(From: VK Ojha)

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils

(William Wordworth)

When I sit down to reminisce about my days at the University I feel how different we were then from the present days, so wet behind the ears, thrown in a whole new world. In those days, as indeed it is now too, it was an honor in itself to be selected for the Engineering course of Roorkee University. I used to remember the cliche about the value of a boy in the market of matrimony increasing just because “Woh roorkee mein bhi baitha thaa” (he had taken the examination to Roorkee University course). And there were we, actually in the University, dazed and unbelieving; in an incredibly large campus, in our hostel rooms, as if a large world had compressed into a small one. Our own world; with the defined boundaries, both spatial as well as behavioral.

Also, when I sit back to remember my own batch, the Electrical Engineering 1961-64(2) batch, I try to find a uniqueness about it in the maze of hundreds of them coming out during over 150 years of the existence of this institution. After all, every batch has to have its private bitter/sweet moments. Yet, I am relentlessly stuck to the chauvinistic view that my batch was the most memorable one of all. It will, however, be self-explicatory as my memoirs unfold layer by layer. But, first thing first.

Even before I would ever set foot in the university, the experience of my elder brother, who passed out in 1952 topping the Civil Engineering, would haunt me, because during his days, at the ragging session, some seniors poured warm coal tar over a fresher and, though the senior was suitably punished, the ritual of ragging was never given up. Therefore the day I set foot in the university and entered my allotted hostel room, I was apprehensive of the ragging. And, I was ragged the moment I set foot in the room.

During all the four years, Pant ji (Prof AK Pant) was my adjacent room partner and our doors faced each other even though we changed rooms once. Therefore our mornings were destined to start in each other’s company. First day of the first session too could not have been different. We started together to make our way to the Mess. But once inside the Mess, and having finished breakfast, we became a part of the sea of humanity. We made our way to the University building and soon we were sorted in alphabetical order. And there I met Virendra Goyal.

To this day I believe that the uniqueness of my batch lay in the existence of these two great chaps who, right from the initial days until the very last, were very, very popular boys throughout the university, amongst the seniors ahead of them as well as the freshers who came after them.

Pant ji was, and still is, a thin under nourished and forward bent weakling looking boy. To tell you the fact, I was not very impressed by his appearance at first sight. But how this was to change in the later days, I had no inkling of. Pant ji read very little, was mostly seen in the club, cricket nets, table tennis, billiards, swimming pool, post dinner walks to the city, anywhere you name it, but rarely ever immersed in the books. He would have topped the batch in the end had only people like myself, Virendra Goyal, (only) Vijai, etc. not spoiled his project drawing sheets by piercing them with pointed pins for the sake of copying onto our sheets and had he draft written the report in roughs first instead of writing directly in the project book and editing his writings by cutting the unwanted portions by bold conspicuous crosses, making it all look a very shabby presentation. Why, we got much more marks because we later copied his final report neatly. This is how Topo concept originated.

On the other hand, Virendra Goyal was immensely popular as an entertainer par excellence. He was known as Shorty and Norman Wisdom. He had formed a unique caucus of backbenchers, of which I too was one of the units. Where ever VG went action followed.

My brother’s memory, though, was out to haunt me some more, because when we went through the rituals of introduction with the professors of the various department, Proof OP Jan and Proof SR Singh (who was also the dean of students), and one more, reminded me about my brother and encouraged me to emulate his performance, and my polite refusal to fall in their traps.

Introductions or no introductions, because the professors were not expected to remember so many faces after merely one introduction, I had had it in the class of professor AN Ghosh, Head Electrical Engineering Department. When he called the rolls I responded when my name came. He saw me and declared that I was Brijendra Narain. His confusion perhaps stemmed from the fact that both of us were stout, round faced and bright complexioned fellows. On my insisting that I was indeed VK Ojha, he sternly expelled me from the class, with the threat at my back that he would see me expelled from the University. Was I nervous! Like a whore in a church!! I felt my world crumbling before my eyes. Shivering in fright I made beeline for the Dean, Prof SR Singh and first reminding him that I was the brother of That Illustrious Ojha, I recited what had happened in the class. He coolly advised me to say I Am Sorry to Prof Ghosh and forget the incident. After the class I said so to Prof Ghosh and he magnanimously forgave my insolence. While one introduction session, that with the professors, was over just it had begun, the other, with our seniors, was yet on. We freshers were untouchables yet. The ragging was on, and how! We were picked up just anywhere for ragging. While coming to the rooms, going out from rooms, in the Mess, in the club, in the Hanger while seeing the University arranged movie, we were hauled up and either severely reprimanded for some far fetched misdemeanor or, if in the hostels, made that ubiquitous “murga”. One fine afternoon, the final day of this session, all of us freshers, were told to assemble in the Hanger. Once there, we were ragged en masse by the seniors. Later, some of the invitee professors came, said some customary benediction from the stage, and we all were friends, the touchable. The seniors came forward and shook us with the hands, as a symbol of letting bygones be bygones. Some seniors were, though, seen mumbling amongst one another about the strange absence of girls. From there the seniors invited us for a friendship party at the Mess.

When the scene shifted to the Mess, we found the girls coming and grabbing a few tables at one side for themselves. There the ruckus followed. The seniors, as also the juniors, did not allow the proceedings to move, shouting and chiding the girls for not coming to the introduction function. We will not party with the non-introduced, was the refrain. Soon the girls hostel warden, probably Prof Mittal, came to broker peace but shouts continued from our sides. He tried all kinds of armaments out of his arsenal, Sam, Dam, and,bhed, all one by one, but no quarter was given. I remember Pant was perhaps most eloquent from our side because someone produced a glass of water for his parched throat and he drank it in one go to continue the tirade, When Proof Mattel threw down the gauntlet by saying that we should not make an issue that because some of us might marry some of them, Pant shouted, “Marry them? Us?” That perhaps was the highest light of that episode because after that the girls went away. The seniors were doubly happy with our virtuoso performance. And Pant ji became our undisputed hero from then.

Slowly, as the time went by, I came across other batch mates. There was Ever-Serious-No-Nonsense BK Narang. Sweet-warm RC Tripathy. Naughty Nagrath. With a heart larger than his persona, TC Rastogi. Sprightly PS Guleria. Sir SS Kothiwal. Innocent looking SK Tyagi. KH Khan like he was taking a walk on a ramp. BS Agrawal and AS Bansal in tow of, and pricking, TC Rastogi. VK Saluja, about whom it was said that he won so much at cards that he never needed money from home. Baiz GK Bajaj, Serene TC Kandpal (now no more sadly). Eastern bunch of KK Tripathy, DP Singh, SN Mishra. Balding SR Agrawal. Dada RDS Maurya. Refined and regal looking SC Rastogi, Sant Kumar and Shah (the East African). Only Vijai. Only Girish. Specy HS Pundhir. Meek KS Sharma. Weak MP Jain. NK Duggal. Sole beauty C Mukerjee. Boyish YS Jadaun, who even now looks like a boy about to take his matriculation examinations. And who will forget the Lady Killer HV Pande, who had a laughter always pinned on his stunning face? In our second year we were joined by Cueist RG Mishra, Wide-eyed MC Joshi, Dada Mandwal, Tennis Mishra etc. Simpleton looking Arun Mehrotra. was one of the direct entries I think? But after a vacant space of over 38 years, other faces have blurred themselves from my fickle memory.

Since in the first year all the branches had common course, we intermingled. Among others I had especial friendship with Niranjan Sinha of Telecom and also, believe it or not, Jagdish Chandra, a.k.a. Jagga, of Civil. Jagdish and Virendra Goyal were my Machine Shop practical group mates and one only has to imagine what practical our group might have doing there. From telecom I knew Ever Smiling VK Anil and Baby Faced RC Goyal but cannot forget Gautam Soni who used to regale us back-benchers with his “non-vegetarian” limericks. His “Carter the farter” and “Here comes Tarzan as bold as brick, down goes his @@@@@ and up goes his @@@@ were especially funny ones. Telecom had a larger ratio of beauties in Randhawa, Dey (both from my native Dehradun) and two others, though they were as away from me as Latin or Greek.

A couple of months in the University, if anybody had asked me the proof of the cliche “Looks are deceptive” I would unabashedly had given the example of Pant ji. As a nearest neighbor I did know that he studied very little, whiled away his time everywhere, slept till late in morning and was never keen to complete his tutorial works. Once my father came to look me over, after giving due notice, and I, in wanting to impress, had strewn books and notebooks and was at the table. Pant ji was giving company in whiling away the time. Bored with the wait, Pant ji said, “Bore ho rahe hain. Kuchh padh hi lien,” and went to his room. Just then I decided to go to toilet to relieve myself and, presto, father came. He saw Pant ji studying and me not in the room.

He reprimanded me sternly and instructed me to follow the example of my neighbor. I thought his advice was not the best one because Pant ji was hardly the role model, in my view at that time. How wrong I was became apparent to me slowly and slowly when layer by layer his prowess and razor sharp intelligence started unfolding before my very eyes.

Like almost all the subjects taught, the engineering drawing of Prof Chitale was also one that veered by my head. One aspect needs a special mention because once he showed how a sphere would look if viewed in a different plane; something which even Pant ji could not understand.

Prof Singh, who was also referred to as Durbal Singh Baareek, took survey classes. Then the Survey practical had assumed a very, very important place in my life. My survey group consisted of Shoetree and Only Vijai and I do not remember who else. Goyal came to know that I did not know cycling. Therefore Goyal had instructed others of the group to get busy in surveying while he laboriously and diligently taught me cycling in the University lawns. This went on for awhile. I remember not having submitted the Survey Book of the project and also abstaining myself from the day he was to announce the final tutorial marks, and he punished me by giving “only 7 marks out of 10”.

(One class surely my batch mates would like to forget in a hurry because it did leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, and that brought forth the seamier side of Prof AN Ghosh also to the fore. I do not remember whose class was that but one girl student perhaps had complained to Prof Ghosh about the misbehavior of one of the students. In the middle of someone else’s class Prof Ghosh entered the room, called the boy by his name, and when he stood, swung a hand in a wide arc and gave a full bodied resounding slap on the boy’s face. The whole class and the unfortunate lecturer were stunned and further study was impossible. It was the talk of the whole University. And Pant ji once again led the protest of the class.)

What the hell! All the classes were boring. Without exception! Early in the morning, just after a breakfast of Bun-Butter chased down with cool sweet Lassi, the first two periods were lost to the heavily drugged eyes where the brain refused to keep pace with the ears. The words flying out of the mouths of the professors appeared inane and nuisance. Therefore, in the classrooms I found solace at the back-most benches where Virendra Goyal and Sudhir Tyagi were already the perpetual back benchers. Later on people like

Avinash Dewan and Arun Mehrotra also came to the conclusion that sitting in the front was not helping them any, and also joined us. Then on, I became a permanent unit of Virendra Goyal’s band.

As time went by, I developed a natural affinity to Pant ji (because he was not a bookworm and had a readymade loud laughter), Virendra Goyal (for his funny disposition and ever ready wisecracks), Only Vijai (silent type, interest in old movie songs), Niranjan Sinha (for his non-veggy parodies of the movie songs, especially of “main nadiya phir bhi main pyaasi, bhed hai gehra baat jaraa si”) and Arun Mehrotra ( for his flute). Among these, only Vijai believed in timely submitting neatly written tutorial works because he was helped and prodded by BS Agrawal, TC Rastogi and AS Bansal who lived on his floor and were themselves very punctilious about class work). My crowd was such that I was the incongruous of the lot. Pant ji was a topper; Only Vijai also would do very well; Virendra Goyal and his own band was at the bottom, they only had a fight amongst themselves for the inter se positions. But I was midway. Whenever I scored good marks in any tutorial or test, Viredra Goyal would come to me and would sing “Dost dost na rahaa”.

Our NCC camp to Dehradun during the winters met with premature termination due to some unfortunate event. But later, during the summers, towards the end or the first year, we took the NCC tour of Ghorakhal, in Naini Tal district. There our whole mental faculties were focused on going to Naini Tal, by hook or crook. Under Pant ji’s guidance we would go to far off fields, with the ruse of relieving ourselves, our good clothes neatly hidden under our shirts. Once near the water stream, we would change into nicer clothes, hand over nightclothes to whoever was going back to camp, and dash for the prized destination. But it did not succeed for long. After a couple of outings we were caught on return, and next day did the fatigue duty. That fatigue, however, was any day less strenuous than the normal parade days. There only HV Pande told us a new composition, “Is tent ke do phelu hain, Sitaram Ram or Adlakha.”

It was perhaps in the second year itself that Jagdish (Jagga) was involved in a stabbing case with a senior. Jagdish was a Dada in his own right, and had “taught” a lesson to a senior, and the senior’s Dada friend’s reprisal resulted in stabbing of Jagdish. Earlier, during our ragging of the freshers, perhaps one fresher was a mite too much for one on the sophomores, and when the latter tried to physically stress a point, the fresher retaliated more forcefully. That sophomore complained to Jagdish. Jagdish in turn split the skin of the nose of that fresher in the Mess, thus “taught” him the lesson for his misdemeanor. The tradition of ragging won the battle.

I do not remember much of the second year itself, and I do not remember the third year and final year event chronologically, but those two years, with hardly any summer vacations – we had to go through acceleration in time because country needed us badly earliest – were the period when things went very harsh as far as studies went. But in the second semester of second year I one day found Virendra Goyal laughing uncontrollably behind his cupped palms and was frantically signaling me to hear him out. What he told me in low voice was, that Arun Mehrotra, after a none too encouraging result of the first, was visited by his father and was encouraged to study harder because he had confidence that his son had in him to come in the top league. The way VG told this, while AM listening on his other side, was not very funny, but some how it was funny, because AM also later came to the conclusion that his place had become safe at the back bench.

Somehow, in the second year I did quite well in the class, despite repeated chants from Virendra Goyal, “Dost, dost na rahaa….” and got a good rank. In the third year, I was the batch senior of batch number E4. It was so ordained that people like Virendra Goyal, Sudhir Tyagi, RG Mishra, Mandwal, all the three telecom girls – I do not remember all the names - but it was perhaps the weirdest batch of the University history. We would wait 5 minutes for the lecturer to come and RG Mishra would signal me with a throw of his head indicating enough was enough, and we were off to the club.

In the third year we went on a study tour of Bhakra Nangal, Nangal Fertilizers etc. I do not remember how much of study material we saw or understood but I vividly remember four things of that tour. One, a tongue in cheek shair recited by HV Pande in my ears, “Ishq ne Ghalib ….. varna hum bhi half-pant pehente the”, second, a free peek of a mouth watering view shown me by the Virendra Goyal and Co. up a spiral stair case: and third, a Sunil Dutt and Nanda movie at Chandigarh. While coming back in the bus when we were discussing how we were going to write the project report, it was Soni who said that writing “Bhakra Nangal ko dekh ke to…. hi…. gayee” should describe the whole thing in its full munificence and magnificence.

The reports were of course written, because there were some who attentively noted everything. We used to deprecate the efforts of such people by referring to them as “Mugghe” but we were wrong, no doubt. In hindsight it appears so now.

Though elections to the Mess, Games and EC Club were held every year, those in our third year had special significance for us because some of our friends decided to have a go at them. Sudhir Tyagi for general secretary and Virendra Goyal for music secretary, BS Bhatia (Mechanical Engineering) for billiard secretary of EC club, TC Rastogi for food secretary of the Mess. Virendra Goyal was so popular he was expected to win hands down, so he did not ask help in canvassing. Bhatia came, asked only for vote in return for free billiard games. However, we burnt midnight oil, literally, in canvassing for Sudhir Tyagi, roaming several nights in door to door canvassing. Bhatia won, and kept his promise to me. And Sudhir Tyagi arranged to cancel the music secretaryship of Virendra Goyal. Perhaps these are the areas one has to put up with if he has to risk backing an idealist.

But this election threw one more shade, a darker one for me. Before elections, Jagdish (Jagga) and HN Bhargava decided to stand for, perhaps, games secretaryship. Jagdish was sure I would convass(?) for him. I told HN Bhargava that since he and Jagdish, too, were friends, one of them should decide not to stand. Bhargava told Jagdish that Ojha was saying that Jagga should not stand. At about 11 in the night, I was hauled from my sleep by Jagdish. He came in, closed the door, and latched it from inside, put a hand on my shoulder, and bringing his face very close to me, said, “What were you saying to Bhargava? That I should not stand?” I thought my day of reckoning had come then and there: that I was in for a “lesson”. Furiously trying to remember, I denied. “Chal Bhargava ke pass,” he said and we went. When at Bhargava’s room the truth came out, Jagdish told me gravely, “Tu jaa!” and latched his door behind me. While I heard Bhargava’s cry, “Arrey arrey yaar, kya kar rahe ho!” I dashed for my room and slithered deep into my blanket in the darkness of the night, thanking all the gods and the blessings of the parents for saving me.

Our third year also threw one more forgettable incident. Jagdish had a friend who was also a great tennis player. In fact he reached the singles finals and his opponent was senior Vaish who was defending his title. The final of tennis had one extra enticement for us uninitiated because after the game there was arrangement of sumptuous refreshment. Vaish won and we clapped and made our way to the refreshment table. Come darker hours and it was celebration time at Vaish’s room and his close friends were there making merry. But while Vaish was the best tennis player, the other was second best plus a friend of Jagdish. The dual combination outweighed the solo excellence of Vaish, unpardonable really. In the middle of the celebration Jagdish entered to teach a “lesson” or two where needed. It took awhile and some sweet ‘maskabaaji” to cool Jagdish’s temperature otherwise unseemly scenes were round the corner.

Oh, hell! The bitterness has to coexist with sweetness. Unless there is a dash of bitterness the weight of sweetness is not fathomed and sweetness goes unsung. There were a plethora of savorable moments in our third year.

In the third year the tutorials of Prof YBL Raina in Electrical Circuitry were no less interesting, especially for his impeccable pronunciation. In the beginning we had some trouble following his inflexions. When he spoke “haiff” at one place, one of us asked what was the meaning of “haiff”, and he said, “You don’t know haiff? H, A, L, F, Haiff?” Some were of the view that all English talking boys of the University were called YBLs because of Prof Raina’s peculiar pronunciation, though others thought YBL stood for Young British Loafers. Not to mention, that some friends thought that Virendra Goyal was also a YBL due to his very close proximity and hero-worship of one Frank of his floor, though VG rebutted it, and he was so mixing kind that no one gave much thought to such stray allegations.

Just before the third year finals Virendra Goyal decided that his head was in for a close shave. It was inspiration derived by seeing a couple of Yule Brynner Movies. But his decision and its implementation were so sudden and unannounced that at first we also we fazed and troubled. He assured us nothing was the matter and everything was fine. However, not so with Prof YBL Raina. He was invigilating in one of the final papers, when he espied VG in shaved head. Deep in sympathy he even helped VG with questions in his sotto voce. After the paper Prof Raina wanted to sympathize some more and asked him who was it. VG reverentially replied that it was the heat actually and nothing else. VG should still savor that moment because Prof Raina shook his head in a mock defeat, saying, “You, naughty, naughty!”

Prof SN Roy used to take our Electrical Measurements subject. In the beginning we took him to be a tough professor, a no nonsense mode. But in one of the lecture classes, he once shot a question, and while a few hands stood up, he decided to embarrass the backbench and pointed a finger at Virendra Goyal. VH stood up and I whispered the answer for his benefit. Goyal made some show of pondering and replied what I had told. To my dismay, Prof Roy smiled beautifully and said, “Excellent. I knew you will be able to reply!” Perhaps he started believing that everyone was following his lectures, and he became amiable and genial. A few days later Prof Roy again shot a question, and ignoring raised hands, signaled VG, saying, “I will ask the best boy of the class!” VG rose, and not knowing the answer, whispered urgently to me, “Bataa yaar!” I whispered back, “Best to tu hai. Ab bataa!” A few seconds later Prof Roy said, “What? The best student does not know the answer??” and went on to explain to Goyal.

Prof Roy’s supreme confidence in Virendra Goyal made our lives easier. Whenever we did not feel like listening to his drone soporific words we relied on VG to come to our rescue. VG would whisper to us, “Should I push the button?” and then would stand up meekly and pose a personal looking problem for seeking guidance of the professor. Inevitably, the professor would oblige. He would go round and round, - “Yes! Such things are ticklish. Require experience to tackle, which comes with age…. I came across similar problem with a colleague in the year ’55.Or, perhaps ’54. Let me think. It was ’56. No, no, it was 54 all right!” - and sure enough, the two periods of the tutorial would become interesting.

In the final practical examinations for the Measurements I had for my partners Only Vijai and, but of course, Virendra Goyal. While we were setting up our contraptions, Prof Roy was going round examining the practical groups one by one. He was in a very foul mood and everyone was disturbed as also very surprised. He was contrite, he was harsh, and he was lambasting everyone on his way. The scene was disappointing and Virendra Goyal was pessimistic that even his magic would fail there. At long last he came to our bench and a shiver ran through us as perhaps the breathing had also stopped. With a frown on his face he was about to check us up, but just then one of the groups came near him and showed the work asking him whether was that according to what he had advised. Professor perhaps said something at which I sweetly said, “Sir, that was very witty!” I was hoping that he would lambaste me then and there. But, hello! That was the first time I understood the value of subtle “makabaazi”. He countenance underwent a sea change, and how! He became his old amiable self. He smiled a meek acceptance of my compliment and started laughing and wisecracking. And when he went to other group, he gave us full marks too.

During our third year there was one more thing happening, though not in the University campus. It was outside in the city that a film shooting activity was going on. The Mehboob Production called “Son of India” was being shot in the city and that activity went on for quite a few days. Our colleagues would tell us the tale of having seen the shooting, having seen Kumkum, a dance, etc, etc. Our group was singularly unlucky in having missed that activity again and again. On being told that shooting was going on near the Canal, we rushed, only to find that the unit had packed up awhile ago and there was nothing we could do but curse ourselves. We crossed the canal and went into the city. When we returned, we found a fully loaded shit truck, with all pervasive foulest stinks, stranded on the bridge. It was a double whammy – missing out the shooting and, then that shit, literally. Thoroughly dejected we returned to our campus.

Then Virendra Goyal’s mind lit up all by itself. He started telling everyone we met that film shooting was going on at the bridge. Whosoever heard doubled his steps in urgency so as not to miss the action. That way he was instrumental in sending packs after packs doubling to the shit truck and we were indulging ourselves at their cost.

We also took a walk from the campus to Hardwar one night. I remember we were Pant ji, Virendra Goyal, Dewan, Mehrotra, myself and maybe a couple more. Having taken our dinner we took up our walk. A few kilometers out of the city, along the other side of the canal, Avinash Dewan gave first sign of tripping. Dewan was a sportsman who took part in University races. We were of the view that he would egg us on and eventually lead us in reaching Hardwar. When he complained pain in the chest, everyone became very concerned. We sat for sometime to enable him to rest. We tried to stop trucks coming to the city, but in the night no one was prepared to risk highway robbery. We went some more and rested for his benefit. However, when about way down, the psychological pain of

Dewan also waned and he was sprightly again. We had no water with us and were overtaken by thirst, and no warter was visible too, so we went on and on. More than halfway, we saw sugarcane owners on their machines extracting cane juice. We approached them and requested for some water, and they in turn gave us jugs and jugs full of sugarcane juice. It put electric currents in our steps and we completed the journey. When we neared Hardwar, of course Dewan was peppier than rest of us and led us into the holy city.

Our little cameo ended in our crossing the Ganga bridge at Har Ki Paidi, and falling like felled trees on the bank of the river. We took a long nap, and I do not recollect how we reached the bus stand and boarded bus for return journey.

One more incident involving Dewan comes to mind. During the short summer vacation of a week or so, we undertook a journey to Mussoorie. The usual crowd, plus Sudhir Tyagi, Bajaj and I do not remember who else. The bright side was that Dewan’s family friend owned a Rest House over there and he had taken a letter of reference along for the stay there. Some of us stayed there, and thinking that the stay in the house was “on the house” we spent money foolishly in the city. The bill the Rest House owner presented to us on checking out was anticlimactic and scary because we were left with nothing except the return fare Fortunately Sudhir Tyagi had the money and we could come out without losing face – I mean all of us barring Dewan.

Just before the finals, during the summers, we undertook the Project tour of Maharashtra. Prof OP Kulsrestha and Prof SK Verma were our mentors for the tour. University had arranged a separate exclusive third class compartment for us and had provided us with wooden planks which we spread side by side across the seats and spread our bedrolls over them. We went to Koyna underground power project, perhaps it was to prepare us for the final Project work, which involved an underground hydro power station. On way to Koyna we saw Ajanta caves too. For that we got out at Jalgaon railway station. Since our time was normally spent on train only, we would feel unhygienic due to lack of bathing facility. We would either sneak into a first class compartment and take a quick bath there, or skipped one, which was troublesome in the heat of the summers. On that day – rather the night – at Jalgaon our coach was shunted and placed at one of the platforms. Virendra Goyal, with mind always working overtime, told me and Arun Mehrotra to come with him to look if we could bathe somewhere. When no suitable spot could be spotted, VG took off his clothes, all of them, and we two emulating him in tow, the three of us were fully nude taking our baths at three taps of drinking water under full lights.

During the tour, once, after having taken our lunch in the pantry cafeteria and taken a short nap, we – Pant ji, VG, AM, and myself - decided to revisit the cafeteria for tea. We did that, little knowing that the tea was going to be one of the most expansive ones of the life. During the teatime, the entry of lower class passengers was not permissible, and we did not know that. After we had taken tea and when the train stopped, the railway magistrate and their police was there to arrest us. Especially Prof Kulsrestha, screamed at us, created quite a scene. We paid a heavy fine and came to our places dejected and in foul mood, especially for the professor.

We took our exams. We submitted our Project, thanks to Pant ji – and as far as Pant ji was concerned, no thanks to us – we four or five people would not only copy his report word by word and figure by figure, but also had mutilated it so badly that just because of us he got bad marks and missed the top rank. The topper beat him just by, so to say, the skin of the teeth.

And the short four-year-old dream came to an end and our days of the University were over. We were sprayed all over the world, each in search of his private dream. I do not know how many dreams were realized, how many were lost.

We will compare our notes. Some day, perhaps.


(Virendra Kumar Ojha, Dehradun)