Archive for June, 2001

The wake-up call rings and up I go. There has to be something wrong – it cannot be 6 so quickly. After all, I just went to bed a few minutes back. Unfortunately, my watch seems not to agree with me. May be an hour doesn’t have 60 minutes at night. This should be the subject for a focused and disciplined scientific research. I stumble to the washroom and brush my teeth. There is a coffee maker in the room. The thing is an ingeniously devised devilish contraption designed to test the intellectual abilities of the average man. I finally figure out how to get it going. I congratulate myself on my ability to rise above the average man’s intellect and think gratefully of my Thermodynamics teacher. No doubt, my in-depth knowledge of Thermodynamics helped me solve this vexing issue of everyday existence. Mind you, in Bangalore, I have only to think about human psychology and its workings to get a coffee, as the issue at hand is only to persuade my wife that she should get up and make me the said beverage. No Thermodynamics is called for.

Breakfast is bacon and eggs – I had eggs and bacon yesterday. I engage in wishful thinking about idlies and stew. Doesn’t help any – the bacon and eggs still taste as bacon and eggs. With a deep sigh, I ask for a glass of water. The waitress sets a glass full of ice before me. I cannot understand – may be this is the custom here, they serve ice before they give you water. Five minutes pass, no sign of my glass of the life sustaining liquid. I make timid enquiries and she points to the glass of ice. Aha! There is some water in the glass – the only point being that it is 99% ice and 1% water. This is the way Americans (apologies, Canadians – I am reminded of Bruce’s comment about Canada not being the 52nd state in the US of A) drink anything. Any way, the fundamental reality called hunger helps me in getting over these minor obstacles and soon I am chucking it away as fast as I can.

Office is quite close from the hotel – ten minutes’ walk. I grab the monstrosity that is called my laptop and trudge towards the office. There are no other pedestrians – only cars of varying sizes and shapes. Nobody walks in this place. I get suggestive looks from people driving by in their cars and I alternate between feeling like a madman and a pauper. The Subex slogan comes to my mind and so I persevere and reach the office. It is 8.30 and most of our colleagues are already in. They say coming in early helps them to beat the traffic. Every year they have to come a little bit earlier than the previous year to keep beating the traffic. The other guys are catching on, you know. May be at this rate, they will soon start working nights to keep beating the traffic. In any case, this is good – an early start is a good start. I get to my room and settle down. A few hours pass.  I get a sneaking suspicion, is anybody in the office really or have they all left? Have they started working nights already? I cannot hear any sound, neither has anybody come to my room. I make a round of the office. All is in order – people are still in their rooms and they stick to their workplaces. I think of Bangalore where I spend most of my time in the canteen (under the guise of bond building – Management by Walking Around).

My diary reminds me that I need to phone a business contact.  I phone him and reach his voice mail. You see, one never expects to get a human being at the other end of the line when you make a phone call in North America. You always get the voice mail and you leave a message. When you are in Rome, do as the Romans do and the same holds good for North America. So I leave a message. After 10 minutes, my phone rings. I ignore it, as the custom demands that the caller should reach voice mail only. After the caller disconnects, I check my voice mail. It is the business contact returning the call. He has left a message in response to my message. I call him back and leave another message in response to the message he left, which was in response to my earlier message and so the game goes on. I am informed that this game is called telephone tag. It is really very simple. You transact business the same way you would, using e-mails; the only difference being that you speak instead of typing. No need of MS Spell Check.

By and by, we get to 4 in the afternoon and it is time to go home. We have a few short meetings. Most of the tasks have been accomplished and they have been done well. I am impressed. The output is very good.

We go out for dinner to a Greek restaurant. Such impressive names as “Soulakis” (don’t know whether I got it right) mean nothing to me. I am as dumb as a doorbell in this situation. Through the haze, I hear the word chicken and latch on to it. We order wine. It is only now that I have fully understood the meaning of the phrase “washing it down”. No wonder wine and beer play such an important role here. Finally, I get to bed. I reflect on the day and surprisingly enough, come to the conclusion that it had been a rather nice day!