College Days – Chapter 5

That brief window of two months in second year just before the juniors come in, happened to be the best time of our stay in the hostel. We were not the junior most and the seniors looked at us in a different light. While technically they still wanted to assert their supremacy, it was a period of evolution for them as well as us. We were all friendlier, The seniors instead of raising an eyebrow at our mischief were now guiding us and ensuring we were ready to teach the freshers the lessons in humility and obedience. We thought we had it covered, and we were right for most parts.

Our days in workshop were starting to be very monotonous. We all had settled into routines, Mandi a furious and often angrily hardworking chap. Muneet wanting to impress everyone with his hard work, Charan and Sharmas being diligent. Pradeep, Piyush, Sarab, Surjit all hanging in their with their jobs. While kohli, Ankit, Jasdeep and few other day scholars were forming close alliances with Manchanda, the canteen ward, I remember Surjeet, Singla and me having quite a few animated discussions about films and life in general. One such instance was when Singla in full confidence said, “Amrita Arora is the only actress in bollywood that i can consider my sister” Then came the movie “Girlfriend” and Singla forever had to endure our jokes. This was also a time of collective Boredom and our “Mass Bunks” were too frequent. Kamal and I had areputation of leading the class in these acts, and it usually began with “ki yaar aj mood ni kar reha class laun da, chaliye? follwed by a collective “CHALO!!” . We used to irritate the studious lot so much. Mangal came up with a way to ensure these bunks were unanimously accepted. He Simply shouted,” Challlo ni taan main Gaal pau deni hai, ann mann dhannn,… *^&*^*%$%^$^%*R$$^” Everyone had to get up and walk away.  And we were so stubborn that once YP Bansal was walking right opposite to us on the other side of the fence asking why we arent attending his lecture, we ignored him by raising the books to the side of our head and walking away.  Upon questioning in next class,  Pradeep said, ” Sir mujhe to padhna hai par Mangal ne Gaali di hui hai”

Having stayed together for over a year, we had come to observe traits of everyone. We knew at what time of the day who would be doing what. it was fun mostly, and we enjoyed it thoroughly. Kulwinder’s  “Kiven”, My “Kya Hua” Vishal’s “Mama Heer Da” Singla’s “O nahi Yaar” were quite regular. We could always count on Kuldeep coming up with some wisecrack and Mangal coming up with an equally abusive and funny reply. And there sparring went on for days, weeks and at times even months. It was usually settled by Dharampal’s Laugh. Who ever Dharampal voted for usually was the winner. There was no comeback after Dharam laughed at you.

Our Foremen often found innovative ways of throwing out of the workshop with Kuldeep once being marked absent because he was spreading a rumor that Mangal got engaged. Pasricha marked me absent one day when i was twisting my neck and he thought i was immitating him. Kohli was marked absent for as Russel Peters quoted in his standup “Just in Case” . Amongst all this fun, our preparations for re- exams was on in full swing. I had increased bunking the classes, only this time i was seriously studying maths.

Then the day came.

We had been waiting for it for over an year. the plans and strategies were in place. the strike teams and formations had been discussed and briefed. We were ready.

He arrived with much swagger as if the world was at his feet. We were supposed to bow down and be at his feet. He got along with seniors and picked Kohli to form his first impression on. He knocked on Kohli’s door and went in hoping this would begin his dominance over our batch. Bad choice. What happened in the room, to a certain extent changed the perception of our batch with the seniors.  Gurjeet Singh, supposed to be our senior had arrived!!! . He went to the room as Gurjeet and came out as Pinky. Nothing untoward happened, just Kohli was able to lay down the law for him and the rest of the hostel, that 21st batch was no push over. Sadly for Pinky, news travelled fast in our hostel through Muneet and all his subsequent attempts at throwing some “senior attitude” not just failed, but also threw him at the deep end as far as the jokes were concerned.

Our Juniors were coming soon and as a batch we were happy to have tackled Pinky easily. it wasnt ragging, but our confidence was boosted.


College Days – Chapter 4

Every exam causes some anxiety, especially amongst those who care. Every class has some people looking forward to exam results, as if their life depended on it. At times it does, but when you have 4 years to survive in an engineering college, i guess the first year exams can be taken lightly. But none of us were taking them lightly at all. Everybody was giving their 100%, be it studying for the exam or finding innovative ways of cheating. We were all in it. The results were awaited and you could sense the tension amongst our studious lot. Sarab, Vishal, Mandi, Charan, Kulwinder, Lalit, Vinod, Gaurav Kapahi, Sharma, Gurdeep were all anxiously waiting for the results. There were a couple of instances when this wait got to the nerves of people and they openly stated that we’ll find out who’s better when the results come out.

The results did arrive and the Sarab secured the first position, expectedly, but the surprise package was Rupinder ending in top 5-7 !! It was all the vindication we needed to give up even attempting to study. On a personal front i was in for a shock. I was sure i would flunk 2 subjects, Engineering drawing and workshop technology, but the other papers were decent. If you remember, my engg drawing sheet was a small house with lots of casing and i attempted only 40 marks in WT, which was like our history paper. I scored 65 in Engg Drawing, 20 more than Mandi, which upset him no end. Also, the stupid board gave me 5 grace marks in WT and cleared me with a score of 40 !!!. Definitely not what i had in mind. It upset my plans to improve my percentage no end. Also combined with the fact that me and  most of the batch had failed the maths exam, and would have to reappear, it was far from an ideal scenario.

Back in the hostel after our results, Mandi could not believe that I, of all People, scored more than him in the Engg Drawing. He asked me what i drew and i told him i was clueless. He went and confirmed with others if they saw what i drew, still clueless. His expressions were so funny and were worth all the marks i could ever score. Vishal and me had a hearty laugh about it. Sitting in Mandi’s room, we could see how upset he was, but still we laughed and laughed.  Elsewhere, Kullu and Lalit were going on about where they missed the answers and Kohli, Rohit and gang were happy, just like me to get past the first hurdle. Having said that, there was also gloom over some of our friends not making it to second year with us. We were individually happy but collectively sad.

Meanwhile at college we were divided between our two foremen for 2nd year, Pasricha sir and Jagga Sir. Since the division was basis our roll numbers, both the teachers got a fair sprinkling of naughty n good kids. they couldnt have complained initially. Also, we were eagerly waiting for the fresh meat, juniors, to come in so we could play the ragging game.

Our first year taught us that if anything, our foremen were not to be feared, we could ask the seniors for help with the work at workshop and as long as our lectures were taken care of, we could trust each other and some common engineering sense to get by in the exams. As a result, our foremen never really got the respect they deserved. It was also made difficult by the fact that Mangal’s father had taught Jagga sir, and Mangal always used to get preferential treatment with leaves and stuff from him, even though he reported to Pasricha. We never complained, we were all happy and very accommodating.

Our Re-exams were scheduled for December and unlike the previous time, i really wanted to do well, on my own in this particular exam and Mandi and Vishal made sure that i had my attention to it everyday. A couple of day scholars from 1st year decided to opt for Hostel in the 2nd, and Gurdeep and Kamal joined the hostel family as roommates. Other notable inclusion to our batch this year was Gurjeet (Pinki) who though our senior, never quite managed to earn our respect and paid heavily for it…

Having day scholars at hostel for lunch was one thing, but when Kamal and Gurdeep joined us we realised what we had been missing the first year. We were a nice lot and our only prankster till that point was perhaps Ankit and even his jokes and deeds were more restricted to our batch. Kamal changed all that. The naughty quotient of the batch went off the roof and we were now not only playing pranks on each other but through Ankit and Kamal, we could raise hell hostel -wide.  A very significant naughty brigade was taking shape in Kohli, Rohit, Ankit and Kamal. They would often hang around with seniors, or should i say the seniors would hang around with them. There were parties in hostel rooms  and this lot, could literally, burn the hostel down. And to compliment their naughtiness, we had alternate personalities coming to fore as well……

College Days- Chapter 3

While getting to know each other and our seniors, we came across many funny facts, like when we were being ragged over a weekend, Dharampal ran, took off his shirt and started riding a rickshaw. The seniors never suspected him and he even guided them in opposite direction!!. Such a clever guy!! We also discovered the nearby Pehalwan dhaba which provided an alternative to our boring mess food but was slightly expensive for us as the shahi paneer there was 55 rs.

Our seniors were always kind enough to help us with our jobs, when Mal Singh looked away. Getting a grinding cut on the job was all the help we needed from them and they happily obliged. We had a strange set of teachers. YP Bansal for Engg Drawing often used to forget to take off his helmet and went around the campus searching for it, SK Bansal for CAD/Cam was referred to as thirki, Our external faculty for Physics was Amli and we could never understand a word he said. Our Workshop technology teacher was Mr Pasricha whose pet dialogue was wahi to, said with a springing neck. I am sure they tried their best to teach us somethings, but not sure if they ever succeeded. The mess used to serve Rajma Chawal for lunch every Monday, we ate for our heart, not stomach and mondays lunch was followed by a 4 hr Engg drawing class. 4 hrs of boredom right after a feast?? No wonder we slept off or wanted to bunk the class. I think that partly explains my lack of grades in first year.  Also another reason was when once when YP Bansal used my sheet to explain to the class the drawing of a tool, he created the WHOLE drawing himself. Later, when the sheets were being graded, He looked at me and said,” Ye kis H )(&(*&(*^E ne banayi hai ” I said “sir aapne” and he threw me out of the class for abusing him!!

In Some time we had nicknames for every one, and since Ankit was the “chikna” in our batch, he got labelled Sexy. Everyone fondly would rub his cheeks and it irritated him so much. He once Yelled out in the workshop. ” BC$^%^$%^, Ki Sexy Sexy laya hai, Munda haan Main V” . I guess after that Ankit transitioned from a small kid in the class to one of the naughtiest and one whose opinions were heard. That was his coming of age. We were also settling into a pecking order in the batch, especially amongst the hostlers. Kohli, more often than not was the one whose room had most people. He, Ankit, Kulwinder, Rohit used to hang out together and express one opinion and they were the ones closest to the day scholars as well. Simultaneously, Lalit, Sarabpreet, Kulu, Mandi,Vishal,  Harpreet, Gaurav s were settling in to become our knowledge banks. Mangal, Singla, Surjit,Dharampal,  Kuldeep and I  were more the fun guys. Piyush was also somewhere in the scholars group.

As the exams approached, everyone was hyper active. Those of us who needed attendance had to pay Mal Singh a tribute. Old Monk. Mangal and Rupinder were our pioneers in cheating. Mangal introduced us to concept of Micro Photostat and Rupinder had this unique quirk of making cheat notes on currency and at the end of the exam, he would go to the Gurudwara and donate all the parchis. Exams showed how united we were. We would gather in rooms on pretext of studying and distribute the chapters according to the seating arrangement. Even after distribution, we would hardly find time to study and on the morning of exam would create a beeline infront of the only photostat shop nearby, getting our portions microed. I once asked Mangal if we needed to put extra effort as these were the final exams and he replied, ” Yup sure, Aapan Jamalpur(nearby locality) ton photostat Karve leunde haan “. That was our Batch.

1st Year, Final Exams, Workshop Technology Paper, I was sitting diagonally opposite to Gurdeep Singh, A day scholar and an intelligent one at that, when i asked him for an answer. He looked around, and replied,” Saale Sardar hoon, 12 baje poochh raha hai, nahi aata”. No Disrespect to the religion, but that was very funny. I also remember getting the Inferiority complex, a serious one where i cursed myself for all the times i ever bunked the Engg drawing class. In the exam, everyone was making lavish diagram of the Injection mould and there i was with a tiny little house in the middle of the sheet. No clue as to what to draw. Then an idea stuck. I made HUGE casings around that tiny diagram. I knew i would fail, atleast my sheet wont be empty..  My exams were not really upto my expectation, though others had none from me since i was the last ranked EVER to enter the “prestigious” College. So, Being the smartass i was, I willingly flunked my Maths exam and attempted only 40 marks for workshop technology, thinking i would score big in retake and improve my percentage.

I was wrong… more on that later..

College Days – Chapter 2

Our First week in College was behind us, the Ragging wasn’t too bad and the classes were boring as we were all too new and were only finding our footing in this new world. The friendships and room sharing arrangements from first week were being reviewed and a more settled system was starting to take shape. I shifted to room no 4, and I guess I was with Rajneesh, a small boy from Chandigarh whose father was something in the education board. He was my roommate only in name coz he used to travel back n fro every day. The poor guy got ragged a couple of times on the way and he also ended up dropping out. So room no 4 was mine and I was glad to have the only single room.

As expected, some friendships were starting to blossom in us hostlers, especially Rohit- Aman, Ankit- Kullu, Sharma- Kapahi- Mandi triangle and so on. We hostlers generally stuck together, n the day scholars were little less in the mix with us. Our prominent day scholars were Kamal and Gurdeep, and the reason why they were prominent was because they came to join us as hostlers later on and were a big part of our story, once in. Also, by the second week we had a clearer distinction in our batch, basis 10th n 12th. This was facilitated by our Maths teacher who said the guys who v cleared 12th could skip his lecture. About 14 of us excused ourselves.

We had lots of fun in the first year, Every evening, without fail, Rohit used to send Bairagi, his roomie, to the mess to fetch water at 10:55 pm and at 11 am we would hear a voice in the corridor,”O Bairagi @%^#, aaja” and Bairagi would be leisurely walking back to the room. Once he sat in my room and true to time, The whole incident repeated with Rohit calling out to him but Bairagi dint answer. So, instead of waiting, Rohit merely closed the door and Slept off That’s how much we cared for each other 🙂 . We had also unanimously thought of a way to end our grudges and be in your face, quite literally by having a “Kambal Kutai” event. Usually it happened in my room where all would gather, the lights would be turned off and then all hell would break lose. Rupinder, once hit someone so bad that a teeth was broken. We banned it after that incident.

After or welcome party, we were formally asked to play a cricket match with our 2nd year hostlers and we had a pretty good team, Ankit, Lalit, Kohli ( our Afridi) Vishal, mangal, Mandi, n me. We were all solid and we thrashed the seniors. After that Lalit, Ankit and me were pretty much fixed for our college team.

Very early on in our stay at the hostel, we were taught that seniors are our teachers and friends. It was a lesson for life and we were lucky to have some good people around us.We had a great time with our super Seniors, the 4th year batch and I could never forget following incidents:

1) One of our 4th year seniors claimed to have driven his car on the thump of his woofer, which we were made to believe. Then once he stole his dad’s car and since the kms had changed, he rode it backwards in circle to get the meter to its original reading.

2) We went out to play some team on a sunday and we were cruising to the target when our breakfast came from the mess, and the entire team was out for 15 runs so that we could all eat paranthas.

3) The same match while bowling, a senior missed a catch in slips and I let out a verbal volley much to amusement of Navin Behnal paaji.

4) One of our Super Seniors came out wearing the complete kit in our Cricket meet, looked like a crouching goat/Dragon, gave me the stares then got run out without facing me.

5)I flopped in the Sports meet :(( scoring around 50 runs in 4 games and taking only 5-6 wickets. :((

Also, how can I not mention watching Yaadein with Surjit after both of us discussed the pros and cons of Bunking for atleast 4 hours before deciding to go for it. We also realised in first year that any movie reviewed by Ankit was supposed to be super bad.

I Guess most of us hadn’t watched any Ghochas in a theatre, so Mangal took the initiative and got about 10 of us in an auto n we went to some very sleazy areas of Ludhiana but dint get any tickets. And on Vishwakarma Day, Kulwinder and I actually went to a theatre to watch ” Ladki jawaan Padosi Pareshan” and ended up running out in the interval because the theatre was jam packed with Bhaiyas.


First year was also the time we spent with  Mal Singh, our famous foreman. He taught us about using hand tools ( there actually are HAND TOOLS !!) and his pet dialogue was “Gajran Wangu” ( referring to the angle of filing, which was supposed to make the task as easy as peeling off carrots) . Vernier Callipers, Files, Sand paper, Mal Singh and Canteen tea. This was where we spent 80% of our first year. Once we had to carve a hexagonal shape through filing some metal and maintain the dimensions, and my job was quite close to completion. I got into some discussion with either Mandi or Sharma and screwed up one angle. I tried to play smart and continued filing. File I did, but instead of 20 mm I went to 18mm and, upon inspection,

Mal Singh called everyone, and said, ” aa Vekho Sood ne ki $%^$%^^% kitta hai, BC, 20 di 18 kar ti, fer kahooga Hindi Vich, Ki Sir Bataya Nahi ” I wasn’t paying much attention, but I guess I saw something and for the first time abused out loudly, I said: ” O BC.. aa ki oye??” and I was shocked when Mal Singh replied calmly, ” Hun Punjabi bolan lag peya, Kaka enu Gajran vangu karya kar”

Mal Singh was famous for marking absents even if we were late for attendance. And we needed 85% minimum attendance to be eligible for exams. This was probably a reason Sarabpreet got into the habit of running for attendance while he was still tying his turban, and at times in chappals. First year was also laying the ground for my more famous encounters with YP Bansal, Our drawing teacher, who invariably failed me in all the drawing assignments. I got a F in 28 out of 30 assignments that year !!

We were getting a hang of life in a hostel. And an Engineering hostel with only guys was even better…


College days

The toughest series of posts I will ever write

I spent 4 wonderful, memorable n fun filled years in Central Tool Room. The years that taught me how to earn my bread, shaped my views n personality and gave stories and memories that I cherish. Here, I would share some of the events, mostly fun and mostly in the same language they were originally in. These are the memories that have remained with me from my time in ctr. I also welcome other stories that my fellow CTRians can share. I for sure had fun n I hope you enjoy reading n my college mates share more incidents .

Since CTR is the hogwarts of our story, i would let it introduce itself,

CTR Ludhiana is an Indo-German project setup under bilateral agreement on technical cooperation between Government of India & Government of Germany in 1980. It is working under administrative control of Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Government of India. Our core service areas are Tooling development, Rapid prototyping, Heat treatment and Training. We are ISO-9001:2008 certified organization.

Yup thats my College !!!


CTR is far from a normal college. Its strictly a boys only, merit based entrance, training facility where classes are few but emphasis is laid on hands on training for budding engineers through a state of the art training workshop. To get into the college you have crack the JET exam and get pretty decent ranks to be honest. Mine was 6230. And needless to say it was the worst entrance rank in the college’s history according to some of my teachers. It should have served as either a motivation for me to do good academically or should have lead to some sort of inferiority complex, if not depression, but it did not. Maybe i was built that way.

Since the college had merit students from all the north indian states, We had a huge hostel in the compound of CTR. Out of 35, i guess around 25-27 of us were hostlers so we had a pretty big family and many many incidents worth remembering … Lets begin with Day 1.

So all the newbies entered the premises with their parents, starry eyed, not knowing about how difficult or easy this place was going to be. We all gathered in a class room. for about half an hour we were just sitting there and occasionally our seniors would come and have a sheepish look at us, mumble something to themselves and walk away. It was quite intimidating, since we had all heard stories about ragging, about how seniors would make our lives hell. We werent prepared, and we were very vulnerable. So, someone walked into the room, addressed us for a while, i guess it was Mr Joshi, the de facto principal, and brought along Sardar Mal Singh, our instructor for first year.

We all introduced ourselves and were literally forming friendships and searching for room mates based on the introductions, people from Chandigarh were friends, from Punjab formed their alliances, Himachalis in one corner and so on. We were also setting the pecking order in the class, counting how many ppl came in after 12th n how many after 10th. Akashbir, though came in after graduation and screwed up all our calculations.

From there we were lead for a quick tour of the college and all along we had seniors just measuring us up. we were lambs heading for a slaughter and they made sure we felt that way. After the tour we were taken to the hostel to fill up some forms and get our rooms allocated. As was the rule, the ground floor of Block A was reserved for 1st year on the pretext that since the floor had the attendants’ room, it was the safest place for newbies. There were 15 rooms to be distributed and we all paired with our new friends to get the rooms. I paired with Mandi and we got room 12. Once the rooms were settled, we shifted in, bid goodbyes to our parents and thought lets get to know each other better.

The college timings were 9-5 and around 5:30 or 6 we were all in our rooms chatting with new friends. I must must account for our roll No 2101 here. Ajaypal Singh from Batala. We were all visibly scared of the impending ragging but this guy was as assured as a steal cage. according to him, we couldnt and wouldnt be ragged. The first day passed by without ragging. what a relief.

Second day, after being introduced to our teachers, we come to hostel for Lunch, lead by our attendants Sohan Lal and Daya Ram. The stares from the seniors followed us all through the way. We knew deep inside that it was only a matter of time. Kuchh to hoga. That evening we were more scared and Ajaypal was more sure. Well, 2 more days went by with the staring game and we hadnt been ragged yet. So on the first thursday, our seniors got through to the attendants and wanted some introduction with us. To be honest we were also looking forward to this interaction. Meanwhile, Akashbir was unanimously chosen as our Class representative, Kohli had established himself as the fun guy and we had all shared some jokes and got to remembering few names.

We were all in our respective rooms, 5-6 guys in one room when we heard the knock on the door and some seniors came. In my room were Ankit, Kulwinder, Vinod, Kapahi n me. We were to address our seniors as “paaji” for all our years in CTR, which we had no problems with. In addition, till the time we werent told otherwise, we had to give them the salute, something like “tohfa qubool karo” in 3 Idiots. We were all asked about our girlfriends and if any of us had one, we had to call her up or tell stories about how we wooed her. We had to recite the thirsty crow story with the line aa meri $#$# wich aah.. that was pretty funny . plus there was a brian wash ritual. Downright disgusting. We were saved since the seniors who came to our room were from himachal n were friendly enuff to let s off the hook on the brain was. But i think Ajaypal wasnt that lucky. After the seniors went back all of us gathered again and Ajaypal wanted to make a phone call to his dad. He called him up, told about the ragging, went home and never returned.

Our first day of ragging was by and large peaceful, fun even and we were far less terrified. Next day was friday, when most of the people were heading home…. the seniors from 2nd year knew all the ways out of college and were on every route. They rounded us up and to the park we went. There we were introduced to the punjabi version of namaz, it was full of abuses but a laugh riot nonetheless. My good seniors chose me to lead the namaaz and all the batch had to do was recite it after me, without laughing. If anyone laughed, i would be slapped and the whole exercise would be repeated. Sounds simple, right? i was slapped 9 times!!! and before the 9th slap, i got up, excused myself, slapped the guy who was laughing, then went back, got my slap and continued.

Not just the ragging, our seniors were generous enough to accompany us to our destinations since they also had to board the buses to chandigarh, bathinda, amritsar. They were generous, yeah, they paid for our tickets. 🙂

That moment when we grew up


You find place in first memories of my childhood,
We played together all the time in your home or mine..

you were there when I changed schools as a kid,
you could have sat anywhere in the class,
but you looked for me and with me u did.

You were often held accountable for my poor show in tests,
You could have complained, instead asked me to do my best.
I hated when you tied me rakhi at school,
but later being with you in the same class was uber cool.

I helped you cheat the for the first time in a geography test,
I so wanted my sister to be better than the rest.
When I came back after 5 yrs u were there to care for me again,
till then we were just kids, n here our friendship began

I cant forget the fun we had pairing classmates,
sharing stories in the evening and being confidants

As we went along in lives, the contact became infrequent,
Yet there were always memories and smiles they always meant.

You are one of the very few who always get an answer out of me..
there’s never a dull moment between us, n I pray there never would be.

You were my companion from when I opened my eyes..
And as I walked you to the alter on your big day, A part of me cried..
There you were, my friend for the longest time, all smiles and hopes up..
There in an instance I realised its the moment we BOTH grew up

like old times

A friends birthday presented an opportunity to play around with words.. Here’s what I came up with … I guess its a haiku ..


Surely I need to know u, ur words keep me awake
Unique in the ways beyond me, they have my heart at stake…
Sometimes wen u say my name .. I forget the place n time …
Hold me now o darling, say u can be mine….
Many thoughts rush my mind …
Ah u beauty divine ….

But I gotta tell u baby… Ur words are divine..
Have u guessed it yet , all alternate lines rhyme…
A small play of my words …
Thanks for takin the Time

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