Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Software Engineer who sold his Pulsar - Chapter 3

I walked up to Rajat’s cubicle and announced, “I am going to work my way into an onsite opportunity. I have a plan”

Rajat gave me an incredulous look and said, “I don’t know why but I always have a bad feeling about your plans.”

“Rajat, some plans work and some plans don’t. That is the nature of plans”

“But in your case, none of the plans work and all plans fail”

“Ok. If you are taking that attitude, I am not telling you my master plan” I was annoyed but had to admit the hard truth in Rajat’s statements.

“Ok ok. Tell me please” Rajat made a show of regretting his doubt.

“Ok. We know the reasons why Santa is going onsite. One, he annoyed Bharath. Two, he threatened to bring in changes in the working of the team that would not have been good for Bharath. Am I not right?” I paused to ensure that Rajat was following my train of thought.

“Yes. Or at least that is what we think.” Rajat was always cautiously pessimistic.

“Dude, there can be no other reason. There are many more deserving candidates in the development team. But Bharath chose Santa in particular because he posed a serious threat to the serene Saturdays of Bharath.”

“Yeah, Ok, I guess it is so” Rajat seemed to be finally coming around.

“Ok. So what should I do to go onsite?” I asked.

“What should you do?” Rajat repeated.

“I should emulate Santa. I will tread the exact same path of Santa. That will force Bharath to find an onsite opportunity for me as well, pretty soon”

“I don’t understand.” Rajat seemed thick-headed at times. Rajat was very intelligent in straight forward matters. But he seemed to lack the worldly knowledge and the smartness that I possessed. That was one of the reasons why I had taken Rajat under my wings; to impart my wisdom to him.

“My dear friend, allow me to break it down for you. The first part is annoying Bharath. I have a head start in that area. Once Santa is gone, I move to the first place in the list of most despicable people for Bharath. The second part is a bit trickier. I have to threaten Bharath’s peaceful existence in the team. So you get my idea? I mix these two catalysts and voila, you will find me on the next flight to Australia”, I was eloquent and for a moment thought that politics would have been a better career choice for me. I needn’t have wasted time in college or even the latter part of schooling could have been skipped.

Rajat looked at me with wide-eyed disbelief. After a while he seemed to find his bearings and he asked, “How are you going to threaten Bharath’s peace?”

“Good question. I am going to come up with a ten point plan for increasing the TL’s efficiency in particular. And I am going to suggest the TL working from home even on Sundays. I just have to make Bharath believe that I will present the plans to our PM. Bharath will have me on the next flight” I announced.

“Seriously? You are going to do that?”

I could tell from Rajat’s expression that he thought this to be one of the worst ideas he had ever heard. But then, Rajat was a child when it came to making plans and I could not care less for his judgment.

“Rajat, dude, you just wait and watch. It is going to be legendary.” I said imitating Barney Stinson from the sitcom ‘How I met your Mother’.

Rajat shook his head and remained silent. I was irritated by the obvious lack of enthusiasm from Rajat and was about to embark upon another speech to convince him when I heard Santa’s voice behind me.

“Hey guys, I am taking my project mates out on a treat to the floating restaurant. I am going to be awfully busy going forward. So I thought I would give treat today itself. So you people join us now for lunch. Ok?”

I did not respond. There was an uneasy silence, but Rajat quickly said, “Yes Santa. We will be there.”

Santa said that he had to invite a few other people for the treat and so he left immediately. After making sure that Santa was out of earshot, I turned to Rajat and asked, “What are you up to? Why are we going for the treat? Don’t you have any self respect?”

“Dude, the way I see it, Santa is going onsite anyhow. So let us eat… You know… EAT”

Rajat laid stress on the word eat and immediately I caught the drift. Once in a while Rajat would surprise me with such insightful observations. I felt that there was hope for him yet.

So we trudged our way to the floating restaurant. The name floating restaurant was a fancy one but contrary to the expectation that the name evoked, the restaurant did not actually float on water. The restaurant had a pool encircling it and it had been a great disappointment for me when I first went there as I had expected so much more judging it by the name. But since then I had come to like that place as it offered palatable food even though at high rates. Good food was hard to come by in our company campus despite many different caterers operating in the food courts. At times the situation was so bad that it felt like the vendors had a competition amongst themselves to find out who could cook the worst food.

Rajat and I turned towards the path leading to the floating restaurant. The path was closed for cleaning. We saw four people cleaning a square tile from four directions. Sometimes our company overdid themselves when it came to cleanliness and housekeeping. I pointed this out to Rajat while we turned to take a longer route to reach the restaurant.

I said, “Rajat, see that? Four people cleaning a single tile in the path. Another person wiping individual leaves of the plants on either side. Sometimes I wonder whether all this is necessary”

“That is what our company is all about. Processes… Using four people ensures superior quality of cleaning. Plants are cleaned and maintained… Happy plants… Happy clients”, said Rajat.

I looked at Rajat trying to discern whether he was cracking a joke. But there was no hint of humor there. It seemed like he believed what he said. I did not push the matter as we had reached the restaurant by then and was greeted by a grinning Santa.

“Hey guys, come on in come on in… I am paying for buffet for all of us. So let us all enjoy today.”

Rajat and I managed to smile and walked in. I walked straight over to the manager at the billing counter and asked, “Is there any dish which is not part of the lunch buffet?”

“Yes sir. The chef’s special sea food platter is not a part of the buffet. It is made only as a special order.”

“Great. What is its cost?”

“Each plate costs Rs.400”

“Splendid. We are going to need five plates of those for our group. You should ask your chef to start weaving his magic soon.”

The manager left to instruct his chef.

Rajat was standing by my side and was confused. He asked, “But you are a vegetarian. And do you think Santa will pay for those?”

I said with a shrug, “Let the people enjoy today. And by the time the bill comes and Santa figures that the platter is not part of buffet, we will be long gone. I am sure the manager is not going to remember who made the order. Even if he does, I am going to feign ignorance”

Rajat smiled appreciatively, “Good thinking man”

The party went on without much event. Santa was at his overbearing best. He told everyone that he would bring back whatever his friends needed from Australia. He cracked a few humorless jokes and the group laughed… the suck ups.

After the lunch, Rajat and I quickly made our way out of the restaurant and went back to our cubicles.

We chatted for a while in Rajat’s cubicle and later on I returned to my place and to my pile of tickets. At around four in the afternoon I once again saw Santa’s head hovering in front of my cubicle. He had a serious expression on his face.

“That manger must be taking some memory enhancing medication. Shit.” I swore under my breath and sat with an innocent expression adorning my face.

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