11th July 2004. My first day at college. Born down south, raised up north and then back again to southern India for my engineering. Little did I expect the kind of shock that I was in for. Commencement of the batch was delayed by a fortnight and almost everybody else of the 96 strong class had received intimation letters about the delay. Except the 7 of us from Delhi. So there we were, at the hostel of an all guy’s college. After much deliberation amongst all of us whether to go back or to stay put, we all decided to stay.
I remember being extremely anxious during the first few days away and why shouldn’t I have been. First time being away from home, travelling in a local bus instead of a chauffeur driven car at home, from having my own room to bunking with 3 other people in the same room, the anxiety of a new city, language barriers,I was finally on my own. To top it all off, looking for a way to escape being ragged. All things you would gladly associate with a brat.
The first few days were tough.Not being allowed to leave the premises except on sundays, getting up early for p.t and parade and then trying to find a way to be invisible.’You don’t like the food??Then go hungry for all we care but you’re still not going out’.Why couldn’t I just find a different college to be in and end my misery???
We were entertainment for the 1000 strong community of the college.Everybody looking for a way to kill time instead of being buried in books and who better than us. Why not scare the new guy????Had we joined with the others, it would have been easier for us to be a face in the crowd but we did not. We chose to be heroes and be brave.
Exam fever was at it’s peak for the senior most batch then and as and when people took a break, off they were in search of us.We tried our best to avoid communication for as long as possible. But we soon ran out of room to hide and were promptly summoned into a room full of more than 20 odd people(all of them taking a break at the same time only for us) which would normally not accomodate more than 6. It was amazing to see that they preferred to squeeze into one part of the room, leaving the other half entirely for us.The open space given to us was a sort of a taunt and a prelude to what was to come.To them we were fresh meat.
Their were voices from every corner of the other half and it was impossible for us to identify the source.One by one we gave our intros.It was their way of sorting out the sissies and people to pick on later.The intros over, now time for some showmanship. I thought it prudent to go along and play along instead of trying to be a hero and throw attitude.And man,did we put up a show.All of us!!! From being pole dancers to actors, from singing to being choir boys, we did everything to perfection,cracking jokes and pulling off stunts which only they found amusing. Before the end of the next day, the 7 of us were famous.We even had a few guardian angels looking over us to make sure we were not hassled, who somehow always managed to vanish just when their 7 damsels needed rescuing.
I remember singing songs in languages I never knew existed, being a pole dancer to a gymnast, from displaying my acting abilities to doing push ups on the wrong side of hundred.
We could see people trying their best and looking for a chance to be the high and mighty in front of us. But all of them knew we weren’t going anywhere and they’ll get their chance sooner rather than later.What was that line in ‘The dark knight rises’- the slow knife cuts the deepest.
Sophomores turned second years, were the most difficult to deal with though.They knew entering into the senior most block will only end to our advantage. That block was our refuge and the second years were ever lurking in the shadows( dramatic but no fun otherwise and quite literally in some cases) for us to step out of it. They were the bulls trying to prove their might over seven helpless puppies, their ragging sessions still fresh in their minds and were more than eager to pay it forward.The people who were more than happy volunteers during our recruitment were now our tormentors.
But deal with them we did and in the course of time, a few even turned out to be pretty good friends. By the time the batch commenced, we were sitting pretty at the top of the food chain. We watched while others from my class went through the same grind of anxious intros and muscle flexing sessions. Saw more than a few cry babies who wept at the first hint of being asked a question.Our ragging was done and dusted and they were fresh off the boat, a few even approaching me to maybe put in a kind word and get them off the hook which inevitably ended with another acting session for me.
The people who nobody liked were given the tedious assignments of completing the year end projects, while the ones who were smart stayed below the radar and avoided being spotted. The first few weeks were chaos for everyone except us and I certainly enjoyed the spot where I was left alone and others were not.
I remember being mistaken for a second yr once(I was prompt enough to take advantage of the situation though) and at times I was in the senior block ragging my own batch mates, something that was not taken too lightly when my roomies found out.
The initiation was over and life soon got back to normal after a while but the first 2 weeks back there still bring a smile whenever I think of it. Memories of a time well lived.
And before the year was out, it was time for us to be lions and wait for our prey.