We all have some or the other awesome experiences about our childhood which we know others would envy, and I am here to tell you about how the life inside a Power Station campus is unique in itself.
Growing up inside the super cool campus of Thermal Power Plants, it’s just a matter of time when you come to realise how you would miss the roads on which you learnt to ride cycle, the telephone directory which was a permanent solution to all enquieries, the Shiv Mandir arena which acted as natural alarm for you to wake up, the clubs which had everything you wished to play, the restaurant complex where you brought your crush on the first date, fearing Sharma uncle’s son who sat on the corner table because his mother is your mothers best friend in the ladies club, and last but not at all least, the three chimneys and those majestic Boilers, which used to tell you that your destination was approaching when on train.
- Let There be Light! :
India’s power condition has improved significantly in the last decade or so, but all the 90’s kids would remember how horrible the situation was in the late nineties and early two thousands! Growing in the campus of power plant means, you rarely get to know what power cut is. In a year, I guess we have three to four incidents of power cuts due to maintenance works and maybe two more due to some fault.
When we visited ancestral home situated in some distant villages of Bengal, we used to know what life without light for eighteen hours meant. Some of my friends who had their paternal uncles living in Bihar used to tell us how their village was still not connected to the grid. This limitless power somewhere or the other does spoil our habit. When I started my life outside the campus in Bhagalpur back in 2014, three to four hours of power cut was a daily routine and of all my roommates, I was the one who suffered the most! Every electrical gadget you name is bought without bothering about the bills. This does add an spoilt kid tag (and sometimes, we simply don’t care)!!
2- Address; Keep it Short, keep it simple! :
If you ever find a competition where one has to show how short an address can be for posts to be delivered, do inform me because, for us the address is Quarter No. followed by name of the power station, district and PIN code. It’s not only about postal address; it is about anything to do with address, like some relatives visiting us or the service engineer asking for our address. Once you reach the railway station (which can be anywhere between 2 km. to 80 km.) or the nearest bus stand, just tell the autowala quarter no., or ask the guards at the main gate about the road to take. No need to bother anybody, each lane has a concrete signboard with quarter nos. marked.
3-School is always a stone throw, and so are friends! :
When I used to visit Bengal during my vacations, it always felt very odd to listen that my cousins would often take bus-ride for one hour to reach school. For us, school was a five minutes’ walk or maybe a small drive in father’s 800 if it rained!
Moreover, thought of growing in the same locality where your best friend studied in a different school felt completely odd as for us, the same bunch of guys with whom you played prank in school, were those with whom you played cricket after school, and were those with whom you were bound to meet in the cultural night. For us school wasn’t a place to learn alone, it was a gateway to get to each and every cultural event organised by the company. Teachers were known to all parents by name and it wasn’t unusual to run into class teacher while playing or loitering with friends. Bad times awaited for the habituated late comers next day!
4- Medical Bills aren’t an issue! :
In the entire period of our parent’s service, we haven’t seen them shell out a single penny on treatment or discussed things like how to get an appointment with the doctor. Well, with an in-house hospital having a minor OT, for us the medical treatment wasn’t an issue of money or time if the case isn’t severe enough. In all metropolitan cities, we have our empanelled hospitals to take care of critical cases. Life. Doctor for us is not a ‘hard to talk to guy’, but rather a person with whom you can casually have a talk in the evening while walking in the park. Moreover, if someone’s parent is in IT or HR department, then there is an extra privilege amongst the medical folks.
5-You know a lot about Engineering and Plant:
When we talk amongst ourselves, terms like UCB#1, TGH, Gantry Crane, CHP, Unit#4, Unit#5, and WTP are common phrases. And hell breaks loose when we go for asking departments. EMG stands for Environment Management Group, BE stands for Business Excellence, FES stands for Field Engineering Services, FQS stands for Field Quality Services, FQA stands for Field Quality Assessment, P&S stands for Planning and Systems, C&M stands for Contracts and Materials, and so on.
I remember when I did my schooling outside the campus for the first time; incidentally it happened that I met a batch mate who was from another station. So our conversation left others guessing whether our parents were engineers at all or not, because our conversation sounded far from things common to Civil Engineering and Electrical Engineering terminologies common to PWD and State Distribution Utility! Too many jargons to digest in one go, I can understand.
Next best thing to boast about is that we know how the light gets to your home and it’s our parents who keep the things moving. Some of us have the privilege of getting posted in Greenfield Projects and that means we have seen some huge construction machinery which many won’t be getting a glimpse of in their entire lifetime. I have had this great opportunity while my father was posted in one such project in Bihar. How about the fact, that I have seen a crane which was brought in sixteen parts and reassembled at the station using another crane which was brought in three parts!
6- Adjustability is in my veins:
I am a Bengali who has spent all his academic life in the Hindi Heartland, and I have been like a ping-pong ball, tossed to UP when in Kindergarten, kicked out to Bihar when I was about to get into seventh standards, thrown back to Varanasi, for Higher Secondary Schooling and finally, I banged my head back to Bihar after clearing the state entrance. So, basically I am a great person to have as boyfriend! I am very understanding as I can understand the difference between Awadhi, Magahi, Bhojpuri, and Anghi (courtesy father’s postings in Akbarpur, Patna, Varanasi and Bhagalpur districts!)
Even when in the same station, father’s promotion means change of quarter. When in a Greenfield Project, it can mean staying in rented accommodations (fortunately, whose rent is paid by the company.) We changed address three times when my father was posted in the Greenfield Project, with in a period of seven years.
It is very evident to our friends that we might not meet even for once, even though some of us had shared the same seat for three years at a stretch. We lose friends and make new ones. We continue friendship through WhatsApp of Facebook, without ever getting the chance to meet! It is a point where I envy the defence lads who at least have the luxury of getting their friends for a long time because generally each posting means Battalion posting but for us it’s always “Akla Cholo Re”
7- We know the ways to celebrate:
If I were to say our life inside the campus depicts a miniature India, I won’t be wrong. We grow up amongst various celebrations, starting from Independence Day, Republic Day, and Raising Day to Holi, Lohdi, Kali puja, Id or Christmas. We imbibe local traditions and know how to continue our indigenous ones too! Gazal nights, kavi Sammelan, and Cultural nights are always there to fight boredom.
We check out the restaurant located at the shopping centre if hunger knocks us, and then off course the large arena of indoor games like Carom and Table Tennis is always there to assist us. Badminton and Basketball court are always there to pull the enthusiasm high enough and not to forget the premier cricket matches. We are taught to celebrate life in the most uncertainty. The community hall and club adds spark in our life throughout our stay in the campus. To add a little about how we have learnt the true sense of “cooperation for coexistence”, when in UP, going to Bengal for the eagerly awaited Durga Puja wasn’t something each of the 46 Bengali families would have thought of, if fellow employees hailing from Bihar and UP didn’t take up the workload. There were around 200 executives back then in early Two thousands, and absence of 46 employees for six days was a big issue. We bongs along with Biharis did ensure every UPian made it to their homes for Diwali, and when Chath came,………….I guess you get the game plan.
But yes, each time you had uninterrupted power when there was festivity in the air, our parents did sacrifice their festivals to keep the bulb glowing for you!