Daily Winner for: – 31st August 2013
Name of the intern: – Kumar Snehansu
Institute: – IIT Roorkee
Organization interned with: – Purple Leaf Co.Ltd., China
INTERNSHIP WITH PURPLE LEAF: “OH, SHIT!!” MOMENTS
It was not until the last day of Shashank’s and my “forced” stay in our college hostels after the exam, that our internship was finalized at Beijing, China. Until then, our mornings used to start by liking the “checking in at _____” statuses of our friends and end with sleeping on the laptop, the cursor over the “refresh” button of Gmail’s inbox.
After winning another war in the Visa application center, we finally packed our bags (literally in 14 minutes) and took the most important thing in the wallet’s secret pocket – a ‘list’ of to-do things in Beijing, China.
Two college students trying to spend the least amount of money, having a first time experience in a flight, outside their country and for that matter, a professional internship in a firm. It had to be interesting! Let’s begin the journey and I dare you to count closely, all the “Oh Shit!!” moments which ultimately gave us the nickname of “Chinese survivors” back in college.
Scene 1: 27th May, 9:30 pm.
Updated my status as “Checking in at-Indira Gandhi International Airport”.
Me: This is my first time abroad, I don’t know “shit” about travelling on a flight and I didn’t have any time to find out.
Shashank: Well me too.
Me: What me too? Why didn’t you search it on the internet?
Shashank: I had lot of other important things to do, like copying movies…
Me: Well, anyway. I think we came too early. See, there is the checking going on for the baggage and the queue is not that long. I’m going to sleep for an hour after that.
Shashank: Yeah me too, I cannot sleep on the plane, I have to watch the clouds from that height!
Scene 2:27th May, 11 pm.
Indira Gandhi International Airport, near baggage counter.
Me: Hey, what is the exact time of the flight?
Me: Why haven’t they announced anything yet?
Shashank: I don’t know. Chill! There is still more than an hour left. We came too early. The agent didn’t know anything.
Me: No yaar, there is something wrong. There has been no announcement since I have woken up about half an hour ago and 4 flights since then have left.
Shashank: Yeah and we haven’t had a body scan yet. Okay, let me ask someone.
After 2-3 minutes, Shashank comes down running.
Shashank: Shit!! There are two sign boards, one for domestic flights and the other for International, right there (pointing his finger in the north-east direction). We couldn’t see them because they are hidden behind these display boards. Worst part – the queue there is very long!
Scene 3: 27th May, 12:07 pm.
Inside China Airways, seat numbers C 66 and C 67. Shashank and I are laughing uncontrollably.
Air hostess: Sir, I request you to sit straight as the plane is about to take off.
Shashank and I adjust ourselves. As the air hostess leaves, we start sniggering again.
Me: That was close!
Shashank: 30 seconds late and we would still be chilling in the baggage checking area.
Me : All’s well that end’s well.
Scene 4: 28th May, 6 a.m.
Beijing National time, Beijing Airport. We landed on the airport. Contrary to our imagining the scene of “Chak De India”, there was no one with a sign-board of our name. So, we started searching for the Immigration checking area. Everything was in Chinese and we didn’t even know the first letter of the Chinese alphabet.
Me: What the.. Where do we go now?
Shashank (intelligently): Look, the whole crowd from our plane got bifurcated in this line to our left and that line to our extreme right. So, it must be any one of those.
Me: Let me ask the officials, they should know English.
I stopped a person wearing the uniform with a Red band (since China has a communist government) on his arm.
Me: Excuse me sir, which way to Immigration Check?
Me: Sorry sir, no Chinese.
Man: !@#%$^….. (then pointed at the extreme right line)
Me (bowing down my head): Thank you sir.
We both went to the other line and until our turn came up, we were comparing everything like the unique hen-type hairstyle of a person, the architecture of the airport… but the girl in the other line is really cute… and the list of things to be done after leaving airport… and now she’s checking me out!
Lady (behind the glass window): Ticket please.
I showed her the ticket. She saw it and immediately starting shaking her head in a big “NO”.
Lady: This queue is for transit visa to travelling in another flight. Please go the other line.
We looked each other, and then the pretty girl on the other line, who was smiling at us now; cursed the previous official and ran to the other line. After another hour we finally cleared the immigration check.
Shashank: Shit!! The luggage! It has been more than 1.5 hours. I don’t know how we will find our luggage now.
Me (perplexed): Let’s just first go to where the luggage should have been.
After reaching the baggage collection area, we saw our bags lying strayed in a corner with no security at all.
Me (taking a deep breath): Phew!
Shashank: Shit again!!
Me: What now?
Shashank: The SIM is dead.
We had fixed an accommodation in an apartment and the person had told us to call him when we reach Beijing, but in the whole “running for the aircraft in Bollywood style” we forgot to inquire about the international SIM.
Me (after brainstorming a little): There must be a pay phone here somewhere. Look, there it is.
We went to the pay phone area took out the exchanged coin (thankfully, the ONE wise thing which we could do in such a short time.)
After dialing the number:
Me (staring at shashank): Shit!! Its in Chinese, no English. What do we do now?
Shashank: <staring back at me>
Scene 5: 29th May, 8 a.m.
In a foreign country, with no means to contact anyone and realizing that no one understands any English here. We decided to use our IQ to its fullest. We had the location’s address translated in Chinese through Google Translate (one must NEVER rely on it), which no one was able to understand. So, we went to the airport express subway, saw the subway map, looked for the subway station, Liufang, given in the address and took the subway to the same. We quickly thought of three backup plans:
First – If the address is not very famous, we should ask people in Liufang.
Second – If no one knows that also, then we will search for a SIM card retailer or something.
Third – If not even that, then we will take a taxi and ask them to leave us at the firm’s address.
Outside Liufang station:
Me: Excuse me sir, (showing the paper to a person) do you know this?
Me: Sorry sir, No Chinese.
After traversing some 2-3 kilometers near the subway station.
Shashank: Shit!! There is not a single shop here with an English name!
Me: And this looks like a core residential area, not a single foreigner can be seen and no local knows any English here!
The taxi driver stops. Shashank shows him the firm’s address on the paper this time without any use of language.
Driver (pointing to some text in the paper): @$$%$#@@$%$
Shashank (shaking his head): No Chinese.
Driver started crossing his hands, closed the window of the gate and left.
Lost again in a foreign country with no plans left. We decided to go back to the airport hoping that maybe there would be some taxi drivers who knows English or some foreigner who knows Chinese who can help us as a last resort. As soon as we entered the metro:
Shashank (suddenly getting excited): Wait a minute! Who helps a foreigner in a strange country?
Me (frustrated): What are you saying? That is what we are trying to do for an hour, asking for help.
Shashank: Just think!
Me (taking a deep breath and after a pause): Police..?
Shashank put his hands on my shoulder and turned me 180 degrees. There was a police station.
Scene 6: 30th May, 10 a.m.
Heavy downpour. With no umbrellas and an upset stomach due to the recent knowledge about the real use of toilet paper, we arrived the office an hour late and dripping. The HR manager, not Chinese (Thank God!) looked at us from top to bottom:
Lady: ‘Shhhhauuushhhank’ and ‘Sainneaaunshhuuu’, right?
Us (taking out the wet and about to get torn invitation letter from the bag): Yes ma’am.
Lady: Go inside, Sir is waiting for you both.
Thus was rain-washed our expectations of a warm welcome and greetings. Anyway inside the Chief Architect’s office:
Me: Hello Sir, I am Snehanshu and he is Shashank. Sorry sir, for being late, actually we were lost in midway.
Sir (smiling): Hello, aah! Don’t worry about all that, its fine. Okay, so here’s the thing, we have to send these drawings (pointing to a bundle of sheets scattered all over his table) by this evening and you both have to get right to it.
Me: Okay sir.
Sir: Bojona will fill you in with the details. I have to leave in the afternoon for a meeting. So, we’ll meet in the evening.
Shashank: Yes sir.
It took us another five minutes to figure out who was “Bojona” but luckily enough no one working in the firm was Chinese, except a couple with whom we never interacted, for all the obvious reasons. The statement of Sir “Its fine” and the fact that the lady outside was just a receptionist, relaxed us so profoundly that we actually never came on time in the firm for the entire two months of our internship.
Thus the first day at office ended with us arriving late and then working overtime for 2.5 hours, no welcome treat and realizing the fact that all the female employees were well above our age. With the intervention of the first weekend, our boss finally gave us the long awaited “welcome treat” on a Friday afternoon.
Scene 7: 15th June, 10 a.m.
Until now we had become perfectionists at eating with chopsticks and sign language. A piece of advice for vegetarians – don’t come to Beijing if you don’t know Chinese. Having unconsciously eaten pork, an octopus, a squid, a duck, shrimps, shells and what not. That, combined with having being lost countless times on the streets, with no one to understand us or guide us had given us great confidence.
Then came the worst part, we started “trying” things.
Saturday, lunch time, a small restaurant.
Me: Nihao (means hello, that’s the first of the total of two Chinese words I learnt in two months).
Man: Nihao, nihao. @$#%^$&%^&^
Me (having decided that let’s try something new and scanning the affordable price list, I pointed at the picture of a dish with “something” with chowmein in it): Chiga (means that, that’s the second and last of my Chinese vocabulary).
Man (showing two from his fingers): $^%&*^&
Me and Shashank: <nodding our heads>
After 15-20 minutes, I pointed out to Shashank the man coming towards us with two large bowls and he acknowledged the fact with a smile that yes, quantity is good. The man came and put down the bowls.
Me: Thank you (the man said something and left).
Shashank (after 4 seconds): Shit!! What is this?
Me (after analyzing each component and all the ingredients ): Where the hell is at least the chowmein?
Shashank: And what is this white, long, strand type stuff? And this skin of a reptile type thing? And these white testicle like balls?
The myth of quantity was also broken instantly as the bowl had three portions of boiled dirty looking water with one portion of this strange thing.
Me: Worse, this whole tastes very weird. I can’t eat it.
Shashank: But we just came here and its cost is equal to three full meals of ours! Just give it a try again.
After 15 minutes of tug-of war between taste and money, we were back in our rooms trying to vomit whatever we had eaten. Even after brushing our mouth twice, the taste lasted for one full day. The fear crept in so high that we never dared to go to that street for eating and never tried to know even the name of that “dish”.
There was a very old saying in the village of singles and friend-zoneds, “The best way to learn Chinese is to have a Chinese girlfriend to talk to”. Thus, we started dating…err… sorry, language exchange sessions. For 1-2 weeks, we were really confused in distinguishing, which girl was my language exchange partner and which one was Shashank’s. However, with the rapid depletion of our wallet’s resources and Rupee falling, this adventure couldn’t last long.
The internship ended with us having 10-15 phone numbers of distinct girls, having tried a large variety of food or rather ‘edibles’, touring many beautiful places – all having long walking spaces; that’s how we concluded the hard- workability of Chinese people, long night walks on weekends seeing people playing a special game like mahjong on street-sides and last but not the least, satisfying our boss such that he finally had to give a farewell party for first time.
MY TO-DO LIST FOR A FOREIGN COUNTRY:
• Getting lost with no GPS.
• Wandering topless around at night on lonely roads and to find places, if, for illegal racing, activities, etc.
• Hitting on someone’s girlfriend in a Club or Disco.
• Tasting all types of drinks and ‘edibles’ available.
• Dating three girls in a day (12 hours).
• Saying you are dumb, etc. in Hindi to any local, like you are saying hello.
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