Nick Second Life

The Story of an MBA grad in Recession times.. as told by Nick!

Posts Tagged ‘Nick Subhendu’

MiL – Who cares about Lunch Anymore

Posted by Subhendu on September 15, 2011

When Nick turned back and paced his way into his cabin, he brushed past the thoughts which were in his mind.

Normally when it nears lunch time, a Group chat window in Skype blinks red for him and his three best pals – Tom, Dick and Harry ping him saying its time! Introductions again? Sure. Tom is hefty, rides a Merc and is brimming with ideas all the time. Few of his ideas are so funny that you literally roll on the floor laughing. He is the only married guy in the group and he keeps giving Gyaan about bliss of married life. Result? Of course – Others keep bashing his statements! Dick has nothing to do with his name.  He is lean, 6 feet 2.  Creative Designer. His name should actually be Kid instead of DiK. Simple yet firm. Harry normally stays aloof – Sings bollywood songs when he is on mute in conference calls. No, never has there been any situation where mute went off. No one never told him that stop shouting Harry. Please dont assume things. Nothing such ever happened. And last one is me – Nick. I am what I am. Possessive about everything around me. Voracious eater. Believing more in gobbling rather than eating blissfully.

Near about the same time as everyday the Skype window went red. “Lunch?”… “Yes”… “yes”… and they were waiting for me. I was somehow not hungry. I was just looking at the chatbox aimlessly. “Nick?”. With a reflex action – I typed “Yes”.

MayfairThe restaurant was far away. Atleast 5 miles from the office, yet Nick and his friends drove there, everyday. They stopped at all traffic signals as usual. Occasionally Tom swore if someone suddenly came in front of his car. At times, they even were caught by traffic police but that is a completely different story. Today, however, was totally different.

“Where are you” – Harry blurted looking at me.

I woke up from the state of trance. “I am here only, why?” I blushed. I very well knew that i was still with the voice which called me up couple of minutes ago! But there was something in the voice which just stuck to me. It was as if I could hear the voice resonating in my ears even now. I was just listening to the same voice over and over. It just made me feel different.

“You are blushing like a teenager who just got proposed!!” Tom looked back from the steering wheel.

“No!! I am not. Comm’on you guys!” I defended.

I could hear their murmurs. And the hum of the car engine. And i could also hear the sound of the wind swishing past the glass windows of the car. As if each zephyr of air just came in close with a fresh scent of love. I could even smell the freshness of jasmine. Jasmine?!!

Finally everything stopped. We arrived at the restaurant. It looked all different to me. It just looked way too bright. I brushed past the thought. Wishful thinking or daydreaming! When orders were being given I said Ditto and thats it. Food was on the table.

The appetite was gone. I was just staring at the food. My fingers were numb yet fiddling with the fork. I wanted to appear as natural as possible. I was excited but i did not want to reveal. May be I am actually day dreaming or imagining too much. I did not want to appear stupid with a phone call.  Gobbled up whatever was there on the plate.

It was already 2 15 PM.  Back to work!


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7 Days – Madly in Love

Posted by Subhendu on September 7, 2011

Does matter if he added more inches to his waist. Does not matter if he lost more strands of hair than he added. But time flees by.

Nick is almost old. No..Just Older.

DAY – Zero

The last visit to the IGPark in Bhubaneswar made Nick realise he cant do this stuff anymore. Running around trees, Talking to each other for hours is just not possible anymore. Humidity worries overpowered the power of love. Still over the last 1 week, 7 days to be precise, what happened left Nick wondering. Wondering about how much Baccha still his Dil was!

It seemed like yesterday when the mobile stirred on “Silent Mode” when Nick was just about to go for lunch. Hurriedly, Nick rushed out of his cabin into the alley where he planned to take the call. He could hear his cabin door slam behind him, he could hear people murmur, he could even feel he would slip while rushing.

“Is it Nick?”

Day Zero - Nick Second LifeThere was a female voice on the other end. Tried to recognize hard before saying yes. Is it that Customer Service Agent Moitree from the Same Old Kolkata Matrimony office again? No it was not her. Is it that Client Relationship office of the Ford Showroom? No. Did not sound like her. She has a very false sweet accent. This voice was clear, curious yet vague as if the voice was trying to confirm while being assured that it would not be me.

“Yes”. I answered before I could think more. “Who is this?” I questioned back. I was cursing myself why did i reveal myself so soon when i did not even know who the other person was.

“Is this Nick of Nick Second Life?” The voice did not pause. This time her voice had tons of impatience as she blurted these words. She could not control her excitement. She was innocently restless. She just wanted to make sure that it is me.

“Yes! It is Nick of Nick Second Life” This time my answer was firm. My pupils had grown bigger and i was feeling very happy and contended from within. Not because someone is asking for me out of the blue but because readers of Nick Second Life actually believe in me. That I exist. In reality. I had hid my own excitement while speaking the line… “But who is this?, Do I know you?” I regained control.

“Sorry, You dont know me. I read your blog and I also saw you on one of the matrimony sites…. ”

I could not even hear further. I was getting more and more anxious. Hurriedly, I walked out of the alley so that i could smile on the phone while talking yet not being conscious of being watched. This seemed like the Matrimony bucks talking. I had paid the silly matrimony sites a huge amount now and in no way they helped me. This for the first time was looking like a Shaadi dot com commercial where couples meet online and match is done.

“Sorry – I could not hear”. I gave a lame excuse asking for her to repeat the sentence.

The excitement in her tone had not died down yet. She was breathing fast and as if she just wanted to say out everything in one breath. She started – “I am Kusum. You dont know me and I also dont know you!” She gasped for breath. And then she started giggling and then finally laughing. She continued, “I saw you on the matrimony website and i followed you to your blog and am a fan of your blog. But I have not called you for matrimony – I just wanted to let you know that you write very well and you should continue writing. I dont have anything else to say – i was not sure if I would actually speak to you so I have not thought what to tell you and I will call you tomorrow morning!”

“Hello!!” I was surprised at the one gasp sentence and the abrupt end.

“Is it not okay if I call you tomorrow morning?” She thought may be she asked too much and this time it was a confirmation which she sought. That much only would relieve her.

“Yes, But why would you call … ”

She cut me through. ” Thank you Thank you!!, I will call you in the morning tomorrow.!” And then there was the stupid Airtel Beep tone which is always very frustrating. I looked at the screen – 3 minutes 54 seconds. I was wondering if this is the solution to all my problems. There had been days when i looked at the sky and wondered if when would all my problems end. There were only echoes. No answer.

May be this had the answer within. May be this was the final conclusive thing which was going to happen. May be I am hallucinating. Thoughts started overpowering me. That is when i decided..  Hataao Yaar.. Lunch pe concentrate Karte hain!

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Nick Falls in Love

Posted by Subhendu on December 19, 2009

Little did Nick know when he woke up that the day is going to be so wonderful as it unfolds.

Tussle of the Business Models

Tussle of the Business Models

Lazily, I woke up. Dragged myself to the door to pick the newspaper from the balcony. Indian Express. The aroma of the newspaper, fresh newsprint, is intoxicating. I am one of those who loved new books in childhood because they smelled great. Old habits die hard. I inhaled a deep fresh breath. As I turned from the first page to the third, there was a colorful advertisement pamphlet inside the paper. I started reading.

It read – ” Express your love to your loved ones with Archies collection “.  Just the logo of Archies Gallery on some new retail outlet in Navi Mumbai made me go thinking.  I had seen the Archies and Hallmark ways of life sometime in my childhood.

School days. Tiffin boxes neatly packed by mom, black shoes polished by dad. The amazing bicycle with a straight handle. Riding the bicycle with both hands in the air just near the place where the girls got down from the school bus. The classrooms where boys sat in 3 rows and girls sat in one row near the windows. And then someone very special. Everyone would have some or the other memories. For me it is a little more vivid. Just because for me there were a lot of those girls in my classroom and in junior classes in school who were special. I still stocked all those images, cards, letters and teddies! So I remembered the so called girl friends in school who brought their lunch boxes for me, their madness in gifting me teddy bears. And just the fact that I had multiple people who I felt are my girlfriends <I bet, they would never have thought me as their boyfriend!>, I could know this is infatuation. Because, like Alok, a very good friend of mine,  always said “When everything comes in your way you’re in the wrong lane“. So somehow since then I had never looked back but then I had not thrown away those Archies cards either.

I had grown. I had grown out of this Archies and Hallmark way of life. I had grown older. 28. But I always missed the girl who wore 2 pony tails, sang loudly in the lunch break and wore a pink hairband. She was Minal. Minal was very talkative and she never stopped blabbering.  Her voice was so sweet and cute but the class monitor always had her name up on the blackboard. I loved it anyway. I mean I loved the lunch which her mother prepared for both of us.  I loved it when she gifted me anything and I just gave her small cadbury’s! She waited for me in lunch break to eat together, after I finish playing. When she sang Antakshari in the class, she looked at me. It was a great feeling when sometimes I would turn my head in the class when teacher was teaching to look at her and find her looking at me. Then she would smile and I would smile too.  But then that does not mean we love each other right. For my curious readers , No, I never proposed. And She never did too. We just were good friends. Dont wink at me now.

In my journey from 16 years of age to 28, there had been things which I saw and which made me what I am today. I was alone in my apartment and my apartment had a great view outside from the 20th floor. But I cooked for myself, bai did the dishes, dhobi pressed my clothes, I drove myself, I partied with friends, went to malls with friends, went to movies with friends and did all that a bachelor should or could do. But somehow I felt lone. And I was looking at Bharat Matrimony advertisement on the 7th page in the Express, since long, sub-consciously.  The message was too tempting – ” Join Bharat Matrimony now to meet your perfect partner”.  I was amazed by the correlation between the two business models. MBA teaches you all this – to split apart sentences and think why the heck the guy who wrote this line actually wrote it. It actually does not need an MBA to understand that the target market of Bharat Matrimony and similar sites are for those who actually are not convinced by Archies way of life. (I would not dare to say which one is the best. That is irrelevant anyway.  It is like telling which is best – Air or water).

I logged in.

Amazing Site. As anyone of you would have done, I did the same. Started searching! Quest to find a partner. There are 975 profiles of brides in my own caste, speaking my mother tounge! Amazing! I am going to have a wonderful day and equally hectic, I told myself as I clicked on the Signup button. I did not care to strike off another day to say 7 more days left to leave Mumbai. I just wanted to make my loneliness of the apartment vanish. And I just felt, this is another beginning. Am I falling in Love with multiple search results? I just cant. I am no longer infatuated. I started browsing the profiles… I was searching for Minal..

It is the start to a new journey. Nick told himself.

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Someone Listens to your Heart!

Posted by Subhendu on December 15, 2009

It is amazing how life keeps changing. It is amazing how there are so many things in store, yet we don’t know anything in advance. It is like you just see the next step but you don’t know where the staircase leads to or how long would it turn out to be. During this journey, when you feel at some point in time, that there is no one listening but you want yourself desperately to be heard, to share out your feelings, be rest assured there is someone who is hearing you. And answering to every question of yours. Listening to your heart!

It was a Saturday. Wrong day of the week to wake up early and be on your way to office. Many people grudge about it. I too did. On the way, I parked my Pulsar in front of the local betel shop near Truptee for a pack of Gold Flake Kings. Brushing past the crowd of people, I made my way to the panwala. The faces near the shop were all familiar, thanks to the habit of mine. As I watched the circles of white smoke circle up in the air after the first puff, I overheard Raghunath.

Raghunath, a chain smoker in his late sixties always had a lot of stories and his stories always had a lesson. Frail body, bald, shriveled skin, white moustache with a Wills Flake between his shaky index and middle fingers, Raghunath smoked in a hurry always. He took in large puffs of smoke in one go and wanted to feel all the smoke everywhere in his respiratory system.


Pray with your heart

“I was reading in class 6th. At home there always was a shortage and scarcity of food. In 2 days we could not afford even one meal of rice. 5 kids, 2 parents, in all 7 hungry mouths. One day, I was getting ready for school. There was nothing to eat at home. My mother had some wheat flour collected. She put some hot water and salt over it, mixed it and served to me and my brothers and sisters. I was so hungry that ai just tried to drink up all of it. But I could not bear it. I vomited as soon as the hot porridge touched the first taste buds of my tongue. I could not eat any longer. I just could not stop crying. My mother hugged me tight, her eyes wet. She wiped my tears with her saree and barely could utter, unsure.  “Go to School. When you are back, I will have lots of rice cooked for you.” As I opened my eyes to look behind my mother, I saw my brothers and sisters hungrily eating the food which I left off. And fighting amongst themselves. I could not bear the sight and I fled from the place. On the way to school, I was praying to God – Would this ever be over? That day in the school prayer hall, I just cried and prayed.  In the lunch break, when other students rushed out to play and eat, I just was crying and was alone in the class room. Just then the peon came over and said that the headmaster was calling me. I trembled.

I entered the room and the headmaster was sitting in the room surrounded by around 12 teachers. He started- What have you eaten in the day? “Wheat flour porridge” I said and waited to hear everyone laugh. Surprisingly, no one did. They all were looking at me in sympathetic eyes. My headmaster pulled me closer to him. Hugged me and said. “Here are 231 rupees Raghu. Because of your excellent performance in Class 5 exam, you are being given a scholarship of 231 rupees.” He put the money in my pocket and made me sign a form. I was so happy. I had not seen a one rupee coin ever and I was given 231 rupees in one go! I felt so happy. I ran home, breathless.

When I reached home, I saw my mother in her torn saree, with hands on her forehead. My father had not yet reached home with the food. I gave all the money to my mother. We then bought rice with the money, and even after eating, we could re-sell and get going. After that, somehow, we managed and never ever had to go hand to mouth again. So from that day till date, I believe in God the most. And I believe that when all doors close and you feel that no one is listening, there is someone who listens.

My cigarette had ended since long. I was just waiting for the story to finish. Raghunath had had a tough life. Now he owned 5 apartment buildings in Mumbai, had 2 chains of retail business and his sons are doing good in life. The wrinkles on the old mans hands and forehead actually told many such stories of his struggle in his lifetime.

I started my bike and left the place. It etched my mind that when called with a pure heart, God does listen. Suddenly, Mumbai is teaching so many things to me.

10 more days to go!

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The Truptee Restaurant Case

Posted by Subhendu on December 13, 2009

Palm Beach Road

Palm Beach Road

From within the Studds helmet, the sound of the bike actually appeared muffled.  These new high CC bikes are amazing with their pickup, silencers and control. I was speeding at 65 mph. Palm Beach Road was well lit at 3 AM in the morning, I thought.

It had been a hectic day, I remembered. Anyone related in any way to the IT industry would understand the pains during a software implementation. Today was one such day. In the last one year of my association with the current team of mine, we had made one thing sure -partying every weekend even though we were under the radar consistently and were crushed under thousand pascals of pressure. I had a brilliant team and each backed up the other. I felt lucky working with them. Issues just disappeared when my team and I sat over any such for an hour. When I was on the bike after the last piece of code was executed live, my team had opted voluntarily to watch over issues, all night.

I looked into the concave mirrors. Could see only a couple of high speed bikers and zazzy cars in the trail. Software buffs, I thought.

I was already hearing the sounds from my intestine. How long would a 30 metre tube inside stomach last with 2 pieces of family size Dominos. My eyes hungrily scanned through the transparent glass of the helmet for a light in the roadside. Which restaurant would be open at 3 AM in the morning. but, strangely, Mumbai is different. Like NY which claims to be the city which never sleeps, Mumbai does not fall much behind. When I took the final turn near Suryansh Apartment, I was just searching for the tag Open on the doors of Truptee. And I found it. The restaurant is just near the corner, barely 100 meters away from my apartment.

Mrs. Sawant was a lady in her late fifties. Her husband died of some disease which the doctors could not diagnose. Her only son, now thirty some, had married and settled in States. Like most parents of our generation, Mrs Sawant could not just adjust with the climate, surroundings and people in the states. She was not very comfortable speaking English and never cared to learn. No Nick, What will I do learning English at this age..I am happy here knowing that my son is happy there. She had come back to Mumbai after staying for 3 months with her only son, daughter in law and Silvy, their daughter. And she never forgot to thank her husband for having had the wisdom to buy this place for her. When her husband actually had bought this restaurant space, they had had a serious fight….I knew it all.

After all, when one grows old, all you need is companionship. Money is not a matter. Property is not a matter. Parents take so much care of their children. When a kid is born, the mother keeps awake to see the child sleep in peace. When the kids starts to crawl, mothers are so happy. Kids ask the same questions a thousand times – where does the crow live, mama? Mama, where does the wind come from? Where do the clouds come from? Who is throwing water from above? ..Parents never get tired. When  the kids want something and they cant express, they cry. We all have cried for something or the other in childhood. Somehow we forget all of it when we grow up. But mothers are always there to understand, just that we fail to understand that they also need something. They don’t demand as we did. We cried loudly and they cry silently. Mrs. Sawant had asked her son to come back. But he now is a father too and Silvy could not adjust here in India. So, he denied. I would not blame her son nor Mrs. Sawant. She just wept silently.

She looked at me as her son. She used to wait for me so that I don’t go to sleep, hungry. Strange chemistry. Home away from home for both of us. She never accepted money when I wanted to pay the bill after the meal. She just wanted someone to hear her story. And I was never tired hearing. I missed my family too and everytime I went to Truptee, I got a stronger resolve to go back home, spend time with my mother. And indeed, my resignation had this as one of the reasons.

I counted the days. 11 more days to go home.

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The Defense Canteen Beer

Posted by Subhendu on December 7, 2009

Recession did a lot of things. Mostly bad.

Few good things did happen too. Organisations consolidated. Real estate prices fell, relief to people like me who had missed out on the bull run. Not that I can afford buying it now. Its just a feel good factor. While some people grew efficient, by sitting on benches and adding certifications to their CVs, others grew clever.

It was a Wednesday. I grew restless looking at the newspaper. The Times ascent pages were filled up with junk job postings and & jobs have like dried up. Somehow I was lucky to have found someone who offered me a second job so I could resign from the current one. But Notice periods still did not cease to exist. And I had to get ready for office.  As I entered the dining room, i froze!

I stayed alone in the apartment. I lock my doors securely everynight. There is no way in which someone can actually enter into my room. And now, in the middle of the room, he was standing alone. His head was covered with a steel helmet which glazed in the sunshine. His face was pale or rather he was perspiring. Beads of sweat adorned his forehead but he never made any attempt to wipe them off. He looked tired but his well built, well carved body suggested that he must have been through the toughest phases of his life. He was wrapped in a thin golden scarf which glittered too. I watched him closely. He stood with eyes closed.  He was not breathing! Was he dead? Did he freeze near my window? Why was he alone? Questions like this kept coming into my mind. I was not shocked anymore seeing him in my room, I just stood, thoughtless.

Then I remembered Maddy. Madhubhusan Mohanty.

Maddy was my classmate in my engineering days. Loved to keep a moustache and it made him feel proud. After engineering when 70% of our batch actually went ‘softies‘, he went the ‘hardies‘ way. Obviously there are differences when you actually fight for the country in armed forces and you actually work in a software company for foreigners. But nothing bad in any of it. Both are trying to revive the economy of India and safeguarding it. Maddy was posted in Shimla point and as a Serviceman, he enjoyed lots of privileges. He showered some of them on me too when last week we had shopped for one crate of beer. Mumbai had a bandh declared on the day when both of us drove the Pulsar to nearly 20000 meters into the defense canteen. Inside the canteen was a different story.

Mostly ex-servicemen, their wives, kids with trolley bags were picking up grocery. Felt really good that Government actually has this facility for people serving the forces. They spent their entire lives on government salaries, without corruption and it is actually their right to get things where they dont have to pay taxes. But I also loved Maddy’s generosity. Allowing me to get a bottle of KingFisher Strong for 50 cents  against a market price of $ 2.0.


Defense Canteen Beer

Now, I remembered. The lone bottle of beer which stood on my dining table in the centre, shining in the sunlight was actually the only bottle left. All its other relatives had dried up, and lay dead on the floor. Beer does a lot of wonderful things. It brings back a touch of nostalgia, a lot of memories. It helps people remind how kind other people are, how generous they are. How armed forces guard our motherland and how recession makes people clever!

With all the things said, I was wondering whether I should go back to bed with ‘The Last Samurai‘ or buckle up for office. While I stretched myself near the window, I looked down to look at the pigeons, threw some more rice grains for their day. These are the species which are free.

“I too am, I have resigned”, I said to myself and killed the last man standing. Nick was not going to office today. 14 days to go! No beer left!

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