Travelogue - Banaras - The oldest living city in the world

Monday, August 13, 2012

I wanted to go by Shiv Ganga, man!

But well, corporate commitments and busy schedules force you to make hard choices.

So the occasion was Teddy's engagement, but more than an occasion it was an excuse for us six musketeers to pack our bags and rush to the holiest pilgrimage on earth - my alma mater, my home of four glorious years - Banaras Hindu University!

Due to jam packed schedules, and compulsion to attend our respective offices on Friday, we all were forced to take Magadh Express, which eventually dumps us at Mughalsarai Jn. instead of Varanasi Cantt. Nevertheless, as they say, it is not the destination, but the journey that counts - I figured this one out on the morning of Saturday, 28th July 2012.

Five grown up men, smiling foolishly while just staring out at the farms passing by, feeling the old memories gushing at God-speed as they try to remember old days, when these farms were the indications to pack up the bags, playing cards, and chappals as the train will reach its destination in a few minutes.

The train was late as usual, though the train attendants cited rain as the show spoiler, as if we were some freshers who didn't knew that you can not attend any pre-lunch classes on the day you arrive in Banaras!



Nostalgia started flowing as soon as we hired the shared auto from Mugalsarai to Lanka! Having spent 30% of our corporate lives travelling in office cabs and big cars , suddenly we had a hard one on our plate that morning! Who were the two, who would join the driver in the front seat, while one of their bums hang out on the road, brushing with the passing motor cycles and bearing splashes of accumulated rain water! :D

After chatting up regarding coal trade near Mugalsarai Station, most of us were silent, if not numb, throughout the auto journey between Varanasi Cantt. chowk and our destination! Shout-outs of various familiar names by auto-drivers - Sigra, Bhelupur, Lanka, (my punjabi friends, please do not pronounce the next place) Laura-beer!

While we were stuck in a jam, near Durgakund, couple of us were pondering upon the fact, that the how liberating it is to be back in Banaras, where we can just be ourselves, and are not forced to act sophisticated just for the sake of corporate slavery!

We had 1) Hung out from moving autorickshaw, 2) Three people had shared sitting space with auto driver in the front, 3) Walked one KM, getting drenched in rain, while bikers were splashing water on us, and last but not the least 4) Switched off our bloody phones (cum mini-computers/leashes) for sometime!!

Oh, so lovely BHU gate!



We were determined to cover all important landmarks of our journey, as we just had 24 hours to spare for the trip to nostalgia! (Remember, we were here for a engagement?) :D

And what would have been a better way to kick off the journey than Bun Malai and Chai (and sutta for some) at Dilip Bhayya's stall! Even Dilip bhayya has changed so much in last five years. Along with us, even he has grown a beer belly. Also, he has graduated from being a chai wale bhayya, to the owner of a small hotel just behind his landmark tea stall!



One salute to Malviyaji, standing tall at the main entrance, and we set our foots inside the campus. Well technically, it was another auto ride, IT campus is over 3 KMS away from the main gate, so forget about walking the whole distance! :P (As sunny paaji says to Sunil Shetty in Border - Pyaar aur Pagalpan me bahut thoda sa farak hota hai! :D )


MMV, or the Mahila Maha Vidyalya, is the first thing you notice as you enter the BHU campus. And how can one not remember the PMC - piya milan chowraha - just in front of MMV main gate! It served as the CCD of our times - a lot can happen at PMC! Hehe!

Being mechanical engineers, and that too from IT BHU, which is infamous for its highly skewed gender ratio, most of us had our first interaction with girls around this area only. And by interaction, I mean talking to a girl and not referring to her as DiDi! :D Yeah! Our lives pretty much sucked, before we joined IT BHU !!

Few minutes later, we were standing outside the enormous Vishwanath Temple, or VT as we lovingly used to call it. The place is still the same, but just some barricades installed on the brick flooring. Now you can't park your bike just outside Zaika for your favorite rajma-rice or chole-rice! There is a dedicated paid parking, which will set you back by 5 rupees every time you park at the VT parking!



Dont know about the rich kids joining IT these days, but I would never pay for parking anywhere inside BHU !

From thereon, we were on foot for the remainder of the day inside BHU. The first thing you notice while walking from VT to IT side will be this board, announcing the new name of the institute - IIT BHU !! Had to take a landmark picture out there, though all the happy faces you see in the picture, do not care for the extra I in the name. We are happy and content with the IT BHU degrees we have! :)


Another gush of nostalgia hit us when we reached Rajputana, our hostel for the first year of college. First year is an interesting part of the journey. It is the year when you are forging lifelong friendships, giving names to each other which will form an alternate identity for you for your remaining time in this life, and for marking out the people whom you can mock, for entertainment purposes only! :D :D

We spent first year in Rajputana, second and third year in Vishvasarayya and final year in Vishvakarma, far away from the humdrums of the world! Between Saturday and Sunday morning, we visited all three of them, and our respective rooms within them.

IT still hosts all types of friendly guys and morons I must say! Though some of the kids were very friendly, and receptive when we visited our old rooms, we did come across people shouting - abe mere room ko kyu ghoor ghoor ke dekh raha hai. Kuch khazaana chupa hai kya yaahan!

Dude, I so wish, I take the interviews during your placement season!

Oh, and those of you guys, who have ever stayed in Vishvakarma, you must be remembering that canteen wale BaBa - who makes shit tea and looks like he is 300 years old? Yeah, the same guy, who claims to own this canteen when R S Singh from mechanical department was a student here! That guy is still alive! And he looks as haunting as ever!!

I distinctly remember him coming to the room at 2 am and asking for chai ka gilaas in his terrifying baritone! :D

Limbdi corner, ah! How can I miss out on that in this post! The limbdi corner wale bhayya remembered us in one glance when we arrived there! If I may steal a pun from Three Idiots, the millimeters who worked at the corner during our times, have grown up into centimeters! One of the kids, who when asked for chutney used to say - Bhayya Ghabdaiye mat - is getting married this year!

Time flies so fast!!



And our beloved wooden beds and stone benches have been removed by the procter! :( They say that BHU has started holding elections again, and non-IT goons started having long panchayats at Limbdi Corner over chai-samosas! Proctor got irked with it, hence the demolition! Fack!

Oh, and just to make you guys a little more jealous and hungry - Chola Samosa! 5 countries and 12 states ghoom ke bhi aise chole samose kahi nahi khaaye maine! :)



Treading on the rickety roads besides Hyderabad Gate, HG, one has to go to the famous and nostalgic Aahar Vihaar. Witness to countless number of job parties, birthday parties, random daru parties, inter-branch fights, and some more daru parties, and friday (mess closed day) dinner plans, every corner of this open dhaba has countless memories associated with it.

You can visit here alone or with friends, doesn't matter, because more than the people sitting with you, memories made on each table, and corner, and bush (while falling off in them while being thoroughly drunk) will keep you company.





I guess its over 5 years I drank at 3PM, bang in the middle of the day! Couldn't resist you see!



All you mechanical engineers out there, hold your heart! Our department entrance has got a full makeover!!


And those of you guys, who used to jump out of G6, G7, G8, bad news for you! It seems that V P Singh saw someone jumping out of the backside window during the class hours, and got these wrought iron meshes to make mechanical department look no less than a jail! :D



Sad that the doors were closed, due to it being a weekend, and we could only peep from the gaps in the keyholes, at our (sleeping) seats and benches in the lecture halls! You can not help, but, clearly remember the almost exact sitting order of each and every bench !

First bench used to be all GMATs (GMAT represents a different abbreviation in BHU :D :D ), then the second to fourth bench were for average Joes, and then we guys ruled the last benches, while being asleep on them for most part of our four years! :D

As coincidence would have it, saw S K Sharma sir on his scooter during my last five minutes in BHU! Baba spotted him first and I never saw him running at such break neck speeds during my entire life! Limited are the days when you see a 150 pound guy running so fast, cracking the concrete with his every step! :D

Sharma sir, once the epitome of energy and positive light, looks broken and dull these days. Maybe that is an aftereffect of his son's activities. But rumors are, due to his son's stupidities, he was asked to resign from the post of Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering. Felt bad for him, that how situations can break the soul and spirit of such a fighter!


But the most fun part of the trip was meeting pondy baba!! Met him at DG wali paan ki dukaan! Cheerful as ever, he still can not control paan dripping from his mouth while talking! Oh, and Pondy baba bas diversified his businesses! He now sells LAN wire and networking equipment to the students as well! :D

Dhanya hain pondy Baba, if not for him, I would still be studying in BHU, writing my auto-biography on how one guy spent his entire life trying to get a degree from Department of Mechanical Engineering BHU!


Somedays, I miss BHU so badly, it hurts! Seriously, there is no heaven like BHU you can visit before dying, and as of now I am not even counting the common holiness of Varanasi people talk about!

At the engagement, and the guy who got engaged is in black suit, behind us
“I've learned one thing, and that's to quit worrying about stupid things. You have four years to be irresponsible here, relax. Work is for people with jobs. You'll never remember class time, but you'll remember the time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So stay out late. Go out with your friends on a Tuesday when you have a paper due on Wednesday. Spend money you don't have. Drink 'til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does..." QOTD

PS: Sorry for the quality of some pics, it was raining consistently and we had to make do with stupid phone cameras for most part. If you cant see the images, click here
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