Trip to Pilani... a wife's experience ...
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Posted by: BITSAA Newsletter
BITSians reminiscing about their days in Pilani campus in not uncommon. We encounter blogs, mail threads, word-press posts, Sandpaper 2.0 articles, tweets, Facebook status messages and many more where each BITSian recollects his/her chapters from the garland of Pilani memories.
How does it sound when a BITSian's spouse embarks the task of writing the Pilani experiece? Dinesh Maheshwari, (70E05024) and his wife Archana Maheshwari visited the Pilani campus for the Coral Jubilee event of batch 70-75 in October 2009.
We found a an excerpt from Archana's dairy and could not stop reading it the moment we started it. Read on for yourself ...
For the last 30 years I have heard stories about Pilani, not once but every
time my husband met another Pilanian. I've seen his face light up at the
mention of Pilani. Same stories repeated again and again and again, till
their wives had most of them memorized. I was curious to know what attracts
thousands of Pilanians to this remote University town, 200kms south of Delhi.
Around 75 Pilanians from all over the world were headed towards Pilani for
the coral jubilee celebration of the 70-75 batch from Oct 24th to 27th. The
mood of the weekend started with the initial meeting at the bus stop in
Delhi. For my husband, the anticipation and excitement was no different than
a child going back to school to meet his friends after a long summer
holiday. The experience was surreal… seeing all those ‘old’ faces in
different form and sizes and trying to match the name to the appearance....
some seeing each other after their graduation, some having met only one or
two times in the last 35 years. The bus ride from Delhi to Pilani was
another experience... where all the wives were pushed to the front and the
hooting, shouting, and laughter filled the back of the bus with all those
grown up men re-living the 'good old days' How true, however old you may
get there is always a child within!
We got a hearty welcome by the students at the VFast Guest House.
Sunday lunch was at the RPA mess. I’m sure every wife must have heard about
the bread pakoras, peeli dal, kali dal, mirch ki, bina mirch ki, aloo chips,
kasata ice cream, that big bowl of fruit cream, and aloo parathas every
Sunday. We got a taste of most of these delicacies over a period of 3 days
and wondered why we have been challenged for the last so many years not to
compete with those preparations. However I may wonder, I decided not to try.
A visit to one of the hostel rooms was also an experience. Not one of them
complained about the basic amenities in their hostels. They still had a lot
of enthusiasm in their voice when they talked about the wooden cot without a
mattress, a wooden chair without a cushion, a large size tin trunk perched
on a ledge to store their stuff when they left for vacation, no water
fountains, no TV, just a radio and caroms for entertainment, playing cricket
in the hallway, enjoying maalish on the window parapets in the winters. Not
much has changed since then except that every room has an internet
connection and the windows have been covered with grill. I wonder if the
same Pilanians are as accepting and appreciative of their surroundings as
they were 35 years back.
CP was as I had expected - a small street with a lone barber and stationary
shop, the Volga restaurant, and the crispy dosas. Just outside the campus
beside the bus stand was the famous Nutan where they used to go for chai and
milkshakes in the night. This was the Las Vegas of these Pilanians for 5
years. If you think of it, it doesn’t take too much too make a man happy. We
took several informal walks around the campus and sat on the lawns,
recalling the little anecdotes like the campus strikes they organized, the
classes they bunked, the daring bets they made, inside jokes, walks to Mira
Bhawan, photography competitions, music programs, etc. Everything was so
fresh in their minds.
Walk to the Shivganga was very pleasant and refreshing. In the middle of a
desert, a scintillating fountain flowing under the bridge with a Shiva
statue and a guesthouse in the center. Made of white marble with myriads of
pigeons on the pinnacle, the Birla Mandir is indeed a landmark of Pilani.
The state-of-the-art lecture theatres, museum, and the library were worth a
visit. The interest to go to the CEERI was not to hear about the research
and innovations, but to visit the auditorium where a movie was screened
every week. Those were the days!
The music nite on the 25th brought back many “Yadein”. The packed audi
resounded with songs like “Koi lauta de mere beetein huai din…” It was not
only the alumni who went down the ‘trip to memory lane’, but even the old
Professors remembered the favorite songs sung by their old students - “Hari
hari vasundhra…” sung by Azhar Kazmi, “Ae kaatibe taqdeer…” by Dinesh
Sharma, and “Ek shab ke musafir…” by Dinesh Maheshwari. The informal music
sittings till dawn... as if being transported to the same era where they
were 35 years ago, making music together, dedicating songs to special
Alumni’s initiatives of honoring their old professor and caring to give back
to BITS through a Trust were commendable.
Pilani is a small town with very basic amenities, but even after 35 years,
my husband has an ache to come home... home to Pilani. I figured out why… to
see those familiar surroundings where he 'grew up', to see the one place
that ‘shaped’ who he is, the place that gave him an ‘extended family’, and
be a part of the magic of this small town away from all the glitz of any
city. Each one of those 75 Pilanians are so successful today in their
respective lives and all of them started their careers from BITS... and yet
after 35 years nothing has changed, they still seem to be family for each