Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Longest weekend of my life

The title may look like the one in Five point someone, the day where Hari and his friends Ryan and Alok meet with so many unfortunate incidents. Well in my case it isn’t as bad as that. But then that’s fiction, this is life. It all started when I got to my OFFICE :) on Saturday, 13th of April. It was the off day for my boss and technically I was the section head for the day:P. I was pretty happy about this, but if I knew the things what were in my way I’d never have been so keen to take up that position. It was the first time since I joined IFFCO that some SERIOUS responsibility had been given to me. Earlier it was always one particular unit in the section that I had to take care of, either a heat exchanger or a filter or a scrubber or something like that. Never had I got charge of the entire reactor with me, the maintenance of the world’s largest phosphoric acid plant was under me for a day. Yahoooooooooooooooo wanted to shout this from the top of the fume stack. But then what to say, something aren’t that good. It started when I got to know that one coupling had broken and that too in a critical place. It was a small flexible flange coupling that I’d always seen only in drawings in my s4 and s5 classes. These things were what we called as small fry in those days, things that were easy to draw because they had a symmetrical shape and weren’t having too many ratios to remember. If you get the shaft diameter, you can get the flange diameter, based on that you choose the number of nuts and bolts, and based on that you get the flexible packing thickness. But here the problem was that the gearbox shaft had a bigger diameter and the motor had a smaller shaft, so for this bit I’d to redesign the coupling. Also due to years of use, the shafts were worn off from their original diameter. The actual dia was supposed to be 160mm, but around 4-6 mm was lost. So while fixing the new one I’d to make sure that all these factors are taken into account. Being the senior-most with the least experience in the plant has its share of disadvantages; you’re always looked upon by the subordinates, either with jealousy as someone who got ahead of them through some more years in a better college or as a knew-it-all. It’s also very difficult for me to manage my temper with these people. Some are utterly lazy, typical to a govt job. They know that they won’t be dismissed from their jobs and so that job security is what makes them lazier. Some are worse, who tell me to stay away from any job and telling that even if I don’t do anything I’ll get paid. At times I also do these things, like now when I’m sitting in the library and updating my blog:). It isn’t a healthy practice to bunk one’s responsibilities, but then working in a chemical factory isn’t that motivating. At times you do need to take a break off from work to recharge your batteries.

So I’d planned such a break last weekend, it was a weekend which had a Monday as holiday. So I’d planned to go to Kolkatta. The city had a special place in my heart because the last time I went there, even with the uncomfortable ride I had, I’d enjoyed the time I spent in the city, with its British era buildings in esplanade, Museums, huge parks, zoo’s, not-that-great-looking-but-functional metro rail system, good looking gals, rosagulla’s, sandesh and other sweets, fish curries, communists who talk at lengthy why Nandigram isn’t a problem and that Prachanda will be a great PM in Nepal, Elgin road bookstores, Esplanade road-side shops selling anything from key chains to shoes, taxi’s that never charge as per the meter, Kali temple @ Kalighat, infamous hand pulled rickshaw’s, aspiring Ganguly’s and Baiching Bhutia’s playing around the Maidan area, high tech office building’s in salt lake, City Centre at salt lake with the Inox, Eden Garden’s with the huge Knight Riders’ posters. All these are things that would make anyone want to visit this place. As I mentioned before I’d visited Kolkatta last month, I had wanted to write about the worst train journey of my life, but then the beautiful city made me forget all the pains. This time I had come prepared and even though I had to get the ticket in Tatkal quota, spending more than twice what was the normal fare, I was willing to go. I found just one more person willing to accompany me and that was my roomie Nagendra. We both took the night train to Kolkatta that arried at 5 AM, after having spent some time in the waiting hall, recharging our cell phones and discharging ourselves:), we hit the road and took the 1st bus to Esplanade. Even at 9 AM not many restaurants were open; maybe Sunday’s are late openings for the shops in Kolkatta, or maybe we were just in the wrong area. We finally decided to have breakfast in a hole-in-the-wall kind of restaurant after a long search to see if we had some good place open. Surprisingly the food was better that what we expected. After filling our stomach’s we went to the Victoria memorial. We were quite early and being a Sunday the crowd’s weren’t there, except the lover’s who held hands and other parts right from the morning:D. By 10 AM the museum in the building opened and we walked into a collection of paintings and photographs that took us back into the 30’s and even early 18th century in some cases. We traced the history of Calcutta city in the Calcutta Gallery. It was the best section in the gallery from my opinion, because:
  1. It was an air-conditioned section
  2. It had very descriptive footnotes on each photograph and painting explaining what it was.
  3. It had a very huge collection of souvenirs from many collectors.
  4. It showed how the 1st capital of British India was shaped and what all struggles took place to have control over it.

After spending a good part of the morning here, we went to the destination that I had planned to visit after my last trip. It was Crossroads, the bookstore in Elgin Street. I loved the place right from the time I stepped in, such a neatly stacked and well arranged bookstore, with shelves and shelves of classics, bestsellers and what-not. It had got all the books that one would need. It had been the reason why I’d got back to my old habit of reading. I spent a good time in the store. I was very very happy to find that the manager remembered me from the last time, when I had asked for Hitchhiker’s guide the galaxy. He had looked crestfallen when he found that they didn't have such a classic piece in sci-fi. So when i went the next time i casually asked just to see if he remembered to get that book. To my surprise he got me the 6-in-1 collection of all the stories of Hitchhiker's guide. What a dedicated manager:), After this we decided to go to the famous park street. Bought a couple of stuff for friends back @ hostel, or else they'd have us branded with all the kitchenware if we forgot them. Then on the way we went to Netaji Bhavan, it was a nice experience. With a lot of memorabilia about Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and the INA it was again a great experience to see the photos which depicted the creation of the rebel wing of Indian freedom struggle. Then in the evening we went to the Kali Temple in Kalighat. The temple was full of devotees especially due to the Bengali New year eve. We managed to spend some time there without being bugged by the pujari's who're hell bent to make you do some kinda offering. All these travels were made possible due to the Kolkata Metro rail. Its nothing compared to the Delhi Metro, but then for something that was started off in the 80's i'd say its a great engineering and technological feat. The metro has convenient timings and has stations at almost all major locales. Also a ride to the taken is on the Tram. Its something that'll make you completely forget that you live in the 21st century. Its truly a legacy of the British era, that the communist sarkaar is still operation. After visiting the temple, we had one more place in our itinerary and that was to visit Eden Gardens. We had seen it in the morning from far, when we were going around Esplanade. We had heard that the Australian's in Kolkata Knight Riders were having their practice sessions in progress in the evening and when we reached esplanade we could see two of the four floodlights lit. It was an amazing sight to see the largest stadium in India(maybe the world interms of cricket stadia's). We reached there and tried a lot to get in, but the security persons were letting in only the people from media, that too after a very strict pass verification. As we were cursing the security, SRK and others in IPL it started to rain, with a very forceful wind blowing across the stadium. In the wind the giant posters of the Knight Riders in the top of the stadium got torn and i had a smile(ente revenge) muhuhuhhahahhahahha.

After this we took a cab and reached Howrah Station, there i took this beautiful view of the Howrah Bridge, thus ended the longest day in my life(errr typo, longest weekend of my life)

    Street shops in Kolkata, a nice way to spend evenings

    Rickshaw pullers in Kolkata-Something that i don't agree with

    Wi-Fi @ Cuttack Station

    Victoria Memorial @ Kolkata

    Taxi ride in kolkata

    Me on top of the books!

    Bird Watching(and some background watchin as well)

    For more pics goto my Orkut Album
    PS: If some of the terms in the post above aren’t understood by non mech readers, its NOT my fault, you were the one who didn’t want to take up mechanical engineering, not me:). As we used to say in college, You see the difference between Man And Machine, We Don't!!! & Machines rule the world "We rule them "


    Hari said...

    Longest weekend and longest post, till date! :P So, I'll make my comment short. ;-)

    Loved the review of Kolkatta. Apart from a few grammatical errors/typos, t'was a smooth read. You could've written better, had you not written on a deadline posed by your library. :D Do edit this post sometime...

    Btw, the mech thing wasn' too geeky. :D I understood it (somewhat). :P

    ~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

    Stealing time from work to blog is something that i haven't fully adjust with. The typos are regretted:). I'd typed this blog till th part about victoria memorial in the morning. I was quite free then. The rest came in evening. That too in three slots, that's why the disparity. Good to hear that u liked it. As for u understanding the MECH things, gr8. Someone who atleast tried to understand. :d

    Hari Vishnu said...

    hehe.. dint know job and life was going to be so bad.. wat u said abt this not-so-experienced-senior being ragged by others around seems to be true everywhere..

    nice description of the job in IFFCO and then ur 'break'.. only, like hari said, the post was really long.. nevertheless, adventures in kolkata kept me reading :-)..

    Hari said...

    Good Post Abhi... Seems u r enjoying every bit of your job there at IFFCO surrounded by good employees who love to work every moment.. Dyu mean to say that there is a long gap between the stuff that u studied and the way u apply it practically?
    U painted a very good picture of Kolkata... [:)] Which leavs the readers searching for free dates in their calendars to chart a vacation to Kolkata! Seems Kolkata is too goood! :)
    Keep Posting Abhi...

    ~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

    @ Hari Vishnu- Hi hi, bloggin from mobile and then adding pics through a system with some 15 ppl staring at you can be a hard thing. But then no other way! This is how i've to do it and this is how it'll be. I know its bad, but leaves me no choice.

    @ Hari- Did i do such a gr8 job describing Kolkata? Or u exxagerating as usual? There is in simple words - Zammen Aasman ka farak in what we learn in college and what we do, atleast for me. Don't know about others!

    Anonymous said...

    Seems only Hari's end up commenting here :)

    mathew said...

    hey congrats on the new sure u might have enjoyed the feeling of being "in-charge"..

    I have never been to Calcutta..for that matter anywhere in the east for that matter..I would like to a north east trip some day!! :-)

    ~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

    @Mathew - Well th responsibilities are taking its toll on me. I can't go home for leave and each saturday is a problem day for me now:(. And in may i'll be IN CHARGE for a whole week. God knows what'll happen then:)

    Aji said...

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.