My Vote of Thanks

I’ve been waiting for this day and week forever. Somehow, no matter what your enthusiasm in the beginning might have been like, you begin to crave for the end pretty early. This is a customary goodbye post (for me to read and reminisce later) and a mute pondering over the notable absence of prolonged interest in almost everything we take up.

My first two month internship was (to be succinct) a total disaster. I did get a decent project (which amusingly was more core than my six-month project). But everything else was pretty awful curriculum wise. Stuck in a dorm full of nurses with their weird timings and case discussions “ Oh he began to ooze pus and blood and then the doctor suggested…” and my desperate effects to take out the gory images from my head by going under a pillow or maybe my excellent in charge who used to yell and get irritated as and when the mercury rose are a few of things I’ve given up trying to forget. I do also remember the good things like starting my weekend early Thursday morning which continued well into Tuesdays or watching the rain from my top-bunk with the whole city getting washed in front of me. Ah, this post has clearly diverted from where it began.

That was 50 days. This was half a year. A fortnight into the intern, my interest began to wane hitting rock bottom by March. Somehow, whatever I had thought of it (which in itself was very pathetic owing to the vivid experiences of my batch mates who completed it earlier) was still much better than what it had become. It was then the lure of the end began to sink in. As April ended (rather slowly) my thoughts focused on this particular week. No matter what other activities you take up, reading, running, gymming, blogging, the fact that you had to spend your entire day in the office trying to keep your spirits up was taxing in itself. I’ve been trying to be optimistic and enjoy every little thing here (which I eventually did), but nothing makes me happier than the sweet glorious end. Maybe it is the impatience or curiosity of young blood that craves to be interested, tested, challenged all the time. Once, you straitjacket it into a routine, the interest takes a beating. (Or maybe it’s just me who wants new stuff to do or think all the time!)

Pune is a nice place. Chinchwad is exactly the opposite of nice, whatever it is. Anything you find remotely pleasing in Pune is missing in Chinchwad. It is crowded, stupid, creepy, dirty, smelly and in short simply disgusting. Pune is nice. It is pretty, calm and quiet. (Not the traffic though). I somehow never find the right adjectives for this place. It doesn’t surprise me or come across as having anything spectacular, but makes you feel good when you are a part of it. I like the fact that this place has the maximum concentration of bookshops; a very huge student population which makes you feel you are living in some giant residential campus, is hep and well-dressed and speaks a language not too difficult to grasp. If I would have lived in the proper city, I might have missed it like crazy. But thanks to Chinchwad, the pain of separation is rather less. I am happy to have gotten a chance to live here. But seriously, bye-bye Pune, enough for one time!

The only person I’ll miss is Sonali. I’ve no words of gratitude to the heavens to have given me her as a fellow intern. Firstly, I would have been rendered completely insane for want of sensible female company. (The male company…err…Umm…The less said, the better.) Secondly, she is a wonderful person. Always enthusiastic about everything, she is a far cry from the choosy, picky people who have a problem with almost anything. For the first time, we both could go and gorge on anything we wanted to, go anywhere, anytime, not fuss about anything, comment and talk about any thing, anyone and most importantly, I got a chance to glimpse her campus life on the inside and ponder over how different the culture at the two campuses are. You saved my life these six months Sonali and I can’t thank you enough for that.

To an extent, I’ll miss my cubicle. The chair whose cushions are now contoured perfectly to fit my bottom, the desk drawers who secretly stored my apples, peanuts, cheese, magazines, ipod and saved my life during the day, my familiar keyboard and huge 19 inch desktop monitor which makes me feel I’m sitting inside the program and lastly, my cubicle mates. They were awfully nice people who never questioned me about what I was doing even though being suspicious of my huge pdf documents (e-books) or smiling though my sessions of juggling multiple chat-windows and wiki-pages. They always appreciated my work and helped me understand their products and bore my silly questioning. They gave me generous helpings of birthday cakes, Temple prasadam, sweets, namkeens and guided me on where and how to go to places. Sweethearts indeed.

Maybe I should stop thanking now otherwise I’d even start thanking my breakfast cereal! But overall, it was an experience of a lifetime. I complete my Bachelors with this stint in Pune. Graduation! Yipppeeee!

Tata Pune, Tata BITS, Tata Thermax! Muah.

(PS: Gangtok is the destination to celebrate the completion! Nathu La, here I come! 😀 :D)

Not What I asked

Has it happened to you that the person often asks a different question which you hear as something else and well give surprising answers? In my case, it is almost routine since my bouts of cold leave my auditory senses only partly functional. But many a time the pronunciations and accents are so perplexing, you end up giving funny answers.

Case I: First day of office with the head of the Engineering Division.
Sir: Okay what’s your (u) sername?
Me: Chandrasekhar.
Sir: Illai ma, what is your (u) sername?
Me: (Now a little perplexed) Chandrasekhar only sir.
Sir: Aiyo! Ellai maa..OOSERNAME…the one we put on the computer..!!
Me: Oh! That…
(I walked away minutes later thinking maybe his impression of my IQ must be hitting rock bottom!)

Case 2: To the Cashier at the desk:

Sir: Kiske saath ho yahan par? (Who are you with here?)
Me: Ten others sir.
Sir: You are with ten people! I need all their signatures on your salary voucher.
Me: You need the signatures of my PS mates on my voucher?
Sir: Yes, 10 of them. Which department here has 10 bosses? (Thankfully in English)
Me: Oh! No no, I have just one boss.
(Only then I realized the first question was about the boss)

Case 3: With the Head of Finance (A true blue Oriya)

Sir: Are you a (some word I didn’t understand) Trainee?
Me: (Nodding vigorously upon hearing trainee).
Sir: How come it says Engineering department on your voucher?
Me: I’m in engineering department.
Sir: How come you have management trainees in engineering department?
Me: I don’t think we have management trainees in the engineering department.

(He was now positively gaping at me and slowly shaking his head in disbelief. Only later, another Ps mate told me that he had enquired about me and was relieved to know I wasn’t a management trainee after all!)
He reminds me every time he meets me “Since you are from an engineering college you are an engineering trainee, understand? Management trainees are from Management Colleges”, before telling his colleagues “Some youngsters just don’t have the IQ , its genetic you know”.

I went to get my final voucher approved from him today and he asked me something I didn’t understand (I had already asked him to repeat his question) and just caught the words “yahan par?”
I instantly replied “Till 13th June sir!”
He smiled and said “I actually asked who your boss here is, but your information was useful too”.
“Babu Sir”, I said sheepishly.
“Finally”, he said “You told me the name of your boss. You shouldn’t be so scared to take his name you know”.

I’m sure the heads of finance and engineering are putting their heads together and muttering something darkly in disbelief every time I pass. I just can’t stop laughing at myself imagining their discussion about me!

Lolest!

Trek to Sinhgad

I had known for a long time now that the Sahyadri mountain ranges are the trekking mecca of this part of the country. Not too high or difficult, it doesn’t need specialized equipment unlike the Himalayan treks. Pune being in the core of this mountain range, has numerous trekking destinations which make enjoyable hikes. I was always interested in going for these one or two day hikes in and around Pune. Then summer came with its killing forty plus temperatures and dry hot wind and roasted away all my plans. Pre-monsoon showers that lasted Thursday and Friday changed all that.

As we sat in my cubicle over a coffee-break , Sonali and I decided that since the weather is now behaving, we can try a trek. What better place to start other than the super-famous Sinhgad? We made enquiries about how to get there and the unanimous answer was “Go on a two-wheeler”. That option being impossible, we chose the other not-so-exciting-or-romantic option of the State Transport Bus. There is a motorable road that takes you directly upto the Fort, just 400 mtrs short of Pune Darwaza or the city-side entrance to the fort. “Don’t try the trek, it is too dangerous, go by car to the fort entrance and enjoy”, many such suggestions came by. Suddenly, everyone was the fort and Sinhgad and trekking expert. We listened to everything patiently and then used the www to make our decision. No, we were trekking. All the way up.

The bus ride was beautiful. The NDA and the huge Khadakwasla lake comes enroute and we began clicking. The last few kilometers had pathetic roads which shook us up out of our laziness and almost was a mini-warm-up. We could not see the fort from below. We captured what we then thought were tall and vertical cliff-like mountains, only it later did turn out to be the fort. The bus stopped at the last stop of Atkarwadi and a small, narrow road started the trek. It was a brown, arid landscape just recovering from the intense heat, not green and cloudy as everyone else told us it would become in monsoons. We were leaving Pune before proper monsoon set in. This was infact the last weekend we had to ourselves. The morning was cool and breezy and a few trekkers were already returning from their hikes at 8:30 am, just as we were about to start!

At first the route seemed pretty easy. First was small rocks set in a pattern making it appear like a stone road. The walk intensified and so did the slope. After nearly one kilometer, the path disappeared and it was just wilderness. There were a couple of people walking ahead of us and they traced a path. As I stood there waiting for Sonali to catch her breath, I could slowly make out the way we’ll trek all the way up. It was vertical rocks at some places, other times it was a meandering path.
Climbing was always easier than coming down. We continued our walk. The sun brightened our path and the hills surrounding us slowly appeared from under the early morning fog. In the distance we could see the Khadakvasla lake and the expanse. The village of Atkarwadi became smaller and smaller and we reached the top of the first mountain. For the first time, I realized where my gymming and running had helped me. I could walk up easily, no tiredness, to leg-aches, my breath for normal and I needed no breaks. But stop I did coz Sonali couldnt take the walk as well as I could.The trek isn’t easy for someone who doesn’t exercise regularly. My own stamina surprised me. I scampered up rocks and my mind was able to formulate patterns to climb spotting crevices for footholds. We climbed on all-fours, ran up other parts and sometimes had to stop to think and decide where to place the foot next. At almost half-way up the next mountain, I could see tiny human figures at the top and strained my eyes to get a glimpse of the fort. I did! It was so beautifully hidden, that the broken ramparts gelled in perfectly with the rocks and was almost invisible unless you look up intently. We could see the fort walls and the Pune darwaza. We now knew our destination. I felt a surge of energy come again as the excitement grew.

The last mountain or the mountain where the fort stood was the toughest to climb. Vertical rock-faces, pathways of loose stones and precarious ravines laced the route. There was a part of the climb which was almost a 90 degree upward walk and we needed to climb a tree and then jump on the other side to climb out of the steep ravine. A loose rock from the people walking upwards hit me on my ankle. That was the only injury during the upward trek. Some parts of the climb were so bad that the person trekking in front actually stopped by to check if we could climb up and if we needed any help. We didn’t. Sonali was now almost cursing the route and I kept encouraging her, luring her with the apparent short distance to the fort walls. Finally, we did it! It took us a good two hours with numerous breaks. Good time for the first time, I’d say!

The fort is now in ruins. We entered via the Pune darwaza which had hawkers lined up selling lemon water, dahi, cucumbers, Taak (chaach) and other refreshing drinks. Stone steps lead up all the way into the fort. The half-standing doorways give the place a mystic touch. There are many huts inside the fort area and stone walkways leading to the various places. First we saw the Kalyan darwaza (another entrance to the fort). The sites did tell us that there are ways to start trekking from other base villages to reach Kalyan darwaza but this route is even more dangerous and not frequented by many. We traced the path from the top and boy! it did seem tough. Then we continued walking to the other ruins and lookouts located at the ends of the fort. We walked along the fort walls, climbed broken stone steps, looked through the chutes used to pour hot-oil on the invaders and basked in the cool wind. It was fierce and blew away our caps and sunglasses regularly. The sweat evaporated in the cool breeze making it even better. The rustling of the tall grass and the sound of the wind among the trees was enchanting. It wasn’t very crowded being a Saturday. Our stomachs growled with hunger.

The food was by far the best part of the trip. The small huts provided authentic Maharashtrian village-fare in the typical style. We sat on straw-mats under the shade of a tree and ordered our lunch. We weren’t eating heavy since our trek downwards beckoned us. We ate hot Bhakris ( jowar rotis), Jhunka ( besan sabji), Thecha ( hot chutney) and I gorged on the fresh matka dahis. We took off our shoes and rested. At 1:30 we began our descent.

The route downward was tougher for the first 45 minutes. There were places were almost sat and walked down on all fours, sitting and scraping through huge boulders. Loose gravel made the walk even more slippery and I fell in the first 10 minutes of our trek. No damage done but further caution was exercised and we walked even more slowly. The rocks were now very hot in the heat and it wasn’t easy to sit or scrape or even hold on to them. One stretch was indeed very bad and scary and it was only later we realized that there was an easier but longer route to descend. The trek downwards after that was faster and we took just one break from the sun. It required immense concentration and we hardly spoke to each other. All the focus was on where to place the next step and choose among the alternatives which route was easier. We reached the Atkarwadi bus stop at 3:00 pm.

We ordered lemon juice at a small shack and washed our faces with cool water. Our hands were dirty from the falling and the scraping and there were salt patches on my clothes where sweat had evaporated. We weren’t hungry just red and black from the trek. Only tomorrow would we know how many shades of skin-colour we had changed. The tan was impressive. There were lines from where the sleeve of the shirt ended and the watch outline was engraved on the arms. We waited for the bus to arrive. It came at 4.

We got off the bus at Shaniwarwada, the last stop, 25kms away from Atkarwadi into the city. An auto-ride later to F.C Road and we were digging into food at Vaishali, perhaps the dirtiest and reddest customers they had at that time. By 6:45 we waited for another bus to take us home. Another 45 minutes and a kilometer walk later, we crashed on the sofas, took off our shoes and cooled off under the fan.

Easily, the most thrilling and adventurous days I’ve had in recent times. This became my second-favourite trek till now. The first and the best one was the walk to Kedarnath in the Himalayas. But this was a different experience. Not something I’m going to forget in a long-long time.

An evening with Archer

This one is going to be big. More for myself to read and re-read and relive those amazing moments.

It all started with an sms. Being a Landmark Fellowship member, I got an sms saying that Jeffrey Archer would be in Landmark Chennai on so-n-so date. I was disappointed about the fact that it was something I was going to miss and with a great effort put it out of my head. All that until an advertisement appeared in the Pune times saying he was going to be in Landmark today. (17th May, Sunday). It was decided. We had to go.

I was all excited to meet this author whose nearly entire collection I have read. It all began with ‘Shall We Tell the President’ and then I read my favourite books of all time ‘The Prodigal Daughter’ and ‘Kane and Abel’. This man was a genius. I enjoyed his short stories the most, ‘A Twist in the Tale’ being my favourite collection. As I sat impatiently drinking lemon juice in The Coffee House, I kept thinking what an evening it would be! It was remarkable indeed.

We got chairs in the fourth row from the dias (only that it became 6th later since they made additional two rows last minute so unfairly- its India man, such things are bound to happen) and we picked up our copies. He was here to promote his new book ‘Paths of Glory’ which I had already finished reading a month back. They didnt allow us to bring our old copies inside so we had to buy new ones. Sonali hadn’t read his books so it was an easy choice for her. For me though, it was very difficult. The point being, I had read all his books except the Prison Diary series and I racked my brains to remember if there was any book missing from my collection. I found the answer. ‘Not a Penny Less, Not a Penny more’ was in the form of a battered old copy of my dad’s which had the last two pages missing. It was also the first book Archer wrote. It would be perfect to get this signed and so I bought it. The rest of the hour as Landmark slowly filled up, I engrossed myself in reading ‘Oxymoronica’, an interesting book full of paradoxical quotes and sayings. It was enjoyable to listen to people’s views, mingle with a crowd of well-read, decent people and watch as the excitement in the crowd grew. I was also super excited to see him.

The proceedings began very promptly. He was there in Landmark at 7:05pm, with a permissable delay of just five minutes. Clad in white khakis and a blue sweater (?), he ambled up the walkway and everyone stood up. Lord Jeffrey Archer was here in person. He spoke immaculately. His British accent in place, he narrated with extreme poise and confidence his hilarious experiences about his books and publishers which made the crowd holler. He narrated that he was turned down by 14 publishers before his first book ‘Not a Penny Less, Not a Penny More’ got published. He went on to add his funny experiences in promoting Kane and Abel in the USA ( the ones where he had to share slots with Mickey Mouse whose policy was ‘If its the last question, never stop talking’ or the Radio Chat show where his introduction was replaced by Edmund Hillary’s and he wasn’t given a chance to speak!). He did tell his story about the part-biographical latest novel ‘ Paths of Glory’ with the main lead, George Mallory being a real person. ( I didnt know that). He also remembered how he kept nagging his publishers to publish just  25,000 more copies of his book ‘Not a penny less, not a penny more’ every month when the publishers would tell him they werent going to publish any more. Today, that book has sold more than 23 million copies worldwide.He added that R.K Narayan was one of his favourites, Malgudi days being his best book and he considers him to be one of the best authors ever. It was heartening to hear him appreciate Indian fiction and he was all praise for the educated youth of India and also the Indian women. 😀 He also added that he wont write a book based on India since he believed that it was wrong to dwelve into someone else’s world. To prove his point he said ” Perhaps R.K Narayan could never write anything like Kane and Abel just as I can’t write Malgudi days”. Absolutely right he indeed was. In addition, he also showed us the subtle differences between a story-teller and a writer ,emphasizing that he is a story-teller and a story-teller is one who prompts the reader to keep turning the pages like Charles Dickens who is the grand-daddy of story telling. Writers are those whose works are heavily laced with literature and the Nobel prize winners are precisely those people. He proved that people tend to prefer love story-tellers than novelists.

He added that he has re-written ‘Kane and Abel’ and the revised version will be released October 3rd this year followed by another collection of short stories and followed by a family saga. He answered many questions from the audience and gave a few key tips to budding novelists and authors. Some questions were funny like the one where one person asked ‘ Aren’t your plots predictable, I mean you always kill the bad guy’, to which he cooly replied ‘If it worked for Shakespere, it’ll work for me’ which sent the audience into pearls of laughter.

Post this, the signing of books sessions started. He promised that he would be there till the last copy was signed. I got mine signed rather quickly being in the front of the crowd. Landmark was distributing hot spinach puffs and jam tarts with mango juice to everyone present. I ate the snacks waiting for Sonali to emerge from the crowd near the dias. After she did, we bolted to The Place, the most amazing sizzler joint just down the road to eat our dinner. We ate with gusto, hungry after all the waiting and excitedly discussed our amazing evening. It was an evening none of us were going to forget.

I met my favourite fiction author. I am on cloud nine. It couldn’t get any better.

A New Leaf

As I kill another day’s time waiting for work to come in the form of my boss (currently vacationing), I am not left with a lot of options to do sitting in front of my computer. Though, I would delightfully read something, my seat is so strategically located that my monitor and the windows open on it are visible to the entire plethora of bosses, not to mention the visitors whose impression of the work in Thermax also depends on my computer to an extent. So there goes my opportunity of surfing the net or even reading an e-book without glancing around every two minutes. No, I am not rambling about my joblessness or anything in this post. I am merely laughing at my own disposition.

 

Maybe I am better off than so many people who have to change trains, work hard (in reality) or sit in hot workshops or shop floors and literally sweat it out for their internship. Friends convince me that no one ever gets a decent deal and almost everyone has something to complain about. Complain. Ah, that word now has almost reached irritating levels of usage. Frankly, I do it a lot too. Or rather used to. I’ve decided to stop complaining about the heat, the lack of public transport and instead take it in my stride. Why the change of heart? I don’t really know. But I guess, feeling good about it may not change the reality but at least the perception can be a lot rosier.

 

As the end draws near, I can happily look back at my experience in Pune and have a hearty laugh. I came to a supposedly happening city, got a rude shock about the reality but managed to adjust. I was in love with the place in the beginning but the soaring mercurial levels soon diminished that to a large extent. The water shortage and the power cuts only reminded me of the past ( i.e college experiences) and sometimes I wondered “Why me again?”. But it taught me new ways to deal with water crises, new ways to cool off without the fan and enjoy the Indian summer in its true glory! Then came the personal changes this place has dawned upon me. I have become a disciplined person, managing to have a strict healthy routine with a better view of the world. I have restarted my running and reading, gotten into shape, learnt to make quick-fix dishes and most importantly fall in love with healthy food. I learnt computer languages and sharpened the one skill I never had. Programming. I took it up consciously, learning the tricks of the trade, picking up a couple of languages and working extensively on it for four months. Boring and repetitive it might be, but nevertheless, it is indeed useful. I learnt other very Pune-habits like tying the scarf Taliban-like, sporting sun-shades almost all the time and dressing well and formally. I enjoyed my share of typical Maharastrian fare with the Bhakri, the puran-poli, the chiwda, the bhakarwadi, vada-pav and the hot dabelis.

 

Coming to the people, I simply loved my company. Everyone was amazing to me. They were polite and very helpful. I could easily run home whenever I wanted with the only response being, “Have a great trip”. My mentor was the nicest guy I have met recently. Though shy at first, today he is a good friend, a nice senior who actually takes care of me! My boss is understanding and always listens patiently never showing any typical boss-like traits to me. At least the people I am associated with closely were extremely nice. Overall, the internship taught me everything it ought to, rubbing my shoulders with all sorts of people and even getting yelled at by others. But as I wrote earlier, every experience was worth looking forward to!

 

Many people reading this might be baffled at my sudden shift of stance. I was cribbing and crying and wishing to get out of here, but I suddenly felt that it might not be as bad as I make it sound. Every place has its good and bad and maybe I got too engrossed in the bad part not remembering anything good about it. A mental analysis indeed showed that I am fortunate to be where I am and as I lived. After all, we are never really happy with whatever we get unless we try and remain happy.

 

I have decided to extrapolate this attitude to everything it can cover. I will try and not crib and cry as much as I used to. The negativity was seeping in too far. Not anymore. I am turning a new leaf. An attempt to look at the bright side of everything.

 😀

Road-craze

It is ironic indeed. Pune is one of the most-industrialized cities, the smaller brother to one of the largest metropolis and houses the finest and the biggest industries. But there is something that goes beyond the infrastructure that tarnishes its image in less than an instant. For Pune, it is the crazy traffic.

For starters, the traffic signals are mostly disobeyed. The number of two-wheelers are in such abundance (thanks to the lack of public transport) that it is virtually impossible to drive without losing your cool or completing one auto ride without praying to God. People, however educated they might or might not be, seem to have NO sense whatsoever about traffic or roads or any rules or regulations of that sort. Pathetic is the only word that strikes me. In all the places I have lived in so far, Pune’s traffic is perhaps the WORST. The traffic sense here stands right at the bottom of a long list.

I was jolted out of my thoughts one morning on my way to PS as a PMC bus zipped past me at more than 40 kilometers an hour, a mere 4 inches away from my shoulder (with me walking outside the road on a mud-track), motorcyclists regularly brush past despite having the whole road to themselves and the ride in an auto is really very scary since the trucks and buses seem to appear like giant monsters ready to crash into you anytime. People verve, swerve, turn, stop, walk simply anywhere.

The old Mumbai-Pune highway is full of huge circles, squares and crossings and people seldom bother to stop at signals despite them being fully-functional. It makes life for pedestrians like me total hell and the mere task of commuting a real pain. I wonder if people missed out some crucial lessons on road-sense. I just hope someday they get atleast a little of it!

Till then, I will continue to pray everytime I travel in Pune.

Jai Bhim!

Having grown up outside Maharashtra, I never bothered to look beyond the Tamil new year and goodies to eat on this holiday of 14th April. Tamil New Year, Bengali and Assamese New Year, Baisakhi etc are commonly celebrated. But Ambedkar Jayanthi was nothing more than two words written on a calender under the date marked in red. That was until today.

The creepy, industrial district of Pimpri-Chinchwad came alive. Usually the first to empty out after the industries give over and then echoing with the whirring of the huge trailors and trucks taking out consignments to different locations, things were unrecognizable today. As I walked back from the city, filled to the brim with Mocha’s Chocolate Avalanche (being my friend’s brithday) my eyes widened in wonder. There were multiple processions, colourful and bright with blaring music and people dressed as if a carnival was on. It was in fact. Women, children, men and entire families dressed in their finery, dancing, singing, celebrating. As we walked back, processions after processions followed and it was truly entertaining.

Ambedkar’s photographs were in collage with Shivaji, Gautam Buddha and a host of other deities/ leaders. Entire statues of his carved in plastic, fresh huge garlands of flowers draped around them, little replicas of his stupa in Nagpur were distributed all over the place. Traffic jams ensued for kilometers on one of the busiest highways in the country. Professional DJ’s were called and dard-e-disco and I am a disco dancer blared from powerful loudspeakers, disco lights were set up in the middle of the streets and the most unruly sect of our country was dancing. It got scary after a while to see hooligans jumping up and down on the road.

A little anger started creeping up inside me. He is the sole reason for this reservation crap in our country. I’m not even starting on that topic since I lose my cool every single time I think about it. It was perhaps needed then but in today’s times, reformation of those laws are what is most needed. But then, I decided to empathize. Maybe, if there was this individual because of whom me and my three further generations can blissfully enjoy special rights in all the right places, I might as well join that gala procession.

In the midst of this, my Tamil New Year lay forgotten. A lot of unexpected things to come this year and all I can hope for is that it all works out well.

I still can’t get over the sight of Ambedkar’s photograph morphed with that of Shivaji and people dancing dard-e-disco under it with disco lights on the highway with a near 4 kilometer long traffic jam behind them.

I love my country. It surprises me no end!

Life @ Pune!

Its been a long time since I wrote a post and that is because life has undergone a sea change. Complete makeover. Something unfathomable in a span of 30 days. From another ordinary engineering student on the brink of graduation and saturation of campus life, I was thrown into the real world.. complete with the job aspect, independent flat-like accommodation and completely new set of people. ( Even the people interning with me here are those I’ve never spoken to in the last three and a half years of my life there!)

Let me start with Pune. Yes, I did get an overview when I came here last November. But now, its more intense. I am living in one of the richest suburbs of Asia, ( the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corp. was the wealthiest in Asia before the recession…I dont know its standing now), amid huge industries whose products one seldom sees in commercial markets. Sandvik Asia, Alfa Laval, Atlas Copco, Premier (Ah! Remember the Fiat car anyone?), Thermax,Force , Greaves Cotton etc have set up shop here. The Mumbai-Pune road is bursting with heavy traffic and the road crossing requires a jog to make it in one red light. It is dusty, upcoming and lined with office buses. Sadly, our company does not ferry us anymore from place of living till office. It is a different lifestyle here among the common middle class people, working in these huge industries and contributing to the economy in their own little way. A sudden shift from the huge crowd of students in late-teens, sleeping the whole day, bunking classes, hogging in canteens and dressing in typical college fashion. Everyone is well-dressed, talking work, working briskly and the most surprising of all looking at their watches ever so often to make sure they are on time!(I am sure college-goers have done it too but only in the most boring lectures).

Work is fine, professional and thankfully my project invovles me directly implementing what I have learnt as a Chemical Engineer. For many, their projects have taken them to different domains of engineering or marketing, giving us an experience of a lifetime! Lunch-breaks are timed and slowly we are also making our way back to our desks on time. Entry-exits are also according to office timings. Evenings are spent in transit back home which involves long walks and then dinner and sleep. There is no time for anything at all! Eyes begin to shut at 10:30 pm sharp ( a time they used to open back in college) and we are wide awake by 7 am all set for the next day! Weeks have flown…three already here and I seriously wonder if life goes on so fast!

Pune is a great city. Osho Ashram and the area surrounding it is my absolute favourite! Lush green and clean, pollution free, you hardly remember you live in Pune. Fergusson College road, ShivajiNagar, J.M Road (Junglee Maharaj Road..thats coz of a temple there) are nice to walk around…F.C being my absolute favorite for weekend shopping . Books, accesories, flip-flops, bags are found in plenty! ( Great place for bargains and colour coordinating your outfits!)

Well that about describes my life here. Good food, new girls (with interesting stories to tell!), nice place (albeit a little dusty so I am soon joining the Pune bandwagon of wearing huge scarves and looking taliban-ish to protect myself from being caked in dust!), good malls and a very huge population of youngsters. Language not a problem…everyone understands hindi perfectly well and the weather is good now since its not summer yet.

The freedom and independence feels so good…apart from the responsibilty it shoulders on you. I’m loving it!