Archive for June, 2014

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)