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Technically Not Possible – 3

In The Mess

There was the usual bonhomie that you normally expect in the staff mess; a hum of chatter, Hi’s, Bi’s and clatter of the cutlery.

Malhotra and Jatinder were having their lunch.

Jatinder was telling him about the great divide. ‘Sir, our IT people know that they working for a company whose core business has to do with farming. Not IT, in short. So, when someone talks with you he or she understands that you can easily lose your way in the jargon. That is the first trick that these experts normally play when they are not in a mood to do something, or when they are confronted with something that they do not understand.’

‘I half suspected this. Profession wise we – they and us – are walking on two different planes.’

‘Yes, Sir.’ Jatinder noted that he was being included in the they – which was the proper approach. ‘Sometimes there is this attitude that the IT person thinks that he is an expert in a knowledge based field – and hence is walking on a higher altitude – than you and me, since we are concerned with such mundane things as seeds, soil, water and digging!’

‘So, they are the intellectuals and we the hands-on types, eh?’

‘Yes.’ Jatinder said taking in one spoonful of dal makhani. The guy cooks really well, he thought, the only trouble was now he will start feeling sleepy!

‘Don’t they want to show something, something to write home about?’

‘We do have ’em. But they are very few. They do not stick around for long. They get out of here and go on to join good IT companies. They do not like to remain stuck in some non-IT place like this. After all, we are farming people at the end of the day: It lowers their market value.’

‘So we are stuck with the half hearted types.’

‘Yes.’

‘Better ones always give their best, whether they like some place or not; whether they are adequately paid or under-paid. It is in their blood.’

‘Hum…’

‘But we lose them very fast!’

Malhotra knew Jatinder very well; he was a man of passion. When he took up some job, then it was not a job for him, it became passion. He had that perception that only very few have, those who are completely in tune with what they are doing.

Jatinder continued, ‘What I have found is that slowly this place has acquired a character. What can be loosely called laziness; or you may call it comfort – most of the technical staff is very comfortable.’

‘Comfort with the job that they doing?’

‘No, Sir. They are comfortable with what they are doing and the way they are doing it. Because,’ here Jatinder took a deep breath and the sadness was all over his face. ‘Because, Sir, they are doing what they want to do it and they do it the way they want to do. I think you get my point.’

When Malhotra looked up Jatinder looking quizzically into his eyes.

‘I think I understand what you want to say.’ Malhotra said remembering ‘technically not possible’ dialogue he had with Sankar.

They kept on with their lunch, the sense of helplessness and anger only somewhat alleviated by the taste of dal makhani and the aromatic basmati rice.

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Technically Not Possible – 2

Revolution to Evolution 

When Sankar left the room Malhotra sat there staring in the blank — the image of the rocket still disturbing his mind.

‘Surely, this is possible,’ he mumbled to himself. He grabbed the intercom and asked Jatinder to come over for a tea.

Jatinder was the man the Boss had advised him to fall back upon in case he needed any advice. ‘He is a common sense man,’ Boss had said, ‘and full of ideas. Call him anytime you get stuck somewhere; he has got the mind to pull you out of any rut that you ever find yourself in!’

Just after five minutes Malhotra discovered what a sage advise his Boss had given. Over a cup of tea he heard Jatinder saying things which were echoing his innermost thoughts.

This place sure has got a problem!

When Jatinder left the room he did so with a specific brief: how to pull out the place from a pensioners’ mindset and get the people to use their brains. He himself had found it quite amazing that people had stopped using their brains in a domain considered to be nerds’ bastion.

Jatinder came from a village lying deep in the interiors of Punjab. It was not a very backward area, as, say, you will find in, say, Rajasthan, or Andhra. Punjab’s terrain is covered with a maze of canals, so even though there was not much prosperity in his village, there was no poverty either.

His parents desired their son to evolve out of the fields and become a man of prosperity which they had been unable to create out of their small field. After completing his graduation from Patiala he started his career as a salesman selling pumps to the farmers.

Soon his imagination was captured by the computer revolution that was taking hold of not only the country but the entire world. Then he got an opportunity to work in the IT Section of his company in Ludhiana.

From Ludhiana to Delhi at the IT office of a big company manufacturing farm equipment was just a matter of evolution, and he had enjoyed every step of his way on this journey.

Just like in Army here too he found a great divide – IT vs. non-IT – on the lines of Army vs. civilian! Having worked on both sides of the great divide he became the company’s man for all seasons. He was always brimming with new ideas.

‘A farmer’s mind is always fertile,’ he often said with a wink.

He had been watching computer revolution sweeping the world around him – he had an intuition he was being witness to a true change: the kind of change that had the potential to take mankind to the next stage of evolution. The bulky tubes gave way to lean chips; sloppy Cobol gave way to smart C: there were so many layers to this revolution that his mind boggled at the sight of a computer.

At that time computers were so big that they filled entire halls. Their blinking diodes gave an inkling of the power that was working behind those bland panels. They had to stand in rows to be able to get the ticket to get their slot of one hour in the Computer Center of the University. And then they punched cards like mad on those punching machines – the pounding sound of the keys was to him like white noise from the outer space!

When he joined the computer center of his first company they were working on PC XT’s which slowly gave way to PC AT’s. By the time he switched job and joined the other company people had started working on the PC 286 – it was the name of the chip which was being celebrated like a celebrity; the magazines were full of the genius of this new wonder kid.

Then came 386, the super chip! He still remembered the excitement that filled the entire computer center when he brought the first piece of this super PC to his office. People came to have a look at this wonder. They touched it and felt it like it was from another planet.

‘You know, the power within this small machine is more than that of that big machine occupying that room!’ they told each other pointing towards a mini computer that needed a room all for itself.

But like other celebrities, the age of this one also was very short – soon it gave way to 486 and then very rapidly to the Pentium series.

The rest is history!

In the meantime – as the gamut of activities covered by computers kept on expanding from servers to networks, to graphics to media and what not – it became more fashionable to call this new Industry as IT Industry rather than the Computer Industry. It made more sense too.

With this, Jatinder too, who had started out as a computer expert, evolved into an IT professional.

 

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