Freshers' t-RAG-edies

Weighing by the tales I hear from the coterie around me of their PDP (Personality Development Programme) or CBS (Character Building Sessions) -- euphemistic terms in the institute for ragging -- my experiences are relatively mundane and few. Nonetheless, I'll disclose a handful of them here for the sake of record.

Receiving end.

I badger a flock of Tamil seniors to rag me, since every freshman around me had had a taste of it while I had been neglected. One of the sophomores obliges and gives me an appointment in his chamber at nine pm.
It was quite later that I learnt that he was an amateur in the line and was learning the ropes himself. Take, for instance, the time he asked me to amplify on whatever I knew about pornography. Believing I was talking to a seasoned maven, I poured forth my modest knowledge on the topic. He soon put up his hand and checked my flow. He was apparently unable to assimilate my points on the issue. Oof! I merely described, without mincing my words, the procedures followed by porno performers, perhaps in some good graphic detail.
And at one juncture in the sitting he asks me, 'Do you like girls?'
'Of course!' is all over my tongue, but I find myself asking back, 'In what way?'
'YOU say in what way'.
'In a psychological way.'
He eyeballs me a few ticks.
And, 'Your name is Logical Psycho', he declares.

A lighter occasion...a nice Tamil second year chap with no hair on his face asks me, after surveying my rather luxurious moustache, 'Have you seen the movie Thillumullu?'
'Yes, twice or thrice.'
'Remember Theynga Seenivasan says The larger your moustache, the purer your mind?'
'What do you think of it? True or false?'
'Hmmm... false'
'Oh, so you don't have a pure mind, is it?'
'Okay, true.'
'Oh, so I don't have a pure mind, is it?'

The first time I was 'oriented', I was unaware that only your hostel-mates can do that to you. This was during one of the three days we got to stay in the campus even before our first official day in IITM.
I spotted Radha and Anushya Akkas walking towards Sharavati on the road lining OAT. It was the first time I saw them in the insti, so I was excited, sent my co-cyclist -- my ex-room-partner -- away, and braked my bike grandly in front of them. A long-haired male was with them too, but who cared? The Dean had guaranteed us and our parents that the word 'ragging' was unknown to our seniors.
'Hi, Akka! Eppadi irukkeenga? When are classes starting for you?', I quizzed R.
She responded in the queerest spirit. Stuffing all the ice she could into her voice, she said 'Don't -- call -- me -- Akka'.
This wasn't the Radha Akka I'd known! Something was wrong... And she was trying to communicate something to me with her eyes. Like she was warning me or something, a hint of plea in it. I didn't follow her gesture at all, but soon I was to discover that the densest of schmucks would have interpreted her cue as 'F, L, E, E.'
The guy, heretofore merged in the background, took over. He dismissed the ladies and asked me to come along with him.
I asked him jocundly which hostel he came from.
In reply, he asked me to dismount from my bicycle. I complied.
But I still did not have the blurriest inkling that he was actually ragging me. I was softly laughing too.
Things dawned upon my head only when he steelishly informed me, 'You are not supposed to show your teeth to your seniors.'
My lips reflexively met.
'You are not supposed to smile too.'
That put me completely at unease, but I just somehow couldn't disobey him. He held an invisible whip, and I hated it.
He ran through my 'intro', briefing me on the format in which it ought to be recited. And he asked me if I was a pet in school. And the conventional 'How many girls do you know in the insti?'
We were nearing Sharavati side-gate. Poornima was in sight, a good shouting radius away. I tried not to look in her direction, fearing she might catch my eyes and call me out.
He said, 'Do you talk with girls? Do you feel comfortable with them?'
'No,' I lied.
The next second Poornima cooed from the distance, 'HIII, NIRMAAAL!!!' with all the might in her throat.

That was the first time in the Indian Institute of Technology Madras that I was, to borrow an expression from engineering parlance, "royally screwed".

Delivering end.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In the library, Srinand catches hold of a juicy temptingly raggable fresher and agonizes him.
After going through the motions of introduction, Srinand asks,'Why did the chicken cross the road?'
'Because it has legs,' comes the grinning reply.
I learn that the gentleman is a Malayali. Immediately I write 'Oil wells soil the office!' in my notebook and ask him to say it aloud.
He reads, 'Oh-yil wells soh-yil the oh-ffice!'

Five sophomores including myself take two freshmen to task in my room, namely, 136, Saraswathi. We toss them routine questions, test their know-how on sex and the opposite sex , excavate their past affairs and adventures with the latter, discover their innate talents, assign them to play the proposer and the proposed, and all that jazz. And one of us asks a particularly geeky looking guy, 'What's your room number?'
'267 B'.
I get interested. That was MY place last year.
I ask him, 'Who's your room father?'
In all innocence he replies, 'Someone called Psycho. His nick is Nirmal Raj, I think.'
'And what is his room number now?'
Answers the unobservant kid, '136.'


Different Feather

It is time to account for the 'non-typical' in the blurb of this blog.
I do not mean that everyone else in IITM is the conjugate of what I enlist here, but that in all these counts I belong to the minority...

{Update on 30.04.2007: The blurb of the blog at the time of this post's publication was 'An insight into a non-typical IIT-ian's times'}

I do not play Counter Strike or Quake or any other LAN game.

I do not listen to heavy metal music. My eardrums are not exactly in great terms with Linkin Park, Pink Floyd, Eminem, or anyone else who's slipping my mind for the moment.

I've been to Minar only once, that too only for a tired cup of tea, albeit the place is right opposite to my hostel.

I give my best at the mess. I out-eat my counterparts and very seldom waste the contents of my plate.

All my shirts and t-shirts have sleeves.

I tidy my room. Sense of neatness is a genetic disease I inherited from both my parents, who are dirtphobics of an annoying degree. And whenever they visit my suite, they vie with each other and sweep and scrub the floor to dazzling point.

I call my fellow students by the name their parents gave them. And whenever somebody beckons me with my insti-sobriquet 'Psycho' or at times 'Despo', I snap back, 'Call me Nirmal.' And if, on a later occasion, he still cries 'Psycho' to gain my attention, I pretend not to hear him.

My ever-changing desktop wallpaper is never a human, and most certainly not a woman in a bikini/ monokini/ no-kini.

I greet familiar professors good mornings (or afternoons or evenings).

I call my Tamil seniors 'Akka' or 'Anna', even behind their backs. Yet another bad habit home has infused into me.

I have purchased nothing that bears the IITM logo or brand. No hostel or department or insti or Shaastra or Saarang t-shirts, no IITM caps or tracks, nothing. Not even the notebooks in Gurunath. For the first two semesters I managed with virgin notebooks (I had preserved them unwritten in school), and for the current (third) semester I use notebooks I had stolen from Quality Control sector in the shopping complex (popularly known as Central Workshop).

I am not from Andhra Pradesh.

I am not in orkut.

I do not speak the IIT tongue.

If you can find anything else non-typical of me compared to the mean IIT-ian -- pun intended -- I invite you to opine on the comments page.



A quick stroll down the memory lane... Some in the compendium were the top moments of the courses, others are mere digs at professorial pronunciations.

Semester One

Workshop - Turning.
Mr Chellapandian: Which direction should you turn for this symbol?
Students: Anti-clockwise, sir.
Mr Chellapandian: Hello?
Students: Anti-clockwise, sir.
Mr Chellapandian: Hello?
Students: Anti-clockwise, sir.
Mr Chellapandian: Hello?
Students: Anti-clockwise, sir.
He pauses...
Mr Chellapandian: Yes...anti-clockwise.

Workshop - Electronics.
The chappie there has perfected the knack of convincingly misleading the student. For instance...
Mr Veeramani: The diode conducts in reverse bias and blocks in forward bias, na?
Me: Yes.
Mr Veeramani: No.

Disposed to talking only Mathematics within the confines of the classoom, the prof shelled us with this one day during the culminating stages of the course. He was taking roll call.
Dr Vetrivel: Twenty one. Twenty two. Twenty three.
Suddenly looks up at us
There was a joke.
We quieten.
A professor noted that one of his students attended only the first class. Out of mercy he was allowed to write the exam. And he topped the class with 98 percent!
The professor sought him out and asked him 'How did you lose the two marks?'
He said 'Sir, I made a silly mistake.'
'What is it?' '
'I attended the first class.'
Without waiting for the laughs, he looks down and proceeds...
Twenty four. Twenty five...

Dr Raghuprakash: There is an important announcement I've got to make. One of you has hacked my account in the courses website and changed my password and posted a thread that the final examination is cancelled. Never before in all my years of teaching experience blah blah...

(1) Dr N S Narayanaswamy: Do you know who Gulzarilal Nanda was? Can anybody hazard a guess? He was the acting Prime Minister of India after the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri. Please make a note of it and don't tell it to your friends who didn't turn up today. I want to give you a surprise quiz sooner or later and I may ask this question in it. I will know then who attended this class and who did not.
(2) Question Number Zero worth a mark in his end-semester examination: What is the name of your teaching assistant (in the lab)?
I wrote 'The question is invalid. Since I am not a professor I have no teaching assistants. It was Prof N S Narayanaswamy's teaching assistant who evaluated my lab assignments.'

Dr A K Mishra: Above this line is the gaseous jone and below is the liquid jone...

Semester Two

Dr Kavita Durai: Radial potential vee of aur is equal to one over four pi epsilon nought into sigma ell runs from zero to infinity one over aur power ell plus one into volume integral of aur prime to the power ell into pee ell cos theta prime into ro of aur prime dee tau prime.
Isn't this equation CUUUTE?

The so-called prof asks something about a trend in the third group of the periodic table, and invites a girl to stand and answer it. Goes near her and listens. Then...
Dr N N Murthy: Hello, boys, don't make noise and listen to what she says, you gnaw. Why do you think I'm making her say the answer? It is for your benefit, you gnaw, not because I want to talk to her or something.
She says the size matters.
Roar from the student body.
But you gnaw I say it is the ENERGY that matters.
Everyone drums the bench wildly.

This gentleman, a perfect work of imitation-art by the Almighty (a flawless replica of an over-fed gorilla), hails from HIS centre of the earth, a town called Guntur. A common tableau in his class...
Raja Rao: Where are you from?
Student: A.P.
Raja Rao: Orissa border to Tamil Nadu border, Karnataka border to Bay of Bengal coast is A.P., man. Which city from Andhra? Guntur?

Dr Babu Vishwanath: The Second Law of Thermodynamics says 'The entropy of the universe is ever-increasing.' To put it simply, we say, 'Smile. Tomorrow will be worse.'

Semester Three.

Dr S Ponnusamy: We cannot odd the two corresponding co-efficients of the two power serious.
(Hint: We cannot add...power series)

Dr S Ramaprabhu: A litchil bitch of practchice is required chu do these prablems... In the exam you have chu solve them within a short chime...

Somebody please teach the man how to laugh. He cracks jokes alright, but with an impassive countenance and never even smiles when he says them, and you are not certain if you can laugh for his jest or not. The first day of his course...
Dr C S Ramalingam: I would like all of you maintain a good attendance record. Unless it is an emergency you just cannot afford to miss the classes in this course. I also insist on listening in class... Listening and attendance are related. I suspect it will be a bit difficult for you to listen to the lecture if you do not attend the class...

These were the very first words uttered by the professor in the course. It was also my very first class of the second year. The name of the course is 'Shakespeare'.
Dr Jyotirmaye Tripathy: What do you know abhout Sex Fear? Was Sex Fear a nobalist? Or a poet? Or a dromotist? Or eberything? Doj anybhody know?