I liked IHM all right. When I hark back at some of the wonderful episodes that constituted my days at IHM, I can’t help reminiscing about the social scene that prevailed then.
There were girls in IHM though there was no healthy ratio (ration?!) of them when compared to the number of guys. We almost wondered what sin had been committed in our past lives to deserve such a pathetic situation. Yet, some of the most hilarious moments in IHM arose as a result of this unhealthy ratio, the competition sometimes so unyielding that it provided enough vignettes for a social watcher like me. I wish I was a fly on the wall then yet there was no internet in those days to wikify and find out how to do that.
1. The most prized possession a guy could have in IHM was a motor bike – one’s own, borrowed or stolen. It was your instant passport to the IHM’s version of the Ivy League – a band of beings who were the first to be considered by the girls for a potential date. And, as a biker, if you thought that the girl fluttering her eyelashes at you was enamoured with you, make no mistake – it was just that college was 15 kms away from civilization and the bus connectivity was bad. As a girl, you just had to walk out at 4.30 pm and this poor Romeo would be waiting on his shining bike to whisk you away to the city. If you were a girl really lucky, the poor geezer never really realized the scam and you got free bike rides all three years at IHM. Some bozos did – perhaps they made their moves too early – and IHM was a place with many broken hearts. At least I knew a few.
2. The boy-girl ratio usually used to be 1:3 and therefore, it was an accepted fact that there were at least 3 guys in various stages of pursuit of the girl of their interest. Impressing them was the accepted approach and, apart from the time tested tradition of owning a bike, you could be an early riser (most of the guys were not) and hope in the age-old dictum of ‘early bird catches the worm’. If you came early to college, you could spend a few moments sans your competition in the general vicinity of the girl. Now these moments could be utilized either to make your affections known or, in the least if you didn’t have the requisite courage, indulge in some gimmickry and grab the subject’s attention to gain some serious eyeballing experience.
3. I had this brother-in-arms who after being a street-walker (!!) for two years suddenly graduated to a bike because of his ambitions in this social area. The girl took many a reluctant ride, us watching it all, sitting on the edge, careful not to have any physical contact with the Romeo rider. This funny scene repeated week after week, even after the girl conveyed it in what was a very moppy scene that she had a boyfriend elsewhere. The Knight Rider would not let go, he worked his charms, rusted and non-rusted, the girl an unwilling audience until the whole situation began to look straight out of a Johnny Bravo cartoon. Then, one glorious day, the scene repeats, the geezer starts his bike, the girl mounts reluctantly, and 2 seconds into the ride, the bike’s engine just plonks out with a big thud on the road. We missed this pair so much after that since they were never seen together again.
4. Yours sincerely had a crush too and this happened to be someone who was adjudged the best dressed female at the Onam celebrations that year. The girl in question is seated next to me during lunch and we have an engaging conversation. This is the first time ever in my life and, naturally, I am smitten. That evening I speak my mind to couple of my friends and they listen to me with concern, which however seems unsettling to me since they are both known to be unpredictable buggers. Fool that I am, I tell them about my new found fascination. Next day, coffee-break, these gentlemen proceed to tell the hapless girl in front of everyone else in the room about my fixation amidst my weak protests. She dons all shades of red on her face on hearing this and proceeds to maintain a stoic silence with me for the next 3 years.
5. Another modus-operandi that gained some sort of relevance was the waiting game. The first fellow out of the possible 3 would have to fight his way through a maze of prayers that his competitors let loose. Once he goofed up, the next admirer would move into the slot for his round of antics to get the girl’s attention. Unless one of the 3 had a bike, the waiting game was the best alternative possible. It was also generally a strategy for the remaining two admirers to seek the friendship of the girl, it may have been the best route if the girl’s reaction to the first guy was probably life- threatening, and for watchers like me, it amused us no end as the suitors did their best to let their clandestine agenda known. One of the instructors, bewitched by such a 3-in-1 situation once made this famous quip: whoooooo is whooooooooooose?!!!!