Friday, 2 August 2013


Just saw the film that's been making the rounds. Again. You know the one - with Anu, R, Padmini and several others saying how awesome BITS was. It's what? 25 years now? I suppose it is easy to go all sepia tone. And outside the campus, the place was pretty brown anyway.
I hated the place - not all the time, of course, but often enough. I was mixed up, a brat, too full of myself, a fool who desperately wanted to be cool. I remember bawling out my inadequacies to Natty and Premdas. I remember being deeply fucked up - a puritan tambram streak at odds with a natural inclination towards hedonism. I hated the fact that I was uniformly terrible at acads. I  think I only made 2 'A's in my time there - PS 1 and PS 2.  hated the fact that I could never find the courage to talk to a girl. I was perennially broke and piling on to others. And of course, the things I did there - the smoking, the phens and all the rest probably laid the foundations for a fucked up heart and perforated kidneys.
It wasn't the place of course. It was me.
There are times in your life when you only remember the bad stuff that happened - never the good. And there are times when you can remember only the good stuff.  Maybe it works differently for you, but that's the way things roll for me.
But here's the thing. With BITS, I have to work harder to remember the bad stuff. I know that it wasn't an idyll, lazy days and glorious nights, but even the bad stuff seems better than the other bad stuff.
The BITS film is well meaning, but fuck - who spent time in classes? Who fucking danced Bharatha Natyam in Shiv G? In those clothes? Where are the filthy rubber chappals? Where are the horrible bogs? Where the fuck is Pappu?
Yeah, yeah. The place has changed. It is now a global brand (oh how I HATE those words). The kids there talk knowledgeably about management and marketing. They're setting up their e-commerce companies even before they get their degrees. And that's all good, all right for this century, I suppose.
But for me, it was those luchcha sessions in the back wing of Ram, with Aavi and Micko and Gundu and Pettai looking thuggish in his vest and lungi. It was those rare occasions in Connaught with Midnight Beauties and fried Maggi - the day you got your draft and made the trip to UCO Bank, just off RP and came back flush with a few hundred rupees. It was cutting yourself on the barbed wire fence as you made your way from Ram to Krishna. It was in the names of the hostels - Ram, Budh, Malviya, Krishna, Gandhi, Shankar, Vyas, Viswakarma and Bhagirath, Rana Pratap and Ashok - and of course, in a different dimension altogether, Meera.
It was getting stoned for the first time, listening to Indian Summer. 2 js and 4 chis. Still remember tottering back to my room, after that, thinking I was walking through a time tunnel. It was stumbling out of bed at 3 in the afternoon, too late for lunch and making my way to Sky for that chai-cigarette. It was about sky - more than anything. Sitting on that curved stone bench with a bunch of others who hadnt seen the inside of a class for months. Standing under a waterspout on those strange days when there was rain. And it was also about classes. VPG and LinAl. Ghule like a rockstar, his classroom overflowing in the first week of the semester. Pulak Das and ceteris paribus. JP Varma and PD Chaturvedi. Guys moaning over Transport Phenomena. Looking at TSKV Iyer's Circuit Theory textbook and wondering why all that stuff that seemed to make such glorious sense while you read it stoned seemed to melt away on test day.

And it was about the music, the rages that swept the college each year. Tull. The Doors. Dylan. Cale. The Dead. Airplane. Natty playing "My object all sublime" from The Mikado.Listening to Freebird, stoned, for the first time. Kaustav and "Where do you go to my lovely." Bong and "Bobby Brown". Driving my backie crazy by playing Rock'n Roll Music non stop. Getting driven crazy by my backie playing 'Kashmiru loyalu Kanyakumarilu - O Santamama.' Fuck. I heard that song in my fresher sem, and will carry it with me till I die.
The kindness of seniors. Madan Babu taking me in hand in my first sem. Being ragged by Guru and Siddharth Kanoria in Budh's T-wing. Being quizzed on Wodehouse by Loki. KM - who nearly made me cry. Being woken up at 2:00 in the morning and sent to the bus stand to buy a guy called Negi two Esquires. The Gult gang - Suresh, Tra, Boobs and Guntax.

Movies at the Audi. Furiously wanking off into the Audi curtains gawking at Shilpa Shirodkar in Kishen Kanhaiya. Earthquake, which looked so bad, you'd think it had been through one. Michelle Pfeiffer in Tequila Sunrise and The Witches of Eastwick. Music Nights and VPK.
Reading Stephen King and Tolkein and The Magic Mountain and Eliot and Steinbeck. Fighting over Cherry's Penthouse. Human Digests. Sherlock and Tolkein. Fitzgerald and Thoreau.  
The nicknames: Vochak. Catprick. Muds. Gunds. Baldy. Kandaar. Mapper. Crypper. Chai. Of. Babban. My own -smelly/shit/woman. The words: abso/jhool/haloo/cracko/crash/chome/blown. The places: BC/Giridharis - the shack -  the first porn (Society Affairs, with Harry Reems) - Nagarji - The temple - finding JFK and Lenin sharing sacred space - and its lawns.
Architecture: Wings - T, front and back, new. Sideys and backies. ET/QT/Audi/Blocks M, C, IPC. Central  Lib and students lib.
Other places: Mad Max to Pahadi. Bhagode. Manikaran trips. Holi in the snow.
Stuff: Sampath and Gyanoo. Posat and op. The trips to Delhi. The loo at Nirulas. Flying past the fences.
The contests: Oasis. Apogee. T-Shirts. Casaram the camel. 333031. Jams. Connections. Quizzes. BoB. OHT. Chanty and Venky. Salmagundi. R making the connection to Professor Moriarty after one clue 'asteroid'.
Names to fear: Bond.
The long runners. Pat. Sangeeth. PV.
Saying goodbye. Goodbye Audi, goodbye Bhavans. Goodbye messes. Goodbye Blocks. Goodbye MB (I hardly knew ye). Goodbye Sky. Goodbye Pappu (thanks for that SPLENDID parting boozer you threw us). Feeling self-consciously nostalgic about it all.  Goodbye, Pilani, you strange petridish, you closed eco-system, you way of life.