“Chottu, one aloo parantha, with extra butter...”
Shubham had just started the attack, at the Punjabi Dhaba near their office. Shubham, along with Ajay and Naithik worked at SCT Technologies, a prominent IT services company. They came to the dhaba often. Food was great, and the lassi here was to die for.
Turning to Naithik, he said ,“ yaar, don't worry. She doesn't deserve you.” Naithik had just got the news that his girlfriend of two years had decided to 'move on'. Without him, of course. She was to be engaged in a month's time, and Naithik was devastated.
“Yeah, bro. Good thing she left now. I always had a feeling she was two timing you.” Ajay added.
But Ajay and Shubham were grinning. Now all of them were single. There would not be any more “sigh, she's so sweet, so caring...” in the middle of the night after a phone call that would mostly be to rub salt in their wounds.
“Bring three lassi..” Shubham was in no mood to stop. There is nothing better than celebrating the time your best friend has lost bragging rights. Especially about a girl.
“Yaar, don't worry, finish up the parantha. You haven't even touched it. And drown your sorrows in the lassi.”
Naithik was still fidgeting with the parantha on his plate.
“Dude, you should not have ignored the warning signs. Those extra long phone calls at night. Do you really think she was talking to her parents? She was clearly two-timing you. ” Ajay spoke out.
Naithik just stared hard at Ajay.
Twirling the glass of lassi slowly, Naithik asked Ajay, “ Any idea when the ratings would be out? All I need is a D this year and my life would come a full circle. No ratings, no girlfriend, no life.”
Ratings were the annual appraisals that happened at SCT, and the employees salaries were pegged to the ratings. D meant that the person has screwed up big time and would be earning a lesser salary for the next year.
Ajay was shortlisted for an onsite opportunity. But as luck would have it, the client reduced the onsite positions which meant that for Ajay to go onsite, he needed to have atleast a B. Although he deserved it, ratings in IT services companies are a mystery. Much like Muralitharan's bowling. You never know from where the ball will turn.
Shubham did not care about ratings. He was whiling away his time here before joining his dad's booming construction business. His dad wanted Shubham to join right away, but that meant curbs on his freedom. Dad's business meant yelling at labourers, and screaming at vendors for the bills. He certainly did not want that. Citing “real experience in a big company” he managed to convince his dad that three years in a different industry would help him better in their company.
Walking back to Shubham's car, Naithik was still gloomy.
“Cheer up buddy. We are here for you. You are better off without that chick. Guys, lets check out the chaat joint near the mall. Heard that it is great.” Shubham went on
“Is your brain really in your small intestine?” Naithik slowly was beginning to ease in.
Ajay's mobile beeped. It was the internal mail from the company.
“Damn it. It is a C. Oh man!! Have to suffer the fools here for one more year” Ajay had lost the onsite opportunity. Onsite work at the client location was a great way to move up the value chain in an IT company. Not to mention, the salary would be in dollars.
“Man, your boss the Project Leader is a crook. I am sure he has convinced the client that he needs more managers than developers, and is going in that vacancy.” Naithik felt bad, but slightly relieved that his friend was also in soup now. They would be stuck with each other for some more time.
“Speaking of warning signs? I think they were pretty loud in your case as well. Didn't you mention that your boss had become very friendly since the last few weeks? You can ignore such glaring warnings signs at your own peril. Be on the look out when your boss acts friendly.” It was now Naithik's turn to hit back at Ajay.
“Hey didn't you say that we were going to the chaat joint? Why are we turning back home?”
“Guys, my behinds are on fire. Need to reach home quick. Looks like the chicken didn't agree with me.”
“The warning signs for that were posted right on your nose. But your brain was hardwired to your tummy. ” Naithik took a dig at Shubham. Both Ajay and Naithik had a big colgate smile on their face.