It was the summer of '86 and they were the worst of times and the best of times!
I had drawn a blank at the JEE (you know what I am talking about…) and a group of us were sitting at the Marina beach in Madras, discussing possible colleges for the two of us in the whole group who had failed to enter the hallowed portals of IIT.
That's when I got Ramachandran's number…"He is an ex-DAV" my friend said, "and is attending this college in some place called Osmanabad"
Ramachandran turned out to be a great guy who gave me answers to a great many questions...And a part of the conversation I had with this ex-DAVian is what you see upper-right.
So I enrolled at the College of Engineering-Osmanabad. And am I glad I did!!
Osmanabad - is a bustling small town about 2 hours drive by bus from the nearest railway link which is Solapur. Initially, the college was in a place called "Dhoki" - a rustic pastoral outback which had a sugar factory and a set of college students!
True to the nature of the place and its one redeeming factory whose primary activity was distilling, there never seemed to be a dearth of good spirits, particularly the liquid kind.
The first guy I met was Hemant Jogalekar (now a Major in the Indian Army)-who as I entered the dorm, silently pushed his cot to one corner and gave me room and a smile.
It was easy to make friends and we explored the place, starting at the small temple and ending at the eatery.
We maybe attended 2 classes at Dhoki, before migrating to the college at Osmanabad.
I remember the journey - Our meager belongings were piled on an open truck and we sat on them. "Sam - the Voice" - regaled us with rugby jokes and limericks I don't want to print here.
Destination - Shalimar Hostel- Verdant greenery and a communications tower. That's the present minds impression of this hostel. We had a volleyball court at the center of a quadrangle of rooms and a mess which served chappatis and dal the year round.
The college was about 2 kms away and we had a lone bus connecting two villages shingoli - Wadgaon which plied when it wanted to and ferried reluctant students to their classes. Most of the times, we walked up to a nearby check-post and hitched rides on trucks plying interstate.
Academics was tough and most of us didn't have a clue about our exams. Almost all flunked all papers and you were a hero of sorts if you cleared 4 out of the 5 in the initial semester. Sadly, for a majority of the students - The nightmare had begun!
Realization dawned late and it was obvious antics and horsing around wasn't helping pass exams! We hit the books and things started getting better. We cleared our final first year exams and looked forward to the second year of Engineering by which time you would be allotted your major. I chose Electronics.