“Have some Idli with tomato chutney”

Baccha was sitting in the balcony of his 5th floor apartment that he shared with Bakwasbola and was playing sad tunes on his violin like he did every night.

He looked at the plate that his fellow dweller was now shoving into his face.

The idli looked under-cooked.

“Err, you can keep it there on the dining table and I’ll have it later” he said to Bakwasbola, who was glaring at him eagerly and waiting for him to eat the idli and give his seal of approval.

“No, No, No! You just try one piece now”, Bakwasbola replied in a high pitched excited voice.

“Oh! I’d love to, but as you see I will get my hands soiled and I can’t play my violin with soiled hands”, Baccha retorted with the best possible excuse he could then think of and believed Bakwasbola couldn’t say no to that.

Bakwasbola thought for a split second and flashed all his teeth in glee when he came up with a solution.

“No problem! I will feed you the idli. Just open your mouth!”

“What? No, no! That’s embarrassing”

“No problem! See? My hands are clean, I just washed it”

Baccha sprang up from his seat before Bakwasbola acted. The thought of having his over-zealous floor manager feeding him like an infant was enough to put him into action.

He kept his violin and bow on the chair he was sitting, ran to the kitchen, grabbed a spoon, ran back, took the plate from Bakwasbola and quickly devoured the idli and chutney.

The idli was under-cooked and tasted of raw rice batter but Baccha couldn’t say that when he saw Bakwasbola eagerly staring into his face awaiting feedback for his cooking.

“Err, the tomato chutney is good but I think the idli might just be a little under-cooked. What do you think?”

Bakwasbola thought for a second and the 100 Watt bulb above his head lit up!

“Oh no no! I understand. Maybe I put it for too long and it has over-cooked. Let me take out the next batch a little earlier and then you can try them!”

Baccha wanted to slam his head on the wall; eating one under-cooked idli was bad enough, but having to try more of Bakwasbola’s  under-cooked idlis was simply ludicrous!

“Maybe another time, I’m already full Bakwasbola. I just had dinner”, Baccha quickly gained composure and replied.

“Sigh! Ok fine”. Bakwasbola seemed disappointed. “But do try it later! Don’t forget!” he added after a pause.

Baccha heaved a sigh of relief and went back to his violin.Bakwasbola’s incessant need to please everybody could get tiring at times. And Bakwasbola was extra friendly now that Baccha was on the verge of leaving.

It was Baccha’s last few days in Empty Men. The law of averages had finally caught up.

PPTwala had finally (after three weeks of incessant reminders) communicated to Cheeku that Baccha was leaving that week.Cheeku didn’t protest much and agreed since most of Baccha’s work was over two months ago and he had been under-used since then.

“So Baccha”, he said with his evil grin when Baccha went to his cabin, “Your paid vacation is getting over!”

Baccha blinked for a second. He saw Cheeku laughing at his own insulting joke and felt the urge to land a punch straight on Cheeku’s face, break his two front teeth and flatten his nose.  Baccha swore in his mind,“The b@#$#^ didn’t have any issue when I had been working 80 hours per week in office or when I was putting in 12 hours daily for almost 4 months. But he has to raise a joke when I work within human hours for 2 months.”

He held his tongue from retaliating though and said, “Yes, as you know I’ll be leaving tomorrow so just wanted to let you know that I have done all the necessary transitioning to Happy for whatever is remaining to be done”.

“Ok let me check with him” said Cheeku before settling his eyes on somebody outside his cabin whom he identified as his victim for his day that he cuold torture as part of his daily sadistic routine.

Baccha walked out of Cheeku’s office and sat down at his desk to write the formal emails notifying stakeholders of his leaving.

There used to be farewell dinner parties once upon a time at Empty Men when one of the people from Mech Tee went home after their stint. That was the only time when the team got together without having to discuss too much of work. The senior managers did all the talking and the junior folks just crammed the food indifferently (the expenses were split between everybody equally anyway); the only genuinely happy person in that get together would be the person who was about to leave Empty Men for good.

However, by the time Baccha was ready to go, there had been far too many expensive farewells that nobody was interested in farewells anymore (cost of farewells weren’t that easy on the pocket either). So this time, Bakwasbola (who tried to display some redeeming human qualities once in a while) arranged for just a ‘goodbye’ meeting instead.

If you have seen enough Hollywood movies, you probably would have seen how during traditional Christian funerals, friends and family members of the deceased come and say eulogies before the burial. They say all sorts of nice things that the dead person would have been glad to hear had he been alive but that would not matter now that the person was dead anyway.

That’s how these goodbye meetings are like. Everybody says niceties for the sake of saying them but they won’t make much of a difference to the guy who was on his way out.

So over a dozen Mech Tee men, working at Empty men, gathered in a conference room and started their mini speeches egged on by Bakwasbola and Biwi No. 1.

“Baccha was very talented. When I first heard sweet violin music in our apartment, I didn’t know where it was from. Later I saw it was coming from the balcony and that its source was Baccha. I was so amazed” said one.

“I had the privilege of being Baccha’s flatmate for a good amount of time. I remember him to be very neat and dedicated at work”, Bakwasbola droned on too for 10 minutes till somebody started snoring and the speech was cut short.

Everybody was forced to utter a few words while Baccha squirmed in his seat waiting to see the speeches get over. He almost bit his tongue when he heard Chaatu Sharma give his comments in that inimitable ‘Butler English’ of his.

“Baccha write so much! I think if he write big pages after seeing a taxi driver for 1 hour, then what he write after so many days here! I get a shiver he write book only about me and everybody

Baccha replied tongue in cheek, “Chaatu, for all you know I may have already been writing about you. Don’t you think so?”

Chaatu laughed “Ha ha ha” along with the others. Baccha laughed too (ho boy, if only Chaatu knew that Baccha had already made him a star in his dramatised blog story series!)

Once the meeting got over, Baccha went to say goodbyes to all the folks that mattered.

Guddu was shocked. He was scratching his latest beard after sitting two days in a row overnight after launching a Tecnoplant product when he heard the news. He couldn’t believe Baccha was actually going to leave before he did.

Pehalwan was upset. He didn’t know who he could sit and gossip with. “Man! I’m gonna really miss you here when I’ll be left alone with all these jokers. Even Guddu and Motesepatla will be leaving in the next two weeks.”

“Oh well”, Baccha replied, “Don’t worry my friend. Your time will come. Also, from what I heard, PPTwala’s dharna seems to have yielded some success. They have managed to blackmail the consulting company into sending back Baba Om again. So no worries, you’ll get good company”.

A few hours later, Baccha was smiling to himself and sitting in a plane heading back to India. He was done with his ‘memorable’ stint at Empty Men Telecom.

In the span of almost a year, Baccha had come across or worked with at least a hundred people, a few sharp ones but, whose minds were blunted by the likes of Cheeku and PPTwala, idiots galore, some unique persons such as Muthusamy who defied all categories and some others who had simple lost their minds and worked like zombies. The collection of people and experiences that Baccha had was something he was going to remember for a long time.

He was keeping his fingers crossed; he was hoping he wouldn’t have to work with another company like Empty Men Telecom again if he could help it. The stress was just too much; there are some things that money can’t buy.


Many miles away in India, Baba Om was spitting fire and cursing his bosses in the high flying consulting company. Mech Tee had paid all dues finally and PPTwala had struck a new deal with the company. They wanted Baba Om back!

Baba Om was going to go back to Empty Men again. And this time, he promised to himself to rain hell on the scumbags there!


Part 7 – The Lucky Leavers

Posted: June 27, 2014 in Humour


“I’m leaking oil from my a***” Baba Om grumbled.

Pehalwan grinned and stirred the poha he was making.

“Now I realise why after running like a dog every day for over a month, I’m not losing any weight. Of course, when I’m consuming more oil than a truck, what can I do?”

“It’s not that bad you know. Just a few tablespoons”, Pehalwan retorted.

Baccha raised an eyebrow. It was time for him to comment.

“Pehalwan, I just saw that cooking utensil into which you poured vegetable oil. You poured almost half a glass! And I was wondering why one of my pants split by the seams recently.  My butt is growing to a size matching that of Queen Latifah’s”

Pehalwan got defensive, “Oh come on boys! I hardly added a few spoons of oil”

Baba started prodding “Ok. Let’s see. How long does it take you to finish 1 bottle of oil?”

“Hmm. Two weeks” said Pehalwan thoughtfully (he didn’t want to tell them it was actually more like a week and a half).

The high-flying consultant got into the numbers game he was good at.

“We cook dinner only 4 times a week and cook lunch twice during weekends. And so that means, if we consume 1 litre of oil for 12 meals, you use an average of 83 ml per cooking.”

Baccha took his phone’s calculator, tapped a few numbers, looked up with a stunned look on his face and declared, “Oil has 140 KCals per tablespoon and therefore given the amount of oil Pehalwan uses to cook, we consume 775 Kcals purely on account of that oil”!

“And of course don’t forget the quarter kg of nuts in each cooking of poha. In other words, Pehalwan’s ‘light poha breakfast’ (as he calls it) has more calories than a Mcdonald’s Burger”, Baccha added a split second later.

Baccha and Baba looked at each other, moaned and wailed and groaned when they realised why all the running they did in the past month had gone down the drain. And they cursed Pehalwan for being the reason behind them getting fatter by the day.

However, five minutes later, the two went on to gobble the poha thanklessly, all the same. Tasty home cooked food shouldn’t be wasted. ‘Think about all those starving Africans’, was what their parents used to tell them, when they were children.

As it turned out, the breakfast that Sunday, was the last breakfast the three of them had together.

On Monday morning, Baba, walked in to the Empty Men office in a T-Shirt and a pair of jeans (the days of the Jacket and tie were long past). He went around and said his goodbyes to Guddu, Motesepatla, Pehalwan, Baccha, Chatu, Bakwasbola and all those around (also showed his middle finger behind the back of his least favourite people) and then got on a taxi and left for the airport to catch his flight to India.

Mech Tee had failed to pay Baba’s consulting firm the money they were due and this was a good enough excuse for Baba to hitch his ride home. He was not going to come back if he could help it.

Baba, the high-flying consultant who could whip up a power point presentation that even the so-hard-to-please Cheeku Maharaj accepted grudgingly, left a big void that PPTwala could not fill with anybody else. PPTwala didn’t want to pay Baba’s firm until his payments in turn came from Empty Men. And Cheeku was not a man who gave way his signature easily on documents that involved payments.

Rumour was it that PPTwala later was found sitting in a ‘dharna’ outside the consulting firm’s Indian office demanding Baba’s return; he staunchly believed that Arvind Kejriwal’s outdated methods were still effective.

Meanwhile, all was not fine with the Mech Tee guys working in Empty Men either. People were running away on some pretext or another and others were being sent back.

Shortly after Baba’s return, Sharaabi went on a week’s vacation and never returned. It seemed that one relative after another was falling ill for a week each that stopped him from returning.  Rumour mongers said that Sharaabi was frantically searching for a new job sitting in India.

Naresh Singh (the man who Muthusamy believed to be the out-of-work Bollywood star Rahul Dev) was asked to depart. Cheeku didn’t like the swagger with which Naresh walked or like the fact that despite yelling at him in a sound exceeding 140 Decibels, Naresh simply looked with an indifferent look on his face and never changed.

Bakwasbola, meanwhile, went on a 2 week vacation to India. Pehalwan placed a bet with Baccha that he wouldn’t return (2:1 odds). After all, Bakwasbola had even quit from his role a week before and had to just serve out his notice period.  Contrary to expectations though, he did return (Bakwasbola didn’t have the heart to leave his 5 Louis Philippe Shirts and 4 pairs of black boots which he had left in the apartment before leaving).

Both Baccha and Pehalwan were looking for their turn to run away too.

Baccha had written a page long explanation to PPTwala months ago stating why he could no longer continue. PPTwala found it too complex to read, so kept postponing the reading 1 week at a time.  Baccha relentlessly used outlook reminders to periodically remind him.

“When will our time come man?” Pehalwan asked Baccha after serving him dinner before settling down to watch the world cup match between Netherlands and Spain on night.

“Are you talking of both of us leaving this place soon?” Baccha responded, before hesitantly accepting the dinner plate (775/2 Kcals of oil, Gulp!)

“Of course! Even Guddu and Motesepatla might leave soon. Their companies have agreed to let them go from this hellhole”

“What are the chances of Netherlands beating the world Champion Spain? That’s how good our chances are. We work for Mech Tee at Empty Men premises. We can’t leave when we want to” Baccha responded in a sulky tone.

Pehalwan sighed and settled into a sofa to watch the game.

Life can throw in a few surprises once in a while.

Netherlands trounced the world champions Spain 4 -1 that night.

Dumb man

Five projects were there in all and all were in various stages of chaos.

Muthusamy got approximately 150 emails per day which he never sorted. He replied to some, others he simply stared and blinked at for a long time and when the content floated over his head, he simply ignored them.  Most of his replies were forwards to somebody else with the instruction “For your information and action”.

Baccha painfully took over one project after the other from Muthusamy. ‘Knowledge transfer’ was a complete misnomer when ‘knowledge’ was supposed to be transferred from Muthusamy. There wasn’t really any knowledge involved. The transition period was even more painful.

Baccha’s blood pressure kept rising every day thanks to the daily sessions with Muthusamy. Here was a man, who could not be reasoned with, who blinked twice before his brain processed a “Hello, how are you?” from anyone and who yet had a misplaced sense of sense importance and who truly believed that he was awesome. And to add to it, Muthusamy would rather die than not have the last word in an argument (which was quite common wherever he went).

A CPMG consultant who came to Empty men one day was heard remarking, “That guy is marvellous! He’s the only in my entire life I have seen arguing even after the person he is arguing with agrees with him”

Every now and then Baccha would go nuts reading some of Muthusamy’s email and walk to the latter’s desk. “Do you know you just asked the Tecnoplant team for a solution on top of an email in which they actually gave the solution?”

Baccha once went to Muthusamy’s desk and pleaded, “Sigh! Man, please stop being the mailman here and cut down on the FYI mails. You need to give some value by at least giving some guidance.”

For that, Muthusamy asked Baccha to come to an empty meeting room visibly angry (he had been holding a grudge against Baccha from the time he was asked to hand over his projects)

“I ‘ave 16 years of experience” he bellowed at Baccha. “I will not tolerate such behaviour”

“Muthusamy, we are both doing the same role here so your years don’t matter. We just have to do the task at hand”, Baccha bellowed back.

Baccha feared these one-on-one sessions. Muthusamy took him to the terrace or empty conference and made threat after threat and yelled at him. He never failed to remind him that he had 16 years of experience (of course, it was a mystery to all how the guy managed to survive so long in the industry). The worst part was that Baccha would lose at least 30 crucial minutes of work time for nothing and he would then have to spend extra time in office to make up for it.

Two months flew by.

Baccha had taken over Muthusamy’s erstwhile projects. The complaints and escalations dropped down exponentially and after cutting down a bit of the chaos, there was some progress in the work. The vendors were glad not to deal with Muthusamy’s tantrums and the management was glad not to deal with complaints against Muthusamy.

PPTwala was the only guy who had a predicament. He had to give some work to Muthusamy. Cheeku wouldn’t let Muthusamy anywhere close to him, so PPTwala talked to another Snr. Manager from a different department in Empty Men who was on the lookout for a new project manager and happily dumped Muthusamy on him.

For a while Muthusamy didn’t too badly. In the project committee meetings, he went and sat at a round table with all the general managers and the Managing Director and explained project progress. His funny demeanour and his habit of staring at the wall and giving updates in a single breath at the top of his voice amused the M.D who found Muthusamy very entertaining. Since the M.D was happy, everybody else was happy, for the time being.

However, that too didn’t last long. Muthusamy, on one fine day, decided to shoot himself in the foot in his over-zealousness and sent a rather long email to the Managing Director of Empty Men (with a liberal amount of nonsense), that completely annoyed the M.D this time. The MD had a go at the General Manager who was the boss of the Snr. Manager under whom Muthusamy was then working. The domino effect resulted in Muthusamy being project free again.

Guddu, who had then just come to Empty Men newly at that time, was one of the first people to heave a sigh of relief. He had had enough of Muthusamy too. A week earlier Muthusamy had come to Guddu’s desk with his laptop and showed his laptop into Guddu’s lap.

“Please find the mail you sent me last week and show it to me”, Muthusamy had demanded.

“But Muthusamy, why do I have to search YOUR outlook inbox for you?”

“Because you sent the mail”

Guddu opened his own mailbox, went to the sent items folder and showed that important email he had sent Muthusamy a few days ago and told him, “I have sent this to you at 4.15 pm last Friday, please check your mails and find it, I am not going to send this again”

“That ees NOT RIGHT. You must find your mail in my inbox for me” was Muthusamy’s reply.

The debate on who was supposed to find the missing mail in Muthusamy’s inbox went for 45 minutes. Guddu finally put his head on his table and wept. He didn’t deserve this.

In his time at Empty Men, Muthusamy left almost every other person who was from Mech Tee or Tenoplant, a Muthusamy story of their own to cherish.

“There was this time when I saw him with his two arms around two of the broads who were loafing in the hotel lobby where he stayed. He was bargaining with both of them at the same time” said Sourav, an analyst, who from Tecnoplant.

“He came with me to the pizza place and ordered a pepperoni pizza (thinking it would have extra pepper). When he realised pepperoni was made from pork after the pizza was served, he and his friend argued with the waiter till they served him a free vegetarian pizza as a substitute” said someone.

“When I convinced him that Naresh Singh was the Bollywood actor Rahul Dev who stopped acting after an accident and having lost weight drastically, he believed it and kept asking Naresh about why he left his acting career and tried pushing him to go back to movies (and maybe get him a few roles too)”, said Chaatu Sharma.

Muthusamy came to Baccha and Bakwasbola’s apartment a couple of days before finally leaving Empty Men. Baccha was reading a book and kept it on the table.

Muthusamy picked up the book and stared at the title for 5 seconds and stuttered the title aloud, “Atlas Shu –ggre- red”.

He put it down and commented “ Veyry Good Book!”

“It’s Atlas Shrugged man, and how do you know it’s a good book. Have you read it?”

“Oh! Es es! I ‘ave read it

“Ok, then tell me who wrote the book”, said Baccha with a raised brow after taking the book from the table.

“Err. OK Actually, I came to see Bakwasbola” said Muthusamy changing the topic

Muthusamy had created quite a ruckus the week before and had finally been given a ticket to return home to India. Backwasbola had helped expedite the process in exchange for a couple of beers.

He had come that night with the beer bottles. He later sat and enjoyed a long conversation with Bakwasbola till the beer got over.

Two days later Muthusamy left Empty Men for good, rather unceremonious and quietly.

He said he wanted to leave an impression, the time he was in Empty Men.

He succeeded so well that long after he left, people couldn’t stop talking about him. After all, one seldom meets more than one Muthusamy in a lifetime.


I have no clue

Long before the arrival of Bakwasbola, Baba, Pehalwan, Baccha or Guddu, there was once a man who came and left his indelible mark in the few months he stayed at Empty Men.

Colleagues walked faster when they saw him on their tail,

Vendors shuddered in fear when they saw his email.

His capacity and appetite for words were legendary,

Of unparalleled intellect, was the great Muthusamy.

It was during the time one of the predecessors of Bakwasbola, Mr. KK, that Baccha made his not-so-grand entry to the Empty Men family.

On the evening after his arrival, Baccha was part of a party where he was introduced to some of the most prominent people on the 5th floor who were his colleagues to be. He was already getting used to the sight of PPTwala with Chaatu Sharma on his right and Mamaji on his left. A regular corporate outfit, he thought. There were bosses, their sidekicks, some good conversationalists and loudmouths aplenty.

While Baccha went around observing people and greeting those who knew, he noticed a sudden silence when somebody entered the hall.

The man who walked in was still dressed in shabby office clothes and was still carrying a laptop bag. He was short in stature with a noticeable potbelly, had a prominent toothbrush-shaped moustache and wore gold rimmed half-moon spectacles. The tube-lights highlighted his shiny black hair that shone bright because it was liberally doused in coconut oil. The man had a quick nervous walk.

“Muthusamy, you’re here finally” said PPTwala loudly with a loud laugh.

“‘es , I was ‘aving a lot of work. So many many transactions.” responded the new entrant, who was glad to see the attention he was getting from the big boss of the floor.

Mr. KK walked ahead to introduce Baccha to Muthusamy. Baccha shook his hand and had the definite feeling that there was something about this guy that made him different.

Thirty minutes later Baccha after had a round of conversations with acquaintances, he came across Muthusamy again.  Since Baccha wasn’t well acquainted with Muthusamy, he decided to just stick to courteous formal question, the ‘How’s work’ and ‘Where is your native town’ kind of questions when Muthusamy shot out a question right out of the blue.

“Are you a virgin?”

Baccha blinked for a few seconds. He wasn’t sure he heard this guy right. Here was a guy who he met less than 30 minutes earlier and with whom he had exchanged just a few formal questions asking him something like this!

“Err, I think it’s rather early to be asking me about my sexual affairs when we have just. Don’t you think so?” Baccha responded curiously.

“O! I yem very open! I yem a virgin” Muthusamy happily proclaimed with the pride like that of a school kid who just finished at the top of his class in a board exam.

Baccha kept blinking. The guy had to be either out of his mind or mind numbingly stupid. As it turned out later, Baccha got to know that the popular opinion leaned towards the latter inference.

Irrespective of whether he lacked average intellect or was simply eccentricity, Muthusamy had an uncanny talent of ticking people the wrong way.

On the very first day Baccha went to office, he saw KK (the floor manager then) yelling at Muthusamy in view of the entire 5th floor (oh yes, screaming was a favourite pastime on that floor even then).

“Why on earth can you not send a simple schedule I asked you to make for a workshop four weeks ago Mr. Project Manager?”

“Can you not prepare a simple 5 line project plan in four weeks? What on earth do you need for that?”

Baccha could have sworn that Muthusamy’s reply was in English but he couldn’t understand what on earth the latter was saying. There were words and sentences that were strung together in such a haphazard manner that even the speaker probably couldn’t have understood his own words.

Baccha came from a more civilised organisation earlier and had never seen people scream on the office floor (welcome to Empty Men) and felt bad for Muthusamy. So later, Baccha spoke to KK in private.

“KK, if you don’t mind me telling you, you shouldn’t shout at Muthusamy like that. It’s a bit humiliating”.

Mr. KK sighed and replied, “Baccha, have you ever seen me talk this way to anybody else? This man has a talent for getting the worst out of people”

Mr. KK wasn’t wrong; Muthusamy could tick off just about anybody.

Chaatu Sharma and Mamaji fought with him regularly as did other people from Mech Tee. Muthusamy also held the unique distinction for picking a fight with the HR person who only appeared in office for 20 minutes a day, twice a week. Even the happy-go-lucky, soft spoken, Happy, who in his 10 years in Empty men had not raised his voice over 20 Decibels was heard yelling at Muthusamy one day in a loud voice that nobody till then knew existed.

Muthusamy never changed though. His talent was unique.

“This yenvironment ees like this” Muthusamy justified to Baccha, who being the newcomer then, didn’t get a chance to interact with Muthusamy as much as the others who were in the thick of action.

Baccha still did not mind Muthusamy and thought it might just be that it was his eccentricity that people couldn’t tolerate. His opinion didn’t last long.

A week after Baccha’s joined Empty Men, KK was pulling out clumps of hair from his already balding head going crazy during one of his conversations with Muthusamy. Muthusamy was supposed to attend a client meeting and kept complaining he didn’t have a technical guy. KK, at that moment, spotted Baccha, the new, well-spoken, eager Project Manager who was full of energy and an idea struck him.

“Baccha, why don’t you go with Muthusamy and attend the client meeting along with him and try to understand the product issues and what is stopping the client from signing off? You can just be a moderator and observe. Nothing more”

Baccha was bored to death reading to page after page of process documents and was eager to get started. “Sure! Why not?” Baccha said cheerfully.

That evening Mr. KK and PPTwala were quietly enjoying their evening whisky when Baccha joined him for a chat. The cheerful smiles had disappeared from Baccha’s face and he looked like he wanted to thrash somebody.

“I don’t see why the client doesn’t sign off” he started. “I don’t want to start bitching about a colleague but there are limits”

Baccha then went on with a 15 minute description of the meeting.

Muthusamy had walked into the meeting with no idea of what to talk and did not even open his laptop to take notes. He was supposed to review client feedback on 30 odd issues and didn’t understand the technicalities of even one (“I look at only ‘igh level”, he said later). He had turned a deaf ear to the client and muttered his usual nonsense and before long got into a conflict without even having a clue of what he was arguing about. The technical guy from his team who was there was not even given a chance to speak. Baccha who had been begging to Muthusamy to brief him about the meeting before it started wasn’t entertained then and therefore, he too was not familiar with issues the client had raised.

So for almost an hour, Muthusamy went on droning nonsense without a break and argued with the client even before she could finish her sentences. The technical guy listened quietly (he knew when to keep his mouth shut). Baccha, the new guy, who saw every basic rule of customer management being shredded apart in front of his eyes almost cried. He tried pinching Muthusamy from under the table to ask him to shut up. Muthusamy never listened. Baccha whispered in Muthusamy’s ears to take notes and just listen so that they could think over the problems later. Muthusamy didn’t listen.

Halfway through the meeting, Baccha took it upon himself to scribble notes of whatever he heard. He didn’t have a clue what the entire project was even about but kept on scribbling notes and points and told the client that they would come back on her concerns and soothed her by letting her know she was heard. Finally the client calmed down with some reassurances and closed the meeting.

When Baccha finally was leaving the building with Muthusamy and the technical resource after the meeting, Muthusamy remarked gleefully, “That was a good meeting”.

Baccha clutched the plant at the exit door. He wanted to take the flower pot and slam it into the idiot’s head. But he let go. He had to describe these problems with KK when they were due to talk later in the day. If this was how meetings went, there was more than enough reason for the client to be pissed off with their department.

When Baccha gave his narrative later in the day, he gave his opinion on what could be changed and how to change them. He applied bits of his experience from work and principles from his B-school days and gave a lot of ideas to KK and PPTwala. He felt relieved finally giving his opinions and ideas. PPTwala and Mr. KK were impressed.

The repercussions of giving too much advice were felt two days later when KK had his next frustrating interaction with Muthusamy

“Muthusamy! (in a loud scream obviously) That’s enough! I think this won’t work. I want you to handover all your projects with immediate effect to Baccha. This is a management decision”

Muthusamy was shocked.

Baccha, who sat two tables away, fainted.

(To be continued)

Part 4 – Cheeku Maharaj

Posted: May 25, 2014 in Humour





Pehalwan and Baba looked at each other for a second and then burst out laughing. Baccha seldom uttered curses and he never cursed in Hindi. Not until now at least.

It was 9pm and Baccha was still annoyed after his 40 minute end of the day one-on-one meeting with Cheeku Maharaj back at the Empty Men office.

Earlier that day, when Baccha walked into the office of the ‘Big Daddy’ of the 5th Floor, he first closed the door. He knew he was going to get yelled at. After all Cheeku followed a round-robin-schedule policy for selecting and abusing people on the floor and it had been a few months since Baccha had his turn.

Cheeku started off asking questions on the work Baccha was doing. There were no complaints from the customers but there were delays (as usual) and Cheeku needed a reason to show Baccha his rightful place and so he screamed for the last 20 minutes.

Cheeku screamed that Baccha was too ‘buddy-buddy’ with Guddu and his Bermuda team.

“You go drink or dance and be ‘buddy-buddy’ with them. I don’t care. But keep your personal and professional relations apart”

“You should have sent 2 warning letters after they didn’t meet their committed date and should have sent 10 escalations to their CEO”

“You are to blame for these delays. You have done this intentionally to cover them”

“They are using you”

And so it went on for the rest of the session. Baccha just nodded on.

He was fantasising about the various ways by which murder could be committed without getting caught. Strangling wasn’t easy, paying a truck driver for a fatal accident might raise suspicions, guns were too noisy and trying to procure and use poison was risky. Maybe tripping a guy from the rooftop would be less suspicious and of relatively less risk.

When Baccha walked out of that office, his ears were still ringing from the piercing agony it was subject to for forty minutes. There has to be some way of getting even.

Cheeku was not liked much on the 5th floor.

Ok, let’s be honest, Cheeku was the least loved man on the 5th floor.  He terrorised partners, ridiculed subordinates, disrespected everybody in sight and made the Grinch (Yes, that green monster who was played by Jim Carrey in the movie of that same name) look like Santa Claus in comparison.

Cheeku also had the unique distinction of being the only known human specimen in existence who was an exception to the universal rule of ‘the enemy of an enemy being a friend’. The enemies of Cheeku’s enemies were his enemies too! For example, Cheeku was hated by Bakwasbola, Bakwasbola was hated by Baba and yet Cheeku was hated by Baba too!  And this week the unhappy family on the 5th floor had all the more reason to hate Cheeku.

It was appraisal time for the team (headed by our anti-hero).  They were being appraised by the various internal teams to whom they provide service and given that the previous year they scored a not so encouraging 5/10, the heat was on them to have a better score this time around.

Cheeku had decided to make a change this year to get better numbers.

“Guys, we need to improve on our score this year” he said to the 10 participants he had selected to create the internal task force for the feedback survey.

“But before we start I want you to know that participation in this task force is completely voluntary and you can walk out if you don’t want to be part of it and there will be no hard feelings”

Everybody looked at each other. The unfortunate participants who were selected included Guddu (‘the one guy who has the spark’, as per Cheeku), Baba Om, Baccha, Motesepatla (Another partner manager on the 5th floor), Lucky (the soft spoken local man who spent 12 years of his life at Empty Men) and some others.

Nobody dared to get up from their seat.

Cheeku was not giving an option, this was a threat. What he actually meant was “Let’s see who dares to get up and walk from this room”

Guddu thought of his poor Bermuda men. If he walked out, they’d have to work 26 hours each weekend. He passed the opportunity.

Baccha thought of the projects delayed. If he walked he’d be first be skinned by Cheeku (for everything he did wrong in the past 7 months) and then skinned by Bakwasbola and PPTwala for not having client focus. He too passed the opportunity.

One after the other, everybody thought of the consequences of walking out, swallowed their pride and stayed in their seats, putting up fake smiles and falsified looks of determination.

Baba Om said he was willing to be part of the task force as long as he was around (his plan was to leave Empty Men forever within a week).

At the end of the meeting that was scheduled for 30 minutes ( but lasted half a day), there was a charter made with 80 actions to be carried out in the next three weeks with everybody getting a slice of the cake.

Guddu, ‘the man with the spark’ (as Cheeku once described), got the biggest slice of the cake (as he had the ‘spark’ of course). He went to his boss and cried a bucketful (Why me?). Guddu’s boss protested (How dare Cheeku do this without asking me?) but didn’t have the nerve to go question Cheeku. This was one cat who wasn’t going to be belled soon.

All wasn’t well and the days didn’t end well as the men on the 5th floor survived to fight another day.

Part 3 – A Peaceful Weekend

Posted: May 19, 2014 in Humour

man with flowers


“Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest

Yo ho ho, a bottle of rum.

Drink and the devil’s done for the rest,

Yo ho ho a bottle of rum”

Baccha remembered the song he knew from his childhood days. It was a song sung by the pirate Long John Silver in Treasure Island. He then pictured his moustachioed fellow dweller singing it. It was a funny thought. Baccha grinned.

Bakwasbola’s addiction to his daily dose of rum was only secondary to his legen-(wait for it)-dary ability to ramble on incessantly, the moment he found an audience.  On Saturday evening, his victim was the hapless Baccha. The rare grin by Baccha was misinterpreted as an acknowledgement of the speaker’s great oratory ability and Bakwasbola spoke an extra 10 minutes.

Finally at about 8pm, Bakwasbola, went back to his room, got dressed and prepared to go out for the birthday party of a friend (he made quite a few ‘local’ friends  – expats who he came across in the country and who spoke his native south Indian tongue).

Just as he was about to leave the door with a bouquet of flowers, he noticed the quizzical look on Baccha’s face. Baccha was still sitting and reading some lame book he had been reading for months.

“Oh yeah, it is the same bouquet I received for my birthday two days ago”, Bakwasbola said gleefully.

“Why spend more money when it is still fresh? See, it looks fresh. Doesn’t it?”

Baccha bit his lips. He had been wondering where the man was leaving with the fading flowers.

“Yes of course it looks fresh. Why don’t you sprinkle some water over the flowers? That will ensure that it stays fresh”, Baccha retorted

“Good Idea” said Bakwasbola heartily. He then went to the kitchen sink, held the bouquet under a running tap, shook the flowers and walked out.

Baccha laughed for a second, walked out to his balcony and looked out.

He saw Guddu and his Bermuda gang marching for the second part of the migration activity to the Empty Men office. It was an overnight activity but the guys were not taking chances this time, most of them had taken a bag with an extra change of clothes, toothpaste and toothbrushes, towels and some rolls of toilet paper. They were fully armed to stay two nights to do the proposed 6 hour activity if required.  Guddu was a determined man this time. He was not going to stay long enough to see his beard sprout again in office. He touched h is pocket and was reassured by the presence of his new Gillette Mach-3.

Weekends followed a pattern when it came to the various people working for Empty Men.

Six months earlier, before Backwasbola was in charge of the MechTee team (contractors for Empty Men), the big boss, ‘PPTwala’, was then in the country. He called day long meetings in this room on Saturdays. In that meeting attended by about 15 of the team members, a power point report and an excel spreadsheet would be projected on a large flat screen TV and read line by line from top to bottom for 4 hours. Then it would be read from bottom to top for 4 hours and after which it would be followed by a list of actions assigned to everybody in that meeting which they would have to complete in the next 24 hours. Sundays usually were reserved for one-on-one reviews with all. PPTwala was amply supported in follow ups by ‘Biwi No. 1’ and ‘Chacha Chamcha’.

Those days were now past.

Fast forward into the future, the African Gods took pity on the poor MechTee men and PPTwala returned to his home station for lack of a visa and the other two sidekicks disappeared much to the relief of the rest. A queer turn of events meant that they were left with just Bakwasbola, who was originally brought in to keep Cheeku Maharaj, the big daddy of the 5th floor, in check.

Nowadays, the men from Mechtee were far more relaxed. Pehalwan, Baba Om and Baccha managed to make time for a dip in the swimming pool, Sharaabi would time to wander aimlessly in the hotel premises with a drink in hand, Pujari his roommate would sit in his room singing Bhajans and reading the Bhagwad Gita and Chaatu Sharma was, err well, he still went to office on Saturdays irrespective of not having any work to do there.  The rest didn’t care anyway.

The weekends have been quiet in the recent past, unlike the one in which Baba Om and Sharabi saw a man drown in the pool and the ‘lifeguard’ far from resuscitating the drowning man, he almost fainted himself in shock. Or the one in which Sharabi got mugged in the most happening place in town.

Weekends are too quiet these days.

Could be the lull before the storm.

Part 2 – Sweets and Birthdays.

Posted: May 17, 2014 in Humour

empty men Bakwasbola woke up at 4 am.

It was not that he couldn’t’ have slept a couple of hours extra. After all, even with his regular wake-up time at 6 am, he still managed to be the first person to enter the 5th Floor on every working day.

Today was special. It was his 51st Birthday.

For a second, he felt old. Then he remembered what his daughter told him the previous year for this birthday.

“Daddy, Tom Cruise is your age. Look at him. Does he look old?”

He then pulled out a picture of Tom Cruise he had kept in his drawer for motivational purposes and had a look at it. Tom looked good for a 51 year old. Rather good. Bakwasbola smiled.

“I can’t be that bad either he thought. He then remembered Tom Cruise was only 5’ 7”. Bakwasbola was 6’ 1”. He smiled wider.  He felt very good about himself in fact. Never felt better. Tom Cruise was his age and half a foot shorter. He was pretty sure that Tom never had to manage the floor of a company as big as Empty Men Telecom either. Oh, he was definitely better and intellectually smarter than Tom Cruise..

Bakwasbola then took a shower, oiled his oh-so-masculine, ‘Tony Stark’ moustache and then went to the kitchen counter

It was time to do some special cooking for his ‘strategic’ friend Chaatu Sharma who lived two floors above him.

Bakwasbola then made the sweetest ever ‘pongal’ possible and took to Chaatu Sharma’s apartment before he left for office. Bakwasbola wanted Chaatu to believe that he liked him though every time he had a drink, after the 5th peg, Bakwasbola would open his heart and call Chaatu a scoundrel and a work-shirker – an act he would blame on the drink the next day.

Chaatu was smart enough never to retaliate on such instances because he wanted to be in Bakwasbola’s good books (the same way he wanted to be in the good books of every floor manager before him).

Therefore Chaatu would keep Bakwasbola happy by being the ‘yes man’ and by sending the latter home cooked dinner every night. Bakwasbola also made sure that any portion of the food he made went up to Chaatu’s home too.

Meanwhile, Baccha first woke up at 6.40 am on the day of Bakwasbola’s birthday not realising the significance of the day. He switched off the alarm on his old Nokia phone and then went to sleep again. He then woke up again at 7.00 to switch off the second alarm on his Samsung phone. He could afford another 15 minutes of sleep surely.

30 minutes later Baccha was running to the bathroom shedding the clothes he wore on the way. He had overslept despite the two alarms and was forced to multi-task in the bathroom to save time. The brushing of one’s teeth could be done while sitting on the toilet too.

After his shower, Baccha got dressed, slung his bag over his shoulder and went to the kitchen to grab a quick bite when he saw a note on the kitchen. Bakwasbola had left him a ‘Good morning’ note with a smiley and an instruction to enjoy the sweet pongal. There was a bowl of sweet pongal next to the note.

Baccha looked at the sweet pongal and groaned..

Such was the situation that whenever Chaatu Sharma sent across dinner to Bakwasbola, he sent across a little extra portion for Baccha so that Baccha didn’t feel bad. Likewise, Bakwasbola also left that ‘little extra’ portion for Baccha when he prepared food and sent it across to Chaatu. These ‘little portions’ were however, not enough to satiate Baccha’s hunger, so Baccha had to cook an extra meal for himself despite these treats from his two benefactors,  both of whom he couldn’t decline for fear of offending them. Bakwasbola was Baccha’s boss and Chatu was his boss’ friend.

The result – in 3 months’ Baccha’s waistline had gone up by three inches, his weight by 7 kilos and two of his pants had split by the seams, which included  one that gave away in office – Baccha had to go the bathroom and staple his pants seams to hold it together till the end of the day.

Today, Baccha decided to not give in to temptation. So he ate half the portion and left the remaining half in the fridge and then rushed to the Empty Men office.

On the corner of the 5th floor, employees were standing a queue to go and greet Bakwasbola who was grinning from ear to ear. Chaatu had spread the word about the birthday and Bakwasbola was surprised to see how popular he was on his birthday. He thought there were at least a few people who disliked him but today everybody seemed nice and eager to greet him – everybody except Baba Om who was not to be seen around (Baba was still pissed that after having waved his magic wand and having turned back time to give a presentation in time, he did not get due appreciation).

Bakwasbola had forgotten that he was only 4 days away from completing the mid-term appraisals for all those people who had come and greeted him earlier.

Baccha went and greeted his roommate, wished him a happy birthday and also complimented him on the fine sweet pongal. Bakwasbola was delighted as it was the first ever time he had made sweet pongal and this was the first feedback he received on his culinary skills on that particular dish.

Later in the afternoon Baba Om, Pehalwan and Baccha were having lunch together when Baccha mentioned about the sweet pongal.

Baba Om chided Baccha for being the official guinea pig for Bakwasbola which Baccha vehemently denied.

“So do you remember the last time you ate regular pongal for breakfast cooked by Bakwasbola”, asked Baba

“That was just a week ago” replied Baccha.

“And there was nothing wrong with it. I suppose?”

“Well it was just a little salty”

“Was that it?”

“Ok, the cooking wasn’t that perfect”

“So are you saying that it was good?”

“It was edible of course”

“Come to the point” said Pehalwan as he cut the conversation short. “What was wrong?”

“The guinea pig here ate half cooked pongal last Sunday and spent half the day in the toilet after that” said Baba Om laughing.

“But how did you know it was half cooked” asked Pehalwan in suprise

“I met Sharaabi on Sunday who was offered the same pongal by Bakwasbola. Sharabi ate two spoons and ran away saying he was full but after that came and told me the real reason he ran away was that the pongal was only half cooked”

They both then looked at Baccha for his response.

Baccha got defensive: “What the hell guys? I don’t eat that stuff every day. It tasted good and I was hungry. Besides he’s my boss. I can’t toss away the food he offers me. Besides he didn’t under cook on purpose and my stomach is oversensitive anyway”

“Just pass us the salad dude”

Baccha shut up and ate. Life wasn’t pretty these days anyway.

Part 1 – Just Another day at the Empty Men Office!
Untitled It was another ‘eventful’ day at Empty Men Telecom. Tecnoplant (Empty Men Telecom’s largest strategic partner organisation) had an ambitious plan of migrating one of their systems into Empty Men Telecom’s new premises on Sunday night and it had gone awfully wrong.

On Sunday night, a dozen Lungi and Bermuda clad men with laptop bags flung over their back walked in with an air of determination to the 2nd Floor of the towering Empty Men’s IT headquarters after three rounds of security checks to sit down and start on their stuff; some of them took a break for only the occasional puff.

On Monday afternoon, the Lungi and Bermuda clad ‘IT specialists’ from the land of curry were still sitting at their desks on the 2nd floor sweating it out. Lungis next to Louis Philippe, they were all working on what had gone wrong.

Baccha was worried that morning.

He huffed and puffed his way between the 5th Floor and the 2nd   thrice (using the staircase of course: in Empty Men, elevators work only on Tuesdays and Thursdays).He came across his pal, Tecnoplant’s project manager Guddu, who was busy toggling between various emails answering to every manager, Snr. Manager, General Manager and what-not-manager on why the migration had not completed successfully.  Guddu then sent a special email to Baccha who sent it across to another set of managers who were incessantly calling him to know why the ‘crucial’ testing activity scheduled for Monday morning could not be conducted.

As per documented Empty Men policies, if a planned crucial system change doesn’t happen on time, all the people involved will be locked up in a room called the ‘Battle room’. Nobody is allowed to leave the room and a specially appointed jailer from the crisis management department makes sure that people only take toilet breaks when their bladders are filled to capacity and on the verge of bursting. The Lungi men and the Bermuda boys with their leader Guddu slogged on. The resolution never came.

By Tuesday afternoon, Guddu who had come with a clean shaven face on Sunday night had a foot long beard, some of the Lungi men had to be taken out in stretchers due to exhaustion and yet the resolution never came.The Battle room shifted 3 floors, and the jailer was joined by a General  Manager who was sweating bucket-loads and the resolution never came.

Guddu’s workforce was down to half and he now sported shiny new pimples on his face just above his beard. Baccha meanwhile was avoiding eye contact with his boss, Cheekhu Maharaj. The last time he told Cheekhu Maharaj that the testing activity got delayed, Baccha almost lost his eardrums. The thought of being one more ‘mute’ person on the floor didn’t appeal to Baccha. So Baccha kept shooting out email after email to show he was too busy to even look up from his computer throughout the day.  He kept his fingers crossed. If Guddu and his lungi team came up with a Eureka moment within Wednesday, he could probably still retain his eardrums at the end of the week.

Baccha’s next door neighbour, the high flying consultant – Baba Om, meanwhile, was having his own problems. The floor manager BakwasBola had earlier come and questioned him why he had not finished the weekly presentation. The details of the presentation were given to him at 4 pm for a meeting at 3.30pm. Baba protested. BakwasBola (who had been taking vocal lessons from Cheekhu Maharaj recently) screamed and the ground shook on the 5th Floor! Baba relented for the time being. He uttered some magic words and waved his magic wand.The clock turned back to 8.45 and the presentation was ready. BakwasBola was still not completely happy. He didn’t get time to review the presentation and had hoped Baba Om would have turned the clock back 30 minutes instead.

The day never gets over at Empty Men Telecom but Baccha left at 6.30 pm. He returned to his apartment just in time to see Baba Om entering his own apartment. Baba was his next door neighbour who shared his apartment with Pehalwan K while Baccha was lived in an apartment  he shared with BakwasBola.

At 9 pm, Baccha, Baba Om and Pehalwan get together to have the rice and ‘bhegan bhartha’ cooked by Pehalwan . And they happily bitched about the day’s events. Bakwasbola was still reading and re-reading the presentation on the 5th Floor.  Guddu and his Bermuda boys were about to get a temporary parole from the battle room for dinner. It was just another day in the life the ones working in the Empty Men office.    

To Be continued.

Aside  —  Posted: May 16, 2014 in Humour