After a near-sleepless induction week, we forty trainees had the opportunity to let down our hair and enjoy a cocktail party. The day was pretty much fun – after completing the sessions with the respective department heads, we went to the venue directly from the office. The HR had planned out an event for the trainees – we were divided into six teams and asked to present alternate applications of a daily use product specified. It was a real treat watching the teams come up with insane levels of creativity making the best possible use of the resources. The next part of the evening that many enjoyed was the open bar and the dance floor. After a hearty dinner and some much-deserved chocolate mud-pie, we dispersed to our hotel.
As most of us were flying out to the training locations the morning after, we grabbed the opportunity to visit Marine Drive. I loved the experience of going there after the party with my batch mates (or should I say, soon-to-be teammates). The long walk from Nariman Point to the middle of the Queen’s Necklace was probably the thing that really helped us unwind. While being occasionally being drenched by the rogue waves crashing against the tetrapods, sitting and talking to my batch mates and was probably the best way to welcome the new phase of life.
The flight to Guwahati a day later was a pretty interesting one too – I had gotten a pretty decent window seat owing to my web check-in, and got treated to one of the most amazing sunsets. The dull dark clouds lined with a bright gold border and the crimson-orange background was definitely a sight I had not enjoyed in a while. The flight I was dreading turned out to be pretty interesting actually, as I got to the opportunity to interact with a CoBRA Commando and learnt a bit about his journey and experience. I was intrigued as he recounted his travels – hailing from rural Kerala, he had travelled the length and breadth of the country in the last three years and this trip had been his fourth to Guwahati. The commandos’ rigorous training regimen and the fitness requirements made me drop my jaw in awe – especially the fact that the commandos have to run approximately a marathon with their rifle and gear once a month, in addition to a number of varying distances in a very strict time period. They have very strict weight requirements and train really hard for the most daunting situations. It was only after talking to him that I realized how privileged and sheltered a life most of us live – he had witnessed the death of his battalion members on more than one occasion, and all he wished was to be safe and see his family at the end of each day.
The three hour flight finally landed in Guwahati long after the golden twilight had given way to a dark evening. In comparison to Mumbai, which becomes resplendent with lights as soon as the sun sets, Guwahati appeared comparatively gloomy. The HR at the Guwahati office had arranged for a cab to get us from the airport to the guest house, which arrived just as we landed. The journey to the guest house was reasonably long, and we got a glimpse of a couple of places on the way. The guest house was possibly the best place we could have stayed – overlooking the Brahmaputra riverfront, it offers the most enthralling views of the sunset.
The office at Guwahati turned out to be a lot cooler than I could possibly imagine. After finally being able to put faces to the names I had been interacting with over the phone, I was able to see how awesome every person was. Taking time out of their hectic schedule to make six trainees feel comfortable and at home is something that I can never appreciate enough. The loveliest part of Guwahati is that everybody we meet helps us out with a huge smile on their face – being it just giving directions or acquainting us with unfamiliar concepts or just helping us plan out our weekends and make the most of our time. Right from the colleagues at the office to the customers on the field or the Uber drivers ferrying us from one point to another, everyone has made us feel more than welcome in our new environment.
In the limited time I have spent here Assam has also reminded me about the rewards of being patient and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Along with a couple of other trainees I got stranded at the IIT Guwahati campus in the evening. The Uber driver allocated to us had forgotten his license and hence was not allowed inside the main gate. After spending a good amount of time walking to the gate and booking another cab, we found one who wasn’t fluent in Hindi. The guards at the gate were pretty kind – understanding that we weren’t able to converse in Assamese, they communicated with the driver on our behalf. When he refused to serve citing long distance, they gave us an idea about alternate modes of transport we could take. We gave Uber one last attempt and were allocated a driver who said he would be there in a short while. We decided to enjoy the picturesque evening and the beautiful campus in the meantime. Being third time lucky, not only did we get a bigger and more comfortable car than the last time, but also a cheerfully polite driver named Sharan who had the most amazing playlist ever and gave us some quick tricks and tips for navigating in the city. Well… Amazing things do happen to those who wait. Speaking of which, I now eagerly await the amazing experiences that lie in store for the remainder of my stay.