Come August, Can Freshers' Be Far Behind

As August came, it brought with it many things. A sweltering summer, a sudden end to a long, sweet holiday ( after the end of the semestrals) and a bitterness of spirits, as the happy-go-lucky holiday mood was suddenly confronted with tensions of an impending series of class-tests.

But, fortunately enough, every cloud has a silver lining and so, August also ushered in with it, a batch of refreshing freshers through the gates of I.S.I. Calcutta, greeted by the petrified vision of Prasanta Chandra Mahalonobis past the memory-haunted Amrapali, where once the legendary "He" lived. Dainties can never be complete without the sweetness of a dessert and, so is the arrival of freshers in I.S.I. Calcutta, it never goes without a sweet-and-sour Freshers' Welcome. Thus, as the greenhorns in I.S.I. gradually settled down, time came to "welcome" them.

Finally, the day came, it was Tuesday, August 17 and everyone was getting ready for the show. The past few days saw picture-posters, being stuck on walls (the writing was clear too), telling stories of not-too-sweet dreams, haunting "fresh" memories. Added with it, was the message of "cordial invitation" and slowly tension drew its line in apprehension on the new faces. The day broke grey and dull, but there was a "freshness" in air, suggestive of something special. As we were busy, making the last-minute preparations, Nature was preparing too, in her own way. It started with a drizzle, mild enough to take notice of, but soon, things were worse. The sky dressed up (maybe for "Freshers 99") in jet-black cap-a-pie and the torrential downpour left all (perhaps, even the "cats and dogs") as hapless witnesses. However, allís well that ends well and somehow, we managed in the long run to make the necessary arrangements within the stipulated time. Things were thus all set to start and it finally began at 5-45 p.m. Some of the senior professors (including the Dean of Studies) were kind enough to attend the programme and we will be thankful to them for their wonderful sense of participation. The newcomers were called one by one on stage and there was the whole lot of senior students in the audience to hurl the most uncomfortable questions at them. I don't know, what one's face looks like, when his car-tyre bursts in a deserted place at midnight, or he founds himself bankrupt, or his girlfriend leaves him for a better partner, or he gets an undue "undo" which he fails to clear, or he locks his room with its only key inside, or ......blah, blah, blah, but a mixture of all the "cherished" emotional feelings, aroused by such situational hazards, could not be concealed from the face of each individual, as he was called on stage. Some of them turned out to be "much ado about nothing" as they were sent back only after some standard questions like trigonometric (maybe "tan") interpretations of lay man's behavioral obsessions and things of the sort. But, for some, cases were a bit different. A fresher entertained the audience by his innovative ballet dancing with the microphone, prodigal enough to stimulate enthusiastic audience-reactions (though they cannot be singularly called applauding). Like him, some of them, owing to their over-enthusiasm and garrulous nature, had to face a bit longer question session, till their wits end. Some of the wittier ones, however, got through early. But all were given the chance to soothen their harassed tongues with the veritable dishes, served to them (though I don't know exactly, whether "chickens" like chicken-rolls). There were, however, some true talent shows too, that went to prove once again that talents are never scarce in ISI. Someone played the touching "Mera Jeevan Kora Kagaz" in Hawaiian guitar and indeed there were many a "Devdas" in the audience to feel the poignancy of the moving melody. Someone else played " My heart will go on" in the flute and his "breath-taking" performance was indeed "heartily" applauded. To add colour it, another one sang "Rangeela Re" and then he proved that music knows not the barrier of language by singing a "Ghulam" number (Kya Bolti Tu) in the tune of a Jagjit Singh ghazal. There was no dearth of enthusiasm anywhere, and particularly mentionable among them was the participation of the seniors, some of whom have left ISI now. People even flew from places like Chicago just to get to know their descendants better. It was clear that ISI binds all ISIans (maybe erstwhile) by a bond that cannot be explained logically.

However, all's well that ends well and to end well, it should end in time. This harsh fact was soon realized (not too soon in fact) and the comperes were forced to ration time in the later stages to everyone's dismay. Thus, finally the programme came to an end and the last but not the least was the felicitation of some of the freshers, who proved their class above (or below) others. The "best fresher" was awarded a set of (non-functional) batteries to charge them up with his energy and enthusiasm, the "most colourful fresher" (Rangeela-wala) was awarded a bottle of colours, the "vaguest fresher" was awarded a "magic oil" (Beler Tel) and a piece of sandpaper to smoothen his rough edges and the "most boring fresher" was awarded some screws that were "lost and found." After the prizes were distributed and the receivers of them (those on the receiving end) were happy and satisfied, time came to end. So ultimately, it was all over. We wrapped things up and we prepared to leave, we the B-2s, who arranged the show, felt sincerely thankful all the students and faculty-members who participated and helped making the programme, a success. We were even thrilled to recall how we felt on this day, one year before, when we were the freshers. It was after that very day, that we realized that age is no barrier in friendship and it gave us some of the closest friends, many of whom, we dreaded I as fierce seniors only a day before. So, we did not feel thankful to the "freshers" for their participation, because we realized that they are "freshers" no more.