The post below has not been refined and is almost like a rough note rather than an article, hence you may find the sentences below quite funnily structured and sometimes difficult interpret. Sorry for the inconvenience.
This post is about my friends at ILP and me and not ILP itself. I have used the initials of my friends’ names to conceal their identities.
My friends got their call for ILP seven days before the joining date. They were supposed to report at Guwahati. At the end of that day I was the only one who still didn’t receive any mail. It was very frustrating. I even shot a mail to Kolkata HR about this. I got my mail next day. I was asked to report, not at Guwahati, but at Trivandrum. I was now very upset. Of all the people they chose me and only me to report at the other end of India, why why…! I later came to know that out of 171 people only 23 people were asked to report at Trivandrum and I am the only person from CSE, BIT to Trivandrum.
My accommodation was arranged at Assumpta Tourist Home by TCS. It was not such a good hotel. The walls were quite dirty, but the bathroom was cleaner. We were told by TCS that the bedsheets would be changed every 3 days and the rooms would be cleaned everyday. In reality, bedsheets were changed and the rooms were cleaned only on Mondays. All-in-all, the hotel was okay as it was at the heart of the city. The nearest good restaurant was Arul Jyoti.
Apprehensive about who will be my room partner, I asked Assumpta’s manager to allot me a room. He recommended room 302, as the guy (ShaB) there seemed well natured to him. My first impression of him was that he is from a very rich family and possibly he is a snob. Don’t know why, but I got this impression of him. In a day or two I found out he was a nice guy. In few more days I found out that he was a total clown. We nick named him Charlie after Charlie Chaplin. Not only because of his jovial nature but also because his face has uncanny resemblance to the legend. He has a very unusual way of laughing. When he laughs, his upper jaw-line pops out from behind his upper lips and his face turns red. We all wondered from where did he get his ideas. He never seemed to run out of them. Alas! I have never been able to see deeper into him, beyond his jovial face.
Next morning when we got ready for our first day, other TCSers on our floor, who were all from Mumbai and the very same college from where ShaB was, introduced themselves to me. After that we all got onto the bus that was waiting for us to take us to TCS Peepul Park Campus in Technopark. It was a new day of a new chapter in my life and I was looking forward to make new friends. I had already made one new friend – my roommate. My only worry was making new friends. I being an introvert, is not very good in making friends fast. It took me 1 or 2 semesters to make bonds with some my present good friends from the college. It took me 2 years of my college life to know all the 90 people of my class. I knew I had to somehow make friends and bond with them faster. When we reached the campus I tried to remain with SB and his mumbaiya group, viz. – MA, MS, SD and NG. Sometimes they tried giving attention to me and were very friendly, but still I was usually ignored by them because I spoke much less. It was difficult for me to speak anything random to them as I had almost no knowledge of Mumbai and its life and absolutely no knowledge of their college – VESIT; we didn’t share anything in common, and I was still quite depressed by the fact that TCS chose me to tear apart from my friends. Furthermore, they sometimes used to speak in Marathi, which is as incomprehensible to me as is Malayalam. ShaB was and still is particularly notorious for preferring to talk in Marathi in my presence.
The first three or four days of ILP had been traumatic for me, not only because of the incessant dose of merciless induction lectures one after another but also because I was feeling so alone. I was trying to gel with the mumbaiya bhais and I was still feeling like an outsider. This experience was damn depressing. I hope that I will never have to go through that again. After these initial three or four days my first breakthrough came when SD started paying attention to me. He was the quietest and an introvert among the group. He was my first respite. SD and I gelled well together. He was very much like me. An introvert and a geek by nature. He has a very innocent smile and gaze. Later I gelled with other group people too. By this time I had started feeling much better, but still there was an invisible wall between me and the group. It was the language. They preferred Marathi, which was like Malayalam for me. So, most of the time I didn’t know what was going on and had no choice but to keep mum. Because of this my friends got the wrong impression that I like to remain reserved.
Few days later I came to know two more persons. One punjabi kuri, SB, and another Marathi gal, SA. SB is a good friend of MA. They are friends for past four years, so it was quite natural that they were always seen together, but this gave me the wrong idea that they were more than just friends. SB is an unusual girl. She has a very (as VK puts it) ‘loud’ body language and is very polished. Her first impression over others is usually as a snob. As far as I am concerned, I didn’t feel like that. I formed my opinion about her quite later. I was way too much amazed by her way of talking. Her way of talking is child-like, which in Hindi we call ‘totla‘. Its cute and weird both when spoken by a 21 year old person. I will really miss that voice. Later as I came to know her better I found out that she is also very intelligent, only that she is too lazy or distracted to use it. Things that I like the most about her is her jovial nature. She is always fun to be with. Always happy and rarely sad.
Now about SA. Her first impression on me was that she is a gujju girl. This is because I have an impression that usually gujju girls have good figures and are very simple minded and innocent. She is very much like ‘Gattu’ of ‘Ba Bahu Aur Baby’; simple, innocent, smiling and happy. M is a lucky man. I envy him. She is definitely the most pampered kid of her home. Its awesome, how can someone maintain ones child-like innocence to the adulthood. Her family must have put great efforts in insulating her from the vices of the world. Given that, she gets upset so easily, I can only pray that she grows up soon.
Before our EC1 exam, MA and I decided to stay back at the lab for a whole night to complete the exercise. At around 11 pm changu-mangu too joined us. By-the-way, changu-mangu are SB and SA. I call them that because they always (mark it, always) stay together, as if they are advertising Fevicol-ka-jhor (pardon me for this mercilessly poor joke). Many times they even wear similar dresses. They are similar in more than one ways. They are both jovial, energetic and always remain stuck to their cell phones. I have seen people speaking so much over the phone only when they have bf or gf. It is true in case of SA, but I am still confused about SB. Anyway back to the lab; we started solving our exercises. By 1 or 2 am MA and SB where worn out and started dozing off. SA and I continued to rack our brains. Few minutes later changu-mangu left for their room. Our hotel being 18 KM from Technopark, we had no choice but to wait till morning. I also dozed off for an hour or two and then I continued with the exercises again. After 2 am the only thing MA did was doze off and suddenly wakeup and unlock the screen and then doze off again. At 6 am we left for our hotel. It was Sunday. We then spent the whole Sunday sleeping while our other friends set out for Technopark to complete the exercises.
Before I move on I would like to comment about MA. He has a good personality. He makes his presence felt. He became our unofficial transport facilitator. One thing we all hated about him is his ‘divide by 6’ policy, i.e. no matter how less or more you eat he used the simple rule of equally dividing the total bill amount among all the friends there. Other than that he is a nice fellow. He is slight impulsive and he is a complete phattu. While coding for his project, the moment he used to come across any deadened he used to start sweating profusely and you can clearly notice the tension on his pale face. The best thing in him is that he takes negative comments about him in positive sense and actually tries to mend it.
Before our EC2 exam we made an one day trip to Kanyakumari with 19 friends. It was fun. SA played a nice trick on NG. We were all in the dark Meditation Room on the Vivekanada Rock Memorial, when SA asked NG to ask the person sitting before him to go too. NG thinking that the person was one of the friends, nudged him, only to realize then that he was not. SA was aware of this and did this on purpose. We had a good laugh afterwards.
Kanyakumari lacks a beach hence we went to its shore which had many sharp stones. Many people returned wounded (including me) from that trip. It was fortunate enough that nobody was seriously hurt, which I was afraid of as some of the friends grew too much reckless in their antics and stunts. But it was fun. This is where I noticed, contrary to my expectation, that SA is quite adventurous. MA was rather unusually reserved during this. He took over the charge of taking care of everybody else’s belongings and stayed away from the water. During this trip I also noticed NG’s inclination towards meditation, religion and nature. I too have an inclination towards nature. I don’t usually share my feelings with my friends, because contrary to general wisdom, it makes me feel worse. The sunset and the calm after that usually unsettles whatever is locked inside me. Damn!
NG, as I have already pointed out earlier, appreciates nature and has an inclination towards meditation. He too seems to observe people keenly. He has a very bad habit of using really bad examples to explain things or describe someone. He can sometimes get on your nerves but is usually a nice person to be with. May God help him with his examples. Another very intriguing thing about him is that he is some kind of gay magnet! Maybe it is because of his slight girlish way of talking or anything else.
Back from our Kanyakumari trip, we were greeted by the tense cloud of looming EC2 exam. We had to work on Sunday and late in Monday to finish our project. After EC2 EC3, EC4 and EC5 came at such a pace that I could barely recall anything from then except for random memories. This brings us to Thombya.
Thombya is a Marathi word which is used to refer dumb people. ShaB nick-named MS as Thombya. We used to call him that because of his too short short-time memory and his unusual goof ups. One of his classic goof ups is when after having a cupful of tea he exclaims – It was nice coffee! He actually thought he was drinking coffee when he was actually having tea! He opts to remain quite most of the time, but he has a lot of mischievous ideas running through his head all the time.
After our EC3 exam, many of us planned for a trip to Velli, Kovalam Beach etc. I was looking forward to it as it was our last trip together. On the day of trip even after repeated request from me SD refused to come along. This made me adamant and I too ultimately didn’t go and sulked the whole day in the hotel. Yup, I make stupid decisions when I go adamant. Few minutes later we were scolded on the phone by SA. Oops! That day in the evening SD, MS, ShaB and NG paid a visit to an Ayurvedic Kerela Message center. There they got a lot more than they had bargained for, in particular NG. When they told MA and me what more happened there we had the laugh of a lifetime. I would not discuss it here, because it may embarrass them and there is no modest way of writing it here. One thing is for sure I am never getting a Kerela Message now, nor do I think they will ever try it again.
With this our EC4 and EC5 exams were over sooner than we could realize. After our allocation most of my mumbaiya friends grew a little depressed since only two of them, SD and NG, got Mumbai, rest were allocated Hyderabad. I got my place of choice, Kolkata, but the thought that I will have to part ways with them and don’t know when our paths will cross again, dampened my spirit. I wasn’t feeling happy and felt glum. Damn! I am back to square one. There has been so many times that I had to part ways with so many of my friends, but I felt this glum only once before this, because this time I have the feeling that this bond will snap sooner or later.
We all eight were supposed to return from Trivandrum to Mumbai together via train, but later MA, SB and SA chose flight. Our first day of our two day journey to Mumbai was mostly boring and glum. I don’t know why but we were again and again singing “Yeh tara woh tara har tara” in totla voice even when SB was not around to get teased. The second day of trip was great. Everybody was in form that day and the scenic beauty on the way was breathe taking. There were fifty plus tunnels on the way. NG, ShaB and MS had a great time screaming from the door into the tunnels when the train passed through them. At Thane we bid adieu to ShaB, NG and MS. At LTT I bid adieu to SD and that was it. The end of one month’s memories. Maybe ILP could have been a little longer.