Tuesday, 17 March 2009

B for Baster

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.

A: Grunt.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Ek Sau Bees Minute

Kick Off- 10min: Call up Bihari Potter and ask him where he plans to watch the game. Decide to make the Great Trip to the Gaon(TM) and pay Leftiekins, Raps and the other Lords of the Farmhouse a visit.

KO-5min: Call up Leftiekins to inform him of TGTTTG (TM), only to be informed of his date with Messrs. Moet and Chandon.

KO-3 min: “Lefty is getting drunk- Jawahar it is then,” reads the message I send Bihari Potter. The miser that I am, I choose to ignore the 'Delivery Failed' message that arrives a minute later.

2 min: The Alter Ego calls up from Tambiland to express his fury at the absence of Rooney from the starting lineup (or the bench, for that matter). “Fergie knows,” I reassure him, before going on to share my two-pence worth on the rest of the starting line-up.

5 min: Cross the roundabout beside the E&C tower (which, I’m told, is oddly named ‘Kranti Chowk’). 

7 min: The Decayed Canine calls up from Pune for the starting lineup. He can’t watch the game as Tata Consulting Engineers Consulting Engineers didn’t see the need for something as superfluous as a net connection and wanted me to keep him abreast of all major developments at Wembley. An obedient nod and a dozen swear words later, I hang up and resume my long journey.

11 min: Meet BeKayEll at the entrance of Jawahar, who instantly sets off on a rant on Dilli 6, Abhishek Bachchan’s fake accent and the absurdly hairy kaala bandar. I politely inform him that I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.

13 min: The mention of the hairy creature reminds me that I’d sent the Hairy Hick and Bihari Potter off on the Great Trip to the Gaon(TM). I call up B-Pot and deliver a rehearsed speech, placing all the blame on Leftiekins' frail shoulders.

18 min: Reach the Jawahar TV Room, only to be welcomed by the sight of Ramnaresh Sarwan and co. tearing apart a hapless English seam attack.

21 min: Reality finally dawns on yours truly. Abuse Subhash Chandra and the pitiful excuse for a sports channel that he runs, before setting off for Sushi’s room with the Hairy Hick and Bihari Potter, who had just arrived.

Half Time: ‘0-0’ reads the big blue box on ESPN Soccernet. The 50000-something members of the Manchester United Orkut community agreed, before adding that the second half would be telecast live on Zee Sports.

47 min: Another reality check. Zee Sports was facing technical issues. East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan it will be, then.

49 min: Long ball from the flanks falls perfectly to a defender, who makes a hash of his clearance and, more by luck than judgement, the cross found its target. ‘Good football all around,’ remarks the nasal commentator. Was that sarcasm, I wonder.

57 min: Can take no more. Set off for the canteen and ask for a packet of Lays. “Lays nahin hai, chai piyoge?” enquired the vendor. Just not my day, I think to myself.

62 min: Return to Sushi’s room and try to find a half-decent live-streaming site, only to view the hazy contours of a guy in a yellow jersey, with a lot of noise in the background. Cursing the Jawahar Wi-Fi, we reconcile ourselves to the live commentary on GameCast.

75 min: ‘United ki fat gayi! Vidic on for O’Shea,’ exclaims a jubilant Kangaroo Kid. ‘Why does he care so much?’ I wonder, only to be reminded by Sushi that Chel$ea’s only hope of silverware this season was the Champions League, where they’d first have to get past Delpiero and co. There are some things money can’t buy. For every thing else, there is Roman Abrahamovic.

120 min: Full time. No goals. For the third time in two years, we were involved in a penalty shootout at the Wembley.

FT+11 min: Foster is the man. 4-1 to United. The four of us huddled, just as we had after that night at Moscow.

FT+ 25 min: The Alter Ego calls up again. ‘We are the champions,’ I sing into the phone, much to the amusement of the others at the Azad Canteen.

FT+ 874 min: I remember that I hadn’t updated the Decayed Canine yet. I spend the last two bucks of my balance on a message. It reads:

“The Carling Cup is ours. Two down. Three to go. Glory glory Man. United.”