Moving on…

The below text was sent as an email to my friends and colleagues at Infosys on the day I stepped out, October 30th, 2015.

The time has come to part ways with the firm, my first, the corporate, Infosys. An amazing journey of over 3 years, that I never imagined to end, from the day I set foot in Mysore campus. But as they say, all good things must come to an end, I disembark with cherished memories. Must I repeat, Mysore was the best time of my life.

I thank all my friends and colleagues for sailing with me in this cruise so far including, but not limited to, mateys from training in Mysore, iOS Systems, TaRaRumPum, AOS and #20 Celebrations, each in Bangalore. I learned a lot from you guys and am taking out an ocean of lifelong memories. Sincere gratitude to each one of you. You were and will remain special to me. May we dock at same ports again.

Signing off,
Saeed

Retrospect of Idiot

The story is loosely based on facts. Some facts may have been suppressed to bring in drama.

Prologue

“Meet me now”, messaged my HR manager. I could read her exasperation in the message. Carrying a long face, I went to her cube. Seeing me, without speaking a word, she walked to a meeting room. I followed her. We sat on chairs and before she said a word, I wore my stupid smile. “Why Saeed?”, she questioned. She looked puzzled. I have reasons, I told myself.

The HR manager had to validate my separation request before the request goes to the reporting manager. She had formed a fun and activity group where I was a member. Thus, she knew me well. Facing her at that moment of time, I could hardly speak. Time stood still.

Chapter 1: Mysore

9th September, 2012: The day I reported to Mysore campus of Infosys. My first job. Thrilled and excited that I was, the feel of independence, the outlook of the majestic campus, the greenery, the people. I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I remember walking down to the security check with a trolley with my luggage, my college mates walking beside me. We completed check in process and were allotted temporary id cards and studio rooms, where we were to stay for the entire training period, officially beginning the next day.

Hands down, this was the best 4 months of my life. The transformation from college to corporate, from a student to a professional, from a dependant to an independent. I enjoyed every day, hitting gym early mornings, swimming and playing table tennis in the evenings, movies and bowling on weekends. I loved the residential campus so much that there is not a single day I didn’t retire there. I made a lot of friends, some from my own college and some from others.

Chapter 2: Bangalore

January, 2013: A few of my friends and I got posted to Bangalore while most others, Trivandrum. Moving out of the Mysore campus was the most remorseful day of the training days. We reached Bangalore campus and I went in shock to see the campus when contrasted with the Mysore one. The contrast of the campus size only added fuel to my remorse. We met our new HR manager, our new project managers, et al in the following days. We also discovered our new home in Bangalore.

I was among the first ones to get a project allocation. I joined the team, met the project managers and spent some time learning about the project. During free times, I explored the campus, tried most food courts and spent time with friends. We formed quite a big group with my training mates for everyday lunches and outings. We partied every month and every birthdays. Time just went on and on and on.

Chapter 3: Rasta

March, 2014: Occasional trips to exotic places made my life gripping. With various groups, I travelled to Shivanasamudra waterfalls, Chikmagalur, The Western Ghats of Karnataka, Sikkim & Darjeeling, etc. to name a few. There were many more short single day trips as well. Rasta Cafe in Mysore Road was one such remarkable trip. Rasta Cafe is known for its all-night service on the highway. Two of my friends and I went for a bike trip at night to the cafe. The long rides through NICE Road was memorable. The night later turned uneventful as I met with a road accident. The accident that turned my life.

From the college times, I wanted to do an MBA degree. Never ever I prepared a bit for it, thought would get lucky somehow. Bad thought. After three failed attempts, after some second sights, I decided to prepare for it before attempting again. Preparation was in full swing until before the eventful day.

It took me somewhat three months to recover from the accident and I could hear distant sounds of my MBA dreams shattering. My future was shady. I could not foretell on any aspect. While the shade looming in my mind, I took a deep breath and made the mind clear. I pressed, let bygones be bygones. Let’s start fresh. I took a pen and a paper and made a bucket list of all the places I wanted to visit in next few years.

This agenda gave me strength. I somehow joined all the shattered pieces of the MBA dreams and started preparations all by myself. I also joined a fun and activity group that my HR manager in the company had started. The preparations for MBA and the events in the fun activity groups were gaining momentum.

Chapter 4: MBA

June, 2014: Little did I know that once a scar is made, it doesn’t heal soon. Preparations shortly went in lethargy and I couldn’t change it. I had to do something different. At this time, I had quite free time in office with its work. The lethargy plagued me entirely and I decided to move on. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to quit. A few weeks later I resigned. I had three months of notice period time and I could use that time to build a proper future. The resignation first went to my HR manager who by then knew me well for being an active member in the group she incepted.

October, 2014: “Meet me now”, she messaged. I had no words to explain why I resigned but somewhere in a corner of my heart, I kept saying to myself that I had reasons. I had to do my MBA this time. I could no longer stay lethargic. I could no longer do this job.

Discussions with her and other managers kept happening in the following days and weeks. If I got that right, neither of my managers nor did I myself wanted me to leave. I wanted to take this risk and explore other options but in any case this step was inevitable. I gave CAT (competitive test for MBA admissions) sometime then and yet again I was hopeless.

My notice period time flew and meanwhile the HR manager and our group kept organising events and I got an offer to move to Kochi where my next job would be. Time was close and I still wasn’t convinced of the idea of moving out of Bengaluru (then the city was renamed). Then came CAT results. Results were decent than I expected and I managed to secure admission to a top college.

January, 2015: I was getting second thoughts about leaving the company at that point and also was doubtful about joining the college that time. I was getting forewarnings of my career if I chose to do MBA then. My parents were retired and there was no source of finance. The dream remained shattered. Despite having options, I withdrew my resignation. I gave myself another chance. I wanted to make things right before moving on.

Epilogue

“Welcome back, Saeed”, messaged my HR manager the next day I withdrew my resignation. I had exceeded the time where I could withdraw my resignation and I started getting emails for exit interview. My reporting manager and HR manager somehow overrode it and helped me stay back.

I believe the decision to stay back was a fair one. I wasn’t earning anything by leaving and sure I would miss Bengaluru if I conceded. I got moved to a different project and I still work here as I write this. When I retrospect my professional life, I see a lot of ups and downs, but hell it has been an exciting one.

Sikkim & Darjeeling Trip, April-May 2015

Snow, selfies and savouries. With long drives through mountains, along valleys, rolling in snow and all-night fun, this is by far the most exotic getaway I had in my life.

We were six guys, working in the same company, three each from Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram. While Syam, Naveen and Achu are residents of Thiruvananthapuram, Arun aka GS, Rahul and yours truly were in Bengaluru. All but Rahul share the same grad school.

Back in February, employing WhatsApp for cross city communication, we shortlisted places among Tawang, Gangtok, Darjeeling to visit around Guwahati, where there was a wedding occasion on May 2nd. We had a week in hand and the week from April 25th to May 3rd looked comfortable as it came with a long weekend, May 1st being a holiday. With constraints on various modes of transport, we had 5 days to visit the places we could. We stuck down to Darjeeling and Sikkim after long discussions considering feasibility. Both the places were accessible from Siliguri in West Bengal, thus we booked train tickets to there from Guwahati, where to we booked air tickets from Bengaluru.

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

Bengaluru, 9 AM: Residents of Thiruvananthapuram reach Bengaluru by bus and all of us camp at GS’ house. We got news of Nepal earthquakes that afternoon which could hit our trip as the quake had hit Darjeeling too. We kept positive and roamed around city and later watched Avengers: The Age of Ultron in IMAX 3D. Our flight was for early next day.

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

Guwahati, 12 PM: We reached Guwahati around 10:40 AM after the flight from Bengaluru at 7:40 AM. We rather had nothing to do all day but wait for the train to Siliguri at 4:45 PM. We went to Guwahati railway station and roamed around Paltan Bazar and had lunch there. We reached Siliguri (New Jalpaiguri railway station) at 1:15 AM the next day. We met a tour agent who made us an itinerary for Gangtok and then Lachung, Yumthang valley, etc for 3 days and then to Darjeeling for 2 days.

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Gangtok, 7 AM: We checked-in at a hotel in Gangtok, where we were dropped by the agency, after 5 hours’ drive. We gave the itinerary to the hotel who composed the follow-up plan to Lachung. The day was spent visiting tourist attractions in Gangtok including Ganeshtok. We also visited a flower show. I was smitten with the cleanliness and the way whole city is organized.

Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Gangtok
Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Gangtok

The later day we went snacking, shopping, had dinner at a fabulous restaurant and roamed around Mahatma Gandhi Marg. While busy snacking, we missed an aftershock of the Nepal earthquakes that occurred there. Here we met a bunch of guys who were on a getaway like us. Later, we went back to our hotel and retired.

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Lachung, 6 PM: We started our journey to North Sikkim District at 10 AM from Gangtok. Hands down, this was one hell of a journey. Landslides and rainfall all along, the roads doomed to reminiscent of a horse ride, our driver, who was also our guide, shaving other vehicles on the road, just missing the fall into deep valleys, all while him talking on the phone and employing his elbow to control the steering! Numerous waterfalls on the way, we stopped occasionally for food and snacks and finally reached Lachung where we would retire for the day.

The more I contemplate Lachung, the less it is. The people, the peace, the picturesque, that’s just the beginning. I was amused of the harmony of the people there. Everyday most of them unite, have drinks, dance, sing, be it in a 3 by 3 room out there. They sit by a bonfire, relive out their day and just live.

The temperature was sub-zero when we reached there. To feel the cold, we went out after dinner and stood by what felt in that dark, a river. We talked out our stress in life, wanting to have a fresh start ahead. Midnight, when it was the coldest, -3°C, we walked back to our room.

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Yumthang, 9 AM: We drove into Yumthang Valley where we had to rent extra wears. Not sure why it was required anyway, we rented a jacket, a pair of gloves and a pair of boots each as suggested by the driver. The drive to Zero Point from here was about an hour long. This drive, I should say, was an orgasmic drive. We put out our heads to see that bright white thing on the roads and elsewhere, that gradually kept increasing along with height and distance, more of it falling from the sky — snow. For the first time in my life and all others with me, we saw actual snowfall. Yes, there.

Zero Point, 10 AM: The drive ended in dense snow and we were on foot for the remainder. The scenic beauty just kept us captivated. I dived into a pool of snow and just lied there. We then frolicked, made snowballs and threw at each other, took photographs, repeat. We made a snowman which became an attraction for other tourists. “Nature, I love you”, I quoted.

Zero Point, Yumthang, Sikkim
Zero Point, Yumthang, Sikkim

Despite not wanting to, we came down to Yumthang Valley, had snacks from a small shop and rushed to the river in the valley. The valley felt like a freezer to us as we shivered in cold. We set to return to our room and went by Daban, an army area.

We were to leave Lachung to Gangtok the same day as per permissions obtained by the driver, but we got this idea of extending our stay in Lachung by another night. We just loved this place, you know. We went to that small shop again, danced, sung and ate. We savoured local noodles thupka and local drink tumpa there.

Meanwhile we contacted one of the guy, who was from Darjeeling, whom we met in Gangtok. Him, being a driver by profession, promised to pick us from Gangtok, take us to Darjeeling and drop us at Siliguri, where the trip would partly end. Sigh.

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Darjeeling, 7 PM: We started from Lachung at around 8 AM and given the conditions of the road we reached Gangtok at 2 PM where the new driver was already waiting for us. We bid goodbye to the old driver and continued our drive to Darjeeling. Lovely the drive was, between pine valleys and narrow roads, sun almost getting set and the tea gardens that took our breath away. We checked in to a hotel and later roamed around town in Chowrastha and did shop loads of tea leaves. We had dinner and walked by Darjeeling toy train station and later returned to hotel.

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Tiger Hills, 5 AM: The early morning ride to see Kanchenjunga and Everest mountain belt reflect sunlight during sunrise, the biggest tourist attraction in Darjeeling, broke us as the sky was clouded and misty. So misty that the visibility was limited to hardly a hundred meters. Detested, we went to see Ghoom Monastery and Batasia Loop, two of the tourist attractions.

We returned to our room and checked out of the hotel. We were to more sightseeing and then return to Siliguri directly.

Tea Gardens, Darjeeling
Tea Gardens, Darjeeling

We visited places such as Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoo, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and tea gardens. We also did a small rock climbing somewhere there. Passenger rope-way was closed owing to then recent Nepal earthquakes. We also visited a Japanese temple, Peace Pagoda, on the way back.

Siliguri, 5 PM: Accomplished, we started our drive to Siliguri. En route, I am sure everyone with me will agree, we relived every moment we spent at the fantastic places. We reached Siliguri earlier than expected and rather had time for a lengthy lunch and shopping. We shopped for sweets and set towards New Jalpaiguri railway station for the train at 9:45 PM.

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Guwahati, 6 AM: We reached Guwahati for the second time during the trip and set towards the friend’s house where was the wedding occasion. Our trip was by far ended as we dropped the plan to visit Kaziranga National Park due to lack of time. We rested there, had breakfast and lunch and while time set to airport where we had flight to Bengaluru at 4:35 PM. We bought more sweets from here.

Bengaluru, 8 PM: The flight to Bengaluru was hit by bad weather and thus heavy turbulence occurred during most of the flight. Nevertheless, we relived every moment of the trip and took home a lot of memories and souvenirs. Six of us took two cabs as Thiruvananthapuram guys directly went to take their bus to their home. We split at the airport making sure we meet again for the next trips.

While in cab, I relived that 8 days of awesomeness I had with my friends. The night at Mahatma Gandhi Marg in Gangtok, the late night fun in Lachung, the snow roll in Zero Point, the food, selfies, drives, valleys. The life remains to travel.