Just like every of my other recent stories, this one will begin with the mandatory “It’s been long since I last wrote.” 😛 I’ll then say that it has been like what 1,2,3.. well 6 months since I wrote 😛 Then I’ll move on to saying about things that happened these last 6 months. That’s the essence of my every usual story, I know 😉
This one will be no different. So now that I’ve already cleared the air and said what I’ll be saying about, let me start saying it 😛
Well most of the people reading this already know enough about me to know that this year is the year I complete my engineering. For the new people in my life and/or my blog, first of all, a warm welcome And second of all, well I’ve already mentioned that this year is when I complete my engineering 😛
So what happened these last 6 months that’s worth sharing? What happened is the most common thing in any engineering student’s life when you think of “6 months” 😛 Plus the title is a giveaway. Yea I had my final year internship
Disclaimer: It wasn’t 6 months 😛 4.5 will be more precise. That accounts for the multiple ‘last week(s) in Nirma’ that I got to live in February, blah blah, more about it in my last post: http://www.mahaveerverma.com/last-60-days-in-nirma/
Here comes my mandatory promise that I’ll try to keep this one short so that you can complete reading it in say 10 minutes. It’s a difficult promise to fulfill though. Because, a lot happened these last 6 months. And I guess every of my classmate will say the same. The journey from being a student to being an employee, or the journey from being a B.Tech student to an MBA/MS student, the journey from being really close to your friends to being far and yet trying to be close to them.. a lot happened these 6 months for all of us
A new city, new unknown language(S) (yes a capital S, seriously, new unknown languagessss), new people, new language(s), a new role, new language(s), new awesome food and did I mention new language(s)? Well, okay I’m exaggerating a bit but the best part of moving to a new city is the new culture that you get the live in which is highly characterized by the languages. And as I was told, living in South Indian cities are difficult considering the (assumed) lack of support for Hindi. So I had some expectations with Bangalore based on what people used to say to scare people like me and that hyped me even more to actually face all of it 😛 Like getting stuck in traffic for hours or failing to communicate to rickshaw drivers because they didn’t know Hindi but then remembering that they understand English and that I know English as well. Ah.. the challenges that I’d face…
To my disappointment, Bangalore isn’t difficult to survive for a North Indian who’s lived far from traffic 😛 No but jokes apart, seriously, thank God it actually isn’t
But then I’d say maybe it is less difficult for me because I’m Hindi and I’m used to living in states with regional languages. Yes, North Indian languages like Gujarati is easier to learn and the ratio of Hindi-understanding-people is more than South Indian states but Bangalore is a very good exception. Only once have I found a local shopkeeper who neither understood Hindi nor English. But then you can use the ages old trick of saying it slowly because well, every language can be understood when said slowly right? 😛 And they’d do the same to you 😛 And then all of a sudden one of you would understood what the other wants.
Remember I stressed so much on the (s) in language(s)? Bangalore is the IT hub of India so you’ll find people from all over India here. And you’ll get to hear a lot of languages here and I’m not talking about only South Indian languages but North Indian as well. For reference, I’m considering North-Eastern and geographically Western and South Western states into ‘North India’ as well.
So when you’re new, you’ll find yourself bombarded with unknown languages being spoken all over the office canteen and if you’re like me, you’ll initially keep your scope of guesses limited to Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil or Telugu. And since it’s literally impossible for a newcomer to distinguish between the 4, you’ll keep playing the game of “guess the language” until the day you realize you are able to ‘hear’ some words. Oh, it’s been less than a month and you’re able to grasp some words? That’s a North Indian language then 😛 And when that happens, you feel cheated. Cheated by yourself that while you were busy guessing whether the language was Kannada or Tamil, it turned out to be Odiya 😛
Ok let me take a step back and explain 😛
I was provided a 15 day hotel accommodation by Nvidia. I woke up to interesting new breakfast dishes which I assumed should be Karnataka’s special. The hotel manager speaking to hotel staff was probably one of my first exposure to a South Indian language where I could try to catch his words. I failed to catch a single word no doubt 😛 Oh and it was later brought to my knowledge that the hotel was managed by a Keralite and most of the dishes that I had assumed to be from Karnataka were actually from Kerala :/ I had to reprogram some of my brain-fuses in response to this enlightenment :/
On my first day of Internship, I met my team, the people I’m going to work with, the people who had been in Nvidia since long, the people who know so much I don’t. My college classmate who had started his internship a month before me introduced me to everyone and I as usual assumed that most of them (or all of them) would be ‘proper’ South Indians. By ‘proper’ I mean I assumed I should be talking to them in only English and not confuse them with Hindi in case Hindi wasn’t their preferred language of communication. Except for my college seniors in Nvidia. I mean they couldn’t have forgotten Hindi I knew 😛 And to make my belief stronger, all of them did indeed talk in a language unknown to me and I assumed it to be Kannada 😛
My classmate friend said there was a guy who knew 3 or 4 languages and I don’t know why I did’t think Hindi would obviously be one of them 😛 And don’t blame me, remember people who tried scaring people like me?
So it took maybe almost a week to realize everybody in our lunch table knew and spoke Hindi :/
Oh and none of them (lunch table people) were Kannada. Instead, what most of them spoke was either Odiya or Telugu at times. My thumb rule, if you’re able to grasp a word, it’s Odiya, and if you have no idea how their lips convert some air pressure into words, it’ll be Telugu. Odiya accent is somewhat similar to Bangla which I’ve been exposed to before so that helps differentiate, not that I understand the meaning of any word though 😛
When I look back at it, I think I should spent a bit longer on asking people where they’re from and which languages they spoke. That would have saved me from all the re-wiring I had to do to with my brain. And by the time I re-wired every of my understandings and learning, I decided to stop playing the “guess the language” game for a while.
If you’re a North Indian like me with no prior exposure to typical South Indian culture or you’ve only witnessed any of those cultural references in movies where they exaggerate things, then you’d be expecting a lot more ‘lungi’s than what you’d ever see in Bangalore. You’d be expecting a lot more mis-communications that what you’d ever face in Bangalore and you’d be expecting a lot more ‘Sambar’ that what you’d ever need to eat in Bangalore. Thank God, coz I’m not a fan of Sambar.
Day to day life in Bangalore is nowhere near the South Indian experience you’d expect but then it’s only right this way because why would there be any typical cultural influence in a workplace anyways? Except the food, which is awesome anyways, not like what I heard it’ll be. (Remember people who tried to scare people like me?) I don’t like Sambar but the rest is good and interesting. Chicken is still called Chicken and Idli here is actually the size of what an Idli should be unlike the biscuit sized Idli advertized by Idli mix products. I actually survived on chicken roll for my dinner during my hotel accomodation and 2 huge “Chatni dip” Idlis later during my one month stay with friends. Filter coffee is good, teabags at office are.. well like every other teabags in the world. And I’m not sure why there are some restaurants here which say “South Indian Restaurant” when it is anyways in South India. I’m more interested in understanding which dish comes from specifically which of the South Indian states and they’re like “South Indian Restaurant, that is it. Do not ask for specifics”
We do have “North Indian Restaurant”(s) in North India and I don’t know how but we just ‘know’ which state each food item in the menu belongs to.
Coming back to ‘lungis’ and typical cultures, I said that you won’t get to see that at workplace so where do you get to experience local culture? Well, temples…
I joined 3 of my colleagues (one of whom was also my classmate for the previous 3 and a half college years) to visit the Golden temple in Vellore which is in Tamil Nadu, a neighboring state, a state which is so much of a neighbor that it is almost as near to my home as the Bangalore airport is 😛 And I actually showed a proof of this to my mother using Google maps to make her understood that “I’m going to Tamil Nadu and will be back by evening” is not an oxymoron.
It was that day when I realized I have some kind of weird syndrome which makes me uneasy standing right behind bald people. Oh, I’ll remember what it felt like. Kids, men, women, the baldness was the first thing that made me question how difficult this path of pursuing God is. As I was told, they were probably visiting other major temples as well and I realized that no doubt they were a little more ‘believer’ than me.
If you’re someone like me, you’ll probably dislike temples for all the people impatiently crowding in front of their God’s statue which is not going to move at all like literally forever, for all the different types of fees that they charge you as you enter, for all the coins that are thrown in plain water, for all the ‘exits’ that go through the temple’s private shops, for all the ‘reasons’ people visit temples for and of course for all the things people do for devotion.
But if you’re someone like me, you’ll also see the happiness and ‘sukoon’ people get when they get to see their God after hours of travelling and you’ll find the crowd much like children during recess in their schools, happy, you’ll also see people feeding the poor outside temples, not caring about what good the same money will do in their pockets, you’ll also see fathers giving a coin to their kids to throw into the water, saying them to ask anything from God and that God will listen, and you’ll just know that the kids want nothing for themselves and the coin being thrown into the water suddenly won’t look so bad. You’ll also see pain in every devotee’s eyes and that how people find it easy to let those eyes shed some tears in front of a statue and you’ll also see them gather the strength of wiping their own tears and somehow the forces you don’t believe in are responsible for all of this strength
If you keep your eyes open you’ll see enough to realize that what you think of something isn’t wrong but what others think isn’t ever wrong either. And that just because you don’t understand why someone does something, it doesn’t mean that that shouldn’t have been done.
I’ll probably never believe in temples, or devotion for that matter, but I’ll always believe in people who believe in temples. Because they know something that I don’t and because they’ve experienced things I haven’t…
I’ll probably remember the day more for the down to earth yet delicious sambar-rice served on banana leaf and how I had to reveal my secret that I can eat fast when the need arises 😛 They serve hundreds of people in a pipeline and you only get 1 chance to ask for extra rice and that chance would be easily lost if you got distracted by anything as much as a WhatsApp notification. The people who serve food literally run like they’re from “Acme Corporation” from Looney Tunes and we’re cast as extras to the “Road Runner Show” or something.
I’ll also remember being shown “something” among the mountains on the way to Vellore. I still have no idea what it was and I remember being told to write about it when I write this post. Oh sure. Ta-da! 😛
I’ll also remember the small Tamil restaurant by the highway also on the way to Vellore and how some time later, I was given the chance to connect my playlist to the car. Umm, I agree I have a little peculiar taste in music but my music shouldn’t be blamed for the extra 40kms we traveled on the wrong route, not at all 😛
I’ll also remember… wait, on the way back from Vellore, I slept. Sorry, nothing to remember there 😛
Well, it was a good trip. We decided on going for more trips, but got busy since then. A month later I and my college classmate turned colleague had our final internship presentation at Nirma. We had our farewell party organized by our juniors and we bid farewell to almost everyone for a long enough forever. I’ll save the story for later
Somewhere near the same time we painted a school.
And the month after that, we had our intern outing to mark the end of our internship.
Remember all the things I said about the other interns? No? Well, yea because I didn’t 😛 Because I never met anyone of them except like 2 or 3 people by coincidence. I had joined a month late compared to the other interns, so I had missed the orientation day, plus the other interns were far from my department, faaaar.
But there was something very common in the farewell party at college and the intern outing… It was that I was seeing most of them for the last time.. and that I really didn’t know a lot of them and I could have known. And that in that room, the party hall in Ahmedabad or the dining hall in Bangalore, there were people, amazing people who’ve been part of each others’ lives, part of some other people’s lives, maybe some of them have been a small part in my life and maybe I was fortunate enough to be a small part in someone else’s life.. and that after the last tea and snacks with the interns and after the last song at the farewell party with my friends, there will be a goodbye which will hurt..
And sometimes the worst goodbyes that hurt are the ones you never could say.
And that after that day in Bangalore, and that night in Ahmedabad, I’d probably not see most of them ever again..
3 and a half years.
It all ends.
Didn’t actually write much about my internship, did I?
Well, that happens every single time… sort of.