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.
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 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.
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.