Monday, November 16, 2009


There and back again

On 14th November 2009, at close to 1400 hours, Lefty became an engineer. The Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, with the power vested in it by the senate, and by its recommendations, declared me one. Fully decked in the quintessential graduate attire- robes, cap, sash; under the gaze of perhaps the most respected and accomplished engineer in India- E. Sreedharan, I was handed my B.Tech. Several moments later, along with over 250 of my batchmates, the Engineer's oath was taken. Somewhere along this entire ceremony, an attitude of flippancy and frivolity was replaced by feelings of immense joy and unmistakable pride. True, this was not one small step for man one giant leap for mankind. True, better and more deserving hands have accepted the same degree and shall continue to do so. And most importantly, true that the attitude of flippancy and frivolity came rushing back moments after the ceremonial hats had been joyfully tossed once the last dregs of nauseating formality had left the hall. Yet, this was a Moment in the two decades of my life. And for those infinitesimally few seconds as I accepted my degree and walked down, with Mamma, Papa, Chacha and Dadi intently watching, I did feel that with each step that I took, strides were made into another era, into another stage of my life. E.R.- two letters that no one can take away.

Back in Mech 254, most familiar and some unfamiliar faces in front of me. A blackboard showcasing different languages of India (and some imaginary ones, klingon being conspicuous by absence) all saying one word- the word that is not right- behind me. The encore had begun. I still believe I could never have asked for a better last bow, but this was a quiz to remember too. Dela proved, more than once, how my faith in him was never unjustified. Murty had some amazing cracks and didn't disappoint on the ones I'd hoped he wouldn't, yet another reminder how any hopes that I have from that particular trio can never be high enough. The Silent Assassin spoke little, but spoke exceedingly brilliant. And all this while, Ahuja, Raka and co. slowly but surely inched towards their first first. The joy on their faces was palpable, and increasingly reminiscent of that night in April more than 2 years ago, when a certain dinosaur and southpaw had celebrated after finally overcoming the final frontier. Vinu was the quizmaster then, and that was somehow comforting.

Some 40 minutes on my stairway to heaven. Constantly surrounded by ghosts of my past. So many good times came flooding back. The wisecracks would never be the same, the camaraderie had changed forever. This was an orchestra I didn't belong too- there was no Khandu, Shrey, SriP, Midha or Sarthak with me. As I blabbered incoherently, visions of the past would keep flashing by. Baadshah, thank God, made sure I concentrated on only one thing, and on its part concentrated on satisfying only one sense. Changezi, Afghani, fried, none of my demanding taste-buds was left complaining.

An evening like so many at Nesci. Sumedh and Aato on my left. Mittal and Boki on my right. 4 of us keeping up a charade for the benefit of the 5th. A charade that had been so comically and mutually discovered only moments ago. Aimlessly shifting the conversation from this to that, all in an attempt to remain rooted to the spot during those ever lengthening minutes. The black Pajero arrived, and out emerged that familiar lovable silhouette. Google maps tells me that 4136 miles need to be traversed to come from London to R and Sajji had traversed each of them to answer the call that he decided could just not be kept waiting. The hugs and greetings fell woefully short of describing the happiness that that moment held, and trying to put it in words would be the most futile exercise I've ever undertaken. I'll just say Euphoria and carry on.

Random moments from 4 days just gone by. Random reminders of 4 years that flew past. So much happened over the weekend, yet so little now that I look back. I had planned to go back, it transpired that I had never left. I wish I could claim to be the first to make this profound statement, but I have to accept that a certain balding pot-bellied best-selling author did make an observation along similar lines. There's a lock on G-81 but some things can just not be locked in or out. Physical absence notwithstanding, a chunk of the 20 grams of Lefty's soul flits around from corner to corner at a spot 172 kms from the Capital of India. 25 years later, when I finally go back, perhaps I'll take it away.

I'm crying :(.
Making me nostalgic. I truely missed my moment :(
I was waiting for this post to happen. It did, and how! Definitely one of your best.
I wish I'd stayed longer. Well, maybe on the 25th.
Apparently, I can't say this enough. Thanks for our first first.... :)
Congratulations Er.Lefty Saab. For a long time, I used to wonder what "Er" stood for, looking at the names of the ppl who wrote the JEE books. Assumed it was an arbit title for people who didn't have a Mr. or a Dr to put :P

Btw I heard something about you containing the keywords "drunk" and "grope". Should ask you on a less public forum.
@ Amul
Mat ro, bhai. You know as well as I do that missing the convo was a small price to pay for getting OSU. I expect you'll provide us with many equally proud moments in the future. You were sorely missed obviously, in case it helps.

@ Shrey
Yeah, any stay ultimately would have been too short. Tell you what, let's plan another Elder's trip sometime this summer.

@ Ahuja
He he. You're welcome. Thoroughly deserved, of course.

@ Srishti
Do not-te worry.

@ Shreyas
I can only say that you should not pay heed to baseless rumours. I think people are confusing me with someone else.
First, a tribute to the man who made the epic trip just to meet his friends. "Bhagwan Himalay par rehte hain....aur mein Convo attend karke rahoonga!"

I was planning a post named 'Dusk'. After slogging for >14 hrs a day for two consecutive days, in a land where five in the evening is indistinguishable from five in the morning, at the same time knowing that the other side of the world is where you belong at the moment, you cannot help but wonder why everything appears so blue. But then, the slogging paid off, I got to see plenty of familiar faces with a glow that rivalled the Buddha's halo, and read the closest thing to actually being there. Words are precious. I should not waste them so.
Congo on becoming an engineer, at last. Too bad Murtha and I didn't make it inside to witness it...

Anyway, I'll remember your trip for something totally different - The night Lefty tricked me...
@ Rapu
Joining you in the tribute. Cheers to the Fat One.
>14 hours a day. That's a lot, Rapu. Are you sure you're not exaggerating a teeny weeny bit?

@ Anirudh
I didn't trick you at all. In fact, I even explained to Moor-ta how I didn't. Ask Dela what being tricked is like.
Guess what? I am taking a day off. 14 hrs is no exaggeration. Get up at 7, study till midnight. Breaks incude lunch and dinner. And this on a weekend. Exams, exams....
That would be 'Er.' by the way. Interesting to see you drowning in the mellow moods. And yes, it was memorable. Thanks for turning up, everyone. And thanks for all the memories. :)
@ DC
Yeah, Er. Mellow- check. Now to polish my poetry skills.
Beautiful post, Saagar. That sure was a magical moment, when our hearts swelled with pride:watching you carry forth the glorious tradition. After all, both your grandfathers (Baba and Nanaji)-and your uncles on both sides too-being engineers had to show. Genes tell, y'see!!
@ Mamma
Yes, it was indeed. And yes, you can't boast of this degree of awesomeness without your genes contributing. :)
I just loved the way you ended the beautiful post. I was wishing it would never end.
Your presence is felt by all of us here Saagar, 'physical absence notwithstanding'. :)
@ Anunaya
I liked the way you ended the comment :)
I'm halfway through the cruise now...and I realize one day this moment shall fall on me as well.

I'm feeling nostalgic already !!

Yet again, your post does the trick !!
@ Amit
Halfway to go is a long long time. Don't worry. Have fun. The tide of time is relentless, yes, but it's not ashore yet.
I think this is your one of the best posts...i read it today 2:00 am feeling nostalgic :(
@ Sumedh
Morbid Times????
Summers ke pehle banaya tha kya blog ko?
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