Saturday, September 8, 2012




                                                      HEAT AND DUST 

                  - An Insider’s picture of  the great Indian IT Canvas


It was perhaps a sunny day. Very bright, I should say. It should be, as the Sun itself was on his rare visits to earth. Mr. Narayana Murthy, NRN as he is lovingly called, was addressing our batch of trainees at the sprawling campus of Mysore. He was sharing how he started Infosys .What led to it. His earlier job at Patni, why he left. Like others, I was sitting on the grass and was mesmerized by his simple yet enigmatic words. That very voice which echoes at the depth of your heart.  
                                                              Years later those words again haunted me on mundane days in London. Sitting at the bank of Thames and munching some cheap noodles, something inside urged to pen down a story of our liVES, ordinary yet not so ordinary. And thus the novel idea was born.

A few lines from one such attempt.


The Horse Race, Rose Petal and Mysore Days-I

                              It was almost evening in Scranton. The sun after a day long fight was about to retreat spreading his red blood on the whole sky. The hills far away looked as an assembly of dark people slowly speaking in their hush voices.

                                         Priyanka was busy preparing the Pork chops. “Sheeba, please lower the sound it’s too noisy” Priyanka said to Sheeba, her colleague and roommate who was busy dancing to the fast tunes. “He must have reached, it’s already 20 hours” She thought of Saptak while turning the meat. She was on a shopping spree and was unable to receive Saptak’s call from Mumbai airport yesterday. “Who are you? Oh! Priyanka’s friend, ok she is not at home…I will tell her once she comes back” Sheeba took the call and had passed the message to her.Parimal Chatterjee, Priyanka’s father would have taken a heart attack seeing her daughter eating pork. He was a strict bramhin.Very strict so as to say. Even at the wedding party of his non-Brahmin colleague’s son or daughter, he would visit to hand over the gift and slowly returned home without eating anything on the context of stomach upset. “Come on Priyanka, Join us” Sheeba remarked.

                                            The party has just started .Priyanka smiled back. It was going to be her 4th month in Scranton.4 long months. For the last 4 months she hasn’t hugged her mother, Protima Devi. Priyanka was never close to her dad and a cold war always existed between the both. It remained hidden but grew on proportions over the years of Priyanka’s growth. She missed Saptak’s closeness everywhere. But then she had to move forward with her career. Priyanka looked up from her kitchen window. A lonely bird was flying ahead in the sky. Alone, left out of the herd but still moving forward. “He must have his loved ones, Left far behind” Priyanka felt striking a similarity with herself. She had been quite lucky to get her first onsite project at a young age.Suman Sasmal, Priyanka’s Project Manager at Tech consultancy services was impressed by her severe hard work and dedication. She single handed managed most of the Mainframe operations of their client, United Power. At times, even sacrificing her night long sleep.

              The onsite was like a reward to her commitment and hard work. “What are you cooking” said Sarin as he positioned himself very close to Priyanka. Sarin, Sarin Gupta was Priyanka’s onsite Manager. “He likes you madly “Sheeba had said in her very first month of stay. “Everyone knows that, But he is waiting for your signal”, Sheeba had smiled to Priyanka. Sarin stayed close to their apartment and was quite frequent in his visit. “Pork chops, your favourite” Priyanka smilingly replied. She could easily feel Sarin’s warm breath on her neck. She felt a bit uneasy as she was in every closeness with Sarin. But she was confused. Her stay at Scranton was on Sarin’s hand. And it was about to get over. She had been sent to Scranton only on a 4 month assignment. She needed Sarin’s favour to stay long. One harsh reply and she might be packing her bags straight to her Rashbihari flat. She didn’t want to go back.
She wanted to move ahead and forward.


                                                                           In his dreams, Saptak was looking at the giant crystal Pyramid. Totally mesmerized in its bluish beauty. It was his first day at the Mysore campus of Informatics Technologies Limited. He kept on looking at its brilliant architecture and a sense of pride engulfed his heart. It was a tough journey needless to say. Infomatics Technologies Limited was one of the most coveted software companies of modern India recruiting the best brains. The cut-off percentage needed for just appearing for the exam was quite high which filtered most of the young brains. Only a handful was lucky enough to sit for the exam. And out of them, the luckiest ones used to set foot on the Mysore campus for their initial training.

Saptak had never dreamt of joining Informatics during his engineering days. Being into mechanical Engineering, he had always dreamt of joining one of the big automobile houses. But somewhere he had a connection with Informatics. His idol was the man behind the creation of Informatics Technologies.

He was Srinivasan Raghavan.

“To Be or not To Be” is perhaps one of the greatest questions for the Haves and Have Not’s has one thing in common “Desire”. Desire to be and Desire to Have. And when the desire is pure and unselfish, it drives you to achieve things which seemed beyond reality. May be this desire made Srinivasan Raghavan create the great Indian dream.

    Born in a lower middle class family, Raghavan had always thrived to achieve things which at times seemed impossible .And he had a passionate hunger inside him. Hunger of achieving what he dreamt day in and day out.

After completing his master degree in Computer science he joined one of the Indian Software companies. His hunger made him climbed the ladders with zealous speed.

And then one day something happened and Raghavan’s life was never again the same.


“And remember boys and girls, NO CHEATING! Anyone caught will be debarred from the exam and can never join Informatics” the invigilator shouted at the top of her voice. Saptak was still shaking. He was late for the recruitment exam and had just entered. With his shivering hands, he took up the question paper. It was all Puzzles! And that was the beauty of Informatics Recruitment exam. It was different from others. Just like the company .Different and distinguished. Saptak started cracking the puzzles. One by one. There was a total 10 of them. The first ones were less complex as compared to the last ones. He could hear some hush voices by his sides. “Hey Anand, what’s the answer of Q4”, the bespectacled boy squatting diagonally asked to the guy by his side. “Only 10 mins left”, the invigilator again shouted .The tension was mounting. Saptak was struggling with the last puzzle of blue, green and red balls.”Time over, no one touches their answer sheet”, the fat lady had already started snatching everyone’s answer sheet.

                                “How was it buddy?” Nikhilesh, the Computer Science topper patted Saptak.”It’s over, I don’t think I can make it”, Saptak smiled back.”Anyways, it’s not my cup of tea…it’s for you Bill Gates…Do me a favour if by any chance my name appears just give me a call”.

But you never know what trick destiny has in store for you. Nikhilesh couldn’t make it. And Saptak’s name was in the top 10.

“Ma, I have cracked the written…tomorrow is my interview” Saptak was shouting on the phone.


                                                                              An assignment of 1000 computers came that day. As it was told to Raghavan who was the Project Manager to take care of it. And Mr. Srikant Batni, the CEO of Project Solutions ltd was on an abroad travel. “Just sign it Raghavan” Yogesh Batni, Srikant’s younger brother and MD of the company was revolving in the revolving chair. He looked composed and cunning. “I will Sir, but first I need to check the consignment” Raghavan replied. Yogesh stood up. His blood red nerves were spitting the anger on Raghavan. “You are just a small cockroach in our company, Just do as I say or I will just kick you away”.

                                                             “I can’t Sir, but from today I am kicking your company. Tell your brother that it was nice working with him” .Slowly, Raghvan picked up the file and left Yogesh’s cabin.

And indeed it was his last day at the Pune office of Project Solutions Ltd.


                                                                                                      “I can’t Sir, I have very limited knowledge about computers” Saptak replied to the exponential programming given to him in the interview board. There were just three of them. A middle aged man with professorly looks and a young lady was interviewing Saptak. “Then why do you want to join Informatics? After you join it will be all about computers and computing”, the lady smilingly asked Saptak. “That too being from Mechanical Engineering Background, You have got goods marks, you can easily get a good departmental job” the Middle aged Man added. Saptak looked up. He needed to deliver the final blow. “I know Sir I can easily get a departmental job, And I also know that I am not good at Computers, but Sir I just need to chance to work with Mr.Srinivasan Raghavan. He is my idol Maam. And he gives me the courage to get out of my very middle class background” .His heart was pumping fast with emotion.

The two interviewers smiled at each other. “Best of luck” they said to Saptak.


     Mrs.Karuna Raghavan was surprised to see her Husband sitting in the drawing room after her office. ‘You are so early today? Hope everything is all right’ she smiled. ‘Not exactly, I quit my job today’ .He explained how things have shaped up to take an ugly turn. ‘Have you thought of anything you want to do now’.

           Raghavan smiled ’Yes, I have a dream’.

Brown eyes, Haunted thoughts and the sudden rain…

Why do I still love you
Why do I still care
Why do I still spend my nights
Wishing you were there

Why can't I forget
Why can't I move on
Why can't I believe
That you are really gone


 She was always there.

In the scorching sun, the predicted and unpredicted drizzle of Kolkata….crowdy roads, lonely lanes…everywhere. And He was always with her. May be not physically, But Saptak’s thought had made a permanent abode in Sukanya’s heart. She had never tried to throw it away neither had craved to hold it back, it was naturally there. But she kept it as a very precious possession hidden.

                                                                     Her joint family at their ancestral house in baghajatin was also there. For quite a long time. Sukanya’s Thakurda, her grand-father had struggled hard to built it. During the turbulent time of partition, Atulendra Chattopadhay had seen it all. He was the only one alive to fled then so called east Bengal now Bangladesh. He came to kolkata alone, hungry and orphaned.

   But somewhere he had the tremendous zeal to love life and fight all odds.
    Apparently Sukanya had inherited that quality from him.

           It started unusual. She was a bit early that day. It was September and still dark .She struggled for her specs and couldn’t find them. She rumbled for a few more minutes and got up. It was around 5 Am. “ whole of kolkata might be still sleeping” a faint smile appeared on her tired face and left.Yes, she was tired. In many ways. Tired to meet her deadlines at InfoTech software limited, tired of the long night outs, tired of her parent’s constant pressure of marriage, tired of her unreciprocated feelings about Saptak.She knew he can never be her’s,she knew he had someone else in his life ….she knew everything. To be clearer, she tried to know everything about him.Thorugh all means. The modern social networking sites came to a good help. But it pained her more. She could see his smiling face, his status committed and Priyanka’s scraps. What irked her more was that everyone could communicate to him except her. She tried to write something very plain and general and then deleted it. But then again her ardent desire to just let Saptak know she was alive….she again wrote something just to delete it. It went a couple of times until she felt defeated in the hands of destiny and came out of the cafĂ©. The dogs at baghajin came to rescue her back to the mundane normalcy by shouting at the top of their voice.Sukanya took a quick bath and tried to get ready in the quickest way. She never felt the need to look pretty which was very natural to a girl of her age .She always missed those eyes for whom she needs to.

                                                                             Aparna Chattopadhay was busy in her kichen.Her life had been in a perfect routine over the past few years. Getting up early, Praying to god after her bath and then making breakfast and lunch for Sukanya and her Dad. Her husband, Prodhut Chaattopadhay was now a senior officer with the West Bengal State electricity board. Although he had a single daughter, his looks more aptly represented someone in the severe tension of marrying off his 5 daughters.

                                                            He had always tried to be honest and to avoid problems of all shapes and sizes.Prodhut had been staying in their Baghajatin home long than the CPM government had ruled Bengal. Bitter conflicts had occurred many a times between Aparna and him for shifting to a new flat, Aparna being the chief and sole speaker. But every time she had lost to the stern silence he always maintained. It was not that the idea of a nuclear family in a small flat in salt lake never floated in his mind, but it got merged in his Mother’s memory.Manibala Devi,Prodhut’s mother has taken her last breath in this home.Prodhut was just a little child of 7 at that time. He had always craved for her love which had eluded him for many years. As creepers always searches for a support, however weak it may be…and try to fully depend on it.Prodhut had tried the same. His physical growth had followed the law of nature but in his hearts of heart he had always been a lonely orphan. Atulendra Chattopadhay had never tried to take up their Mother’s role as he was too busy making his children a man and also was   least interested in such a role.

               The whiteliner was about to leave. It was almost packed up. The white vehicle had been the sole companion of Sukanya after she joined her office. But today perhaps he was angry on her.Sukanya could see the bus slowly departing .She was not too far but the idea of sprinting for the bus seemed vulgar to her. A deserted look appeared on her face as the whiteliner caught motion.

                                                                           InfoTech Software Limited was one of the less renowned Software companies where Sukanya worked. Many such companies have sprung up in Kolkata as well as all over India. They had a very small Employee base carrying out all the work. The number of projects running at a given point of time was also small. These companies were mostly opened by IT Professionals who after 15-20 years of IT Experience felt to have something of their own. They have started by capturing of the Clients by their previous association with them.

                                           “Morning Sukanya, A bit late today”, Arijit Bagchi, MD of InfoTech Software greeted her. “Sorry Sir, I missed my Bus”, Sukanya was hurrying to take her seat and start her work. InfoTech Software had an employee base of 12 people. So the responsibilities on each shoulder were very high. There was no fixed work time. People use to come as early as 8.30 in the morning. But the return time was never fixed. It varied from 12o’Clock in the night to early next day morning. Unfortunately, the pay packages were very low.

But a time when unemployment was setting new records, few choices remained in the hands of those who missed the big IT houses.

   Quickly she opened her mailbox .There was some chain of mails which included rectifications from the Client side. In some mails, some amendments and new changes has been advised .The Client was BUROX Inc, one of the Insurance Players in United States. Arijit Bagchi used to work for them as the Onsite Project Manager. His years of Association with BUROX gave him the complete insight into their business. So, when Arijit informed them about opening of his own Consulting firm, Mr. Lionel Marchand, IT Head of BUROX was quite happy. It meant the same IT services was to be delivered at a much cheaper cost. Even the Business Partners of BUROX was happy .Arijit didn’t waste a single minute of this opportunity. He rented a small office in Salt Lake and opened InfoTech Software Ltd with 3 of his close Associates. They were all partners to the firm. And they were all Developers. Working day and night to complete the projects with lightening speed. At times, when needed Arijit used to travel to the US to discuss with BUROX IT Team about new projects and existing ones. Now with 12 people on board, InfoTech Software still had BUROX as their sole client. Some small projects from the local Government bodies were executed at times, but the revenue from them remained quite low.

                                                              It was already evening .The sky had made a terrifying gloomy face with dark clouds here and there.Sukanya was awfully busy the whole day and had to skip her lunch. She was munching on some Bourbon biscuits while looking deep into her Computer screen, when suddenly her teammate Sikha Pradhan almost kidnapped her to the tea Stall below their office.

                       “Dada, Ekta Cha (A cup of tea please)”, Sukanya waved to the boy at the stall busy serving tea and cigarettes. The stall remained busy all throughout the day. Software professionals relaxing their mind with a puff of smoke. The light had faded away. Some smiling faces were heading towards their home. Buses and cars horning. It was around 8 Pm.Salt Lake, Where her office was in Kolkata remained busy. She felt a bit cold. Cold and lonely. It was September.Durga Puja was about to come. Its presence was everywhere. Even the polluted air carried the smell of Puja. “Kire,Aj koto raat hobe (How long will it be today)”,One of Sukanya’s Senior remarked while lighting a cigarette. “May be whole night”, She replied absent mindedly. She was thinking of Saptak when suddenly the rains came splashing on the Tea Stall. Everyone started running hurriedly for shelter .But Sukanya was standing there with the raindrops caressing her. She remembered that it was one such day when she had last seen Saptak, they were together and the rains wrapped them in its drenching closeness.

                                                                                     It was a Sunday Evening. Millennium Park at the bank of Ganges was on its full hustle and bustle with lovers flocking around.  Saptak was about to leave for Mysore for his training at Informatics Technologies. It was Rudra who introduced her with Saptak. She had taken an instant liking on him without expressing it. She was craving to meet him one last time before he departed. They both were sitting on a crowded bench where lovers were expressing their love openly. There was certain gloominess everywhere. Even the Sky was draped with the black Nimbus clouds. She was squarely looking at Saptak’s face. He was amusedly watching the SonarTori moving majestically on the Ganges. Lot of couples were cruising on it .The air carried a serene touch of Romantic songs coming from the Cruise. Far away the Howrah Bridge looked splendid with its violet lights.

                                                      All of a sudden the sky was filled with lightening .It was accompanied with a slight drizzle which slowly caught momentum. Sukanya and Saptak was caught unprepared and had to take shelter under the nearest tree. Strangely there was no one except them. Most of the Couples had come prepared and continued their ardent desires under the umbrella. Sukanya was crouching closely to him as it was heavily raining. She was already drenched. It was a bit dark under the tree as the lights has been warded off by the tree’s thick foliage. She could feel his closeness and the smell of his body spray. At times, when it was lightening she could see Saptak Running his fingers through his hairs. The rain drops were kissing all over his face. An uncanny desire to feel him suddenly gripped her. Saptak was worriedly saying something about the rains. But it didn’t reach her ears. Maybe her mind was strangely preoccupied. She tried to hold on to him intensely. Her soft body was now pressed against his. Saptak looked back. In the low lights of the thunder, he could see her brown eyes mesmerized with feelings. He couldn’t make it out what it was. But it was deeply intense.  A fire had already started burning inside him. He could feel her softness. Suddenly, Saptak bend down to reach her lips. They were trembling as if the wait was long.

                            Saptak left Kolkata for Mysore the very next day. Sukanya never knew when she can see him ever. But in her hearts of heart, she always felt a bond between them. May be it was a bond between someone’s yearning with someone’s impassiveness, but it remained deeply rooted inside Sukanya’s heart. A ray of hope tinkled on its borders.

A special world for you and me
A special bond one cannot see
It wraps us up in its cocoon
And holds us fiercely in its womb.

Its fingers spread like fine spun gold
Gently nestling us to the fold
Like silken thread it holds us fast
Bonds like this are meant to last.

And though at times a thread may break
A new one forms in its wake
To bind us closer and keep us strong
In a special world, where we belong.

The rain at the Tea Stall didn’t last long. But it left behind some muddy impressions. “He must have reached London safely”…It was not that Saptak has told her. She had to make it out. Through all possible means. Common friends, networking sites and her unending search for him. “Ma, Oke bhalo rekho (God,Keep him safe)”,she prayed while sipping the tea. The tea had already lost its warmth.

It was years after they met. It was on the same place from where they departed. And it was still raining on that day.