I was brought up in the small town of Rourkela in Orissa (it's not a small town anymore, it's blooming into a industrial hub gradually).To outsiders , in other parts of India , Rourkela stands out for having one of independent India's first steel plants built with the help of Germans and for the fact that Ved vyas (his real name was supposedly Parasara Munda).It is at a site , on the outskirts of Rourkela that the epic Mahabharata was purported to have been put down on paper by Maharishi Vyas.
Being brought up in a colony of an industrial town is quite different to life in larger towns or metros.We had very few amenities, which one in larger towns takes for granted. I remember telephones at home was almost a status symbol.There was no public transport , every body had their own means(mainly scooters, cycles and bikes) , cycling was a part of every day life.You could get a movie ticket for Rs 10 /- (till 1994 at least , after which I have been out of touch ), vegetables were grown in house gardens,every body almost knew the other person by name.It was a small little peaceful town , really a great place to grow up.What would clearly stand out as Rourkela's export is the long list of it's academic toppers.We always had a long line of IIT-ians, every year our schools used to churn out an amazing number of students who used to make the cut to IIT's, Roorkee, REC's, AIIMS etc.When I look back ,I feel , somehow the atmosphere at Rourkela brings in you a tremendous fire to do well.Competition was always cut-throat.
Not many people know, but in our time , there was a coaching class run by Mishra Sir which most of us used to go in Std 12.His classes had a great record of producing success at JEE.His classes were held in the balcony of the temple of Gayatri Devi temple,right under a small hill.All of us used to cycle there, around 80-100 of us used to sit in one batch in his class in low wooden benches while the temple Aarti would go on and the devetional songs and chants would go on in the louspeakers.On Sundays, we had to take a written test.As space was a constraint, Sir used to bring the question papers printed and keep it on the steps of the temple, we used to take he papers and trod up the hill , sit on the ground and solve the papers.It was great, such a far cry from today's coaching classes with laptops.But what success rate he had!!!!He has honned the problem solving skills of some of us , who have gone on to become rankers at IIT and many other great places.It was a unique coaching , but certainly one of the best.
During my college days at Rec, I was a day scholar and certainly missed a part of the hostel action.I was happy, not be in hostel as I got saved from the famous ragging which a lot of my friends happlessly endured (they have written a lot about it in blogs now!!) , but I too missed a lot of fun which happens in hostel.Later in my intial work life when I lived in hostels , I had the fun of hostel life, and I strongly belive veryone should have a stint in hostels.
Many years later in 2002 , I visited Rourkela briefly ,the city was still the same,
it still had it's own charm.Most of my friends, who have left the city still hold very fond memories of that place.Most of us keep planning to have a old boys(girls included!!!) meet there, don't know if such a thing will actually materialise, but thinking about it feels nice.I have great memories of the place.Hip hip Rourkela !!!
Hip hip Hurray , St.Paul's!!!!!!!!!!!!!