Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chennai... The story so far... (Contd.)

As the year 2007 ended, we were all amazed that we have spent one full year in Chennai. But by then our bunch of friends from Manipal had come very close. We were almost always together cooperating with each other, celebrating together, and ofcourse working together in office. I had moved to a different project by then and none of my friends from my group were there. Weekends used to be quite relieving coz of holiday at office.


Birthdays used to be special for all of us. We celebrated all birthdays in style, the same way as we did in Manipal. After all we are all Manipalites :) And Birthday celebrations were strictly at 12:00 am and the celebration had to be a surprise for the person whose b'day we're celebrating. This was followed for a long time. Things are different now.

And the B'day treats!!! We always waited for clubbing two bday treats into one. Sometimes we had to wait long but then it was always fun. Being with collegemates always gave us a feeling that we were still in college. I know this was really the best time and all of us would miss it wherever they are.

My Onsite Dream

Ha ha. Dream word is funny!
Towards the end of 2007, one of my onsite counterparts decided to come back to India. As per the normal trend in TCS I had to replace that guy by Jan 2008. My manager called me one day asked me to start my visa processing. I was taken aback. I had a dream about onsite like every other software guy. I knew a day would come when I would travel abroad. But the day was here and I wasn't even ready for that. I agreed for onsite and informed my parents about it. I had to decide on this as I was also preparing for MBA and wished to join a college by May 2008. My parents were very happy to know this and started advising me how to stay abroad. My friends were also surprised because this was the first news of onsite among our bunch of friends. They congratulated me and I acknowledged.

I prepared my visa documents and sent it to Manager for review. He had to review and send his approval to the concerned department. He delayed. I grew anxious. He delayed further. Towards the end of Dec 2007 I came to know that the position at onsite was being scrapped. But nothing was told to me officially. I had little hope by then. When I came back after New Year holidays, I was officially told that the Management has decided not to sent anybody to occupy the vacant onsite position. I was really sad but my Manager gave hope to me by approving me for H1B visa. I wasn't happy but hopeful. I came to know that H1B visa is a lottery thing and you have to be lucky to be selected for that. I decided to leave the project if I was not selected for the lottery. Lottery results was supposed to be out by April. I decided to wait.

Meanwhile two of our friends also got a similar opportunity and were in the process of preparing their visa docs. I had hope that I would join them after my H1B visa is made. Also the results of my MBA entrace exams were out and I could not find any decent college which accepted my score. I had no other option but to wait for my visa. The lottery results for the visa were out and I was among the lucky ones. This made me happy as well as hopeful coz the visa would come by Oct 2008. I had to wait again.

Out of the other two people who started their visa process, only one got her visa. The other person (Rohit, my roommate) had bad luck as his application was rejected. Arpita, who got her visa was supposed to travel now. This was the first time somebody from our group was going onsite. It was very exciting for all of us. She finally left for US on 9th June, 2008. We all went to the Airport to bid her goodbye. I was assumed to be the person leaving from the Airport the next! But nobody knew what was in store for me. :P

Friday, August 21, 2009


Chennai.... The Story so far....

I know.. I know... You all must be wondering that I am crazy coz I am writing about Chennai!!! One of the most hated cities.. Bad weather, unfriendly culture, language problem, etc. etc. But what if you are given your first job here.. You tried to escape but couldn't. You started thinking that the Chennai chapter would close soon right from day 1. But you had to spend 3 years of your life here. Well guys. This is me!!! I almost broke down when I heard my allocation place right after my training program in Hyderabad. The place NOT being among my 3 options!!! I was destined to be here and destined to be here for long..

Well it wasn't that I didn't try to get out of here but nothing worked out coz I guess I was destined to be here :) I still remember my Day 1 in Chennai when my friends had put up at a hotel near Chennai Central:

Chennai Central is very important in the lives of Chennaites coz of obvious reasons. You can never find it less crowded. Another special feature of the railway station can be experienced outside the railway station :P The autowallas or the taxiwallas who will always ask you for a fare almost 5 times the original one :D

Our Hotel was a cozy one (in Chennai) and I never wanted to step out of it. Infact I didn't but for the recharges.

Ah.. I would have loved to stay there for longer but we're shelling out around 1k per day together :( We had to move out.

I met the person with whom I was supposed to stay. Sanket. The guy was from my college. We studied in the same branch for 4 years but never had a chance to interact. In short we belonged to different groups in college. :)

There was one more person whom I had just heard of in college. Rohit Mathur.

The reason for we staying together was that we all were allocated to the same office. The Great Tata Consultancy Services Office at No. 1 JNR, Vadapalani, Chennai. The office was big enough for us at that time.

Our next big task was finding a house. Finding a house in Chennai is next to impossible if you are a north indian and a bachelor. Your called will be dropped the moment they come to know that you are both. But Finally by God's grace we got a house. The house wasnt great enough but then we had to compromise. First job and Chennai!!!

My roommates were in a different project at office. I was with other friends in our first project at office "Nationwide - On your side" . We were all in Insurance Domain as JNR (our office name) was an Insurance Solution Centre of TCS. Our first two months were spent in asking for work every now and then from our manager. We were bunch of friends from college and had a gala time together. Work was really a team work!!! :)

Apart from office we guys started settling down. Food is a problem in Chennai. But we started discovering new places for eating out as well as hanging out. (haha) One of the best discoveries was the Skinny Chef of Chennai. This is an awesome American food joint of Chennai which is run by real Americans. So.. "Never Trust a Skinny Chef" :)

Also our experiments with cooking had started by then. Sanket being our Master Chef. Mathur (Rohit) was our Paratha/Roti maker, Sanket our chicken/fish/ mutton specialist, and I could cook Rice, Dal very fast. :)

Friday, May 23, 2008

ILP Hyderabad

It was about an year ago that we were in Hyderabad pursuing our Initial Learning Programme (ILP). I had heard a lot about TCS ILP earlier. Some said it was very tough, some said they learnt a lot, etc etc. We also tried to find out from seniors about the training by mails, scraps etc.
Our joining in TCS was 28th August, 2006. There were lot of formalities to be done for which I had to go home from Bangalore (where I was for the past 2 months after college ;)) Joining date was a reliever as some people had said that joining dates in TCS were very late. After completing the formalities I set off for my first job to never-been-before Hyderabad. Amresh, my college yaar, was with me with similar hopes and ambitions!!!

Even on the train we met a surd who was going to Hyderabad for his job joining at Hyderabad. We curiously asked him about ILP. He said he did not have much problem although he was a mechanical guy. He mentioned some percentage which he scored in the test. We then exchanged a no-reason-why smile.

Reaching Hyderabad
We reached Secunderabad Railway station. Lot of luggage. Discussions with porter. Arguments with Autowalla. Finally we agreed to hire an auto after the senior we met finalized a deal for us. We reached the hotel in which our boarding was arranged. But unluckily we had to part as amresh had to go to the other hotel in which his boarding was arranged. We tried to convince the authorities there for staying together but in vain. I was alloted a room and obviously a roomie. The room appeared quite okay with a TV and no AC. My roomie was from Bhagalpur and soon we found out that we had a common friend. The common friend told him that I was a very good roommate. I knew my roommate was going to be disappointed but I couldn't help :) So the first thing I did was to hunt for the mobile connection with the cheapest STD calling rate and I had it by the end of the day, a Hutch Connection. I also took a top up for Rs 110 which was the first of the infinite recharges that I made in Hyderabad. I took pride in flashing my new mobile handset Nokia 3250 which I got as my b'day gift from my father 10 days back at home. I had planned all my experiments with Bluetooth as I had my lappy also with me. This was the first time I was having a higher end mobile. So I made sure I don't leave anything untried before I leave the place.

The First Day
So the big day was there. 28th of August 2006. We were informed the previous day that the buses will leave at 7. So we got up early at around 5:30. There was so much of noise in the corridor. People hunting for ties, belts, documents etc. Some confused faces asking what all things we can take there. I think I appeared the coolest and the quitest of the lot. I left my room just in time, after completing the morning round of phone talk, only to find a big crowd standing in front of the hotel waiting for the bus. I immediately found out some familiar faces from college. I went and tried to be with them rather than being alone. Everybody looked fresh and new eager to find out what will happen in the day. The buses took us to an undefined location called CMC, the place where our training was supposed to take place. We had our paid breakfast.(I had thought that food will be free for us :( ) I hunted for few more closer friends and ofcourse Amresh.

We then went to CMC classrooms. The classroom number was very different from the ones we had in college. We met the lady over there who was the head of ILP programme and an HR employee of TCS. She had a peculiar smile "all the time". Her smile was so misleading. You would always assume her to be in your side but she was NOT most of the time. She was Indu Nair, the name which was going to be very familiar specially during allocation and reallocation. The document submission part was the most boring one (till then). After which we were transported to some auditorium in Hyderabad University to witness several TCS and TATA documentries. We saw it with interest for the first and the only time. After that we demanded movies when we wanted to sleep with lights off. There were several speeches made by people from TCS. I was impressed at the non-advertising nature of TCS then. Things are quite different now :) Then there were so many essential activities like batch formation, CR election etc conducted by one and only Indu Nair. I was in Batch H-15 with Gunjan and Pandey, the people in my branch from college. Gunjan was a friend and I knew Pandey. At the end of ILP guys in our batch were not ready to believe when I told them that I had never talked to Pandey before ILP. We also had our first and only good lunch at ILP Hyderabad. The food provided here was pure South Indian with some dishes being heard for the first time like the breakfast item "Pesarattu".
We ended the day with some more non-descript items and finally it was time to head back to the hotel. I did not have close friends in my hotel. So I preferred to spend most of my time on phone.

Daily Routine at ILP
The daily routine at ILP was not much different from the first day. We had to get up at 6 and assembled in front of the hotel. Missing the bus was a headache coz CMC was a bit far and the autowaalas charged a bit high. The bus was a luxurious one with FM playing all the time in Telugu. Some sentences by RJs had become familiar though we understood little. Bus journey was too formal because of presence of girls. Everybody acted as to be the most decent one on this earth. Things changed a bit by the end. I usually did not talk except a few welcome greetings to the people I know. Breakfast items were a nightmare. As a result there was a big crowd at Juice corner. Juicewala was overgenerous to the girls. One day I would have hit back at the Juicewala there but I controlled myself. Pandey detested South Indian food so much that he ate very little. He was fond of juice. Then we went to classrooms after my first round of phone conversation.

Classes were usually boring and we generally slept except that of Shradha's. She was our Life Skills faculty. She was very popular coz of her looks and nature. Guys used to be awake with wide open eyes in her class ;) We loved the discussions between Begu and her. Begu was from our college and I knew his name from before. He was a genius. There was nothing in this world that this guy didn't know about. He was very famous for his slow speech. By the way his real name was Ankit Abhishek. Then we had Abhay Sood from our college who was the CR. I don't know how I did not see this guy at college. He was amazing at his activeness and convincing skills. We could not have had a better CR. I generally used to be with Gunjan and Pandey with Begu and Abhay sitting behind/beside us. Gunjan was the AC operator of our batch :) We all got chilled by the overeffective AC but he was the one who always took pain and brought AC remote from somewhere to raise the temperature up. Gunjan and I used to listen to what the teachers said and Pandey fully relied on us both for notes and waking him up if the teacher notices him sleeping. Sometimes Gunjan took the full responsibility of both me and Pandey :D All thanks to Gunjan.

Among the girls in our batch I knew Arpita beforehand as I had met her somewhere in college, I did not remember where... either Java Class or IMS Class or French class. We talked few more times after that in ILP I being very busy with either class or calls :)We are very good friends now in Chennai. We were together in the same Project for 6-7 months. She is very nice as a friend having core Friend and Family values. She has a heart of GOLD. Her caring for others is simply awesome. I came to know a lot of things about ILP from her after the days were over. She told me about my reputation there that I talk too less. Guys... I talk a lot after the ice is broken :) She also told me about her and I was really startled after knowing about the only couple of our batch post ILP. All the best to them!!! And yeah she finally got where we met. It was neither Java, IMS, or French class. It was at the Personality Development Workshop, conducted by Raj Rodrigues of our college, that we were in the same batch :) This was yet another example of her sharp memory about nondescript things :)
To be Continued...