Way back in 1994 and after the so-called stupendous success of my SSC exam, I was supposed to do better in my 12th and get admission to Engineering college. However because I did not study, was lazy and very much uninterested in the ongoing, I plummeted to an all time low where even standing near Engineering college was out of question.
The future appeared bleak and it was going back to Diploma. If time and money permits, I thought of doing degree. As for that time, it was just being in some course.
Thats was when a person I knew directed me to the Radio Electric Institute , a college in Grant Road. The admission to the diploma was on first-come-first-serve basis. We were confused but we did not have choice and we joined the course. The fee was reasonable, the course was conducted by Board of technical Education and at the end of three years we would get a diploma. Also other courses had 4 years with first year having Languages, Chemistry, Maths and Physics. This was a pure technical course.
However the college or institute as the name suggested was housed on the 2nd floor of Lamington Chambers and thats it. It was that 2nd floor only. In all there were three classroom, three labs, an office-cum-conselling area, a small library and a narrow passage with long benches joining all this and overlooking some electronic stores below. One of the classroom was very small and was our make-shift canteen.
The passage was our campus, our place to chill out, our waiting area, our notes-exchanging area, our journal completing area and sometimes our canteen too. At one end of the passage were the classes and labs and the other end were the stairs which took us out of the college. That narrow passage was our road to freedom during boring classes.
Our college was so small that we never had place to celebrate. So there was no blue day, or red day or jeans day or saree day or traditional day or rose day. Actually rose day was not celebrated because in the class of 60 we had a girl in the last year of the course and she was already talking to us, so rose for friendship was out and rose for love was out too because we did not consider her beautiful not that we were handsome either.
But somehow, we had the most studious and boring three year college life. Another reason for the boring three years were because our teachers made us attend the maximum classes. They would maintain a strict vigil on our attendance and we would know when we were in trouble. It was not like other colleges. Here the teachers cared about their class attendance. They made sure that we attend the classes and we hated it.
But they wouldn’t let us hate them. Assignments, practical and labs took our whole time. Two classrooms and almost 6 courses meant a tight schedule and an efficient timetable and schedule. We cursed the school for being so schooly. When I joined a reputed college for a Post-diploma course that I understood how much efforts our teachers took for us. In the new big college and big campus, we were left to our self. The quality of education never came to the level of REI.
For three years we slogged and studied. Although I am in a totally different field than the diploma I studied REI thought me a lot in that isolated environment. We saw our seniors passing out. We saw a new batch coming. When we came for our final certificate, we even saw a large number of girls in the first year.
But the college remained the same. The passage did not change and new students sat in the wooden benches. Years later I visited the college for some documents and realized that the teachers still remembered me. I had changed from a struggling student to a successful professional.
On 7th February, REI completed 75 years of existence. Students who studied back in 1948 had come for the celebration. I was the only one from my batch. In the last 75 years many students had passed out from REI and it still remains an unknown college on the 2nd floor of Lamington Chambers.
Wishing it a happy platinum year and wishing it all the best for the coming year
The Farewell function
Probably the only big function we remembered, our farewell. The college surprised us by organizing a farewell party for us. Thats why most of us did not dress for the occasion because we did not expect such a big party.
It was a different time, a different generation, a different us. The picture is quite old and if you recognize me, let the secret be with you. After all, I am just the face in the crowd.