Thursday, 26 December 2013


"Whoever bunks the class have to stand outside" - exclaimed the professor (Head of IT Department).

No sooner did he utter the judgement than we started rushing towards the door. We had to wink at each other, signal towards the door to gather up, hastened our steps and all this happened in just split seconds. He did not expect our move, stood dumbstruck but managed to stop us and warned not to wander around which would only catch people's attention and raise questions. The trio, Ramya, Ezhil and I had to come out of the class before he spoke any further (we didn't want him to change his mind though). That was an amazing feeling, for instance imagine how a prison inmate would feel when let out of a confined space, a freedom which he had always dreamt of. Weather was not so pleasant that being the second hour of the day however with friends, the weather always seemed perfect to have fun together.

In short, most in the batch were my besties but when it comes to trying out the daring acts, we were the best partners in CRIME, otherwise the 'Meangirls'. Ramya, known for her daring and dashing looks always 'called a spade, a spade' which made most of us think twice before talking to her, straight forward and to the point. I belonged to the type who asks people to 'Go to Hell' in such a way that they actually look forward to the trip, SARCASM in other words. Ezhil had the killer smile to die for, makes even a boring day full of laughter entertaining all of us. We all three had something in common that brought us close, the 'Devil-May-Care' attitude.

When the classes were tightly packed, we wanted to have fun and had to do it stealthily like playing games (Raja-Rani was our favourite, used to throw paper bits up in the air, pick one each, the police manages to guess the thief when the lecture was going on), eating, cracking a joke (without smiling) when everybody else starts laughing except you, all these had to be done without the knowledge of the professor which was the fun part. Jerlin and Renuga, being the Department toppers used to sit alongside and burst laughing for the timely comments we pass on, they were always spared even when caught laughing, the one advantage of being a topper where professors tend to overlook the little mischief they do. During the final year, there weren't many lectures and let us free encouraging us to prepare for aptitude tests and the upcoming projects. Ideal fun which we had always yearned for, was much of an overdose with no classes functioning as before, we were stricken by monotony. To kill boredom, we decided to bunk classes one afternoon, carefully laid a plan to come out one after another so nobody see us going out together. But our professor knew it when we three went missing that day and waited for us to come in the next day.

As soon as he came inside the classroom the very next day, he pointed fingers at us asking why we were not available the previous day, we feigned being afraid. He was trying to instil fear in everyone's mind expressing the disapproval of us bunking the classes without his knowledge. He went on saying anyone will be made to stand outside if this continues. We on the other hand wanted to get out of the classroom as soon as he gave the option, trust me, we had always longed for it and had it marked in the To-Do list of 'Things to do before leaving College'. We went wandering around the college aimlessly and came back just in time before the professor actually came out. We had to wait for a few moments that is exactly when we noticed our junior guys in the opposite class room peeking at us one at a time, smiling and passing comments on to the others. Maybe not every day they would have come across someone especially girls (beautiful, ahem ;)) standing outside a class, have they?

We were making fun of how joyous they looked at the sight of us being punished provided they know how mischievous we can be especially when teamed up with our daring lead, Ramya. We all tried to keep a stern face to whoever peeked at us, Ramya was seen scaring the poor kids (LOL). Hilarious was when we saw our professor right at our back looking at how happy we were standing outside (actually we were seated on a half wall) showing no signs of remorse. He asked us to get inside and advised not to bunk the classes anymore (that didn’t stop us from bunking the classes though). He was smiling to himself and slightly nodded his head when leaving; he used to be the coolest professor ever. What might seem an unforgettable moment for us turned out to be one for him as well, we bet he would never have come across pupils like us thereafter.

Our friends were excited at the sight of us coming inside, asked us why we had left the class when he wasn't asking us to do so. Imagine the prison inmate and the feeling he would have had when he is locked up again where everybody else will be cheering his comeback but himself, that was exactly how we felt (LOL). We looked at each other and were smiling thinking how much fun others had missed being studious and attentive whereas we on the other hand tried a little mischief and had too much fun standing outside than we had exploring the famous Brihadeeswara temple & the Sivagangai poonga (Park) the previous day. We in fact heard what we wanted to hear when the professor uttered the dialogue (see first line).

Epilogue: Ezhil went on to become one of the greatest lecturers of our college, personally asked me not to reveal any of those daring acts considering my sister was one of her students fearing she might someday have to fall prey to one of her own mischievous deeds. Now that she is out of there, I am free from the pact we signed verbally.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Stalked by an admirer

Ever been stalked by someone? I personally haven't experienced it in the recent past until there was someone following me. It did send chills down my spine...

That was an usual morning, i had accompanied my friend to a temple nearby, offered prayers and started to office. I was dressed colourfully, wore flowers and felt delightful. We were jabbering about something when we noticed we were being followed by someone. My friend had also noticed by the time i had realised it and urged me not to look in the direction of the stalker.

We were trying hard to hide the fright and act casually like nothing is happening because people say the more confidant you are, weaker the enemies will be. We tried criss crossing the road that was deserted, took longer strides but the stalker followed. At one point, he even tried to barge in between us looking at us closely, we walked past him and literally were breathing heavily. The railway station (Perungudi) was only a few meters away but it felt like miles walking with fright. We never looked back but he won't leave us, followed to the ticket counter and waited for us. My friend asked me to run as we heard the sound of train, people won't really mind running when trying to catch a train, do they? I resisted, asked to show signs of steadfastness so as to not make him more aggressive. We walked steadily and he followed through the steps, looking at us admiringly. By the time we reached the first floor, we had missed the train already.

We had to wait for another 15 minutes until the next train showed up. We sat on a bench with few people who were waiting. He looked at us then and there, kept a check on us while we were scared looking at him. We did not want him to get into the train, especially not into the ladies compartment as it would scare the hell out of everybody else there. 15 minutes was very long, we could not retrace our steps neither get away from there, so felt trapped. Moments later, the next train showed up, people gathered around and stood at close proximity so as to get into the compartments. We tried to avoid his gaze and mingled with the crowd, the stalker had eyes only on us and tried not to look any place else. When we went out of sight, he even came searching for us and tried to catch up with us, women of all ages stood there looking at us suspiciously. The train came to a halt for about a couple of minutes.

We tried to lower our heads and got into the ladies compartment as planned. He stood right there at the door unaware of what to do, we could sense an admiration in his eyes. I was agitated and was lost in thoughts as to what would happen next. Will he manage to get in? what to do if he gets in to the confined space? How will people react to it? i could hear my own heart beat even when the train started moving, I did not relax until the train moved few meters forward and fortunately for us, the stalker did not get into the train. I started laughing with a mix of emotions, happy and sad for the stalker, how hard did he try to follow us, admiringly and not suspiciously. I was laughing loudly for everyone to hear and told my friend, 'Azhaga poranthathu namma thapppa' [not our fault to be born beautiful naturally, was only kidding, never mind LOL] without realising people raising eyebrows. We smiled to ourselves and kept talking about it in low voice until we reached our offices.

We really can't get that incident off our minds for at least a week, still talk about it when we call each other reminding how hilarious it is to think about it now. Did i say i took a photo of the stalker when he was looking away? i have it in my mobile and show it to everyone who listened to the story. Do you want a glimpse of him?

The stalker happened to be a DOG and almost all stray dogs look alike, don't they? Thanks for reading the story.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Is my state travelling backwards in time?

Gone are the days when we used to sit hours in front of the television enjoying the feeling of being a couch potato. I was travelling to my home town recently for a long week end. I reached my place by 5 am, hired an auto and enjoyed the chill air that is pure and pollution free and is only available early in the morning. I could see the place was immersed in total darkness despite the Summer climate. I had tried to explore the reason but couldn't understand what was going on around me until I reached my home.

I went inside my house at 5:45 am and could find a dim candle light at one end of the floor. I could sense the smell of burnt mosquito coils that almost gave me a suffocation. I was told that there was a routine power cut more frequently and everyone in the state have already learnt to live with the schedule. The power cut prevailed from 5-6 am in the morning and i was desperately waiting for 6 am. More shocking it was when I had learnt that the power cut schedule was torturing people especially during the nights. For every hour we had power, the consecutive hour would be a deprived of it. I liked the way people were socializing amidst the crisis, managing the household chores within the available time slot following a strict schedule. I personally see people in my house chatting for hours together, smiling and spending time with each other that took us off the mechanical life.

This is the scene of the existing power shortages throughout Tamil Nadu in India, the capital city Chennai is no exception with a power cut for a maximum of 2 hours. Two hours is not a big deal when compared to the other places in the state however with the schedule between 8 to 10 am, imagine 3 people sharing the room rushing to office juggling with the turns. I was experiencing this hectic schedule for the past 30 days. The other side of the coin: I was always early to the office, what would some one do if there is no power when they sleep over time. We wanted to avoid a situation where we are left with no water being in the second floor of the flat, could not imagine us carrying water in the buckets and taking it all the way upstairs (did I say that we have experienced this situation before and the trauma still exists LOL)

On the other hand, my Office was left with no other choice than to ask people for suggestion to tackle the power shortages that have become a prime problem in the state. Out of all suggestions, few were picked and implemented, the office timings were revised as 8am - 5 pm instead of the standard 9am - 6pm model. Gyms in the main locations are closed until further notice. Fans, lights and Television in the Cafetaria are being operated only duing the lunch timings. People everywhere are trying ways to save power as much as they can. This is the situation of a normal office-goer in everyday life. The worst part is where people do small scale business amidst the power deprivation.

We, people of our state are waiting in hope for the crisis to be over. Even if the situation is going to be normal, people will definitely miss the new life that they have had during the crisis where they have adapted to time management becoming social animals and still manage to live a peaceful life. I still wonder, are we travelling backwards in time when people had no luxuries as in our age but still had a healthy, peaceful and inventive days.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Caught red-handed

How will you react when you are caught red-handed at work and how often do you get caught? Tough question it might seem, but I had one such experience in the year 2009.

Well, to start with, I was on deputation at the Client place and was supposed to  resolve a serious production issue one afternoon. I was trying hard to get at the resolution while holding a "Squeeze Grip Ball' in my right hand. I was squeezing it just to release the muscle tension but gradually could not resist myself playing with it throwing and catching up in the air keeping the distance as short as possible however it completely took my concentration off my work.

My Client manager (in his late 50's) who sits right next to our bay was responding to important emails, contacting their immediate clients trying to keep them calm, checking the emails to not let the situation out of hand. Sometimes he seem to bite his nail whilst thinking deeply that came natural and habitual to him, here I am talking about one similar nail-biting situation the other day. I was enjoying playing with the ball, squeezing and giggling whilst chatting with my friend sitting next to me, that is exactly when the ball went out of sight. I had no idea where the ball rolled to, so I started searching it right under my desk.

I was searching the ball desperately when I noticed that the ball was under my Manager's chair, he seemed to have traced where it came from when it rolled over. I was hesitant to go pick the ball but made up my mind to face it. Trust me, my client had a very good sense of humour, always cool and a very diplomatic person I had ever worked under. He exclaimed, 'You playing football at office?' in his own style with humour when I went to his seat to pick it up, when the managers who sat next to him all burst into laughter. I was a bit embarrassed, but smiled back at them enjoying the situation feeling a bit relieved. My colleagues who witnessed the scene started laughing and teased me as well. That was one incident which I remember caught playing at work when I was supposed to be working seriously ;)

Dealing any situation with a very good sense of humour is a rare quality found and we admired the Client Manager who had always diffused even a tough situation with his good humour.

Friday, 16 March 2012


Happened to see the word 'Nincompoop' in one of the official emails in my office. I had no clue what the word meant until I googled it. The very first thought in my mind was, 'NincomWHAT???' :)

One thing the sender of the email hadn't realised when he had placed the distribution list in the TO field was that after 30 circulations of the email, someone would type a word that was so harsh on people involved in the email. Seems little did the sender know the significance of blind copying the DL as people started clicking 'Reply to all' repeating the same messages 'Please do not reply to all'  one after the other. Almost most of them in my company were silent spectators of what was going on. Suddenly there was one email from a colleague who works from London stating, "We work with people who are nincompoops (stupid/foolish people)" in an attempt to notify the mistake people were trying to do.

I had  learnt a new word from that email but kept wondering how people could be insensible while sending out official emails involving vast audiences. 

Friday, 21 October 2011

Buddy up - Back Office business

Most of us would have come across 'On the Job Training' on our professional front, BPO is no exception. The first phase when in a BPO was the class room training with ultimate fun and visuals to enhance the skills required to meet the work standards. As part of the OJT, new hires are made to under-go a cost effective method to gain a real-time experience known as the 'Buddy-up' process wherein each one of the trainees are allocated to an experienced personnel aimed at shortening the 'learning curve cycle'.

There I was, allocated to an experienced agent who was taking a call at ease. The Buddy training started off with a formal introduction between us, whilst on a call guiding one of her clients to resolve a technical fault with the Internet connection.  I saw her typing notes on to a tracking tool to log in the incident and the resolution provided as and when possible, every 5 minutes. This activity is a part of the call handling as there is no intervening time between two calls especially when there is heavy traffic. The calls are lined up in a queue and allocated based on the availability of an agent. We would have personally experienced it when we call the Customer service agents and we hear really nice calm music on wait, but the work floor on the other end is not how we think it really is.

On the work floor, I could see agents talking over the phone who differed in attitude, some were cool and poised, few agents were stressful trying hard to please the clients, others had a careless attitude. I had the script in hand and was verifying every step to  follow the process, to my dismay the agent did not use any of these and followed her own style. She then explained I could even use my own format, but only after gaining proficiency in call handling which depends on the Customer satisfaction survey taken once the call is done. I could see the agents were multi-tasking, for instance playing (throwing a ball at each other), messaging (done to get info from others who had experienced the same issue before) and sharing a 'munch' (help a buddy eat when on long call) to avoid boredom at the work place. I was also enjoying the atmosphere of the work floor where we were allowed to decorate our own bay colourful enough to keep the spirits high.

When time permitted, my mentor was giving me tips on using the phone effectively, to save time by transferring calls internally to respective departments when the calls are out of our scope. I still remember the time when I was taking notes that she stopped the lecture abruptly as there was a call flashing on the monitor. The mentor started off greeting the customer cheerfully, verified the personal information, then proceeded with the issue. In the midst of the process, she was pissed off and started using the 'F' word, I was startled hearing it, I have only seen people using it in the movies but none by the side of me. I was frightened, looked up at her, she continued using the word with different sentences, I was scared to even look at her. She turned towards me, smiled and asked me to look at the mute button which was 'ON', I let a sigh of relief.

I then learned, almost every one in the floor used the 'F' word  to release the accumulating tension, some even crossing the limits. I was wondering what was I doing there, I had learned values when in the class room training but the 'Buddy-up' process only taught me how to use profane languages on the very first day. The next couple of days went fine as the guy who I buddied up with was cool, composed and comfortable to work with. I still wonder, why people use words that are gross to express their disappointment and anger. I have taken so many calls on my own but have never used the word even once. Its upto an individual to say it or not say it, I decided not to say it ever.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Trust - need of the hour

I trust my friends more than my own instinct. Many a time, i get through fine but sometimes i just make a blunder, a real one.

During the onsite term (London), on one cheerful day, i had a discussion with my friend about how soon the onsite term is going to end in a few weeks. My friend suggested me to put forward the request to my Manager(who was at offshore, India) for extending the term for maybe a couple of months. I had no experience of pleading with the managers, I am certainly not good at that. I always wanted the management to be fair and judgemental, which never happened. 

I was too distracted to work, so wanted to write a letter to my Manager first and then continue with what i was doing. I typed in a few lines without much thought and sent it to my friend for a review so he could pour in some ideas before sending the request. Few seconds passed by and there it was, the reviewed email. I read it once, added my signature and then pressed the SEND button. I was not concentrating and was still lost in thought. I wondered what my Manager was doing out there without even replying to my email (LOL).

I am not sure if i had worked after sending the email but eagerly awaited a reply from her. I forwarded that email to my friend and told him that she was yet to reply. I got back a mail, not from the Manager but from my friend sitting in the same office (guy who reviewed the email), stating that he was not that dumb to believe that i had sent that email. That email came as a puzzle to me, wondering what he was trying to say. Was he kidding me or was it about the onsite term? With a low energy, I replied back to him asking, what was wrong with that email.

My friend rushed to my seat agitated and asked me again, i showed him the email from the sent items, he could not believe his eyes and you should have seen the expression in his face, it was like £$%^^$$$%&&****(( . He made me recall the message and I was trying to get her on the phone as I was scared that she would have been pissed off seeing the email. After an hour's try, I got her on the phone and she was talking to me with a pleasant tone after coming back from a meeting. She had a very good attitude and smiled saying that she will delete the email without even reading it. 

The email i sent was

"I was expecting an extension of 3 (or 4 or whatever number you want to say) 

months atleast. I have got a promotion only after 3.5 years and getting a

decent salary (I guess there is no better phrase) only now."

Only later I realised that I was supposed to modify the text in brackets with an exact number. I wondered what would have she thought if she had read the text in braces especially, that goes like this, "

"I guess there is no better phrase"  ; "whatever number you want to say"  ROFL :)))

Can you now understand how I trusted him blindly. Fact is, he never reviews my email from then on ;o)

Take Away:
Stay vigilant, you never know what's in store for you if you aren't paying attention!!!