Between Chimes ft. R.G. Gaurav
A twisted tale based on campus life through the eyes of allegedly the most scathing critic of NIT Trichy
“NIT, the Pride of India, the time is 5 AM,” the clock tower announces.
It is a cold winter morning and I am already awake. In fact, I don’t need an alarm to wake up, yet I’m sitting in my bed waiting for it to ring. As Suprabhatham blasts through it, I feel a sense of inner peace which is immediately shattered by the pillow that my roommate throws at my face, telling me not so politely to turn the alarm off. As I glance at the rest of my roommates sleeping peacefully cocooned in their warm blankets, I feel almost jealous of them. Almost. Let’s see who’ll be jealous of whom when exam results are announced. But that aside, time is now ripe for my morning rituals — a hunt for a clean sink, an insect-free bathroom stall, and the third round of calculus revision.
Later, while heading to the mess, I make sure that my charming smile is intact as it often earns me an extra vada from the mess anna. As I cycle to LHC under the canopy of trees, my day is jinxed by a crow dropping crowning my head. While I carefully clean my head, cursing at that wretched crow, a herd of cows chooses that moment to play tag with me. What can I say? Animals and birds love me.
Finally, I’m at LHC and a bit late. Fortunately, the professor hasn’t arrived yet. So I leisurely take my place in the front row and start revising the previous class notes. As I take a glance across the room I notice that the CR hasn’t fetched the mic and there is no duster. Now you are probably thinking that I should remind him and be a helpful classmate. If so you don’t know me well. Chinna Ragu is already basking in enough attention, getting to communicate with the faculties. I was also a candidate for the CR election and campaigned honestly for classes and CTs happening smoothly on their scheduled time, extra revision classes, and generally for all things that would help them with their career. But did they listen to me? No. All they wanted was a good for nothing imbecile like themselves who would cancel classes and persuade the faculty to give us more holidays.
My initial jealousy of Ragu morphed into a sense of dodging the bullet as the semester progressed. He became more sleep-deprived and bore the brunt of my classmates’ hatred for making them attend compensation classes for all the holidays they had enjoyed. As much as he tried, he couldn’t satisfy both the professor and the class at the same time, even when he always seemed to be working on scheduling classes and CTs. Little does he know that it was me who had snitched on him when he gave a proxy to his friends. He is nothing compared to yours truly, the smart and cunning RG.
I bring pride to the noble house of Slytherin, my Hogwarts house. (I give a burst of evil maniac laughter inside my mind). I feel that an evil laugh suits me. If I ever become a Disney villain, I will be the finest.
Unfortunately, my plans for world domination are put at a pause as the professor chooses that moment to grace us with his presence. He immediately starts chastising the CR for not setting up the mic. I gleefully watch as he sprints out of the classroom. The professor starts taking attendance and I take this opportunity to survey the classroom quickly.
Some are busy eating food from under the table, while some are hastily copying an assignment that is due next class. The remaining students have their heads down, I can’t tell whether they are sleeping or using their cellphones, even though mobile phones are strictly prohibited in LHC.
There will be no competition for me from this bunch of puny individuals with no sense of ambition. I, Raj Gopal Gaurav will retain my RG crown for all four years if these dimwits never learn.
My train of thought is derailed by the Professor’s booming voice repeating my roll number and I come back to reality just in time to raise my hand.
During break time, my attempt to get a coffee from the Coke Station is blocked by a few seniors who claim that their club briefing would only take a few minutes but then end up taking the entire break. I ask them a few questions and throw in some technical words just to make sure that they realize that I am the smartest person in the room. I am not going to join their club anyway. Who has time to be a part of useless clubs and teams when one can spend one’s precious time studying or plotting for world domination?
Finally, the club briefing ended when the bell rang and the next class started while we sat there, robbed of our break time. Today is one of those days — the days when we have our morning schedules packed full with four classes and have to attend a lab class in the afternoon.
These classes are so inefficient. Why do they waste nearly 15 minutes for attendance and waiting for people who are late?
Now all that’s between me and my horrible lunch is a mile of the road through the hot deserts of Trichy. On the bright side, my trusty rusty bicycle can get me there without breaking a sweat. The mess is a cacophony of steel plates clattering and sports fans yelling at the TV. Wait a minute, that voice sounds familiar. That’s Series Sethu, a nocturnal mammal that spends its life binge-watching series on Netflix and Prime.
“Hi da!” he replies while scrolling through the Netflix homepage.
Those peepers are stuck to the screen like an iron nail to a neodymium magnet. I know how to give him a PTSD episode worse than the ones Vietnam vets get.
“So, how was sleep last night?”
That takes his eyes off the screen.
“Well, I had to get my daily dose of 8 hours of Netflix series so I rescheduled sleep…”
“…to this morning.”
“You keep skipping classes and you’ll end up in the OD and medical certificate black market, buddy.”
The last of the glow from his sleep-deprived face has faded on hearing this.
“Well, I can talk my way through attendance deficiencies, even if I attend classes I don’t have a mind palace filled with calculus formulas like you.”
“At least attend labs. Labs aren’t hard. They are just monkey see, monkey do and I’ll also have a lab rat to test whether the professor finds my readings acceptable.”
That brightens his gloomy and still sleep-deprived face. “Sure Sherlock, I’ll let you sacrifice my lab report marks but on one condition — upgrade me from lab rat to Watson.”
“Let’s see how you do in the lab and then we can think about the promotion.”
The clock tower strikes two and starts babbling usual narcissistic propaganda material. That’s when I realize that we are running late.
The butterflies in my stomach have started tap dancing by now.
“Shoot! We are late.”
He starts grinning like a Cheshire cat. “You are running late, not me. The Sethu Standard Time is five minutes behind IST.”
Now let’s head to the labs where most of our classmates frantically spend their afternoon in the midst of test tubes, conical flasks, and spectrometers. The journey to the secluded OJAS building is a tough one, especially after a heavy lunch and when the afternoon sun is at its fiercest.
Now that we have reached our Lab, let me introduce an interesting species which is endemic to the meeting rooms of clubs, societies, and the fest teams.
Meet Rohan aka Club Kanni, known for being part of 6 clubs, 3 fest teams, and joint secretary of his department symposium.
You might wonder, “How does a person manage his academics if he is a part of 10 clubs?” The answer is simple, he doesn’t. He is also infamous for having an exceptionally low attendance percentage, often waived by an important document, the “OD” certificate. You can’t have a shortcut for everything, can you? The breed of club kannis is an interesting species that believes in the quote -
“A sheet of paper does not decide my future.”
They roam around the campus proclaiming that their GPAs don’t define them, while continuously disregarding their academics for “important” club activities.
His day starts with him responding to the messages of the club heads, volunteering for every inconsequential, important and perpetually urgent work. Running errands for the club, he misses most lectures and is often clueless about the subjects taught in class.
After the completion of some more of the important work, he reaches the lab, at 1.29 PM sharp, just before the in-charge begins to rant about the incomplete lab records and observation tables. The experiments are announced, and everyone rushes to their respective tables, except for one.
You guessed it right, there stood Mr. Rohan, pleading to the lab in-charge for an exemption from lab work for yet another “important” commitment. One which involved a journey to the heart of the town, Chathiram, to purchase materials for an event. The faculty in charge strictly refuses while he shows him his exemplary attendance record.
The pleading continues and proves to be futile. Meanwhile, my titration solution has already turned the precise pink, and my observations are ready to get signed. Then, I sit back to watch the live entertainment unfold. Not knowing how to handle the pipette properly, some get their mouths washed with acid and immediately rush to the sink screaming. Others get their solution too dark or too light and grudgingly repeat the experiment. Finally, as the end approaches, some come to me begging for my observation.
The clock strikes 4, and the students are shooed away like a flock of sheep. I run to the library for my daily dose of academics, and our beloved club Kanni rushes to the bus stop to catch a crowded bus to Chathiram.
The return from the draining lab session marks the end of the hectic day. And lo, out they come in twain to mark the occasion. Some people jeer at them. Others envy to experience the same affection. The longing desire to feel loved or to love someone is one anyone would be tempted by. Unlike me of course. To forsake one’s career over to their emotion is as sensible as believing in Santa Claus or trusting your classmates to return your notebook if you lend it to them. Love is nothing more than a veil over one’s eyes. It allows you to catch a glimpse of anything you want but prevents you from perceiving it clearly, essentially pulling you into a rabbit hole of problems.
Vishva and Lakshmi were one such dynamic duo if you will. They were leaning on their bicycles, just rambling towards the MIG probably, a popular choice of smitten folks. Vishva, a fine young buck, had met Lakshmi only a few months ago during Orientation. Being in the same class just added fuel to the fire. And since then, they’ve been as inseparable as Krishna and Radha. From the morning lectures to the lab sessions, one would always spot the two together. Personally, Lakshmi should’ve settled on someone a lot smarter than Vishva, who, as tradition goes, brawns over brains. But anyway, who am I to judge? We’ll just have to wait and watch how long this would last. My prediction, probably this sem at tops.
Anyhow, the bombshell arrives sometime after the dust has settled. End Sem dates have been announced only a week prior to the exams. This news also signals the time when everyone goes to one’s nearest RG pal and begs for their notes. As expected, I received many such fellows in my room on returning from dinner. But here’s the thing. Why should I be the one lending my labored notes to these imbeciles? After all, am I the one who couldn’t keep his eyes open during classes? Sacrifice grades for club activities? Fall head over heels in love? No. But I can’t muster up the courage to say it either. So I do what any sane person would do in my circumstances — make a few deliberate changes (ahem errors!) and then proceed to share my notes generously with these clueless fools. Whichever way you look at it, I am doing them a favor. After all, at least 50% of it is correct as I’m feeling rather generous at the moment, else it could be a lot worse, for these are the same people who haven’t voted for me in the CR election and I’m kind of a vengeful person if you haven’t noticed already. Besides at the end of the day, I’ve got to make sure nobody (and I mean nobody!) gets more marks than I do. As the saying goes,
To be successful you need friends and to be very successful you need enemies
…and I’m all in for the latter.
Meanwhile, the dramatic chiming of the clock tower announcing 5 PM amplifies the intensity of R. G. Gaurav’s conspiracies.