Revisiting IIT Bombay
Though IIT B has its Alumni day every year, but I guess, I have been a bit selfish and never participated in it, before this year. This year (year just gone by) it was on 29 Dec 2013 and I decided to go there, after 18 years, because I had the opportunity to promote my book “Moonstone: TheIncredible One Hour” (), about one of the most happening PAFs, at the very place where it all happened. In my own network, where I have been able to promote the book so far, it is doing very well, as is evident from the various review comments I have received so far. Another reason to visit was my daughter wanted to see all those places mentioned in the book.
Anyway, back to IIT B. Started from home (in Pune) at around 8.30 am. Had planned to start earlier, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, the start got delayed. A nice drive in XUV, on the expressway, breakfast stop at Khapoli and we touched IIT campus by 11.30 am (roughly 140 Km drive).
The roads in Mumbai have been undergoing changes, so no wonder that the road up the hill towards the IIT campus was also looking very different (known as JVLR now). First thing as we reached the top of the hill was the Y point gate, which was unrecognizable. We headed to the main gate and the security let us in when we told him we had come for the Alumni meet. The roads within campus, once all too familiar like the back of my hand, now looked so different. There has been lot of construction in the campus. We were to reach VMCC (Victor Menezes Convention Center), which I eventually realized is a building behind Civil Engineering Department building, where Civil Engineering Annex used to be. We parked near Lecture theatre (LT) and walked past the infinite corridor to reach VMCC.
We registered, got our badges and also a bag that looked very similar to what we used to have from IIT Film Institute while we were students. It carried the annual edition of Fundamatics magazine from IIT B. Unfortunately, it is here that I realized that the article on my book was not included for some reasons. They will included it in the next edition now.
The events for the day had started from 9.30 am itself, so we missed a few, like we missed the so called tam tam to go around the campus. We decided to walk around a bit and I took my family to show them the LT, main building (MB), gymkhana, H11 etc. We then thought that instead of walking around, we will probably take a tour of the campus later in the day when we would be leaving for home and so returned back to VMCC.
My publisher, Prashant, himself an ex IITian of the same batch, arrived shortly and we put up the books in the book corner. Few others were already there. Many of the Alumni walked past, without as much as caring to look at the book corner or the books. So we started to go talk to them and explained to them about the book, about the hilarious PAF, about how they will surely fall off their chairs laughing if they were to read the book. Some picked up the book, gave a smile, wished us good luck, kept the book back and walked away. One alumnus from H9 came and said “oh! So you are Atul Gupta. We were all wondering ki who is this guy who has written about moonstone when he wasn’t even there. I will buy a copy and will give you feedback if you got it all right or not”. Another person came, said was from 1997 batch and also claimed to have watched moonstone live. I and Prashant were wondering, being in 1995 batch, we didn’t get to watch it, how did this person watch it?
We had lunch at Gulmohar lawns. Don’t recall if this existed as is, during our time, but even if it did, this part of the campus, being close to the professor’s homes, was mostly out of bound for us, or rather, we usually stayed away from it. Food was good and reminded of our gala dinners at hostel. Those were the nights when we would really freak out on the food. We recalled the day there would be a paneer dish in the mess, and people would be fishing for it. On days we had gulabjamun, we had to really be alert, lest someone steal it. The dry dinner day meant we will have sandwiches, chips and coffee etc, and the aloo paratha with spoon full of butter on weekend, when we would sit and eat and chat for hours, with no hurry to go attend a lecture. I realized later during the campus tour that the mess is now privatized. In our days, it was a cooperative mess, managed by the students.
After lunch I caught up with a few friends, some from same hostel (H6) and some from my same batch. One of my batch and hostel mates is now an Assistant Professor at IIT. We all updated each other on our current whereabouts and soon it was time to leave for the day. Before leaving we decided to drive around the campus.
There are many new buildings in IIT both for new courses and also for the staff and students. Showed my family many of the places as mentioned in the book. In place of Chinco, there is a new Gymkhana now. The cycle shop isn’t there anymore and on the side of the road crossing is a new small hotel like structure, from where we picked up cold drinks on our way back. We drove and reached Hostel 6. Incidentally it is no longer the last building on this road. There are new hostel buildings ahead of it now.
The hostel looked freshly painted, but with pink color, yeeks!! As we walked we met Kutti, one of the mess workers from our times. He has grown old, but looks the same and it was a shock when he also recognized me. Said to my wife, that I was so thin when I used to eat in the mess and now have put on so much weight J. Heard that Sundar, another mess worker who would serve my special Breakfast order of full fry, is no more.
The old lounge is now the TV room (no carom boards seen here), the TV room is snooker room and above that is the new lounge. The bucket chairs at least are still there and I just could not resist from diving into one.
We walked towards the last wing, where my room was and walked in the corridor also. Interestingly, the wing is still called Keeda wing. We were the most notorious of doing some keeda (something eventful, something funny, something exciting) in the hostel and hence the name. At least some legacies are still being carried forward. As we stood there in our wing, we recounted so many stories and it was suddenly all so very nostalgic. It felt as if it was only yesterday that we lived here.
Time to head back. We didn’t do much in terms of sale of the book, but we sure had loads of fun. Family was very happy because I was very happy, coming back to IIT Bombay and reliving those memories. They also would now be able to relate to the places in the book.
And I cannot close this blog, without publicizing the book again. It is a pure laughter riot and all those who have read it agree. It is not necessary that you need to be an IITian to read the book. The episode are such that if you have stayed in a hostel, you will relate to many of them and even if you have not, it still is a funny book J. Even kids aged 6-7 years are reading and enjoying it.