Monday, October 21, 2013

Days of Thunder - Part 1

 "Whatever happens, our children should never study in Coorg".

I have heard my parents saying this innumerable times during my childhood.

Coorg is a district in Karnataka and Madikeri is its headquarters. Madikeri is a tourist destination and basically a agriculture based town. Coorg is famous for coffee plantations and its cool climate.

But Coorg wasn’t famous for education. It didn’t have a single engineering or medical college until 2002 and had just one or two reputed PU colleges. Most of the students opted for arts and indulged in all kinds of non-educational activities in college.

My father being a state government employee got transferred couple of times in a span of 5 years. Tired of packing and unpacking all the time, my parents without thinking twice decided that me and my mother would shift to Madikeri for my PUC and father would stay alone in Jog (Shimoga dist) until I finished my 2 year PU course.

Now PUC holds a lot of importance in a student’s life as it decides whether we are going to be engineers/doctors or ‘chaprasi’ (according to my father). My parents had the same expectations from me except the college they enrolled me didn’t exactly churn out engineers or doctors.

It was a sixty or seventy year old government College with a typical age old government building style structure. The classrooms were huge with tiled roofs and the roofs were about 15 to 20 feet high. It also had a tiny fan hanging from the roof 20 feet above. I never saw any switch for this fan and really wondered what purpose this fan served and who managed to put it up there. And there was a constant fear that it would fall on someone’s head someday. The college had science, commerce and arts branch and also a government high school attached. There was no toilet for boys and we relieved ourselves behind the college canteen amidst the bushes.

The arts branch was flooded with students about 80 in each section. Commerce was second with about 60 students. And then was our class had a strength of 35 students which comprised of 11 boys and 24 girls.

The college was about 3.5 kms from my home and I used to walk both ways. The college term started in the month of June and it happens to be the time when monsoon begins. When it rains in Madikeri, it rains like hell. And the rains are accompanied with heavy winds. I used to get drenched everyday while going to the college and sat in the class in wet clothes. By evening the clothes would be dry from my body warmth. Again I used to get drenched while coming back to home. Of course I had an umbrella but with the way the wind blows there, it served very little purpose.

The thing I hated the most about the college was its uniform. A white shirt and khaki pants. We looked like municipal workers on duty gathering the town’s garbage.
The first few days of the college were uneventful as I was getting adjusted to the place as well as the college.

Eventually I started to bond with some of my classmates of which Lijesh and Naresh became my best buddies. Lijesh always sat in the first bench and his reason was that first bench students are always considered studious by their lecturers. This guy had done well in his SSLC exams and had scored well. But he was from Kannada medium and hence he was finding it difficult here in English. He was short and very lean. He looked like he was floating in air when he walked. He always had an expression on his face like he had seen something funny. We used to pump him up a little bit and he would do anything we asked. Always up for notorious activities.

Then we had Prasanna who was a pure Brahmin and always looked down upon us as if we were demons. 

There was Ashfan who was a good cricket player. 

Then there was Raghavendra whose worst curse was ‘Goobe’ (owl) and unfortunately that became his name. This guy would keep staring at some random black mark on some wall for 15 minutes and would call it as meditation. Every day he used to come to the class and tell us that he has finished so and so chapters in so and so subjects and give us creeps.

There was Sudeep who was named ‘BAKAPAKSHI’ because he bought so much of rice for lunch which was enough to eliminate hunger from Somalia.

Then there was the psycho Appaji who had a complete unpredictable behavior. He always used to get angry at the drop of a hat.

Then there was Nayan, Rohit, Pradeep and Naresh’s brother Nandish.

My normal day would start with me leaving home around 8 in the morning and reaching Naresh home with in half hour not before getting completely drenched in rain and cursing my father a million times for getting me here.

Naresh along with his brother Nandish stayed in a rented house along with their brother-in-law who was a biology lecturer in the degree college. I would sit in their hall watching the activities of these 2 brothers. Naresh would take his pant out from the cupboard and throw it on the dining table from the bedroom. Then he would iron the pant irrespective of the way it has landed. He would have multiple creases on his pants. At the end of our first year his pants had become like Newton colour disk courtesy to the number of chemicals he accidentally dropped on his pants in the chemistry lab.

His brother on the other hand would just sit in a corner and keep reading some text book. Meanwhile something would start burning in their kitchen and none of them would be worried. Finally when I start screaming at them to check, Naresh would walk casually into the kitchen staring at his brother.

In those 2 years I have never seen both the brother’s talking to each other even once.
On the other hand their brother-in-law was another sample. He was a perfect example of “Absent minded professor”. He had done his PhD on biology and was a lecturer at the degree college. I met him several times at his house when I used to go there to pick up Naresh. Once while returning after our classes, when we reached Naresh place we found it was locked and his brother-in-law had taken the keys to college. Since the college was near my home I told Naresh that I would go and inform his brother in law to come home soon. While walking towards my home I saw his brother-in-law coming from the other side. I went up to him and told that Naresh is waiting for the keys. He immediately took 2 to 3 steps back as if I was trying to mug him and asked me who am I.. I was totally shocked. I told him I am Ponnappa but he just stared at me and walked off. The next day I told Naresh what happened in the evening and he laughed and told me that his brother-in-law does not recognize him sometimes as well.

Our classes would start at 9 AM with physics usually being the first period. It was handled by “Bodybuilder” Siddaraju. This guy was quite young and hence his testosterone levels were very high. He would eye every girl in the college and thereby inviting our wrath. He knew that we were observing him and hence he hated us. He being young would explain things enthusiastically to capture our attention whereas Lijesh would look at us and comment “why the fuck is this guy so excited if the photons get attracted to something???Photons are his relatives or what!!!”  After passing such comments Lijesh would keep a straight face whereas I and Naresh would giggle and Siddaraju would warn us that someday he would slap us both.

We had Devraju Sleeping agent for biology. The specialty of Devraju is that he can put anybody to sleep with his lectures very easily even people suffering from INSOMNIA. It’s not that he didn’t teach well. He was a very dedicated lecturer with sound knowledge about the subject, yet it was impossible to stay awake in his classes. I used to be so fresh before his class and after his class but that one hour of his class was equal to 50 sleeping tablets. I would constantly drop my pen on the floor, so that picking up the pen would serve as an exercise to keep me awake. But if the pen keeps falling down throughout the class, any lecturer would get suspicious. If I didn’t drop my pen then I would constantly rub my face or try to write something to keep myself awake but it was just impossible.

For math’s we had Lingaraju. This guy looked liked he just came out of a bar completely drunk. His eyes were always red, voice very low and his response to external stimuli was very poor. He used to react after 10 or 15 minutes. This guy unknowingly would extend his classes 10 or 15 minutes eating into our lunch break. Lijesh seated in the 1st bench would turn around and scream “what time is it!!!” and sit quietly like an innocent child. Both I and Naresh would start laughing and our lecturer would stare at us.

We would keep our watch 15 minutes ahead for his class so that he would leave early. Once we kept our watch 30 minutes ahead and this guy left our classes early. He realized that when he went to staff room and saw the wall clock there. From next day he would check the time only with girls. But after couple of days, upon our request, even the girls would keep their watch 15 minutes ahead so that this guy would leave early.

In the 1st year for English we had Ms. Sony. She was a very pretty girl and we loved watching her. None of us ever bunked her classes. She wore a little bit deep necked blouse for her saris. So Lijesh would push the chair under the table before her classes, so that when she bent down to retrieve the chair we would get a nice look of her cleavage. She understood our trick after sometime and then would just pull the chair using her leg without bending. The girls of our class would constantly keep saying “chee chee” at Lijesh while he was up to his tricks.

In the 2nd year English was handled by Mr. Nanaiah. This guy had some genes related to Nazi since he always behaved like Hitler. He was very particular about dress code, discipline etc. He had very good opinion about me and always used me as an example in the class, until a “small incident” changed his opinion about me completely.

 For chemistry we had Srilatha. This lady’s husband was a professor in the degree college. She always used to mug up every chemistry equation and vomit it on the class board. The funny thing was in midst of the class she used to forget some equation and then start searching them in the book. The expression on her face (She acted like she knew them but just wanted to cross verify) always made us laugh and that would make her very angry.
And finally for Kannada we had Kasturi. I can’t predict the exact age of this woman but I believe she was from the dinosaur era as she behaved like a t-rex dinosaur. She looked old, was short and stout, and wore thick spectacle glasses. This woman was hated by the whole college for her pathetic nature. We hated everything about her and ditto with her. She had this art of connecting any topic to sex and waiting to see our reaction. If a girl and a boy talk with each other and if she happens to see them, then that topic would be raised in the class and both of them would be insulted badly by her.

Nayan was selected as the class representative in the first year. We were having a free hour when one of the seniors entered our class and said that he was the college rotary club president. Anybody interested to join the club should give their names now to the class representative and also 5rs per head. He stood outside the class as Nayan started taking down names. I stood up and said that I wanted to join the club for free just to tease Nayan.
Immediately the senior Sanaullah entered the class and said “who the hell said that??”. I stood up and said it was me and I said it for fun. He started to scream at me in front of the whole class and asked me to come along with him to the principal chamber. I was astonished that this guy was reacting like this for such a simple comment. As we were on our way to the principal chamber, we met Kasturi mid way and this guy started to complain to her. She said that you should have given him a tight slap right there in front of the whole class and taught him a lesson. I was completely astonished that a lecturer was advising a student to slap his junior. That was the beginning of my hatred towards her.

For Kannada both the science and commerce class was combined. Lijesh was very good in Kannada and hence earned Kasturi’s praise. This guy would close his mouth with both his hands and chant loudly saying ”Hello hello check hello 1 2 3”. This kind of sound in a room with tiled roof would echo in a very peculiar way. Kasturi would immediately loose her cool and start screaming at the commerce guys (Since guys from science were considered to be good). The commerce guys would be completely confused as to why this woman was shouting at them. After some days they realized it was Lijesh who was doing this. They complained to Kasturi and in turn got proper scolding’s from her because she didn’t believe science students could be mischievous lest of all Lijesh.

Once when we were walking back to our class after finishing Kannada classes in commerce classroom, we saw Nandish pant was completely scribbled using a ball pen. We immediately went back to commerce classroom and started a fight with the guy who sat next to Nandish. That guy pleaded innocence but we were in a mood to fight. After a lot of pushing, cursing and threatens, we returned to our class and started to wonder how could somebody not realize if his pants were being scribbled by someone. Naresh who all the time was not convinced about commerce guy doing this, asked us to check Nandish’s pen. We checked and found that half the rifle was empty. Naresh said that it was a new pen which Nandish got yesterday. We all realized that Nandish kept scribbling his pant with the pen all the time during the class without realizing the cap was not on the pen. We realized both the brothers were from different planet.

Meanwhile I started talking with a girl from our class called Reena. Since that was our first college life going after a girl was mandatory to look cool. After talking to her couple of times, we exchanged greetings for New Year. I stole a greeting from my mother’s cupboard which she had purchased for her friends. But the girl took lot of pains and gave me a handmade greeting she had prepared herself. I saw that when she went back to her bench, her friends were very curious to know the contents of the greeting and my friends were so proud of me as if I had just landed from a spacecraft after touring around moon.

Our town Madikeri had just two theaters which I guess were built immediately after independence. The screens had dirt which even Surf and Ariel combined will not be able to clean it. The speaker system was such that for dialogues the front speakers would keep working and suddenly for songs the rear speakers would work. Add to it number of power failures stopping the movie n number of times during a show. Both the theaters were located very close to our college. And the best part was that one of the theaters would play adult movies in the morning show. We (I, Naresh and Lijesh) would bunk our biology labs every Saturday and run towards the theatre to catch the morning show. Lijesh would go inside the theatre to buy the tickets whereas I and Naresh would stand 50 mts away from the theater near a shop pretending to buy something in case if any of our relatives were to spot us.
A bell would ring inside the theater indicating the show has begun and I and Naresh would make a quick dash inside the movie hall. The audience would be just 3 of us, lot of Tibetan Buddhist monks and some sex deprived labourers. We would be extremely cautious while coming out of the movie hall as well and would quietly head back to college to pick our bags. Once when we 3 bunked our classes and were dashing towards the movie hall, we saw some 20 to 25 students running after us. We just stopped thinking what these guys were up to. These students just ran past us and we started following them. All of them ran towards the movie hall to catch the morning show. We decided to stay away from the theater that day because it was brimming with guys in our college uniform. The disease of watching morning show adult movies had quickly spread across the college and we were the reason for it.

We used to have chemistry practical labs once a week. The lab was poorly lit with 3 rooms out of which one was where we did our chemical mix up and the other was for the faculty and the third room was a store room with lot of test tubes, beakers and other chemistry lab equipments. It was a common rule in the lab that whoever broke any test tube will have to buy a new one from the market and replace it. 

So while Srilatha (Chemistry lecturer) would be out, we would attack the store room to collect spare test tubes. Sometimes in our struggle we broke lot of test tubes and from that day the storeroom would be locked forever.

Srilatha was couple of months pregnant during our first year. Once when we were done for the day and were stepping out of the lab, I screamed “Meowwww” near the door. Srilatha lost her cool and started screaming at us thinking that someone had made fun of her pregnancy. I thought that I was screwed this time looking at Srilatha’s face turn red with anger. Whole night I kept thinking why my stupid little actions turn into huge disasters. Next day I requested my friends not to mention my name to Srilatha. All of them agreed to keep their mouth zipped and were ready to face any kind of punishment.

Next week when we entered the lab, Srilatha summoned us into the faculty room. We boys stood in a straight line. She asked “who was the one who did that sound last week?”. All of us were quite; my heart was beating fast thinking what would happen if somebody opened their mouth. But everybody gave her a blank look. She asked us to get out and told us not to attend any chemistry until we come up with the accused name.  That’s all what we wanted. All of us headed towards the playground and started to play cricket. This went on for few weeks and finally we realized that we would suffer later. So we decided that we would just stay at the lab whatever happens.

Srilatha once again asked “who was the one who made that sound?” All of us kept mum. She asked us to get out but we didn’t budge. We stood there for 2 hours as the girls continued with their experiments. Finally Srilatha asked us to wash all the equipments in the lab and said we could start our labs from next week.

Whenever our classes ended for the day sooner than the scheduled time we would walk down the college road cross the center of the town, take some stairs and reach a high point overlooking the town. From there we could get a good look of the town below and also the road leading to our college. It was a secluded area and we would enjoy couple of smokes there. We would watch students walking down the college road and keep talking non-sense.

The Hindi super hit movie “TAAL” was now showing in one of the theaters in Madikeri. We all were excited even though it was good 4 months since the movie had released. We bunked our classes in the afternoon and went for the matinee show. The movie hall was flooded with students from our college as well as students from the degree (senior) college. We managed to get some seats and settled down. The show was about to begin when Lijesh said he would go out to get some soft drinks. As Lijesh reached near the door, we started to scream some nick names of his. Some degree college students seated ahead of us thought that we were teasing them. They started to threaten us but the show started and they sat down. It was interval time and lot of students gathered around us asking how much guts we have to tease degree college students. We had just started to explain that we didn’t tease them when SLAPPPPPPP!!! One of them slapped hard on Naresh face. We were just 3 and they were about 30 to 35. We continued explaining them that we didn’t call them names. The post interval show started and I knew that we would have a dressing down once the movie is over. So we voluntarily went to them and explained that we didn’t tease them and we didn’t even know them. And then we left the show mid way to escape their wrath.

The term was coming to an end and we were busy with our labs. It was a Saturday and I was busy in physics lab when Prasanna came running to the lab and said that Reena’s father has come to college and is in the principal chamber. He added that he looked very angry. My hairs stood straight and heart started beating so hard, I could almost listen to it without stethoscope.

My future started to play in front of my life where I could see my father beating me black and blue. My friends suggested that I stay in the lab and leave a bit late. After sometime Reena’s friends told me that her father has found the greeting card I gave her and he was searching for me. And add to that her father was in the police department. I felt that all this was happening because my father got me here. I left the lab late and was walking slowly towards home thinking what will happen if her father arrives at my home? How will my mother react!! What will I do?? Run away from home?? Where to run and how to survive??? I was lost in my thoughts when I heard a biker honking excessively at me. I turned back and to my horror saw it was Reena’s father. He stopped the bike and asked if I am Ponnappa. I said yes my voice barely coming out. And then it was just a one way communication.

Who the fuck do you think you are to give my daughter a greeting card? What is your plan? You want to spoil my daughter? Why the hell do you come to college? Is this what your parents have taught you? I will break your hands and your legs you asshole and then I will see how will give a greeting? Where is your house? Take me there. I want to see your parents.”

In between his indiscriminate abuses and firing I would mildly keep saying ”sorry uncle” but that would be drown amidst his abuses. I kept looking here and there praying to God that none of my relatives should come by that road else am dead.

He kept screaming at me like his daughter was way too innocent and I was the culprit.
My daughter comes to college to study and you are trying to play with her? I will take you to the police station now and keep you one night in lock up. Then your senses will start working”.

All of a sudden he put his hand in his back pocket. I was wondering what this guy has got when suddenly he pulled out a tiny knife which is used to peel fruits. I almost laughed looking at that knife. He started threatening me that would kill me even if he has to go jail.
“You rascal, shameless fellow. You are laughing at me”. I kept saying sorry but it was quite difficult to keep a straight face looking at that knife. Finally he got tired and gave me a final warning that if I ever go near his daughter he would kill me.

Once he left I stood in the same place and surveyed the whole area if anybody has been watching all this. It being a Saturday afternoon there were almost nobody on that road and I heaved a sigh of relief.

Slowly I walked towards my home looking back all the time if he was following me.
We finished our first year exams and the results were out. Nayan had flunked the exams whereas the others had cleared it.

Read the second part here.


  1. Quite a detailed & interesting description! Funny too! :)

  2. hahahahahahaa interesting waiting for part 2

  3. This is amazing! I remembered the guys in my school and college and their antics...all you guys are the same, hahaah! Your love story was straight out of the movies. Now dont make us wait too long for the next part.

  4. Its just awesome dude.... wonderful narration...

  5. Superb narration bro, i wonder how you remember so many details that too after so many years. Especially your teachers names :-). Your love story and knife incident was way too funny. Eagerly awaiting part II.

  6. good one.. typical Madikeri boys :) though i feel u have sensored quite a lot. :p

    1. Of course.. I have sensored a lot... Ha ha ha.. You understand it much better...

  7. Hey Ponnappa its always fun to read your blogs, There's always a fun part in it, I just loved the names you gave to your frens and Lecturers...Bakapakshi, Sleeping agent..Just reminded me of my school days.
    Waiting for the other half of the tale.
    Good Going bro...!!!!

  8. Well written Manu.... Enjoyed reading every bit of it the way you have detailed the simplest incidents in a humourous way.... :) Looking forward for Part II

    1. Thanks Suma... Will post the second part soon!!!

  9. This is truly amazing. I took 2 days to finish it in my morning travel time. But I made sure I read every word.
    This tale has right sequel. You know I had a similar Kannada professor and where you mentioned Sony, we had our English mam named Nishi. She was really pretty and we used to say "if Nishi comes, everyone is kushi" lol

    If you have any pics of the places you mentioned, post them . I would love to are 'em. I actually wanna see the characters as well but, invading privacy. That's okay!!

    Hey Ponnappa why don't you continue the tale with Engg days. I'm sure there is a lot of history to cherish with. I would really love to read it.

    1. Thanks a ton Fitzy for ur comments!!!! I would love to write about our engg. days but I guess there might 400 incidents in those 4 years.. It would be quiet a task to remember them.. Yet I will give it a try...

  10. You refreshed my memories, thanks ponnappa......

  11. Super manu, just now read part 1, am curious to read the second part...... super....... haudu madikeri li fan yaake beku, nim class nalli AC irlilwa?(windows wide open as there was no switch connected to the fan). Manu nin love story super kano..... i could imagine your face while reading the scoldings you got from Reena's father......hehehehehe