I’m not one for sentimental posts but there are times in one’s life when you realise that whatever you had taken for granted until yesterday will not be routine from the next day. I am, as countless others before me have been, in a state of transition. My college has ended and much as I hated the place, I got used to it. I am not a poet who can awe people with his command over the abstract or a great thinker who can inspire people to brood on the philosophical. On the other hand, I am a hobbyist writer who likes keeping a sarcastic edge to his writing (which I shall skip on this time). This is an ode of sorts to the people who made life bearable in an institution where neither logic nor lethargy were tolerated in the face of religion and idiocy (respectively, as I might add).
I came to Amrita on the 11th of July, 2008. That was almost 4 years ago. I have passed through 4 years of living in that hellhole with only my friends for tolerable company among other things. Rather than enumerate my own experiences (which shall be quite boring considering how sedentary I am), I shall simulate the experience of a generic Amrita student. I shall call him … hmm, let’s say Srinivasan.
Srinivasan and his parents had heard of Amrita. It was that religious college where pious little monks woke up students to do yoga, surya namaskarams and sandhyavandanams every day. Chances of him getting spoilt in that college were minimal. Now that his choices did not include IITs, NITs or BITS, he had to choose between this or Sastra if he wanted to remain in TN.
They visited the college and .. they were stunned. Wow. Such a beautifully kept college, such amazing weather, a backdrop of the western ghats and oh … LOOK! A peacock! This will be the perfect place for their son to study. Sastra was in the middle of a barren waste land hot enough to burn you through unless you walked around covered in ice. Ah well, let’s hope the counselling goes well.
A month later, Srinivasan had secured a place in the college. He heads into his first year and embraces a life … chock full of restrictions. No going out after 6 in the evening, no outside food, no loitering around campus, no walking with girls, no fancy phones, no MP3 players – Wtf did he land himself into? The food is marginally edible. The bathrooms are mostly clean. But come summer of the academic year, the whole place gets hotter than Kim Kardashian in a revealing swimsuit made of silk. The only respite? His friends. Life is a flurry of assignments and exams and more assignments with only the usual evening dinner banter or late night chats with friends helping him through life. Washing clothes went from being a daily affair to a weekly one to a monthly one and finally became a need-to-wear basis.
2 years have passed. It is his third year of college life. He has adjusted into the hostel as easily as getting into his filthy pair of shorts – without a grain of remorse, a speck of disgust or a tinge of sadness. He sets himself up within 2 days of arrival and starts going to class as usual. His class has become a second home. He knows everyone there and feels more comfortable with them than anyone else. Life is still full of assignments and tests. No need to mention the awful labs which keep getting progressively Godel-ian over the years. Add a little record writing and laptops full of movies (of every hue including violet, indigo, b…), days pass in a haze.
All too soon, it is the 4th year. The 7th semester is hectic enough to push him over the edge by the end of it. Also, placements have started. One set of formal clothes and shoes are always ready in his cupboard. He may have slacked the last 3 years but he needed a job once he got out. Numerous companies will come and go but at least he can be sure of a place in the mass recruiters. So everything is fine. The project work is in its most interesting stage – coding and meeting up with your project guide to show him your work while simultaneously getting screwed in the reviews.
The last semester is upon him. He has 4 months left to enjoy college to its maximum. Multiple trips with friends, classes that are hardly ever conducted. Last stage of project work has started. Multiple deca-page reports, small slideshows for every review, cramming up the whole project into the heads of the rest of the clueless group members, getting really screwed in the final review, attending the external review … and it was over. Done and dusted. The last day was here. Say your goodbye’s, pack your bags and away they all went, laughing and crying, heady and sad. It was more than likely that apart from a few close friends, they will never meet the others again. But separation still leaves a speck of dust in the eye.
Personally, for me, survival in that institute felt like an extended episode of “Man vs. Wild”. Compulsory uniforms in college (or at least, they tried imposing it on us), teachers who were mostly clueless about their subjects but prepared impeccable answer keys so they could screw you, formal dress codes, staying away from the wardens and their idiocies, no walking around with girls in the campus, staying away from one absolutely retarded senile orthodox narrow-minded bastard of a teacher, fighting with a backward, pious, fanatic administration for freedom to do such menial things as play western music, hold public debates with a freedom of speech, conduct dance shows with slightly more hip movement than Jayalalithaa’s dances of yore or even her dances today. The list goes on and on. We weren’t successful in fighting the administration for freedom to do these things in college or at least the freedom to go to other colleges and attend competitions. But neither the music people, nor the dance people nor the literary inclined ever gave up. Democracy may be a farce in that college but we were brought up outside and we knew what freedom was.
We trudged through the melancholy of this ordeal the Indian education system calls Engineering. The numerous pranks, the threats to cut privates off if people don’t get food from home, the leg pulling, the numerous games of bangkok (because of which our progeny will never be the same), the crazy partying all night long, poker and much much more. Try as I might, imagining attending this college as a day scholar for 4 years gives me the jitters.
Time will come when I will probably start missing the hostel and a good internet connection would start seeming like a poor substitute for a bunch of close friends chatting for hours on end. Until then, we bid adieu to each other in hopes of meeting again and sparking that old magic while knowing inside that it’s over. Similar to a good movie with a beautiful ending, it leaves you happy and yet sad. But unlike the movie, you cannot replay this particular part of your life ever again :)