Monday, August 18, 2008

A Conversation – The Pipe Story

I have been thinking about the conversation for a while now. I think it was a conversation, maybe you will not agree. It may not be very smart of me go on and discuss the conversation with you, you may think that I have gone nuts but then I have this feeling that since you will end up on either side of this story you got to know it.

It was on a Saturday evening few weeks back. It was the kind of day when you think a lot. Think about things which matter, think about things which don’t. Think about what is and what it could have been. Think about where you are and where you could have been. Think about what you are doing and what you ought to be doing. It was one of those days. I jumped out of the bed and within 5 minutes was in an auto on way to Juhu beach. Why? Well the only good reason I could have had then was, ‘Its one of those days’. But now after the conversation I think I know the reason.

One thing I learnt very early on Bombay beaches was that if you, at least me, want to enjoy the beach you don’t look down. Let the feet feel the sand and the waves just don’t use your vision to see what the waters look like. I think this little trick of mine makes sure that I enjoy the time I am at the beach. Look at the horizon, the vastness of the sea, the sun and marvel at the peace that the breeze can fill you with. Let the waves wash down the weariness and send the relaxation up the body. But remember the trick. Don’t look down. Else you will see what man had done to this beautiful beast and you will feel heavy at heart, more than you already are on days like this.

It was nearly an hour since I have been walking on the beach and without realizing I had reached a spot where there were hardly any public, but for a few couples. The spot was where the natural met the man-made. On one side was an old wall, with a gate which lead to some junk yard or a very old warehouse by the deserted look it had. And on the other side was the sea with all its fury. Suddenly, weariness came over me and I decided to sit next to the wall for a while and watch the sun go down.

The breeze was as soft as ever. It was mostly silent but for horns blowing at a distance. It was then that I overheard the conversation. It was like two old friends meeting after a long time.

“Yes, it’s been a wonderful life. I have been places and my friend I don’t mean it only as a metaphor. I really have been places. It all started with that first trip to the pipe factory. Everything turned out be so different from what I was expecting.”

“Tell me about all that you have done after we parted. I remember you were not very happy after they thought you were not good enough for the design of the new micro chip and when you were sent to the pipe factory”. This voice sounded as old as former but it wasn’t content, it was the voice of someone not at peace, in a certain way it was my voice on days like these.

There was a silence and then the first voice narrated its story. “It’s been very long but I think after the pipe factory my first trip was to a workover rig in Rajasthan. It was a very short trip; I think they were testing our lot. I remember the vastness of the land, the serene beauty of the country. We were sent back to the factory where it was announced that we are going to an offshore rig. Not all my mates were happy but I had this content feeling that day, I don’t know why, that my life’s journey will be worthwhile.

The first I remember of the sea was its depth. Although it was a while before I actually felt the depth but depth has become the distinct memory. Not all the depths I have been to are of the sea but that’s how I relate to the depths; Sea. We worked on the coasts of India for a long while. What experiences these have been. Initially we will just go a little deep but in the last few years I have been to such depths that I was afraid if I will ever see the sun again.

I made friends. I made friends with the breeze which will cool me when we will just come from the deep visits. I made friends with the sun, with the moons (there were more than one, well I always like to look at the million reflections in the sea). The birds will bring news of the world. The best were the humans. There were so many of them and they were like a family. They took good care of mine and for my part I tried to be good to them.

We traveled a lot. I remember traveling to many seas. On the rigs they say that life of drill pipe is hard but let me assure you its wonderful and amazing and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Oh!! Once this crazy man became our driller. You know the guy who drives us in and out of the well and he was real crazy. He will run us in faster than anyone and I would love that. It was with him that I got my only chance to be the first one to go in the well. It was one of the deepest I have ever been. But then on way out something happened and we stopped moving. News came through other pipes that a pipe has broken and that we have lost the hook. All of us in the well were so dejected. We all had heard about casing and production tubing and what fate they had. Staying in a well for ever and every drill pipe dreaded this. After what appeared like eternity news came through the pipes that something has got hold of us and we were again moving up. The cheers down there were the loudest we had ever made. And so I saw the sun once again although I did not get to see my favorite driller again ever.

Well well I have gone on and on like everyone in oilfield does when asked about their jobs and life. You tell me about yourself. You were so happy on hearing that you will be made into a chip.”

There was a long silence. And then the other voice spoke. “I was very happy. Becoming a chip and that too for a super computer was my dream and I indeed was chosen for a super computer.” There was another pause. “After becoming a part of the super computer I don’t have many memories. All I remember before coming here is a lot of heat when the power was on, a cold chill of air conditioning when power was off but the most I remember is stillness and darkness”. Then there was silence.

ANY (the RMC FE!!) is looking at my laptop screen. Seems she has been reading for a while. “What is all this rubbish? Looks like some drill pipe and chip story. What is this all about?”

I do not have any answer to her question. But after that evening on the Juhu beach I have played this conversation over and over in my mind and just thought sharing this conversation with you won’t make me anymore crazier than hearing metal talk.

No comments:

PRELUDE TO A RIOT

The cover of Annie Zaidi’s ‘prelude to a riot’ carries in red letters – ‘A white-hot novel about today’s India.’ White hot! Hotter than red-...