The 1974 Revelation

Dedicated to Varun “Popup” N. Ramakrishna …… cos’ “Saras is the Mothership!”

T’was right after Sharav Nite’08, roughly a year ago. Popup and I slipped out during the dance fest. Weren’t terribly interested in watching wing videos and neither of us boozed anyway (that changed for him soon after). I was leading him on one of these idea trails of mine again. We were going to do it. In the dead of night, we were going to climb 1974.

Minas Class of 1974

We made our way through the woods toward the structure towering like a beacon, reminding my of that MIB flying saucer mounted on cylindrical pylons. A brief scouting exercise to make sure no security guard was in proximity, and we were at the door, illuminating the path with cellphone lights. Black rusty stairs, thick steel borders to painted inch-squared seive-like wire-meshes, zig-zagging upward into a dark infinity, a Stairway to my kind of Heaven. Climbing that dark citadel was a Half-Life moment. 12 * 15 = 180 (Couldn’t resist counting). As we began to feel the wind again we could hear whispers. Apparently we weren’t the only ones up here. It hit us that this was an awesome place to bring one’s girlfriend for a long chat or two. Experienced a sense of loneliness, and self-pity at how little we’ve done with 20 odd years of our lives. We left half the space to that couple.

We pretended a need to speak softly and to crawl on our bellies when getting too close to the railings, so as to stay out of line-of-sight of the guards stationed at Taramani gate. Sangam was lit-up with fog-lights, a tiny dirt pit amidst black jungle of roots and concrete. I can’t recall which teams were playing. Despite being smack in a forest reserve, the sky was hardly starry. Chennai cityscape filled the horizon, a caterpillar of lights traversed along the metro-train tracks. Tall street-lamps lit a super-straight four-lane road that stretched eastward. Much later I’d find out that the Sun rises almost exactly above the divider. Almost, but not quite. We had a good view into the quadrangles of certain hostels (Godav, Jam), and could mark out the rooms of people we knew from the far off ones as well (Saras, Ganga, Thambi). Sharav was a fortress of lights. Strangely, the sounds didn’t carry all the way.

As we lay on our backs, staring into clouds, I was compelled to close my eyes, and then it hit me. For the next half-hour, I soaked it all in. The sounds. Popup breathing, the student couple reminiscing from the other half, team-mates shouting at each other as the soccer ball pitched off court, crickets chirping on some odd banyan tree. The longer I listened, the more the world revealed itself: culinary utensils and loud speakers at the night canteen, water gushing out of a tap in a bog, movie excerpt from a computer in some room, leaves brushing against each other in the night wind, a scooter honking outside the compound wall. There seemed to be no end to it: a musical concert with ancient instruments being performed at the temple, boeing engines roaring from a thousand feet above, iron tracks vibrating to trains passing on them, rediculously high-frequency flapping of wings of that bug that woke me up. All those novels I’ve read, with panaromic descriptions of mundane occurrences in some named city on some hot summer night, I think its moments like these that inspired them all. So much structure, so much to tell, each a worthy story screaming to make its existence known. And yours is one among many. One doesn’t always get a birds-eye view of things unlike when one is atop 1974, even in darkness, but since that day forth, every once in a great while I shut my lids and listen to an invisible Universe. Little things like a bad drumming session by some noobie in a music room, the CPU cooling fans changing speeds with ambient temperature,  two alpha-male blackbuck knocking their skulls together, the negative feedback screech from the bose speakers at CLT, creepy elevator music at the library, GSM cellphone signals picked-up by the computer speakers, ball-point pens scratching paper during quiz-hour, and waves dying at the beach.

I don’t quite know how to put it down in words. A shift in focus accompanied by momentary humility? A heightened sense of things? Recognizing the value of our other senses? The art of counter-meditation and voluntary self-distraction? An excuse for occasionally zoning out? I learnt something up there, I know I did. Damn, I should have written this a year ago. I’m so going to miss this place…..

IITM Trivia:

  • Sharav stands for Sharavathi, one of 2 “girls’ Hostels” at IITM. Saras, Godav, Jam, Ganga, et cetera are a few of the “boys’ Hostels”.
  • Sangam is a football field situated between Saras and Godav.
  • A Hostel Nite is an annual event held to honour yearly achievements, kiss the passouts goodbye and party all night long.
  • 1974 is how I refer to a >80 feet tall concrete water tower erected (paid for) by the “Class of 1974”, and dominates the skyscape at the IITM hostel zone. Its a shame it remains locked these days. The view from above is quite something.
  • CLT stands for “Central Lecture Theater”.

5 Responses to “The 1974 Revelation”

  1. And we all know how to have our own ‘batch of 2008’ tower, Now, dont we.
    RSS is one really good thing i missed, apart from Hourglass of course.
    Killler stuff Traums

  2. Saras is the mothership! 😀 Trippy stuff.

  3. Absolutely brilliant. Makam and I had been on top once, too, and it was a surreal experience. I don’t know, I’ve started getting extremely nostalgic and sentimental about IITM already!

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