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.
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 psycho..an 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. 🙂