Part 5 : Empty Men Chronicles – The Muthusamy Days

Posted: June 7, 2014 in Humour

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)

  1. santhosh k jacob says:

    MechT needs to be replaced with Tecnoplant I think.. 🙂


    • rojiabraham says:

      It’s actually Mech Tee, by the way.

      Tecnoplant is the company where Guddu and his bermuda gang works. Mech Tee is the contracting company where most of the others belong too (Bakwasbola, PPTwala, Baccha, Pehalwan, Muthusamy etc) 🙂


  2. Manas Hotta says:

    Great to know about the head office work :)..This is great writing ..Thank you Roji. I should thank Nitin who connected me to Sanjeev and thanks Sanjeev to share the moment at the tea stall and now this wonderful blog..Many thanks Gentlemen.Am trying the map these characters 🙂 But definitely difficult …

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rojiabraham says:

    Thanks Manas! Just enjoy the stories without trying to wonder who is who! The blog is fictional though it has been inspired by events around me. 🙂


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