Monday, December 17, 2012

The importance of having broken feet at elevenses

A friend of mine quite long ago made the decision of quitting a software firm and joining the huge army people serving the Indian government. At that moment, given how things were, i was of the opinion that he had just digested a bad lunch which led him to the decision. Five years hence is this year and I find myself in a similar position only for another government. It was indeed a bad meal five years ago which was partly the reason. As hated as governments are as policy makers, they are quite popular, as boring as the prospect sounds, as employers and not just in our vast sub continent. Right about now, one would imagine it to be a tedious job involving pushing files into big file cabinets, meetings with coffee and biscuits and turning up with a polythene bag full of coriander and green chillies won in a bargain during a lunch break. To lay it down straight, it is, but luckily for me, a bit more than that. The prospect was good enough for me to move from the university city of Gottleib Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach to the university city of Karl Benz and Emil Skoda (who wasn't the founder of Skoda Auto but whose company later acquired the Laurin-Klement company from where stems the Laurin-Klement version Skoda Octavia, which was launched as a limited-edition sedan in the years 2004-2005),  one of the homes of the 49th north latitude (they're quite serious about this, they even have a monument to mark it.), Karlsruhe, minutes east of the french border and about half an hour south of Hockenheim, where from 2007 the German round of the F1 championship has been held every alternate year. I am no longer associated with the university, at least not at the moment. what i do at my new work is not interesting to anybody and i myself don't haven't got my head to bear down on what has to be done exactly to explain further, not that anyone would want to know. I did however had sort of a strange two weeks.

I arrived at the first of december to my new place, a freeze-frame from the 70's, kind of like the house in the movie goodbye lenin with strange wallpapers, a vinyl player, novelty switches which you flick up to turn on and roof and furniture made of enough wood to send greenpeace into panic mode. Plus points, the house is cold so i don't have to worry if i forget to keep the cheese back in the fridge, which was helpful since the fridge broke the day i moved in, i have front and back yards, a supermarket i can see from the window and mostly retired people for neighbours. The first day at work was a bit strange, I arrived on time with frozen feet from the cold and my attempt to dress up a little formally leaving the winter shoes behind. Many people to greet and remember especially when being introduced personally to two floors of people having to explain to everyone where i studied, what and how well i can speak german. The next couple of days went smooth, got a new fridge and then one fine morning the main door decided it wouldn't close behind me, since it's an old construction, not only does it weigh a ton, it sits in a kind of rifle-bolt kind of journal bearing which goes up an down a helical axis facilitated by a rod sitting in two socket joints, one on the door and the other on the frame, like the human hip, but at both ends. With the lack of hands and tools, had to call the SOS service and cough up money for them to just lift it up and put it back in its place.

From then on, it has been meetings, introductions invitations to office coffee right after saying i am supposed to take only 45 minutes for a pause and spending hours on learning how to write down what i spent my hours doing. I immediately saw an infinite loop coming. At this point, i wouldn't go as far as thinking it might mean anything boring. just that these people don't wear watches, but they have calendars. And i and breaking into my new shoes, or rather they are breaking into the bones of my toes trying to get to work fast enough so that i can get to my desk and slow things down as early in my day as possible. That, brought to the second problem, food. The alarm is at 6 in the morning and breakfast with caffeine is immediate to switch the internal heating on. considering the short range of my stomach and the cold, i am hungry almost as soon as i get to work, so i introduced another routine into my day while everyone is away for the morning coffee, or may be a little later, elevenses. ok, it is actually around eleven. They have their way of working, they aren't used to the constant job hopping and coming and going of employees that bigger companies are used to, so it takes a while before i get a clear idea what they want from me as much as the other way round. this is already the last week and that means while they are more worried about who will water the plants while everybody is on vacation, options of getting studded tires for the snow, for their bicycle and what to cook for the next coffee break, i am left fed and watered reading literature to get myself oriented to the bigger goals of the department; plus disinfect the kitchen, counter, shelves, washing machine, window glasses, buy six different cleaners and be a proper housewife about being at home. The new year then, considering the mexicans let us live, will be the proper start of work or so it seems. 

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