me”, preparing to hear something not so pleasant. “ By the way, may I know your name?”

     “My name is not important Sanjith. I can tell you any name. So please leave that. We are a group of students; some of us doing MBA and others doing masters in psychology in same college.  We have been reading about many affairs developed over missed calls and lot of guys using this modus operandi to trap girls.  We once had a long discussion on this and decided to experiment and analyze how many people, male and female, call back on missed calls and how willing are they to talk to strangers.  For that study we collected phone numbers through different methods and contacted many people. We girls used to keep one phone for talking to guys and boys had another phone from which they had called girls. Normally we used to talk two or three times and then not accept calls from them any more, but somehow you and Manjusha got along. We wanted to stop her from...”
    “So I was one of the guinea pigs” Sanjith spoke as partial statement and partial question.

     “It was not that way Sanjith. She really became good friend with you and neither of you can be blamed for that. From what we understand, you two are developing into something more than friendship.  You are probably a nice guy too. But the thing is that Manjusha has a boyfriend who loves her very much and he has been an important part of her life for many years. We had a long session with her today and she wants to end this too. She could not tell you directly and we were thinking about stop using this phone number.  We will probably do that from tomorrow, but when you were trying so hard to reach her I felt it was better to let you know. From what I understand, you are a sensible person and would understand. All I have to tell is that…” Sanjith did not wait to hear rest.

        He did not know what to do. He was not in love with Manjusha. He considered her to be a good friend and like her friend told probably they were getting into something more than friendship. What pained Sanjith was that he was kept in the dark throughout. He did not even know for sure if her name is Manjusha. He is not even able to talk to her one last time to shout at her. And there is no way for him to find who she is. He felt helpless and powerless.  For a moment he wished if his father or uncle were a police officer or if Google could search address details by phone number. He did not want to do bring any harm to her, just wanted to trace her and tell her that he can reach to her if he really wanted.

       Just when he was drying himself with the towel an idea struck him. Once when her cell was switched off, he had got the automatic message from service provider and hence knew who was the service provider.  Sanjith had a friend who worked in the IT department of the same company.  So probably he can try to get the name and address of the person who took connection. No assurance that he will be able to trace her, but some possibility at least. When he quickly changed dress and took his cell phone to call his friend, there was a missed call and it was from his manager Sunil.

       Sunil never calls any one after office hours unless it is really important. So Sanjith decided to call Sunil first.
       “Hey Sanjith. There is a new project for our client starting next Monday and we have identified you as the onsite co-coordinator. Can you travel this weekend to US? ”
       “ But Sunil… it’s already Wednesday night.”
       “Yeah I know Sanjith. Actually the role was for slightly senior profile and I had to try hard to get you this opportunity. So please don’t let me down and don’t let such an opportunity slip through your hands”. Then Sunil gave a brief about the work and expectations from Sanjith.

       By the time he disconnected the phone, Sanjith had already mentally started preparing list of things to do in next two days. He was still holding the phone in his hands. When he unlocked the screen to call his parents to inform them the news, he remembered that he was about to call his friend. He stared the phone screen for a moment and then he could not stop a smile slip through his lips.
I got the thread of this story from newspaper reports about many girls and housewives falling prey to missed call lovers and psychologists and criminologists explaining the reasons why people call back and develop relations.  One such report -

Monday, November 8, 2010

Missed Call

Water was very cold. But to Sanjith that was just good enough to cool his head. He stood under the shower for five minutes before applying soap. It was yet another bad day at office for him. He got his US visa stamped nine months back but did not get opportunity yet to travel. He has been having multiple meetings with his managers in the last few weeks. He knew very well that he would fly to US some day, but the wait was getting unbearable. His good friends were all either at onsite or had moved to different cities.  When you don't have good friends to share, small frustrations can take you to depression.

Sanjith's meeting with his senior manager was a disaster today. His manager got angry because he felt Sanjith was not trusting on his efforts and the discussion went really bad. Sanjith previously had a very good relation with him and he knew that last two meetings in three weeks really did some serious damage to that.  He left office early just after the meeting, came home directly and switched channels for an hour before proceeding to take bath. Once cooled down, he realized his outburst was a little too much. He wanted to call Sunil, his manager and apologize. When he changed dress and took his cell phone, there was a missed call from an unknown number.

Call had come half an hour back; he did not hear the ring due to TV volume. Number did not look any familiar to Sanjith but he decided to call back and check.
"Hello" It was a female voice at the other end.
"I got a missed a call from this number about half an hour back"
"C'mon. I was studying for last 2 hours and I don't remember making any calls. And I don't know you as well"
 "You first check your call history. Hold on.. let me tell you exactly...ummm.. You called 35 minutes back"
 "I don't need to check my phone. I know guys do all the kind of tricks to start talking to girls. Don't try those with me" and the line was disconnected.

Sanjith was furious. His blood had enough boiling for the day even before this.  He wanted to call her back and blast, but did not know what exactly to tell and he was never good at winning an argument.  For once in the entire day his common sense prevailed over emotions and decided to attack the ice cream in the fridge instead of the stranger girl.  He was in no mood to call Sunil now.

Just when he entered the kitchen to take the bowl, spoon and ice cream packet, his mobile started singing again. It was from the same number.
   Sanjith said hello in harsh tone.
   "Hello.. It's me again." she continued after a short pause. "I am sorry, actually my friend had called from my phone. I didn't know that. She just told me"
   "Do I know her?"
   "No..actually she was trying to call someone else and it was just one number in the middle which she , you know...typed wrong"
  "I am very sorry for whatever I told you sometime back. You know I had no clue that she had called from my cell."
 "Hmm..Ok, may be you should be a little more careful next time before shouting at someone"
 "Yeah I would definitely be. So can I believe I am forgiven this time?"
 "hmm. What else I can do. I can't take you to court for this" Sanjith's tone was still harsh.
 "I guess you are still angry. I don't know what to say now. Are you in Bangalore ?"
 "I am not. If I were, would you have offered me a coffee ?"
 "I didn't mean that. I was just asking. Anyway, sorry again. Bye for now" and she disconnected the phone without waiting for his reply.

A few minutes after the call Sanjith started feeling that he could have handled it differently. There was no need to be that much rude. At least towards the end of conversation he could have been more pleasant. After all it was a girl at the other end and she had apologized multiple times for a mistake, which could have happened to anyone.  Calling her back now would not be good without any good reason. First he thought for finding some ideas to call her but could not find any. Finally he decided to send an SMS.
"Sorry for being rude on the call. I know this mistake could have happened to anyone."

In less than 30 seconds of sending the message she called again. "Thank you very much. You know, I was feeling very bad after I disconnected last time and my ego was not allowing me to call again"
"Ha ha. Same here. I hope you will be fine now"
"Yeah, actually, I was telling my friend that I am going to kill her for spoiling my day"
"Hm..Now she is safe right? By the way not all guys do tricks to talk to girls"
"Yeah I agree. You would have heard the joke that 99% of boys give bad reputation to the rest"

Both had a good laugh and the conversation went on.  They talked for about half an hour before saving each other's number in their phones. Manjusha was her name and she was doing her MBA in Bangalore.  She had the same mother tongue of his though she was brought up outside of his state. She talked very nicely except for the over usage of "actually" and "you know". They started calling each other almost every day, but the duration seldom exceeded thirty minutes since she always had assignments and lot of things to study. She was always busy. Many times his call would be returned after an hour or two only.

It was a Wednesday. Some of his classmates had planned to arrange a re-union next weekend at Bangalore. It was a quick planning. Sanjith did not like quick planning, but this time he had another reason to go to Bangalore. He can sneak out for a few hours and meet Manjusha if she is ready to.  Knowing that she will have classes till 5:00, he called at around 5:30, but she did not pick up. Normally she calls back when she gets free. So he waited for a few hours and finally called again at around 8:30. Still no reply. Close to ten, he called again.


Rekha and Reena looked at each other after staring at phone screen showing  "M19 calling" for a couple of seconds. Rekha stretched her left hand towards the phone and declared. "I am going to tell him."

                                                                                                   (To be continued)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I am in US, thank you Mr. Gibbs

Couple of posts back, I wrote on the 10th anniversary of completing engineering. Last month was 10th of starting my career. A career in IT was not thought about till about sixth semester or so. Being an Electrical and Electronics Engineering student, my wish and aim was to be a "good" Electrical engineer.  "Engineers make the world" used to be the proud phrase for engineering students at that time (Most probably it still is) and I had the belief that only core engineers make the world and not software engineers. Stories of middle class millionaires and news of some seniors or someone known getting to IT companies and their salaries created desire to join software industry, but only temporarily. Loyalty to EEE was unshakeable.  Most of my classmates thought in similar lines and probably the fact that my brother was also EEE and he continued on same field further helped to build the loyalty.

When we were into seventh semester and started attending interviews, reality crept in; jobs  are available only in software and there were many there. However an average percentage of marks, below average English and communication skills and not so high level of confidence made sure that I don't get through any of the interviews attended.

I had joined the CSI (Computer Society of India) college chapter because some of my seniors thought it is a good idea.  We did not do anything for 11 months a year, but once in a year we conducted a computer exhibition in Kannur.  In 1999, our exhibition was just a month before the cricket world cup and one of the participating computer education center had a world cup prediction contest offering two winners 50% discount in one course. I predicted Australia, I don't know why and forgot about the whole thing.

Almost a month after the world cup, I got a post card saying only two people predicted it right (!!) and without any lottery, I got the 50% discount on a course.  After consulting with many people who knew about software or about whom I thought so, I joined for a Visual Basic 5.0 course.  The course of course  was very basic and I tried many times to stop it for many reasons like study leave, project, semester exams etc but the Principal at the institute kept calling my home after every break.  Finally taking almost a year I finished the course and got a certificate as well.

After the final semester exams,  on an infrequent visit to college, one of our lecturers told me that a friend of his is in town and his company is hiring a few visual basic programmers.  I had a telephonic interview next day and a week after that I landed in Mumbai to join my first job.  After 3 years I got my lucky break and joined Infosys. Right now I am in US working in one of the most respected companies of the world. And thinking about it, it is all due to Herschelle Gibbs dropping that catch of Steve Waugh. Thank you Gibbs, you never  knew that the catch you dropped helped someone far outside of cricket world. I don't know if knowing that will make you feel any better about that.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A lot can happen over a coffee

This is a story I had originally published in our office newsletter. Since I was the editor of that as well, I am not violating any copyright to best of my knowledge and belief.

            "Reminder: request all of you to assemble at conference room now for discussing about Onam plans". Sanjith normally ignores meetings and mails, which are not related to his work.  But today was a different day. Morning he had a fight with his onsite co-coordinator and he was in no mood to work all day. Abhishek, his onsite counterpart had sent a list of nine comments about the misses in the code and document, which Sanjith delivered previous day.  Out of the nine, one was Sanjith's mistake, one due to a communication gap but rest seven were correct as per requirements doc and Abhishek had not read it carefully. Sanjith was fully agitated not because someone made a big list of issues in his delivery but because he had copied everyone related to the project, account and unit the mail.  He went through all the points again and again and finally replied with his comments inline.  He replied only for the first 5 points.  The valid points were 6th and ninth. After 5th he wrote, "Since all the so far mentioned points are incorrect, I did not read the rest of the mail".   What followed was expected, a conf call with Abhishek with onsite and offshore Project Managers involved, a meeting after that with Project Manager and then seniors meeting the PM and asking the details.  After all this, Sanjith had no interest to work during the day.  So when he received the meeting reminder he locked the computer and proceeded for the meeting.

            Sanjith had thought that he might be the only one not attending such meetings; he was surprised to see that only about twenty-five people were there.  He did not take part in any of the discussions but found the whole thing interesting.  Only unwanted thing happened to him was he was "volunteered by someone" to be part of some committee which had one more guy and three girls. Anima was one of his teammates. Immediately after the meeting got dispersed, she came and introduced herself to him.  Anima started pouring out her ideas and others in the team Ramesh and Shalini joined soon. Neetha the last of their committee member did not join the conversation. Anima had lot of energy and Sanjith somehow felt at ease after feeling very uneasy being in the committee.

             Sanjith was always a serious student and "meant business" employee. From the college time itself he was more fascinated by the shape of cathode ray tube than hourglass.  Now he started finding that talking to girls was not that tough or boring.  Neetha was beautiful to Anima, but he became more close to Anima because she was full of energy and somehow he felt it more comfortable interacting with her. Within a few days they had become good friends. They had many things in common. Both were coming from village backgrounds, both had school teacher fathers and working mothers and both had a younger sister each.  Both of them used to make fun of Neetha's talking style as well. Ramesh and Shalini seldom used to be part of the team meetings.
            One day, just as they were going out towards the airtel shop, Sanjith got a call. It was a 2-3 minute long call and from the conversation, Anima understood it was some close friend of Sanjith and Sanjith celebrated his birthday just a few days back.
                        "Classmate? " She asked
                        "Yeah, my best friend during engineering "
                        "So it was your b'day and you did not tell me. When was it?"
                        "It was last Saturday"
                        "Belated happy birthday wishes from your latest friend"
                        " Your best friend missed your birthday by 3 days and you did not get angry on him? If my best friend did the same thing to me I would have killed her"                         She talked with a surprise tone.
                        "No in fact I felt good that he missed it"
                        "What?"             Now she was really surprised.
                        "Yeah, that at least means he did not use any reminder tools to remember my birthday and remembered it himself, a little late though. That made me feel good"              Anima's eyes widened. This guy is different and she was hearing such a point of view for the first time. She started having a little admiration for him for the first time and Sanjith definitely noticed it.

            On the Onam day, as per planning he was supposed to have lunch in the second trip and she in the third.  By the time he finished his onsite call and reached food court it was already full and he had to wait outside.  Anima and her roommate came down in another 10 minutes and they started talking and it happened that they went together for lunch together.  During the lunch conversation, they realized that both of them were going home that evening on the same train and in same compartment.

            Sanjith had reached station well in advance. He was waiting there for Anima.  As the time passed by he felt restless and impatient and then he had the self-realization that he has started loving her.  Just ten minutes before train's departure time she arrived, with her was an handsome guy.  Sanjith had not seen him before and was sure that he is not a colleague.  Anima spotted Sanjith and introduced the new guy, Rajesh as her classmate in college and he was now doing MBA in the city.  Three of them sat together and talked till it was night 10 and time to switch off the lights.  It was clear like daylight from their behavior that Rajesh and Anima they were very close.

            It was early in the morning when train reached Sanjith's station. So could not meet Anima while getting down. Throughout the weekend he could not stop thinking about Anima. He wanted to reveal his love towards her but was now in doubt after seeing her and Rajesh together.  His mind was taking him to both directions. Some time he will console himself saying that Rajesh is just a friend and within few minutes he would think otherwise. For a moment he would think that he never saw Anima talking over the phone for long, a clear symbol for somebody in love.  Suddenly he would remember Neetha telling that once she tried to reach Anima on her cell at night and it was busy for long.

            Onam was on Monday but Anima was on leave for one more day. By Wednesday morning, when she resumed office,  Sanjith was sure that if he does not clear the doubt and express his love, he might go mad. He just pinged her on messenger and after few "how are you" and "how was Onam" formalities he asked if they can have coffee together in the evening. 
                        "Why don't we have it now? "  She asked. “I am feeling sleepy after the night journey”
                        " I have a conf call in 10 minutes and it can probably go till 12:00" 
                        “Ok then I am not disturbing you, carry on with you work. See you in the evening and yeah even I have something to talk to you".

            Last sentence was more than what Sanjith could live with till evening. He managed to push the call for 30 minutes and pinged Anima to come for coffee.

                        "Okie dokie. I will be there in 5 minutes".

            Sanjith could hear his heartbeat; he knew his face would show that he was tensed. Anyway he wanted to tell it to Anima before it was too late but more than that now he wanted to know what she has to tell. He washed his face, took some deep breaths and walked towards food court.

            When they settled down with their Lattes, he told a lie to start the conversation that his onsite Abhishek postponed the meeting just 5 minutes before the call.
                        “Oh. These onsite people think they are dictators who can decide anything on their own. But that’s good this time, we could have coffee.” She stopped for a second and then continued “Hey how did you find Rajesh? ".

                        "Yeah he is very friendly and smart .....Nice guy".  Those were the first few good words came to his mind two seconds after the minor tremor. “Your friend after all” Sanjith added with a pale smile or attempt to smile.

                        "Isn't he? You know he has a girlfriend; our junior and they may soon marry against the will of their parents. I could be the one probably signing as witness.”
Sanjith was on top of the world. Anima and Rajesh are not lovers! No news could have been better than this. He was ready to get a hundred people for being witnesses or even to physically protect the lovers.

                        "Ok, here is the big news. Among my friends I wanted you to know first after Rajesh". She took a sip, caressed her hair and with a smile continued; "One guy working in Microsoft had come over to see me on Saturday and my marriage was fixed yesterday." 

            Sanjith was shell-shocked. He did not know what to tell. Anima was not noticing that and started again. " You know all this happened in 3 days and he was telling...".  Suddenly her phone started ringing.  "Hey it's him.  I need to pick this up okay ? Will introduce you to him sometime this week, bye " Without waiting for his reply, Anima just walked away with the coffee in one hand and phone close to her ear.

*Onam  - Harvest festival of Kerala. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Is Time faster or the changes it brings ?

Last week I was reminded by a mail from one of my engineering classmates that it's about 10 years since our engineering got over.  As far as I could remember it was some time in July 2000 that we finished our eighth semester exams. 10 years indeed. Does not really feel like it is 10 long years. Time flies ! no doubt.  That made me think how much me and some of my batch mates have changed over the last 10 years.

Biggest worry coming out of college was getting a job. A degree in Electrical and Electronics engg with not much computer knowledge and not so high percentage did not help much. Very few classmates were placed before our S8 exams. But within next 6 months or so most of us could get jobs and majority within a year. And me, predicting the 1999 cricket world cup winners got me a job (Will write that story later).

In 10 years I changed 3 jobs and worked in 3 cities in India and one in US.  I had never even dreamt that I will be seeing America in my life. Doing a flight journey itself seemed a big thing. The numerous Kochi trips for "Shreds" tests and desperation at the end of it looks funny now.  After clearing the tests, getting a chance to  get into a three star hotel itself was thought of as a big incentive. :-)

In the 10 years time, I got married and became a father as well. Being a "responsible" father was unthinkable then.
10 years back I used to think more for spending Rs 50 than I do for 100 $ now.
10 years back getting a chance to check mails once or twice a week spending Rs 60/ hour was a big thing.
10 years back if someone had promised a me a career with my current salary in ten years time, I would have signed a life time contract without thinking twice.
10 years back if someone told me that it will be so tough to control body weight, I would have laughed off.
There are lot many other things which have changed but most of them would be common with forward mails coming in "growing up in 90s ..." etc. Coming back to the topic, I think though the time was very very fast, changes have been faster. What do you think ?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Winning changes everything. Losing, at a higher degree

Sportswriters, at least football writers, have become what finance "experts" are. When a team keeps winning, they will come with all stats and reasoning to support the team and when they lose, they have all the explanations ready as if they knew the result in advance.  When the pre tournament favorites A team and B team of this World cup were winning, they were all praise for Dunga and Maradona. When both these teams lost in quarters, same writers were blasting these coaches.  While Dunga is being punished for playing defensive and not keeping the attacking style of Latin American football, Maradona is being criticized for not giving importance to defense and concentrating on attacking. 

I don't know if Argentina stood any chance against Germany even if the initial goal had not happened, but Brazil could have done better if the lapse by defender and goalie had not happened. If they had won against Holland, I am sure all the critics would have praised Dunga, at least till the next match.  If Ghana had scored through the penalty in the injury time of the extra time, writers across the world would have been busy praising the "Arrival of Africa". At the round of 16 stage, everyone was busy finding the reason for Latin America's ascent in this cup, they are now busy praising Europe's domination. I would just love to see Uruguay win against Holland just to read some nice articles from experts, though Uruguay in final wont make an exciting one. 

Like stock market, football is also very much unpredictable. Experts need to tell something to stay as experts. I will keep reading their artices for their wonderful language but giving them as much respect as I would give a stock market expert.

In the blogging arena

After waiting for many years, finally I have created my blog page. Though I don't really know at this point what to write about or how long I am going to continue, like all new businessmen dreaming of becoming a Bill Gates or Ambani one day, I too dream about being the best blogger on the planet one day.  Well, I know that is not going to happen, but at least I hope to write once  a month.

Thanks for reading.