4 years. College.

Note: Specific references may not get across unless you are acquainted with some of the people mentioned.

I’m listening to “Thiruvaavani Raav” and for some reason the only thing that comes to mind is the pretty bespectacled sister from the movie, and Rohit going, “Enthu nalla kuttya alle” as we leave the theatre (of course that’s not really how he put it :P), the others nodding and sheriya’ing in approval. Next on my playlist is probably some other track with some other strings attached. It’s all fine when you’re still in college and have that sudden rush of memories – the subjects in question are always in sight, even when you might want them to momentarily disappear once in a while.

In a few weeks though, the scene would disperse and all that’s left would be cords and contacts.

sree

Apparently Facebook thinks it’s time for deep questions now since college is almost done.  Pretty sure I didn’t learn concentration at CET. Badjoke level  – Bharath. Don’t judge me.

And now to answer this audacious query.

I remember the first day of college like it was yesterday. It was raining in the morning, I wore my navy blue kurta and black jeans, sceptical if I was shabbily dressed for college. I remember how I walked up the steps of Golden Walkway under the umbrella Amma had handed me in the morning with her customary “Kondu kalayalle paru”. I remember smiling at the drenched and dripping trees on either sides of the Walkway that swayed happily in the breeze as if ushering me in. I had one used 200page notebook from school in my bag, there still were many blank pages left. They won’t actually teach on the first day, no? (yes they will, note that Facebook). I wondered if there’d be seniors waiting in class to rag us. I wondered what the subjects would be like, what the teachers would be like, but mostly what the students would be like. And I wondered what Sandhra and Bharath would be like – they were the only ones I had become friends with on FB after orientation day.

I got answers to all the speculation from my first day in class, never mind if they were right or wrong. I rushed home that evening to tell Amma I wouldn’t survive four years in this place. “4 years potte, I won’t survive a month there OK? Nithya AND Gopika are in the other class AMMA”

“Are the kids in your class not nice?”

“The ones I talked to seemed fine. But they’re not KIDS! Not like the ones from school anyway.”

“Well you’re not in school anymore.”

“Onnu kekkuo!? There was this girl Athira from Kozhikode – she’s the first person Haneena and I talked to – Haneena is nice she’s from Palakkad – and she was just talking to us but we thought she was ragging us okay? So rude! AND she’s in my class! ”

“See you already made friends from two other districts” Amma laughed.

“Onnu povuo, then there’s Physics, Chemistry and Maths. Those things were supposed to be over with entrance no? Rest are all basic this, basic that, BME BCE BSC and ABCD”sree(This was a status I put up during first year university. Even design is better than this shit lol.)

“Okay let’s join All Saint’s next year appo Paru can study Arts, mathiyo?”

“BLAH. I wish I were in some other department. ANY other dept”

I went on to complain about my class, that there were way too few people from Trivandrum, and all the nice (by which I really meant FAMILIAR) people seemed to be from here.

Four years past, that conversation turns bogus, and the nicest of all people you meet in the 4years here HAVE to be from Kozhikode.  And the nicest-people-I-met-here list would go something like Athira (from the first day, yes), Divya, Anapi, Roshni, Niranjana, Nidhin, Renjini, Navas, Sreelekshmi,  Lekshmi, Thasni, Ginu, Arjun only because it’s my list 😀 I should probably mention it’s an incomplete one, just in case anybody from my batch is accusingly glaring at my post.

And I can never thank God enough that I didn’t end up in ANY other department, anything to do with circuits would have killed me. Where else would I be expected to dig pits on the ground and have 12th std Chemitry labs and mix concrete using shovels with picture-perfect lab groups that comprise another Parvathy as thin as me for moral support in times of nervous breakdowns, an Oormila for the timely completed rough record, and a Pramod to discuss episodes of Chandanamazha with? 😀

 


 

The first one and a half years of college Nithya and I were busy deriving *cough* inspiration from seniors *cough* (SHE might actually do Civil services, given the quantum of all the inspiration :D), and tagging poor Gopika along everywhere we went. So if anybody had a crush on anybody and it was public knowledge, I never came to know of it until third year. If two from my class became a couple in that time, I never heard of it until third year either. There was Drishti and Dhwani and ICI and lots of running around, everyone was eager to get to know everyone. All occasions from birthdays to buying new chappals were celebrated together in class by all- well obviously not all-, until stuff settled down. By the end of it Nithya/Gopika and I were arguing as to whose class was better lol. Come to think of it, we still do.

Confession: The first time I cried in my entire life for somebody from class being rude to me was in second year. Yes that happened, and Shemeena the pacifier wanted to know if I planned to weep every time somebody decided to shout at me, “It’s up to you to ignore the shit people throw at you, especially when you know it’s shit”. No she never used those many ‘shits’ but it’s pretty much the gist of what she said. The day I truly realized college wasn’t – isn’t – school.

Everyone is different here. Somebody’s idea of awesome is somebody else’s lame. Somebody’s fun is somebody’s boring/outrageous. Somebody’s rude is somebody’s normal, and everybody’s going to unapologetically be themselves, as they should. And if somebody throws shit your way, you could ignore them altogether, or you could just ignore the shit and be cool even if you don’t think they deserve it. It’s not called being fake, it’s called growing up cos you realize everyone’s wired a little differently. But idk what it’s called if you’re smiling at them and solemnly hoping they’d get hit by a truck, I’m not that evil so I wouldn’t know 😛

That was the first and probably the best piece of advice I received in college.

4 years past, a lot has changed. No more shallow small talk and pointless socializing and definitely no more celebrating the new pair of chappals. But I’ve reached the point where the captions from first year #newplace #newfriends #newlife have turned to #amazingpeople #lastfewdays and memories made that will remain.

So Holi will always be a reminder of THIS day 😀sree.png

And Tum Saath Ho will forever be the vocal team comprising Vinaya, Oormila, Niranjana, Roshni, Divya, Revathy and Malu seated on the last bench of S8C1 and almost resolutely singing the song in chorus. I don’t think Malu sincerely put in her efforts though cos it actually sounded good. 😀

Uptown Funk will be Rintu chanting along with Karthik’s stereo, just as passionately as she dances. I would post the Iski Uski clip here, but she’d kill me.

Right Round will be an entire year of putting up with Nithya’s bass voice in S3/S4 and later realizing in S7 that she’s faaaaar better than Athira 😀

I’ve also learnt that the ‘Trivandrum is rude’ isn’t ALL garbage. But for every seemingly rude “Athinippa njan yentho venam” Trivandrumite you meet here, there’ll also be an innocent ever-helpful ever-clueless Malu asking in her unintentionally rough tone, “Enthu patti paaru, thaan inn despa? Njanoru paattu paadi tharanoo?” You see, for every Sankaran with a heavenly voice, you’ll also meet a lot of terrible singers, and Malu would serve their cumulative effect that can cheer up anyone’s bad day. 😀

For every Adarsh who is in love with CET, there’ll be a Raj Govind who wants to burn the place down. I might have contributed at one point of time.

For every Divya who won’t copy during series tests, there’ll be a Puru who cross-references more than two individuals’ answer sheets before settling for the better one.

For every befuddled-looking Allan, there’ll be an Anapi who never stops smiling.

For every quiet Navajoth, there’ll be a Ginu who never shuts up.

And for every Smitha mam, there’ll be a Jiji sir.

For every all-cool Aishu on the project presentation day (she was practically stoned with the Avomine she’d gulped the previous night :D), there’ll be the rest of the super-tensed project team that goes “Engottelum erangi odiyalo?”

For every Structural project group that finishes their work weeks ahead of the presentation, there’ll be Gopika’s team whose project equipment arrives on the evening of the eve.

And for every Ajay/Jasin/Oormila who spent four years at CET learning Engineering and Quantity Surveying and Structural Analysis, there are those of us that studied that tables should be titled at the top and figures at the bottom 😀

The best stories I heard in 4 years were almost always a part of the reserved ones, the ones who wouldn’t get on the dance floor until the lights are off. And the best speech was delivered by the guy who occupied the corner seat in class quietly, and calmly tolerated (and laughed at) the hilarious shit we did in environmental lab.

So I guess there’ll be no more cursing the UG Professor and putting up #submissionsandshit updates on FB customizing the privacy setting to “Hide from Smitha mam”. No more begging teachers to postpone assignments and queuing in front of Latha mam/HOD/Vijayan sir’s room.

No more large groups huddled around the first bench eating Renjini and Shilpa’s lunch and no more deciding between Thalassery/LH food. No more going to #48 in the evening and listening to Sreelekshmi’s stories before practice. And when everything’s done and everyone has packed their bags and vacated their rooms and hugged and said the final goodbyes to catch trains from Trivandrum one last time, I’ll have the songs in my playlist to remind me of 4 years spent together in a place that offered fun as much as freedom, and made everyone laugh and cry and hate and love and sing and dance.

 


 

I remember the first day of college like it was yesterday. I remember wondering if, after 4 years when I step down the Golden Walkway one last time as a student there, I’d be a different person than the kid climbing those treads. If I’d be taller than the stunted figure I was then. If I’d make enough memories and meet the lovely people I’m supposed to meet in these four years. I wondered if the trees would dance in the rain to bid me goodbye, as they did when I met them the first time. But mostly, I wondered if I’d be sad to leave, if 4 years would be enough in this place.

I have the answers now, all of it, I know that the time we get here isn’t enough to take enough selfies for a lifetime. 4 years of sitting next to Athira/Rintu in the third bench of C1 listening to their stories, or stealing minutes between classes to eat vadas at Civil Canteen, or hearing Divya’s “Oru announcement und ellarum keep quiet” – none of it is enough in the end.

And as we’re asked to collect our no-dues, I wish we could ask, “When do next sem classes begin?” just one more time.

 


 

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CET CIVIL 2012-2016 BATCH.

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Mind Your Own Pickle

Here I present before you the story of X, a typical South Indian middle class boy .(‘X’ so that I don’t have to keep repeating names like Ramesh, Suresh, Subramaniam, Gopalakrishnankutty etc but guess I missed the point already). So, X made and sold pickle all day and all night. Yes, it was the love of his life and he enjoyed every bit of it. How on earth does that fit into the ‘typical’ definition, you point out. Yes, yes, I’m coming to that, thou disrupted souls. Everything will be made right.

Once, X was at a funeral with his parents. Seeing this happy guy (the alive one, I mean), every one of his relatives who never had anything to do with him, didn’t have any idea what his name was, who naturally and understandably would be most enthusiastic about his career, felt compelled to offer free advice to his extremely irresponsible parents who let their son live jauntily with utmost disregard for his future (?).

A hitherto never before-seen relative uncle (who would henceforth never be seen again) approached his parents. “Pickle?!you mean ACHAAR?! How idiotic is that!”
“But maama, X loves making pickle. He’s super happy”.
“Happy?! Who wants to be happy making pickle?”
“Um. Me?” a disgruntled X muttered, confused.
“You should make him get a B.tech. What’s a boy without a B.tech these days?!”
“What? :o” his parents asked, curious.
“NOTHING!” he barked. “Are they providing food here? Miserly relatives these days, not many do, you know! No respect for the deceased or what? Let me go ask if there’s chicken”. He dashed to the dead man’s kitchen.

“Amma, I don’t have enough marks for B.Tech admissions. I’m a just pass, 41. You need a 50 for B.Tech”. X couldn’t believe this was happening.
“That rule’s coming into action only next year onwards. YOU LUCKY GUY!” the uncle beamed emerging from the kitchen, victorious, tearing off a fried chicken’s legs with his teeth.

Back at home, X begged the Gods (though I doubt they had anything to do with it) to know why on earth he couldn’t have been born a year later.
“Imagine our X having wasted his entire life with pickles! That man’s a lifesaver! Who is he, btw? He should be worshipped!”
“I’m on it!” X’s mom, who never missed a chance to worship anyone, opened her Facebook and found her homepage deluged with the previous day’s funeral pictures. And right there he was! Their saviour posing with the cadaver! She frantically clicked the Like button and had his photo printed, framed and hung next to the rest of her Gods in her Pooja room.

X on the other hand, packed his bags, and off he went to college. Sitting in class, he noticed how everyone looked similar to him. He soon realized it was cos they were all guys :D. Some were there to fulfil their parents’ -obviously- unfulfilled dreams, to some it was a stepping stone to a Ph.D at MIT, some pursuing the love of their lives (which to his horror X soon figured was a reference to Mechanical Engineering). He had to cram his brain, pockets, sleeves, shoes and any place undetectable to the staff with notes to get through exams.

Second year saw X entering the labs. As he rotated the wheel of the Francis turbine, he imagined processed apple pickle pouring out the delivery pipe. “This is the strainer at the foot of the pump”, the instructor explained. “There goes the essence of it. We’ll just have to use squashed apples then”, X replied, much to the bewilderment of his labmates.
He fantasized all day about constructing a machine that churned out pickle (If this were a hyperbolically written unrealistic satirical tale, trust me I would totally make him make one. Alas!)
Soon his hostel mates recognised the treasure that he was and with their support he resumed preparing pickle again.

Luckily for him, his pickles became popular in a jiffy. Infact, he was surprised at the rising demand for them from men’s hostels all around the city. “You should try it with Rasam, tastes awesome”, he suggested. “We have something better”, the pickle-buyer winked at an unsuspecting X.

Meanwhile the Student Health Club members protested against the exorbitant levels of sugar and salt used in the pickle. Grabbing the opportunity, the USA sued X for high rates of obesity there followed by surges in sales here, to the discontent of SHC (abbreviated club name but guess I’m missing the point again).

X’s pickles yielded unexpected results all about him. Around the college, attendance in classes went down as sales of soda and certain other commodities went up. As a discussion was opened in the Economics class as to the causes for this, someone suggested that law of variable proportions was at play when someone else shouted,”X’inte achaar thanne saar!” And as reality dawned on X, his world (he thought) came crashing down. Was he to be expelled? Would his parents disown him now? What if the uncle that had inceptioned the whole idea in his parents’ heads adopted him? He contemplated suicide.

However, here’s what really happened: the Dean being a fancier of pickles himself (no insinuations intended), asked X for samples. Thoroughly impressed by them, he let X open a counter at the college store, imposing restrictions on the supply nonetheless. Soon, curd rice and X’s pickle became a staple at the college canteen and his parents were informed of their son’s exploits.

Two years later, proud parents watched as X received the award for the best Final Year project design – a hydraulic machine that chopped, crushed and pickled anything you poured into it.(I told you that was coming).

After successfully completing his B.Tech, he came across a never before-seen aunty who, you bet, won’t ever be seen again either.
“Mone GPA ethra und? Namukk ini oru Mtech oke edukkande?” (“What’s your GPA son? Shouldn’t we take that M.Tech now?”)
“CHAKKAPAZHAM! (JACKFRUIT!)” he blurted out.
“Eh”
“..Vechoru achaar undakkunnundu! Auntykku veno?” (“I’m making a pickle out of it. Would you like some, Aunty?”) 😀

Moral of the story: You may like pickle. You may even love pickle. So make a career out of it, or not. But more importantly, stay the hell away from shit you don’t know shit about.