Name of the intern: – Ipshita
Institute: – Indian Institute of Space Science and Tehnology
Organization interned with: – India Meteorological Organization
About one month before the end of my 6th semester, I got a call from my HOD. He asked me to meet him right away. When I asked him what was the meeting about, he said that I was one of the 6 students chosen from my year for our internship in USRA. I could not believe what I was hearing. I had been waiting for 3 years for this day to come. Universities Space Research Association is a group of well known institutions, primarily in USA, that is involved in student exchange programmes around the world. I could not be happier. But a lot more was to come my way.
We were asked by our Director to keep our passports ready and we wasted no time at all. After our end-sems were over and all the other students went back home for the vacations, we were asked to stay in the college to complete the remaining procedures before we could go to USA. I came to know that I was being sent to the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland (the same place that SRK worked in the movie Swades). I was put in contact with my mentor there and I was really excited to work with him. I was on cloud nine. It all seemed too good to be true. After a week of waiting and anxiety, we were told that the whole thing got cancelled because the MoU was only signed for the final year students. It was a huge slap on the face. But there was nothing we could do about it. So, we went back home.
I was asked if I wanted to go the internship centers in India (the options that we were given before the whole USRA thing) or do it in the college itself. I could not bear the thought of staying in the dreadful silence of our campus for another 1.5 months with no friends so I decided to go to Delhi. The India Meteorological Center in Delhi is a prestigious organization when it comes to research in meteorology and climatology. Earth Science being my basic area of interest, I thought what better place to work than IMD. Also, I always wanted to stay alone in a big city. Obviously, my parents were quite freaked out about the fact that I was going to spend one and a half month in Delhi alone. But I convinced them saying that my best friend stayed there and that I will be fine. Little did they know that this friend of mine was actually the main reason why I wanted to come here.
I remember that day when they came to drop me off at my guest house, my little sister was crying her eyes out, as if I was never going to come back alive. My office was around 15 km from my guest house and I was struggling to get a cheap mode of conveyance. The metros of Delhi are fine, but it took a good 1 hour of journey just to reach the metro stations. So, I decided to take the buses. They were easy, fun and cheap. My work started quite smoothly and I was very happy. My guide seemed genuinely nice. I was studying the tropical cyclones in the Indian Ocean and the work was really fascinating. I tried to put the whole USRA thing behind me and devote myself to this work and get some good results. After a week of working there, I got the feeling from the rest of the employees that they all hated my mentor. They were always ready with their snide comments and judging attitude. It took me a while to realize that my mentor was actually working with these people before she got promoted above them. Now they all hated her, very typical. The office hours showed me the typical government office environment. Being late for work everyday, an early tea even before they start any work, even so there was no effective work done, a lot of gossip and back-biting, lunch, home planning, constant fights over night shifts and who does what, etc. are some of the regular things you would see here. I found myself getting used to all of this.
The first 2 weeks I was busy trying to adjust and settle myself into the whole new routine. But I was constantly aware of the fact that I was alone. My best friend (or at least I thought he was) was so fashionably unavailable that he could meet me only once in 3 weeks. He actually left me all alone in his city and went for a trip to the south to meet our other friends. I could not believe that someone you spend the whole day with in college could just not care anymore. Distraught over my stupid situation, I thought I would concentrate on my work. I decided to explore the city myself. I would just get up in the morning , get ready and get on the road…but it wasn’t that fun.
Two weeks later, a number of other interns like me joined IMD. Most of them were from the Delhi colleges. A group amongst them approached me to ask what I was working on. One of them wanted to work under my mentor. We all talked for a while and they went on with their work. They kept visiting me for the next few days and we started going to lunch together. Before this, I had stopped having lunch because it felt weird to go to the canteen alone. Soon, we became great friends. Now, work was not the only thing that I came to office for. I loved spending time with them. They never used to actually work. At first, they used to come only thrice a week, but after we became good friends they would just come to the office to hang out with me and give me company, knowing that I was all alone. Had it not been for them, I would have killed myself out of boredom. They invited me to go out with them on weekends and we had a blast!
In the office, my workload had increased and my mentor was making my life miserable. She wouldn’t allow me to leave early, and every time I stayed until 6, it would rain and the traffic jam would be horrible and I would reach back late into the night. I was nowhere near the completion of the project. But through all this, my friends were with me, motivating me, helping me (also wasting my time by hanging out in the canteen all the time). I mean, every time I would say that I have a lot of work today, they would make a irresistible plan to go out and have fun. On my last day in Delhi, my best friend from college told me that he could not make it to the station. As if that wasn’t sad enough, he never even gave me a proper goodbye, given that he had passed out of college and we would never see each other again. My friends at IMD wanted to see me that day, but I had to go to the office. So, they came to the office (with no apparent work to do as usual) to take me out. One of them, the one who had talked to me first, his dad had a paralytic attack and we went to his place to console him. We ended up having a great time with his family. When we left, I wished him good luck and bid him farewell. One after the other, all of them said their goodbyes with a painful smile.
When I look back at those six weeks in Delhi, I have mixed feelings. What if the whole USRA thing had worked out? Would I have had such beautiful memories? We are always looking for someone familiar when we are in a crowd. But isn’t it amazing that some people, even some places so new, completely strange could become so familiar in such a small time? How your complete perspective about friends and friendship can change. Towards the end of the 6 weeks I had grown so attached to this scary city that I didn’t want to leave any more. The annoying, chattering but always helping and supporting people at work, the bus journey (where every alternate day I witnessed fights over the ladies seat), the constant repetition of the same thing again and again by my mentor, the senseless conversations at lunch, the first time I went out into the city alone, the fact that every person has his/her own unique style, how even the people on the streets were so supporting that you could never be lost, the amazingly old but cheap markets and so much more that binds me to this city all so very tightly. My pathetic college life had become something more when I got over my stupid little crush that made me come to Delhi in the first place (although I am thankful to him for that), made so many new friends, had a great time and understood that life is beyond all that you can imagine. The thing is we need to stop complaining and take life as it comes. You’ll be surprised by the wonders it holds. I always thought that the most wonderful day for me would be when I start working at my dream centre in USA or the day my friend realizes how much we meant to each other, but turns out that I had completely changed, the minute I made up my mind to come here and to be someone new.
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