May 2007


Bangalore

10th May

I just had my mid-term project review today!

I should have known things would be rough when my Guide scheduled the meet at a Barista’s in a 5-star hotel, I should have known it when I saw him ticking off a subordinate when I entered, I should have known it when he ordered some wierd black tea I had never heard of in a coffee shop before (I ordered cappucino, by the way!).

But then, I went with my hopes high, as they always tend to be and always should be, I believe!

The opening exchanges were good and positive till a googly hit me.

…….”I haven’t worked on that yet, sir. But it’s on the agenda.”

“OK, but what about…..?”

“Err, I haven’t looked into that yet, sir.”

Maybe I should start off on my coffee.

“And tell me Arun, what are your findings on….?”

Ouch! The coffee’s hot!

“Iam in the process of collecting data. I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

Why does the cappucino taste unusually bitter today?

…….”No sir, I dont have any quantitative proof for that.”

Maybe I should have ordered some whipped cream too.

…….”Sorry sir, I dont know.”

OK, I dont feel like drinking this now.

…….”Err…I didn’t get you, sir.”

Aren’t they supposed to play some kinda music at Barista’s?

…….”Yes sir, I agree! I do need to look into that.”

Are the walls closing in?

An hour later, the final verdict:
“You are doing a good job superficially, Arun, but I expect much more depth in your analysis, otherwise there won’t be too much of a value-add from this project for us.”

Meaning:
“I dont want to sound too harsh, son, but you better pull up your socks and get your ass to work soon!”

But I kinda like my Guide. He’s a solemn, no-nonsense chap who likes to get down to business directly. He’s fair, practical and willing to listen to reason. Pretty much what a trainee wants.

Respect!

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Hyderabad

29th April

I met my parents after quite a while today…..well, you know it’s been a while when you hear lines like the following, and you only feel a warm sense of familiarity rather than the regular feeling of irritation.

“Why don’t you take a hair-cut?”

“When was the last time you had a bath?”

“Do you actually go around unshaven like this in college too??”

What would I do without my Mom?

Bangalore

24th April 

“Aapko yahan kaun saa thel adhik bhiktha hai?”

“Kya aap yeh brand aapke dhukan mein rakhthein hain?”

Just a sample from my restricted but oft-used Hindi dialogues the last week here in Bangalore. I love Hindi for its simplicity and its understandability to a layman…you can always somehow manage to decipher what the other chap is trying to tell you. At least that’s the working relationship I’ve built up with the retailers here. I halt any attempt to begin a conversation in Kannada by a pointed question in Hindi …and then we take it from there with a combination of rudimentary English, Hindi and mime.

Consider this episode when I was travelling by bus within the city of Bangalore and I had no clue where to alight. I turned to my neighbour, a chap around my age who seemed to be a daily-wage earner, and my potential source of information.
 

“Sirsi Circle kab aayega?”

“Aur dho aur stop”, he replied in even more broken Hindi than mine. But this chap was a companionable sort, bless his soul, and he could see I needed help, so he persisted.
 

“Kahan jaana hain?”
 

“Timberyard Yard Layout”, I beamed back at him.

He went “Aah!” and I could see him mentally charting out the most optimal route to get there.
 

“Kannada?”, he ventured hopefully.

I shook my head apologetically.

He smiled, shook his head back at me in a ‘this-is going-to-be-tough’ way, and took in a deep breath.
 

“Sirsi Circle mein utharo, road cross karo, aur straight jaao! Traffic signal aayega, left lo aur bus-stand! Timberyard Layout ka bus wahan milega!”

This was more than I had expected and I tried to get a few finer points clarified.
“Sirsi Circle aur bus-stand paas hi hai, kya?”

A furrow of confusion crossed his brow before understanding dawned.
“Oh! Monthly pass yaa daily pass?”

Trust me to stumble on the one English word the chap knew!
 

“Nahin, nahin! Paidhal jaa sakthe hai kya?” But I knew I was being too optimistic here.

In the end, it was upto the tried-and-tested method of Dumb Charades. My index and middle fingers did a fancy trot for my friend to get the point. He nodded vigorously and showed me his open palm with fingers pointed outwards. “Paanch minute”, followed by an impersonation of an army trooper in a parade. Yup, I could walk, apparently!

It’s amazing how these kind of interactions bring out a sense of companionship among strangers. Ever noticed how people tend to relax in another’s company when they are both confronted by something both of them are not good at,….and they both know it too? For this one reason alone, Iam glad that my Hindi is what it is right now!

Bangalore

17th April 

Walk, talk, talk….
Eat ,talk, laugh….
Sit, chat, discuss, contemplate….
Window-shop, talk, joke….
Walk, talk, talk….

The sheer arbitrariness of it all, the comfort level, the loss of all sense of time…
Simple ingredients to make up one of the best evenings I’ve spent in recent times…

Thanks, Seema!

Bombay -> Hyderabad -> Bangalore

13th April

Iam pretty much a novice when it comes to air travel. Iam the kind who still gets a thrill during take-offs, and I still prefer the window seat whenever possible. So it was quite an eventful day for me today, with not one, but two flights in a single day.

I got to fly the good times with Kingfisher both ways. My company has good taste. So does Vijay Mallya, I must say. I loved the personal TV set each person gets, especially when Yana Gupta comes on explaining to us the proper way to use seat-belts. I quite liked the meal they provided, especially the Goan custard something-something for dessert. And of course, the air-hostesses….sigh!…the difference in…umm, quality across airlines is striking! Pretty and dressed in red, they give the TV sets a good run for their money. The colour red is supposed to induce hunger, they say…

My second air-trip today was a night flight, which I realised was a first for me. Have you ever marvelled at the night city-lights seen from a plane? The Bangalore skyline had me captivated while we were coming in to land. You need to be at an optimum height to capture the magic. They dont blink, they dont move, they dont form patterns…like some sparkles scattered randomly in the inky darkness, you can get lost in them. Your eagle-eye perspective makes it all so removed from reality, like inanimate but beautiful gems, when they’re actually lights from homes and streets where people are carrying on with their lives just a few kilometres below you.

I don’t know which was the more beautiful sight today..the Bangalore skyline or the Kingfisher air-hostesses…tough call!