Thursday, October 8, 2015

Completing one among many.

So what does it take to build a building? When one building is completed, we can never get a full satisfied client or a being. Like a Taxi driver who didn't like the colour of the building which was pink, and then said, that the engineer didn't have sense of colour. Well Mr. Dophu, who knows the owner was on pinkathon and wanted it pink? 

Any misaligned beam or finished plaster that shows cracks, an engineer is blamed. Well, he should be if it is a government building. 

We need one more conference hall at our Power House site was all that was decided. I then already had four works with me and was very much workaholic that I would sleep in office at times. This in return caused me not to travel much and at times, I wasn't nominated for tours or trainings because I had works to be done. I know realize that hard work doesn't pay off over night, it takes years. And nobody will be happy if you are a hardworking person, especially in job. Not many bosses will like you and colleagues will always make your fun. One mistake, and you are talk of the town. I guess, we just work hard to make ourselves feel good and better, nobody owes us and we don't owe anybody. It is preparation that we are doing for the unknown future. 

We need conference hall was all that was said, and I was assigned this job. The building should be same as one built near our phase-I site. So, it should be easier I thought. It wasn't. Firstly the consultants of Phase-I and Phase-II didn't get along and I had to manage the drawings in a very unofficial way from Thimphu whereby my friend worked. The drawings were exploded and editing it took time. But we had to float the tender asap.

It took me and my friend Vikram, who was our consultant, a week of rigorously amounts sleepless nights. I would go to site and come back, work with him late at nights and yes, Monday we were assigned the work, Friday we were done with estimate. Saturday the approval was through, Sunday we contacted Kuensel and on Monday the NIT was out. 
Within a stipulated time of contract, we awarded the work and then the major problem came. The building was a replica of what we had, but the site wasn't. We knew we had to build this building on the banks of Punatshangchhu which meant we would be having our foundations on a reclaimed land. And next to that, we had National Highway whereby I was informed to offset the building by 40 ft. It wasn't 40ft, it was 50 ft, later I knew. But it was the provisions for parking space and saving trees that lucky we did offset the building by 50ft. Or else, road act would have humped us so hard after spending nearly 1.7 cores. 
In our case, nothing was in our favor. The foundation level was swampy and sandy. We had to build gabion walls to reclaim the land and we had to literally fill a storey with crushed boulders and sand. Reason? Stability. I am still concerned with the settlements that it undergoes. I can tentatively tell you that so far, it has settled by 1.5cm. 

The drawings were not delivered at times and there were bosses who hindered our progress with their experimentations of their imaginations of notions like 'let's get creative and let's do this'. It was costing us time and it was at that moment my Chief Engineer made it simple and clear to all, it will only be me and him, and I didn't have to talk to anybody and just carry out the works. I would inform him and get his approvals for what to do next. 
In this, after building two shear walls, one of our new Indian bosses got creative and wanted us not to fill the basement area. You see, shear walls are built in order to reciprocate the forces of filled sand. And after building one, if one doesn't fill it, it becomes futile.

In order to tackle this, I did try to convince my bosses and Chief was out of station. They didn't listen, instead we were going to have staircase to porch. And that would make it look very funny and you can't build stairs in one go, you need to have landing in between. I was very much pissed yet I wanted to get things done in my way. So, I called the contractor's engineer and made him meet my bosses. We had a meeting and there, we were ordered to fill till road level. And there is always one thing about Indians, not being racist but Indians never admit that they don't know, they know everything. And I said, okay Sirs, it will be filled till road level and you can see it, the road elevation is 637msl. It wasn't at the basement beam but it was some 50 meters from the building. Technically I was right and they just said, yes, road elevation 637msl. The contractor's engineer didn't say a word.

Three days later, on a Saturday I got a call from one of the bosses and he yelled a lot. I knew it was going to happen, and I stayed calm. Said I too am an officer and you have no rights to raise your voice and it was not office hours to call me. I hung up saying that I would see him on Monday. I went to his office and was taken to Executive's, and then no word was spoken. I came back with then immediate boss and told him, I have worked for this building from beginning and I am going as per plan. I don't want to have audit memos for silly stupid mistakes of one's experimentation and told him, can you imagine how a building would look with a staircase towards porch? That will give us offset of minimum 4.5m and height difference of 3.25 m, with that angle, the porch would look like a vag**a. I don't want to get associated with an ugly building because when you guys are gone back to India, I will always be left behind hearing all the tantrums of how ugly it is. And one last thing Sir, I said, if you want an engineer who will listen to your orders which you don't want to take blames for, recruit someone from your own division, I don't belong to your division yet I am doing this job.

From there on, I was never bothered by anybody and we brought progress. There were times, when I got so pissed with the contractor's engineer that I nearly laid my hand on him for messing up the alignments for Plaster of Paris and there were times, I just got mad with the labours who couldn't give us finishings as we wanted. There were times when we broke the casted concrete and there were times, the electricians got scoldings for not aligning those expensive bulbs. There was a time when the tiles foreman was fired and there was times when I was scolded for not showing progress. 

I guess, I have lived this building inside out, and now I know why parents still love their children despite the being ugly. For they are there from the beginning I guess. 

We needed conference hall, and we got one today. The building stands above Highest Flood level and is protected from Punatshangchhu. We have conference hall, we have a dinning hall, we have office, store, pantry, kitchen, toilets, and rooms for watchmen and cooks to reside. I guess, only few bunch of us, who worked for it, know where the follies of this building lies. We were to replicate the building, but nothing in this building is a replication, we rather improvised I guess. Few of my friends were happy with my work and the guests complimented over it being better than the formal one. It however didn't matter though, because by the time it was all over, it didn't matter much: what others thought, for I only know how it feels to be satisfied when one is done with a work for years. 

And I know, there will be many more buildings to be built by me. I am here prepared for it. 

1 comment :

  1. That's really a great piece of news. I congratulate you on this day. I hope you'll have your own space. It's really very vital. When we built our office of academic writings place, we couldn't wait until it was actually given in our hands. The pleasure of receiving and knowing that it's ours is immense.