Thursday, February 16, 2012

Journalist - A Blog Novel by Mr. Hariharan Valady (2/3)

Now that all autobiography is over, it's time to get started with the actual review of the novel...

First, as the first thing in the new year, the author posted an introduction explaining why he was missing in action for sometime (I was one of them who was wondering what he was doing so silently after such a striking start!), and what he was planning to do in the next few months (his plan to write his first novel online) and the structure he had in his mind for that (how many words and how many chapters, etc.). He talked about what he was getting into as well. As he said, blog novel is indeed a not-so-tested idea in Indian context. Not many people have tried it in our part of the world though I am not sure about others. Like all other things, writing in India is way different from that in any other part of the world - including the English writing. Today, we have our own version of Indianized English. For that matter, we have Indianized almost everything western. Others can't relate to many of our writings. Likewise, we have a huge subset of English readership that doesn't like reading anything other than Indian stuff in English. That is the reason we have so many English blogger networks specific to India today.

He also revealed the story line briefly and explained why he chose politics and media for his novel. That did remind us of some real life characters in our politics and media, which immediately made us interested in the novel as well. Though the story is that of Tamil Nadu politics, the important characters in the story could be seen in many of our other states as well as our national media. That is the reason he has been able to impress so many readers across the country.

I liked his upfront communication of the structure of his novel. It is the 'corporate way' of doing things. This is what people like us (who are so used to structured way of working) do when we take up anything - even if it is in a creative field like writing. Creativity is killed when you are restricted by structures, they say. But, I think, it is this hybrid approach that is working these days. There is no clear demarcation of arts and science (black or white) these days. It's the marriage of both (grey) that works now. Writing is both. It involves a lot of calculation, which is a science. It involves a lot of psychology, which is again a science though there is a bit of art when it comes to understanding it. So, in my opinion, that introduction was a good start because it communicated his planning. He prepared his readers by telling them how much time they would have to commit. It was required because he was getting into a new area. He has to keep his readers interested throughout - for months - from start to end. He can't afford to bore them. Otherwise, it would result in not just loss of readership but that of his own confidence as a writer as well.

He had to strike a balance between too less and too much. I always get a feedback that my posts are too long. That way, I thought, his sizing was appropriate - not too small nor too big. The dynamics of blogsphere is slightly different from that of the print media. You can't write long posts if you are interested in good readership. Most of your followers are bloggers themselves. They wouldn't like to follow your blog if you expect them to spend too much time on your blog. Most of them are not full-time writers or readers so they have limited time when they hit home and open their boxes every evening. This sizing of 600-700 words per post in my opinion was one of the many best things in this novel. The continued support and appreciation that he is getting till date is a testimony to that.

Within days, he posted the first chapter. Writer Sujatha used to say, the story should start right in the first line. Even Manirathnam's movies start like that right from the first scene. Journalist's story also started in the first paragraph in the first chapter itself. Then followed the background (flashback) stories. The introduction about both Durai and Vidya were good. In fact, the first few paragraphs about Durai were enough for us. We could have written pages about him ourselves with that. We have been seeing him and his father in flesh and blood in real life for so many years, of course, with different names. I am sure this line would have reminded each one of us at least one politician we have been seeing - "A trained politician that Durai was, he suppressed his disappointment in no time and regained his calm."! This is one common trait that most of our populist politicians possess. Agree?

How about this - "The restaurant would not like to lose a chance to please him, even if it meant foregoing the week end crowd."? I am not sure if it was a phenomenon all over the country. I think, it all started off in Tamil Nadu and was picked up by others later. For last few decades, this has been the case in Tamil Nadu. If you can't please the ruling class, you would be nowhere in no time. I think, it is our chief ministers who showed to others how powerful a chief minister could become or how much power could be misused maximum by them. The first statue of a living politician was unveiled in Tamil Nadu. Fortunately, that was the last as well. But, Mayawati is doing the same thing in large numbers in UP today.

The introduction about Vidya and her parents were all perfect. His choice of names was all superb. It was so easy to relate each name to their counterpart in reality. Even the party names were interesting. The way he shortened some names also indicated who he was talking about. For example, when he said, Selvaraj was fondly called Selva by his followers, we easily understood who Selvaraj was. The channel name 'India Times' sounds very close to a real name. I think, the author should have been more careful on this. He is very comfortable with the geography in which the story is set. It's one silly area where writers make mistakes often. He has done a good job on this part. He has even given the maps of places in discussion wherever it would help.  :)

Any actress who comes to Tamil movie industry with high political aspirations could use this novel as a quick reference guide to understand the dynamics of Tamil politics. This is one such line from chapter-2 that gives a good introduction about our politics - "However TN politicians were a different lot compared to the Delhi ones- members of opposing parties do not see eye to eye; participating in TV debates is simply not done."! By the way, wondering why someone with political aspirations should join movie industry first? That is how it works in our place. That is the easiest way to have a lateral entry into our politics. Like joining polytechnic to join engineering as lateral. :)

This paragraph is another gem that explains the state of affairs in the state of Tamil Nadu: 
"Every party in Tamilnadu had its own TV channel which showered undiluted praise on its leaders. When their own channels could reach the people in rural areas in Tamil with positive news about them, why would they want a journalist from a national TV sitting on their neck throughout the day and asking uncomfortable questions? Also most of the leaders were not comfortable with English. So her request to cover their campaign was turned down by virtually all parties and all leaders."

This line spoke volumes about our politics in Tamil Nadu too - "In Tamilnadu politics recent corruption is more unpardonable than old corruption!". Yes. We have always been ruled by corrupt rogues. We have never had a third option. Even if we are provided with a third option, we don't care. We find a reason to ridicule them. At the same time, I also think that it is better than allowing the same fellow to loot forever. We at least punish someone for his/her misdeeds. We make them feel insecure and remind them that they are dispensable, we are superior to them and their fate is in our hands - literally and otherwise. I think it is because of that fear factor we have been getting good administration despite all these. So, with this approach, by now, we should have been completely corruption-free, right? That hasn't been the case. Why? What went wrong in between then? The answer is - we wasted a few decades by shifting our focus to punishing 'arrogance' as well in addition to corruption.

-Cont. in 3/3...


Please click here to get started with the novel...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Culture Surprises: London - 1/12


Like 'Culture Shocks', this is 'Culture Surprises'. 'Culture Surprises' is my travelogue and peoplogue. Travelogue to discuss about all my experiences in every new place I visit and peoplogue to discuss about all my experiences with people from different cultures I meet. So, it is not necessary that I talk about only cultures here. It's about everything new that I come across. So, purists... please bear with the coinage of the title!

ON YOUR MARK... GET SET... GO...

It's one and a half years since I wrote about travelling westwards. My desire to travel and the work towards that started a year before that. It's not that I was particular about going to the west only. I was so desperate to travel that I was okay with any place (If you haven't read all my travelogues please don't jump to a quick conclusion and reduce it to just 'foreign craze'. It's a long story and it has many sub-stories around it. This series of blog posts is to talk about all of them.). When I was losing hope in life for not being able to do things that I wanted to do, the Singapore opportunity came. The last series of travelogues was about that. Someone posted the Tamil version of it on a popular Tamil magazine website (Vikatan.com) in the 'Good Blogs' section. That remains my most read blog post till date. That also motivated a lot to write travelogues. I think when I wrote about Singapore I would have compared everything there with India. Now that I have seen two countries, needless to say, everything that I write about London will be written by comparing with two countries, both India and Singapore. This is what travels do to people, right? They expand the horizon for us.

When I started to Singapore, I was not sure how many days I was going to stay there or in how many days I would have to pack up to travel back home. I left alone thinking that I could take my family later if my stay became a long term one. But I came back within a fortnight. This travel also had the same confusion and lack of clarity about duration of stay. But I decided to bring my family with me this time. On my own cost. I thought let it be like a family vacation if we had to go back. In case I would have to stay back, they wouldn't have to travel without me. Also, it's not that easy for them to travel without me such a long distance unlike Singapore. No pain of separation as well.

The travel was confirmed after 4 PM. I booked the tickets for family at 8 PM only. The departure was at 10 AM on the next day. As you know, there are many things that we have to buy for an overseas travel. But we couldn't do all that. We just bought what we could buy after 8 PM and started packing up as quickly as possible. We could have bought a few things earlier. But we didn't want to waste money by buying things before getting a confirmation on the travel. We have heard many stories of last minute changes in travels by their companies and clients from many people. So we were not ready to believe anything until it happened. We have to inform at least the closest relatives and friends, right? But that itself was around 20-30 people. We called everyone as quickly as possible and spent the rest of the night packing up. We couldn't even inform the daughter's school properly. We called the next morning from airport and informed.

After a short nap, we woke up in the early morning, got ready in no time and reached the airport on time leaving a lot of time for check-in and security check. It was the first air travel for the family. My wife was not ready to believe anything till the last minute. My daughter didn't believe that we were going to London. More than believing, she didn't like going there. Why? Fear. What fear? That's again a story. I will tell you that later. It's that fear and dislike that she expressed as disbelief. Then there was another fear. That was the fear of flying. Convincing her was another big task in itself. Until we reached London, she kept saying that were traveling to Singapore only and not London and she wanted us also to believe so. We also had no problem listening to her. But we kept telling her, "We are going to London...", "We are going to London...", whenever we got an opportunity and tried to prepare her as much as possible.

It was Emirates Airlines. Once we boarded the flight, after seeing all the beautiful air hostesses she was getting little comfortable. Once they started speaking to her nicely, she became happier. They gave a few toys to the children on board. After collecting them, she was all the more happy. So, one problem is solved finally! We had to change flight in Dubai. The only condition she had there was, "If it is a fat plane I won't come. It should be a slim plane." So the fear of flying is almost gone now. After boarding the flight in Dubai, they gave another toy. Now the fear of flying is completely gone. Now there was only one fear. That was, the fear of London. That, as I said, we shall talk about later.

The travel between Bangalore and Dubai was good. It was a hassle-free travel as it was only 3 to 3.5 hours in total. There are many ways to London from Bangalore. One, landing straight in London. Two, via Dubai. Three, via Delhi. There must be many more as well. Via Dubai must be one of the preferred options for Bangalore to London travelers. It was not very crowded in the flight between Bangalore and Dubai. The travel was mostly over sea only. While nearing Dubai, the landscape was beautiful. I don't think I saw such good scenes when I traveled to Singapore.

All that comes to our mind about deserts is the dry useless land. But they are so beautiful when you see from top. You don't have to fight for a window seat to have a look at these beautiful scenes these days. Every seat has a video screen, which shows the front view, bottom view and back-side view from flight. In fact, one doesn't even have to take a flight to see all these. We can just see all these sitting in our place using Google Maps. You would love it. But I should say that I had some fantastic views, which may not be available in Google Maps. But most of them should be available. Just try. I was wondering if there was so much beauty in this world, which I hadn't seen till then. If someone like me who is so bad in appreciating nature and beauty was so excited looking at them, I am sure it will be much more beautiful for people like you.

When we changed over in Dubai, I tried to look at one important thing, that is, how many Malayali brothers I could see there. Maybe they were all in the city, not necessarily in airport. Still I could see some of them. But not as much as I thought I would. They were roaming around as casually as they would in Trivandrum or Cochin, with the same trademark coconut oil-applied Mammooty-Mohanlal mustaches!

I have always wanted to experience the Dubai weather (rather, the Middle East weather). But I couldn't do that as we were inside the airport itself. My belief is that whether it is cold or hot if there are people living there already I should also be able to do that. So, it's okay. I can experience it some other time. I still think that it may not be so different from the weather that I grew up with.

My understanding is that those who live in cold weather get fair and those in hot weather dark. Going by that logic, the whites being white, the Africans being black and we Indians being brown make sense. But how is it that the people in Middle East are fairer than us? I know, it's not a sensitive thing to talk about colors of people but please look at it purely from an anthropology perspective. This is my biggest question of the century.

The mankind has always had a problem with other cultures. Anything foreign is scary to us. It's a global phenomenon and not specific to any particular community. I realize that I am not an exception too. I spent all of my childhood in a Muslim neighborhood. But we never had any difference with them. The way we ate, dressed, looked and everything was the same. None of them was like how they are stereotyped these days. I should admit here that when I was walking around in Dubai airport and looked at few faces I did feel that fear. A particular face with a particular type of beard scares me. Please don't get me wrong. You should understand this right - I never felt this fear when I was with Abdul Rahman uncle or my friend Syed in my street. Likewise, there is a different kind of fear while speaking to the whites, which we don't feel while speaking to the Arabs. It's the colonial inferiority in this case. At the end of the day, it's the result of many unknowns. I can't be blamed completely. I could have avoided talking about this. But I didn't want to hide an experience that I had. Everyone talks about freedom of expression these days and the same everyone then goes the extra miles to teach a lesson to those who practice it. That's the reason I had to explain myself so much! So please don't use this opportunity to cause any damage to the world peace.

The travel from Dubai to London was nice too. The same kind of beautiful air hostesses. Needless to say, my daughter liked them as well (Did I too?!). They gave another toy and exchanged smiles and pleasantries with her every time they passed by. So while getting down she went after everyone of them to say, "Bye!!!". Like the travel from Bangalore to Dubai was mostly over sea and little bit over land, this one from Dubai to London was the other way around. It was mostly over land and little bit over sea. The journey over land was unbelievably beautiful. This is the travel that changed my opinion about deserts. This is the travel that taught me that the deserts are beautiful too. What is earth's beauty? It is the ups and downs. The hills and valleys. Has anyone ever told that the plains are beautiful? The sand dunes and mountains are so beautiful. I haven't seen much of earth's beauty in my life yet. The scenes that I saw in this travel will surely be the best or one of the best in my life. I am sure those who have traveled on this route will agree with me. Otherwise maybe there is something wrong with my taste. In case you have traveled on this route many times but haven't seen this yet, please don't miss it next time when you travel on this route.

It was mostly the Dubai faces on board so we didn't feel out of place. They are closer to London than we are so I told myself maybe London has a lot of Middle Eastern people as well. There were only a few whites. The sunlight and plane were travelling almost in the same speed. Finally the nature won. When we landed in London it was dark. Are you wondering, "OMG, landing itself is happening now only?"? Unfortunately, that's my style of writing. Don't worry. In the next part, we will enter the city. Or, let me not be so optimistic - Let's try our best to enter the city at least in the next part! :)

- TO BE CONTINUED...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Journalist - A Blog Novel by Mr. Hariharan Valady (1/3)

Politics has always been an interesting subject for me. It's a love-hate relationship that I have with politics. I almost hate all our politicians but I love reading and discussing anything on politics. I follow politics almost on daily basis. My grandfather was a freedom fighter and politician, who sacrificed a lot of things in life for his country and people. Today, I am little hesitant to even call him a politician because it has got a different meaning now. I just say he was a freedom fighter most times.

He was in Congress party during the Indian freedom movement inspired by both Gandhi and Bose and then converted to Communism in prison by another inmate Mr. R Venkatraman, who ironically remained in Congress party till the end and became the president of this 'Mostly Congress' country. I grew up hearing stories about my grandfather, which were filled with only sacrifices. That background made me interested in politics. I remember an uncle of mine teaching me to pronounce the names of the British prime minister, the American president and all south Indian chief ministers as soon as I picked up the names of parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.

But, the politics that I grew up seeing and reading myself about is totally 'different' (I know 'worse' would be a politically incorrect term in the incorrect political environment of today, where everything is incorrect and nothing is going correct!). Like my grandfather, I have been hoping of an impossible revolution in my time too. Even if I find one guy promising for a season (just a season), my faith in our politics gets restored. That keeps me going for years. Even when things don't go as we want them to, I follow our politics to see how we handle them. That keeps me going for years too. Good or bad... I follow our politics. It's only the uneventful middle overs that I miss out in our politics.

Next, I have always been interested in reading and writing. Literature is the second most interesting thing for me. There are many accomplished writers in my family. That makes me interested in literature as well. It's always the non-fiction that talks out things straight and loud that attracts me more. Being someone interested in politics you would always have an eye for sensationalism. Only the non-fictitious political cover stories can satisfy that thirst for sensationalism every now and then. It's a different story that our paid media today is injecting fiction into the non-fiction as well. And, it's another different story that our politics is more dramatic than fictions.

You need lot more patience to read fictions. It's like test cricket. Not only because it tests your patience but also because that is what is called true literature. I don't touch a fiction book unless I am very sure that I would be able to read through the entire book without distractions. Likewise, to start writing a story as well, I need to have a lot of extra motivation, which has an acute shortage these days. However, I want to read and write a lot of fiction because of the mere respect it carries in the elite circles. I have written a lot of short stories in Tamil, all of which I am planning to put on my blog slowly and translate to English. But, not sure how successful would I be in translating them without losing the soul or how well would they be received by my 'English' followers.

How about mixing up both politics and fiction?! A political fiction! Interesting thought. I did have plans to write a political novel that captures every single drama that was witnessed by the people of Tamil Nadu in the last forty years. This has been one of the most dramatic parts of our history. There are few positives and many negatives... few unforgettables and many unforgivables... Not just dramatic, this has been one of the most eventful parts of our history also. The bad thing that has happened because of these negatives is that they have negated some of the most inspiring - revolutionary changes that happened. Our history books will be incomplete without these stories.

We showed to others how a different style of politics is possible in this country, which is good as well as bad in many ways. We were the first to challenge the super-powerful Delhi and the Congress party. We were the first to do any kind of social revolution after the Independence movement. The package comes with some bads too. We were the first to sell our politics to the entertainment industry for a cheap price. We were the first to do world-class, record-breaking and scientific corruptions in the country. Haven't heard of scientific corruption? You need to read our history! :)

We are in a period where we can't capture all these in a non-fiction. If at all someone dares to write something of that sort, everything including the writer's life will be in question. At least most of his valuable lifetime would have to be wasted in fighting defamation cases or 'ganja cases'. But, if you write the same thing in a fiction giving different names to the same characters, nobody would care. That's the flexibility fictions give to the writers. I don't know how many such novels have already been written. I don't remember having read any.

Mr. Hariharan Valady is writing a novel on his blog, which in itself is a novel idea. I got excited on the first day he said this is what he was planning to do. There were many reasons for the excitement: 1. He was going to do something that I had been having in my list for a long time (this is what I tell everyone after reading almost anything they have written about - as if I have everything on my list!), 2. It was on a subject very close to my heart, 3. It was by someone with whom I could relate very easily on many things.

Politics in general attracts me. I was even attracted by the American politics when Obama was in race last time. When I came to Bangalore in 98, Karnataka politics was one of the first few things I tried to understand. Even now when I have to break the ice with friends from other parts of the country or world, I choose politics to do that. If at all I am familiar with one thing in a totally unfamiliar land, that one thing would be politics. Being an Indian it's natural that I am more interested in Indian politics than international politics. Likewise, there is nothing to be surprised about when I say I am more interested in Tamil Nadu politics than the national politics. So, it was only natural that I got excited when he said his story is going to be around the politics in Tamil Nadu.

I had also promised him to do a critical review and give my comments once he was done with 4-5 posts. I couldn't do that because of too much work in last few weeks. I was repeatedly reminding myself that there is something pending that I had to close as soon as I was back in the virtual world. I think, I am very late now because he has already posted 13 posts. It's good for me because there is more to review now. It's easier to do 'a broader review with more' than 'a focused review with less', right?!

Wondering when I would start the review? I am so sorry. This has become a habit now. Every time I want to write about something, I end up eating up the whole space for introduction and background information itself. 'What is the need to talk so much about your personal stories in a review on someone else's work?' is the question most of you have, right? I think, it is these personal stories that make blogging different from journalism so it is okay. And, most people tell me that I am more elaborative than required. At the same time, some people do tell me not to try a different style as well. I am confused. So, let me remain whatever I am now for sometime. The status quo remains the same! :)

-The actual review will start in the next part... :)


Please click here to get started with the novel...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

College Life - Aditanar College, Tiruchendur (6/6)

* This is due for too long. Finished writing it more than a month back but couldn't post it because of too much work in last few weeks. So, posting it without proper review. Please bear with any silly mistakes.


Hostelers and Day Scholars
Generally, in most classes, hostelers and day scholars would be in two different groups. There were only few boys who went beyond these boundaries and mingled with all. It was better in our class because our class was small in size. Some boys who were from nearby places would be hosteler for sometime and day scholar for sometime. When they get bored with day scholar life they would join the hostel and vice versa. Some hostelers would always roam with day scholars. Most of the times they would be in one of the day scholars' houses. They would know almost all local girls that are known to their day scholar friends too. Likewise, there were a lot of day scholars who used to be with us always. Most of the times they would be with us in the hostel. They would leave only when the watchman asks them to leave. Some of them were even warned by the wardens for being in the hostel always. They were so close with us!

One such day scholar who was always with us was, a guy by name Roshan from a nearby coastal village called Alanthalai. There is an emotional story around our friendship with him. When we were in the final year, Roshan's father met with a major accident (there were even doubts that it might not be an accident) and was admitted in ICU in a hospital in Tuticorin. When he was in the hospital for a month or so, every night two guys from our hostel would go and stay with his family in the hospital in rotation to help them. Another two guys would go every day to donate blood . It's a touching experience. I am not sure if the same guys would be able to offer so much help now. That period was like that. That's a period in which you have no expectations and never think for yourself, right? Finally even when he died despite all our help and treatment, there was a huge crowd from our hostel till the last minute in his funeral. I am sure our mere presence beside him would have helped him a lot at that time of grief. It would have also helped him come out of it faster. Isn't it superb? That's the specialty of college friendship, right?

Communal Clash
Another unforgettable experience from the college life is the communal clash that took place in the last month. Our college had good reputation from the beginning. Generally, we used to have good respect everywhere. As some colleges in nearby towns Tuticorin and Tirunelveli were notorious for their strikes, indefinite closures and public nuisance and our college was so decent being in the same area, we naturally commanded that respect from public. The credit should go to our management for that. The college was founded by Mr. Aditanar and his son Mr. Sivanthi Adityan is the current president of the college committee. People in that region have great respect for him. He wouldn't tolerate the college's reputation taking a beating for whatever reason. This communal clash would have marred exactly that - the reputation.

There was no sign of such a problem in the first two years. It was as peaceful as how it was all along. It was not a problem of the entire college. It was just a problem in one of the two hostels. The other hostel (Gandhi Hostel) didn't have this problem. To be more precise, it's a problem of few individuals. They wouldn't have known the seriousness of the problem they created when they did it. These problems would be there as long as the college is there. It would all be fine as long as there is no such problem but once someone breaks the ice all hell would break lose. Because, the whole crowd doesn't go at the end of the year. One third of the crowd leaves and a new one-third arrives. So, that means the other two batches will carry forward the hatred. Then what is the end for this? There is no such thing!

Generally, such problems don't crop up in places where there is only one majority community. It happens only in places where there are at least two communities in more or less equal strength. That's the reason why we never had such problems in our college or hostel. The batch that joined the first year when we were in the final year introduced all these to us. There were two caste-based groups in that batch. Once they had some problem with each other, guys from other batches also joined them, took sides and worsened the situation. Thus it became the entire hostel's problem. As far as I remember it was just few guys who were behind this whole thing though it was called a communal clash - the problem of communities.

This problem helped us witness many strange things in our lives. One, enemies became friends and friends became enemies overnight. Devils became angels and angels became devils. Some guys who were hated like mad by almost everyone became heroes overnight. Nobody liked them in the first two years but they became the darling of more than half the people in the final year. The only reason is, they had taken something called caste in their hand. Those who wouldn't even like to see each other eye to eye became relatives (mind you - not friends) in the process. Once you know someone is from the same caste as yours, he becomes your relative. That's their theory! I have seen this in many places. Someone completely neglected by people around him will think all night and take up some sensitive thing in hand. Suddenly he would have a huge fan following as planned. All those who hated him from the day one will start loving him. He would suddenly gain so many new friends and well wishers in the same old place. That's what happened there also.

On the other hand, there were many close friends who ended up seeing each other in opposite camps. I think, enmity without a valid reason is a cheap thing. I had the privilege of seeing that cheapness first hand. It was spreading silently like cancer for half a year. Everyone secretly added fuel to the fire and discussed strategies against those in the opposite gang. Some guys were spying on both the sides. Though we were all scared of what was going to happen, somewhere in a corner of our mind we were also hoping that nothing would happen eventually. But, it didn't turn out to be nothing as we hoped.

I always wonder how it is so easy to split our people by taking such a sensitive nonsense in hand. It would have resulted in a big communal riot if it was any other college but it didn't become so bad in our college. There was one group of people who ensured that things didn't go that bad at all costs. Maybe, if the college had continued for some more time or the problem had started little earlier, all that would have happened. Luckily, the course ended without having to see such things. Such a major problem in the offing was controlled so well by some actions. There is a lot of criticism on the way those actions were taken but it was a big relief that the problem didn't become as big as we feared it to be.

The Last Month as Day-scholar
This one month is unforgettable in the college life too. One of the actions taken because of the communal clash was, dismissing all final year students from the hostel. So, that forced all of us to rent a house or room outside. Some of us rented houses. Some others just stayed in lodges only on exam days and studied from home on other days. Thanks to the temple in Tiruchendur, there are a lot of good - affordable lodges, hotels and restaurants in town. We had tasted in almost all restaurants in Tiruchendur in that one month. Even when we were in hostel, the mess wouldn't be open in study holidays. Those days, we would just stay in the hostel and come out for food. Our experience with the outside restaurants during those days did help in the last month later.

With the help of our professor Mr. Velayudham and Mr. Paul Pandian (the professor from my place who helped me to join there) four of us (Nathan, Raja, Ramesh and I) rented a house in Tiruchendur town. Though it was only for four of us officially, there were many other friends who used to come and stay there. The house was in a beautiful street near the temple. There was a house in the same street where we got good home-made food every day. Once in a while we used to have food in our professor Mr. Velayudham's house also. He is from a distant place called Pattukottai near Tanjore. Every year he would bring a few guys from his native place to this college. There were maximum of three guys in our batch. Nathan, Raja and Ramesh were such people who came from his place. Raja and Ramesh are his relatives. Nathan is from his native place. I just disturbed him during that one month when I stayed in his neighborhood but these three guys would almost go every week to his house even when we were in the hostel. He had just got married then. These guys wouldn't just care about all that. He had his first kid when we were staying in that house in his neighborhood. We used to spend a lot of time with that kid also at that time. He would have become a big boy by now. If we meet him somewhere now neither would he identify who we are nor would we be able to identify who he is.

The bus stand is in the north corner of the town. Our house was few kilo meters southwards from the bus stand in the town. The college is a kilometer away from the bus stand on the north side. We used to commute this entire two-three kilo meters by walk. The one kilo meter distance that we walk from the bus stand to college was in the outskirts so it was very beautiful. The road is parallel to the beach. There was a backwater between the beach and the road. Sometimes it would be connected with the sea and other times there would be a gap between them in which people used to walk. Such a wonderful sight it used to be. There was a railway station opposite to the bus stand where no train used to come. I think, there was only one train to Tirunelveli. It was a meter gauge line. That comes parallel with the beach and the road. The railway station is a good place to hang around (those days we used to say it was a good place to 'study'). Sometimes we would have a tea and hang around in the railway station as well.

What else after the last month? It's the last day!
Needless to say - The last day is a more important day than the first day for many reasons. The next day would be the first day of a new era. We would have to stand on our own feet. Scared of the future on one side and the sadness for the quick end of such a beautiful life on the other. The grief of separation on one side and the pain of in-fights that came before the separation on the other. Despite all that, the separation was inevitable. Some guys postponed the separation by a day by staying back for another night. Some guys spoke emotionally with all their friends in the last one hour and said 'good bye'. Some guys couldn't even express their emotions because they don't believe in expressing emotions. For them, they should just be felt without having to express. Some people even burst into tears. I was surprised when some boys cried on the first day but on this day three years later the same act of crying made sense to me. Some guys smoked their sorrow of separation away. Some chose to drink to get that relief. Some of us from computer science went to one of our classmates Janardhanan's coconut grove in a nearby village called Paramankurichi and just drank tender coconuts before parting ways. We computer science students had a hope that others didn't have. We hoped that we would soon meet in Chennai or Bangalore. It became a reality for some and didn't for some others. Let's discuss about it in another series sometime later. For now, the college life ends... Thanks. Bye... Bye...

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