Milestones

A week back I finished 5 years in the current company. 5 years. Am still trying to wrap my head around that number. I even had an interesting discussion with my manager’s manager.

“Should I give you a watch?” he asked.

“Is that a subtle way of saying I’ve been here too long?” I asked.

He laughed. “My previous company had that practice. I put an end to that. It’s such a silly idea, as if reminding people of something.” he said.

Turns out I’ll be getting a plaque which says that I’ve done 5 years in the company. A plaque. It means a tablet to commemorate an event. It can also mean something foreign and unwanted stuck to your teeth, that needs to be flushed out.

Milestone itself is closer to millstone, having something around your neck to drag around. In a dystopian sci-fi world the milestones you reach collect around your neck as millstones. Some story there?

Oddly, the job does not feel like that, even though this is the first place I’ve been in for longer than 4 years since School. You do 7 years of primary school and then everything is 3, 2 and then 4 years.  Yes, the parents’ generation clocked decades on the same job, signing in and out of the same offices, growing old with the same furniture, ceiling fans and colleagues. It’s so less common now. “People leave” is the common refrain, and people are expected to leave.

I guess a singular routine is something that I don’t mind having. It gives a sense of peace and stability, to be in one place after all that jumping around countries. I wonder how much I equate the current company to the City itself. I don’t really have experience changing jobs within the same country either. Maybe that helps.

It also helps that the core team has remained more or less the same. So it’s mostly the same faces everyday. Maybe a need for a sense of stability after a particular age. Or I guess a simpler thing that given how things are at home, it helps to have some stability at the workplace.

A level of comfort matters I guess. If you are not being stressed or put off to turn up at work and get your job done, maybe that matters a lot. Am not talking about work stress. That’s always there and is manageable, mostly other factors. Yes, traffic is a factor. The cab helps, the metro when it becomes operational will help a lot more. I used to love the BMTC commute. It used to give me a few hours of just sitting in a crowd of people and reading. There were regulars, people you never knew or even greeted, but they were there, they knew you the same way, and there was a sense of reassurance in seeing the same people. I have written earlier about people traveling to work and back in the same buses because their work timings matched, and developing a sense of acquaintance, some idle chatter on the way home. This is a new age that, where you see but don’t really see.

I miss public transport. I keep looking forward to the day the E-W line becomes fully operational and I’ll have specific trains to look forward to, like the 7:20 AM 500K Volvo where everyone was a regular, to the point of where they even sat, seats chosen with trial and error for the Sun, distance from the AC, distance from the speaker, ability to sleep in buses, other friends, so many factors.

I do have a specific seat in the cab, but mostly because I do the traffic routing – which is all about looking at Google Maps, finding bottlenecks and rerouting around them. Anyone in my seat gets a “Cool, so you’re doing the routing today.” Enough to send them scurrying back.

I can’t believe it’ll soon be a year for the cab, without public transport. I wonder how I’ll deal with being back to hopping from and to buses and metros. I wonder if I’ll still have that infinite patience of waiting for a bus, that sometimes might not turn up at all. With the Metro that uncertainty won’t be there anymore. (Going by current performance that is, you really need to see the Melbourne Metro to know how unreliable they can be.)

I digressed again. So how much do these big years at a place matter? I overheard a lift conversation where someone was saying that her house is in Srinagar and she commutes from there. Brought back so many memories of that place. Can’t believe it was a good 11 years spent there and a good 14 years before that in Chamarajpet. What do they amount to in the end? I guess these stints in different places are part of what you are. There are parts of you that are Chamarajpet, some parts that are Srinagar, some Melbourne, some Seattle and then some Nagarabhavi. But tangibly there’s nothing. It’s just a relentless march into the future with no turning back. And yes, I get those pangs, when I think of those days. They feel like places, but places that you can never return to. There’s always a need to keep changing something, for some new place. In my case though, it’s being drawn to old places, as if going back to that place will send me back in time to how I was then.

Oh well, here’s to five years in the current company, and hoping for speedy opening of the Metro.

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