I find I’ve not really talked about the wonderful place that is NITK much on this blog. I’ve talked about the life we’ve led here, the quirks, the travails we’ve had to face, the fun we’ve had during our fests, and occasionally some conversations I’ve had… but nothing really about the college and what it has meant to me.
I’m sure this is not my final take on the college. I’m sure my perspective is bound to change once I enter the real world. Which will be hardly a couple of weeks from now. But I just want to preserve what I felt about this college these four years someplace… this page is getting used to being used as a time capsule.
My first impression of Mangalore was when I looked out of the window on a Manjunatha bus around July 12th, 2004, to cries of “Jyothi Circle, Hampankatta, Mangalore!”, and saw a whole array of mold-covered buildings. I wrinkled my face.
I liked the frontage, the Library, the Additional Teaching Block (ATB.. some people call it the ATB Block), the Main building… but walking towards the Girls’ Hostels, I stopped short on looking at a one-room structure called the Ladies Common Room. Moldy. Bad paint job. And one look inside gave me the heebie jeebies. Until now, common rooms were the Enid Blyton sort – music system, tables and chairs…. nope.. this place had broken furniture and tons of dust. Only later was I to find out we never did use it.
Then the Old Block…. “Ma! I’m not living in this Bhooth Bangla!!”, I said, my eyes taking in the more-black-with-mold-than-pink-with-paint building with vegetation growing out of its roof and its walls. “It’s like a chawl in here!” I said, looking at the rooms around the open courtyard. And went on to happily spend a year there, watching the rain fall into the open courtyard, play badminton, throwball, tennicoit, volleyball (Phoenix time 🙂 ) at odd times of the day and night.
My roommate had arrived a week before me. I would have normally had apprehensions sharing my room with a “northie”, considering the stuff I’d heard and all, and might have asked for a room change with people I knew from before… but the moment I said hi to her, something clicked… and we went on to share more than just rooms for four whole years. Whenever I felt homesick in those initial days, I would look across the room to this girl who was a week away from home, and who would go home only once a semester, and suddenly my worries would all seem insignificant. And all those times I’d fallen sick… when I was down and depressed… when I’d wake up crying from nightmares(!)… when I got an interview call, when I was ecstatic with happiness… Mal, I’m so thankful you were there for me sharing both my joys and my sorrows.
It was tiring at first, having to do my laundry myself. There were others who skipped baths and laundry… and many other essentials… simply coz they couldn’t fathom the depths the hostel conditions were here. Thankfully, I had come with my expectations at rock bottom, and they only got lower after the initial Bhooth Bangla shock. Laundry was a new experience… especially when I found a lizard-snake maintain eye contact with me throughout the duration of my first washing.
I mailed my old friends pretty often back then. They, of course, with their CET tensions didn’t find much time to mail back, and they didn’t have as easy access to the Net as I did in the GB net center. I remember writing to one such friend asking him to occasionally remember to mail back “the poor little girl growing littler doing her laundry”. And yet another friend got to hear about the fan in my room that had a weird drone, that one day Roh thought my mobile was vibrating. They all wrote back encouraging stuff telling me to not be homesick, to enjoy my stay there… but heck, enjoy was all I was doing.
So many weekend activities. I remember my MLTR and Blue experiences.
Getting used to the rains. Returning back to my room soaked to the skin every single day. Mum had given me a raincoat, but I found it was useless… umbrellas were better anyday. Being demented with shock after seeing my first snake on campus. Staring for hours on end at the black worms with yellow markings.
And the friends!! My room was a regular thoroughfare in those days, with both Southies and Northies haunting the place, thanks to the diverse bunch of people me and my roommate met. The initial days meant arbit chatting in arbit rooms with arbit people, sharing snacks from home, narrating school stories, talking about the teachers we had, about what the seniors told us… I remember one incident when I wanted to turn in early at 9:30 (I can see the folks who know me now keel over and faint), but there were some people in my room (who later went on to become my closest friends) who were talking to my roommate and simply refused to leave! And I was too diplomatic those days to ask them to clear out. And no conversation went on around me back then without active contribution from me (I have learnt since, to shut up when I have to), so I ended up chatting. Slowly, people started coming in. Then some people moved out, and falsely raised my hopes. Then more people came in and joined the conversation which went in arbit directions ranging from Verma wondering how come I say something in Tamil and Sin understood it and replied in Gult… we told her we were both talking in Kannada….. “Oh, all south indian languages sound the same to me!”.
My bed in those days would flip if more than four people sat on it, so the floor was filled. The outside of the room looked like the entrance of a temple or a computer center.. so many slippers! Slowly, girls from the other block joined in… then I found out why my room was such a thoroughfare – it was right next to the water cooler!
Finally it was 3 am when everyone started thinking of clearing out and letting us sleep. My very first almost-nightout.. yay!
Hanging around with a mainly Hindi-speaking bunch, I found that my random statements like “I’ll be meeting up with him…. chumma” enticed double-takes. Those initial days were replete with such misunderstandings and misunderestimating-people-from-the-other-side-of-the-Vindhyas… Bond (from Agra) once asked me in course of conversation if I knew of the Ramayan 😉 😛 And on my side, I was amazed folks from Tripura were so sophisticated 🙂 (Pubali, that’s a compliment, take it) and not in grass skirts. Again, it was Bollywood, ML Khanna, Irodov and HC Verma who united us.
I was also overwhelmed by the girls:boys ratio – 1:10! I guess the shock would have been much more for girls from all-girls environments. Prag (who studied in MCC) and I still sorely miss hooting and passing comments for male performers… which we discovered was possible only in an environment with a more balanced sex ratio.
… and there were so many other firsts, so many other things I got used to… Girls Rep elections, the fact that Gobi Manchurian is a side-dish and not a starter here, talk of dress codes, having no one to pass comments with in class for the first time in twelve years, having long conversations with people you’ve just met, the whole funda of “seniors”, talks of “party funda”, first crossie, first quiz – where the name NITK Numbskulls was first coined, first DJ night, first rock concert, first musical night, first surprise test, first assignment in the library, first C programs, teachers aren’t god – the library is, xerox notes are the easy way out…….. oh, man… quite a journey.
This isn’t a well written post, it’s more of raving/ranting. I just wanted to get back to blogging after weeks of unstable Internet. More coming up on NITK. Watch this space.