02 Mar Road to Career-Thrivikamji and Baskaran
Road to Career-Thrivikamji and Baskaran go to Dehradun, Aug. 1965 .
In 1965 May or early June or so, and after the M.Sc results were announced, I was indeed happy and thrilled about the prospects of getting a very decent job in one of the professional organizations employing fresh PGs in Geology from the colleges and Universities. Even in those days in spite of being a very lowly organization those days, ONGC was a good employer, especially because it was autonomous. The largest employer on the other hand was the Geological survey of India.
My class mates all decided first to go to the employment exchange to register as job seekers especially in the field of Geology. In fact for some reason, in August 65, I and Bhaskaran (B.K.Nair hailing from Vellanad) to the NE of Trivandrum, were called for an interview for the post of Senior Technical Assistant (Geology) in the ONGC and the excitement for both of us was that Commission would reimburse the travelling allowance.
We decided to go for the interview in Dehradun. It was a pretty long train journey in the II class coach. We took the Madras mail leaving TVC around 7:00 am in the morning to reach Madras the next day morning. The train chugged along the beautiful Quilon-Shencotta segment of the meter gauge through several tunnels before emerging into the plains adjoining Shencotta around 4:00 pm. From there on, train zipped through the various big and several small stations finally to stop at Madras Egmore. From the Egmore station we hopped into the electric train to Park station opposite of Madras Central. There around 12 o’clock or so we got into Grand Trunk express to New Delhi- another long haul taking nearly 40 hr or so.
We were very confident about ourselves and were unconcerned about the uncertainties of the trip and that too a maiden trip on our own. There were jawans in the coach and some Malayalees too. These guys were very helpful and properly guided us especially to run to the dining car for the three meals. The coaches those days were not vestibuled from one end to the other. Only upper most classes were that way connected to the dining car. Instead, we got our meals served in the coach from the dining car by the food vendors. On occasions the kitchen will run out of prepared food and occasionally even drinking water.
Anyway, finally around morning we reached New Delhi crossing the Akbar and Tilak bridges. But our next Train to Dehrdun was from the neighboring old Delhi station. Reaching that station, even though it is our first trip, was quite easy. The jawan crowd was always there to help us and guide and lead us correctly. We got into a II class coach (that is where we saw some empty seats), and proceeded to Dehradun say by the evening. The train reached Dehradun by the next day early hours. PKRN had suggested that there is a Birla Choultry in Dehradun that any Tonga (a one horse drawn wagon) man will take you safely. The attraction is that you do not pay any room rent as you slept in the verandah like place in front of a mini ward-robe fitted to the wall. But to be on the safe side one must use own lock and key to prevent possible burglary. Otherwise it is comfortable and safe place.
In the afternoon the duo went out to locate the ONGC HQ. It was a large compound that ONGC had with several two story frame houses and inside a mango orchard. We tried to pick some attractive looking mango fruit boldly to chew. There was no problem from any quarters on account of it. But when we started jumping to catch the low hanging frits we were apprehended, and of curse warned not to repeat it. We said sorry and escaped.
One other thing we enjoyed in Dehradun was the indoor roller skating rings, where college age and affluent boys and girls teamed up for roller skating. They were unlike in the deep south in Trivandrum holding hands and walking around tightly in the hall. Well the girls were good looking and of course at our age and their age all girls have good looks where ever we chose to look. We also found time to sit through two or three Hindi movies in the local theatre.
I believe on the third day the appointed day for the interview, we dressed up and walked over to the ONGC main office. We were promptly asked to go to canteen for breakfast, against coupons that were given to us. We also filled in certain forms as desired by one of the staffers. We finished all that and then waiting in the guest room to be called to appear before the selection committee. Even by one o clock, the interview did not happen. But then one staffer asked us to for lunch – courtesy of ONGC. After lunch we loitered back to the guest room again,. But then to our surprise our TA was disbursed by the office.
On our prompting only the office realized that the interview did not happen. Then they rushed through the process of putting together a selection committee. Around four I think I was asked to go in. I went in. I was greeted by the chair and I in my turn greeted the chair and members. Some questions were put to me. It was not at all a tough session. After 20 min or so I finished and it Baskaran’s turn. He also came back rather quickly say in 15 min. We were informed by the office that the result will be informed to us by registered post within a month or so.
The interview process was so light that we thought perhaps they already have posted the fellows or identified the persons and our appearing for the interview was just some formality so that they can complete the appointment process.
Anyway, in spite of the outcome of the interview, both of us decided to go to Mussorie, a hill station in the lower Himalayas. We took a morning bus to the hill station to reach there by about 11 O clock. We walked around the streets, ate jilebi from the street side shops and did lot of window shopping. We probably missed our lunch but not hungry though. The sunset is at about 8 pm as the winter was just around the corner. The presence of sun in the sky deceived us from the real time of the day. On realizing that chillness was setting in we discovered that the last bus to the Dehradun town is just passed by and we missed it. Then it is a field day for the taxis. The resnts were way high in several hundreds. There was no question of sleeping in the bus station premises as we were ill equipped for the cold night. We had only one choice left, get into a taxi and go to choultry. The cabbie charged Rs.150/- per person. Both of us got in. As the car wound down to the hair pin curves to the plains, the fare came down to as low as 50 rupees per head. We got annoyed by the fact that we were plainly cheated. But no point in complaining anyway.
Anyway we safely got back to the choultry and bundled up to a good night’s sleep. The following day by noon we got back to Dehradun train station to catch a train to New delhi- an overnight journey. Roughly, we were away from home for about seven days. We already made plans to see New Delhi in Panikkers Travel bus and to Agra to see the Taj again by a Panikkers Travel bus. On nights we slept in the platform no 1 of New Delhi station. All that we had to pay way was like five rupee per day to some police personnel. They took care of our hold-all luggage during our absence. We did not have cameras of any sort. After the Delhi darsan and Taj visit we promptly boarded a south bound train to reach Bhopal the following day to spend couple more days with Baskaran’s elder brother who those days worked in the Bhopal Steel Plant or so.
We lived in Bhopal for about four days and then started our homeward journey. Bhaskaran’s brother saw us off in t he station. On the third day of departure from Bhopal we we were back in Trivandrum in the evening by Madras mail to Trivandrum.
His and my parents were furious and agonized about our failure to contact with the families at least by letters. In fact the families were totally upset about the black out for about 16 days or so from the day of our departure. The family rage subsided the moment they got to see our live faces and bodies.
The final outcome of the interview was that we were not elected. The communication arrived promptly after a fortnight or so after our reaching home. That was no shaker of our minds. We had other things on our future path of life in the waiting. Yet it was a rich and rewarding experience and adventure. Anyway thanks to the ONGC.