I woke up at the crack of dawn ,after all, I had a long way to travel that day ! It felt very strange, unlike earlier times, I was not packing the usual stuff – journals, drafter, compass box or engineering drawing sheet container, instead my mother was up early packing my lunch box. Nor was I going riding on my cycle, it felt weird not to have independence that having one’s own transport offered. I left from home, just as my housing society came alive with the noises of daily chores – households leaping into frenzied action with the arrival of municipal water supply, milk man on his errands ringing the cycle-bell, a newspaper boy hurling the coiled newspapers in balconies & verandas , it must be 6:20 am . A 10 min walk brought me to the bus stop at Manjalpur naka ( suburban Baroda). Another short bus journey took me to city-centre of down-town Baroda ( Dandia –bazzar). There opposite the Siddivinayak temple , I anxiously awaited ( obviously after offering my prayers to the temple almighty). Soon a small crowd had gathered all waiting for a company bus.
Surprisingly the bus arrived dot on time at 7 am -- after everyone had scrambled aboard , I scanned around , there were about 35 people on the bus but no one looked familiar. I settled down as the bus after picking up more passengers en route finally headed east to an industrial town of Halol, about 40 kms. away. There were no expressways those days and inspite of our driver , driving like a man possessed , it took about 65 minutes for the bus to arrive at its destination at an industrial park. I got out clumsily, motion sickness written all over my face and along with rest of the crew ,hastily made our way towards a large industrial shed. While they all walked through the main entrance , I took an adjoining door to a small administrative office, ominously titled ‘Personnel department’ . There waiting for me was quite aptly named personnel manager ,Mr Joshi . “ Chewing tobacco (padiki) ” his mouth entirely vermilion in colour ,he welcomed me in that typical tone of people eating padiki, who desperately try to prevent the precious tobacco flavored saliva spilling out of their mouths, before they are ready to spit it out, that is.
“ Samir, welcome to Vijayjyot Seats Pvt. Ltd, this is your appointment letter, your gross salary is Rs. 1600 , your title is Quality Engineer , this is your punching timecard ,your payroll will be processed based on the time you have punched in. Saying that he accompanied me to the main entrance ,directing me to the time clock to punch my time card. And punching my time card , I walked in !
It was 8:45 am --- 15th October 1994 , and my first day at work at just begun. I was 19 years of age on that day and it feels surreal celebrating that day 19 years later.