To be frank engineering was not in my dreams until people around injected that in to my brain when I was growing up. Entrance coaching classes were the time for noon shows, trekking Yercaud, explore the possibilities at Clooney girl’s school and to roam around the sub urban of steel city-Salem with my friend Abel. After all it isn’t fun studying 5 inch thick books of Math and physics for engineering entrance, not at all at the age of 17. All exposed in the result - my engineering entrance rank had five digit number more or less reflected how many took the exam that year.
But when you are down to nothing, god is up to something. NTTF was a boon for those who messed up their engineering entrance. You only need to have a little crooked mind (NEC’ians are known for that), a bank balance of 2 to 3 lakhs or has equaling property which you could take loan upon. Two rounds of entrance for NTTF, first round at Tellicherry, second at Coimbatore wasn’t tough. God’s grace I got through.
2000 August 15th, Tuesday afternoon, Bangalore:
I am sitting in the rear seat of Mahindra armada of my uncle thinking about next three years with new friends, at a new college in a totally new city. Man, it’s exciting. I am all prepared to advent into the world of electronics. Joining letter said all trainees should compulsorily carry the following items: Sky blue color bed sheet, sky blue color table cloth, 1 pair of white canvas shoes, 1 pair of black formal shoes, 1 pair of white socks, 2 pairs of khaki trouser and sleeveless banyans, a mosquito net and I have bought all these from commercial street.
“But why are they so particular about the color blue?….aah, whatever”
Almost every vehicle passed by had a tricolor of India on it. Hosur road was not crowded as today. It hardly took 30 minutes to reach Electronics city from St. Mark’s road. Now you probably need to have a helicopter to cover in the same time. Bangalore is no more a virgin.
There was this board “AISIN NTTF” on right side of the road adjacent to a deserted building (INFOSYS was yet to set) and the gates of NEC was wide open with security people in sky blue uniform.
“Can you direct us to the hostel in charge?” it was my father to a girl with navy blue uniform hands tucked to her shirt pockets at the entrance of lobby; and she directed us to the warden’s house. Navy blue wasn’t good choice for girls, pink would have been better.
“Do you need some help?” a senior student to me while I was taking out my luggage.
“If you don’t mind…” all seniors should learn from him. Where on earth will a senior pick his junior’s bags to hostel room? I thought. He wore a lunar slipper (a brand of Kerala), check shirt and khaki shorts.
“Are you a malayali?” was my humble question to which he answered a steaming look which meant “Is that important to you?”
“Is anything wrong?” I asked myself and kept quiet.
Before getting into the real stories here is a bird’s eye view of campus:
NEC was about 10 to 12 acres, had an irregular polygon shape and shared its boundary with National high way authority, Infosys and Fanuc India without any disputes.
The most interesting and happening building in the campus - without any doubt was boy’s hostel. Three storeyed building had “l__l” shape, painted in antique white and saddle brown, each floor had 9 rooms blessed with bedbugs. A9 and B1 are my all time favorites. A wooden door for each had deep yellow color and transparent mirror window of about 10cm X 30cm, mostly covered with cover page of record book by the inmates of room.
All Katrina kaifs, Kareena Kapoors, SohaAliKhans and Angelina Jolies of the campus stayed in an adjacent building to boys hostel separated by a pathway and lamp post. For many who physically stayed in the next building had their soul always in and around this cute, tiny two storeyed girl’s hostel. Mine too though 7:45 wasn’t a good ratio.
Path way between these building lead to the terror of the campus – Lady Warden and was known as “LADY”. She stays with her family that could possibly represent an entire wrestling team and a straight stare of her could make you miss a heart pulse. Their house was located on the outskirts of campus.
Then there is a basket ball court and is a heavenly place in the campus for the following reasons:
1) Its geographical location-straight in front of girl’s hostel.
2) Its an arena for all desperate boys to prove their worth in front of their sweet hearts.
3) Juniors are not supposed to cross over the lines of court.
4) They wake up early in the morning only to mop this court.
5) There used to be more vigor in all basketball matches than in any other games and was considered as prestigious game of centre.
Canteen had a hexagonal shape, two entries, conical roof, walls textured with red bricks on outer side; tables made of marble block, and served food in a 10 inch diameter steel plate. Food was good enough to retain your life but this would be your last choice if only you had a chance to eat out. The best food served in canteen was breakfast on Wednesdays- bread/jam and boiled egg. I still remember Selvan mixing curd rice dipping all his hand till armpit.
Trainees were not in favor of washing cloths until it stinks beyond ones tolerance. Then soak it with 2 rupee surf excel sachet for half an hour, rinse for the sake of it at back of boys hostel, dry it on the strings tied with BSNL cables.
Next to this was girls throw ball court, the official game for girls and all boys thronged around when there is a match for what so ever reason!!!
Next to that is a vast football ground with a cricket pitch in the middle and tuck shop in one corner.
There were also a volley ball court between boy’s hostel and NRH (Non Residential Hostel), mud strewn tennicoit court, an auditorium called as “AUDI” for caroms, table tennis and badminton. AUDI had a dying Optonica T V where people fight for a seat to watch “Chitrahar” telecasted by doordarshan.
The Romeo-Juliets of the campus could be located at corners of canteen, behind auditorium, under isolated trees discussing their future honeymoon spot, tips and tricks of family planning, their first kid’s name etc etc.
Campus was plenty with trees and monkeys (no sarcasm there were real monkeys inside). 3 foot wide path way paved with concrete slabs diagonally connected between buildings.
Last but not least there were building which included office, administration, labs and class rooms and an IMPACT building and none had any impact. The only interesting place among all these is a dark room in PCB lab.
Candidates from the south Indian states Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu had the same idea of “Get into NTTF, enjoy for three years and get out with a job”. All play no work.
But then they never knew their worst fear was about to surface.
(To be continued)