Monday, November 17, 2008

Introductions! Introductions!

As someone who had rarely mixed with anyone who wasn’t middle class, urban and Tamil, the Central University of Hyderabad was a whole new world. At least 50% of the university’s student and teacher population were made up of non locals. And since most of the locals preferred to stay off campus, there was just the right amount of hyderabadiness in the pot-pouri of Indian cultures on campus. There were also the international students from around Europe and North America, who came on short exchange programs. So that added a bit of colour, literally and metaphorically. Then there were the Arabs, mostly young men from the gulf, who made up another small but prominent group on campus. I suppose they had to struggle the most to negotiate through this large mix of students. The firangs, most of them at least, got along quite well. For one they were here only for a short spell of time. And I guess everything was just so fascinatingly different to them. By the time they began getting annoyed about the inefficiency of government run offices, it was time to head home. The Arabs had to stick it out for much longer spells, most of them staying through a PhD program.
It was only natural for people to prefer hanging out with their own kind. Most of us were away from home for the first time and a familiar language seemed to guarantee common ground to build companionship. But this was not always the case. At every onam, saraswathi pujo, shankranthi and pongal, there would always be this bunch of missing people. Often these guys would show up for dinner but wouldn’t be seen earlier in the evening and certainly not at any one of the meetings to plan the celebration. These were people like me who either felt out of place in these get-togethers or were just plain lazy and couldn’t care less. And predictably enough these bunch of left outs ended up together. These groups often looked very mismatched in every way, no common language, no common experiences, and to top it all, a whole lot of prejudices to work with. My own group was one such weird “salad bowl” to borrow a term from the American nation builders. And I’d be lying if I were to say that the salad always tasted great. Of course there were the rotten bits, when certain cultural barriers just couldn’t be crossed, when certain prejudices just wouldn’t let go. But for most part, I’d say we fared quite well. And at the end of our stint together, we had all taken back a bit of each other, perhaps opened up our minds, just a peep wider to let in a little air, and some light. My life on campus revolved around these individuals, so my first post serves as a round of introductions.

Deepthi Sebastian: My mallu roomie and best buddy on campus. She did her undergrad at the famous Stella Maris college mistaken to be better than the Women’s Christian College, where I did my undergrad. We fought for hours over who went to the better institution. The topper in the class, she always had me on my toes as I would panic each time I saw her hard at work. Her piles of books just about fell short of reaching the ceiling and I spent a good amount of my time in the room rearranging her books that I toppled over. She’s yet to understand that larger books go below, smaller ones at the top. But more ranting about her in another post.

Jyotsna Yedem (aka Jyo): My favorite gulte stress buster during the exams. She’s brilliant but also brilliantly lazy. My pattern of behavior during exams was interesting. I’d panic in the room, thanks to Deepthi and would run down to Jyo’s knowing she wouldn’t have begun studying. She won the Bunk Master award at our farewell party. She’s the absolute party babe of the group, would sleep through mornings and come alive at night. Deepthi, who by the way is doing an Mphil on Lesbian Gothic Horror, often wondered if Jyo had vampirish tendencies! My most weird conversations, Jyo would call them ‘deep’ were with this woman.

Soumalaya Chakraborthy (aka Gogo aka Gogs): He’s the dude who nearly missed being with us. He returned home a few weeks into Univ, only to return “home” a month later after realizing the Calcutta University was not exactly ‘the place to be’. The true blue Bengali, he’s crazy about sweets, the sweeter the better. I hate the coffee he makes coz it tastes like payasam to me, thanks to all the sugar he throws in. He loves trains and he loves long walks. The first time he boarded a cycle, he was 22 and on the University Campus. Thanks to the intricate local train routes in Kolkatta, he can figure his way to any place in a train. Sadly, he’s yet to understand that an hour long walk to a pizza joint is not exactly something that the rest of us savour. No Gogs, not even to work up an appetite.

Jasmeet Kaur Sahi (aka Jess puttar): Interestingly she’s the first sardarni I came into contact with. When I told her that, her only response was “How did you manage that? We’re everywhere” lol…I suppose she had a point. Sporty and arty as hell, Jess is the individual to be trusted when you’re in shit. And you can take my word for that. Her dad was in the army, so she’s been all around the country, never staying more than a couple of years at any place. At the moment she’s truly ‘home’ at Chandigarh, making friends with the kudis there, who can’t stop discussing splitsvilla, lipstick, and boy friend troubles ;)

Thongam Bipin Singh (aka Bips): Bipin was an exception amongst us. He was very passionately involved with all Manipuri festivities on campus. Perhaps that had to do with the fact that there were only 8 Manipuris on campus, but I think it’s more because Bipin was just such a brilliant team player. Be it foot ball, a campfire, a cooking expedition or just a walk to some unexplored territory on campus, Bips was always there to pitch and be the sport. I for one was always fascinated by his skills at cooking the best fish curry, climbing any wall, any rock, and any tree with the ease of a cat, and being able to start a fire in no time at all.

Carolyn Herman (aka Caro): The firang (and amrikan at that) on the block, she quickly became a part of the group in the third semester. She was in India as a rotary ambassador and as a part of the understanding with the rotary, she had to be affiliated with an educational institution. And she picked HCU. Older and more mature than the rest of us, she ended up counseling us a lot- love lives, petty quarrels, examination blues, she knew all about the drama of 06hema. She lived right across my room in hostel and had this huge water kettle. All of us would troupe into her room and have long conversations over cups of chai. Jess even left a note on her door “Caro café”. All of us translated that in our languages. “Caro Kapi”, “Caro Chai Kada” etc.

Swati Kansal (aka swats): The group would have been incomplete without the Guju wouldn’t it? But this one’s not Guju all the way. She’s been all over like Jess and has spent more years outside Guju land. An awesome cook, she was always making us exotic food. We lived in adjacent wings and were always running into each other at 4 in the morning in the loo. She, getting ready for bed and Deepthi and I just getting started for the day!

Manu Kurup: Them Mallus are just too many in number. Even our group had two of them ;) Manu was the passionate communist in our midst. He was actively involved in campus politics and even offered to pull the strings to get a replacement for my University T. Shirt. He was the only guy amongst us who actually rubbed shoulders with the Student Union leaders. Right now he’s busy studying to become an IAS officer. Sure hope his influence can do a little more than replace a T.shirt for me. Lol…

So that’s the bunch folks, look out for my posts on vaish goes to university!


  1. This is one blog i am looking forward to. Nice introductory piece apart from some minor issues that i have given up on. I guess those have become the trademarks of the author. What i want to do is to introduce the author herself who is conspicuously absent from the list. So here goes:-

    Vaishnavi Shankar(aka vaish):- The one who popularised the use of "macha" among the 06HEMA batch but seems to be losing it herself these days. First impression of this woman is generally not positive and i am sure the group will testify. It takes a while to like her and i am not sure if it is possible to completely like her. She alienated a lot of people from herself and we were the ones left standing in the end ;-)However am glad we did because she can be a lot of fun and a bundle of enthusiasm when she is not being a boring workaholic(which is most of the time). Genuinely caring towards people who are close to her, it's sometimes surprising to see her putting up with so much shit for their sake. She generally finds it hard to keep her mouth shut and teachers used to look at her to start a discussion when the class fell silent. I can never forget the way she started off a discussion on multiculturalism by defining it as "many cultures" and then not knowing how to proceed. Good one vaishu.;-)

    So that completes the bunch and let's hope she values her life enough to not reveal any secrets.

  2. darling for the umpteenth time... i'm not gujju. my parents just happen to be living in state currently. I defy labels (regional labels, that is). I have absolutely no regional loyalties. But if you MUST label me, based on the home state of my parents, I'm from UP (yes I'm a UP ka bhaiyya), and based on where I'm spent most of my life, that'd be Andhra. So take your pick, but only from these two.
    Anyway, congratulations on starting your blog. I'd like to echo soumalya in saying that u better mind what u say, or else... u know I have underworld (mafia) connections now ;-)
    hey, notice how only the mallus haven't been nicknamed... how do u nickname deepthi? DP? Deepu?
    I miss the running into u at 4 in the morning bit... damn those were fun times!
    and miss u in class... everytime there is silence, which is almost all the time!

  3. That's got to be the first time in my life I've been known as the mature one.

    Awesome. Thanks for the dose of LH4--it hit the spot :)

    Watch out for that mafia shite, though. Swats sounds like she means business :)

  4. wait for my comment till i finish my exam. hopefullly i will try to say some good word.
    keep rocking..

  5. It was always like this ..A bunch of friends part and meet up through blogs..once again! Congrats on the blog vaishu..Great going!
    Very touched at your apt description of me but a minor detail..the first time we met u asked me "Are u a 'sardarjee'?" which i replied "No..I'm a sardarnee.." sure u remember this bit!..i still cannot believe i actually said that.. :)
    I would like to add to gogs' intro on you..
    Vaishnavi Shankar(vaishu): My first impression of you on the admission day was this nice, sweet, quiet girl(i guess it was the effect of the pink kurta you wore)..It hasnt change though..but through the two years i have known you more has been added to the list, here goes:-
    The only person of my age(actually younger..gulp) who i know gets up at 4 so she can do her Yoga, revise yesterday's work and yes prepare for the day ahead..phew!
    You made 'machaan' a regular in my vocab..n i love you for it..sadly punjabees out here dont really 'get it'..
    The one who freaks out badly if we get into shit with the dept...'the forbidden sunday' episode was the only time i saw vaishu swear for more than a minute!.it was a treat..:)
    As everyone has already said..the one to actually 'break the silence' in class..n save our skins to start a discussion..
    The person whose 'excuse-me' is louder than her sneeze..('excuse me' vaishu but i had to put this one in)
    Well the list is long..n it gets emotional after this.. so all that for some other time..
    Thanks vaishu for bringing us all together in your Blog..Miss u loads machaan ..Miss us all!

    PS:I really still cannot figure out the splitsvilla/roadies n lipstick discussions here..pray for me that i get the hell out of here..and quick!!

  6. Hey!

    Thanks guys for the vote of confidence, cant wait to get started on the next piece!!

  7. Hmm. Nice zoo, thanks! :-)

    Giri (speaking of mature people... Class of 1985. I know, I know: that's not mature; that's the Late Jurassic!)

  8. After overcoming my tremendous lazyness, I'm finally adding my comment...but I'm too lazy to type the

  9. DON'T YOU DARE EXERCISE AUTHORIAL CONTROL AND DELETE DIS:ahem, the WCC is better is ofcourse a case of sour grapes, guess who walked into Stella for an admission, got refused obviously. and the books were not the only things that toppled over (i do not pile crockery on my books). the favourite cup or should i remind everyone..cupS on two separate occasions..he..he..

  10. I didn't get refused admission. The HOD of your esteemed department asked me "with these marks you expect to get into stella maris?? I got so cheesed off that I just walked out. Three months later I realize that people with worse scores got into your freaky, prison house of a nunnery. And your 'crockery' (that's just a couple of old chipped cups' were behind the books that I toppled over..

  11. #@$&!! do you mean to say that the replacement cup you bought me was second hand?