On March 15th 2006, I bid goodbye to Tavant after a period of almost 2 years. There were happy moments and sad moments; and times when I was proud and never wanted to leave Tavant and there were times when I wanted to flee at the earliest chance. But as the wheels of time roll by we all have to move on. And I am moving on.
Binil had introduced me to Tavant and its excellent work culture long before I joined Tavant. When Binil comes to Mavelikara for vacation we used to have long chats on topics ranging from cricket, politics and other bullshit to programming and the internet. He could talk endlessly on any topic beneath the sun, and he sure has his own opinion about everything. He vast knowledge on certain topics are pretty impressive and his logical & analytical way of thinking has influenced my thought process significantly. When Tavant had a vacancy in Microsoft Technologies open, I sent him my resume. He gave me an idea on the type of questions they asked at Tavant and what kind of people they are looking out for. I was very low on confidence but he gave me a lot of encouragement. He had taken a lot of pain to get me hired in Tavant, and I owe a lot to him for his brotherly affection and continious encouragement which helped me good when the going was tough. He is one helluva friend to have - I owe him a lot.
When I first came to Bangalore I lived with Binil and his friends in Wilson Garden. The original members of that house were Girish, Sanju, Ajith & Binil and the guest members were Vineeth, Hari, Jibu, Vijith and Me. Girish & Sanju were working at Sun, while Ajith, Binil, Vineeth & Me were at Tavant. Hari & Jibu were hunting for jobs and Vijith, who was Vineeth's roommate & colleague at Oracle, Hyderabad was working temporarily at Oracle, Bangalore. On the days where there was cricket match on TV, there would be more guests (Syam, Tinu etc) and the fun would be even more. There would be usually two groups - Sachin supporters & Ganguly supporters. A war of words follows which usually ends by both groups declaring themselves victorious, even when Sachin and Ganguly were out for duck :-D. We used to go to Purple Haze at times and we will get drunk to our nose and sing songs on the way back. One night on the way back we got down from the rickshaw half way to our house and walked the rest singing songs, howling and making all sorts of noises. It was pure bliss, the life in Wilson Garden.
I joined Tavant on 20th May 2004, which was a kinda landmark day in my life. I just became the highest paid guy in my class, aaah.. :-). I was put into the Roper Team which develops softwares for companies under the Roper Scientific Group. The dev team consisted of Manas, Rajesh and me. Ganesh Suryanarayana was the Tech Lead and Gautam Kumar the Project Manager. Manas is one of the nicest guys I have ever met and very trustworthy. Rajesh is always very helpful and known for his extreme frugal nature ;-). It was a closed knit team and we had a pretty easy going schedule. It was during my early days that we had a party called "Tavant Rocks !", which included the Quarterly Excellence Awards and some cultural activities. There was plenty of beer and I got a real kick after which there was plenty of dancing and fun allround. I dropped a plate with food on the floor which gave me a neat drunkard image. I remember Ganesh telling me the next day that I shouldnt be drinking to a point where I lose my consciousness. LOL. There were several parties in Tavant after that but the first one was the best, IMO. Probably just my biased view.
In the meantime Vineeth and me moved to a house in BTM and Vijith joined us when he moved to Bangalore permanently after joining Infosys. Soon the members at Wilson Garden dispersed and Binil joined us. Sanju & Girish took a house in Santhinagar near their office along with Hari. Jibu got married and went to Dubai. Ajith had moved with some of his friends just after he came back from onsite. I lived there till Vineeth got married and then moved to Madiwala with my college-day-friends. Binil took another house on his own.
A guy called Sailesh joined Roper for a brief period and just before he left, Biju joined us. Biju is a real hardworker and is fun to be with. Sony also joined our team as soon as we started on the Saguaro project. Sony is a free spirited guy and is very helpful when we need him the most. He is a good friend to have. Jorge Ochoa-Lions and Austin Blanco were our points of contact on the Saguaro project, which we were developing for Photometrics, a Roper company. Jorge (pronounced hor-hey, but in India he accepts it when somebody calls him George, LOL) is the most charming man I have ever met. He is a very understanding guy and always pleasant and we feel immediately at home with him. Austin is a bundle of energy and he seems to enjoy every second of his life, irrespective of the circumstances. Both of them took great pains to make us understand their requirements and they helped to get a much better grip on image processing domain. It was a great pleasure working with them and I am going to miss the tele-conference calls with them. Roper is a better team, thanks to Jorge and Austin.
We had a team outing to Kemmanagundi along with the LBAC team. Roper had only a few members and Gautam was managing both the projects so it made sense to club both teams for the outing. Unfortunately Manas couldnt come for the outing because he had to go to his native at that time. The trip was a memorable one. We came to interact with and made friends with many of the LBAC guys (and gals). Sure enough it was a great experience and lots of fun - rope climbing, trekking, playing games etc etc. I wish we had this year's team outing before I left.
In April 2005 Manas, Rajesh & me attended a training at MediaCybernetics (another Roper company) located at Silverspring, Maryland. It was my first trip to US of A. The training was good and we got an opportunity to meet the legendary John, Pierre & Trey, the guys who developed the IQL Image Processing Library which we were using in our project. We couldnt meet Craig since he was working from his home (in Seattle if I remember correctly). Guys from other Roper companies were also attending the training including Jacob Wilbrink of Gatan, who was our point of contact for a project we had developed earlier. Apart from attending the training, we also visted the White House (which was open to public on the day we visited it), Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial (and several other war memorials too - America has fought a lot of wars) and many museums. We also visted the Arlington Cemetery where we witnessed the Change of Gaurds at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. America is a beautiful place.
At Tavant I made some great friends including Sajeesh Sankaran, Vinod Varghese, Suresh Nambrath, Eldho Syriac, Ajith Prabhakar, Jenish Joy, Vijay G, Nisha Glory, Nandakumar Devi, Vikas Sasidharan, Subin P, Anish Joyson, Justin Joseph the list goes on... Some of these guys have left Tavant before I did, but I do keep in touch with most of them. I treasure the friendships I found in my days at Tavant.
I had purchased the domain name www.pradeepc.net and hosted it with deltawebhosting. On the same server I started a forum called WeaselZone [http://www.weaselzone.com] which was intended as a hangout for IT people. But unfortunately it did not flourish. One of the reasons was that in my immediate circle there were only a few people who were members of Forums and knew its value. So the members I managed to pull in in the early stage were not able to contribute much for the growth of WeaselZone. Actually many of my friends didnt even join due to their lack of knowledge of the concept of an internet forum. Another reason was that some people who were interested in such activities didnt have internet access from their office which severely limited their contribution. After this failure, I ventured into the mailing list arena. The idea was to forum a group of keralites working in the IT field. The mailing list was called e-keralites and was created as a google groups [http://groups.google.com/group/e-keralites]. It was my team mate Rajesh who suggested the name for the groups. I managed to pull in around 50 members initially from my friends circle. I started a referral scheme where the member who referred the most number of friends would receive a free t-shirt. This helped to pull in some members and soon we were really on our way. The number of mails started to increase, which posed some problems. Some people were sending forwards which was vehemently opposed by others. I used to send periodic mails suggesting that we limit the number of forwards sent to the groups. This didnt do much good and as a result some members quit from the groups. We were moving into a state of chaos. We had a month when we had above 300 mails in a month, an average of 10 mails per day ! I was forced to ban all forwards to the groups which hurt some sentiments, but now I think it was a good decision. We have a website http://www.e-keralites.com where members would be able to see the details of all members of the groups. Anish Joyson won the t-shirt for the highest number of referrals (about 25 people). Now the list is more matured with more than 260 members and the future looks promising.
Outside Tavant my life was with my old college mates - Ajith, Deepak, Jacob, Aby, Moncy & Tonio. Deepak has recently moved to Chennai. The main activities in our house are little fights, pulling each other's legs, being nostalgic about our college days and drinking beer and the associated demos. On weekends we sometimes indulge ourselves by a movie at the PVR followed by dinner at Transit or KFC. Our house owner, Mr.Thomas John, and his wife, who lives upstairs are very kind and caring folks. Devi amma, our cook, has 10 tongues and we all wake up listening to her rants about anything and everything. Sometimes she can be very irritating, but her motherly affection towards us shines through. She calls Moncy as Jinju, Aby as Avi (or Idi) and Tonio as Ravi. Jacob provides a lot of entertainment by lying outrageously to Devi amma about us. For eg, he once told her that Aby is married, his wife is in Gulf and they are living separately to make as much money as possible. Devi amma believes it all when Jacob tells her these lies. We pulled a similar trick on him by telling Devi amma that he was caught by Police for indecent behaviour with girls. It was great living with you guys, I will miss you all a lot.
Looking back, it was like a view through a kaledeioscope - moments of joy and exhilaration, moments of melancholy and tears, friends and soulmates, the traffic jams, evenings at The Forum, movies at PVR, fish burger from Transit, books at Gangaram's and eating a lot of dust - my life in Bangalore. Some things to forget and a lot unforgettable.
P.S. What I wrote above probably varies in some respect to what actually happened, because what we see are exactly that - just what we saw, a 3-D version of what really happened.