20 June 2001
Sherwood College, near Marine Drive, Bombay
Sameer in a smart white shirt and faded Levi's
blue jeans strolls out of the
class with his hand in one pocket and his college five subjects in one notebook
in the other. He felt relieved on hearing the sound of the bell a few minutes
back. It's been a long and tiring first day in college, packed with boring
lectures bringing to an end a day which begun with much excitement and anticipation
for many. The nattily dressed students pick up their books and walk out of
class cheerfully making plans with their friends to go for coffee or the latest
movie that is playing at Eros Cinemas nearby. It's threatening to
pour outside with students quickly filling out of the old building that housed
the classrooms for students of management studies.
He ponders on the accounting lecture by the frail professor who struggled
to complete solving one problem while trying to maintain silence among the
disinterested students in the classroom. A smile comes to his face thinking
about the group of who managed to sneak out of the classroom soon after the
attendance. He wonders whether this is what it's all about. Many like him
studied night and day and used all their connections possible to get a seat
in the prestigious Sherwood College. Despite scoring 80% in his HSC exams,
his Dad had to pull strings to make sure that Sameer was one of the chosen
few. Some others were not that lucky and have had to take admission in lesser
known colleges in the city. He opens the door of his new Palio
and gets in
with a frown realising that he is going to feel lonely back in Bombay with
his close friends choosing to move to the US for higher studies. He is an
introvert and had spent the last few years in school hanging out with a select
group of friends.
While driving out he sees his former rival and now classmate - Vikram Khanna
who graduated from St. Martins
, walking up to his Lancer with a beautiful
girl in tow. His gaze catches Vikram's, they do not know each other beyond
the inter school football tournaments where they played for opposite sides.
"Hey Vicky, good to see you man; look forward to playing on the same
team," he says.
"Likewise brother, see you around in college," Vicky replies with
a friendly wave.
Sameer turns to look intently at the girl with Vikram who gives him a shy
smile before getting into Vicky's class. He remembers bumping in to her outside
His phone rings, it's his Mum on the other end. "Hi Mum, I'm driving,
on my way home. I should be there by five."
"Ok, I'm just stepping out. I have left a sandwich for you in the fridge
and some juice too. Hope you had a nice day at college beta. Did you meet
any of your classmates from school?"
"Was alright Mum, it will take getting used to. Just a couple of people
from school, not really the ones I've known or been friends with. I'll get
home and talk, I don't want to get into trouble!" he says worriedly noticing
a traffic policeman at the signal ahead just outside college. The signal turns
green and he steps on the accelerator as the drizzle turns into a heavy downpour
and people rush to take shelter under the roofs of shops and restaurants on
either side of the road.
It begins to drizzle and he turns on his wipers with thoughts of the beautiful
girl in class he would definitely like to get to know. She comes across as
sweet but reserved; maybe I should go up and say hi tomorrow
he feels as he
drives on thinking about the day gone by.
Tania walks swiftly down the corridor looking for the classroom for first
year BMS students. She rushes past a classroom and realises that this was
the room she was directed to by the office downstairs. She turns around
quickly and bumps into a smartly dressed student knocking his notebook out
of his hand and dropping her mobile phone as well.
"Sorry, are you ok? I'm in a rush the signs are so confusing,"
she says with concern while going red in the face.
"It's ok, it happens. I'm lost myself. You have a nice phone,"
he says bending down and picking it up before handing it to her. He notices
she has soft brown eyes and a friendly countenance, carrying herself with
grace and humility. She is something else,
"Thanks, I think the first lecture is starting," she says in a
friendly voice and rushes into the classroom. He walks in behind her and
sits on the opposite side of the classroom from her. He looks in her direction
with interest and is smitten by her presence. He cannot concentrate in class;
he likes the way she keeps pushing her long tresses behind her ears and
the expression on her face during the Economics class when the lecturer
seemed to be contradicting himself. He notices her looking in his direction
for a moment with a friendly smile while they sat two tables apart at the
noisy cafeteria for lunch. He wants to walk up but is intercepted by a classmate.
"Hi yaar, I'm Tanveer. I saw you in class earlier today. Can I sit
here?" he asks.
"Sure man, go ahead. I'm Sameer Ahuja, nice to meet you," he says
while shaking his hand.
Tanveer tries to make conversation with him asking about his family, his
school life and excitedly telling him about his dreams of becoming a big
banker while Sameer looks preoccupied.
"My dad was a banker once. He started his own financial and investment
advisory firm twenty two years ago," Sameer says with his eyes on Tania
who is chatting animatedly with Vicky.
"Wow! That's great yaar. You're lucky you can take over your dad's
business. He can advise and mentor you in your career. I wish I knew someone
like that," he says looking downcast.
"Well I would be happy to take you over and get you to meet dad if
you want to talk to him."
"Thanks yaar! That's very nice of you," Tanveer says before biting
into his sandwich.
"No sweat man," he replies watching Tania and Vicky get up and
leave the cafeteria.
They seemed quite comfortable together. I wonder how Vicky lands such beautiful
women! Though she doesn't seem like the type he normally goes out with.
He had seen Vicky at a sub - urban lounge a couple times in the past month
with a different girl in tow on each occasion. She wasn't with him then,
I would remember that face.
On a train, Churchgate to Andheri, Bombay
Tanveer quickly jumps into a train which is about to leave Churchgate and
is heading towards Andheri. The local train system is something he realises
would take a lot of time getting used to. He was told in the morning by
his landlady to try and take a fast train back to Andheri and to leave before
five in the evening. He sees people rush in and scamper about to occupy
the bench like seats like their life depends on it and then quietly settle
down to read popular tabloids or magazines. He looks up at the noisy fan
above his head where he is standing and takes a step back when a couple
of other commuters jostle for space under the fan. He tries to move away
from the open door of the train to avoid getting wet from the downpour that
is beginning to grow heavier outside. I hope it stops pouring! I don't have
a raincoat and have to walk for fifteen minutes from the station to home,
He looks at his Bata
shoes and feels insecure about the way he dressed on
his first day to college. He wore newly stitched shirt and trousers from
in Sholapur while his classmates were dressed in funky t-shirts
and ripped at the knee trendy jeans. The girls wore figure hugging tops
bearing their midriff, something which scandalised him given the conservative
sense of dressing among women in Sholapur. He feels out of place in the
new environment and realises he needs to adjust to the way others dress
and talk in his class. Unlike the norm in Sholapur, people went about doing
their own thing without long discussions on their future and career plans.
From the conversations he overheard in class, his batch mates were busy
planning parties and booking tickets for the upcoming Bryan Adams concert.
Most of them also happened to know each other from school or through a common
circle unlike him who knew nobody in his class. He had set his sights on
coming to Sherwood College five years ago in school and had worked relentlessly
towards scoring a 95% in his HSC exams to make it to the elite list of those
who made it. He found it tougher than he had anticipated, in convincing
his parents to allow him to come and study in Bombay. The high college tuition
fees and living expenses in the metropolis, was a cause of worry for his
struggling parents who had to build a nest for their two daughters in school.
On getting admission after applying secretly, he worked towards cajoling
and persuading his conservative parents who believed he could go to an affordable
college in Sholapur or another small town nearby. He tried convincing his
father telling him that five of the top twenty business leaders in India
are among the alumni of the elite Sherwood College
. After some more persuading
his father grudgingly agreed to let him go considering that it might take
the boy ahead in life and help the family escape the vicious circle of a
lower middle class existence.
He remembers his dream of coming to Bombay and striking it big as a leading
banker. He wants to rise and succeed in life. His aim is earn a lot of money
given that he has grown up in a family with significant resource constraints
to support his dreams and aspirations. He aspires for all the things which
believe will make his life happier than it has been. He dreams of a swanky
penthouse and the latest Toyota car. I'll get there soon
, he feels.
Clinging tightly on to the bar overhead and watching commuters get on in
droves at the Dadar station he feels he has to do more to make new friends
in class. He watches with surprise the manner in which commuters push their
way in, and an equal number pushed their way out, of the compartment. He
feels suffocated and struggles to get an inch between himself and the guy
who is standing next to him and shouting on the mobile phone with his sweaty
armpit in his face. He takes a deep breath and reflects on the day gone
by in college. He wonders about the guy who walked in late this morning
and hung around with the beautiful girl he wanted to talk to, in class and
at lunch. He had seen them leave together too. He seems like her boyfriend,
though I wonder what he was doing flirting with the girl with a nose ring
in the last bench.
What a guy, if I had a beautiful girlfriend like that
I wouldn't be trying to flirt with women, I have a lot to learn about these
people from Bombay.
He had noticed Vikram exchanging text messages with another girl he had
managed to exchange a few words with during the break. The crowd behind
him literally pushes him to jump out of the train when it comes to a halt
at the Andheri station. Is this what living in this big city is about?
wonders while walking hastily towards the decrepit walkway bridge to walk
across from the platform to Andheri East on the other side.
Part - II
20 June 2001
Sherwood College, near Marine Drive, Bombay
Tanveer walks into class soaking in the campus buzz, the atmosphere is young
and energetic and he is quick to meet his new classmates. He notices most
of the desks in the front rows are taken and he walks ahead as he spots
a vacant seat next to a pretty brunette with short cropped hair and a nose
ring. She looks like a VJ on TV, he tells himself as he musters the courage
to ask her if he can take the vacant seat next to her.
"Hello! I am Tanveer from Sholapur. I have just moved to Bombay..."
he says softly, conscious of others watching him.
"Sorry you got the wrong number! Dude this seat is taken, maybe you
can sit elsewhere, there's no one in the row behind," she says and
starts to turn away when she hears his phone ring to the Pehla Nasha tune.
He takes it out of his front pocket almost pretending he doesn't know where
the phone came from and watches the girl grin at him with disbelief. I should
have kept this damn phone on a silent mode,
His 'Nokia' phone is an old bulky model with a two inch antenna that makes
it look more like a walkie-talkie and less like a mobile phone. It is one
of the first few models that were introduced in the Indian market much before
the mobile mania took off! He recently bought the 'obsolete' model off his
friend Chandru in Sholapur. He stares at the screen embarrassed to look
up at the brunette who is looking at him with disbelief and as he walks
ahead, he looks at his mobile screen and is not surprised to find that his
mother is trying to reach him. He sits a few rows behind, takes the call
and mumbles, "I'm in class, and I'll call back later."
A short while later he notices that a good looking guy with a confident
smile strides up to her. He puts her at ease with his charming smile and
easy going manner and says, "Hey, I'm Vikram Khanna. So where are we
going tonight, someplace where we can get to know each other?"
"Well I don't know Vikram, maybe Spice Chimney
? I stay close by so
it's easier to get there," she replies with a flirty smile, playing
with her bracelet and holding her notebook against her chest.
"Friends and people I like call me Vicky," he says and adds, "How
about Pizza by the Sea
? They have a great wine list and good music too.
Give me your phone and I'll store my number." He takes the phone from
her hand and types his number while she stands there looking flattered.
He walks away with a swagger after he tells her, "See you tonight,
and do bring your stunning smile with you. Also call me when you get home
so we can work out what time I should pick you up."
"Hey, I'm Niharika by the way," she calls out before he turns
around to walk towards his beautiful companion who had a frown on her face,
not too pleased on seeing him flirt with Niharika.
"I know; I heard it in class. See you tonight babe," he says and
walks ahead. His beautiful companion doesn't seem pleased, realising that
he says, "Tania, stop looking at me like that. You look adorable when
Tanveer sees Tania's frown turn in to a smile in a jiffy and he hears her
say, "Sweet talking people as always. I've known you for ages; I'm
not going to get swayed by your smooth talk and flattery." She did
get swayed by his smooth talk. She could not stay irritated with Vicky for
Tanveer is staring at them and Vicky is aware that every other guy in college
envies him. He gives Tanveer a wry smile and winks at him as he had walks
past him noticing that Tanveer is still staring at him, probably with awe.
Tanveer thinks to himself, 'Yaar, this guy is a stud! Maybe I should use
my money saved from the summer job to buy Converse shoes like he is wearing.
I wonder who this beautiful girl is. She has been hanging out with him all
Tania's home, Cuffe Parade, Bombay
After getting home from college...
Tania and Vicky walk into her room and sit by Tania's window sill watching
the rain come down heavily, flooding the street outside her building. The
rains limit the view from the window is to the building across the street,
the downpour blocks the normal glimpse of the sea that is visible beyond
the buildings across the street. Tania calls out to her maid and asks her
to bring two cups of coffee and some biscuits. Vicky sits back, enjoys the
stormy weather and replies to some of his text messages with a mischievous
smile. Tania who recently got back from Hong Kong after visiting her older
brother and his family, who live there, is pleased to be back in Bombay
and enjoy the rains. A couple of her school friends moved to the US for
higher studies, some of them stayed back but couldn't manage to get admission
in Sherwood College, because they could not match Tania's 87% in HSC nor
did they have Vicky's connections to get admission in such a renowned college
despite getting a meagre 58%.
Vicky keeps his mobile phone aside and tells Tania, "What a day, I
barely survived the economics class."
"I know, we did all this two years ago Vicky! It's like going backwards,"
she says with a pout taking off her hair band and letting her shoulder-length
"Who cares about this degree anyway babe? At the end of the year we
need to mug up a few things here and there based on previous trends and
pass the exams. I hear it's a breeze especially after the rigorous lessons
we went through back in school. Our classmates seem like a fun bunch though.
I saw a few guys checking you out, they seemed to be interested in you.
No, wait a minute, I think I got it wrong! Maybe they were looking at me,
nowadays you never know!" he teases her with a mischievous grin.
"Yeah sure, I saw the girls checking you out. But I don't go to college
to do all this! Unlike you, I was trying to pay attention. First you end
up coming late to college, missing a few lectures and walk in looking droopy.
Then you get busy sweet talking with that girl shamelessly. It was the first
day of college, get serious! I called your place at 8 am and you were still
fast asleep, you were supposed to pick me up! Luckily I got a cab."
"Relax, I'm used to sleeping till eleven; it'll take me some time to
start waking up so early. Maybe you can cover for me till then," he
says beaming and adds; "I am the first to do things that are important
for me. Remember babe-the early bird gets the worm. I'm taking Niharika
"You're incorrigible; you had to go and flirt with someone didn't you!
You just broke up with Pooja two days back. Is there something like taking
a break for you?" Tania says with mock sarcasm.
She is extremely fond of Vicky despite his laidback attitude and casual
approach to relationships. She is glad that he is around in college as the
rest of their group have gone in different directions. It's going to be
less lonely and more fun with Vicky around,
"About Pooja, you know that she decided to go to the UK for a course
in media. If she was around I would still date her for a while. But with
her there and me here it doesn't make sense does it? You chill we'll set
you up with someone nice. Someone as nerdy as you, like maybe that Tanveer
dude," he says jovially.
"Shut up! Go easy on this one, try and make it last a month or two
at least. She's a classmate remember, she'll be with us for three years.
Also I don't need to be set up with anyone mister," she says making
a face at him and asks with curiosity; "He's the guy who was dressed
in a formal shirt and trousers right? He seemed to be quite out of place.
I saw him walk up to chat with a number of people. He stayed away from me
though." She gets up to turn on the music.
"Ha ha, poor chap obviously he's intimidated by you, as most guys are
Tania. You have that don't mess with me look or possibly guys feel you are
difficult to impress," he says contemplatively.
"Many back in school thought you and I were dating," she says
with a gleam in her eyes.
"My rumoured lover
that's not such a bad thing is it?" he
says with a wink and takes a sip of his coffee. He adores Tania who has
been his best friend since the third standard in school.
"Yeah sure, one more to your growing list of conquests
Shouldn't you leave? You have to change and pick her up right? You don't
want to be late on your first date," she says Vicky notices that it's
past six, finishes his coffee and gets up to leave. "Have fun and get
to class in time for the second lecture at least. I'm going to give you
a wake-up call."
"Yes mum! Any other requests?" he asks as he turns around and
walks back to give her a hug.
She hugs him and pushes him away, "Le
ave now, and go have fun tonight."
"You enjoy reading that fat book next to your bed," he says before
patting her cheek and walking away.
She changes and goes back to sit by her window with a book thinking for
a moment about the day gone by. She wonders about the guy whom she bumped
into on her way to class. He seems sweet, I wouldn't mind him walking up
and saying hi.
Sameer comes across as suave and intelligent to her. There
was something in the way he looked at her with his intense eyes which made
an impression. She remembers her cheeks getting flushed and she turned her
gaze away from his before Vicky walked in to take the seat next to her.
Maybe he was going to walk up and ask if he could sit next to me, she wonders.
She hears her Mum call out to her to come down for dinner.