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Archive for the ‘People around me’ Category

When people approach someone and they try to say “give me some time,” I find that it comes out in different ways…

  1. Just a minute, on the way.
  2. Just a second, almost there.
  3. One second, coming.
  4. Give me a minute, I’ll be there…
  5. Half a second, I’m coming!

I just found an addition to these from my colleague, Tabbu. She always says “two minutes”. Just that, no matter what the need.

Where are the proofs, Tabbu?

She holds her fingers in the victory symbol and says “two minutes.”

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The man’s name is Chidambar.

The name roots from the Sanskrit word chidambaram, which is also incidentally the name of a famous Siva temple in Tamil Nadu, where the deity is formless. Wikipedia says:

The word Chidambaram may be derived from chit, meaning “consciousness”, and ambaram, meaning “sky” (from aakasam or aakayam); it refers to the chidaakasam, the sky of  consciousness, which is the ultimate aim one should attain according to all the Vedas and scriptures.

There was an Aravindan movie too of the same name, one that won him a National Award.

Thus, until a short while back, the words chidambar/chidambaram would bring to the fore of my mind very expansive concepts. Award-winning movies. Sky of consciousness. The Natarajan. Cosmic dance.

Then I met this character in Bangalore. In my office, but in another team. He is a native of Bangalore, is of about 35-40 years of age, is married, and has kids. He is of medium height, darkish complexion, and has a cube-shaped head.

The first time I saw him was at a company function about 3 years ago. Staff families had not been invited, but he brought his kids along anyway. I remember exchanging looks with my other colleagues at this strange sight. Of course, no one asked him anything.

Then, on and off, he has kept surfacing in my consciousness, over the years. Most of what I know about him has been drawn from third-party conversations. We have never talked for longer than a couple of sentences, and that too was entirely about work.

He has more experience in proofreading and quality control than almost anyone on the floor, and he never forgets to remind people of this. The concept of “respect” is a weakness with Chidambar. He goes around expecting, often demanding, people to respect him. I have heard him tell younger kids that he has 15 years experience, and that they should learn to respect experience. One memorable incident was when he tried this with one particularly exacting project manager on the production floor, a new kid on the block, and this boy retorted with much greater passion than Chidambar ever expected. The exchange was quite loud, and we could all see Chidambar retreating, with his tail between his feet, for loss of arguments. This boy then took the fight right into Chidambar’s cubicle, and took with him samples of proofread work by Chidambar that had huge bungles. “You do your job well first, and then ask for respect!” Chidambar was humiliated, and, for once, speechless. The whole floor watched, helpless.

Our hero is a Kannadiga, and is very proud of the fact. He speaks Kannada, English, Tamil, and Hindi (at least these many, as per my knowledge), but prefers to speak Kannada at work, even to people who are new to Bangalore and are just learning the language. His contention, as I deduce from his mien, is that anyone who comes to his state had better know his language, or they are not welcome at all. He resorts to English/Hindi/Tamil only if there is absolutely no other go.

He speaks in friendly terms only to Kannadigas, and is often seen around the floor huddling with his co-statesmen, whispering, conspiring. Anyone else is looked down upon, barely tolerated. Chidambar’s Team Lead once confided in me that only Kannadigas ever get to learn anything from him, and that he refuses to educate people from other states.

Chidambar is always at loggerheads with our division manager, and he feels the manager is not up to the mark, at least not enough to manage him. Chidambar has, on more than one occasion, gone to our company HR and lodged formal complaints about the manager. The HR placates him and sends him back, and promptly informs the manager that there is a dissident in the ranks. Owing to this, Chidambar has a very healthy relationship with the manager, who loses no opportunity to show him his place on the production floor, often loudly and in others’ presence (including mine). The manager has, on more than one occasion, threatened to sack Chidambar if he does not measure up and change his attitude, but Chidambar has not changed one bit. Chidambar’s Team Lead swears that he has seen Chidambar cry in frustration in the manager’s cubicle, more than once.

About a year back, the company arranged a one-day trip for our division, for all the hundred of us. Chidambar refused outright to join in. We were going to Talakad and Sivanasamudra, and a small group of us arranged for some liquor to be taken along, so that we could celebrate in a small way on the river banks. Chidambar got wind of this, and took the pain to inform the HR that such a plan was afoot, and that the manager was hand-in-glove with us (poor man didn’t have an inkling!). Of course, the HR informed this to the manager, who had to sign a document in the company admin to the effect that he would be responsible for any mishaps. And Chidambar earned all our love and respect for this…

The Team Lead says Chidambar professes to take pride in his work, but never takes responsibility for a situation, either to manage it or to admit a mistake. Even when the floor is struggling under bizarre work pressure, he escapes at 6.00 pm, and his Team Lead is often seen cursing and tearing out his hair. Of course, Chidambar feels that the Team Lead should be sacked, and that he should be holding that post. He has offered this option to our manager more than once.

One of my colleagues who has worked with him in a previous organization says he was known as Durvasa there. He constantly wears a scowl, and rarely smiles. This is the image that fills my mind today when I think of the word chidambaram. Sky of consciousness to scowl of contempt.

This has been the situation for quite some years now. Our company has now been taken over by another corporation, and large-scale shuffling is taking place in our office now. I came to know yesterday that Chidambar has been sacked, and that he has not yet been told about this fact. In a weeks time, he will be briefed by the HR and offered an option to work from home for the company.

Unaware of these happenings as yet, Chidambar still conspires, whispers, looks down on the rest of us, and terrorizes new employees. And now, as I see him swagger by, I cannot but help reflect on what could have been.

Attitude. If you ask me, it counts in the workplace. Possible more than anything else.

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I just recieved a strange request from Feroz, my colleague … his allotted work was about to finish, and I was staring at my Excel sheet, thinking about what next to allot him before EoD.

Saab, I have a request.”

I turn around. Feroz was standing there, the look on his face somewhere between peevish and bashful.

“Mm? Bolo.”

Aaj kucch mat allot keejiyega, saab.” (“Pease do not allot anything today, sir”)

I was surprised. this was a strange request. Feroz is the type who does not shun work, at least on the surface.

“Why, Feroz?”

“Today is Saturday, saab. Mere liye accha din nahin hai.” (“Not a good day for me.”)

“What?!?! Feroz!?”

“Whenever allotting has happened on Saturdays, I am never able to meet the deadline, saab. Please.”

He proceeded to give me examples from the past. Details and dates. I started wishing he would show this spirit in finishing work!

“OK, Feroz. I will allot you something tomorrow, from home. Happy?”

He smiles and leaves.

(Wow. We’re gonna take a loong time to get out of here!)

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