……………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.
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…..
…….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.
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.
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.
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 -
That must be a CETian. 10 years later.