Monday, November 27, 2006

Support Blues

This post contains some Hindi phrases for which translations are provided at the end of the paragraph.

"Dil Chata hai @ apna canteen 6:00 pm the show starts" - A intra company e-mail knocks in my inbox.

For a moment, I wish I was able to chill out at the canteen for a nice 3 hour show with my friends. "Thats too much to ask for, Arun" - my inner(!!) voice warns me.

I sigh and continue my work.

"HELL - HEAVEN traffic diversion - Meeting 5.00 pm IST" - My mail client sincerely reminds me.. Nope, I am not any celestial being dealing with extra terrestrial life, but a helpless mortal working in a support team in an IT services company in India. HELL and HEAVEN are IT systems, by the way.

I mechanically dial in, switch on the speaker phone and press the mute button - my frequent ritual.

The meeting has begun, apparently, for there are voices heard. Vijay, the new offshore HELL guy was desperately trying to catch the message encoded in the firang's accent. For what I am sure, he did not understand a single word, but with the intonation hinting it was a question, Vijay's response was "Sure Colin."

Somewhat startled, more importantly impressed, and with a genuine intention to catch up,I ping Vijay on the local messenger.
"Arrey Colin kya bol raha tha?" - me ( What was Colin saying?)
"Kya maloom yaar.. Pata nahin.." - Vijay's response. I just smile wisely. (Goodness knows!)

I increase the volume on my media player a wee bit while Colin this time ends his statement with "... Arun?" He was asking something to ME!!!!!
Okay.. Winamp stopped. "Shh" signals to my junta around, MUTE OFF and "Sorry Colin, could you please repeat that?"... Well, poor Colin did repeat, though it didn’t appear any more familiar to me than it did the first time. So what do I do now?
"Colin, we need to investigate this one in more detail. Could you please send me the IDs of the requests that failed in a mail(my omnitemporal bait). I shall also forward it to our development team. I will let you know the result of the investigations ASAP". This seems to put Colin at ease and he politely agrees. Somehow I get the feeling that Colin thinks that I'd be better off at the CBI for the amount of 'investigations' I do. Well!!

Again, MUTE on, Winamp on. Things dont seem to need my intervention later and I just go in to say "Cheers" at the end of the meeting and sign off.

A couple of more meetings go on uneventfully..

Its 7.00 pm IST.

"PRIORITY 1 FAULT AGAINST APPLICATION ABC" - Read that as "Arun's Friday has gone for a toss. And if the Almighty has decided to take him for a ride(which He does most of the times), off goes his weekend too!!" - My heart sinks... "Not again!!"

And as though this is not enough, "Beep Beep" went my mobile ... Its Anjali, my sweetheart.
"Hi honey, busy??" ...
Oh, how understanding she is..
"Err.. yeah sweety.. some issues.. Should I call you back in a while"..
"No probs... Hey remember our plan today? "
"Oh, damn our plans" - This I can only think. I haven't yet married her to yell it out to her.
"Arun... you there?.. Arun.. "
"Err... mmm.. yeah yeah tell me" - I'm already reading the fault record.
"Just thought I'll remind you darling... 8 o' clock okies?? Am gonna wear your favourite blue dress.. Love you Arun.."
"Love you too sweetheart.. " - Let her be happy for at least an hour more and I in peace for as long as I can!
Looks like the Almighty is not merely taking me for a ride today!!

"Beep Beep"... My work mobile .... "Arun, This fault that was raised has a serious business impact. This needs to be fixed immediately. Further, it is Friday today and it would be better to get it fixed ASAP as guys will leave office early"

"Yeah Steve. I'll take care of that" - And I sure do. I find the fault, and report it to the development guys. Its 7.45 pm. Now its off to the development guys...

I go on again to my Winamp. Anjali will call in sometime now. I think of her - she is not actually a demanding girl. She is really an angel who agrees to meet just once in a week despite staying in the same city. But then, my luck is such that something always keeps happening to break our romantic trysts. Endurance to even that was too much to ask from a sweet 22 year old. I need to take her tantrums!! I mentally prepare for that..

8.10 pm. Knowing very well, Anjali wouldn't call for another half an hour ( when ever did a lady on a date get dressed in an hour? )

I call her ..
"Hey, you know what, Anju... There's this issue that came up at the last moment. I am trying to sort it out as soon as I can darling. I er... you know,miss you .. but the thing is I need to get this done. Please understand sweetie".

"....." No response. Anjali was clearly upset - not that I dint expect this.

"Anju, I'll try and get this fixed ASAP and give you a call.. We could still go out..." - Dirty liar!!! I well know that I can’t make it. Still!!

"Enough Arun, I am fed up with this. Its as though you are the only guy in your company working. Its a Friday dammit and I cancelled my outings with my other friends just to be with you and you are totally obsessed with that stupid system of yours. What kinda rubbish system do you work for that faults out on Fridays? And why YOU all the time? A dinner at a normal restaurant once a week.. Is that too much to ask??".... Her voice broke down into sobs.

"Anju... please.... you know how I feel..I too miss you..please understand dear... Stop crying"

"Stop it Arun, Whatever! You be this great IT guy, who would give his all to his work.. Well, I am human, and atleast let me cry.."
"Hey, I prom.. hey hey... Anju...." - Anjali hung up... I stare at my mobile blankly for a couple of seconds - Calling her again is of no use, I'd rather let her cool down.

8.30 pm.... I am hungry, bored, angry, disinterested, yawning - in short, exhausted. A dog's life, this. May be I should have dinner. May be I'll feel better...I walk to the cafeteria..

"Beep Beep".. It was Dheeraj, the dev guy - "Hey Arun, kahaan pe ho yaar? CRs vagera raise kiya kya? We need to apply that patch immediately. Can you please check ....." .I didnt listen to what he said later on. OK, that means I need to forgo my dinner and go back to my seat. Ok, so be it. ( Hey Arun, where are you? Have you raised the change requests to update the software? )

Another meeting for the deployment from 9.00 pm to 10.30 pm.... And in the half an hour that is left, I need to call a whole list of people only to remind them to do their work... The meeting goes on ... and on... and on.... Looks like Johnny has had a fit of amnesia.. He is asking questions like he was just born yesterday... Anyway, I listen and the deployment happens.

11.00 pm.... Now I need to monitor this box for the next 3 hours intermittently to make sure nothing blows up. Now, that’s inhumane, and I in my own right decide against it. I will probably look at it till 12 and leave. That, I do.

At 12, I pack up my laptop and walk out of office. The security guard who works at night knows me rather well. Nothing strange, considering my atleast-four-times-a-week mid-nocturnal departures from office!!

No auto rickshaws anywhere. I start walking - not intending to cover my 12 kms distance to home, but out of helplessness. Why dont these autowalas also have 24 X 7 systems... This is frustrating... Stranded on a Pune road at 12.30 am in such cold!! I wish I were a 2 year old. I could drop my laptop, sit there in the middle of the road and shamelessly wail, at least. But being this "dignified professional", that was not even a remote option.

There my saviour arrives - a rickshaw. He slows down near me, "Kahaan par jaana hai?" ( Where do you need to go? )

"Camp... Kayani Bakery ke paas" ( near Kayani bakery )

"dedhso rupiye" ( 150 rupees, it will be )

"Kya?? kitna zyaada maang rahe ho?" ( What?? That's a rip off!!! )

"Vaapas khaali aana padta hai saab" ( Not exactly rush hour, is it, sir? My return trip will be a wasted empty one! )

"Are phir bhi..." ( But still...)

"Rehne do saab..hum 150 se kam main nahin jayenge. " He is about to go deserting me(!!), while I hurriedly get in agreeing to pay his quote. He must be feeling triumphant. I let him be.  (  I'm not doing anything less than Rs.150 )

"Beep Beep" - My room mate Vish.

"Are yaar Arun, kab aane wale ho? meri flight hai yaar teen baje ki.. Taxi neeche waiting mein hai." ( Hey Arun, when will you be home? My taxi is waiting to take me to the airport )

"Vish, tum jao yaar... Chaabi khidki ki pas rakh dena.." ( You carry on Vish. Just leave the keys by the window."

"Theek hai.. khaana hogaya kya tumhaara?" - Vish ( OK then.. have you eaten at all? )

"Nahi yaar..kuch nahin khaaya.. kaam tha..isiliye.. chalo... chutti enjoy karo" - We hungy up.
( No mate. Really busy. Look, you enjoy your holidays, ok ? )

"Kya saab, aap IT company mein kaam karte ho? " , the autowala asks. ( Do you work in an IT company sir?

"Haan. Boss, raste mein kuch dukaan hai to, roklena ek minute.Bas biscuits lena hai" - a tired me. ( Yeah. If you spot a convenience store, just stop by. I need to get a snack.)

"Abhi barah baj raha hai.itne samay kon si dukaan khuli hogee.... tabhi bhi raste main agar koi dukaan khuli huee toh auto rok lunga" .... ( Well, its past midnight. I doubt anything will be open, will look out, anyway! )

I close my eyes and rest the back of my head on the auto seat...

"kya saab, khana,neend chod kar kaam karte ho.. Kya maza aata hai saab apne ko itnee takleef dekar? Pata nahin, hamein to ye IT wale bade ajeeb lagte hai..."  ( I have always found these IT folks pretty weird. They forgo basic needs like food and sleep and keep chasing a running dream, I often think! )

Well, with my mind not ready to contemplate on what he said, and my ego not permitting it, I pay him and walk into my house.
Its 1.00 am. I drink some water, change into my home clothes. A tired me drops giving my mind, body and soul to my lady who leaves me yearning for her..... my seductress - Sleep.

Just me and she...I lose myself in her and then I know not what happened until.....

"Beep Beep".... My work mobile... My irresistible seductress is abruptly pushed off.. I who am helplessly clinging to her is being forcefully pushed into an unwelcoming abyss of consciousness.

"Hain be... @#$^%" .... My sleepy mutter... I reach for the phone and with one eye half open, I look at it ... "ABC Application Manager" says its sarcastic little screen... "Abbe... $#$@$%.. " a much wakeful mutter... As though by reflex, I clear my throat and speak into the phone " Good evening, ABC support here, how may I help you?" , amazed at my 24 X 7 capabilities!! ( Swearing, I suppose it is best left untranslated! :-) )