Working with Trainees


When I was in ITC in 1995 working on their Private Salaries system, I was assigned 2 trainees – Mohit and Madhumita (if I remember the names correctly). I was at that time working on developing a Printer Spooler for the Shares Department (which was not actually a part of my purpose of the assignment). Both of them told me that they knew UNIX system and knew C programming. So, I told them to go through my program using vi. I told them specifically to just read the programs and not change anything. On the second day, I found that something I thought I had finished was not even compiling. This happened on the third day and the fourth day also. I was amazed at my inefficiency. However, I got a doubt. So, I went to these trainees workstation and asked them what they were doing. They told me that they were reading the program and they had finished going through the current one. So, I told them to move to the next. However, I just waited to find out how they exited the program. To my amazement, they used a command which saved the file and exited. They did not know any other command to exit. So, the mystery was solved. I was writing the programs and they were reverting back all the changes by saving the older versions. Anyway, I told them how to exit without saving and had no issue from that point.

Now, Mohit was a IAS officer’s son and Madhumita was from a middle class family. There was heaven and hell of differences in their upbringing and this caused conflict between them from the day 1. However, I chose to ignore it and used my formula that staying together they will learn to exist together. One day, Madhumita came to my workstation in tears and so I sat her down and asked her what was the matter. She would not say anything. So, I called Mohit also. Mohit told me that she is unable to understand anything and this was frustrating him. He went on to explain things which were not entirely correct and was his clearly his perception which came from having little knowledge. All this while Madhumita listened and then at one point she could hold on no longer and said “He told me to F**K OFF” and burst out crying. This was one of the most awkward moment of my life as I did not know what to do. Honestly, I wanted to laugh out loud. However, I held back and told Mohit to come over every day and have lunch with us and he could eject out all his frustrations in the choicest of languages and we would also take part.

The best part of the story is that they both survived the 3 months and learnt to work together. We developed the printer spooler and when we handed it over, the Manager in the Share Department was super impressed and told me that I had saved him about 5 lakh Rupees which any vendor would have charged him for that. I have not come across Mohit and Madhumita since. I sure hope they are doing well in life.


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