It's here again! The grand Annual IIT-VIT Day! A traditional, ritualistic celebration that dates back all of two years!
The story has been etched forever in the memories of all those who were fortunate to witness the event. For the rest, I shall attempt to describe it below -
Saturday, 20th September 2003.
Other than a slight drizzle in the air, there was little to distinguish this from just about any other late September evening. There were few harbingers of the excitement that lay ahead.
A few of my friends had decided to join forces and celebrate their birthdays together at a nightclub. The location that had been chosen was Crystal Ball [now The Leather Lounge] and I had arrived a tad early as usual. Punctuality has its drawbacks and I began to make small talk with the few other early birds while waiting for the crème de la crème of the party to arrive.
A half-hour later just as the party was kicking into a higher gear, I happened to look up and spot him. I couldn't help it. He stuck out like a burr. I recognized him as being from my class in college. His gaze wandered around in search of familiar faces but there weren't many on offer that night. He drifted toward me.
He went by the rather erudite moniker of IIT. Now IIT [standing for Indian Institute of Technology] is the foremost institution for pursuit of engineering degrees in this country. They are located in several cities, the nearest one being at Powai in Bombay.
The manner in which he had come to acquire this appellation is pretty interesting in itself. Apparently, the previous year when he had been a freshman in college, a teacher had asked the students on the first day of college what they had done in their vacations. While most other students mentioned activities like traveling or learning a foreign language, this youngster said that he had studied for the IIT Entrance Exam. His pedagogical image was further enhanced in the eyes of his classmates when he went on to answer with consummate ease, every question posed by that teacher in that lecture on topics ranging from Schrödinger's Equations to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. From that day onward his name was forgotten - he was simply known as IIT.
"What are you doing here?" I asked him.
"Roya invited Paresh," he replied. "And he told him to get me along too."
He was hesitant to ask for a drink so I offered to get one for him. I was unaware at the time that he had never touched alcohol before. That, and the fact that the liquor wasn't mine caused me to fix his drink a little too strongly.
After downing this first drink, his prudence seemed to evaporate and he had few qualms about walking up to the bar and getting a second drink for himself. And then a third.
By then, he seemed to have found a sympathetic ear in the form of Roya and one other guy and was pouring out his life's woes to them. He claimed his girlfriend of many summers, Shilpa, had just broken up with him. Apparently, while he had come to Poona to study, she had gone to Bombay, where she had fallen in love with some other guy. Well, she could go to hell for all he cared, or so he claimed. His plaintive tale was liberally spiced up with some of the choicest of expletives.
I got myself another drink and wondered whether Roya had ever spent such a maudlin birthday before.
Sometime later I spot IIT again. This time his audience consists of a friend of mine named Taizoon who wasn't exactly the most sober person around either. Taizoon was one of the 3 guys celebrating his birthday that night and I doubted that the two of them had met before. I stand nearby and listen to the conversation.
After about 20 minutes of lachrymose hysterics from IIT, Taizoon still hasn't said a word. However, he seems to be listening with the patience of a disciple. Suddenly, he says, "Ok. Just tell me one thing - who the fuck are you and what the fuck are you doing at my party?"
IIT is a little taken aback by this unheralded outburst from someone who had been nothing but a patient listener for so long. He says, "I'm IIT."
Now Taizoon, not unnaturally, concludes that this bloke is trying to tell him that he studies in IIT and has come down from there. So he replies, "I'm VIT!"
The two of them then share a long bear hug and follow that up with a little jig around the dance floor with about 12 pairs of curious eyes on them!
IIT actually went home that night and wrote C programs for two of his college assignments, the first time he had ever done an assignment in his life!
For a week after that in college we would all greet each other with the standard "I'm IIT"-"I'm VIT" line and then do the hug. Last year we celebrated the first anniversary with a grand party and we plan to do the same this year too. If all goes well, it should be held this Saturday. Cheers!
[Ok, I know the whole story may not seem all that funny. Guess it was one those "you just had to be there" things. Or rather "you just had to be there and have some rum in you" things!]