Sorry, but the nostalgia bug is refusing to leave until I finish narrating my Madras memories :-). I promise that this will be the last one, pakka. Last week, I left off at the beginning of my life back in a co-ed environment at Loyola College. Ms. G and I were lucky enough to do our Master’s together too and the two years that followed were full of fun and excitement. We quickly formed a gang there also, and quite a notorious one it was. Imagine how notorious we would have been if Ms. G and I were among the relatively innocent ones :-D. Especially with people like one Ms. S who was so mischievous that even her head-to-toe black outfit (hijab) couldn’t hide what was brewing underneath. From quick wits to awesome writing, acting, singing and dancing skills, our group was really talented. Each of us had and still has a unique personality, and yet there was something that brought us together. If I say that the common link was the love for all things literature, I wouldn’t be completely wrong. Anyway, it was definitely something special because it has helped most of us stay in touch and has brought us closer than before.
I believe we behaved ourselves during the first few months, but after that, we were known to cut classes, often. To be honest, though, we never left the campus. We would simply step out of the classroom and head to our favorite hangout place, a shaded area with a small kiosk that sold coffee and tea. The canteen was another spot we frequented because a friend swore that it served the most amazing egg parottas. As we sat engrossed in our very random conversations, our professors would walk by, give us a look, and proceed to buy their coffee. I guess they were cool with it because they had seen many like us before and more importantly because we did manage to get good grades, if I may brag a little here. One incident, though, I will never forget. I don’t remember what subject was being taught, but it was not as interesting as the TinTin comic that I was hiding under the desk. The professor caught me, gave me a big grin, and confiscated the book, only to return it the next day after giving it a read.
Our life at Loyola had some major highlights, two of which were a trip we took to a rural area near Chengelpet and our Goa trip. The outreach trip was extremely memorable, mostly because our group managed to be placed together and while there, we visited villages, interacted with many villagers, understood their lifestyle, and even had the opportunity to partake in their traditional foods. If the outreach trip helped us come closer to our roots and understand rural life, the Goa trip was… well, the exact opposite. Oh, before I forget, a major life event happened during this period, Mr. P and I got engaged, and a date was set for our wedding. The poor guy had no clue what he was getting into, and neither did I ;-).
I was particularly excited about our Goa trip because this was my first actual excursion, where I was going to travel with friends and stay away from home for multiple days. What was the excitement level among the group? Well, imagine a bunch of girls (some who had never tasted alcohol and others who may have sipped on some wine or such on a rare occasion) being let loose in GOA. And the boys? Ah, I have nothing much to say about them, except that they definitely had a very very good time. One episode that is especially stuck in my mind is of Ms. M who was very plastered and took it upon herself to count stars, on her fingers. She was quite a sight, I must say, and we all had a good laugh at her expense. Though most of us girls took an instant liking to Bacardi Breezer (a fruit-flavored cocktail), our very own Ms. G, liked it a little too much. The poor girl even got christened Bacardi maami, a name that I must say she hasn’t lived up to after Goa. Apart from our minor liquor escapades, we of course did what tourists typically do in Goa. We visited beautiful churches, chilled out on the beach, ate yummy food, and even tried our hand at haggling with the local vendors, hoping to buy souvenirs. Unfortunately, we walked away empty-handed, with a shameful realization that we had failed miserably at this art that comes naturally to people who usually shop in T. Nagar!
As I reach the conclusion of my nostalgic trip, I have to mention the last time that our gang went out for lunch. It was the final day of our exams and we went to Pizza Hut to celebrate. Why The Hut? They had an unbeatable offer of unlimited pizzas for Rs.100 and we were all very very hungry. Little did we know that many other hungry souls had beaten us to the restaurant and that we would have to wait for three hours just to be seated. Some of us were so tired from all the studying we had done (yes, we all studied really hard) that we dozed off while waiting outside in the hot sun. That day, we truly understood the meaning of the word famished.
Anyway, my college days have left me with innumerable memories to cherish for a lifetime. From my first excursion to lifelong friendships, fantastic professors, intriguing lectures, interesting projects, all intertwined with our courtship, engagement, and marriage, the five years were nothing less than memorable.
When I look back at all these lovely memories, I can only thank Madras for giving them to me and for becoming such an important part of my life. Regardless of Madras becoming Chennai and Starbucks and KFC popping up amidst the myriad filter kaapi stalls and Saravana Bhavans, Madras will always hold a special place in my heart, just like it does for many reading this post.
Here’s to memories that are worth cherishing forever!