Monday, October 25, 2004


It was OP time. Among the many funda passed diligently from seniors to juniors was the one about Patel ka 'Lund'. It was a water tank named so because of its position between the two legs, the B & C blocks of Patel Hall. Reportedly, a Professor of the Civil Engineering Department of IIT Kharagpur had designed it. While designing it he had forgotten to take into consideration the weight of water in the calculations. Due to this significant 'silly mistake', the tank was nonoperational. Such reports made me think about the superficiality of the IIT Professors and the system in general. We even speculated that the guilty person was the Professor whom we popularly address as Ramu.

There was an irony in the name of the water tank that struck me as odd. Patel was supposed to be the hall that symbolised all things macho. Why then was it so proud to boast about an organ, which suffered from the worst case of 'impotency'?

As the year progressed we made quite a number of night-outs for hall activities. On any of those night-outs, the sight of the tank as seen from the catwalk was an eerie one. With the open sky behind it, the tank appeared monstrously large and strange. It stood there, completely still, taking up the good part of our view.

My third year room was allotted in the top floor of C-block just beside the water tank. For most part of the third year the sight of the tank did not arouse any emotions in me. It was during the campaign for President-ship of the hall that I discovered that the tank was actually a working one. It provided water to three halls including ours. After gaining this piece of knowledge I noticed that people came to operate it at the allotted times everyday. Somehow I had never noticed them before. This made me think about the shallowness on our parts, the students of IIT, accepting blindly cooked up half-truths which were dished out to us.

Now into my fourth and final year, I view the tank with a lot more reverence. It has become an important feature of the landscape that I can see from my balcony. I see workers taking shade under it for a quick nap or to have lunch. Sometimes I even notice some people using the vicinity of the tank (hopefully not very close) for the ultimate result of the eating.

A huge hostel is being constructed just behind Patel Hall. Throughout the day, female construction labourers come to relieve themselves in the field beside the water tank. It is quite an embarrassing sight. Initially I resolved to shout to them from above so that they went behind a wall to preserve the mutual decency. On my doing so once, they giggled among themselves before obeying my instructions. Later on I gave up as there were too many of them coming throughout the day.

Many of these labourers are quite young, probably very near the ages of my sisters. But what a difference lies between their lives and those of my sisters brought up in well-to-do families.

I am reminded of a morning in Navi Mumbai when I had gone jogging; I was going through a new area when I saw two kids, a girl and a boy, throwing stones at another young girl. All of them must have been below the age of ten. Between the two kids, who seemed to live in a building nearby, the girl seemed to be the more active participant in the stone throwing. The little girl who was the object of their anger was in a squatting position trying to complete her morning rituals. She must have been left there by her mother. Not suspecting anything, the mother must have gone into a nearby public toilet. The unfortunate girl was all alone and at the mercy of these spoilt kids. I rebuked the two 'well-off' kids for their behaviour, well knowing that they were too young to be blamed for their actions. Having driven them away I went near the young girl. She was crying. She showed the traits of a kid brought up in less fortunate environments. Her hair was rough and she obviously was not bathed regularly. Nevertheless she was very sweet. I told her to stop crying and then asked her her name. She said her name was Pooja. I have an elder sister who has the same name and who is now settled in Antwerp after marriage. How different their lives are!

Anyway I will get back to the main issue of the water tank. The water tank is also associated with a bad memory. At the end of the first year in college, students go through a process in which allotment of the Hall in which the student is to reside for the next 3 or 4 years is done by lottery. In my first year I had been stupid enough to try the backdoor route to go to one particular hall. For this we had to stay under cover for a few days in the hall that we were trying to get into. One night during our stay we were told that authorities might be making a raid anytime. So in that unearthly hour we left our secret hiding place in the senior hall and clandestinely made our ways back to our original hall of residence. To avoid being seen we went through roads which were seldom used. Within that journey we passed through the field beside the water tank. If I were in more casual a mood I would have enjoyed the midnight stroll and the non-conventional surroundings. However with the thought of seniors and authorities breathing down on our necks, it was a feeling that is best forgotten.

That memory however is a part of the past. Now the water tank is a constant companion. After studying for a while in my room, I come out to the balcony for quiet contemplation. As I lean on the balcony looking at the landscape surrounding me, I think very often about the so-called 'information environment' of IIT in which we are living. Usually I am alone in my thoughts except for times when a wing-mate spots me and cares to start a discussion session. The water tank however is always there. Recently due to the lights from the construction site, the tank has got its fair share of illumination. It reminds me of Tintin's rocket in "Destination Moon", looking as if it is going to take-off any moment.

There is another water tank of similar shape and size, which is inside the institute area. As I looked at it while walking underneath it, it seemed to be of more grand dimensions. However the water tank beside Patel Hall as seen from my vantage point on the third floor is definitely friendlier.

PS : Here are some pictures from Tintin's "Destination Moon" :-



Friday, October 15, 2004

What Will I Write Tommorow?

It's been quite a while since I last posted something on the blog. I have been treating it like a step-child.

I have allotted Saturday mornings for writing. It happened for the last two Saturdays that I was writing a short story. I finished it last Saturday after much deliberations and effort. After which I mailed it to my parents and some close acquaintainces for reviewing. Got some praise, got some 'constructive' criticism.

That is exactly what I had asked for. But the fact was that it was quite difficult to digest the criticism even though I agreed with the 'critics'.

I am a person who is usually doing all things the 'right' way. Criticism is not something that normally comes my way. I am more used to praise. I succeed almost whenever i put in effort. The last two weeks passed with me getting a lot of 'stick' from my project guide. Made me feel bad sometimes but mostly I knew that it would at least keep me from diverting the focus from the job at hand. I realised that it would push me to finish what I had started.

So the criticism in the project thingie is good. But when it comes to writing, I do not like to listen to others. Sometime in the past, a teacher had said about a piece that I wrote that it started off brilliantly but faded away towards the end. The diagnosis was ditto as I had been hurrying to complete it.

This time however I am at a loss. I wrote this story keeping a simple plot in mind. It had come to my mind and I had developed the plot as it came to me. I wrote it over two Saturdays placed in Kolkata and Kharagpur. I took quite some effort firstly in Kolkata to find time to start writing. And then in kgp to complete it. After all that, all I expected was praise and more praise.....

Funny how we know what the ideal situation should be but fail to cope up with it when it comes along in real life.


PS: I was asking RA how Salman Rushdie's parents feel when they find their son writing intimately about sex. "They probably do not know how to read English", is what I said as an afterthought.

Anyway here goes :-

Q: What do you call a man who has a delayed orgasm?

A: A Late-'cum'mer

Saturday, October 09, 2004


Q: What did dohn denver say when he got lost and met Jhonty Rhodes?

A: "Jhonty 'Roads'...........
Take me home
To the place I belong........."

PS: Could not restrain myself from posting it.