Monday, April 12, 2010

Cast Away.....

Hello everybody. I am back after a short hiatus due to mid-semester tests which is in fact the peak period for getting ideas which are totally non-academic. My last post was quite a lot of myself pouring out, so now its back to what I had started off with. The important memories of my life. Well, I would like to take a big jump from my childhood days to the beginning of a whole new life in college. I feel most of you would identify with the situations and emotions that would be described in the following passages. Hope you enjoy it!!!!!

Lying on my back on the topmost berth in the train, I was furiously reading through 'The Bone Collector' which I had to finish that day as the book had to make the return journey back to Goa, unlike me.
"We would be arriving in Allahabad in 5 minutes." The attendant in the train informed all the passengers in the compartment. Luggages were being scraped out from underneath the seats, people yelling at each other to be ready to get down, etc etc. Mom nudged me in the ribs.
"High time you got down from there. We are almost there now."
Sighing, I descended from the berth and sat next to Dad. In the aisle, people had already started crowding with their luggages, a some sort of rat race to see who would be the first person to alight from the train. Most of them were going home. Not me though.
The euphoria of getting selected for admission in a National Institute of Technology (NIT) was slowly draining away as the realities dawned on me. This was the first time that I was going to be all by myself in a totally unfamiliar place, supposedly hostile environment of UP, a totally different culture from what I had been brought up in and all this with no relatives or family friends within a thousand miles. For the next four years, this was going to be my home with some vacations in between to my actual home. I was somewhat sad, but also excited and filled with anticipations about what lay ahead of me.
"Hostel life would be tough, but it is an experience that you would cherish throughout your life." One of my Uncles had told me. Sharing a room with three other guys, keeping up late hours, eating whatever you felt like.....well, that kind of sounded blissful. But then, life had its ways of bringing you back into reality from your dreams.

This struck me first when I entered the hostel room where I would be staying for a year. The door creaked open and for a couple of moments I could see only darkness inside, even though it was around 5:30 in the evening. Somehow in the darkness, I managed to locate the light switch and switched on the dim bulb. There were four beds, metallic frame with plywood randomly "arranged" inside. Thick cobwebs lay all over the room and I somehow managed to fill the whole room with dust when I tried shifting one of those beds. I glanced over at my parents. Both were equally shocked at the state of matters in the room.
"So, what say?" I asked.
"Hmm. Nice for a hostel room. It was much worse in our medical college. The room here is quite spacious and comfortable for four people to stay in." said Dad, though not very convincingly.
No use grumbling over the room, i thought. It reminded me of a 'popular' quote, "Jab naseeb hai g***u, to kya karega Pandu" ("When fate itself is screwed up, what can you do"). Somehow we managed to catch a night's sleep in the room though it was quite tough considering the creaking fan which just about managed a faint blow of air in the room which was still filled with the dusty smell.
The next morning, I was escorted along with other newly admitted students to the college campus to complete the formalities of admission. We were taken from the Tagore hostel to the college in the college bus (which ironically was the first and the last time that I got a chance to have a ride in it) by a couple of mean looking seniors.
"Enjoying your first ride in the campus??" one of them asked me.
"Yeah, sure. Its great." I said, giving one of my broadest smiles, hoping to make friends with the senior guy.
"No need to smile so much kiddo. Don't worry, all these smiles would disappear as soon as you have your 'interactions' with the seniors." he replied curtly.
Not a very impressive first encounter with the 'senior' class. Well, I would do better next time, I promised myself.
After some time we were taken to the Institute's Computer Center where we were made to fill online forms as a part of the registration process.
"These are the new freshies." another senior remarked when he saw the lab filled with others like me filling out forms. "I like to see fresh meat coming here. Can't wait to get started with the 'technical intro's'." Now that was menacing. What did he actually mean by 'technical intro'? I would find that out soon after the classes started.

I joined my parents back in the hostel after the formalities were done with and we left the campus. We had decided to rather stay in a hotel for our last night together in Allahabad in some place decent rather than a dust-filled godown like room. We checked into a hotel after some shopping in the markets. Moving around in market was very difficult that day as the rains were pouring in like hell, and the streets were flooded with muddy greyish water. A shower in the hotel room was a welcome offer and a heavy dinner followed. Later that night, I went close to Mom and hugged her tightly.
"It's going to turn out fine." She patted me reassuringly. "Everyone gets this feeling initially, but once you make friends here, and the classes start, there would be hardly any time to miss home."
I didn't say anything, my throat was choking anyway. I just stayed like that for several more minutes and then slept away. I wasn't very sure whether I had taken the correct decision in coming to Allahabad to do my engineering when all the colleges in Goa were lying open for me (including the Medical College) after my very good performance in the state entrance tests. I knew I would be having trouble in adjusting to the food, the climate and more so, the language of this region. The Hindi that we had been taught in school was totally unlike what was being spoken here. As far as the food was concerned, all around I could see Poori's, pakora's, potatoes.....all of them dripping with thick mustard oil and it wasn't really an appealing sight for a coastal person like me, who had spent the first 18 years of his life thriving on sea food. The weather was very dry but I found it a tad more comfortable than the humid air of Goa.

The next day was going to be a tough one. Reluctantly, I had to face up to the fact that now onwards I was going to be alone without parents (wasn't independence what you always wanted?, Dad asked me). My throat was literally blocked as I hugged both of them goodbye and ran up fast into my room balcony to see them go. From my second floor balcony, I watched them go further and further away and then disappear into oblivion. I stood silently in the balcony for about an hour, just looking out into the horizon, holding back the tears. Finally, here it was. A life away from home, away from the protective presence of one's parents (which we only tend to realize when we are away from them) and a whole new challenging life awaiting me.
I went into the bathroom and splashed some water on my face, and took the opportunity to drain some tears away with the water. I roamed about a bit in the hostel and found a group huddled together in the courtyard with the sound of a guitar emanating. Maybe life wasn't going to be all hell, I thought and went over to make my first friends in Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Allahabad, India...................

to be continued in the next post.............


  1. I love you for your writing skills bro !!!!
    Rocking , this one really touched my heart :D :D

  2. thank u thank u .... more about college lyf cumin up.. :)

  3. cudnt control myself from bursting out into tears...awesome stuff sir....waiting for ur next post...

  4. nice post yaar.. though it was first time for u, this feeling was sure to experience.. waise kafi senti maar diya tune..:D..keep writing dude..

  5. Very nice post, dear Ashwin! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Do pursue this talent that you have. God bless!!

  6. Hey Ashwin, I lived thru that experience all over again...from my perspective of course