Circa, 1987, I still remember the day, I took admission accompanied by my father in MACE, which was always a dream come true. Had some wonderful friends some of whom I am still in touch with.
I was a day scholar till 3rd year end and ended up in the hostel in final year. Had plenty of class mates, namely Aju, Sabu,Salaam, Jibichhan, Bindu Susan, travelling by bus to college, from Perumbavoor. It was literally a fun trip of 30-45 minutes to college. I did lose out on the Hostel stay for the first 3 years and I do regret missing out on the same.
And I passed Engineering, then..
Even though my stay at hostel and study at college wasn’t very eventful, I passed out of the college with OK academics and was never sure whether I should pursue any higher studies. The very next day, started working as a trainee in a Civil Engineering consultancy at Perumbavoor for free.
The owner did show some mercy after 3 months and started paying Rs. 250/- per month. I was thrilled to receive that sum. That job lasted just 6 months with cumulative earnings of Rs. 750/-.
And then landed a job with Kerala Housing board as a trainee after an arduous technical interview session without any recommendations, which any how I never had.
I worked for just 3 months and quit as I never enjoyed working in a Government department. I did free-lance as a certified Civil engineer for some time which did give me better returns than the previous jobs
Marriage was a priority for parents and I finally got hitched to someone in faraway Surat, Gujarat way back in 1996. He is an Electrical Engineer from NIT Surathkal, Mangalore, who had turned an entrepreneur after working with HCL for 4 years. He is from Guruvayoor, born in Kerala, did his schooling at Kota, Rajasthan.
Who would not love this Gujarat..
We did sent some people known to us, from Anand in Gujarat to cross check whether the case is genuine as some of our relatives were sceptical of a Mallu being an entrepreneur, that too at Surat.
Surat, in those days was notorious for plague and dirt, but by the time I landed, we had an excellent Municipal commissioner posted, who just turned the city around and today, Surat fares in top 5 cleanest cities in India. I have been witness to all the changes and realised, how government machinery, if it does function can make that great change.
Unlike what is written in Malayalam newspapers, except for the horrific riots, Gujarat is a wonderful place to live, thrive in business, and one of the safest places for females. I can afford to travel alone in a rick even late in the night. Surat is world famous for Diamond and textiles, and Hazira in Surat is famous as the Gas from Bombay high lands at Hazira.
When in Surat, the biggest issue which stuck me was the language barrier but fortunately, I could manage because of the Hindi special classes I took at Mahatma Hindi Vidyhalaya, Perumbavoor ,while schooling . I later felt as if I was destined to come north of Vindyachal.
I really enjoyed staying in Gujarat, the celebrations which happens during Navratri and the marriages are a real treat to watch, especially the procession in which bridegroom travels on Horseback till the marriage hall with DJ and plenty of lighting. People here, really splurge on marriages, and not on the jewelry, unlike in Kerala, but on the food and other events which precede and follow the marriage ceremony.
I was keen to continue with my profession of being a Structural Design Engineer, after marriage, at Surat and I was looking for options, even though it was pretty limited in those days.
We were blessed with a baby boy in 1997 and the priorities changed and I was clear that I would not take up a job till my son is mature enough to take care of himself.
What really ‘shook’ us and how we survived
Life was carrying on and in year 2001, an earth quake struck Gujarat on 26th Jan, when whole of Gujarat shook and we all rushed down from the 4th floor of our flats. It was one of the most shocking experiences of my life. Could never imagine the after effects it had caused till the news started trickling down on the devastation it has caused. The aftershocks we felt staying on the 4th floor were numbing. We did stay at a friend’s place on the ground floor till the aftershocks subsided.
The urge to start off with the profession was still on and when my son turned 8, took up a job with a tacit nod from him and a caretaker around when he is back from school. I was fortunate that someone gave me a job after being out of touch for so many years. Grateful to him as he was the No.1 Structural Design Engineer at Surat.
When the cars were floating and we were marooned
My husband has been living in Surat since 89 and had narrated stories about the floods which had struck Surat, the city famous from ancient times, being on the Delta of river Tapi, often threatened by floods, had one of the most devastating floods in 2006. We, from the 7th floor of our flat, could see the waters approaching slowly but never anticipated that it would be so bad. We went to sleep, thinking that the water would recede, but woke up in the dead of the night with all the car alarms beeping loudly. That’s when we realised that water had overflown the cars and we were all marooned. Sunrises, and we realise, how bad things are, witnessing cars and animals being washed away. We were safely on the 7th floor and had 3 days of fun playing games with neighbours, eating the same food. No power, No Phones, fortunately the gas lines did function and we had stored water anticipating issues. On the 3rd day Dr. Manmohan Singh, PM had a aerial view and we had the greatest experience of 12 Helicopters hovering over our area with food packets being dropped. After the waters receded, we could see the devastation the floods had caused. We were witness to one of the greatest clean up done, lead by Mr. Narendra Modi, then CM. And within 15 days, we were back to normal, possibly cleaner than it ever was.
My current job
The job which I took up a few years back, became pretty boring, working at the same place, without much of challenges and not much of hikes coming in, I decided to quit and scout for a new place to work where I could learn something new and keep pace with the latest developments in structural Design. I took up another job after 3 months and have been continuing at the same place thereafter. I am enjoying working as a structural design Engineer, working on latest software.
Meanwhile, my son had grown up, was in 11th and people insisted on his taking up coaching and we decided to be unconventional parents and back his decision. .He had never taken tuition, except for my help and insisted that he would not take up any coaching, instead took support of distant learning programmes. He was clear that he wanted to enjoy his pastimes of reading, football and playing Guitar along with studies.
We had our own set of anxieties, but when the results were out, he made it to BITS Pilani, Goa Campus and is pursuing Mechanical Engineering. He is an avid Automotive industry follower, is involved in design of car for participation in SUPRA.
I wasn’t a very social kind, and had very limited connect with our class mates and batch mates after college days. When I got a call from Salaam on the Jubilee Meet, I was enthused and decided to participate. I did join the Whatsapp group and then quit seeing the plethora of messages which kept coming, but was pulled back by Anil. The whatsapp group has brought lots of us in touch and did speak to some, and I am thankful to Salam and Anil for getting me enrolled in the group. I really enjoy being on the group , even though nobody would have seen any posts from my end. Hope the enthusiasm in the group continues even after the meet gets over.
As per the feedback from my husband, the preparations done by our Jubilee Meet TEAM is excellent and way ahead of what his batch mates did in 2014. Kudos to our TEAM and really appreciate the effort which has gone into this.
Plans are afoot as both of us are coming together to the event and I am looking forward to meeting all the class mates and batch mates at the event and getting back to the college where it all started for me. We all would have changed so much and some of us beyond recognition but meeting all and refreshing those old memories is going to be a wonderful experience.
Geetha Praveen- Civil- B