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Home Cover Features A day at Hitec City

A day at Hitec City

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It is just one of those regular days. Deadlines threatening to push you over the hill, eight cups of coffee too many and equal number of hours spent in front of the monitor, and the 4 month old ulcer rearing its ugly head, because you have once again forgotten to have your lunch. “Oh! It’s just another day… for you and me in Paradise…”

Well, replace Phil Collins’ paradise with Hitec City and you will have a great story of a B-grade city turning into headlines overnight. But that’s not this story all about. Over the next couple of minutes you spend leafing through this month’s cover feature, I’m going to chronicle a day at Hitec City. Not just another piece of article that goes gaga over this shimmering glass skyscraper, but a peek into what a day looks like for a software nerd who - for nut’s sake - cannot distinguish day from night whilst working inside this silicon dome. Before going through the rigors of a Hitec man’s day, it is important to establish certain ground rules without which you will not even bother to read this journal before declaring both him and the author as lunatics.

Rule#1: He does not work for the sun rising in this land but for a distant orb rising in a distant land called the US of A. So, dear reader, for him sun rises and sets 12 hours later.

Rule#2: The fact that a working calendar comprises of 5 days a week of 8 hours each appears only as a mere logistic on the timesheet and does not have any bearing with the otherwise 24x7 running machine that he has become.

Rule#3: If you see him eating at normal meal times, it should be taken for granted that he is having his previous meal delayed just by 8 hours.

Rule#4: If you see him leaving the Hitec precincts at 6.00 in the evening, rest assured he has just overworked himself an extra shift!

Rule#5: Psst… read this under covers… if he is making love more than once a week, it just means that he got fired last Friday.

With these to start of with, we might just be ready to look at this strange creature who calls himself a Hitec guy. Please remember, since we are looking at a person who works in a virtual sphere, new rules shoot up dynamically, which I promise to keep you abreast.

Let’s take a look at the environment that is known as Hitec city… as described by a CNN correspondent. “The Hyderabad Information Technology Engineering Consultancy City (HITEC City) is a state-of-the-art techno township being built, marketed and maintained by L&T Infocity Ltd., a joint venture of Indian engineering giant Larsen & Toubro Limited (which owns 89 percent of the project) and the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation Limited (which owns the remaining 11 percent). Constructed on 151 acres of land and at a cost of about $375 million, HITEC City is a self-reliant business park designed to leverage Hyderabad’s advantages of IT training and manpower while offsetting its main disadvantage––unstable infrastructure. When completed in 2002, HITEC City will include:

    *

      Cyber Towers, a 580,000 sq. ft. office park that houses its own banks, restaurant, travel agency, shops, power and water supply; Cyber Gateway, an 866,000 sq. ft. arched office space that will feature a glass facade, landscaped interior gardens, and again its own power supply as well as fiber optic Internet connectivity;
    *

      Many undeveloped plots of land upon which businesses may build their own structures and still benefit from HITEC City’s independent infrastructure;
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      A residential area in which HITEC City employees may live in relative luxury;
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      A hotel and convention center;
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      A golf course, club house, medical center, gas station, fire house, nursery and shops tending to almost any material need. In short, once you get to HITEC City, you’ll really never have a reason to leave.

Phase one of HITEC City, the Cyber Towers, is up and running, and it is impressive. Opened in November 1998, this office park was 100 percent occupied just 14 months later. Today, such major corporate names as Microsoft, Oracle and GE Capital operate offshore development facilities or call centers in this four-quadrant, 10-story tower. Some of these tenants have already booked expansion space in Phase two, the currently under-construction Cyber Gateway.

I, yours truly, will take up again here, without bothering with the end-of-the-article aspersions that the esteemed CNN correspondent cast on the sustainability of Hitec City’s business model!

Now, will you not be impressed to take up a job in such an ivory tower with dollars and not rupees promised in your wallet? Yes, it certainly has its lure…

Sure, the HITEC guy has a beehive of ATMs to choose from, acres of picturesque landscape to stroll about, an expansive restaurant to dine, a travel agency, shops, and even some very fashionable next-doors like NIFT, but! It’s a big but; does he really enjoy all this?

“Nope! I come in at about 6.30 in the evening,” says Amit, a GE employee, “and I directly go to the basement to park my car. From then till the close of day, Ooops sorry, night, I do not get anytime to step out.

What about your food, heard you got restaurantdownstairs? Windows?” (That’s the place’s name…)
“It serves shit, man.”

Do you know that this place is named after a restaurant that was situated on the 100th floor of the World Trade Center? We often wonder that though ’that’ ‘Windows of the World’ does not exist anymore ‘this’ one still persists in dishing out bad food day in and day out. (Refer Rule#1: replace all ‘days’ with ‘nights’).

There go the landscape and the restaurant and it leaves out… let me see… the shops that sell stale ‘samosas’ Rs.5 a piece! As for the lissome neighbors from NIFT, “In the earlier days,” says Giri, (an employee of a US based company run by a Californian Reddy) “when the Cyber Towers was just built, and all of us still in awe of this ‘cylinder paradise’, the NIFT babes were equally inquisitive and used to size us up often. But I guess they were tired of us quite soon and are more at home with their ‘fashion wear’ rather than our software!”

The Great Myth: “Everything is here so much so that one does not feel like leaving the Hitec city.”
Harsh Reality: There is just so much mind numbing work that you cannot dream to leave even if that is the only thing you want to do in life.

“It is not just overwork! It is the whole damn culture or more truthfully, a beautiful web of deceit spun by colonial slave masters dressed in the garb of Fortune 1000 CEOs that makes a sucker out of us!” Let’s suffice that these are some of the strong words lashed out by a copywriter turned content developer!

“How true?” I leave this question open to you. For a guy who is ensconced for an average of 12-15 hours everyday, an impregnated monsoon evening is a better temptation than his air conditioned workstation. For a guy who has developed chronic wrist and back aches, a healthy face-to-face conversation sounds better than the virtual instant messengers through which one can talk across millions of miles at a click of the mouse.

Finally, the perception that this tech-savvy guy is a suave, money spinning success story, think again. He has his own uncertainties; he lives with his own communication problems; and is quite a rustic at heart. His foreign employer agrees only too well. Look at what yet another ‘phoren’ scribe typifying their opinion of Hitec man and his land…

Hyderabad, this ancient Muslim capital at the southern end of the subcontinent’s vast, dry Deccan plain, is typically Indian. The streets of this city are filled with 8 million people. Buses and motorcycles blare warnings as they weave around bullock carts and rows of bicycle riders. Holy men, cripples, lepers, and polio victims compete for space along the roads, hands outstretched, silently pleading. Vendors in turbans, long beards, and deep, sun-fed wrinkles scoop out plates of savory biryani, a spicy meat and rice dish, from large mobile vats.

…It’s not clear how India will translate computer exports into development for all. Possibly, the opposite will occur: Just as Brahmin priests dominated ancient India and their heirs won the slots in the post-independence engineering and medical universities, high-tech development seems set to further divide India within itself, exacerbating the stunning divide between rich and poor. Despite its renowned university system, for example, India has more illiterate people than all of sub-Saharan Africa combined, according to a recent United Nations report. Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Kenneth Keniston says India’s high tech boom has left out an important section of society, a group he has labeled the “forgotten 95 percent.”

Dear readers, I rest my case of the Hitec man.

Now, Do you still want to spend “A Day at Hitec City?!”

(This article is a part of the ‘Best of 9 years’ series, and is reproduced from the original which appeared in the August 2002 issue of Primetime Prism. All facts and figures are as on the original date of publication.)

Cover Feature: August 2002 

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