Paradise: The Art Lovers’ Heaven at NIT Hamirpur

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Savouring the Manna of Paradise…
Ashutosh, the Editor of the Srijan, literally grabbed one of my paintings off the wall of my home where it hung placidly, braving dust and dampness, since last twenty years. “Ma’am, we need some of your paintings”, with determination he proclaimed. Sadly all of my paintings seemed ravaged with time and lacked the luster that would have befitted a painting to be given a place of honour at the new Arts Gallery Paradise in the hitherto empty corridors of the auditorium. But this one was taken.

When the students came to invite us for the Hill ‘ffair, the invitation for the opening of the Art Gallery, came as a bonus to all art lovers of NIT Hamirpur. Aaditya Gandotra asked me to bring my camera as well to take some pictures. Perhaps he was impressed by one that I had taken the other day of the group of students coming from Srinagar!

 

I reached early as I wanted to savour the bliss of watching the paintings when the gallery would be less crowded. The student volunteers had put all the paintings in place and the cavernous gallery of the auditorium suddenly seemed to have come alive, reverberating with so much hues of life! It was heavenly. Having captured all the images on my mindscape and drinking deep the beauty that they emitted, I started with the other mechanical job in hand. It was to capture the pictures on the camera! Through the lens of the camera, new meaning to the pictures came to my mind. The wisdom of what Aristotle said long back as “Art being twice away from the truth” came to my mind. The artist, in fact any creator, would never take the first step without having previously seen it with his imagination. Thus every work of art is like giving wings to your dreams.  could-paradise-be-any-better.jpg
 Could “Paradise” be any better?
And here I was capturing the paintings on camera and thus utilizing another way to give wings to my imagination. It seems that the process goes on and on and this is perhaps the cyclic view of creation. I also noted that while I was watching the paintings displayed in the gallery, my gaze would wander from one to the another one and each one would tempt me more than the earlier. But while focusing to take a shot of one painting at a time, I was able to see its fine qualities. Such a wonderful and important lesson of life—focused approach—I learnt that day!

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Flowers say it the Best…
Saturday, November 4, 2006 was the day when the gallery was to be inaugurated by Dr. I.K.Bhatt, the Director of NIT Hamirpur. The flowers said about the heartiest welcome accorded to Mrs. and Dr. Bhatt by the students and faculty.
Ashutosh made us look within through his painting “Introspection” !

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Look Within–the Sages Say 
I realized the need to look within rather than to find faults in the system and people outside. I wish I could have this generosity in me but then I am just another human being with my follies and errors.
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An Affectionate Pat on the Shoulder..
The paintings of Ashutosh and the conviction that made him to realize his imagination on a canvas was enough to be noticed by the perceptive art critic in Dr. Bhatt and Mrs Bhatt. The best award for an artist is a pat on his back and this is what Ashutosh got for his contribution.

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Look-alikes…

The pencil sketch of his favourite shoes speaks about our attachment and feelings towards such objects in our life, and this quality to relating to even inanimate objects make us the best in the world when it comes to sustain relationships at all levels. Mudit Sethi seemed to drive home the message that when it comes to choose a topic for a work of art, even a pair of shoes can be of great importance and conviction. Well done Mudit!

Clicking a picture of Dr. Bhatt and Mudit while both stood close by could be any photographer’s best catch. I was surprised to see how similar they both looked to each other. I was so taken by this resemblance that I shot 4-5 shots from different angles but the similarity was the common factor in all the pictures. Mudit’s sketch of his favourite pair of shoes was a centre of attraction. 

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A woman shattering the glass ceiling shows the horror of the falling pieces of glass making her bleed. The pain of the contemporary women in an attempt to move out of the shackles, was depicted by Maneesh. I felt honoured when he explained that it was a discussion in the English class about “Glass Ceiling” that made him paint the picture. Some inspiration indeed! The young mind is receptive to revolutionary ideas and is ready to make appropriate adjustments in life as well.

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Naveen’s pencil sketch of a beautiful young woman seemed to radiate all that energy that is peculiar to young people. A wonder in black and white beauty though life is not just pure black and white but has many shades of grey as well.

Sushant’s painting invited mush discussion as it depicted the life of a student’s “learning” mechanism when his mind remains blank even when he seems to be learning in the  class—a true mechanical Engineer and an artist could see that aspect and present the creation! A lesson for all about the reality behind the scene. 

Tamal’s vibrancy of colours spoke of the “vibrant multicultural” environment that the vision statement of NIT Hamirpur speaks of. Each colour influencing the other yet maintaining the individual identity as well, this is what NIT culture is proud of. There were other areas of Tamal’s workmanship that I noticed that day, though.

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A Journey through Desert…
Ipsita, captured the multicultural vibrancy of the vision statement of NIT by painting the desert life of the Rajasthan and the life of Tripura with equal ease. And her sketches seemed like to come alive any moment and drown us in the wisdom of the great man
Nikhil Sharma’s Christ Church was a study in perspective and find a fault if you can!

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Wonderland Himachal…
Shruti surprised me with her paintings and I wondered is there anything that she is not good at. I started to find one weak area and drew blank! Her style of painting, that she is still learning, gave her works a different look from the other paintings. The Tibetian monk reminded me of the serenity that oozes out of old Tibetian monks in spit of the bad times that they had to go through! Well captured emotions.

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A Thing of beauty is Joy for ever… 
A suprise for all of us was a painting by Vandana, Ashutosh’s sister. Words fail me to describe the eternal beauty of the Ardhnarishwar  done in Maithili style of painting. The other two, as well, were painted in a very different style. eyes-that-keep-a-watch.jpg

Eyes that never seem to close… 
The Black and white paintings by Ashutosh’s childhood friend were marvellous. The one having eyes all over seemed to haunt us all throughout and even after and the “Wolfs” made us find different meaning to the painting.

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I am with the Soul of Paradise…
Here I am I nfront of the camera instead of being behind it! These are some of the young boys and girls who realized the dream of filling the life of NIT Hamirpur with a multicultural vibrancy, a value eduation in the real sense.

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Empty and Cavernous Life…
A photo that I clicked of the cavernous but empty gallery, though bathed in sun light, rather would tell the worthiness of the decision of the Arts group students to inject life in the lifeless and blind gallery. It felt like the various hues of the paintings had provided shades of life to the lifeless gallery. Kudos to the ones who thought of undertaking such a project in hand and fulfilling the same as well! 
Thank You all for filling it with life and itsvarious hues! 

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My Books Need a New Home…

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 November 2, 2006

There are so many jobs that weigh heavy on my mind these days  that I have started to feel jittery as I find myself unable to handle so much on my own. The termites have launched a fresh attack on my books though I tried hard to get the Bookcase free from the menace of termites. So I have done what a book lover would do, got all books out of the racks/cases and they now occupy all the space that is free in my home. I have somehow come to accept their present placement and feel comfortable with books all around me.

Today in the evening when “Bokaro”, Srijan’s Chief Student Editor came to meet me, he was pleasantly surprised to find the  novel  Hannibal by Thomas Harris, perching cozily on the top of a heap of books, right there on the sofa of my, what may be called a, drawing room. Ecstatic at finding the novel, he just grabbed it and wanted to carry it back to his hostel. But his enthusiasm gave way to a resigned expression when he realized the heavy work load that awaited him. The Hill ‘ffair would be on by tomorrow evening and so much still needs to be managed by the devoted students. He had another thought and promised to come after three days when the Hill ‘ffair would be over. The poor boy realized that much as he would like to read the novel, his pre-occupancy in the Hill’ffair as an organizer, would never let him do that!!

Even he felt bad to see the harm that termites had caused to my gem of books and was saddened. He had another brilliant suggestion that the books may be put in my office where from students can borrow whatever they want to read. Not a bad suggestion as it would give the much needed fresh air to the books when they circulate among people who really appreciate and value them.

So another job on my already tight work schedule is to get all the books documented and listed and to put them in some logical order so as I could help someone get what one wants to read.

A good start it may be as I would be maintaining a record of who has taken the book as earlier I have lost many a books that some careless readers never bothered to return back. Honestly speaking, when it comes to books, I am pretty selfish. I am never going to forgive one student who has taken  my “The Fountainhead” as this particular edition was the one that I always loved to read. Now you might say what is so different in the edition when all editions carry the same story. There is a magic in some editions! My little one loved one edition of “Pride and Prejudice” but over the years it had lost the last few pages so I thought of getting for her another copy but could find the latest edition of the book. And it really didn’t have the magical impact of the earlier book and we would read the older edition to achieve real delight out of reading and would grudgingly read last few pages from the new edition. And can you believe even the happy ending of the book, Darcy finally seeking his love in Elizabeth, would not seem worth the delight that it deserved to give.

So much for the  books and their editions!

Euphoria for Being Free at Last From NIT Hamirpur

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The Gentlemen Engineers

The Gentlemen Engineers, that we churn out every year and hand them a plum job as well before they leave the college for a greener pasture, give us once in a while a memorable shot that would be a collectors’ photograph some years hence! before-the-cheese.jpg

Pandemonium Before the Cheese…

Rummaging through the old folders on my computer, I came across some photographs that made me laugh. These photographs brought a surge of memories to my mind. Memories that make us look at past fondly, most of the time, but sometimes make us sad too!

The practice of being photographed for Srijan makes us all, the members of the editorial board, look forward to the event. Some years back we decided to have the group Photograph of all the passing out batches of our final year students for Srijan as well. Oh, what a tough job it was to get all of them at one place as the great wisdom dawned on me that it is only the class room where you can have them all together! And if the day when they were to be photographed for a group photograph happens to be the last day of the college, you cannot even imagine, in wildest of your dreams, what would happen!!

It was the evening when all the branches of the final semester students were having the last paper. We wanted to photograph them for group photographs. Since the professional photographer could not make it to the spot on time and we would not have any other opportunity of having the prized soon to be lost-to-the-world-outside students with us, it was a second or third year student who offered his services. The result is for you to see. Tearing the question papers and making them fly in the air, the final year students landed in front of the administrative Building. What a job it was to make them assemble as they felt like free birds that moment. The “untamed ones”! I envied them for being free and so happy! I could think of my childhood days when we would come out of the classes so happy like free birds when the school closing bell would go! And our teachers would make it a point to make us walk decently in queues! So, I just watched them have a field day celebrating freedom from the “Big School”, the NIT, Hamirpur.

There were so many exceptional photographs clicked by the amateur photographer that day, albeit unknowingly, and these turned out to be best pictures we had of these sophisticated students. As he was much junior to the seniors that he was clicking photographs of, he could not shout at them to stand for a while and say “cheese”! The poor fellow had to take shots where some would be standing erect and others would be just making an effort to stand! It was literally pandemonium let loose and so much so that even I and Dr, Bhowmick, too, got to talk instead of endeavouring to maintain discipline.. The euphoria was just contagious! Dr. Bhoumick was surprised but keeping his cool he sat patiently for the group Photographs! And look who has taken control of the situation?

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At that time I was not very happy at the lack of manners depicted by the students but looking back at those pictures, today after a long time, brought a smile to my lips at a fond memory of watching the euphoria of students at being free at last from the bondage of NIT Hamirpur. But I am sure that you all, wherever you may be, would be missing your alma mater and these memorable moments!

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A Rendezvous with Dr. Richard Mathew Stallman

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Donning the Himachali Cap, Dr. Richard Mathew Stallman

“He is coming”, “He is coming”, the posters shouted from every nook and corner of the NIT Hamirpur campus. Curious and inquisitive to know more, I stared hard at the picture of a benevolent looking man with an affectionate smile on his countenance. His long flowing hair and beard adding more mystery to his persona. Who is he? An apostle! I thought. What would he teach us about? I was surprised to know that he would teach us a lot about the moral and ethical issues that face the world of Free Software. Dr. Richard Mathew Stallman launched the development of the GNU operating system in 1984, the goal being to create a completely free Unix-like operating system. The organisation that was founded in 1985 to further this purpose is the Free Software Foundation. An apostle of freedom of Software!

I was interested to learn more about the issue straight from the mouth of the person who is the champion of the cause of free software. A Psycho-social issue that touches all those people who have any knowledge about the working of Computer software and programs! I was interested to know more and the rendezvous with Dr. Richard Mathew Stallman was to enlighten me about so many issues that a computer novice like me needed to know about.

Dr. Richard Mathew Stallman, President, Free Software Foundation, talked about the most sought after objective of human mind—freedom. We all crave for freedom in all aspects of our life then why don’t we think about free software? Is it not a right of the free thinking human beings to help generate and distribute free software? Well, honestly speaking, it made sense to a nitwit like me!

In June 1971, Richard Matthew Stallman joined MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory as a programmer where he gained popularity with the hacker community and came to be known by his now popular name RMS. In the first edition of the Hacker’s Dictionary, he wrote, “ ‘Richard Stallman’ is just my mundane name; you can call me ’RMS’.” So hence forth I would call him RMS! Dr. RMS deliberated upon four main freedoms that made the development of free software a necessity:

The level zero freedom is to use and run the software.

The level first is the freedom to change the source code of the programme, as we want it. But then don’t we have the freedom to run the programme as we like it, perhaps not. Can we study and change the programmes that we work on, if not then how can we be free to use it?

The second point that he dwelt upon, the second level of freedom, was—the need for free software for the benefit of one’s neighbour. If your neighbour asks you to give him software that is propriety software, we either refuse to give him any or give the pirated copy of the same. We choose between the lesser evil! In both the cases it is unethical and unsocial as well. We should have the freedom to distribute a software copies freely. The propriety software puts restrictions on the use of software like—for how long or how many—on the users. He called such software as “just trust me software”.

The third level of freedom is to use it for the wellbeing of the society or the community. The free software has the freedom to bring about change the society or the users can benefit from and use the programme accordingly. This is what according to RMS “democracy” is. Living in free society, we must provide the upgradation/modification of the programmes, for the welfare of the community. Now there may be people who don’t know anything about programming so it becomes the job of SW professionals to incorporate the desired changes in the programming and make it available to the community.

It made sense to me as I cannot develop any programme but feel the need for so many new features in the programmes that I run. How wonderful it would be if someone could listen to my point of view and incorporate the desired changes! According to Dr. RMS the propriety software would not let any user bring about such a change in the programme and only the developer is authorized to do the needful.

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 Freedom as a Human Right
He used the analogy of the Colonizer and the colonized to drive home his point. The Propriety software develops on the “power of the developer” whereas the free software develops on the “power of the user”. “The Colonial Power Control System at work behind all propriety software” is how he described this entire phenomenon as.

One must have the freedom not to have any Masters! The Propriety Software offers one freedom to choose between different propriety Software and this is just being free to have “a choice in choosing your Master”! He stressed, “Freedom is not to have any masters!”

The issue of Freedom was a later development for Dr. RHS as initially he, too, started in 1983 at development of programme as a pastime as he said, “developing software was I good at!” Though he started as a pleasure seeking active programmer but later he wanted to “develop a new Operating System and make it free”. “I could campaign for freedom using my Technical Skills,” he acknowledged. He could see a social problem. It was like if you see someone drowning and know how to swim, it is your moral duty to save the person. (Though he put it humorously, that not if the drowning person was Bush!)

But the real obstacle was to develop hundreds of programmes to develop a Free Operating System. The name he selected for these programmes was “GNU”! Later GNU was provided with the kernel named Linux which is the heart of any Operating System. All these steps resulted in GNU/Linux Operating System! “The software supported the philosophy and the philosophy supported the Software.” It was getting interesting as a person like me who was more or less computer illiterate was able to appreciate the issues!

Dr RMS drove home the basic philosophy behind the free software in the following way and citing example from the freedom struggle that India had to undergo to win freedom:

 

Freedom has to be won.

Freedom needs to be defended.

Freedom has to be preserved.

Freedom has to be valued.

 

To win, defend, preserve and value freedom one has to understand what does it mean? “Human rights need to be understood” with regard to free software and Operating systems. “All Computer Engineers and Users must know about four human rights and four freedoms”. Some social and ethical issues! Dr.Richard Mathew Stallman is a free software pioneer. As president of the Free Software Foundation and founder of the GNU Project, he is also an evangelist of a free society in which people have basic human rights to run, study, copy and distribute software.

The Propriety software provides one with convenience of working. “It values your immediate convenience and not your freedom” We sacrifice our freedom for the sake of convenience and this makes us addicts. The software companies are “conspiring together to enslave you in the Software programmes.” I wondered about the ease it was to work on some propriety programmes and thought of the difficulty that I might have to face in order to change to free software!

Dr RMS was especially critical of the role that Educational Institutes are playing in propagating the use of Propriety Programmes. He strongly advocated about the onus on the Educational Institutes to make their students have independence to learn and develop free software.

Under such a situation the role that Educational Institutes can play to imbibe a learning culture among students becomes paramount. The educational Institutes have a responsibility to be “free software users” as it is more about “socio Ethical issues” that help the students to know what it means to live in a free world. How to “occasionally make a sacrifice for the sake of freedom?”

RMS further touched upon the issue of the so called philanthropist attitude of the Propriety software companies that supply their software free of cost to some Educational Institutes. They do so only “to colonize “the students and once they graduate they become users . Thus Schools become “tools for teaching dependency” so the Educational Institutes should not allow it to happen and not make their students addict to convenience that propriety software provide. Schools should make students “strong, capable, independent” members of free society. It should be the mission of the schools.

“We can win freedom with some minor sacrifices” sacrifices to run some programmes that Propriety software provide. Propriety Programmes give us the option between “take it or leave it: whereas with the free software one can change as one develops.

Yes, it made sense to me, a nitwit as such, but I just wondered if laypersons like me start working using free software then would we be able to work as efficiently as we work using propriety software? Perhaps yes.

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The Saint iGNcius!
Suddenly he put away the Himachali cap, that he supported throughout, on the table nearby and put a black coloured disk, having a hollow in the center, on his head. He put on a black robe as well and now he really looked like the apostle that I thought him to be! Ah! He was now in his appearance that is his hallmark, I think, the Saint iGNcius! The hat like thing that he wore was a huge floppy like object that he called “my Hard disk” and the black robe was his sacramental robe! “I am saint iGNUcius of the church of Emacs. I bless your computer my child.”

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Next was the question answer session where sitting on the stairs leading to the Dias, he patiently answered all that queried the young mind s of our students. He seemed to carry a childlike innocence and warmth during all his interactions, and his informal ways and mannerism endeared him to all of us.

I sat mesmerized during his discourse and was wondering about the innovative and creative urge that made such a concept possible for people like Dr. Richard Mathew Stallman. Whenever I read “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand, I wonder, is it possible to have such creators in the world? Do they really exist in the present day world? The rendezvous with RMS strengthened my conviction about the possibility of existence of such great men who work driven by their innovative thinking and are not, by any means, the Second handers!

 

 

 

 

Tidings

As soon as the caller at the other end identified himself as Anuraj Jha, no other introduction was needed as I was able to place the picture of a young bespectacled boy, hailing from Nepal, who sat in my class many years back. But why this call after such a long gap of about 4-5 years, was what surprised me. “Ma’am, are you alright?” Anuraj asked repeatedly. I was fine, absolutely fine but somehow he was not assured. He admitted that since last few days he was worried about me and wanted to contact me. I was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of being connected to a boy and felt so close to him. It was with much difficulty that I controlled my voice as my throat felt choked and tears suddenly welled up in my eyes. There was nothing that should have saddened me but somehow the concern in his voice did all that and suddenly for numerous reasons, I felt like talking to him and sharing with him my anguish. Why and how could this boy  sense the state I was in? Why had he not called all these years but these days when he had a sudden urge to call me up, is something I would never be able to gauge.

But taking control of my emotions I talked about his life and what he was doing at present. Anuraj, a student from Nepal, had gone back to Nepal after his degree and after working for sometime in Nepal was on Fulbright Scholarship at some University in the
U.S. He was a sensitive boy, still is. I remember that when this batch was in first year some tragedy had taken place in our college where a young boy had died. When I a gave an assignment to the class to write with a freedom to select any topic to write on, I think it was Vishal Rana who suggested this freedom, Anuraj came up with a brilliant write up. He had written about the sudden and untimely demise of this young boy. Though his write- up had many grammatical mistakes in it, I selected it as an article for the college magazine for the rare sensitivity with which it was written. I think Anuraj has in him this rare ability to reach out to others and a sensitivity, may be a sixth sense that made him call me up at a time when I was really in a very bad phase of life. Anuraj wants to work for the UNO and the World Bank and I am sure he would be an asset to these organizations. I remember that he worked for “Save Children” project in Nepal as well. How many of us get a profession where we are able to use our special powers to such use. And we all have some unique and special power that, if utilized properly, can really bring about a change in society. I hope that his ability to reach out and make a change in the lives of others  be used in right direction. Is this not the purpose of life?

End Of An Epoch…

Writer Speaks: This is a rewriting of the events that actually took place on the campus of REC Hamirpur when the students revolted against the system and destroyed the library, computer center and even the personal vehicles of the teachers! It was sheer torture to watch them hurl stones, shamelessly, at the defenseless women and children in the Teachers’ colony!

 August 25,Year 2018 

Sitting in this auditorium among students, many of whom I was sure had been forced by their seniors to fill the chairs to give a semblance of at least a respectable farewell to me, I was suddenly filled with nostalgia for what had been for such a long time my working place. Oh, this tooth was really giving me a lot of trouble, but still the plate in front of me looked tempting enough to tolerate a visit to my dentist, the steaming hot Gulabjamun melting in my mouth, how nice it tasted but why didn't I listen to my rational self?

 

Looking at the boys, oops! sorry, students I thought of a number of them having passed out from this college and were they any different from the ones sitting in front of me? Did I use the word "college" but it is "National Institute Of Technology," my rational self again corrects me. But what is the difference between a college and an institute– a question good enough to put in the first Periodical examination– making a mental note of it I felt a bit satisfied, wasn't it a good practice to put all those questions to the students that you don't know yourself! But you are going to be retired in a few days, wasn't this farewell in this very context only, warned my rational self.

 

What was happening to me? Why was I not able to concentrate upon the totality of the situation? Perhaps old age was fast catching up with me–what was this boy saying–was he putting a question to me, regarding my experiences in the college? Damn this habit of dozing of in between discussions, ever since I had taken to the wearing of these thick glasses, it had really become so very convenient to take a wink or two in the class itself, when the students thought I was deep in thought, I enjoyed a nap, and had they not slept in my class all these years, why must I be guilty! Oh, it was really painful to sit in the same posture for such a long time!

 

But what was this boy asking me–"Could you please relate a few of your memorable experiences in this institute as we understand that you have been associated with the college since last many years?" Oh God, not again, How boring not only to teach the same syllabus year after year but to answer the same very questions, why can't these students be innovative? Looking surreptitiously at the watch of the boy sitting next to me, I could easily see the time and the date, oh God, my kids back home had arranged for a small get together, I may not be late for that. But why I used the word kids for my grown up children surprised me.

 

"Ma’am, please tell us something about the time when this institute of ours was known by the name of REC," pestered the same boy again.

 

Was it "our institute" that caught my attention once again? When did we start calling this college as an institute? Walking down the memory lanes, I gasped, wasn't it in the year 2002 that we gave a new nomenclature to this college. Suddenly I shuddered at some unpleasant memory.

It was the same date, August 25, 2002 when an epoch came to an end ushering us in a new era. How do I remember the date after such a long time? But how could I ever forget as it was my Birthday that day when suddenly hell let loose and a horrible incident unheard of in the history of this glorious college of ours took place. Suddenly I found myself drifting towards happenings of the past on that fateful day.

 August 25, year 2003. 

Sitting in the serene and peaceful environment of the Manimahesh Temple(Manimahesh Hostel for 4th year students), the blind Dhritrashtra (read final year students) asked Sanjaya of the outcome of the 18th day of the famous Mahabharata war.

"Oh Sanjaya, tell me what the faithful friends and followers of my son Duryodhana (read third year student leader) now plan to do to help him in this great war"?

 

Duryodhana having been forced to run away from his palatial residential quarters the Dhauladhars(Dhauladhar Hostel for 3rd year students), where he reigned supreme and his words were considered to be law by all the residents of the Mount Kailash(Kailash Hostel for 2nd and 1st  year students), lay hidden in the dense forest surrounding forest covering majestic "Techno Kingdom"(read REC Hamirpur) situated in the foothills of the Dhauladhar Ranges.

 

"My brave sons lie unsheltered today, oh! who will help them to regain ascendancy to the legitimate throne that only they must accede to", lamented Dhritrashtra( the hostels were vacated).

Our own Dhritrashtra was not born blind like his legendry namesake but this loss of sight was a recent development. Did he not revel in his accomplishments all these years and more so during his ascendancy to the royal throne? All these years he had shown unparalleled bond of love for the Techno Kingdom that was not only his alma mater but was also his sustenance. And his love for Pandavas,(read teachers) that the poor innocent Pandavas thought to be genuine affection, was in fact a make-believe mask. It was during this sojourn that he developed loss of sight and in the love that he developed for his most favorite son, almost became oblivious to great good of the "Techno Kingdom".

The outcome of this royal protection resulted in what we mortals call subjugating the rights of the ordinary and commonplace citizens(read the first year jangoos) of the kingdom who by virtue of being junior most in the hierarchy had to bear wrath of higher ups for no fault of theirs.

 

Pandavas having relegated all the rights to the Kauravas, or to be specific, Kauravas had usurped the Pandavas from any say in the running of the affairs of the kingdom (had they not insisted upon to run their own affairs without any outside agency poking its nose all the time) and our great warriors came to know of the atrocities being committed on the hapless juniors when some of them came crying to them with the telltale signs of the beatings that they had to suffer on slightest pretext.

And how could the great Pandavas shirk from what they thought was their Dharma, as was it not true that the eldest Pandava was himself Dharma personified. Being custodians of the law and order of whole of the kingdom in the larger public interest, the Pandavas plunged in a skirmish that turned out to be the greatest ever war that the inhabitants of Techno land had witnessed.

 

This is what led to the great war of the "Techno Kingdom" where the people who inflicted injuries and those who suffered injuries had years of emotional bondage. Was it not that both the warring groups were related to each other through common lineage and had lived peacefully for such a long time although their mutual interest collided most of the time.

The war started on August 8,2002 and came to a bloody end on August 25, 2002, exactly on the 18th day of its having started. And it is the 18th day that I was able to see clearly even today through the celestial vision of Sanjaya.

 

Dhritrashtra in his vision of the land where green bucks are aplenty and where he soon planned to migrate had unfortunately overlooked the importance of the legitimate rights of sons of Pandu and ultimately lost contact with the near ones who had stood by him through thick and thin in spite of occasional differences. And in an unprecedented manner had tried to pass the maze to his own sons.

 

That day the omens had been bad and although even his faithful Sanjaya had reprimanded him for this obsessive "Putra Moh", yet he waited with excitement the outcome of the immoral action of the few faithful that led by Ashwathama, Kripacharya and Kritverma had gone in the thick of the night to attack the sleeping Pandavas to avenge the shame of defeat(the student leaders coming to teachers’ colony to wage war).

 

Everything was silent at the Pandava camp. The attackers followed by some others, either out of fear or curiosity, carried loads of stones to destroy the Pandavs while they slept peacefully after winning a war that lasted for18 days. On the way they came across the "pustakalaya"(REC library) where the ancient books of knowledge were amassed with great care and love.

"Away with the books", shouted a young soldier who in spite of being in the Asharam for a very long time was not able to qualify in the great arena where the skills of the pupils were challenged in the open to attain public approval.

 

And in their maddening frenzy burnt all those rare books!

 

"Down with the enemy's armours",(Computer center) shouted another, and went in flames all the "ashatras" and the "shashatras"(hardware and software)of the poor Pandavas that they had amassed with the help and assistance of numerous friendly kingdoms, the likes what we call today World Bank Assistance."March onwards". "Death to Pandavas", warlike cries made the feeble hearts tremble with fear. "Victory to these brave warriors", exclaimed Dhritrashatra with obvious pride, relegating all thoughts regarding whether it was right to attack the camps of Pandavas in the night whereas the moral law of the war proclaimed that after sunset the war must not continue.

"Sanjaya, please give a vivid picture of what these brave warriors did to harm the enemies", cried Dhritrashatra with anticipation mixed with excitement.

 

"Armed with stones they raided the enemy camps and have started hurling stones at the camp", said Sanjaya, "but it seems that the Pandavas are not in their camp". "Oh God, they have started destruction all round."

 

"The chicken hearted cowards! Dhritrashatra exclaimed with disdain. "How they ran away fearing the wrath of the friends of my brave son". "Tell me more about their heroic feats," urged the old man full of excitement.

The trio followed by faithful non-entities kept on hurling stones at the hapless Pandava women and children.

 

"Destroy the chariots, (cars and scooters) that they use to reach the battle ground,"(read campus) a cry went up and in an instant all shifted their fury on the chariots of various colours and hues that the poor Pandavas had bought with their meager  savings and donations from the helpful friends.

Having wrecked all the chariots they went back shouting victory to their side.

 

Dhritrashatra beaming a full smile could not fore see the grim future. And how could he see, wasn't he blind! And Ashwathama,(boy who were caught) what happened to him?  Perhaps he roamed alone the forests of Techno Kingdom, shorn of his friends and admirers to lament his fate.

 

And this was how the REC came to be known as NIT. I remember all those news reports that all newspapers were filled with after this incident and this was how people started to know the new name of our college.

 August 25,Year 2018 

Someone was tugging at my sleeves, perhaps I had a reverie and had seen all those happenings of the past and here in the present I heard faintly the still persistent voice of the same boy, "Please tell us something about how and when this institute's name was changed from REC to NIT? And I wondered why a change of any kind had to precede by a bloody revolution where those who are hurt are our own and those who inflict grievous injuries are also our very own.

     

A Memorable Get-together of Team Srijan

team-srijan-2006.jpg  Team Srijan–2005, March 29,2006                                       

In a mock serious tone I made a comment: “But the conditions that apply for the get-together are that the girls would come early to my place and the boys would leave late”. “But why?”, was a common chorus. Perhaps they were disappointed that the girls and the boys will have different dinner timings to segregate them, as I was a warden too and had to be careful about the rules! “Well, nothing special”, I continued, “only because the girls will help me in cooking and for that they need to come early and the boys will help me clean the kitchen, and for that they need to stay a little longer! We all were very happy as the new magazine, Srijan–2005 had been printed and it was wonderful. We needed a celebration.

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A look of relief on their faces made me laugh. So happy were they to have some good time together that even the fear of boring household chores didn’t daunt them! So finally we all decided to have a get-together to celebrate the coming out of  Srijan-2005. The mood at the informal meeting where it was decided was euphoric but I still had my doubts (kept them wisely to my own self)!

How would it be possible for me to prepare dinner for almost thirty persons single handedly and that too at the time when renovation was going on in the house. Whole of the house was in shambles and for any reasonable get-together, there was neither the time not the place. But how could I say all this to a group of enthusiastic group of youths who were just looking for this gala event. As if on a cue to set my fears to rest, Saurabh Kulshreshtha, the tallest among all in our Team Srijan, came to my office the next day and very generously offered to cook at my home. He looked so excited that just could not say “no” to him. “Dum Aloo” was what he planned to cook for the entire group the next day.

The D-day was full of excitement. Coming a bit early from the Institute, I found whole of the house in doldrums. There was dust all around as the bathrooms were being tiled and what not. Come March, and the Government funds start flowing down the drain and this time it was just not a metaphor but the funds were really flowing down our bathroom drains! I suddenly developed headache thinking about the busy time ahead. But changing to my work clothes, immersed myself in cleaning the house, to make it a little habitable for the evening. In between ran to the kitchen to do the preliminary preparation for the dinner. By five in the evening, I had put the house in order (so I thought), had prepared Channas, chutney, Mixed vegetable, and also had kneaded the dough and waited it to rise by seven in the evening so that could deep fry the Bhaturas by the time Team Srijan would arrive.

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But where  were Kulshrestha  and Rajput, they were to come early to prepare “Dum Aloo”? I tried contacting them through chat but they  both were offline. Suddenly the door bell rang and there was the duo, looking smart and happy. Kulshrestha ran straight to the kitchen and I was pleasantly surprised to find him so comfortable in my kitchen. He needed a single orientation to the kitchen and he really learnt fast. By that time girls too had arrived and some of them came to the kitchen straight away. Suddenly the kitchen started looking so small! Nidhi was assisting me to roll out the Bhaturas that we spread on the kitchen slab, Shipra ,who is from Dharamshala, gave a helping hand to us. Like an instructor, I was giving my advice wherever needed. Khushboo and  Ipsita also wanted to try their hands at rolling out Bhaturas but as it was not a child’s play, they soon left the arena with their petite hands smeared with kneaded dough. Rahul, was busy capturing every moment on his camera. We all wanted to give our best shot but he would capture us at our worst! A real “sting operator” in the making! Gajendra surprised us all. A very soft spoken boy from Rajasthan, was the fastest learner in the kitchen. He fried the bhaturas so efficiently and enjoyed the job perfectly. He was reminded of “Dalbati- Churma” of Rajasthan. This is what the feeling of home does to you. Priyanka was so taken over by this homely ambience that time and again she would exclaim to me that she felt like being in her own home, assisting her mom. And surprised me at times calling me “mummy”, inadvertently! Suddenly everything started running so smoothly. I was running in between to make my presence felt but whole of the kitchen was literally hijacked by the Team Srijan! Priyanka, so efficiently, started to assist Kulshrestha and Rajput took the job of an errand boy to run to the market to fetch what the chef asked for. Right job Mr. Editor, befitting you. 

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I would go to the Drawing room to sit with all those who were relaxing in the ambience of a home after such  long time. Another group was sitting in another room, on pc, searching and playing the songs on it. Some others were browsing through the books and some artistic souls were critically analyzing paintings I had made long back, but still adorned the walls of the gallery. It was wonderful. The home really reverberated with so many of young voices filling it with a youthfulness that made it young! Dinner time was getting a little late as Kulshreshtha was making piece-a detour to impress all of us in general and one Miss X  in particular by his culinary skills!

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Dinner time was announced and all those who were relaxing till now, geared up to take up job to serve dinner. I just don’t know from where they got hold of all the crockery and started with serving the first group. The real fast learners, I would say. And when I went to the drawing room, I was pleasantly surprised to find the first group sitting o the carpet and eating voraciously. Nothing ever gives more pleasure to a mother than to see that the children eat well and this was the feeling that overwhelmed me that moment.

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The second group started soon after and now just six of us were left. Aditya was the one who now had taken over the job of handing the Bhaturas to Priyanka who still was busy frying them. So the last leg together was taken by myself, Priyanka, Kulshrestha, Aditya, Gajendra, and Nidhi. We were tired but exhilarated! The errand boy Rajput was assigned to serve us water and just to tease him Kulshrestha gulped down a number of glasses of water as he enjoyed Rajput running to the kitchen bringing more water for us.

Dinner was over but nobody was in a mood to leave. We sat for some more time together talking of so many things and laughed a lot. Everyone had something interesting to share with the group and many secrets came out from the cupboards to  which I was the prime listener. They forgot at times that they were with a teacher! And I really enjoyed it.

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Time to depart. It was almost 11PM, and as I wanted to escort  the girls back to the hostel so I went along the group and bidding goodbye to the girls came back to my home, this time the boys escorted me back. It felt good to have such attention from the boys! Back home, the sink full of utensils was the only physical mark left by the Team Srijan group, which was soon obliterated by me. But the mental mark that it has left, is permanent, never to be obliterated.  Wonderful memories of the good time that we had together.

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Thank you Team Srijan!

Curtain Down on Srijan 2005

March 30, 2006

Curtain Down on Srijan 2005

March 27, 2006


The Srijan 2005: Myriad Hues, has finally been released albeit unofficially! Whole of the Srijan Team met today in the evening and we circulated the copies of the Srijan amongst the team members. The joy that we felt cannot be expressed in words as it was reflected on the face of each of the member.

Kumar Ashutosh, the most vocal of all, who would blurt out whatever came to his mind exclaimed, “Oh! I feel so relieved as if I have delivered a baby after carrying it for such a long time!” How right he was! Is it not true that any writing process or for that matter any thing creative starts taking shape in the mind long before it is finally delivered. The anxiety and uncertainty of its being born, as conceived, is something that gnaws at the back of our very being all the time. And Ashutosh, these labour pains had to be severe for you as did you not carry triplets? English section, Hindi Section and the Arts section as well on your frail shoulders or may I say, in your slim tummy?

Varun Rajput was just ecstatic. He had a big burden off his head and I noticed with pleasure that his voice has improved a lot since the time that he came in my class in the first year. He was barely audible at that time. He would just whisper and I had to guess what he must be talking about! Since he is from Lucknow, I thought that it was the good manners of the Lucknow people that he represented by speaking in whispers and I didn’t want to show my bad manners to ask him to speak loudly. And how I suffered during his class seminar when he told us about his arduous train journey and I had to concentrate every little muscle of my ears to make any thing out of it! Thank God he had written about the same in one of the assignments and it made my job much easier to comprehend what he was speaking about. He stood so near to me on the dais, but still I had to exert so much. I really pity the other students in the class for tolerating him! The making of Srijan has done him lots of good. He has learnt the art of comprehensible speaking! Who says that as an Editor of Team Srijan you only hone your writing skills. Meet Varun and you will disagree with this long established convention!

Ah! Sanchit, the PR face of the magazine. You need to have a job done, just ask him. He will see to it. He is a born manager. I came to know about his managerial skills during my talks with Mr. Gagan, the printer of Srijan. “Sanchit would make my boys work for this magazine even when they were tired and off duty!” Praising our boys he would tell me, “Addressing them Bhaiyya, they would make the workers do the job happily.” Now this is what I call being a good manager. With his kind of persuasion he would sell ice to the Eskimos! I plan to have him as PRO for Srijan 2006!

Abhishek Tondon, the dedicated soul! I was impressed, no not the right word. I was moved with concern to see him work. It seemed that everything else except Srijan was secondary or tertiary to him! He didn’t even take lunch when all of us went out, by turns, to have ours. A person of few word, he believes in speaking less and working more. Abhishek’s prowess in both Hindi and English made him the cynosure of all eyes.

The way he worked at the Printing press made me worried that we would be losing an excellent Engineer in the making, as the printer had an eye on him. He thought him to be an asset for his establishment! How vigilant I had to be to save him from the clutches of a prospective employer. He really stood a fair chance of becoming a “Bonded Labour” for the printer! Abhishek’s prowess in both Hindi and English made him the cynosure of all eyes.