It was time for me to return to the hectic 24/6 schedule of the new-age boom – BPO – where the buzz of life hangs on in the corridors and alleys of a mind blowing office campus, even at midnight or when dawn is just about to break in.
Thinking of my work that needs to be resumed the next day, I located the seats numbered 17, 18 & 20, which would give my mother, sister and me the much needed comfort through our journey to the Garden City aka IT City. I had a pain at heart, of leaving behind the lush green garden that was nurtured at home, and an equally green land, for a mechanized world lying 18 hours ahead of me.
It was an A/C coach which could accommodate 8 lives in a section, on a journey that links these lives between various backdrops of life. I found my window seat and made myself comfortable with my sister facing me; and each other pulling legs – which comes as routine.
Two well-dressed young gentlemen in their 20’s, and an elderly person worn out by the sun’s taxing heat accompanied by a lady in her mid-years were our companions for the trip.
The lady did not seem to stop biting the ears of the already taxed old man. “I am extremely sorry for asking you to travel with me, Sir. There was no other choice than to take you with me. Or else I would not have been able to manage will so much luggage” She continues; “and do you know what Patricia had to say about the latest technological development about the microchips and smart dust…” The man stoops his head and dozes away, only to be woken up when her adrenalin pumps high on the “microchips”.
“No no..do not convert the HTML version. Please upload it first and then do the conversion”. One of the two gentlemen in their 20’s slid back the mobile phone from his ear into the shirt pocket, and replugs the MP3 player. He sways to the music hitting his eardrums, as if he is enjoying the tune from the train’s turning wheels.
An hour rolled by, and three of the passengers – including the old man and the middle-aged lady had all climbed up onto their respective berths; and my sister had already gone under her blanket. Just then the Airtel music plays..plays another movie song..and a default ringtone..and another.. “Hello, yes, train is on time”, “Hello, alright, if that’s the case, if the same error message is appearing again and again, try rebooting your system”.. Infants in the neighbouring compartment yell to their maximum pitch as a reaction to the machine alerts, and the human responses following it. But even amongst this tantrum, no one is in a crowd. All are shrunk into themselves knowing just what is happening to them and the void space encircling them.
Four hours past, the Airtel music is in the air once again. “Hello, Oh! Fine then, the hardware needs to be replaced, is it? OK, inform Manish as well about the issue. I shall reach there by 2:30 am. But we need the machine with us, so that it can be examined right away. Would that be possible? Alright, in that case we can go ahead and agree to deliver it by evening.”
Now it is the turn of another cell phone to hum. “Yeah, tell me, has it been converted? No? Still not happening? Ah! Alright, alright. Do not convert it from the File menu; instead, while the initial process is in progress, a dialogue box will appear. Give OK there, import the file, and then convert the HTML file..” and on goes the conversation.
When some manage their office work through cell phones – hardly being able to locate in one’s hand – the other works on his project from the laptop. Another person communicates with an International client to manage a deal through his palmtop, while the “poorest” of the lot tunes into his favourite music on the cell phone’s FM radio.
Detached from one another, I saw mortal machines with flesh and blood, engrossed in the world of immortal machines, creating yet another world of lifelessness deprived of emotions or passions. It took me a few hundred miles through land to realize the evolving bitter truth of life, with which I need to live even after the revelation.
I plugged my iPod back into my ears, and began strategizing my next day’s schedule in the background of an old favourite number.