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Dirtscapes

Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

The RAIT Experience



Fate, that cruel landlady, has dealt us our eviction notice. Time to leave, to say goodbye to 4 wholesome years of pure, unadulterated ‘raantigiri’. No more RAIT. The very thought is like a ten-ton hammer hitting u right between the eyes. Time to rejoice? Definitely Maybe !!! No more 2 to 4 hour commutes (stop laughing all u New Bombay and BARC people). No more journal work. No more submissions. No more term work tests. No more ‘jherox’. No more EXAMS ! NO more vivas! But wait….isn’t this supposed to be a senti piece? Hell yeah baby it is!! About to follow are some of my memories 'bout life in this madhouse.

Here’s hoping most of you relate to them !!


Aakarshan:
Definitely the ultimate symbol of all that RAIT stands for. An event like none other, NONE. The jeering, the applause, the paper showers, the decibel level, the crowd waiting like hungry wolves ready to tear you down at the slightest slip up, the delirium following the end of it all…

One thing I remember is listening to the tinkling of the keyboards, while twilight just about made it’s furtive way around the horizon, standing with my friends (you know who you are!), weary from all the manic dancing and getting that ‘God’s in his heaven and all is right with the world’ feeling. Pretty definitive. (Soppy? Man, it is, I am going soft!)


Horizon:
3 days = a massive blur. Now this blur could have been due to

a) Organizing stuff

b) Excessive fatigue caused by the RAIT ‘bench press’

c) Lack of sleep

d) A particular class of alcohol compounds and certain alkaloid derivatives (mostly a combination of the above taken in copious quantities, like there’s no tomorrow! All part of our traditional Aadar Satkar…?)

Take your pick!

Add to this the aftermath of the whole affair. Falling asleep while going back on the first train of the morning, and waking up just before your station. There sure was a guardian angel watching over us! Sleeping for three whole days afterward. (Heck, who needs sweetleaf?!)

The Canteen:
The nerve centre of the college. The control unit. The central processor.(whatever, maaf!). The (smoky and dingy) first stop after landing on campus for most. The scene of so many ‘aalams’ (i.e. banging like maniacs on the tables and letting our vocal cords rip), conspiracies (oh yes!), journal writing sessions, and good old time massacre(sic).

One thing I must mention here is Anna’s (as from down south) Misal Pav. A stand out dish. One can write complete tomes on this particular thing, but it will suffice to say here, that it has become ingrained into our collective subconscious. Any RAITian worth his/her salt should be a Misal Pav connoisseur by now. Four years of eating the same thing day in and day out, does that to you I guess! All the same, decent food, decent prices (Chhole Bhature, Veg Pulav, Limbu Paani).

The Carrom Room:
Also, the box-cricket room. A dingy, airless hole which was home to many guys. The all pervading stink of rancid oil, along with some of the most gloriously distraught furniture ever known to mankind. The scene of many a carrom match, plain faaltugiri and of course, the SUC meetings!!

The Campus:
Was cool when we joined, is now AWESOME. Even the staunchest critic has to admit that our campus RULZ! Straight out of the Yoo Ess Af Ay (dyslexia anyone?). The mindblowing views from the drawing rooms were unmatched. The place looks like something straight outta timelessness in the monsoons - lush wet greenery all around, the building defiantly standing up to the choicest of chemical infested Navi Mumbai raindrops. Wonder why the campus reminds me of Circe...

Workshop:
One word definition ? HELL. The guys trussed up like god knows what in those goddamn boiler suits. One piece affairs of course. I don’t know about you, but I positively detested it. One of the reasons being was that it was in the basement (for more details, refer ‘The Joys of being an FE’, by the same author)(Maaf karna, mere andar ka Tanenbaum jaag gaya tha!). Worst of all was filing/fitting day, when the screeching of all those blunt files against metal was intolerable. Kinda sounded like Annamika (of ‘ketwolk’ fame) on amphetamines. Plus you got to smell like Iron Man, if the Nirma soap powder ran out near the sink. My nasal hair cringes at the recollection. Very painful.

The Commuting:
One thing which probably makes an RAITian a VERY different proposition. The men from the boys stuff. Anyone who balances the commute with the whole engineering show has to be worth it man, has to be worth it. Miseries compounded during the rainy seasons. Dadar and Kurla are not exactly honeymoon spots in those watery months (or any month for that matter). Ah, fair old Dadar, with that ethereal perfume… a $$%*@@#$ soul scalding, nostril burning, mix of the choicest ‘kothmir’, ‘hari mirchi’, ‘adrak’, sweat , cotton clothes and cowpiss. One whiff and you are hooked for life. Back for more, without fail.

And the time honoured joke which went something like ‘If someone as much as took a leak on the harbour line tracks, you had a flood coming your way’(don’t ask me who thought of that one…) proved cruelly true every monsoon. Case in point? Vadala Road (or Vadala port?).

Most of us have used Trains, buses, ricks, in no particular order, to reach college, one way that is. The trains. Now what do I say? A tortoise on dope could have whizzed past those pathetic tin chains called the 'Harbour Line' trains. Miss one train, and man you had it. The next one would creep in at it’s own sweet disposition.

Entry was simple. Pre-Kurla that is. Then you got to know that the human skeleton can actually exhibit some great elastic properties. Honest. A frantic body massage till Sanpada ‘teshun’, where the train would literally purge itself. You were king till Nerul arrived.

Trust the ever resourceful RAITian to actually manage to write journals in these conditions, or grab some frantic knowledge bytes before the exams.

But one consolation was the Vashi bridge. A grand sight indeed, especially at night.

And of course, the Andheri-Belapur is the sort of stuff that legends are made of. Cool train, cool people. It was here that I first cut my teeth as an ahem… entertainer( the Ego has landed - RUN!)

The buses? Well, I do remember the khunnas between me and the ‘mashter’ over ‘suttey paishe’. But no grudges against the buses, they are cool!

Nerul Station :
Or Nerul Airport as we call it! Whatta station man! I haven’t seen so much granite even in the ad for ‘Surendra Granites’ that my cable guy assaults me with!

Speaking of the station, can Pushpa Snacks Bar(!) be left out? Earlier we used to haunt ‘Satya’ (so called cos he had a beard) for his samosa pav, until this guy came along on the scene. As Jeetendra would put it...

“Pushpa ne hame paala, posa, bada kiya, hamare andar ke bachpan ke poudhe ko jawaani ka pedh banaaya!”. You get the drift?

The Exams:
The half yearly pains in the otherwise pretty simple life of an RAITian. Lousy concept. The morbid fear of that proverbial ‘Ek Paper’, in which, ‘lag jaayega’. Every sem, without fail. There had to be a red herring which would give henna a run for it’s money (another lousy one….sorry). That dirty feeling you get when you are just about to receive the paper, where everything you have done dances like Mithun on Speed right in front of your eyes, dissolving into a psychedelic blur.

Ditto for the vivas. Only worse, you developed a case of trapjaw as well. Gheraoing every emerging guy…”Kya poocha? Kya poocha? External kaisa hai?”. Boy, everyone sure did have their five seconds of fame on viva day!

The vivas were the most challenging parts for most of us, cause they were about possibly the only thing that an RAITian isn’t God in (well, most of us anyways) - FUNDAS! Swotting and sweating like mad before the vivas, and calling everyone except your grandparents and the examiners themselves for ‘questions’.

Once inside, it was pretty much pot-luck (matka!)

My Dear Journal… :
The lesser said the better. Probably the most stressful time in an RAITian’s life. Reams and reams of paper filled up with writing by us - ‘the human Xerox machines’. Sitting up all night, and struggling over to college the next day, bleary eyed and disoriented, to be greeted by a fantastic scene.

Everyone was just about everywhere doing just one thing. Writing. We would win all the medals in the Olympics if they ever hold an event called ‘Synchronised Writing’.

"Tera first page hua, to idhar laa..!"

"Mera second page tere paas hai na?!"

"Stapler hai kya?"

"Kitna pages hai total? (Number) kya?! Maa kasam, chhaapo!"

Scrapping like school kids over graph papers (especially the semi-log ones) and spare journal sheets. Running around to Xerox that eternally missing Index paper, u almost always never had one. Scales and pencils would do the Houdini on u, when you needed them the most. Then you would just have to wait in stony suffering silence till u could borrow them from someone. The feeling on submitting that last journal every sem was esoteric. Usually went home inebriated after that (from the joy that is).

The term work tests. Well I guess we progressed to higher levels of shamelessness as our seniority grew.


* FE : u really didn’t know what was happening. Bad dream.
* SE : thoda aaju baaju dekhne ka.
* TE : book kholna chaloo.
* BE : book? Chhah !! maaaaaaaaaf ! People actually went ahead and
bought Jigar’s just for the TW tests. Chuppane ko easy hai na…..(case in point? As far as A div goes..this sem’s Software
Engineering test. Not only were genuine Jigars seized, even
Xerox copies were not far behind!!)

Students With ‘Jigars’ Of Steel :
Kya main bolu ?! Hate them as u might, but the fact still remains that you had to refer to them, at one point or the other. No way out. How the Jigar’s guy squeezed in an entire semester’s worth into an edition thinner than Kate Moss beats me. Data compression ka baap hai boss! ‘Brilliant’ Jigar’s……One of the more enduring memories was getting them Xeroxed at chembur. Mast 7-12 rupees mein ek Jigar’s. Felt nice. Real nice.

God bless Dhiren Gajjar and Pankaj Thanekar, who made the life of the middle class engineering student a mite easier. All the best chapters from the recommended books, in one package. So what if the flow was let’s say jerky (to say the least), quite a neat deal. This also didn’t escape the Xerox machine’s sights. But they really had some cool whoppers.

"Do you find engineering as hard as climbing a mountain ? Don’t worry, we will make it as easy as drinking a cup of tea" has become nothing short of an Urban Legend. Or has it…..?

Chembur:
The ultimate pilgrimage site. 25 paise Xerox. Magic. The Xerox ‘gully’. Options hi options . Ingesting the noxious kerosene fumes, and marvelling at the technique of the xeroxwallah.

Holi In College:
What a riot! The only college in the whole of mumbai, which would allow this sort of mayhem, at least till a couple of years back, till they repainted the college anyway. Was fun while it lasted. Would start of innocently enough with gulal, and ink pens. Then suddenly a bucket would materialize from nowhere, and did it take off after that. Dousing everyone in sight. Colours exploding everywhere. On the walls, the staircases, the corridors. Dragging people thru puddles. Banging on inverted buckets and singing. Dancing. Life….

The college would resemble a warzone the next day. No prizes for guessing why they stopped it!

RAITisms:
Now this deals with those typical words, why words, they can be rightly called as figures of speech, which only an RAITian can comprehend. They usually had an obscure and quiet beginning, but once they gained in momentum, nothing could stand in the way. Usage generally spread like amoebiasis contracted after stuffing urself with the bhajjiya paav outside Vidyalankar, to other colleges.

Scene:
Think about it. Brilliant word, I love the feel of it as u loll it around ur tongue, and then expectorate. Extremely versatile, it had it’s origins somewhere amongst the Nerulites. It then spread to A div, and then there was no looking back. Ekdum hit item hai boss.

Usage

* Journals ka kya scene hai yaar?
* Arre nahi mila, scene ho gaya yaar!
* Bahut **** all scene hai …..
* Dekhte hain kal scene kya hai
* Abbe sun, yeh scene hai….
And so on and so forth…….

Maaf:
The baap of all words. The Altaf Raja of all Rickshaw tapes. The ….well Maaf! This has been immortalized by dare I say, our batch? HELL YEAH! Just one word, but so many meanings…just the inflection of your voice can make it convey a wide range of interpretations. One is eternally grateful to Farooqbhai for it’s large scale popularization… rampant man, absolutely rampant. Reliable sources tell me that it has caught the fancy of the Americans too….what next?

Usage

* Nahi samjha, to maaf hai yaar!
* Maine do chapter chhoda, maaf!
* Kya maaf item hai boss! Full behenji!
* Woh book maaf hai re….jigars le
* Lecture maaf..

The best use of this word is when it is used solo. No embellishments. Just do this at home.

Say MAAF!

Do u feel it?!

DO U FEEL IT….?!

Care a Rat’s posterior about things, Go hang it all, I don’t care….all these and much, much more distilled into one four letter word…. and what’s more you can safely use this at home, right in front of your parents!

Brilliant Catharsis. My favourite word, currently (no prizes for guessing why!)

Note:

Other colleges may beg to differ with the above para but maaf…woh unka scene hai!

AD-BR:
Had to be. For such an epic train, there had to be an epic abbreviation. For those who came in late..(apologies to Lee Falk), it stands for the Andheri-Belapur. All the way from AD to BR. This train is a legend. Of course the morons traveling in it were too. God have pity on the ‘uncles’ who used to suffer (both English and hindi usages to be inferred) with us. Horrible decibel levels all throughout the journey, all the way. Most of the discussions during the practicals would involve decisions regarding whether to ‘take’ the 4:13, 5:17 or 6:23 AD-BR…they used to be very serious, with all of us divided into camps and gesticulating earnestly, and the profs thinking we were so deeply engrossed in the intricacies of whatever we were doing, or rather supposed to be doing.


Probably the ‘besht’ prank in the AD-BR was to catch some poor unsuspecting junior and make him sit in the midst. Then one guy would start

“Telefon ki ghanti baje tring tring tring………..”

The whole gaggle would join in,

“Telefon ki ghanti baje tring tring tring………..”

“ke bhaiyya!”

“Telefon ki ghanti baje tring tring tring………..”

“o bolo!”

“Telefon ki ghanti baje tring tring tring………..”


The ‘victim’ would look as confused as I did when I got my CP-2 paper. And then the entire group would pounce on him, and tapli the living crap out of him, saying


“Phone kaun tera baap uthayega?!”


Suckers would fall for this left, right and centre…..

Diwali In College:
RAIT is probably the only place in the entire universe where diwali is celebrated EVERY six months, with almost fanatical regularity. Come again…?! Simple………RESULT TIME!

Not that the average RAITian cared very much for results (most of us could very accurately predict the outcomes immediately after the exams), still as time dragged it’s leaden feet on, you began to feel the pinch. Restlessness would get the better of u until u wished that somebody would go and sell his soul to the Crackerwalla. Then stupid rumours would start floating around …..20 marks grace to start with, and then it would dwindle faster than the sales of the ‘Models’ album to around 5 marks by the end of the week. Next week, new rumour! Same time, same place.

Exasperation would reach a fever pitch, until some dudes would sneak in a couple of ‘Laxmi’ bombs and ‘rassi’ bombs. U somehow knew when there was an explosion in the making, people huddled around in sweaty little groups just outside the canteen, whispering and snide glances all around. You would just about wend ur way upwards when BOOM! It happened. If u were lucky, there would be a couple more…almost immediately u heard a HUGE roar, reverberating throughout the whole building……followed by blood-curdling cries of “WEEEE WAAANT REEESULT!” The security guys would come rushing in, but by that time our homegrown Guy Fawkes’ would have made good their escape. Only in RAIT…

The Gorilla Deathmatches:
Some of the self righteous ones among us (including urs truly) would whine about the lack of ‘facilities’ in college (read proper labs). But natural, when u have worked on a princely 64 kb for the first 2 years. But then came the IT labs…..insane places, what comps, what furniture, full2!

Once the initial admiration was over, the fact sunk in that the very excuse for our janamjaat kaamchori had ceased to be in existence…with such awesome labs, obviously u would have to sit and code! What next?! Relax….RAIT hai yaar! The devil in us refused to restrain himself. For one thing, with Windows NT in the picture, u had games to begin with…Solitaire, Minesweeper et al (trust us to look the positive side of things)

But hats off to the dude who discovered Gorilla! Probably one of the most stupid games to ever take janam, this quickly became the raison d’etre of almost all the practicals. Huddles of people around the comps, whooping and cheering on the ‘players’. The level of involvement had to be seen to be believed! How much pleasure could nearly 10 guys watching two gorillas throw explosive bananas (!) at each other possibly derive? Oh, plenty! PLENTY! (Lots of personal grudges were settled in cyberspace…)We even convinced some poor dumbass FE’s that it was our Final Year Project (hee hee!), and that we were testing various projectile angles and velocities. I still remember the awe on their faces….

Practicals were thus aptly dubbed ‘Video Parlour’ sessions, with us putting on our most earnest expressions whenever the lab ass. Or prof walked in (people usually kept a VB or a C session minimized just in case…)

The ‘Days’:
The usual suspects, tie/sari/rose, friendship, traditional……

Each held on a stifling Friday. Strutting around like peacocks and peahens from hell on traditional day especially, photo sessions galore. Love confessed. Love professed. Hearts broken…..

The Project Report:
Sheer Nazi torture. Racking ur brains as well as the library for material. Thinking of line expansion strategies. Struggling with that hideous abomination called MS Word. One ‘enter’ keystroke and boom! Where did it all go? One spacebar depression and watch the lines repel each other as if they were magnetic, leave alone the formatting and ‘bullets’. Scouting around for the best print-out prices, where else? You guessed it! Chembur. Getting the copies bound, and lugging them back, and then marvelling at the sheer volume of work (we actually typed all this ?!)

(this paragraph is pure mush…..u stand warned !!!!!)

I could go on forever. Trust me. There is enough material to do so. But, like all good things this one too has to come to an end (modesty anyone?!).

Along with an engineering degree, I guess each one of us has also got a Master’s in management.

Sounds corny? No. It isn’t. Interacting with such a wide cross section of people, you tend to learn something from everyone you meet.

Interpersonal relationships.

Time management.

How to judge people.

How to get along in life.

How to take it on the chin and move right on.

It’s been much more than just education, it’s been an EXPERIENCE.

Do yourselves a favour, guys. Keep in touch with ur ‘group’. It might be difficult, it sure is, but I guess it’s the only way to stay grounded and closer to who you really are.

One thing's for sure. I know I am gonna have a lump in my throat everytime I listen to Axl Rose sing,

“Where do we go?

Where do we go now

Where do we go…….”

To all the people I have known, it was, and continues to be a privilege. Thanx for everything.

Hope you find your pots of dollars at the end of your personal rainbows…

And yes,

May the Force be with you……

The resident lowlife,
Tapan.

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