A bewildered HR executive replied, “But isn’t Lucknow your hometown? We precisely gave you this location. If just in case you still have an issue give me a call back. But think it over.”
I had been selected for Research department of India’s most prestigious automobile company.
“Are you mad?” my father’s voice boomed through the phone. I wanted to say it took you quite sometime to realise but then I knew better to reply.
“You are getting Lucknow and you want to ask for Pune. This is the limit of disrespect to our family. Please do whatever you want to,” came his resigned voice.
So Lucknow it was. “Do whatever you want to” has quite the opposite effect on us kids.
* * *
It had been a few months of my joining office.
“Okay so he is here again,” I spoke softly into the phone.
My daily five o clock ritual while walking back from office building to company exit was talking with Ayush on the phone. Please don’t get ideas Ayush is my closest buddy who is almost as good as a gal pal now.
“Why are you so worked up about this guy?” came Ayush’s bewildered reply.
“Everyday he is here sharp at five. Each day no matter what happens. After I will cross him he will start to follow me and in a while I will reach my bus and he will reach his,” I continued to speak.
“So big deal. By then it will get over. Its only a few minutes no,” Ayush spoke.
“After that he continues to stare at me from the bus window. He makes sure he takes a window seat and sits right across,” I spoke, sounding more irritable by the minute.
And all this while the lanky, tall, spectacles wearing guy is following me very subtly to the bus.
* * *
This continued for about a month or so until one day.
“Ayush that guy is now sitting right next to me with a bright smile on his face,” I panicked and texted Ayush.
“How come?” came is quick reply.
“I am in a meeting and he is representing planning department. I know he deliberately took a seat next to me,” I sent the text in a hurry.
“Richa and the people on the side, yes you two. You are one team please study this document and then we will brainstorm,” came the crisp voice of the person modulating the meeting.
I looked sideways he still had the smile on his face.
“Okay so where do we start,” I spoke softly.
“Mam have you joined recently?” the guy in question suddenly asked.
“Four months,” I replied stoically.
“Which department?” he continued.
“ERC,” I replied, not losing the dead pan expression.
“Which designation mam?” he asked, this time there was something to the tune of a doubt.
“Assistant manager,” I replied.
He remained quiet for a while and didn’t reply.
Now I thought I should also get some details.
“Which department?” I asked.
“Planning,” he replied.
“Designation?” I asked.
“Graduate engineer trainee,” he replied softly.
Ahhhh he is a junior! All problems solved. Wow. He is younger to me now I am in safe zone. I am so happy!!
“Oh nice nice. Which college?” I asked this time a little lightly.
“IIT Roorkee,” he replied seriously.
Indian Institute of Technology !! This guys is so sweet. He is such a seedha saadha intelligent boy. All malignant thoughts evaporated.
* * *
And so continued a saga of waving, smiling and happy nonsense conversations for a month. He is a junior so now he will obviously not see me with “those” eyes. This is such a wonderful end to the story. That is what I thought.
But one day I saw a mail from someone. The subject was “A hi from your waving friend”
Now now of course I knew there is only one person in company whom I wave, chat and kid around with. But mind you I don’t know his name still. Yes that’s how weird I am.
But what drew my attention most was “Dear Richa,” the ‘mam’ was conspicuously absent. I am a senior it should have been there, perhaps he is slightly unconventional. After all he is from IIT, they bend the rules always. No issues then.
“Which batch are you from? I mean which year did you graduate from engineering?” this was the content of that mail.
Well well I replied, “2009”
After about a minute came a quick reply, “Me too.”
I think I saw the world go round that time. I felt slightly dizzy. I had been waving, happily chatting and sometimes even flirting because he was a junior. But no no it was not mean to be. He is my age.He must have already considered me to be “easy”.
“Ayush!!” I frantically called Ayush and narrated everything. I heard him laugh for at least five minutes before he finally said , “Ab kya kar sakte hain?”
* * *
“Is this Richa?” a lady’s voice came through the phone.
“Yes and who would this be?” I asked.
“Apoorva Kapoor, I got your number from Pooja Pushkarna,” came the quick reply.
Apoorva Kapoor, Senior manager HR. She is known for the fact that she is a strict disciplinarian kind of professional who takes no one for their nonsense. I still remember my first interaction with her. It was during my induction period and she had to take a session detailing organisation structure of the company.
“Could you please come inside?” she spoke vitriolically, with an eyebrow raised.
I was talking to Priya at that time telling her how much I want to be in Pune but stuck here. It was in that moment that I knew that she would be always on my hate list.
And now that same person was calling me. And speaking to me as if none of it has happened (I would come to know later she didn’t even remember this incident). Well moving on.
“Richa, can you hear me? Apoorva Kapoor from HR,” she repeated her words facing my stunned silence.
“Yes mam, yes,” I spoke slightly nervously.
“Actually we are having a cultural committee for Lucknow plant and I came to know you are interested in such things,” she spoke hurriedly.
“Yes mam I am. Should I write you a mail outlining the things I would be interested in?” I spoke softly.
“No No that would not be required just drop in a text,” she spoke.
I instantly picked up my phone and dialed Priya, “You remember that HR person who made me keep down your phone. Haan haan that super strict one. She called me abhi. Nothing much just asking me about my hobbies. They are starting some committee. Wait wait, she is calling again let me call you back,” I instantly answered the waiting call.
“Yes mam,” I spoke this time a bit sweetly.
“Richa actually Anant is giving his birthday party today and he is inviting you,” she spoke again in a rush. I would later come to know that this is how she always talks 🙂
“Mam I have no idea who is Anant? It would be slightly awkward if I came to his party,” I spoke slowly.
“No no he insists you come. And it will be a bit of an ice-breaking session for other members,” she replied quickly.
* * *
That night I met Apoorva Kapoor, Vikas Agarwal, Abhinav Chaturvedi, Abhinav Kumar, Shaaktee Narayan and Anant Rikhy. I had wanted to go to Pune because I had no friends around and I felt lonely in Lucnow. But that one call from day “do whatever you want to” changed my life.
Apoorva Kapoor who turned out to be the most chilled out person I would ever hope to meet in my life is still my closest friend when it comes to Tata Motors gang. I miss her she is in Indonesia doing wonders for our company 🙂
Abhinav Chaturvedi is working with me in Tata Motors Lucknow and whenever I feel I write well or that I am slightly more talented I remember the many nights we have spent listening to his golden voice. I instantly get dwarfed recalling his talents.
Abhinav Kumar the silent and sober one is one helluva person who makes you realise that gentlemen can be many but a thorough gentleman as Apoorva mam and I always say is only one – K (thats what we call him- Kumar + IITK= only K)
Shaakte Narayan much before I got to know the others I got to know him. I always say if he had stayed around in Lucknow I don’t think I would have fallen in love with my husband. Not that I would have fallen for Shaaktee(ugly minds!) but because I would have not found time ghooming with him.
Anant Rikhy the handsome hunk who by the way gave a party for the ice breaking session. His “stud” stories have filled many our lunches and his super cool shopping antics in all out trips still amazes me 🙂
Vikas Agarwal if you still haven’t figured out he was that waving friend. The 2009 graduate from IIT Roorkee. A lot has already been said about him here> My true story
* * *
Later I came to know that the whole plan of cultural committee and everything had been meticulously planned by Ms Kapoor who knew that Vikas likes me. And the surprise of inviting me to Anant’s party was for all the boys except for Anant. That’s different that the cultural committee was finally formed and Udaan- our fest was a huge success. Here is to me meeting all my closest friends in Tata Motors Lucknow. There are few more whom I met later on, unpe ek article baad mein 🙂
* Divyabh Tyagi and Ishleen Kaur- I love you both too much but the theme I chose was “cultural committee” accidental. Next article only for you two 🙂
*Shaaktee absent in this 😐