Mumbai or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Rain


So Mumbai. Here I am. Land of opportunity (wait that doesn’t sound right). Land of filmstars maybe. Land of too many people, that’s for sure. And land of constant rains. That no one will disagree with.

I have an opportunity to intern at L&T in the summer. Surprisingly few people knew about L&T at DTU, leading me to wonder if they’d ever looked at those Metro diversion boards which are, you know, spread throughout Delhi. What was even more exciting was the location of the office – Mumbai. I immediately signed up, and the thought that the legal age for drinking beer here is 21 didn’t cross my mind at all. Dad was pretty enthusiastic that his useless kid was actually going to learn something after twenty years of burning his paycheques (heh heh heh). I was wise enough to keep my mouth shut about the fact that it was going to cost more to keep in Mumbai than in Delhi.

Settle down, lads. Regular readers (if there are any from the few decades ago when the blog used to be updated regularly) will know about my obsession with detail simply because the mundane things are the most interesting. This will be a long blog post. Or as you fancy kids prefer to use – #longreads. (Using hashtags outside twitter still bothers me more than it should. Oh well. Have to change with the times.)

I received news in January that I’d be interning at L&T. So I booked all necessary flight tickets for a fairly busy schedule. My exams ended on 31 May, and I flew to Bengaluru to meet my grandparents on the fourth of June. After a week of stay, I travelled to Mumbai on 13th where I’d meet mom and dad who were flying in from Delhi. And then both would be flying back to Delhi, and then back to Bangalore and the back to Delhi again later this month. (Don’t ask why). I also booked tickets for my return to Delhi from Pune, where I have to meet more relatives. Add some hotel reservations for parents to this and dad’s blood pressure was significantly higher after the entire process ended.

My flight to Bengaluru was just a day after Gopinath Munde’s tragic death, which meant security was tighter than usual. I got into the airport at 8.30 when the flight had to leave by 9.15. GoAir systems decided that it was the perfect time to freeze, which left me stranded for twenty minutes at the counter. They reassured me that they won’t leave me because of “our own problem”. I badly needed to make a coffee run before the flight because I hadn’t slept a wink all night – charging devices and watching Warrior (great film). All these technical issues destroyed my wonderful plans and an incredibly long security line meant I already had three missed calls from GoAir telling me to hurry up. I was running to the gate and wanted to melt under their glaring faces.

Bangalore trip was great. It’s too pleasant there, kinda like the two days Delhi gets in a year. It’s changed a lot, though. What I hadn’t noticed before were the roads – they’re awful to drive on not least because of poor planning (thanks for great roads, Lutyens).

As expected, the BLR-BOM flight duration itself was shorter than the drive to the airport. Why even call it Bengaluru Airport if it’s not in Bengaluru? It’s in Devanhalli. (BTW, grandpa introduced me to The Ventures in the car. Nice tunes.) The airport is also severely lacking in fast food joints because masala dosa is clearly the only food every passenger from Bengaluru will ever have before leaving.

Saw an episode of Hannibal on the flight. Lady beside me was clearly freaked out. Will blog about Hannibal later (I swear).

Typical problems happened when I landed in Mumbai. My flight was delayed, and so was my parents’ and somehow both pilots completed the journey much faster than expected, and both of us landed at the same time, not half-an-hour apart as originally planned. All was well. Which meant that all was not well and something would certainly go wrong. Called up dad who told me to come to “belt 5”, which was confusing because there were only four belts at arrivals. After a few moments of confusion, I found out that Mumbai airport has two terminals for arrival. -_-

Fortunately, they aren’t too far apart. Fifteen minute walk at the most. Walking fifteen minutes with a bag, a suitcase, dead earphones and what felt like 102% humidity isn’t a nice experience, though.

I was united with my parents and we headed straight to their hotel in Powai. Ramada is a decent hotel (no, not that Decent Hotel). I was fascinated with the keycard entry, the safe in the cupboard, the remote operation of the lights from the bedside when I realised that this was my first stay in a hotel in six years. Apparently, these are regular features in hotels nowadays.

After like three minutes, I went to see my flat in Powai. I share a 3BHK flat with 9 (!) other people. These aren’t students, though. All of different age groups, so none of that Pyar Ka Punchnama stuff happens here. As you can imagine, privacy is out of the window. So is cleanliness. Fortunately there’s a maid for cooking food, cleaning the place and (thank god) laundry. There’s still no internet at the flat and I’m blowing off all my 3G data. There’s also no AC, but that would be asking for too much. There’s a TV, though which means I can still watch the world cup at night, which is all I care about, really.

Unfortunately, I don’t live in the good part of Powai. Not Andheri east or so-posh-it-feels-like-Europe Hiranandani. I live in NagaSakiNaka and it resembles a civilisation trying to find its feet in the aftermath of a nuclear accident. The lake even looks like a nuclear wasteland. L&T has like fifteen buildings spread out in the entire area. The whole place looks as if it exists only because L&T exists. (This is true, apparently.) My locality is fairly safe, though, given it’s a place where families live. So obviously, I tried to stay away from the flat during the weekend, choosing to sleep in the hotel on the bouncy bed for one last time in the AC.

*

Monday meant it was my first day at work, ever. Woke up feeling positively happy, excited and ready to take on the world. Put on a shirt and some pants and walked to the office (it’s that close) and reached the gate to enter… only to find that my name wasn’t in the approved list or something. :\

A few minutes and frantic calls later, it was sorted out and I walked to HR where I met a guy named two other interns named Drimson and a girl who’s name I don’t remember because I’m not even sure I saw this famed, mythical girl-studying-mechanical (there are like three in the country). Both of them looked at me like I was ET because they could not comprehend why I’d fly in from Delhi to intern in Mumbai by choice.

I didn’t have a chance to justify my actions because HR guy picked that moment to brief us about L&T, which understandably is a massive company. Chairman AM Naik recently approved a diversification plan for the company, which saw the birth of L&T Hydrocarbon (where I work at), and it’s already a $2 billion dollar company, despite being only three months old. It took some time, but he finally got to the important stuff – when we have food, where we have food, what we have for food, do we need to work on Saturdays (we do) and so on. HR also informed me that the clothes I was wearing were too informal.

After getting my ID card made, I went to my mentor and was immediately assigned some top secret project. For your eyes only, stuff like that. All I can say now is that we’re trying to find more Transformers lying in the ocean bed (we’re on the Decepticons’ side, though). Oil rigs are the perfect cover.

The vending machine has become a big source of income for the company since I’ve joined as I eat KitKats by the dozen. I also discovered the existence of a Café Coffee Day machine which prepared the elixir of the gods from coffee beans, not that crappy instant coffee powder. There weren’t any mugs, though. I expressed my displeasure at this to a friend who interns at RBS in Gurgaon, who said they don’t have mugs either. You have to bring your own mugs. Why can’t India’s largest construction company construct a few mugs now and then?

(Side note about RBS. Kilol sent me some photos of her workplace and it looks like that ship from 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are free vending machines and everything. There’s also a gym and a foosball table. The closest thing we have to a gym is giving a helping hand to the guys at the Heavy Engineering department. Getting your laptop confiscated is also nice for cardio. Oh, I haven’t got to that part yet.)

The RBS Workplace

Pictured: The RBS Workplace. Not Pictured: Foosball table.

Everything was going perfectly fine, so something had to go wrong somewhere. The universe punished me for working late. I left the office about half-an-hour later than usual on Thursday (confirmed Decepticon sighting!) and was immediately stopped by security at the exit. I wouldn’t have been stopped if I walked with the crowd, but I wasn’t because I was working late.

“Bag me kya hai?”

“Sir, laptop.”

“Gate pas hai?”

Shows ID.

“Laptop ka gate pass. Hai?”

Puzzled look.

“Andar saab se mil ke aao.”

“Saab” was the security in-charge. He cheerfully informed me that he’d confiscating my laptop. He made me write a statement where I proclaimed “hosh-o-awaz mein” that I’m an ignorant buffoon for not knowing the rules and security will now keep my laptop. I headed back to the office to take help from the mentor, but he couldn’t do anything as he didn’t have the authority to issue a gate pass. Red tape, man. It screws us all. Even in non-governmental organisations.

So I spent the night without my laptop, thinking about it all the time. Worrying constantly about its safety (so this is how mom feels). Friday couldn’t come sooner.

I ran to work the next day, rushed to the office and my mentor printed a laptop gate pass which the VP signed. I got the date wrong, so I had to get it printed again. Now here’s where I’d like to mention that all my bosses were super-cooperative. Everything was done perfectly on time, and there weren’t many hassles.

I jogged all the way back the entry gate where I laid the form down with a flourish… only to be rejected immediately. The form was for employees only. As a trainee, I’d have to draft a letter. I didn’t understand how it made a difference, but then again, the universe is a weird place.

So I went back to my office, typed the letter, and gave it for signing a third time. After I received it, I went back and laid it down with a little less flourish. The security head saw that I’m from Delhi, and started chatting about the city. He lived in Palam and Dhaula Kuan (poshmax!) for a few years, and was in praise of the city, being massively critical about the safety, especially at night, which is a valid point. Here in Mumbai you can roam the streets freely at 3AM without the fear of being gang-raped in a moving bus.

He signed off on the letter, and now I have my laptop back. I asked security if they’d finished my blog post on Hannibal. They hadn’t. I promised never to hurt someone I loved so much ever again. I can bring it to work every day now.

If you’ve stuck around till now, congratulations! You’ve read a two thousand word post and wasted a lot of your precious time when you could’ve been doing, you know, other productive thing (lol we both know you were going to Reddit anyway. Or 9GAG if you’re a tool). Nevertheless, I’m done with a week and apart from a few problems with the maids at home, I’ve settled into routine, apparently. If there is such a thing as routine. I’m not sure if I’ll blog anytime in the future, but that’s mostly because I’ve run out of ideas.

(Maybe you can leave some ideas in the comments?)

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4 comments

  1. Saumey Jain · June 22, 2014

    Nice post. Reminds me of the hostels.

  2. Sridhar c.e. · June 22, 2014

    Nice detailed post. However not much written about your impressions of Mumbai- the land of your Mum! Or, haven’t you had much time to go around yet? It would be nice to get your impressions of Mumbai as a Delhiite. I also like your writing style. Maybe you could inject some of the sense of humour that I know you have by the tons! Your Uncle(ie, Maama)

    • Aditya · July 3, 2014

      Thanks! Glad you liked the post. 🙂
      I haven’t had much time to explore Mumbai. I can only go out in the weekends, and there haven’t been too many till now! I will try to write something once my stay has concluded.

  3. Pingback: How To Go On Boys Night Out After Marriage | 9Hues

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