Sunday, April 27, 2008

Summer of 69

Today
7.30 AM

The cock-a-doodle-doo was probably a caveman's favorite idea of wake-up call. But Rahul had no particular attachment or fondness of waking up to that sound. Infact, he despised it to the core of his heart. Probably that is why he kept it as his mobile alarm ring tone so that he could atleast wake up in anger to silence it and bring his world to peace. But today being a Monday, Rahul was extra large lazy and decided to snooze it and romance with Asin for another 10 brief minutes.

Realizing that he could be late for the 9 AM conference call, he woke up at 7.45 cursing the dead person who had declared Monday to be a working day. As every bachelor's speedy get-ready-zip-zap-zoom habit, Rahul was ready tip-top in his Indigo Nation blue shirt and Van Heusen black pant by 8.05 AM. He collected the laptop bag which lay untouched in the hall.

Damn! His shoes just looked like the dirty old ones they showed in the Cherry blossom ads. Reminding himself to get it shoe-shined in the automatic machine outside his office, he picked up his Maruti Zen key from the drawer.

Hmmmm! Another 5 more days to go.

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April 2003
6.30 AM

"Raghuuuuuuuu! Wake up" Rahul wanted to slap him really hard or pour water over him.

Raghu (a) Kattai (meaning log in tamil) was Rahul's roommate for the past 2 years. Any stranger who would hear Raghu being referred to as Kattai would probably derive that he was nicknamed so owing to his stocky 6 feet plus frame. But the plain fact was that it was because Raghu could really sleep like one huge log. All his floor mates once sat around him and cried and howled as if Raghu was dead. One guy even lit an agarbatti and another guy garlanded him with paper. The only thing missing were 2 cotton pieces blocking his nostrils. Oh...I almost forgot to mention. Raghu only knows this news through hearsay as he never remembered a thing.

After 15 minutes of herculean effort Raghu opened his eyes in the same vein as any amnesia-struck hero does in hindi movies. Rahul wondered if one day he would blur "Main kahaan hoon?" (Where am I) like those stupid heroes. While Rahul was revising for the 2nd time since 4.30 AM, Raghu had another 1.5 units to cover and finish them off. In Raghu's almanac revising was a word as much absent as a happy saas-bahu relationship in Ekta kapoor's serial.

"Is it time to go to Anthony?" asked a sleepy Raghu.

Anthony (a) Drunken monk was their exam guru. Other than gulping Haywards 5000 and Kalyani black label in 5 mins flat, Anthony had a unique gift of forecasting the probable questions. In every other exam he would predict atleast 3 questions of which 2 would certainly appear. While Rahul wore his regular brown pant and striped shirt (which he wore on every other exam since the first semester as a regular sentiment), Raghu went to the campus Vinayaka temple which was as usual operating house full as on every other semester exam period.

Rahul felt a knot in his stomach as he sat in the exam hall. Surprisingly though, it had nothing to do with skipping his morning breakfast or the semester exam.

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Today
2 PM

Rahul was bored. After checking all his gmail, yahoo, msn and office mails for the 3rd time and finding no scraps even in his orkut even though he had uploaded new pics, he was kind of sleepy and frustrated. He had finished the conference call, worked on some Statement of facts documents, reviewed some artifacts and had a full lunch.

The curd rice was beginning to show its soporific effect. His outlook calendar reminded him that he had a team meeting in another one hour where he was supposed to go through the usual drill of asking the status and hearing a customary "Its done" although everyone knew it was far from ready.

Deciding to give himself some break, he walked to the new state-of-the art shopping mall opposite his office. He found the Cadbury dairy milk Roasted almond too tempting to ignore and decided to have one. Just as he was billing it in the counter, he observed a child nudging his mom and pointing towards him.

"What is it honey?" asked the mom.

"I need that chocolate" declared the kid in a get-what-I-ask-for-or-I-will-scream-my-lungs-out tone.

"Which one darling?"

"The one that the uncle is having."

Just as he heard it, Rahul dropped the chocolate on the floor.

UNCLE!!!!!!!!!

UNCLE??????

Rahul lost his interest in the chocolate. As he passed outside the shopping mall, he saw his pale reflection in the mirror. What had he become? At 27, he had a paunch like a 3 month old pregnant lady. His forehead was receding (thanks to his genetic gift from his dad and granddad) and there were dark circles on his face thanks to insomniac working hours.

Still, Uncle seemed a little bit far-fetched.

He promised himself to hit the gym once again and drain it all out. If Shahrukh could do it, then so could he. He saw the chocolate. Was all the gymming and dieting worth the loss of tasting the chocolate, panneer, pizza, pasta or another hour of peaceful sleep in the cozy bed wrapping the blanket around? Either way what was the point of having six-pack abs if it were to stay tucked in behind the executive shirt all day along?

As he reached his cubicle, he wore his iPod earphones and turned them on. It immediately came to life with "Summer of 69" by Bryan Adams. The song transported him to another world in another day.

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April 2003
2 PM

The college canteen was almost full. Every chair seemed taken and no doubt Baalu anna was having some bloody brisk business. This was the same place where they had shared all their joys and sorrows. It had witnessed them celebrate surprise birthday parties with the most wonderful to the stupidest gifts presented. The Birthday bums, cake cutting (or snatching), the romantic jodis drinking one Maaza for one day. This was the same place where the guys would rate the girls and vice-versa as if they were competing for some Gladrags competition.

The phase "beauty lies in eye of the beholder" comes to life in canteen as the same girl/guy marked 10 in one person's view gets 2 in another person's perspective. They would give CD to Baalu anna to play and he was their DJ in one way or other. Rahul passed him the CD which he had compiled some days before. No one seemed in a mood for full lunch. The track started from "paapa kehte hain" and rolled on with "Mustafa Mustafa", "Manase Manase" and so on. Half of the girls had already started crying and hugging.

Some guys did pose to be tough and acted all chirpy-chirpy, but as the tracks progressed, their resolve weakened and they seemed to shed a tear or two. In one way or other, college life marked an important event in every person's life. We learn to adjust, fail, succeed, celebrate, embrace, make friends, enemies, love, hate and do so much more. To him, college seemed like a crash-course on life-skills.

As Bryan Adams crooned "I got my first real six-string", the guys came out alive. Barely anyone knew the lyrics. The only line they all knew collectively was "Those were the best days of my life" and they shouted it with as much vigor and enthusiasm as they could muster. By the end of that song they were laughing and embracing each other which prompted Baalu anna to play it one more time.

By the end of the song, Raghu hugged Rahul and admittedly he did looked silly shedding tears for his entire six foot frame. It almost looked like Hagrid hugging Harry.

"Will you miss me Rahul?" asked a moist eyed Raghu.

"Not if we stay in touch forever you dumb-ass" replied Rahul.

They laughed and cried at the same time.

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Today
1030 PM

Its amazing how the human mind works. Just one 3 odd minute song and he was still reeling under its effect for more than 8 hours. It was as if so many emotions and memories were attached to that one song. Like a domino effect, it slided with one memory, then the other and another and another....till it made him feel how much he missed those happy days.

Rahul did not find the nerve to call Raghu even after contemplating it for 3 hours. Finally he mailed a "Hi Boss" mail after a long thought. In the beginning few months till he went to work, Rahul regularly called Raghu and all his friends or atleast mailed them. But as days progressed, the 3 paragraph mails shrunk to 2 and then to one and finally condensed to occasional scraps on orkut or facebook.

What had happened? Was it him? Them? Or Both?

Was this the happy life he had dreamt about? Was this the triumph he had envisaged? All nothing but personal glory? What had happened to "Not if we stay in touch forever"??????

It was not like Rahul had been totally out of touch. He went with his friends to Munaar on one of their friend’s marriage, went to Coorg for trekking, had wolf-whistled in one of their friends marriage function. Thank the lord that the bride was also their college-mate, otherwise they would have been driven out for all their misbehavior. He would occasionally mail them or talk to them, but maybe he felt like he could do more. Instead of waiting for the other person to contact him first, maybe he should have taken the first step forward.

He smiled as he wondered what would be their reaction when they would read his mail after such long time. He was listening to "Summer of 69" for the umpteenth time. Even today he hardly understood what Bryan Adams was singing or the words for that matter. Maybe it didn’t matter and probably it never would. He decided to join Bryan Adams and sung "Those were the best days of my life" closing his eyes and losing himself to the magic.

His team mates in the adjoining cubicle peeked into his cubicle and found him singing merrily with his eyes closed and sporting a child like smile.

P.S: An ode to the amazing, memorable and wonderful college days :-)

16 comments:

nivi30 said...

wow tell me about it..I have felt the same too.. And the only thing i think off is the reciprocation. The importance of it.
I have friends with whom no matter what i have these regular confererance calls. infact we are so spread out but we still manage it. and another thing i think is the perspective. If we have these" You never told me" icky sticky sort of thing going on, people are going to move away .
As far as the college life goes! You are damn right!Best days of my life

nandoo said...

those were the best days of our life :-)

maraka mudiyumada... namma college daysa

Sat said...

senti venti guy ;)
got one more at home that goes weepy at the mention of the college's name (you know, our famed college arch is numbering it's days; it's giving way for a link road...sob sob)
anyway...good read man! and why you missing from the mailing scene now-a-days...get my mail id from nandoo and start spamming; when you find time that is ;)

vEENs said...

wow!!!!!!!!!

hmphhh!!

I m SAD now!!!!!

this was sucha good post and an eye opener.

Aparna said...

Wow! Superb! :) Today is a day when I have been thinking a lot about those happy days and reading this one has made me all the more nostalgic! Sigh!

And I could relate to that Uncle part so well since only last week I was called aunty by a kid! :| :(

Priya Iyer said...

:) good one. yep, those were THE BEST days for sure...

Such art I said...

I'm still in college with a year to go...what's your nostalgia's my day-to-day :)

Gargling Garbage said...

What I wouldn't do to re-live my memories..! :) ...

Sit on those same seats... Stare blankly at the black board day after day and wonder if my lecturers came from planet Jinxstinks... Etch zany limmerciks on the wooden table and spend more time in canteen than classes...

H.m.m.. I'm gonna be 18 till I die ;)

aravind said...

i feel like im left alone in this cruel world without frds , this was the day i waited for 4yrs n once it came im dumb struck !!! my last day in coll ... nice one harish

prithz said...

That's a nice narration style. :)

College days definitely are the best days of one's life. Mine is an exception I guess. If at all I have enjoyed.... well... you know why :P

Ramya Ramani said...

Hmmm college days were really good! Though I got to study in an Engineering school(??), I did find some nice moments with friends at college,on way nd back to college.I do accept that we get to miss contacts.But I feel that it is all about the individual to stay connected!

Rach said...

WOW!!

this one... made me nostalgic, emotional and happy at the same time...!!

Wonderfully written :)

Harish said...

@Nivi
Exactly. It depends on the individuals to stay in touch.

@Nandoo
No way pal. The evergreen days of our life. :-)

@Sat
Sorry yaar. Konjam narayya aani pudnuga vendiyada pochchu. Kandippa spam panni tallaren :-P

@Veens
Glad you found it good :-)

Harish said...

@Aparna
Hee hee...Happens yaar. :-)

@Priya
You bet!!!

@Suchitra
Hmmm...You are right. Never thought that I could become nostalgic as such :(

@Gargling Garbage
Wow...I can use that as a title. :-)

Harish said...

@Aravind
Thanks da machchan. I really loved writing this one :-)

@Prithz
Its the same reason why we all loved it. We have the liberty to be lazy and still get away with it :P

@Ramya
Yeah. Exactly yes. But sometimes in the rush for life our can-do becomes could-have-done items :(

Priya Murthi said...

Nice post... made me feel nostalgic... indeed it is true for everyone... college days is a magic in everyone's life... donno what it does it to you... but leaves a beautiful memoir in your life...