Wednesday, April 16, 2008

To hell with IT

Vijay was sweating like a pig. He looked at his watch and found that he was running dangerously late. His fingers moved slowly towards his head and he wiped off the sticky sweat caused by high humidity during summer in Chennai. Reluctantly, he woke up from his bed and dragged himself to the bathroom for a cold shower. He had to brush, shave, bath, dress and drink coffee within a small matter of thirty minutes so as to be on-time to catch the bus which takes him to his office.

Vijay is a Project manager with around six years of experience in a famous IT firm in Chennai. He has handled many high-pressure projects around the world over the years and has won many accolades for his oustanding work. He recently got married to another IT professional an year back and is a normal soul dreaming of a simple and peaceful life. For him, catching the office bus in the morning is the biggest thing in the world, until he catches the bus. People near his house often see him run like anything to catch the bus. To save time, he used to brush while bathing and have coffee while dressing. But whatever he did in the morning, his focus is always on one thing. Catching the bus on time. But why is he crazy about catching a bus everyday? If he did not catch the bus on time, then he is forced to travel by Corporation bus in pack traffic. Taking into account that he had to take three overcrowded, snail paced busses for 25 kilometers in the morning heat and humidity, it is a huge nightmare. He did experience the nightmare of going to work in corporation bus after missing the office bus. The same night, he promised himself that he would never miss the bus again.

But, will the early morning trouble end after catching the bus? It is definitely a much better option for him, but he still had to spend one and a half hours in his seat doing nothing.Vijay feels that the office bus is not too attractive. It also has its fair share of dirt inside which makes it impossible to wear anything in white.

Bus drivers in Chennai are maniacs. They hit hard on the brakes every single time they wanted to apply the brake. The same applies to acceleration as well. This obviously makes it impossible for him to read anything for more than five minutes. Is the bus conducive to induce a sleep in him? After all, he did not want to waste one and half hours when he is fresh in the morning just by sitting inside the bus doing nothing. He claims that people who are sensitive to light and sound while sleeping, cant sleep even a minute in his bus. It is a pity that radio roars on top of its voice inside the bus and also the bus has no protection to protect sharp rays of sunlight entering it. He had to sit in the bus with radio noise, hot sun and vehicle pollution for nearly one and half hours to cover twenty five kilometers. By the time he reaches office, at nine in the morning, he invariably is as tired as a dog.

Being a Project manager, life is not easy for him at work. He had to work hard to meet his targets. At the same time he had to work very hard to earn his plate of meals in the canteen. He works in a building where three thousand people work. All come running in for lunch in the only canteen facility available. People normally queue to get a token and then stand in another queue to get the food and then stand in another queue to get a seat to sit and eat. It is always a struggle for him during lunch and on a lucky day, he finishes all three queues in just under an hour! In all, it takes around a couple of hours to go back to his seat after lunch. As he is newly married, he is always under pressure to go back home soon. He had to catch the bus at 6 PM to go home at 8 PM. Again in high humidity, radio noise, heavy braking and vehicle pollution. And there is a consolation for him this time. No Sun to burn him out! At times, he had to work till late in the night to counter time lost in the queues. Also, the company is so insane to ban its employees from taking lunch being in their desk.

Travelling for long hours in the bus obviously has its effects on travelers on top of the existing hardships. There are tens of thousands of people like Vijay in Chennai. How do they mitigate this issue? They either have to quit the job or move to a location close to office. Moving close to office is virtually impossible due to very high rental prices. Even for a person like Vijay, who is a project manager by profession, cannot afford a luxurious life that he enjoys being in outskirts of Chennai.

Even though Vijay is spending eight hours or less at work, he finds it difficult to balance his time with work and life. He had to do all the household work after coming home at night. Very few people have the energy to look at things after a tiring day. Is it really worth earning so much money when you cannot balance your time between work and personal life? or when you cannot take care of your children and cannot take them out for a walk or understand their needs?

Some fool said sometime back that change is always a good thing and it is a tribute to the city that is changes rapidly and always has this unpredictability tag in the way it changes. But what would you do if something you do not want to happen, happens? How many of these people have a hobby? How often have they got time to take their loved ones in their arms and tell them how pretty they are? Why are people so ignorant about lighter side of life? It is good to sacrifice best things in life as a result of the changes this city brings in.

Vijay had started at seven in the morning and reached home late in the evening after spending eight hours at work, four hours in the bus and two hours in lunch queue. More than half the time were spent doing nothing. His wife was already asleep when he came in. He went to bed very late and was thinking about the same procedure he had to undergo for years to come.

And why wouldn't he sweat like a pig when he wakes up the next day?.