Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Onsite... Finally Gotcha!!!

Sam was highly excited when he came to know about it. This was something he had always dreamt of but some or the other hurdle would bounce up and delay the good news. But this July afternoon it was final. Sam was leaving for Brussels for a couple of months and after that for a year working out of the Eiffel Tower City –Paris. His designation would be that of an onsite coordinator for his account. He would be finally living the dream of every IT worker… working at client location, in a different country, seeing a different culture and earning a better currency than what he’s earned for the last three years. Finally the future was looking bright for him… Or is it just a mirage? Hiding the real life and giving a phony one?

Not all was hunky dory for him… his travel plan had to be shelved by a week due to administrative issues… Think about it… you’ve got the work permit, the visa, have informed friends, thrown advance parties and still you’re on hold. Anyways, Sam’s on hold status was only for a week.

I have known Sam for more than 9 years and so was surprised to find a long long email from him once he had reached Brussels. It was surprising because it was longer than all the emails he’d sent put together. He shared his thoughts –right from packing his bag to wiping his as*. Welcome to no-water-in-toilet-land my friend.

To give you a brief background of Sam, he’s the happy go lucky type of person –very simple and a down to earth guy; non manipulative and straight on the face –all the skills which you should NOT have for an onsite coordinator… but he’s a fast learner and is single.

Though I had prepared him for the culture shock once he steps out onto the streets, but it was nothing close to what actually had happened with him. You of course cannot blame him, after-all it’s the summers and these Europeans just love the sun.

Well, Sam’s travel was a mixed bag of emotions… Yes he wanted to go and work at onsite, but at the same time he dreaded the moment… the final moment. You know its coming, you know only a few hours are left and you know you cannot do anything to stop it. It’s a strange dilemma. The thought of leaving back the people with whom your day started and ended and knowing that the next couple of days onwards this day would be history –and still not being able to do anything to stop it. The streets, the cafes, the gali, the nukkad –all would become history and this gives you a strange sense of loss… a loss which you keep hidden under the “Good Things” of onsite… a loss, which you knowingly want to embrace because there is something better –onsite. But ask them, whom you leave back home. Well, time stops for them… till the day you come back. Well, not actually, but they miss your presence in the initia few days, but then time is a great healer.

Sam’s parents and siblings came to see him off… after-all it was a very proud moment for them as well. They tried to look happy… they were, but deep down, they too knew –only a few hours are left and then their son would be away for a year. Though Sam stays hundreds of kilometers away from his parents, but still the thought of him being completely unavailable in person is something that would take time for them to understand… but again, time is a great healer.

Now talking about Sam, he was busy with his last minute packing but that did not sway him away from the small emotional and sentimental incidents that were happening. Like all happy Indian families –everybody wanted to drop him at the airport and a funny incident made the tension a bit lighter –but not for long. It was finally 3 hours for his flight to take off –time to enter… time to face the final moment. Like all good boys, Sam bid an emotional adieu to his near and dear once. For those couple of minutes when Sam held his parents in his arms for the last time that evening, he just wished a small wish: God please make it a dream, wake me up… I don’t think that I want to leave them back. But there was not enough steam in the though… it left him as soon as it had come and Sam was ready to face the future. Atta boy!!

As he turned and pushed his trolley through the security check in, he turned for one last time –his family, all standing speechless and facing the reality, wanting to see Sam for one moment more and waiting while Sam took in the picture of his family in his memories. It was time to move on...

But like I said, it’s over in a couple of minutes. Once you’re in there, its back to business –your visa, passport, boarding pass, baggage, weight issue. Once those got resolved Sam settled down to gather his thoughts –and focus on the good things that were waiting for him. Now its one year of away-from-India time while he shifted his thoughts to work. He’s waited for this one moment for a long time –now it was his time to prove himself.

His clients, his work, life in a new city, new people –a totally new experience and Sam just smiled to himself. Though I had asked him to get a window seat just behind the wings, he was too lost to have asked for that and was blessed with the sixth seat in the 3+4+3 Airbus A-340; one of the worst seats!!! And to add to it, he had an aunty [old] and a grandpa for company. And our man made the most of the situation by watching an old movie from the B&W era. Being a staunch vegetarian [only while taking food] Sam had his share of troubles while the airhostess tried to come in terms with the thought that such [extreme veggies] still exist. Finally Sam also did something that he would have laughed at –eat idly with knife and fork. There were a few other incidents which I am keeping away –Sam is a good friend of mine, and I want to keep it that way. Anyways, while all the drama happened thousands of meters above ground, Sam finally reached Europe.

It took him a couple of days to adjust to the new surroundings and as I gather from him, our Sam has started working, enjoying the new neighbourhood, the new way of life. And deep down, he also knows –one day he would have to leave all this and come back home. And I am sure even at that time he’d have a mixed bag of emotions… just as he had when he was starting for Brussels. Good Luck Sam. We wish you success. And yes, do not forget that we hope at least you’d do justice to the Indian tricolour.

Jhanda uuncha rahe humara !!!