My friend Murali wanted me to start an Orkut group for our Class of 1988 from Medical College Bellary; now known as Vijayanagar Institute of Medical Sciences Bellary [VIMS, Bellary]. That was about 2 years ago. I did that, but it has moved at the pace Saurav Ganguly scores his runs these days.
The intention was to get all the guys and gals together for a grand reunion for celebrating 20 years of the beginning of our journey. It made no progress whatsoever. But finally a girl from our batch took the lead to organize the event and it is almost certain that we will be seeing ourselves on Saturday, 3 April 2010 at Bangalore! Am I thrilled?
What was it about Bellary that makes so many of us yearn for a reunion? The first time I saw on Indian Express that I was allotted a Medical seat in Bellary, I felt a deep chill down the spine. For the people from Coastal Karnataka, the rain-less Bellary was an equivalent of Andaman in those days. My uncle even joked about me getting exiled to Kaala-Paani!
Due to some Technical faults committed by the Directorate of Technical Education, I ended up a month too late in Bellary. I must say, those were the most difficult days of my life. The unknown world, unknown people, unknown food and above all the ‘Anatomy Hall’!
I told myself, “It is just a matter of how many days I will survive this ‘Concentration Camp’. I will never be a Doctor!” I never told this to anyone, but I was readying to return home and go back to native place and try my hands at business!
Some seniors were ‘Good’, some were ‘Bad’ and some were ‘Ugly’. From what I heard from other classmates, I had escaped the worst of ragging. My heart went out to my mates who had endured much worse.
I will shun the bad and the ugly because they in the end were like us when it came to life. But some of the good ones must be remembered. My room-mate Subba, Lokesh, Shailesh, Mallya, Sripad and many more from the fifteenth block were really nice and they made life more tolerable.
Some more seniors like Leslie Lewis, Aron Fernandez, Prashanth Raj, Maxim, Shankar Mallya, Dennis, Lakshmish Shetty, Jayaram Shetty and Monappa too were really helpful. I might have overlooked a few names because there were too many nice people and this post might end up looking like a Bellary Alumny Logbook if I go on enumerating all the names!
But there were two other things I was more scared than the seniors and the Anatomy hall; and that was ‘Vangi Baath’ and 'Chau Chou Baath'. The first one was a rice-based dish peppered with brinjal. The second one was a combined sweet and salted preparation of rava served together. Both these were served on almost alternative days in our hostel mess. I knew why they called the place ‘Mess’. Vangi Baath delicacy was nicknamed ‘Concrete’ by seniors. Soon we came to know why it was so; obviously because it stayed in the stomach longer than most of the other foods!
But gradually the life started to get its color back. The confusion over ‘Scapula’ and ‘Scalpel’ was solved and the Mnemonics for the carpal bones started to look ‘pretty’. “She looks too pretty, try to catch her”! This was the first ever Mnemonic I remember. And then it became a business!
It reached such a rage, one of our classmates reached the highest altitudes in forming Mnemonics. During our phase-2 exams, he came to my room one night and told, “Hey I have now studied everything and formed Mnemonics for each and every topic. Classifications will never bother anyone in medical college in future. But there is only one problem now”. My room-mate, “What’s that?” Our man, the Head of the Department of Mnemonic-ology quipped, “There are so many of these, that I have totally forgotten which Mnemonic is for which topic”!
We had classes, practical classes, the labs, the dissection sessions and then the library. I was so overwhelmed by the volumes of those voluminous books; I started to hate the library. Till the end I stepped into the library only to write exams or to pull out some guys who were reading or were pretending!
This was the same guy who had actually run out of books in the public library at my native place! I was such a voracious reader and here I was totally damned by these books. But I had to read them. Survival was a necessity; I realized going back home was neigh say impossible. It would break my parents and make me a butt of ridicule in town.
Gradually even these books and all the studies became commonplace. So I realized one truth, “Every mountain looks enormous and insurmountable only till you actually climb it”. So terms became phases and we phased into third phase and then it was all over! There were failures, success, heartbreaks, victories and a lot of fun!
Cricket, Cinema, Caroms and Chums formed the entire universe. We had a huge advantage of having a single and secluded campus. All the hostels were within the campus. Many of our teachers too stayed close by. The College, the OPD or the Hospital too was only at a stones throw. Some of the huge shots played by my senior room-mate Partha had allegedly landed at the OPD! But that unfortunately happened long before we landed in Bellary. And then there were Parijatha, Kiran Bakery and other small hotels!
Those movies, those songs and those days are still vivid in memory. Mani Ratnam became an Icon and Ram Gopal Varma revolutionized the way fights were shown in movies. 'Chinna Chinna Aasai' still gives me the same fresh feeling we had twenty years ago. I have that song on my Corby and that is my ring tone for my friends! Life after all is all about Small small wishes! Times have changed, we all have metamorphosed but the inner core of those days remains fresh even today!
Some of the friends made a deep impression on me and the impressions have stayed with me to-date and perhaps will stay till end. D. N. Manjunath taught me what endurance is. Srinivas Reddy taught me to laugh; at myself. G. T. Sreenivas was all about determination. My friend Murali was just that; a friend any person on earth can hope for. The politeness of Vineeth [Dabba], the cool attitude of Chandrasekhar [C], the brilliance of Madhu, Devendra Reddy and Satya and the meticulousness of Vishwanath Nayak; I have learned from them all!
Again there are so many of them, I will be really hard pressed to name them all. But I will go to hell if I don’t mention the hardships faced by Jagan and the way he has conquered them! Hats off to all of my friends! I am what I am today because of a lot of help, inspiration and the friendship of these chaps.
Since we had a single campus, there were the inevitable love stories. So a lot of boys started of as ‘Rakhi’ brothers, but ended up as lovers. In some cases, the love story ended with the ‘Rakhi’! I too had my own share of crushes, but was too shy to ever disclose it! And I was really mortified by the thought of a ‘Rakhi’ being tied by ‘the girls’!
I can go on and on with the story and it may end up as a novel for another movie like ‘3 Idiots’. That will be another thing I don’t mind doing! But for now, I have to cut this short somewhere.
So here I am 22 years later, retaining the same vigor with which I landed in Bellary on a rainy-day in 1988. Why do I love Bellary? Or do I love Bellary at all? The answer is, simple. It is not Bellary or the college that I loved. It is the “Friends”! It is those cherished bitter-sweet moments! It is those heartaches and nostalgia! We all yearn to relive those momentous moments. And that is why we all want to meet again and see ‘Ourselves’!
With a huge thanks to Pushpalatha for taking the lead in arranging this; I am counting every moment of these days for the moment to meet up all of you guys and gals! Can’t wait to say, “That indeed was a beautiful life and thanks to you all!”