Wednesday, April 26, 2006

thoughts from tehran

Note: I wrote this article for my company's in-house magazine. My colleagues are the intended audience, so you may feel little out-of-context.

* * * *

"Cud u come down for a minute?" that was Sheela on phone with me. I said "okay", n started moving downstairs thinking that she may have some snack at her desk, which she wants to share with me (good sheela, she always does that). She was waiting for me outside HR cabin when I got there, she asked me to get into the small discussion room next to HR cabin. In there, I saw Venkat, and I got a bit concerned. What on earth Venkat has got to do with me? I wondered as I sat down. My anxiety grew as Sheela n Venkat looked at each other n sat there waiting for each other to start talking to me.

Finally, Sheela decided to break the news to me. She said "Would u like to go to Iran for a short-term work assignment?" Surprise, excitement, relief, sorrow, joy, curiosity - mixed feelings flashed inside my head. But all I could do was flash a smile n say "Sure". With that "sure" I guess both Venkat n Sheela were relieved!!

Next few minutes Venkat explained what my work responsibilities will be n how great opportunity it was. I must confess I didn't pay much attention to him as I was too excited. Then Sheela told me that I will be expected to leave within 2 weeks. But I didn't have passport; I told them so. "Oh, no!!" was the immediate reaction from both of them. But then Sheela picked herself up and told me that I can get passport within 2 weeks through Tatkaal scheme. I agreed and walked out.

Next few days were crazy. I had to give up my precious late-morning sleep to stand in looooong queues at the passport office. However, I managed to get the passport within nine days. Now I can provide consultation service if anybody wants to get passport in such a short duration (of course, I'll charge for it ;-)).

Days were crazy in other ways as well; some people were asking me "You are going to Iran?!" as if I was going to some forbidden land. Some Lifetreeans started giving me 'oh-they-r-sending-u-to-hell' kind of looks. Only person who was as excited as me and encouraged me throughout was Radhika, thanks to her for that. But I refused to be discouraged; I got the facts right from a friend's friend who had lived in Iran for long time, who ensured me that there was nothing to worry.

I was excited and curious as this is my first trip outside India. I was bit concerned about immigration and customs check; but I was happy that Jagadish was traveling with me. Through the whole journey I just followed him, like a calf following the mother cow! Only thing was I had to wait for him when he took smoke-breaks at airports, but that was okay. We landed in Tehran airport after a 12-hour flight.

First impression about Iran was very good, thanks to the taxi-driver. At the airport Jagadish got separated from the group (or so we thought); the taxi-driver, who was to take us to the hotel, helped us to find him & waited with us for more than two hours. It was very nice of him to do so. Tehran is very beautiful n clean city. It is located in a valley with mountain ranges on both sides of it. So we get nice view of these mountains everywhere (many of u wud've seen pics of Deepak n team making merry there). The weather is quite nice, very moderate now as this is spring season. We can see nice flowers everywhere; n the city is beautifully landscaped. People are very well-behaved, courteous, n helpful. They stand in queues even to get ice-cream from in front of small ice-cream stalls!! That was quite a sight for me.

Fine, what's with the work? U may wonder. Our client MTN is launching a mobile service here in Iran, which is called Irancell. The service is going to be up on June 1st. Right now, MTN people from all over the world are here; u'll see Blacks, Whites, and Browns here in Irancell premises. Terms like SMS, prepaid, postpaid, billing, recharge, balance transfer, GSM, network, dealer, subscriber... they echo in busy Irancell office. Me, Jagadish, and Navendu have come here as consultants; so we get to work with MTN, which brings a great exposure. Getting to see a telecom service provider shaping up, getting to know how things work, & working for it - is indeed a great opportunity (Venkat was quite right!).

Meanwhile the E-Care team of Lifetree is working here, Deepak being the key person for that. Everyone seem to be loving Deepak here!! When they pronounce his name it sounds like "Debug" though; he sure is a debugger for Lifetree here. Though I am not qualified to judge a senior like Deepak, I would like to humbly tell you all that he has done commendable job to create a good image for Lifetree with the client. Hope Lifetree will be able to cash on that good image n have long association with Irancell in future too.

Well, it has been a good learning experience in all aspects. Thanks Sheela for that call to "come down", I am flying high now!


Prabul said...

Do we see a writer in making????
Keep it up!!!
Now I see, why your mails dont pop up on YHAI...

Shrilatha Puthi said...

thanks prabul, btw did u see my profile? iam a technical "writer" :-)

yes missing YHAI treks, but not the yhaibangalore mailing list..

Anonymous said...

That was quite a read,
2 drive away my monday morning blues :)

Keep up the good writing Shri.
nimmavalu (you know from where i flicked this signature ;))

Anonymous said...

Are you still in Iran?