I mostly get a lot of people asking me questions relating to my work which I find very difficult to answer. Its not that I don’t know how to answer these questions but I find it very difficult to put into words the descriptions that would befit the working environment in which I have found myself.
Q: Tolantino, What do you do?
Ans: I am a Field Engineer..
Q: For real.. where do you work?
Ans: I work on Oil Rigs
Q: What do you do on the rig?
Ans: (I parade around making the damned place look pretty.. tchiew..)
Okay.. just kidding.. but seriously, I just cannot explain in sufficient words this beautiful but yet psychotic world of mine. I equally hate and love my job with a passion.
Go ahead and picture this..
I am sitting under the helideck of the drill ship at 5.30am in the morning. I am dead tired. I can’t even remember what today is or what yesterday was because I have been awake for the past 24hrs. I have been hauling stuff around the whole place for the past 3-4hrs. The job is still not yet done.. but right here.. under this helideck, I stare out into the deep blue waters of the bay of Bengal. In the not so far distance is another sister drill ship, the sister ship is flaring gas intermittently as dusk turns into dawn over the deep blue waters.. The sight is awesome.. the blend of the yellow flames merging with the setting of the sun to the east. I wish I could capture this moment and replay back to my momsie(mommy) and my pospise (daddy). Just right there infront of me is the sea level.. its so close, I could almost reach over with a bucket to get a full scoop of water ( you know Naija style) and if I am lucky, I may also fetch in one of the numerous fishes swimming around the ship. There are hundreds of them everywhere!!
The breeze is in my hair.. (I beg your pardon, the breeze is in my sweat soaked weave which has been stinking for the past week with sweat), the breeze is in my face.. I am at peace.. I am bone tired… I enjoy all this for 5 more minutes and then I drag my sore bones across the deck of the ship, over the catwalk bridge and straight to the drill floor. This is where my real objective is and not out there playing titanic in my imagination. Back to my reality, There is Oily mud allover the place. Oily mud is another ingredient that comes to drilling for Oil like butter goes with bread. The roustabouts (rig hands) are hauling metal and machinery all over the place. I negotiate my way precariously into the driller’s cabin where the driller is engrossed in manipulating the drill pipe into the hole to drill ahead further. I swear this driller guy is giving me the eye.. I see him staring at me so much.. and to give him credit.. the guy has a cute thing going on.. this is when his mouth is closed. The moment he opens his mouth.. chai.. I want to pass out from the crookedness of his dentition…(Sorry.. I can’t help it.. I have a fetish for teeth!!)
Where did I stop off… Yah.. my job now is to calibrate some of our sensors and track the depth. I call up my unit from the driller’s cabin and my fellow crew member answers.. she is shouting over the line asking what took me so long? “We need to calibrate the sensors now!” I quickly give some instructions to the driller and the calibration is done. Now I have to track the depth. This is one very important part of our role.. I wait painstakingly as the drill pipe works its way slowly into the formation.. The geology people say the current formation is Shale.. hence the slow rate of penetration. I see the reference! There goes my depth! I drag my sore body up to our work unit.. there is more work to be done.. the folks sitting 800kms away in the clean comfort of their offices are asking why I did not cross my ‘I’s’ or dot my ‘T’s’ God knows I am about to kill someone.. I look at my fellow crew mate.. she is equally tired.. Tiredness is written allover our faces.. but we cant go to sleep.. we need to wait for the third guy to get out of bed to come and relieve us.. I try to look on the better side, this is a good day at work.. at least everything is going well.. the formation data is being monitored properly in real-time and there are no signal problems. It could have been worse..a whole lot worse. Things could have just stopped working.. NO DATA!! In my line of business.. NO DATA ACQUISITION means you may as well just jump into the sea and kill yourself before the whole world gets you. Everyone is going to be after your arse and to make matters worse.. the only people who can help you are the remaining two members of your crew who are probably as clueless as you are regarding a solution.. But what you will get is a lot of shit!! The clients on the rig is after your arse.. the boss in town is ringing your phone.. everyone is ringing you and the phone is about to explode.. you cannot concentrate.. you have to make a decision (in your sleepless delirious state).. ask the driller to stop drilling so that you at least don’t loose data while trying to get your act together.. Infact.. this scenario is too painful to describe.. I don’t want to invite karma into my life so I will halt any further descriptions.
But even after typing all of this, I still don’t feel as though I am doing justice to this description.. This is not the whole story.. Sometimes after a very long day or days.. I question myself, what am I doing here? Really? How did I find myself here? And most importantly, why am I still staying here? I could have easily packed my bags and called it a day a long time ago. I start to realize what a very tough individual I am for not giving up. If someone had showed me a video of the now me 18months ago, I would have laughed in their faces.. Suffering and smiling at work has really become me! Its totally awesome..
So finally, its time for me to go get some rest.. But I first stop in the galley where there is an abundance of food awaiting me.. No wonder they feed us well out here. The menu strongly contests with that of your average 4star hotel! Hehehe. I quickly eat up and take one last look into the deep blue.. with the breeze in my hair ;-) Now it’s all comes back to me.. the reason why I am here. The reason why I haven’t quit and the reason why I will not quit. It is very simple, yet so complicated.. a very few people have the guts to do what I do. To say its different is putting it mildly. If THIS does not break me.. I cannot imagine what else could! This whole experience in India! So, taking comfort in this realization, I slowly pry myself from staring into abyss and drag my fatigued bones into the upper bunk of my two-man room.. The tides have gone up in the past 48hrs and I didn’t even notice.. you can even feel the slight rocking motion of the drill ship.. This swaying motion is the last thing I remember as my bunk bed slowly rocked me into a deep, dream less sleep
That which does not kill me, can only make me one helluva thick skinned survivor!
PS: The job is finished! Yay.. Just waiting now for two days to get on a chopper back to land Then the long journey cross country back to Mumbai begins..