Saturday, January 22, 2011

…I still remember my first job

Most people who know me would think how can I even forget it. I left it just 1.5 years back. And they would be so wrong.

Wipro was not my first job!!!

I started my work life at St. Xaviers’ College, Ranchi (SXC as we prefer to call it)!!! And my first office was on the 2nd floor of the old building of the college behind the college’s bookstore. I'm not sure if this bookstore part is correct, but that was definitely the room where they used to sell copies in which the students were supposed to write their science practical reports; and I guess they also sold the some syllabus kind of things also. It was a damn dusty room where we were intruders.

Oh, by the way, by we, I mean me, Abhishek Banerjee (he stole my name Smile with tongue out , but I have a special spelling Winking smile ) and Kamlesh Prasad.

So, as I was saying, we were intruders in the room, it actually belonged to some of the most fearsome spiders and lizards in the world (ok, that was a bit exaggerated, but then anything with legs > 2 or < 2 is not good for humans).

Now most people would be thinking what would three guys want to do in the most dangerous work site in the world (exaggeration again). So lets take the suspense off (duh)!!!

Well, as we like to put it, we were the IT Department of SXC from the year 2002 summer to 2003 winter. Our job profile – Digitizing the admission forms, tabulating the marks in those forms and then tabulating the marks of the entrance exams!!! Big shots, right!!! Ok, I’ll be honest. Our job was primarily that of Data Entry Operators. We were supposed to enter the details in the application forms into a Fox Pro and then once the entrance exams were done, enter the marks as well. The only intelligent part of the work was to run some queries to join the various badly normalized tables into which all this information was punched in and come out with sensible and usable reports. And to do all this the IT infrastructure we had were 2 archaic PCs which could be booted only in DOS mode and the had B/W CRT monitors. There was another PC which was another PC with a Coloured Monitor and Windows XP OS and Speakers. But we never worked on that one. Come on, how can you even do that. Its Windows XP for God’s Sake. Its precious, like treasure. You don’t punch in data and run queries on XP. That’s a crime. That’s why we only used it for playing music. And our favourite song was a super hard rock kind of song from MI:2; it was actually the MI:2 Theme Song (and now I hate anything that’s even close rock. Its noise).

So, during breaks between classes or after classes or on holidays we would get into the room, put on our music and start punching in the details of the kids hopeful of getting admission in the best college in whole of Jharkhand (and possibly Bihar). Thousands of forms used to go under our hands and eyes. Once in a while our eyes would stop on that one form with the picture of a cute or hot chick. And our hands would turn over the pages of the form to take a closer look at it, to check on details which otherwise we would not give a shit about (because they were not supposed to get into the database). The next thing we would do, would be to abort the data entry screen and go to the command line to run an AVG (average) query on the marks of the current database to check out if her marks are atleast above average (Disclaimer: We never had a clue of the college’s cut off marks, but marks above average would normally mean that the person atleast stands a chance of being considered). If the marks were above average, then we would get back to our work with a happy and hopeful heart expecting to spot the girl someday in college. If not, we’d get back to work with a heavy heart and long face Sad smile. Our breaks from work used to be good. They would normally comprise of either of the two things – a quick trip to the college canteen to get some samosas or egg roll (it was always samosas for Abhishek, dharti pe bojh, vegetarian. He’s such a useless Bengali. How can he be a Bengali and vegetarian at the same time!!!) or stand at the door of the room. Well, we just didn’t stand. Just beside our office was one of the two biggest auditorium style rooms of the old building. These were the rooms where they used to have the classes for the subsidiary subjects. So you would have students from all disciplines. So you would have students (girls) from Arts and Commerce in the same class (Science was pretty lame with respect to girls. No offence!!!). So our break would involve standing (sometimes sitting) at the door and observing (ogling at) the students (girls) inside the class. I’m not the melodramatic nostalgic type who misses his college days and wishes he could go back to those days, but I must confess, my work breaks at office now can never be as good as the one’s I had then!!!

On the whole it was a pretty satisfying job. Nice work environment (spiders and lizards and a 1947 model fan, all always ready to fall off the ceiling), challenging work (trust me, Data Entry is the most challenging work I’ve ever done), smart colleagues (I’m just being nice. I don’t know if any of the girls, who once in a while strayed into that room considered any smart guy in that room other than me Smile with tongue out), flexible working hours and a good pay package (INR 15.00/hr. Yes!!! That’s true. We were billed on an hourly basis. Such things don’t just happen to independent consultants in US or in big shot Indian MNC IT companies). And for all this the credit goes to one and only one person – The most respected person in the college – Father De Brouwer (I hope I got the spelling correct). He was my first boss and I guess he will be the best boss I’ll ever have. He gave me my first job in the world of computers; and what a job it was. I’ve always liked all the jobs (projects actually) i worked on, I love my current one too. But that first one in Father De Brouwer’s room at SXC Ranchi would always be a little special than all others I’ve done or I’ll do!!! I donot wish to go back to it (that would mean taking a severe pay cut Smile), but I wish I never forget it (even if I suffer from dementia at the age of 90).

P.S. – I hope the college has got better computers. But they should definitely not throw away the one’s we worked on. They would fetch a lot in a couple of years (antique is always worth a fortune)!!!

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