Pune, Second year, 2004/2005:
The exams were over. It felt like strutting out of a dream after sleeping for ages. Whatta year! I really came alive in my Second year, choosing to step out of my comfort zone, making friends for life, and participating in numerous college fests where the introverted me flapped its wings and soared into the sky. The tale of skipping an exam for the first time in my entire life took shape.
It was another story that on the exam’s eve, my Raakhi sister Ritika gave me an earful when I told her that I was planning to skip it and she came up with all the gyaan in the world. I took the paper inside the exam hall but returned it after some time. But, the invigilator forced me to sit through for another 30 minutes but the uninterested me gave back the paper. Around that time, we had four exams in a row during April but I didn’t want to content myself to bag average marks and appearing in October would make it easier to score high marks. It was all sorted. The day before, Adi skipped his Psychology paper and guess, it would be two for company. On the last day of the exams, I took the bus to Mumbai since I had to meet someone at the airport where I reached late night. Adi joined me next day in Colaba and he made me travel for the first in the double-decker bus from Fort to Dadar.
2005 was one wacky year where I went completely bonkers. I shifted several houses from Kothrud to a PG behind FC and moving on the same road, a couple of times where a record of shuttling 5 houses in a single year was set. In one of the flats, there were 4 to 5 of us staying together and with the common friends barging in and out. They all hailed from Madhya Pradesh. There was Vivian’s girl friend, Neha who was studying fashion design and once told me how homesick she was during her initial days and cried at the bus stop. I remember her words, ‘Mein to bohot phat gayi aur ro rahi thi.’ Ah! The feeling of being far away from home and parents can break you but friends always fill the gap for they become your immediate family. She would always tell me how she likes my sober nature and it felt good to hang out with non-Fergussonians folks for the first time.
Once a random guy came to stay with us for a fortnight but he soon got on my nerves which led to a tiff. Once, the dude brought a girl friend without informing anyone of us and the issue wasn’t about bringing a chick home but he apparently locked the door from inside. Just imagine in our house! You came as a guest but acted all smart. The entire roomies were on my side and the day he left, a hesitant smile surfaced on his face, ‘No hard feeling.’ The roomies were cool guys with whom I had a gala time despite staying together only for a short span of time. Once we went to have daaru and all of us were hanging out together outside Barista at Law College Road where beer was poured and flowed. I started singing on the middle of the road, ‘Borivali mein daaru ka adda and those guys hailed with, ‘Vishal Bhai!’
Shifting from one place to another can be quite a tiring task where you are clueless what to pack or discard. Finally, you get so fed up that you put everything in the tempo waiting for you outside. The cupboard had to be emptied, stuffing out packages in a dabba and one ingenious trick that I always conjured was stuff things in the bed covers that Mom gave and tied them in a knot. Of course, there are things that you need to chuck out and some that you don’t have the heart to discard. Finally, you just move with everything.
The last place I shifted to was with Aditya, Manish, and Kusum where I stayed till the end of the exams. The time we bonded like anything, particularly with Adi where Saturday was booze and ganja time for us. He was and is still my best friend and the routine trips to his house in the Peth area was the best thing on earth where I gorged on the amazing Maharashtrian food made by aunty. I remember once when we came back from Mumbai after roaming for the whole night, we slept at his house and still remember his nice, cozy room. Later, another friend joined and he photo-shopped Adi’s face who looked funny in a mustache. ‘Asshole.’ It was his prized reaction.
It’s the same FC Road! Roaming like a ghost every day and night at our college hang out, Savera which became home to us and be sure to find the usual suspects at any time where I made the best of friends. The first puff of Ganja happened on FC Road that stood witness to most of our stories and our home, Savera made sure we were thrown one sunny Holi when our faces were sprinkled with colors. There are Amol and Chanda who became the pals and the entire Science gang I hang out with every single day to whine time in Savera. Amol would always greet me with, ‘Hey! Dude! ssup!’ I became friends with him for the first time during our biggest college fest, Oorja, where all the volunteers were meeting at a flat in Shivaji Nagar. Smoking and cutting chai outside broke the ice and discussing films. Boom Shiva Boom! That’s him. Of course, there were dudes conversation on that day and it’s not something to be discussed in the open. Face palm.
Oorja and crushes. Of course, there was R. the curly hair and my senior on whom I was fida. One day, I and Adi were at the tapdi for tea when he signaled to me that a curly chick was looking at me. She stopped and just told that she was leaving right now. Loved how R would sashay confidently in college or move casually around the campus, decked in her Kurti and holding the helmet in hand.
The call center interviews that I went for was quite a pain in the ass with all the stupid rounds and sitting there for the whole day. It’s another story that I never took any of the jobs since I didn’t want to miss the fun of college days, whining time on campus, hot chicks and friends…after all, we were lafangey parindey and not hunks that women would gorge on. The Monsoon was such a blast, getting drenched from top to toe and shivering during the entire lecture. A new pair of shoes was needed for the existing one bore the brunt of the rain. Hot chai always saved life.
During that time, I remember Mahesh Murthy visiting college for a lecture on a Sunday when I woke up quite late. I dashed from Kothrud at Paud Road where I was staying by bus and hopped a rickshaw later to college. I saw my lecturer at the gate who told, ‘You are already late’. But, I managed to reach there at the end of the lecture but the enriching interaction went on for another hour. I remember him telling us how he refused to give his son money without any reason and plainly directed him to earn it. Of course, it makes for an interesting discussion with half of the class were divided.
The evening walks inside the lush and sprawling Fergusson College campus and wading leisurely at night soothes the soul where, surrounded by the huge trees where breezy wind, cool breeze and the cooing of pigeons wafted in. It’s quite energetic. Of course, there were a couple of people walking in the late evening that makes it a beautiful sight to watch and bringing so much serenity.
Life was flawlessly perfect. Of course, on Saturday evening, sidling towards CCD down the road and there was a chance meeting of spotting the crush K dressed in a colorful sari. The slip of the tongue happened. ‘You look like Rekha’. Adi told me it was quite a sexual thing to say but dunno how he built this theory. The film dreams were kept alive in the second year during my stint at the FTII.
Happy reading and nite.