Well, this was not the first time I was travelling by myself, but the thought of being on a journey which was about to change my life was something my mind had not settled to yet. The train was moving out of Delhi fast and nearing Faridabad bound to Mumbai from where I was to take another train the next afternoon to Mangalore. I was just trying to picture out the new place I was going to, supposedly my college, and no matter what I say, guys too are influenced by movies and hence I had this beautiful, sexy image of the college that I had seen in Kuch Kuch Hota hai and many other movies. The shock was yet to come, 3200 km away down south.
Well the name of the place was Sullia, and I had never heard of it before, even the name of the college was bizarre to me, KVG College of Engineering. The only engineering college that i knew of were the bigwigs, the IITs and the NITs. As a matter of fact i was never interested in engineering rather I always thought that getting a degree in media technology or going ahead with my scholarship at NSD would have been preferable, but welcome to India, wherein the child goes to the schools decided by the parents and usually goes out for a future career again decided by them. Though my parents were quite cool with me taking up any degree but for once I wanted to fulfill their wish, and here I was.
Anyways I started chatting with the Punjabi family sharing the compartment with me.
“Beta, you travelling to Mumbai all alone?” asked the aunt. Sometimes I really don’t understand these elders, since childhood they keep telling you that you need to do things on your own and develop your own intellect, but when they see some guy who is not exactly a kid alone in a train or a long route bus they act as if the child’s parents have done a sin of some kind.
“Ya aunty, actually I am going for my admissions into an engineering college in Karnataka.”
“Thats so good beta, which field are you taking up Computer Science?” I really wonder if she knows that engineering can be done in other fields too.
“Have decided to go with Electronics and Communication”
“Oh, i guess you might have scored less in School, but its okay, i hear that electronic guys are getting almost the same opportunities as the Computer wale”
“Ji auntyji, actually it gives a broader band to us.” This was something my dad had told me when we were discussing the field to be chosen.
Thrusting a pack of Good Day in front of me she asked “Would you like to have a biscuit uh...? Sorry I didn’t get your name yet”
“Raj auntyji, Raj Shetty” and took out a biscuit from the pack and gobbled it up in one bite.
“Oh toh tusi Madrasi ho”
I don’t know why for most of the North Indians the whole of South India is Madras? For God’s sake there are in total 4 states there and I am a Kanadiga who can speak very little Kanadda , thanks to me being born and brought up in the City of Hearts, Delhi.
“Actually my native is Karnataka aunty”
“Oh thats good for you, you won’t have any problem in adjusting there then.”
Well I really didn’t agree with her. I didn't know kanadda that well and I feared that this one thing was bound to go against me, but I just smiled at her.
I guess she took it as an end of conversation since she just got silent after that and started looking out of the window.
Slowly the lights outside dimmed and finally got enveloped in a blanket of darkness with lights in some houses far away twinkling like stars in the night sky. After getting bored of loafing around into compartments, looking outside the window and sitting at the gate, I finally went to sleep while thinking about the quality of food being served in the trains deteriorating day by day.
By the time I woke up the next morning the train was nearing Mumbai. I had visited Mumbai earlier as well and always had good memories of his place, the name usually made me think of the Javed Jafferi song with some special “beeped” words in it.
Finally the train reached Borivalli station where my cousin brother was to come to pick me up. I said bye to the aunt and got lots of blessings and good luck wish for my future in return.
Just outside the gate of the bogie stood my brother, ever so prompt and with a warm smile to greet me. He was an idol to me. As a matter of fact, I had something or the other to learn from all my cousins. We went to his house from the station, got fresh and sat for breakfast prepared by my aunt, and sister-in-law, which really was a relief after the pathetic food I had in the train.
While having breakfast my uncle told me that I need to leave for Mangalore the same afternoon. I had always enjoyed the Bus ride from Mumbai to Mangalore, that too with the new express highway in place I was really looking forward to it, but fate had something else in store.
“You need to catch the train from Kurla at 2.”
“Train?” I had the expression of shock evidently visible in my tone as well as my face.
“Yes, since you need to go for your admission tomorrow itself we can’t waste time in going by bus.”
I just took it in my stride thinking that Konkan railway isn’t that bad a ride, especially with the monsoons bringing on the rains in full swing.
So within 6 hours of boarding out of a train in Mumbai, and after changing 2 trains to reach Kurla, I was boarding into another train bound for Mangalore.
I was supposed to get down at Mulki and as per the railway charts it would touch down at Mulki at 6 am and moreover my dad knew very well that I wont wake up at least till 8 AM. So under strict instructions from my dad to watch out for the station I decided not to sleep for the whole night and spent it listening to music sitting at the gate.
At around 5.30 AM I became a bit alert and started looking for familiar names while passing any station but couldn’t find any. At around 6 AM the train halted at a station. I searched for the name but couldn't find any Hindi or English boards.
I asked a half asleep tea vendor“Bhaiya, agla station Mangalore hai kya?”
He just looked at me so puzzled that I had a feeling as if this questioned has been banned from being asked here.
After taking a few minutes to digest the question and after making his face more distorted he replied “Arey sir Maharashtra mein baith ke Karnataka ka address pooch rahe hai? Aap toh abhi Ratnagiri pahunche hai.”
I have always liked the vada pao at Ratnagiri but sitting there at six in the morning and expecting it to be somewhere near Mangalore, which was still six hours away, was something really hard to take for me and this time it was my face which was getting distorted and the lack of sleep didn’t help me either.
Once the train moved out of the station i went back to my berth and slept off. When I woke up I was in for a shock, the time was already 12.30 pm and I had no idea where I was. I just crossed my fingers and asked the aunt in the berth below regarding which station had we passed and for my relief she said Indrali. Half relieved since I had woken up just in time and not missed my station and half tensed since I was running late for my admission by hours, I just packed up my stuffs in my duffle and waited for Mulki and finally at around 1.15 PM the train slowed down to a halt and I got off from the train at the isolated station which just had 4 benches on the platform with thatched roofs above them.
The reason for the thatched roof became obvious to me once I felt the scorching heat of the tropics while looking for my uncle. Finally, I could locate him in the shade through the whole screen of mirage that was forming due to the excessive heat.
Reaching him, I wished him and bent down to touch his feet for his blessings, but there seemed to be no time for that for him. He just took my bag in one hand and my hand in the other and started pulling me towards the exit and shouted “Quick, we are getting late, we have to leave for your college by 2 PM.” I just checked my watch and I really thought that this must be the mirage effect cos my watch was showing 1.20 PM and moving out by two for my college meant no time to spare, and after such a long and arduous trip that didn’t seem like a good idea at all.
Anyways I took the seat besides my uncle in the car and the way he was driving on those curvy roads really made me proud because it was as another level of fast and furious. And we were at home in twenty minutes flat. Fifteen more minutes for bath and five minutes for lunch was all I got before getting back into the car with my uncle and another one of his friend, and one brick, just to avoid the “Teen Tigada, Kaam Bigada” stuff, and elders ask us to grow up.
I don’t know what happened for the next 2 hours since I just went to sleep on the back seat as my uncle drove through I don’t know what. Finally when I woke up we were driving through some small shops. A couple of turns later I saw a board K.V.G. College of Engineering, the building looked quite ordinary, not at all an image that I had in mind for a professional college, which we passed to move towards a tomb like structure looking like an older version of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, a dilapidated one actually, which my uncle informed was the administrative block cum the Founder President’s Office. After two hours of grueling, question answer sessions and filling up a hell lot of forms and shelling out a huge amount of my Dads savings through the years I was finally announced as an engineering student, I didn’t realize the fact that that mostly there are around four to five thousand people who would be applying for the same course at that very moment. But anyways I was finally a member of the engineering student fraternity which was huge.
Well it was almost the end of the day and also the end of all the processes so we all got back in the car and started driving back. I wish i had gone back to sleep in the back seat as soon as the car started but that was not to be, though I was very sleepy I just wanted to have a feel of the place, where I was supposed to spend the next 4 years of my life trying to make something of it. And just then I had my dream shattering moment.
As a school going kid with my school very near to some real fun colleges in Delhi I always dreamed of being in some college with all things fun happening around me, loads of party etc etc etc but this place the so called “SULLIA” started and ended in the blink of am eye. The city was not even 2 km in radius and i could actually cover the whole city by foot in a max of 3 hours and for the first time ever I did the logically correct mathematical calculation in my mind,
CITY\3hrs can never be equal to 4 years
I was shocked, I was angry and at the same time thought that maybe the people around me in this new small place will make it all worthwhile. I mean, how bad could it be.
To be Contd.............