Yes, I’m now a certified college student. I’ve just been assigned to K.C.G. College of Technology as a student of Computer Science and Engineering, and I’m happy about it. I mean, it’s what I prayed and waited about 3 months for, so I have every reason to be happy about it. I joined this college using a certain state-wide program called the “Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions” or the TNEA (commonly called “counselling”), and in this program, students are assigned ranks based on their 12th grade public exam results and get to select colleges of their choice in the order of their ranks. The only constraint is that each college has a limited number of seats, and so, you can only get a seat in the college of your choice if those seats aren’t taken by people with higher ranks. Simple system, and yesterday I figured out what it was like. And here’s what I saw from experiencing a counselling session in all its glory…
- You are asked to report two hours before your session. They want you to pay up Rs. 5000 and receive a ticket which states your details and a “session rank” which determines who gets called first to select their colleges. The guy before me got “65” as his session rank. I silently mocked him only to get mine – 132.
- My session was at 10:30 a.m., so I was to report at 8:30. My family knew that the policy of Indian “punctuality” does not apply to education alone. For example: The long queue of parents who wait from 5 in the morning outside reputed schools every year just for their toddlers to study there. Yes, my friend, education is serious business here. I reported at 7:45, got my ticket by 8, and was asked to wait in the queue.
- It was then I learnt another Indian policy. Indians do not believe in queues.
- There was this sidewalk, and for now, it functioned as the “queue”. As typical Indians, my parents cut the line and we sat on the pavement. To one side was a posse of burqa-clad Muslim women and the other side had this guy who decided to show everyone that he had a laptop, and that it was cool to sit on a sidewalk and flash your fancy laptop at everyone. It didn’t help that the guy’s dad was overtly impressed by his laptop-wielding lad, and so spewed out words like “3G”, “browser” and “connecting” to flaunt his knowledge of post-modern computerology. Oh, and did I mention how he kept on walking around him and techno-babble while his son booted the laptop?! Note that this happened on a sidewalk where everyone was sitting squashed between each other and scanning the horizons for would-be queue cutters…
- Well, I was daunted. Then I took my Symbian smartphone (yeah, I just called a Nokia C5 a “Symbian smartphone”. What is wrong with me…) and opened the browser to check out college vacancies. I was speeding through webpages while Mr “I’m-cool-because-I-have-a-laptop” couldn’t connect. He detached and attached his Airtel 3G dongle a bazillion times to no effect. I smirked as I ploughed through page after page, hearing his dad say “Something is wrong with the ‘3G’ because The ‘BROWSER’ is not ‘CONNECTING’…” (and using all his post-modern computerology in one sentence). It was then I learnt an important lesson: Vodafone has great connectivity. Yeah, and maybe I also learnt not to flaunt…
- Well, the queue was getting congested, and so my mom sent me on a mission to scout and beat the queue and enter the hall firstusing all the military tactics that Counter-Strike and Call of Duty taught me. I decided to stay out of sight of the security (who chased away everyone he saw not in the “queue”) and pull my mom as soon as the door opened. But as soon as I got up and started to execute my plan, some people who stood around us like vultures, swooped in like eagles to take my place. I shooed off the damn birds and plopped onto the sidewalk again.
- Well, the gate opened, and thankfully we weren’t that far behind. So we swam through the crowd and finally got in. Then, we were ushered into this big hall, where this guy with the brazen head (you must have understood his scalp’s condition by now) barked at everyone to switch off their phones, and so I switched my “Symbian smartphone” off, and my only tactical edge to know the number of vacant seats was gone…gone…gone.
- And now, we walked in, got our documents, mark sheets and all verified by some bulldog-like beings, and then waited for the moment that would decide our destiny *drum roll*. But sincerely, there wasn’t much, the next twenty minutes were spent assembling in another hall, getting called, and selecting our college.
- Well, it was cool. The lady operating the computer asked me for three choices, I gave her only one, and it was the one I wanted. Done, done, done! And I was whisked away to perform some other particulars and finally, I left the hall, victorious.
- Thanking God in my head, I finally found my parents, and had to complete one final step: get a physical fitness certificate. What could go wrong?
- I paid the cash, got the certificate, and then I asked one of the volunteers when it had to be filled in (it looked more like a form). The guy said “Now.” And he said, “Go straight till you reach the ground, and then turn right. You should submit it there, at the Health Centre.” Oh cool, I thought. Just this one last step, and then I can go home and enjoy the rest of my day.
- When that guy gave me those directions, I expected to reach there in two minutes. It took twenty.
- We walked, and we walked, and we walked. We saw the banners saying “Way to Health Centre” with a large arrow as we walked. It was our only driving motivation as we trekked the entire length of the campus where the TNEA was held. My mom felt that maybe she needed the health centre just in case she blacked out during our unexpected trek…
- Well, the ‘physical fitness’ examination required a ‘physical fitness’ test. Only thing which bothered me: what does physical fitness have to do with a course which prepares you to sit in front of computers all day? The redeeming grace was that there was a canteen which had awesome vadas and samosas and tea and all. So my parents refreshed themselves, as I performed the final leg of this procedure.
- It measured physical fitness, so you had the usuals: height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, blood type and heartbeat. A note here to fellow ‘budding engineers’: Don’t mention your blood type. Even if you mention, they will assume you’re lying, and still prick your finger and drain the blood from it. It still hurts when I type and play guitar.
- And another thing: I went for the blood test and told the lady there my blood group; she gave me a sceptical look and continued with the blood test. She pricked the middle finger of my left hand. And nothing happened. The callouses which I got from playing guitar saved me from the unforgiving needle!
- She was undaunted by it, and drove the needle with greater force, and broke through my rough fingertips, then squeezed the finger like as though she was extracting the juice from a lemon.
- After this, I finally finished my arduous yet rewarding counselling session, rewarding myself with six or so vadas (now don’t look at me like that, it was around 12 noon and I still hadn’t eaten breakfast). And then, I actually got lost in the campus while trying to get the exit, and found it after ten minutes. Finally, I navigated my way out of the campus, ready to continue my life again, with one major decision out of the way.
Posting was extremely tough, as I had been super busy these two weeks, but I decided to post about my counselling session while it was still ripe in my head. I’ve been busy with the BreakFree Tour, an initiative of LiveJam, an organisation which tells school students of freedom in and through Jesus to make the right choices. I really want to post about it now itself, but I have a better idea: Post everything that happened in one laaarge post! And it’s gonna have pictures and all, taken with my Symbian smartphone. ;)
So pray for me, new step in my life, and pray that this BreakFree Tour will impact the lives of children to live lives of freedom. And thank you readers for still checking my blog to see if something’s updated, I promise to stick to my intended target of a post a week
And another thing: CJ says that the Display Hall in the campus is of no use. There are 6 screens and all of them show the vacancies of different colleges at the same time. You’d be way better off using a Symbian smartphone or those unsophisticated Android or Apple "regular-phones" to figure out whether your required colleges have vacant seats, than run the length of the hall (around 200 metres) just to see if your desired college comes on any one of the six screens.
"Symbian smartphone", it seems...