Wednesday, August 08, 2007

BME 93094

I walked into the massive building for the first time while it rained, shielding myself with a hopelessly flimsy yellow file. It was a really long procession – as there were almost a hundred of us.
I don’t remember when was the last time I walked out – four years later. It must have been after collecting my rather depressing mark sheets for the last semester that eventually formalized my entrance into a higher-level educational institution.
It has been exactly a decade since I have ceased to be a student of Mechanical Engineering. A batchmate pointed out in May this year that the ten years were up. I waited for a couple of months because I was not sure of that till the results were actually out!

Academically, it was probably the worst decision of my life to study Engineering and I realized that in the first thirty minutes of the first Engineering Mechanics class I attended.
Socially, it was probably the best because in those four years, I met some of the most intelligent and entertaining people I have had the privilege of knowing.
Intelligent because these guys scored excruciatingly high marks despite watching films with me all the time. Entertaining because how many people – after all – can look at a windmill and say in a deadpan voice, “This must be running on electricity…”

What did I learn in four years of college? Well, I learnt about the giants of World Cinema. I learnt about Hindustani classical music. I learnt about quizzing and acquitting oneself honourably in the toughest quiz circuit of the country. I learnt about the theoretical basis for certain political ideologies. And I learnt all these in the best possible way – from exceptionally bright people who did not mind silly questions.

And what a crowd it was!
My quiz team was always more intent on having a good time than winning quizzes and we called ourselves – quite aptly – Just Joking. My section – denoted as B-2-2 as we were the last half of the last half of the last half of the batch – was always intent on devising elaborate laboratory pranks than finishing experiments. My department was cursed with the most adverse gender ratio for any academic institution in the world and we turned this curse into a murderous weapon by stopping every single cricket match we had the remotest chance of losing!

And the antics we indulged in… from demonstrating Juhi Chawla dance steps in the Engineering Drawing class to mastering a timesaving technique called Light Tracing. From getting the workshop assistants to do your jobs to switching off the mains to bunk the Physics lab. From getting drunk on the hostel roof to telling the Vice Chancellor that the University is not exactly his ancestral property.
The number of crazy things that spring to my mind even a decade after graduation is quite amazing.

Of course, ten years after graduating from a college, the memories become very hazy and nostalgia imparts a rosy tint to them. This is true for my entire batch because all our memories seem to be the ones in how we scraped through in extremely tough class tests, how we gave witty repartees in vivas and how all the movies we saw were on the day before exams!
Apart from the hilarity of all those incidents, I think there is an element of bravado as well. It is as if we are trying to tell the University that we are doing fine despite dire predictions to the contrary!

Somehow, despite my best efforts in the opposite direction, the University’s academic credentials – to which some of our worthy batchmates have now started to contribute – are quite impeccable. In a recent survey by Outlook magazine, our engineering faculty was ranked 12th in the country. Right after the IITs and a few stray RECs (who must have rigged the bloody results anyway)!
To my mind, this is not a reflection of lesser intelligence and/or diligence of our students. It is more indicative of the fact that our Engineering faculty has not produced cross-disciplinary geniuses. Yet.
Somebody only has to write a JU version of Five Point Someone for us to break into the IIT monopoly. And believe me, it would be a more interesting story…

The set of characters in the title - which sounds ominously like an Ambassador car belonging to the Bihar PWD - was actually my roll number during those four eventful years.
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