Leaving.

I stand over-awed on the threshold of something new,
It’s hard to say goodbye, just so easy to say “thank you.”
Want to hold on tight; two years have flown past so fast,
Don’t want to blink, I might miss all those moments last.
I believe that it was the wonderous hand of fate,
That brought me to IIM Bangalore PGP 2006-08.

It’s sinking in slowly…

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Home At Last

I don’t know when this became home….

At Kozhikode this week, I kept admiring the beautiful campus, and wondering why they had made rooms with such views, and no hot water!
Once outside the campus, I realised how much Bangalore had spoilt me. IIMK was literally nowhere. Now, as a Mallu brought up in Trivandrum, I am used to the cities of Kerala, but as a CETian who lived quite close to the city, I was not used to this commutation.
And, I freely admit, Bangalore has spoilt me. I enjoy the fun and freedom we enjoy. (Not that it’s as much as some of my friends here! I am still quite a small town girl at heart.) The movies you can watch at PVR, the window shopping at Shopper’s Stop, Bannerghatta, the fun at Forum, the “shall we eat out today?” queries. Not to mention midnight walks and games, movies on the laptops, TRYING to study at all odd hours, chafing at project meets, et al.
The first time I came to IIMB, I felt like a goldfish out of water. Confused about where I was, what I was doing, occasionally wondering if this gasp was the last. The first two terms were spent in figuring out exactly where I fit in, what kind of person I was and wanted to be, and then shedding the excess baggage of guilt that I have been carrying along for so long.
Coming back to Kerala after a gap of 4 months felt good; the swaying palms, the wonderful unpolluted air, the pristine beaches. What took me by surprise (again) was the humidity and the heat. I loved being able to read the bus boards again, and being haggle with the auto drivers, and telling the IIMK people, “Nah. I can handle this. I am a Malayalee.”
But, it felt even better wearing the Sangram jersey that said, “Team IIM Bangalore.” We even went to the TAJ wearing sweatpants and Nike shoes. Now, as the management there, they might have thought either of two things, “These kids are so shabby. We might have to chuck them out.” or “These people are wearing sweatshirts and pants. They must be rich! Let’s humour them.”
Then, after sooo long, I had some amazing Malabar fish curry. And appams. And Kerala parottas. And the bill was for 1200. All five of us had identical stunned expressions on our faces. “So CHEAP?”
I think around 8 months ago, fishing 1200 bucks for a lunch would have been considered exorbitant. Times do change! The place does change you.
In spite of all this, the moment I got onto the bus, I felt happy. The ride was long and bumpy. I kept waking my neighbour up because I kept tossing and turning. Finally, at 5:30 am, someone poked me, and I opened my eyes to see: Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.
Yay! I was home!

Closure

I am leaving CET in a week. This is something I wanted to post around 8 months ago…

This is a post that has been pending for sometime. Many a time I started typing the words that I hoped would in some measure put my feelings into words. But, everytime, I failed. This is an attempt, futile maybe, to bring closure.
Death is something that happens in everyone’s life. Whether it is the end or beginning of something is debatable.
But, murder…. Murder is different. Murder is despicable… Murder is also something that shouldn’t happen to someone you know.
On 13th October, 2005, my classmate went missing. It was around the holidays and nobody really knew about it. The next day, we had our seminars, and all of the seventh semester, Applied Electronics were busy in eking out just those extra five marks from their talks.
Maybe we were too engrossed in our own lives to notice the absence of someone we took for granted in our class, maybe we were guilty of paying too less attention. Maybe, we were just too human….
The next week, it casually dropped into conversation.
“Did you know Shyamal is missing?”
That’s when I remembered he hadn’t been coming for the labs. We were trying to figure out where he could have gone and when he’d gone missing. Conflicting stories came up. Some thought it was Friday and some were sure they’d seen him on Thursday. The girls were anxious, and the boys tried to reassure us.
“He’ll be back, he always is.”
The story found itself on Page 3 of Hindu everyday. The police had no idea. The police suspected extortion. The police were in Madras. The police were questioning students. Always the headline read, “Missing Engineering College student”.
Everyday, unwillingly, I pulled myself to read the newspaper, praying hard and wishing that one day the headline would read “Missing Engineering College Student found.”
This is when students come together.
We started discussing about what could be wrong. Where he could have gone. What could have happened. Hundreds of questions and hundreds of plausible answers and just an unspoken question in our minds, under the surface, “Are you as afraid as I am for him?”
Everyone was afraid and unable to voice what we actually felt.
Days passed in this fashion.
Everyday, I picked the newspaper. The media was sensationalising everything, and I hated myself for relying on what the papers were saying. I ought to have known him better. I ought to have taken the time…
So many maybes… so many what ifs….
When, suddenly, that was it.
I took the paper one day and turned automatically to the third page. There was a terse report of an unidentified body found near the By-Pass. I turned panicky. On reading, it said it was that of a 30 year old man. My mind quietened down and my prayers became more vehement.
That afternoon, I got a phone call.
“There’s bad news. Shyamal’s body has been found. He’s been murdered.”
I sat down. There was a knot in my stomach. I forced myself to read the report again, reading between the lines.
I remembered the shirt he was wearing that day, according to the report.
Unbidden thoughts flooded into my head.
All of us in workshop garb, doing carpentry, and sir asking if everyone understood Malayalam. Whereupon, everyone pointed to Shyamal, saying he was from the Andamans. The sir had to spend three weeks explaining everything in two languages.
Shyamal sitting down on the verandah, outside our Power Electronics lab, playing with his mobile phone.
All the boys bugging him to know what the hindi word for ‘cockroach’ was. The MHites asking him to fan them as they “so”ed (slept).
His quirky humour and his funny way of talking.
The way he (and all my other lab partners) filched my lab record and rough record to do their experiments.
Three years of opportunities when we could know him and couldn’t. Three years ago, his parents had sent him to our college to get a B.Tech degree. Never again would they see him. Never again would there be a chance for us to know him properly.
My prayers turned. I hoped he hadn’t suffered much in his passing and I prayed for the peace of his family.
I felt for those of my friends (and his) who had to go and identify one of our own.
I found I couldn’t bear to be alone. I got online and I stayed online for 3 days, talking nonsense.
Many times, I took up blogger’s home page to write an eulogy. But what could I say, other than:-
“He was my classmate, a gentle soul who never harmed a fly. This ought not have happened to him. We didn’t really know him. We wish we did.”
Then, we began hating the media. The truth of “news” and invasion of privacy had caught up with us.
Initially, it was in the turn of phrase, the slightly sarcastic way of saying “disappearance”, quotes included. Then it escalated, the front pages were splashed with his picture and those of his grieving parents. “Leads” were being followed. And everywhere we went, murmurs followed..
“Oh, so you are in CET. That boy…”
“He was my classmate…”
“Oh….” A long pause invariably followed. “What kind of boy was he?”
We hated the question and the answer equally. “We didn’t know him all that well.”
I gave up reading the paper for the next week. When we went back to college for our sessional exams, his pictures were put up on every wall, and I couldn’t bear to look at it without remembering him with the half smile on his face, which he invariably had.
He had been one of us. All of 21 years of age. His life was nipped in the bud. Murdered for no fault of his own. Senseless, violent murder for no reason at all.
In his life, an average engineering student, having fun in his own way. One of the faceless, nameless thousands who pass out of such colleges everyday. In death, he became a political statement and a media frenzy. And like all political statements, short-lived. For some days, there were placards around the Secretariat that said “Bring the perpetrators of the Shyamal murder to justice.” Those eventually disappeared too.
The Shyamal murder… Shyamal was a person to us, he wasn’t a statement. These two words are something none of us can reconcile with each other, try as we might.
This is my prayer, dear god, give his family the peace of mind they need and the strength to face the tempest ahead.

CGPU Chronicles.

CGPU, the Career Guidance & Placement Unit of the College of Engineering, Trivandrum. The place made of gossamer dreams and concrete walls, the mystical land of opportunity, where students enter quivering and come out into the adult world.

We were the proud flag-bearers for the CGPU, the batch of 2002-06.
The torch has been passed, and what’s left are the bitter-sweet memories of the last year, locked up in the treasure trove of the past.

In some ways, I want to inform my juniors what is in store for them, both as representatives and students. Because, well, the responsibility of the CGPU is on every student alike.

The first rule of the CGPU: You DON’T talk about the CGPU… Okay, just kidding! Yeah, it was a lot of work. A lot of late nights, and later work, Excel spreadsheets (which I take great pride in updating) and the rolling numbers, loads of bugging students and staff alike, but as the time went by, the joy in the work grew.
The actual first rule ought to be: You’re not working for your class, you’re working for the college. 3 days into the process, the divisions of Electronics, Mechanical, Electrical etc disappear. What’s left behind is this thought, “How the hell are we going to place the rest of the students in my college?”
The sooner the thought crosses your mind, the more pride you take in your college and your small part in it, and the more seriously you will take your responsibilities.
The second rule is, of course, you will enjoy yourself. Trust me, you’ll miss the days that there are no companies on campus and the days that you can’t meet the others.
One of the questions a senior asked me (bless her!) when I told her I was the placement rep whilst preparing for CAT was, “Shruti, are you sure you can handle it?”. Actually, I am not even sure how the year would have panned out without this huge bright spot of joy in my life.
I am going to remark about how I saw one of my friends cry for joy when he got placed. He was calling up his parents, his grandparents, his neighbours, his… well, you get the drift. Of course, I was there to lend him moral support in the form of pulling his specs off, laughing at him and then blackmailing him. 😀
Well, what can I say? I am heartless… But, children, you don’t be! The euphoria of seeing 100-odd people get their jobs is something that can never be replicated.
No, working for the CGPU is not a piece of cake. You’ll learn about what makes people tick, you’ll be under a lot of mental and emotional stress for some days, but you will come through all of it. You will be the stronger for all of it.
But… (and this is most significant)… BUT, you’ll need to be true to yourself and your work.
Please take on responsibility only if you think you will carry it on whole-heartedly. And, this is a lesson for life.

Okay, enough of the dreary talk.
I had a blast, guys….
Thanks for all the fun.
Love
Shruti

This post is dedicated to those awesome friends I made, Samson sir, KK, Vinod sir & yeah, Lallu, Balu, Ashok, Tina & Tina for being our mentors.
The CGPU rocks!
All the best to our juniors with their placements and their lives!

Pal

This is one of the cutest dogs of my acquaintance.
His name is Pal (yeah, the poor thing is saddled with it) and he’s around 10 months old. A proper young man about town, or at least the streets of Bapuji Nagar.
Ah yes, he’s a cocktail, literally… A Cocker Spaniel-Lhasa Apso crossbreed. Me thinks he’s inherited enough of the Apso 😉
His very proud surrogate daddy asked me to post his picture on my blog.
So here’s Pal…..