Category Archives: Memoirs

A cat called Tinku

A hot summer day
I was 12 when I first met them. It was summer vacation. Palakkad was as hot as ever and I was cocooned inside my bedroom, reluctant to get out until the sun decided to hide in the west.
I had never flown a kite in my life. I hadn’t even seen one up close. Being the kid without much demands, I never asked my dad to buy or make one for me.

But this day was eventful so far. I had found a kite tangled in one of the coconut trees in our house. After a Herculean effort, I managed to remove the kite from the tree. It was badly torn. I started reverse engineering that to find out how a kite is made. And I started making one in my bedroom.

I don’t remember what made me go out through the front door. Maybe I was contemplating where to go to buy the thread for the kite. When I came out, I heard a faint high pitched meow. I looked down to see two small kittens; the tiniest ones I had ever seen. One was white with patches of sandalwood color like that of Marie biscuit all over its body. The other one, the one which was meowing, was the color of an old tree trunk with patches of white all over. Her head was completely white. They were so cute and their meows were so innocent that I immediately rushed inside to tell my mom about the two visitors outside our house.

She raised her eyebrows, because she somehow used to sense when someone opens the outside gate, so much so that our calling bell was rusty due to the lack of use. She might have been wondering how they managed to get inside without opening the gate! Then I told her that the visitors were not human and introduced them to her. She asked me to come inside, took some milk from the fridge and some bread crumbs. She gave me a couple of used coconut shells to pour some milk and give it to the kittens. We loved watching them lapping the milk and eating the crumbs.

More visitors
The day went so fast with us watching them play and run around. (The kite was shoved away in a corner.) They were so cute. In the evening, we had some visitors. It was some old friend of mom’s, who now lived in Coonoor near Ooty. She had come with her daughter and her niece, who happened to be my mom’s student. I don’t remember their names because it’s been a long long time now. My mother and her friend went into the old-buddy-chitchat. I grabbed the opportunity to talk with the girls. After some time, I decided to introduce them to my two new friends. This was the moment when I named them. The girls asked me the names. I said, “I don’t know. I think I’ll name them….Tinku and Pinku”

Tragedy struck that very day to the twins. My mother was very apprehensive of letting an “animal” enter the house. So I, reluctantly, had to let them stay outside at night. The next day I woke up, my mom forbid me and my brother to go out. I asked why. She said that Pinku was dead. She was mauled to death by a tomcat in the night. It was too late before they could understand what the weird voices outside were and save her. Tinku managed to hide in a small hole, but Pinku was not that lucky. I was asleep, oblivious to all that happened outside. I didn’t see Pinku’s body, but the behavior of Tinku was really disturbing. She looked frightened, all her fur standing up, like our hair do when we have goose bumps. She was making sounds which were freaking me out. She had also arched her body weirdly like she had a hunch in the back. My mother was crestfallen because she thought she was in a way responsible for Pinku’s death. That single incident made Tinku closer to our family than we all had imagined.

Growing up

Tinku grew up as months went by. But she had a baby-face even when fully grown up. She was kept inside for a few days until she was big enough to manage herself. After that she was generally outside. But we always kept a window open for her to hop in and out whenever she wanted.

Like a typical cat, she once tried to steal something kept in the kitchen. My mom caught her red-handed and beat her with a stick. She seemed to understand, and she never stole from our house again. She also had brought a couple of dead birds and a large fish inside the house to eat in peace. We, being strict vegetarians for life, couldn’t tolerate this behavior. Mom beat Tinku each time and after three times, she never brought her food inside; she would always finish her quarry outside the house.

It was my mother who was more attached to her than anyone else, followed by me. When we would watch TV together in our couch, Tinku invariably used to jump and sit on my lap or by my side. There was one person she would stay away from, however. My brother liked to subject her to experimentation. For instance, he would throw her to a vertical tree trunk to check how she can clutch with her paws onto the trunk. And he would drop her from a good height to see if she lands on four feet.

Mom used to give nicknames for her like “Vadivaal” (Literally meaning Stick-Tail) because her tail was straight up when she was around my mom, “Chena” (Meaning Yam) because she used to look like one when she sat with her feet hidden under her body, her body color giving a distinct look of Yam.

She used to respond to several of our instructions, the funniest being when my mom calls her to catch a house lizard. She would come running if she is at earshot; she would jump and catch the lizard, then take it out and eat it.

As days went past, she gave birth to three cute kittens, which were named Kariman (Because of the fair amount of black on his body with white patches here and there), Paandan (This one was the negative print of Kariman – black patches on white body) and Puli (Because of the conspicuously cute streaks of tiger-like stripes)

Months went by, maybe years. I don’t remember when she bid farewell to us forever. It was difficult for me to let go. She still remains in my memory, in a special place where my human friends have not been able to grab a seat. She was my first and last pet.


For records, this post is delayed by at least 20 days. Talk about being lazy!!! Sigh!

It is a magic held by any undergraduate college. When you visit your alma mater, you cannot but have that heightened feeling of nostalgia.


I went to the college where I learned so many lessons of life, the most important one being how to live. I passed out of college (luckily, never “passed out” in college) in 2004. That’s more than 3 years now, so there were only two people in the college who I knew personally (Or, better to say non-academically) – Dhanaraj, once my senior, now a faculty, and Paro, who’s a student there. Well. I met another guy I knew – Ravi. I was perplexed, because it was a canonical impossibility, but he clarified that he had a back paper in final year, and was still in campus because of that.

Oh…the back papers. I remember I had escaped narrowly in a couple of my courses – all those ones without any mathematical problems – Computer Organization and Architecture, Digital MOS etc.
So this was more like a professional visit, (I’ll disclose the reasons, if fate permits, at a later time) but I still couldn’t resist a stroll around the hostel area, and around the library, computer center and DB.

One thing I noticed was that NITC hadn’t changed as much as I thought. The impression I had in my mind, after the news given by some fellows, was exaggerated. It was a welcome sight. There were a couple of new disciplines, a few new buildings, a few modified ones, and everything else was more or less intact. As I strolled around, old events kept flashing in my mind. I’ll try to reproduce them here. It’ll at least make this post more readable. 🙂

As I entered, I saw the gates which were not there when I was in my final year. (I had seen the pictures from Ajith’s blog though) Inside, the Rajpath looked the same, except for the fact that it was well paved now.

The Rajpath with a new look

 The Rajpath…with a new look

It was a Sunday evening in August. We were returning to campus after a weekend visit to our respective homes. The pavements were so slippery with moss that people seldom walked on them. However, Antony was not among those faint at heart. I warned him, “Don’t walk on the pavement. You’ll slip”. He shoved off my warning with an air of nothing-can-happen-to-me. 5 seconds later, he fell on his ass.

Back in hostel, the others were narrating this incident to Dinesh, when he told, “He seems to have a black tongue. Two days back, the same thing happened to me, and 5 seconds before my fall, Deepak told me that I will slip.”

I got infuriated, “Come on, man. You fell because it was slippery, not because I said it was slippery. Grow up, man.”

I saw the new Central Computer Center building. Again, I had been misinformed that they had built it on the basketball court. I used to think what a pity it was, because the court was close to my heart (or something close to that) as I used to play basketball (or something close to that) every day (or something close to everyday). But whoever said that, was wrong. The basketball court was in tact. However, to my alarm, I saw buildings coming up in the football ground. Where will they have the Monsoon cup from now?

Football Ground

Where is the Triangular Notice Board?

FBG…Triangular Notice Board….gone…all gone

As I went through the Main Building, I was in for another shock. The Triangular Notice Board was gone! It was where we all used to vent out our feelings.

Monsoon Cup 2003.
Badshaz (Used to call ourselves “Bad”shaz, for an air of superiority) were the reigning kings. Just on the eve of the kickoff, we stuck one poster on the triangular notice board.

First year – Semifinalists
Second year – Runners up
Third year – Winners
Fourth year – We need competition!

February 15th 2001
The day after Valentine’s day.
A poster read:

Henceforth, we will mourn every February 15th as the Broken Hearts’ Day. This day will be dedicated to all those hapless souls who no girl cares about.

I went to the department, met a few professors and then, Dhanaraj. We had a lengthy chat, which was mostly enlightening for me. I learnt that Papachan and Mamachan were still open. It was another wrong tidings given by someone that Papachan and Mamachan were closed because of bad business as all the back gates from college were sealed now. Also, someone had told me that the Kattangal economy had crashed due to the sealing of the gates near the D Hostel, which meant that guys had to go all the way to the front entrance and come back to go to Kattangal. But living up to the true NITC spirit, they are still taking the pains to go that extra mile. That means that there are as many motorcycles now as there were bicycles at my time and as many cars now as there were motorcycles at my time.

As usual, we had bunked our 9 am class and sitting in Mamachan having breakfast. We were having a heated argument. (For those who don’t know, Papachan, Mamachan and Chechi were the local hotels)
KK: Papachan is the best. The food is so delicious.
Me: Chechi is better than that. The food is incomparably good.
KK: But Chechi is not clean. Nobody can beat Papachan at that.
Me: Papachan will take a lifetime to bring you food after you order. You’ll die of hunger by the time he brings food.
KK: Grrr..
Me: Double Grrr…

Ragam 2000
Mock Press competition was under way. The guy was enacting Jackie Chan.
Guy from audience: What is your purpose of visit?
Jackie Chan: To visit Papa-chan and Mama-chan.
(Although, I felt that this question was a pre-planned one, the answer still was amusing.)

I went running after my purpose of visit, which took almost till lunch time.
Had lunch from canteen, since I didn’t feel like walking to Papachan, with my heavy laptop.
After my lunch, I decided to take a stroll. The first place that came to my mind was D Hostel – The lair of the famed D-Tops, and of course the Wallstreetguys (Contrary to popular belief, the name has nothing to do with Wallstreet, nor is it related in any way to economics!)
The hostels were changed, but D Hostel was in tact, although it had lost it’s trademark dark-red colored walls. I sat below the mango tree outside for quite some time, relishing my moments there. I went in to visit my room. It was locked.
Outside, the 4’s Arena ground was still there, with all the nets and all. 4’s Arena was a kind of mini-soccer, played with 4 on each side, and slightly modified rules.

4’s Arena Final
Fierce match. Rain-soaked. (And I think it was floodlit) I was watching that from behind a goal post. That was my first mistake. I forced myself to the forefront of hundreds of viewers. That was my second mistake. I was directly in line of Sameer’s shot. That was my third and final mistake.
Since this was a small field, it was more like Table Tennis; you needed to have a good reflex. Sameer mishit his shot. The ball was above the bar by a good 1 foot and it was coming straight at me. I was not fast enough. The ball hit directly in my abdomen. I had this burning sensation in my stomach for the next 3 hours. My T-shirt carried a patch of hexagons and pentagons for the rest of its life.

I then went to MC, which brought out another nostalgic feeling of ordering Bread Pakoda and Tea at midnight. Now that I check my camera, I realise that I actually forgot to snap the MC. How could I do that?Anyway, I returned, tried to finish my business, but couldn’t, so I went back to city, came back the next day and finished my business. By evening, I was back in Palakkad, mission accomplished, and with a truckload of renewed memories.

Terabithia and Imagination

I’m back with another post so soon! *BROAD GRIN*
Honestly, I thought that the chances of India winning the Cricket world cup was more than me posting once in a month. Thanks to some amazing blue-shirted superhumans (or subhumans), I’ll never ever have the doubt again.

I’ve been thinking about my blog of late. I realized that I’m confused about what to write. In fact, the only fact which I’m not confused about is that I’m confused about everything else. I was confused from the moment I created the punchline for my blog. That’s evident from the punchline itself. It’s always been cerebrations from my confounded mind. It’s always evoked laughter; either it was funny or it was so silly that you laughed at my plight. The only difference in the latter case was that the readers laughed away as they unsubscribed me from their feed reader thinking that this blog was a pile of crap. Because I see a steady dip in my readership of late. I think it is a vicious circle. A dip in readership makes me diffident and I don’t post often. That results in a further dip in reader count.
Anyway, instead of whining about this, I’ll write about something better.

The post actually starts here!
I remember I promised about several movie reviews long back. I’m afraid that’s not gonna happen. (Go on! I don’t mind you heaving a sigh of relief!)
It’s actually going to be about another movie (no..not a review), and how it reminded me of my childhood.
The movie is Bridge to Terabithia
When it was released, I tried to get tickets for that in PVR once, but they were sold out. Later, several of my friends said that it was pathetic and not worth watching. But being an avid lover of fantasy that I am, I couldn’t say no to a free show of the film yesterday.
My immediate response after the movie was over (It was just 1.5 hours) was “Yaaaawn!”
The movie indeed was not that good.
But all our senses are so deceptive. I couldn’t help thinking about the movie after watching it.
Then I started realizing that there was something different in the movie.
It is not the normal movie-ish story. Our mind is so corrupt that we expect stereotypes in “good movies”. And stereotypes are exactly what is missing in this movie. Even the bullies are not stereotypical.

The movie, simply put, asks you to keep an open mind and imagine…imagine as much as you can. It tells you that you can weave fantasy too. The way Lesley and Jesse imagine things up… I suddenly remembered all the fantasy which I created when I was a kid. I used to go to my dad’s ancestral house for summer vacations. It was a rural area with lots of paddy fields and more macadamized roads than asphalted ones. My grandmother and uncles used to live in the house which was surrounded by trees for about a mile in all directions. All were our land, with cultivation in a part of the land. I used to love the uncultivated land, because it was the best one to explore.

The protagonists in Terabithia swing across a river to woods, where their imaginary land of Terabithia starts. They have all wonderful creatures out there including a giant troll. (which, by the way, are an important ingredient in any fantasy! Sigh! I had enough of trolls)

Even I had a treehouse constructed atop a mango tree in my Terabithia. Although I didn’t imagine trolls and all, I imagined myself to be living atop trees (Don’t get the wrong idea now. I’m still human!)
My treehouse was a kind of outpost made of sheets of wood perched on the mango tree. There were multiple entries (I took a cue from the hideout of the Three Investigators). My uncle had made rope ladders with knots, or you could use the plain old way through the tree trunk. I even had ropes to swing like Tarzan. It was real fun. Everyday, I would climb the tree to my outpost and consider myself to be the guardian of the jungle, keeping vigil on everything around. My company was a small kitten whose name I don’t remember now. I used to make stories where little animals used to come to me with grievances and I, being a good ruler, give proper judgments and advices. I even used to invite my little brother atop, posing as a doctor treating his ailments. Everything was complete…even the background music which I hummed myself when I did something kingly.

I miss those days. This movie made me miss those days, which were forgotten till yesterday. It brought about a sense of nostalgia into me. The movie was not good from a reviewer’s perspective, but it was good from my perspective. It was a touching story.

I wish I had some good friend like Lesley in my childhood. I fell in love with Lesley and her Terabithia.

Antics of the First

He becomes a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night: “Rat on your pop, and Keyser Soze will get you.” But no one ever really believes.

-Verbal Kint
The Usual Suspects

I haven’t blogged here for one month now. I guess I’ve become less funny and more serious. (C’mon! That’s not like me!) I’ve been partial to my technical blog and devoting more time for that. Anyway, sparing the apologies, (yeah! Be thankful that I’m back!! Without even giving false punchline-promises like the Austrian-accented “I’ll be back!”) this one is a hilarious memory which was cued by another funny talk when I visited home last week.

For those who don’t know, “the first” is me.

Lets start with some prologues.

Prologue 1: Stupid is as stupid does
My mom says that I’m a bit stupid. I think I’m not, but my mom proves time and again that I am.

Prologue 2: The Legend
“Chaakku Mappilla” is an imaginary character often used in Kerala to scare misbehaving kids. It is similar to the boogeyman. As a way of controlling their children, parents will tell them about “Chaakku Mappilla” who steals misbehaving children. This guy supposedly carries a sack on his back. He catches all misbehaving children, puts them in the sack and sells them. He may be said to target a specific “transgression” or just general misbehavior. The funny thing is that it is believed in by children.

The big laugh
circa 1990
(To make things more sensible, I was oblivious to whatever I have written in blue italics below. Why? Because I was “thinking”)
That day, my brother was wreaking a lot of havoc in home. I was in the verandah, thinking as usual.
I heard faint noises coming from inside. It was my brother screaming and shouting to show his protest in whatever it was.
After some time, the noise grew louder. When I turned around, he was outside, behind me. My mother too had followed him to the verandah.
She was holding a plate with food, perhaps. The little chap was probably refusing to have food. (This was so unusual of him, mind you!)

My mother said, “Eat this like a good boy.”
My brother said, “No. I’m not a good boy.”
My mother said, “Chaakku Mappilla will come and catch children who starve.”
My brother was smart. He replied, “Chaakku Mappilla indeed. There is no such person.”

Then mom became desperate, turned to me and asked, “Tell us…You have seen Chaakku Mappilla, right?”
I probably didn’t see her winking, because I replied in favor of my brother, “No”.

I had never heard the name “Chaakku Mappilla” before. My mom, or my grandma never scared me with that name. (Maybe I never misbehaved 😀 ) So I thought it was the name used to address whoever carries a sack. I didn’t even doubt that she was acting.

Then a man appeared at the end of the road. Coincidentally, he was carrying a sack on his shoulders. I knew that man. He was the one who used to play “Thavil” (A type of percussion instrument) in the nearby temple. It was undoubtedly his Thavil inside the sack.

My mom jumped at the opportunity and told my brother, “See. There he is…Chaakku Mappilla. Now eat this or he will take you away.”
My brother was not ready to give in that easily. He boldly said, “He is not Chaakku Mappilla”, although he didn’t sound as bold as before.
He heaved a sigh of relief when the guy passed our house without even looking at us.

My mom’s next step in the drama was to ask me to go and call Chaakku Mappilla, so that he would come and take my brother away.
“Go and tell him that I have something for sale here”, my mom said.
I immediately ran outside towards him.
Panting, I said,

“Mr. Chaakku Mappilla… My mom wants to sell something to you.”

He looked at me for a few seconds with a perplexed face. Time froze for everyone except me. (Because I still hadn’t realized that what I had done was stupid.)
He frowned and continued walking. I looked back at my mom. She beckoned me to come back.
Everyone was laughing. I didn’t understand why. Call it the naivety of a 7 year old who doesn’t know the legend of “Chaakku Mappilla”

I became the laughing stock of the whole family for the next one week….and years to come! Poor me!

One evening in Pune

It was almost the Northernmost point of the world I was travelling to. (If you don’t consider one trip to Bombay while I was in 2nd) I was feeling okay. I could survive. Having studied in the multi-cultural atmosphere of REC, I spoke Hindi, albeit with a little stammer here and there.

After an eventless journey aboard the train, I reached Pune. The first day was in Naru’s brother’s home. The next day we moved to Woodlands. It was the last evening we would be unemployed (Because, the next day we would officially be “Infoscions”). We decided to roam around places that evening. The nearest hang-out was, of course, INOX.

We went there, walked around the theater complex.
Naru suddenly said, “I’m going to find a girlfriend.”
“You mean from this crowd?”, I asked.

We went to the ticket counter. “Gayab” was the only movie which had tickets available. (Please don’t feel sad for us =) ) We bought two. 45 minutes until the movie starts. We decided to go into Barista. Somehow, we weren’t interested in McDonalds.

“Vaa. Lets have a coffee”
But there was nothing by the name “coffee” in the menu. I knew about Cappuccino and Espresso and other stuff (I mean only the names), but had only tasted Cappuccino. Naru had no idea what these were. So I suggested Espresso as a bit of an experimentation. We ordered two Espresso and “waited and waited with bated breath”.

10 minutes after we got our Espresso’s, we came out. The cups were still full on the table. I swore never to drink Espresso in my life again. Such a bitter thing. How do people manage to drink it?

Outside, we heard some movie-ishtyle dialogues from a youngster. It looked like a car had hit him lightly in the driveway to the theater. He kicked the car, threw a stone and said to the driver, “Apne baap se bol ek plane khareed laane ko….aur us pe ch***”

Naru said with an evil grin, “Enikkishtaayi” (Means “I liked the whole scene”)

After some time, we got into the theater. I still don’t understand why we were desperate enough to waste 100 bucks on a movie like “Gayab”. But the fact is, we did waste the money.
10 minutes into the movie, I wished I had spent those 100 bucks for some food.

Halfway into the movie, there was a song where Antara Mali was showing her skin. I commented something to Naru. He didn’t reply. I turned to look. I was shocked to see him snoring in his seat. His face was pointed upwards and his mouth was wide open. If it was out in the open, it would have been the perfect target for crows to practise their shitting. In the middle of all this noise of the Dolby sound?? Unfortunately, I didn’t have a cameraphone to capture that once-in-a-lifetime scene.

Espresso in Barista – 50 bucks
“Gaayab” at INOX – 200 bucks
A peaceful slumber in the middle of a movie – Priceless

There are some things money can’t buy….for everything else, there’s Mastercard.

Chronicles of two pranksters

The two pranksters are “The first” and “The kid”

1.1 (From the memoirs of the mother)

The first was the first child into the family. Naturally, everyone wanted to peck his cheek. As he grew about 2 years old, he found a really nasty way of insulting them. He would glower at them after they kiss him and then wipe his cheek hard as if they had contaminated his face. He didn’t like all that attention. He hated being called “cho chweet”.

1.2 (From the diaries of the first)

The kid was an attention seeking, crowd-loving person. So after the kid was born, he got most of the attention. The first heaved a sigh of relief; after 4 long years, people were not treating him like a cute li’l puppy. He however felt sorry for the kid. Poor little kid; he would have to suffer all these mollycoddling.

2.1 (From the memoirs of the mother)

The first liked mangoes more than any other fruit. When he was 3 years old and he was in Madras, one of his grandma’s brothers visited his house. A peck-in-the-cheek and a rough-wipe later, the first was left to his own and the elders started chatting. After some time, his mother realised that the first was missing. She checked the door. It was bolted on the top. The balcony door too. But he was not to be found anywhere.
Everyone started calling out, “First…First…where are you?”
No reply.
His mother started panicking. After 5 minutes of frantic search, the first’s uncle thought he heard a noise which sounded like a slurp. He went near the fridge and moved the door near it. The first was sitting there in the gap between the door and the fridge with the bag of mangoes that grandma’s brother had brought. He had a half-bitten mango in his hand. His face was full of mango pulp, which he did not care to wipe in the middle of gobbling up the mangoes. The first looked up at his uncle and smiled innocently. (Looks are deceiving)

2.2 (From the memoirs of the father)

There has been a similar incident with the kid too. But the thing he loved to eat more than anything else was sand. This happened in his house in his hometown. His mother was in the kitchen and her attention was in the food. His father was in the backyard. After some time, the kid was not to be seen anywhere. The kid, however, had found a much more comfortable place to hide. He climbed the stairs with his shirt and pant pockets full of sand and hid in the attic. When he was found, he was happily eating the sand in a dark corner of the attic. His father says he had opened the door to the attic and forgotten to close it. How the kid managed to climb the stairs at the ripe old age of 2 years is still a mystery.

3.1 (From the diaries of the first)

The first’s craze for mangoes went so far that he was always under the mango tree during spring, thinking up ideas to get a hand on those juicy mangoes high up in the branches. He tried throwing stones and felling the mangoes. He was getting increasingly adept at it when a stone he threw strayed into the next house and broke a window pane. After complaints from the neighbors, he gave up throwing stones. But he still didn’t give up the idea of getting those mangoes. Once he tried to climb the tree. The result was a fall and 2 stitches in his head as it hit a stone. The first still has that little scar in his head.

3.2 (From the memoirs of the mother)

The kid at 5 years started thinking he could dance well. (Even now he thinks he can. He often performs some silly move which he claims to be the “Moonwalk”) He asked his mother whether she had seen him dance. She ignored him as she went into the kitchen. He then performed some weird move. The result was a fall and a broken jaw. However, no stitches were needed. The kid now says that the doctor was afraid of using needle and thread; that’s why he didn’t do the stitches. The kid is nowadays trying to hide that scar with some beard.

4.1 (From the memoirs of the father)

The first was attracted towards ten pin bowling during the vacations after his kindergarten when he saw that in TV. After pestering his father, he understood that, to play the game, he needed 10 talcum powder cans/bottles and a football. He easily acquired a football by shouting and crying (The first’s father got fed up with his pestering) . He managed 6 powder cans too. (Not all of them were empty). He borrowed without asking (A more decent word for stealing, shall I say?) another two from the neighboring apartment when he went there under the pretence of visiting his best friend. He however returned them after his game. Good boy!

4.2 (From the diaries of the first)

The kid was a sportsman through and through. His favorites were indoor games like cricket, basketball. There are a lot of things that he broke inside his house (the list of which I’ll be coming to shortly) because he tried to prove outdoor games were really indoor games. His all-time favorite was Cricket. There have been several instances where his mother had confiscated the cricket ball because he was playing inside. He then would get some pebbles from somewhere and hit them with his cricket bat. (This, of course, was outdoors). He invented solitaire cricket.

5.1 (From the memoirs of the mother)

List of things that the first has broken:
The neighbor’s window pane
A lampshade
A set of fancy tea cups and the beak of the kettle (All were made of porcelain)

5.2 (From the memoirs of the mother)

List of things that the kid has broken/damaged: (This list is not exhaustive)
A wall clock
Two electric bulbs
The puttied interior of the house has dirt marks (of the cricket ball) in several places.
The dressing table mirror
Innumerable glass/porcelain items (His mother even thinks he has managed to break some supposedly “unbreakable” items, inspired by a Mallu movie in which the hero drops a dish and merrily says “breakable”)

6.1 (From the diaries of the first)

The first liked to lie to the kid. He was a big fat liar. (Well….Not exactly fat!!) One of his greatest lies was when he was in college. He lied to the kid that there was a place called “Valley” in their college. That it was a lush green meadow and was a small golf course. There were no students to volunteer to join the college Golf team and so the first joined and was now a Golfer. The kid believed the entire lie from the beginning to the end.

6.2 (From the diaries of the first, Also from some dialogue with the kid)

The kid liked to brag a lot. He bragged more about his parents and his brother than himself. The first realised the extent of the kid’s bragging only when he accidentally met some of the kid’s classmates.
The classmates asked, “Hey…The kid said you play Golf..Really? How is it? Can I have a look at your Golf club?”
The first stood there, not able to speak a word. The first, in fact, hadn’t ever seen a Golf Club in his life. There was a place called “Valley”, but it was nothing close to a green meadow. It was a barren strip of land with rocks and weeds. He was skilled enough to make one person believe his lie. The fact, that the kid was able to convince his entire class about what he thought to be a fact (Later the kid admitted that he had added some more lies to what the first had told to make it more convincing), was something extraordinary. A gleam of triumph flashed in the first’s eyes. Followed by a reverence for the kid’s brags.

The mother and the father aptly named both their sons.
The first was named Deepak which rhymes with “The Puck” (For those who don’t know, Puck is a mischievous sprite in English folklore)
The kid was named Dileep which rhymes with “The Lip” (Because of his loquacity)

The best days of my life – Part 4

After a long break I am continuing this series. Read and enjoy!


Days passed by. One fine day, our jail term in A-hostel was over and we were allowed to go wherever we wanted. Around this time I started getting addicted to 3 things. Not fag or booze, duh! The 3 things were 28 (card game), carroms and the mini-canteen.

We had a fairly big group of addicts for 28. We had one room as our playing camp where the poor inmates were deprived of their daily sleep. If they wanted to sleep, they had to find some other place; because we used to play till 2 in the night. There were in fact multiple rooms like that. (After all, one room can’t accomodate more than 20 people) One was very near to my room, so I used to frequent there also. Eventually we upgraded from 28 to 56 and 84, much tougher versions of 28 which were played with 2 and 3 deck of cards respectively. This was to accommodate the overwhelming increase in the 28-playing population. This was one card game where you couldn’t survive without brains and strategies.

But we couldn’t do that with carroms. It too was a much popular game. Problem was there was only one board in the common room, so only 4 people could play at a time and everyone else would swarm around them. We made a general rule that after each game, the losing team should quit and the next pair in the queue should play. Winners can opt to play another game or quit. I was fairly good in carroms, but there were lot of exceptional talents among us. There have been several occasions where the white would finish the game in a single rally and the rest three won’t even get a chance to play. I remember Sameer who would play carroms literally like Pool. He would pocket a coin and position some other coin in a strategic location with the same shot.

The third thing — MC or Mini-canteen was an addiction which I wouldn’t let go in my entire 4 years in college. I couldn’t do without having a cup of tea and some snack after midnight every day. I was nocturnal. And MC was especially for the nocturnal, open till 2 am.

In the middle of all these addictions, I forgot something. I had to pass all the exams to get a decent job. For that I had to study.

Z Falls

Mr. Z was our hostel warden. Fortunately or unfortunately, we came to know about that only towards the end of the 1st year. He was in Civil Engineering Dept. That guy was as silent as a cat. So much so that we didn’t even know that he was our warden till later that year.

Anyway, legend has it that (legend??? 😀 I’m mad) he constructed the high-level water tank behind F-hostel. It goes like this: Mr. Z was given the task of construction the tank. He used his Civil Engineering mastermind and did some great calculations and made a tank which was kinda unique. People say it would survive an earthquake of Richter Scale 9. But in the middle of these hi-tech designs, he forgot one thing — to consider the weight of the water it would store. So, if the water level increases beyond a limit, the tank can’t withstand the pressure and would crack. So they made another mechanism. A pipe which would overflow when the water level reaches it’s limit. (So crude a finishing for so good a design :D) We would see water coming through that pipe every 15 minutes or so. It looks like the tank is peeing. This waterfall was christened as Z falls.

Birthday Bumps

Birthday eve was a nightmare while in college. Because of bumps. (For those who don’t know, one guy would lift you by your elbows and another by your shin and the rest will kick your ass) Especially, if you are a bit famous, you won’t even know some people who are kicking your ass. And there were some soccer-playing bastards who would kick as if they were taking a free-kick. The result: you won’t be able to poop for a week. I somehow managed to escape for a small extent. I was prepared. I wore two briefs, knickerbockers on top of that and jeans on top of that, so that it would provide as much cushioning for my butt as possible. It usually was like you have to bear the pain of only 2 kicks (really hard kicks, like those of the soccer-playing bastards). After that your buttocks will become numb, a piece of dead meat. You won’t feel any kicks after that.

There have been instances where people have tried to escape.

3rd Prize: Me. In my second year, when we went to KREC for their fest called Incident. They had a little private beach near the campus. We went there at midnight after the day’s events. The moment we reached there, Das cried…”Lift him..” I was a fool to not see that coming. I ran for my life. It was a pretty long beach. I ran and ran. They chased. At last, one guy dived like they do in Rugby and I fell. They lifted me, took me into the sea, gave me a couple of dips in salty water and started kicking. I became the first to get bumps at a beach. And I felt the whole thing was embarassing for me as girls had also come to the beach with us and they saw this.

2nd Prize: Thampi. Having done his schooling in the Sainik School (Military School), this guy was muscular, like the Big Moose. On his birthday we tried to give him bumps. He was sort of aggressive and attacked anyone who approached him. After some people got a few kicks and punches, we all retreated. He was the winner.

1st Prize: Vinayak. This happened in our first year. I was most unfortunate not to witness this as I was busy drawing my Engineering Graphics assignment. (Don’t make a mistake. Everybody had to do that) They were playing 28 while he was sleeping peacefully in the middle of all this din. (He was the unfortunate inmate of our gaming room)
It struck 12. They got ready to kick him. But looking at his sleeping innocent face (Looks are deceiving, mind you!), nobody felt like waking him up. “Let him sleep”, they said.
But the poor lad couldn’t escape. He was most unfortunate to suddenly wake up at 130 am. He sat up. All of them looked at him. He stared at them for a second. The next instance, he caught wind of what was coming and ran out of the room. They chased. He ran out of the hostel and towards the other hostels. They split and then cornered him. They carried him (by the usual method, elbows and shin) all the way back to our hostel and gave him bumps till they were satisfied.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Jaadu. This was one guy who got bumps in almost all birthdays. (Other people’s birthdays, I mean)
Everybody thought that kicking Jaadu was sort of a bonus. The birthday boy would also like some kicking after he got his share. Jaadu would easily qualify as the one who got the most number of bumps in college.

Makku the Ripper

He had nothing to do with Jack the Ripper, but we called him Makku, and later “Ripper”.
His real name is Devaraj. He is sort of a geek who looks and talks like he is sleepy. Whenever I visited his room, he either was sleeping or not there at all. “Makku” stands for “Makku”, which means “idiot”. (Why exactly this name suited him will be explained in the next section) He had this habit of beating whoever he sees without any reason or any provocation. That’s why he was called Ripper.

Monsoon Cup and Willow Cup

Monsoon cup was our Soccer Tournament and Willow cup was our cricket (no points for guessing) tournament. It was open; anybody could form teams and join. Badshaz made up a team for Monsoon cup. Being the rookies, we didn’t have much expectation. The manager (for namesake) was that lean and mean “Caligula”. We just wanted to complete the match without anyone getting hurt. We had some strategies like feigning hurt on the slightest contact with the other team’s player.
Everybody was afraid of getting hurt. To top it all, it was raining and they had to play in the rain-soaked, muddy ground. You would wonder sometimes whether they were playing soccer or ice-hockey. And we saw some spectacular tackles; but they were unintended, the tackler having lost his balance and fallen down. (The name “Monsoon cup” rings a bell now?)
All was going good till Petti (Mallu slang for butts. I don’t know how he got that nickname) fell down. And he was acting like a professional actor. Everybody gathered around him while the referee checked him. Deepu came to the rescue.
“C’mon get up get up..It’s nothing”, he said.
“$%$@!# Don’t you see that his leg is broken??”, came the storm of bad words from a senior in the other team.
That’s when we noticed that it, in fact, was not pretence. We could see the bend in his leg. It was broken. And he was crying in agony. We took him to hospital and everything was okay.

We advanced (unbelievably) till the semifinals. In one of the matches, Makku left the field during half-time thinking that the match was over and we had to bring in a substitute. The semi-finals was with Ayamees, the defending champions.
We had made big placards like “Beware Goliath, David is coming” and another cartoon where our players are playing against giants while a “tall, dark fella” is leaning against the goal post as if he doesn’t give a damn about the game. (Yeah! It’s him! Caligula!) But we had not much hope of winning.
At the end of the match, the Ayamees hit 3 goals and we hit 4!!!
But the only problem was that two of our goals were self-goals, meaning they won 5-2.

In our four years, the growth of Badshaz as a soccer team was sensational. We were semi-finalists in our first year, runners-up in our 2nd year, winners in our 3rd year and we literally had no competition in our 4th year. In our 4th year, our goalie, Soman, had a clean sheet for the entire tournament. Moreover, he never even touched the ball in several matches because the ball was always on the other half. He even did a Schmeichel and went forward to hit a couple of goals.

Willow cup was more fun, because there was no prospect of getting hurt. Badshaz had a proper team called “Bulghans”. We formed another team, just for the fun of it and called it “Mission Impossible”, because…well…our mission of winning the Willow cup was impossible.
We saw several other creative names like “Sabko batting milega” (Everyone will get a chance to bat).
It was fun. We made it a point to attend all the matches played by IIM. (Indian Institute of Management) Mainly because there would be lots of chicks to cheer them 😀

But our thought of not getting hurt was a misconception. X (maybe he want’s anonymity, so name not disclosed) had the most unfortunate way of getting hurt. We say “He was clean bowled at the non-striker’s end”. He was the non-striker. The other guy hit a straight-drive, but X was too slow to get out of the way. It hit him straight in his you-know-what and he says it hurts even if you are wearing abdomen guard and a tennis ball is used instead of a cork ball.

Paapad kid

I got this nickname, but it was short-lived. The kid part was because I was a baby-face. I have felt embarrassed several times because of this. One particular instance was when my younger brother got 12th rank in the State exams. Everybody was congratulating me! Just because he looks bigger than me!

The paapad part was because of an incident. We were having lunch at our messhouse. We used to get only one paapad. (Only in A-hostel, where they took full advantage of the restrictions for first years. Later you have the option of choosing whatever messhouse you want or not at all, so they always have to provide their best). We used to have lunch together around a table. One day, I just turned around to take the jug of water when Deepu quickly stole my paapad. When I saw that my paapad had vanished, I looked around. And when I found 2 paapads in Deepu’s plate, he quickly crumbled those two and mixed them with his food. I got enraged. (I was not getting enough paapads and this guy was stealing whatever little I was getting) He thought I would take it in the light sense of a prank, but I didn’t. I approached him, started with some bad words and slapped him with my food-covered hand. Everyone was shocked and when they recovered, they pulled me away. Deepu was only defending himself all the time. But the greatest thing was that, they didn’t let me feel bad about that. They blew that incident out of proportions and gave me the name “Paapad kid”. Everyone was whispering behind my back, “Look..that’s the guy who beat Deepu for a piece of paapad”. It was a memorable incident.


My favorite pastime was jamming with the other music troupe boys and girls in our music room. We used to have night-out sessions just playing some song. We were the pets of all the faculty, just because we had the musical talent. Consequently, they provided us with all the equipments whenever we wanted.
We had called our Eastern (Indian music) musical troupe as Enchanters, and the Western (Firang music) Group as “Ginger Juice”.
The etymology of the name “Ginger Juice” is worth mentioning.
We were all “Engineers”. And, in Mallu, “Inji” means “Ginger” and “Neer” (pronounced nIr) means “Juice”. So we called ourselves “Ginger Juice”.

One of my most memorable incidents in my college life was the charity concert we had conducted in my first year.
We started with some Indian numbers, mostly AR Rahman songs which everyone enjoyed. Some good ones were “Sayyoni” by Junoon, some Euphoria songs (there was this Bengali guy, Sarbajyoti or Sarbo. His vocals were great. And Achu, our lead guitarist, his lead would leave people mesmerised.) We had a couple of our own compositions also.
Then we went on to Western, where we performed the hit numbers (most were Rock) like Comfortably Numb, Highway Star, Wasted Years etc. We had our own compositions here also, particularly an instrumental called “Progression”, which brought the best out of Achu. I played my Violin for “What it is” by Dire Straits, but mostly I was singing seconds.

We raised a decent amount of money and gave that to CRY(Child Relief and You) and Child Cancer Care Institute. Never felt better.

The Cupid and the Stupid

It was Valentine’s day and we had this service of sending roses to others. We can buy these and send it to anybody. It would be delivered in the class, so the whole class would know about it. It was quite interesting.
Red roses for your loves,
Yellow roses for friends,
White roses to start friendship,
Chillis for those you hated, (There were chilli garlands too)
Hibiscus flower for the nutters (We have this funny idea of nutters wearing hibiscus flower on their ears)
Aspirin for people who were a headache (Or “pain-in-the-ass” as people call it)
And banana….well, the punchline was like “A banana a day makes you gay”.(It was just for pulling legs. Nobody was gay!!)

Prof. UKG was taking our class when the people came to deliver our presents. Girls who were not especially good-looking got lots of red roses. They were the only few girls in the college, and nobody had any option. At the end of that, Prince (the guy who had come to deliver the gifts) gave a hibiscus flower to UKG on his behalf. UKG warmly accepted it, gave a Oriental-style bow and became emotional. “You know how it feels like when you students show so much respect to us!!”. We were on the verge of ROTFGUL (Rolling On the Floor and Going Unconscious Laughing). Here was a man who really deserved a Hibiscus. (according to it’s definition)

One guy became the Rose king(most number of roses) by cheating. He was forced to buy several roses by the seniors. So he sent them to himself, winning the Rose King prize. I bought a few red roses (was forced, in fact) and sent them to some girls. But I didn’t even get a white rose. Not even a chilly 🙁
We decided to mourn the next day, i.e. Feb 15th every year as “Broken Hearts Day”, the day for those who didn’t even get a single rose. But it was okay, only the “ladies’ men” got red roses. Most of us didn’t.

The best days of my life – Part 3

2 men and an egg
All the extra-curricular clubs came to our hostel for their club orientation… well… sort of canvassing (and bullying and coaxing), as they got a major part of their funds from the membership fee we pay. The most memorable one was that of “Adventure Club”; they had come up with an idea analogous to “Who Dares Wins” program in AXN.
They have a packet full of eggs. One of them is a boiled egg. People should pair up. One person from each pair should take an egg and smash it on the other’s head to see if he gets the boiled egg. Those who get the boiled egg will get 50 bucks.
I decided to watch it from a distance, because I couldn’t stand the thought of messing up my hair (It was already too messed up and untameable) and clothes. Besides, I hated the stink (It’s S.T.I.N.K for me) of eggs.
I saw people smashing the eggs ruthlessly as if they had some past enmity with their teammates. And the victim wouldn’t leave the other one either. He would take some of the oozing eggwhite from his head and apply it on the other’s face or dress, whatever comes to his hand first, because the other one will now start running for his life. Well… If he ran like that straight into the Olympic stadium, he would have got the gold and quenched India’s thirst for an Olympic medal!! It seemed that they were happier getting the raw egg rather than the boiled one.
KP came to me and asked what was the probability that BG and Jithu, who were waiting for their chance, will get the boiled one. Apparently, he had done some calculations and wanted me to look silly if I couldn’t solve that particular “mathematical” problem.
I simply rolled my eyes and said, “The probability is 1″
He shot me a look,”What???”

Flashback: I was in a quiz competition in my 8th grade. This dude KP was also there. So was BG. Then the question came. There was a fort locally called Tipu Sultan’s fort in Palakkad. For those who don’t know, Tipu Sultan was a king of Mysore in India who had fought against the British East India Company in 18th Century. The question was to give the year in which Tipu came to this fort. We all guessed some year. BG guessed, “He has never come”.
So simple. Yet so brilliant. It was indeed the correct answer. It was, in fact, made by Hyderali, father of Tipu Sultan.

Back to Common Room: I said, “That guy BG is way too lucky. He will get the boiled egg. I am sure.. Cent percent”
And it came to be true. BG was lucky after all.
They got a fresh 50 rupee note in their hand and it was not there after 5 minutes. All of us literally carried them both to the canteen and ordered several Pepsi.
Deepu said, “Dude, if you wanna know how to spend 50 bucks in 1 minute, ask us.”

If you want to earn 50 bucks in 1 minute, ask Ferby
Ferby (not his actual name) was another dude who was responsible for this “inverse” devilish prophecy from Deepu the very next week. He was tall, dark and ahem… ahem… was he handsome?
He had such a dark complexion that we had named him IAS (Not Indian Administrative Service, duh!! It is Invisible After Sunset.) We used to joke that if you wanted to see him after dark, the only way was to ask him to grin.
He was also called Ferocious Kchraaaaw (sounds like a roar). (That name, in fact, was given by the Ayamees)
He later renamed (of course it was nothing official) himself as Ferocious Caligula, because he said he liked the Roman ruler Caligula. (If you’d ask me, I’d say Caligula was a total crackpot. Some say that he made his horse a consul. Check wikipedia for more details)

He earned some easy money one day by running with only his undies across the hostel wing. (So says Deepu. There’s no way to know whether it is the truth.)

A hidden talent
Debutante was the cultural event specially for the freshers. And it was the first time I was talking to girls from other disciplines. The entire event lasted 4 days. On the third day evening, there was no interesting competition to watch, so I decided to take a break. I saw that there was a creative writing competition in another 10 minutes and the participation was open. So I decided to write that. Problem was… I didn’t have a pen with me. And the hostel block was too far away…Way too far (say 200 meters) for my lazy feet to carry me to and fro. No problem…I asked a pen directly from one of the organisers. So unprepared was I for that!
They had kept some thermocol cut-out with a candle, umbrella and blah blah; which looked like some modern art or surreal painting or whatever. Those who are regular in my blog will know that I lack the writing skills of a literary mastermind. I’m just a normal writer. I was just myself and wrote whatever came to my mind when I saw that silly cut-out. The result was an essay titled

“Ways to catch the crocodile in Lake Placid”

(The cut-out looked like a crocodile for me). Basically it was very much like the Acme gadgets used by Wile.E.Coyote in “Roadrunner show”. They will be shiny and ultra-modern, but they always fail.
At the end of the day, they announced the results, and I got the first prize. For 4 pages full of poor jokes, these dumbasses gave me the first prize!!! I couldn’t believe my ears. I got a fair amount of fans from the fairer sex after that.
Besides that, I got first for Instrumental and Eastern Vocals.

Caligula strikes again
We had drama competition the next day, but we had no script. We thought of using the popular dramas (Shakespeare et al.) and tried to select one.
Ferby said, “We will make our own. I will write one. I have an idea.”
“Crap!”, BG verbalised what others thought.
It was 11 in the night on the previous day and the drama was at noon the next day.
Ferby went smug-faced to a corner of his room and started penning his drama. He completed it by 1 am. We were still arguing which drama to select (you call it “square one”) when he came to us and described his work.
“Brilliant!!!”, all of us said in unison, because none of us had understood any of it. The name translated to “Shadows”. It was the world of shadows. That’s the only thing I understood (to date). It looked like a typical art film. And the brilliance of an art film is in the fact that nobody should understand it.
We decided who all will enact the parts and started mugging up the dialogs. That was a full night out. The next day, we performed, and as expected, we got the first place.
Kudos to Caligula!!!

Rockmime is by far the best and craziest invention of NITC people. We would spend 2 days carefully making custom-looking guitars, microphones, keyboards and drums which would be a replica of those of the rock band we are miming, then shatter them to pieces in 5 minutes.
We would select a rock band and a song to enact, then prepare the replicas of their instruments using cardboard, thermocol, chart paper etc. (Lots of research goes into this…watching lots of videos of live performances of the band). Then we would wear clothings like the original band does and do the actions like they do when the song is playing in the background.
We did “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC. There was this tough part where the lead singer has to carry the lead guitarist on his shoulders when he is playing the lead. This was the toughest part.
Oh..I just love rockmime. One thing awes me however. We are completely exhausted by the time we finish our 5 minute performance jumping and head-banging. How the hell do these rock bands perform like this for hours on end??

More fun and frolic in the coming parts. Keep pinging….

The best days of my life – Part 2

I can’t recall the exact order of occurences anymore. However I will keep it in a loose chronological order. No more days or dates from now.

Ragam…It should rather be called Rag ’em
There was no way Ragam was going to stop the ragging process.
Now that the freshers were allowed to go out, the other state guys took their juniors outside the campus and ragged them. We were lucky enough. Our Keralite seniors were not much interested in ragging.

After evading capture from seniors for 2 days, I was caught on the night of 3rd day. We were sent to get some buckets from the final year hostel. We went there. I was told to stay back. The rest moved ahead with the buckets. The reason: Simple enough! They were one player short for a game of playing cards which we call 28. I was the scapegoat because I was looking tensed while others looked confident. According to me, 28 is the game where you have to use your brains the most (and know some tricks) among all card games. I was not very good at it at that time. So, obviously, we started losing and wearing small embellishments made from parts of coconut tree in our ears. (That’s the price the loser has to pay. Believe me. You look very very stupid with those little “ornaments”). I had to play like that till 2 am, then they let me go.

A question of color
There was this general misconception that people from Northern India are very fair and from Southern India are of darker complexion. There are people everywhere in India with a multitude of complexions.

Our hero in this is Vinu, my roommate. He was from Kerala. (In fact we studied in the same school and college). He was very fair (In fact, so fair that we started calling him “Ghost” somewhere during our 2nd year). So apparently the second character, Jidesh, thought that he was a North Indian.

We were brushing our teeth in the restroom of our wing, when Jidesh (we call him Katta… Katta means muscle.. I will tell about that later) suddenly asked Vinu…
(In Hindi) How are you liking this place? Is Kerala good to stay? What about the food?

I coughed and the lather of the toothpaste in mouth spilled out. I was barely able to control my laughter.
Vinu replied (in pure Malayalam., the language we speak in Kerala.)
Edaaa Njanum oru Malayali aadaa…
(Translation: Dude, I am also from Kerala)
You should have seen katta’s face blushing redder than a beetroot. 😀

Music Troupe auditions
I was so psyched about the prospect of getting ragged that I was keeping a low profile. But somehow my seniors got to know that I played the Violin and was a part-time professional. Then came the notice that the music troupe was conducting auditions. I didn’t want to go because I was scared of getting ragged.
But they knew me by now and called me specifically. I was scared to say no to them, and this was more profound than the fear of getting ragged. So I went. (I was not convinced even by the fact that ragging has been fun so far at the receiver’s end also)
They were in fact very nice chaps. I went there and played my violin. I sang some songs too. I got selected. And I would say that the jamming sessions in the music club and our performances were the best parts of my 4 year college life. Looking back, I can feel nothing but gratitude to that anonymous senior who leaked the fact that I knew violin.

Slipping away
I never knew when I started slipping away from what I thought to be the primary goal of engineering life – studies. My scores were a quickly diminishing exponential curve. On one internal exam, I found the courage to copy because I hadn’t studied for the exam. I have helped other fellows before, but never been at the receiving end. So I was tensed. And that resulted in some carelessness and I was caught copying. (Lots of guys around me were doing that too, but they were pros in that.)
My marks were canceled in that exam. That meant I was getting 0. That meant I failed. I went to my professor and started pleading and crying (shedding crocodile tears, that is.). Finally he let me write the third improvement exam. For others, it was improvement. For me, it was life or death. While I was writing the exam, the professor didn’t trust me much so he kept on standing near my bench and staring at what I wrote. This was very uneasy for me. However, my friends got the leeway to do their copying work comfortably because the professor didn’t notice them even for a single second. When the results came I had 15 out of 15. The professor called me up and started advising in a kind manner…”See?? You have the caliber to perform. Then why are you indulging in these activities like copying?”. Those words came in through one ear and went out through the other.

At the end of the year I had a not-so-bad 79% marks. I didn’t top the class as I had wished on my first day, but still I was among the top few students. In the coming years, I was going to lose that position too.

Gul Jil praises me for skills that I don’t have
We had to do Mechanical Workshop too in our first year. This guy, Gul Jil, took control of out workshop in mid-semester. He looked like the cousin of Laden with his looooooong beard. He was a total eccentric.

He was checking my lab record when he flipped the pages back. I told him that was already checked by the previous professor. He gave me a who-are-you-to-stop-me look and continued flipping back. He stopped at the page where I had drawn a picture of a lathe. It in fact was traced out of a picture from a text book. He looked into that for quite some time and asked me, “You do painting, don’t you?”..
“Painting?? Me?? Miles apart. I don’t even know how to paint the wall,” I thought…
But I said very modestly, “No sir, I don’t know painting or drawing.”
He didn’t give up, “Man. Then you should cultivate that art. You have a flair for that. I can see it here.”
I was laughing in my mind. Man..This is getting better and better.
He didn’t stop there. He wrote an “Exceptionally Good” comment over the signature of the previous professor.
Was I in cloud nine? Naah!

So goes the chronicles of my life. And I assure you there’s still more to come. With the pace I am going, I think it will have 10-15 parts. 🙂

The best days of my life – Part 1

Dear blog, the last five years in my life have shaped the person in me. I don’t want to forget those wonder years. I want them in my mind….forever… I want to tell the whole world…I want to sing aloud….

Those were the best days of my life

2000 August (Day 1 morning) – Welcome to the 2000 batch
I entered the college gate. I was going to be in one of the best Engineering colleges. I was going to study well. I was going to be top in class. Little did I know that it was just a beginner’s enthusiasm. Some things were going to change. Some things would remain as they were.

(Day 1 afternoon) – Buddies
I was in the men’s hostel block ‘A’, specially reserved for first year students to protect them from ragging. First year students had no options. They had to stay in A-Hostel, eat from the mess in A. Four people had to share one room. Two from Kerala and Two from other states. This would help more interaction between the people from different states, they said. “National Integration”

I met my 5 classmates from 12th grade and several other guys whom I knew from quizzes and olympiads which I used to frequent (I’m brainy you know!). I was going to get acquainted with numerous other people in the coming week.

(Day 2 morning) – The shining head (or the perfect reflection on his head, rather)
We were touring the campus and it’s facilities. I was determined to register every single syllable that the guiding professor uttered. He must be a big brain, I thought. I remember Mainak asking a big “show-off” question related to computer programming, and the professor’s answer quickly elevated him to the level “Godlike” (as they say in Unreal Tournament) in my mind. I was so gullible. Sheesh! I was yet to find out that the bald head hardly had anything inside it.

(Day 2 evening) – Goodbye
Finally, it was time to bid goodbye to our parents. We were now away from family, in an almost alien world.

(Day 4) – Killing time
We started forming small groups of known fellows. Our classes were to start only the following week. We were literally jailed inside the hostel with security people standing guard at the hostel gate. We were mostly playing rummy or kent or 28 (called 29 in some places) using playing cards or Dumb Charades. (I got “Titanic” once. I spread my hands to both sides, hoping that my team would catch the memorable scene where Dicaprio and Kate Winslet stand on the rails. These fools went on with guessing Jesus Christ, the cross, and so on. I then had to gesture hugging “tight” and “nick” my friend’s wristwatch.
The initial group was myself, BG, Vajeed, KP, Deepu, Sunil, Thampi, CJ, Maxi, Aniyan, Ferby, Dinu… and it would grow in the days to come.

(Day 6) – Getting serious
Thampi started lecturing me about the need to be proactive. He suggested that we start learning some modules in our courses by ourselves. I agreed.
We started with studying exact differentials and asymptotes. Others also followed suit and started studying.

(Day 7) – Ragging
Romour spread that the seniors were at the gates of our hostel and calling us downstairs one by one. I was praying that nobody call me. But I was called. Several of them were there ragging other freshmen. I was really afraid. But I realised that these guys were just making fun of us, trying to make us look like morons.
I was given the following orders until further notice:
– No T-shirts, no jeans, no cargos, no shorts outside
– Wear only shirts and plain trousers
– Do not tuck in your shirt
– Wear only bathroom slippers; no shoes
– No wristwatch
– I should stand in attention, raise my hand at 45 degrees from horizontal, make a gesture with my index finger and little finger straight, all other fingers folded; and shout “YO!” whenever I see them. (Sort of a salute) I didn’t understand the meaning of that at first because it was the first time I was hearing the word “Yo”. However, it did amuse me. (I mean, look at the technical detail; mark of a true engineer 😀 )

(Day 8) – Expect No Mercy
I saw a senior walking by wearing a grey T-shirt. In the front it was written “Ayamees”. Looked pretty normal, except that the word didn’t make any sense. As he passed by, I looked around to see the backside of his T-shirt. There was a picture of a mask…with blood red eyes. Below it was written in a sort of font which looked like blood was oozing out of that….”Expect no mercy”. Later I learnt that Ayamees was a big gang of final years in our college. They were not thugs anyway, but they had an extra bone, I’d say. (PS: One of the members of “Ayamees” is an actor in movies now. Basically, he’s a flop actor with only his debut movie becoming a hit)

(Day 15) – Assignments
We got our first assignment. One based on Optics. I thought of it as a challenging one, and started racking my brains on solving that. Later I found out that the proof was worked out in one of the reference texts. I was the only fool who wasted my time trying to solve it.

Days of Ragam, the inter-collegiate cultural event hosted by our college
It was the first time we were moving around freely. The atmosphere was very excited with lots of people coming from other colleges, especially good-looking ladies; something which our college lacked. The T-shirt slogan “99% of the women in the world are beautiful, the rest 1% are in my college” seemed aptest in my college.

Around that time we started our own first year group. We christened it “Badshaz” (meaning “emperors”)
It initially was a group of some 15 people, it later would grow.
We decided to buy a T-shirt with the college emblem and of the same color to show our unity. (It was too early for a custom printed T-shirt)
We wore those T-shirts and went to see the Western Musical (Rock music, basically) in our Open Air Theater.

That night, disaster almost struck…We were sitting in a line among the audience. The next team was setting up and checking their instruments. A senior saw the uniformly colored T-shirts and asked one of us, Aniyan, why we were wearing similar T-shirts.
Quick came his reply, “We are a gang, ya know…”
Time froze for a second, the rest of us froze in the next second. That was the most stupid and cheeky thing to say in front of a senior when you still are not out of the ragging period. Luckily for us, that senior guy was not interested in ragging us. He said a casual “Oh” and reclined back in his seat.

The next day, two seniors caught me near the main alley. They gave me the daily crossword and asked me to fill it up in 5 minutes. Filling a cryptic crossword twice the size of what comes in Newyork Times in 5 minutes was impossible. I tried my best and solved around 16-17 of them. They opened their mouth and gaped at me. (They didn’t know that I was a regular cryptic crossword buff. :D) They gave me some more time (well! around 1 hour) to fill it up. Together, we were able to get around 70% at the end. And they won the daily crossword. They gave me a small ice-cream treat with their prize money. And I got some friends among my seniors. (That helped later.)

To be continued….