Adios… Hammy Goes.

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It takes a minute to say hello, and forever to say goodbye. Perhaps this is why it has taken this long to get this post up and running. Perhaps it’s because I have been kept busy with work. And then again, perhaps, these are just the fall guys who are taking the hit for the real culprit, my faineancy (And in case you’re wondering… If you are too lazy to look up what faineancy means, well, perhaps you’re faineant as well). It has been an affair to remember, but it’s time to say goodbye. This is my two finger rootin’ tootin’ salute to Bangalore. After a tryst of nearly seven years, it is time for me to bid adieu and farewell to the Garden City… and I’m already nostalgic.

It’s not easy. In many ways, several aspects of my life only started out in Bangalore.  It was during the summer of ’96 that I rolled into town on a creaky train, embossing footprints on the dusty roads of the tranquil hillside of…. No, wait… I’m thinking of my Engineering years in Vatakara. No, no.  I remember now. It was during the summer of 2004 when I wandered into the Garden City, asking for directions to ICFAI Business School in broken Hindi – “ICFAI school… where maloom? Direction kidhar?” – For some reason, it took me a long while to locate the place, but it was worth it.

It was the beginning of two years of MBA education,  a jugglery of classroom theatrics and assignments, all designed to prepare us for the corporate world. An education, they say, is a terrible thing to waste. Mine was as terrible as they came. However, it DID lay the basic foundation for managing in a business culture. The primary learning from these two years can be summarized as follows.

Seven Tidbits for the People Who Profit from Highly Effective People.

  1. The true need of prescribed subject books is still in debate… They are either uncomfortable pillows or quick-and-dirty firewood supplements.
  2. Motivation, hard work, subject knowledge, relevant experience, and applied intellect are useful for getting work done for people who are too stupid to come up with the right excuse to avoid work.
  3. Diplomacy often gives you temporary diplomatic immunity.
  4. Good articulation is often an adequate replacement for accuracy.
  5. Sleeping on the job is not a task meant for amateurs. Only dedicated practice and continuous improvement can lead to the right technique.
  6. In a group assignment, pretending to work on a report is just as effective as – and in many cases more effective than – working on a report.
  7. You should always keep numbered lists to either 3, 7, or 10 points, even if it means you have to pad the list with fillers.

After my two year course which has been rather simplistically outlined above, I spent a further 5 years in Bangalore, a grand total of 9 years in the fair city… or 7, if my math were any good. And there has not been a single year which has slipped past uneventfully.

This is when I started my career; where I learned that you need to be diplomatic when you flip off a client, that long hours do not count if you sleep in office, that it’s usually easier to nod your head up and down rather than side to side, that you can’t cut through red tape without the right kind of scissors and that it’s impossible to navigate the myriad red tape you need to cross before you can get the pair of scissors approved. This is also where I learned that climbing the corporate ladder isn’t always about ability or capability – sometimes, the bubbles that rise to the top are just full of gas. I learned that questioning routine but insane activities is a tedious process simply because the act of questioning is not routine; that physical proximity to higher management often trumps logic and reason; that functioning inefficiently in a known way is usually rewarded while working efficiently in an unfamiliar way is scrutinized with suspicion. The corporate world is a jungle, and this one Tarzan is swinging off from one jungle to another.

This is also where I truly started riding. Traffic in Bangalore city is a spectacle perhaps unique to itself. During his visit, my friend, Gregory, remarked that in Bangalore, everyone drives as if they are all rushing to the bathroom. And furthermore, they all seem to be rushing to the SAME bathroom. The average Bangalorean regards traffic rules as merely guidelines that do not apply to them. This is the place where the primary motto of the police seems to be ‘Hey, policemen have to eat too‘. The Bangalorean localite, if he knows his way around, can apparently get away with anything short of murder by waving a hundred rupee note around. For murder, it may take a 500 rupee note. I wouldn’t say that the Bangalore cops are the most corrupt people in the world, but after burglars ransacked my house and got away with two laptops, a mobile, and around Rs.40,000, when I said “Oh, my God. How crooked can people get“, I was talking about the cops we had to bribe in order to get our complaint registered.

In many cities, corrupt traffic cops gives the offending party an option of paying the full traffic fine and pocket the reciept OR to pay a subsidised amount under the table. In Bangalore, we have cops who forge receipts and pocket the entire fine. We have cops who applaud the insane nightlife ban just so they can harass hotel owners for bribes. We have cops who hunt for and chastise auto drivers who tamper with their meters… until they give him his cut.

Which brings us to auto drivers. An auto is a three wheeled taxi service designed to meet the demand for public transport. In the various cities around India, you tend to find some level of objectionable behavior from this group, but nowhere are they as prolific in the range of disservices offered as in Bangalore. From rude, inconsiderate behavior to unscheduled detours to foul language to tampering with meters to charging double/triple the legal rate to harassing the out-of-towners to reckless driving – I’ve seen them all here. It’s a veritable cocktail of bad mannered hooliganism. While there are exceptions, the polite, honest auto driver is a dying breed.

In Bangalore, autos constantly rewrite the laws of physics, and shoot through two inch gaps with apparent ease. The Bible makes a huge deal about camels passing through the eye of a needle. And it should. A camel can’t possibly pass through the eye of a needle, but I wouldn’t be that sure about the Bangalorean auto driver.

It was a very scenic circus, and despite my laments, I am going to miss Bangalore sorely. I’ve jumped ship to the city of Sharjah. It’s a different circus… the ring is cleaner, the tent is taller, the ticket prices are higher, the crowd is thinner, the seats are sandier, and the lions roar in Arabic. But I’m certain that what I’ve learned in Bangalore will serve me well here.

Parting is all we know of heaven and all we need to know of hell.  ~Emily Dickinson, “Parting” -1861

I’ll miss you, Bangalore ~Hamish Joy, “The Blah Blahs and the Yada Yadas” – 2010

Just to clarify – I’m saying goodbye to Bangalore, not to this blog. This blog shall be active at least a few months after I push daisies. 😉

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10 Responses

  1. Rahul Philip says:

    Hey Hamish!
    Long time since I checked out your blog.. Great stuff as usual!! You still speak in broken Hindi? 🙂
    Where would you be workin in Sharjah?
    Rahul

  2. Roshan says:

    All the best in your new job!
    Come to
    Singapore when u get the chance, on work or leisure.

    Regards

  3. silverine says:

    You are leaving Bangalore, when things are changing for the good. Auto meter tampering is a thing of the past with strict checks. Ample buses and traffic fines on Blackberry. The loopholes are closing and when they announced that Yeddy wouldnt be stepping dowm, me of the people said ‘Yay’! 😀

    Hope they have booze in Sharjah! Best of luck in the new assignment, place and life.

  4. Binny V A says:

    Nice one. Waiting for your Sharjah adventures 😉

  5. Kick some ass Hammy . Start a Church of the Tolerantinoes there . 🙂

  6. Ashy says:

    Hey.. I only now get to know why u’re gonna be unavailable! Good luck to you… Do keep up writing.. 🙂

  7. Nids says:

    Oii..Hammy !! you leaving?!! jeee…. all the best on your new endeavour..new job, new place… new friends… exciting am sure!! 🙂
    when u off? Keep in touch… love your blogs…always..

  8. hammy says:

    @rahul philip:
    Hi, Rahul. Good to see you here. Thank you. My hindi has never been better… which may not be saying much, but I’m gonna remain enigmatic about that one. The kuch na kaho, kuch bhee na kaho attitude may just be what the doctor ordered. 😉

    I’m working in a company called Feedback Research here in Sharjah.

    @roshan:
    Thanks. Sure, I’ll certainly drop in when I can. And I’ll sound you off before I do. I doubt if I’ll have work there, but leisure is certainly in the cards. Let me get settled in here first, before I set sights on travel.

    @silverine:
    Hey, ho, Silverine. Great to see you back here. Good to hear that some measures are being taken to close loopholes. But somehow, I’m still feeling that people ‘misunderestimate’ the resourcefulness of the Bangalorean auto driver… almost as much as they do the cop’s dedication to lining his pockets. It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but I feel there’s a lot of drama yet to unfold before things stabilize.

    And no, booze is not easy to come by in Sharjah. It is easier to get in Dubai, though, which is only half an hour away from my office. So it’s ok for the once-in-a-while booze hounds like me. But yes, the perennial circadian loyalists would have problems living here. 😀

    @binny v a:
    So am I, Binny. So am I. 🙂

    @kislay chandra:
    Starting a Church of Tolerance in the Middle East is not an easy task. Of course, the UAE is more tolerant than most other places around here, and I’m thankful for small favors. But yes, I’ll do what I can to plant a Tolerantino seed.

    @Ashy:
    🙂 Thank you, and yes, I will keep writing. That’s been my plan all along.

    @Nids:
    Oii Nids. Yep, I’m about to leave… Actually, I’m leaving… leaving… leaving… left! Dang. Sorry I didn’t tell you, but I was kept under a heavy workload during my last month in Bangalore, I didn’t even get a chance to call people. I was working in Bangalore till the 30th of November, and started my work in Sharjah on the 1st of December. So as people with math skills can see… no time off at all…

    And of course, will keep in touch.

  9. Ginger says:

    Congratulations on moving up to Sharjah!! In the middle east?? You are the adventurous one ain’t you? Hope you got a really juicy carrot from the gases there.
    Your auto drivers remind me of commercial cyclists in Nigeria. they run a fiefdom on the roads and get to intimidate Everyone. even 6 wheelers. pesky bugs.
    Cant wait to hear all the news about Sharjah.
    Good luck!

  10. hammy says:

    @ginger:
    Thank you, Ginger. It’s not so much being adventurous as climbing the corporate ladder. And for the record, I did it only after I searched high and low for the corporate escalator.

    Juicy carrot from the gases? Umm…. thanks?

    During my brief stint in Nigeria, I never came across commercial cyclists. But from what I hear, they are a close approximation to the Bangalorean auto driver. However, I strongly doubt whether they can be as big of a pest. Even in their mellowed down mood, I’d wager they’d take your commercial cyclists head on in the Jerkishness/Mile index.

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