July 14, 2008


(written a week ago)

It was a great surprise when my lecturer called me and asked me if I was interested in applying for a "Workshop for Earthquake Resistant Design Practices" to be held at IIT-Kanpur. I was pretty excited! For one, it was going to clearly be the first Architecture stuff I was going to participate in. Even in the NASAs and ZONASAs, all I did was take part in the culturals, writing or such on-stage events. But nothing architecture except for the trophy works.

Secondly, this was an individual participation thing- which was thrilling and confidence-boosting. I could learn something and get more direction as to what to do for my thesis.

With all the above in mind, I sent a filled-in form. And surprises of surprises, I DID get selected. So now, I am in Kanpur, with my friend and class mate Jibi and we are having a nice time...

Well, I should have added 'now' when calling it a nice time. It didn't quite start that way. We had a really horrible train journey which got extended by 3 hours for 3 reasons- a)we ran over a buffalo(R.I.P. Buffalo), 2) the engine burnt off and 3)a rock got stuck beneath the train and had to be removed by chiseling on it.

To top it all, we realized that the womenfolk of the nation have no option but to forever carry a pack of sanitary napkins every once they take a train! Not one convenience store in any of the stations that we got down at. Exasperation and anger reached new heights. It must be made imperative for every train to have a sanitary napkin dispenser or a convenience store should be present in every platform!

And finally, when we DID reach Kanpur, it was only at 11:30 pm. One must remember that this city sleeps off by 11. With rumours about Kanpur being the i-shall-carry-guns-around-and-may-shoot-you-down-anytime blinking at the back of the mind, we desperately searched around for the cab that was sent to pick us up. Many cabwallahs creepily and uncannily came and asked us- "IIT Kanpur jaana hain?" Evading all those omniscient cabwallahs, we finally found the one meant to pick us up and discovered a 'SandhIya(yes with that obnoxious I) and a 'ZIVI'(instead of a Jibi) placard in his hand.

The drive to IIT was scary- deserted roads, very few people loafing around and some creepiness lurking in the air. Our Brijesh Bhai(cabwallah) was a very naive fellow. We reached Kanpur at 12:00 precisely and were very sweetly dropped in Guest House-1(GH-1) instead of Girls Hostel-1(also the same damned GH-1) and so had to lug our baggage(that definitely weighs twice as much as I do) all the way back on the clean deserted streets of the IIT-campus. But that is NOT why he's naive. He was very innocently asking me if Kolkatta was near Chennai!!! No wonder foreigners used to refer to India as 'land of snake-charmers and elephants and diseases'. Our own people are so much in the dark!

Somehow we reached the destined GH-1 at around 12:15 to see three girls and two guys jumping near the entrance and ignoring our "excuse me...is this the girls' hostel". After a nice mental cursing, we signed in. But well, doom it is that befalls the doomed! Like, DUH!

Enter Sandhya and Jibi into the room and we notice we get no beds, no pillows and well... no fan!!! After almost 2 whole days/40 hours of sweating it out in a filthydirtyirritatingslowdarned train, we lost it! We JUST lost it. We demanded a nice room with fan and get we did. Just that we still haven't got the beds and blankets. But 'looking at the condition of the one mattress we did get, we decided against asking for another! :P

We met some people with a yummy licked-off-all-the-cream-proclaiming box of chocolate cake from Guwahati. We didn't realise THEN that we were to see a lot of them in the coming days and they were the same brats who did not answer our questions of "...is this the girls' hostel?"

After a nice long shower and some frantic calls, we left to grab some grub at the canteen in the hostel that is open till 2 am. A yummy paneer parantha and a bottle of Tropicana Twister(I have literally been drunk on it all the while! So much so that the aunty who runs the canteen takes out a bottle when she sees me!)We hit the bed at 2 am, only to be reminded by our organiser that we need to assemble at 8:30 am the next day!!!

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Maira Gall