The Day I Got Hired

I was in Parvati Valley. I had my third interview round scheduled in the afternoon. It had been raining for the last few days. On the day - the weather report said no rain til the afternoon. The plan was to go to Soul Kitchen in Kalga for brunch and head back to the hotel for the interview.

I contemplated not going on the day - in order to not mess up the interview. But the clear weather tempted me. We needed to salvage our trip from the infrequent rain showers. 

I contemplated not going on the trip - in order to not mess up the interview. But the mountains tempted me. I needed to salvage my laid-off time from infrequent interviews. 

The day started late - we got dressed up and our taxi ferried us to the stairway to Kalga village. A stairway to heaven, I dare say. A little drizzle started. Four hours to the interview. We donned plastic protectors and started the summit. With no trek shoes and climbing poles - we made our way through the muddy makeshift staircase. The ground was squishy and we slipped quite a few times. I was surprised by the underdeveloped path. But it was for the better. The environment and scenery was still preserved. The air felt fresh and the wet earth smelled nice. It was green all over. Though we did see pieces of plastic littered here and there - the animal always leaves it mark. I looked at the sky and I could see distant dark clouds. The weather was changing. I had a feeling - this day would be filmy

We made it to the top. The Soul Kitchen was still far away. We must have walked a few kilometres before we reached there. I got tired and cranky. But when I entered the cafe, the warmth washed over me, bringing comfort to my weary soul (had to go for it). It was a small, cozy place tucked on the edge of a cliff. There were no chairs. You made your way through the foyer into a big room with tables. A bit like Japanese drawing rooms - at least the ones they show in anime. The walls were plastered with paintings. From the windows, you could see the whole valley. It made for amazing photos. I understood why my Instagram-savvy friend wanted to visit. 

The place was filled with a pleasant aroma. We ordered a whole feast - big paranthas with dollops of butter, chocolate pancake, Baba Ghanoush, fried rice, Turkish coffee, and shakes - something for everyone. I went at it like a hungry wildebeest. No savouring. Just at it. The taste was beautiful. When I regained my senses - I checked the clock and it was two hours to interview. I had to make a call - if I wanted to go back to the hotel or stay here. I checked the Internet speed. It was okay - slightly better than the days when I had an MTNL connection. I looked out of the window - it had started raining. The path which we had come from was meandering. Ripe for getting lost and contemplating life. The taxi back to hotel could get stuck. And dozens of other scenarios raced through my head. And I was sleepy. The place was just too cozy and the food too delicious. The interview was gonna happen here. The kind folks at the cafe offered a comforter. I made myself home and slept. My friends were playing bluff. I could hear the laughter, the shuffling of the cards, and the raindrops against the window.  The whole atmosphere was serene. It made me recall the past month.

The day I got fired - I was thrown into the murky ghettos - far away from the corporate kingdoms. Inhabited by exiled wage workers. No longer of use. Discarded, downtrodden, and desperate - the day started with flooding inboxes of the gatekeepers (recruiters) - flashing my pamphlet of "I am worthy." Few batted an eye. The competition for their attention was fierce. As they say, the market was (is) shit. People said that the bubble had burst. It's the opposite of 2021. Now, the tables have turned. Employees no longer have the upper hand. But personally, it was a struggle for me back then as much as it was now. I was a fresher from a no-name degree-making machine. I had no code-chef badges to my name. With a few projects and a bit of Javascript knowledge - I knocked on the doors of hundreds.

Getting a job at Unacademy was a chance of a lifetime or at least something which fast-tracked my career by a few years. The work was tough and demanding. Learning to code is hard. I remember seeing strands of hair on my desk every other day. Long conversations with friends if I am gonna make it became routine. Somehow I made it through. But I digress. 

Nothing remarkable about that month of drudgery - mass applied everywhere - few callbacks - even fewer interviews - failed most - repeat. Relatives and people up the ladder told me to not get a gap in my resume - to get a job as fast as I can but also to relax. This was also my time off. Yin yang. There was always this anxiety lurking at the back of my head - how long will this go on? The desperate pleas on LinkedIn of people unemployed, my government service parent's told-you-so and the sight of my fellow laid-off seniors, once-confident code maestros, now crestfallen, all fuelled the fire.

Finally, I landed an interview at my present company. With decent GlassDoor ratings and recent funding - it seemed like a place I could join. I cleared the first two coding rounds with "above average" performance. The recruiter told me that I have to give a solid performance next round otherwise they won't consider my ask. It was a technical discussion round. I had to crack it. But at the moment - it seemed like I might not even be able to give it. Forty minutes to the interview. The weather was getting bad and the cafe starting to fill with noise. And of course - my headphones were not working properly. I asked the cafe folks if they have any place from where I can give my interview. They had a room in the basement which was just vacated. Picked my laptop, bid my friends goodbye, and made my way into the dungeon. It was a dark place with barely enough height for me to stand upright. Even with all the lights - the place looked hazy. I positioned myself beside the window to get as much light as I can. Opened up the laptop, the browser, the mail, and finally the meet link. Probably checked my video and audio five times. Five minutes to the interview. I was all nerves. I started doing Vipassana meditation. I calmed a bit. It was time. 

I click on "Join". The meet got stuck on connecting. My heartbeat rose. Eyes gaped. Mind cursed. It was one of the longest minutes of my life. Finally, it connected. I could hear the interviewer. He could hear me. I could not see him. He could see me. I was flustered. It took a good amount of time for a visual to appear. I told him that my internet isn't good. He told me that his internet isn't good. My first sigh of relief. 

We started talking. I introduced myself. He introduced himself. He asked a few questions. I gave a few answers. His personality was very comforting. My confidence rose up a bit. I started getting more at ease. The conversation just flowed. My video went out a couple of times during the interview - at one point we decided to just have an audio conversation. But despite all of this - he remarked that this was one of the best interviews he had in a long time and I should expect to hear from them soon. High praise! I was on cloud nine. The interview ended. I seldom feel the emotion of happiness as completely as I did at that time. Most of the time - it has a tinge of something else mixed with it. 

I emerged out of the dungeon. Shawshank Redemption, baby! Though the rain had stopped. I rushed upstairs. I saw my friend eagerly awaiting the outcome. I exclaimed that it went great. She was delighted. Warm hug extended. The cafe owner remarked that whoever gives an interview here - their interview goes great. And from his eyes - I could tell that he was not bullshitting. At that moment - it struck me - there was something divine about this place. It's hard to put it in words. But when I sat there I had the feeling - the same feeling I got from the Dhamma centre I went to for my 10-Day silent meditation course. I told the cafe owner that this place had a similar vibe. To my surprise - he told that he has heard that before. I was filled with gratitude towards my friends, the cafe, the interviewer, the universe - everything. I gave the biggest tip of my life and parted ways. The way back to hotel was a slippery adventure worthy of its own story but that is for another time.

It's been three months since all this happened. I still remember everything - will probably do for the rest of my life. It made me think deeply about fate. Trust the process. There are signs. Listen. Observe. Embrace. If it's meant to be - it will find its way to you.