I will admit that out of approximately 150 working days in an academic year for my affiliated university, where I did my engineering, I must have attended wholly around 20 classes. About 10 bunked midway. The rest, bunked wholly. And well .. I wouldn’t claim to be repentant and everything ( shut up, consciousness ! ). But I enjoyed every bit of my college life. Almost… Well not fully… Allow me to explain.
I started college in the monsoon of August. I mean do we Indians have any other season other than summer and monsoon? 😛 I remember when my mom ,sis and bro along with a couple of aunts, and some uncles and some cousins and few of their friends, waved me off from the railway station, as I set journey down the path, that my dad and mom had diligently thought of (read stubbornly fixed) since my inception! I was seriously homesick and I missed my mom and those aunts , and those few uncles and my cousins and their few friends , like hell after reaching the place, that would eventually bring about a lot of memories for me. Chennai. The land of sambar vadas and jasmine flowers. The land of Rajinikanth and MGR. The land of my future love(s) and heart breaks.
The first year was pure torture. The whole ‘tamil’ factor was very unsettling. It started from the dinner , the very first day of arrival. As I was given a plate, bucket, mug, mattress and a pillow at the mess hall, I was reminded of being taken in as a prisoner in some central jail. As I watched , there was a ‘master’ (tamilians address head chef this way). He rang a bell, and out came few lungi clad minions the kind of what u saw in ‘Chennai Express’ complete with long greasy oily hair, coloured vests and holy threads on their arms. Carrying in between them , were 3 huge vessels having rice, some curry (that I till now have no idea what it was), and buttermilk. Like hungry poor somalian children ,we all have seen pathetically waiting for morsels of red cross food, we were in the queue. As I came up the counter, my eyes were roving over the entire setup ( which in hindsight, I shudn’t have 😦 ). As I extended my plate out, I saw one of the hairy minions, digging into the rice vessel with a plate. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was, the said minion, had pasty pulps of rice in between his nails, something so long, that it would have put Wolverine’s claws to so much shame, that he would have cut his own balls off with them claws! I’m not kidding folks, even though I would have dearly preferred that, to this. However it’s true. Moving on , some semi solid oozy mass of curry was smacked on my plate. The next scene, is what took my entire concept of disgust to heights hitherto unexplored nor felt. As I came on to the buttermilk serving minion, I saw him dipping a cup into the tummy height vessel, that was being kept on a stool. HIS ENTIRE HAIRY ARMPITS WERE WET WITH THE BUTTERMILK AS HE SCOOPED IT INTO THE CUP, TO SLOSH IN MY PLATE!! The moment he did this , I threw up in my mouth and I ran, and slept for the very first time in my life hungry and starving. And it followed every single night from then for some or the other displays of hair, skin, cockroaches (in cauliflower curry), frogs (in chicken gravy) and even baby rats(amid sacks of potatoes).
After tons of ragging , getting physically handled, I scraped wounded through engineering. As the flight rolled for takeoff from Chennai to Dubai, to meet my parents for my semester leave, I wished I never should come back. And to add to my desperation, my own parents didn’t recognise me at the airport arrivals. They were expecting their portly chubby 90 kg son to walk out. However I walked past them smiling, and they never knew it was me. I then went back , and called them out. As they turned around, I still remember, both of their mouth’s opened wide in shock. I now weighed 67 kg and my oversize clothes flapped around me. My mom cried and hugged me. My dad just stood there. Rest of my leave was spent in getting new clothes, mom fussing around on menus for new variety foods, and siblings smirking at my college stories. I was at peace. But not for long.
(to be continued)…….