Me and My Muse

Friday, January 12, 2007

Splashes from my days in Nagpur University

  • Most of the issues about Nagpur University, discussed in this essay, are from a perspective of an underperformer
  • I do not intend to hurt any sentiments in this essay.

It was nearing morning. The warm gusts of night wind have desired to puff its rage and calmly accept the new rays of the sun. It was June, a month hardly desired, in Nagpur, for the killing heat waves.

For the two of us, Shibon (my roommate better known as Shibasis Chaulia) and me it was time to doze off. These wee hours of studies did the last dice-chance-game work before the day we had exams and gracefully it seemed to work out more often than not.

Summer exams of Nagpur University was, quite popularly, the worst known for its results as it used to precede suicides, students running away, hunger strikes, students being battered by commandos and what not. Our university reserved the last spot among universities in India in the scale of quality of results. Not going into inflammable discussions about the causes or consequences, it remained, then, a place where 70% marks seemed to be a luxury and fate always flourished in pockets of good muggers.

I flicked the last empty packet of Wills Flake out from the window and decided that 4 units out of 6 should be enough for me to be able to answer decently in the next day’s paper (guess it was Software Engineering). My friend sounded perfectly like an ethical insomniac when he proposed the idea of going to Lolo’s.

Lolo’s was (I think it still is there) a tea stall at Dharampet crossing well known among OMH (outside Maharashtra) students for being the most accessible one at 3AM. Lolo’s also served delicacies like jalebies, poha, pakora along with coffee and tea.

Quite presumably I got up straight with a thumbs-up smile, put on that old black T-shirt, picked up my bike keys and vruuum we went. I clutched a VBD on my way as I planned to flick through the appendix for a few of previous years questions.

VBD, the only well known cousin of G4, was the last moment and never-to-fail-you survival kit for us. I was among the last benchers of class, but I felt good that even the toppers couldn’t deny the fact that they haven’t touched these epics at some point of their education here.

The night Ring Road at Trimurti Nagar was densely illuminated with sodium lamps making my back seat book-looking acceptably comfortable. The only problem was when Shibon jumped over those big bumpers making an alarm that we’ve crossed another kilometer. The road towards our destination surpassed the Trimurti Nagar Girl’s Hostel. Even in this don’t-waste-a-second business I accounted a couple of seconds towards the illuminated windows which shouted immensely about their insominity also.

As Shibon rode us to Lolo’s, it was 3:30AM. The giant hoarding above the road-side, table-top tea stall was about to be darkened by the flickering gloss lamp. I have never seen Lolo personally but have heard him to be a skinny, dark skinned and stony bugger. That day there seemed to be no one of similar stature there. The bhaiyas at the shop-keeping end was giving final touches to the initiation of their day long business activities.

We grooved around two glasses of tea and a plate of poha for about half an hour. I even had that closed VBD in hand skimpily clutched to be read at some other date (hopefully never again).

Lolo’s was also a place of pilgrimage for all sorts of students from all parts of the city and all engineering colleges. At any point of time between 3 and 5 in the morning you would find at least 30 insomniacs hanging out in front of that little wall. During exams, of course the figure reached a hundred, populating all the footpath corners in and around Dharampeth Chowk. These fellow examinees, some of them who have given the same exam for over 3 times, were a good source of information; sometimes. They were also just fellow tea drinkers at other times. I have seen old friends reunite here at Lolo’s during exams. It’s such a warm place.

At an intensely cheap cost Lolo’s served these future engineers, Mtechs, MBAs their future in one sense, in terms of a cup of hot beverage to keep them sleepless. A transparent glass of tea costing just 2 rupees and a plate of poha for 5 rupees was a rupee less, as per Nagpur standards at that time.

As our watch seemed to look like 4AM, we decided to gulp down the last spoon of that yellowish substance and ride back to our beds. Sleep was by now a secondary issue and we could just hang around another unit for better chance of passing the exam.

Sounds pretty poorly confident but, yes, this was the benchmark of my level of expectation from the evaluators. I had personally been duped by some illiterate examiner who scratched a zero after every question. The C paper of my second year, which is still the best exam of my life, where I dared to answer a nifty 110 on a 80 mark paper, fetched me a degraded 30. I later could grasp from the Xerox of the answer script that all the perfectly correct programs were ill treated; because they were not as written in VBDs. Henceforth I less believed my knowledge than VBDs.

We came back through the same lighted streets singing “Another Brick in the Wall” and the VBD still clutched in my hand, by then had been coiled to look like a telescope.

It was 5 now and I went of to play NFS Underground when Shibon dozed off. This was going to be the first exam in my engineering life when I dared to remain sleepless the entire night. Life had become tough and easy at the same time. They say engineering is.

I played record-breaking-ly well amid all tensions and frustrations of examinations. In fact I remember playing 28 levels in three hours, the best so far...

It was 8 when I snoozed my mobile alarm to get ready for the paper. I planned to wake up then; if I slept. Things were perfect even after smoking, gaming and keeping awake for 48 hours straight. After a bath and more tea I was perfected to perfection. Absolutely ready for the day. Was I ready for the exam or not would be answer after 4/5 months.

This was another astonishingly acceptable practice of our university. They seemed to publish results in snailishly slow pace and equally poor accuracy. How they managed to persist with such degraded consistencies is still a secret to me, even after 2 years of leaving college.

I walked in the examination hall at 9:30AM with burning red eyes and seemingly less abilities to pass. I thought and felt miserable for Miss. Priya Dhabekar, someone who used to teach the subject in class, but couldn’t help it. She and her golden words seemed to be less important to me than sleeping. I was dead tired and was even planning to sleep a third of the 3 hour exam to deliver during the other part.

Somehow time stopped there. No, I did not sleep or faint. After the paper was distributed all I remember was, I was writing. In shrimpish scripts it was my intention to make my answer-script as heavy (in mass) as possible. Which meant some meaningless point-wise-writing, some far fetched diagrams and some beating around the bush. I taught myself such abilities in the past 2 years and by then was extremely efficient in such tasks. The only thing that defeated me was speed of writing (may be size, not sure) I came out after the 3 toughest hours of my life in a haze and a desire to be dead as soon as possible.

There was a class of student who would prefer to venture around with who-answered-what and who-will-pass-and-who-not. I would have somehow been a sport to them as well, but sorry, some other day. I was desperate to catch my bed in less than half an hour.

A 7km bike ride would take me home in theory but in practice I went of to sleep when I was riding. The rest of the essay is written in white ink ;)


footnote: Shibon and I were real life room-mates during my SE exam. The rest of the essay is also not very far from reality.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

ya,i remember those days.

Saturday, January 13, 2007 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Debjit Ray said...

Hi Arnab,

just went thru ur i felt the way u hve documented the pathos lying underneath is mind-blowing...have gone thru ur previous articles thru but for obvious reasons have never been able to identify myself with ur remaining articles as much as this one...its seems u r gettin better by every passin day and hope dat u will take out a buk of urs damn sure dat u hve got a lot more 2 write (even bout ngp)...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 8:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Rohan Vaidya said...

A splendid piece of writing my friend, traces of Chetan Bhagat in these! J


Tuesday, January 16, 2007 8:34:00 AM  
Blogger gubs said...

its such a boring essay ...

[too much material discussed]

Monday, January 22, 2007 8:51:00 AM  
Blogger tejpal said...

i can associate wid it not coz of how u wrote it but more coz of nagpur dude

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 5:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

really a filthy piece of crap. i recommend deletion of this entire blog

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 5:39:00 PM  
Blogger Rejoy said...

yo dude. That captured the essence of our remarkable and youthful college days. "Purani jeans aur guitar" style :)

Saturday, January 27, 2007 1:16:00 AM  
Blogger asmita said...

Well I cant relate 2 dat much, since I never tasted such life. :)But I agree wid u as far as the abysmal level of NU is concerned.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 2:54:00 PM  
Blogger abhinav said...

How come there are no profanities involved....??? lol

Other than that awesome stuff..!

Cannot think of anybody else who could have articulated his/her feelings so elegantly.

Well played!!!

Friday, May 11, 2007 1:27:00 PM  

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