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Now that we were lab partners, I had no choice but to talk to him. He said confidently, “Hi, I am Rajesh”. I replied meekly, “Hi, I am Parminder”. And we all called off our day and I went back to my hostel.

Our classes had started from the very next day, Monday through Friday, theory in the mornings from 9-12noon and lab in the afternoons from 2-5pm.

I was always on time for my theory classes but nearly 20 minutes late every day for my labs. No professor was there in the laboratory except while assigning for the work or when we want to show some results. But, we had a lab assistant all the time and he was a cool guy. And there was no fear of him.

Lab day 1- on time.

Lab day 2 – on time.

Lab day 3 – late by 10 min. He gave me a look but said nothing and we started our work.

Lab day 4 – late by 15 min. “You are late”. “Sorry Sir”, I replied.

Note: I used to call him (Rajesh) as Sir out of sheer respect for an officer. And since I started calling him Sir, whole class addressed him as Sir. After all, he was from Indian Navy and deserved that respect.

Lab day 5 – Late by 20 min. “You are late, AGAIN”.  “Sorry Sir, actually I slept”, I replied.

I gave excuses most of the time, but we all hostel girls were coming late only. Used to sleep after lunch, bantering and deciding what to wear and walking together from hostel to our department was quite a distance. Long story cut short, we improved on our timings as our lab assistant was also getting annoyed and threatened us that he will complain to professor.

1) First coffee together

One day after our lab class got over, we all were heading towards our respective hostels. Sir used to stay outside the campus in naval accommodation.

“Will you have a cup of coffee with me?” he asked. I stood there nervous and started thinking should I say yes or no. I started talking to myself in my mind. “How can I say yes. I have never ever in my life had coffee/tea with any boy. Never went outside with any boy. Should I call my mummy and ask, but there is no time and space to ask. What if I say No, he will think how rustic I am, typical boring girl from a small town”.

“Will you have a cup of coffee at Nescafe, here inside campus”, he asked again, perhaps guessed what I was thinking.

“Yes”, I replied smiling. After all I didn’t want to sound boring girl.

We had so many coffees together thereafter. We started talking, telling about our families, he told about Navy and I was getting fascinated.

2) First lunch together

I was going back with my girl friends back to hostel after our theory class for lunch; I heard a voice from behind.

“Parminder, wait”, he said approaching us. All girls left immediately giggling and I was standing alone there.

“Yes Sir”, I said.

“Let’s have lunch together today, you and I, then we will go for our lab classes”, he uttered.

“No. Sir. It’s ok, sir. Not required. I will have at my hostel only. Sir.” I said firmly and thought first coffee, now lunch, what is the matter.

 “It’s my birthday today”, he said waiting for my reply.

“Oh! Holy! Happy Birthday Sir! But, but, I don’t have gift for you”, I muttered.

“C’mon, gift is not required, give something to me some other time, let’s have lunch, then we have our labs”, he laughed.

We had our first lunch together at Sip ‘n’ Bite. A small eatery joint in our campus.

3) First compliment

We were working silently in our lab and I was in my full concentration that he commented all of a sudden, “I am getting disattractive by you.” That was the shock of my life. Which girl wants to be unattractive? “What! Am I not good looking?” my eyes and mouth wide open. He realized after sometime and corrected himself, “No, no, I didn’t mean that.” “Then? You just said that.” I exclaimed. “I mean, you are very attractive and you distract me, I am not able to concentrate”, he uttered. And there was pin drop silence, my heart thumping.


4) Indica ride

By now, we were meeting sometimes for lunch and every evening for coffee after our classes. And Sir used to drop me back to my hostel in his Tata Indica (Diesel model). I remember that Cucumber green color car whose A/c was super cool. Sometimes, he used to pick me up from hostel for morning classes. That was coincidence in the beginning, he driving in and I walking towards the department. But, later we used to plan our timings. Though weekend is off for the students, we decided to meet on one Saturday afternoon for lunch.

I was blushing and was quite excited that I forgot about the time. He was standing at the hostel gate to pick me up and I had not even taken shower. 45 min late and I rushed down to see that Sir and his green Indica are missing. I called first time, no response. I called second time, he picked and commanded, “I am at the market area, please walk and come, I am not coming back to pick you”. “Yes, Sir”, was the only reply that I gave. I walked in my stilettos in the hot afternoon towards the market area that was quite a distance towards our faculties’ residential area, never to get late again ever. Lesson learnt.

Dear Readers,

I am closing my IIT saga here. But, that was just the beginning of our beautiful journey (from Sir to Rajesh and Parminder to Ritu) and is still continuing under the umbrella of our dearest Swamiji.

One last thing, amidst all the incidences shared here, we never compromised with our studies, our work, our submission of projects and competition for even getting 1 mark more than the other. We have studied together for hours in the library, burning midnight oil, concentrating only on clearing the concepts of our subjects. Professors have appreciated us, friends have loved us and mummy-papa knew about us that we are friends forever. We came out with flying colors, 9 pointers. I joined TCS and he went back to Indian Navy.

Thank you for your valuable time. All smiles.


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Ritu Om Chatterjee

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