Towards Life!



The Sun shines on me but
I cant fine the time to let things be.
I sit, thinking of something
I am scared to face the dying nothing.
I will live tomorrow, in a sea of sorrow.
I will wallow, and dreams i will follow.

You might laugh at my disgrace,
But i will aim my smiling skull at you.
"Son, you have a choice", they say
But I am okay anyway.

We are all God's children I must say
I still believe yet I am mistaken.
I am tired of infantile claims,
I am sorry but Your redundancy has stains.
Forked tongues are whipping my back,
How long until I crack?
I will live tomorrow in a sea of sorrow.
I will wallow, and dreams I will follow.

My encounters with the Alien Tribe!

Unmaskable Stink and Dadar Station. These were what greeted me as I stepped on aamchi mumbai soil two days ago. Things hadn't changed much, the city as dirty as it was , as crowded and noisy it was! Amidst the shouts of "dheemi local aahe.. dheemi local jaahe" that irritated me as before, I reached Kanjur Marg and then the Main gate in no time. I walked into the "chai dukaan" that was once a routine for me and well, the glasses were replaced by bigger ones and the chai didn't taste half as good as it used to be. Well, something had changed!

I had consciously made a decision to walk my way from the main gate to H7 reminiscing the fond memories that were associated with virtually every nook and corner of the campus. And then I walked into the campus, the suspicious eyes of the watchmen all over me, and looked for my fatfati - the mean machine whose rumblings were heard by the IIT Bombay denizens for 3 years. After a desperate search I found that my mean machine had finally found its rightful place, amidst a bunch of metallic crap that was strewn along the main gate. I paid my last tributes to the bike(!!!) and trotted towards my hostel!

I had almost forgotten that H7 was at the other end of the campus and my aching legs brought back the memories of the long walks from H7 to the department to attend lectures.(Now when did I do that? ;)). "Hostel 7" said a well lit hoarding that greeted me and it felt good to see that the hostel council was slowly but surely working! I walked into the infamous "Marine Drive" and the words "The lady of the lake" that adorned the lawn were now painted a conspicuously bad blue! While I walked into my erstwhile wing, I was invited with "Shine on You crazy Diamond" and it sure felt like heaven. After listening to thousands of similiar sounding telugu songs for the past 8 months, the voice of David Gilmour soaring over the complex musical arrangement felt amazing. The wing was fast asleep as usual and I ensconced comfortably in Kekde's room after the usual pleasantries and a horrible breakfast. I had a long tortuous day ahead of me; I was out to shake the existence of people who must have almost forgotten me. Then I set out to mutilate the two targets I had set for myself, The Academic Office and The Chemistry Department.

The Academic Office: The acad office never failed to enthuse me all my years at IIT as it was the traditional government office filled with the "babus". The only difference was that the babus here (read ma'ams) for some indecipherable reason needed tea every 30 mins. And yes, when I walked into the office it was deserted and on enquiry I got the same old reply "Madam, chai peene gayi hai.. aayegi". Well, somethings dont change.. do they! After an agonizing wait, the Madam's walked in led by the unforgettable Mrs. Joshi, and I was asked in a thick Marathi accent, "Kia Chahiye?". I mumbled something to the effect of "Transcripts" and after being hurled all over the acad office and the cash section, I was finally told to come back at 4.30 or the next day! I went in at 4.30 sharp, only to wait for half an hour more (the ma'ams went for some tea you see!) and then was told to come the next day saying "Saab nahi hai, kal aayega.. subah aajaana 11.30". Bloody hell, these fellows would never work! Promptly, I brought out the actor in me and thanked the chapraasi and the madam profusely for the trouble I had caused ("what could they do if the saab wasn't there!!") and then asked them if they could take it a step further and get it done that day it self. I told them that there was nothing they couldnt do and that I was ready to request anyone who came in the way between me and my transcripts. I guess I had come off very well since I was asked to wait another 5 mins and then there they were: my transcripts, signed and neatly folded!

"Pavankumar? last cpi kitna thaa?" Well, I couldn't help blush at this question and answered something to the effect of "I dont remember" which derived an amusing look from the madam. I didnt give her enough time though and flooded her with all sorts of emotional statements (including "your timely gesture saved my life and a lot of time"!!) and I guess I took it too far as she said "Koi baat nahi beta.. jindagi mein mehnat karna aur khoob tarakki karna!". I got the cue, said the final word of thanks and then walked out of the acad office hardly hiding a grin and my mind filled with the memories of my escapades with the profs of my department.

The Chemistry Department
: The department I will be associated with my entire life; The department that taught me that patience is a virtue; The department that gave me 3 friends I will never forget; The department that made me a fine actor!! And, as I set foot into the department to extract letters of recommendations from the "dementors", I was filled with an awe, a sense of belonging and it felt really strange because I never knew I could have such feelings about my department!

The first person I ran into was our very own Kotia;

Kotia:"Hey Pavan, kaisa hai? kyaa kar raha hai?"
Me:" Kyaa karoonga sir.. aise he aagaya, MKM sir se milne"

Kotia: "Don't tell me you are going to the US"
Me: "NO SIR, I could never do that to the poor americans. I gave CAT and am gearing up for the interviews."

Kotia: "I always knew you would shine if you left the department. Aise kyun re? as long as you guys were in the department, no body did nothing... now everybody is something!"
Me: A silly grin... what else!!

At this point the ethereal Rajashri (by the way she sports a new pair of spectacles!) walks in:

Rajashri: "Hey kaizala... I mean kaisa hai re tu? Kyaa karta hai aaj kal? "
Me: " Good afternoon ma'am. I am giving JEE coaching these days!"

Rajashri: "Kya hai re tu.. tu mereko na kabhi samajh mein nahi aaya. life kaisa hai, cool?"
Me : I had half a mind to say "hot" but well mumbled out some niceties and saw them off quickly. I had to save myself for the three people from whom I wanted reco letters!

Prof. M. K. Mishra
: I walked into my lab least expecting MKM to be there, but what a pleasant surprise it was when i found him checking his mail (as usual!) in his office.

Me: "Hello sir, How are you?"
MKM: "ohhhhhhhhh.. hello Pavan. Congratulations!"

Me: "amm. umm.." interrupted by VKS
MKM:"ok pavan, I have to leave. I am very busy today and if you are still there when I am back then we can have a chat."

Me: " sure sir, I would be obliged!" (The words "I am busy" rang in my head for a long time. Yeah, MKM hadn't changed and for the first time I was starting to doubt whether he would be giving me a reco or not!

Anyways, I did catch hold of him at the end of the day when he retorted that he was glad I was still in the lab(like I had another choice!!!) and then after a light banter I handed him the Letter of Recommendation form which he filled and gave me the next day! The most tense part of my ordeal was over, now I had to get hold of two other recommendations and I walked towards the office of the much dreaded S. N. Dutta!

Prof S. N. Dutta
: He was typing away to glory when I entered his lab and then I walked in asking his permission.

Me: "Good afternoon sir"
SND: "ahem ahem.. buhum.. bahamm"

Me: Standing there like an idiot for a min
SND:"ek minute baba..paper ka kaam kar raha hoon"

And after about a minute he turns to me. There is no sign of recognition in the parts of the face I could see uncovered by his beard and moustache!I wait for a sec and finally

Me: "Good afternoon sir, I was a 5 year MSc. student... graduated last year."
SND: "ahem ahem.. buhum.. bahamm"

Me: "Sir, I gave CAT"
SND: "SO?"

Me: "I cleared the written test and I am preparing for the interviews.. I just came to express my regards and thank you for the support given to me in my graduation days"(Bloody hell I was here for the reco!!!!)
SND: "tum kaun hai re baba.. I dont remember youand what is this CAT?! ahhammm.. buhumm"

Me (half-dead): "Sir, I was a student of MKM, Praket's batchmate!and CAT is an all India entrance for an MBA degree sir"
SND: "ohh Prokeit.. hmm... Mishra's student? kaun??" And then, suddenly he remembered me!! ( I thought he would never forget me, for the shaandaar DD I scored in his course. I guess he will remember me from now on as the student who dared to ask a reco from a prof who didnt even remember him!!)

SND:" Pavan na.. kyaa karta hai tum aaj kal? dekho baba, I think you should not depend on CAT alone, you should give UGC and GATE exam. You should also apply for a PHd abroad. See actually people become very narrow-minded.... blah blah blah!!!!!! If you want I will give a recommendation for your further education..blah blah blah.." Now what did he say? he said RECO.. right.. I heard it.. I heard the golden words.. and by this time SND was saying "I think you should apply to Cornell, Wisc Mad, PSU, UChicago, and some more. Shouldn't be difficult since you are telling me you hav a good GRE score."
Me: "Sir, I have heard what you said and I will definitely download all the applications and will get back to you within a day or two" (HA HA HA HA HA)" Sir, for now, could you please give me a recommendation letter for IIMB? They asked me for one and I think I have interacted with you for a long enough time"(HEHE.. this I told to the guy who struggled to remember who I was!!! )

SND:"ahumm ahumm.. I would be happy to.. but I don't know what you did, so write out a recommendation letter yourself and give it to me. I will make it error free sign it and give it back to you!"
Me (Looking at the old man's feet) : "Thank you very much sir." I never believed somebody could give me an open reco but well I thought this was my day!! I wrote up a decent recommendation for myself and he duly copied it and signed it but not before he rattled on about the future prospects of doing a PHd. He said things about how the pay package is very huge and how I would need a back up plan if the CAT thing didnt work! My mind was whizzing past all the info about his students and their achievements. I guess Praket's name came up twice during the discussion but well I guess I just wanted to go search for the last reco!!

As I trotted out of SND's room my gaze fell on the last room in the corridor, the words read out
Prof B. L. Tembe.

Me: "knock, knock.. can I come in sir?"
BLT: (Looks surprised)"yea.. pavankumar.. come in. come in!"

Me: "I hope you are not busy sir!"(I am pretty darn sure that he was talking to himself before I entered, but well as long as he is a lukkha I didnt care too much!!)
BLT: gives a look which says "How can I ever.. ever be busy!!"

Me: "Good afternoon sir. How have you been sir?"

BLT: "so pavankumar. what are you upto these days?"

Me:"I have been good sir. I have had a pretty rough year and finally I have managed to clear the CAT written test. I am preparing for the interviews."
BLT:"Ohh.. I see.. very good.."

BLT: "Is this the same pavankumar who was here 2 years before?? I think I never heard you say that you had a lot of work to do.. "

Me:"I know sir.. but off late I am getting bored if I dont work! Thats the way it has become!"

BLT:"Ohh.. very interesting!! and how did you clear CAT?"
Me(desperate to get the request for a reco out of the closet): "I pulled out some hours in between work and sleep and studied for CAT"

BLT:"So you are capable of hard work.. nice to know.. and can I know why you didnt work for the 5 years you were with us? "
Me: A silly grin! damn what can one answer to these kind of questions! I knew that I screwed up.. only if he would let it go!!

BLT: "hmm.. were you on time when you attended classes here?"
Me: "Whenever I did attend the class I was on time.. I am very particular about this kind of stuff sir!"

BLT: "yea I know. Your interest for chemistry is world-famous!"
Me: "No sir. It ain't like that.. "

BLT: "Quite unbelievable!! Even you are progressing somewhere in life!!".
Me:" yes sir..I guess I am far more responsible than I was in my IIT days!"

BLT: "nice to know.. so what are you doin here? Is this a personal visit or you are here for an interview?"
Me: "No sir, this is a personal visit. I wanted to thank all the people in this department who have contributed to my success so far sir! And the person I first met is you sir."

BLT: "Nice.. nice.. so why do you want to do an MBA? think that I am the interviewer and answer!"
Me (laughed out loudly!!): "Sir. this is not going to work.. You know me too well.. and I can't lie to you sir. I cant say that I am a hard working person yearning for a degree that would fulfill my dream of setting up an albeit small, but well managed firm!!"

BLT(also laughs out loud): "Yea true!!! though it sounds nice to the ear.. I dont think I can still believe that you have changed so much in one year!"
Me(desperate to change the subject): " yes sir.. sir I wanted a favor from you. Could you please give me a letter of recommendation for IIMB?"

BLT(shocked at the sudden change of subject, but I was there on serious business you see...I had very little time and a lot of CD's to burn!!): "well.. why do you think that I should give you a letter of recommendation?"
Me:" Sir.. I never said you should sir! I just came here to say thanks.. and I would be thankful to you whether you gave me a reco or not sir. It is just a formality I need to complete and I thought who would be better than you, the person I have interacted with the most in the department! If you believe I dont deserve one I guess its your choice sir.. I will just follow what you say!"

BLT:"Impressive.. a very good answer! I give you an A for this and also a reco. Does the reco have to be an open one?"
Me(with greed in my eyes):"I really don't have a say in this regard sir. It is your wish sir!"

BLT:"Ok.. I will work on it today and give it to you by tomorrow morning.. Prepare well!"
Me: "I can't thank you enough sir.. blah blah blah"

Phew!! I was relieved that I could gather three recos in no time!! I had walked into SND's room expecting a blast but well, as it turned out this is one more person I will be indebted to for life! It is sheer irony that SND spent more time with me than MKM did and I dont think I will ever forget the heart-felt happiness that I saw in SND's eyes when he heard that I managed to clear CAT! On the whole this visit reaffirmed my faith that the Prof tribe is indeed an alien one.. ...