The day I got placed

Breaking into a run, and sliding on the football field like someone who has scored an emphatic stoppage time winner, with arms outstretched.

That was how I daydreamed about the moment I’ll get a job. Such imagery was a common denominator every time similar moments were in the offing. And despite my actual celebrations consistently failing to even come close to these daydreams, the habit persisted.

After bidding goodbye to my group in Frankfurt, the solitude-seeker in me was punching his fists in excitement and eagerness. With no idea when I would be seeing these friends again, with whom I shared some great European memories, I pulled away my trolleys without looking back once.

From that point on till the end of my sojourn, a friend in Stuttgart graciously allowed me to keep my luggage at her place, from where I could repack when need arose. From Frankfurt, my friends were heading for Amsterdam, a city that held relatively lesser appeal for me. Moreover, the window for a beautiful trek in Norway was expected to close soon. So just a couple of days or so before our parting, I’d decided to go to Norway.

And thus began a long train journey from Stuttgart towards Norway. At the break of dawn next day in Hamburg, I ran into a couple of friends from college. We all were headed in the same direction, and were supposed to take the next train to Copenhagen — through which all trains to Norway go. But to our surprise, our Eurail pass didn’t work its usual magic, and we were told to bugger off by the train attendant, and get reservations like everybody else. The ongoing surge of refugees meant lesser availability of seats, so merely hopping onto trains with a Eurail pass was not an option while changing borders.

Two things were to be considered when all of us reached Copenhagen that afternoon. First, I felt like this was hard-earned solitude which I hoped to carry on throughout Norway. And secondly, if I were to proceed to Norway the same evening, I had to wait from 12 am to 4 am at the interchange in Sweden (Gothenburg). The weather was already quite chilly, and my journey from Stuttgart had been taxing. Unlike me, these friends had sleeping bags, and had no problem continuing their journey towards Norway the same evening. So I looked up Hostelworld for a dorm, and checked into a hostel.

At the first touch of the cosy mattress, I fell into a sleep that was uncharacteristically deep for 6 pm. I woke up around 9.30, and checked my phone. Notifications had swarmed the screen of my phone as if I were some celebrity who just tweeted. Could it be?

‘Congratulations to the following students for receiving a pre-placement offer from Axis Bank’

It was the confirmation of an offer, based on a two month internship and an interview. The exultation was obvious but quiet. It was too late to call home back in India, and I didn’t want to alarm my parents with a call after-hours. There were several missed Whatsapp calls on my phone, which I thought I’d call back later but didn’t, save one who was persistent. I sorely regret not calling them back. So it was the other people in the dorm I shared this news with, who gave me lukewarm wishes.

What could I expect from them, after all? Hugs and kisses? I couldn’t believe my luck. If they’d sent the mail a few hours ago, I’d at least have two people to share this long-awaited incredible moment. The pride I usually took in the ability to be voluntarily alone, took a big hit that day. Throughout my life, I’ve never missed my friends and family as much as I did that day.

While replying to the wishes I realized it was past ten, and that I’m in Europe: where most restaurants close by 9 pm. So I set out into the night, onto streets I’d little idea about, desperately looking for food. The least I could do to make my night special was to have pizza, which I did finally manage to locate. Dinner cost me a whopping 18 euros, and I tipped 2 more to the waitress, just because I was thankful they were open at that hour.

“I really liked the food. I got a job a few hours ago, and wanted to celebrate with pizza!”

“Oh, that’s nice. Congratulations.”

Such was my desperate loneliness; like a melodious song with no listeners. Quoting a line from the ‘Up in the Air’, which is a lesson I’m still learning:

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