(Note: Reader discretion required. This post contains explicit content and is strictly not permitted for the weak-hearted.)
It was after quite a long hiatus that I'd dressed up in proper formals, having missed the placement season due to my fortunate PPO. The whites and the blacks were good to wear for a change, but they reminded me of the dreadful ragging days, and of what had happened on my second day at IITR, way back in freshmen year.
Circa July 2005. Although there had been no official declaration, word was out that seniors had given out clear instruction- we were supposed to dress up in white shirt, black trousers, black shoes, no belts and that we couldn't carry any bags. People seemed to be a terrified lot, but I was chilled out about it, with a bring-it-on attitude up my sleeve. I didnt have everything upto the senior's specifications, so I picked up a white t-shirt, black trousers and sports shoes. So did many other people. Not because of fear, but just because nobody wanted to risk getting ragged. After sitting(umm...sleeping actually) through four lectures, I had no clue what lay in store for me when I was ambushed by two 'seniors' on bicycles ( a luxury we were not supposed to have for the first two months). I emphasize 'seniors' here because both of them were inches shorter than me, and I could've ripped them both apart with just 1 blow( well...thats what i'd like to believe atleast!!!). I looked around for some support among my batchmates who'd solmenly vowed to stand by each other whenever evil would befall. But here I was in the middle of the most tragic situation that could have hit anyone at that time, and if one didn't call it evil, it would be worse than blasphemy. I noticed how the vows were broken quietly and evry1 just vanished into thin air, just like they show in the movies. So here I was flouting the norms set by the seniors, surrounded by the lawmakers themselves. Without so much as a reading of my fundamental rights (and lefts), I was handcuffed(ahem...thats just to add to the drama), and taken into one of the hostels in which a freshman would find himself if and only if he was being ragged.
As I was dragged along the corridors of power (duh!), I noticed how spitefully the seniors lived. Narrow alleys with dim lighting and paint wearing off in patches, there wasnt even room enough for two people to walk together. Everything was strangely painted green- the windows, doors, almirahs, etc etc. What was more noticeable was the presence of a first yearite in almost every room. And with most of them down to there undies, the scene wasn't very pleasant. My dislinking was only magnified by the anticipation of what I was going to face in one such room. My wait wasn't long though, as I was ushered into a room where some negro from South india was already lurking, being ragged. Thankfully he had all the clothes on, or I'd have had nightmares every night. He seemed to be in a particularly jovial mood, as if he were enjoying everything that the seniors had been making him do. It gave me a ray of hope- the thought that i was soon gonna be let off mildly. It started with the usual song and dance routine. They asked me to sing some crazy song and the negro to dance on it. They didnt like it much though, so they stuffed two newspaper balls into the negro's tshirt, to make it seem like a girl was dancing. I was repelled at the sight of a negro being converted to a negress. It was only worse, and yet the idiot went on and humoured the seniors-changing his steps to suit that of a girl. I was happy with singing though when the seniors smugly suggested that I should take some advantage of the 'girl' dancing to my tunes. I acted confused, but they only made it more explicit- I was supposed to press the "imaginary breasts" and the 'girl' was supposed to act orgasmic (ewwww!!!! ). I did what they asked me, thankful only for I wasn't in the position of the 'negress'. They asked us some silly questions after that, and just when I thought I had my share of ragging and twas soon gonna be over, the two seniors who'd brought me in took me to another room.
A final yearite sat there squatted on his bed, with 2-3 sycophant third yearites around him, and right across stood this guy who had nothing on apart from a skimpy blue underwear. (Yes, blue. I remember distinctly!! :P ). Henceforth the guy will be referred to as 'muski'. The senior took an instant disliking to my tshirt and I was made to take it off. Well so much for decency. The two of us(me and muski) were then asked to recite as many curses as we could. I managed two, while muski could only manage a "gaali dena gandi baat hoti hai"!!! The seniors laughed, and so did muski. Now laughing while ragging in local parlance was known as 'muski', and there was an elaborate ritual for anybody who dared to do so- a ritual which was as obscenely funny as it was difficult. So that was it, 'muski' made a 'muski' and he had to pay for price. Ofcourse since he didnt know how to perform the ritual, he took a gud half an hour to learn and perform it. Wasnt all fun for me though, as i was asked to sit like a chair!!! Might sound crazy but yeah, its a real tough posture to maintain for half an hour !! We were then asked questions, and if we got the answers right we could wear one piece of clothing back, or else we'd have to take one off!! I dont remember all questions but there was one which was really absurd- "If your mother and sister lay naked and u had a piece of cloth with u, what would u do?" . I answered- "Tear the cloth in two, and cover both of them!". I was told- the cloth isnt that big, and so I'd to compromise with my vest... I was fortunate to still have my trousers though. I wondered what will happen if muski got the answer wrong!! I was in no mood to go throught that torture!! I held my breath and waited for his answer- but he jus gave out another muski...i was relieved. We were later told the correct answer to the question- "cover ur own eyes with the cloth" (duh!)
The seniors got bored of us after about like an hour and I was told to 'phantom'ise myself. That basically entails wearing one's undie over one's trousers. I was taken into a room where I could 'change'. I did as was ordered, and i looked damn funny. It was embarassing nonetheless. The seniors had a good laugh over it for some time. Muski still stood there makin another zillion muskis. They turned on some porn, and we were asked to enact the scenes!! Ahem...it was a doggy style scene, so we had to play both the guy and the girl's part taking turns. And not just that, we even had to "feel" as if we were actuaylly doing it... so we basically had to mimic the sounds and expressions too!! That was a big torture, esp with my phantom look :P
It was then time for the worst part- the buzzer round!!! We were literally qualining when it was told we'll actually have to do something, which till now was only a part of the legends that we'd heard back at the hostel. We had half a mind of bottling out and running away like chickens. Now, for the uninitiated it will seem a bit weird that i'm acting way too peevishly for another innocuous round of ragging. But then he/she doesnt probably know what the 'buzzer' is. Well, its that part of a man that defines his manhood. Now you getting it? So here we were, with the senior acting as quizmasters and two pitiable freshers with hands on 'buzzers', and not their own, but each others!! ewww!!!! I will forever be grateful to god that i had my trousers on !!! There was no escape- we couldn't afford to not press the buzzers at all, coz the one doing so will be let off. So the first question came in, and we hesitated, looked at each other, in a sort of trustful mistrust- a last cry of mercy. But that was it, I'd had enough and wanted out. So i did the dreaded- pressed the buzzer, and guess what- muski didn't give out so much as an ouch! His silence meant the buzzer hadnt been properly pressed, so i pressed it again.... and once again, silence. For a moment i doubted if at all he 'had' the buzzer.(i doubt it still - when wer'e gud friends!!). I made another go- this time it was a big blow- he couldn't stand on his feet after that....
There were a few more trifles that we'd to engage in after that, but after a period of 4 hours and 2 missed tutorials, we were finally let off. They say the purpose of ragging is to get introduced to seniors. But of all the seniors I've ever met and known at IITR, those that ragged me were never in the picture. Guess they could never even face me out of guilt, or just embarrasment. It wasnt the end of ragging for me though. It ended not until the dean and the director themselves had ragged me. As for poor 'muski', he got christened with that name after that fateful day, and thats what he's called even now. I just hope that his 'buzzer' is still intact though!!
It was different now that I was dressing up for the farewell. The memories seemed so old, and yet were so fresh in my memory. I'm thankful for that day because it taught me how life's gonna be for the next 4 years at IITR, and strengthened me to face it with elan. I'd been through a lot of things, and even as I strained my memory, there was hardly any thing worth remembering. The farewell seemed so futile, and the pics that we took don't mean anything to me.
Its all over and I didn't even turn back as i left the gates of IITR for the last time. Nostalgia seemed to have been asphyxiated by the bruises of time. The leaves of memory had fallen into the whirpool of destiny...
(Note: I dont intend to write a journal about my 4 years at IIT. There are only a few things are interesting enough to be told- actually its just one- ragging! The first part of the post is just intended to break the ice. All and sundry about ragging goes in part 2!!)
It was the same old hateful raajma, along with the same boring butterscoth ice cream, which had already melted by the time it was delivered to my seat at the mess. I'd decided to eat at the place that had feeded me for 4 years, and that I loved to hate, on the last day at IIT Roorkee, just for the kicks. As I ate the last piece of the chapati (thats what they called it, though i didnt figure from what angle it looked like one), memories from the very first day came rushing to me.
It was an excruciatingly hot n humid summer day. I was just a boy unprepared to take the reins of my life in my own hands and be dumped in a 'hostel'. A rank of 454 in the hyped up JEE had got me a course in computers at IIT Roorkee. Not bad. Not bad at all. That's how it seemed at that time atleast. It was a long and painful journey to the place which was gonna be my home for the next 4 years. I had never known a tradition much observed in our country before that day. During the last week of June, millions of bhakts (so to say) travel bare-feet to haridwar to fetch 'kaawad' (holy water) right from lord shiva's feet, and bring it back to their homelands before "shivratri". The indian govt., in order to keep its Hindu vote bank happy, shuts down most parts of the highway to give these bhakts a clear passage. Elaborate tents are set up at every mile and free food, water and bedding is provided to these people. So its basically not really a big sacrifice on the part of these 'bhakts' as it seems at first, but only an annual feast, a picnic they'd love to go on year after year. As a result of their devotion to lord shiva and the govt's devotion to them, the roads are closed and earthly mortals like us have to bear the brunt. Consequently, a 5 hour journey turned into a nightmarish 10 hour one. In any case, I thought thats probably the worst I've seen. But then I was goin to enter IITR, and the worst really couldn't have been defined at that time.
A day's work was what it took to clean up the shoddy room that was alloted to me at the hostel. Yet, I was happy that my rank got me the best possible room in IITR, and whats more, it was one of the rare single-seated rooms. I could have some privacy atleast! The room wasn't really what troubled me much though, it was the idea of common bathrooms and toilets that caught my fancy (or ill-fancy). I just couldn;t adjust to the fact that I wouldn;t be able to drop my towel after a nice bath and swerve to some music a la ranbir kanpoor. Weird right? Not really. But then I also had to survive the summers without so much as a proper fan. And i almost fainted in the evening when a swarm of mosquitoes n insects of all shapes and varieties came buzzing by, greeting every part of my body. I didnt know then that this was to become the routine for the months of july- october every year for the next 4 years. Adding to my suffocation was the dust, the bustling crowd of parents and all kinds of weird to-be hostel-mates.
We were all supposed to line up at 9pm outside the hostel for an 'attendance' as if we were in an army school. I was stupid enough to think shorts and sandals were good and comfy in that heat. I was made to run to my room to change them to something more formal, not together, but one by one...coz the warden at the hostel didnt had the habit of telling the rules all at a time, but in spurts!! The 'formalities' - attendance, proper clothes and shoes to the mess, continued for about a month. The attendance, which was kept as an excuse to make sure everyone was back at the hostel at night and was not loitering in some senior's room being ragged, was the first to be flouted. It was followed soon by the attire that one wore to the mess. The shoes gave way to sandals first and chappals next. The trousers gave way to shorts, and students doing so were given an apt term- 'kachchhadhaari'- coined by someone witty enough to do so.
It was only the second day when rumours of ragging had started doing the rounds, and stories of oppression were told in hushed voices, in the evenings when there was nothing else to do...
To be contd...