Every Friday afternoon, my manager calls for our weekly review meeting, meant to keep people ahead of project deadlines. Although your average meeting is as fascinating and productive as Wasim Jaffer’s batting, I find these review meetings very interesting.
For the technically inclined, there are discussions involving the architecture of complicated networking devices, utilisation of FPGAs and other such seemingly esoteric topics. What the audience lacks in number, it makes up in enthusiasm. However for the mind freed from the shackles of technical questions (or the mind that does not understand what the others are talking about), the meeting is fertile ground to pursue several of one’s more intellectual strands of thought.
It is here, that I have written most of my limericks, figured hilarious anagrams of all my colleagues’ names, added a dose of humour to what would otherwise have been mundane blog posts, or simply pondered over the satisfying question of what to eat for lunch that day. It helps that all these pursuits leave me screwing my face in concentration, and sometimes jotting notes, leaving the impression of one actually immersed in the meeting itself. There is of course a brief interruption when I am questioned about my progress on the project. At this point, I am forced to focus on the job at hand- apologise in a sincere tone, and promise that I would have something to report the following week. However, as the reply is the same every week, the interruption to one’s concentration is minimal. And following this brief interruption, one is free to focus on anything.
While normally, these Friday afternoon ponderings are not weighty by any measure, they do provide the atmosphere for one to think deeply if so moved. Last afternoon, I was moved, any sense of normalcy scooped up, crumpled and shot with a sling. A call from a friend had thrown a strange set of facts, and it was towards these that my thoughts were turned, Holmes like, while those of my colleagues’ pondered svn repositories and FPGA registers.
It started with a call I got that morning from a friend I believed to be in Chicago. While my general state of alertness through the day is similair to that of a hippie under the influence of a lot of pot, it is remarkably poor even by these standards in the mornings. So when I picked the call, and all I heard was a ‘Hi’, I was quite pleased that I could place the voice and respond in kind. But that was to be the only point when I was clear about what was happening.
Probably taking advantage of my grogginess, the friend informed me that she was in Pune. It is a rude shock when a friend you expect to be returning from Chicago a couple of months later, stocked with goodies tells you that she never went there in the first place. But hiding my disappointment, I asked her why she didnt inform anyone. She then gave me a detailed explanations about visas, renewals and a deportment. The only thing I know about visas is that you need them to enter a country. Limited to this knowledge, it was not possible to understand the finer details, but I grasped the essence, that is the friend was in Pune.
However after a while of chatting, she told me that she was actually in Chicago. At this point, things were getting murky, but I still followed what was happening. She was in Chicago, but she pretended to be in Pune, but er, was actually in Chicago. But then, when she was sure I believed her, she asked me to check the number from which I’d got a call. It was a Pune landline number! This was the part where facts and logic seemed to contradict each other. I’ve received calls from weird numbers, but it is not possible to call from one place and make it look like you’re calling from another.
Hanging up, I ran the facts through my head. A friend can either be in Pune or Chicago. She cannot be in Chicago and call you from a Pune number, nor can she be in Pune when the entire world believed her to be in Chicago. I tried to clarify the point with another friend, but only managed to leave him very worried.
However, by then, it was time for my weekly meeting. So I went in with strange, unexplained facts, but with the confidence that I would come out having solved the mystery. But as time went by, I was no closer to finding the answer. In desperation, I mentioned the part about the number to a colleague. He informed me that it could be done. Apparently it was a simple matter of a bridge (not sure what it is, but going by the tone of his reply, I believe the matter is a simple one). And there, the mystery was solved!
If she had access to this bridge, my friend would be in Chicago where she should be, and the Pune number was explained. Just as I was contemplating this victory, the colleague added as an afterthought “You know the card you’re working on goes into a product which supports that sort of thing”. Ahh..