I like this date, 22nd February. It is the date of first day of my first job. That was 15 years back. I joined Dabhol Power Project, at that time though a big thing for me, I was incapable of scaling the significance of the project to the infrastructure plans in Maharashtra or the impactful loss that it actually turned out to be.
It is a date that fell on a perfect season that is spring- that marks a new beginning. The morning rays were reddish- orange in color and I could note all this because the office times oddly commenced at 7:30 a.m. Unlike the town offices that start at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. The project was situated oddly too, distant from the nearest city or Village. I decided to stay in Guhagar, a village nearby so as to cut the daily travel time. The city guys had to start at 6:00 a.m to reach in time. My travel route was so lovely, a zigzag narrow road that climbed the hills and gave a birds eye view of a very picturesque village that we had left behind. The village geographically is an elongate patch resting beside the sea. However lean sized is this patch, it is vertically divided by a road in between. It is a blessed village when it comes to natural greenery. The identical two storey bungalows in the village had identical backyard that grew coconut, mango, betel-nut trees, some flower plants and some everyday kitchen food essentials. I was more biased towards the seaside part of Guhagar, the house owners had their personal access to the sea beach, a clean sea beach. From above the hill, while traveling, you could also view some few rice field patches.
I would wish the road never ended but it ended in plain 20 minutes. Contrast to just experienced surreal beauty, I would enter a site with portable temporary structures, of which one was my office. Inside, the natural day light was shut and power lights flashed the place. The cabins were air-conditioned and I did not understand the need to be so cool during the early part of the day. I imagined that air-conditions absorbed the wafts of strong black coffee and gave a distinct smell to the whole place. But the sight of a coke can on the desk in morning on my first day amused me no end. The environment was poised and sincere; I concluded that because people had already started their day at 7:30. The people working here were mix of administration and technical jobs, dressed in either office casuals or in coveralls, of national and international identities.
Some faces were already familiar from the time of the job interview, they became friendlier. The second day after joining was a public holiday which is a very auspicious sign if you ask me. At the lunch mess however, the unfamiliar faces added up and I felt lost again. There was transport available even for the lunch, the distance was not walking one true, but also that people weren’t supposed to walk without safety harnesses. According to me the cars were sometimes used for very short distances.
I was a paying guest and allotted a room with a roommate in one such two storey bungalow that I described earlier. It was a direct mismatch to the office world. I came back to a quaint charming old fashioned house. Yes it had a private access to the beach. The natives discouraged on late evening walks on the beach, a common reason given was that it was the time for the spirits aka ghosts when they wandered around, there was a danger of you returning possessed by one. So Sunday it was, a time to savor the slow village life. The backyard had lot of activities going in the morning hours. Bathing water was essentially boiled in special water heaters. This saved the cooking gas and utilized yard wastes like dry leaves and fallen branches that were used as fuel. The smoke and the water steam sent a much needed warmth to warmup if you stood beside it. Equally pleasant was watching the water pumps throw water into tiny canals that reached all plants. Further ahead you could smell the salty sea and hear rhythmic sea waves. Back home, the indoor swing in the verandah was my favorite part. But the constantly frowning and very judgmental house lady was not. I had a roommate who shared the same dislike for her. It soon wasn’t going to matter at all. The shortest month of the year ended soon handing me my first salary. I knew I had a choice now….:)