Thursday, May 11, 2006

Some Relationships !!!

It was a day in the 4th year of my life, here on earth. I was sitting on my front porch with my uncle in the blasting, humid summer heat of Chennai. My uncle was quite the black sheep of the family and a maverick type. He never married and used to change jobs more often than the governments of third world countries. He would appear at regular intervals at my house for a dinner of shorshey(mustard) mach(fish) that my mom made. And then spend a few hours in the front porch with my dad puffing his pipe and perhaps sharing a drink. On some luckier evenings, I would get a chance to spend that time with him. He was always filled with stories of the world and seemed to know everything abut everything. And he, unlike my dad, never lacked the patience to explain them.
Well, as I was saying, that evening in july, 4th year of my life and all, sitting there I suddenly heard a slow rhythmic beat. Did Did didd, it went. Slow, deep and melodious. I instantly approached my uncle because I knew that not only would I hear an explanation for that sound, but also get a fascinating story and some examples to explain it all.
So I sit in his lap and earnestly looking into his face, ask innocently, is that a bike. I still remember the light in his eyes and the flush as he retorted angrily, never call that a bike sonny. Never ever. That is a Bullet, the king of bikes. It is not “A” bike. And never will be. Soon the source of the sound became apparent (much to my relief, for I was imagining all sorts of weird things as placeholder for the “king of bikes”) and it turned out to be a friend of my uncle’s. back from his olden days. He had heard that my uncle was visiting and had dropped in. they both sat there and started chatting about their old “Glory” days and all. And the moment I set my eyes on his bike, I was in love. It was an old Royal Enfield standard. 1980 model. Must have weighed at least 250 kilos. A big black monster. Our Bajaj Chetak was totally dwarfed by it. It looked like a tabby cat cowering in front of a tiger. I couldn’t keep my hands off it. In the end, I only let the guy escape after he gave me a ride up the street. And was it a ride. The sound of the engine alone, was enough to give me goose bumps. And then the smoothness and the way other bikes and scooters cleared the way. I really felt like the king here.

That incident was etched deeply, too deeply, in the sands of memories and memoirs. Too deep to be washed with the waves of time and the tides of this life. My uncle slowly grew older. He had an accident and then my mother wouldn’t let him ride the bullet anymore. He used to care for it like his own pet, and a pet it was. Had been with him for 15 years. From the very beginning of his biking days. He had combed the whole southern countryside with it. He was a member of innumerable biker clubs and associations. I was totally fascinated with him and his lifestyle. So much so, that my mother was worried that the influence is corrupting me. She would never know how right she was. I was totally smitten by the bachelor bike culture. That is how I would name it. Though it may be considered a tad unconventional and inappropriate. Once the bike becomes your first love, there is little space for others.
This fascination kept right with me throughout my teens and finally, at the age of 23, after going through 5 bikes, I became the proud owner of a Black ThunderBird. And boy, was it worth the wait. Previously I had short stints with other lighter bikes at my father’s insistence(better mileage, cheaper maintainence etc etc). but I finally managed to convince him about the Bullet.

Since then there has been no turning back. Few would believe the transforming power of a cruiser. It changes your outlook and the way you ride. Now a ride I not a way to get from point A to point B. the chief objective of a ride isn’t to get to point B as fast as possible. A ride becomes that short part of your day that you spend totally with yourself. A ride becomes THE thing to do in good weather. A ride is a good conversation with an old friend. A ride becomes the high point of your day. It becomes THE fuel that keeps you ticking in this grungy noisy stressful life. A ride is the best de-Stresser you can get. A ride is a way to explore new ground. A way to get a newer perspective on the same road that you have traveled on for years. And of course, a ride on a T-Bird, is a shortcut to heaven.

The ubiquitous Dhaba…just outside your hostel

“Mani!!! hey, get up man” shouted Subhas, “Abey, mess mein khana hai ya nahin?” Studies can be bad for one’s food habits. You generally study so infrequently that when you do get around to some serious ‘book-warming’, you try to finish a substantial amount of work(backlog, really) before you put the books down. That is mainly because you know that you don’t know when you are going to pick up a book again. However our Mani was not studying, he had been doing something much playing the “Age of the Empires” – probably the king of computer games among college going students(especially boys staying in hostels). As expected, Mani and Subhas got late and the only food that remained in the mess was the last of the chapattis, the daal minus the daal(only water) and some remnants of the other unrecognizable things that were cooked in the mess and somehow eaten by those who ate to live.

Mani and Subhas headed for their usual dinner hangout, the roadside dhaba just outside the hostel – which was more the ‘hostelside’ dhaba as almost all of its business came from the students of the hostel. This is a uniform behaviour across all colleges and student populations through India. So much so that, there are legendary dhaba waalas spread across the country – each specifically related to about one college - with a very strong following among numerous generations of students that passed out of that college. This eateries generally, totally, run by a single man who is the manager, cook and accountant, all rolled into one, cater to as many as 500 – 1000 students everyday and night depending upon the strength of the college. Handling numbers such as these is really commendable, more so because quality of the food(or the taste, one should say) never goes down … or changes. There have been instances when people visiting their colleges have gone and eaten in the same places after decades of passing out. That shouldn’t be a surprise really, won’t we also go to the same Ramu Da or Kallu for “his” brand of tea and paranthas / Maggi if we were to come back to college after having passed out of the place?

Let’s try to estimate the number of followers an average hostelside dhaba. If we take a college with student strength of approximately 300 in one batch and there are four batches of students, then there would be 1200 students at any given time in the college. Considering that any of these dhabas would be around for at about 10 years, we can conclude that at present the average dhaba would have more than a 100 thousand followers.

Chedi’s @ IIT Kharagpur

This is one of the most incredible places in the premier institution. Thronged by the hostelers day and night, Chedi’s is known to be open 24X7. It is more than 30 years old and is perhaps the first of commercial joints in India to remain open through the night. There were times, though, when Chedi’s had to close down – the emergency. Then again in 2001 there was a murder in the locality, so it used be closed from 12 in the night to 3a.m. It was noted however that between 3 and 4 o’clock, there was heavy rush. Then again it restarted opening for the whole night, and has continued to be a 24X7 place thereafter. Such has been the craze that when Chhedi’s used to be closed between 12 and 3, quite a few students were ready to wait till 3 in the morning to have dinner, rather than go to the mess. Students, past and present, have even made internet communities in the name of the dhaba(there’s one on orkut, which is also the source the of the above photograph). Kharagpur is a small place without too much of a modern commercial life. In such a situation, a place like Chedi’s is just what the student population would want around …. something that could support the, nocturnal, student life.

Satya Niketan @ South Campus, DU

So that was about a very different kind of place, which might just have added to your general knowledge. Lets now look at a place that's not really a dhaba and could be more central in location but is visited only by students. This is, talking about the eateries in Satya Niketan, in the South Campus area of the Delhi University. The area, which also provides residence to a few thousand of the students in various colleges in the South Campus, is where the students famously loiter around most of the time. The eateries here, a Kent's and a few dhabas, though eateries, are not necessarily used for eating at. They are just the kind of place where you do not have to order anything to sit and chat. But this does not mean that the food is not good; do check out the cheese omelette at Kent's (that's a new one they have started). For the old timers, the connection would be greater with the Hangout (now most of the similar shops in that lane are called "Hangouts") that used to serve the Banta (an indigenously manufactured, bottled and sold lemon drink). The Banta has been the survivor's favourite in the North Campus as well.

this ain't over yet, there'll be more about different dhabas ........ (the writer would appriciate if the readers contribute to this article by telling about the dhaba experiences they have had in their colleges)

Perspective (or whatever u feel it might b called)
The world of myriad numbers is confusing yet is very interesting. The point is how you plan to look at it. I believe that Einstein was no genius, he just tried to look at things in a manner that we people don’t.
Have you ever thought that why algebra is taught in the primary classes ; the time where you can just accept alphabets in your English text book or for those bespectacled lot that would study history as if they love seeing Bat Man.
I gave it a shot and realized that algebra is just not a tool to relate variable rather it’s a means where you can solve those mathematic calculations in seconds. The point is again to look with your minds open. Something that most of us hardly do.
We all know that
(n-1)( n+1)= n2 –1.
So what is the big deal?
Now if I would ask you to give me the square of 39 , wait stop scribbling. Relate the principle stated above to the square.
Simple Na!
It’s much easy to calculate 38 * 40 where they would represent n-1 and n+1 respectively. And 38*4*10 is 1560 as simple as that and is one short of the square required. The answer thus comes out to be 1561.
Now if you look at things in a slightly larger perspective and you know the multiplications of (n-2)(n+2) or (n-3)(n+3) like wise most of the calculations would come handy.
This is just the tip of iceberg and the rest of the ice is, in fact, more tempting.
It’s just not about numbers but the way you look at life. Keep looking till you unreveal new ways.