Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Story of a Malnad Boy-77

Our classes commenced in full swing immediately after our first day of introduction. The Institute had a semester system of examination even in those days as against the annual examinations at the Universities. There was another difference. The Institute had a system of conducting monthly tests. The performance in the tests was also taken into account for grading a student after the semester examination. In other words students had no time to settle down and would straightaway walk into thick of the action. In the first two semesters there used to be common subjects for the three branches of engineering. These common classes used to be held in big halls as the total strength was around one hundred.

In our batch of students in Metallurgy, about 15 were from Karnataka. The rest were from other States, with a lion share going to Tamilnad. Among Karnataka students, majority were from Bangalore. Surprisingly almost all the B.Sc. rank students from the Bangalore University had landed in the Institute, majority of them joining the Metallurgy branch. But from the Mysore University I was the only rank student to join. There were two other first class students from our University who had managed to gain admission.

There were three messes in the hostel - a south Indian vegetarian mess, a north Indian vegetarian mess and a non-vegetarian mess. I had naturally joined the south Indian mess. The mess bill used to be around Rs110/= per month. The quality and taste of food and the cleanliness in the mess was of very high standard. The supply of milk, butter and curds was in plenty. Special mention could be made of the hot and tasty masala dosa and parathas, which were served on certain specific days in the week. In addition, fresh fruits were also available at the end of the meals. I started enjoying the food immensely. In fact for the first time in my career I began putting up some wait.

Once I settled down, I did two things on priority. The first was to write a letter to Mr. N R Bhat, my Mathematics lecturer and a Syndicate Bank Officer at that time. I wrote to him that I had secured the admission in the Institute. I gently reminded him the assurance he had given to me regarding extending his financial support to me. I was expecting a monthly contribution from him purely on returnable basis. He was posted at the Karwar branch of the bank then. I did not get any reply from him even after a month.

My second letter was addressed to the Academy of Manipal. I informed the Academy that I had joined the Institute as already made known to them. I requested the Academy to continue payment of my Institute fees as it had been doing hitherto. Again I did not receive any reply from them even after a month. I started feeling some what uneasy.

Meanwhile my brother’s hunt for employment was not yielding any fruitful results. The portents appeared to be not so good for me. I completed a month in the hostel and settled the monthly dues from out of my bank balance. I found the balance in my account diminishing fast.

The first monthly tests were held. My performance was satisfactory. I developed friendship with a good number of my batch mates. Particular mention should be made of a student by name Krishna Kumar. I liked this smiling handsome boy from Coimbatore immensely. I wanted to spend much time with him. Slowly we developed a very close friendship. There was another boy by name Veera Raghavan. This boy was of short build up; but made it up by his brilliance in studies. He could pick up any complicated subject without any efforts. I had great admiration for him. There was another boy by name keshava Murthy from the town of Kolar. We two also became very close friends. Mr. K I Vasu, my mentor, used to frequently enquire me about my state of affairs. I never mentioned him anything about my financial worries.

After the first month I was allotted another room for my stay. By that time I had developed lot of attachment to my room mate Mr. Subba Rao. In fact I was very reluctant to lose his protective benevolence towards me. He also expressed similar sentiments. I joined my new room mate Mr. Subramanian from Tamilnad. He was a student in second year degree in electrical communication engineering. He was a nice gentleman and was very religious in nature. I settled down with him comfortably.

The Institute had an English department headed by an American Professor by name L I Levis. All the first year students had to attend a test in this department at the commencement of the semester. All those who could not come out successful had to attend a special English course conducted by the department. Surprisingly many of the students from our batch failed in this examination. I was privileged to score very high marks and was awarded a certificate from the department signed by Lewis. I felt very proud of this achievement of mine.

The subject of mechanical engineering was a tough one for some of us including me. The theory part was okay for us; but the practical part was tiresome. We had to do practicals in the foundry and machine tool workshops. The Institute had a big foundry and a mechanical workshop. We had to struggle with the foundry workers and foreman.  We were happy that the struggle would end after the first semester. We had to study only Metallurgy from the third semester onwards.

The Institute was having its own scholarships for the merited students for which I was eligible. However, students were eligible for only one scholarship. As I was going to get the Government merit scholarship I could not opt for Institute scholarship. While the Government scholarship was Rs100/= per month, the Institute scholarship was for Rs75/= per month only.

Most of the students who came from other States were from well-off families. They were spending quite a lot of money and enjoyed the city comforts. During the conversations at the hostel and the Institute I could observe that most of the students had clear cut ideas about their future employment career. In fact one of the friends of my room mate who used to visit our room frequently had made charts showing his earnings in his future employment career! The students of other branches were quite envious of Metallurgy students. It was a foregone conclusion that all the students securing distinction would proceed to US in view of the heavy demand for them there in those days. The least possibility was to join Tisco at Jamshedpur.

I completed one more month at the Institute. I settled my bills and was totally upset to see my bank balance going down. I sent a reminder to the Academy of Manipal and wrote another letter to Mr. N R Bhat about his commitment. In the meanwhile I met the Associate Professor of Physics,   Mr. Bhat at his home and discussed with him my delicate financial affairs. He showed me an advertisement issued by Canara Bank about their Golden Jubilee Scholarship. The Bank had called for applications from eligible students to avail the scholarship facility. He told me that he knew one S R Prabhu who was in charge of this department as Secretary. He advised me to meet the said gentleman.

The next morning I was at the Head Office of Canara Bank at J C Road. I was guided to a particular floor wherein the Scholarship department was located. On reaching the floor I could see a board displaying that the section was handling Scholarship portfolio. I spoke to a gentleman sitting there enquiring about the Scholarship. He asked me where I was studying and for what course. I told him that I was at the Indian Institute of Science studying for B E in Metallurgy. He told me that as far as he knew the Institute was meant for Science studies only as its very name suggested. He was not prepared to believe that it offered engineering courses! He told me that the Bank could have considered me had I joined any other Engineering College! I could not simply believe what he was telling. Here was a gentleman who was telling me that he could not consider a course offered by a world renowned Institution like IISC!

Suddenly I felt that I made a mistake by not meeting the Secretary, S R Prabhu whom Mr. Bhat had advised me to meet. I thought I had wasted my time by talking to a man who was living in his own world. I asked him where Mr. S R Prabhu was. You can imagine my shock when the gentleman told me that he himself was S R Prabhu! When I told him about Professor Bhat he confirmed that he knew him. But still he stuck to his stand that the Bank would not recognize the engineering degree of the Institute. That was my first experience with Canara Bank.

I went to the office of the Director of Collegiate Education to enquire about the status of my merit scholarship. The office had since received the rank list from the University and my name was very much there. I was told that I would receive the intimation shortly about the sanction of the scholarship. But there was a shocker for me. I was told that the disbursement of the entire scholarship amount would be made only at the end of the academic year. It meant that I had to fend for myself till then.

The tension started mounting on me with the above developments. Meanwhile there was no good news from my brother also, who was getting frustrated as his efforts to find employment were leading nowhere. With the falling balance in my bank account I was getting back to the olden days.
------- (To be continued)-----

1 comment:

Narain said...

What a tragedy this is!