Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A compilation in the name of friendship

I remember a song by ColdPlay, "Such a Rush"; it goes "Such a rush, to do nothing at all, such a rush, to get nowhere at all, such a rush, such a rush, such a rush". Does this really mean anything at all? Sometimes it so happens that simple songs, whose lyrics never meant anything to you, suddenly come alive and make more sense than anything else.
Debashish was quite tired after one particular day's work, especially because he had worked like a dog, till the wee hours of Wednesday morning. He was used to the whole exercise, it was called a "Drop", the client side would expect the deliverable any moment and he would have to be there by their side and clarify "issues" that would arise consequently. The whole problem was the 12 odd hours between the client and Debashish's team. Outsourcing had risen to a new level with more and more foreign companies opting Indian developers of the whole lot mainly because they were cheap labor. Being the team lead in such a prestigious project had its own merits and demerits. Money had the upper hand when compared to a relaxed mind, and Debashish was just 26. "Who wants to sleep while others make money? After all, I am just 26" was his usual reason when asked why his eyes were always red.
The Drop was done at the pre-determined 0430hrs IST, as compared to a better time in the US, where the client was residing. After a few questions on the UI, a few unexpected crashes and a few issue discussions, it was over. The whole exercise lasted little more than the usual time of two hours; three hours and five minutes to be more precise. But that wouldn't end there; his bosses would shout on him for the few crashes that happened in the year's most important drop, and he would come up with his list of reasons, mainly lack of expertise among amateur developers.
It was now just ten minutes to eight and Debashish clearly did not smell even close to normal. He was in fact stinking and with his ruffled hair and dreary eyes, he looked straight out of a Frankenstein movie. Today's night had also been sacrificed at the altar of the software deity; the demigod of Outsourcing business. He got on his cab and sat in the front seat, just beside the driver. He was also quite hungry at this hour; the office coffee wouldn't fill stomach any bit. Last night's paneer butter masala was now smelling bad as he farted again much to the disgust of the driver, who by now had got accustomed dealing with such employees.
Debashish then slowly removed his ebony iPod from his backpack as he did not want to sleep in the front seat. He plugged them in his ears and switched it on. It was Coldplay with "Such a Rush". The song was mesmerizing, hypnotic, and slowly he could feel himself being absorbed into the music, "such a rush", he muttered. He slowly closed his eyes and could feel his eyes needing the much required rest after about 23 hours of continuous work.
"Just slow down please, just slow down, just slow down please, just slow down"
Debashish was beginning to understand the lyrics for the first time, he'd never bothered to notice those lyrics even once. Suddenly the driver said, "saab, ghar aa gaya, please sign in the register". Debashish suddenly realized he'd just been woken up, but he was listening to the song, or was he dreaming it all? After unplugging the ear-phones, he reluctantly walked back to his flat and opened the door. It was as usual deserted, things lying here and there, after all, who gets time to clean up things when most of the time is spent in the office, "working"? "Such a Rush!"
The cell-phone cried for attention as Debashish was woken up by a call at 11:30 in the morning, barely two hours into sleep. It was the project manager, shouting at him for his absence in the team-meeting scheduled for 10:45 AM. No point reasoning with him, Debashish thought. He after all needed a good report card from him at the end of the year for the appraisals he so desperately wanted. After a quick freshening up, few pieces of stale chicken-pizza from the fridge, he changed into his office clothes, only one more pair was left, he thought and muttered, "no bloody time to wash the clothes man!".
As he was tying his laces, he could hear the cab outside, blaring its horn away. He had just about a minute to get there as he had no intentions to go to office wasting one hour in the pathetic public bus. After a quick trip to the office, another quick cup of coffee from the coffee machine in the corner, it was back to work. At about 3:30 in the noon, the phone rang, it was his father "When are you planning to come here beta? Ek saal ho gaya hai tumhe yehan aaye hue, Theek ek saal pehele, tumne apna janamdin hamare saath manaya tha… Happy birthday beta!"Birthday?.. Oh yes, Debashish thought after turning his wrist over and peering at the date in his wrist watch, 22nd of July, "Of course papa.. it's my birthday today… Thank you for the wishes." After a few pleasantries and a few more false promises about going to his hometown, he disconnected the call and headed off to the restroom. He then looked at himself in the large mirror, unmindful of the fact that his boss was also in the same restroom relieving himself. Face down, he could feel his tears and quickly splashed water on his weary face before his boss noticed him. "Whats the matter deba? Why were you so late to the meeting today? And what happened to the drop yesterday night? And is that hierarchy issue fixed?" A plethora of questions he did not have answers at that point of time. He had to answer each of them, and words wouldn't speak here; work had to. A few more hours till about 7 PM, and he was back in the cab once again, in the same first seat, with the exact song. He felt like something was trying to convey some message to him, very abstract he thought, and listened to the song. Again, it sounded different. The lyrics were somehow piercing him right at where it was supposed to.
"Such a rush, to do nothing at all, such a rush to get nowhere at all"
The much awaited Saturday came after two days and almost the whole of it was spent in the house, sleeping. The song kept playing in his head; he was slowly beginning to grasp the essence of the song. What had happened of his ideals, his goals, his Life? He got up in the noon, and suddenly started pondering, "What exactly am I doing? Am I doing what I want to do? Am I doing justice to my life? Have I changed?" Again, none of the questions were close-ended; he could not come up with answers for any of those deep questions. Time slowly passed and soon it was the end of the month and the much awaited salary-day came. Debashish checked his account in the website after entering his credentials. "120500.48", the screen read. He said to himself silently, "What do I do with this now? Is there a new cell-phone in the market? Or maybe a new RAM for the computer? Or maybe…" then again the song kept repeating. He was sure now. A quick stop at a travel site and he ended up spending 12k for his tickets to Hyderabad and back to Gurgaon. "Hmmm…" he mumbled and looked eager to spending some quality time with his family. The ticket was scheduled for the first week of the next month, and Debashish had no clue why all this happened suddenly.
"Are you crazy? Who is going to handle this project? We have the most important drop of the year on the 4th of this month, and you are going home? This is totally uncalled for! Ek baar pooch toh lete.. ?" shouted the project manager to Debashish as he sat opposite him in his cubicle. The project manager could not do much. He could just argue, but not deny.
3rd August, the flight to Hyderabad was scheduled at 9:00 AM and Debashish was on his way to the Airport, as luck would have it, the radio was playing Coldplay. He knew that all of this was somehow correlated, he did not know how. The flight departed on time and reached Hyderabad two hours later at the expected time of 11:30. He then hired a taxi and asked him to go to Dharam-Karan Road, Ameerpet. A good one hour from the new airport, Debashish reached his destination, the old apartment complex called "Nethravathi". Thoughts started coming to his mind, of his friends there, of small incidents, of the watchman, of the table-tennis table in the corner, so many thoughts he could connect with. He had no clue where his friends were, what they were doing… It's been a good ten years since he'd left the apartment. Nethravathi was exactly how it was, way back then, nothing had been added and nothing removed. It did look quite shabby though. As he passed the small parking-lot, his eyes instinctively searched for the grey Maruti 800. It was the same car whose headlight he had broken playing cricket in the parking lot. "At least something has changed" he thought.
There was no need to see the door number, he knew the exact house. There was a change though, that familiar "Dr. P.R. Venkatesan" board was not to be seen.
Yes… it was his dad's name that he was searching for. He was right in front of the house where they used to live. There was some Mr. Sharma's name stuck on the door. He wanted to go in and see but on what pretext, "Just saying that I have come to see my old house after 10 years, the place where he had spent his childhood and a part of adulthood would be odd." These thoughts kept lingering in his mind, when there was a tap on his shoulder with a stick and the voice spoke, "Aapko kaun chahiye, saabji?"
Debashish turned around to see the very familiar face of the chaukidar whom he had seen since he was a kid. He had become old and his eyes had become all the more small but he had become old. There were wrinkles on his face and he was stopping already. Old age had made him not recognize Deb. Debashish said, "Pehchana mujhe, dada??? Main debu…"
The guard looked at him for a while and said repeating his name, "Debu…..debu……. Achcha……… kanch todne wala debu???"
He said this and started laughing and held Debashish's shoulder and looked at him, "Bade din hue, and tum log yahaan nahi aaya. Kya baat hai? Sab theek hai na? Aaj samay kaise mila?"
Debashish didn't know how to answer but he was so overwhelmed to see that the guard still remembered him by his pranks. It had been years that he had actually done something naughty or even creative. He could see himself in those kids who were playing cricket and fighting for runs. Wish he could be in touch with his colony friends who had split after he went to college and changed his apartment. It was certainly difficult but he thought if the guard knew about them.
Debashish asked him calmly, "Dada, baaki sab hain kya abhi bhi? Lattu, Sudhir aur Anil? The guard kept thinking for a while and then answered, "5-6 saal hue wo bhi chale gaye abhi dobara to koi nahi aaya…"
Debu got a bit upset and his hopes of meeting his old friends came down. They would also have been in settled in different places and just like him; they would be rushing for life. He spoke to the guard for sometime and then went toward the gate. He went 2-3 steps and retraced his steps back again and took out his camera from his bag. He called the guard and said, "Dada photo nahi khichvaoge?"
The guard happily posed for a snap sitting on his chair and a holding a stick in hand just in front of Debu's house. Seeing this, kids started wondering as why someone was taking a simple chaukidar's snap. Some stopped playing and some were curiously looking at Debu who was busy clicking snaps. They were whispering something among themselves and they were looking at Debu's camera. It was a really good one. They ought to be attracted seeing something so nice. One kid asked, "Bhaiyya meri bhi photo lo na?"

Seeing the innocence of the kids, Debu felt very touched. He was happy to click a group photo of theirs. Then he realized that how he used to roam about with the small artificial camera when he was a kid and fool people saying that he was clicking a snap. Photography had always been his passion and he had never let it go but what was missing was, 'time'. In this rush, he never realized that actually he could revive his spirit by starting photography all again and giving time for his passion. He could see himself in those kids too who were still waiting for more snaps. He asked them softly, "Tum logon ko photo kheechna aata hai?"

All of them looked at each other. One small girl said, "Haan mujhe aata hai. Mele mein ek camera liya tha maine aur usi se photo liye the apni gudiya ke."
Debu started laughing after hearing this. He caressed her hair and went from the colony. On his way back home he could actually figure out what he could do if only his plan worked out. He went home, checked out his balance. He had enough with him at that moment and there were not any commitments of late for him. He came back to the colony next day and spoke to the guard and found the chief secretary's office. He wanted to open a photography club for the children in the colony so that anyone who has the passion can do something good there. For that he wanted the secretary to hire a photographer who could help them out. He remembered that the one who used to click snaps for the society functions was a very good professional photographer but the only doubt was that whether he was there still or not.

The secretary was kind enough to listen to him. Since he was new to the place too, he made a few phone calls in the colony to find out about the photographer. Luckily he was still staying there. The secretary took Debu to his house. Debu rang the bell. A lady opened. He asked, "Malvakar sahib hain kya?" "Haan, aaiye. Baithiye, bulati hoon."
Malvakar came in and Debu stood up seeing him. He wasn't that old. Just like his dad and he did remember Debu after Debashish gave some more details about him. After talking for a while he out forth his idea in front of Malavakar. He thought over it for a while and said, "Good idea. Mere paas bhi abhi kaafi time hai. Maine professional photography chod di par ab aise waqt hai to main kisi ko Thoda gyaan to de sakta hoon."
Debashish was really happy after listening to it. The venue for the club club could be the sports room and after that the kids could have an outdoor session too. Debu promised that the first investment of buying a camera was from his side. It would give him immense satisfaction. At least there would be no kid saying, "I click pictures with toy cameras."
The plan worked out well and there was a notice put up in the colony regarding this club. In 2-3 days 6 names had been registered and 5 were a bit grown up teenagers who could understand photography better and one was the little girl who spoke to Debashish on the very first day. Malvakar uncle had something to keep him occupied and the kids were very happy.
When Debashish came home and spoke to his parents he was feeling very happy. He told them, "Dad you know what??? I feel satisfied now. It's feels good to slow down one's pace always and take out time for retrospection. Little things can give immense happiness."
Debashish's parents were all the more happy after hearing that their son was satisfied with what he was doing. The rush of blood had not taken over him. There was a long way to go and little things would always give happiness.

Such a rush to do nothing at all
Such a fuss to do nothing at all
Such a rush to do nothing at all

Such a rush to get nowhere at all
Such a fuss to do nothing at all
Such a rush

And it's just like you said
It's just like you'll say

Such a rush to do nothing at all
Such a fuss to get nowhere at all
Such a rush, such a rush

And it's just like you said
It's just like you'll say

So slow down please
Just slow down
So slow down please
Just slow down

Such a rush (x 15)

Look at all the people
Going after money
Far too many people
Looking for their money
Everybody's out there
Trying to get money
Why can't you just tell me?
Trying to get money rush

Such a rush
They all rush
Such a rush

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Ydntn said...

This Article is co-authored by one of my dear friends, Archana, a very talented writer ..
Her Blog

Power of Words said...

Thanks a lot dear for acknowledging my contribution:):) Finally feeling so happy that something good has been posted online. please do write.. waiting to see ur blog posts updated frequently:)

Harshit Gupta said...

@Yd (omg m using that word!!!!)

NOW I know how my Page Down key needed 8 presses. Will read someday I hope. Not in office certainly, I won't be reaching back home today!

kartik subramanian said...

Good post, enjoyed reading it.

dPz said...

Well written, Vaidy.. Really enjoyed reading it.. And yes, am looking forward to reading more really soon.. =)