CET….

……………ഒരു മധുരകിനാവിന്‍ ലഹരിയില്‍.

It’s been 10 years since the batch of 1999-2003 entered the hallowed corridors of College of Engineering Trivandrum. A decade since  we maneuvered the absurdly steep climb dotted by acacia trees one fine November morning, for the first day of classes with awe, a little respect, a little afraid of the phenomenon called ragging, just to cut classes for the first time in three hours and go for Manoj Night Shyamalan’s new movie in New Theatre. Sixth Sense. We are that old. Ladoo, Leo, and I. It’s that vivid.

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Deepak, a CETian who makes some of us proud again and again, said in a comment on another blog,

“ഞാന്‍ ആരാണ്?” എന്ന ചോദ്യം “ഞാന്‍ ആര്‍ക്ക് ആരാണ്?” എന്ന മറു ചോദ്യത്തിനു മുന്നില്‍ “ഞാന്‍ എനിക്കു ആരാണ്?” എന്ന ചോദ്യമായി പരിണമിച്ചാല്‍ പിന്നെ അതിന്റെ ഉത്തരം “എന്റെ മനസ്സു എവിടെയാണ്?” എന്ന ചോദ്യത്തിന്റെ ഉത്തരത്തിലെവിടയോ ഉണ്ടാവില്ലെ? (പ്രാഥമിക വിദ്യാലയത്തിലോ, അനന്തമായ പ്രപഞ്ചത്തിലോ).

and it struck me.

I am a couple of years closer to spending three decades on this planet (though it is small and revolves around a tiny bright speck in an immensely large system of billions of universes, I still consider earth my planet, and no advances in space motivity will change my heart’s loyalty) , and looking back, and asking the final question which Deepak asks “Where does the heart lie?” – I get one answer. It’s somewhere between the Mexx Corner and Chandrannan’s Sallap, somewhere between the only canteen in the world which ‘composes’ tea (‘dei saarinoru chaya compose cheyyu, koode oru beef curryum‘) and the most godforsaken, snake infested planetarium in the universe, somewhere between the Union Room which looked like Che’s final hideout in Bolivia and the only library in the world, famous not for it’s books but for the fact that a famous CETian legend urinated on the crowds below from top of it, somewhere between erstwhile Lords and the CGPU and lazy accusations of CGPU reps eating up all our money at Lords, somewhere in the long corridor which connects the Electrical and Mech departments and passes along the despicable Principal’s office (every Principal is despicable and widely hated, even before they take charge), somewhere between the “SFI’s Red Fort” board and the the Dean’s office, and the unending debate on who among them rules the college…..

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…….somewhere between the bus boarding area and the Ladies hostel, somewhere between the Electronics department famous for its revolutionary spirit and it’s bourgeoisie faculty, and the Mexx famous for it’s ‘spirit’ and ‘devil may care’ faculty, somewhere between those late night drama practices in Men’s hostel and empty handed returns from drama festivals around the universe, somewhere between Chechikada and those scores of cricket cups which the Mexx organize, Mexx win, Mexx decide and share the price money, and malayannan receives the cup, somewhere between getting called male chauvinists and actually acting like ones, somewhere between Wills and a way out, somewhere between the 500th Mohanlal movie you can think of and the general agreement that Mammooty sucks, somewhere between protesting everything and realizing protests have a meaning, somewhere between forgotten faces and the fact that even today you’ll recognize some very special people in those corridors, somewhere between the realization that you have a good life and everyone should have one. It is somewhere in between. I mean the mind.

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It’s not about living in the past, but like Gunter Grass’s little Oscar, I guess some of us got stunted there and everything else in life, both good and bad has stemmed from it. Whether we’ll be a garden of Bonsais or large Banyan trees( or as a friend and comrade said “aal maramavan nattu anthuriam aayi”) is something which time will tell (and we will argue against it). There are certain things which I don’t understand even now. A few of my classmates in Michigan after hearing about the strikes in CET from another person asked me “What about classes then?”. I said “Classes??!”. And they said I had a bewildered look on my face then.

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Pics courtesy: Dawn and Domain D.


In our long conversations on the National Highway between Trivandrum and Kochi, with topics ranging from growing Chinese influence in Hambantota to Meesha Madhavan’s place in malayalam movies, interspersed with ‘thalleyoli thanne’ screams on other errant drivers on the highway, Ajay and I, more than once reached the conclusion that we were damaged for life by CET and that wherever we go, and whatever we do, CET will be alma mater. Ten years later, Wills navy cut has given way to Philip Morrison’s flagship brand, there were big wins and George Bush got a second term too, a lot of beer has flown through the esophagus, almost all birds we knew have flown, many of us have kids our age, Mammooty aged back ten years, Shilpa Shetty got married, Kavya got divorced, IFFK turned 14, K Karunakaran is still alive (now I didn’t see that coming), malayalam cinema returned to world class, I check my mails every 4 minutes, Dhwani is safe in new hands, I didn’t win a booker prize, I am still single (now I didn’t see that coming). But the mind  still wanders to CET for sanity and a little courage, and CET still influences the way many of us react to money, power, and women.

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And if there is one thing which differentiates a person who spent his formative years in campus, walking inconsequentially through the famed corridors which our parents had lot of expectations of and we had none, it is the way we react to power – the way we react to authority. 10 years hence I can vouch for this. It might be that “ലോകമേ പുച്ഛം” attitude which we carry along, but definitely I have seen CETians pay with blood for this disrespect for authority and anyone who claims it. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, but I have seen CETians stand up for what they thought  was right, in the workplace and others gaining courage from that. It might be that overall experience in CET, with a large and mammoth ecosystem that doesn’t (I repeat doesn’t) work, which makes us comfortable with ambiguity. Which gives us a feeling that no system is too large to fail, and a misplaced over confidence that all systems both imposed and inherent survive by our opinion.

Coming back to Deepak’s questions, after I figured out my mind is still in CET, and I have no clue yet on  “ഞാന്‍ എനിക്കു ആരാണ്?”, I know how an average CETian will respond to the last question.

if posed in the workplace -

“ഞാന്‍ ആര്‍ക്ക് ആരാണ്?” (Who am I to others or How do others perceive me)

if the answer is -

മയിരാണ്

That must be a CETian. 10 years later.

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35 Responses to CET….

  1. Ajay December 21, 2009 at 11:04 pm #

    That’s one from the heart, aliya! One that I have never got around to writing but I am kinda happy you beat me to the punch. Thanks comrade, on both our behalfs. Viva CET!

  2. Ajay December 21, 2009 at 11:06 pm #

    Oh, btw, I was there yesterday. Back again for what I thought I would never do, go with a bunch of transcripts and recos. You can add that to the list of things that have changed in the decade since we stepped into the good ol’ Red Fort, lol!

  3. Dhanush Gopinath December 21, 2009 at 11:37 pm #

    That’ s a perfect writing to a wonderful College Life My friend. I believe life in government engineering colleges were far nostalgic than those now. I am from GECT and I believe the best years of my life was spent there and am proud of it. Reading this I felt nostalgic man, I felt I was walking through the same lanes. We had a Edgebaston and You have Lord’s. I too carried along that Lokame puchcham attitude, and I would also have given the same answer for the question you put up.

  4. bvn December 21, 2009 at 11:52 pm #

    Ajay, shesham phonil :)

    Dhanush, I’ve seen yr pics and read yr stuff abt Thrissur and that was impressive. Not sure if you have been to CET, but the day I landed in Thrissur for Rhapsody I was blown away by how similar every inch of our campuses were. Thrissuril we did this skit called ‘Ka ho Na Mone Dinesha’ and you guys literally came on stage to request us to stop it. To go back to a comment I posted on yr blog “ee corridors,capusinte neenda idanazhikal,avide ippozhum thirichariyunna chila kalpadukal,chirikal…liked the rain snaps too.keep posting.”, that was in 2006. I mentioned it again in the post :)

  5. Dhanush Gopinath December 22, 2009 at 12:35 am #

    I know. They are of the same design. Govt annu kaashu laabhichathayirikkum ;)

  6. Naga December 22, 2009 at 3:26 am #

    For someone who still keeps thinking that the kick in life is only when there is a mass gathering around, you took me back to its genesis. Wonderfully scripted, nostalgic piece. There are 2 photographs that capture CET for me. You’ve put up one of them – the last one. The other used to be in Rajeev’s orkut page and he had captioned it. Couldn’t be truer.
    Cheers.
    Btw, what’s your masters programme on and where?

  7. Tinkerbells December 22, 2009 at 5:24 am #

    Wow ! Nostalgia overload ! ..Loved the pics..Especially my classroom in the corridor :)..Hey, on a different note, miss your movie reviews…why don’t you go see avatar and write one ?

  8. Nipun December 22, 2009 at 5:57 am #

    dude , thanks for the reminder of wonderful memories .. a few of mine.

    the electronics lab sessions where one I have never got an output but still maanged to pass thanks to great souls like rahul k n whose ready made circuits invariably worked..

    proximity(brothers lodge) to a bunch of gundas .. think his name was preman annan .. i was sure he was gonna kill some one in brothers before we pass out

    The truly embarrassing sessions(only in final year though) in front of LH from 4 to 6 15 .. but yea i found my life partner there

    The mayura park adventures.. where every peg , every glass of beer was exciting ..

    The endless cricket matches that electronics invariably lost ( one of my all time favourites being a part time player(read jobin :)) trying to account for a high catch and the ball bouncing off his head)

    -Nipun ,another average cetian who just cannot grow out that place..

  9. alakananda December 22, 2009 at 10:15 am #

    am not a CET-ian…. but i was somewhere around there. and have quite a few ‘fond’ memories of CET-ians.
    but i can totally identify with the thoughts expressed…. we walked our corridors and ascended those wooden stairs with a kind of ‘madness’… but there was a method in our madness :) and i guess my mind too still lies somewhere around there.

    my campus was a whole other eco system too :)

  10. bombaydosti December 22, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    Sweetheart, I love you all the more, whenever I think that you are an aberration from the otherwise so called “CET”ian.

  11. bombaydosti December 22, 2009 at 12:37 pm #

    As a nostalgic piece, of course, your post is cute and nice, and I am sure that quite a number of people would agree and relate to this post of yours. But I am sure, you do expect this long comment from my end, knowing how I see CET. Even when I write this comment, I do understand, that you have had a great time at CET, and probably consider it as your alma mater for the rest of your lives. I just wanted you to know the other side, of the story. I consider CET as the launching pad for getting me a job, and I am thankful for that. So, no denying that.
    But all this about CETians questioning authority and that, as the landmark of a CETian, is a little too far fetched. Brahma, if you say, this is something that CET instilled in you, I would not have minded.But to say, that it was a something that distinguished a CETian…??????? What is that???? How many people from CET are living a different life, or even questioning the status quo in their own lives????
    There are defenitly two major issues, I have with CET, and you know that. CET, is first of all an educational institution, but I am not too sure, if it instilled a good sense of academic curiosity in its students. Therefore, I am not too thrilled by the fact, that our library is known for the guy who urinated from top of it. For a decade, of which we have spend four years of our life dedicated to learning, I am not too sure, if CET contributed to the delta that I would have liked.

    But most of all, I do have the biggest issue with its non inclusive nature. Now dont bog me down with “this is the real society” rant. Do you realise that an academic institution would be the best place, to even start dreaming about an ideal society. If one cannot be inclusive in college, you seriously have a problem.

    The biggest problem I have with your post is that you are doing what society is doing today. Even your post is about the vocal CETian. By saying that a CETian is this, you have completely closed doors to the so many different societies, existing in campus and what their personalities are.

    I had not thought about other societies, but I do strongly think, that CET was not the best place that women could strive and develop. Please do not give me the example of the three women reps, and now please dont say, that women could have stood for elections for the other positions as well,if they wanted. Both of us know, that things did not happen that way. And most of all, dont give me the names of a few exceptions.

    And chauvinism is not something that you take as a credit, for heaven’s sake!

    Seriously Brahma, I know you love that college. But, when I went to another place, I realised that there were several lost opportunities/possibilities in CET as an educational institution. And I get really scared when someone, and someone like you, say, that you love it that way.

  12. bombaydosti December 22, 2009 at 12:55 pm #

    by the way, your post is nice, if I read without a bias, but then i wanted to voice my rant and bias some place and where else other than my year representative’s blog ;-)
    and you started it!

  13. Sreeram.H December 22, 2009 at 2:09 pm #

    Thanks to this post I am listening to “ഒരു മധുരകിനാവിന്‍ ലഹരിയില്‍.” in loop now … What abt our MoodI trip dude …. I guess CET made our mark in IIT M also ….

    @Nipun …”endless cricket matches that electronics invariably lost ” dude ..we reached semis once ….

  14. Sreeram.H December 22, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    ROFL ..:-D :-D
    “malayannan receives the cup”
    He’s gonna kill you man ….
    “aal maramavan nattu anthuriam aayi”
    Saghavu R-inte ee varikal marakkan pattumo ….

  15. scorpiogenius December 22, 2009 at 5:52 pm #

    I expected this article to take off like the Appolo XI, and how it has!! Well, I’ll sit back and enjoy the reminiscences the CET Alumni are having. :-)

  16. Rajeev December 22, 2009 at 9:54 pm #

    Great post..lahariyil mungiya CETians-inte nirayil njanum ani cheratte! Intellectual irreverence and independence are definitely 2 values I gained from CET. Wasn’t that always what differentiated CET or GECT from CREC/NIT? The same cultural dichotomy exists between schools like MIT/Harvard or Berkeley/Stanford. UMich may not have seen strikes, but here’s a bit of activism at Berkeley last month: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=des6xeu44hU&feature=related. Shades of a Kerala University or CGPU dharna, perhaps?

    @bombaydosti: Your points are relevant. Indian campuses are rapidly becoming exclusive and elitist. Not sure about now – but at least until c. 2005, CET had put up a brave fight. By choosing hawaii slippers over woodland shoes, & progressive politics over middle-class subservience to authority. Will that continue – no idea, i just hope like hell it does.

    @Sreeram: Anthuriangal etrayo bhedamalle suhruthe? Aal maramayi valaran aagrahichu, theekkum eettiyum aayi maari, sweekaranamurikalil sambanna vargathinte irippidam aavunnathinekkal ;-)

  17. Akhil January 1, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    daa daaaaaaaaa ne vaaaaaaa

  18. Deepak Sasikumar January 12, 2010 at 1:51 am #

    Wonderful write up. Loved so much that i put it in my tweet. CET is still so much a part of me, even 6 months after passing out. But i am left to wonder if the present day cetiians have even a percentage of this attachment to our alma mater.

  19. Anthuriam January 18, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    Brahma… Dey, I think you deserve life-time free subscription to CET Magazine, the only publication which is caught in a time warp in every sense!

    Bombay Dosti..Isn’t immersing in convenient memories the oldest method of escaping from truth? Did I read right – space for women to develop? Or did you mean just existence?

    Reflections around my insensitivity towards women in a predominantly sexist space like CET still helps me in my discovery of The Man within me. Is CET not the oldest mirror in your basket? So maybe the college educated us more than we give it credit for; in unmasking our frailities and hypocrisy. Did other spaces help you in that? Or did it allow more the “comfortable you” ?

    Agree with Rajeev, on CET not being a microcosm of youth spaces in many ways. The value of progressive forces within CET lies exactly there! Hoping the the average CET-ian understood as he traversed the world after that.

    And Naga, another good recommendation!

    - Anthuriam

  20. bvn January 18, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

    Anthuriam, dei…ivide vannittum ninakku vilikkan vayya alle?

  21. Anthuriam January 19, 2010 at 5:59 am #

    Aliyaa…Kshami! US experience nalla vishadamyittu pinne parayam ;-) TK-ka dost ennu paranju kore Boston Junction-il karangi; sayyipinte adi kittathe thirichethiyathu thanne veliya karyam ! Pinne Kayilirippum ninakkariyalo :-) Aah area-yil onnum Mr. Rajan Singh ( IPS ’96) undayirunilla. Ente Bhagyam ! Allengil neeyokke enne Anthuriam Appoopaa ennu vilicheney.

  22. subru January 28, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    wonderful post :)

  23. Anila Nair January 28, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    one hell of a blog man..walked me thru the memory lanes..i am a 2008 passout..but the memories lingering of cet in every alumni’s mind is a very similar picture i ges..of course i wasnt a male chauvinist(wudnt look natural..hehe) nor did i share the mexx spirits(or did i..) but i sure experienced the same essence..thanks for the timetravel back in this meandering pursuit(do they even mean anythin put together?!!) of life..

  24. Sijo Kuruvilla George January 28, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    Amazing read!! Awesome piece of work!! :-)

  25. Reuben Philip Abraham (2008) January 29, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    ouch…i think i heard a crack in ma chest….nice blog macha…took me back to CET over and again…whoever you are, all i know is ur one super super senior passout….! nice blog…

  26. Indu January 30, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    Tears .. almost there .. brought back a lot of memories .. Even though life wasn’t perfect there , those were 4 years with 4 million memories . And I am not willing to leave even one.

  27. Lalu January 30, 2010 at 6:35 am #

    Sherrikum nostalgic….Good one Brahma…. :-)

  28. Rahul V February 8, 2010 at 8:15 am #

    Heart-touchin.. Really bringin back the memories.. Proud to b a CETian

  29. joe February 8, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    Mann.. Now this is the problem.. rest of the day is gone for me.. But thanks a lot for giving such a nice walk thru those corridors once again.

  30. SV February 9, 2010 at 4:41 am #

    5 (1999-2004 Archi )years of my life flashed inreading your blog. amazing Photos. Loved the ‘Aal – Anthuriam’ ref. Wonder if the ‘Famous CETian’ is reading this. :)

  31. Chintoo February 9, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    Awesome writeup… All the details are still fresh in my mind; it’s just been three years… But I’m sure the case with be the same ten or twenty years into the future..
    Very nice work….

    -csk

  32. Deepu A S February 22, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Beautiful Pictures of CETA…some of the best pics of CETA i have ever seen!!!!!!!

  33. Ashik Salim April 16, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    it feels good to hear from you people about ours greatest spirit n soul…our CET..

  34. amruth raj April 10, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    athmavil ninnum orayiram aksharangal eniyum undakate.. :) proud to be a cetian.
    cet is still unpredictable… wandering around new ideas.

  35. sandhra November 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    wot surprised me most was te fact dat things did’nt change much over tym in cet…aashayaparamaayi CETians ellakaalavum orupoleyaanu…lokame pucham still rules here…dis place still shapes our attitude towards money power nd men…still we prefer slippers over woodland…thanx 4 dis post :)

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