After staying 9 days in the infamous town of Kakinada, I finally went to a Transocean operated rig called The Actinia. The rig was a semi-submersible sitting offshore in the East Indian state Andhra Pradesh. So this was my rig exposure.. it had finally come and I was really excited. Starting with the Chopper ride to the rig, it felt like I was sitting in a box floating in the air. It was a very weird experience and I was just praying that the chopper would not fall out of the sky even though it looked as though the chopper could not come any safer. After about 40mins, we arrived at the Actinia rig. I was assigned along with my other female colleague to a room for four. We were sharing with two other guys from another company and we were the only two females out of the crew of 100. The bathroom was also shared with the four guys occupying the room next door. This would be my home for the next 16days. Just imagine trying to get dressed in such a situation! No sooner had we arrived that we started prepping for the job ahead. Once on the deck, there were so many huge equipments around. Grease everywhere and you just had to be that extra bit careful as there were more than one million things you could do wrong and you might just break your neck. This I found out the hard way when I slipped while coming down the stairs one early morning. I twisted/sprained my left shoulder and it felt like hell.
I was on the rig for xmas and new year. Now that truly sucks. I guess it would not have been as bad but I just felt so excluded from the team. My team members kept carrying on in Hindi the main language here without regard for the fact that I was the only foreigner in their midst. Talk about trying to fit in right? I almost felt as though I was doing something wrong. How can this be? After all, the working language is supposed to be English?. Maybe I should raise this topic with my manager when I get to the base. Xmas day was uneventful; I was pulling my 12hr shift from 12midnight till 12noon. The caterers on site made a special meal but still.. I missed home so much. I could barely get a turn on the telephone. The rig had only one telephone line open to its crew. It was one of those telephone lines where only one call can come in at once and only one person can make a telephone call at any time. If you pick up the phone while it is being used, you can hear the other person’s conversation. It was really weird. I did not get a turn on the phone till Boxing Day. Same thing happed for the New Year. Absolutely awful! I then started to find solace in the smoking shack.. Pls note that I did not take up SMOKING. I got really tired of asking people to talk in English when I was around the unit and I would sometimes go for a walk on the Helipad or go and talk to the very friendly brits, Americans and Singaporeans in the smoking shack. There was always something to laugh about in the smoking shack.
The work itself is not too bad once drilling starts. The only hard bit is trying to get your equipment into and out of the hole. Its dirty, slippery, tiring and excruciatingly stress filled with the client rep wanting you to be as fast as possible so that drilling can commence. There is mud everywhere and loads of lifting, screwing and stuff. I swear I must have lost a couple of pounds since I’ve been on the rig. I obviously cannot share with you guys everything that happened to me on the rig but I can surmise that I am bloody happy to be back on land. We finished the well early yesterday and we was on the next chopper out in no time. I have leant an awful lot from the people I worked with even with the language problem. There was no messing around at all and nobody tried to treat me with care cos I was a female. I see myself progressing a lot in my career and learning a lot if I do more jobs here in India. This means I will have to develop a very very THICK skin. God help me! Right now, I am in Rajahmundry waiting for the two-plane trip back to Mumbai. I never thought I would be so happy at the thought of returning to Mumbai! Off to the airport now.. laters!