Chapter 1: The Introductions

Place: Somewhere in an engineering college in India

"Fuck man! son of a bitch!...#$%*#....."
"Abey Andy....kya hua yaar? chill out dude...thanda rehneka...."
"Don't sprinkle salt on an open wound yaar chaava"
Chaava. His name came from the mumbaiyya word for a handsome guy. Chandrashekhar or Chaava, as he was now known, was a misplaced tamilian who was born & raised in Mumbai and spoke the quintessential Mumbaiyya hindi that we saw in the Munnabhai movies. The only saving grace of his 5ft 3in pencil thin frame was a head of shiny black hair on which he spent 30 minutes every morning trying to set that perfect hairstyle which led to his nickname 'Chaava'.

"Hey Andy..I just head your expletive laden rant and Chandra's standard 'chill dude' dialogue...." Swami said. Swami or Srinath was clearly the nerdiest looking in the gang. He refrained from using nicknames in any form. He was usually the first person to wake up in the hostel every morning (you would have to count out the guys who hadn't gone to sleep of course) and performed his early morning poojas before sunrise. He was also the in-hostel doctor who would dispense medicines from his (rather large) pharmacy when given a list of symptoms. This intricate knowledge of the spiritual and medical gave him the epithet Swami.

"Kya yaar...shuru ho gaye kya tum log...?", Tushar walked in..."btw, i just got screwed...they always want us to write pages & pages, don't they...those..." Incase you haven't figured it out by now, Tushar was the grumpiest of them all. He was super-intelligent, could easily manage an A without any stress on the eve of the exams, but was also super-eccentric. He would go from being very friendly to very hostile within a matter of seconds. His discourses on computer-engineering subjects made him world famous in the college campus. Everyone called him Baba.

"Yes! Yes! Yes!....Guys! I managed to clear 'Machine design'...woo hoo..." Amar was the tallest and heaviest in the gang. Surprisingly, his intimidating frame came with the most friendly of natures. It would bode well to mention here that Amar was not the brightest bulb in the showroom. Nonetheless, what he lacked in grey matter he tried to make up with hardwork. His frequent use of the word 'Bummer' and its rhyming with Amar is the reason people called him bummer or bum.

"Hey guys....you are all here at main building?..Why did you call me man, Andy? Don't tell me the semester results are out already..." Vineet loved sleeping and the only thing he loved more was his computer. To drag Vineet away from his computer was as impossible as dragging a water buffalo out from water. His trademark beard and wierd obsession for computers was the reason Andy and the others called him Beardo, a combination of beard and wierdo.

Somewhere nearby Andy heard......"Hey Divya! I cant believe it....I got an A in Networking...." It was Kaavya . Kaavya and Andy were in the same class. she was one of those girls who pretended like the A-grade she just got was a miracle and not a consequence of her night-long cramming on the eve of the exam.She vehemently denied being smart and yet, somehow managed an A in every subject in every semester. Every time Andy heard Kaavya talk about her magically obtained grades, he felt a strange combination of jealousy and hatred. She was either a complete show-off who didn't want to admit that real hard work went into getting an A or was just plain lucky, which of these was true? Andy could never tell

Andy looked around him. Ananthakrishnan was shortened to Anty which had over time morphed to Andy. Everyone in college - from seniors to the girls seemed to know of him, for reasons he could never really understand. He had no idea what he was doing in engineering school, but he knew he loved being a part of the gang and hanging out with Chaava, Swami, Beardo and the others. Why were they all out together at this time of the night and more importantly why was he cursing at his results?.......

Disclaimer: All Characters in this story are purely fictional and any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.
Note: I am still looking for a title...I will appreciate any inputs I can get

The Train Journey that Changed Destiny - Part 8

" Hello..?"
"Hello Mom, how are you doing?" Ishant said. He had spent the last ten days packing for his stay in a hostel. He had no idea what was important and what wasn't. He had packed in a couple of jeans, a few t-shirts and a couple of shirts.
"I am fine. How are things at your end? Are you all packed and ready for stay in a hostel? It is going to the best 4 years of your life."
"Somehow, I am not sure. That place stinks, I want to be back here in Delhi." Ishant said as he packed in a couple of bedsheets and a light blanket.
"Don't act like a petulant child Ishant. Living in a hostel will make you a better person, you will learn to appreciate the smaller things in life. Besides, we will save a lot of money if you study at KIT. This way we will be able to fund your applications for higher studies, if you ever decide to pursue it."
"Come on mom. This is really unfair. How can you
make me suffer in the hope that I MIGHT some day want to do a masters. I don't want to leave Delhi." Ishant complained.
"Ishant! Stop complaining. You should have thought about all this when you were writing your exams and managed better grades. In any case, double check to make sure that vacation special to Chennai is at 7:00 P.M the day after tomorrow. Your uncle will be waiting for you at Chennai Central station. He will help you get settled at Kumbakonam. I will talk to you tomorrow, I need to go now. B-bye."
Ishant booted up his laptop and logged into his IM client. She was online.
"Hey Ishu....kya haal hai? Haven't heard from you since Monday....I was starting to look forward to our lunches."
"Ya, me too"
"So you coming to my place tomorrow? btw, I have a surprise for you"
"Hey! What is it? Can't you tell me right now? Come on yaar....you know I dont like surprises right?" Ishant really wanted to know.
"Well....if you really wanna know, lunch at my place as usual...be there!"
Ishant didn't know what to say. He had a lot of things to take care of, he had to make sure he had everything he needed. He had to tell her that he was going to KIT and that he wouldn't be back for 6 months until the semester break. The IM window flashed again...
"Hey Ishu...dinner time, gotta run...chi u tomo? SMS me tonite?"
" Sure, will msg u after 11, don't fall asleep :P" he replied, but she had already logged out.

Later that night, he was lying in bed thinking about how life would be like in a hostel when he remembered, he picked up the phone and started typing a message "Hey! u awke? wats the surprise? tell me now no, pls." A few minutes later his phone buzzed to life "Nope...u cme hre 4 lunch with me tomo & I will tell u. u comin?"
"Hmmm...alrite i'l come..bt atleast tel me wat its abt na?"
"Nope ishu..its a surprise na...u come here and i'll tell u."
"btw, i need 2 tell u something 2. i'll tell u tomo at lunch"
"No way ishu...tel me nw...im the only one allowed to give surprised. u wont tel me? :( "
"Nope...same rule applies to u...wil tel u tomo at lunch. chalo, me tired now, gonna sleep...wil cal u tomo morn wen i start frm hre." He put the phone down and went to sleep.

The next day, he got into a bus heading to Dhaula Kaun and called her to let her know that he was on his way. When he rang the door bell, she opened the door dressed in a white salwar with her hair tied in a bun. she seemed a little frazzled. "Hey ishu, sorry yaar, I was in the kitchen making rotis and alu baingan. Give me a few minutes to finish cooking and take a shower. Here's my laptop, feel free to use it until I come back."
20 minutes later, she stepped into her room looking like an angel. He dreamt of hugging her close to his body.
"Hey ishu....kya soch raha hai yaar?" He suddenly slipped back into reality "Kuch nahin...nothing..." She sat down next to him on the diwan and they talked about how his preparations for hostel life were coming along. He knew it was now or never, he had to tell her how he felt.
"I need to tell you something Pallu" he said
"What is it yaar ishu?"
"I guess you know, I really like you"
"I know, I like you too yaar" she said, matter of factly.
"No Pallavi! I don't think you understand. I love you!" he said looking into her eyes.
She looked stunned for a moment. She was blushing so much that her face turned completely red. She almost hid her face from him as if in agreement.
"I need to tell you this too Pallu, I am leaving for KIT day after tomo by the summer vacation special to Chennai."
When she heard this, she almost started laughing. He did not understand why she was laughing. She moved closer to him, almost holding him in an embrace and whispered in his ear "Ishu honey, I love you too....I've been waiting for months now for you to say this. I'm so happy" She planted a soft kiss on his cheek, it was his turn now to turn red. "After you told me about your decision to move to KIT, I called my cousins in Chennai and found out about Tanjore Medical College. They had a few seats open and I talked to the dean of admissions yesterday over the phone, I had faxed my grade-sheets and other documents to him earlier, he took a look at the documents and told me that he would be more than willing to offer me a formal admit in 2 weeks time."
Ishant was wide-eyed, he did not know what to say.
"Yes, Ishu honey, I will be in Tanjore, which is an hour from Kumbakonam. I don't want to be 1000 miles away from you, I want to give our relationship a real shot."
"I don't know what to say Pallu, I am shocked....."
Ishant couldn't have been happier, lunch was long forgotten and they settled into each others arms.

3 days later, Ishant got down from the bus and turned around to see the huge KIT main gate. There were so many others like him walking around, most of them with mattresses on their back and parents by their side. "Ready to go inside Ishant?" his uncle asked. Ishant nodded in agreement, he was going to start a new chapter of his life and he couldn't have been happier. New place, new environment and best of all she was near him, yes, this is the train journey that changed his destiny.

The Train Journey that Changed Destiny - Part 7

Ishant woke up to the glint of sunlight in the window and quickly checked the time on his mobile phone "Damn! it's 8'o clock" he thought. His head hurt from the long train journey. He looked at his phone again.
2 unread messages flashed on the screen.
He opened the first message, "wat does dat mean? R u moving to dat village? So bad yaar ishu" He scrolled to the next one "Hello? you thr? u comin tomo rite?... alrite...luks lik u r asleep...Gnite...Swt dreams...tlk 2 u tomo. Dont 4get 2 cal me tomo morn."
20 minutes later, he was trying to fish out the details of the scandal from the newspapers with a cup of coffee by his side. He was desperate to find out about the admission process for DU. He could not survive in KIT, the entire place was a massive culture shock. How can anyone even dream of studying there?He had to call her, but before that he would have to meet Prof. Sharma.

Walking into Prof. Sharma's office, Ishant announed to his PA "I am Ishant, I want to meet with Prof. Sharma. Please tell him it's urgent." A few minutes later, he was sitting at Prof. Sharma's desk admiring the books in the book shelf behind Prof. Sharma's desk.
"Yes Ishant, How can I help you today?" Prof. Sharma said as he walked in with a cup of coffee.
"Prof. I heard about the admissions scam last night on TV. How does that affect the admission process this year? I really need to know" he asked hoping for some good news.
"Ah yes! I have been meaning to talk to you about it. Here's the deal Ishant, in light of the scandal, I won't be able to help you with your application to DU or your research proposal. Any favors I dispense at this time will not be looked upon kindly. I am sorry Ishant. I really wish I could help. You are going to have to go through the standard admission procedure, which will most likely take another month to kick start."

Ishant did the math real quickly in his head, his classes at KIT started in 2 weeks time. He had only a week to withdraw his admission and get his original certificates back. On the other hand, with Prof. Sharma backing out, DU was a no-hoper, with his grades, he would get nowhere near DU. He thanked Prof. Sharma and started walking towards the bus terminal. His mind was in turmoil. "I am doomed to KIT" he mumbled to himself.

"One ticket to Dhaula kaun" Ishant handed money to the bus conductor. He picked up his phone hoping to see an SMS waiting for him. Anything from her would have cheered him up. He had never told her how he felt. " Would she know? She sure flirts with me a lot, she probably does. Still, I should tell her. How can I tell her now? especially since I will move 1000 miles away from Delhi. I can't stress myself this much over a girl. " he punched a few numbers on the phone keypad...
"Hello", the voice said at the other end.
"Hey! Whats up?" he said
"You stupid boy! I thought you were messaging me last night. You left me alone and went off to sleep and you never even bothered calling me in the morning when you woke up. you are such a bad friend" she said.
He did not have the energy to argue, just hearing her voice made him struggle for words.
"I am so sorry yaar, there were a few things I needed to take care of. I called you now na?"
"Yeah right! Make up excuses. you just forgot about me. some friend you are!"
"friend? thats all I am to you? just a friend? I want to be so much more than a friend" he thought to himself.
"Anyway, you are coming home right? I am making lunch for you. We can have lunch together and you can tell me all about this village you are going to study in" she said mischievously.
"Yeah, I am on the bus to your place. I will be home in 30 mins." This lunch was the brightest spot of what was fast turning out to be a really gloomy day.

When he finally reached her place, she opened the door wearing her white and pink salwar. She looked as pretty as always, her sprightly brown eyes with a hint of kaajal, her hair neatly combed and tucked away with a clip. She smiled at him creating the cutest dimples in her cheeks.
She offered him a seat on the sofa, placed a glass of water on the coffee table and sat down next to him. "So, tell me about your adventures." Ishant talked for an hour about KIT, his missed opportunity with Prof. Sharma at DU and his decision to move to KIT for his BTech. Suddenly, the smile disappeared from her face, it looked like she would almost cry. " Does that mean you won't be in Delhi anymore Ishu? I can't believe it!" Instinctively, he hugged her. She, too, didn't bother to stop him. "So she does feel the same way for me too" he thought to himself. He was holding the most beautiful girl of his class in his arms. Screw Prof. Sharma, DU and KIT, he would give up anything to be able to hug her again. Suddenly, she pulled away from him, "Lets have lunch Ishu..."
They had a quick lunch and talked for a while about her medical school applications. Time flew so fast when he was with her. He held her hands as they talked, she didn't bother stopping him. The next time he looked at his mobile phone, it was 5 in the evening.
"Oh my God! it's 5 already, I need to get going" he said. She offered him coffee/Tea, he was almost tempted to take up her offer, but he had to leave, it was getting late. He gave her half-a-hug and headed back to his house.

Later that evening, he was booking one way tickets to KIT. His heart was in Delhi. He did not want to go to KIT, not with her right here. But, he had no choice, maybe if he had applied for some B.Sc. courses. He had only told her that he was leaving for KIT, he hadn't told her that it was in less than 2 weeks time. If only he could get a little more time, just enough to tell her how he really felt...he picked up his mobile phone and started typing a message....