Ended the first year of my Post Graduate Programme in Management. Won’t say that time passed away in a jiffy – it didn’t! Courses, with however little to learn from; projects, with however worthless endeavors; term papers, with however smart Googling; and exams, with however sleepless weeks – time crept slowly. Students’ Council work was a tough fun; joining the Council after two terms of a somewhat chill life at IIMK wasn’t an easily affordable luxury, I must admit.
An year at a B-School might not give someone much edge in the ‘science’ of management, but it surely gives a ‘feel’ of it. A sneak-peek into de-la-corporata; a feeler of work, life and related imbalance; an aptitude to pay utmost regards to the four sacred whole numbers – 23:59; and an acumen to perceive what can go wrong – guess that sums up the last nine months at college. The coming two months of summers at Hyderabad are going to be the first-hand trailers of the corporate oven.
The city has welcomed me with open arms ever since that wet morning in the early July of 2006 when I had first disembarked at the Kalasipalyam bus stop. I miss IBM, and work as well, the sole reason probably being the life at Bangalore. The city has never been too harsh – it provided me with ample opportunities of drenching in the rain, driving out in the night, and lazing around facing the winds in the office food-court after lunch. The mini-ISM Dhanbad at BTM Layout has lost very little of its sheen with a few defectants moving out. It still gives the luxuries of sitting in circles, talking the same language, drinking the same way, smoking the same brands, eating the same food, playing the same card-game – reliving the same times.
Experience this time was a feel-good as usual. Relieving the stress of exams in the past week was easy with just the smell of city air – was fed up with the purity of oxygen in my nostrils while living on the hills and needed a break. Home and food were relishing after mess and NC and spending time in cooking was awesome. Met a friend after quite a few months. Witnessing a cheerful face of the one who has seen almost all vagaries of life has been inspirational – guess her smile would keep me out of my fits of cribbing about life for quite some time. Missed getting back to those whose office addresses shifted to the northern and eastern ends of Bangalore, or to other cities altogether.
Travel back home this time was memorable than ever. Was lucky to get a 09:15 Jet Airways flight to Calcutta at a cheap price. Thankfully the airport hasn’t yet shifted to that no-man’s land 40Km away from Bangalore, and catching a morning flight after a ‘high’ night is still peaceful.
Apprehensions of missing the 14:10 train from Howrah due to the 30 minutes delay in departure from Bangalore were swept aside in a corner with the flying experience. The poignancy was accentuated because probably for the first time I didn’t fell asleep flying, and because the skies were crystal clear all the way from the source to the destination and one could actually ‘see’ the earth even at the flying altitude of around 10 Kms. The child in me always gets back during ascent, the houses becoming smaller and granularity gradually fading away. Witnessing a whole, a continuum, an equal world, a uniform patch where ‘humans’ live; provides probably the best semblance of equanimity.
Calcutta bound flights from Bangalore ‘break-off’ from land twice to fly above the sea, once somewhere along the Eastern Ghats in Tamilnadu or Andhra Pradesh to fly over the Bay of Bengal, and once again after crossing the Delta in West Bengal. The first break-point is wrapped in simplicity – the nature probably shying away innocently from showing off its might to the unaware soul wandering 10,000 mts above. A uniform patch of viridian green, a yellow-ochre streak of sand just a few centimeters in width, then an almost non-existent faint white probably suggesting that waves too exist there, followed with a plain, almost uniform expanse of cobalt blue. Looking from the window towards the front gives a glimpse of sky almost trying to establish the law of symmetry – matching itself in colour and form with the vast below. Nothing, not even the tiny Boeing 737 seems to disturb the tranquility of space.
The ‘re-entry’ zone of the aircraft offers a splendid view. The majestic area of the Ganges delta is magnificent for the uninitiated – while flying, one moves in the opposite direction of water flow, from the sea towards up north and the aircraft flies past through almost all colours of the spectrum. The visible land merges into the sea in an unidentifiable boundary – a burnt sienna amalgamation of land and water stretching across thousands of kilometers feebly demarcating the estuary. Followed by this black-brown span is the heavenly glimpse of numerous tributaries and distributaries of the Ganges forming strange shapes. Thousands of streams appear to be white, glittering snakes lazing in the sun fostered with each other at different places – an artist’s daydream with multitude of colours. A few minutes further, boundaries between the land and the water become clearer. Interspersed with black-brown patches of islands in different shapes (one almost looked like a giant pomphret fish and other like a dolphin) is the huge green-blue water mass, probably the Hooghly. The aircraft starts its descent by then and luckily, a few steamers (or ‘launches’ of Kolkata) might be visible as tiny dots followed by white streaks in the water.
There is yet another break-off point to the Bay of Bengal somewhere amongst this after which the descent to the visible land is more pronounced. Wet palm tree-tops extend a warm welcome to the humid Kolkata and one can almost see the moisture laden air of the city. Welcome to Netaji Subhash International Airport.
Irrespective of how much I detest the Bongs and associated ‘intricacies’, I have developed a somewhat penchant for the city Kolkata. The reason is probably my numerous transits in recent years through its antique streets and lanes and saranis every time I travel from the airport to the station. Kolkata offers the first smell of home – north India to be precise – it’s humid and somewhat stale air puts one back into the hot, populated India which ‘goes-on’. It’s strange how I feel more at home amongst the sweating crowd reeling under the hot sun rather than in a city full of air-conditioned cars.
Visual delights of the old-age Indian charm, buildings and shops with inscriptions saying they were built in that year (which is normally decades ago), people thronging all possible alleyways narrowed down with peddlers and hawkers, crowd with a mix of every possible income group in the budget announcement, from the worker carrying wheat bags on his back to the paunchy merchant chewing betel leaves outside his shop or office, trams still continuing sluggishly at a few places trying to find their way amidst the rogue taxi-wallahs edging their way past everyone with scant regard to those faint, almost grayed out colours at the signaling posts, people clutching the handle bars of the over-filled city buses, rickshaw-pullers perpetually ringing their small bells in desperate attempts to get the humans and animals away from their path, hand-rickshaw pullers still continuing in their plight with utmost tenacity trying to pull the triple-sized ladies with double-sized shopping bags, non-initiated-to-real-life teenage couples outside AC Markets and other areas probably whispering to each other that ‘life is beautiful’, hawkers selling everything from books prescribing home-treatment for all ailments, general knowledge and learn English to torches and belts and key rings having glowing LEDs – Kolkata offers the largest gamut of ‘Indian’ experience. It’s great to roam around the city observing life of all sorts trying to ‘live’ and the city moving on.
By the way, I didn’t miss my train from Howrah.
A very old television commercial of something started with an NRI girl returning home and exclaiming – “kuchh bhi to nahin badla” (nothing has changed). The same feeling comes back irrespective of the gap after which I visit Jamshedpur. The town continues the same, and so the people – local Hindi newspapers still continue with their decade old claim of the place becoming a ‘model town’ in the ‘near’ future, MPs and MLAs of different parties state the same thing year after year, people do not bother about what’s being said, written or done, but still continue with the faint hope that utopia for the town is just round the corner! Irregular constructions here and there have filled up the skyline of Jamshedpur but the cleanliness hasn’t been done away with completely as of yet. Stories at home about the entire locality pour in – that one’s husband went to Germany from Tata Steel, that one’s son has joined a hotel management course, that one’s brother was asking about your number to enquire about CAT, that relative’s daughter is getting married the next month there.
Food is great, visits to relatives’ places are too many, friends are too few but the relaxation is complete. Lazing around, surfing and waiting for my departure to Hyderabad. Signing off.