A transition from high school to college beckoned!!
A move from academic to a more professional choice; which would most likely dictate the career path one would take. At the start of academic year, we were told SSC(10th Grade) was vital, now that we were done with high school, Class XII results was touted as the turning point of one’s career. It was like stretching the goal post of a football stadium by several notches once we passed through previous goal post. But for us, college sounded liberating. It invoked more freedom, you do as you feel like, you bunk classes you feel like, & you wear what you feel like; oh no; we were subjected to a uniform here as well. And we had to grapple with coaching classes as well to somehow inflate the marks during the boards. So college was more of a formality to maintain minimum attendance.
We did our college in a temple town of Sirsi in hilly Malenadu(region of Karnataka comprising of eastern and western slopes of Western ghats/Sahyadri mountain range). Year on year, it recorded moderate to high rainfall and was known for its chilly weather throughout the year especially winters. It was blessed with serene lake in the middle of the city & was surrounded with several pristine waterfalls amidst lush green forests.Agriculture was main occupation of majority of people and they indulged in growing rice, arecanut, black pepper & vanilla. It was ideal place for tourists especially for city folks to visit historical places, hike mountains, enjoy a peaceful & a pleasant weather throughout their stay typically in a village homestay beside areca plantations.
Owing to more commercial activities and agricultural trade, many shops and establishments were springing up now and then. There were quite a few popular restaurants; one of them oldest among all at the city centre famous for its lip-smacking masala dosa. A new one opened up just opposite our college campus with an interesting name as “The Chinese Corner“. Chinese food was such a fad then. Everyone loved the Indian version of Chinese in the form of Hakka Noodles, Gobi Manchurian & Fried Rice. And they had open kitchen wherein one could see the preparation all along. The chef with a white apron with a matching head cap was nothing short of a magician of gastronomical proportions, wherein he would churn delicacies one after another with his quick hands. The way he used to toss the noodles with all the raw veggies flying perfectly in sync bringing time to a standstill, was a sight to behold. It’s ideal location just opposite the college made it a thriving business bustling with activities especially during evening hours. It also became a great hang out place for guys to take their girl-friends after bunking their classes.
Arul was Mr. Popular of our class with his swag always ON no matter the situation. Even when he got a lashing from the lecturer his confidence was intact & one to envy. Once, he had driven his Yamaha RX100 straight onto the college corridor with college principal fuming with rage. He had to punish him in some way and instead of temporary suspension (which he thought would act like a chill pill) he thought of asking him to do gardener duties at the college portico for a whole week to which Arul responded and obeyed without a care in the world. He captained the college cricket team to victory against the archrivals from another college by hitting a flamboyant half century and clinching two vital wickets.And his team celebrated by carrying him on their shoulders across the whole college and of course the corridor. Needless to say, he was very popular among girls too. Whenever he asked any girl out, they always answered in affirmative.
One evening, I was out with my friends near the chai tapri and savouring adrak chai when I spotted Arul taking the most beautiful girl of our college towards The Chinese Corner. I envied him then and there, he had the charisma which I lacked. Just other day, he was enjoying a nice cuppa with The Senior, yeah another pretty lass. I had to do something, I needed some start and some luck. That’s when, about a week later, I was loitering around The Chinese corner wishing a delightful company, the cool dude Arul came from nowhere and spotted me. Upon seeing him, I was startled and started sheepingly staring at him. He fully understood my intentions, God knows how. He pitifully looked at me and said, don’t laze around here like this- Go inside and ask the waiter for Chitra. Chitra? Yes, She is owner’s daughter & would like to talk to cool dudes if she is free, I bet, you will love it. On first instance, I didn’t understood how to react, at my fate and with all my might, lunged into the restaurant with some flourish thanking Arul along the way.
I occupied the middle seat and started looking around the restaurant nervously. The hotel owner started staring me in some unusual way twirling his moustache adding to more nervousness. I looked sideways avoiding his glare and started thinking- What a name? Chitra, meaning picture or a drawing. Did the owner name her picking up from the famous telly show Chitrahaar, or did he like the “Kehna Hi Kya” fame, singer K.S.Chitra of the film Bombay. I couldn’t decide, when much to my relief, the waiter on seeing me, moved towards me bringing in some water and asking me Kya Chahiye Saheb? That’s when, with all the confidence I blurted out without thinking- Bring Chitra. Suddenly, panic struck me and I started sweating profusely. What if, the waiter and the owner takes some offence and beat me up physically? It would be such a embarrassing moment. Should I run? That’s when the waiter responded with a tone of cheerful acquiescence, Chitra? and went in. Just when I was thinking about my next move, how will I approach Chitra, what will I greet and talk to her, what if she slaps me? the waiter dashed outside and slammed on my table a bottle of Citra, popular lemon flavored carbonated drink. I sipped the drink with a straw in no time and since then never visited the resto again.
Until next time, Don’t forget to have some masti while moving ahead with your work.