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My little adventure in MSRI!!

On Jan 8th, 2007, my first day at MSR, I arrived early at the institute. Atleast earlier than the time given to me. I got my photograph clicked for my ID card and was shown to my workstation by the group admin Prathibha who was one of the few souls in the lab at that early hour. Later I learnt that folks in MSR are mostly nocturnal in nature and a large number of them are, what we refer to fondly as ‘night owls’ 🙂 . 

Prathibha quickly showed me what I needed to know, where I would sit, the pantry (which was fortunately quite close to where I would sit 🙂 ), the conference room, the recreation room, the rest room and so on and so forth. She asked me to help myself and left to attend to her other duties.

I had a lot of time on my hands and left to myself, I started exploring my surroundings. In less than ten minutes I felt very much at home in my new workplace and was quite proud of myself for getting there early enough to get comfortable before the important folks arrived. The next item on my personal agenda was to visit the restroom. And so I did.

The Ladies’ Restroom in Scientia(thats the name of our lab by the way), was quite impressive. After using it, I took my time admiring the interiors 😉 . I looked at the shower and dreamt of using it one day soon, though I couldn’t think of any immediate reason why I would want to take a shower in office. I admired the elegant wash area, the spic and span floors and mirrors.Soon I was ready to go, not wanting to spend my first day entirely in the restroom.

Oops. It was only when I tried opening the door to get out of there did I realize that I was locked inside. I looked at the thick polished wooden door and the shiny handle on it. Somewhere under that beautiful exterior, something had snapped.I shook it, rattled it, jiggled it( and any other verb you can think of).Finally,  I realized with great despair that , that beautiful shiny handle does not work.  The first thing that crossed my mind was the empty lab outside. How, Just how did I get myself into such a mess on the very first day of my corporate career?? 😦

Then a thought struck me. What if this was a test. A test that every newcomer had to take.A carefully designed task to test my resourcefulness. Could the new girl cope with day to day problems and match the ingenuity and creativity of the smart people in the company? I knew this was a stupid thought. But not altogether impossible.

I thought of the possibility of a videocamera that I could wave at, to attract attention. But unfortunately, the company was much too decent to have planted cameras in the rest room. Sigh 😦 . Or they were much too cunning to have planted it in the open where I could see it 😉 . So I waved around anyway..  Needless to say, it did not work. The thought makes me smile even now.

The door seemed too thick to carry my voice out. So I decided that shouting was not such a good idea. Besides, I still had not completely dismissed the idea that this could be a test and did not want to fare too badly 🙂 . So I looked around for things to use to open the foreboding door. Unfortunately it wasnt even one of those locks that one manages to open with a hairpin, specially in movies and novels. Though it was another thing that this was neither a movie, nor a novel and I did not have a hairpin. I was wearing one of those clasps that hold up your hair and I couldnt think of a single way in which you could open a door with that.

I cursed myself for not having brought my cell inside. But then who would I call?? I didn’t know a soul. I would probably have called my dad who in turn would have called up the institute with a request to rescue his daughter from their second floor restroom. That thought was quite hilarious 🙂

Well, looked like I had to try shouting. I spotted a few vents at the bottom of the thick door and bent down to listen for noises outside. My ingenious idea was that I would start shouting and banging the hateful door, the moment I heard footsteps. And so I did. I figured that if I could hear their footsteps, they must be able to hear my shouts too. But I was mistaken. Probably because they werent listening for sounds from restrooms as intently as i was for footsteps. Not one of those footsteps turned my way 😦

I also wondered what would happen if the handle failed to open from outside too. But I had run out of ideas so kept at the shouting. At length after about twenty minutes of incessant ‘shouting at footsteps’, I heard one of the footsteps stop. I heard a voice. I increased the fervour of my shouts and tried making as much noise as I could. The footstep was definitely coming my way. My savior was here 🙂 . I couldnt wait to see the face of the owner of those now familiar footsteps. Then there was a final thought. Would the face be curious and concerned when it sees me or would it be grim and judgemental because I had failed the test? Fortunately the face of Aishwarya, my savior 🙂 , was the former.

Within moments I was out. We had notified the housekeeping and within about half an hour the problem was solved, the handle was fixed. The efficiency was quite impressive. I returned to my workstation and vowed to stay out of trouble for the rest of the day. 🙂

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Hi, Prateeksha here. You can call me P. I am the other intern besides Mohit who prefers to call himself ‘VirtualIndia’ for some reason.

Apart from us, theres Samarth, Gopal,Yamini,Vibhuti,Tanuja,Archana and Joseph heading us 🙂 You can find us all in the pic.  You can also find Richa who left us a month ago. 😦

I joined early this year. Have been here for almost three months now. Will tell you all about my experiences/troubles/obsessions/stories/dreams with VI… in subsequent posts.

Keep reading. Cheers

VI Team

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Narratives change people, influence and more importantly engage thought, between people, societies and cultures. The current popular state of development has split the world in two ways of being – as a floating mind in cyberspace, and as a body interacting with physical space. Narratives across the two different worlds can allow for sharing of ideas, concepts and cultures beyond the constraints in these realms.

A tool or a platform to allow the construction of these pieces of life and thought that transcend domains can allow the myriad songs on our planet to come together in a celebration of human legacy and imagination. Stories exist in time, they flow through space and span across senses; they grow with sharing and are filled with new meaning each time they are retold. These stories must be preserved and collected as an active dialogue between people and must allow for language, visual, aural and stylistic independence to the storytellers. Technology can help us share more, but it can also constrain our imagination of what is possible. With a conscious awareness of this constraint that we must work under, this effort is an experiment in telling stories that exist in physical reality, in cyberspace and the amazing sparks that are just emerging at their intersections.

We start humbly in Bangalore.

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