Wednesday, October 21, 2009


My first job was that of  a site engineer. While the job profile read 'project management', a more accurate description would be a site supervisor. The work gangs I was supposedly supervising saw how green I was and took me under their collective wing where I happily chirped away. Unused to a female overseer, they would all call me 'Saheb'; first indulgently and later, with fond respect.

I learnt a lot there. From learning to read eights and sixteenths of an inch (dori and suth) to more advanced construction techniques. For quite a while, unknown to my boss, I was a happy apprentice. One of the things I loved was the way they used the earth's forces to measure line and level. Gravity (with a plumb bob) to measure the vertical, and atmospheric pressure to measure the horizontal.

Not that atm.pressure was measured using a fancy instrument. A clear plastic tube would be taken and the apprentice (often me) would suck water into it. After carefully tapping out the air bubbles, one end would be handed to the master. The apprentice would then crouch with his end of the tube held against the mark that the level was to be taken from, and the master would carefully manipulate the tube at the place that the level was to be taken to. The apprentice's job was to stay steady and trust in his partner to adjust the water level till it stayed still at that mark. This happy event would be sung out with a loud 'Ka-yam!'.

Kayam. The word just means 'stable', but on the construction site it was an occasion for happiness- an indicator of successful teamwork, of perfection achieved, of future plans made possible.

As in cabinet making, so in life. Today I have this urge to clamber up rooftops and shout.


1 comment:

nadi said...

there is a hint of the possibility of Future Plans...

tell us. tell us.

does it have anything to do with 'The One' who often features in Uttarakhandandi?