Friday, 29 April 2016


Depression was on its highest level. After the registration in PhD program, I completed my two years but still the list of experiments done /attained conference/ journal publication was terribly empty. I was given a topic 'Eco friendly anti-corrosive coatings for steel surface' and the only thing I finished by that time was, the boring literature survey. 'They have done this and they have done that' was the only idea in my mind without having any idea of 'What I have to do' exactly in my thesis. So many times I thought to quit my PhD as no instrumental facilities were there in my institute to carry out the experimental works. Moreover, I was the only one who was working on this specific topic in our research team. Without any proper facilities and guidance, it was being pretty much difficult and next to impossible for me to frame my project out. But an eternal saying is there 'Tough time filled with depression and frustration is always followed by happy, cheerful and 'all is well wala' time. Working as an Intern in IICT Hyderbad, CSIR Laboratory was nothing less then a divine blessing for me. I got official permission to carry out my PhD work from IICT, PFM (Polymer and Functional Material) division as  intern. Finally the journey began from Kolkata to an unknown and new city, Hyderabad.

'Boys & Boys everywhere with no sign of Girls'
On the very first day all I received was warm welcome from the people over there. All new faces, most of them speaking in a incomprehensible language (Telegu), busy in laboratory works, some eyes were fixed at laptop screen and combing through latest published articles on scientific journals, rushing here and there with beakers, conical flasks or chemical bottles in hands. The pungent smell of acids and bases, the splashing sound of liquids in glass apparatus stirred with mechanical or magnetic stirrer and the constant noise of the running exhaust fan in the laboratory signaled the presence of a group of talented NET (National eligibility Test) qualified budding chemists, sincerely dedicated to chemical research. The first thought that stroke me was 'All of them seem so serious and talented!! Will it be easy to cope with them up  properly". I met with the curious gazes to the new comer. But as my scientist introduced me to them, the straight faces busy with research works and the studious eyes were transformed into smiling faces. Waving hands of 'Hi & Hello' and a formal introduction with exchanging names and where are you from with each other relieved me a little though but the feeling of everything new and unknown refused  to leave me completely.  One more reason, I felt a little uncomfortable for, was 'Boys & Boys everywhere with no sign of Girls' in that laboratory. Holy Christ, I am the only girl who is going to share the laboratory with eleven boys. The scientist strictly ordered the male researchers to provide their assistance and co-operation to me, whenever needed. 

Guest House II, DRU 16

After the introduction session at my workplace, I was given accommodation in a double room unit of Institute's guest house. I was all alone in that room, missing my friends and family in Kolkata and feeling nervous with the thought of how the entire work can be done in six months. In evening when the door bell rang, I realized that I felt asleep for more than two hours. On the other side of the door was standing a girl, two eyes were shining with sharp intelligence and a bright, radiant smile was all over her face. 'Hey you stay alone right? Can I shift here?'. Suddenly seeing a new face in a new place, I got a little confused. But then managing the situation , I told, 'Yeah sure, why not! Come inside'. She was a Tamil girl, Kaushalya, doing her M.Tech in Nanotechnology and came as an intern just like me. She was shifting her stuffs from the opposite apartment into mine and was pretty much busy in cleaning her room. Slowly we started connecting with each other. On the very first day, I became an ultimate fan of her delicious cooking. After having lunch I was not in the mood to go for evening snacks anymore. By the dinner time, when I was just about to leave for dinner she offered me garam chapatis with freshly cooked tomato curry. The flavour is still there in my test buds. When you are nervous with over dosage of too much newness and unknownness from new people and new place, miles away from your family, have a huge burden of works to do to save your career and terribly hungry without any idea of where to go for dinner in that new place, the ready made garam chapatis served with tasty curry comforted my nervous and confused mind & body.

The Helpless Borrower & The Kind Lenders

Next day again it was my turn to visit the very much busy laboratory, where I have to start my work with talented and efficient group of male researchers. Nervousness got into my nerves. But then the brave heart ( hidden somewhere deep down) calmed me  "C'mon!! No need to be worried, they won't eat you up.'' When I stepped inside my lab, I came to know a Bengali boy is also working in that laboratory as an intern with the very same surname of mine, Mihir Bera. The presence of a Bengali fellow helped me to fight the nervousness. But slowly, I started interacting with other people as well. An active and restless guy, Ram Keval Yadav (popular as Keval), apparently refusing even a trace of laziness or in-activeness in him, actively shared his working bench with me without a word of complain or disturbance. As I carried nothing with me for my experimental work except some chemicals, I started borrowing glass apparatus, chemicals and other stuffs (necessary for my research) from my lab-mates. 'May I have a 250 mL beaker please?' or 'I want a conical' or 'Can you please give me a marker pen' or ' Where can I get this and where can I get that?'. Within a day or two I made a sufficient stock of glassware and chemicals of my own.Specially, Mihir ( The only Bengali acquaintance in lab) , Anthony (a sober and happy Tamil boy, working next to me), Keval (the owner of my working bench) and Ramu (a Telegu boy, the owner of most of my glassware) extended a good hand of help to me.None of them showed any rejection, any isolation, any authority or any superiority to me. They all turned kind lenders to a helpless borrower and helped the new comer to be a part of the laboratory slowly. 

Guest House II was full of Fun
It started with Kaushalya and the number of friends slowly extended in the list day by day. After having a hectic schedule of nine to five in laboratory, the chit-chat time, the gossip moment, the scuttling noise of interns and the movie, dancing and music session always filled the air inside Guest House II. Every evening we girls used to go outside in large group to explore different tea stalls, the punugu shops (A popular Hyderabadi snack item), the juice corners and the most favorite Hyderabadi Biryani from various restaurants. Life was full of excitement. The panic of unknownness, the frustration of pending jobs, the tension of unstable career vanished one by one from mind. Life was giving a strong and single message every single moment: "These days won't come back again. I am too short to be anything but happy. Live your fullest."  Kaushalya used to make delicious south Indian dishes in dinner everyday for me. I started helping her and took my very first step in the world of kitchen. I learned how to make chapatis, I made my south indian friends disclose the recipe of Lemon rice, Tamarind rice, Sambar, egg curry, tomato curry, Rasam, Upma and so many dishes. I started constructing simple and short sentences (with full of flaws and mistakes) in Tamil & Telegu and they (specially Kaushalya) started copying my sentences in Bengali ( I literally rolled on the floor laughing, when I heard her Chinese version of Bengali). 

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed

It was a Thursday evening, when I went outside to buy my dinner as my test buds were tempted for North Indian food and I needed a break from South Indian dishes. When I was on the way back my Guest House with a parcel of Aloo Paratha and Aloo Gobi ki sabji in my hand, suddenly an Auto Rickshaw hit me from back. I fell on my mouth in the middle of the road and my North Indian food got smashed under the wheels of that vehicle. When I tried to get up, I found my legs got collapsed and I was unable to move. With the help of the passerby I got into an Auto and reached Guest House. All my friends rushed to me with first aid treatment, consoling me and giving me courage in that difficult time. From taking me to the health center, to buying the prescribed medicine, collecting the X-Ray report, making food for me, helping me to tie the bandage and applying ointments on cuts and scratches, each and every little things were done by them. It was Kaushalya, who neither allowed me to sleep alone in bed nor to move even a little for a glass of water. Each and every second I was under her intense care and nursing. When the male researchers came to know about my accident, they too did every possible help I needed then.  I feel short of words to express my gratitude to them for active support and kind help in tough time.

The Great Bunk on Shuvo Nobo-Borsho

It was 15th April, 2015 and Bengali new year as well. Seeing me attired in new dress, the lab-mates thought it was my birthday. But breaking their wrong conception, I greeted them 'Shuvo Nobo Borsho' (Happy New Year) and also encouraged them to greet me back in the same way. At last, all of them greeted me new year 'Shuvo Nobo Borsho'  in broken Bengali and with South Indian accent. I and Mihir were feeling terribly home sick. In Hyderabad no Bengali cultural function was there, we were unable to manage Bengali food in lunch or dinner inside IICT and the sleeping Bengali soul inside us suddenly woke up and raised a strong protest against eating rice, curd, sambar and coconut chutney in lunch. So we asked help from Google to find out some affordable  Bengali restaurants in Hyderabad. We found one, but as both I and Mihir were new to that city, we were utterly confused with how to get to that place. Mihir and I tactfully convinced Keval and Anthony to participate in the forbidden act of bunking laboratory with us. It was a great new year indeed. I was miles away from my home town, eating hot Basmati rice, Mug er Daal, aloo posto (a mixed curry with potato and poppy seeds), Mach er paturi (A popular fish preparation in West Bengal) and Kosha Mangsho (chicken curry with spicy gravy) and celebrating Bengali New year. Bengali people have a very strong tooth for sweet. The chana r payesh (Kheer), Gulab Jamun crowded in syrupy bath and Rashogolla in desert beautifully completed the Bengali new year celebration. Without Keval's spontaneous help, it would had been certainly a spoiled Nobo-Borsho with boring lunch menu in IICT canteen. 

It's time to learn

My dear readers must be thinking, whether it is an Internship period or a summer camp memory. No, it was not a summer camp and was definitely an internship program. Those days taught me some great lessons. The seniors were always ready to help me with their good advice, suggestions and new innovative ideas in my topic. It was Keval, Mihir and Anthony, who taught me the skills of casting coating films free of defects on tin foil and to remove the films out of mercury chamber with great cautions. Rohit, an extraordinary talented researcher, shared some of his amazing and brilliant ideas regarding the novelty of my work. The senior most research scholar
 Nagraj, helped me a lot with collecting data and graph through instrumental software. Without my amazing and friendly male lab-mates, it would have been impossible for me to finish my thesis work just in six months. With their help, the wastage of two years of my PhD program was compensated just in six months.

 I have finished all my experimental works and the PhD thesis is in process right now. But those lovely moments of placing order of Hyderabadi Biryani after every two or three days, early morning jogging in fresh air, hectic lab hours, learning new theories and experimental stuffs, standing in long queue of breakfast and lunch in front of canteen, weekend sight seeing and hang out with my friends, my first live IPL cricket match in Uppal stadium with Mihir, Anthony and Kaushalya and all those happening birthday parties have reserved a soft and emotional corner in my heart for lifetime. Those six months of Internship period taught me some great lessons. 

  • How to welcome a new comer in a new environment. The behavior of surrounding people and their co-operation can greatly motivate or comfort the new creature in that unknown place.
  • I learned the value of friendship, I witnessed how selflessly people can help at the time of need. 
  • The efficient people over there taught me how to manage huge amount of work in a short time span with efficient planning and strategy.
  • The value and the spirit of  team work.
  • We should always keep a safe distance from being judgmental, and should keep a liberal acceptability for every person with different mentalities, attitudes, communities and lifestyles.
  • I explored the caring and loving friend inside me too, their appreciation and acceptance made me feel confident and special.
  • At last but not the least, the great lesson of life 'Enjoy each and every moment, don't miss a single moment to explore. Life is too short to be anything but happy."
   “I’m sharing my first internship experience for the #MyInternTheory activity at BlogAdda in association with Intern Theory.”

  I am praying to God , may those lovely and amazing people get all the happiness and success in their lives.        

   Thanks for stopping by. Please share your feelings before leaving.      


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