Thursday, December 11, 2008

Don't need no Rang-de-basanti!

This is a true story from one of my seniors at IIT Kharagpur. Sometimes we feel that someone who is in a high position wont understand what we are going through. Take for example, the way we represent our anguishes and problems to the authorities. The Rang-De-Basanti movie is much spoken about, but frankly I felt issues could be handled in a much more mature manner. Harimohan Pillai (also architect and a great teacher) encountered something that disturbed him. He did something about it and see what happened.

There are some typical IIT-Kharagpur lingo which some may not understand. Here is a small glossary

KGP: Kharagpur
Diro: Director of the institute
Hall: Hostel
Cheddis: A famous "dhabba" outside the main building of the institute
Nikhils: Another "dhabba"
79-ers: Students who graduated in 1979
Hols: Holidays
RPans : Students staying in the Rajendra Prasad Hall (Hostel)
RKites: Students from the R.K. Hall (Hostel)
Cal: Kolkatta
HOD: Head of the Department
Convo: Convocation ceremony where students get their degrees
TDS: Technology Dramatics Society (A students body promoting theatre)
tempo: Enthusiasm. IIT Kharagpur has a "war cry" which goes like this: "IIT Ka Tempo, high hai!"

Sabu Francis

Harimohan's article

Coming to think of it, 79-ers have an edge, for they were on the edge of the 70s, most happening decade of independent India. When we had joined, most of us in 74 and few like me in 73, we had just got out of the Indo-Pak skirmish, followed by Bangla Desh liberation, the brunt of which was borne largely by West Bengal, with the migrants all over... KGP railway station no exception. I had seen the pathetic sight of scantily clad refugee women crouching in the battery boxes of local train coaches smuggling rice, during occasional week end trips to Cal with my Bengali friends.

Then we had the great emergency period of 75-76-77. We in the campus lived a protected life without much communication with the outside world. Imagine, we had no TV those days! I would like to relate an incident in which I was involved. Some of you may have heard of it.

We had this Nikhil's tea shop just outside RP Hall, on the main road side leading to IIT Gate. Nikhil's was most frequented by RPans and RKites. In some way

In some ways Nikhil had eaten into Chedi's business. One day we found that his shop was razed to ground by the local police as security measure, because PM Madam Indira Gandhi was to come for the Silver Jubilee Convo of IIT KGP. We all were sad and hoped that things would get back to normal after the Convo. But that didn't happen. Nikhil was in tears, when I met him once. Somehow I got furious, and armed with the Hindi TDS spirit of 'Juloos' those days, I wrote a short letter to Madame Gandhi. It went like this:

"Aap Andhi ki tarah aati hain, aur toofan ki tarah chali jaati hain, Aap ko nahin maloom, aap apne peeche sab kuch tahas nahas kar jaati hain."

Followed by few lines in English about Nikhil's shop demolition by police.

Summer hols I went home and totally forgot about this. When I returned in July, I saw from my rickshaw that Nikhil had a brand new shop in the same place and before I could open my room in RP Hall couple of cops came in search of me. I was shit scared, but they were most humble and said the Midnapur range DSP was waiting for me in the police chowki neat IIT gate. I met the DSP who took me most respectfully to Nikhil's shop for a cup of tea, accompanied by other cops. Nikhil was all smiles. The DSP then said over hot tea that he needed an NOC from me stating that I am satisfied with the re- erected shop, to be sent to PM, so that some of the suspended officials could be re-instated! I was flabbergasted, but kept my cool and gave the necessary papers. Finally when I opened my room I found a letter from Madame Gandhi herself, under my door. It said,

"Mujhe fakrh hai ki hamare desh mein aap jaise naujawan hain jo ek sadharan aadmi ke dukh dard ko samajhte hain. Kabhi kabhi kuch afsar satta ke nashe mein apni jimmedaariyan theek tarah se nahin nibhate. Apke hostel ke paas ki chai ki dukan ka mujhe afsos hai. Maine action le liya hai."

A copy of this letter was addressed to Diro - Prof. C.S. Jha ! Next morning my HOD Prof. Muni Chakravarti all smiles and beaming with pride took me to meet Diro who had summoned us. I had a cup of cha with them over small talk about what happened etc.!

We 79-ers jumped into our respective professions into a new decade that brought in computers and information technology. I think we are the most blessed lot of all IIT-ians, living in this age... Let's keep up the tempo high and higher...

regards to all
Harimohan Pillai


Sree said...

Nice article! [:)]

saty said...

TDS is Technology Dance Society not Technology Dramatics Society.

Unknown said...

Way back in the seventies and eighties we had only TDS = Technology Dramatics Society. Harimohan was in the Hindi TDS. I don't remember any dance society. I guess over the time, the dance society got formed and various language TDS got their own individual abbreviations

saty said...

Now der is no society like Technology Dramatics Society.But der r
HTDS Hindi Technology Dramatics Society
ETDS English Technology Dramatics Society
BTDS Bengali Technology Dramatics Society
now TDS is a short name for Technology Dance Society

Unknown said...

Interesting how abbreviations get formed and change over time

Sameera Rao said...

very nice! :)

MubMaj said...

Hello Mr. Sabu...
That was a very interesting read and I'm proud to say that I'm Harimohan sir's student. :-)

Glad to come across your blog.

abhishek mishra said...

Nice to read the article....

The actual name of TDS is Technology Dramatics Society.. which consists of

ETDS.. HTDS... TDS(Technology Dance Society) and BTDS

Anonymous said...

such a nice and encouraging blog. it makes you see things through rose tinted glass once again...

ashish gupta said...

this really very nice and encourgeing article....we should take it as a lession....

"Sajal" said...

where is "Nikhils" now?

AG said...