MBAs, Geeks, Freaks and Nerds
By Neeraj Shinde
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Unlike my several other writings, this story does not have any connections to my personal life. This post does not relate to any person or thing - living or dead. Any resemblance of this story or a part of this story must be treated purely coincidental.
I had never been to Bangalore before. Although the city was crowded but there was hardly anyone I knew except the hotel manager where I was staying for the past five days and the room service guy who sincerely knocked my door at six in the morning and broke my early morning dreams. It was time to shift from the hotel as I was no longer able to sustain the growing expenses. A few days more in the hotel would have wiped out my pockets completely.
“So when are you planning to shift sir?” a heavy voice spoke as I answered a call on my cell phone. It took not more than a second to realize it was Bob.
It was only since last two days that I knew Bob. Although I never met him, I was now able to recognize him over the telephone. It was not even a week past that I had relocated to this new city the streets of which were still so mysterious and unfamiliar to me. Moving to a new city was not a new adventure to me and by this time, I was pretty well accustomed to the changing daily routines, keeping on memorizing the names of the places that I came across. Of course, moving to four different cities in a span of mere six months is a tough job; needless to mention that by this time one could easily get more than accustomed to the dynamic life of this sort. I was looking for a city where I could settle for a year at least. And here I landed in Bangalore where I came across this guy Bob.
Bob Gary! Yes that’s what he told me was his name. We worked for the same software company. No matter his name sounded much different or rather non-Indian - it made me feel he must be a Christian. Although I had not seen him, I could imagine at least from his heavy austere voice, how he would look like. Though it sounded quite unfriendly, I was not worried a damn about it. Usually things are not like what they seem. For me the most important part was that he needed a room-partner and so did I. It’s always a give and take relationship that sustains the world, I thought.
“Hey Bob! I would have liked to shift today itself but I need to arrange for a cab to move my baggage along,” I replied.
“You need not! I can help you out with my car. Just bring your luggage along when you come to office tomorrow. Okay!” Bob said or rather proclaimed.
I was not able to think any more. His sheer voice made me feel that even if I attempt to refuse, he would insist. With no room for any second thoughts I answered “Thanks a lot Bob! I shall see you tomorrow then...”
The next day evening I called up Bob and he asked me to wait for five minutes at the company’s reception with my luggage.
In less than the time he had mentioned, he appeared. This was a guy just about my age or may be a couple of years more, height – an inch below six feet, complexion - not fair at all, pitch dark long hair which looked more mysterious than he himself. Probably his hair style was an imitation of some South Indian movie actor - I had seen on the posters across the street. He was too slim, slimmer than I had expected. At least from his bold, sharp tone I wanted him to be a strong and sturdy fellow. But again, things really are not as they seem unless you see them or hear them talk. Bob was dressed in professional attire with a maroon shirt and a plain tie which no way suited his black trouser. He was carrying something in his hand that was continuously moving about his index finger – probably a key chain. I have seen a handful of people having this habit who use it as their style statement or may be just to attract some attention.
He gave me a blunt look without a smile and continued staring at me for a couple of seconds. There were a few people around and may be he was searching for a guy that was me. I smiled at him though unsure of the fact that he was Bob. I could notice the declining speed of the key chain across his finger as he saw me smiling. I forwarded my hand towards him as he came close to me.
“Come on! Let’s go” Bob said confirming that the guy he was looking for was me.
He doesn’t believe in formalities, I thought when he failed to notice my approaching hand and started walking.
“Well! Where’s your car?” I asked.
“It’s just a couple of miles away! Take your bags,” Bob said as I looked at him in anguish.
“Relax buddy! Just kidding! That’s my car” Bob said as he pointed towards a maroon car that very well matched the color of his shirt. May be maroon was his favorite.
“Oh! That was good” I smiled as the frowns on my forehead gradually vanished.
“You have a good sense of humor” I said though his joke failed to impress me. I pulled up my luggage and walked towards the car. Bob quickly took his seat and opened the rear doors giving me a room to push my bags inside.
I was about to take my seat in the car next to Bob when I noticed him moving out of the car.
“Would you mind if I take five minutes. I need to buy some cigarettes. Why don’t you come along?” Bob said.
“Sure. I would definitely accompany you but would not be able to give you a company since I don’t smoke,” I replied.
“Not a problem man! Anyways, smoking is a bad habit” Bob said as we started walking along the lawns of the company campus. I noticed Bob’s walk which was as slow as a snail, contrary to the pace of the key-chain which was even now moving around his finger. I was walking slowly trying to match the baby steps taken by him. It was dusk and we were able to see the street lights igniting gradually as we looked outside the campus wall.
“So you’re a good guy” Bob said seeming to start a conversation.
“I mean you don’t smoke. Even I have tried that but now it seems that I can’t live without it. There was time when I had discontinued this habit” Bob confessed as he looked at me hoping for me to interrupt.
“That was a nice idea. Then why did you start it again?” I asked.
“I gave up smoking yesterday evening but today I realized that I was wrong” Bob burst out in laughter as I joined him too.
We had now reached to a small Pan shop outside the campus. Bob bought a pack of cigarette and held one of those white sticks between his lips and lighted it. I could notice the charm on his face as he blew the smoke through his mouth and nose.
“Usually I leave late from office,” Bob said as he was about to take another deep sip of smoke from his power stick.
“Oh! You have a lot of work in your project,” I said trying to guess the reason.
“Damn work! Who the heck wants to stay late for working! I play TT,” Bob said.
“That’s good. So you know how to play TT?” I said and later realized the stupidity of the question. There are questions we ask people several times though we know the answer and this was one of them.
“Yeah, now let us get back. I’ve got what I wanted,” Bob replied trying to change the topic.
It was pretty dark now and all the evening buses had left the campus causing a heavy traffic on the city streets. The key chain in Bob’s hand was now replaced by the cigarette which was now half its original length.
We moved inside the company gate and soon reached back to the car. Bob took his seat and started the car. I followed Bob and sat next to him.
“So tell me Bob, in what position you are working? A guy who can afford a car must be holding some good position in the company” I asked pretending to be humorous.
“Do you really think so? Well, I had joined this company two years back as a consultant after completing my management degree. Since then I am here” Bob smiled as he clarified.
“Great! We engineers are always skeptical about pursuing a career in MBA and believe me once you get in the technical stream it’s really difficult to resume your studies back. Even today I am in a dilemma” I explained.
“Okay, you are a software engineer?” Bob spoke as I could now see the enlightenment on his face the meaning of which was quite difficult to be guessed at this very moment.
“Yes!” I said. The car was now out of the company premises and was making its way out towards JP Nagar.
“Even I was an engineering graduate before I entered into MBA. But I always wanted to be on the management side. May be I like to rule than to be ruled” Bob said eventually giving a long sarcastic smile.
“Oh great, that’s so true. So how’s your life after that?” I asked curiously like a meek creature.
“Nice. I mean damn good. Now I don’t actually work or rather work is replaced by responsibilities. This could be a tough job at times if you can’t make people work properly. So you see you are now responsible to what others are doing. But that’s a pretty good challenging job. It’s more about managing things and handling situations in a dynamically changing work environment” Bob kept on telling and I kept on listening as his words fascinated me more with his career.
“Well, that’s a better career indeed and now will you stop your long lecture before I start feeling jealous” I said with a flavor of mischief and that was enough to turn both of us bursting into laughter.
We had now crossed the crowded street and now were speeding on the highway from which our house was located over fifteen minutes of driving distance. The roads were sparingly wet as an effect of a small shower of the monsoon.
“Are you a catholic?” I asked.
“I mean are you a Christian?” I asked again.
“No. I am a Hindu” Bob said as he gradually gave me looks that spoke he was serious. I was expecting him to say something more but he kept mum.
“Your name doesn’t sound to be that of a Hindu. Bob Gary – I thought you would be a foreigner” I said and smiled.
“Yes. Many people ask me this. But what’s in the name” Bob replied as he turned on the stereo system and tuned it to some latest movie number. I could hear him humming the lyrics in the background that showed his interest in music. Eventually, Bob stopped speeding the car appearing to change the highway lane. He moved into an empty road on the left which further led us to a narrow lane which finally took us far off from the city crowd.
It was a muddy path and was soaked up with the rain waters that generated a sweet smell of the mud – the one that comes after the first monsoon rain. I turned back and watched the road that we were leaving behind. Initially, I could see a biker and a cyclist chasing us but soon we were alone and darkness covered the entire road.
I wondered if it was actually worth the deal as there were no residential buildings that I was able to see. All that ran before my sight was a clear view of the night.
“What about other roomies?” I tried to break the silence.
Bob lowered down the volume of the music system and looked at me.
“Let’s meet them” Bob smiled as he spoke.
We continued moving ahead a few minutes and took another left curve. I noticed that we were following a big wall on the right which probably appeared to be a compound wall of some big housing locality. I was able to feel the cool breeze splashing on my face through the vent generated above the glass window. I looked outside the window lowering the glass a bit more and was amazed to find an open land densely populated by trees and mangroves.
I never expected to see such a big open land in a concrete jungle like Bangalore.
Bob switched off the music and drove the car inside a gate. It looked like a decent apartment with more than a dozen seven floored buildings, well planned and constructed.
“Here we are!” Bob said as he stopped the car beneath one of the buildings.
I came out and looked at the society premises.
“Garden Villa!” Bob heard me as I read the name written on a wall on my right.
The roads were well constructed, centered by a garden which was well lit by beautiful lamps all around it. The garden shrubs seemed so fresh and the smell of their flowers enchanted me. It looked like a good deal and may be better if my house would be as beautiful as this place, I thought. But I never wanted to care - where could you find a better place than this for just a couple of thousand bucks per month!
“Holy shit!” Bob exclaimed as he helped me out with one of those bags. We dumped my luggage into the elevator and then pulled the elevator grill. I observed Bob’s finger as he pressed the key ‘Six’.
“I hope you get to meet Dev now. Usually he is the first to arrive home in the evening. Manish comes late. By the way what’s the time now?” Bob asked.
“Almost eight fifteen!” I replied.
The elevator brought us up on the sixth floor. Quickly Bob sneaked out and unlocked the door that read ‘Six Zero Three’. I took a look around. There were four such doors one of which looked like it was locked for ages. The other two were locked too but they seemed well maintained which depicted that they were occupied.
I followed Bob into the room. It was a large drawing room which had a cupboard, a wooden table and a bed well placed. In one corner was a desktop computer which no way looked new or rather dust made it looked older than it actually was. Just beside the computer was a refrigerator the state of which exactly resembled it. Right beside the refrigerator were lying three foot wares two of which successfully formed a pair. I removed my shoes.
“So that’s your new home. You may choose to live with Dev in his room or here in the drawing room with Manish” Bob said.
“What difference does that make?” I shrugged thinking that for me both were unfamiliar and unfamiliarity was common between me and them both. Bob looked at me and smiled.
“How stupid I am. I didn’t even ask you for water” Bob said and moved away inside one of the rooms. I pulled my bags inside and closed the door. I pulled the computer chair and sat.
“Dev must be inside his room” Bob said as he took out a bottle of water from the refrigerator and poured into the glass he had brought from the kitchen.
“Okay!” I said.
“Even he is a software engineer” Bob said emphasizing more on the last two words. May be he wanted to stress more on me being one. Nonetheless, this was not my concern for the moment and I was waiting for the glass of cold water which was still resting in Bob’s hand. I took the glass from Bob and drank thirstily.
“Thanks!” I said after realizing that it was some refreshing juice that Bob had offered.
“Let’s meet Dev” I said as I stood up from the chair.
A narrow passage connected the hall with Dev’s room. On the left of the passage was the kitchen which looked well maintained with jars filled up with grains and spices. I could feel a strange smell as I entered the kitchen. The exhaust fan was moving steadily due to the breeze splashing on the kitchen window. The gas cylinder was kept horizontal on the shelf which had small pieces of onion peels lying on it. The room was well lit but would have been brighter if the fine layer of dust on the tube light had been cleaned off. There were a few utensils placed on the shelf that failed to follow any specific pattern of arrangement.
“We don’t cook regularly. Mostly prepare some tea or coffee,” Bob said as he saw me staring at the kitchen shelf.
“Well! That’s fine,” I said as I burped.
We came out of the kitchen and turned left towards Dev’s room when we saw him coming towards us. He was a thin guy with long black hair which very well suited his tall physique that was wrapped in a towel around his waist. It seemed like he was just out from the bathroom.
He smiled when he saw me. Probably, he was aware of my arrival today.
“Neil!” I said introducing myself and offered him my hand.
“I’m Devesh. Bob must have told you about me, right?” Dev smiled as he looked towards Bob who was now busy staring at the kitchen tube light.
“Yeah he did,” I said gradually turning my attention towards Bob who was still staring towards the light.
“What happened?” Dev asked.
“Nothing,” said Bob as he steeply lowered himself and started walking inside the kitchen “I’m not gonna spare this piece of shit today!”
He had something in his mind. Some purpose. He directed us to keep quiet as he reached at the shoe in one of the corners. I stood still at the kitchen entrance waiting for Bob’s next step - who was now busy aiming a blow at the lizard above the tube light. He took the footwear in his right hand and little did I notice, the shoe missed its target and struck a glass bottle kept in the shelf breaking it into a million pieces.
That was speedy and more was the pace of the scary lizard that ran towards me. I jumped in fear loosing my balance. For a moment I was not able to understand what was happening. My sight was blurring as I tried to regain my balance and stepped on one of the glass pieces.
“Uhh!” Dev exclaimed as he supported me just in time which prevented me from falling flat over the glassy bed of pieces on the floor.
“Oh God!” Bob shouted as he saw the blood oozing out of my right foot, “I’m so sorry Neil,” I heard Bob murmuring as he too joined Dev in supporting me. Somehow I was saved from any further mishap.
“Shit! Shit!” Dev screamed as he saw the blood spilled over the floor. He looked at Bob in anger who was now meekly looking at him like an innocent child.
“Go! Get some water,” Dev yelled, “Look below for the glass pieces”
I sat down on the floor waiting for the blood to stop as Dev held my foot in his hand. A lot of blood had been lost making the floor near the kitchen entrance red. Dev took off his towel and tied a firm knot above my ankle. This stopped the blood outflow to a great extent.
“Where’s the water Bob?” Dev shouted as he stood up naked.
I was feeling something heavy in my back head that was forcing me further to loose my balance. I could see Bob rushing back carrying a water bottle in his hand.
“Here it is,” Bob said as he handed over the bottle to Dev.
“You nerd! I have told you to get water, not vodka” Dev said as I looked at him in anguish.
“Vodka?” Bob asked in astonishment.
“Yes, don’t you know that I threw all the empty vodka bottles last Friday when my parents visited us? I’ve transferred the left over in this bottle” Dev said.
“And you are telling this when I have already offered a glassful of it to Neil?” Bob said as he looked at me in despair.
“What the… Was that…,” I murmured unable to speak further. Bob ran back to the refrigerator and got another bottle, this time a water bottle. Dev snatched it from him and poured some water on the fresh bloody wound. He had a close look at the wound, searched for a glass particle in it but failed to find one.
“You need a doctor” Dev said.
“There is one just outside our apartments. I’ll take you,” Bob said seeming to offer some help.
I looked at him, annoyed. Was it really help that he wanted to offer or did he wanted to screw me further, I thought. I wished I could yell but was feeling heavier now than a minute before. More than the pain in my foot was the grief of drinking vodka – that made me realize the misery of a first-time ever prostitute loosing her virginity.
“No! I’m fine,” I said trying to evade from the situation.
“No man, you are not. You need a treatment. Come on let’s go!” Dev said as Bob burst out in laughter looking at naked Dev.
“And you need to get dressed up before you do that,” Bob said continuing his laughter.
“It’s all because of you, you nerd!” Dev said as he left inside his room to get dressed.
I looked at Bob as his laughter was making my state worse. I was not able to understand what was happening to me but the only thing I knew about me was that I was screwed. But then I was unsure of what was to be done. Who should I held responsible for this mess? –the guy who had filled up vodka in the water bottle or the guy who served it to me? But Bob, for whom killing lizards was more important than my introduction, was the reason for my anger at the moment.
In all this misshapenness, all I could observe was that both of them were escorting me, trying to share my pain no matter they were the very own cause for it. Bob, the guy who had fascinated me an hour back was now the reason of my despair – it made me realize that books don’t teach common sense; it’s a built-in feature one needs to possess.
It was an accident, a couple of them in fact, yet I had nobody to blame for. I spent the whole night at the hospital and so did Bob.
That day I took a decision – I gave up MBA.