Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Paene Celebris (Almost famous)

Here’s what the Bard thought, wrote, and became famous for: Some people are born great, some achieve greatness, while some others have greatness thrust upon them.

I have been thrust with greatness. For no fault of mine. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t allude to any ambition of harboring it, I got it. It’s just the way it is. While others scrambled for it, passed notes, talked to seniors for pushing applications, elbowed discreetly, murmured, winked, nudged, scraped, I did nothing.

I went about whistling ‘Happy Birthday to you’ in Spanish (rather easy because you don’t need to know the language), I tipped and tapped my keyboard like a pixie in Olysbarry farm, showed off my ‘Space Impact’ score to three people, and I got it. I got thrusted…with greatness.

And many people in office didn’t like that. No, they didn’t.

This is how it all began…

I come lumbering to my desk and start the computer. A couple of people are standing near it, gossiping. I smile a hello and enter my password. Rejected thrice. Ah! My password used to be the vice I hated most: ‘Smoking’. But I have changed it now. It’s my third favorite dessert after caramel custard and burnt sugarcane with jaggery. So, I put in my clever little word key, ‘********’, and my computer lights up like the Gold Coast.

Voila (and other such fancy interjections)! It now has Windows XP.

Now, I really do not know why my computer has Windows XP. I hadn’t given it much thought. As long as my computer has MS Word and a keyboard that doesn’t behave like Ozzy Osbourne (meaning nastily), I am happy.

And if I do not know why my computer has Windows XP, then I most certainly have no clue why the others do not have Windows XP installed.

The ferreting gossipers close in around my chair. Until yesterday, I was one of them. I worked on Windows 2000. But today, suddenly, my humble computer that really had very simple needs, got lucky. Some benign godministrator came and buffed up my computer. I was XPed.

“Why you?”, “How come?”, “What about me?”, “Really? Windows XP?”, “Show!” These and other envy-twinged questions wafted in the choking suffusion of Davidoff’s Coolwater.

“Well, I don’t know…”, I mumble, my convent-instilled humility taking over. “I guess everyone will get it.”

“No, they won’t,” snapped Shipra. “Everyone won’t. Everyone doesn’t.”

“Then I don’t know. I mean, I’m new so…”

“Oh, you’re new? When did you join?”, quizzed Tej. I am very wary of this guy. He is twenty-eight and wears yellow T-shirts. He also wears those hideous Enrique caps that make him look like a bald eagle. Not to mention, he walks with a swagger that is usually the result of war injuries. Of course, he’s foolish enough to mistake all of this for animal magnetism. And he wears yellow T-shirts. Yellow. T-shirts.

“Couple of months back.”

“And you got XP. Wow!”

Now, this was getting scary. I mean, it’s one thing to feel bad with being stuck with a step-sister operating system while I got the Cinderella story on my machine. But to be menacing and bare your teeth and circle around me like vultures…that was too much to handle. And to top it all, I was a vegetarian that day. The day my survival instincts nestle in the deepest pit of blood corpuscles and go to sleep.

“Okay, I gotta get back to work.”, I mumble.

“On XP. Of course. I’m sure you can’t wait”, he sneered.

Now, I observe, there’s nothing ‘just’ about getting Windows XP installed. Interestingly, there’s a public perception about operating systems. It’s not quite like the rose that would be the same irrespective of nomenclature. (To savagely misquote the aforementioned famous Bard.) This is what some of my colleagues think. Installing Windows XP somehow translates into the organization’s commitment to having you around. Forget what they told you at your probation period or during your monthly appraisals. Installing Windows XP is literally walking the talk.

And so I found myself basking in astonishingly found glory. After all, so many people couldn’t be wrong. If they thought only the chosen few get this, then it must be the case. Who am I to judge the discerning faculties of those who know how to read Excel sheets? After all, I have been told that I constantly undermine my prowess. (Okay, not constantly. Here, I go again.) Perhaps I’m just more important than I thought.

Seeking corporate validation, I approach my boss.

‘Hi, I’ve got Windows XP.’

Startled, he looks up. Maybe he didn’t hear right. Maybe he thought I was telling him that I got malaria and wanted leave.




‘Well, any particular reason I have Windows XP,’ I asked, stopping myself from smugly adding ‘..and the others don’t.’

‘Umm, may have been a mistake or something. You weren’t supposed to have it.’

‘Oh’ I have been rudely unthrusted of greatness.

I turn back on my weary heels to return to the serfdom I had briefly floated over. Now, there’ll be no difference between me and some other guy who wears yellow T-shirts. What really is the blooming use of being hard working and sincere, I wonder? What, I wonder, is the bunkus blooming use?

Tej is sitting on my table watching my chin graze the office floor.

‘Hi’, the canary chirps.


‘I’m getting XP installed.’



Sigh. One grown-up in this infernal place. Just one. One adult who is not a child trapped in a tight sun-flower colored body. I’d like to see one of those.

‘Anyway, mine was installed by mistake’, I sulk.


‘Yep. It was not meant to be for me.’

‘They mistook you for someone important?’ He didn’t have to sound that incredulous, but wait a minute, there’s a thought.

‘Hmm, you could be right.’

‘Lucky’, he says, as he punches my arm hard and walks away.

So, greatness was not exactly thrust on me. It was flung in the distance, missed its mark, and wopped my forehead.

Anyway, I shall be happy with my lot now and get down to scripting an addendum to the quote from Twelfth Night.

The Bard would’ve been proud...almost.


i_d said...

Outstanding. Ever since I was a little boy, I have dreamt of having Windows XP. I can't tell of those torturous, wakeful nights because they are too painful to recall. Those nights, when I lay awake with impatient anxiety, waiting for Bill Gates to outgrow his chaddis and found Microsoft.

Sorry Chiffon -- that sarcasm was completely uncalled for. I just felt like being silly. No, really, interesting post. The ridgid bureaucracies of most organizations larger than 3 people -- with outdated policies instituted by bean counters of yesteryear -- make even the smallest perks very valuable.

That keen observation of yours motivates me to add to the ever growing repertoire of human knowledge by writing a paper titled thus: The Ex Ante Effects of Antiquated, Inflexible General Purchasing Policies and the Value-distortion of Perquisites on the Morale of the Modern Knowledge Worker: Windows XP, A Case Study.

P.S.: Yellow t-shirts are ghastly, unless you're Govinda.

Mukta said...

Hi I_D,

Well, the sarcasm was amusing, so no harm done. :-)

Oh by all means, do that thesis. Let me know how you work out the funding. :-)

Nagesh Pai said...

Beware.. if its gone then feel lucky.. They say XP is the full form of Xtra Problems!

Anonymous said...

This was funny, and strange because we had the complete reverse effect at work. After multiple threats, that did not work, the IS guys literally had to tear the laptops away from our hands to upgrade to XP. Even the outstation guys were not spared, they forcibly installed on their's remotely.

I_D said...

Mukta, to pursue such adventures in sillyness, you have to be independently rich - which I am.

If you have research projects that require funding, let me know.


Mukta said...

Hi anon,

Really! Laptops, huh? That's another status symbol worth writing about. :-)

Hallo again, I_D,

In fact, I do have some areas I'd like to pursue research in. Gimme your id. Will email you about the funding. :-)

Kidding. I'll just scrape together meagre means to pursue my silliness. Thanks though.

Mukta said...


Hi! Didn't see your comment there! How have you been? Write, man!

i_d said...

Mukta, you have my email address. My id, I refuse to part with. You replied to an email of mine and wondered whether it was junk mail. How rude!

Mukta said...

Hi i_d,

Hmm...that means I know you? We have been nasty to each other before? Strange, doesn't ring a bell. Actually it has rung a bell but I'm still figuring out which door. So help me out here. Who you?

i_d said...

Hmmm... do you know me? Who me?Now how do I answer that without getting philosophical? Do you know of me? Perhaps. Sort of.


Did that fling open the right door?