I think it might be appropriate if I opened to public the saga of my college project, which was a snoring success. Wait a minute...did I say snoring? I meant roaring. Let me serve a disclaimer before I begin: what you are about to read is exactly how NOT to approach your college project. Don't blame me later if you follow my protocol and are not able to achieve the same snoring, err, roaring success that we did. BTW, I'll be using code names for the characters that played out my project saga out of their skins and getting inside the skin and getting on to one another's nerves and yet, never getting far enough, sadly.
The story begins with three characters: myself, Saty2hotty, and a "rare" case, 8 p.m. And ends with an extra character. And a much-tormented one at that. More about that later. So once, we three woke to a beautiful day and decided we must spoil it for ourselves. That must've been the day when it was announced in class that students needed to start looking out for projects. For a reason I don't remember now, we were disallowed external projects, which meant that we had to compulsorily come up with internal projects. Now, people who know me would know that I'm the last person to think up a project on my own. And people who know me prolly know Saty2hotty and 8 p.m. too because they are exactly like I am. Months and months passed until there were just three guys in the class remaining, who were yet to submit the name, mind you, JUST the NAME, of the project. It was then that we woke from our slumber. We searched frantically for a project, but who has the creativity to come up with an entirely new project? At least we didn't. We approached PCT ka BHAI for an old project but learned that you cannot redo a project done within the last three years. Bummer! Now what? Fortunately, Saty2hotty's friend, miss Moose told us that Professor Mafioso Al-Symonds was selling projects if anyone was interested. We had no option but to be interested. So we approached Mafioso Al-Symonds. Keeping the enigma alive, he told us that he'd just be the middle-man, and we'd have to coordinate with another mysterious player--Professor Moonshaker on parole--for the project. So we were all set. Mafioso Al-Symonds asked for money to begin with that he'd eventually hand over to Moonshaker on parole. I don't remember the amount now, but it was rather a heavy sum. Those days we didn't have even a फूटी कौड़ी in our torn pockets. (how can torn pockets contain anything, anyhow?) Mom gave me my bit of the money, and I pooled that up with the money from Saty2hotty and 8 p.m. We handed over the booty to Mafioso Al-Symonds. Subsequently, we were introduced to the most important and mysterious player in the game, Moonshaker on parole. He was a Maharashtrian sans the capacity to pronounce the "ळ" sound in Marathi. He would pronounce the "ळ" as a "ड," not without interesting results. When we first met him, he told us about the great trendsetting, earth-shattering project, which BTW, he had almost completed. He just wanted us to hit the nail on the head. Little did he know that we are experts at hitting the nail in the coffin. We paid him more money in exchange of one piece of hardware. He also handed over to us reams and reams of papers that contained the program he'd written to drive the hardware. As a parting note after our first meeting, he said, "हे project करायला तुम्हाला फार वेड लागणार आहे " (you are going to go mad by the time this project is complete.) We figured he meant "वेळ" and not "वेड" which changes the meaning to "you'll take a long time to finish this project." However, his earlier statement later turned out to be the unwitting prophecy of the millenium. We left him having memorized one-thirds of the project details each, for that was as much as our ostrich brains could take. Later we realized that each of us had memorized the same one-thirds, which was the name of the project.
So we were all set. To do nothing. Because most of the project was already complete. The rest can be completed in a jiffy, right? At least we thought that way. Decades and centuries and millenia passed, and we never went to him. How could we? For us to go to him, meaning, for us to "collectively" go to him, first we three needed to meet at one place. Now, the trouble with me and Saty2hotty was that though both stayed in Thane, we worked in different timezones. I was the punctual one. Saty2hotty worked according to the Beijing timezone. And 8 p.m. was always jetlagged because he stayed in Kalyan. Come on guys, Kalyan! It's like the other side of the world. So if we three never met even among ourselves, how could we go to Moonshaker on parole? So out of guilt, we started avoiding him even in college. That irked him further. He kept calling us, and we never went. "क्या रे ठाकुर, तेरेको कितनी बार बुलाया, तू आता नहीं है?" Finally, one fine day, late evening, I got a call from Saty2hotty. He told me that 8 p.m. was at his house and we were all supposed to go to meet Moonshaker on parole. Moonshaker on parole stayed in the IIT hostel in Powai. Now, my friends knew my miserliness, and assumed that I'd walk to Saty2hotty's house, which was 30 minutes apart if you walk. On the other hand, situation की नज़ाक़त को समझते हुए I decided to take a rickshaw. Saty2hotty and 8 p.m. were already downstairs, waiting for me on the road that I would come walking from. And my rickshaw took me to his house via another road. Consequently, I didn't see them downstairs, went up to meet his mom, only to learn that they'd already left. So I hurriedly caught the next bus for Powai, and off I was.
I reached the IIT campus and took the stairs to the first floor where Moonshaker on parole was staying. I was expecting to see Saty2hotty and 8 p.m.inside. But all there was inside the room was a fuming Moonshaker on parole. After hearing the customary curses as मुंहदिखाई, the next question I was asked is, "where are the other two?" Now, that stumped me, and I blurted out, "I thought they were with you." That did it.
Situation: A person who stays alone and away from his family and hence पहले से भरा बैठा हुआ (Moonshaker on parole). Probably reads too many detective novels in Hindi and watches too many spy movies. He's on the verge of completing his project, which he'll likely sumbit in IIT. He's assigned three of the most hopeless people on planet earth this task, who instead of "lagaaving chaand" to his project are lagaaving another rhyming word. He's expecting the guys to be home to discuss the future of the project. Only one of them turns up and tells him that he thinks the other two should already be with him.
Says Moonshaker on parole, "Idiot, nonsense!" (the words have been toned down so as to be unrecognizable even to the original ones used, keeping in mind a potentially sensitive audience) "I know you guys are playing games with me! Now you have come, now you'll go, then one more will come, then he'll go, then the last one will come, then he'll go!" I'm sure Moonshaker on parole was almost finished with reading the Marathi भाषांतर of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Must be something like श्रीयुत लपा आणि डॉक्टर छपी. "तुमच्या आई बाबांनी एवढा घाम गाडला आहे आणि तुम्ही बघा काय करताय!" That translates to "your mom and dad have buried sweat so much, and look what you guys are doing! Buried sweat? Then I figured he meant "गाळला" and not "गाडला". So he actually meant "your mom and dad have sweated it out for you, and look what you are doing". "Go, get the other two as well!" Now, what do I say to that? I'm buried in a pool of emotions. Firstly, I had no idea whereto these two had disappered if they'd left before me. And secondly, Moonshaker, who was on parole himself, was on the verge of making a nonbailable arrest. I somehow convinced him that it is not as if the other two are downstairs and they've sent me to pacify him first, they are just not here! That made him even more livid, and he refused to speak anything about the project with me. He asked me to get the other two the next time I came.
In the meanwhile, Saty2hotty and 8 p.m. had waited and waited for me on the other road. Finally thinking I was never going to come, they went home for a sumptuous dinner, following which 8 p.m. kissed goodbye to the land of Thane and set sail for the antipodal land of Kalyan, which Amerigo Vespucci had only narrowly missed discovering.
(Light) years passed and we never saw Moonshaker on parole again for like eons together. By this time, even he seemed to have given up on us and stopped calling us. And then suddenly, it was last semester term-end time. Most people had their projects complete by now. All we had with us was a dangling piece of hardware which we did not know what to do with nor did it itself know what it was supposed to do.
As usual, I had gone to Indian Library to study (female faces). I was there early in the morning, so I suppose it must either have been a weekend or a holiday in college. I had not had my breakfast and had thought I'll eat something in the library canteen. Time passed, and it was lunch time before I knew. I kept postponing eating anything for some reason. Then some friend handed me over his cell phone saying that it was a call from 8 p.m. 8 p.m. told me that, in accordance with the current structure of the milky way and the other galaxies, and given the fact that our सितारे were already in गर्दिश, this was the chosen day that we go and finally meet Moonshaker on parole. So I left the library without a morsel in my stomach and met Saty2hotty and 8 p.m. in Powai. We had very smartly never called Moonshaker on parole to inform him that we were coming to meet him. The rationale behind that was that when we call, he'll give us bad words. Then after we meet him, he'll repeat the bad words. So we thought we'll save him the trouble of repeating bad words and just turn up in front of him without prior intimation. So we went to his room in IIT. We knocked. Then knocked again. And again. Then again. I learnt years later during my six sigma training that it's stupid to expect different results by performing the same action over and over again. But I didn't know this at that time. So we knocked and knocked. Finally we realized that Moonshaker on parole wasn't in his room. So 8 p.m., who was the only one among us three who owned a cell phone at that time (and the phone too was only barely a cell phone), dialled Moonshaker on parole's number, which was answered with a battery of fantastic bad words that would put a sailor to shame. Moonshaker on parole ordered us to immediately come and see him. He made us realize how insensitive it was on our part to barge into his room without checking whether he's even in there. He dropped the call by telling us that he was expecting us in some place in Bandra. Now, collectively, all the money that we had was only barely enough for us to be able to afford a one-time journey to Bandra. वापस कैसे आएं? So we SMSed him, telling him that we'll see him some day later because we didn't have enough money for the return trip. This must be the first and the only time ever since the cell phone was invented that we got a reply to an SMS the exact moment we sent it. The reply read something like "I'll give money. Come now otherwise forget the project." He probably didn't know that we had long since forgotten what the project was about. Anyhow. So we hopped on to a train and reached Bandra.
He'd called us in a park of some sort. It was already late evening when we reached there. He was sitting on a swing. Thanks to all the movies that he must've been watching, on seeing us, he made a perfectly straight-faced remark, "अरे तुम्ही लोक? कसे काय आलात? अभ्यासात काही अडचणी आहेत का? चला solve करूया ." After that needlees, but equally flawless perfomance, he got down to business. He started off by saying that he was unwilling to continue with us and that he was not going to hand us over the remaining piece of hardware because of how we'd behaved and all. We tried our best to butter him up, and after he was satified with all the attention and the importance we gave him, he finally got down to THE thing. And let me assure you, it was QUITE a thing.
He started with his own रामकहानी. He told us how Mafioso Al-Symonds had cheated him and just given him 200 or 300 Rupees out of the fortune that we'd given Mafioso Al-Symonds. Another time, it seems, Mafioso Al-Symonds had duped Moonshaker on parole by lying to him that his (Al-Symonds') wife was unwell and taking money from him and then taking the same wife on a trip to Matheran (possibly to make her unwell?) So all this had caused tremendous anger to get bottled up inside Moonshaker on parole's hairy chest. And he wanted to use us to avenge all that. Us?! How were we in even in the same frame? Here's what Moonshaker on parole's plan was: We were supposed to return to college the next day and make Mafioso Al-Symonds naked in front of everyone. Ahem, I suppose idioms translated from Hindi to English don't necessarily end up bearing the same connotation. So, what I meant was, Moonshaker on parole wanted us to expose Mafioso Al-Symonds to the whole department by telling everyone how he had wronged Moonshaker on parole. Saty2hotty listened to the plan with rapt attention, and when finally when Moonshaker on parole finished narrating his plan, Saty2hotty started asking him the details and how exactly we were to execute the plan. I kept hitting Saty2hotty's fleshy sides with my elbow, but he probably didn't feel that. So I interrupted by telling Moonshaker on parole that it wasn't fair on his part to drag us into this ugly clash of the titans. With the dialogue delivery of Pran, Moonshaker on parole told us, "One of you will call me tomorrow morning, sharp at 9:00 a.m. You are not going to say hello. No greetings. All you'll say is either yes or no." That meant he'd given us until the following morning to tell him whether we were ready to expose Mafioso Al-Symonds to the college.
We left Moonshaker on parole, and discussed the plan of action as we left the park. Suddenly, Saty2hotty, made a contorted face and told us that he HAD to go take a shit, or his bowels would burst out. We told him that he can use the toilet in Bandra station. Here's his answer: "I can't do it anywhere except the toilet in my own home!!" Beat that.
Situation: Three helpless guys faced with a hopeless situation. One of them wants to go back home because he does not like shitting (or is incapable of shitting) anywhere except his home toilet. Wow!
So we let him go. That left me with 8 p.m. We spent more time discussing what to do, and finally we decided that it would be dangerous not to give in to Moonshaker on parole's demands, and that it would be even more dangerous if we did what he'd asked us to do. So the thinking was clear. We were NOT doing what he'd asked us to do. So it was time to head back home. We reentered Bandra station and traveled to Dadar. When we reached Dadar, we saw the last local train of the night leave from another platform, wriggling its backside at us mockingly. The immediate thought that came to my mind is that my granny stays in Mahim, which is not too far from Dadar. I proposed to 8 p.m. that we stay at her place for the night. But 8 p.m. had other plans. With a beautiful and serene face, he told me that his aunt stays at a stones throw. That was great news. So we left for his aunt's mysterious abode, of which the whereabouts 8 p.m. hadn't told me yet.
And we walked.
And we walked.
And we walked.
By now, I was beginning to feel extremely hungry. Remember, I hadn'd eaten a thing ever since I'd woken that day. And it was past midnight then. Collectively we had something like 3.5 Rupees with us, and 8 p.m. had his cell phone. He hid his cell phone in his underwear lest we were robbed and it was stolen. Now, those of you who know 8 p.m. will know that robbing him is the last thing that'd be on anyone's mind; people would keep away from him out of the fear of him robbing them. We spent the 3.5 Rupees in buying a cheap cigarette and drinking half चुस्की worth of coffee from the cycle wala who sells coffee during the night time.
And then we walked.
And we walked.
And we walked.
We traversed a highway for the longest duration I've known. On the way, we encountered dusty cars and wrote bad words addressing Mafioso Al-Symonds and Moonshaker on parole using our fingers. I sang Kishore saab's songs to 8 p.m.'s फ़रमाइशes. I kept asking me where his aunt stays, and he would keep telling me that she's stays at a stones throw.
Finally, when it was 4:15 a.m., we reached the house of his aunt. Do you know where she stays? SANDHURST ROAD!!! Holy crap! we walked 4 hrs from Dadar to Sandhurst road in the middle of the night!
After a few doorbell rings, his aunt finaly opened the door and her eyes were on the verge of popping out seeing us in the middle of the night. Almost as if she'd seen a ghost. Now, we don't look much different from how ghosts would. But that's a different matter. 8 p.m. told her some fantastic story as to how we landed up there in the middle of the night. She either bought it or didn't take it very seriously because it came from 8 p.m. In any event, she let us in. She made for us jam and bread, and for the record, that's the tasiest food I've ever tasted in my life. No wonder. I had been starving for hours together. We took a nap, and boarded the first local train to return to our homes.
In the morning, 8 p.m. called Moonshaker on parole and said "नाही."
Weeks passed. Now we did not subtly avoid Moonshaker on parole in college; we would cross the road when we'd see him approaching from the same direction. We'd whistle past nonchalantly when we'd pass him. He was short, and we never "looked down upon him" to notice his bloodshot eyes.
Days into this, I started searching the internet for projects that can be completed using the hardware we had! I wish that piece of hardware writes its autobiography some day. Only then you'd understand the illusionmment and doubt in its own existence that it was facing.
Then came the breakthrough. Saty2hotty and 8 p.m. contacted me one day and told me that they had somehow convinced Moonshaker on parole to give us the remaining piece of hardware and complete the project. How they did it is still a mystery to me. So finally, we were to meet Moonshaker on parole again. Now check out what hapened next.
It was evening time, and we got off the bus in Powai. We walked through the security toward the staircase. Very feebly from somewhere, the song "ओढ़नी ओढ़के नाचूं" was playing. I don't have a clue what got into Saty2hotty and 8 p.m., but they suddenly started dancing. I swear this is true. They started dancing as if they had reahearsed an elaborate stage performance for the song. Not missing one beat and making appropriate actions for each line. 8 p.m. had an imaginary Odhani in his hands and was wrapping it around his neck with liquid grace. And all this, while we were climbing the steps that lead to Moonshaker on parole's room. My mouth was wide agape in amazement. (though I must confess that had I not been such a poor dancer, I might have prolly joined them in their dance.) "Ambivalence" is a mild word for this and "multivalence" does not apply, but I don't remember another occasion in my life when I felt so many emotions at the same time. Amazement. Horror. Amusement. Appreciation. Hopelessness. Helplessness. The list can go on. As we approached Moonshaker on parole's room, the music increased to a crescendo, and just as I had suspected, it was coming his room itself! I urged these guys to stop. But they were too immersed in their बरात dance. As we approached the room, I realized that the door was open. I don't know how these guys managed to do this, but JUST as we stepped in, they stopped the dance and appeared completely serious. Phew. Otherwise we'd almost blown it. Again.
Moonshaker on parole was stern and demanded more money. When we paid him, he finally gave us the remaining piece of hardware.
Subsequently, whenever we three would meet, we'd try to coax the two hardware into entering into a mutual agreement with each other and somehow working. That never happened. We even traveled to Grant road or Lamington road to buy the most random stepper motor (which I've saved even today as a memento). We finally pieced together the hardware and the motor. Remember, the hardware and software were already ready. So our Herculean contribution to the project was to reconcile the deliberately separated hardware and join them with a stepper motor using the two "likeliest" wires. What we'd set out to do when we were given this project was to build and elaborate frame on which the stepper motor would move in a zigzag manner and carry a transducer that'd scan objects in front of it. Wow.
Finally it was time to demonstrate the project to our HOD before the final viva. Saty2hotty as usual arrived late. By that time, I'd probably already "demoed" the project to the HOD. 8 p.m. never arrievd.
When I asked 8 p.m. the next day why he hadn't come, he told me that he'd come until the gate of the college and gone back because he was not in the mood. Awesome.
Finally we showed the project to the external examiner and gave him as much चूरण as we could. The demo happened with me holding one piece of the hardware, Saty2hotty holding the other piece, 8 p.m. holding the stepper motor by the neck, trying to move it, and the external examiner holding his head in disbelief. He didn't even know what to remark because what we had showed him was obviously beyond his understanding.
Despite all this, I scored 80 in my project. Those were probably the marks the examiner meant to give all three of us combinedly. Don't know what happened there. Anyway, I did score a first class as well, thanks to a good score in my theory papers.
After all this, it was time to return the "project" to Moonshaker on parole. By this time, the hardware had taken a beating and was hardly functional. The stepper motor was almost never functional. The transducer had an identity crisis. And the reams of papers that contained the program were supposedly with one of us three, but in reality they weren't with any of us. Moonshaker on parole did not have a backup of the program. I don't know what he did with the hardware that we returned him. After the लेवाण-देवाण was complete (or incomplete), he told us "आता तुम्ही पडा" which translates to "Now you three fall down." We figured he meant "आता तुम्ही पळा" which translates to "Now you guys leave". And even after all this, we came out his room rather happy because just before we left, he told us, "ये तो कुछ भी नहीं है, मैंने तो अपने project guide को बहुत ज़्यादा तंग किया था." इससे भी ज़्यादा?! Wow. Then I'm glad we met him! Whatever I do, I'm never going to be a project guide for anyone for the fear of history repeating itself.
I thought we'd seen the last of Moonshaker on parole that day, but I was wrong. One day near my home in Thane when I was walking on the road, Moonshaker on parole made a mystic appearance right in front of me out of thin air. His last words to me were, "फिर, आज कल किसको चु** बना रहे हो?"