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Saturday, November 12, 2011

An open letter to the powers that be..

The below letter is addressed to my ex team-lead, who stayed with Bankam for less than 4 months and yet, made many of us laugh.
I remain a fan of the company which fed me for three years. No, that was not sarcasm.

Sir, firstly, for the whole length of this article, I'll address your highness as 'Sir', precisely for the one fact quoted by you over and again: You have over 20 years of IT experience behind you.
Which tells me, had you been active in the child making business a little earlier than you started being, your first kid would have been as old as I am. I can now hear you thanking God that you dont have a son like me.
However, that discussion is entirely out of context.
Without much delay, I'd like to narrate my experience of the last few days in office, which Arthur Conal Doyle, given a chance, would certainly describe as 'the most singular and intriguing'. Wodehouse (if he doesnt turn in his grave) would have made a million jokes out of it. Arundhati Roy would have found some reason in it to blame the UPA government.
I, very much a lesser literary man, choose to be content with this open letter.

To the clueless -I am talking about Mr.Dike Mubno's visit to India, and his walk on our production floor. ( Dike is a big guy in the bank - one of those they send for an annual inspection of the India offices)
You had sent us a mail announcing his arrival. On reading it, one of my collegues remarked before the team that at every single chance, you make a fool of yourself so well. This was followed by roars of laughter, mostly his own.
But you know very well that I dont subscribe to his theory. I am convinced that you, being a self motivated person, never wait for opportunities, you just create them.

Forgive me, Sir, once again for straying out of context.I have a penchant for these little details and often miss making a point. Perhaps, I should take a lesson in 'effective communication skills' from you.

Getting back to our story, I should say that I under-estimated the arrival of Dike Mubno.
Yes, you asked us to reach office by 9 am.
Yes, You had your report personally come down and ask me to be in office on time and in formals.(He also gave a fleeting glance at my sneakers and Jeans.)
Yes, you mentioned that we should be keeping our mobiles on silent mode throughout Mr Mubno's walk on our floor.
Yes, you made it very clear that we be surfing strictly educational material on the web, and that our desks be uncluttered, for a change.

But since you'd been saying the same thing for over 3 months, I chose to call this 'Old school thinking', and dismissed the matter without much delay.

Now, to any lesser mortal, all this might seem to be a very bad idea.They may ask- "Why does the floor-walk have to be at 9.30?Come on, Its just a walk, He can come around by 11, when everybody is in office. Why should some 2000 odd employeesbe asked to accomodate his timings, which look flexible?"But sir, knowing you and your ways, I would never make that mistake.

Then I spoke to my manager on the possible repurcussions of me reaching office late, and in attire of mypersonal choice. I also mentioned that if all rules were followed, he wouldnt be watching 'Sheila ki jawani' in office - intented partly as a joke, partly as childish blackmail. Do you know what he told me then? I am forced to quote him here:
"You are making your year-end evaluation very easy for me"

You might be tempted to ask me- "what Ya? why are you making a fuss?"
Allow me to continue, Sir.
  • When I skipped my breakfast next day and reached office at 9, I found all my team mates standing up and clapping hands.Now I am not somebody they get to see that early in the day, but the excitement was somewhat overstated.
  • I went over to my friend's desk, only to see him shout -"Look, Murali's wearing shoes today!!". (It is my strong belief in methods of non-violence that prevented me from slapping him.)
  • Inside the elevator,people were asking me if I was wearing a new shirt, or what brand it was. To deny them a chance for further conversation,I just fished inside my pockets for my mobile,feigning a call.
  • Another insult was inflicted when somebody came over and stared for a full two minutes. To save myself, I had to joke-" Today is the day you get to see me in formals!!".

Do you care Sir, for a moment that I have a reputation of my own, and that I am trying hard to appear cool in office? All these ironed shirts and polished shoes don't go well with my image.
Inspite of all this humiliation, I decided to stay on.

At this point, I would like to say that I noticed several changes in office.
In the washroom, several men were busy adjusting their shirts or doing their hair. (The last time I saw such a huge number of guys looking at themselves in the mirror was the brief period when Ms.Mahija taught 'Operating Systems' at college)
All security guards bore a smile on their face.Usually they give a smirk. I couldnt help noticing that the security ladies on our floor were the most pretty ones of the lot. Did you hand-pick them to greet Mr Mubno? He had plans to visit two floors. Given the lack of beautiful women in the security staff, would you ask the same pretty ladies to rush up the stairs while he takes the lift, and welcome him on the next floor too? You and your attention to detail, Sir! After this observation, I wasnt too surprised to see the HR girls with an extra tone of make-up, some with that glossy lipstick, others in that sexy hair-do. I also recall the sudden crowd at the gym last week. Did you actually ask some of them to shed some fat for the day? (But sir, I am not too sure if you thought about this - 'What if he doesnt like women? For all we know,he could be gay!!'.)
Last month, as you might recall, when Ms.Batie Cessant visited us, It was even more posh. a private jet to fly her down,a helicopter to take her to the 5 star hotel,( i know this coincided with the repair of the hitech city road. you didntwant her to notice that Hyderabad traffic can get messy at times, did you? ) 3 BMW SUVs with the same number-plates, just in case she was in a Dubai sheikh mood. Office buildings were painted with Berger weathercoats togive that glossy feel, yet avoid the stench of paint. On that fateful day of her visit,I found two guys standing across elevator boxes and holding them up for her. Now, yes, we dont have OTIS ones, our elevators are clearly made by some chinese black marketer, and they are very slow. I figured that she was on her way,and when her BMW crossed the gate, the man at the checkpoint would wireless the guys at the lift room,and then they would disappear just in time for her to miss them. When she walks inside, she wouldnt have to wait, and grandest of all,she wouldnt even know about the hours of planning that went behind it. She would just say -"blimey!!, what fast elevators!! I wish we had them in Europe" What an Idea Sirji!!

10 minutes into work, I knew that you had planned it so well. the air-conditioners were left at freezing temperatures.When out of my stupidity, I called the facilities guy up, he coolly told me that Ms. Cessant was used to such temperatures and would sweat in anything above 20 degrees. I tried my best to convince him that she not referring to the celsius scale, but to some obscure European one. No, he didnt listen. 200 odd engineers, and some of them excellant java coders,stood freezing in their seats that day.

Alarmingly, I found that our washrooms were renovated - yes, the gents one too. This is where it got a little crazy for me- was she expected to use our restroom? But, like you said, I will focus on the positives. We got new toilet seats.

Now I do hear you telling me that this happens everywhere. 'You have to please your seniors. Their impression matters a lot.' You might also add-'You have a lot to learn, when you are in my position, you'll know'. Now sir, I am not saying that I'll never suck up to my boss.

I'll never make a celebration of sucking up.

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