This is one of the first posts that I had written ever. And nostalgia, made me repost it after ages.
Not so long ago, a bunch of college kids landed up in a college far away from home, and decided to rent a house after they found the hostel too cramped, and the food too boring. They found an old, rickety chettinad house, which luckily the owner was ready to rent out to bachelors. And thus they found their ‘Palace’, their bungalow, their home for 4 years. I loved my palace of 4 years, and every second of the time spent there. And yes, I miss it, big time.
Though we were staying in a place most of us would call a village, we had some neat stuff filled in, built out of our home made technology. Barani had brought in an old black and white tv from his house. It was wonderful, considering it still ran, albeit being pronounced dead in the Barani household. It was on its way to a tv shop for a few hundred rupees when Barani thought we could do something with it. A few hundred rupees and a trip to the tv repair shop later, we had our own personal tv, which only a privilleged few in the student community had. And we did not stop with that. Elay got a car audio. All of us pooled in whatever speakers we could find, I gave my walkman speakers and a single torn speaker from home, Abhi and Elayraja got a couple of small speakers, Barani gave one, and with the help of a big roll of copper wire, we started wiring up our project. Our sound engineer – Elayraja ‘borrowed’ a couple of our owner’s earthern pots from the ‘maadi’ and fixed our speakers inside them. A Sunday later, we had our own ‘9.something’ Home Theater. Move over Bose and Blaukpaunt, the sound effect was surreal. Mainly because we built it ourselves. It was a home theater in its true sense. You could hear it from any corner of our home. Right from the door to the bathroom. We had lined up our house with speakers.
There was something I devised to isolate our ‘study/sleep’ room from the music when we were actually studying/sleeping. At the rare occasion when a few actually had to concentrate and study something and the others felt the urge to listen to music, we set up a switch that would cut off the music to the speaker in the study room. I was so proud of the innovation, that sometimes I spent time in the room just to use that switch. Since that room did not have a ceiling fan, and our budget did not permit us to get one, I brought a tiny table fan from home that was being used in my home as an exhaust fan. That didn’t work too well, and we were not surprised because we felt that more power went to the surface of the fan than to its motor. We used it to test our electric tester sometimes watching it glow to its fullest, and sometimes to jolt up unsuspecting first time visitors to our palace. But I loved that fan nevertheless, as it stood in a corner, unrivalled, untouched, spinning away to glory.
Initially we had no cable connection. There was a cable wire running in our maadi. But we decided against the ‘pirated’ connection because we were honest guys. And also that the wire was very visible from the road, and any malpractice would surely be noticed and scoldings and bad words would have followed. Being the geniuses that we were, we devised a small receiver out of tin foil, aluminium hangers and magnetised needles and kept it close to the cable wire a few inches away, away from the sight of prying eyes of the cable guy. To our amazement and surprise, we got a hazy picture in the tv of a few channels. Satisfied with our achievement we sat smiling, admiring our genius on the screen. But a few days later there was an argument whether the actress in that song was Simran or Trisha or Reema Sen. Somebody claimed that it was the hero himself. And during the triangular series, when in the 40th over, the wind knocked out our reciever, we decided that it was worth getting a proper, original cable connection and shell out a few bucks every month, than getting the match status from somebody else.
We also offered our services to our less privilleged, less creative friends by letting them watch tv at our p(a)lace or setting up similar contraptions in their rooms. Our fees – Bajjis and Bondas for all of us in the evenings. Heck we were studying to be engineers. That’s the least we could do. Help mankind with our expertise. Ours was a popular hangout for most of our friends, much to the dismay of our neighbours. During matches, everytime Sachin hit a four, our neighbours were hit with an avalanche of shouts, wolf whistles, screams and claps. It was an experience that all of us would treasure for our lifetime. Lying on that cliched – ‘Kizhinja paayi’ and watching Sun tv till late night and waking up to the beats of a ‘gaana paatu’. Dancing to a rehman number in the bathroom, fighting over the channel to watch, that argument of which hero was popular, boy I miss it all. There was so much that we guys did that we would never be able to do again.
Today I have a 29 inch, Sony Wega tv at home which is hooked up yo a 5.1 Home theater. A Sony music system, DVD player, CAS, Set-top box, you name it. But I badly miss the setup that we created back in the college days. This crystal clear picture with sharp audio could never match up to that hazy picture and loud audio that we experienced in our palace. Now when I think of it, I realise, that I had left behind some friends, some experiences and some treasures when I graduated. And I am sure everybody would be feeling exactly what I do. Its just not about the things you have, its the people you share it with. Oh boy…. I miss it all.