Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Code Coolie

Recently I was talking to my old colleague, we both worked for an India based MNC in IT, he onsite and me offshore. After all these years, we accidentally met on this messy maze of internet and obviously our conversation turned to work life.

In general we b!#@hed about how expatriate Indian IT workers are treated. ‘We are treated worse than slaves’, was the common opinion or the conclusion we reached.

I started to analyze why we are in this situation that we are in. Here are some reasons that I could gather.

1) Usually managers are not from IT background.

The general trend is for the MNCs to get guys from marketing or sales background to make them in-charge of the practice. This is done under the impression that the person has good marketing ability and he can do some wonders to the practice.

Yes, it is true. Wonders are happening. A new head will bring with him a fresh approach and fresh lease of life into any practice, new policies, new clients (because he would have sold them the idea that ‘Blah blah can be done by our guys’).

Then the actual reality dawns on the techies, the foot soldiers of the practice. The general has promised the client, some impossible tasks. Some thing that normally takes say X amount of time, this dude has gone ahead and accepted to do it for 0.8X amount of time. The result, long hours, budget over flows, what not, yet things are delivered on-time, if not in-time.

For the manager it is just a sale of 100 washing machines this month, so next month I need to sell 120 washing machines.

Why, because the foot soldiers, like in any war (corporate wars included) are the ones who sacrifice for sake of some notion like national flag (practice pride), which is absolute bullshit. What difference does it make to the person dead, as to what happens to his nation after he is dead, like wise, what difference does it make to the practice, if someone misses out important events in his life, once the project is done and money is transferred to companies account.

What difference does that make to a corporate once the client transfers the currency and the manager’s targets are met, if the techie is in hospital for stress related illness, or happens to miss out his marriage/engagement?

In my own life, I have seen many of my friends fly to India for a week and get married rush back to work, because some manager has not sanctioned his leave for more than 5 days. (Courtesy: approaching deadline). This despite the fact that he would have told his manager about his impending marriage two quarters in advance and the manager/practice leader would have blissfully said, ‘Oh, you are getting married. We all will be expecting treat. Regarding your leave, take a forth night off and go to here-and-there for your honeymoon’.

After the party is thrown at the beginning of the new month and half the salary is blasted off, the remaining salary is spent in calling cards to call his would-be life partner for long hours.

As the d-day fast approaches, this bloke goes and asks for leave, that is when the marketing talk comes into picture. ‘As you see, the project is in critical stage. You are a senior most person in this practice. If you leave, the client will lose confidence in us. Blah.. blah… blah.. You are important and needed for this project to be successful”.

This guy somehow gets married and then one day says to manager that he is not feeling well. The truth was, his newly wed wife might have given a strict warning that if she is not taken to that amusement park, and she will leave for India for good. So he cooks up the story that he is not well. Presto, the ever concerning voice of his manager comes on the curse of 21st century, the cell phone. Once in every hour he calls to find out how he is feeling, much to anguish of the wify material beside him. Every time the call comes, he ducks to a quite corner, least the manager listens to the background noise/music and tells him of his slow progress. That day, this jonnie is lost. Boss is annoyed that he was sick and wife is annoyed that he was physically present but mentally at office.

Some how his life moves on and wife returns to India, pregnant, vowing never to see this fellow again on-site. He makes frequent visits to India to see his new born.

1st visit is for three days duration, 15 days after the kid is born, to name her. Lots of snaps to adorn office table and again half salary is gone in entertaining the team and the manager about the new arrival.

2nd is made after 6 months that too for few days, because his wife threatened to divorce him if doesn’t show up his face.

3rd one is very late, say one year later. As wife is now busy with the kid and stop to think that she way ever married to someone. Once in a while a phone call is all that she needs to do as a wife and our jonnie dear calls her often just to find out if every thing is alright.

4th one happens says after few years and this guy is back. You know why? Now he is almost 35 and no longer can keep working late hours, cant run around, cant do things as fast as he could.

When back home, he sees the ground realities.

a) His daughter doesn’t recognize him in flesh and blood and always shows the snap that is on the wall, when asked to show daddy.
b) She can’t even recognize him, as the snap was taken when he was young, trim as compared to his obese, balding, burping self.
c) His manager is no longer interested in his stroke detected in the mandatory ECG. There are no hourly phone calls, no updates. When he calls to say the same, ‘Hey jonnie boy, am busy now. Call you back later’
d) Practice is not bothered about his ulcers as once it was bothered about his afternoon off due to stomach ache.
e) His bank balance is worse than the bloke next door, who stayed back in India and worked for some non-IT company. (After all those meaning less parties, calling cards no wonder he has deep burnt holes in his pockets)
f) The cost of living is exceptionally high as his relatives and friends think he minted money in IT somewhere abroad so he can afford to do certain things, which he has to do now. At least for their sake.

Now the jonnie boy is wondering, were all these things necessary??

2) Usually the expectations are based on previous expatriate workers

This is another kind of scenario, where IT workers are treated the way their previous colleagues wanted them to be treated. In those days when the millennium doom/boom was not there, scores of our jonnie boys went to other countries for greener pastures. The moment someone has greens in sight, they tend make more of it and set some high expectations to the client. By working long hours, bending too much backwards and all, these guys are real culprits in setting some unreasonable expectations which is still now seen in the way the current generation workers are treated.

The general idea is that an IT laborer from India puts work first above all else. Don’t now get some ideas that work is done in a professional way, but they just slog. May be at times I wonder if the 250 years of colonial rule has changed the genetics of the entire nation. The moment we see some other skinned boss, we simply boot lick them and bend back as much as possible. Or at least they expect the current generation to do.

This kind of expectations result in setting unreachable target dates, where in every one is burnt out.

The trend of having shadow resources back in Indian offices to do some work that cannot be done even if the entire team is putting up 24X7 also causing the unreasonable expectations. What if some chaps are not fortunate enough to have shadow resources back home? Simple, they are doomed.


This is a straight lift from Boy zone’s song.

No matter what they tell us (You are important to practice)
No matter what they do (Promise you the hike/designation)
No matter what they teach us (You are the brand ambassador for the company, no longer an individual)
What we believe is true (You family first)

No matter what they call us (You are "the" guy for practice)
However they attack (Escalations/poor appraisals)
No matter where they take us (USA/Singapore/China/Pakistan)
We'll find our own way back (to our sweet home)

I can't deny what I believe (Professionalism, dedication)
I can't be what I'm not (bending backwards, boot licking)
I know our love forever (are you listening there in India)
I know, no matter what (I just don’t care if my boss reads this)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Brain Errors

Never understood why this kind of error is never sent out by human memory.

"Could not reserve enough space for object heap"...

Wish we (humans) too had that kind of error traps, so that we can discard old memories or unwanted memories...

wish... we knew the source code to our lives...

wish.... someday, someone, files anti-trust agains God for hiding the code....