'I can't wait to fucking get out of here man! This place is a fucking dump'
These were the very words I would often repeat to the gang and in fact any one who cared to listen. I hated my college, or at least I thought so.
It had gone from being beautiful 'KREC'(1)(which would be casually pronounced as 'crazy', and we were crazyans) to a dull and dubious sounding 'NITK'(2)(Prompting someone to suggest us to change our newsletter's name to 'NITWIT' ). To my ears, it sounded like a name a Diploma college would choose, a poor cousin of the IITs, and I felt powerless at having no say, at not being able to say 'NO' to the new name.
Along with the change in the name, it had undergone a change in philosophy too. Gone were the days of leniency, and fun and frolic. At least for the newer batches, and as for us... ? the college just wanted to get rid of us. The last of the garbage, they would mold the newer batch to their liking.
We were the unwanted, and it felt great!
Here is the approach to our college's very own private beach, the stupid morons who run the college decided to cut down the trees.
Then there was the edge, and also the ledge, precariously perched positions of promise, the edge was a small extension of the roof that we had to climb up a window to reach, while the ledge was the water tank. Both of these opened out to clear sky, dense vegetation and the MRPL refinery. Two places where we could go to smoke our shit while the rain would pour down and the thunder would strike down upon everyone, and the perennial power cuts would follow the rain like a lost puppy, acoustic guitars in hand, the bright and sparkling lights of the refinery, nestled in the darkness of the unchecked foliage that surrounded much of our college and the areas nearby.
I remember that getting down after getting stoned was a really difficult thing to do.
I remember Sunil's constant insistence that we get down slowly. Every Time.
We had no care in the world(cliched ? I know.), the rest of the college high on parties, ragging, life, placements, 'lakhs per annums', girls, exams, Quake 3, sessionals, mess food, and other odds and ends, while we sat and spoke about Brains in Vats and Systems and Nietzsche and about drowning with the rest of the clueless, and a million other things.
The gang was truly mad;
Bhush the rolling machine who had turned rolling into an exquisitely intricate art form.
Avin the blob, with his superb solo technique but phenomenally pathetic timing and his affinity towards gluttonish indulgence and his subsequent 'sloth'.
Our (Mine and Sunil's) attempts at killing omnipresent boredom with inane discussions.
My existential dread.
Not to mention, the exception to the rule, the one girl in every 'batch' who was astronomically hotter than the rest. Why would such a frivolous rule be adhered to every year, with such consistency ? Was that some kind of a joke ? It didn't matter to us, we were interested in things that we thought were more important than women, yeah right!
I would lie awake at night, high from a day's worth of chasing, and booze, and frantic activity, listening to the rumble of passing trucks on NH 17 which ran right next to the hostel. I remember thinking about the stars, the blackness I could see from my window, the lives of the people driving the trucks, about how close they physically came and yet we would never know each other.
Thinking about where I would be years from then ? about the people who had lived in my room before me.
Even now, I think of that night, smoking that fateful joint in the rain with a friend, a friend who would not make it out alive, of the terror of having to explain the news to bhush on the phone, of nightmares involving that bus. Of the untold terror that they said lurked in our college, of a story involving a snake that miraculously made the construction equipment stall, of the puja's that the college would perform to appease the gods, of the puzzling nature of such a ritual in an engineering college.
I hated it. I knew it would end, that crazy, hypnotic horror would end, and soon I would be in the state I am in now, wishing I could be back, wishing I were young, wishing I could control time, wishing I never grew older than 20. Wishing I had never passed out that uneventful day sometime in 2005.
I apologize for not having enough photographs, they are all on my hard disk, and I can't seem to access it.
1) Karnataka Regional Engineering College
2) National Institute of Technology, Karnataka
Listening to 'Times of Trouble' - Temple of the Dog