Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sujeet Dada… M.B.B.S.!

My sister Snehal got into a medical college. As it turns out, just like my batch at IITM, hers too is a golden jubilee batch at LTMMC. Yesterday was her welcome address by the dean of the college. Orientation session and ice-breaking followed.

“Dada, don’t you do anything which might embarrass me in front of my friends!” I have had stern warning even before we left for Mumbai. Little did she know that “Don’t do anything embarrassing” is way different from “Don’t do anything out of the place”!

This is the story of how I became a freshie in her medical college and came an inch closer to an M.B.B.S. degree…

As I entered the auditorium, “Junior?” asked a student and without waiting for me to answer, she thrust a flower in my hand, smiled, and moved on to next student! “Ooh! They think I am a freshie. Looks like fun time ahead” I was excited. I decided to put myself in place of a freshman, and experience all the shyness, the trepidation, the excitement of a newcomer once more. I needed to get into the act, and not just act, but feel those precious, four-year-old moments again!

After a bit of boasting about how great the college is — pioneering research and serving the masses tirelessly, producing eminent surgeons and illustrious researchers, and how it was now on us to carry the tradition of excellence forward; the dean gave some anecdotes from his own life. Some spoke of what lies ahead and why we should be excited to join the institute, some spoke of the student life and avenues and exposure for extra-curricular activities. Memories from four years back were flashing before my mind. Same excitement, same enthusiasm — instilling a sense of purpose… boy! that was good!

Then the ‘student wing’ took over. Parents were told to leave us in the hall so that we would be able to ‘interact’ better and more freely. Meanwhile I had started chatting with, what’s his name… the guy sitting beside me… well, let us call him Akshay. I asked him where he was from, introduced myself, we talked about the NEET exam (I had a fair amount of jargon up my sleeve thanks to Snehal), me skillfully avoiding biology stuff and talking about physics. We also talked about how the first dissection would be, how would it feel when we address a patient for the first time, how we would look in those aprons and stethoscopes, how would the girls be etc. By now, I was thoroughly immersed into the act. Getting to know new people, looking forward for classes to start. I was living a life that didn’t belong to me… one that could have been… would have been, had someone not told me and Dad about how awesome IITs are during the later half of my matriculation year.

Intros started.
“I am xyz from so and so college, so and so city. My hobbies are watching movies and reading books.” went the typical ones. (I wondered ‘these hobbies must be intelligent creatures… they read books and watch movies!’)
“I am from… wait… I will be from LTMMC!” said a witty one. Cheers! Whistles! The auditorium shook with a thunder of claps! “Meet me later!” shouted a bunch of ‘sir’s.
Yeah, in here, we were supposed to call the seniors ‘sir’s and ‘madam’s!
“I play guitar and like singing.” said another. “Sing a song! Sing a song!” everyone was cheering him up. He sang, some whistled, some said “wah! wah!”

It was my turn. I had to be from some place such that there was very less chance of any ‘classmates’ of mine being there!
“Hello friends, sirs and madams!” there was an uproar of laughter from the sirs and madams!
“I am G. Sujeet, from Hyderabad. I finished my intermediate from Narayana Jr. college.” Good. No classmates!
“I am a die-hard Harry Potter fan.” “Oye hoye! fairy tails!” shouted a bunch of ‘sir’s, which was barely audible in the cheers of the other Harry Potter fans there.
“My hobbies include photography and blogging.” “Ooh! blogging!” that was audible. I sat down.

Akshay stood up and introduced himself. Can I recite some shayari? More cheering! Akshay was called on stage. With a lot of “wah, wah!” and “kya baat hai”s he came back and sat near me. How could I sit still then! “Sir, excuse me sir, could I read out a poem of mine?” asked I right away. “Till 10th standard, I have been staying in Osmanabad, that’s how I know Marathi pretty well.” I tried to cover up, as the poem was going to be in Marathi. Then I switched to Marathi. “This is the poem I wrote a few days back.” I read the first stanza of my poem. “Awww!” went a collective sigh from the ‘madam’s. Claps! Cheers! Thunderous applause! I continued. Claps continued raining as I read. The organizing students were getting uncomfortable. “We are running out of time, next student” said one of them in microphone. “Oye! Let him finish!” shouted a big bunch of ‘sir’s and ‘madam’s. “You go on, very good!” they encouraged me. Next line. Organizer said “enough” others said “let him finish!”. Boy! Was I scared of turning it into a verbal fight! In that downpour of encouragement, I finished my poem and sat down — content. With a tinge of sadness, I thought “would my life at IITM have been different had my native language been Tamil / Telugu?” Deciding not to dwell on it any further, I shrugged it off.

One ‘sir’ approached me. “You are Sujeet Gholap from IITM, right?” he asked extending his hand. Shaking his hand, I nodded. Well, Google tee-shirt, Facebook bag and telling that I blog was something won’t slip your attention if you knew me. “I saw you on TV!” he explained. I requested him to keep this to himself and he agreed. (Later, over lunch he spoke “I believe you enjoy Computer Science.” “Yes, of course!” “Then it is really commendable that just to explore your interests, you now joined an M.B.B.S. program!”. My god! I burst out laughing! “No, no. I was just having fun. I am not joining here. I just came along with my sister.” Well, real life is much less dramatic and strange — and that showed on his face!)

After the introductions were over, we were divided into small groups of around eight and a couple of sirs/madams took us on a tour of the campus. I still remember… following those seniors around IITM, listening to them when they showed us the Central Library, CLT, OAT… various labs and rooms in CSE department. Well, the same feeling was there. My group leader was Waseem, the Student General Secretory. He showed us around the the building, the campus. I was the most inquisitive of the bunch. “Sir, when will the exams start?” I had asked. “In November.” said a ‘classmate’ of mine. She had an air of smartness about her. “Here, you will do your first dead-body,” Waseem told us while showing a big hall containing a row of tables “each table would have one body and around eight students.” he added matter-of-factly. This was my only chance to know about the college, the labs, the curriculum. I literally pestered Waseem with questions ranging from wi-fi spots to extra-curricular activities and books in library. “In this box will be free condoms. But they run out by late afternoon” Waseem spewed out another piece of information as he took us through the HIV et al. testing facility. “Don’t wear aprons and roam around in your first year. You won’t know much — even about the buildings and labs. Creates a bad impression on patients when they ask people in aprons only to find out that they are useless!” After giving us some more tips and gyan, Waseem gave us specifics about which departments are strict about attendance and which are not. Who is the ‘contact person’ in each laboratory when one faces ‘attendance trouble’. “And here is Asia’s first Human Milk Bank” said Waseem pointing to a door with a sense of pride. Akshay had started laughing only to be silenced immediately by a sharp gaze from that ‘smart classmate’ of mine.

By the time we were done, thoughts were swirling in my mind. Thoughts about the path I had taken not… curiosity of what lay ahead for my ‘classmates’… and a tiny bit of reluctance to leave that place. I received a message on my phone from Snehal. “Dada, come. We have to leave! And fooling my college is not cool! ” The shyness on my face evaporated, the hesitancy from my voice gone, now beaming with confidence, having snapped out of my little ‘role’, with a sense of ‘seniority’, I extended my hand. “It was nice to meet you and interact with you. You were really helpful. Keep it up.” said I to Waseem. He was flabbergasted! With an open mouth, he took my hand, not knowing what to say! “I have just finished my graduation. I was just tagging along with these guys for fun. I re-lived my ‘freshie-day’ again today. Thanks a tonne for that!” I shook his hand with a large smile on my face. I strode off, leaving a gaping Waseem behind…

3 comments :

  1. Your name & Hyderabad was enough...Shirt and Bag were secondary Buddiee..... We recognized u....!!!!

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    1. This reminds me, I had come back on a surprise visit to my sister on rakshabandhan, one of the freshies asked me "Where were you past week, man?" :P

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  2. Well, technically we were not golden jubilee batch to enter IITM. We were 51st batch. We graduated in 50th convocation because earlier B.Tech. used to be 5 years and later it was changed to 4 years.

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