The Pre-Degree

Once decided on Engineering I opted for Math with Computer Science in 11th grade. My parents asked me to take Math with Biology. Just because they said so I thought I should not go by them. I was stubborn and took Computers.

This decision leaked out and all the babes in my school conspired against me. They all ended taking up Math with Biology. Well the Computer class had 7 girls and 29 Boys. It all started on that day – Dearth of women in my life. It is still present in all the ways it can manifest.

Lesson you can learn from my life: Your parents always give you the right advice (mostly it is indirect).

Then I thought of writing a letter to the principal of the school asking if I can move over to the Biology class! My friends were totally against me doing it. They advised me,” dey Kozhi, don’t do something stupid, Computers is the in thing, you are the ultimate programmer who is going to change the way the world is going to code.”

Friends are ultimate people, when they say something they mean it.

I tried putting forward another proposal. Why not, all three of us jump to the Bio class. This proposal was more welcome. But later I understood it is something which is not feasible. The Bio class already had more people than the Comp class and princi is not very happy in admitting more people. Moreover all 3 of us had opted for Engineering Entrance Coaching at P C Thomas Classes.

P C Thomas Classes is The place in Thrissur where everyone gets educated and illuminated. Let me explain.

Kerala is a place where no industry can survive. I don’t know how V-Guard and Milka Wonder Cake managed it. But there is one industry which can survive in Kerala – Education.

It is basically that Demand-Supply funda of economics. Demand - Everyone is educated and everyone wants to get a degree. Supply-Number of colleges and the seats they can offer is few. The tunnel connecting this demand and supply is obviously the KMEEE (Kerala Medical Engineering Entrance Examination)

Dr P C Thomas was a smart dude. I was told he is a doctor, “the kind that helps people”. (Hope you have watched this and if you haven’t, I would recommend it.) He (henceforth referred as PC) lit the demand-supply gap tunnel with his Entrance Coaching Classes – The P C Thomas Classes.

I don’t know the authenticity of this, but I have heard rumors that he is the person in Kerala paying the biggest amount as Income Tax. And one more rumor. Because of his strict rules, many students cursed him. This is believed by many to have resulted in his daughter being mentally retarded.

For me, the Sunday classes were a kind of picnic and pilgrimage. For I am very positive-minded. R and I had to catch the first bus to Cochin North railway station. We used to be at the Chittoor Kshetram (Temple) bus stop at 4:45 am.

Imagine 4:45 am on a Sunday!

And every Sunday!

It used to be a KRSTC bus packed to its limits. We used to squeeze in with our bags filled with lunch and the PC books. The PC books were all very thin, long and made out of recycled paper. The businessman he is.

We used to get down at the North bus stop and walk the 5 minutes to the Railway station. Most of the times, this walk was a run. The KSRTC bus used to be late. Somehow we used to reach the railway station and man, how can I forget those long queues for getting that Rs18 ticket to Thrissur. Often, we used to help each other by getting tickets for other PC-classes-going-groups.

We get onto Platform 1 and study the crowd waiting for the legendry train – “Push-Pull”. The Push-Pull is the morning train (with just 6 coaches, in which 1 is ladies) from Cochin to Guruvayur. Thus the Push Pull is crowded mainly with two kinds of people –

  • Teenagers on weekly pilgrimage to Thrissur.
  • Elderly on monthly pilgrimage to Guruvayur.

The first few weeks we were not successful in securing seats. We stood throughout the journey pushing and pulling. But by the third week we were professionals. Our plan was just amazing. Two guys on one side of the rail and two on the other. The two people on the same side are a strategic distance apart. Thus we used to attack one particular coach (the one next the ladies coach, this is exclusively for identification purposes) from all the four entrances. From then on we never had to stand on Push-Pull.

We knew pretty well that passing the entrances of Push-Pull coaches doesn’t mean we will get a pass in the Kerala Entrance Exams. We were supposed to do some homework every week. As we were a very diligent group, we never used to do it. So in the train, it was kozhi-kirukal (translates to Hen-Scribbling) in the PC workbook (another thin long recycled crap, you have to buy giving Rs10).

The Push-Pull was a very fast train. It used to cover the 76 kms in like 2 hours. The Japanese and the French will be ashamed of this fact. We used to utilize these 2 hours for completing our homework in 3 subjects.

The train gets half empty at Thrissur. Then there is another mission- the autos. There will be limited autos parked at the railway station. The demand for these autos is great. It was a run from the train to the station entrance. You have to say “PC” to the auto-drivers and sometimes you don’t have to do that either. They know where to take you. While getting down pay him 15 if you are 3, 20 if you traveled with 3 other guys\girls. (Ya, ya, I know probability of traveling with 3 girls in an auto is a limit tending to 0).

The PC buildings are I suppose designed by Howard Roark. They are optimized for space, money, light and all the other resources involved. The stairs are made of aluminum. The generators of these buildings are custom made for him. They are painted green, huge and bulky but surprising make no noise.

Once you are inside the class you start sweating as you are involved in the thermodynamic process of increasing the temperature of the class along with 99 other students and 1 prof.

Some teachers at PC classes are dumb while others are unimaginably brilliant. Until I joined college I strongly believed that no man can be more brilliant than Sunny sir. My world was small then.

Four hours of technical torture used to render us terrifically hungry, we used to eat the recycled paper from our notebooks by the end of the 4th class.

After lunch it was time for IIT special classes. By the time these classes are over (5pm) everyone used to get totally exhausted. We can either take an auto to the railway station or walk. I preferred walking – saves money for that extra Paruppu vada and can explore Thrissur as well.

Right in the middle of platform 1 on Thrissur railway station is a tea vendor. This guy is particularly popular among us PC guys as he sells tea to students at a concession (It was Rs3.50 for students and Rs4 for the rest of the world). We were all fans of his Paruppu vada. We used to hog as if we went without food for 3 days.

Then, its time for you to show your seat snatching skills in the legendry Passenger. Getting a seat becomes inevitable as we are already tired for the day. We do our Mission Impossible thing again.

The Passenger is supposed to come at 5:30 pm, but you can congratulate yourself on being lucky if it shows up in Thrissur by 6:50 pm. This train too has about 6-7 coaches and is terrifically fast. Faster than Push-Pull.

This return journey used to be our jolly time. Gossiping, joking, discussing “stuff”, academic of course.

We normally reach Cochin North by around 9:00-9:30 pm. Then

The walk.
The bus.
The bath.
The food.
The bed.

This was our Sunday.
Every Sunday.
For 2 years.

Sure it was worth it. We learned a lot of things. The MI thing for example.
We are all Engineers now. Two are doing their MBA. Rest are working.


krishna said...

oh! dear! it's always surprising to see that people survive any kind of disasters!!!!

felinedev said...

i was in pc thomas too....but afr 2 months...crying and pleading with my parents over de phone, i "escaped" wonder my "jdagam" said i wud be in jail atleast once in life hahah....not to mention de biggest torture...havin de most beautiful kerala girls studyin wid u but not bein able to even glance at dem.....hahaha :)

Prajeesh said...

Its was no disaster. :)
Seriously. When we look back now, its all very funny.
oh man, you made me remember those graceful faces. They were the finest women I have ever seen. Though I was only successful in exchanging a smile with 2-3 of them. They are memorable moments.