Today I quit my job as design engineer at Infosys Technologies limited. Its been an association of 3 years and 8 months. I've decided to switch careers and take up journalism....
Here's my last day letter...:)
This might probably rank as the last day mail with the longest planning period. Those close to me know that I been writing this over and over in my mind for the past 3 years. I am one among those lakhs of 'accidental engineers' found all over India. After school, the automatic choice for everyone around was to write the engineering entrance. As a youth with no specific aim, the best option was to do what everyone was doing. Our society's logic seems to be this-If you don't want to become a doctor, then ofcourse you should be an engineer. I waded through engineering even after realising half way that am not made for this. After the four year holiday, there was no need to think 'what next?'. The campus selections make our job easy. I joined in with a bunch of friends at the mammoth Infosys campus in mysore. A four month long vacation called 'training' followed. From watching the Ind-Aus test series(after bunking classes) in the AC hostel rooms to making use of every facility provided, we had the time of our lives.
The day I landed up in Bangalore to start working, I realised I don't belong here. Yes, the friends were there here too. But somehow, the idea of sitting inside a cubicle and taking your anger out on the hapless keyboard was not my idea of 'work'. During those first weeks here, I remember one of my team leaders asking me, "Hey, Did you actually study engineering!?". One of my usual designing blunders forced him to ask that. Around that time, the recession set in and all the companies started using that as an excuse to terrorise employees. New policies were implemented everyday. And, so we had the working hours policy(9.25 hours of your day eaten up!), leave policies and even policies to control your movement through the gates. It was the time of pink slips too and one of my close friends(who is much better off right now) also got one. During that period, I hated this place more than anything. But we did devise ways to get around some policies. Like how some of us even shifted our morning rituals to the office restroom to clock up the requisite 9.25 hours. And then the long rides in the night to swipe out to make up the quarterly average. And the post meal brainstorming sessions near the pool side. Then there was the tea time, which is still the time I look foward to the most on each day(I can see 3-4 knowing smiles now!). Which sums up why the dialogue my superiors used the most was, "You are never found at your seat!"Now, dont get the impression that I was a complete slacker. I've done my share of slogging. But 'IRacial discrimination' meant that I remained a consistent performer with 2 consecutive CRR 3s.
Inspite of all this, inspite of never really fitting in, I was slowly getting used to the place. In that classic movie Shawshank redemption, the character Red played by Morgan Freeman talks of getting institutionalised- "These walls are kind of funny. First you hate them, then you get used to them. Enough time passes, so you depend on them. That's institutionalised. They send you here for life, that's exactly what they take. The part that counts, anyways." Each day that thought killed me. I couldn't imagine myself working here even the next week, forget next year! Each sunday evening, we all went into the great depression, thinking of the bluish monday waiting for us. Its not a coincidence that I wanted a monday to be my last day here. Yeah, I really wanted to smile on a monday morning! And so, to prevent getting institutionalised, I decided to follow my passions-writing and clicking. It was during the second year of engineering that I realised that I wanted to be a journalist. But, then it was too late(rather, too early, thinking from the 'now'). So, I went in with the flow and spent the last 6 years doing something which I really didn't like. Concerts and constant travel kept me sane! And, then I decided to take charge. So, after tests and interviews, I landed up admission at 2 places- Asian College of Journalism, Chennai and Xaviers, Mumbai. I'll be becoming a Chennaiite next week.
It was never easy throwing this away and taking up something which the society didn't approve of. The 'engineering/medicine syndrome' is so deep rooted that I got looks of contempt whenever I mentioned my new career plan to someone. Convincing my parents was the first part. It helps a lot when you've friends who are able to convince your parents, something which yourself failed to do. Then comes the relatives and 'concerned' neighbours. "Journalism??Are you crazy?", "But, you are too old for that now", "This is utter foolishness"- These are some of the reactions that I heard. There was no one around who saw the positives. At those times, I remember what one of my friends constantly used to say, "One life, man!". So, I decided to give it a try rather than cry over not having tried somewhere down the line. I might stumble, but I won't repent not having tried.
What really lighted up my stay in this company was 2 things- Infyblogs and SLRBB. As a regular blogger, when I stumbled upon infyblogs during training, I felt truely happy. And that's where I got some of my best friends here. It was also that platform which helped me hone my writing skills. Its a sad thing that infyblogs is now almost dead with the departure of some of its leading lights. I just hope that some of the new talents on view will take it back to the heights that it achieved 2 years back. Coming to SLRBB, this was THE place where I learned almost everything related to photography. I came to infy armed with an archaic film camera and a mobile camera. Vivek taught me the basics and introduced me to SLRBB. Its the skills acquired at this place which helped me in my freelancing career. Its an irony that infyblogs and SLRBB did play a big part in me charting out a new career path.
Having said all that, the last 3.8 years were truely a roller coaster ride. And, if given a chance to rewrite my history of this period, I would just take a photocopy. I am not mentioning any names because there are too many of them...:) So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish! Meet you at some crossroad...