Wednesday, September 22, 2004

My first time

Today in the morning I had my first international meeting. I called a coworker in the London office, which usually means coming in really early, but this guy was cool and agreed for 9 am (PST). As it turned out he was British Indian-- gosh we’re everywhere-- and was extremely inquisitive about me personally.

He shared his desktop and started explaining the project I was going to take over from him. Throughout the call, we would be going along working, and suddenly he would pop an irrelevant question. This is how the conversation began--

Him: "You should ask the company to send you to London, especially since you'll be working a lot with people here."
Me: "I don't know. I've just started working here."
Him: "Oh, when did you start?"
Me: "It's just about a month now."
Him: "I've heard it's become really hard to enter the company. They have a lot of rounds of interviewing"
Me: "Tell me about it. I interviewed for 8 hours here. It was worth it though I guess"
Him: "Well, welcome to the company"

After completing the new employee talk I do with every coworker I meet, we start working.

Him (in the middle of explaining how the project is structured): "how's the Indian community in San Francisco."

Me (after a few minutes; it takes me sometime to switch gears): "there aren't that many Indians in the city, but a lot in the Bay Area."

Him: "okay"

Again we start working...

Him: "do you guys there dance Bhangra?"
Me (doesn't take me long this time): "I go to desi parties where later in the night they play Bhangra."
Him: "I don't dance it well."
Him: "Do you watch Hindi movies?"
Me: "I love Hindi movies and watch almost all of them."
Him: "What are some good movies?"

I'm going through the database in my mind of all the good Hindi movies I've seen, but before I reply ...

Him: "I've only seen one Indian movie - Sholay. I've seen it so many times"
Me (halting the search): "Oh okay."

So we get back to work and then out of the blue -

Him: "What do you eat?"
I start laughing.
Him: "Is that a silly question?"
Me: "Oh no, I was just caught off guard. I don't cook so I usually eat out."
Him: "Like American meals -- pizza and sandwiches."
Me: "Umm, yeah that too. Also chinese, thai, pasta, indian."
Him: "I like Chinese, Thai too. We have a lot of good Indian restaurants here. Mostly North Indian."
Me: "We have both North and South Indian. I like South Indian too."
Him: "I don't like South Indian; can't handle the coconut curry."
Me: "Well how do you like Thai then?"
Him: "Hmm... never thought about that."

And we get back to work. We have to wait for something to load so we continue our parallel conversation.

Him: "So do you live near work?"
Me: "Yeah, it's a 20 min commute by bus."
Him: "Do you have family around?"
Me: "Not my parents, but my siblings and uncles/aunts."
Him: "You're all scattered then."
Me: "Yeah."
Him: "I see my mom every morning. I live 5 mins from her."
Me: "You're so lucky!"
Me: "You know I have lived in England 6 years. It was the first 6 years of my life though, so I don't remember much. The last time I was in London was in 2001; I was visiting my dad. He took me around places I loved when I was a kid, like the London zoo"
Him: "That's nice. So you're dad lives here?"
Me: "No, he lives in Delhi, but goes to England once a year. He's a neurosurgeon so they invite him for consultation for a couple of weeks."
Him: "Wow, you must be really brainy then."
Me: "Umm... so have you been to San Francisco?"
Him: "No, I went to New York and we just did the week of shopping."
Me (with a smile): "Yeah, I went to New York for just a few days last year. I loved it. Didn't do any of the touristy stuff though."
Him: "That's probably the best way."

We get done with our work.

Me: "It was nice talking to you."
Him: "Yes, cheers, cheers, cheers, bye."

Naturally I was curious about the person I spent the past 2 hours talking to. He was very modest and asked me to make whatever changes I felt necessary to his code (developers can be very touchy about these things). I pictured him as single, in his late twenties, maybe a fairly recent hire too. I couldn't have been more wrong. Another coworker who had made a recent business trip to London told me that he was in his 40s, married with kids. But she agreed that he was extremely modest and people make fun of him for saying "cheers" ten times before hanging up.

By Jove, you're single all right :D!

How the heck do you remember conversations like that? Line-by-line?
Hey Prakriti,

First times leave a lasting imprint on the mind, don't you think?
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