Monday, November 1, 2010

My Most Predictable Conversation!

I wedged myself in a comfortable position in my airplane seat which was (obviously) next to the window. I reached up to the gasper, turned it off and wrapped myself in my cozy shawl. I had a very tiring day, and my plan was to doze off for the one-hour fifteen minute Bangalore-Mumbai flight after the takeoff.

Some passengers boarded the flight by the last airport shuttle. Most of them had "I-am-just-outta-college" written all over their faces. They seemed to be pretty excited about the plane trip, fought over the window seats and chattered a lot. As soon as one of them sat next next to me, his friends hooted with sarcasm.."Window seat, window-seat...mil gayi tujhe?". The kid next to me had a sheepish look on his face. For a minute, I contemplated on giving up my seat for the kid, but I could not be so generous. :)

After the takeoff, I was about to doze off when I heard him talk.

"Are you from Infosys?"

Slightly bleary-eyed, I looked at him and said, "No, I work for SAP."

After a what-company-is-that look, he said, "I am from Infosys." I was not surprised. Most of these kids do not know any companies other than the 'coveted-3'. So do their moms, aunts and grannies. They crinkle their noses and ask, "Oh you didn't get through Infosys? My daughter had three offers from all of the 'coveted-3'. Oh and Accenture too". The reaction comes after they hear someone is from (say) EMC, Symantec, Mindtree, Thoughtworks(!!) or even Google!

Judging from the "I-am-just-outta-college" inscription on his face, I asked him, "Are you in your training period?"

"Yeah, it just got over. We are going home for Diwali vacations". We introduced ourselves and I knew I would have to say goodbye to my sleep. But I didn't mind it because something made me feel this was going to be amusing.

Then he went on to tell me (and couldn't stop talking about) how wonderful the campus was, and how good the facilities were at their training venues. I smiled and nodded. He said life has been pretty different over the last two months. He was away from his family, out of home for the first time.

"I have been enjoying the night-life. I never got to do all that back home in Mumbai. It was so awesome, I loved every bit of it," I couldn't help grinning when he added, "The night-life was great. We spent so much of time in CCD every night". When he had started talking about night-life I was slightly tight-lipped because I thought he meant the usual definition. But when he mentioned Cafe Coffee Day, I was so amused at his innocuousness and at the same time I grew a little fond of him.

"So, what are your plans ahead of this?," I asked.

He gave me the answer I was expecting, "Next year, I would be giving my CAT exams for MBA. This year I did appear for the exams, but didn't get through good colleges. Plus, I would have a one-year experience next year. Aren't you planning to do it?"
Kiddo, one-year experience isn't much for an MBA. Anyway, you would abscond from the company like most kids do after they get admission in an MBA college, so the experience won't count, anyway.

I answered his question, "No, not in the near future for sure."

"Why??"

Because not everyone who joins IT tries to escape the technical field.
"I like what I am doing currently, and I am more inclined towards the technical field as of now." He gave me a quizzical look wondering if people like me existed.

I know a lot of people like me do exist. But I don't blame him, because everyone around him was dying to complete their MBA in fields they were not even interested in - simply to avail an escapade from one battlefield to another. Most of them believed that engineering studies should naturally culminate into management studies after only one year of work and both are very closely related! He seemed to believe that I was the one making the unnatural choice, so I gave up.

I changed the topic and we chatted for a while about my educational background and my experiences in my training period and so on. For some reason, he assumed that my training period was last year. He went into this silent mode and I could guess he was calculating my age. After about two minutes, he said, "So, you must be our age then?"

I was startled and wondered if I should take it as a compliment or feel offended. "No, I have worked for around three and a half years", I said.
Besides, I dont have "I-am-just-outta-college" written on my face!

"So, if you are from Mumbai, why are you working in Bangalore".
Sigh! Not that question again! Why, is that like a crime!!

"I shifted here after I got married."

I rolled my eyes mentally before the anticipated response came, "You are married?? You got married pretty early huh? Normally, engineers get married after the age of 25".

Now, that was a rather personal comment from someone I had just met. But this is another problem these kids seem to have. They are pretty naïve about what I call "topics-that-are-polite-to-comment-on" confines. I realised that he's had another age miscalculation and let it pass.

After more topics that ranged from how it was to live in a city other than Mumbai, a couple of "racist" comments (that I would not want to elaborate on), how my junior college Mithibai was a hep college, but his parents didn't let him join it because they didn't approve of it (it shows!), we were finally hovering over Mumbai. He wanted to look out of the window to see the glittering lights of the city. I still did not give up my seat and tried to convince him that he would anyway not be able to see anything because we were over the wing and it blocked the sight. (Haha!)

After a bumpy landing, I realised that this had been the most predictable conversation I have ever had and it was pretty amusing too. I usually get annoyed at kids like these, but for the first time I didnt. He was slightly lost at the airport, travelling alone so far for the first time away from his folks. I led him to the conveyor belt so that he could pick up his baggage.

The nice little boy waited till my truckloads of Diwali baggage arrived and helped me load my trolley with it. I led him to the cab stand, after which we said our good-byes. Good kid, but he's gonna need a lot of time to grow up. :)