LOVE AT SECOND SIGHT: CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 3

Seven Years Ago

Imperial Law College, one of the most coveted law colleges in the country. Every law student wanting to make a comfortable living wanted to get here. People could kill for a seat here. When the results came out, Janaki declared “I will not give the IIT JEE exam”. She couldn’t anyway. She hadn’t taken her admit card. She had a feeling that she would get a seat here and thus she never bothered with the damned engineering exam. The first merit list came out and she saw her name bold and clear, Janaki Desai and she even decided to drop her Delhi University seats. She was so ready to take the college on that she just started looking up the Constitution of India on the internet. The next thing was to make it her Facebook status. It was going to be a piece of cake and five years later she will be working in Amarchand Mangaldas making a killing in a year.

On the first day of college, the things the college threw at her, she was doubting her piece of cake theory. 5 project reports, one in each subject, citation systems for the projects and that is separate from the normal studies. The normal studies was also filled with readings that for some reason were always prescribed from outside the book. She always thought, why do they even give us this book, when they don’t teach from it. But these weren’t the biggest problems of her life. The most difficult thing in college was the library. They had access only to two floors and those two were so difficult to handle, the thought of having to deal with three more floors later was well dreadful. There was a lot of work to be done here.

But she liked her roommates. Every room had three, in her case it was Andrea and Sasha. Andrea was a Kerala Christian and Sasha like Janaki herself was born and brought up in Delhi. They got along well. They did not have a lot of petty roommate fights in the beginning. It was still the first year, things were simple, uncomplicated and innocent. They slowly learnt the ways of life in a law college. Moots, Alternate Dispute Resolution Competitions or better known as ADRs, how to deal with projects which meant getting good scores on your projects with minimum effort. Handling subjects that were tough, sharing notes and most importantly internships. Lots of things came along the way, being freshers and hence getting ragged, the college fest, freshers parties that were thrown for her batch and the ones her batch threw for their juniors. Slowly, if law school and Janaki did not become friends but they decided to have a passive agreement on letting the other live.

There could have been a breach of this agreement in the third year when life did get hell. All law subjects and that all of tough. She wanted to literally hang herself from her own hostel’s room’s ceiling fan. It was crazy. What she considered to be unholy grounds, the library, she found herself sitting there everyday and not for the air conditioning but actually for studying. It was a downhill road and it was getting steeper by the day. She could never understand why they couldn’t shift the subjects around a bit so that it becomes a bit easier on students. Then she realised wait, I was in ILC. She always remembered this one line the VC had said when they had gone to ask him for holidays in between the exams “This is the standard of ILC, our students are such that they can write 5 exams in 5 days and even then be ready to win an international moot the next day”, yes why not? She had thought.

It was another gruelling day, when she heard of the play that was being made in the college. It was a yearly thing, one play was made by the students of the entire college and the writer with other esteemed guests was invited to the college to see the theatrical presentation of the book or play that had been chosen by the students. She loved theatre but never as a performer but always as an appreciator. She preferred being in the audience and never showed a lot of interest in the auditions that were always a big deal. But this time, how could she refuse, they were picking up one of her favourite books, The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan, the beautiful retelling of the lovestory of Jehangir and Mehrunnisa. She deliberated on it over a long time. She was in the third year… times were tough… did she have time to spare… that too for a play,.. could she balance both… would it affect her studies… All of this plus she wanted to try mooting this year. But it was her favourite book- and the most wonderfully written characters were calling her to themselves.

She got up, with a start, in full vie of everyone sitting in the library and decided, she had never treated herself to something like that. She should at least give it a shot, not that she was the best of the actors, that she will say a dialogue and they will be waiting for her with open arms to be their Mehrunnisa. Then Andrea pulled her top, Janaki looked at her, she realised, she was in the library and sat down and told Andrea the epiphany she had just had. She read the invitation mail carefully, noted the time and place for the audition.

It was after two days. She finished all her work by 5 that evening and by 5:15, she stood outside the door of the audition room. She knocked and was surprised to see that she was the first one. She waited, slowly, people started coming, it was already 5:45 and still no sign of the organisers, which were the fourth years. Then she saw Sasha come in, Janaki motioned towards the seat next to her and she sat down and finally at 5:50 the fourth years came in. They were least bothered about the fact that they were late. Ahh.. the fourth years, they think that now that they are done with the third year, they are the kings of the world, no respect for others’ time. Never mind, she thought, its for the book. They began explaining the story and laid out the roles for which auditions would be conducted. They started taking down names for each role. Janaki raised her hand for Meherunnisa.

They distributed the lines. She read her lines again and again to herself. Sasha told her to shush. That is when he walked in, “Sorry guys. Hi I am Raghunath Diwan. I will be directing the play and well have written the script. I hope you guys like it.  I got caught up in something. Thanks for taking out your time for us. We really really appreciate this and I think they have told you about the book and the adaptation we are doing, it is a great book, I advice you all to read, irrespective of whether you play a role in the play or not. I have a copy, you guys can borrow i whenever you want to” and gave a beaming smile. She wanted to shout “I have read the book, even I have a copy”.

He was so polite and nice. She couldn’t place him, but actually she never really knew most of her seniors, but she guessed he was another fourth year. But he was so handsome, he couldn’t be one of them. He wore a U S Polo T shirt and khaki pants, but he wore them with an almost royal elan. His face exuded warmth and confidence. It was as if, she was destined to be his Mehrunissa and he her Jehangir.

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I AM 2/10th OF A LAWYER

Huh! Another semester got over and 20% of my law school education is over. Two semesters done or my entire first year is over, I am not a fresher anymore :(. But I will have juniors now hehehehehahaha…… No I vow to be the best senior ever, one to which juniors can look up to and ask whatever questions they have without having any fear. But that is all in the future, let’s talk about the semester that just went by. My results aren’t out yet but I think I will pass. You never know in our college, you can sweat your ass off but it all depends on how the teacher feels when they look at your paper, believe me I have seen that through my mid semesters. So I had had 5 subjects Contracts-I, English-II, Political Science-II, Criminal Law-I and Law of Torts-II.

Contracts was about the Indian Contract Act, 1872 and 2 sections of Specific Relief Act, 1963; Section 10 and Section 14 to be precise. English-II, I never really understood the point of it, business communication….. I know I am studying in the college to be a lawyer and communication plays an important role but I really don’t understand how understanding differences in communication due to culture is going to help me plead my case better unless I am trying someone under Section 499 of the IPC which is about defamation but I guess I can work around that. Criminal Law was the one class that I really enjoyed, it wasn’t spectacular but it wasn’t drop dead boring either. Torts……. TORTS, I think I lost a part of my soul because of this subject, I will explain that as we go. Political Science, we all love our Pol Sci teacher, I think we will actually miss his classes, but this year the syllabus was too much that I think I had a breakdown while learning the whole of it for my end sems.

Now lets dissect each one of them. Contracts, I can swear on all my gods that I never paid attention in his class, barring may be a few days when say I forgot my phone in my room or battery was running low or maybe I had had a divine intervention and I thought, no, I should pay attention in Contracts. I am sorry, but it is physically impossible to do that and emotionally painful. I am not kidding. We had two teachers. The male teacher has this odd habit of saying wakey-wakey when he enters the class. Are we in freaking II grade that we need to be told that. The other one was all the more fantastic, she came in and just started, as if, if she doesn’t do that she will not remember what she has to teach. And she can talk without a break. I don’t know how she does that. This was a deadly combo because basically I have given my exams on my understanding if my textbooks. Because even if you pay attention, I don’t really know what they talk about probably because it is connected to the previous class or whatever, but I really don’t think I can help anyone with their contracts problems.

English is supposed to be my bitch but this semester, I literally cried for half an hour before I actually started learning because I just didn’t know why I was doing whatever I was doing. Business communication lessons is something that are taken up as , you know, by speakers to help motivate kids. You can’t mark people on their knowledge of that. I mean we were supposed to learn stuff like what are the ways to resolve conflict and what are the steps for same for an English exam. Why Why ???? But I had fun with the plays this time, if you remember what I wrote about directing Pygmalion this semester, the only time when I felt I was doing something related to English, you know, the whole concept of expressing yourself. I really did not like this semester’s syllabus for English, last time was fun. This time the syllabus was just plain simple weird.

Criminal, again, I did no have a lot of qualms about. Nice teachers cleared my concepts and the classes were fun to attend. The Criminal law class was one of those you wanted to attend. But there is one thing that happened in the Criminal Law class that I think we all will remember for eternity. So you know how attendances are to be taken everyday. It was another day when our attendance was to be taken. We had two teachers this semester. One was a Masters and the other was a PhD. Our main teacher, lets call him TA was obviously the one with the PhD and the Masters one was the ancillary teacher, lets call him TB. Now TB was going to take the attendance that day and he thought that he will be ingenious and started going to every seat and asked the students for their roll numbers and marked them on his sheet. Our main teacher, TA came running, snatched, I repeat, snatched the sheet from his hand, went to the mike in the class and started taking the attendance roll number wise, but before he did remark that TB was wasting the class of the time. We all looked at each other dumb founded…..

Political Science was damning this time. We studied International relations this semester. Man realism, Neo-Realism, Liberalism, Neo-Liberalism , Feminism, Marxist Approach and what not. these are the major schools that I am talking about, there were many minor ones that came along the way. The syllabus was too much. I think I cried a bit while trying to learn all of it. It was physically impossible to learn all of it. Oh wait I don’t think I have told you but we sit for all our exams at one go, as in, one in a day. So basically for one exam we have 21 hrs to learn everything. We obviously start learning a few weeks in advance but you still have to revise whole of it in one go. And the best thing (sarcasm) our exam department did this time was change our exam slot from 9 to 12 to 2 to 5 in the afternoon, for crying out loud, it is scientifically proven to be the least productive time of the day. We tried our level best to get it changed. But it was the exam department and that to of a government college, we knew it was a lost battle when we started out but it felt good that we did not let go without a fight.

Talking about the exam department reminded of another beautiful blunder they committed. So we have to sit for a 50 marker for our end semesters, we get our question papers and they are for drumroll please…………….. 70 marks yes 70 and we were going to get the same time for it that is 3 hours because our precious teachers could not stay after their payday got over at 5. Our invigilators told us to read our papers after we pointed this error out and thus for 15 minutes we were just reading the papers waiting for further directive from the concerned teacher or department. The teacher came, he saw and he said “There will be no changes”… We just laughed for a few minutes actually waiting for him to tell us the truth. But when he did not budge, we inquired about extra time and he said that no extra time will be given and when we said that we have been waiting for the past 15 minutes, he plain and simple said that we shouldn’t have done that. Height of indifference.

Last and definitely the least TORTS, I never thought I could hate a person that much, my Torts teacher. I have contemplated killing her…… literally, going to her office in the tea-break with an over sweet cup of coffee mixed with rat poison and watch her drink it and the slowly choke. I know morbid but please just sit in her class and then decide. She is a pigeon, you know how you always consider them to be dumb and they have the annoying habit of shaking their neck front and back and they make that sound ‘hoo’. Just imagine the human form of a pigeon, that is our torts teacher. It was maddeningly irritating to ask her a question. She had standard responses- “I have taught this already”, “You were not paying attention, I have taught this already”, “I have taught this, now the class will give the answer” and after saying any one of these, she would shake her neck like a pigeon and make the sound “hmm” again and again and again and again and again and then when we thought she was done, she would yet again make the sound. Now if she would have genuinely taught it what was the big deal, no she didn’t teach…… she had this notion that she has taught and imagined us to understand everything. The thing is she will mention a word somewhere in a sentence and will expect us to know what it meant and the whole of history, geography and demographics. She has some serious communication issues. She forms a certain impression of where she wants the conversation to go and then when you try to talk to her, she will just hear the words that will take her idea of the conversation forward, even if what you are trying to say is exactly the opposite. She did not give us the freaking syllabus for the exam  because she did not want us take her classes lightly. We asked her for the syllabus on the second last day… when were her classes going to held after that and not this tactic will make us pay attention. Not that we were totally irreverent of her or anything but I don’t know what enmity does she have with us.  The worst part, she made us study Consumer Protection for the entire semester and then suddenly started stuffing in other torts topics like nervous shock, false imprisonment etc etc. We did all of these topics in 3 weeks where she gave us pages and pages of readings. As I said I think I did lose a part of my soul.

These were my subjects, there were a lot of things as well like our college fest, we had Abish Matthew and Advaita. And then sports fest which was inter batch. I played volleyball after such a long time, it was so much fun . But when the seniors saw me serve the ball, one of them literally went, “you know we are not letting you take up any other thing nest year, don’t you?”, I felt elated. That feeling that you still have it in yourself. Because it has been close to 3 years since I played a proper game but still when I get to the ground that adrenaline rush is still the same and the single point focus on the ball… wish I could do that in contracts haha.

Nahan and Me

My exams ended on the 19th of June and 20th I ran off to this little town nestled between mountains called Nahan in Himachal Pradesh. The first thing you notice about this place is its deafening silence, disturbingly deafening. A person who is used to the sounds of a city like Delhi, the quiet the city offers is so surreal that for me it was ironically rather disquieting. There were other things too but we will come to them later. One thing though, this time I went with a group so the places we visited were by consensus.

But first things first, as my usual suggestion for Indian roads is keeping Google Maps at hand, cause you kind find your way for nuts on these roads. The trip was right after the exams so my excitement levels were through the roof, I literally looked up the history, geography, demographics of the place. I literally could tell you the route by heart- Faridabad-Karnal-Kurukshetra-Shahbad Markanda-Barara-Sidhaura-Kala Amb-Nahan. So the route till Shahbad Markanda was basically NH1 and we know that the road on NH1 is fantastic. But after you take the turn under the flyover, it will take you a few minutes to understand what happened. Where did the road go???? And interestingly the road till Nahan is the same, motorable for the most part with patches of what passes as a road for the State Highways department.The uphill drive starts from Kala Amb, some 24 kms of driving that will take you above the sea level. Our resort was 11 kms further above Nahan so we had to drive further on. The resort afforded us the view of the entire city of Nahan from our rooms. It was beautiful.

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Nahan, in and of itself really doesn’t have a lot apart from your standard lake and Mall Road. But one can use Nahan as a base for other places. Again not a lot of places for going but I guess the magic of the place is the fact that you don’t want to do anything else. You just want to sit in your room on the balcony and just see, take in the beauty of the mountains and the tranquil of the place. The best part was that all along that we were there , it rained everyday and the mountains and even our rooms used to get engulfed in clouds and the temperatures used to drop and then you would just want a hot cup of coffee and something to cover you, a chair, maybe a book and then just see the clouds coming and touching your balcony and before you could get them they would scuttle away.

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That was another reason our trip got restricted. It would get all foggy and then you can’t drive on a hill road with such fog clouding your way. We always used to study that it takes longer to cook on the mountains than the plains because of the decreased atmospheric pressure and all but how do you explain placing an order at 2 pm and getting it exactly an hour later. This was the story of our breakfast, lunch and dinner. But this was not the worst part. The worst is yet to come, flying eight-freakin’-legged creatures of all-freakin’-kinds. A huge cross of a cockroach and beetle flew right next to me, I jumped and spilled water on the floor :(. Not that I am scared of these things but come on something flies straight for your guts you are bound to jump. The service was so slow that we used to ask for things like cups or tea bags about 45mins in advance because we knew that it would take them about this much time to get it. But the hotel was good in other respect. Nice spacious rooms and great view, friendly people who would help you with anything.

The first two days of the trip were marked by rains and clouds hence we had to stay in. The third day was clear so went out to the Renuka lake about 28 kms from the hotel. It is supposed to be the birthplace of Parshuram, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The parents of Parshuram had mediated here to get Lord Vishnu as their son. The place has two lakes, a smaller one The Parshuram Tal (Lake) and the bigger one at a short distance called the Renukaji Lake, named after Parshuram’s mother. The Parshuram Lake is actually not that big, it is enclosed by cemented embankments. And nearby is the Renukaji temple. Again it is a small one with three temples inside it. People milling around from the one in the centre to the other on the upper left corner, the former of the son and the latter of the mother. The third one is dedicated to the 10 incarnations of Vishnu.

imagesYou can go for boat ride in the larger lake or as they put it ‘botting’ ride. You get those paddle boats for half an hour and you go around the lake. It is a huge lake and you see lots of fishes and we even saw a tortoise in the water. But I have a simple policy of no gadgets on boats so I couldn’t click the tortoise. But the lake has pretty lotuses on one side.

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Then we had lunch at the Renukaji hotel run by HPTDC right next to the lake. Even that one was a decent resort, nice food and lots of space. The next day we left for home. This is where I actually lost it. You ask why?? Hahahahaahhahaha. Kala Amb, that place where the ascent starts had a small attraction called a fossil park. Fossils had been unearthed in this region and the government had created fibre reinforced plastic models of these fossils. It was supposed to have 6 sets of animals including sabertooth, Indian mammoths and what not. But when we actually go there. First that we learn is it is closed on tuesdays. But the next thing we learn is that the place got burned down in a fire and what remained of the place I was so excited to go to was —DSCN0570[1] DSCN0576[1]

I either wanted to kill someone or cry.I so wanted this place to be fantastic and no one, no one on the internet mentioned that this is what has become of this place. The museum has simple rocks and some random sculptures. And we spent about 25 mins getting to the stupid place because of the road. even the road was a fossilized one -sarcasm- the whole road had just potholes. I literally felt bad for the tyres of our car. All we got there was a coke. 😦

But the place was very peaceful and close to nature.

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While on our way back we stopped a lot deciding where to have lunch eventually we had it at this place called Zamindara Dhaba. I was so happy after I had the food, it was literally fulfilling. The whole time all we ate was so similar to our college mess menu that I had given up on life. They literally made the same things. But the roadside dhaba, I just fell in love with it. Then slowly but steadily we came back home and I realised that I will never love a place more than Delhi.