Nineteen to six to....

It was the 1st of July, 2002. No, I think I should rewind back a day. 30 June, 2002. That is the day I landed in Bangalore to take up my job with Oracle. I had met and knew 4 other people who would join with me. Murali, Karthik (Skely), Durga (DD) and Sangeetha. As it turned out, we were a total of 19 people that would spend, together, the next few months in training. We were to stay in a hotel for a while. Hotel Harsha Park Inn. That sunday I met a few of the others in the hotel - Guneet, Karthikeyan (Chells), Rajiv and others.

Finally, the day dawned. We were all packed into taxis and shipped to Oracle. We hadn't been to Oracle yet and all of us were pretty excited to see the building. Skely got to his antics the moment we landed there. He almost crashed through the glass walls at the entrance.

That day sitting in a conference room, we began to form the bonds. We were a mix of people, from different places, different colleges, different views. One thing was common though, we were just out of college and this was our first job. And we were very excited about getting into Oracle. We took the first step into the true adult world together. Like soldiers in a fancy parade.

Let me take some space to describe the people.

Anu - the patriot, very passionate about Sachin and Abdul Kalam.
Anuj - the chubby guy, who went from fair to pink to red when we ribbed him.
DD - the sweet talker, who would later talk people into finishing the extra food.
Debarun - the mimic and a movie fanatic. Dada, we call him, in Bengali style.
Guneet - the people guy, who made friends with almost everyone around.
Karthik (Skely) - the funny guy. always ends up doing things wrong.
Karthikeyan (Chells) - the gamer, without 'Th' in his vocabulary.
Manish - the guy who got most linked to our female-tutors, by us.
Murali - the all-round helpful guy.
Prakash(CP) - the techie and the brainee. Unix fan.
Prashanth - the guy who used his fifth drink and sixth sense to get to seventh heaven.
Preethi - the no-nonsense girl with a smile.
Rajiv - the intellectual and the speaker.
Rupsa - a close second to swati in terms of childishness. chocolate fanatic.
Sangeetha - the silent one and eats the least. She still is the same.
Santhosh - the thinker. Thinks too much and mostly philosophically.
Swati - the kid in the group. Also an eater, "petu".
Vijay - the handsome dude with a winning smile. that's what most girls thought of him anyway.
As for me, I learnt that I had come across as 'frightening'. I haven't figured that out yet. :-)

We spent three months together in training rooms. Most of us, anyway. It was like being back in college. Classes, naps during classes, a hundred coffee breaks (that's exaggerated, ofcourse). Lunch would see almost all of us crowded around the same table. We would sit around, talk, laugh and have fun during our lunch breaks. I guess everyone in Oracle must have noticed this bunch of "kids".

I would dare say that I have never felt so close to any group of peers; neither in school nor in college. We became almost like a family - a big, boisterous, loud, fun family. Everyone of us was away from home, some of us by thousands of kilometers. This group was our family away from home.

Anuj was the first to leave. He got himself transferred to Hyderabad. Swati followed later. She didn't want to go, but that's what she had to do. We had all known each other only for a few months, but the day swati got the news there was a stillness in the group. It was a sad day. It was fate's way of telling us that we cannot be together forever. About a year and a half later, Guneet quit Oracle. Though he is still in Bangalore, we don't get to see much of him. Then Rajiv left to do his MBA at IIM, Ahmedabad. He had been my roomie for close to two years and a great roomie to have. A few months after this, there was a mass exodus to Amdocs, Cyprus. Prof, CP and Santhosh left for Cyprus.

We were then just a handful left - a mere shadow of the original set. But we made the most of everything and continued to be together as often as we could. This past friday, Rupsa gave us her farewell treat. She is going to Calcutta. A sad day it was, yet we laughed and smiled. After all, we didn't know when we would get another chance to laugh together.

I can only hope that all of us manage to continue being in touch through mails or phone calls; no matter where we are. And that, someday we would get a chance to get together again. All of us together, making the loudest possible noise.

Borrowing Rupsa's quote - "To meet and to part is the fate of life; to part and to meet is the hope".

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