What a full weekend it has been! I know that this blog mentions just how even most of my earlier weekends in Kolkata have been full, but this one takes the pride of place amongst all. Having ditched Sandipan for the last few times (that is what he says), this weekend was reserved for a rendez-vous at his place. At work, the project had come to the end of the first phase and I was expecting to be taken off it and put into another at any time. The HR Head had called for a meeting at 4:30 in the evening but it never happened and so it was at 6 that I left with the entire batch of trainees for an evening of fun that we had been promising each other for quite some time. The idea was to go to some hangout, have a drink or two with some snacks and then head for some movie.
A good idea or so it seemed till we reached Opium, the hangout selected for...well, hanging out. The place did not appeal to the refined tastes of many but after some cribbing, owing mainly to the fact that most of the others were not willing to travel all the way to the city to go to Someplace Else or one of the better do's, we made peace with Opium. After a few drinks and some food, we decided to call it quits and while some of the people left for their homes, I, Sandipan, and the two IIMC guys, Aditya and Sivaram, decided to move on to Someplace Else for some good music and some good crowd. The ambience was great, as it was when I had been there the last time, and by the time we reached Sandipan's home at about 11 in the night, I was satisfied with some good music still ringing in my ears, dead tired, and my stomach was filled right up to the brim.
The amazingly affectionate hospitality and the delicious dinner that Sandipan's mother had put out for us, however, turned out to be my undoing and...I hogged. I kept hogging for the rest of the weekend and had it not been for the few outings that we had and the few chances of walking and sweating the calories off that I got, I would surely have gained a couple of kilos on this weekend trip to Sandipan's home...not that I am reasonably sure that I haven't gained those couple, either.
The first of these outings that I talked about was to the Alliance Francaise for the third of the weekend classes in the month-and-a-half elementary course in French. We had already missed the first two classes because of joining one weekend late but the enthusiasm of the teacher (Mr. Amitav Ghosh, who quite resembles Prof Broaca, back at IIMK, in his teaching style and enthu) and the help that we got from some of our batch mates (especially Sweta, who is an ICFAI Hyderabad passout working in Kolkata, and who loaned us her notes of the first two classes for getting them photo copied) compensated for whatever trouble that we did have in the first hour of the first class.
French is understandably, one of the more popular languages in the world, what with its musical feel and the romantic appeal of all things assoicated with France. In fact, I have still not been able to recover from the extremely melodious way in which the French pronounce the phrase "Oui, c'est Louis!" (don't ask me why this phrase of all...my subconscious just picked it up amongst others). BTW, the way it goes is something like this...oooiii, say Loooiii :-). And so it was that by the Sunday class, we were quite sure of our foot hold and quite in sync with the rest of the batch (especially Sandipan, who even took a lead over others, partially due to his starting advantage of having learnt a bit of Italian earlier, which is helping him at quite a few occasions in this course, as well).
Once we were out of the class, we had some other concerns. Tanu, Sandipan's girl friend and Pallavi, my cousin had both agreed to come for the night's party at Fusion, one of the better known Kolkata discs. Pallavi is going to join Wipro at Bangalore as a Business Analyst and she was going to be in town for the weekend. When she heard about the party at the disc, she wanted to go and get a feel of the Kolkata discs after having been through the razmatazz of the Goa night life (she passed out of GIM this year). I had to ditch my own friend I had already asked for the party and had quite a row over the thing with her and we are still not talking :-( but that is perfectly okay...after all, I might not be meeting Pallavi again for quite some time and family takes precedence for me...any day.
The concern that I had been talking about was only this...that I had to go and pick Pallavi up from her Bua's place in Golf Green where she was staying. Having not known the folks and not having met them ever, I was feeling pretty uncomfortable about the entire thing...as if I were a rogue come to ask my own cousin out for a late night party. I perfectly understood Pallavi's Fufaji's hesistation in letting Pallavi go without ensuring that there was someone escorting her to the disc and all the way back to home but as I said, it just did not gel with me. I was really glad, however, to have met Gudia didi, Pallavi's cousin, at the place...though she was busy with getting her kid ready to go home with her and we hardly spoke and though we had met for the first time...I still felt that somehow she seemed to be aware of my discomfort and silently telling me that it was okay. I relaxed and all thanks to didi for that.
The party, however turned out to be a dud. With Jassi-turned-Jessica-but-actually-Mona-Singh scheduled to make her appearance at the disc, the place was choc-a-bloc with some faces and chartacters that you will never expect in a night club. For the very first time in our lives, we saw kids in a night club...and not just kids, but fully grown Papajis and Auntyjis, too...and to top it all, some salwar and sari clad behenjis and some kurta clad bhaiyyas, as well. They had all come to watch their girl-next-door-turned-glam-doll Jassi-Jessica and until she arrived at about 11:15, the party was at a stand still...well almost...but for the last three quarters of an hour when they played some real music and all the six of us (including Sandipan's friend 'chai' and his girl friend) had a good time shaking our legs. By the way, I realized that it does feel a little awkward to be dancing with your cousin in a night club and neither of us could really dance with as much abandon as we could have, had the company been of friends. Strange but still true!
Much before the DJ took over and the dance started, the disc managers had been thrusting upon us, their idea of entertainment. It consisted of three skimpily (but smartly) clad Chinki girls (they called themselves Filipino...they might have been, too...who knows) trying to make a mess of some good songs by trying to shake to the music and sing at the same time...all the while, making sure that their stilletos did not slip on the polished dance floor. Mona Singh's arrival (and she does look stunning, BTW) put an end to all fun that had started post the torture with the DJ taking a hold over the proceedings. We had to make a beeline for the exit at about 11:30 (10:30 being the time that I had promised Pallavi's Bua we will be back home by).
With "Chai" doing the Michael Schumacher (and a drunk Schumacher at that), we reached Golf Green in good time and it was at midnight that we stood outside Pallavi's Bua place, expecting the worst. It did not come immediately...not in my presence at least, might have come the next day for Pallavi...am not too sure. We did hear some rapidly spoken Bangla from Sandipan's mom though, but since I could not make head or tail of it and anyways, since it was not meant for me, I just sat down to another dose of royal pampering and another lavish dinner to fill an already filled stomach.
Sunday's French class took a little longer and though there was quite a lot that was covered and despite the pace being scorching, I enjoyed the session. However, I did not enjoy the following session that we had with Sandipan's friend, Soochna (nice name, isn't it?) at Camac Street. Heavily made up and full of words, my prejudice started working as soon as I saw her. The telephone call from my sister, Priya, having put my mind in the dark mode, I was a silent spectator to the lively and intelligent (my prejudice turns out to be unreasonable, too...at times) discussion between Sandipan, Soochna and Sivaram (yes, all three names starting with 'S' and as for Sivaram, the fellow trainee from IIMC, we met him roaming around the Camac Street, absolutely out of the blue).
We finally managed to make it an early night and Sandipan's mother...was she relieved! After two more meals (another couple and I would be bursting out of my widest pair of jeans), I bid good byes to Sandipan's folks and the excellent stay that I had at his place over the weekend. The odd one out (not having carried my formal office wear, I was still in my casuals) in the company bus, I was relieved at not having to hide beneath the last seat. I must have been looking like a pig, in worn jeans, not really spick and span tee, and with a stubble that had been growing for the last five days. I skipped out of the bus as soon as it reached office and instead of moving in with the rest of the people, made a rush to my PG.
A clean shaven, fresh smelling, nicely dressed me came to office to realize that I had not been put into another project. However, the second phase of my project is going to start now. Along with two others, I shall be given access to the new ERP system that the UK office is currently following. With the Indian system already charted out, my job now consists of trying to understand the UK system and prepare reports relating to the gap analysis between the two systems and regarding the things that the Indian system might put in its wish list for the adoption of the UK system to be profitable.
Another realization since the morning has been that after Friday's bout of not-strictly-related-to-project activities of the trainees observed by some senior people in the company, the mid term review has been called for. We are all scheduled to present a status report of all that we have done so far and a plan of action for all that we are going to do over the coming month...and all this action happens live...right here in Kolkata...at the 16th of May, which incidentally is exactly a week away...one whole week?? We will be able to make a dozen status reports in this much time :-)