College Life - Aditanar College, Tiruchendur (4/6)
The highlight of all celebrations is the hostel day celebration that we usually have while nearing the end of the year. It's not a one-day celebration. It goes on for a week. A lot of sports events and other competitions would be there. The most important of them all is the cricket tournament. It would be like the world cup where you would have everything like league, semis and finals. There would be other sports such as Kabaddi, Volley Ball, This Ball, That Ball, etc. At the end of it all comes the grand finale - the Hostel Day, in which the prize distribution for the winners would take place. The hostel day function would have a lot of cultural events as well. The highlight of hostel day function is the farewell speech given by some of the outgoing students. Every year at least one person would rock in that. I was planning to rock when my turn would come but unfortunately the hostel day itself didn't happen when I was in the final year. Want to know why? It's a big story. Please wait for a few more weeks. We will discuss about that as well.
Likewise, the college day function is another important one. It generally comes in the month of March. It's an important day for the final year students as it takes place just before the course end. Isn't everything that we enjoy with the loved ones with whom we are parting ways shortly a great experience? The college day would be a grand ceremony. Mr. Sivanthi Adityan, the president of our college committee, better known as a media-czar and owner of two popular Tamil newspapers Daily Thanthi and Maalai Malar, would be there without fail every year. It's his college. Using his influence some inspirational - well known personality would be brought as chief guest to the function. Seeing all that we would all feel very proud that we were not studying in an ordinary college. That afternoon, the NCC cadets would give a guard of honor parade to both of them (our president and the chief guest). The practice sessions would start more than a month before. It would be like the independence day and republic day parades that happen Red Fort in New Delhi. The background music during the parade, the beautiful blue sea in the background and the scene of all colorful flags flying high would all give goosebumps. Even now I get goosebumps when I think of that experience. I also participated in the parade in first two years. Third year, I was not interested to continue in NCC. I am one of them who escaped from that saying that NCC took away all my freedom. The cultural events in the night would be rocking. All of them would be of great quality. One month practice, no?! I don't think I ever participated in any of the college day cultural events. I told you, they are of good quality, right? So, that said everything. :)
Whichever part of the world he is in, Mr. Sivanthi Adityan would be back in his den in that one week. His native place is very near from there. First day, he participates in the college day function. The next day, he inaugurates the car festival in Tiruchendur temple. Then, there is temple festival in his native place Kayamozhi. Then, he would go to the temple festival in Sun Paper Mill, a business unit owned by him in Cheranmahadevi. That entire week, he would be in that region only - attending one or the other function. I have even heard that he goes hunting in the those nights with his people when he stays in his native place. Wow! What a life! This is the kind of life we all yearn for, right? Not only him. Almost everyone in Nadar community has this custom of coming back to their native place for a week in the month of March-April every year for temple festival. If you check with their children whose families are based at cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, etc. they would say that's one of the most joyful periods in their lives. Check out if you know anyone. I have envied them many times for not having such customs in our place.
Weekend, Cricket and Beach
Let's come back to the Hostel Day Cricket tournament now. We start the practice for it right from the day one we join. As soon as the college ends at 4pm we would come running to the hostel and start at 4.15pm. It would go on till it becomes completely dark. The center of the square-shaped hostel is the ground. The ground is little small, which adds to the fun. Most of us learnt hitting sixes only after going there. That confidence would help us to smash sixes in bigger grounds later. As the hostel is on the seashore, the ground is full of sand. It is suitable for falling down and pretending so while fielding and catching. There were a lot of tall trees in the ground, which made catches not just a matter of ability but also of luck as well. Even the balls that would otherwise go for six would be stopped by the tall trees and on the other hand even the shots that would have got caught would get saved with the help of trees. It would be so nice watching the catches and misses when the ball gets stopped by a tree, falls down going in different directions after hitting each branch leaving the fielder utterly confused about where it would fall finally. We have also seen scenes where the fielder would catch a fruit falling down from the tree instead of the ball. Some people like batting and some like bowling. Some are all-rounders. I am an all-rounder. It's the same name for both - those who do well in both as well as those who screw-up in both.
We would play like mad on weekends. We would have more people to play with us. Even those who roam around in the areas of bus stand, beach and temple would be stuck in the hostel because of the heat. The heat is not a problem for them but for those they plan to see in those places. Who would come out in such a heat? So, we would include them also on weekends. If we start the game after having pongal in the morning, by afternoon it would have got digested completely, which otherwise wouldn't get digested even in the night. It would be so hard and heavy that many guys won't have lunch on those days. That pongal has an important place in our hostel lives. The first day we have that pongal we would curse ourselves and our parents for landing in that hostel. We would surely complain about it to our parents when we call up home that night. But, in the next few months, invariably everyone in the entire hostel would have fallen in love with that pongal - with no exceptions. It's a miracle that continues to happen every year. 'How is it that something that was hated so much became so lovable!' is the question everyone of us have even today.
There are some more things that happen in the weekends. One of them is going to the beach for sea bath. That apart, we would go to the beach on full moon days (actually in the nights) as well - not to take sea bath but just to see the sea (there were guys who would go on no moon days as well but they are a different group!). When I say 'we', it's not four or five people. Almost the whole of hostel! Only few people like me who are 'scared of the night' would stay in the hostel. Sometimes I would join the gang on mission fearing that staying alone in hostel may be more dangerous than going to the beach with a bigger crowd. The tides would be bigger and noisier on those days. The intensity of tides would scare us to death. I was telling you in one of the previous posts about how I feared as if we were going to submerge in Tsunami when I saw the sea on the first day. Later, after seeing the sea every day that fear died down. It's only on full moon days we would be reminded of that fearful thoughts again.
Sometimes people would also catch crabs when we go in the nights. While coming back we would come back with bags full of crabs. I could never master that art though. But, some of my friends were experts in it. They would cook tasty crabs after coming back. Almost the entire hostel would have a second dinner that night. Somehow I have never been attracted by the taste of crabs as well. I would just be with them. That's it. Once, this business continued till 4am from midnight. I always like only the items that are easy to eat. I don't like techniques such as removing seeds, peeling off skins, separating bones, etc. However tasty something is, I wouldn't like it if I have to put some extra effort to eat it.
Right from school days till today, one thing that I find very difficult is - taking leaves. I find it so difficult to stand in front of someone requesting for something and giving him an opportunity to ask me questions. I think it's better not to do something if it has to happen with someone's permission. I have had a lot of problems because of this crazy attitude. Bunking classes is one of the most significant experiences in college, right? Both in first year and the second year, many of my friends used to bunk classes. They would use that time to do something more useful. It includes things starting from going for movies to roaming around the town. I also started doing it once in a while - only after coming to the final year. It's very occasional that I bunked for movies. Most of the times I bunked classes, I took good rest staying in hostel.
I never used to be interested in movies right from childhood. It all started off with an egoistic attitude. I used to think that watching movies was an entertainment of the ordinary people and I was not one of them. Later, even after realizing that I don't become intelligent just by not watching movies, I am not able to make myself interested in it. One of the most memorable things for those who stayed in hostels is the late-night movies. It used to be more adventurous in school hostels. It's not so adventurous in college hostels because they anyway give you a lot of freedom. Saturday nights are called film-nights, which means your shackles are removed on those nights to watch all sorts of movies you want to watch. When you are allowed to do something, what is the fun in doing the same thing unlawfully? There were also adventurous ones who used to think, "Who are they to allow us? I would only go when they don't allow!". I am sure such people are there everywhere. They had a kind of association. Every night they would assemble after the study hours and abscond. They would go almost every night when we were in the second year and third year. They would even go for the same movie again and again but would never sleep in the room.
There were five theaters in Tiruchendur. If that's not enough, there were few theaters in the nearby town Arumuganeri as well. There was one in Authoor, another town in neighborhood. The one in Authoor was owned by our friend Madhavan's father. If he was there when we went, the movie would be free that day. There was no theater in Kayalpatnam which was a town closer than Arumuganeri and Authoor for us. Arumuganeri and Kayalpatnam are two adjucent towns in a distance of three kilometers. Some of my friends would even go till Tuticorin. It would take about 2.5 hours up and down in bus so it was possible only in weekends.
I also became a part-time member in that association in the final year. I mean, I would go with them only once in a while. It's easy to go because it would be before 10pm. The watchmen wouldn't trouble while going. It's not like in school hostel where you would have prison-like rules. It's a problem only when you return in the midnight. There are many options. The easiest of them is jumping the gate. If the watchman wakes up, gone case! The next day, every one's father will be there to see the warden in hostel and Lord Subramanya in Tiruchendur temple. Thus, the full-time members of the association 'take care' of the watchmen once in a while. As a 'take-and-give' (not give-and-take), the watchmen would either keep the gate open at that time or ignore you while jumping the gate.
This 'taking care' business is unlawful by the rules and regulations of the hostel. If the warden comes to know about it, it would lead to punishments. But, the givers and takes have always been there. Like entertainment-lovers taking care of the watchmen, food-lovers would take care of the mess servants. They would go to the mess in the closing time after everyone leaves and get special treatment. They would get return on their investment on the days when non-veg is served. Some guys would voluntarily go and take care of them for the special treatment but others would just give them some money when the servants come to them and ask with a 'poor face'. Can't say no. These guys would just give without any expectations. See where corruption starts. What can Anna Hazare do for all these?
Cyclers and Bikers
The responsibility of getting the late night news to the hostel lied with the late-night moviegoers. Likewise, there were a few groups to get the early morning outside news. One of them is those who went for type writing classes in the early morning - waking up before the rest of the hostel. I think we were the last generation that learnt type writing. The computers swallowed all the type writing machines after they came. Some went for computer classes as well. I also went for the evening computer classes. Exclusively for this, some rich boys had brought cycles from home. Cycles were many in number. Some guys would keep their cycle like girl friend (I don't like calling it like wife!). There were cases of losing relationships after asking the cycle for a day. They would behave as if they joined the college to maintain their cycles - spending most of their time in wiping, washing, cleaning and fondling it.
Only one guy (Sasidharan, my room mate in the final year) had bike. Imagine how rich he would have been. I don't think anyone asked him for bike and lost his relationship. But, there were only few guys to talk about bikes. They would talk about a lot of statistics and techniques in the bike their father or uncle back home had. They would talk about everything about bikes - what is good in each bike, what is bad in each bike, which are the fast moving bikes, which are the not moving bikes, etc. I used to wonder what they would achieve knowing all these unnecessary things. But, when I also bought a bike and started talking about those things with everyone with so much zeal later, I realized they were the ones that were ahead of our time at that time itself. Anand Ram, Ram Kumar, Arun - Sorry friends, I understood very late that you were all great. :)
All these guys who were interested in talking about bikes and statistics around them had a lot of other similarities as well. They had a clear idea about their future - they were clear about what to study next, do next after the course, etc. Later, it was them who settled easily in big cities. They had good dress sense. It was only them who used to wear jeans then. Most of them were either from English-medium schools or big cities. They had good knowledge about English movies. They used to watch a lot of Hindi movies and listen to Hindi songs as well. They looked like big show-offs to those who grew up in remote villages that had no exposure to the outside world. These guys would always want to play Hindi songs while others would love Tamil songs. Luckily, when A R Rahman came and gave the same music in both the languages, there was no reason for them to fight.
-Cont in 5/6...