Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Memoirs of Noida: Tera Saal Baad (After 13 years)

It's not very far when we'd be 'Bees Saal Baad' from the time we'd graduated. Today is the day when many of us started our career some thirteen years back. Thirteen years..... wow, and it seems to be just a wink. I remember almost every gory details of the day when so many of us joined a company called Duet Technologies (which was later bought by Motorola and which finally exist as Freescale in Noida).

Almost all of us, who had been recruited from IIT KGP, took the Delhi Rajdhani on 12th July, 1996, also my birthday, and reached Delhi on 13th, a Saturday. A guest house was arranged for us by the company in Sector 25 in Noida. The same evening we ventured out into finding rental accommodation. That's when I teamed up with Avra, Samit and Tanujoy. The first attempt was rather quite shocking. For the first time in life we came to know that being bachelor is a crime. The landlord, an old Sardar and a retired army personnel, told us very frankly that bachelors like us, who work in 'Compootar' are the biggest nuisance in the society, that we spoil the sanctity of the neighborhood, we watch girls (well, what else did he expect us to do, specially when we're coming directly to a place infested with so many girls from a girls-starved place like IIT?), we don't use curtains in our rooms (what's the use of curtains - did we have anything to hide from others?), we played music at high volume (wow, music is life, isn't it? and what's the use of music if others are not able to hear?), we booze a lot (as if no one else drinks in Delhi!!), we bring girls at homes (who told him that we had girls? wasn't that what we'd been starving for, for the past so many years? Getting girls is a matter of pride, isn't it?) and many more, none of which I could relate to bad character or bad manners. None of these were at all any issue in our hostel life. On the contrary if we could get a girl to our room during a Hall Day, it used to be a matter of great pride. If I used curtains, people in the wing would have surely torn them apart thinking that I was hiding something from them. Not everyone had the music system with a pitcher-sound-box (an indigenous gadget for amplification, where an earthen pitcher was used as the sound box), and the one who had a one had to play it on full volume for the entertainment of the whole wing. We used to believe in the philosophy that music and knowledge should be shared with all.

Anyway, after the futile effort of getting rental accommodation in the first evening we, dejected and disappointed, went to the Brahmaputra Shopping Complex and did exactly one of the things for which we're not getting rent - see girls. That's when the term 'Punju-chicks' became a very respected and sought after one. Unfortunately each girl had a hutta-khatta boy friend. Nevertheless, we could make out that the ratio of boys-to-girls was not as bad as that in IIT. So, at least some of us held some chance, provided we did well!!

The next morning, Sunday, was spent completely in house hunting. After being kicked out from many places, we finally got one with a premium on the rent. The land lady stayed at Pune. It was 1450, Park View Apartments, Sector 25, Noida. We're quite lucky to get the house, though the agent, through whom we got it, made us agree to a number of rules and regulations - all of which we couldn't but violate.

Then came the 15th morning. We're still staying in the guest house. We took the office bus at around 8am and reached the NEPZ (Noida Export Processing Zone) after 30-40 mins. The journey was through many villages, typical of UP. At some point of time I really had a concern about where exactly would the office be located. I still remember the name of one of the villages that we had to cross - Dadri. That was also our first hand experience at typical UP style buses with more people on the top than inside.

At office the HR manager, Harsha Menon (she is still there in Freescale Noida) greeted all of us - close to some 40-50 people from various colleges of across India. Very soon we're told that from the next day we'd be having training sessions in the night and we won't have to come during the day time. Well that was way before the call centers started in India and night shifts were associated with only factory workers!! We found out the reason behind this. In nineties generally 40% people would turn up for job. The other 60% would go for higher studies. All companies used to follow this thumb rule and recruit accordingly. The 96 batch throughout India turned out to be quite different. Almost 100% people turned up on 15th July at Duet Tech and they didn't have any provision to accommodate so many. Declining offers were not in practice. That's why someone came up with the innovative idea of asking people to come in the nights when there won't be any problem to accommodate us. The management also thought that seeing such things 60% people would anyway quit and finally they would be left with 40%. But then that was not to happen. I'll talk about that some other day.....

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