Even by the high standards I’ve set for myself, 3-2 will go down as the most miserable sem yet. It’s the worst of both the worlds, I tell you- the initial vigour has long evaporated; while senile nostalgia is still a year away. Bakar sessions at Alpahar are few and far between. Every half-decent girl in the insti either calls you ‘sir’ or is an M Sc student. Even foosball isn’t fun anymore. If I had to pick one word to sum up pre-final year, it would have to be ‘regretful’. Trust me, that’s all you ever do. The six-pointers regret their CG; 8 pointers regret the fact that they haven’t got an intern yet; those with an intern in Germany yearn for one in Spain; those with one in Spain long for a trip to Britain; others reconcile themselves to sixty more days in the insti, courtesy BHEL Haridwar. The 'grass on the other side' proverb never was truer. It’s all strangely reminiscent of that HDFC advert (the long-haired guy envies the guy with a funti, while the funti looks longingly at a bald guy with a necklace, who in turn jealously eyes the aforementioned long-haired guy. Remember?)
I was short-listed for an interview by Regal Beloit. The last statement has drawn two kinds of responses. Most people instantly come up with wisecracks that range from the reasonable (“Does Deloitte have a thing for ‘happy’ males?”) to the downright lame (“Deloitte will be well-lit”), mistaking it for the consultancy firm that has recruited the Three Wise Men. Inevitably, I respond, “No, it’s Beloit- with a ‘b’, as in debt; and not with a ‘b’, as in Venezuela.” My batch-mates, though, are more conversant with the happenings in and around the Old Library. A tad too conversant, in fact. Most seem perturbed by the fact that I made the cut in the first place. New theories on why I was selected while 8.5’s and 9.1’s were shown the door are propounded every other day. At any rate, the interview was taken by two males: A and B. A was the quintessential haddu bloke- heavy voice, lousy accent, a tongue-twister for a surname- the whole nine yards. He was the tech-guy. B was the HR guy, and was A’s opposite in every possible way, as you’ll see.
A: Tell us something about yourself.
Me: Rehearsed speech laced with lots of jargon- dynamic, proactive and whatnot.
A: Why haven’t you done any projects?
Me: My area of interest is electric machinery and their design. That’s primarily an industrial field- apart from the basics, there is little that can be done in labs. This is the first opportunity that came my way and I jumped at it.
A: Fine, what about the summer breaks?
Me: I spent them lazing at home. Do you have a problem with that, mister?
Industrial internships aren’t encouraged in our insti after second year. Plus, I’d had a really strenuous year and was eagerly looking forward to spending some time with my family. That I got bored to death within a fortnight is a different matter altogether.
A didn’t seem amused. B chuckled, though.
B: So, Abhishek. I see you are an avid quizzer and also the editor-in-chief of a magazine. Shouldn’t you be looking for a non-technical intern?
Me: Those are my interests, sir. But I really can’t picture myself writing or quizzing for a living.
B chuckles again. A grunts.
A: Doesn’t your college have courses with compulsory projects?
Me: We have had case studies and assignments, sir, but no compulsory projects, I’m afraid.
B: Anyway, the elections are approaching. What do you think about them? Do you see any change in the general trend this time around?
Me: (Had no idea what he had in mind. Beat about the bush for a while) There is the third front, for one thing. That apart, there are campaigns like Lead India and Jaago Re, which shows that people are looking for ways to change the present system. And it’s about time too.
B: I see you’ve also spoken to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam (referring to some dumb interview I did for my school mag a million years ago) What did you think of him as a President?
Me: (Clueless. Fatte to the rescue again) In India, I think the President is more of a representative than a head of state. As the constitutional head of state, Presidency is more about the stature of the person and the image he portrays of the country, and I believe no one did that better than Kalam.
A cleared his throat. I half-expected another ‘where are the projects?’ It didn’t come, thankfully.
A: Do you have any questions?
Me: I do, sir. As much as I want to join Regal Beloit, there is a fair chance that I might return empty handed. What, then, do I get from the intern, apart from experience?
A: Some irrelevant bull on the history of Beloit and why it was the greatest company ever.
B: Frankly, the money apart, this is the best intern you could hope to get for the simple reason that at the end of the internship, depending on your performance, you could even be assured of a job in our HQ at Beloit, Wisconsin. As an electrical engineer, I can’t see what more you could ask for. Does that answer your question?
Me: It does sir. Thank you very much. Good afternoon.
B: Good afternoon.