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Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

The Joys Of Being an F.E.

The H.S.C Exams were just over, and I was licking my wounds, inflected courtesy the Maths-2 Paper. Till then, I had heard of only 4 Engineering colleges…VJTI, SP, Thadomal and VESIT...honest! So the time after that cranial murder called the 12th Std. was spent in applying whatever little mathematical probability I knew to analyze the chances of my getting a seat in these 4 places. I was pretty sure about the fact that VESIT mein payment pe to mil hi jaayega.

Came result day, one look at my miserable marksheet and it sunk in..no VESIT, no seat. The 2A round was a blur. The 2D round was a messiah! I got into RAIT..Comps that 2 ! And so begins my little narrative…

My first visit was memorable (from many perspectives..as u shall soon see!). Magnificent Building, one Mother of a campus. Marble marble everywhere …dammit they even had marble partitions in the men’s loo! I was positively over the moon…little did I know what the fates had in store for ‘Poor Twisted Me’...

I had gone to pay the fees. Now the college building was a bit of a mystery to say the least. Me and a friend approached some kindly looking souls, sitting on the steps. (As Dave Mustaine would put it..he hung his head..inside that noose….!)

“’Scuse me..where’s the office?”

They looked at us. They looked HARD.

“F.E?!!!!” , they chorused.

We didn’t know what to say cos we didn’t know what the hell ‘F.E.’ meant... They needed no further confirmation. They moved menacingly towards us. They surrounded us smoothly and swiftly. We still couldn’t get it.

Then these guys made sure we did, for the next three hours. We were grilled on everything right from the colour of our undies to how much our baaps earned. We had to tuck our shirts out, remove our belts, and recite the RAIT pledge (Too graphic to be displayed out here..since this is a family website (sic) ) and do the RAIT salute (Again….i’ll spare u the baloney). I was informed that I had seven fathers…the logic was somewhat like…

“Dharti maa hai..to aasman kya hai? Tera baap!”

“Gaay hamari maata hai…to bail kaun hua? Tera baap!”

These are the two that I remember…any more contributions are welcome!

It was fun (for them). Finally when we were released..ego battered and badly bruised..I headed home trying hard to convince myself I had a good time…

But the best was yet to come….

The first day of college dawned grey and forbidding. I made my inconspicuous way up the steps and entered the building. What I saw made me jump out of my skin. This huge sea of seniors had gathered on the upper floors. Bhaari scrutiny chalu tha..each senior was marking out his ‘territory’. We did not dare to make any eye contact with them. We were like livestock in an animal fair. Every ten minutes or so, a group of seniors would swoop down, and pick up the more ‘jhataak’ dressed ones and educate them about the basic facts of life in RAIT.

The message was clear..play plain-jane, play safe. Out went the jeans, in came the formals. Of course, not that we had a choice. The dress code was fixed. No watches, no shoes. Only chappals. Shirts always tucked out. No belts. The ladies had to come in Salwar Kameezes. Violators were almost exterminated. The free lectures were always met with a great deal of trepidation. The seniors would come in, lock the classroom door and rule. Our entire day was devoted to discussing and devising ‘khoofiya’ exits from college. But trust the seniors to outwit us every blessed time….

On went the intitiation..in trains, buses, trains, u name it. The word ‘F.E.’ shouted out by a senior was enuff to make u feel like u were doin time at a concentration camp. The drafter was another accursed giveaway. It confirmed ur ‘F.E.’ status. (RAIT does not have mech/civil/prod).

Slowly I learnt a lotta things from all o’ these rites.

* How to play the air guitar

* How to ride an air Bike/scooter, complete with ‘gear change’ effects (had to be intoned by us)

* How to straighten dogs’ tails

* How to catch dogs (The straightening part usually came after this)

* How to catch sparrows and sing love songs to them

* How to play ‘Air Hostess’ on the harbour line ‘flights’ (We had to stand near the doorway ,’doing namaste’ and welcome surly faced passengers into the harbour line flight to Dubai…)

* How to ‘shoot’ all the guys coming into the train with the AK-47..i.e. the drafter

* How to beg and accept only coins with denominations <= 5 paise. If someone gave u more, refuse it..This usually had to be done to the crankiest looking dude in the compartment.

* How to calculate the solution to x(x-a)(x-b)(x-c)….(x-z). People would run up pages worth of binomial expansions…and struggle for hours before they told us that it evaluated to zero!

* How to sell pens without refills

* How to sell chana and sing, one daana at a time that is…

* How to run a 100 metre sprint in slow motion. The funda was that the guy who came in last would win. Go figure that out!!!!!!!!!

* Another favourite pastime for them was to make one guy ‘sin x’, and another ‘cos x’, and then we would be asked to show tan x, cot x sec x, cosec x and the like….

Occasionally RAIT’s one man anti-ragging squad would step into the picture. When he was around, the seniors used to be somewhat subdued, and we were relatively safe. But even this guy had his limitations. He could not be around all the time, at all the places. But he really did get us out of some particularly sticky situations. That he became the most hated guy when WE went on into S.E., remains one of the greatest travesties of fate…..

Then one fine day..I noticed that the sun was shining (Inane comment this..but lemme explain). I had actually dared to LOOK UP! (Otherwise, I had memorized all the scratches on all the floors of the college building…). The tube lights in my class were shining away to glory, the fan seemed to be winking at me as it creaked and whirred. I was sure I was hallucinating. My groin wasn’t feeling tight every thirty minutes or so….(wonders what a little relief can do to ur renal system…)

The reason?!

It was F.E. Nite Day! (sic)

It was official..we could wear jeans, we could eat it in the canteens, we could freely roam around college..we could SMILE…..

All in all, it was a memorable duration of time…that first month. We were prepared to face anything that good ol’ Mumbai University threw at us. After all, what could be worse than this?!

(The May 1998 CP-2 paper I have to admit, did come in a CLOSE second!). Still the foundation was laid for us to face up to the mental massacre that passes for engineering…

Of course, things were not all this docile and harmless..RAIT hai baap! But even then..a big THANK YOU to all our seniors..wherever u are..(if it were upto us…I’d say burning in hell ;) ). These memories are so vital, guess they had to be there to make the RAIT Experience a totality…

(In retrospect, all’s well that ENDS well!)
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