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….
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….