For me, quite a few emotional, gratifying, happy moments were the ones which I shared with these people. The chaat wala bhaiya and smiling akka in tiffany's, Ganga hostel watchman, SK mess manager to name some. Here are few incidents I find worth cherishing and sharing...
Saala mai toh baap ban gaya!
One day in Tiffany's, the chaat wala bhaiya seemed to be in not-so-good a mood. I asked "क्या बात है भैया, परेशान दिख रहे हो?" It turned out that just half an hour before he had gotten the "good news" SMS about his newborn daughter, and he did not have balance in his phone to call back. I still don't get why he was so hesitant to ask his co-workers there for a quick phone call... whatever. I offered him my phone. And then there was this expression on his face which my limited vocabulary fails to capture... of relief, of pure joy, of satisfaction! I don't know whether it was just my mind playing tricks, but I could see edges of his eyes moisten when he was beaming and talking so elatedly over the phone! You know what, once, he even let me make my own chaat! :D
So, there's this girl on Tiffany's billing counter who has quite a sweet smile. Many times, I have "smiling matches" with her. I go to counter, smile, she smiles back. I order one item, smile, she smiles back and so on!
This one day, it was raining cats and dogs. That too out-of-season rain. I cycled all around insti in rain, listing to rain songs in full volume! Then I went to the lush green chemplast ground, lied on the grass, soaking in the rain. On my way back, I broke my slippers. And then it hit me... the urge to drink bournvita. How could my "ultimate rain experience" be complete without drinking a glass of hot bournvita? I didn't have any money on me though. I got hold of a junior of mine, borrowed some cash and went straight to Tiffany's - all dripping and limping! Don't know where I lost the money! And smiling akka was on the counter. "<I smile><she smiles>Akka, so nice rain! <I smile><she smiles>" I was stumped when she asked "No money? Want bournvita?" Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Mind reading level - pro!
Ganga hostel watchman
One day in second year, I saw him to be particularly happy. I asked "बहुत खुश दिख रहे हो भैया, हमे भी तो बताओ!" His son in 4th standard had won some drawing competition. He showed me pictures of his drawings on his phone while telling me how brilliant his son is, how he wants his son to come here and become a "computer-wala aadmi"! The pride and enthusiasm with which he was talking about his son to a stranger like me, was touching. Come next semester and Mr. Watchman was replaced!
Fast forward to fourth year, placement flurry. It was a written test at CRC and I was thirsty after finishing the test. I went to the guard-room to get some water. Guess whom I met there? Our good old Mr. Watchman! Not just that, he got up and offered me his chair, gave me water and asked in Hindi "Sir, didn't see you for quite long! How is everything going?" For half an hour we were chatting, catching up as if we were some old friends meeting after a long time! I asked him how Amit was doing, whether he has any latest drawings to show (yeah, Amit is his son's name, funny that I don't know this guy's name, nor does he know mine, but I know his son's name). Also, not everyday a 20 years old kid is called "sir" and is offered a seat and water!
A significant part of my first two years were spent eating in SK mess. That discontinued later. This month again, after a really really long time, I was back in SK. The enthusiasm with the manager greeted me, surprising! He even remembered that I was from Maharashtra! And after I told him that I would he heading to USA for further education, man, how proud he was! Remembering so many people, keeping track of where they are from etc, I am totally in awe of their memory.
Lately Cauvery had been my favourite mess and the guy at the entrance an acquaintance. There was a time when I had infinite enthu to learn Telugu. This guy was no exception, whenever alone in mess, I would ask him to tech me Telugu. Apart from Telugu, he liked talking about CCW politics and AP politics too. He even used to remind me of mess registration for next month, and how Cauvery gets filled very quickly and how I should do it as soon as possible, and wishing me luck!
Fruit shop guy
This boy is another character altogether! A couple of days back, suddenly out of the blue, he asked me "Sir, final year? Passing out?" I nodded. "All the best sir, for the future!" [me surprised] he shook hands. "Where are you going?" "USA - America" "Take care, sir. Keep eating fruits, very good for health. Our fruits nice no?" Boy, had he gotten emotional!
A couple of months back, I walked into Gurunath to get some veg puffs. "Sir, everything okay? You all right? You are not smiling... tell me..." said the guy on counter. (maybe he was vetti as there was no line, no hurry :P) It was my turn to get emotional. "It is okay. I am fine. Thanks a lot for asking." said I in a croaky voice, patting him on shoulder.
That's all about "stragers@iitm". As strange as it may sound, I am going to miss these conversations and these people... [sniff sniff]