Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Another shift begins...


When I was a kid, I had written a poem called "Shift". Now, if blogging had existed then, I'd have published it on my blog (like ronrik), and therefore, you'd be able to evaluate my poetic instincts in their entirety. However, I had no blog at age 14, and so I have been unable to find the poem, so you'll just have to go with the few snippets that I remember.
Shift
Sirens blow, faces glow
People stream out in a pretty row
In the buses, people mop
with handkerchiefs, a sweaty drop.
...
...
A shift begins... another shift begins...
To the factory we go!

What's the basis for the poem? Let me explain...

My dad worked for ITI (Indian Telephone Industries), a very large, successful, public-sector telecommunications company in Bangalore. Here were some interesting things about that company/job:
  • Given that ITI was primarily government owned, food was heavily subsidized for the employees.
  • Employees took  shift buses (a full fleet of dozens of dark blue buses) to and from work. (We students took the buses into Bangalore city to our schools, and the buses brought the "workers" in for their shift.
  • Most "workers" just had a desk (or not) on the factory floor.
  • The siren blew loud and clear to announce the end of a shift/beginning of the next shift. It was often a reminder for us. Too late for the school bus in the morning, or dad would be back home soon, or we'd better get back home right away for "tiffin" if we didn't want mom mad!
Thinking about it - when going to work, now in Silicon Valley decades later,  I've come full circle!
  • We have subsidized (free) food at the cafeteria at work. Instead of dosas vs. vadas vs. puris vs. rice, we have chinese vs. indian vs. grill vs. mexican vs. tapas. But food is food!
  • I take a shuttle bus to work, and I need to be there on time, or I miss the  bus. It has Internet, but that just means that "they've" made it easier to work even on the bus! Oh yeah! It's air-conditioned, so no handkerchiefs required.
  • I've gone from a wonderful corner office (IBM Almaden) to a cube (Verity) to an open cube (Yahoo!) to ... hey hey hey ... a DESK (Google). I don't even have a wall to put up my award plaques from previous jobs. Ha! Even if I did, I'd probably have to move anyway, so easier to leave them in a box or in the garage at home!
The only real difference?

There's no siren!
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