Abstract: This post is a part of the series on Metamorphosis in our times and covers a period of the youthful days free of worries! I consider myself blessed to be born in an ebullient nation and to see the dreams being realized as a common man. Those who are interested in reading about the earlier period may follow the link
The skies thundered and the rain came down in torrents as I scampered to take refuge in the Admission Block, where I met Sanjeev. We both faced the similar dilemma of choosing between two premier institutions (St Stephens and DCE)! We finally paid the fees to join the professional college. I do not know if the decision was right or wrong but can surely say that I did what my heart pined for. I see parents of young toddlers these days in a similar situation, just after their siblings complete the play school. The brighter ones hold admission cards for three to four premier schools where as the mediocre children struggle hard to seek admission even in one school! So, now the competition starts that early! Welcome to the world of Gen Y and Gen Z!
Once in college, the life took a complete turn in terms of freedom. The initial days were tough as ragging by seniors was a routine affair much on the lines depicted in the classic ’Three Idiots’. In addition we were taught a bizarre ‘technical salute’ of sucking the thumb and jumping with a twist of body when in air, when we met our seniors! The academic curriculum used to be very intense followed with lab/ practical training and workshops. In our entire batch of the graduation class there was a lone girl and used to enjoy the status of a ‘honey bee’! Anyone who could stand and chat with her for more than fifteen minutes was considered to be one who knew how to get along with girls as the majority of students hailed from schools where there was no coeducation. Also, the wide majority of students in the class were from middle class background that had to give up their seat in IIT as their parents could ill afford sending their ward to the premier institution (due compulsory hostel). Most of these students came from the family of at least four children at home. So the priority right from the word ‘go’ was to slog and get scholarship for the rest of the academic terms. Sanjeev was a state level player of lawn tennis and I too started to learn tennis from him at the hard courts in the college!
The only college where the fairer sex could be found closet to our institution was the Women’s Polytechnic, whose students were mostly considered ’behenji’s( a connotation for sisters) ! Those who were residing in hostels used to sneak to ‘cabarets’ once in a while, while the lesser adventurous ones preferred to the ‘bird gazing’ a happy pastime near Janpath in Connaught Place, while downing cups of coffee at ‘De Pauls’!.
The students very rarely bunked the classes and whenever it happened, it would be a ‘mass cut’, a day of revelry, when one would rush to theatre to see the movies! Our favorite haunt was the ‘Chanakya’ theatre in the swanky Diplomatic Enclave area of
We preferred watching in the first two rows as the ticket was a mere 65 paise!
We envied the students of other colleges where this phenomenon (bunking
college!) was oft repeated and much to our chagrin we found the boys in company
of pretty girls munching popcorns and enjoying movies whereas we were starved
of the company of fairer sex. The farthest most of us could go was to strike a
conversation with one of the girls in the University special DTC bus! Most of
the times their interests waned when they learnt that we were pursuing the
professional course, as we rarely had something interesting to talk about
We had a nice cafeteria where we congregated in groups of ten to fifteen to discuss the political scenario like imposition of emergency in 1975 or the fate of the Indian cricket team in the ongoing series with West Indies or Australia!. Sometimes the discussions would be about the sexual content of the movies like ‘Chetana’ and exposure of Rehana Sultan the starlet of the movie!
Commuting in capital was never easy as going to the college was generally by University special buses and return in a regular DTC buses which were irregular and provided the shoddiest service and were always crowded. The girls had to bear the severest brunt for which reams have already been written by so many in past.
I remember the feeling of elation which everyone experienced when
India exploded the
first nuclear device, had the first manned space mission and celebrated the
first ever recorded war victory in 1971 leading to creation of Bangladesh and the hosting of Asian Games in
1982 when the color TV entered India!
These were all major milestones in a fast developing nation that we witnessed.
The ruling Congress party got a drubbing in the year 1975 when Indira Gandhi was impeached by Allahabad High court and her election was declared void. The darkest period of Emergency for 21 months followed. There was censorship in press and media and every voice that was raised in protest was muzzled. Sanjay Gandhi, the son of Mrs Gandhi went about zealously with his cohorts in overdrive of sterilization campaign in and around
Delhi. Notwithstanding this, the country’s
population soared passed the billion mark!
Not many of us were smitten by love in those days! We coyly eyed girls and threw sideward glances but only two brave ones went beyond to find their ‘first love’ during college time and to marry them later. Most of us went through the rigmarole of seeing girls chosen by the families and then deciding to marry. This is a stark contrast from what is now seen in the increasing liberal attitude of the society.
Film Festivals in
used to be a great event to watch the uncensored world class cinema! There
would be a scramble for tickets and students would line up the counter in wee
hours of the winter mornings in Delhi!
The biggest reward was the two tickets one could get for a movie like
‘Siddharth’( starring Simi Grewal , directed by Conard Rooks) ,‘The Godfather’(
by Francis Ford Coppola), or ‘ A Clockwork Orange’( by Stanley Kubrick). Each
of these movies was a rage and some of them did not see the light of the day
after the screenings on such an occasion.
Another exciting event was a visit to Panna, diamond mines, an excuse to see Khajuraho temples during college! The discussions that followed thereafter need a separate space and may invite censorship! We also went to
Chandigarh to visit HMT factory in
Pinjore and wound up the day at ! My next destiny was
almost engraved in stone that day when I along with another friend of mine went
pedaling on the boat not to return for next two hours! Search parties along
with boat owners were launched to find our whereabouts! We had taken a detour
from the main course and soon got lost, bereft of the bearings! There was much
rejoicing on the return of two adventurous sailors one of them (self) was set
to join the Navy a year later! Sukhna
PS- Images Kind courtesy Google
The last part of this series will feature the life in present times