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.’
‘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.’
‘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.