I managed to hit the ground running (quite literally) as I pounced at Andheri station well before the train screeched to a halt (in exemplary Mumbai fashion).
Destination: My first ever Alumni meet after post graduation ;)
I have witnessed alumni meets during my college and always had a hidden fear of speaking up on these occasions and sharing experiences. I have seen people doing wonderfully well in such impromptu pep-talk and I was fully aware & confident that I would fail miserably in case such a opportunity beckons me ;) I would rather be enclosed in Big Boss’s house along with Dolly Bindra and Pooja Missra than a few minutes of gyan-sharing with my fellow alumni’s. At least I have a chance of surviving the former. Nevertheless, here I am waiting for my friend to pick me up when I began to think of my college days; which was incidentally my first foray into the perils and luxuries of a hostel life…..
I remember the first day, accompanied by my parents, being absolutely zapped at the infrastructure set up of my alma mater. I completed all the government-office-like formalities and set along to see my room. My to-be roommates and their parents were already present there scrutinizing every nook and corner of the room as if to find some leads to a murder that had just taken place in the room……and the moment I entered the room…they stared at me initially and then smiled gently as if to say that they have found the one responsible for the aforesaid murder ;).
I allowed myself to be introduced to my roommates. One of my roommates whispered to me “Arrey yaar! Cigarettes are not allowed here. Damn these smoke detectors!” I thought to myself - Well these 2 years are going to be some ride!
In the first 2 months itself I knew that my intuition wasn’t wrong!
Very early I realized something very profound and received another thing very stupefying…
I realized that I am missing SMS’s from my bank. It was at that time I realized that the 3 most important and pleasant words in everyone’s life is not “I Love You” but its “Salary is Credited” ;)
What I received was a culture-shock (Believe me this term is a euphemism). The aftermath of the fresher’s party, we had, is reminiscent of what would have been the scenes in SriLanka or Chennai after Tsunami had struck. Half the college was sloshed and strewn on the pathway near the gate like bowling pins. I had earlier witnessed such mayhem only in films and now made a firsthand onlooker to this, certainly gave me a jolt. People throwing up everywhere (on every inch of available vegetation along the roadside) and anywhere (including their neighbour’s attire). People being carried on shoulders and couriered to their respective rooms were as common as Mayawati statues in UP. The shock accentuated on seeing similar scene replayed in case of the fairer sex.
May be the ‘culture-shock’ problem was inwardly directed….I had never been part of an agglomeration so diverse…so distinct…encompassing all cross sections of the society. Metaphorically speaking I was like this newlywed bride struggling to adjust to her in- laws.
It took a bit of time, but once the ice was broken…..I managed to make a good set of friends. From then on it was a fun ride all the way to the chequered flag. We managed to bring in a lot of innovations & discoveries too in our daily activities
We discovered a new way of social networking…by marching to other people’s rooms for a mid-night snack and feasting on whatever we could lay our hands on in their rooms right from biscuits to chocolates to gossips J
We created and re-created new art forms (master pieces I would say modestly: P) by drawing sketches of our professors during lecture and giggling all the way only to be viewed scornfully by our painting protagonists.
I also discovered my voracious appetite for honey cakes, dosas, Corner House’s Death by Chocolate and Cheese bursts pizza and mind you none of these were from our canteen: P
Morning shows were no longer a taboo….we used to get up early on holidays to catch the latest Bollywood flick at the cost of peanuts.
I also discovered that I can talk on the mobile anytime (including wee hours of the morning) for any length of time and anywhere (on empty streets, hostel verandah, inside washrooms: P) Thanks to Dhirubhai Ambani’s dream and my dearest would-be-wife ;)
To add to all this, the daily night walks (even longer one’s during exam time :P), innovating and reinventing and the college lingo, late night movie screenings, early morning late entry to classes, finding ways to play games or Facebooking in front of professors, dealing with professors (some good..some weird…some pathetic and some miserable) , scores of assignments, low scores on these assignments (most copied….some interesting one’s…few original ;)), Planned picnics, unplanned Mumbai trips, organizing summits, bureaucratic approval processes for these summits… phew…I can go on and on and on….!
I must admit, I had the privilege of meeting and interacting with all kinds of personalities - Brash, crazy, subdued, pen thief’s, hypocrites, amazing, confused, power hungry, wannabes and modest. I can probably write a chapter on each one of them: P
All in all the mere experience of interacting with the entire gamut of personalities and their vagaries of moods and behaviors has helped fled the ignorance in me to a large extent.
“Trrrrrrrrrnnnnnn!!!” My thoughts were interrupted by the loud honking of my friend’s car. I got into it with much greater confidence to deliver a sermon that day (if forced to do so: P)