“चायपत्ती”

तिच्याशी माझं तसं कधी बोलणं झालं नव्हतं. तसा प्रश्नही नव्हता, कारण आम्ही एकमेकांना जाणत नव्हतो. तोंड ओळख होती केवळ आमची. नावसुद्धा माहिती नव्हतं मला तिचं. तरीही तिने मला तिच्यासोबत बाहेर चलायला विचारलं होतं. बाहेर पाऊस पडत होता नि गारवा पण बराच होता. मला खरं तर आत राहणंच आल्हाददायक वाटत होतं. पण मला हे हि तितकंच ठाऊक होतं कि ती नक्की बाहेर जाणार होती. माझ्यासोबत, किंवा एकटीच. आणि तसंही ती पहिल्यांदा काही बोलत होती. नाही म्हणणं माझ्यासाठी शक्य नव्हतं.

बंगलोर ला इंदिरा नगर मध्ये “चायपत्ती” नावाचं एक छोटंसं रेस्ट्रो आहे. मुळात कल्पना CCD सारखीच, पण इथे चहा/कॉफीचे बरेच प्रकार मिळतात. सोबत खादाडीसाठी बरेच विकल्प आहेत. वातावरण सुद्धा सुरेख जमवलेलं आहे. इथे बसल्या बसल्या तुमचा वेळ कसा निघून जातो कळतंच नाही. त्यात जर रात्र झाली असेल आणि पाऊस सुरु असेल तर इथली मजाच काही न्यारी. इथली “कुल्लड कॉफी” फार प्रसिद्ध आहे. लोक इथे विशेष करून “कुल्लड कॉफी” प्यायला जमतात. कॉलेज मध्ये जाणारे, जॉब करणारे, तरुण मुलं, मुली, जोडपे इथे आपला दिवसभराचा थकवा घालवण्यासाठी येतात. मी मात्र इथे येतो कारण सोबत इथे बियर सुद्धा मिळते.

तिला मी पहिल्यांदा इथेच बघितलं. तिचा चेहरा तसा लक्ष वेधून घेईल असाच होता. १० लोकात उठून दिसेल असा. गोरा वर्ण. ना अगदी गोल, ना अगदी लांब, पण सुंदर असा अंडाकृती चेहरा. पाणीदार मोठाले डोळे. नाजुकशे गुलाबी ओठ. हलकेच कुरळे, पण अगदी मुलायम असे ते केस. तिच्याकडे लक्ष न गेलेच तर नवल. कित्येकदा त्या चेहऱ्याला न्याहाळत असतांना तिने मला बघितलेलं. पण तिला त्यात कधी वावगं वाटलं नसावं. किंवा तिला माझ्यासारख्यांची सवय झालेली असावी. पण माझं तिच्याकडे बघण्याचं कारण मुळात तिची सुंदरता नव्हती. ते होते तिचे डोळे. काही तरी होतं त्या टपोऱ्या डोळ्यात . कसलंतरी शल्य. प्रभा नव्हती त्यात. काहीतरी होतं जे तिला बोचत होतं. कधी कळालं नाही मला. हेच कारण होतं कि काय, ती असली कि माझी नजर प्रत्येकवेळी तिच्या त्या डोळ्यांकडे जायची.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

आजही मी असाच ऑफिस मधून आल्यावर सहज “चायपत्ती” वर गेलो. वरुण राजा हलकेच पाण्याचे तुषार वर्षावत होता. वातावरणात आनंददायक असा गारवा आला होता. आणि अश्यात तिथे जाणं मी मिस करू शकत नव्हतो. मी फ्ल्याट वर येऊन लगेच फ्रेश झालो नि “चायपत्ती” वर गेलो. आज तिथे नेहमी पेक्षा जास्त गर्दी होती. पाऊस सुरु झाल्यामुळे असेल कि काय, पण आज बरीच पब्लिक जमलेली तिथे. टेबल मिळणं कठीण वाटत होतं. मी एखादा टेबल मिळतो का म्हणून एकदा सगळीकडे कटाक्ष टाकायला गेलो नि मला तेव्हढ्यात ती दिसली. आजही तशीच, एकटीच, आपल्याच विचारात मग्न बसलेली होती. मी तिच्या कडे वळलो. जवळ जाऊन तिला विचारलं, “माफ करा, मी इथे बसू शकतो का?” तिने माझ्याकडे एकदा बघितलं, हलकेच मान डोलावली नि तिच्या समोर असलेल्या खुर्चीकडे हाथ करून बसण्याचा इशारा केला. एव्हढंच. चेहऱ्यावर कसलेच हावभाव नव्हते तिच्या. मला बसण्याचा इशारा करून परत स्वतःच्या विचारात मग्न झाली होती ती.

तिच्यासमोर “कुल्लड कॉफी” चा मग ठेवलेला होता. तिची नजर खिडीकीतून बाहेर कुठेतरी शून्यात होती. मी माझ्यासाठी एक बियर मागवली. वेटरने माझ्यासमोर बियरचा मग आणून ठेवला. हळू हळू आम्ही आपापल्यासमोर असलेलं ड्रिंक्स पित होतो. अधून मधून मी तिच्याकडे बघत होतो. डोळे काळेशार होते तिचे. पण कुठे तरी हरवलेले. एव्हढ्या गोंगाटात बसून सुद्धा त्या टेबलावर बसून मला एक वेगळीच अशी शांतता जाणवत होती. जणू काही तरी फार वाईट झालंय, आणि दुखःच्या वातावरणात कुणी कुणाशी बोलत नाहीये, अशी. आणि ती शांतता तोडण्याची, तिच्याशी बोलण्याची हिम्मत त्यावेळी तरी माझ्यात नव्हती. तेव्हढ्यात तिथे एक मुलगा आला. त्याने तिला विचारलं ,

“Excuse me gorgeous! Can I buy you a beer?”.

“No” तिने उत्तर दिलं.

“Coffee?” त्याने पुन्हा प्रयत्न केला.

“Please go from here and leave me alone.” तिने थंडपणे त्याच्याकडे बघत उत्तर दिलं.

ते भाव  बघून कि काय, तो मुलगा निघून गेला. तिने एकवार माझ्याकडे बघितलं.

मी विचारलं, “Do you want me to go too?”.

ती दोन क्षण थांबली. म्हणाली “Shall we go out? I need some fresh air.”

… तिच्याशी माझं तसं कधी बोलणं झालं नव्हतं. तसा प्रश्नही नव्हता, कारण आम्ही एकमेकांना जाणत नव्हतो. तोंड ओळख होती केवळ आमची. नावसुद्धा माहिती नव्हतं मला तिचं. तरीही तिने मला तिच्यासोबत बाहेर चलायला विचारलं होतं. बाहेर पाऊस पडत होता नि गारवा पण बराच होता. मला खरं तर आत राहणंच आल्हाददायक वाटत होतं. पण मला हे हि तितकंच ठाऊक होतं कि ती नक्की बाहेर जाणार होती. माझ्यासोबत, किंवा एकटीच.

मी मान डोलावली आणि आम्ही दोघं आपापले ड्रिंक्स घेऊन बाहेर आलो. बाहेर पाऊस सुरूच होता. हवेत आता जरा जास्तंच गारवा आला होता. आम्ही दोघंही बाहेर आलो. आजूबाजूची दुकानं एव्हाना बंद झालेली होती. त्यातल्याच एका दुकानाच्या शेड खाली आम्ही दोघं गेलो. ती तिथे पायऱ्यांवर बसली. मी शेजारीच उभा होतो. थोडा वेळ कुणीच काही बोललं नाही. ती कॉफी घेत रस्त्याकडे बघायला लागली. ती शांतात तोडावी म्हणून कि काय, मी तिला विचारलं,

“तुला खरंच इथे बाहेर थंडीत राहायचं आहे का? आपण आतही बसू शकतो.”

तिने माझ्या कडे बघितलं. नजर परत रस्त्याकडे वळवली. कॉफीचा एक घोट घेतला आणि म्हणाली,

“मला लोकं विचारतात. तुला काय झालंय?  कुणी तुला त्रास देतं आहे का? कुणी तुला मारत, धमकावत आहे का? तू एव्हढी अबोल का असतेस?”.

खरं तर हे प्रश्न माझ्याही मनात होतेच. हो, तिला सरळ विचारू शकेल एव्हढी ओळख नव्हती आमच्यात. पण असती तर मी तिला असलंच काही विचारलं असतं. तिने माझ्याकडे बघितलं नि म्हणाली, “प्रत्येकाला माझी कहाणी जाणून घ्यायची आहे.”  “तुला काय वाटतं? काय झालं असेल माझ्यासोबत ?”

मी पहिल्यांदा तिला बोलतांना बघत होतो. पहिल्यांदा मला तिच्यात काही जिवंतपणा दिसत होता.

“मला काहीच वाटत नाही.” मी नकळत बोललो.

“खरंच?!” तिने विचारलं.

“हो खरंच.” मी उत्तर दिलं. मग हळू हळू आम्ही बोलायला लागलो. तिने सगळं काही सांगितलं. बोलतांना तिचे डोळे भरून आले होते. आवाज कापरा झाला होता. पण ती थांबली नव्हती. तिने मनातले सगळे विचार न थांबता बाहेर काढले होते. तिला त्रास देणारी, तिची कहाणी …. ती कहाणी, जी जाणून घ्यायचं कुतूहल सगळ्यांना होतं, तिने माझ्या समोर ठेवली होती. ऐकून मीही  स्तब्ध झालो होतो. सगळं सांगून झाल्यावर तिने एक दीर्घ श्वास घेतला. तिची नजर कुठेतरी हरवलेली होती. कदाचित जुन्या घटना तिच्या पुढे धावत असाव्यात. तिचे डोळे लालसर झाले होते. डोळ्यांमध्ये साठलेलं पाणी बाहेर पडू बघत होतं. तिने खरंच बरंच काही बघितलं होतं, सोसलं होतं. एव्हढं सगळं ऐकून कुणालाही तिच्याबद्दल सहानभूती नाही वाटली तरंच नवल होतं. तिने तिच्या डोळ्यांच्या ओल्या झालेल्या काठा पुसल्या. माझ्याकडे बघत ती म्हणाली, “आता सांग, काय वाटतं तुला माझी कहाणी ऐकून?”.

तिने विचारलेला प्रश्न खरं तर साधा-सरळ होता, पण त्याचं उत्तर मात्र साधं असू शकत नव्हतं. मी तिच्या शेजारी बसलो. तिच्या कडे बघून म्हटलं,

“मी सांगतो मला काय वाटतं ते. पण मला एक गोष्ट जरा स्पष्ट नाही झालीये अजून.”

“कुठली गोष्टं?” तिने लगेच विचारलं.

“तू विचार, मी सांगते.” ती म्हणाली.

मी तिच्या संपूर्ण कहाणीत तिला सर्वाधिक त्रास देणाऱ्या घटनेबद्दल विचारलं. क्षणभर थबकून तिने विचारलं, “त्याबद्दल काय स्पष्टीकरण हवंय तुला?”.

“मला तुझ्याकडून स्पष्टीकरण नकोय.” मी म्हणालो. मला ती घटना स्वतः बघायची आहे. मला माझं स्पष्टीकरण मिळून जाईल. मग मी सांगतो तुला, मला काय वाटतं ते.”

हे ऐकून तिच्या चेहऱ्यावर किंचित राग दिसत होता. “आता तू माझी मस्करी करतो आहे.” ती म्हणाली.

“मस्करी कुठून आली आता?” मी म्हणालो. “आपण जाऊयात कि तिथे. मला बघू दे नेमकं काय झालं होता तेव्हा.”

“पण तिथे जाऊन काही मिळणार आहे का तुला?”, ती म्हणाली. “तिथे कुणी नसणार आहे आता.”

“अरे पण ते तिथेच घडलं होतं ना?” मी परत विचारलं.

“अरे हो. पण, झालं ते झालं. त्या घटनेला होऊन आता वर्षाधिक झालंय. आता तिचं ….तिचं … ”

…. एव्हढं म्हणून ती थांबली. नि माझ्याकडे बघायला लागली. मी हलकेच हसत म्हटलं, “अस्तित्व नाही. होय ना?”.

आता ती माझ्याकडे एकटक बघत होती. मी बोलायला लागलो, ” तू  जेही काही सांगितलं. शेवटी कहाणीच ती. तिला अस्तित्व नाही. तिला चेहरा नाही. तिला मन नाही. तिला भावना नाहीत. ती आहे तर, निव्वळ एक कहाणी.”

नजर दुसरीकडे वळवून तिने क्षणभर काहीतरी विचार केला. तिच्या चेहऱ्यावर पहिल्यांदाच अगदी हलकी अशी प्रसन्नतेची झलक दिसत होती. ती हलकेच हसली, नि म्हणाली, “खरंय, कहाणीच ती शेवटी. कहाणी जी आपण उगीचंच  परत परत जगत असतो.”

“नाही.” मी हसून म्हटलं. “कहाणी, ज्यातून आपण घडत असतो.”

Open letter to Mr. Mohit Chandra

Respected Sir,

Mr. Mohit Chandra,

Just read your post.

It true. Its harsh. Its somewhat acceptable. But Sir, with all due respect to your intellectual. I must say, I am confused. In the title you have addressed the graduating classes but in the post you are directly talking to us only. Finally who is responsible according to you?

1. We employees? Grads/Post-Grads/Under-Grads? Or

2. Our System? Our Schools/Colleges?

And who should take responsibility to fix ‘the broken thing’ ?

Again 1. We employees? Grads/Post-Grads/Under-Grads? Or 

2. Our System? Our Schools/Colleges? Or

3. Employers? Like you? Or

4. We both?

Its pretty obvious that it has to be 4th(according to me). Its take two to quarrel. This is symbiosis. And lets accept that we both will need to do something to fix ‘the broken thing’ .

But what is this ‘the broken thing’ ?  Obviously you have already posted some part of it. But to me, your post seems completely biased, undeniably missing another part of ‘the Story’.

How? Lets go through your statements. One by one.

Your post starts with a statement …

“We are the givers of your paycheck, of the brand name you covet, of the references you will rely on for years to come and of the training that will shape your professional path.”

Isn’t this statement little disparaging from your side? Are you trying to foist your authority on us, Sir? I don’t want to get into the discussion of as an employee what we give to the employers. But lets accept nobody is doing this for philanthropy. Its pure and pure business from both ends.

“Life is good – except that it’s not. Not for us, your employers, at least. Most of your contributions will be substandard and lack ambition, frustrating and of limited productivity.”

Are you telling this to ‘recent grads’ or ‘about to grad’ people? If yes, then this is real rude Sir. Can you elaborate what do expect from a fresher in a totally alien environment? Please! Lets accept the fact that freshers are very new to the process and its totally unfair to expect high standard output/productivity from them unless properly and honestly guided through.

And I hold the right to passionately disagree about the ‘lack of ambition’ point. Everybody is ambitious varying in their own level of it. If you are talking about the ‘sense of ownership’ from them, in the problem solving attitude. Sir, undeniably they will need motivation. And somebody has well said

“Motivation is like food for the brain. You cannot get enough in one sitting. It needs continual and regular top ups.”

So Sir, motivate them to be ambitious.

We are gearing ourselves up for broken promises and unmet expectations. Sorry to be the messenger of bad news.

Hold on Sir! Are you trying to say, that we are the only who are not keeping promises? Have you really done a survey to check how much do you meet to our expectations? Possibly we both can be riding the same boat in this case Sir. But lets not get into this discussion more. The fact is neither the employee nor the employers can be satisfied with each other, if, we go in this direction. We should, and must accept that, being a human everybody has its own limitations and we need to develop a mutual understanding to address this issue. And it can be achieved only through a transparent relationship.

“You are spoiled by the “India growth story”

Accepted. But may be few years back. But now, looking at the number of and the quality of Colleges we are having now in our country, that illusion is not any more. But still I would say, yes our education system is still very well capable of producing the talent you companies crave for. We are the backbone of your entire system, we are still cheap( thats the number 1 reason you yearn for us, isn’t it?) and we are going to stay the same, so please deal with it.

“1.You speak and write English fluently: “

English is not our mother tongue Sir, and most of us still, do not be come from a Full English Medium Schooling background. So, I accept, we are not best at this language and some of us are disaster in it. But aren’t we good enough in this language relatively? Considering other third-world countries? I have dealt with UK guys, their accent is really easy to understand and even they maintain the pace so that we can understand it. I do found US people’s accent little difficult to get but quite manageable. Yeah, I did tried to talk with people where I used to find it very difficult to get their words because of the accent.  But it happens in India too, there are so many dialects of Regional languages which are difficult to understand even to person who might be speaking same language but not knowing the dialect. But shouldn’t we be giving importance to the Communication part? Rather than the fluency of it. And if we are really so bad, how come we have so many BPO’s running in here?

Further you have given an excerpt from a candidates resume which goes like this –

“To be a part of an organization wherein I could cherish my erudite dexterity to learn the nitigrities of consulting”

Clearly the guy is trying to impress you with the level of English he knows, which I think is more because of the rat race we have in our industry. A constructive comment would have sufficed.

B.T.W. for those who really want to know what does the tongue twister words from that excerpt means here are the meanings – 

erudite – well-read, well-informed

dexterity – ability, talent, skill

nitigirities – I think this can be informal plural form. He should mean ‘nitty-gritty’ 

“So the onus, dear reader, is on you – to develop comprehensive English skills, both written and oral.”

Totally agreed. Lets do it.

2. You are good at problem solving, thinking outside the box, seeking new ways of doing things: 

“Consistently, managers say that newly graduated hires are too passive, that they are order-takers and that they are too hesitant to ask questions.”

Like I said earlier. Everybody has its own limitations. We have never been at your level. But you have been at ours. Please recollect that and guide us through.

And Sir, you must be knowing the cultural difference in India and US(probably the place you are sitting currently) and the things like ‘waiting for orders’, ‘lack of alternative and creative suggestions’ comes from there. I believe in most part of Asia you can find the tendency of ‘Order taking’.  But can’t you then motivate people so that they gain the confidence and start doing what you actually expect? You are expecting an Eastern to act Western. Lets build it. Lets create an environment where people will dare to speak and people will listen them. Lets do it on daily basis. Lets build that trust.

How many times have you really listened to some individual (can we make him a ‘grass level’ individual?) and tried to solved his problem? Or you think there are his seniors to look into it. If yes, then what is wrong if he thinks the same and be little passive about taking up responsibilities.

“The desire to learn new tools and techniques and new sector knowledge disappears.”

Agreed. We believe in tests. That is how we have been brought up. Please conduct tests. Please tell our managers to encourage us to go for the training. You will definitely see the result.

5. You are professional and ethical: Everyone loves to be considered a professional.

“But when you exhibit behavior like job hopping every year, demanding double-digit pay increases for no increase in ability, accepting job offers and not appearing on the first day, taking one company’s offer letter to shop around to another company for more money — well, don’t expect to be treated like a professional.”

I really don’t understand the relation between job hopping and loyalty. Don’t we work loyally when we work for you? In fact, are you loyal enough in appreciating those efforts ? And If some other company identifies my skills and are ready to pay more compensation, what is wrong in joining them? Do you want us to stick at same place throughout our life?

What about lay-offs? or Last minute termination? What about the dirty-politics you have? Do you call those ethical?

Sir, Lets get to our part of ‘the Story’ now. Lets start from the beginning.

1. Yours is the best place to work at 

Sir, when your HR calls us regarding any opening. They talk like yours is the best place in the world and we are the most eligible candidate for it.  They want us to join immediately and are ready to pay for the buy outs. They ask us to manage to get out from our current company before the notice period. What about the loyalty we hold for the current firm Sir? I am sure they do just under the sheer pressure that they have on them. Can you please ask them to be realistic about the requirement and respect the notice period policy we have.

I am an iPhone developer and whenever I appear for the interview and sit on a chair opposite to you, and you ask me the kind of questions as if you are going to create a new smart phone or OS in competition to iPhone or iOS. And when I talk about the job profile with your manager, the way he talks us, we actual end up believing that you might be doing something up to that level. But only when we join in we come to know that your place is no different from any other place. Why can’t you be just realistic?

2. Salary not a constraint for the right candidate 

Do you really pay what you promise in the offer letter, Sir? Have you ever seen the difference in the salary offered and the paycheck which we get in hand? Who is not keeping the promises now. Don’t you want a candidate to join with a satisfied and happy mindset?

3. We have yearly appraisals

Really?  What I see is most of the times, we are been told, that where we lag and what we lack in and why our increment is less than what we expect. And the moment we resign, we suddenly turn out to be the best person working around the floor! Can you just appreciate during appraisals and give us some real reasons for the increment figure you offer us.

4. We have really good projects going on the floor and you will be able to learn a lot from them. 

Yes I agree. You do your job of getting projects very well. But you disappear when it comes to buy sufficient time from the client. You yourself ask us to work late night if needed. And I am sure every-one among does so when needed. And in fact we won’t gruel over it as we too understand the importance of a project delivery. But then, you become habitual of it, and you keep raising requests which are unfeasible most of the times. You expect us to every time slog at late nights. You will call us at late night whenever needed and expect us to attend your call. You will expect us to work on saturday nights. And if we say no, you will think that we are not loyal enough.

Sir, we are humans and we do have a personal life. Most of us are working so that we can earn and have a good personal life. Please respect that. Your short deadlines may help you snap up another big deal which might give you more profit. But for us, max it will turn into some appreciation mail. Please don’t expect us to sacrifice our personal life for it. We don’t work for your company. We work of ourselves. You don’t own us for 24 hrs. This is a fact. Please digest it.

I have seen most of the times, for you, result is more important. If a newbie puts lots of effort to achieve some task assigned to him and if he fails, for you its just failure. You have no interest in the process, but only in result. Then what is wrong if we too only focus on the result which is salary for us.

5. Be realistic, be transparent. 

You want to win our faith, loyalty. Be realistic. Have a real transparency in the process. Answer honestly to the questions we ask. Yes we do ask questions. Please don’t be diplomatic.

I can go on adding many points Sir. But I am not writing the post to write down all that stuff. I was  disappointed when your post was sent to me by one of my senior official and the small write-up which he wrote with it. I appreciate you posting the inaccuracies in us, but, it could have been constructive. Your version seems and is totally biased and seems to be write up of some frustrated man.

Sir, do you remember the 26/11 incident happened in Mumbai, India? Do you remember the stories of staff heroics of Tata at that time? If not here is the link

Here is the epilogue from it –

1. How was such passion created among the employees? How and why did they behave the way they did?

2. The organisation is clear that it is not something that someone can take credit for. It is not some training and development that created such behaviour. If someone suggests that – everyone laughs

3. It has to do with the DNA of the organisation, with the way Tata culture exists and above all with the situation that prevailed that time. The organisation has always been telling that customers and guests are #1 priority

6. When the HR function hesitatingly made a very rich proposal to Ratan – he said – do you think we are doing enough?

7. The whole approach was that the organisation would spend several hundred crore in re-building the property – why not spend equally on the employees who gave their life?

Was just trying to give you some example.

Providing good infrastructure, good salary and opportunities is not enough to build a real robust organization Sir. It takes something beyond that. Trust is the base of loyalty. If you feel its not there, then surely something is wrong in the ‘trust’ part. Lets work on it first. Lets not blame each other. Lets take up responsibility and start to bring ‘that change’ through an honest effort. You are questioning loyalty of lakhs/crores of people Sir. You want some … You gotta show some.

Thanks,

Vaibhav V. Tekam

email – tekamvaibhav86@gmail.com

Mobile – +919538501571