They draw therefore they are...a memorable experience

Good bye is too good a word...

It all ended with a display

Away from the hustle bustle of the main city of Coimbatore, amidst a plethora of greenery is the DJ academy of Design. I spent last three weeks in fun and frolic as I was trying to “preach” young minds to “look” or perhaps the Ways of seeing. My vocation as a teacher is driven by my simple passion for the subjects I blabber about all the time and feel confident. But it was a pretty different approach as the place was new so as the people. Teaching in the utopia called “NID”, my alma mater has been a cake walk as I’m too familiar and convinced with it. Nid has been always like, playing a cricket match in a rough spinning track of Indian soil, subjugating the opponent. DJ was too windy in literal sense to even swing the ball.

The start was surprisingly pleasant as I’m scared of heights so as flights. Inspite of the delayed flight, “Peanuts” the comic compilation of the strip made the Spice jet flight, spicier. The dusky Coimbatore, the Manchester of south welcomed me with open arms around 5 pm. Its was still a little sunny but answer was blowin’ in the wind that its going to pour very soon. Mr Jagan drove his maruthi van from the airport like a formula one racing car to cut short the one hr ride to the destination. I didn’t understand much what he conversed with me but one thing I inferred that my dinner will come to guest. The next day was the judgment day !!!

Next morning and after that all consecutive mornings a withered person may be some one who works at the institute came with breakfast at the guest house. I hardly managed to see him with eyes wide open as I was half asleep. As I was ready to leave for the institute I required a person to tell me the way. A guard with his rickety moped came to pick me up. It looked like a shot from some comedy film as he waggled his pet through muck and I almost escaped a fall into the puddle. I reached the studio safe!

The students were eagerly waiting for me. I felt embarrassed as they stood up as I entered. It reminded me of school or may be they still hold the school etiquette in them pretty well. They called me Sir, I felt even more embarrassed. But calling me by my name is a heck of a job for Non- Bengalis. All credits go to Bengali parents to name their children such heavy weight words. My name mispronounced or misinterpreted can be dangerous as my gender can change with a missing “R” or can sound something ridiculous. Addressing a teacher or a colleague mate by Sir/ Madam is long gone since I stepped into Nid and then the professional media world. Someone called me by my initials. A new avatar was born named P.G. Although P.G can sometimes sound like Paying guest or Post graduate, nevertheless I chose to be PG for ever for the DJad students.

I started of with general introduction in the class. Felt good to have a cosmopolitan bunch of nut cracks. Only one was missing, a full bread “Bangali” from my homeland. With the knock at the door came a dark complexioned guy with spectacles!!! WOW !!! I got my country cousin and a comic relief for the rest of the three weeks. But I was glad there were less “ Bongs” as they will end up forming a leftist front in college and talk only amongst themselves forming a intellectual clan. The other students consisted of an extremely rash driver who loved intimidating juniors with his massive looks and loud voice specially a particular bong junior who ended up being a “ public property” for ever in DJad , I suppose ; a guitarist who loved using a particular foul word in order to make himself happy and also felt it to be the most vulgar word in the Hindi lexicon ; a Bangalore boy who loved Budhha and behaved some what similar to the smiling one except the weight ; a gujarati who was difficult to be recognized from the back as he resembled one of his girl classmate but by nature they were poles apart ; an oriya girl who loved Salsa and people called her “chinki” as by struck of luck she resembled some one from the oriental culture ….she was another comic relief for me and the other students as well for her unknowingly uttered double meaning one liners; a bong girl from the steel city rourkela who always took care of the former one and saved her from getting bullied excessively; an upcoming model from Chennai with whom I had a former encounter over the phone…voice can be deceptive but her height was no less…she was fairly tall and her yoga poses gave a tough time to the students to draw those daunting gestures ; silence is the prior consent , that describes a kerala girl whose tranquil smile and meager comments in the class is what I cherished the most of her ; an enthusiastic rapper who was the prominent figure amongst the juniors and never felt shy to share his work with them ; a localite who dreams to be a motion graphic artist; a mallu boy who loved his homeland and doesn’t shy away to declare that everything is cheap and unique over there; a Chennai boy who forgot how to whisper and can talk only in higher decibels; brothers in arm is all I can say about the two of Tembes….. the day begun

Good paper is all I wanted but alas! Coimbatore offers you none. A joy ride to the city on a bike is what I was dreading but I had to go for a treasure hunt. We did get papers but mere chart papers with good grain to draw on one side. Perhaps I have used those papers many years back in primary school for making stupid charts of Ideal Indian boy or drawing Solar System diagrams. As we stacked up the papers to head back in an auto , an unprecedented entry of a cop almost made my night into a nightmare. Neither had I understood his language nor his moves. Finally he got down at a junction. It was a part of a favour ride. It didn’t take much time for me to imagine myself behind bars for chart paper smuggling in Tamilnadu. The day ended…so was our paper venture.

Over the period of three weeks I tried several teaching methods for my students to make them understand the importance of “Seeing “ and observation. They were weak but yet showed enthusiasm at every juncture. Charcoal, conte , pencil , ink and brush, water colour, dry pastels- they tried , they struggled and achieved success or came close to perfection. An exercise of writing as you see was also designed in order to make them proficient perceiver. A crash course in photography, again just to develop the taste of beholding was also tried. I had to be patient! Felt bad sometimes why people don’t look at things as I do… but then that’s what I was assigned to make them do for three weeks. Everyday they tirelessly drew in the class with various genres of music playing from my laptop as a background score. Classic rock was what I preferred most of the time. The outdoors were menacing as the wind blew away everything including ones mind. I concluded, it’s too romantic to teach in a place like that…its more of a honeymoon lover’s spot. But I hardly saw any amongst the students or may be there were too dazed by the beauty of nature to declare their love to the rest of the world.

Alagars or popularly know as Alag’s , a saving grace from the insect infested mess food is where we puffed nicotine and savored authentic south Indian food. It is a pilgrimage for all DJad students and was for me too for three weeks. The shriek of OMLETTEeeeeee and Coffeeeee…..still frequents me. I miss the handsome looking half boiled eggs and buns.

The Mess was messy indeed with each day one or the other declaring the type of insects found in their food was something expected. I did feel NID mess which all of us blamed atleast once in those four years, was a heaven. The insects were vigorously declared as coconut fibers by the mess incharge. Helpless students ate them thinking its non veg food or just starved through out the night.

In one of the weekends I was offered students company to hog some nonveg food and enjoy some liquor in the town. Even chickens would love to be eaten the way our gluttony finished many plates of grilled meat. The beer shop- was a regular one but the shady entrance, pathetic smell of country liquor and strong odour of sweat was not very welcoming. An open space with stronger smell of human excreta was called a Bar. It was no less than human orgies in Pagan Rome ruled by Caligula Caesar. So many men drinking in one place that too in such filth was some thing unexpected. A lot of them had to take off their shirt due to the heat, flashing off there privates. It was truly an orgy with liquor bottles. We were offered WARM beer which was detested and replaced with some cheaper brand…another memorable night!

Surprisingly I was teaching just a bunch of 15 budding communication designers but almost seventy percent of the college spoke to me. I liked the way they welcome any faculty with open arms or was it just me?

An extremely tall and dark guy with a foot size 16 n half was one of the favourite amongst the student’s body to be chased around and bullied. He looked like Curtly Ambrose or any Caribbean fast bowlers as he strolled at the corridors bobbing up and down his head with ear phones on. He was restless yet jovial. A guy almost four times of my size, as fair as a foreigner, has indo-australian blood which he told me as he introduced himself in the mess as Bogus! Boy!! What a fascinating name. But nothing was “bogus” about the giant yet sweet boy. His Bangalore nurturing gave him the confidence to speak immaculate kannada. A marathi girl from Bangalore who was addressed as Pingo the penguin by her batchmates , brought back a lot of memories of my animation love as a kid. That’s one of the earliest claymation I have seen in doordarshan. She did look like the penguin from the serial! A philosopher by heart yet quite strong willed girl with a mixed europian-indian origin made pretty remarkable comments at the usual daily movie discussions, which for sure must have poisoned some virgin brains of the freshers present in the A.V hall. She was eloquent! An ever fasting yet smiling kathak dancer made a night extremely memorable for all my students and me as she posed non- stop for one and half hrs. It was race against time and her vibrancy of dance. The concept of girls beating up guys for fun was dusty in my memories from school. A girl rejuvenated that almost every day breaking all the barriers of white collar snobbishness and official behaviour of the MCA and MBA students, which prevails in other parts of the campus. A chatterbox is a must in a design school or rather any institution so was the “short” Rajput one who twittered all day with her mates. A bearded senior, freshly industry trained from Mumbai broke the silence and ruptured the sleep of all juniors with his imperiling looks and coarse voice. My feelings with the freshers always remained mutual as he was scary! A scrawny Madurai fellow who loved to be as free as a painter came and shared his work of animation with me in few days time of being friends. I was impressed with the effort. I always loved Miyazaki and Tezuka’s work but never dreamt of going to Japan but a girl really dreams to accept the Orientals as her home in near future. As Disney said “ If you can dream it , you can do it , it all started of with a little mouse“.

I conversed with so many people , waved at them, smiled at them even shared few instances of my Nid days or just stared at me as if I’m an alien that I lost count of time and days. Few gospel sessions with the old monk of Paldi as he was called back in Nid were really refreshing. To think in such a manner and with so much vision is what one should always appreciate of him at this age. Time some times acts really nasty and my coimbatore endeavor had to end. It ended with a freshers party with some good music and some lateral movement of the body which some one called as DANCE.

Post party I sneaked in to the Boys hostel to revisit my past and relish some Old monk. All well that ends well !!! it ended really well….as the maruti van speeded through the windy coimbatore outskirts towards the airport leaving behind a bunch of waving hands and smiling faces , I felt some kind of vacuity in me. My eyes were soggy not just because I left some lovely people behind but the thought of the concrete jungle haunted me the most. I was back to the cacophony of the Mumbai traffic in a span of 2 hrs…this is the end of the beginning , many more visit awaits in near future.