The temple, the evening, and the phone call

Ok, people, since you all have commented so much on my last post, I think you deserve to know about the phone call and its details as well, or rather, why I could not speak the following evening (never mind to or with whom ;).

Our college is located at a place called 'Ichchhanath' in Surat, and it derives its name from a temple located just outside the college gate, dedicated to Lord Shiva. One of his various names is 'Ichchhanath', meaning The Lord Of Will. It is a different matter that our college is an IIT (Ichchhanath Institute of Technology ;) ). But we digress...

Most people from our college go to this temple at least once a day. Sometimes, when they rise early and go for the morning tea, people visit the temple. Most people go and visit it in the evening, just after the college is over, sometime between incessant 'bakar', badam-mixture and tea. Also, some people visit it just after or before a big journey, maybe a travel home on a vacation, etc. I hope you get the picture.

Now, I was a regular visitor to the temple too. Mostly, I used to be there in the evening. At other times, when I had a night-out and went for tea in the morning, the temple used to be one sure visit. Now, as I was going for the GD elimination round that evening for the Times Public Speaking contest, I went to the temple, prayed, and came out. I was feeling fresh. And like any normal final year engineering college student, I started to trudge the 3-4 kilometres to the Taj hotel... the 10 rupees I save on the auto fare would get me a couple of days of breakfast at the college canteen.

But there was still a nagging doubt in my head as I trudged along. To understand why, you must receive a flashback at this point. Back in January, 1981, I was born. Now come back to the time I am talking about --- 2003: the advertisement in the newspapers for the Public Speaking Contest spoke of students below 21 years of age being eligible. If you did the same calculations that I did, you'll know that I was just a tad bit over 21 at that time. Anyway, since I was in the final year of college, I did not think it would matter much. They just wanted the 'youth of the country' to battle it out there. In the list of candidates' names that was published informing us about the timings of the GDs, etc. my name (along with some other people's names) was missing. We were told that there would be a final list for the last round of GDs on the evening, for people who had submitted applications late. I knew for sure that I had not submitted late, so the inkling of doubt started at the time I had first seen that list itself --- "Was I rejected because I was born 6 months late?"

Anyway, I called up the TOI people, told them that I was interested in an earlier round of GDs because of my system administration duties after college hours at the labs, and they agreed. SweetAlien will probably be able to tell you more of how I can persuade people ;) Therefore, as I walked to the venue, the doubt in my mind persisted. But when you walk into the battlefield, you cannot worry if your paddy field has been watered today. As I sighted the venue, the only worry in my head was to do well in the GD --- let all else go to hell!

After that, you already know what happened at the GD. The guy who conducts the GD there is a very affable guy with a french-cut beard, a kind-of person who gives out a no-nonsense image but at the same time is a very efficient and approachable person. After waving a very special her a goodbye at the car-park, I started walking back towards the hostel. I was literally buoyant, first of all because I had qualified the GD in spite of being able to blabber just two sentences, and secondly, because the following evening was about to be very very special. When I arrived at the college gate, it was about 8:30 in the evening, and I decided to go and thank God for whatever had happened. Well, yes, I am this type... I do like to go and thank people (and God) after my work is over. So I went into the temple, prayed and thanked whole-heartedly, and then put on my shoes in the courtyard and started walking out of the temple premises.

Suddenly, my cell phone rang (it was in the silent mode all this time)
-[a number which I did not know, so I said,]"Hello!"
-"Hello, is this Sudipta Chatterjee?"
-"Yes, this is Sudipta Chatterjee speaking"
-"Hi this is ___ calling" [the person who conducts the interview], "I just wanted to know something --- can you confirm your age please?"
-"Hi... yes, of course, I am 21 years old"
-"No, what is your date of birth?"[Now I could already see it coming]
-"Yes, it is the __th of January, 1981" [yes, it is yet to come this year ;) ]
-"Umm... unfortunately, Sudipta, this contest is open only to people who are below 21 years of age"
-"Oh... and so does that mean that tomorrow evening I will have to sit with the audience?"
-[after a short laugh] "Yes, that is so, unfortunately"
-"All right, not a problem... good night!"

There I was, stranded just outside the temple, with the mobile phone in hand, and with all my dreams of speaking the next day shattered. The queer part is that I had actually gone inside the temple to thank God because I had qualified.

I told about this to many people. One senior told me that something similar had happened to him while he was in his second year, and after that he had stopped visiting the temple. My mother told me that she felt wonderfully close to me after she read that in her email. One didi (elder sister) at London laughed a lot after reading the mail, and shared it with her husband.

What did I do? Well, to be honest, I had my apprehensions with me even before I went for the GD. Once I was selected, it felt good --- I seemed to be beyond the problem then. However, the phone call confirmed reality for me. Also, I thought I had confirmation that I was battle-ready, that I was among the best... just that I was too old and needed to make way for the new people. I was sad, but laughed at the matter too. And believe me, the next evening I was in no mood to go and listen to what I could have talked about.


  1. Tch tch! How ironic! :(
    And thanks for the compliment in the comments section of the prev post ;)

  2. Something similar had happened to one of my very good friend. He was seeded 5th in the college tt team.. but they had take only top four for the inter NIT events. Now for some personal reason the top seeded guy backed out. So this friend of mine was very happy that he would get an opportunity to represent the col. But at the last moment the top seed guy changed his decision and wanted to come... Poor friend of mine had to satisfy himself sitting in the hostel..!!

    P.S.: Now the same friend is in the college Badminton team with the same reasons.. we are goin to NITK surathkal this time..

  3. Sajid, yeah... very dark :)

    Shruthi, it was ironic indeed -- just that I knew it was coming.

    Compliments? Want more? You know what to do :D

    Jeevan, hmm... similar case. Anyway all the best to your friend now! When is the championship?

  4. hey even I am in the Athletics team n supposedly the team captain...!!. we are leaving on 24th of jan..

  5. funny, weird and sad,

    hey i lost ur offliner somewhere in the lan wires..
    please do me a favor add me anubhav72001 is my yahoo id..dont worry wont bug u that much...

  6. Tch! Tch!!

    Thats quite an ironic ending to the story - the god part, umm - god has his way of surprising you doesnt he, hehehe.

    Often times, I am apprenhensive myself when I am asking or thanking God myself lol - its kinda wierd and usually it turns out right and God amuses me hehe!!

    Just 6 months old ? Pah!! You should have lied - on second thoughts, maybe the next day might have been a big bore - who knows hehe!

    Beautifully penned - keep inking such!!


  7. hmm! nice timing of the post a day before your birthday :) so happy b day in advance my not-so-great brother!!

  8. Jeevan, great! Post about how it all went on your blog. And keep me appraised here.

    Anubhav, yes... I know... all three at once. Ok... did that Yahoo thing as well.

    Supremus, yes, it was really ironic. And yes, God does surprise me most of the time. About the lying part, well, that is something I avoid. But yes, the evening might have been a big bore... so I am happy that I did not go ;)

    Thanks for the compliments :)

    Sweet Alien, Naah... birthday special post coming up soon :)

    Thanks for the good wishes from the greatest brother!!

  9. sudipta:

    a heart felt story.but trust me , if i were at ur place , i would have gone to the GD as audience. Looking at the brighter side, the sweet smart lovely girl. Never loose sight of an opportunity. God closes on door, opens another. Looks like u missed the other one. Anyways , better luck next time.

  10. Bad Luck Girl....well maybe it was not meant to be...for all you know you could have fallen of the stage by some onfortunate incident and embarassed yourself..When I hear such incidents I am reminde of a Garth Brooks song called Unanswered Prayers..
    Life is Ironic and If one can sit back and find humor in the irony one has started understanding life..
    No I aint no Sage..just on my way to becoming one....

  11. Anil, thanks! Naah, I was just bowled over for a moment! Since you say so, I think I might have had a chance the following evening. But ifs and buts don't decide what happened... so maybe there is someone else waiting in the wings ;)

    Goan Pao,Girl!! :O Ok, a typo, I understand. But yes, I have moved beyond the little incident now... but thanks anyway. And all the best for your sagedom! :)

    Sweet Alien, Yes ma'am... will finish typing it now.


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