Article by Niharika Mathur
It was a hot summer evening in Delhi as I waited in the passenger lounge of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, for the boarding announcement of my flight that was going to finally take me home, to Abu Dhabi after an entire semester and the most tiresome (and exciting) end semester trip. It had indeed been a very long day. I was extremely tired, desperate to get home almost immediately and… my flight was delayed.
So there I was, sitting at the airport, done with my third latte. I had browsed through the duty free a couple times, eaten some junk, bought a book and done possible everything one can do at the airport. Now there was nothing left to do. And I had no option. It was time. Time to “introspect.” To look back at my life, to realize my dreams and goals and how I had wasted two years at college. Realize that I probably knew nothing about Architecture and needed to get serious. I was suddenly suffocated at the thought of spending my life cleaning diapers and regretting not taking charge of things at the right time.
Almost instantly I grabbed my phone and called up my dad to check up the status on the internships I had applied for. He never answered.
About 6 hours later I was home. Sitting at my desk. I did not get a response to any of my internship applications. Due to some rule of the government I could not intern there as I was a foreign student to the country. But what I received instead was my first ever “Appointment Letter” from one of the greatest names associated with Architecture in today’s world, Pell Frischmann. Since I couldn’t intern there, they had agreed to keep me as a temporary employee for a period of 4 weeks.
THE 4 WEEKS
My first day at work, I was very excited. Never had I been to an office before. The thought of being in a professional environment, with real practicing architects was perhaps the most appealing thought I had had in a very long time. My mentor, Yashashree, an Indian was the junior architect there. She was a young and lively woman, new to the city and as excited as a little child at a magic show, when she first met me. The rest of her team comprised of three Filipino drafts men, an electrical engineer from Iraq and two civil engineers, both Indian. And of course Akhila, my friend from school and also a fellow aspiring architect.
The first couple of days, they just kept handing me old drawings, and showed me designs of their works. Yashashree, would always keep telling me about various places I should know of as an architecture student. She would keep giving me magazines and websites, so I could browse through architecture from around the world.
The most fascinating part of the job, to me, was having my own desk. A computer with some of the most amazing design soft wares and drawers full of the most colorful stationary to dabble with.
It wasn’t until the end of the first week when Akhila and I finally met Nikhil. Nikhil Salunkhay, Senior Architect, Pell Frischmann Abu Dhabi. He was the “boss.” The big guy, we received orders from and had to answer at the end of every week. He gave us, probably our biggest and most complex design problem yet and he was also the best jury I had had the opportunity to encounter when it came to criticizing my work and telling me how to improve.
The rest of the time was spent planning and designing, learning and acquiring knowledge. The best part of the day used to be lunch hour. Eating with Filipino colleagues turned out to be one of the most intriguing things ever. Edward, the draftsman, always had the most amazing food stories to share. Like this one time he had snakes on his camping trip. Or the time when he had the most delicious, fertilized ostrich egg.
At the end of the four weeks I had learnt that perhaps I had not entirely wasted my two years at college. And that to be an architect is not just about extensive work and night outs. I just had to expand my horizons, be innovative, live up to my potential and aim at creating the best designs achievable.
This article was originally published on Srijan-Nith Website
Reproduced here, with permission.