Chapter 6 – Three Wisemen at the Girls Door

There’s always a ladder nearby . . . .the difference is, some people see it, some don’t.. .

Giving up on matters close to my heart (no matter how hopeless they are from a pragmatist’s view point) – whether personal or otherwise has never been my forte and this sort of nature has been attributed to confidence (or the excess of it), stubbornness, genetics etc .Till date I am still finding new insights into this quality – some positive, most negative. My brain and my heart (Aortic pumps – As Joey from F.R.I.E.N.D.S fame, would call it) are usually not in agreement and are having a face-off yet again, on whether I should try my luck one more time by confessing my feelings to Piya , who was in Delhi for her end-term vacations, or should I turn the ‘off’ switch and move on. My heart called the cards this time and I ended up meeting Piya at CCD , Humayun Road, near India gate.

I went to Piya’s house at Shahjahan road to pick her up, and then headed for the café. “Hi Piya, how are things at your end? How is medical school treating you ?” was all I could gather the courage to ask and start a conversation. Being old friends eased up the tension a little bit, but just a little bit. “we will have a chocolate fantasy with a scoop of ice-cream and chocolate sauce, and 2 cold coffees” I ordered. Moments before I started with my part of the story, I had a gut feeling that something was not right, but being me, I didn’t give it much thought and went on. By the end of the day one thing was very clear to me (as i started introspecting) – I wasn’t in love with Piya anymore, it was just a closure I was looking forward to, as I felt very comfortable and at peace once I was back in the hostel. What I did not realize and gauge at that time was, that I had just increased the probability of losing Piya as a friend owing to my stupidity.

Cupid has some serious issues with me, i am sure of this. I thought that i will be relieved as i have finally been able to put a ‘The End’ to me and Piya, but Mr cupid intervened by introducing another girl into my story without even making me aware of it . In every college and most of the schools, there’s a place where couples and those trying to make it past the “friends” phase hangout. This place might be a stretch of road (Fanti road at AIT pune ),or a deserted spot, and in our case a banyan tree in front of our hostel building. As soon as dinner is over, one can come across many glimpses of sweethearts sitting under the shade of the tree and chatting. Seldom, was there a group of friends seen near that tree , as it was an unofficially proclaimed “Only couples” area. Durgesh and janet , Our batch’s first official couple were usually seen frequenting this area. I didn’t realize until very late, that I had started talking to Mehak a lot more than I usually did and that after dinner, we both assumed that we would meet up and roam about.

The dreaded term end exams were around the corner, and all of us , especially, me, aarav, harsh , tarun were scared about our anatomy vivas, not because we lacked the intellect for cracking the vivas, but because our professors Col Gyan (Also our warden) and Col Behl , derived sadistic pleasure by humiliating and embarassing the students in their vivas.  Mehak was a perennially over-worried intellectually gifted girl, but she never stopped assuming that her exams went as bad as they possibly could. It was D-Day for all of us, especially for the boys of our batch. On being called by my roll number, I entered the anatomy dissection hall to find Col Gyan seated on the first viva table,  “So Adil- he started – I am sure you haven’t studied anything for the exams as you were busy talking to girls on the phone, because I don’t remember seeing you without your phone” and before I knew it, he had moved from assuming my casual attitude ,unpreparedness, lack of dedication, respect for seniors & how I and many others in the batch are wasting our parent’s hard earned money . Also, he strongly felt that most of the boys are wasting a medical seat and didn’t belong here. “ Sir, I would request you to please continue my viva and judge me based on my knowledge of your subject , and not assuming false theories about me and then generalizing that to my entire batch. Also, I took admission into this institute on merit, and not by putting the Dean of the college at gunpoint” All this was what I said in my head, What actually came out from my mouth was “ Sir, sir, no sir . . . I have studied sir, no sir “

To make matters worse, anatomy professors try to ask smart questions which might not be asked in a conventional exam, but Col Gyan and conventional exams don’t go hand in hand. “Have you heard about the term ‘Funny bone’ Adil? ” he asked, “Sir it’s a condition in which a person’s ulnar nerve gets irritated due to its superficial position , near the elbow, resulting in a tickling sensation” I was dreading the next question “Adil, answer this, where does the ulnar nerve lie” – I had no clue (from an anatomical view-point. I did know that it’s in the arm!) .I answered honestly by pointing at my elbow “somewhere here” , This answer triggered the amygdala in Col Gyan’s brain making him lose his cool and he blasted “Adil, this is not a fucking art course , its medicine. ..” he started. I don’t remember the remaining lecture as I had learnt to shut my senses to his endless banter by now. After what it seemed hours, I was finally out from the exam hall. When I enquired among my friends, I was feeling less humiliated and better as almost all girls were on the verge of a breakdown and even a few guys seem shaken. I and my friends had survived the ordeal, the firsts of many more to come.

Being in Delhi, the national capital, huge fests with star nights and concerts were common. One such fest was being organized by AMITY School of Engineering, where Samar, one of my buddies from school was pursuing B Tech in Electronics. He asked me if I had any plans to come for the fest as ‘Bombay rockers‘ was performing live. Somehow the idea of travelling 40 km to catch a glimpse of a band didn’t appeal to me, especially in Delhi’s scorching heat. I informed Durgesh and Rohan about the concert and they were more than eager to go, as they were trying to portray a ‘cool guy’ image in college. Coincidentally, only Harsh, Aarav, Tarun and I were left in the hostel on the night of the concert.

The clock struck 10 , and I roamed about restless . Somehow, when the world around me is engaging in activities (being outdoors) that also interest me, I get excited and my mind goes into a turbo mode, thinking of ways to amuse myself and take care of the restlessness. Thankfully, Aarav knocked on the door and he was as bored as I was. “lets do something different” he said. A month back, ‘doing something different’ meant, jumping the hostel gates , going to our favourite dhaba at Dhaula Kuan for eating delicious omelets with tea, returning to our hostel and hitting our bunks. Now, me and my friends were looking for a new feat to conquer. Be it my impulsiveness, curiosity or plain boredom, I suggested that we try to enter the girls floor, which was 2 floors above us. I had just blurted out an idea straight from a clichéd Bollywood movie. Tarun and harsh who have just entered my room, were still finding it difficult to swallow this idea. Aarav and I were the most enthusiastic, Tarun ended up following us (as he usually does) and Harsh not so keen, gave his nod, out of boredom.

The girls hostel stairs were locked at 2200h so the only remotely plausible option left for us to reach their floor was by climbing up. I started looking for different routes, the MES holed wall which was lucky for us the time we jumped the hostel gates didn’t prove useful as it was too far from the main building’s window – Our only entry to the girls floor. I was not worried about the girls hearing any unusual voices or spotting us, as Mehak had borrowed my laptop to watch the movie ‘Saw 7’. Most of the girls were busy watching the movie with her. The others must have retired for the day. After cracking my brains for an half-hour or so, I finally came up with a route – The floor just above ours was home to AMC officers posted at base hospital. If I could somehow catch hold of the window pane above this floor, I would have made it. One of us had to stay back to help the others to climb. Harsh volunteered, while Tarun was already giving the entire idea a second thought. Aarav was still looking for another way up while I told harsh to get some towels and make an elevated base over the window pane so that I can use it to climb to the girls window, But after all the elevation and outstretched  arms, I was still falling short by around 4 feet.

Down below was – nothing- just a cemented floor, where falling would bear tragic consequences and up above was just 4 feet , 4 feet to a new feat. I prayed, hoped , made a jump and was able to grasp the cemented window pane with one hand. I was the first one in. No girl in the corridor. I looked down to see aarav climbing up the MES wall reaching for the Bathroom Drainage pipes before he finally rested on the girls bathroom vent. Tarun was still on the ground floor.

One of the girls must have heard a noise, as moments later, Samridhi with Mehak and the other girls lined up behind them, asked in a scared tone – “is somebody there “. I emerged into the corridor and said hello to the girls. After getting over the surprise visit by us, the girls wanted to look down from where I had climbed. Prachi was one of the girls looking down and the same girl who made tarun weak on the knees since day 1 of college. It was barely 5 minutes, before Tarun was also with me. I knew love can make people , do things they never imagined , but wasn’t aware that climbing up the girls hostel in record time was one of them. He used the same route which Aarav had. All this commotion was abruptly ended by a scream from the bathroom. It was Udita shouting “There is someone in the bathroom”, My man Aarav  came out from the bathroom vent and joined us. We were more than welcomed by the girls. Food, coffee was made for us. Snaps were clicked. We were stars in our own right.

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Chapter 5 – The First Year Paradox

“Necessity is the mother of all invention” a phrase widely used in geek parlance to make an achievement sound melodramatic, humble and straight out of an Oscar speech, couldn’t explain the kind of incidents occurring in the hostel lately, but Boredom does. Just imagine a college where the faculty members outnumber the total number of students studying in the college, no juniors , no seniors, and wardens who treated us like mature men (hardly) or children (often) or mentally incapable (most of the times), depending upon his personal life’s giving’s ,misgivings and his BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration).At this stage in my life, I thought that being a mail sorter(voted the most boring job in 2008) was a better career choice than becoming a doctor.

I, Harsh and other likeminded guys started coming up with innovative ideas to keep ourselves and the entire batch busy and entertained. Parvesh, Our very own free thinker (Read ‘too free to be socially acceptable’) came up with the idea of having an orientation session amongst the boys and girls. Being the adrenaline and testosterone pumped species, we were all too eager to get a chance to interact with the fairer sex, and as we all would realize later, this interaction would be the only time when we believed that the girls of our batch also wanted to have a life beyond books. The session started, crashed before it took off, as the girls were standing facing the boys and in the words of a  primary school teacher –“Pin drop silence” was being observed. To get the session spiced up, Parvesh came to our rescue and told the guys to ‘propose’ a girl, after taking due permission. Adhering to the definition of a good sport, many of us ended up blushing before asking the hand of the lady we had a puppy crush on. In the midst of all this newly found ‘josh’ , One thing went unnoticed by others , maybe by ourselves too. I and Jatin asked out the same girl – Mehak .

As my social life was entering a phase which can be aptly described as ‘The silence before the screw-ups start’, Our College was also entering a similar phase. Many civvies were seen loitering around the college campus trying to find out if admissions were still open for students as the college was running under-capacity. All of us, being true patriots used to arrogantly answer them back “this college is meant for army wards”.The year when the college started taking admissions, only 36 Students were admitted, 64 vacancies were still vacant. On High Court’s orders, the college admitted 21 students from General category. All of us saw this as an opportunity of getting some good times ahead as more students were joining . Also, from a technical perspective, we were a month senior, so  ragging the newcomers before welcoming them as one of our own, was on our ‘to-do’ list. 2 of them, Nikhil (initially) and Sameer, emerged as wolf pack leaders. Nikhil would end up as one of the best guitarists we have had till date, Sameer & I would face the ultimate social paradox.

For any medical student in any corner of the world, first year is supposed to be the toughest year, owing to its humungous syllabus and skill set which is to be acquired for carrying on to the next year. But, amidst the boredom arising out of lack of peers, The ever so ill-timed cupid messing around with me again and the gut feeling that something big is on the cards, academics wasn’t on my priority list, at least for now. A paradox for sure.

 

Chapter 4 – On Cadaveric dissections and crushes

“Just having a crush, makes it special . . . “

Every medical student tells every non- medico, how he had the bravado and the courage to skillfully dissect cadavers and finally was able to achieve great surgical and anatomical skills. And it doesn’t stop there, the entire incident is described in such a way , that it doesn’t sound anything short of a story directly out of ‘The Arabian Nights’. Well, why shouldn’t we, after all how many people get the experience of removing body fat (one of the most gross things I have come across in the field of medicine till date) , separating nerves and vessels  while the entire DH(Dissection hall) is smelling of formalin. The first memory we have of medical school is that day when we were greeted by the disgusting odour of formalin while entering the dissection hall. I had heard of incidents about students (especially the fairer sex) fainting when they looked at the cadavers, but I think it’s a myth, because the smell is enough to shake many a brave souls.

Being a newly opened institution, initially very few cadavers came in, and us being an over-enthusiastic lot, were already set to rip them apart to take in all anatomy we can, using our newly bought surgical paraphrenalia. Skin, fascia, muscle, fat (even ‘gross’ is an understatement), clotted blood, partially digested food from the gut, everything starts coming out from different tables, and my mind wanders to the bloody gladiator wars from the spartacian era. Maybe Its an exaggeration, but an apt one.

Back in the hostel, being young teenagers who have just started college and that too in India, hostel gossip is reaching new heights, Mehak and I are already a couple if the hostel gossip is to be believed, Durgesh has lost all hopes of hooking up  with a good looking babe from Delhi(one of the common dreams of quite a few guys which got shattered, the moment we realized that our female colleagues have been chosen by the almighty to excel solely  in academics, and nothing else, but academics ), so he has now set his eyes on one of the human looking female forms of our batch – Janet. Harsh is lost in his own world while my roomie Rohan has already found true love in another colleague of ours- Samridhi, the feeling commonly associated with violins playing in the background and starry eyes, though I am sure in his case Punjabi bhangra beats were playing as that’s all he listens to and talks about.

As far as my story goes, Mehak and I have come a long way as school friends, so analyzing the ‘friendship’ from the crowd’s point of view (with a very low IQ, if any !!), we were just meant to be. All thanks to the Vodafone free minutes, I count on her as one of my closest friends and vice versa, hopefully.

Smelling of formalin , Drenched in sweat and baseless medical knowledge,  I was finally gonna call it a day, when I heard Durgesh mutter ‘I Love You’ to janet on the phone. Yes , people do fall in love fast, but expressing their true love over the phone at 1 in the night due to a sudden realization of lack of girls on campus is a different story altogether.

 

Chapter 3 – The Gate Jumping Ecstasy

“Unhinged”

By the end of first month, the glamour and heroism associated with becoming doctors had faded, all thanks to the mundane lectures. Academics are trying to bring us down and lead a nerd’s life, and many of my comrades had already given up their arms.

On the personal front, i am still in the hope that my school crush is ‘the one’ and will someday start going out with me. I know it’s never gonna happen, but am still hoping for a miracle. To add to my interesting life, one of my friends from school, Mehak, is my batch mate. I mention Mehak at this point, as our friendship will go through many filmy twists and turns and of course many screw-ups, which are bound to happen, as it’s my story.

My friends include characters like, Harsh the flyboy, Durgesh the diplomat, Aarav the Jat, Tarun the chicken and many more. The true variety of Homo sapiens is on display in the hostel. The characters range from being unbelievably sadistic to hilarious. Girls from our batch are busy trying to attain academic nirvana, and the faculty encourages them, as they are well aware that studies are one of the few tools they have to keep all of us sober. Sometimes i do wonder , whether mugging up big ass books is a pre requisite to becoming good doctors or just an added advantage. And what are doctors ‘The Wounded  Healers ‘, as called by Erich Segal in ‘Doctors’,  made of.

Post dinner, I and my buddies usually goof around, talk, come up with new philosophies which can justify that momentary lapse of reason, when we decided to choose medicine,  finally take an oath every night to start studying from the next and call it a day. Everyone hangs around in Durgesh’s room, and we are thinking of renaming it as the boys’ recreation room (Rec Room), we gather there to discuss pressing issues of the day i.e. gossip. Yes, boys do gossip, everyone does, only the extent, the content and how openly they admit the fact, differs. Harsh is lost and far from reality, the way he usually is, when Jat thought aloud  ‘yaar, how awesome would it be to be out in the night? ’. All I can think about is, how the walls of the hostel be jumped?

From bribing the guards, copying keys of the main door lock and simply walking out, leaving early and coming back late, weird ideas were swarming my head. The only idea which appealed to my testosterone was that of jumping the walls, because I believed that smart methods and oversmart moves might work sometimes, but cliche’s always do. With no unannounced time standard to beat, I thought that it would be best to do it the classical way, the Modus Operandi, I had no idea of.

After carrying out recce of the hostel complex, talking to people who were working in the hostel complex, i realized that the core problem was reaching the wall as the open area between the hostel and the boundary wall was manned by hostel guards. Just outside the residential building, in front, lay the abandoned porta cabins and a cemented building, on the right flank was the common boundary wall with the commandant’s house and on the left, more porta cabins in horse shoe arrangement.  Across these obstacles lay ‘The Wall’, standing tall at 10 ft. My 10ft to freedom.

On a completely different note, my romantic interest , Piya  finally gave me a ‘no go’, and she wanted us to be ‘just friends’ – the 2 dreaded words, no sane guy wants to hear.It can actually be an objective test of sanity, food for thought for budding psychiatrists. I guess that is what most girls wish for, when a friend falls for her. Being in a new place with a new ‘life’ is actually helping me not to react like a heartbroken loser.

Our warden, an AFMCite and ex- warden of AFMC, is a short-tempered and judgmental officer. The 2 good things about him are his classy wardrobe and the fact that he just knows how and when to use those classy one-liners. Col Gyan does try to make our hostel life quite interesting by trying to inculcate discipline into us and making us do things his way but we usually end up doing just the opposite.

Some great philosopher once said ‘Dog is a man’s best friend’, i had read about it, heard about it and argued it, with my colleagues who are dog lovers, but never truly believed it, till today.

I think I was discussing the whereabouts of our classmates and about are ‘not so happening ‘ college days, with Mehak over the phone, when a stray dog  passed through a small semicircular opening in the typical ‘holed ‘ MES wall behind our rooms. It just clicked, the walls being made by MES were not even strong enough  to be described as walls, I and Harsh made the opening a tad bigger by taking a few bricks off at night, big enough for us to crawl out, and small enough to pass off as ‘just another hole’ by a bystander. I, Harsh, Aarav and Durgesh took the first step towards freedom, first ‘crawl’ to be very specific. What we did not expect were stray dogs barking the moment we were out. It must have taken at least 2 minutes to shut them up. The guard was awake by then, awake, but in a stupor. I had told all of them to wear black, to give some sort of camouflage. We made a run for the wall, I and Jat helped Harsh and durgesh to jump, I was the last one out.

The feeling of being unhinged, and being all by myself gave me a unparalleled high.

 

Chapter 2 – Pretty Darn Similar to Normandy.

“Every man for himself”

A girl in a pink salwar kameez, heroic surgeries and the noble cause of saving lives were few of the thoughts that crossed my mind, when reality struck, disguised as an alarm buzzing at 0700h, a feat which I have not and don’t want to achieve till I am living in a democracy. I was in a place with new faces and newer expressions on them . Being a creature of  night, I pulled myself out of the bed and got ready for the first faceoff with medical college. With a lot of assumptions, some, which were to be proven wrong and the right ones left in the corner of the head, where the conscious mind hardly bothers to probe, I entered the lecture theatre.

The HOD of Anatomy, a post which can aptly be re-designated as ‘God of Gods’ for us, the first years, started his introductory lecture about the medical profession and the great task which lay in front of us , ie passing our exams ( which are made to flunk you!!) and becoming medical doctors.I remember the lecture as one of the very few in which all students were attentive and not dumb-founded as they would be in most of the lectures planned for that year.

Biochemistry was the next big one, and every medical student, apart from a few weirdos, finds it dry. I was no exception. On the other
hand, me and a few of my colleagues who at least thought they had a life and knew that the subject is meant for either the socially
challenged or those who just want to bore themselves all their lives, had the best nap in the first lecture itself.

The third and the last subject in the curriculum, Physiology, was a cakewalk compared to the big giants, Anatomy and Biochemistry. I knew I would be faring better in the subject because of my nature to write down pages if the concept has hit the right chord with the sleepy non-conductive nerve cells of my brain. I think I was lost deep in thoughts of my school crush when one of the most sophisticated, well spoken, polished and good-looking teacher walked in the classroom. Since that day me and a few colleagues who have a keen interest in beauty, have sat in the front row.

Back in the hostel, it was war and utter chaos. Being in a new place, especially the hostel of a medical college , everyone wants to do
their own thing, apart from the common string that binds us all – the academic struggle , and they are either overenthusiastic, thinking of running away or being simply lost. Being the overenthusiastic one, I
started taking interest in academics, intercollegiate events and ‘other’ extracurricular activities. My keen interest resulted in a personal invitation to the Anatomy department, one of the many firsts. Every medical student, whether in Delhi or in any remote area which might not even exist on the map, is aware about the annual intercollegiate fest of AIIMS called PULSE, which is held in the month of September. Officially it is the biggest medical fest of South East Asia and unofficially a chance for people to come from all over the country to get stoned , washed and in the process rejuvenate those ‘grey cells’. 5th September was the closing day of the fest, and Shankar Ehsaan Loy were performing live. I, taking it as an opportunity for all of us to go to a live show, requested the warden to grant permission which he did but did not stop there.By next morning the entire Anatomy department knew of the non-issue, and a simple idea from us became an administrative problem which we had no solution. So at the end , me and my fellow partners in crime were invited to the anatomy department for a personal lecture on discipline and college rules. To sum it up, if the faculty wants to have their way, they usually do by giving hilarious reasons and even follow it up to make it sound logical.

In between all this commotion , the warden Lt Col Gyan was busy promoting the ‘buddy’ system to improve inter student relationship.
The buddy system is a commonly applied concept across the army where 2 people are paired up and told to stand for each other , no matter what. We were expected to do the same. With army instructors and 36 guinea pigs(The male students) to screw around with, such great ideas are bound to get implemented. Personally, it was one of the very few novel ideas which could have been a trend setter.

The girls from our batch were a completely different species, they actually seemed to have just landed from venus. they could be
classified into a common group with identical(not even similar) characteristics:

A. Near distance of all girls was 10 cm’s (this is purely evidence based as their books were so close to their face, the difference was
quiet slight)
B. All were pampered school girls.
C. Too nerdy , even for the medical profession.

I felt like an Allied soldier, landing at Normandy who survived boot camp and knew the task at hand, but when in actual combat, after
contacting hostiles in the area, he is blank and his only motive is survival initially, and no boot camp training comes handy, what comes to mind are his own basic instincts and wit.

 

Chapter 1 – The Beginning of Great Misadventures

“At last , starting my much awaited journey. . . of healing fellow beings, and capturing the skies. . . “

Once upon a time in Delhi, a batch of 56 students were etched in history as the pioneer batch of ACMS(Army College of medical Sciences), whether they want it there or not, is a completely different story.

Any guy or girl, irrespective of the different cultures and opinions about various issues will definitely share one opinion, that all ‘fauji’s’ are plain weird.they are basically a bunch of jolly fellows who get misunderstood from time to time either of their own acts or someone else’s . The universe somehow finds a way to fuck around with them , just to have a good time compared to other professions,a classical example being regular postings in places unheard of to the average joe, or the classical habit of drinking in the afternoon. The list is unending of course.

One of the ACMSians , Adil was very peculiar in his attitude , he claimed to be “high on life”, if someone questioned about him being a teetotaler. His adventures and misadventures form the core of the following posts.

As far as Adil’s story goes, the army faculty plans to make doctors out of ACMSians.

Every college goer has a story to tell, some are exaggerated , heart breaking, some even jaw breaking and some just don’t make any sense but are still good for a read. Adil’s life is a mixture of all the above and many more incidents which can be described only by use of politically incorrect language. The stories become more hilarious and disastrous when you join two words  together – Medicine & Army.

Dreams will be realised, some will even claim to have found the meaning of life!!!. Hearts and rules will be broken and along side many such great incidents, lessons will be learnt and doctors will be born.