Thai Airways TG316 gave a smooth landing at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bnagkok on 17th of January 2010 at 5:40am. The smoothness of the landing was sure to have lasting impressions for days to come…!!
Last four hours were spent in a trance which was due to TEA. Naah, these Sexy Thai Airhostesses were not serving ‘TEA’ but Beer and you might just have the clue whats in store for you for the next 150 days. The TEA I am referring to is Tension, Excitement and Anxiety and the fusion was due to things happening at the neck of time right from the moment I embarked from Guwahati to Delhi…
Landing Delhi 3 hours late from scheduled time (Here I consider myself lucky owing to the gruesome climatic conditions prevailing there…because exactly two years ago I was not at all lucky..but thats a different story!!), meeting Mr. Swamy (for the first time)- another trainee from BITS Pilani- at the airport after series of cell phone communications with balances running out from each other’s cell phones (when will I learn to maintain ‘balance’ specially during these circumstances :P), extra luggage that I was carrying was enough to ruin me of all the Indian currency that I had saved in case I miss the Mahatma. But thanks to Mr. Swamy- we like two ‘intelligent’ BITSians made some adjustment and the crisis was averted. The Aircraft had a huge belly to stuff over 300 passengers. It struck 12:10 am and the wheels parted from the Indian soil. (If you are reading with an intelligent mind you might be wondering how in a four hour journey I had lost 1.5 hours..well thats the time difference between the two countries). It gave a sense of pride to manually set the hands of my watch 1.5 hours ahead..Now thats what I call Time Travel . The wrist watch read 5:40am…Here I come Thailand..I heard someone shout.
The Airport was a monstrous replica of a palace- majestic by all means. I was rubbing my eyes and cursing my optic nerves for not cooperating with my neurons because I struggled hard to refrain from sleep walking (though I was wide awake for about 20 hours already.) The journey from the runway to the Baggage collection zone seemed longer than the journey from Guwahati to Bangkok itself…walking through numerous gateways..stairways..pathways..it went on and on. At a particular time I was flabbergasted to find the flat escalators repeating one after another….I imagined I was in some parallel universe where time and space have lost their meaning. I almost came out of my TEA trance when
I saw the Passport Varification zone. Within next 20 min we collected our baggage and trudged to seek our receiver. (Aditya Birla Chemicals was kind enough to arrange for a pick up on a Sunday morning that too from over 100km away from the work station..and this was just one of the numerous generosity that they bestowed upon us in days that came by.)
The ‘Royal’ treatment came as a surprise to both of us when we were given the key to a sexy-ac-fridge-3 rooms-2 bathrooms-kitchen-dining hall studded apartment. The icing on the cake came when we discovered the existence of wify connection in the house (I can vividly recall this was almost the first thing that we were looking for..internet…we could as well have bartered all our ‘gifts’ in exchange of internet in case there was no connectivity..we were BITsians after all ) But .. as they say- jab upar wala deta hai to something phad ke deta hai..and the giving never stopped!!!) I need not mention about all other necessary stuff that was already secured in the house in case we find the need to eat/bathe/sleep…
Food (one of my biggest tension.. me being vegetarian …and the numerous stories of Thailand being devoid of vegetables completely…) was served in a small apartment by a Thai ( Originally Nepali) woman and it was pure..pure vegetarian..ahh came the sigh of the century..it was not only veg but also activated some of my taste buds too. A good cook was there to keep me alive for the rest 150 days…the last trail of TEA vanished completely.
A word of caution—Henceforth all characters in this Thailand Episode shall bear the names of my friends since the identity of the real characters needs to be under the shadows in everyone’s interest else I might find myself in deep jeopardy.
We were all set to embark a journey into a new world (Mr. Swamy though had visited Thailand with his parents but I understand his urge to come back here once again since there might have been few unfinished tasks to be accomplished here. :P). First things first..I uploaded pics of my apartment in facebook and instantly received remarks with shades of green. Then it occurred to me…I have not informed my family as yet..a pang of guilt ran through me and I rushed into 160by2 and notified each and every member of my family. During dinner we were introduced to Mr. Prasad Bhandare hailing from Mumbai who is working in this chemical plant for 1 year contract as a design engineer. He seemed like those satisfied youngsters who lead a carefree life backed by ‘awesome’ location , handsome pay and contact info of over a dozen Thai Chicks. He boasts of having over 2 years of Thai experience…and by that he means ALL Thai experience. We extracted loads of general information about Thailand from Mr. Bhnadare and the cook. Here are some of the mind boggling results:
- In Thailand there is a custom of keeping the headlights of bikes, scooters etc. ON during day time too. Back in India you may create an impression of being nuts.
- The local people have tremendous respect for the King and the Queen. Its more than what we have for our Indian counter parts ..Shahrukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee. Just try blurting offence against the Royal family and you might be ripped off your own respect.
- English seems to be a forbidden language. One may find himself lucky to discover someone conversing in English. Though I got a shock of my life when I found my cook speaking well versed Hindi but that was due to her Nepali origin. Needless to say, you need to type the amount on a calculator if you decide to buy something from a Thai Shop…even bargaining is done that way!!
- The Thailand population comprises of males, females and lady boys (who also fall in the category of females after their sex change operation) which makes this country having more females than males. In India its just the reverse for numerous unethical reasons.
- The woman wears the pant in a Thai family and the males are required only to lend some extra support in finance and full support during mating. In India the woman is not even allowed to think of ‘pants’ forget wearing them.
- Buddhism being the religion.. numerous men turn into monks ..another reason for the above population stats. In india this system is open to all males but sadly it also has resulted as another game of extracting money from the junta.
- The local people cook food outside the house in open. They kill, boil, eat, wash and return to their homes. In india this strategy is unthinkable considering the fear of dogs, rats, hungry bellies invading your property. This might result in several mini world wars all around the country.!
- The people here are very honest. I remember giving two notes of 20 baht to a local popcorn shop in a mall since I had no clue how much was I supposed to pay. The owner returned one note with a smile on her face.
- One may find woman all around contributing to the country’s economy as employees. In india one may find all woman inside kitchen satisfying the apatite of the family.
- Last but not the least, its impossible to guess the age of a female. A good looking office attendant instantly gave me an impression that she would be easily under 25 yrs of age and unmarried.. only to discover that she was above 35 and on a threshold of being divorced. Bout India?…no comments.
Now something about Aditya Birla Chemicals: Location SARABURI 108km away from Bngkok.
On the very first day, we were assigned a conference room next to Mr. Bhandare’s table by Mr. Das who was our so called ‘Boss’. (Most of the employees here are Thai and most of the senior posts are held by Indians). An engineer cum MBA with dangerously calm countenance and ability to make you feel uneasy in any conversation, Mr. Das is extremely ‘respected’ by his colleagues. We were placed under two mentors Mr. Sinha and Miss Wandana who are extremely dedicated hands of Mr. Das so technically me and Mr. Swamy were meant to be their fingers. Its Time to Dance!! I chuckled.
Mr. Das made both of us write on a blank sheet of paper about our expectations from the company, I wondered what else to write considering those ‘gifts’ that I had received already. After that he made a call to the HR department and ordered them to arrange for our medical insurance (It’s a chemical plant folks) followed by local simcards and a local maid. He hung up ordering them to install a TV in our apartment immediately—and I felt sweet suffocation under another ‘heavy’ gift. Then there was Mr. Roy opposite to our cabin –a BITS alumni – infected with an Impression Syndrome. He pops into our cabin every now and then to inquire what we are doing (that’s the time when I have to minimize my google chat/orkut/facebook windows much to my anger..but theres absolutely no problem..we are expert in this art:P) not forgetting to remind us that we are BITsians and how important it is for us to leave a good impression all around.
Though one advise given by him made me realise how Survival is the only mantra in corporate and industrial world. He lectured saying that people would be very nice and sweet to you but theres a purpose behind everything. One needs to maintain his dignity and remain within professional limits. You need to show that you are BITsians and are capable of…….and it went on and on. ..The very next day our mentor Mr. Sinha came to our cabin and with gleeful expression questioned “Do you guys drink”…”Yes, occasionally”, I replied…Mr. Swami replied, “Not, yet”…and then words of Mr. Roy buzzed in my ears…maintain professional limits etc etc….In a course of few days we realized that this kind of world appears very cushy but only at the surface….Below lies a world full of mutual distrust, hatred, vengeance and nail biting competition. Mr. Bhandare definitely vouches for it. After Office hours we spend quality time googling, facebooking, torrenting, skypeing, watching latest BBT, HIMYM , 24S08 (Anil Kapoor yoyo) episodes until sleep envelopes our mind.
As days went by, we interacted with many people Indians and Locals…There are about eight Indians who come to the Nepali cook to have Indian food. Interestingly, half of them are Bengalis. Then there is a funny Security Officer who is a local. His funniness is due to his struggle to speak and understand English. It was in fact a very daunting task for us to explain to him how a game of cricket is played..It was through him that we were able to extract some of the results discussed earlier!!!Of course he knows who Amitabh Bacchhan is and that Aishwariya Rai is his daughter-in-law but at the same time he respects the King more than anyone else.
Its time that I sign out now..but not before mentioning some virtual ’ Kodak Moments’ that I have stolen during last 7 days:
*My first step into the soils of Thailand.. ofcourse.
*The first visit to Birla Temple opposite to our apartment.
*An Indian lady contributing Thai Baht at the Birla Temple as if the King has been surrendered to Lord Krishna.
*A group of some 60 Indians watching 3 Idiots at the colony ClUB House.
* Learning to fire pistol at Mr. Bhandare’s apartment.
*Visiting Lotus Mall and getting drenched during return journey.
please do comment…something should motivate me to write further ..rite?