Monday, August 29, 2011

Tryst with my Manager

It was just another day at work. The usual routine, check mails, spend some time chatting on Gtalk and Communicator, check mail again, visit all the food courts through the course of the day, etc…The routine was interrupted by a call from my manager, someone who was a non entity for the past two months. He said lets discuss the ppts you made. My initial reaction was ppt?? what ppt, I never did anything for you. I replied in a cool way, “Sure Sir, when do you want to discuss?”. “We will talk at 4 PM”.

I switched to overdrive mode. Where did I keep those damn ppts. After a few minutes of outlooking, I found the ppt. I had made these presentations with screenshots which my boss sent of some random excel sheets. I remember making these ppts in around 1 hour as my team mate had said “make what you feel like”. 5 words with profound meaning; this would haunt me later.

I entered the room confidently turned on the projector and loaded the ppt on the system. I looked at my boss and he gestured me to get started. I entered my MBA mode of ppt presentation where you speak nonsense with total confidence as if you have done a PhD on them. No sooner had I started that my boss interrupted saying “What is this that you have done”.

“PPT Sir” I said tongue-in-cheek. (Wrong time for sarcasm huh!!)

“See Sriram, (Don’t know why he calls me that. Its pretty clear that my name is Srikanth assuming that you are literate of course.) Don’t get me wrong. You haven’t understood anything. I am not sure if I wasn’t clear in my expectations or you have some problem understanding but do you know what you are talking about?”

“You asked me to make a business case on BVA for two Banks. I made as much as I could understand from the screenshots you sent me.”

“Don’t give me excuses, you could have googled it up. (The project I was working on is known only to the three of us and this guy expects google to have the answer. It has become a fashion to ask people to google up anything which they don’t know. ) See Srikanth Sriramagiri, (I hate it when people use my full name. It reminds me of how long it is.) when the company pays you 1 rupee they expect 3 rupees from you. Am I right or not?”

I nodded obediently like a dog expecting a pedigree in return.

“You have 9 hours and 15 minutes everyday at Infosys. Atleast spend sometime working. See how much me and Maveli (Name of my team mate. Name altered due to obvious reasons) work everyday. We come at 9 AM and leave at 10 PM sometimes. I don’t even get time to go the loo. (I started feeling sorry for him now.) Atleast I get time to have Tea ( The guy has no time for Loo but for tea he has. Taking more liquids and not releasing them is not such a good idea Sir) but Maveli here doesn’t even have that luxury. See Srikanth Sriramagiri, I am not asking much from you. It took me 12 months to come up with this, I have given you 2 weeks and still you are not able to follow up. (What the !!! 12 months of your shit I have to understand in 2weeks. I am not Einstein, dude) Anyways Let me tell you my expectations again.”

He rumbled non stop for what felt like eternity while I could see the colourful Friday evening crowd rushing away towards the exits.

“……Have I made myself clear?” I woke up from my dream just when it was getting to the good parts. We should have an option to pause our dreams and restart them. I don’t know how many good dreams I have lost due to the lack of this feature.

“Yes, I understood”.

“What about the other excel sheet I sent you?”

Again brain goes into search mode, which excel is he talking about…”It was related to change from version 7 to version 10.”

“That excel, I have just gone through it once but I didn’t understand anything”

“See Sriram, It has been 3 months since you have joined and you know enough Finacle to understand it. That excel was made by an Intern. Don’t misunderstand me, She was from Duke University, Fuqua School of Business pursuing her MBA. I am not comparing or anything, she just had 14 years of banking experience and some basic understanding of Finacle and she could understand it. I think you should be able to do better than this.”

“Anyways I haven’t approved one single swipe of yours. You can’t forget like this. I havent forgotten once in 4 years (Not even once !!! I think he carries the swipe machine also in his pocket.) and you have already done it once.”

“I was in a hurry to catch my train to Hyderabad and I forgot. Its an honest mistake and can happen to anyone.”

“Ok. I will let it go this time. You are coming to work tomorrow (It was a Saturday. Some Client commitment crap and they make us work on Saturdays) right?”

“No Sir. I will be going for my convocation. I have applied for leave.”

“You didn’t tell me you are going.”

“You approved the leave.”

“Is it, Then its fine. If I approved it means I have seen it.” (Duh !! He has a memory of an Elephant and this he forgets.)

Another manager walks by into the cabin and they start talking in Tamil. Probably my manager was giving gaalis to me. Anyways he suddenly turns to me and says,

“Srikanth, you know I sit from 8 AM to 8 PM. Reply to all the mails and go. Do you think I need a Blackberry?”

I had a blank face. How should I respond to this? The other manager was busy on his BB. I decided to play safe and smile make it look like he was passing a snide remark on his colleague. (Evil Grin !!)

“See Sir, I am not telling you to not buy Blackberry. I am saying I am happy with this phone. I don’t need anything else.”

He was telling me all this as he didn’t want to say this to his colleagues. Smart fellow. I doubt if he knows what a Blackberry does.

“Ok Sir, You can go now. Come back with a detailed plan on how to move forward.”

“Yes Sir”

I walked away as quickly as I could from the cabin and the building. Clearly he was trying to show who is the boss. Koi nahi. Mera time bhi aayega. Phir dekhte hain kaun bada hero hai.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Chaos over nothing?

Why all this fuss about a JanLokpal Bill? We already have enough bills and laws to protect us. The problem isnt the system completely, its us. Cmon people smell the coffee. If you are so against corruption then don’t show it by wearing T shirts or badges which say “India against corruption” or for that matter “I love Anna Hazare”. Start by doing small things. For example, next time don’t bribe the police guy, or learn stand in a line to submit forms in a government office. These small but effective changes if implemented by the citizens would be more effective than another bill. In India it’s the middle class that has to rise to the occasion. They are the ones who suffer the most and have the ability to change the system. The poor will continue to be oppressed and its easy for the political class to convince them by showering them with money. The rich don’t care about the government and who runs it as they are friends with everyone. This leaves the middle class with powers which are unknown to them. This power is enough to cause a change in the way India thinks and the way it runs. If every middle class Indian did simple things right, there would be no corruption in this country, no dishonest officials and no more fasts. Let this decade be the rise of the middle class, an honest uprising where we stick to the ideals which make this country great and a nation that we are proud of.

Monday, August 8, 2011

AP and China

Andhra Pradesh in India and China may well share something peculiar. I think there is a shared connection between AP’s Education System especially in high schools and the way Chinese mass produce goods. Andhra Pradesh is known for producing Engineering students by the cartloads and is also responsible for majority of the seats in premier institutes like IIT’s, NIT’s, BITS, etc… They have achieved this through carefully planned out teaching pedagogies where students become machines with an unimaginable ability to rote stuff. Concepts, Logics are put aside and the only objective is to obtain a good seat. Clearly AP has monopolized the Engineering stream and I don’t see any competitor close enough.

Coming to China, known for mass production and the ability to produce things cheap, they have become a global behemoth in manufacturing. You can see the similarity as one produces students and the other goods. Both share similar problems with respect to quality as AP students have been known to struggle once they enter Engineering colleges as it calls for systematic learning and understanding rather than memorization. The quality of Chinese goods is always questioned and every sub quality product is always labeled as a ‘chinese maal’ in India.

On a broader context, we can even compare the human rights issues. China has been known to abuse human rights and have tough labour laws and work conditions. It wouldn’t be completely wrong to call the way students are treated in AP as inhuman. Asking a student to study from 8AM to 8 PM with a few breaks in the middle to have lunch and tea is being insensitive and cold hearted. Ideally at this age students should have the right to play, explore the world and try and carve out a career for themselves.

I guess the solution to AP’s problems lies in better information being provided to parents and students regarding other career options. I guess the government will have to look at such education drives as this will help in getting a more varied pool of youth who would be better equipped to take the state forward rather than producing a million of the same kind. After all we are talking about people here not goods.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Last Week

Last week has been an eventful one for me. I have come across information privy to a few. A chance update on a popular social networking website has opened me to a world unknown. It is interesting how you appreciate a person without actually meeting him. I have learned a lot from just reading his blog. It once again has enforced within me that I am capable of starting something on my own. Passion driven business is something I aspire for. Ideation is currently in fever mode but nothing concrete has come out yet. Time is on my side.

I have also realized in the past week that human nature is difficult to predict. When you think you have understood someone completely, that person surprises you with a new development. Once again re emphasizes the point that you can never know anyone completely. Maybe it’s time I tell that person what I feel.