I am an honest, god fearing, true to my word, sincere in my work terrorist. I love my wives and children, I help old women cross the road and I spare some change for the beggar on the street. I am telling you all this so that you take my advice seriously and realize that I only have your best interest in my mind.
I have done some stupid things in my life, my third son from my second wife (she was not my wife then) is right on top of the list; I have watched Tashan first day, first show; have bought a Macbook Pro and have tried to race a Haryana Roadways bus (that’s why I limp and my Wagon R is no more). But all these don’t even come close to my biggest blunder in life; taking over an IT company and holding its employees hostage.
It was a Friday afternoon when after months of planning, recruiting people, arranging the weapons, getting an approval from the agency, services and our high command we finally decided that today is the day. I had spent months on researching the potential target and I had realized that Rashtrapati Bhavan was too difficult, no one actually came to the campus of BHU, crowded markets in Bombay and Delhi were done to death, and that it was an IT company that was the perfect target. Being an IT savvy terrorist myself I had done my research on them; tens of thousands of people came to them every day, they were mostly located outside the city, generated a lot of foreign currency so were the darling of the government and were full of meek IT geeks. They had a strenuous security procedure though, people were frisked, the luggage was scanned, and the cars were checked so it had the right mix of ease and difficulty. But most of all I wanted to be different, no one had done it before and I wanted to get noticed and rise up the ranks.
We loaded the guns, bombs, walkie-talkies and ourselves into two Qualis (stolen from some company which provided cabs to that IT company only) and stormed the campus. After firing a few rounds in the air, pushing the employees in the buildings and rounding up the security guards we were all set. The so called security guards were so terrified after seeing guns that they nearly crapped in their pants, only one of had seen a gun before that too in the Indo Pak war after which he had retired, the rest of the boys had only been trained to lookout for missing ID cards and pen drives. In fact all this seemed easier than writing a novel these days (the thin, big font, 100 bucks a piece ones I mean, ‘metro reads’ I read somewhere; they are called).
But then the gloom started setting in. Even after a quick glance I had realized that there were a lot of people un-accounted for, at least 5000 less than our estimate after we counted. “It is Friday and most people have left for their home towns after lunch” said the man in charge of the campus after I slapped him twice and demanded an explanation. Now it was only 2 o’ clock and not even the Sarkari Babus go home this early, this was beginning to look bad. Then came the first distress call of the day from one of my colleague who was sent to manage some hostages in a building.
He was a newbie and already seemed to be in tears. Over sobs he told me that the people in his building are not terrorized, in fact some of them have not even realized that they were hostages. I quickly rushed to his building, the last thing we needed was somebody playing John McClane. But the situation was something else, I realized, after entering the lobby, people were not rebellious, they were just sleeping and too morose to care for anything else. After shouting terrorist, you are taken over, bomb, I will shoot you, hands up at the top of my voice I finally resorted to firing in the air, after the deafening sound of bullets was through the most it did was one guy opened his one eye, looked at us, then looked at his watch, asked the guy next to him that “do we have a call now?” and went back to sleep. This was embarrassing to say the least. I have successfully blown up buildings, armed force’s jeeps and tortured a traitor to death but this scenario looked very bleak. Admitting defeat I asked my colleague to lock this building and leave them to themselves.
As soon I was exiting the building I heard gun shots coming from the neighboring building. While I am all for teaching people’s manners, shooting a lot of people wasn’t in my to-do list for today. It reduces your ability to negotiate with the police. As I rushed to that building I saw another colleague of mine shooting a mass of people sitting on their chairs, unarmed. After I snatched the gun from his hands and reprimanded him in the harshest words he said, he saw them making some move, as if their trying to draw some weapon. After the screaming and hysteria had subsided I also noticed the same thing, their hands twitched every 5 minutes as if they are trying to draw a knife or something. After frisking and finding nothing on 9 people, I leveled with the 10th guy and asked him what it was. He said it was an involuntary habit of moving the mouse every 5 minutes to stay ‘Green’ on the office communicator and all they are doing is mentally clicking a mouse. I was further alarmed when somebody suggested bringing a cake for their recently dead team-mates. This was looking worse than my village cage where they kept all the crazies locked.
I had finally come back to the main building and was thinking of how to negotiate with the police when one lady approached me and asked for my email id, she said she was an HR manager and wanted to mail me a list of demands from the employees. When I asked them to state them verbally to me she asked one young guy to come with a notepad and asked him to note the minutes of the meeting. Firstly she asked that they few of the employees wanted to be tied to more comfortable chairs. Second one stray bullet had shattered a glass and AC cooling was going to waste, this building was losing points in the ‘go green’ challenge. Thirdly the restroom was running low on liquid soap and wanted that to be refilled. Fourthly if the hostage situation continued till tomorrow they wanted a written approval from their managers for a ‘comp off’. Fifth, the coffee machine was not working so they either wanted to be moved to a floor where it worked or wanted a working coffee machine brought here And lastly and most importantly she thought that employee morale was running low so she should be allowed to send a mail with some quotes and a 'face painting' contest with a chance to win a pack of 8 crayons. I think the last point that kid wrote down was “If you don’t shut up and sit down I am going to shoot you and the guy left to you, just for the heck of it”. This was getting intolerable.
As I just sat down I head another SOS from my colleague. What I witnessed as I hastened to his post was absolute pandemonium. People were running amok; trying to login to their machines, checking their Blackberrys and even the threat of shooting them down was doing nothing. Finally I caught one guy running like crazy and I could get only two words out of him - ‘Client Escalation’. They looked more scared than my suicide bombing instructor who realized we had switched his demo kit with a real explosives belt as an April 1st prank. One engineer came up to me and clearly told me that he would prefer getting shot in the head than risking another client escalation, especially now when the annual appraisal was due. Frantically I searched for his project manager who he mentioned had the name Sathya and even after going through the name on ID cards of the entire floor I was unable to find him. Finally I mixed my yell with a few bullets in the air and demanded Sathya to come forward. Three people came forward but only one of them looked old enough to be a manager. His name was Sathyadhiran Srinivasulu Mucherla Laxman, no wonder I was not able to find him! I asked him to tell all his sub –ordinates to get off from their computers, go to one corner of the building and be in total silence. He responded by saying that he wanted an requirement document detailing which corner of the building he was supposed to go to, what was the SLA of total silence and number of man hours given to him for the job. I was too flabbergasted to say anything and sheepishly excused myself out of the situation.
I went back to the center building again. The police had come by this time and wanted to negotiate. I said ‘Hello’ in my most terrorizing voice to the inspector. ‘Cheppandi Anna’ came the reply. I repeated in Hindi. ‘Enti ‘ was the reply this time. I tried 3 other languages but no avail. I needed a translator. I caught hold of a Reddy from the crowd and asked him to translate. “Talk-a?” he asked, “to the police-a” while moving his hand with his thumb out which meant ‘fuck’ in my part of the world. He then flat out refused after I said yes; he said it was the onsite people’s job to talk to the client and translate the requirements, he always the got the final document. Also, this was not a part of his current allocation and hence would require the approval of his team lead, Project manager, Development track lead and Offshore Delivery head. When I insisted that this is not required he suggested me to log my demands in a tracker and mail it to the police while keeping my manager in CC, he even volunteered to give me the latest template for the tracker. This was pathetic. Not only was I feeling like a ring master, trying to juggle 5 balls on a unicycle. But I was also not able to tell the police that I wanted my three colleagues freed, 1 Crore rupees and a chopper brought to me. This day was getting worse than when my iPod had crashed, that too before a 10 day hike from Kabul to Waziristan.
But the straw or rather the pillar that broke my back was when I thought I would check in with my team till they mulled the issue over outside. Alpha 1, who was in charge of the recreational center was not replying. Fearing the worst, that Indian government has finally learned its lesson and has sent the cavalry in, I rushed to his post. But what I saw were beyond my wildest dreams. Abdullah the 6’6” Pathan from Kabul was found merrying in the Jacuzzi, his 2nd in command was taking a Sauna, while the rest of his unit was either in the pool or playing foosball. To the people who had seen nothing donkey turds and each other for months at a stretch it seemed like someone had torn open the gates of heaven. One of his guys was even making a deal with an employee, in exchange for referring him he would tell him how to get into US without a H1 – B.
At this point I broke down and started sobbing. I had taken the sandstorms of Afghanistan, the blizzards of Siachen, torture of US Marines and nagging of Kherunissa (my 1st wife) but this was beyond all that. As all my dreams of a promotion, Interpol red corner notice, Al-Jazeera exclusive videos , hot virgins in heaven and finally be able to afford an iPad2 came crashing down as I realized couldn’t go any further and I walked out and surrendered myself. Anything would be better than this.
Now I as pass my days in an Indian prison and enjoy the VIP treatment alongside that new kid Kasab, I have nothing to do but ponder over my past actions and I always reach the same conclusion. Don’t take over an IT company!