Monday, 13 July 2015

The wishing tree

Taking a nap right after a heavy lunch is never a good idea. But if you’ve been awake till 4 AM the previous night, taking a nap is more of a necessity than an excuse. Whatever be the case, I felt a need to take a short walk around a nearby lake just to feel a little lighter. The wife is always ready and so we set out for a short and comfortable walk in the evening.

We’ve been on this trail umpteen number of times where a couple of wishing trees fall on our path. A few months back blank paper notes and a pen was kept in a box near the trees and we’d see people writing down their little wishes and tying them to the branches. Today we thought of reading a few of them.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


Though I know that a majority of the readers will answers in the negative, I ask this question –How many times have you gone to sleep hungry? And it was not by choice but due to lack of money to buy food. We know the answer and the truth is that while we live our lives without giving a thought as to where our next meal is coming from, there are millions of people living with us in this wonderful world of ours who have no idea about the same.

Before we think about solving the world’s problems, let us try to understand what exactly food is. We wake up in the morning with a cup of maybe milk or tea or coffee or fruit juice. We follow this with a variety of things –fruits, bread, cereals, egg, meat etc. After a few hours our stomach starts to growl when its lunch time. Similarly when it’s time for dinner. I cannot focus on anything when I’m hungry and I’m quite certain that is how it is with a lot of people. We all know that to lead a healthy lifestyle we need to eat healthy food –fibers, protein, carbohydrates. The food that we consume gets converted to energy which runs our body, our internal organs. Plain and simple –food is our fuel. If we have to live, we have to eat. And being alive is the greatest requirement for us to achieve greatness in life –our sole purpose. I mean when have you heard dead men achieve great feats after their death? We now are on the same page and that is –we need food to be alive and do what we have to do.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

That week

Vladmir Lenin, a noted Russian communist, revolutionary and political theorist had once said… “There are decades when nothing happens and there are weeks when decades happen”

If we look at our lives and think about days gone by… there would be those certain periods of time which turned our lives around and because of that here we are – at a place that…[well in Sam’s case] we had never ever imagined.

Sam came from a typical Indian middle class family –no fancy automobile, house in posh locality or anything worth mentioning. As a kid he dreamt big, but had absolutely no idea of how to become successful. I bet he did not even know what “being successful” meant to him.
“More money? Cars? Big house? How Sam? How are you going to achieve success? What do you want to do in life?” I don’t know –he’d answer. And I knew he wasn’t lying.
“Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?”
I guess he was better here… “I want to study mechanical engineering from some good college”
“And then?”
“And then get a job in some PSU –like GAIL, IOC.”
The reason he mentioned these two PSUs was because that’s where his dad’s friends worked and they were engineers. "Being an engineer is a good, sucessful", Sam thought. And working in a PSU was akin to being successful in life. He knew his uncles had done the same things and they seemed so happy. Sam too wanted to be like them. That was not a great dream, but a fine dream to have…. Something worth pursuing, for someone who had just cleared his 10th board exams.

Sam enrolled in the science stream and went ahead with life. He cleared his 11th and 12th grade faring much poorer than 10th grade. How poor was his performance? Apparently whatever clarity he had about his career was shaken –forget engineering from the IITs [every 12th science kid’s dream], he wasn’t even fit for engineering from any college in his state based on his 12th grade percentage. In the state of Gujarat, an individual’s 12th grade percentage is utilized to finalize [calculate] which engineering stream he/she is able to select.

Apart from that, he had also appeared in an open entrance test which he had cleared –thank God! He was enrolled for a 3 year graduate course in the sleepy town of Allahabad along the banks of Ganges. This time around Sam had seen a couple of downs [and no ups, yet] to take his education seriously. But here too he was living his life on a loan –of 3 years. Because once these 3 years were over, he would be back to square one and would have to figure out the next steps since his college did not have a placement cell. Moreover the year Sam enrolled, the Dot Com bubble burst and our dude was studying Computer Applications. How exciting!

After 3 years of having played Age of Empires and figuring out C++, OOP and DBMS, he cleared his bachelors. However the job market had not revived and Allahabad wasn’t really a place where IT companies came seeking fresh college pass-outs. A few of his friends were talking about working in call-centers that were popping up in and around Noida and Gurgaon. Sam and a friend of his took matters in their own hands and traveled to Lucknow to appear in a call center interview. Both were disqualified and unceremoniously shown the door. The minimum qualification was graduation and they were a few months away from that.

While in their final semester, Sam and his friends thought –that maybe if they were equipped with a Master's degree their chances at finding a suitable job would increase. With new energy the gang started preparing for a few entrance tests. Together they got those forms filled up, appeared in the exams and waited for eternity for the results to be announced.

Being in the last semester the gang hung around more and talked about future than focus on the final semester exam that was fast approaching. Along with preparing for MCA entrance tests, he appeared in the final semester exam with the rest of his gang. Finally that too was done… and he fared fine, just like all the other exams.

Sam’s college from where he studied for graduation, too was offering a course in MCA [Master Computer Application] but Sam performed so poorly in the entrance test [once again] that he could not clear the test. Gradually he was getting the same feeling that he had a few years back after his 12th boards –maybe I’ll be a no-one. Just a simple guy with a simple job and absolutely nothing to talk about. Probably not even good enough for a job at a call-center. On the other hand, one of his cousins was placed from campus to an IT company –Patni Computers. He had done his engineering from NIT, Durgapur. Sam, while he was pursuing his graduation thought that if he was able to join a company like that in 10 years from the year of his graduation, it would be some kind of an achievement.

While all this was happening around him and he got to know that he had cleared his BCA, Wipro Technologies came out with something known as WASE. Surprisingly Sam qualified for the program –I mean he had all the educational qualifications that would be required to appear in the entrance test. However not quite yet. The program required him to scan and send all his graduation semester mark-sheets to a certain email address where his case would be evaluated and if found fit, he would hear from them on the next steps.

Call it whatever, though Sam had cleared his 6th semester exams, for some delay somewhere, his final semester mark-sheet had not been dispatched from the University in Mesra [Ranchi] to his college in Allahabad with the rest of the mark sheets of his batch-mates. Due to this reason he was not able to send a scanned copy the same to the Wipro recruitment team [via email] by July 31st 2003 –the last day. He informed the Wipro recruitment team that while he was awaiting the final semester mark sheets they may have a look at the first five semester mark-sheets and sent them scanned copies. The recruitment team came back to him saying that they would not be able to consider his case. Sam wasn’t dejected. Wipro Technologies was a very big deal and he knew his worth. His dream was a far smaller company –Patni; and he had given himself 10 years for that… maybe by September 2013.

By the last week of August 2003 he heard from his college that his mark-sheet has been received and he may come and collect the same. Sam was waiting to hear the results of another MCA entrance test and this came as a welcome break to re-visit his college. At the same time two of his friends [who had received their 6th semester mark-sheet earlier] were preparing to leave for Bangalore. These two guys had not only cleared the written exam but also the group discussion and personal interview and were finally selected to join Wipro Academy of Software Excellence. Since their final semester mark-sheets were available when the WASE announcement came out they were selected to undergo a series of exams in Delhi somewhere in the middle of August.

These two guys had their future laid out in front of them. Probably the brightest from the batch. While they were preparing to leave for Bangalore, they threw dinner for a small group of friends in Allahabad. Sam too was invited. A few of the other invited were selected to undergo MCA from the same graduation college –they had cleared the entrance test that he had miserably flunked. While he enjoyed with his friends he thought that all of them had their future laid out… while he was waiting for the Gujarat MCA entrance test results. His future was still in the balance.

After partying with his friends Sam went back to his non descriptive lifestyle. Those days visiting a cyber café costs about Rs 30/ half an hour and Sam had no reason to regularly visit them. Who would send me emails –was his argument. However God knows what happened but he paid a visit to a nearby cyber-café to check his Yahoo! Email. On August 31st 2003 there was an email from Wipro Academy of Software Excellence –once again. Apparently they had not found enough candidates in the earlier round and were reaching out to those [fortunate?] people who could not appear in the entrance test earlier. This time they no longer asked for anything to be scanned; just get them when you visit the test center on September 3rd 2003.

10 years from then and the dream to work for Patni Computers hasn’t become a reality yet…  Maybe in that one week of late August-early September in 2003, we moved by more than a decade. Maybe.