Friday, December 12, 2008


Blast from the Past

I've never told you about my computer. Not the icon that all of you have on your desktop, but MY computer. It was bought way back in 1997, in the 20th century, before magical '99 when Man U won the glorious treble (I had to slip that in). The config- 32 MB RAM (later updated to 64), Windows 98 OS, 350 MHz and a 3.8 GB Hard Disk. All more than well for a comp of that time. But the strange part was that we persisted in using it till only a couple of months ago. For the last five years or so, it was already antique- a mere machine to access the net on, or occasionally, do some C++ programming. Before that, Lefty used it for the sole purpose of playing 3 games- FIFA 2002, Demonstar (demo), Tony Hawk's Pro-skater 2 (demo) and some game called something where there were racing cars which looked like cornflakes boxes. Before that, we were in the pre-'99 days.

All good things come to an end, and the day has at last come when we are parting with the good old comp. My sister and I decided to keep some of the files we'd stored on it with us- no mean feat considering there's no USB, no CD Writer, and the floppy disk doesn't work. In the end, we mailed everything we wanted to ourselves. I was just going through them now. There are pictures, poems, ppts, results of early attempts on MS Paint- all very reminiscnent, all exceedingly delightful. Most of them belong to an era long gone by- my days in Patna and later, my days in high school. Browsing through them, random incidents from those days kept showing up, bringing a wry smile or occassionally an embarrassed one to my face. An exercise filled with pain and pleasure at the same time.

Anyway, I came across something I wrote towards the fag end of the good old comp's days. I later wrote it agian, and it marked the beginning of another cherished era- another one which has since then ended. Enjoy.

Height Please

After an agonising 8-hour wait trying to indulge in a relaxing exercise which is referred to as ‘sleep’, I woke up with the 16th sunrise of June, a nervous twittering self. The cause of my apprehension was simple – the IIT-JEE results were to be declared on that fateful morning. It was full of anxiety that I logged on to the net, went to the JEE site and typed in my roll no, all the time keeping my fingers crossed and praying to the Almighty to try and remember any good deed that I might have done in my previous incarnations and reward me for it. As the web page changed, my trepidation changed to elation, for I had just cleared IIT-2005 and was on the way to realizing my dream of becoming an IITian.

Subsequent celebrations followed. There was the general hugging, clapping of backs and calling up relatives and friends atmosphere. A thunderstorm of phone calls ensued, each caller expressing his joy and wishing me the best of luck. The next day, I received the IIT brochure asking me to report for counselling and bring with me the completed version of a medical check-up form that was enclosed.

So it was a cock-a-whoop self that went to a nearby hospital with his mother to complete the medical formalities. The superintendent guided us to the physician’s chamber, where the doctor and a nurse awaited our arrival. The weight, blood-pressure and chest were triumphantly measured and duly recorded, and then came the turn of height…

For a person who broke the 5 feet mark when in class X, height has naturally been a sensitive issue. Most of my life has been spent in the first row, first line etc and meeting wise guys who would chuckle and say- ‘You’re in VIII, why I took you for a primary school student’ or some such thing. It was therefore a great relief when I finally attained a decent 5’ 8’’. It can thus, be said that my height has been measured any number of times and in countless ways yet, I was more than surprised when the doctor asked me to lie down and told the nurse to measure my height. Images of Munnabhai – Circuit asking a Japanese his height, ‘How long?’ flashed by as my ‘height’ was converted to ‘length’.

My mother, watching from a corner, asked the doc if a height machine was not available. Something like comprehension dawned on the latter’s face and she made appropriate enquiries and then informed us that the coveted instrument was being used in physiotherapy and was therefore not accessible. The nurse then put one end of the tape-measure on my shoulder, flashed a brilliant smile at the doctor and asked ‘Yahin se height naapni hai naa?’. Having no intention of entering the portals of IIT minus a head, I quickly brought to her notice that height was generally measured from head to toe, a fact which the doctor confirmed. So an orderly was summoned, and along with the nurse, he proceeded to measure my height (length). The tape traversed the topography of my body – over the head, down the neck, through the torso and came to rest between the knee and the ankle. To solve the problem of the short tape, a pen was produced and a mark placed on my foot. The above proceedings were then continued and the doctor was informed that the patient was 181 cm tall. Converting the figure to inches I found, that miraculously I had become 6 feet in a matter of minutes. Attempting to bury my laughs within or converting the same to coughs, I halted the doctor in the task of writing the figure on the form and told her that the height was definitely wrong.

Me mum then adopted the role of the Bollywood ‘Maa’, and took matters into her own hands. I was made to stand up near a wall (It’s back to ‘height’), the top of my head was marked and the orderly got to work to produce the magical figure. Now my height was reduced to 5’ 10’’. When the same was measured in inches, it turned out to be 5’ 5’’. The role of ‘Maa’ was now added to and the mater took up the tape-measure and made the measurements herself. The 171 cm mark was attained and recorded, the doctor signed the form, the nurse beamed and I accompanied the Mater to the car in a blaze of glory.

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