I was excited. I was thrilled. I was happy and I was all dressed up in brand new formal clothes today morning. The Director (Projects) of the Company where I had to do my six weeks internship was supposed to pick me up from the IIT main gate. Let me call him A.
I was in the Civil Engineering department, inquiring about the official letter that I needed to carry with me to the office, when A called me up and told to be there at the main gate in another twenty minutes. I had to leave without the letter, since it was not yet ready. The Prof who was in charge of this, assured me that I could collect it later in the afternoon sometime. As if I would be free in the afternoon! Doesn’t he realize I will be in office full day. Will have to check back in the evening.
At the main gate, I spotted his luxury car and we drove straight to the office. Nice car! A insisted I call him by name. He was not at all comfortable with me referring to him as sir! So nice of him! I should tell you that this guy, who is taking care of his dad’s construction company, is pretty young. After doing his B.E in civil engineering from Chennai, he had gone to Stanford for higher studies and then had taken up a job there in a construction company in US itself. He worked there for five works before coming back to Chennai to join his dad. It has only been a year, since he has been working in Chennai. He is one smart, handsome, cool and a completely passionate man and I enjoyed being with him. His enthusiasm towards civil construction made me more interested in this field than I had ever imagined.
Once we were in the office, he introduced me to almost every staff on his floor of the office building. And then in his cabin, he briefed me on what all was I expected to do. Oh boy, he had definitely done his homework thoroughly. He had broken down all my works into smaller objectives and was very clear on what work was I supposed to do, and within what time frame. And there were so many of them! It was almost like I had joined a company and was supposed to work out, how could the company make a mark for itself in the industry and be ahead of others. I was definitely feeling a part of the company.
I got a working space, a laptop, internet, an AC blowing ‘ice’ right over my head and so many books on the desk! Most of them were code books, which tell you the standards to be adopted while implementing construction projects. I was also given some site plans, and a sample tender. I never knew the tenders were this thick, with each and every detail punched in them.
I had spent not more than half an hour or so at my desk, when I had to leave for a construction site with A. I guess it was more than forty kilometers from the office, in the outskirts of the city. I had never journeyed this long, in an air tight AC car and may be that’s why soon started feeling uneasy. I tried to control myself for sometime but vomiting tendency was building up gradually. I cannot puke in the car. I have to ask him to stop. But then what do I tell him? That I am getting sick just in a twenty minutes journey. No, I wont let him know about this. I am a strong man!
‘I am feeling uneasy’, I finally spoke. The driver was asked to stop the vehicle. We stepped out, I took some fresh air, felt a little better and then we moved on.
This was a great site. We wore helmets, as soon we stepped out of the car. The site office had many computers and A agreed that it did look more like a site office in US than one in India. The reason was that the client company was an international steel maker and had lots of money to maintain international standards. It was setting up one of its steel fabrication units in India in three metros, Chennai being one of them and A’s company had done the work of setting up the steel framework at the site, and the next phase of the construction was being handled by some other Pune based contractors.
A and myself strolled in the site for sometime. He kept on asking me to observe things going on in the site and tell him, how one can ensure quality practically on field. His company’s work was almost over and the only thing that yet remained to be finished was that of a box-culvert. He showed me an electric pole and told how they had to change dimensions of the culvert because this particular pole was coming in the way. He showed me the stones, and told how it was impossible to get perfect grades when all they got from quarries was a mixture which had all sizes of stones jumbled up. He showed me rebars coming out from columns and asked me to notice the rust. They wouldn’t have been there had someone sand blasted the steel surface, and then he asked me that how do I go ahead and ensure that the guys who are responsible for casting the columns and putting the reabars, do it the correct way.
We left the site, and stopped in a small south Indian food joint to have our lunch. I was still not feeling too well and ate very less. A chatted a lot with me and he asked so many things! He asked about the last movie I had seen, what my friends where doing in their internships, how much freedom we guys have at IIT, what kind of companies do the IITians doing CE join, what was my take on the reservation issue, what I had to say on the NBA and on and on.
When I told him that most of them from our branch go for software jobs, he was so surprised. He had no clue, what a CE grad would be doing in a software job! I didn’t have much clue myself! All I knew was that, ‘money buys’ and the software companies had a lot of money and a lot of work and they needed a lot of smart guys. And which place but IIT could offer them loads of smart people? I didn’t tell him all this, but instead quizzed him on stuffs like, how to pick up the correct projects when there are too many of them coming your way.
The uneasiness had started once again. The vomiting tendency was surfacing up. I am strong. I am not going to ask him to stop the car again this time. And then suddenly it was all out. I could not hold it; just couldn’t. Blurb…blurb..and some more blurb. The job was done. I ejected just everything that was inside and it was such a mess. The car had already stopped by the time I was done with my puking act. I came out and was helped by A to wash my hands. It was real bad. I went inside a loo, in a near by petrol pump and washed my cloths. My brand new formals! Shit!
The driver cleaned the car as much as he could. A moved from the rear side to the front, and I took his seat in the rear. The seat where I had been sitting was spoiled! We were moving again. I made sure the windows were lowered this time. The good thing was that we were closer to downtown Chennai now. Some how keeping my embarrassment with me, I remarked to A. ‘I am never going to forget my first day at intern’. He agreed! I had to call it a day, and was dropped back at the IIT Main gate. A asked me to take rest and be fine.
I waved him a bye as his car fled and repeated this to myself: I am never going to forget my first day at intern! Blurb!!