Summer Internship with FACT Ltd. – C V Bhargava from GITAM University

Daily Winner for: –  28th August 2013Bhargava

Name of the intern: – C V Bhargava

Institute: –  GITAM University

Organization interned with: – FACT Ltd.

Life is seldom pleasant, and when it is, we aren’t. Every story needs a great back ground. The story of my internship has one too.

It was the month of May, when bearing the torrid summers in Andhra, I set out to the station to catch my train to Kerala. I luckily got an upper berth and comfortably lay down on it.

It’s an irritating effect of the mind to flash your past in front of your eyes when you beg to differ. The last two months had been horrible for me and I was travelling without any knowledge of the future two months. Life in short, was a mystery.

I was going to Kerala for my Internship at FACT, where my dad works. It was not an intended choice, but one by force. I didn’t succeed in getting a good internship anywhere else and thus had no choice. Not that the company was bad, but I hated my dad’s schedules and disciplinary lectures. He doesn’t need a DisCo, he just needs himself.

I had my semester exams in April and before that, my horrible break up. My family had to shift to a different house as well and circumstances somehow made it so inconvenient for me that exams became a farce. The break up and the shifting process tired me. Added to that were my exams. I screwed them up big time. The heat outside and inside my body was building up. It was on this back drop of a heart break, of screwed up exams, of interning in a new place, of being alone and fear of being away from my friends that I reached Kerala, 24 hours later.

The calm and mild weather with a bit of clouds and my house, set away from the city traffic in a peaceful area welcomed me and brought a smile onto my face. My dad asked me when I would like to join. I told him I would join the very next day. I was tired, but more mentally than physically. I didn’t want to waste any time thinking about my ex or fearing how the internship would be. My mom was apprehensive but I allayed her fears. No journey is as tiresome as the journey of life.

May 2nd 2013, the day dawned bright and clear. I got up, stretched and looked out of the sole window of my room. The window overlooked a green and neat garden sheltering the beautiful creations of Mother Nature in it. The scenery always took my breath away. I just kept staring at it, forgetting all my troubles and tensions.

It was after a small while that I looked at the clock and my expression changed from a pleasant smile to a rude shock. It was 9.30 AM! Dad leaves at 8. I wondered how I slept peacefully when he would have been throwing tantrums outside. I got to know that he had asked me to come by 10 and left. He had also asked me to carry passport size photos.

I saw my brother sleeping and felt immensely jealous. I seemed to get jealous at everything and everyone not associated with work. I took my bag and stuffed in two new books, a pen and passport size photos and a gum. I put my mobile in my pocket and left.

The factory gate was a 10-minute walk from my house. I loved the walk. The whole road was covered with trees and bordered on either side by houses. No one could guess whether a particular house was vacant or not. I could hear the chirping of the birds and insects as the sun rays cut through the tree openings. It would take quite an effort to find another soul on the road.

I reached the office and called my dad. He asked me to wait and came in 10 minutes. My observation of the nature around me stopped when he came. The most important thing to do when one is around my dad is to be alert. He follows the simple school punishment system where the teacher punishes the whole class if any single person disturbs her. From your hair to your shoes, if there’s anything wrong, if any part of your body deviates from its normal behavior, your whole body has to face the music.

He took me to the FACT Training Centre, a place where the students had to register themselves. Since my dad was already an employee, they didn’t take any fees. The building was a medium sized one which looked quite ancient. We entered the building and I immediately felt a pain in the stomach. In the small room, where the employees struggled to manage their work with limited computers, stood a long queue. Some people even had to stand outside. The employees were even slower in attending the people. They didn’t seem to be in a hurry at all. I was quite appalled. Anywhere else, associating a running office boy, employees shouting orders over phones and bosses shouting at them with such a long queue would have appeared normal. But here, there was a different calm. No one was in a hurry, not even the people in the line. Only I was.

I was wondering whether there was any easier way to get things done when a loud voice beside me reminded me that I wasn’t the only one who was as impatient. My dad made sure the training manager attended us first. I later learnt that he had worked under my dad for 7 years. It was then that I understood the reason behind the lines on my father’s forehead. The whole registration process was actually a 10-minute job, but thanks to their slow movements, it took us 45 minutes.

I finally got out of the building with three forms in hand – one to be given to the CISF headquarters to let me in, one to my college and another one that I don’t remember anymore. My dad accompanied me to all the places where I had to give the forms, and dropped me at the place where I was supposed to spend the next 30 days of my life – a Captive Power Plant meant to generate power for the critical equipment of the plant.

We reached the gate of the place when the guard stopped us. He checked my entire bag thoroughly before asking me for my mobile. It was then that I learnt that mobiles weren’t allowed inside. What kind of a world lay inside that they prevent us from taking something that has become nearly our body part by now?

I proceeded inside after submitting my mobile at the gate. The CPP was just a shed which looked older than Taj Mahal. It’s roof was home to many pigeons whose food habits were prominently visible on the floor of the damp and dark shed. At the centre lay the most important part, the turbo generator set, shut down for maintenance.

My dad took me inside the control room, the only thing that looked inhabitable to me in the whole place, and introduced me to his friend, Mr. Sudarshan. He too was from Andhra, I learnt. He was teaching some M. Tech. mechanical students who seemed to be absurdly interested. The whole lot of computers and systems with their annoying alarms made little sense to me. It made me wonder how those people would be living.

It was nearly 12 by the time he finished his lecture out of which hardly 3-4 sentences made sense to me. I later learnt that he thought I was a mechanical student too. Suddenly, everyone seemed to put some fancy coupons in their pockets and hurry out. I asked Sudarshan sir what it was all about. He said they were going for lunch. I couldn’t understand what would have made them starve for a month, the way they hurried off. I too walked off. Lunch was served in the main canteen for the interns and staff, whereas two other canteens operated solely for the staff. Outside or home food wasn’t allowed inside. I didn’t know why they were so bothered about all these peculiar little things. Such rules in Andhra would have resulted in a week long strike.

I reached the canteen with certain difficulty. I had to ask at least five different people for directions. It was as it is difficult to understand what they were saying in their native accent, but the task of remembering what they said was harder. The canteen was a very big hall filled with various tables where the employers and interns sat and gossiped as they gorged on the food. I washed my hands and went in, hesitatingly. I didn’t know how the food would be. It was a self service system. I took the plate in my hand with an open mouth. It was the size of four normal plates. I didn’t know whether it was to have lunch or lunch and dinner combined. As if this giant size wasn’t enough, I had to endure the pain of both holding the plate in one hand, while I used the giant server to serve rice with the other hand. I saw people in front of me serve themselves in as much quantity of rice as their plates could fill, take rotis and curry in equal quantity. I neither could eat that much nor could hold that weight. I served myself in small, human-like quantities.

I found an empty seat and sat down. There were 3 huge jugs one each table. Why was everything here so gigantic? On inspection, I found that one contained Rasam, a south Indian dish, a second jug contained buttermilk and a third contained hot water. The water was another disadvantage, I found out later; it was rare to find cold water anywhere. People drank hot water and quenched their thirst with hot water.

Everyone was with their own friends and happily spent the time chatting and eating. I could hardly eat the food and worse still, was all alone. Ever since my dad left me, I hadn’t spoken to anyone other than once or twice to Sudarshan sir. Life was showing me how miserable it could make me. I prayed it wouldn’t be successful. I quickly finished my lunch and walked out. People were relaxing for a while with their friends. I wondered how I could be so lonely and alone for a whole month in this place. I didn’t have the foggiest of an idea of how I was going to tolerate it.

I returned to the same place where my dad left me. I then learnt that Sudarshan sir was actually a mechanical engineer and knew little about electrical. He however promised me that an electrical engineer would come soon and explain me the whole thing. Meanwhile, to pass my time, he gave me some manuals, the contents of which made as little sense to me as probably Greek would have. But of course, he wasn’t aware of that.

I didn’t know how I could pass four hours of my time. My mind filled me up with memories of my past, of that of my ex-girlfriend, of the times we spent together and everything beautiful about her. I had to literally slap myself to come back to the present. I feared I would break down and didn’t want that to happen. Somehow, with the memories and the manuals, I successfully spent those four hours. It was time to go back home. It was my happiest moment. I still remember the moment sir came and told me I could go home; the excitement is still fresh in my mind. In spite of all my troubles and memories, I felt happy for a moment. I walked back home joyfully. I loved walking and walking back is usually better preferred. One day was over and I had 29 more days to go.

Evenings weren’t so special after dad came home. I had to lock myself in bedroom and pretend to be studying so as to avoid his lectures. Evenings used to be spent praying for night to fall. My dad would have thrown me out had I fallen asleep anytime before 10. Fifteen days of my life passed much in a similar fashion. Mornings used to pass trying to impress the people who passed my way or to keep my haunting memories at bay or to pass time when free and trying to keep myself busy and avoid the loneliness around and looking forward to nights. Nights were spent thinking about what the next day held for me. I had no idea where I had to go each day or what I had to do. There wasn’t any particular curriculum. I used to wonder at nights while lying down of where I could go the next day. Sundays used to, on the contrary, irritate me further. I wanted to complete the 30 days as fast as possible and Sundays just slowed down the process.

I didn’t see anyone of even near my age group for the first fifteen days. I got used to my loneliness by then as much I got used to the food served to us. I actually had no choice. Life did succeed in making me miserable. Of course, I had to wear a smile every time. I couldn’t speak my heart out to anyone as I had no one but my parents and I couldn’t actually talk about all this with them. People did pity me when they came to know I was alone. Some even admired my bravery. But that was all about it. They understand, but after a while, they expect you to move on and get used to the situation. Anything else would make you mad in their terms. I was thus forced to stick a smile onto my face.

But like it made me miserable, it showed me it could turn it over as well. Life changed half way through.

It was the 16th of May, fourteen days after I started my journey of internship. It started as a normal sunny day. I got ready and walked to my workplace with a tiring as well as happy head. I was happy that by evening, I would have one day less to spend here. Somehow, it was the only hope I could live with. I loved the walk in the mornings and evenings. Somehow, it gave me my much needed privacy and peace of mind. It also gave me a chance to escape from my dad’s lectures whenever he used to drop me.

I had asked my dad to put me in the plant substation for a while. He agreed, and though I had to go to the Training Centre and go through the mundane routine again, I didn’t mind. I was slowly getting used to all the rubbish around me. I entered the substation to find my new sir, Mr. Unnikrishnan. I found him sitting in his cabin. He was as old as my dad, but looked older. He wore crooked spectacles and was a bit more healthy than good. I found out he had a good sense of humor too. He asked the staff to teach me and clear whatever doubts I had. I knew their task would be easy. I didn’t have any doubts. He asked me to go out and join another student who was also doing internship there. I wondered who could be as unlucky as me.

I went out and saw a girl. I called out to her and as she turned, I stood transfixed for a moment. She was extraordinarily beautiful, with the perfect size and color for a girl. Her blond hair was straight and falling over her shoulders. Her eyes were hot, cute, naughty and sweet, miraculously all at the same time. She wore a tight T shirt and jeans. I wondered what she was doing in this part of the world instead of giving Katrina or Aishwarya a run for their money. She turned to me and introduced herself. I learnt that she was from Delhi and just like me, had come all the way to do internship here. Our individual bad luck created a mutual co-operative good luck.

Our loneliness helped us take big and quick strides towards closeness. We listened intently when our sir explained about the various features of a substation and their functions. Somehow, with her, the lessons appeared interesting and beautiful. That day, when I walked into the canteen for my lunch, for the first time during the trip, I wasn’t alone. I had company that I actually loved. I didn’t know whether she did or not, but tried ignoring this fact.

The days after that day changed for me. A positive attitude developed in me. I grew more positive as we grew closer. She too, like me, didn’t have anyone to share her heart with and quite co-incidentally, had had a break up. We both got a person to share our sorrows and grieves with. I started taking an interest in my subject and taking notes. I even started getting doubts as we studied together.

Needless to say, we fell in love. What else would happen, if a decent enough boy and a hot girl, both lonely and sad meet daily and spend 8 hours a day together with each other? It was faster than anyone could expect. But nevertheless, we both loved it. We were quicker than anyone we had ever known. Sometimes, even we used to wonder how or why we fell in love so quickly. I started noticing things around me. I started loving the days more and started enjoying even the lunches with her. Nights used to go by thinking about her if not chatting with her.

It was then time for life to bring in its next surprise. It started to rain in Kerala. The monsoon as usual arrived early here. And I loved rains more than anything in the world. The joy of hearing the rain drops fall on my umbrella as I walked on the water filled roads was equivalent to a cricket pundit’s joy when he sees Rahul Dravid’s stylish off-drive. But she had other ideas. She took me to a place I didn’t even know existed. I had heard that FACT was built on the banks of Periyar river. I had never seen the river though. And she took me to it.

As we reached the river side, it started drizzling. She asked me not to use my umbrella. I looked up smiling. The gentle rain drops caressed my face, taking away any sorrow or tear that remained. The river water was greenish in color due to the mosses. A cool breeze blew over us. There was no one in the area. It was on the outskirts of the plant and people hardly came here. Most of the time, the area remained wet due to rains or high tide. The river flowed peacefully with both banks covered by busy industries. It didn’t seem to mind though and just went on. There was an air of divinity near it.

She held my hand in hers. I clutched it hard. It was the sweetest moment of my life. Somehow, it filled me with a strange confidence about my future. My future still remained a mystery, but I was no longer scared. I was confident and ready to face it. And I actually started enjoying the mystery. The ‘I don’t know’ factor became an important source of entertainment and confidence to me.

I hugged her hard. I didn’t know how the next fifteen days passed. But at the end of those days, I was so thorough with my subject that I could answer all the questions from dad. I was more confident of facing him too now. I enjoyed the food more, the walks more and even wishing the watchmen who warned me against carrying my mobile inside. Everything that came my way got just one response from me – a smile. And this smile wasn’t stuck by any glue. It was natural, from my heart. The same case was with her too.

My internship ended and I got my certificate after I submitted my report. My dad read the report thrice before approving it. It had all the technical details of my internship with all the values of all the equipment and their functions. But what it lacked was the values life taught me through this internship.

As I got on to a train back to Andhra, I was suddenly saddened. There wasn’t a chance I was going to miss her as I made it a point to talk to her daily. But I missed the place. I missed my sirs, the watchmen, the walks, the rain drops, lunches, the calm and slow pace of working, the river, her lips, my dad and everything. I nearly missed everything I actually cursed on my first day.

After a month of internship, I went from being nothing, from having nothing to everything. I just couldn’t have asked for more. I had successfully completed my internship with a very good certificate, my knowledge improved heaps and bounds, I had the confidence to manage things alone and the fear of loneliness vanished and I had a person who I knew would never leave me.

My sir asked me back home what I had learnt in the one month. My reply was simple. “I learnt never to give up. Nothing is too late for anything. Anything can happen anytime. It is only on the precipice that change happens. I learnt how to get my life back on track.”

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