Name of the intern: – Prasad
Institute: – NIT Surathkal
Organization interned with: – National University of Singapore
The morning blue skies of May 12th, 2012 welcomed me as I arrived on the little island that man had made in his sight though god had his own. The beautiful landscapes and the mystical buildings of the country of Singapore drove past me as I took a cab to the apartment where I was to stay for the next sixty days with five different friends of mine whom I had never met before. As the cab sped at 80 miles an hour, I pondered back, rewinding my clock to January the 3rd, 2012 – the day when I received the offer letter citing my application being accepted and I was to join the only five students selected for the internship program at the Acoustic Research Laboratory (ARL) of the National University of Singapore for this academic year. The childish face had gleamed then with infinite joy on realizing a dream that just came true so soon.
I knocked on the doors of the flat and was greeted by a pair of eyes that had just opened (nobody is used to waking you early, are they?). The introduction to the many there followed. The guys had come to Singapore a week earlier and were settled down. Four of us, namely Rachit, Siva, Jiten and I were the interns at the ARL and there were two others who were working at SMART, Singapore as interns as well. The house was a beautiful one with two bedrooms, a kitchen and a hall. It was my first day there and it bloomed up as a magical one. As the day passed we all left to look around the little country. I learnt the way the country’s system worked, how organized and systematic and law-abiding the citizens of Singapore were. The structured, flawless and the most efficient was definitely the country’s public transportation facility- a real class apart from the rest of the world. For a little town boy, who never travelled more than 500 miles from his house, this was definitely going to be an experience to cherish. This epic Saturday came to a tiring but beautiful end as it had been my first day outside India. We shopped as we had to cook at nights to add a little bit of savings from the stipend that we would be paid. There came a sack of rice, a bagful of random vegetables and a couple of packets of bread for the next morning and the six men started cooking away from their houses, away from the tasteful hands of their mothers. The food was costly and we had to eat all that we cooked. No matter how bad it tasted, we savored it to the last bit because we cooked it- with pride. Sunday went relentlessly well too.
Then there came the Monday morning, my first day at work. I got up earlier than the rest of the folks but had to leave with them because the road to be taken was still a mystery to me. Not in my most vague dreams did I ever imagine that I would have to climb up and down a hill counting up around four hundred stairs leading up to the laboratory. Oops!! That was quite a lot. The first thought that struck me then was that I would be even more skinny when I would return back home. I entered the laboratory to meet expectant eyes of the many people there, who had known there would be some guy called Prasad who would be joining them soon. First day, no work-definitely. I got myself acquainted with the lab staff and my mentor took me around showing me an array of items and the current projects that were being undertaken in the lab. Slowly time passed. My project got clearer with every passing day. I got a name to it- Analysis of thin arrays, towed by an underwater autonomous vehicle. Day after day we travelled, shifted routes, took trains and buses separately, enjoyed the world’s most developed country and relished the streets of Singapore. Weekends were the most fascinating of all. The people in the lab would urge us to stop working and go out there and enjoy our weekends. Chinatown, Little India, Arab Street and Bugis Street – we had to shop loads there, didn’t we? Clarke Qauy, Marina Bay Sands, Esplanade and Orchard Road- definitely the most popular hangout and amazing places to go to. The majestic Singapore flyer, the Marina Bay Sands, the Merlion Park, City Hall and Raffles Place – there were too many places, but today with a sense of satisfaction I can proudly say with my bunch of newly found crazy friends, I have probably walked every street of Singapore. I made new friends. A French intern – Ludovic and a Malaysian – Abel. There were six to the group of ARL hangout buddies now. We played, had fun, lunch and coffee in the pantry together. Those memories are the brightest and so will always remain so.
We dragged these two guys to our apartment and fed them our very own custom made chef special – forgot to mention that Siva was a great cook indeed. I should agree it was edible that day. An occasion specifically comes to my mind at this juncture. The doors were locked. Each of the inmates of the apartment thought the key was with the other. Night was ticking and the six guys were locked out of their own apartment and a definitive mind saying – “I guess the keys are inside the house”. Then there came the evil idea- break-in. Now there we stood on a little stool with a little blade borrowed from a kind but suspicious neighbour. The hither and thither of the blade kept cranking and finally the grills of the window gave up. We slid in one after the other breaking into our own house and there it laid- the keys with the black keychain as it always had been on the table covered with peanuts. June first week was particularly cherishing for me. This was the day when I received my first pay-cheque of my life. I gleamed as I read the numbers over and over again. A wave of joy and satisfaction swept past me. Instantly I tucked it well inside my wallet and smiled as I walked past that door that evening.
There was too much to learn. We did. The culture, the food, the language, and the people- everything was new. Days passed very quickly. The pace of the project fastened too. I had regular meetings and demonstration with my mentor. Results had to be shown. Days passed, results weren’t coming. Research papers and books multiplied in my cubicle. Stress grew. A supportive hand of my mentor patted my back every single time. We sat together. Morning to evening till late at night. It had to pay and so it did. Outcomes started coming out slowly but nonetheless. The work never got tiring. I would want to stay in the lab than go back to the apartment. A sense of working had already crept in. The atmosphere was most conducive. There was sweetness in each person filled to the brim, an understanding and a hand that was stretched open far across for any help required at any point of time. The willingness to share and gain knowledge together as a group is probably that had bound the staff of the laboratory together. The bonding reflected from the work being done and the recreation activities being organized. The work being conducted was seen being implemented practically. The testing sites were to be visited regularly. It was an amazing feeling to see the automated underwater vehicle race past just underneath the surface of the water though the sun burnt our backs every time we were there.
Weekends got better with passing of days. The star studded IIFA-2012, the inaugural Gardens by the Bay, the walk across the Kent Ridge Park, Hort Park, the mountain biking in the remote island of Pulau Ubin on a rainy day and the magnificent and breathtaking Universal Studios in Sentosa islands kept adding to the intense memories that still flock around my mind. The fun grew exponentially, the laughter echoed every night. Teenage jokes still kept making rounds. The D-day was fast approaching. The two months had already flown past. The project was coming to a closure. The application and the implementation of my simulations and work would be incorporated soon. But I had to present the work I had been doing for the past couple of months to the lab staff. Nervousness crept but confidence stayed put. I successfully completed my presentation. The satisfaction lit faces was morale boosting. The day which I most feared ended as any other day did. But the most joyous occasion was just in store- the barbeque.
We interns organized a barbeque cum Bastilles Day celebration on request of Ludovic, prepared stuff and I regard this particular day which was my last day at the lab as my most cherished day of my entire internship period. The little family had unfolded there. The amazing people whom I had been with, with whom I had worked with for the past two months, the greatest minds with whom I interacted with, all came across on this grand day. Da nces and songs lifted the spirits of the occasion. Tears did drip as midnight drew closer. Hugs were exchanged and there the interns stood liberated after an epic and most memorable stint at ARL. The roads looked longer; the bus stands looked lonelier as we walked back for the very last time. July 15th, 2012, I bid adieu to little nation but it had definitely sent me back home with many a sweet memories that I will cherish for years and years to come.
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