Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Software Diaries

                                                           Software Diaries

A collective sigh of stressed relief was let out as each of the buses-trailing behind a lucky leader-headed out of the campus. The buses were full no doubt. Yet there was someone in the background waving frantically,for he was late by a couple of minutes. He was perhaps held up by a last-minute requirement,a last minute call or a last minute meeting with the boss..the bottom line being he would have to wait for the next set of buses. This gave him time for some useful(less) introspection.

Even as the buses moved away,he could sense the sweating minds of those inside,already gearing up for the challenges next day. He could sense those hoping hearts-which had been relegated to just hoping for quite some time now-for a secure future and a life of their dreams.He could sense trillions of neurons-all belonging to individuals with razor sharp intellect-trying to write lakhs of lines of code consumed by the giant industry everyday.

His was as smooth an entry into this world as possible. Above average academics,below average economic background and the keenness to get his household out of that rut got him into the industry. He could still remember himself exhorting the interviewer to give him a job telling "I'm ready to work on anything,anywhere." He had not meant it..but they had entirely meant the question.

Months into the company,he was transferred to a different city. No amount of cajoling or convincing to revoke the transfer would do. The economic condition of his home had barely improved and he now had to maintain almost two households. He went through the whole process,for he was scared to lose the job,or worse,be asked to warm the bench.

How he hated the term "bench"! He had always been on bench when he was part of the college cricket team. There it had been a matter of pride. Here it felt helpless. The paycheck,however large,was a small consolation for being benched. The sense of inferiority,insecurity and that dreaded intellectual inertia made him accept whatever project came his way.

He had reaped the rewards a couple of years later. The company had transferred him back to his hometown;promoted him;offered him a payrise. Everything seemed to go right. He dismissed the now frequently occuring thoughts of quitting the company and decided to stay on. And after that,he was forgotten again.

His chain of thoughts was interrupted by a burst of laughter some yards away. It was a group of young guys and girls,probably trainees.Their carefree attitude was evidence enough.He too had tried carry his college attitude through, but the industry had tamed him. He had desperately tried to make friends "who would last"
when he entered the company,but sooner or later found out that colleagues could make friends..but not lasting ones. He was not much lucky with girls either.
" Never hit on a girl in the same project"-some senior had told him. He had taken it too seriously,for whatever reason. And all the girls he found interesting seemed in some way connected to his project. He resorted to finding out the details of an old crush who he knew had entered the company. He was still trying to find out. At any rate,it was more interesting than his work!

An array of cabs entered the campus. Each of them carried an other set of employees who were to work through the night.His feelings for them were always a mixed bag. One the one hand, he could see a brigade of motivated professionals who were determined to work under any condition so they could sustain their living,support their kin. One the other,he saw a pool of talented intellectuals aging themselves away by working hard for an other country-a sort of surrogate brain drain.

He felt a tap on his shoulder. It was a cabbie. The guy had been his regular cabbie for a couple of years now.He offered to drop him home,sensing he had missed the bus.

As the cabbie drove him home,he could see the vast change that had occurred in the city in a few years. Sky high apartments,eateries,movie halls,malls,lifestyle outlets and many other material comforts that seemed so out of reach for the average citizen in the country a decade ago had now become an integral part of the city.
"I earn 350Rs per drop saar" the cabbie was telling. And then the thought hit him. The industry meant more to the people who provided these peripheral services than to the professionals themselves. He remembered the hundreds of workers who maintained the offices,the watchmen who secured the buildings 24/7,the cabbies who ferried people across the city,the petty shops selling cigarette and snacks. If each of these supported a family...he could imagine the millions who were sustained by the industry. The relationship between the industry,the society,the economy-it went too deep.Deeper than he had ever imagined.

And then, he felt a wave of relief wash over him.Who was he after all to crib??
The industry had given him a lifestyle-and lifestyle was life. His home now had a TV, a fridge and soon an AC was on the cards. He would not have time to enjoy all this..but then, when he eventually married and had kids,they would enjoy all the comforts. Theirs would be a childhood vastly more comfortable than his.
And then,he would secure his grandchildrens' future. He resolved to work harder. Hard work meant better appraisal. A better appraisal meant a greater hike.And a greater hike meant...

He was travelling on Old Airport Road.He felt a little jovial.
"Do flights still land here Ramu?" he asked, as if to test him.

"Oh yes Saar.."the cabbie replied. "Flights do login and logout at times."

The industry's influence was complete.