Sunday, December 28, 2008


As the year draws to a close, I have realised that my leave balance for the year is intact. The compensatory offs (in return for working on holidays) and the balance carried over from last year was enough for me this year.
I even wasted a couple of leaves by applying for them and then going on those days anyway. (Because I have been accused of "taking liberty" with my leaves by the powers that be).
As has been oft said by people around me, this ITDonkey is a chicken of the species. :(

Saturday, December 27, 2008


My bank has reduced my credit card limit to 5000 rupees, stating "security reasons". I wonder if its for theirs or mine. Not that I had gotten around to exploring what the "earlier" limit was anyway.
They are just playing it safe with IT guys, I believe.

On another note, the manager is considering exempting "married" people from the miserable night shifts. So, Anushka and Anushka, if you are reading this...
And does he mean that "single" people dont have a family??

Sunday, December 14, 2008


If the grapevine is to believed, banks will now begin classifying IT guys as subprime.
Righttt....After being knocked off the marriage aspirations list of Indian girls, yet another one for the ITDonkey.

Which reminds me.... I have got an alarming propensity of doing the absolute wrong thing when being observed. I was watching the marriage video of a close cousin today, in which yours truly makes 3 appearances of about 2 seconds each. I am yawning rather loudly in 2 of them, and have my mouth full of food in the third, which I had stopped chewing from the shock of finding the camera directly in front of me.
Old ladies watching the video will come to logical conclusion about how I got to my present shape by only sleeping and eating.
Well old ladies, you are wrong.... endlessly sitting motionless and tapping away at a keyboard has got as much to do with it as is anything else.
Anyway, in their eyes, I would already be subprime, and not someone worth recommending to their grandnieces. Not that I expect or even want to find a partner in this manner, but feels bad anyway. In the same manner when the bank says I wont be eligible for that car loan I didnt ask for.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


A quick update...
I have officially now got 4 bosses.
Thats right....4 people for 4 underlings.
Infact, a post named "Associate Project Lead" was just created to accomodate the new guy, which has already started creating friction between the three earlier bosses.

As of now, I plan to put up an unofficial hassle index for each of them, depending on how much each one of them hassles me.

Current standing in descending order :
Top Boss - > The leader.
Old lead - > Tolerable, to some extent.
Newer tech lead - > Doesnt interact much.
Newest process expert - > The middle order doesnt let him interact much.

For updates, watch this space.

And this is before the Z.O.P. brings back another team lead from the US by the end of December.

Which reminds me, Z.O.P. is not a client move, but our own initiative, as we move from an hourly billed project to a fixed price project.
I have absolutely no words to express my immense anger at the moment.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Z.O.P.

So it has happened. Almost that is.Became a direct victim of the credit crunch. Even as I type this out, a meeting is progressing at 8.30am CST (8.00 pm IST) announcing the bad news to the offshore team mates.
Starting January 2009 year, we will proceed towards a ZERO ONSITE POLICY. (Z.O.P.)
What it means is that they wont have people located at client side at all. Every single thing will be 100% offshored.
This happened after the management decided to pay a visit to our call centre wing. And suddenly realised they dont have onsite personnel at all, and were functioning just fine. In multiple shifts, across all timezones, including a couple of overlapping night shifts.
"Aahhaa!!" said they... and out came the calculators.
"Analysing our current relationship with the customer , it has come to our notice there are some gaps in value proposition we offer them.." , a bespectacled man must have droned to an audience of bean counters.
"For every resource we bring back , it will result in a saving of 75% , and if a corresponding resource at offshore is given 1.2% over and above our current investment in resource , it would result in the nett savings of over 5.97823 %.. " , all very exciting figures, if you are an MBA in power , like the above gnome eyed fellow.

The management must be terribly excited. "What a fantastic idea!!!" , they must be thinking.

What would be implied though that we can subject the software guys to fantastic amounts of misery , and convince the customer that there is value in that . So that fat cats like us can continue to get fatter.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


The mayhem caused by a bunch of ragtag gunmen in Mumbai is over.....for the time being (I desperately hope that I am wrong here).
This begs a question... How safe are we really ?
If the motive is to find a large concentration of humanity at a place, the following places come to the mind : Train Stations, state bus depots, large hotels...and..err IT Companies.
Lets face it guys..... we are all but sitting ducks for the anti-humans. Ofcourse we have security at our gates, well armed with...err...whistles. They are well suited to the tasks normally required of a security person at an IT Company. Guiding vehicles, checking visiting workers and keeping a general eye on things. The keyword here is "normally" . But confronted with the grimiest slime from the gutter, like the ones in Mumbai, I wonder how effective they will be.
Maybe they should make a shootout drill compulsary, like a fire safety drill. Hit the floor! Dont move! Unfortunately, stuff like this should come naturally to us.
Heres what we might have to do while leaving for work :
Laptop bag - Check.
Lunch box - Check.
Swipe Card - Check.
Cellphone - Check.
9 MM in the holster - Check.
Yes, I do hope they allow private citizens to bear arms now. I know that it will bring a huge set of their own problems , but how many choices are we left with now ?
Its worse than the wild west now, you shoot or you get shot.

PS: I am serious.
You can place an order here.
This , apparently, isnt being sold to private buyers.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Panic ?

Our primary client will be sending out RFPs (Request for Proposals) for various projects, including mine, in December. All the Indian IT biggies, are understood to have an expressed an interest. That.... and some Mexican firm too, and nearshoring is a good option, say the United Voters of Obama.

This, combined with the overall recession atmosphere, has our management worried I guess.
The number of pointless prep talk meetings have increased drastically. We already had our fourth in the last couple of weeks. "What can we do make this place better?" , they ask... usually without the expectation of an answer. I usually spend the time making little dots appear in patterns on the different pages of my notepad (Which invariably everyone carries into the meeting, but noone ever does anything with it.)

I keep asking myself, is it such a bad thing if this thing goes ??

On another note, my project details were suddenly changed last month. From September 2009, its now down to Dec 2008. This isnt the case for everybody.
Annndd... a big list of around 200 people to be laid off is being drawn up. This is one of those confirmed rumours.
So am I on my way out ?
I dont know. Watch this space.


Yet another thing I forgot to add.
I have been through things "I am going have to go ahead and ask you to come in during Diwali" , in almost the exactly the same style.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Office Space (contd)

Forgot to mention in my earlier post. I seriously got my own version of the "TPS Reports" .
And I kid you not, we even got a dedicated resource, who does nothing but review our equivalent of "TPS Reports" all day long.
A little background on TPSR:
In the movie, our protagonist (believe me, if you are ITDonkey, its terribly easy to identify with him) , who is a harried IT company employee. And works, like me, in the field of Databases (dBase III, I guess, from the below screengrab ) .
Now on a Monday morning, our hero gets picked on by his bosses for forgetting to follow a new 'process' of putting new cover sheets on his "TPS Reports".

At one point in the movie, the chap asks his colleagues , "What if I am still doing this by the time I am 50 ? "
This , seriously, sent a shudder down my entire body. What if I am still doing what I currently do ?? The stuff which isnt, for me, even slightly constructive or interesting and doesnt add an iota of value to my life and leaves me feeling empty. Okay, there is the money (not much to begin with, just enough to create an understanding of how little you can afford ) , but little else.
For someone like me who has absolutely no other skills (not that I classify what I currently do under a "skill" ) , I guess carrying on is the only option.

Office Space.

I happened to see the film "Office Space" today.
Its not a movie. No sir.
Its a friggin documentary.

I dont know how many ITDonkey's out there feel so, but for me, the movie just so....connects... I got no other words for it.
Its an absolute must watch for everyone out there who works in the Information "Technology" (!) industry.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I have a strange sense of elation today... Actually got free food from office.
A free lunch. Those not in the 'know' may not realise how alien a term it is for my organization.
I was standing in the cafeteria with money in my hand and an incredulous look on my face saying "Whaat?!!... You dont want it!!???" .

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Why do I find the work environs so dreary ? Maybe its in part due to..err...they are.
I wonder how many people find long rows of wooden benches with people at them tapping away on their workstations exciting ?

This week we had a 'cubicle' 'decoration' thing going around for a day.
(I may have differences with the usage of the word 'cubicle' though. In our case , they are simply curved benches sans enclosures).

People were hanging up all sorts of trinkets and baubles over their desks. Coloured papers were cut out and plastered on the desks. Lamps (Made in China) were being hung from the overhead lights. The neighbouring team even hung out long, colourful sarees everywhere to give out that rustic look. The ITCoolies were taking every effort to make their sections appear 'cheerful'.

But do they really appear so ?

Do people really go "Rightt.... I WANT to sit here..." by seeing a gaudy fluorescent wallpapered desk ? Unless they are about 7 years old, I doubt they would.

So I have a better idea to brighten up the place... Its 'pretty faces'. Sitting at my dreary place , if I look up from my dreary work, all I see is other dreary faces.
The management has no idea how much they can benefit by the strategic intermittent placement of pretty faces.
They dont really have to do anything, just their presence is enough to light up the atmosphere in 4 adjacent locations.
Another alternative would be that of 'walkers' , wherein several pretty faces can simply walk around the offices, doing nothing in particular. If they let the time table of their 'walks' be known , it would be great. Now there would be atleast something I would look forward to doing. The listless tapping at my keyboard would be a wee bit easier this way as I contemplate over things like whether the 3pm face was better than yesterdays 9 am face.
The walkers would leave a trail of very happy souls in their wake everytime they made a pass...

Somebody should really undertake a feasibility study on this...

PS : This may appear as an overwhelmingly male-perspective post, but then, I havent yet come across any bored female ITDonkeys.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Thought of sharing this very relevant chat I had with a New York based genius chap (who claims to be a former ITDonkey himself) today morning.

Genius Geek : job nahi ahe ka aj
ka office madhech ahes ?
(dont you have a job today
or are you in office?)

ITDonkey: office madhech ahe :P
(In office itself)
starting up the excel sheets of the day
today got to analyse some finance results.. :P

Genius Geek: cool

ITDonkey: no man, its pathetically tedious and time consuming work
why cant they hire accounts people to do it i dunno. I guess they take the term 'donkey' a bit too seriously

Genius Geek : :P

ITDonkey: i can get the data and give it to them ... the 'why' part should be their business

Genius Geek: sure
u are doin somethin which is not IT related

ITDonkey: I always do everything which is not IT related

GG : yeh.. i guess their definition of IT is something on the computer

ITD: lol... :D

Monday, October 13, 2008

JC Injured.

Just got to hear that the venerable JC was injured in a head on collision, his first crash in over 31 years.
I really do hope the motormouth is okay. And lets hope the crash WILL NOT knock some sense into him. The nature of the crash is yet unknown.
The chap is a bit like a supercar : big and impractical and nonsensical - but huuuuuggge fun.

Wishing you health and a speedy recovery, Jezza. Hope TG powerslides back into its scheduled start of 2nd November.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Old Girl..

Today evening, I was walking down one of the main roads in the town, when I saw a once familiar blue object driving down...
Did bring back memories.. of an old review I had written on her a few years ago. It is as :

"In the last century, a certain man called Adolf who lived in or around the region of
Bavaria, wanted his fellow Bavarians to be motorised.In order to do this,they had to follow some simple
instructions : it should be really cheap to buy,cheap to run and cheap to build.In short they wanted a People’s Car.Volks Wagen.

Fast forward 50 years. A chap from a prominent family in India also wished to do the same for his fellow countrymen. So he called upon a few Japanese fellows who were good at this sort of thing and the result,ladies and gentlemen, is the car we know now as the Maruti 800.Many prefer to simply call it Maruti.

Back when it was launched, the only cars we could buy here were big lumps of metal from the 50’s,which were slow,thirsty and spartan to say the least. The Maruti ushered in the plastic brigade.It was the first time that Indians were introduced to such a concept and they promptly responded by not buying it ....because they thought it was too flimsy. But once people warmed to the idea that a car could be made with something other than pig iron on ox cart frames,the trickle turned into a flood, and soon there were long queues of people outside dealerships wanting to buy the thing.

Back then, it was revolutionary in other ways too...Take the engine for example. It proved that engines could actually run without letting people know that they were from 50 feet away.

It also didnt have to make tractor like noises early in the morning.Before it was launched,there was a general consensus that cars were bound to break down every time it was too hot, too cold, too windy or too wet. But then along came the 800, which demonstrated that actually this needn?t necessarily be so. It worked even when the weather had broken down completely. And it kept on working, faultlessly, for year after year after year.It was also terribly easy and predictable to drive, and chauffeurs found themselves jobless and women drivers found an ally.

So, when around 10 - 11 years ago, when my family decided that buying a car was a solution to our three-people-on-a-scooter problem, the 800 was the natural choice.So we bought a metallic blue one, in 1994(it was a 92 model). Before starting to drive in India, my father had driven for the first time on a regular basis in the US. His car there was a Chevrolet Caprice(cheapest to lease).So it was a shock of sorts for him to drive here something that was only as big as the Chevy’s front seat.It didnt matter though...and soon the Maruti was an integral part of our lives.

Its 796cc 39(or is it 37?) hp engine was peppy enough for us and it was regularly taken on road trips.It was great fun with my parents upfront and me in the back seat staring at the unending highway through the windscreen.It had great fuel efficiency too...we regularly got 20+ kpl on the highway.It was utterly reliable too...the most we had suffered was a puncture once on the Pune - Bangalore highway.

When I turned 18, I learnt to drive in this car.It is the ultimate learn-to-drive-in car. It is very light to steer, the handling is predictable, and even if you get a bump or scratch here and there, it is cheap to fix. It is also enormous fun. The 4 speed manual is slick and shifts without a hitch or too much effort. When I step on the accelerator and go for it, it always brings a smile to my face because even if it is not going very fast, it feels like it is. And because I was 18, and it was my father’s car, I regularly drove it as if my hair was on fire and changed gears only when the screaming valves were about to pop through the hood.

Ofcourse, it has some completely ignorable(at the time) negative points too. Take the space.If you are a Westerner, you could probably die of claustrophobia in there...but we being Indians, were used to cramped spaces. Then there was the complete lack of safety features.We didnt know that, hence it was as good a highway car for us as any other.

There is also a small button on the dashboard there which says ’A/C’.And when you press it,no perceptible change takes place when you roll up the windows.In our other car (Indigo) when you step inside when the aircon has been switched on, you feel like you have walked into a refrigerator. In the 800 it feels like someone is blowing air at you through a straw. From 20 feet away.The ride is quite harsh too.

All this,as plenty of you might agree,doesnt matter to the 800 buyer.Because these days no one buys an 800 because they like it, they buy it because they cant afford anything else. So if you are thinking of buying this car, but can stretch your budget a bit, go for something else.If you are thinking of buying one second hand, go right ahead and buy one. There are good ones available for as little as Rs.40000.

As for our car, it has been lying idle for the past 3-4 years,and I only take it out for occasional spins.After writing this review I got all nostalgic and went down to take a drive in it. After only a few meters, there was smoke from the hood, and I had to stop and pour water over the engine to prevent it from burning itself up. It seems after all these years of lying around the coolant had somehow leaked away..So much for the reliability :)."

The car has since been sold, a few years ago. On the day she was sold, I took her for one last ride... The faded and large steering wheel seemed perfect for me.. and the well worn gearshift. Couldnt bear to watch the lady who had bought it drive it away.

Why am I writing this ? I dont know. ..

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Techie ??

I hate that term. When its directed towards to me that is.
Just because I work in a software company, people assume I am a "techie". D'uh.
I am just a donkey.
An information handler.
A mere shuffler.
A coolie because the 'masters' cant be bothered to carry the load themselves.

I deal daily with client users , many of whom are more technically proficient than I am. Many of them quite sympathetic too.
Many a times, I am sitting with a few of my ITmonkey friends in the cafeteria and they suddenly slip into tech jargon leaving me staring into space.
The nature of my job does not require me to study things like the workings of complex operating systems' interactions with large databases.
Infact, the only "technicalities" I concern myself during the course of the day are things like which colour to put in which cell of the Excel sheet (or excel shit , depending upon how you look at them) .
You can say that I work for the IuT industry - Information unTechnical.

So Techie ?? Naaah...

More of a Supportie.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Why Boredom? Because I am so good at it. Because I have spent so much time practicing it.
Because boredom is the ITdonkey's constant companion.
This post could have been up earlier, but for my boredom. If I wasnt so bored , I would have even put an exact definition to it.
Is it the feeling when countless hours are spent listlessly tapping away on the work computer ? When trips to the water cooler are frequently called for just to break the monotony ? Or when staring at the road from the terrace seems like an excellent idea of a break ? When mulling over mundane things seems infinitely more interesting (like, How did they come up with these location numbers for the rooms? Did they count from the top floor downwards and from left to right? How big a comb the frizzy haired girl must be using ? )
The most exciting part of the workday is the ride to and fro ? Or the strange sense of elation felt when the count of major bumps encountered on the road matched yesterdays ?

I reached this stage of boredom, about 2 months after I started working as in ITDonkey. Earlier on though, the feeling was smothered by the overwhelming volume of work and the pressure of it which i let myself feel. i said above, practice is the key, and now boredom and busy-ness learned to live with each other. These days, they even co exist in harmony. Each acknowledges the other's presence, and does not try to overwhelm the other.

IF anyone else out there can put a precise definition to it, do let me know.

My boredom starts as soon as I power up my tools of the trade :

PS : Please ignore the pink biscuits I was having for breakfast on a boring Saturday morning.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Appraisal - Part 3

"He has a problem attitude towards seniors..." , says he..

I have chosen this moment to take a status review of my fingernails. "He will have to take the company's value set seriously." It continued.
I feel a strange sense of joy when I discovered that the number fingernails = number of fingers!

I was done with my glaring . It was time that I realised that my fingers were infinitely more interesting.

I had made amply clear that walking into this project is like approaching a wall. You might greet it enthusiastically. Wave and dance and Cheer. Wax eloquently for hours. Waste time in petty conversations. But it still remains a wall.
But there comes a time when you realise its forever going to remain a wall. So I guess TheWall knows that I know that its a wall.

Conclusion : Any discussions on appraisals done post appraisal are a prime example of an Exercise in Pointlessness.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Movie Preview

Switched on the TV today, and saw the trailer for this AWESOME movie, DeshDrohi.
It completely blew me off!!! The movie stars Gracy Singh, Roza, Kamaal Khan and many other extremely talented people.
Manoj Tiwari is sensational. He plays an immigrant Bhaiyya in Mumbai in this film. And ofcourse, gives a riveting performance. Gracy Singh (of Lagaan/Munnabhai fame) , thankfully, acts sensibly and has chosen this fantastic movie as her comeback film.
The gripping storyline mainly dwells on the 'plight' of being a Hindustani, yet not being regarded as one in ones own country.
I do not know when it will be released, but it will surely be one blockbuster of a movie. Cant wait to see that one and a full review!

Behold ladies and gentlemen, the trailer to this awesome movie :

Do watch it and let me know your reactions..

PS :
Do they have openings for Movie Reviewers anywhere?

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Appraisal - Part 2.

So it happened. My grading and appraisal for the year. Got the fateful letter on Thursday evening. Didnt know what to make of it at first.
Then the whispering winds told me about the raise others who had started out on the same baseline had received within the team.
And I turned incandescent with rage. I had been shortchanged. Again. By a huge margin.

I used to think most of my adult life that, I rarely let anything provoke me. But a year with this project has shattered that belief.
I might add at this point that mere numbers mean nothing to me. Its the discrimination that gets to me.
Some observations I made :
- Uniformly, girls had an easy sailing.
- Guys which he (Mr.Manager) thought would raise hell have been taken care of.
- Guys which he thinks could be trampled upon without a murmur of protest have been trampled upon. (Like yours truly, who has been mute throughout the year) .

The page on our intranet which announced the increments talked about a certain link elsewhere on the site which would allow us to raise concerns about the appraisals.

But surprisingly, the link was not enabled for me at all! How effing communist is that??!!
Not that it put me off, I immediately dashed off a mail to Comrade HR , with CC to Comrade Manager.
Other people have adviced me to just go and talk to the manager and the HR, instead of going through all the hassles. But in my past experience, things are not taken seriously unless they have an official premise to it.
Watch this space for further developments.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


IT companies have taken a bad beating. America's ripple effect was felt on our stock market, and particularly my company's shares, which I believe fell to its lowest point ever.

When it reached just over half the value it had in January this year a few days ago, I went about telling everyone whom I met to get the shares, as there was no way they were going to fall any further. I even used words like 'deal pipeline' and 'corrective actions' to make people think I am talking sense. Some people fell for my pitch and did indeed invest.

I might add at this point, that I have absolutely no knowledge about stocks. I have never dealt in them, bought them, traded them or even understood them. Whatever I doled out was always on 'gut feeling'.

Ofcourse, what I feel is completely irrelevant, and the stock value plummeted by double digit percentages. Thus, since yesterday evening, I have been telling all I meet : "Yes, I know for sure, this is the lowest the share will ever go".

Even my dad fell prey to my entusiastic advice and went ahead and bought a few of the COs shares. Or Maybe he just didnt want to disappoint someone who had uttered his first words of financial relevance.

Ofcourse, the market responded to my enthusiasm by promptly shaving a few more percentage points of The Stock. This was bad.....the first ever financial 'advice' I gave to a family member resulted in an instant loss :(

I believe, this puts an end to my career as a stock advisor :( .

PS : Why did I do this ?
As an ITDonkey, out of necessity ,I have to keep exploring other career options.
Watch this space for more of my 'explorations' into unchartered waters.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Dispensable Donkey

"After delayed appraisals and cut in payouts, India's fourth largest IT service provider, Satyam Computer is reported to have handed pink slips to about 400 engineers and associates in Hyderabad, Pune and Visakhapatnam centers."

"The bad news has come from India's third largest IT outsourcer, Wipro Technologies too. The company has already laid off 1,000 employees, and another 2,000 employees have been put on scanner."

"IBM had reportedly laid off 700 entry-level trainee programmers (ELTPs) across its offices in India. Zensar too had reportedly given pink slips to 2 per cent of it staff, again the company claimed that it was on performance basis."

" TCS planning more layoffs.."

Even my relatively small(ish) co fired around a 100 people last month. And around a 100 more will be, I hear, by the end of this quarter.

PR blabber might indicate that it is a "routine" thing, done after every appraisal cycle. According to them, the low performers are 'released' every year.
I personally know a few of the people who were booted out in my organization, and they were not bad people at all! Most of them were decent folks, with pretty decent skillsets and in some cases, a decent, if not exceptional track record too. Many were having between 1 and 2 years of experience. Some were as high up as Vice Presidents and delivery managers.

Rumours were floating around of the boat going under, a belief reinforced by the fact that a few weeks ago the President, VP and the Operations Controller went to each and every floor requesting everyone NOT to believe in the rumours.

I believe the management enjoys having the people living in the state of fear. If the herd spots an apparently wayward donkey being ruthlessly beaten up by its keepers, others will automatically fall into line, they believe.

If even these people were fired, what hope does a mere ITDonkey have ?
Which brings me to another question : Just how indispensable (or otherwise) is a Donkey to a project ?
I dont know about others, but being in an application support "project" , the effort expended on training a new resource on the 'application' may not make it worthwhile to get rid of existing donkeys. So I am being assured that I am 'safe'. But I am not sure.

Also, as I sit in front of my workstation with glazed eyes, typing unenthusiastically into my old keyboard, I wonder if getting fired from here is really a bad thing.

But being a bonded donkey, the company has also tied a two lakh rupee shackle around my legs. Am I despensible ? Yes.
Will they do away with me ? Probably not.

It has been with great effort that they manage to trick resources into joining, and they are not about to let go of them without a fight.

"Support" Projects are really the mainstay of my company. So I guess they are an assured source of income atleast for the immediate future.
Most of the people I know who were fired were from development projects. So I guess its safe to assume for the time being, that only Monkeys are being fired. Donkeys are being held on too.

But what would I do after getting fired ? I have no special skillsets which would land me another job, not with the market slowdown anyway.
In the absence of Plan B , I think for the time being, I will continue going through the motions.

EDIT : Prat gave me this link the first thing in the morning : Motivational Stuff.

I think I will drop my idea of ever getting to own/run personalized transport :(

No wait.... Do they sell Bicycles on Installments ?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Test Drive

"Hey, you out of bed yet...? Me and N are going to test drive a car, you coming along ?" , V was yelling into his mouthpiece. How do I know this ? Well, it was me at the other end he was yelling at. Ofcourse, I was up. Enjoying the the simple pleasure of lazily going through the Times of India with a steaming cup of strong yet sweet chai by my side. 'Well...yeah...okay...'.

You see, my friend V happens to be in the market for a compact car. N happens to be a die hard car lover. I happened to be around with no work.

At the designated time, got the 'missed' call , indicating a that others were ready. I stopped looking for pictures of pretty women in the Pune Mirror and reached for the cupboard (closet, for American readers) to change.

Shit! No jeans in sight. Bad sign for someone who happens to have only jeans and neatly pressed office formals. Managed to dig out an long forgotten pair. Glanced at the waist size. 32", it said. Ohh Dear.No wonder I was forced to forget about them. Managed to finally squeeze myself into it.

Also managed to slow my breathing down, because if I did breathe any harder, the massively stressed out button on pants would surely pop out. Managed to stumble out and squeezed myself into N's silved Accent. Nice car that. One of the last of the endearing (to me) classic low slung sedans in that segment. And Hyundai does pay careful attention to quality.

Arrived at the dealership, and soon had the attention of a salesman. Formalities completed, got to inspect a red display Indica Vista.

Now I might clarify beforehand, after more than 8 years of using Tata cars in the family, I am more than a bit skeptical about them. Dont get me wrong, I really like and respect them as a company. But the cars....well... lets just say that they have a long way to go.

Butttt...there was something different about this vehicle. Let me start from the door handles. Gone are the plasticky bits you tuck your fingers under found on all of their earlier vehicles. These were proper grab type ones, making it seem upmarket.
The long, sweeping headlight design is dramatic and eye catching , and so are the integrated indicators just below the RV mirrors. Surprisingly for a Tata, the shutlines were pretty good too. And the paint finish was fantastic.

But the real goodies werent on the outside. It was inside. Man, the car was SPACIOUS. With a capital S in bold. A lot airier than even our Indigo. And thats pretty big on the inside.
Even more stunning were the seats. Big and spacious and very very comfortable, for a car of this category. The two tone interiors were made of good quality plastic, and it was more carefully put together than any of its predecessors. There was an integrated audio system in the topend model. And the driver's seat and steering column was adjustable for height and rake. The red showroom car was shod with 14" tubeless tires on alloys. So far, so good...

Now came the time for a test drive. We were handed over the keys to a black Demo Car, which had..err...Demo Car written all over it. I did the honours by climbing into the driver's seat first, with V next to me and N and the salesguy behind. After I was done fiddling around with the seat, I turned the key on in the ignition....and.... was this really a diesel vehicle ? The small 1.3L diesel is truly good, with no vibrations and/or clatter or even noise creeping inside the car with the AC on.
I slotted into first and released the pleasingly soft pedals, and wow, this was indeed good. The gearbox is good. As in very good. You have no idea how much of improvement I found it over the previous Indixx series. It was fantastic. But it wasnt the best bit.

It was the engine. A slick, smooth operator that it is, you dont get a sudden rush out of it, just a steady wave of acceleration. And it feels faaaaaaantastic. All the gears slotted in with a precision as of yet unseen on any other Tata vehicle. (by me). It even smooths out the road imperfections with a great degree of success which only a Pune based company can build, maybe because it can test it so comprehensively here.

Hence I now say something I never thought I would say about a Tata vehicle :
Its smoooth and refined car. More importantly, it feels good, a trait so far unseen in that company's vehicles.

I earlier said that the Tata vehicles have a long way to go. If this is anything to go by , they really are there, atleast in the Indian context.
Ohh, and it costs five lakh forty three thousand rupees, in Pune. Which is pretty good for a car in this class. And pretty much beyond my means for the foreseeable future.

Need to get a bicycle.Its within my means. If I cycle to work, I can salvage more old pants. Which saves money. And eventually scrounge together enough to get my own car. A Tata Nano.Second hand. In 2013.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The machine.

60kb. That was the amount of free space left on my work computer. I mean, on its primary drive. Innumerable disk space/page file warnings werent enough to effect a corrective action from my side. It had slowed down to a crawl, but then, so had I. I just figured that when it stopped working, so would I.

What finally spurred me into action was how extremely slowly [windows]+D and [alt]+[tab] did their stuff. That, coupled with my usual tendency to be doing the wrong things at the wrong moments. Not that I manage to do the right things at the right moments, but that will be the subject of another discussion.

Today, as usual, I was staring intently at pictures+info of some of the 6x4 Tippers available in India. So much so, that I wasnt aware of my manager and HIS manager standing behind me.
It wasnt until I realised that the "Arrey woh Receipt Generation Document ka kya hua ?" coming from somewhere behind me was directed at me, that I realised that I was being observed. The panicky me, immediately hit [windows]+D , which went about doing what it was supposed to do with such agonising lethargy, that my manager had all the time to go through three gtalk chat windows and AMW's ( tipper page.

I decided then and there that after I was done giving ambiguous answers, I would free up space on my hand-me-down machine. Managed to clear around 700 MBs of space just by ridding my desktop of unnecessary stuff. It is now probably the cleanest it has been since it left the factory sometime in 2004.

This is how it looks (briefly,before slacking and resultant clutter set in again) :

When I say it is a hand-me-down, I might add that had passed through some real important hands before that. I found documents like minutes of the lunch meeting with the CEO and old recruitment and deployment targets. It also has some interesting tidbits left behind by its (many) other previous owners. Like a girl's Infy offer letter. Some long dissolved team's mahabaleshwar trip pictures. Loads of fresher resumes.

Now that I have taken some improvement actions about, I might as well take some more. Like shutting down the thing once in a while. Dubbed the 'the server' , my machine hasnt been shut down ever since I restarted it after a week's leave in June.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Phantom Brake

Cant get enough of cabbies.. can I ?
Anyway, this is a common occurrence for me. As usual, I am in the cab, barrelling down the highway. This time, in the front seat. A couple of trucks are driving parallel to each other in the front. My cabbie has his eyes focussed, left hand firmly on the horn, right foot buried deep. 30..20...10 feet apart, yet there is seemingly no letdown in the acceleration. I curse under my breath and brace for impact. I slam my right foot hard into the carpet, as if slowing down was in my hands. After what seems like an eternity, my cabbie realises that there is now way he can drive through the truck and decides to slow down. I relax a bit and start breathing again. Slowly, ease my right foot off the imaginary brake. The Phantom Brake.

In another instance, we were once travelling in internal colony roads, early in the morning. Seeing the deserted roads, my driver had got into the highway-mode right in the city. The road was pretty twisty, full of blind turns. I started to get the familiar sensation of being hurled down something. As we approached each corner, I instinctively tensed up, since we were surely going too fast to corner safely. Each time we approached a twisty, I mashed my foot deep into the Phantom Brake, hoping to bring things back into control. I have lost count of the number of early morning joggers/dudhwallahs/compound walls we narrowly missed.

Curiously though, I have observed that none of my fellow passengers suffer from the Phantom Brake Syndrome. People are happily staring out of the window, listening to music, yapping on the phone or dozing. Do let me know if anyone of you also suffer from the same.....

Also, in my experience some of the best maintained cabs are also the worst driven. I actually feel safer in the older, more beaten up variety, since they tend to be driven carefully, lest some of the trim falls off. Many of the vehicles have a surprisingly high figure on their odo. I have been in a vehicle whose odometer read 2,65,000 kilometers, and thats when it had stopped working. Many of the fairly new vehicles also routinely have 1,00,000 kilometers.
One of my best cab experiences though, was in a white DLS model with red(ish) vinyl seats. It had 192,000 kilometers on the clock. And not a squeak or rattle to show it.


Let me continue my rant on donkey carts.
Cab drivers are a reviled species. And rightly so. You do not commute in them. You cling on for dear life.

I remember one of my first cab rides ever. The time was 6.30 am. We had just done our final pickup and were heading towards the office in Hinjewadi, using the Pune-Bangalore bypass highway. I was seated on the rear seat, sandwiched between 2 ladies on either side (oh dear!). 2 seconds after we hit the highway, the cabbie decided to step on it. I mean, really stepped on it. We were hurtling down the highway at 100+kmph. But that wasnt the worse part. It was his weaving in and out of the lanes, overtaking trucks and other slower vehicles.
Sitting next to a lady, I was instinctively sitting as though I was making an effort to shrink myself (I always do that, dont ask me why, I dont know). Since my (rather big) feet were placed on the transmission tunnel, I couldnt get a proper grip with my feet.
As a result, everytime the car swerved, I desperately groped for something to hold on to, to stop myself from rolling over on either lady.
By the time the 20 or so kilometer journey ended, I had developed a bad ankle pain, from trying to awkardly grip the floor with my feet. If I was stronger, the hump would be squeezed in the middle.

Lesson learnt : The front seat is the best seat. It also has seat belts.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Donkey® Cart

No, the Donkeys dont really pull them, but they are used to cart donkeys too and from work. My carts usually include a Tata Indicab or a Tata 1510 Bus.

Though the cab gets me there (and back) quicker, for a myriad of reasons I still prefer the bus. Some of them are because :
1.It seems a lot less call-centre-ish
2.Its a lot less riskier.

Example of a donkey chariot :

The bus I travel in is exactly the same spec, but has a different colour scheme.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


A few week's ago, yours truly got appraised. Not monetarily though (Though its about time, its been 14 months :( ) , just the evaluation.
In one of the "Areas of Development" , he had marked :

"Need to improve on self-drive".

lol! Mr. Manager, ever seen an excited donkey?? Do they ever go "Ohh yeaahh.... I will make 10 pointless trips carrying bricks and sand today, which would result in a few blades of grass for me today EOD ! Yipee!! Life's so exciting!" D'uh.

Predictably, we (me and manager) are not expecting much from this appraisal.

Monkey v/s Donkey

"it refers to a person only capable of grinding out code, but unable to perform the more intellectually complex tasks of software architecture, analysis, and design."

That's how wikipedia defines a Code Monkey.

"It refers to a person who works in (fairly large) corporations doing the grunt backend processing for clients (IT enabled support), at odd(ish) hours, and forever hoping for better things to come"

Is how I define an IT-Donkey, for the time being.

I look up to Monkeys as more gifted beings than Donkeys. I hope to be promoted to a Monkey someday.
In my tenure as a beast, I havent written a single line of code. Nor have I seen anyone from my team writing code.
Ohh..I do (occasionally) write a couple of queries here and there, which anyone with around 30 days of education can write.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Yep. Thats what I am. An IT Donkey®. Probably one of the hundreds of thousands of them in India. People who work in big offices of IT Companies, doing all the grunt work for their mostly foreign masters.
The kind of (mostly) menial work that the companies realised wasnt really worth spending so much money on getting it done in their home countries. And hence decided to ship it to places like India, where more than willing companies gladly accept it.
That results in people like me, the IT Beasts of Burden. Doing a large amount of work that seems fairly pointless to them, but there is a chance that its important in the overall scheme of things. Just like donkeys being used to ferry large amount sand/bricks/mud etc. at old time construction sites.
I feel just like the above donkey. He cannot sit back and marvel at the creation that is unfolding in front of him. Ferry things all day long without even remotely being interested in the proceedings.
I have been an ITDonkey® for more than a year now. If you havent already guessed, the experience has left a fairly sour taste in my mouth.


Actually, the "Life" of an IT-Donkey® is a bit of an oxymoron. Thats because they dont have any. Atleast....This one doesnt.
Life can be defined in a few keywords :
Err...thats it.
Colleagues at work ask me (usually on fridays) ask me Where am I going on weekends... And my reply is 'Online'. That usually stumps some of them, for a moment, but most usually laugh it off. Nobody believes that going online and doing nothing is indeed what I do on most weekends.