Fresh out of college and eager to pursue core engineering, I joined an automation start up which unfortunately shut shop in a very short period of time. Then came an opportunity which I couldn’t refuse really – A chance to work for a factory from scratch. Only catch – the factory was in a remote village down south. Having born and raised in a city, the prospect of living in an area which was 20 years behind time didn’t entice me, but the thirst to prove myself overtook my qualms.
I boarded the train and reached Tirunelveli town – This was the nearest town which had a railway station and other facilities. The weather was much harsher than Chennai. My company representative picked me and escorted me to the guest house. I was then transferred to a ladies hostel where I stayed for about 7 odd months. I travelled an hour and half every day twice. The factory where I worked was 27kms away from the hostel. People flat out refused to give house for rent to us – Working breed of Chennai women. That didn’t deter us to return.
(The white shed that you see, the top view, is the factory which I worked in)
Here is what I ,
- Diversity – It’s like being in a different land. My dress, my hairstyle, my shoes and my general demeanor always earned a second look or a stare. How often do you see a woman sporting shirt, trouser and safety shoes smack in the middle of a village, arguing in English with men twice her size. You get the drift….
- Culture – The people are as conservative as the whole concept of being conservative can get. Being seen with a man other than your blood relative or your spouse is completely frowned upon. It shocked them to no bounds when I climbed structures, standing as an equal to male supervisors/managers and discussed technical stuff.
- Hospitality – I attended a couple of weddings while I was there. The most comical part is that, they take offence if you don’t turn up, upon being invited. Like serious offence. It’s something you don’t want to do. However, when you go, they treat you like god re-incarnate. It’s such a warm and fuzzy feeling!
- Food – The village where I worked and the town where I stayed were both famous for spicy non vegetarian dishes. For a vegetarian who wasn’t accustomed to liberal usage of garlic, the food was a night mare. Of course, I managed to hunt down joints which would serve food just the way my taste buds demanded.. Oh and they even have a place which serves Pizza.
- Caste Politics – This is something which shocked me. Having grown up in a environment where no one bothered to ask which caste I belong to, it was utterly surprising to witness such questions being asked without a hint of deliberation. That division, the prevailed treatment, the communal tension – the whole mile which our politicians shout out and debate on new channels – I’ve seen them all.
Work-wise, it turned out to be the best part of my career till date. One happy experience in spite struggles.
PS. On Day 3 of the Write Tribe Festival of Words #6