Breaking Bad

I am in airport, thanks to my cab driver. About 40 minutes ago, I was in a state of panic as I looked at the stagnant road filled with lifeless trucks. The driver of Uber cab tells me that I will miss my flight and there was no denying the fact. He told me horror story of a family stuck in traffic jam for 3 hours. He became quite perplexed with the situation himself and started shouting loudly. "Yelling" could be an even better choice of verb. I asked him not to yell. It had an inverse effect. I had obviously insulted him deeply. He started shouting that there was no need for him to be concerned and reminded himself that it was I and not him that was going to miss the flight. Somewhere he seems to be suggesting that this was all useless and we should go back home and take a nap. He took a turn to make the cab part of dead trail but then his compassionate sense prevailed and he took the U turn. His mind seemed to be processing our options at the speed to light and he said - I will drive in the wrong side of the road for entire duration of Rajouri but you will have to pay if policemen catch him. He also called his friend to verify if this was a feasible option and he confirmed that it was risky but a risk worth taking. Finally he looked at the oncoming traffic intensely and said it was a big risk and I will have to pay a thousand bucks for him to do it.

I suddenly realized where it was going. I resorted to negotiation. 500? And then 700 but he wouldn't buzz. It was simply a question of risk and reward. His car, his life, his children's lives were at stake if something was to happen to him or his car. I said I was taking the risk too. Pushed to the corner I said yes.

After traveling on the wrong side of the road for about a 100 meters, he got the cab to usual route to airport and I knew I had been taken for a ride.

I maintained silence as he called up his friend telling him how he took biggest risk of his life by travelling in wrong direction. I evaluated my options and felt the only choice I had was how I should feel once this episode was over. This was life with its ups and downs. Good side was that I reached airport quite ahead of time and that gave me a lot of time to think about what had happened the previous (actually this very) night.

V had come back and it was decided that we would drink. I had had three pegs of whiskey the previous night and I had thrown up. Also I did not want to get too drunk in order to be able to get up early to catch my 7 AM flight. So we decided to have beers. Later I would need some whiskey to process reality.

V told me what the mood of NY office was. About Central Park.

Then B joined us. V showed off Double Black label: brand of whiskey he had brought with him. I remarked how we would have taken off all of our clothes if we were women in a James Bond movie.

Things took a turn for interesting and B started to narrate a story that now runs like a dream sequence in my mind. I remember watching Walter White reminiscing in Breaking Bad and saying "What are the odds?"

U pings B around a question on a company event that she helps manage. She later organizes a meeting with him to discuss the matter further. B is surprised when she mentions that she thinks that he is awkward around her and she wanted to make sure that everything was fine between them. B says that everything is fine. He is generally "in his zone" and that could have left that impression on her. She suggests that they start afresh and goes on to introduce herself. B follows her initiative and introduces himself. They must have had a basic Q&A session afterward because I remember B mentioning U asking him where he lived and finding it pretty impressive that he lived alone. This meeting ends.

Afterward, U pings B again, saying that she has a confession to make. B suggests that they meet again but U insists that is not required. She tells him that she used company event as an excuse to talk to him. B does not know how to react to that but does pretty well in asking if she wanted to exchange numbers. She takes time and finally says that she shares her number only with family and close friends. There is no no in this answer.

And that is the story so far.

I asked  B why he told us about this when it was so intimate. But I knew. V is one of his closest friends. More importantly, B thought I was interested in U. I confirmed that I was.

I requested him not to share this with anyone and respect U's expectation that it will stay between two of them. Respect is the keyword here. I can only imagine how difficult it could be to put yourself in that vulnerable spot and express your feelings. If that expression is not met with a dignified response, it can push you deeper inside the shell. Apart from that U is also a friend, so I need to protect her interests. I told him she was top of the line gal and he should go for her.

He asked me how I was interested in U and still wanted him to do as he pleased. I told him that I asked her once.

We told him that it is alright to be feeling flattered and he should enjoy it while it lasts.

V was there too and he must have appreciated sensitiveness of the whole situation. One can always depend on him when the situation arises.

I had few interactions with U during those two days and now I would successfully correlate everything that I saw in her with her turbulent state of mind.

On Thursday afternoon, while we were having lunch, U passed by with a cup of tea and told us that she was having a terrible headache. On a side note, later, on my way to meeting room, I would see her and B in another meeting room - again what are the odds?

On Friday, we were expected to decorate our bays to celebrate Diwali. Our team won a prize, BTW. It was kind of expected that U would make a trip to our bay but she did not. I went up a couple of times and it looked as if she was most busy person in dh. She was on phone and did not seem interested in festivities at all. Later in the evening she wished us Happy Diwali from outside of the glass door.

I was not sure if B telling us about this was a good thing or not. Now I am pretty sure that it was a good thing because it gives so much insight into U psyche. For one, we haven't had that lunch so far and I was willing to attribute it to her lack of initiative. I'm clearly wrong. Women can take initiatives when they want to.

Also she is complex and much is going on with her that I'm not aware of. On multiple occasions, she has confessed to be not very trusting of people in general. It will be fascinating to know series of events that led her to B. Maybe, it is a case of instant attraction but she just did not seem like that sort of girl. B has that boyish charm. U is womanly and mature. It will be interesting to observe.

I have been trying to strategize my behavior toward U in coming days. Am I hurt? How do I compare against B? How do I compare against everyone else?

I saw this lecture on sociological imagination that tries to answer the question: why are we here? We have a biography - our little orbits - and we are part of a history and a lot of our biography is influenced by history of our times. In turn, our collective biographies shape our history.

One way of evaluating this whole episode could be to say that it is a story of three individuals and the outcome is direct result of how these three individuals interacted with each other. I could have done something and the result could have been different. It is definitely part of the puzzle. Sociological imagination tells you that there are factors in play that individuals don't have control on. For example, there are factors that influence liking that I have little control on. It has made me less critical of myself and demystified the idea of love a little.

Back to the question of how I should interact with U in coming days. For a considerable time now, I have tried to be best version of myself. I have been non judgemental, patient and funny. I have been prompt to respond to her requests. To be honest, I might even have been happy. One strategy could be to maintain this. This would also be very boring. I have zeroed in on the cold treatment.

I have thought about potential justifications for why I chose to write it into a blog post. I have very limited and controlled readership. I have been careful to start off the post with relatively boring tale of my journey to airport and it is likely that even few readers I have will not bother to complete this post. There was also a need to document this historic moment in this blog which has turned very personal of late. These are all good reasons. My favorite: I'm breaking bad.

You and I

S: Are you prepared to handle some randomness from me?

U: Ok

(Two minutes pass)

S: I want to go watch a movie with you. What do you think?

U: Did you not say that you did not like watching movies?

S: Yup but I think the experience depends on the company. I think you will be a great company.

U: I think you are overestimating quality of my company. Even I don't enjoy movies so much now but I am open to the idea of going to one in a group.

S: Ok. I asked because I had to ask. Thank you so much for handling it so kindly!


Just like that the pressure was taken off and I felt happy.


Later, V asked me how my day was and I couldn't help confessing that it was good. Isn't it scary how dependent we are on external factors for our happiness?


I watched a Ted talk (How to stop screwing yourself over | Mel Robbins | TEDxSF) where the speaker asks the audience what exactly it wants for itself (not what other wanted them to want). You have about 5 seconds to take action towards getting what you want otherwise you will talk yourself into how you really don't want/need it.


I asked myself what I wanted and there was a moment of clarity. I wanted to ask U if she wanted to go watch a movie. This sounds so juvenile. At the same time, it became so important that I physically responded to it. There was an increase in my heart rate and everything else dissolved into background. It was very annoying.


That is when I pinged her. She was working from home so I could not talk about it in person. Maybe, it was for better because it allowed me some time to phrase my request in a better way. I knew that it was not important whether she agreed or rejected the request. I was overly concerned if it would be weird and come in our day to day interactions. At the end of it, I was impressed with the way she had come up with an option between yes and no and avoided the situation.


I remember my discussion with M about "responding to a situation" against "reacting to it." The interaction that I had with U is an example of her responding to a situation. It is always impressive.


U just changed her team. It was a right move and we let her go. Her move was so abrupt – we come in one fine Monday to find that her desk has been moved to new team. Now S seemed to sit on my left and U on left. S and I have had our share of differences and he decided to move his desk. He said that he was doing it because the seat he was moving to was a premium one but somewhere I realise that I had something to do with it for sure. So I don't have anybody sitting on my left now I did not have anyone on right. "I am suddenly feeling very alone," I told U.


I had a session with her to give me feedback on her experience working with me. What did she say? I am helpful. I think that was the only positive thing she had to say about me. I was expecting to hear "absolutely brilliant with problem solving." That was disappointing. On improvement side, I needed to work on my mood swings and general state of well-being. I need to be happy. On communication side, I need to work on my facial expressions. Fair enough.


When I got promoted, N and U2 took me to lunch. I don't know why but I still remember that lunch given the general high level of forgetfulness I show. It was very personal and we had a good time. In the same spirit, I wanted to take U out on lunch before she switched her team. We have been planning it for months now and I believe that it will not happen. It is as if she is actively avoiding it. Maybe she is aware of my hidden motives here.


This behaviour of postponing things indefinitely is part of her charm. Or maybe it is flawed part of her personality. This behaviour has been demonstrated in multiple occasions where she starts off with passion but fails to take the task to completion. The project that she was working on and struggled to complete was boring so I cannot blame her there. However, there is this instance of taking a group photograph, making a video, putting things on auction, where things just did not end with a bang. The amount of labour she puts in is monumental, only to be contrasted by relative lack of impact. "Work is force into displacement," I told her as someone had told me once.

The week that was

This week has been so eventful. I was waiting for Monday, after all S was here. I spent about five minutes debating if I should shave or not. I decided not to shave. I also received an iron bed that I had ordered from pepperfry. I went to office to find that I was to take an interview and was late for it. Anyway, I called the candidate about half an hour later, apologized and conducted the interview. I asked him some pretty cool questions (and tough too) and I was satisfied with my performance in the interview. Unfortunately the candidate didn't make it. Then we had a potluck and my cake was well appreciated and it was a good event overall. And just like that it was already well past afternoon. Things looked very good so far.


There was also a significant shaking because of a distantly centered earthquake and that made sure that I did not sleep well in night.


Also, we were made to move to ground floor from Third floor. I always get very emotional when it comes down to leaving places. It is almost like I am performing to an audience that wants to see me cry. I kind of picked up my stuff from my drawer. There are rectangular whiteboards around our desks to write down something inspirational. A day before I wrote - Alcohol conserves the brain. On Monday someone had written - Satish was here. I liked that somehow.


I also had a chance encounter (from a distance) with "S" and "K" on the ground floor and rest of the day was spent assessing my character for reasons as to why I could not just go and meet her.


I shaved on Monday evening and shaved some more on Tuesday morning. I realized that S was here and I had spent a day without saying "hi" to her. So first thing I did after I went to office was to go to fourth floor and look for her. She was not there. I came down with mixed feelings. I was psyched and happy to see her near my desk asking people where I was. We hugged formally. I introduced her to team members - which she must have thought was weird or maybe not. Then we sat down in office Sofa - for first time since I moved to ground floor, I felt that that sofa belonged to that space and was most likely serving its lifelong purpose. What did we talk about? She gave me updates on what was happening in her office. Business is going through some tough time and few people have had to leave and that kind of made her emotional. Apart from that we had few laughs around how she was very young and must be very polite to older colleagues in office. "Do they make you serve them coffee in office?," I joked. I told her about my career plans. She told me that she was looking forward to a change in role as well. We decided to figure out a way to have lunch together. I was suddenly happy for the rest of the day.


I had ordered a mug from an online store. It said WTF but in Hindi. It seemed very funny at the moment. Later in the evening, I kind of felt that it was an idiotic gift so I decided to buy something that represented India. So I stopped at Galleria market on my way back to home and looked around for a book store. Fortunately, I could not find it open. I went to Archies and bought an overpriced gift bag. Then I decided to explore Handloom house for scarves. I saw a few but was not sure if it was even gifted to people or not. I came out and called U for some quick advice. She did not pick up the phone. Most likely she missed it at the time and later did not call because it was very late in night. That's the sort of stories optimists tell themselves. Anyway, I returned home and pinged S on WhatsApp. She had given me her number and had asked me to add her on WhatsApp. Eventually, I ended up asking her advice for a good gift. She asked if there were any options. I find that part about women fascinating: how they take time but come with perfect responses. I told her about a silk scarf and she said she would love it. Later, I would discuss this with U and she would comment how it is much more in practice to insist that one did not need a gift when asked for what they would want for a gift. On reflection, it made me happy that S did not do that.


Tuesday night people from pepperfry visited to assemble the bed for me.  It was dissatisfying to see that I had ordered wrong kind of bed. Maybe, I will return it. See how that turns out for me. I woke up till 2 doing random things. 


On, Wednesday morning, I went and purchase a scarf. That was unsatisfying too. There were not many options and  I did not like any scarf particularly. I also had zero knowledge of what was hip in scarves. I bought something that was kind of different - one that is a rectangular scarf but is already folded and stitched along its length so it looks like a strip. While I was on my way back, I remembered my newly committed motto - "hell yeah or say no" and felt sad that I had compromised on that motto. I had also ordered a winter Jacket online and it did not fit perfectly. I could have kept it if I wanted to. But I just told you my motto in life and so I had to return the jacket. On my way back home from office, while facing wrath of cold gusts of wind, I said to myself - "I should have kept the damn thing". 


During lunch, I remember telling S2 that I was feeling sad and he made a joke about it. (On a side note today I shared some more news with him and even there he seemed more amused than happy. Is he an unnecessary source of negatively and should I avoid going to lunch with him?). As I told V, I share a complex relationship with S2 but more on it in a different post.


Weather was unusually cool too. I asked P if it was "happy" weather or "sad" weather and he said it seemed rather "gloomy". I felt happy for a brief moment there because now I could attribute my sadness to weather.


I had the mug and scarf in the gift bag. I pinged S telling her that I had brought a gift for her. I did it on Jabba and her response was something that uplifted my mood for sure. "Did you? Did you?! Did you?!", she asked with enthusiasm. Ha Ha!  I asked her to collect it exactly before she leaves office so that nobody in office gets to ask her what it was and who gave it. I told her that it felt very child-like. 


In the afternoon, U pinged me and said she wanted to discuss something with me. I said I had a discussion with her "now" manager in 10 minutes. We agreed to catch up after that discussion. This discussion was kind of an opportunity for me to give feedback on U. I am never satisfied with the feedback I give about people. I want good things to happen to U and I want her manager to have a good impression about her. I see her strengths and I see her weaknesses and most of the times I give my unbiased views. But U is also a friend. So I feel that I am not being fair to her if I give my objective feedback on her in a corporate environment where favoritism seems to be the norm. Anyway, most likely I am assigning more importance to my feedback than it actually is.


So later we (U and I) went out for a walk to discuss what was happening in her new role. We crossed U's now manager taking a round as well. That was weird. We felt like co-conspirators. U commented that we should do more of this so we don't catch unusual attention. Anyway, we had a good laugh about it.


In evening, the team went for snacks outside. It was impressive that everyone was up for it given that such events continually get postponed. Especially an event that was scheduled by U. Even more specially because a person was shot dead this morning right in front of the place where we intended to go for snacks. Yes, Gurgaon is the Sincity. The logic was that the probability of having another shootout at the same place was probably lower than other places in Gurgaon. It was fun. I had a Kachori and a Jalebi and a half Samosa.


Anyway, in the evening S came to ground floor and I took her to the place where lockers are and gave the gift packet to her. She took out the items from the bag. The message in the mug was in Hindi so she asked if it was a personalized message. I said it was not a personalized message. Or maybe it was because it was in Hindi and was given to her precisely because her colleagues will not be able to read it. It was a slightly inappropriate message and she needed to hear it from me. I did not want her to go about asking people what the mug said – that would have been funny though. Strangely, I could not bring myself to say "What the fuck" in front of her. I said "What the.." a couple of times and finally she got it and laughed about it. Just to make sure that she really got it I asked her what it was and she said "What the..?" And then she took out the scarf and tried it on. She asked me for directions around how it was to be used. I said I had no idea. She said she would figure it out. After she was gone, I realized that she is just a great taker of gifts. The best one, maybe.


I came home little late at night and I had a slight headache due to lack of sleep and overthinking so I slept after having dinner and a pint of beer. V pinged at night and asked how to kill a SQL query.


On Thursday afternoon, S and I went for lunch. Customer service in the restaurant was top class and there was no one else except for us. They played good music. I wish the food was better though. We discussed about PP and how it is always funny to think up of ways of destroying it. We discussed common friends. I gave S some feedback too – I shouldn't do that. We also discussed how we are lagging behind in getting promoted. How does one prepare for a visit to India. It was good. She also paid her part of the bill. Few years back, I wouldn't have allowed that but now I let people do what they want to do.


We came back and went straight up to attend IMU. It's kind of a town hall meeting.


After that I had a discussion with L who is visiting India as well from London office. We could not find any meeting room and so we came down to CCD and ordered coffee and continued with general discussion. L mentioned that coffee was good and I agreed.


Thursday was truly a great day. S had also brought a gift for me – it was a face mask and a toner from Korea. He he. Talk about gifts that are also useful. I tried the mask on and shared the picture with her. I asked her few questions about how to use them (instructions were not very clear) and she didn't reply to them. I remember feeling sad and stupid about it.


On Friday morning, I received an email from L confirming some good news. It was also an early Friday so I left early for day.


On Saturday, I helped move S3 into a new house in Gurgaon. They had dinner at my home in evening and A cooked some really good chicken.


On Sunday, A, my flat-mate, asked me to join him and his girlfriend for dinner and we had a really good time.