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Interview ] System School ] LD Bhilai ] Life in Maroda ] Wrathin Wroy ] Khurshid Usmani ]

When I was still in college, CMC Limited (formerly known as The Computer Maintenance Corporation of India Limited, still formerly known as IBM India) was the most glamorous job that could be had on campus, as far as the CSEA department was concerned. The company's accomplishments was an engineer's dream - the world's largest travel reservation system, port management systems for leading ports in UK, Germany, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, steel plant automation, coal mine automation and a hundred other interesting applications covering technologies that spanned the entire gamut from mainframes to the PC-AT's (anyone remembers Intel 80286 and 80386 chips that ran at 33 MHz and had amazing RAM sizes of 640 KB to 1MB?). On top of that was the fact that it was the most highly paid job at the time - Rupees 6,000.00 per month, approximately, including all perks (actually it worked out to only about Rupees 3,000.00 in hand but that was a princely sum when you were still in college in 1991). The glamour was further reinforced by the fact that Ranco-da (Ranco Chakraborty of the REC Rourkela Class of 1991), the brightest, most invincible of all the smart guys ever made - who had been accepted at all four of the crème de la crème business schools in India had to go many rounds of painful interviews at CMC before they made him an offer. A year later, I went through the same interview process, which though painful at the time was the subject of much hilarity afterwards. The Interview section describes my tète a tète with the board comprising of Mr. Aloke Bhattacharya, then Manager (Projects) and Ms. Malati Hota, then HRD Manager.

The survivors of the ordeal at the interview gathered in a room at 2 Ripon Street, 10th Floor (we were regarded too uncouth to be seen at the 28 Camac Street office) for 6 weeks of what was euphemistically known as System School by the powers that were at Twenty-Eight. SSAD, C and UNIX programming and other means of containment and distraction were used to keep about 15 fresh graduates from eastern India's better known engineering schools, until they could be tucked away safely at various projects. This time was one of a great deal of fun too for all of us, who, although still very much college kids, had suddenly discovered a wonderful thing called a paycheck. This was also the time for some of us, who until then had led rather sheltered lives at homes or dorms to actually find a place to live in - and eat - unassisted, for the first time in their lives. System School is dedicated to those wonderful 6 weeks.

My first project was known internally as LD Bhilai. It involved, in not so many words, the completed automation of the LD Process for manufacturing steel at India's largest steel plant in Bhilai. This is by far the most technologically challenging (and gratifying) assignment that I ever had, and was the one (enormous) silver lining to the otherwise rather dull, if not disgusting 2 years that I spent working on this assignment in Bhilai. The LD Bhilai section talks in detail about the technical aspects of this monstrous project.

Life in Bhilai, outside the project was quite mundane and miserable, unless you count the little things that make you nostalgic. I made at least two great friends there, who remain to this day and this was also where I acquired my Kawasaki motorbike that was then used on some memorable daytrips. Life in Maroda (which was the sector in Bhilai where CMC had quartered us) talks about some of that and has some interesting pictures.

One of the greatest legends of CMC Eastern Region was a fictitious project manager named Wrathin Wray (not to be confused with Mr. Rathin Ray, even though they are pronounced somewhat the same way) whose jokes are part of CMC folklore. I had once stumbled upon a website of WW jokes that seems to have since disappeared and thought it would be a good idea to recompile them. I will add as many as I can think of and look forward to adding contributions from other fellow-CMCites (you see, a CMCite is for life - if you have worked once for someone at 28 Camac Street, you will remain one for the rest of your life). This section should serve as a fitting tribute to the now defunct CMC culture (or cult, perhaps) that, having disappeared from the face of the earth, is also rapidly disappearing from people's memories. Incidentally, CMC Limited was acquired by Tata Sons Limited, and a merger with their own Tata Consultancy Services is impending, I am told.

Last but not the least, is a link to Khurshid Usmani's website. Khurshid and I showed up at 2 Ripon Street at the same time and were together right until 1994, when Khurshid quit CMC to pursue graduate studies in the United States. Khurshid and I were the best buddies all this time. When I moved to the United States in 1996, Providence ordained that I work and live right next to Khurshid. We remain best friends to this day, and still spend a considerable amount of time together with our respective families.