Thursday, August 24, 2006

Humor - Are we there yet?

By Gaurav Parab

Last month, the old gang decided that we should get together and go on a trip. Unfortunately, the thing with fighter pilots, rocket scientists and army officers is that they need prior permission from their superiors to leave base. Fortunately, none of us is good enough to be any of that, and the fact about the leave has nothing to do with our planned trip.

We got together, late Friday evening, at Asif’s* place (* Real name used since he doesn’t mind seeing his name in print.) and started planning. Now, under normal circumstance 11 guys are expected to come up with different ideas and schemes - arguments and counter arguments are bound to occur on every detail. But, thankfully, our bunch is anything but plain vanilla. We are all IT professionals. People usually call us plain shit.

The thing with IT guys is, if you look closely at the expensive clothes and good looks, you would realize that you are not looking at an IT guy.

IT Guys, all talk the same, walk the same, and unleash abbreviations whenever they open their mouth, or type down their thoughts. ITGs love to agree, postpone things and say, “Please do the needful” when they have no clue regarding what needs to be done and who is going to do it. In the last aspect, they are not too different from an Indian cricket team, where all eleven players are truly world class in shouting “Catch” to no one in particular, whenever the ball is hit in the air. They could well be calling out to the umpire.

So, this is how the planning for our trip went:

“We will ride through the night with wind in our hair and only the stars to guide us”. (IT guy Number # 1)

“FYI, we will be wearing helmets. NO chances of the wind entering our hair, is it? Let’s be real and logical. We are wearing helmets right? (IT guy number # 2)

“It was a metaphor dude!” (Everyone laughs loudly. No one knows what metaphor means.)

“Helmets and Jackets are baselined” (Everyone nods, before taking a coffee break)

“What about the budget?” (IT guy, promoted to Manager last week contributes)

“Kharcha, you mean?” (IT guy, who will never be promoted to manager contributes)

“Yes, that’s what he meant. Absolutely. ” (IT guy who will be promoted to manger soon adds)

“I can come up with an excel sheet, with columns for contributions and a person wise break down of expenses” (IT Manager helpfully suggests)

I could see this was getting out of hand. “Come on!” I shouted. “Cut out the office talk! We are here to have fun. Where is the spirit people?? Let your hair loose for a while! How can you talk about excel sheets, when we can come up with a JAVA based program that can generate pie charts and projected expenses as well”?

We decided to go to a mountain fort about two hundred miles from Pune.

We started early next morning. Nothing could stop us. It was just us and two hundred miles of asphalt. No functions to call, no login screens to be designed, no tracker sheets to lie to. It was like the journeys we had undertaken on our Playstations. Across the seven seas, through ancient civilizations and through unchartered territories where no one but a billion Indians had gone before.

Unlike in the games, when you are traveling - to reach level 7, you need to go through level 1,2,3,4,5, and 6. It became quiet clear quiet early that this was going to be tiring. But the destination was too far away, and we simply could not afford to stop. On the face of it, the fort appears to be only 200 miles away. But unfortunately, the bad roads ensure that Mars, moon and the Earth are equidistant from it.

We had to make up time for a slightly delayed start and keep moving on. We gathered our wits, strengthened our resolve, tightened our muscles, slayed the inner demons and unanimously decided to take a short break.

“Let’s take a break” (IT guy # 1, shouting over the noise of 6 engines)

“Should we stop so soon? We have to cover a lot of distance” ( IT guy #4, stopping instantly.)

To break the awkwardness of the moment, tough IT guy gang leader suggested, “Let’s take pictures! We have stopped to take pictures! We are having fun”

“Yeah, lets take pictures. We have stopped to take pictures” (Everyone shouts in unison)

We stopped and took in the view of a broken concrete road finding its way through a dozen little grocery stores – the stuff picture postcards in bombed out exotic Beirut are made of. We were truly with nature. All of us looked at each other slowly and breathed in the crisp morning air. As we reached for our cameras, and cracked silly jokes – it seemed that we were quickly going back through the years we have been together. We felt the bond grow stronger with every moment and I couldn’t help but think to myself:

Wasn’t it time to make some new friends?

A mountain is a mountain. It is just a whole lot of rocks on top of one another, which healthy human specimens with no employable skills climb for they cannot afford a Plasma television set to watch on a Sunday afternoon. The only reason Mountain A is different from Mountain B, is because someone used different names. There is no point risking life and limb climbing up something, only to climb down without any clear material objective achieved.

We moved on. A lot of distance was to be covered. After riding for 5 hours we finally reached the mountain fort. At base camp, we decided to split the teams into two groups to annoy as many people as possible.

One group, let us call them the Managers, would travel by cable car to the mountain top, while the other group – lets call them the ‘Have Nots’ decided to climb the mountain. The Manger group reached the top in about 15 minutes, while it took 3 hours for us to do the same.

As we climbed the fort, I couldn’t help but wonder in amazement about how the visionary king could build a fort of this magnitude nearly 500 years ago? No contractors, no politicians to help out – no cement and all.

I could understand the whole exercise of building a fort, but why build on such a big mountain? What was the driving force behind the whole exercise anyways? Is it possible, that the King had only pointed in the general direction of the mountain to his chief designer and said,

“Build me a fort there? Lets say – carpet area of 2 million women?”

In what could be a case of gross miscommunication, the designer perhaps believed that the king wanted the fort on top of the mountain – inaccessible to the most enterprising enemy, friend or human alike.

I dare to make this suggestion, because a similar thing once happened on a project I was on.

A senior manager had said to the designer, “Build me a product to do this. Let says 2 million lines of code?”

The designer, following a well layed out process to do everything, forwarded the mail to me “Could you please do the needful.” I followed the hint and forwarded it to someone else, who forwarded it to someone else. Soon we had 2 million lines of mail.

Anyways, on a serious note - I read that there was a good reason for building this on top of a mountain. The idea was to make the fort impregnable to attack from the new Rag of Hip Hop Dog Howl music unleashed by the Reshmiya Gharana in the lower regions of the kingdom.

After a back breaking climb, we finally reached the top. From the sparse crowd, we could see that our manager friends had already spread their magic and made public announcements for team meetings. The two groups joined and we walked silently through the magnificent ruins. I could clearly see that this fort was designed by a man. Raw, untamed and no point in wasting space on sissy things like toilets and bathrooms. There was a big pond, where the entire Army used to take baths together to conserve water. There were also a lot of thoughtful touches, which only a king could think about- like signboards in bright Red to indicate the entry fee and the way to ladies rooms. After touring the place, we returned to the base camp and started back for home.

5 hours later, as I stretched myself to sleep – I couldn’t help but wonder whether being an Army officer, Rocket scientist or fighter pilot was still possible.


bhagwati_lal said...

Very well written.

Anonymous said...

You should be writing for movies.

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