Last week, at 2 am in the morning, I received a text from one of my friends. It said, “My parents want me to see this guy. He happens to be from Sathyabama University. Any chance you might know him?” I lay in bed, wide awake, desperately wishing I could help my friend. But I simply had to text back, “Girl, you know na, in our college boys and girls were not allowed to talk to each other. So I have no clue.”
I went to Sathyabama University, Chennai, for my under-grad education. Unfortunately, I do not have anyone to blame for sending me there. It was my very own brilliant idea. Apart from a number of factors for not being able to study in Hyderabad or Bangalore, Sathyabama caught my attention because it threw light on a path that could reunite me with a school friend I had been away from for two whole years. So I packed my bags, held my brother’s hand and marched into the campus. My parents thought I would do best if me and brother went to the same college.
Although I went to a boarding school my entire life, Sathyabama was a nightmare that had come to reality. This place had nothing but RULES and they sure were NOT meant to be broken. The most moronic ones on the list were; no electronic items on campus or in hostels (This meant no cell phones, no walk-mans or CD players, not even an iron box), dress code that included only salwar kammez for the girls with pinned dupatta, a stupid squad that was a team of dickheads who went around the campus all the time keeping a vigilant eye on us like we were terrorists (the lady squads barged into classrooms to check our bags for cellphones, love letters, and magazines/novels), and no talking to the opposite sex. Oh, and not to forget, the way we got our semester results. We were asked to assemble in one common area (I don’t remember what it was called). The entire college, say about 8,000 to 10,000 students. A list was made of those people who failed their tests. This list was read out; the name of the student and the number of tests he/she failed in. Arrears, they were called. I thank my stars for never being on the list. What else would you do but study if you never looked out of your umbrella. All in all, the Sathyabama experience was like the mean High School period we see in American films.
Well, Sathyabama was no IIT for us, even if the English scholar Jeppiaar thought so. This philosopher whose favorite lines are “Open window and let atmosphere come in” or “Boy boy talk no problem, girl girl talk no problem, boy girl talk I problem” was our Dean. (Here’s a sample of the shit this man talks- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eq02OOzo1YE) And, supposedly he was dumb enough to impose a rule that makes life hard for me even to this day. If a boy and girl were caught talking, they were given an Office Duty (OD). I’m not sure of the details strictly because I never got one. But rumor has it that the people “caught” talking were made to stand a under tree all day or work outside the Directors office, serving refreshments to guests who came by. They could also be suspended from college or totally kicked out, depending on the intensity of the conversation. I never really wanted to take the risk, and with the bonus of having an over-protective brother, I never looked up and out of my blue umbrella while walking on campus. You always had to carry an umbrella in Chennai either cause of the sun or the rain. With all this drama, the only way you could talk to a guy was when you bumped into him in the mall or on the train that took you home. During the first 2 years of college, I wished to enhance the beauty of our gang by adding a boy or two. It never really happened and by the third year I did not care at all. I had good friends and nothing in seemed short at that point of life.
Little did I realize then that I failed to pick up the tricks of the trade when I was supposed to and so even to this day talking to a guy makes me all nervous. So much so that I could just swallow raw goat meat rather than make conversation with a guy. I truly hold Jeppiaar for my “Adam-abhorrence mania.” My limited knowledge helps me classify men into two defined categories; the head-strong and the desperate. The former highly pisses me off and the latter pisses me off even more. The chatter-box in my vocal cords comes to a stand still and prefers deathly silence to talking to a guy. I believe I truly deserve credit for having met and spoken to many men all along the way, and kept just one of them as a dear friend. Now this guy is neither head-strong nor desperate. My hatred for Jeppiaar goes to the highest peak when I sit at lunch with a bunch of male colleagues and I’m literally tongue-tied. I get so scared that my face looks like a girl who just lost her favorite puppy in the park. At moments like these I pray to all the 65 gods I know, to send food to my table as quickly as possible so that I can at least pretend like I’m a greedy pig with sole interest in free food. When it comes to guys, I also suffer from temporary amnesia. I need to look at a guy’s face 5-6 times before I can register it in my head. This makes me look retarded and sound rude and inappropriate. I once asked a guy whom I barely knew for while as to why his parents had given him a name that meant ‘handsome’. I assumed that all men are insensitive and said, “What if you turned out to be ugly?” So it all comes down to this when I talk to a guy. I’m either this nut-case who talks utter nonsense that the guy listening to me is thinking loudly,”When will she shut her mouth?”, so loudly that I can read shut-up in his eyes, or I am this frightened caterpillar who just wants nothing but to turn into a cocoon.
I get so tensed on a first date that I often succeed in convincing my “couple friends” to tag along with me making it seem something like a double date. I know its not going very well when the guy is keenly staring at the cricket match on TV right above my head or looking at the chess board on the table. Now, I hate cricket and do not know how to play chess. So I quickly gulp down hot chocolate coffee and pretend that I burnt my tongue. If he’s sensitive enough, he gives a damn and then I talk about coffee and chocolates. But if he thought I was an idiot to sip hot coffee without blowing at it, its a lost cause. It is at times such as these that I wish I could give Mr. Jeppiaar a good piece of my mind for making me look stupid at both, the personal and professional front.
Although my problem is not among the life threatening ones, I do hope that one fine day when Krishna comes along, this Sathyabamaite can tell him apart from the crowd. And, that she is smart enough to figure out if there is Rukmini lurking somewhere in his wallet, behind one of his credit cards.