Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pranay tussi great ho

It was the first day (some day in Feb, 1996) of our Board (Xth) exams. I was standing alone waiting for the exam to start. Nobody was allowed to talk to me as the batch (of 100) had decided to boycott me. To top up my plight, this was my first ever public exam. I was wathcing my friends talking/discussing/fighting/.. till somebody shouted my name and I saw Pranay waving his hand, saying Hi to me!!!!!!
That too in front of whole of the batch. I was extremely happy and I knew he is the only person in the batch who could do this. In fact, the reason of his doing this was simply that here was a guy whom the majority was against. Then, what better chance to show his anti-establishment views, which he had (I'll say still has) ardent faith in. Only he could dare do this (he didn't have to dare, for him its natural), nobody else in the batch could. (I remember on few occasstions bumping into Onkar, Rajeev, Santosh or few more, of course one at a time, and they confiding in me that they don't want to boycott me but they hope I did understand what the batch-pressure was like). Pranay and I were never mates enough to pass my judgement if we were good or bad mates. But that day, his gesture made my day. Surprisingly, my exams didn't take a hit (atleast results said so, I can't say in absolute sense) by this month-long boycott by my batchmates.
(Let me tell the reason as people may take me or others in wrong opinion if reason is not stated, for the boycott:
As every year, some mischievous guys did some mischief and then they got identified. School-admin decided, as everytime, to give them some punishment. Few genius in the batch came up with a idea that they can punish few, not all. (George Orwell's "Animal Farm" in practice!!!!) The masses didn't have much clue. "Everybody" was just told to do what "everybody" was doing which was actually being decided by "Few". Masses complied. I happenned to be aware (I was not inside) of the core-team's decision. I said, its stupid idea, but since I was almost a non-entity, nobody cared. All I could do was telling them that I wont join them. Nobody took it seriously till I really defied!!!!!! They all suddenly vanished from school, in the wee-hours, with me left for grilling by teachers asking where did the 100 students vanished!!!!! 4 years of training - I clearly expressed my ignorance about all my friends, where they were and all, and techers didn't pressurize me enough, as they might have foreseen my situation and they didn't want to add to my sorry situation. Well, for me, it was not a matter of anti-establishment or any such thing. Simple thing was I was the first guy in my school to clear Math Olympiad (still in Xth) and I didn't want to loose the next-level opportunity for some reasons I could not justify. Anyway, whatever my reason, the boycott was imminent and I wont say, totally unjustified.)
Anyway, where was our esteemed friend Pranay then. FYI, he was rusticated from school till the board exams, as punishment (ek reason ho tab to likhoon!!!!)
If I have ever seen a guy totally unafraid of society, its him. Sometimes he seem to be unaware of its presence.
This reminds me of a very interesting story of his.
Of course, its natural for parents to be worried about such a kid. His mom somehow convinced him to take him to some REAL famous jyotisi. New challenge, Pranay complied. There the jyotisi ji thought of first building some relation as well as asserting some of his prowess. So he asked Pranay if he wanted "Agra ka petha" or "Kolkata ka Rosogolla" (he used to produce things like this outof thin air!!!!). I have spent sometime with him and I can easily imagine the glint in his eyes that must have had appeared. He, jumping with joy, asked "humein to Asansol ki sonpapadi chahiye"!!!!! Just imagine his mom's condition!!!!! but he does this as he just doesn't give a damn about all this craps. If you wanna assert your authority, act and prove it, don't pretend. If the jyotisiji had the power, he should not feel offended by someguy really challenging it.
I really sometimes wish, I could pick some such traits of his. Almost total fearlessness. He might fear some goons' thrashing (that too his threshold is way higher than we mortals can imagine) but he has no fear of future, society, nothing. What I have learned is that its difficult to imbibe this fearlessness once you are gorwn up. I have seen him since we were 12 years of age. He has always been like this. I think he is a child who have really been groomed with fearlessness instilled in him. (But then why is his one-year younger brother, just like me and all, I cann't comprehend). I agree, it so extremely difficult to handle him. In fact there are only 4-5 people left in the batch whom he doesn't find irritating and doesn't mind talking to. But how good things could be if every child grows with no concept of fear of people/society/../... as long as they know don't cross into others' domain, whats better. Yes, the majority in the society don't like such people. Around 80% of my batch avoid Pranay for simple reason that he is so straight-forward that it becomes insulting to you sometimes. (I agree that if he gets mean, since he has not much idea of protocols, he would straight-forwardly insult you!!!! But then thats what he meant to do, so why pretending!!!!
But, still, courtsey, protocols etc. etc. are much easier to learn, but truth, honesty, fearlessness etc. are some virtues we should try to groom in kids more. Rest they can decide if they wanna pick or not.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

october of 1997

All of a sudden, memory of a quite-funny-now-but-just-the-opposite-back-then episode, passed by my thoughts.
On one of the october evenings of 1997, during the regular evening power-cuts, me, Jawahar and two more batchmates of Intermediate-Science, 2nd year, were seated on the floor of my room, making attempts to study in the light of the lantern, but actually trying to decide whose food was less worse - bholaji's or ramnareshji's (they were the proprieters of the two food-messes of our hostel). It was a nice evening, with usual bulla sessions on full swing with no time-wastage-guilt-feeling as we had so many books lying all around us on the floor(!!!!), until two guys appeared at the door asking "Anand Gaurav kaun hai?".
The manner of asking was much too gentle to suit their appearances (its not in hindsight, but even then I could notice that) but anyway, I being the only Anand Gaurav in that room, thought of satisfying their curiosity, Though, I was not stranger to strange guys knocking at my room for some reasons or other (justified ones though), this one did make me uneasy.
When you have been studying in a college like mine, Patna Science College , which is surrounded by great(!!!!) academic institutions (where frequecnt police raids are much less commonplace than much worse regular occurrences) you get too familiar with the faces like those two which had appeared at my hostelroom-doorstep that night. The faces that makes people like me try their best to avoid. But of course you can't show you are scared so you do face them if it comes to it and face them with full confidence (your surviving-instincts is already working hard to bail you out meanwhile).
Suddenly another episode, about few months back, flashed by me. It was when a guy in white starched kurta-payjama barged in our room (we used to be 4 people in one room during that time in ISc 1st year) and sat on one guy's bed resuting which the two guys of that side of the room got up. He started talking nonsense to them with uncouth-confidence oozing out of him. Since I was getting disturbed, I started commenting loudly about useless people disturbing sincere students and kept increasing my voice till he BARKED!!!!!!!I still remember, it sent shivers through my spine. The reason is again the academic institutions which surrounded my hostel. He called me and I complied (my survival instincts asked me to do so!!). But thankfully the 'uncleji'-type-student-neta-ji gave me a BIG scolding and left me and left the room as well!!!!!
But that guy was afterall much worse in looks and appearance than these two and these two were of my age. So, it seemed all safe. They very gently formally asked me to come out for a walk till the hostel-gate while we talked. Seeing no harm, I joined. No sooner had I crossed the hostel-gate, one guy started hitting me from the back side while other held my arms.
I was TOTALLY dumbfounded!!!!!!! Who the hell wont be?????
Thanks to Jawahar's survival instints which was more customsied to Patna than mine. He sensed something fishy and started collecting few students while following me to the hostel-gate. The funny part begins here!!!!!
There got around 20-odd students gathered at the hostel-gate watching me being beaten, that too by just two guys!!!!! But thankfully, that gathering attracted the attention of Ramnareshji (the mess-owner-cum-cook-cum-cleaner-..-..) who came to the gate, gave a loud verbal thrashing to the two guys and surprisingly they left me and 'walked' off!!!!!
I still remember vividly that night. It was a big big jolt to me. Not only me and my batchmates, even the BSc seniors found it difficult to believe that I might have given somebody reason strong enough to do this. Anyway, I sometimes feel happy about this, in hindsight,that I got the experience that when you get beaten, physical pain is not that big an issue. Its other things, the scare, humiliation,feeling-of-helplessness, weakness, that eats you more.
Two days after the episode, Tinku bhaiya (son of an uncle of mine with whose family, I stayed for 2 months when I first moved to Patna and had yet to get hostel-acco) came to my room, for the first time (I frequented his place to get some nice home-food and nice time chatting with aunty and badi and chhoti di and bhaiya so there was no need of him to come to my place to meet me). He informed that a very close friend of his told him about my thrashing (and he added that the thing I got beaten with was a revolver-butt!!!! As if I was not scared enough!!!) and had asked him to ask me to keep a low profile!!!!!!
What the heck!!!!! No warning, nothing and you thrash a guy and then tell him the reason he cant comprehend!!!!! Anyway, I thought it better to leave the episode aside as it was not comprehensible and I also knew that is was way better than Pranay, a schoolmate of mine, in the same college but in another hostel, who got beaten almost every week (But everybody agreed that he gave lots of reasons to the local goons to do that. You can imagine the type of guy he was, by the fact that he quit IITKgp after two years over there just coz he didn't feel like it. (Went to Caltech for summers, stayed back for the full semester, came back, had altercation with his profs and quit Kgp!!!!)
Thanks to my many friends who gave me emotional support back then. I remember Sharad offering to get those two identified through some friends of his and then get them beaten. But then when I thanked him for the offer and expressed no desire for any such thing, the relief on his face was evident :-).
Now in hindsight, I find the episode so funny. Not an iota of remorse about it. Maybe strange, but thats the way some experiences are like. The moment they happen to you, they mean a lot to you but, once they pass and you move on, they seem to be so insignificant, you get surprised how could it ever affect you.