Jobs that pay the rent

The last time I sent out a mass mailer with some updates it seemed that there was something to talk about. I have been waiting since then for similar events to happen so that I could again write to you. The last quarter has unfortunately been less eventful. But the idea is not to brag about the wonderful life that I am living, it is to share how the chips have been falling.

I was on a flight towards the end of October and was watching “The Devil Wears Prada” where Andy Sachs (after landing a job as the second assistant to Miranda Priestly) is celebrating with her friends. They toast to “jobs that pay the rent”. Good perspective – even if it sounds a bit like Walter Mitty. I wish I could look at my job with such clarity. It would minimize the frustration and would also help me let go and indulge in that dream of starting a farm & kennel or a Sukumar Ray merchandizing business with an online distribution channel. I am sure all of us would like to do the same if we were brave enough or stupid enough – depending on how you look at it.

A fresh perspective is something which I have gained each time I have caught up with someone after a long time. For example meeting Patrick at Belmont or Manoj at Foster City or Sumit at San Jose were experiences in themselves. It is also a very good feeling not only to be able to renew old friendships with ex-colleagues and old classmates, but it also gives your ego a boost to be accepted by the family members too. Manoj’s children listened to my stories, let me have their room for the night and made me a goodbye card when I left.

Sumit and his wife drove me to Palo Alto to watch “Aniket”, an original play performed by Enad ( It is a “Lessons Learnt” case study of a not-so-fictitious couple returning to Calcutta, trying to fit in and enjoy the best of both worlds. It was as if there was this effort by the Bay Area Bengalis to keep the tribe together and discourage defections back to the “homeland” that has moved on and is surviving without their physical presence anyway. But this is, as I said, a “Lessons Learnt” story. For best practices for the same exercise please contact Debasis Das. There are some in my current organization too who have successfully made this transition.

There is isn’t really much to talk about this time. I am trying out a few transitions myself in my job front. I hope I have the energy to continue my efforts. Meanwhile there are these jobs to pay the rent.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, and a Peaceful 2007.

Post Script: I have added 54 recipients to this distribution list. If you are one of them and want to read my back issue I would be happy to email the same.

Dates and updates

This is a mass mailer. But sent to people I would like to regularly keep in touch with but have not been able to. So here are some recent updates. Hope to hear from you too.

September had some dates that will perhaps have some personal significance for some years ahead. I just wanted to share some of these ordinary happenings with all of you.

September 2. I had toyed with the idea of teaching at B schools for a while now. VGSOM @ IIT Kharagpur, IIMC, or the three hours at IIMB had planted the idea in my head. So it was with some expectation and excitement that I started off on a 20 hour guest lecture course on “Managing the Consulting Project” at Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies.

September 13. Last year I had flown into Bangalore on the same day to meet Sasken. It was to find out more about an assignment that was like an “IT road map validation” assignment. If I had stayed on in my previous organization this would have perhaps have given me an opportunity to leverage my skills into areas beyond the focused ERP implementation. This September I touched down at Bangalore on my way to Chennai where I would – with another colleague – present a business case to set up a product agnostic ERP process consulting sub-group within the framework of the business unit that I belong to in my current organization.

September 16. This was exactly a year since I had left IBM. After having worked with almost the same set of people for thirteen years and seven months I had this apprehension whether I will survive elsewhere. The last time I ran away was in 1999. I had switched jobs once more before I chose the known devil within ten months. I have of late seen some ex-colleagues try to stay away and ultimately return in a few months time.

September 21. My birthday. I remember September 21, 1998. We had pulled off the SAP implementation at Haldia Petrochemical and had been the last man standing to close the engagement and pull out the team on August 31. I was 37 that day and traveling to the SLO office via the office shuttle. I realized that perhaps, perhaps, I had lesser number of years to look forward to than what I had left behind. This year I was 45 and I had this restlessness through out the day that perhaps there would be no professional achievements ahead, only consolidation. All the ingredients have been thrown in. The bottle has been sealed. The wine can only mature. I will need to wait for another decade or so to figure out how it will turn out.

September 26. I had joined Cognizant this day a year back. I had been very close to have thrown in the towel on multiple occasions. The transition from a consulting environment to a technology environment is neither easy nor complete. The knowledge of having stuck it out for a year is however satisfying to the self-esteem and ego.

September 27. I went back to Calcutta after a year. This has been the longest duration that I have not met my parents.

September 30. This was a day of college batch reunion of sorts. I had been to a college run by the monks of the Ramakrishna Mission order. The discipline was incongruous with the times. I was a sentimental fool and had allowed myself to be disturbed by a lot of trivia. This was also the first time I was living without the constant surveillance of my parents. I was learing to be responsible for my actions and to deal with the strangers. The fellow students were from diverse background, had their own view of the path ahead and had their own ideas of how to get along with people. We gossiped together, we bunked together, we hated together, we schemed together and laughed together. Sixteen from that batch got together once more after 23 years in Calcutta with the family they have raised since then.

It was a great day and seemed to start the end of isolation from the many people I have known in my life till now; people whom I would love to keep in touch with and people (I hope) would reciprocate.