Thursday, June 21, 2007

Outsourced

The sun seemed to slither away at the edge of the screen, sinking into the deep abyss of the Grand Canyon like a thief put to shame. There was none of that blazing glory Pranay was looking for. Just as much. After all, it’s a football going into a giant pothole, he grumbled irritatingly. He checked the time on his watch. The late sunsets in summer always upset his dinner schedule. The brightness of the light outside sent the wrong signals to his stomach, one accustomed to sipping tea at sunset followed by a meal cooked by his mother. He extinguished the sinking sun on his second hand TV and carried the remote with him to the kitchen. He missed his mother. More importantly, he missed her cooking. Twenty two thousand miles away from her, he stared at a can of Bush’s chick peas, his savior. His roommate would be back in a while, he thought. He’d better have his cooking turn over and done with. The punishment endured every two days, for all concerned. He spent a moment wishing he could have learnt how to cook better. But he hadn’t been prepared for it. After all, Wipro never did train him on the skills of cooking up a mean malai kofta. They packed knowledge worth terabytes into his rather untested brain and sent him off to Chicago, to work on a project involving code no one wanted to touch, and what most people wished was never written. He was serving time, away from his mother, away from his city, away from Mrudula. As he mixed the spices in the vessel less washed, he used his limited poetic license to liken Mrudula to the red pepper and himself to the chick peas. The spice in my life, he exclaimed. (At the same moment, a lyricist in a chawl in Koliwada had an epiphany about a song with the same ingredients).

In walked his roommate Bhaskar, a daily voyeur of Pranay’s reveries. What an idiot, he thought to himself. He has seen nothing but this apartment and the office, in all of three weeks. This is the land of the free, the city of the windy, where life is a breeze and you could ride the coattails of freedom. There’s strip joints and beer sold in grocery stores. There’s bowling and pool and football. There are good looking blondes on the street and everyone smiles at you because they like you so much. There is the searing effect of the wind and the dominant protrusion of the Sears tower. What’s not to like in this place? What’s there to mope about a girl who’s waiting for you back home? All I need is to do my work well, and get a job with the company. Then I don’t have to go back at all. The independence of being, and with Pranay’s departure, freedom from chick peas. What more can someone ask for in life?

The evening continued its merry ways as the two roommates entered into their daily discussion on whether or not they enjoyed life in America. Pranay’s melanchony ways were met with contempt by Bhaskar’s pragmatic arguments. They parried on till the sun sank through behind the towel Pranay was drying on the balcony and settled to eat dinner. As Bhaskar negated the taste of the chick peas with a big helping of chips, Pranay munched on the food without much concern for its taste. The evening passed the baton onto the night and the channels flipped from Lou Dobbs’s latest rancor on outsourcing to Jon Stewart’s latest joke on call centers. It seemed like the TV was speaking about them and to them. As they ended the dinner reaching for a bowl of Dreyer’s Rocky Road, the night firmly settled outside their apartment with crickets beginning their operatic solos on the trees below. Bound together by sense of origin, but separated by a sense of purpose, they sat in the balcony in quite contemplation. Bhaskar eventually looked at his watch and silently moved inside to be followed by his compatriot as both reached for their laptops. It was time to chat with their teams in India. The day had just begun, again.

P.S> I woke up this morning feeling discontent about this post. I think the characterizations are inaccurate, juvenile and shallow. Since I have typed it up, I'll leave it here.

11 comments:

Sparsh said...

hmmm...very real. i always wondered how different life is for people who come to the US for jobs,as compared to those who come here for studies n later on start working.or for those who come here as wives.

i guess its a little better for student(not moneywise) 'coz they get a taste of the culture before they start working. cant say for sure tho...

frissko said...

"everyone smiles at you because they like you so much"...

:)..sometimes sarcasm doesnt sound bad..

could kindof relate to this though i havent been away from home for long stretches...(and hey coincidentally i was with wipro for quite a while)..

aabeirah said...

I have heard again and again about how lonely life can be in the US. What makes it more lonely than here in India? I really want to know...is it the relatives or the sense of belonging?

Lotus Reads said...

I'm glad you didn't give in to the urge to delete this post Parth, I really enjoyed reading the story. I have met both, the Bhaskars and the Pranays, but I think I've met more Pranays...

Parth said...

@Sparsh: The life indeed is different, and sitting on the other side of the fence (for eg. watching students live their life when you have been a student once) leaves you wondering how you survived it :-)

@Frissko: That's an interesting coincidence :-)

@Aabeirah: Basically not having a social life to start with is the main problem. The sense of missing all things Indian reduces over time, but not having people you know so well and who know you so well is a problem

@Lotus Reads: Hey, thanks. I bet there are more Pranav's than Bhaskar's out there :-)

Abhishek Dhasmana said...

Agree with "Lotus Reads" that you did not delete it ... the post is pretty good!

If you are discontent with the characterizations then do an Encore! I am looking forward to it.

BTW, your choice of spelling for the lady, MrUdula, instead of MrIdula (which seemed more familiar/natural to me) prompted a web search ... the first link was of a blogger who writes very impressively as well!

Parth said...

@Abhishek: Thanks. That's quite a coincidence. Do you have a link to that blog? Maybe I'll shoot by and take a look.

Pallavi said...

hmm.. i guess its a bit different when u come as a student the revelation of culture is slow and steady..may be!

Abhishek Dhasmana said...

http://mrusblog.blogspot.com/

RS said...

I like the aside about the lyricist in Koliwada :)

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! Having lived with many Bhaskars and Pranays for a few years myself (not anymore though) this is as close as it gets to describing the reality. I found the chips-with-dinner idea very weird at first, after some time I started liking it myself.

..this said, I am happy that I have freedom from the chick peas now :)