Category Archives: College Ramble

Since, I’m not biography worthy, I’d rather do an autobiography ;)

Once upon a time…

The uniforms that held us in bondage were discarded, the terrible red ribbons which in no way matched with our uniforms were thrown away and I was celebrating independence. I liked to believe so.

The ‘single-pampered-spoilt-brat’ label was getting on to my nerves and I pleaded, persuaded and pestered ( the 3 Ps of parenting the parents) to send me away from Mallu Land and away from them. Delhi University was out of question and Chennai was a dirty place. So, Bangalore seemed a safe bet with Hitler (aka my Maternal Uncle) and family appointed as my local guardians.  I had the choice of only 2 colleges, Christ and MCC. Christ is where, every B’lore Mallu and his cousin existed and I knew I wouldn’t be spared from the web of extended family  here.

MCC chics were pretty cool and my moment of epiphany happened on a particular trip to Veega Land, when the girls and boys were sent in separate buses due to several ‘concerns’. So, while grooving to the beats  in the bus, during this particular trip, I wanted to know how it would be to study in a women’s only institution.

As I walked up the drive for the first time, I fell in love with the college. The Principal tried to dissuade me from opting humanities and attempted culpable homicide by asking me to shift to Economics, Math and Stats combo instead of the artsy combo of Pol. Sci, Eco and Socio. I stood firm, for the first time in my life.

Interview done, admissions done and it was time to pack my bags and come back to Bangalore. This Bangalore was nothing like the early 90s Bangalore which I’d lived in. So, advice flew in all directions. “Be very careful, the girls are dangerous”. “People will make you fall in a trap”. ” Don’t befriend guys there”. ” Be yourself, don’t succumb to peer pressure”… sad I didn’t note down some of the hilarious ones.  Also, questions arose on why go all the way to B’lore to do a mere B.A. Many people offered their condolences on the ‘death of an engineer’ in me. ( Who decided I’d become an engineer anyway?). But none of it had prepared me for the awesomeness and awfulness I was supposed to experience in the years to come.

Hostel, college everything was new to me. The reopening session included the mandatory Retreat which I attended diligently, like a goody goody Mallu catholic girl who had just come from Kerala. From the next year, I entered the vicinity only when attendance was taken and in the final year retreat, I slept most of the time in my room.

Now, I believed my college life way cooler than everybody else’s and wrote tiny bits and pieces and spammed people’s inboxes until they issued a shoot at sight sight of mail order. And that’s how I discovered this cool thing called bragging by blogging.  Well, the main reason was a particular friend of mine, the bane of my existence in school had started a blog and received many comments. I hadn’t outgrown the ‘competition’ spirit yet, and if she could, then I should blog too.  People were generous enough to comment and encourage me those days. Arun, Kunju, Raghav, JK, Akhil.. the initial days of blogging without any apprehensions were so much fun. A big thank you to all of you who took time off your busy schedules to read a few kbs of my online trash.

And once, I began blogging, almost everything about my life is chronicled here though there has been change of urls/addresses. ( just like me). This page is like an extension of me now, though I don’t like the fact that I’m forced to keep certain opinions to myself to avoid the wrath of people I know in real life ;).  I already told someone off coz he’s was being a prick, picking on me and my blog entries, fb updates and tweets. Today we refuse to acknowledge each others’ presence which is very convenient for both of us.

Ya, so where was I? Meandered as usual?

By the way, its time to change the Blog headline in a few days time.  I won’t be a Mallu stuck in B’luru anymore 😛

 

 

 

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At crossroads again

Being the last weekend of my ‘college life’ and with plenty of time left for my brain to wander, delve into the past and prod into my existence of 22 years and few odd months, while stirring the gajar ka halwa on the stove ( 1 hour, kill me)…now that I’m relieved of my kitchen duties ( Amma is on bed-rest and my poor family had to train their digestive systems to endure the fruits of my culinary endeavours amidst warnings that way to a man’s heart is through the stomach and if it goes on like this, we’ll have to get you married to a heartless person)…let the rant begin.

I’m famous for treading the path less taken and then getting lost, this time too confusion prevails.

The first crossroads came post Xth board exams.  Amma asked me to take up Arts and Dad said ‘go daughter, get married to accountancy like me’. With a decent marksheet to flaunt and my parents gleeful over their daughter’s performance, I too got carried away with the herd behavior. Any self-respecting 15 year old was expected to enroll for entrance coaching and take up science stream. So, I was at this place which provided exclusive coaching for IIT entrance. My first lesson in learning- never bite more than what you can chew. The man who was only interested in squeezing out the 5 figure fees as an investment for a 6 figure salary used his exemplary  deceptive marketing skills and we fell into the trap. Few days into the coaching and I felt like a babe in the woods among the who’s who of 15-16yearolds in Trivandrum. I remember a terrifying Dubey and a funny gult chem tutor. When I couldn’t take it anymore, the Latin, Greek and everything else that was physics, chem and math, I quit. It was humiliating to see my name at the bottom of the list for every ‘bubble shaded’ that is writing every test there.This was the first and last tution/coaching whatever phase of my life.

Since, I had no other option I slogged through the two years aka reading novels to my heart’s content whilst others were immersed in Pradeep’s, Comprehensive series and the modules given by the popular tutors in the city. I do remember names like JK sir, AO sir, Rajesh sir and the like. The frantic efforts to complete the modules and test series left me wondering, did I make the right choice by quitting? You know a 16 year old is not seasoned enough to make tough decisions and then stick to it throughout her life( neither am I now). Anyways, all the entrance application forms arrived on time, I filled them up diligently and posted whilst my heart was set at joining a course that gave me  more freedom to enjoy my creative pursuits.

Board exams came and went, entrances came and went bringing in a wave of panic. I thought I scored a negative in chem after going through the answer keys… dunno if I did till date. By then, things were moving quickly at the other end and with the blink of an eye I found myself at the doors of THE COLLEGE. I managed to secure a place in the lower rung of the 4 digit ranks. Dad asked if I wanted to attend the engineering counseling sessions held later on… I denied.

Three years of racking my brains over economics, sociology and political science. In the first year I had major plans of becoming a criminal sociologist. Second year, I was kinda clueless and third year, circumstances were not in my favour that I could make a decision. Economics sounded cool then and I decided that was it.

Post-grad life was nothing compared to the joy ride that was UG yet, there was so much to learn. I was not in a place where I really wanted to be in and thus, was kinda unhappy. But, I learnt to come to terms with it  ( even if I cribbed about ‘something in college’ this morning) and now there’s just a week left. I met people who were GODS in the field of eco, quite a few among them being Old generation Mallus.

Soon I’ll be done with ‘excuses to be made since you’re a student’ and will have to take up more responsibilities. Can’t really say I’m going to miss college but there are 2 things I’m really going to miss.

* The literature, fiction and political science section of the library

* The coffee and ‘open dosas’ at THE hospital canteen.The only reason I survived B’lore winter this time.

I’m at crossroads again. Confused, clueless… I feel I’m saturated with studying and if I need a good job exclusively in my field, I should have the two letters DR. as a prefix! Should I or shouldn’t I… only if I knew.


Two sides of the road

Every morning as I drag myself to college, I come across these bunch of kids who are on their way to school. Their lively sare an insult to the life-less adults who are enveloped in the monotony of life.

On the other side of the road:

The kids are on their way to school, the enthusiastic faces eagerly waiting to see, what a new day has to offer them. ( I don’t know if kids really think that way these days :D). Lugging their heavy school bags, grandparents, servants or parents would be following them. The kids are clad in neatly pressed uniforms, handkerchiefs pinned to their shirts, shoes shining black and socks sparkling white. The kids wait for their van while the are parents engaged in conversation. The kids are always prim and proper, except for a few tantrums thrown by the youngest of the lot. The arrival of the van leads to a mad melee between elders and kids. Parents shove each other to get their kids into the van first. Sometimes, parents barge into the vans to ensure their kids get space to sit, or sometimes bully motion other kids to shift so that their kids get a window seat. Since the van is a privately operated one, rules and courtesies are comfortably forgotten. Kisses are blown, bye-byes are waved and the elders return to their routine lives. These kids go to the reputed schools of Bangalore, parents spend hefty amounts to provide the best education for their kids and life moves on. These kids are born with a silver spoon in their mouths. I’ve been seeing them  for more than a year now. Having observed them for quite sometime, I wouldn’t be surprised if they grew up into pampered spoilt brats.

Shift focus to my side of the road:

Sometime in June, apart from the regular crowd at the bus-stop, a group of kids aged between 6-12 entered the bus-stop and monopolized all the attention I had reserved for the kids on the opposite side of the road. These kids wore tattered uniforms, walked barefoot, the school bags were shoddy and most of them looked malnourished. The eldest of the group hardly 12 years old, assumed the full responsibility for these kids. The naughty young boys and their acrobatic displays on the railings in the bus-stop attracted everyone’s amused looks. They fought, threw mud on each other, they’d pick up some random metal scraps or papers from the road ( for what use, only they know) and  would be in a disheveled state by the time they reached school. Yet, the same unruly kids can pull your heartstrings when you see seven of them sharing one Marie biscuit. The BMTC buses which go in their school’s direction are always overcrowded. When the buses arrive, the kids look for the senior kid’s approval, as they don’t know how to read the bus number or the names written on the board. Sometimes they make a dash for the wrong bus, to grab space and the senior kid would shout at them and the kids would jump out of the bus.  Few bus drivers, never stopped for these kids and the kids would run behind the bus, mostly to no avail. Many times,  these kids had to travel on the foot board of the buses and my heart skips a beat when the bus goes away. The scene forced me to utter a prayer for these kids’ safety. There is nobody to say bye to these kids, nobody to  blow kisses. There is nobody to fight for these kids. End of the day, they have to fight for their space, their existence and their survival. They are children of the lesser gods only by birth. Their endless chatter and playful antics in those 15 minutes at the bus-stop everyday was enough to cheer me up on an otherwise drab boring working day.

From what I could gather, these kids lived in a slum located somewhere close to our area. Their parents were mostly construction workers. These parents work hard too, to provide whatever education they can, to their kids. But, whether these kids are really interested to go to school or not, I don’t know. I don’t think they really learned anything from school, their inability to read the boards made me think so. Their school is no exception from the  typical government school image portrayed all over. Absentee teachers,  empty classrooms, high dropout rates, unhygienic and terrible conditions… Most of them go maybe, only for the mid-day meals.

Since November, the kids have disappeared. I have no clue about what happened to them. Most probably, the construction workers must have shifted to another place and the kids would be living in dire straits in some other area. I don’t know if they still go to school. Yet, their absence has been disturbing. I don’t know where exactly they lived, I don’t know all their names. Yet, they gave me a reason to stop grumbling about having to go to college. Unlike most of them, lucky ones like us were never deprived of an opportunity.

A huge disparity, spanning across the width of a 60 ft road. Isn’t this the same all over our country? The road to development starts from education, everyone claims. The words ‘Right to Education’ has been making the rounds for a long time now, yet what is the point in giving rights like this, when there are no right means to provide the same.

Yet, I wonder how exactly can we make education accessible and affordable for all?


Of rolls, irani chai, zucchini and avoli

What happens when 1/4th of a class, gets so frustrated with 3/4th of a Masters degree and decide to go in search of gastronomical bliss  during a 3 hour gap between classes? We all suffer from ‘stress-induced- eating-disorder’ ( nah, that’s just another excuse to eat out). Non-stop, back to back sessions on fiscal reforms, customs union and the hip and happening econometrics class we were left brain dead, until the idea of eating out rejuvenated our dampened spirits.

Following the gang, we found ourselves  in the counter of a nearby joint famous for its kebabs and rolls. After getting our coupons, we proceeded to the delivery counter and my appetite vanished into thin air. They had an open kitchen of sorts and the sight was nauseating. Guilt conscience and not wanting to waste the money, I stuffed the roll into my mouth and experienced what exactly the idiom ‘leave a bad taste in the mouth’ implies in real life.

Disappointed, we proceeded to another place to compensate for this loss and I found myself entering a market place. Soon, I started getting lessons on different kinds of vegetables. I was reminded of kindergarten days, when we learnt our names of vegetables ( and developed a repulsion to them too). The difference was, in kindergarten, they were much easy- tomato, potato, cucumber… the teaching was done purely for educative purposes. Here, the names were kinda jaw breakers… Zucchini, broccoli, cilantro.. the teaching was done purely for show off purposes ;). I nodded, maintained a neutral expression and tagged along coz  there are worse experiences of embarrassment. Like, when 2 of them started obsessing over a mannequin’s body in a store.

Anyhoo, my bored expression turned into a squeal of excitement when I found a fish stall. And what more, against each english name, the malayalam name of the fish was written too :). Chempoli, aavoli, kozhuva, mathi, chala, ayala, sheelavu, koora…ayikoora… the gang dragged me off the market place when I started educating them on Malayalam names of fish.Trust, me I had my moment of sweet revenge. Malayali fish names are much more fancy than zucchini whatever 😛

The proud mallu moments were not to end there… true to some wise old man’s saying, in that corner of the locality we located a Malayali tea-stall. The only eatery we could find to ‘compensate’. I was reading through a scrap of Manorama used to serve samosas, while the friends ordered ‘irani chai’. For a small town girl like me, where world started and ended in the stretch between Tvm and B’lore, this was a subject of fascination.  A few minutes later, lemon tea with a pudina leaf was served. In the desperation to drink something hot in this killing weather ( my classes begin at an ungodly hour of 8 a.m), I had gulped down half of the tea shutting out my sensory perceptions except to that of temperature.. when the knowledgeable ones asked…”isn’t this supposed to be made of milk” . Coming to their rescue and assuming an air of self-importance, I translated it to the chai kadayile chettan. Apparently we had to make a special order if we wanted the chai to be made of milk. I translated it back and the disgusted faces glared at me.

By now, all of us realized that any further attempt to make up for the first mistake (that is the rolls), would only result in further disaster and thus, we were on our way back to college.

Well, my moments of distress didn’t end there. On the way back, I saw the HOD in an auto, going in the opposite direction. I gave a gleeful smile when she understood my thoughts and gestured from the auto,” I will be back, don’t go away”. I had 2 hours of HRM to endure.

Some days are just  meant to be this way. * sigh *

PS: Don’t ask me why I wrote this, non-sense rambling can be therapeutic at times

PPS: The current vamp in my real life saga thinks anything is a ‘standard publication’ if you can’t comprehend it in one go. My week and upcoming weekend is ruined :(.


Service with lips, lipsticks and lights

During the second year of my Undergrad, I was highly inspired and motivated to do my bit for the society, thanks to the subject Sociology and the compulsory credit courses we had to take up to fulfill the requirements for  the award of our degree. Whatever…

Since, Outreach offered maximum credits in minimum time and didn’t involve hours of sitting through painful lectures on weekends, many of us opted for it. I was a highly motivated individual at that time remember? We were sent to BOSCO Mane and those days made me realize how hard it is in reality if you really have to do your bit for the society.

It was during such a phase, in December, I think in commemoration of Human Rights Day, we hostelers were asked to take part in this particular ‘candle light vigil’ organized by some Germany based women’s organization. I don’t even remember the name, it was unheard of till then and unheard of even now, but I remember it rhymed with the word onomatopoeia. We were all asked to wear white for the vigil, which saw many a ‘beg, borrow, steal’ attempts by the ones who wanted to contribute to the well-being of the society.

We had to report at M.G road entrance and the rally was to be held around Cubbon park, the popular venue for any ‘Socially Conscious’ Bangalorean. The organizers distributed some fancy candles and paper cutouts to prevent wax from dripping and burning our hands and spoiling our clothes. After the women had finished air-kissing, hugging and exchanging pleasantries (read the designer for their sari, or where they got their accessories from),  putting on that final dab of lip gloss and a brief talk ‘praising the works of their organization, the walk was inaugurated.

The members of the group could be distinctly identified. The white clad supermodels and the ‘hostelers’ like us who were assembled solely with the purpose of ‘aale koottal’ or rather ‘speak volumes’ of their organization. The chiffon clad, stiletto clamped womenfolk started ooh-aahing within 5 minutes of the commencement of the walk. Each five minute break was followed by camera flashes, posing for the press and short page 3 type interviews.

“We’re here to work for the betterment of the Indian woman, who has been suppressed and tortured for years” a fat aunty started off.

“We want these atrocities against women to stop”, another aunty shoved off the fat one and fought for her camera space.

We proceeded, watching this circus and I was ashamed to have walked into this. All that mattered here was not letting your candles blow off, make sure the photographers clicked the right faces and give page 3 type interviews. I had no clue on how I made a ‘difference for the women in this country’ with that namesake of a walk.

That day when I returned to the hostel I was not a content person. This publicity stunt for the ‘sake of oppressed’ women of the Indian Society on World Human Rights Day, left me disgusted. That, I had been part of another venture ‘where people misuse the names of the downtrodden for the sake of showing off their service’ made me cringe. Every bit of motivation and inspiration drained off with the realization that more than 90% of these pseudo-service-minded-people do it only for recognition. For them it was just another gimmick to have their faces plastered on newspapers and magazines.

After that particular incident, I’ve been very apprehensive about taking part in these vigils and rallies. I do agree there are many out there who do whole-hearted service but, these candle-lights and rallies just don’t make sense anymore. A momentary realization, awareness which lasts for like what maximum few hours, the undying spirit of patriotism that arises only during national holidays or terror strikes… and what purpose does it serve?

A few months back, we had this Seminar in college and there were some leftover unopened biscuit packets. We decided to distribute the packets among ourselves. I was traveling home with a friend. We stopped at the signal at Bhasyam circle and saw the bunch of kids who sell some arbitrary hand-made stuff or sometimes come begging. At that moment, we decided to give away the biscuit packets to those kids and I will never forget the smallest kid of the lot who actually smiled and said a ‘thank you’. That day, I was a content person.

I still remain pessimistic about the services rendered and how people go on harping about being the change with just a few rallies and candle-light gimmicks. Poverty, deprivation, hunger, and illiteracy nobody actually knows the way out of it. This is the truth I realized after the invigorating ‘growth and development’ exam yesterday.

Sustainable development, growth, strategic planning, poverty alleviation, integrated measures, objectives, goals, targets, achievements, income gap, human development, equitable distribution, population- environment- development nexus, welfare, efficiency of allocation, optimal utilization, mobilizing resources, knowledge base, inclusive growth, eradication, universal literacy… and many more. All of it makes me puke. Reminds me of the trash I’ve to churn out for the next exam, Indian Eco… Yes, these are stuff just worth putting down on paper.


Rant

I need to do this or else I’ll end up hurling abuses at people in my growth and development paper tomorrow. Questions on critically examine ‘x’ s theory ( note: x=43 in this case..43 theories.. KILL ME) will be answered as Ricardo was out of his mind or Tobin himself had no clue what he was talking about. Anyways, there are only three kinds of people in this planet earth who bring out the worst in me.

1) Auto drivers

2) College and a few people associated with it

3)  Right now every person who formulated a growth theory to make my life miserable. Rather the University people who included all this in our syllabus which is pointless.

All I can think of critically examining is ‘its useless, meaningless, pointless, worthless’. With due respect to all the economists, I have to confess, seriously I don’t understand why their research got so much recognition ( in our syllabus) when it holds no value in the current world. As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog, I’m sure these growth economists were venting their personal egos rather than doing original research. That reminds me that I don’t understand their fascination with the word ‘vulgar’. While criticizing each other, every other person’s theory happens to be a ‘vulgar’ theory according to them. Speaking of the interesting usage of words by Economists this one takes the cake. Ms.Joan Robinson and her ‘ Bastard golden age’. I’m in love with this lady. Of the very few lady economists I know, she is one with lot of guts. Her writings and open criticisms makes me go :O

Now, I wouldn’t have hated these growth theorists if not for my Lect. This person stays 10 miles away from anything that has got mathematical equations in it and thus, a major portion of our syllabus was left for self-study coz we aren’t supposed to be spoon-fed at PG level. What a dumb excuse. For people like me who survive only on class lectures and hate to read anything that has to do with the course subject, this is torture.

The other day I just realized how ‘hypocritical’ people in my college are. My college happened to be my centre for this particular exam I was writing and I was shocked to see the happenings there. Since, I remain invisible in that place especially with my obsessive bunking disorder, these people didn’t recognize me (luckily). The dedication and sincerity with which they were ushering people, showing directions… the wholehearted service left me in tears. One person was kind enough to show me the very classroom where I shuttle up and down everyday I college. Sigh

The tears turned into exasperation  when I had to travel for 2 hours and wait for the’ HALL TICKET’, right on the day before the exam ( today). And, they treat us like some third rate citizens.  Not that I’d have spent those hours in ‘productive activities’ but I could’ve spent that time to finish a few more pages of ‘Godfather’. It keeps me sane.

The worst part of it all was the decision to hire an auto to get back. The bloody jerk had a dysfunctional meter and had the nerve to ask me for extra bucks. I just paid the exact amount and scooted from the place after screaming at him. He almost knocked down a girl in a scooty and fled from the place. Contrary to my ‘why chumma get into trouble attitude’ today my temper was so high that I shouted at him for that too. I’m glad I did that. My troubles with auto drivers here never seem to end.

Anyhow, some days are just meant to be like this and I post stuff that makes people think I’m a misanthrope. Can’t complain, can I?

So where did I begin. Ya.. growth and development. Time to cram useless stuff and answer questions like ‘what was Smt.Joan Robinson’s contribution to theory of capital accumulation’. Smt.Joan Robinson? Seriously? reinforces my belief that our university murders Economics and Economists.


A Memento hunt and all that jazz

College reopened a month ago, and to break free from the monotony of seeing the same faces every single day, we had to wait for at least a week for the juniors to arrive. Tired of being the uncles and aunties in college (being the senior most), the freshers promised to bring with them an aura of freshness and youthfulness. That the kids needed to grow up and carried tons of attitude was something we didn’t expect.

Day 1 for the freshers was surely an interesting experience for the old monks in college like me. I shall not delve into details of how two people who would never see each other eye-to-eye were seen bumping their chests, shaking hands, hugging and patting their backs… public display of universal brotherhood I say! That, this brotherhood was displayed every time they passed in front of the ‘ex-Carmelite’ sisterhood cracked me up.

The greatest opportunity for a senior-junior bonding is to organize a freshers party (now that any form of interaction is labeled ragging). However, the sad economists that we are, we finally decided to hold one after all the other forms of impressing juniors failed and few seniors pressurized us when the juniors literally begged for it. It was a small affair, given the shortage of funds and the deadly R word hitting us real hard. We struck a deal for the food and beverages after a mallu-mallu bonding with the owner of a bakery and pestering him until he said yes to everything we said.

Next came up the issue of mementos for the juniors. 22 of them and only 15 of us to fund the entire party!!! Our deep-dark motives of delaying the freshers’ party also included high hopes that at least a few of them will quit and join better avenues. (The results for JNU, GIPE, MSE, DSE etc were yet to come). Therefore, we had to give them a little something, so that they would remember their beloved seniors. It was unanimously decided that we would give them small mugs, with their names and a welcome message on them. Yours truly, who is suffering from obsessive bunking disorder was ignorant to finer aspects like this, when the party was still in its planning stage.

It was on the day before the party that we decided to go memento hunting. The cheapest ceramic mugs were available somewhere near Hosur road where there were ceramic sellers on the roadside. After haggling with at least a dozen auto-wallahs we reached the place. One look at the place and everyone started “Who suggested this place?”. Since, yours truly rarely goes to that part of the city and never once opened her mouth regarding the availability of mugs there, the blame game never bounced off whenever people threw the ‘you are responsible for this’ look.

Now, it was time for me to spring into action. Four years ago, I had been to this ceramic/crockery shop in Ibrahim Street where mugs were available cheap. That is when someone remembered a roadside ceramic seller near Commercial Street. Thus, we headed to Commercial Street with hopes of finding something. As bad luck would have it, the ceramic sellers on roadside do not open on Fridays apparently. Dang… Now, we had to walk all the way to Ibrahim Street via main Commercial Street. Bad idea on a Friday. Especially, if you are really short of personal cash in hand and loads of money contributed by the entire class for the mementos. “Do not lead us to temptation, deliver us from evil” I guess, we repeated this numerous times when we saw the “50% off and end of season sale” boards all over the place.

On the way we were contemplating on alternative gifts if not the mugs. Preliminary enquiries showed that the given the budget constraint, the quantity of mugs available wouldn’t meet the demand. There was everything but ceramic/crockery shops. Tired by now, we began shooting our alternate choices depending on which shop we came across each time. A clock for their class, I suggested. But we’ve never had to throw out an over-enthusiastic lecturer coz he/she exceeded the given one hour and took away our ten minutes of freedom after each lecture. (The one who did, does not come anymore). So that idea would be a waste. Next we saw stress-balls. This was something essential for each one of them. Why? Imagine a classroom where you are yawning over the futility of the nth model suggested by some Economist and dissed by another 20 of them. The lecturer is trying to establish a relationship by drawing a graph. The variable on the y-axis does not correlate to what the lecturer is saying. You ask a doubt, what does that variable represent? The lecturer erases it saying, “I simply wrote it.” So we have a production function graph, with nothing on the Y-axis and the person who gave that theory would have turned in his grave. Mr. Kapil Sibal, are you hearing me? 100-day reform you say? The damage is already done. It would take ages to pull the system out of it. Sometimes, I wish our education ministers hadn’t taken their jobs so seriously by introducing n number of reforms and messing up the entire system. Ok I’m digressing… A dartboard would be a perfect substitute for a stress-ball.

Anyways, we reached the ceramic shop I had suggested and in four years, the prices have skyrocketed. What I saw then worth 10 bucks, now cost 25 bucks. We literally had to ask, “Bhaiya what is the cheapest stuff you can give us here, worth maximum 10 bucks.” The shopkeeper’s face showed a mixture of emotions. It started with a shock, then that of sympathy and finally ‘Just get out of here, will you’ look. We scooted from the place and entered the ceramic shop just opposite to this one. Now, these people seriously need a lesson on ‘arrangement of products’. My friends were close to disowning me when I banged against a couple of mugs and they fell down. Thank my lucky stars, that the mugs turned out to be made of plastic. Here, all white mugs, which were available close to our budget range were either damaged or out of stock. Yes, we believe them! Half an hour of fishing, digging, searching and scanning through the mugs yielded no productive results except the discovery that the variety they call ‘bone-china’ has several duplicates and consumers are royally cheated.

By now, we were seriously pissed off and started cursing the moment, we decided to volunteer for mementos. My other two companions had left their bags in college. We were hopeful of finishing the errand during the lunch break and now the time was almost 3 p.m. Starved, we headed back to college in an auto. This auto-ride was a lifetime experience. The auto didn’t have a sidebar and once again I got lucky, seated in the middle. Vroom, he set off, gripping the handle, flexing his body at all turns and the auto in the process. My friend said , “ Bhaiya, ahistha chalayie, aap James Bond ke thara mat jayie” He gave a wide grin, showing all of his yellow teeth and started his non-stop chatter. When it came to negotiating the umpteen crosses and mains on the way, he would swivel the vehicle in a James Bond mode and the two ladies on my left and right , held onto their lives. That he was a very considerate driver was evident when one of them pointed left and he said,” Madamji, haath aisa mat daaliye, koi gaadi takraeyga.” Half the time, his head would be turned towards us giving us gyan like this. “Bhaiyaaa” I screamed when he lost sense of all direction and entered the wrong side of the road almost knocking down a girl on a two-wheeler. I’ve never heard a girl swear like this all my life. We once again requested him to get-rid of the James Bond ka bhoot and drop us back to college safely. Trust, me that roller coaster of a ride in an auto cannot be described in words. I recited all the prayers I knew for our safety. Finally, we reached college and the two self-important virus afflicted people were leaving. “oye, take this auto,” I told them. The next day the two of them refused to acknowledge that they knew me or that I was their classmate.

The next stop for memento hunt was the Brigade-M.G stretch. The idea- buy those posters they sell on the roadside. Even that turned out to be an expensive affair for us impoverished economists. At some point of time, I blurted out, “What if we buy curtains for their class.” My partners in misery, now literally asked me to SHUT UP and stop giving suggestions. Just that they didn’t scream at me. On the way some godsend person told us Shivaji Nagar would be the ideal place for our memento hunt.

So Shivaji nagar it was. After walking round in circles for sometime we discovered, what could be called the crockery haven of Bangalore. There were only crockery and ceramic shops to be seen in that area. But, again we had to be the shameless customer and beg for the cheapest item in each shop. Getting plain white mugs was out of question now. Weary and tired we were ready to settle down on any mug. We discovered that the price margin decreased in each successive shop and went on searching where the prices would match our budget. Leading the way, yours truly walked into the shop where there only white mugs and plates on display. Our hopes rekindled, yours truly was super-excited on this discovery. I literally went Yippee… realization struck few seconds later, embarrassment struck a few more moments later. It was a caterer’s shop and he had hung his supply of cups and plates for drying. That was the memento moment of the day!

Exhausted by now, we entered what seemed to be our last hope. We saw a decent collection of mugs and after bargaining, the shopkeeper relented to bring down the price to Rs.15 per piece. Just when I thanked heavens for that, the cunning shopkeeper backtracked saying he doesn’t have enough stock. The ones for which he had enough stock were expensive ones. We begged him to search for more and we ourselves unearthed a few more pieces from the deep dark corners of his shop yet we were short of six more mugs. By now the shopkeeper was frustrated with us. He had to leave in a few minutes and handed over the charge to another person. God bless this ‘other person’. He dug out an entire set and finally it was mission accomplished. Mementos in hand, starved and exhausted we dropped dead by the time we reached our homes. By now, we decided on our project topic too. A study on ceramic/crockery sellers in Bangalore and the types of ‘cunning shop-keepers’. I’d be better off writing a thesis on ‘How NOT to be an over-enthu senior and volunteer to go memento hunting’.

PS: *Only 50% freshers turned up for the abovementioned party.

* I strongly believe I should continue with Gandhi’s ideals of non-cooperation and civil disobedience.