College Chronicles

This was an article I was asked to write for my alma mater’s annual magazine, and since I haven’t heard back from them for months, it has most probably been rejected and can be safely put up on my blog without any copyright issues... 😛

I was 18 years old when I stepped into VIT for the first time, nearly eight years ago.

I was, as usual, late that first rainy morning in September 2009, as was the only other girl I knew then. We both hurried into college together, reached the entrance, where, as if to mark my entry, I proceeded to step into a puddle of water and slipped and fell, landing on my back and looking up at Vaidehi hopefully, waiting for her to give me a hand which never came. As she most penitently explained later, I was slightly heavier than her, and afraid of the gravitational force I was apparently exuding, she decided to just stand there and look at me instead.

Having brushed off the crumbs of this initial embarrassment, I plunged headlong into college life with great gusto, or as much gusto as could be expected from a girl with enormous eyes and a tapering rat-tail plait. Looking back now, most of those four years seem to have passed by in a blur of lectures, movies, good-looking guys, the cultural council, fests, a number of re-evaluated KTs, and a sense of carefree happiness in general, although there were a few incidents that marked epochs of sorts in our college memories, which I elucidate in no particular order below.

It so happened that one morning the lights went out in the entire college, and most fortunately we had practicals scheduled for the next two hours, so we were technically free till after lunch. Since quite a large number of (normally invisible) people had turned up for their practicals, we decided to make the best use of this MSEB-given gift of time and took the next bus to Cinemax Sion to watch (wait for it) Aarakshan (if you remember this movie, I’m judging you..and if you liked it..well..). So there we were, all bright and ready, when the class representative (CR) received a phone call from the Principal ordering us back to college immediately. Apparently, our fond hope that the disappearance of the only Electronics class in the college would go unnoticed in the dark had been too optimistic. The CR, however, was wilier than we gave him credit for. “I’m afraid we cannot come back now, Madam”, he informed the Principal politely, “we have just booked tickets for 35 people that cannot be cancelled” and cut the phone without further ado.

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The movie group.. 🙂 (Sorry Aman.. 😛 )

Then there was the day everyone decided to do a mass bunk from a communications lecture, and even the first-benchers surprisingly agreed to this plan. Predictably, no word of this reached the professor, who strolled into the classroom only to find it empty. Being a bit of a sport, he sat there and waited patiently for about 10 minutes, hoping that it was just a collective excursion to the washroom and not a mass bunk, and was just about to give up and go when in walked V (a guy from our class). V, who had no idea about the mass bunk, had most unfortunately misplaced his friends and come up to the classroom looking for them, where the professor caught him. “Where,” demanded the irate professor, “is the rest of the class?” Bewildered, V protested that he did not know, he had only come up to search for his friends, and could he please go now, since there was obviously no one to teach? “Oh, but there is,” said the professor with a grim smile “you’ll do well enough, don’t worry”, whereupon poor V was made to sit on the first bench for an entire hour while the professor sincerely eulogized about wavelet and Fast Fourier transforms to a lone and captive audience. V has been known to be allergic to communications lectures ever since.

My viva-voci were consistently terrible experiences. I could never manage to study more than two chapters for any viva, and since the external examiners could always be relied upon to ask questions from every other chapter except for those two, I was always at a loss for words. This incident happened in the very last semester during an electronics viva; I had wriggled through the attendance requirements of this subject with the barest minimum. The subject professor stared at me rather blankly as I and a friend entered the room. “Are you sure”, demanded the professor, “that you were in my class?” This was enough to set the external examiner off about the merits and demerits of the attendance system of Mumbai University, and he began to look upon me in a markedly jaundiced manner. An exhausting half-hour of questions later (exhausting for the external, repeating “Sir, I don’t know this” every few minutes surprisingly did not affect me in any way). “All right”, the external conceded, exasperated, “I’ll ask you one last question and then you can leave. Explain the read operation of ROM”. From the very foggy recesses of my not-very-full brain rose a diagram and a somewhat crude explanation of something associated with ROM, so I closed my eyes and began to spew forth enlightening electronic prose immediately, as if in a trance, which ended rather abruptly when my friend elbowed me in the ribs. I shook myself awake and found the examiner and the professor staring at me with a mixture of incredulity and awe, while my friend was looking horrified. “Are you sure? You’re absolutely sure of this answer?” asked the examiner again, staring at me as if fearful of the answer. “Yes sir”, I replied proudly, “I’m very sure; current flows through an open switch”, whereupon the subject professor nearly burst into tears and abused me roundly for having wasted four years, FOUR YEARS, of my time and his, and also a bit of my father’s money, while the external was still looking as if someone had hit him on the head with a copy of Boylestad-Nashelsky. It took me a few seconds to realize that I had managed to turn the whole engineering world on its head in a fraction of a second (in case you don’t know what is wrong with that answer, I would advise you to shift to B.A. or B.Com, there is still time), and by that time the mental processes of the external examiner had shut down, unable to sustain this assault, so we were, not very politely, asked to leave the room. Three months later, I began my Master’s degree in Electronics from another MU college (I fared pretty well in that subject in theory later, although you don’t believe me now, do you?). I was sitting on the first bench waiting for the Head of Department’s address, when, to my abject horror, in strolled that very external examiner; turns out he was the HoD there. I then spent a very pleasant and informative two years in that college, as you will have understood, and now can safely state that if nothing else, I have finally learned that current flows through a closed switch.

P.S. If anyone from ETRX 2013 remembers other interesting stuff, please write in.. 🙂 Also, if someone from EXTC 2013 is reading this, could you tell me a bit more about the toothpaste biscuit incident outside the cafe? 😛

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