We’re inside the desolate ruins of a building. He beats me to a pulp and drags my mangled body across the floor. Fire ants buzzing with anticipation, move towards the trail of blood.
Having successfully demonstrated his dominance, he heals me to my original condition. I have my options laid out in front of me. Work with him or die. No. I have only one. I accept.
Why? Why does he need me? He’s so much stronger than I am. In a situation of exposure to risk, he’s 10 times more likely to survive. Am I just a disposable shield, to gauge the strength of the enemy lurking in the shadows.
Slowly, and carefully we begin to climb the stairs. The cement rubble, fallen over the years, makes grinding noises under our feet. You can feel it, hanging densely in the air. The tension.
There’s an evil energy to the air. It grows stronger the further up we go. I pause and glance back at him. He nudges me to get moving. We don’t stop. Not now. Increased heart rate and perspiration. I curse myself, for my curiosity to explore this shambles of a place.
Step. Step. Step. Stop. Is that what I think it is!? There’s a bunch of kittens writhing on the floor, they’re a sickly bunch. With scarce food and a barren surrounding, only the strongest of the litter survives.
He looks at me with a confused gaze. How did these kittens reach here, to begin with. Gulp. We go further up. We can help them on the way back.
The evil aura is almost unbearable now, like the scratching of nails across a classroom board. It makes me want to close my eyes. It makes me want to go back. It makes the risk of fighting him again look like a no brainer.
No. I have to see this through. I have to find out what it is. If it’s the last thing I do. Step. Step. Step. There she is! She’s looking right at us. Frozen in our steps, our eyes fixated at her.
She has eyes of black and yellow. Eye slits narrow like a snake, ready to strike. Her body, covered with smooth, shiny, black fur. Her legs pressed hard against the ground, ready to jump. Claws as sharp as knives, glistening.
Aaaaaaah. We scream and run out of the place.
Anyway, that’s the story of how I developed a fear of cats when I was in 2nd grade.
I sleep into a world full of adventures, in post-war apocalyptic earth, where my days include fighting starved, scavenging monkeys, wild cats, and robots on long narrow pipes. I wake up in a world of bland misery and loneliness. No quest to fulfill, and no enemies to crush. I live in the fantasies of the people in my dreams. In peace and quiet with solitude and abundance. The grass is always greener on the other side. We crave what we lack. Is eliminating desire the best way to deal with the void. Or working hard and changing your reality to match your dreams the way to go. I’m stuck at this forked road for a long time now. Does having to choose one eliminate going back to the other. I guess not.
My user is broken, it has no idea of the strengths of the character it operates. The amount of points it can score, the number of records it can set, only if we played for a bit longer.
Instead I keep getting thrown into unknown lands, working on different challenges, leveling up to just enough before it gets really difficult. I can master any of them, if we spent a bit more time playing the same game. Every time the game gets the tiniest bit difficult, we start playing a different game.
What is it looking for? Easy wins? How many games can we keep on trying before it realizes that it isn’t gonna get any better if it doesn’t keep playing. For hours and days and months and years. As long as it takes to be best at it. But no, I know it is just a matter of time before I end up in a different universe, learning the rules to a different game, play around for a while before getting zapped into the next one.
I suddenly see the chains There’s literally thousands of them Joining me to everything around me This looks like the messy tangle of wires under my computer desk but hundred times wilder Like a prisoner in shackles bound to everything in sight A few of them are strong and sturdy, making it difficult to move around Others break to the touch giving way for new ones immediately It’s the ones with untested strength that I’m worried about The ones that break without a warning Seemingly strong to touch but frail like glass A lot of the chains that i hold on to seem stretched to the limit, Ready to snap any minute now, The chains comfort me, keep me warm in an otherwise cold and untethered unaffectionate world, They smell like home, like a late breakfast served in bed What are these chains though and what exists at the other end, Are they equally scared about the chain breaking, Do they fear losing out on me too The strong ones that bind me seem old, The new ones are a few pathetic attempts at threads, Delicate, broken with a wave of the palm They need conscious, attentive care to mature or they get washed away, Like decorations after Christmas, out on the sidewalk, broken, forgotten, refuse. I think I need to sleep
The chains move into a metaphysical world where they end into people, things and ideas Existing for the purpose of my survival, and well being Sometimes I can sense them tugging at me, Reminding me, comforting me, telling me they’re still there I don’t know if I’m entirely sure of what lies on the other end, We’ve never met It’s just the little rhythmic tugs that I’m aware of The beautiful feeling of an especially precious, distinct and unique sequence of tugs The dread of its silence, The ones closest to the heart, Some lead me by the hand, some blind me and bind my legs, some wrap around me in a warm fuzzy feeling, Eventually I will get comfortable with anything, The frog never feels the pot boil
This isn’t an article about selection procedures, waiting for the offer letter or how and what you should know about bagging an internship. This is me sharing my experience of the 8 wonderful weeks I spent as an intern at Citi Corp, Pune.
To be honest, I had little to no idea about what I wanted out of the internship season or life really, and was applying to every glorious reputable company which came along. Citi was the first one to shortlist and eventually select me.
For the longest time, I had no idea the kind of work I would be assigned. As I had no preferences to begin with, I wasn’t disappointed on knowing that I would be working as a software developer. Although this freaked me out at first given my lack of programming experience, I was enthusiastic and ready to face any challenges I might face.
On the first day, I was introduced to the 6 other interns I would be working with. We were a weird bunch, and it took some time before we gelled together. Despite hailing from different institutions and backgrounds, we all had the same eager-eyed expression of wanting to do our best.
As it turns out, corporations, especially in the banking sector, have a tedious and nerve-wracking process for on-boarding new employees. It took us the first week to get our computers set up. Add to it a missing manager, who decides to take a break the week the interns are arriving. This was the first bump in the road. Determined to not let it faze me I started learning about the business sector we would be creating solutions for.
Again, I wanted to do more, I was ready to work and prove myself. We bugged the graduates aka buddies to help us get started and tell us what our work would involve or the kind of technology we would work with, and started familiarising ourselves with it. Late into our second week, we received our problem statement: “Extracting and separating the name and address of the client from a text message to auto-populate fields”. Looks pretty basic at first glance. It was. Now, a lot of your internship experience depends on luck. I was lucky enough to have a team with a well defined project, wonderful co-workers and lots of free time.
By the end of the third week we had prepared a working solution for the problem, which to the envy of other interns allowed us spend our time either making minor improvements or playing carrom. I have to say we were improving everyday, at the carrom I mean, sadly my programming skills stayed the same. The pantry was our usual hang out spot and the place where we met most of the other people from our Business Unit.
Work could get boring at times, given it’s cyclic nature. I learnt later on, this is exactly how it is. You do not have work always, you don’t always come in at 10, know what you have to do, and get right to it. Work comes in like sound waves, there will be times when you will be compressed and you will be working for hours on end. And then there will be days when you have so little work, you ask yourself why you bothered to come in. This is something I could’ve done better, utilising my free time, my single most valuable resource. It’s not like I wasted all my time lazing in the 6th floor cafeteria, sipping on my coffee, gazing out of the one-way mirrored glass walls, waiting for my turn at carrom. I wasted some of it. But as it so happens, it was one of the best places to socialise, as everyone in our BU was bound to walk in the pantry some time. We would try to talk to them, hear their experiences and ask our questions.
With about three quarters of our way through the internship, and the onset of monsoon, we decided to go for a trek to Tikona Fort. Fifty kilometers from the city, built on the top of a beautiful lush plateau was this fort. Sitting amongst the clouds, with friends by my side and the fort behind my back, I was exhilarated. It is the most treasured memory I have of my time in Pune. Shared experience is the foundation of any relationship, and this trek for us, was the one. After this we were inseparable, we would go out for meals, parties, or sit talking for a long time.
In the last quarter of our internship, given the early success of our earlier project we were assigned new ones. We were supposed to finish this one in a week, as the last week would consist of presentations and end week formalities. We set to work immediately and managed to finish this one off in time too.
Then it was time for the much dreaded presentations. Our team, had worked on a total of 5 projects. It took us a few late nights and demo presentations with the buddies to get ready with all our presentations. All of us were confident in our work, had agreed upon the parts we would be speaking on and were prepared to get on stage. We made sure to hype each other up, and went forward with the attitude of come what may. The presentations went by in a flash, and were highly appreciated by the senior members of the team, due to its reliability and promise of future implementation in real time applications. We were elated.
Time was starting to slip by us and the more tightly we held on to it the faster it ran out. We did not want this dream to end, as we found in each other a growing understanding and camaraderie. We spent the next couple of days, clicking photographs, cherishing the time we spent together and promising to keep in touch.
This is what I take back from my experience at Citi: don’t measure your success by the metrics set by society, by the annual package you are offered and the kind of reputation a company has that you manage to get into. Measure it by your happiness and ability to make time and choices for yourself. Your experience at any corporation is not dependent on the kind of work you get, but by the attitude you have. You can have work that interests you and still find ways to be miserable, and you can have tough work and still treat it as a delight.
This is the quote we read every day as we came in to work,