Kolkata : Pre College Joining Days –
Being from CBSE, my results came out in June but West Bengal Board Exam result were to be announced only after August and admission in September . After 20 days of college – a month’s holiday for Durga Pujas.
My Parents went back to Gangtok and I had to put up in my distant relative’s house at 6B Bright Street. Mr. K.L Lahiri was my Grandfather’s (Mother’s Father) maternal brother. He was the ex IG Forest. Retired. People addressed him as Bhalo Dadu and his wife as Bhalo Dida – where Grandfather and Grandmother are referred to as Dadu and Dida respectively in Bengali language. Any one elderly also is referred to by the same name. They were issueless .They both lived with a whole lot of style. Had been to many foreign countries and their Living room is full of Decoration Pieces from abroad.
Life was pretty much formal there – but with God’s grace I had cousins of my age group – Tuktuk and Bapi – so generally life was cool – chatting with them. Ranu Mashi had become a widow when her children (Bapi & Tuktuk) were barely 8 or 9 years old so Dadu & Dida had brought them home and had taken their responsibility. Bapi was in class 11 and Tuktuk (Tuks) in class 9 .
It is through them that I understood the helplessness of father- less-ness. Life was going on for them – but somehow in spite of having everything – they owned nothing – life was very formal for them and I really felt their pain. I had become very close to them. Ranu Mashi took good care of me when ever I came from the Hostel – it was she who remembered to make some special evening meal on my honor and made me feel welcome and at home while I was away from my parents.
Neighborhood Boys – Mile` Sur Mera Tumhara.
There were other boys in the neighborhood – mostly 1 or 2 years younger to me. I had this major block since childhood only – it never ever occurred to me to have anything to do with some boy who is younger to me !! I am really amazed at girls who happily have an affair with boys younger to them in age !
One day me and Tuks had gone to Moon’s (a girl in neighborhood) house – all the other boys – Bappa (Moon’s brother),Rohit, Mohit, Arif etc were preparing to go and play cricket on the street and they were almost half was down when a National Integrity song – Mile` sur mera Tumhara – started to come on TV. Moon called them all up saying – hey boys – your favourite song is coming – all the boys rushed upstairs and I thought what patriotic these boys were – but was shocked to hear the actual reason of their arrival ! – they had come just to see a T-shirt clad Lady running ….and the camera was totally focused on her ‘huge jiggling twin assets’ !! Oh! gosh – boys can be so shameless – and as soon as the scene was over – they went down !
Got through in both Bethun and Brabourne
I applied in a couple of colleges– Scottish Church, Lady Brabourne and Bethun and thank God fully – there was no Entrance Test – just fill up forms and attach your Mark sheets etc.I got through in all of them – but chose Lady Brabourne for it was closer to Bright Street – 3-5 bus stops only!! Luckily I got through in the Hostel as well – which is just by the side of the college.
Initial Rude Shocks : No fans, Indian Style toilet !!
I entered the hostel with bags and baggage. September 1988. It was evening time. I felt very lonely for the first time. All the girls (seniors) were watching us enter. I was given a 3 beds’ room – sharing with 2 other girls – maybe because I reached early. Some of them had to go to the dormitory as well.
First shock : No fans – yes folks , I am talking of 1988 – not 1888 mind you – that not having fans is a done thing !
Second Shock : Indian Style toilet – but then in a place where one has to share toilets – Indian Style is more hygienic .
Some of us girls – habituated to English commodes – we counseled ourselves saying that squatting is good for the pelvic muscles – for its convenient for Normal child birth. Normal child birth would mean being able to wear corsets immediately after delivery – which would mean a slimmer and shapelier self – and not a bloated piece of lard which Ladies usually become after caesarian delivery ……we all agreed …we had no option as well ! How stupidly innocent we were !!
On seeing that there is no fan – I almost collapsed. Somewhere I had read that if one imagines strongly and thinks that the object of desire is already there – then it materializes ! I tried it – hard – but later actually prayed to God – God please arrange for fans….do want your devotee to die of scorching heat? – this way actually I always spoke to God always.
Would you believe what happened folks? – after our summer vacations – 1989 – we had fans in each and every room of the hostel! Now tell me – am I wrong when I appear to be God crazy to some…many people in fact?
Ragging and Hostel life
We were asked to wear sarees – half sarees as the Tribal Woman and make up really well with all possible jewellery that we had. That night the Seniors came for an Introductory session – also called ragging.
They started with saying –Okay ! who thinks herself to be smart enough to come forward and set the ball rolling ? – I saw that no one showed any interest – I raised my hand – for I wanted it to finish fast !!
They first asked me to make and imaginary omelet – the entire process – from putting on the gas – with sound effects etc. and then give it to the girl I would like to have as my sister in law! (they had asked me whether I have a brother or not )- I made the omelet – you see folks – dramabaazi is in my blood – so I did it pretty well – then I gave it to a senior Amrita di – later I came to know that she was also from Zoology Honors. I liked her looks – very attractive – with plain straight think hair and her eyes were like Neetu Singh (I felt – like that actually and Neetu Singh had been my favorite Actress since childhood). Other Seniors I remember who ragged me but later they had become pretty cool about me – were Bantu di, Achira di etc.
Next they asked me to make a ‘ Jalebi’ – rather dance focusing on my waist and buttocks and make twist and turns like as if I was making a ‘Jalebi’ (an Indian sweet meat resembling a mosquito coil. Picture attached for reference esp. for foreigners – All Indians will be knowing whats a Jalebi – the twisted characters that we are…most of us love having it!)
Later I saw others getting ragged – one of the girls got so nervous that she kinda fainted and later she was admitted in the hospital for she had an attack of Appendicitis. The Matrons gave dirty looks to the seniors – but frankly speaking – it was not their fault at all! They were just asking simple questions and we were all having a whole lot of fun – its such a nice and fun way to get to know each other !!
Some funny questions were asked at ragging –
Bring us a pregnant mosquito.
Measure the length of the corridor with a single grain of ‘puffed rice’.
Imagine that you are a hawker in Sealdah Station and selling shoes on discount.
English honors students were given silly Bengali one liners – to translate in English !
Like : (sorry – only Bengalis can enjoy here )
Punthi Maach basin er tolaay daath chithare` pode` aache’.
Ekti beraal madur er’ konay ghat hoye` boshe` aache.
Tomar hridoye` er lamp post ae` aamar bhalo basher chagol ta bendhe dao !!
Park Circus er mode` kau ekti bhoot er chaana kith kith khelche` !!
Anyways it was fun all the way !!
Colonel A’s wife in Allahabad – Her story of ragging !
We were very pally with Colonel A’s wife (Col Ajit Singh most probably) – she was a Bengali , who lived bang opposite our house. She was a very sprightly Lady and we enjoyed talking to her and spending a lot of time with her ! She had come from abroad and she used to show us videos of her journey and we watched movies also in her house, plus she had a trunk full of novels – all sorts – and we read almost all her collections !!
One day I went to her house and she had made salad – it was kept on the table and she offered me. I was not particularly keen on having salad but she insisted that I have it – It was Yummy !! I have a few more spoon-fulls of it and finally asked how on earth it was so tasty – she first said – it has a raw egg in it – could you make out – aargg! What !! – I said – but I could not understand – then she said that’s the whole Art of making salad all about ! She cooked very well too…esp. continental stuff.
She had related to us her experiences of ragging – she was from Delhi University – some Delhi girl’s college. She had said that they were beaten with hockey sticks – were made to wash the dirty soiled clothes including panties (yuk) and were even made to piss in front of the seniors !! (all girls though) – therefore comparing all that she said vs. my ragging – I found Kolkata to be a heaven !
False rumors regarding girls in College & Hostel !
Before I left for Hostel I was warned of things like drugs and other cheap activities involving males etc. After I joined the hostel and having stayed there for 2 –3 months, I failed to find anything untoward – so I approached the seniors (who were pally with us by then) – and asked them whether such things ever happened in the hostel.
They all had a hearty laugh and said if some such thing happens here – then we’ll all call for a celebration !! Then they told me that its just the opposite – because Brabourne girls are known to be high and mighty – thus such rumors are spread by probably frustrated people to malign the name of the college …since Lady Brabourne is among the top Calcutta University Colleges – Presidency and St Xaviers being the other Competitors !
Jinxed – My presence and good looking boys !
Yes Folks ! its true – very sad but true. Sometimes – lets say a gang of girls went to Park Street or some other Fast Food Hub and they’ll find tall , good looking boys loitering all over the place. They came back and reported to it us that – ‘some groovy collections available there’ – and next day we would take extra care to look good – me included as well – folks remember I was just 18 then – I was not born as 30 plus ! – but lo behold – not a singe man used to be there – leave alone good looking !! I used to tell my friends that I am jinxed – good looking men just vanish from the scene when I am around – initially they had just taken it as a joke – later they also started believing that ‘Aparna’ is jinxed as far as good looking men are concerned !
Well – I think there was this ‘bigger picture’ functioning behind the scene – otherwise the strong Libran romantic streak that I possess – I surely would have done the blunder of falling in love with some dope – and by now I would have been busy with the Board Exam of my son or daughter…and not writing ‘masala’ items for readers on the net !!