Category Archives: Life at BITS

They say nothing’s better than college life. They couldn’t be more right.

On the Road of Life

A cough made its way out of my mouth as I stared across the traffic. I took out a silk handkerchief from my pocket and wiped my lips, a small frown of displeasure briefly flitting across my face before I managed to make it go away.

By the Gods, I hated waiting.

I turned around to look at the clothes on display. It was a Louis Vuitton showroom. The clothes and accessories displayed would probably remain outside my budget even if you tripled what I made form my part-time job. I didn’t really know why I chose this place to meet her. It was a busy intersection downtown. There was a cafe about half a kilometer from here where I could have asked her to come.

“I’m not expecting a treat,” she had said, bemused.

“I wasn’t thinking of giving you one,” I’d teasingly replied.

My attention shifted from the dresses to my own reflection. A clean-shaven face with a shock of curly hair greeted me. The glass fogged over with my breath as I leaned closer, trying to make it more presentable. It was a hopeless task.

Ugh. My gloved hands tried patting my hair down or shifting it this way or that. Nothing helped. Passers-by paid me scarcely any attention as I tried to flatter my vanity.

“You know it won’t help,’ came a quiet voice to my right. I whirled around, my heart hammering.

She was here.

“When did you come?” I asked, trying to control my heartbeat.

“Right now, when you were preening,” she replied, a coy smile playing across her lips.

I felt the corners of my mouth twitch at her quiet reply as I looked down at her smiling face. She was a head and a half shorter than me, with soft features. Her black hair was done up elegantly and held together with a clasp. She was dressed warmly, her overcoat somehow managing to hint tantalizingly of the beauty it concealed.

“Would you mind walking?” I asked.

“Of course not,” she replied. “Lead the way.”

She fell in step with me as I began walking towards the cafe.

“How do you like your life?” she asked.

I thought about it for a moment. It was a simple question with a complicated answer. More than that, I did not know how much I wanted to tell her. I had a sneaking suspicion that the real questions she wanted answered would require I dip into my pot of life experiences.

“It’s good, I guess,” I replied noncommittally. “I think I’ve learned a lot from my university, though more of it has been outside the classroom than inside.”

“Really?”

“Yeah,” I replied, deciding not to elaborate.

The reflected sunlight from a thousand skyscrapers shone on my obvious dodge, and yet she decided to let go of it. Part of me is glad she did. Another part still wonders if I would have caved had she pressed.

“But,” I continued, “You didn’t ask to meet me to know about my own life experiences, I’m guessing.”

She laughed lightly. “Of course not. You’re not that interesting,” she teased. My eyes widened with fake shock and I clutched my heart in mock-despair.

“Woman!” I said dramatically, “You wound me!”

She rolled her eyes before assuming a more serious expression. “You’re going to leave in three months,” she said matter-of-factly. I nodded. It was common knowledge that my final semester was an exchange semester in Japan. “I’m a freshman. And I have no idea how to live my life.”

I raised an eyebrow. “You look plenty smart to me.”

“It’s not about being smart and you know it,” she replied.

I gave no visible expression, but I sighed mentally. Her question had no straight answer. My hand slipped into my pocket and began fiddling around with the lighter inside. I glanced at her expectant face and began thinking about how to answer the question. She was right. It wasn’t really about being smart and I did know it. But on the other hand, being smart was more important than anything else I could think of. My experiences had hammered that point home.

“It’s not about being smart,” I began cautiously, “but neither is it about anything else in particular.”

She frowned. “That makes no sense.”

“It’s not meant to. You’re supposed to make sense of it on your own.”

“And how an I supposed to do that? What am I supposed to work on? How an I supposed to channel my energies correctly?” she asked. “You once told me that life here in uni is supposed to be all about my motivation, time and skills coming together to create a harmonious whole. Well, how do I do that when I’m not sure where to concentrate any of them? I’ve come to an engineering college, though I’m not sure if I really want to become an engineer.”

I stared at her, a feeling of deja vu coursing through myself. My feet were on autopilot, avoiding pedestrians automatically. My mind was in the past, hearing the echo of a very similar question which had slipped out of my own lips when I was deciding which university to join.

“Don’t force yourself,” I replied, “to work on anything particular at this point of time. You don’t know what you want to do. You can’t know what you want to do, because life changes paths more frequently than a swallow its trajectory.”

I stopped in the middle of the footpath, staring at her. “Life,” I continued quietly, “is influenced by serendipity. You never know when the right path might show itself to you, so you need to remain malleable.”

“Is that so?” she breathed out.

I took a deep breath, and then I quoted, “When life begins, we are tender and weak. When life ends, we are stiff and rigid. All things, including the grass and trees, are soft and pliable in life; and dry in brittle in death. So the soft and supple are the companions of life; while the stiff and unyielding are the companions of death.”

We were both quiet for a moment as we contemplated the words I had just uttered. The horns of a dozen cars blared around us and the conversations of a hundred people assaulted our senses. Yet, at that moment, both she and I came to an understanding.

“Who said that?” she asked.

“Lao Tzu,” I replied.

“Do you believe it wholeheartedly?”

“I do.”

She stared at my face for a full moment. And while she was a full five years junior to me, I could not help but reflect on her delicate beauty. Her face was open and honest, a far cry from the mask she always wore in public. It magnified her beauty in ways makeup never would. Honesty lit up her face and her smile made it radiant. I knew she was thinking about what I had said and more importantly, about what I meant.

But at that moment, none of that mattered to me. I smiled back at her, happy I was able to help.

“Hey mate!” came a voice, and the moment was lost. A sharp pang went through my chest as I returned back to reality.

I smiled at him as he clapped me on the back. My eyes shifted to look at her to find that same face again, but the mask was back on.

“What were you guys doing?” he asked, his eyes shifting between us. Doubtless he wanted either one of us to blush and stammer, giving him an angle of attack.

“I was getting some doubts cleared,” she replied smoothly. I marvelled at her ability to maintain that mask under all circumstances.

The time had come, unfortunately, for this walk to end. My friend would not be denied. It was time to bid her farewell. “All right, then,” I smiled at her. “I rather enjoyed this walk of ours. I’d like to do this again.”

A smile was the only reply I received as my friend steered me away, yapping about something or the other. And while I nodded at all the right places, my thoughts were still on that mask. Maybe, one day, life might take her down a path in which she throws it away forever.

Maybe.

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On friendships and placements

The last semester at BITS Pilani, Hyderabad Campus. Time really does seem to fly past when you’re enjoying yourself, no? It seems like just yesterday when I was walking into BPHC with my parents, a scared and lost kid who’d never ever lived away from home. I remember the first day I slept alone here, trying to reconcile myself with the stinging loneliness which comes with leaving everyone and everything you know behind. And I wondered how I would be able to live like this for the next four years.

It should seem like a memory from so very long ago. But it’s not. Three years after this happened, I sit in my room reflecting on the wrongness of my initial impression of this college. What happened next could not be further from what I had imagined. I made friends. They weren’t just friends either, they were everything I never knew I was missing in life. Comrades, colleagues, brothers… They were everything rolled in one.

And today, as we all sit in our rooms, anxiously waiting for the results of Kanta’s interview, I wish with all my heart that he gets through Nvidia. He really really deserves it. He’s the kind of guy who’d help you if you need it, who’s technically very sound in his field and the kind of person we all believe is a shoe-in for these kinds of things.

But destiny has a way of playing around with lives. Take the case of NKM. NKM is an amazing person. The bronze medalist of the 2010 BE batch, a guy who got accepted to the University of Southern California for a summer internship without even trying, the guy who’s worked at the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre etc. He was supposed to be the first person in the batch to get placed. Instead, life doled out 6 rejections to him. He was shattered. We all sat with him, helped him get through it and prepare for his next interview. Somehow, we managed to get him on his feet and pepped up for D. E. Shaw and Co. He got in. 1.8 million INR per annum. He’s the first non-Computer Science guy to get selected for an IT profile. And he’s being paid more than most CSE guys. Way to go, matey; I’m proud of you.

Nishit Malde is here
Nishit K Malde is here! (Credits – Siddharth Arora)

Looking at (and feeling) the jubilation of NKM’s placement, I remembered everyone congratulating me when I received my confirmation for a 6-month paid internship at Kyoto University. Of course, the cheering was much more subdued and they didn’t lift me onto their shoulders (I am too fat for that!), but I could feel their pride and happiness for my achievement. News soon spread about my internship, and quite a few people have approached me about writing letters to get similar internships since then. I’m glad I could help them in whatever way I did.

This is the legacy we’re all going to carry in our hearts from this college. This band of brothers. A fellowship that will take on the world someday. Watch out.

Why do we lag behind?

I got to see this article just yesterday. What with the IIT results coming out and everything, a few friends of mine wanted some advice about where to go and everything of that sort. While I could easily tell them to come to BITS Pilani, I got curious about just what the world thinks about Indian colleges. I got to an article on the Times Higher Education about Indian universities (courtesy Shankar Venkatraman).

Top ten Indian Colleges
List of top ten Indian colleges – courtesy Times Higher Education

The list comes from the article I linked to in the very beginning of this post. Seems kind of shocking, no? IISc Bangalore gaining such a high rank out there in the world? Well, I guess it is time we recognized the importance of basic science not just in paving the way for applied sciences, but rather in character building as well.

This small piece aside, however, the issue to discuss and think about is not about IISc Bangalore surging ahead of IIT Bombay in rankings. It’s more about the fact that India’s best institute is ranked 130th in the world.

One Hundred and Thirtieth. Not even in the top one hundred. IIT Bombay ranks an even bleaker 192nd place. And after that, India doesn’t even come into the picture. We want to become a world power, and yet we don’t have the quality needed to get there.

I guess many people have talked about introspection and the need for reform. With a man like Kapil Sibal in charge of the modernization of our entrance exams and admission structure, I guess we have introduced reform into our system.

A different kind of reform

We hardly need to change the pattern of our entrance exams, as I see it. While the American system has been considered epic for a while, I’ve read some research (a long while ago) that if you divorce education from its rigor and rote learning, you produce students of the liberal arts. While I’m sure Liberal Arts’ majors are awesome, an emerging power may not exactly want all its students to go in that direction.

A professor teaching a class in BPHC
A high tech classroom does not make a great learning experience. It’s the professor that counts – Photo courtesy the Department of Photography at BITS Pilani, Hyderabad Campus

No. The reform I’m talking about comes in the professors who are teaching us. I, of course, have the experience of just one college. But being a campus of BITS Pilani, I’m sure that if I feel this way about my professors, people from other colleges aren’t too far behind. The professors need to understand two things:

  1. No one respects you until you aren’t good in your own subject and aren’t actively doing work in it. You might point out the various papers you’ve published, but until and unless we see you working on yet another, most of us aren’t likely to respect you.
  2. Learn how to communicate. University students aren’t kindergartners. We care about how you talk to us. We like being talked to as adults and being taught without taunts, heavy accents or boring monotonous droning voices.
  3. Please, please try to understand that dry, boring lectures do not appeal to us. We want demonstrations which make sense and look interesting. We want to know exactly how the things you’re teaching us will help us become good engineers/scientists etc. Involve us and make us feel as if we’re actually being taught something instead of being lectured.
  4. While I appreciate the need for numerical problems, please do not let them define your exams. You see, there are these things called computers which exist today. They run some other things called programs which can calculate upon being given a formula. They kind of seem to make a great deal of difference while calculating, you see.
  5. Please, please let us in on some cutting-edge research you guys are doing? (If at all?)

Am I being arrogant? Maybe. Is it for a good cause? Definitely! Please, do take my criticism the way it is meant. Constructively. I understand that many of you are great people who have done wondrous things in your life. All I ask is that you please try to actually act the part.

A dead mouse

The unlikely Anarkali

A dead mouse
Drawn, just needs to be quartered!

I came into Piyush’s room to find him sitting there with a look of the cat who just ate the canary. My eyes narrowed, something was certainly up. And then I froze.

His room was stinking. No, that was putting it mildly.

“Did you kill something in here?” I croaked, gagging slightly.

Piyush’s grin widened. And there was no mistaking that he had finally done the deed.

I gave an exasperated sigh. “Well, at least dispose of the body, idiot!” I exclaimed. “By all that’s dear and good in the world, the body’s gonna do no good lying in this room!”

Piyush shook his head, still declining to speak.

I sat down in his chair, confused. Why was Piyush refusing to throw away the body? Why was he content to let that smell stay in his room? Why was he being so obstinate about it?

The uninformed reader, by now, will be wondering about the events which led to this murder, if it can be called one. The events I tell you of are spectacular, and the astute reader may forgive me when I say that parts of it will not be accurate, seeing that the finer details slip my memory now.

The tale I narrate is nigh on one and a half years old, back when were were but freshers freshly arrived in the campus. It was a time when the hostels had no gates and the terror of Ram and Chandan’s gang was all too real. We barely knew each other, the friendships of today which are taken for granted were just being minted. The various nicknames which the student body had adopted for each other were in their first stages of evolution, namely crawling out of the sea. People still regularly attended classes and believed that the key to a better life was hidden somewhere in getting marks. The only bit which remains unchanged from then is that everyone knew that Saumitra was perverted to the point of lunacy.

But that is a story for another day, back to the matter at hand.

One fine day, when all was right with the world and classes had ended, I called Piyush for snacks. I came into his room to find him very agitated, running to and fro in his room as if trying to find something desperately.

“What are you trying to find, my dear fellow?” I asked, ever so politely. He was a new friend, I could at least try to show that his state of agitation made a difference to me.

“If you’d believe it,” he began, peering under the bed, “I have a room mate.”

I raised my eyebrows. We all have single rooms, and the only person who’d slept in his room besides he himself had been I. He had an extra mattress, and I would camp on his floor. We would talk till late into the night and then finally drift off.

“I’m flattered, old boy, but you needn’t grace me with the title of ‘room mate’,” I said delicately, discreetly trying to edge out of the room. “People will wonder and speculate.”

Now it’s a different matter that that happened nonetheless, at that time it really did matter. Getting a girl when you’re labelled gay is kinda hard. Of course, at that time the myth that there are no girls in an engineering college had not yet sunk in. It was just one of those definitions you had without really appreciating the depth and candour with which it was written. We really were optimistic about our chances.

Piyush looked at me strangely for a second. Then realisation dawned upon his face and he waved me away irritably, going back to his search.

“Not you, idiot,” quoth he, “someone else.”

That of course, gave me pause. He had someone who was willing to sleep with him in his room? Oh God, something felt off about this entire business.

He continued, oblivious to my thought processes. “It’s a grey mouse.”

My thoughts, which, for the past minute had been going at ninety, suddenly and catastrophically derailed with all the force of an Indian Railways train in a Naxalite infested area.

“A mouse,” I cried. “A mouse?”

“Yes, a mouse,” he said impatiently, now searching under the cupboard. “The bloody thing’s been coming and going, coming and going. I have no idea where it lives, and if it continues running about, I’m not sure any of my clothes would be wearable.”

I turned my gaze to a pair of jeans artfully ripped at the knees and chose not to comment. The mouse, I reflected, was a serious problem indeed. More for me than for him, since it was I who slept on the floor. What if, perchance, I should awake in the middle on the night to find it staring straight at me like a self-proclaimed Ratatouille? Would I be obliged to give it a chance to cook and prove itself to me? What if it dropped into the food? I shuddered. Steely resolve glinted in my eyes as I decided to help him in his noble quest. Two pairs of eyes became six as my eyes and spectacles joined him in searching for our mutual and fearsome adversary, who we decided to honour by calling, the mouse.

It took us the best of five minutes to find where the bugger was disappearing off to. All credit to Piyush, he knew his room better than I did. We discovered the bloody thing’s hole close to the cupboard, perfectly situated to ruin his wardrobe. If I had been a conspiracy theorist, I would have believed that the mouse was a conspiracy hatched by all those who’re fashion conscious to discredit him.

Anyway back to the hole. The object of interest, as it turned out, was too small for us to put insert a hand in. Eugh. Not that either of us had a wish to do that, no. The mouse was too resourceful and cunning opponent. What if he bit the hand? What if it grew infected?

I looked at Piyush. He looked back at me.

“Snacks,” we echoed simultaneously, and retreated, living to fight another day.

It was a hot topic of discussion that night. We all sat down in Nandu’s room, as was our habit in those days, to have a small tête-à-tête. Piyush explained his problem with all the seriousness he could muster for that occasion. A silence that followed was befitting, considering the gravity of the situation.

It lasted all of five seconds before Bahl blurted out the obvious, “You tried a mousetrap?”

“No.”

Nandu’s hand began a track which would lead it to hit against his forehead. I averted my eyes, but the resounding smack could not be blocked out by my ears.

“I don’t have one,” protested Piyush, waving his hands about helplessly.

Get one from Basant,” replied Nandu, condescension creeping into his voice. Basant was our hostel chowkidar.

It was sound advice, and Piyush saw fit to implement it.

I came to his room the next day. “Any luck?” I asked.

“None whatsoever,” came the gloomy reply.

“Maybe it has to do with the fact that you need to put some bait in the trap, perchance?” I pointed out, rather sarcastically, I might add.

He levelled me with a flat stare. “I did put bait into it, idiot,” he replied. “It’s gone!”

I was sceptical. “And where is the mouse, then? I see nothing in the cage.”

“This mousetrap is dysfunctional,” he grumbled.

I rolled my eyes. “Clearly,” I replied, “you dreamt up the part where you put bait into that contraption. And what was the bait anyway? Mess food? No self-respecting creature would come close to that gunk! Only us feckless humans with no self-respect allow ourselves to be sold to bad food and company!”

“It was a roti (Indian bread)!” he replied defensively. “They’re used to attract mice all the time!”

I let it pass. If the hard mass they served us in the mess was roti, then I was na na na na na na na! Batman!

I sighed. “Clearly, good fellow,” I continued, taking off my glasses and wiping off an imaginary dust particle, “Your mousetrap is not working.”

“Do you have a better plan?” he demanded.

I must confess I had none. However, pride and dignity often come before the truth, and I held my ground superbly. “Of course!”

“Let’s hear it then,” said he with finality. He crossed his arms across his chest and looked at me expectantly.

I slowly formed a smile. In reality, this was no more than a cover for my mind to process raw data at a high clock speed and churn out bullshit he would not think to suspect. It took me all of two seconds.

“Buy some Hit,” I suggested.

A thoughtful look appeared on his face. “Well,” he replied slowly, “that might just work.”

I went out of his room, my jaw almost slack at such stupidity. Honestly. Did he really believe that? It was meant to be used on insects and cockroaches, not on mammals! Damn, man, I told myself. You’re good at this. Fooling him was almost as simple as two plus two.

And that was the last time before today I had seen him, a thoughtful look on his face while considering a completely idiotic idea. And so, to have found him grinning so stupidly so soon after that incident rang alarm bells in my head.

“Did the Hit work?” I asked. Before he could answer, I waved him down. “I don’t believe it,”I continued, disbelief spreading through me. If it had worked, then it was high time that someone report its level of toxicity to the government. My father will hear of this, thought I, feeling a lot like Malfoy.

“Yes, and no,” replied Piyush smugly.

I stared at him. It was at that moment that I was convinced that the man sitting in front of me was the biggest buffoon on this planet.

“Yes and no,” I mimicked sarcastically. “Does Schroedinger own that mouse?” I cried out. “Check whether the mouse is dead or alive after the application of Hit, and the scumbag answers both! Idiot! Don’t drag quantum mechanics into worldly matters, it makes calculations too complicated!”

“No,” he replied, stretching out the end of the word in his trademark fashion. “The mouse is dead, all right, but not only because of the Hit.”

“What else did you use?” I asked, feigning curiosity. In truth, I just wanted to be as far away from the smell as possible, but Piyush being a new friend and all, it was hard to deny him company in his hour of victory.

“I saw the mouse run in,” he narrated with all the emotion of one narrating the Iliad. “I knew just what I had to do. I had a ball of cotton with me. I soaked it in Hit, and then threw it into the hole the bloody bugger had made for itself.” He paused.

“And then?” I asked impatiently.

“I saw a couple of people pass by. They’d been repairing the leak in the toilet.”

A sense of horror dawned upon me. “You didn’t,” I breathed, shock and awe accidentally leaking into my voice.

“I did,” he replied, almost crowing with delight.

“You had them pump sewage into that hole?” I asked disbelievingly.

In hindsight, that question sounds plain stupid. But listen, the smell in his room was worse than that of dead rat. The only other explanation was that he was rotting faeces for some twisted experiment I hadn’t been informed about.

His palm connected with his forehead. “No!” He got up from his lotus position on the bed and proceeded to point out where the hole was.

Only, there was no hole. The tile had been covered with what looked like fresh cement. I sucked in a breath.

And immediately coughed it out, sputtering and cursing. But there was no denying the work of a master. I could almost imagine the mouse in there, desperately squeaking to be let out, then its weakness after getting no food, and then finally, the blissful release of death.

I looked up to see Piyush still grinning at me, his smile wider than a peeled banana. He probably had no idea that that mouse would forever be labelled his Anarkali.

But no one would ever call Piyush Akbar. Ever.

Saturday Night Blues

“I need a girl.”

Harry was down. Really down. This was a line which came out only in the direst of circumstances, when he was either very horny, very desperate or really really bored. It was certainly not the last one.

Tom grunted. Dick kept on staring at the screen in front of him.

Harry looked at them, a forlorn expression adorning his face. His very eyes begged for pity, his posture screamed for sympathy. His hands were held outward in a gesture of supplication and his voice was filled with self-loathing.

Dick finally looked up from his screen. “Why?”

It was a simple question, asked neither in malice nor in pity. There was nothing but idle curiosity behind it. Why did Harry, who was so uncomfortable around girls so as to almost be gay, suddenly want one? Curious. Very curious.

Harry looked at Dick with askance. He was sitting next to a pile of Dick’s dirty clothes, the very picture of a guy left out there to rot. The clothes he was wearing certainly did nothing to assuage that impression. A loose black tee-shirt and black shorts. The short crop of hair on his potato-shaped head and his small eyes further served to cement that image.

“Dude,” replied Harry finally, “I need a girl. I can’t spend the rest of my life with my hand!”

Tom looked up from the point he had been staring at for the past hour or so. “It’d still be a better love story than twilight!” he sniggered. Dick laughed with him. Harry was not amused.

“Right,” he drawled. “Easy for you to say. He,” Harry pointed at Tom, “Is through with the one he was after, while you have a whole seraglio of them!” He ended with waggling a finger at Dick, the weight of his accusation such that it would have made Atlas stagger.

Dick, in contrast, lifted not an eyebrow. “What do you want me to do?” he asked finally. “Lend you one of mine? Not gonna happen any time soon, mate.”

A raised finger was all the response he got. Harry’s frustration was evident.

Tom finally raised himself from his position. “What happened, mate?” he asked sympathetically. “Not getting enough  porn?”

“You wish,” retorted Harry. “I just watched Emanuelle in Space…”

“Oh kay, oh kay!” said Dick, rising from his bean bag. “Stop getting drool on the floor!”

Harry sent Dick a look of utter loathing.

“How is it?” asked Tom eagerly.

“Couldn’t you tell?” came Dick’s snide retort. Both the other occupants ignored him.

“Amazing,” said Harry dreamily. “I wish I knew the name of that girl. She’s hawt!”

That got Dick’s attention. “Everything’s a Google search away in today’s world!” Google was opened. Some furious typing later, they came to IMDB.

“Krista Allen,” said Harry. “Yep, that’s her!”

Google images. The amount of drool on the floor would probably be enough to have filled a few Olympic sized swimming pools. Not like anyone cared, Dick’s room was dirtier than the Augean stables.

“Dude….” Tom’s voice trailed off as image after image of Krista Allen flashed across the screen. “This is epic shit!” Dick nodded, his body on auto-pilot. His mind had completely stopped functioning. Harry was grinning in the background, the star of the show.

“And now,” said Harry, playing the part of a tantalising narrator to perfection, “Imagine her in a softcore movie.”

The expressions on his friends’ faces convinced Harry that he was indeed the master of the room.

“Done!” said Tom, getting up. “I’m set for the rest of the night. How many others are there, apart from the first one? Gimme all of them!”

“I deleted them,” replied Harry simply, grinding it in with artful perfection, an evil smile on his face.

“It’ll be there on LAN!” said Dick triumphantly. Harry’s face fell. A few minutes of furious searching later revealed the first episode.

Harry recovered some of his former swagger. “You poor things, you…” his voice trailed off. Pity no one was listening to him. The movie was started and two eager faces stared, the third trying to look bored but failing.

“Wait!” yelled Tom. “I’m going to my room and watching it. Don’t ruin it for me!” Dick obliged, shutting off the video player. They both turned to Harry, who was grinning at them, his expression that of a lord distributing grain among his subjects.

“How good is it, really?” asked Dick eagerly.

“Good?” replied Harry incredulously. “It’s bloody amazing! I tell you, you’ll love it! Totally love this one! It’ll make you wanna exercise your hand like nothing else before!” He stopped at that dramatic high, both Dick and Tom waiting with bated breath for his next statement.

“God I need a girl!”

Yet Another Typical Music Club Meet (YAT-MCM)

I’m part of the Music Club here, at BITS Hyderabad. It’s not something I like to boast a lot about, it’s just another part of my life here. However, one thing must be said about this club. Colourful characters spouting praises of John Bonham and Jimmy Page abound and provide endless hours of free entertainment.

The most entertaining man has to be a guitarist named Aneesh. I mean, there’s no question about it. Born and bred in Hyderabad, he’ll try to convince you that he’s Scottish by soul, but will end up exposing himself as an Andhrite even more. Be it his accent, be it those small quirks of his, or even the accented way he speaks Telugu, everything screams Gult. By the end of the day, you will either love him, or be irritated enough to want to throw him off the nearest cliff. He’ll love you if you have the slightest amount of intelligence, and if you’re a girl, his clumsy and unconscious attempts at flirting with you will either leave you bemused or completely weirded out. If you’ve been warned about him, it’s usually very endearing. Of course, we, as responsible friends, never stop him. It’s the only way we get repaid. His loans are paid back in entertainment. Of course, we would prefer cash, but we make do with what we have.

I had the fortune of attending the last music club meeting he held. Come 5:45, and Aneesh, along with Piyush, Vivek and myself, enters the music room. I immediately make a beeline towards the Yamaha keyboard, not having touched it for about two weeks. Piyush decides to sit down, his throat being slightly infected, and Vivek decides to strum his guitar. I plug in my amp, and he plugs in his. Our eyes meet, and an unspoken challenge is accepted by both of us. It’s time to see who’s louder!

He immediately selects a patch and starts on some complicated blues riff. I seethe. His blues is impeccable. And anyway, I had no idea what he was playing. He was improvising. Well, fudge him, Blues is just not my thing. Wide, sweeping arcs of classy piano pieces are what i love playing.

But not today. I switch to the Lead and Brass section of my patches and begin to play. And just as I play my first chord, fully expecting to emerge triumphant in this little competition, a drum roll announces the entry of the newest competitor. Bhavana, Aneesh’s girlfriend (she’s learning the drums) had just joined. Both Vivek and I groan silently. There’s no point competing with the drums. They’re just too loud in the confined space we have. Too much reverb. Both of us back out in an agreement forged in a spirit of gentlemanly chivalry. Bhavana unknowingly wins a competition with the worst drumming I’d heard in a long time. Or maybe ever.

People begin to trickle in now, first and second years all. Singers, drummers, guitarists bassists and keyboardists, everyone comes in.

Aneesh decides to wait until he has a sizeable audience before actually beginning the meeting, so a meeting which was supposed to begin at 6 actually began at around 7. And here we thought that the club was being changed for the better.

“Everyone!” he bellowed in that deep voice he possesses. “We’re here to discuss the next music night.”

Right when he’s saying this does Saunak tumble in. He stares, being the only fourth year to actually be in the room. “What the hell?”

We take him aside and explain Aneesh’s idea of having a meeting without those idiotic third years. He understood the real meaning of the words. He nods knowingly and picks up a couple of drumsticks, a conspiratorial smile on his face. Aneesh, bless his soul, entirely missed this, wrapped up as he was in deciding his next words.

“So, anyway, the last meeting we had was held to discuss the music night, and that didn’t work out too well,” he said. A bored firstie turns to talk to another. The second years are already talking among themselves and with the lone third year Anirudh. Saunak’s busy on the drums. Aneesh is oblivious to this, not noticing that his only audience consists of his girlfriend Bhavana and another girl, Jyothi, who’s Bhavana’s best friend.

Paras, another third year comes ambling in, his gait unhurried. He knows what’s happening. The reverb in the room means that his entrance is lost in the cacophony of multiple voices talking at the same time. I’m berating Ranjan for his exceptionally high CGPA, Saunak’s laughing with Anirudh, Vivek, Shravan and Piyush are together talking about something and Jushira’s sitting quietly wondering which nuthouse she’s trapped in. Soon, Dinesh and Ramit join me in teasing Ranjan while Aneesh valiantly tries to get his voice across to everyone.

It’s not working.

Someone claps, and there’s dead silence for a moment as everyone tries to seek out the offender. Aneesh capitalises on the moment.

“Everyone, the songs were decided in the last meeting, So just tell me if you have any additions to make,” he declares.

To put things in perspective for the uninformed reader, the last meeting was held more than a month back. I dare anyone to say that he remembers the songs he’d chosen then.

Everyone looks at each other, trying to understand what to say. Someone finally pips up with the obvious. Aneesh scratches his head, muttering, “Yeah, right…” Of course, that causes Bhavana to burst out with a “So cute!” Honestly, when those two are in the same room, there’s enough love in the air for me to choke to death.

“We’ll get the list from Vasavi,” he declares. Which kind of killed the purpose of the meeting,seeing that it was held outside the knowledge of Ambar, Nikunj, Vasavi and Akshay Rishi. Bhavana and Jyothi rose to the occasion, both agreeing to get the piece of paper on which the list of decided songs was written. Why they get between Aneesh and total *facepalm* I don’t know.

The the talk turns towards the venue. “Right,” Aneesh calls out, completely in his element, “Which venue do you all prefer? Stage one, two or the SAC?”

“What’s the difference?” a random firstie asks.

As Aneesh begins explaining, Dinesh leans over to me. “Shouldn’t it be best if we actually ask the Lights and Sounds department that question?” he asks.

I nod sagely, wanting nothing more than to sigh openly and loudly. I restrain myself. There are firsties in the room. Got to be dignified, got to be dignified!

By this time there’s total chaos. Aneesh and Vivek are busy discussing something with inputs from Shravan and Anirudh. Saunak’s got his earphones on, the concerns of us lesser mortals beneath him. Piyush is chatting with Bhavana and Jyothi, while I’m trying to outfit Anirudh with an extra appendage between his legs, namely his ‘flute’. My dignity’s left to rot as I watch the stifled laughter on the faces of everyone in front of Anirudh.

The door opens yet again, to admit, miraculously, Ajit and Gupta, members of Lights and Sounds. They’re pounced upon, their opinion being of immense value. Stage two is decided, finally. They both decide to escape, Apollo’s abode in this campus being too much for them to bear. ‘Vagabonds!’ they must have thought. But then again, this is probably the reason behind Gupta wanting to leave the Music Club.

“All right, everybody!” Aneesh shouts, this time managing to catch the attention of the group. His audience watches, enthralled, waiting for him to conclude this sorry excuse of a meeting. He does nothing of the sort.

“So we will now…” His voice is lost again, as the unwashed multitude, having had enough of him decides to completely ignore his presence in the room.

He tries again, two or three times, until someone (im)politely tells him to shut up.

This was supposed to be a precursor to the kind of meetings we’ll be having next year, when there’ll be no one greater than us in the club. God save the Music Club.