Thursday 10 May 2007

Getting to work

I stay in Chromepet, Chennai for the duration of my summer internship with Cognizant. (Not CTS – Cognizant it is) My office happens to be in this really far-off place called Navalur. A very commonly recurring joke is the appearance of many addresses ending in “Navalur, Chennai”. Navalur, in Chennai? Bah! :-)

In order to reach Navalur, I have to take the office bus. Every day. This is not mandatory, but the company does its best to make you believe it is, by conveniently keeping offices that are closer to Kancheepuram than Chennai. Nobody who lives in Chennai could disclaim knowledge of the Cognizant buses. The organization has so many offices in “Chennai” that it deploys a veritable Armada of buses to every conceivable corner of the city, and then some. This is ostensibly to cater to the commuting needs of the employee, but an ulterior motive does exist – ensure that the employee cannot afford to saunter into office late, or leave early. Well, at least make it decidedly inconvenient to do so.

Which is where I get to the point of this post – every time I am unable to (or prefer not to) catch the bus, I have to whip out the trust old Bajaj Discover DTSi (the 125cc variant) to get me there. With only a small hitch – getting me there involves traversing 27 km of weird roads, with confusing terrain. Yes, twenty-seven kilometres. In one direction. I must add here that I am exceedingly fortunate to be in Chromepet now, as compared to being in Kodambakkam earlier. In that case, my distance would have been closer to 40 km. Would you know it? Not being within city limits has its advantages :-)

I had always figured I could handle long distance bike rides. Hey, I did it for a year when gainfully employed with Verizon India (whose existence Verizon, Inc. will never acknowledge) – traveled 20 km at least, depending on post-work activities, in one direction. But I had failed to reconcile an important factor – boredom.

Every trip to or from Verizon had been with a Nokia 6030 in my pocket, tuned into Radio Mirchi (mostly) and earphones firmly held in place by my blue helmet (which some people take issue with!) The morning rides especially were quite the pleasure, owing to Suchi, and the more than decent breakfast that would follow in the Tidel Park Food Court. The evening/night rides were also tolerable, because of the (usually) kick-ass dinner that would have prefaced them.

In stark contrast, every trip to or from Cognizant, Navalur has been with a Nokia 6680, for which I was too cheap to buy extra storage, and too dumb to bring the earphones along. So no music. 27 km of silence. At least music-wise. Otherwise, there are always the trucks with their air-horns and other random idiots who believe the accelerator and horn are coupled devices. Thus far, I am ashamed to admit, the only fun I’ve ever had on these rides was racing with a female on a Honda Activa.

Add into all this, my paranoia about getting a flat, and you have a recipe for a thoroughly terrible ride, which I enjoy nonetheless, for it lets me use my bike, which I have foolishly brought with me all the way from Jamshedpur. And yes, I also intend to take it back. Sigh...

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