Wednesday, September 06, 2006

REFLECTIONS OF A SOFTWARE ENGINEER, PART ONE: SHEEP FATTENING

It's been a week now, in Chennai as a direct consequence of my company deciding that they need my services.

Anyway, I'm not going to get too philosophical, at the risk of sounding like a raving ranting lunatic who has nothing to do but to regurgitate the psychological and metaphysical effects of a month-long tenure at the training center :D

Here goes. Some observations about this rather crazy city, geographically quite interestingly positioned so that it's occupants get a tsunami once every 1000 years to extenuate the scorching heat we are subjected to everyday.

THE INDUCTION PROGRAMME:

This is where we were introduced into the world of our new company. A bird's eye-view, as our ornithological friends would put it. That consisted of a few boring speeches, a few interesting ones, at *drumroll* Hotel Le Meredien. Really. We made sure we did not hurt the chef's feelings, by gorging down anything that was offered to us.

Anyways, the induction programme in itself saw a few tolerable speeches, some people going on an on about system security (make your password difficult to guess - Duh!), and when the fun-loving HR people took over, it usually meant an impromptu game of Dumb Charades or Pictionary. There were some senior engineers in the group, though. And heaven knows what for, unless they wanted to give us Junior Software Engineers (JSEs) an inferiority complex. They nodded their heads, gave out answers, and worse, made jokes about the Greek that we saw on the presentation. I mean, imagine this...

PRESENTER: Our company has CMC1xxxx certification.
JSE 1: Sea-em-see WHAT?!!!
SE: What about CMCyyyy?
P: That is being implemented, maybe in the next 6 months.
SE: *murmurs something to fellow SE*
BOTH SEs: Hahahahahaha.
JSEs (all of us): *WTF?!!!!!!!*

It was sort of like putting kindergarten kids into a biology class, and teaching them alphabet with the DNA code.

SOFT SKILLS TRAINING

Now THIS was serious fun! And largely thanks to our trainer, Lekshmi. We did all sorts of things - make a 3-D model of a proposed Bangalore amendment, play cards (I sucked at that, and made sure any aspirations to foray into stocks were nipped in the bud), command robots to find a hidden key... And we all took away something or the other from the programme. It was massive fun. We even PJed away to glory, and Lekshmi is someone all of us can look upto, not just because of the way she taught, the way she made comparisions... But she was so damn helpful, very erudite and well-read, but what truck us most was, she did what we wanted, and was HAPPY doing it. Inspiration.

HOTEL STAY

We were put up in a temporary accomodation, till we find a place to live. And boy, we made the most of the magnanimity of the Company guys. Breakfast is complimentary, and we usually starved ourselves the previous night so that we could stuff ourselves :D
Me and my roomie, Matthew, now have a proud collection of soaps and shampoos that the hotel provides us everyday.
Hell, we've even taken to using toilet paper just so that we get our 'paisa vasool' from the Hotel. Even though we're technically not paying any 'paisa', it's the principle of the thing!

NEW STAY

The honeymoon of the hotel accomodation had expired, and even though we had plotted various ways to make Mr. Rosario extend our stay by a few more, er, months, none of the plans had materialized andwe were resigned to our new accomodation. A decent bungalow, cheap, accomodating seven people. It's fun here :D

TRAINING

All I'll say about training is this: Orkut for eight hours, AC room. Period.
(Yes, juniors, I know you're drooling!)

And yes, that's about it. We're still the beneficiaries of feet sharpening... I mean, sheep fartening... I mean, sheep fattening :P

Some observations, now...

1. Auto drivers in Tamil Nadu must be slayed when they reach hell. With a Mallu Satan standing with a spear, laughing. If they decide from your accent that you hail atleast 30 km away from Chennai, they decide to triple their normal rate. They take us for a ride, in more ways than one :|

2. I have also discovered that the things least used in the world are TN auto meters :|

3. No matter how terrible hotel soap is, GECTians will use them frantically, trying to finish one in one day, so they can get a new one tomorrow. All hail the GEC tradition of 'oss-adilkkaling'.

4. The heat in Chennai is not actually all that bad, when you consider that the surface temperature of Mercury is 427 degrees celcius.

5. Putting dumb JSEs and experienced Software Engineers in the same induction programme is a disaster :|

6. You can never have enough of free internet.

7.
It took us quite by surprise when a security guard answered our 'Where do we get a bus...' question in fluent English. Coming from a land where English is not very popular among the mass populace, leave alone members of the constabulary, I can tell you it will make our soujourn in this city a lot easier. I have never had prior experience of living in a metro, and I can only suppose the case is better in other parts of India too.

8.
Toilet paper is the most disgusting thing ever invented! It's a shame that upper-class hotels equate prosperity with the usage of rolls of cellulose in the john. It's a disgusting, icky practice. I don't mind them hanging the bloody thing there, for there may be people who are accustomed to wiping their posteriors with *ech*, but this is India, damnit, where poor people like us are used to cleansing with plain ol' H-2-O. And they don't even provide a bucket!
This is akin to the American domination of the world... Enforcing their laws onto us, without leaving us an option :D

More nonsensical reflections after a month or so!