Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Close Encounters of the GBM Kind!

Prelude:This is the unedited version of the article I wrote for InsIghT,our newsmag.Since the newsmag finally came out yesterday,I thought of putting this here,for it's in the same spirit as most of my posts.And goes well with the copy-pasting-saving-time thing I'm doing keeping endsems in mind.

[For glossary see below,for there might be many terms unfamiliar to people outside our institute.]

After endless nights of campaigning,running around with manifestos and convincing people not to vote for others the student council finally takes shape.It is nominated as there aren't enough candidates these days,the election procedure being just for fun.The SOP box is even more fun.But there is nothing that a responsible or irresponsible elect worries more than the GBM.Which means it is the fun most.

The GBM itself isn't pre-planned.Whenever people get free time and can't find enough ways to waste it,a notice about the GBM is put up.After 4-5 postponements due to varied reasons such as heavy rain outside,hot weather,scarcity of water,a panther sighting,croc in the lake or any such calamity,suddenly one day all the post holders gather in the lounge expecting everyone else to turn up.But hoping that they don't.The Warden is also given a mandatory invite,but the frequent rescheduling of the schedule means that he stays out.A carefully planned move so that there is at least one person to blame for all the shortcomings,and he is not present to clarify.

I am a regular audience for this visual and audio feast and this is the story of one such GBM which could be every GBM you have ever seen.

9.30 PM.Empty corridors.Everyone in the rooms,or other's rooms doing regular work which includes playing LAN duels,watching movies or just chattering away.This is the prospective audience for the GBM.Those who study at that time (imagine!) won't even bother.A cracking voice trails in the air-"Junta the GBM begins in 5 minutes,everyone please be there".What it really meant was "Please continue what you are doing,don't bother us".But as responsible hostelites we consider it our duty to talk about the policies and the problems of the hostel.Truth being we have nothing better to do.And an open war of words with lots of muck-raking is always inviting.Especially when you can play an active part.

So people start trickling in.One and zero at a time.The warden if present generally gets frustrated with delays and leaves.Good for everyone.After about an hour,if we are lucky,the show starts.The policy makers and executives stand with grim faces,ready to be grilled with questions and showered with abuse.The spotlight is on them.
Generally the Cultural Council comes up first because there aren't enough people yet to discuss more serious issues.The usual issues come up-

Us:Who are you?
Them:We are the Cult Council.We are here to help you.
Us:Why didn't you help us before.
Them:You never asked for help.
Us:You never offered help.We needed it.You let us down.Anyway let's get to the issues.
Us:This question to the SOC secy.Why don't we have movie shows?
Him:Because every one has seen every movie we can show at least 2 times.
Us:So,what makes you think we can't do that a third time? We have a bigger screen to focus on.
Us:You should also show educational movies,you know.
Him:Oh yeah like I don't try.The higher authorities prevent me from doing that.

Higher authorities could be anything from Warden,Deans to even God.And of course they are not present there to explain.Maybe God is,but he chooses to stay silent.So case closed.

Us:Why didn't our hostel celebrate Ganesh Chatutrthi.
Him:Lack of funds.
Someone:You should have gone door to door and said "Bhagwaan ke naam pe paisa de do" (give money in the name of God).You would have got some.

Laughter,applause.Embarrassment for the council.We move ahead.Music sec. comes up.

Us:Why doesn't our hostel have an electric guitar?
Him:We don't have funds to buy that.If you could only contri..
Us:That's it.No more electric guitar.
Us:What are your funds like?
Him:Just enough to afford a harmonica.The best one.
Us:Poor chap.Who plays harmonica?
Him:No one.That's why we didn't buy it.We save money so that one day we will have enough for a flute.A nice one.
Us:Good.Get lost.

The Lounge and Library secy comes up.

Why isn't the remote working?
Him:It doesn't have batteries.
Us:Don't tell us that you don't have funds to buy that.
Him:We have the funds.But we need cash-memos for anything. Transparency in transactions you see.And we still haven't found a shop where they give memos for batteries.
Us:Here take the money.All 14 bucks.Stop the pain.
Him:Thank you.You all are very supportive.
Us:Why doesn't our hostel subscribe to educational magazines.
Him:The mags are a waste of money.We are at a high level of education.We don't need no education.

Good point.

Us:Why don't we have hindi books in the liby?
Him:They are very tough to find.The only books available in hindi now a days are Nandan and Champak and you won't read that would you?
Us:Oh is it?We must have lost touch.Haven't read any Hindibooks since my schooldays.Ok maybe you're right.

The Dram secy comes up.

What do you do?
Him:I am the one responsible for PAF along with the Cult Co.
Us:And the rest of the year?
Him:PAF takes a year man.You don't know how big it is.The sets are huge.The script is intense.The atmosphere is mind blowing.
Us:Shut up,we are not freshies you are trying to impress to coax them to cut bamboos.
Him:Please,please do that.Please.
Us:Get lost.

The Lit. and Debating secys come up.

Awkward silence.

Koi kuch to kaho.

Awkward silence.They just drift away from the scene.No one can think of anything to say.

By now the lounge is packed.The people seem hungry.So who better to feed upon than the Mess Council.The climax of the GBM.Two hour showdown.No free food mind you.

Us:Why have we never seen you until now?
Mess co. takes the question.
Him:We were busy working,maybe that's why.
Us:Busy working to prepare the worst menu in the entire galaxy?Yes that must have taken time.
Him:C'mon it's not that bad.
Us:Why,have you sampled all the food the galaxy has to offer?Do that and the truth will dawn upon you.

Awkward silence.

Us:Who decides the menu?
Him:Us,we prepare a menu of all the food being made in all hostels and then select the ones that..
Us:..are the worst.
Him:We also had a referendum and you had to decide.
Us:We didn't see any referendum,when did that happen?
Him:It was conducted online.
Us:Why weren't the notices put up?
Him:They were also put up online.
Us:Ah there's the catch.Good job,next time stick to good old pen and paper.

Now the grilling begins.Every menu item of everyday is analyzed,cross analyzed,dissected and debated upon.Some people voice their reservations about the colour of the gravy,some complain about the dilution of Daals,some the smell of fried rice.The only physical properties that aren't discussed are the viscosity and optical behaviour.But that's only because of the lack of abundant time.We won't mind doing that.

After about 40 minutes I feel uneasy.Then I see the mess council standing in front and wonder what they must be feeling.I take a break,go to grab something to eat.Come back to find the questions still being fired in.This time the topic of discussion being U.F.O sightings.For the uninitiated,U.F.O means Unidentified Floating Objects,and they can often be seen in mess food.Like their elite namesakes their presence is vehemently denied by the people in power.Like here-

Us:What about the hideous U.F.O's that we see so often?
Them:The truth is out there.We shall investigate.X-files shall be reopened.
Us:Wow! thanks.

People don't get tired of asking questions.But they need a break.Mess council decides it's perfect time to wrap things up and they get away after promising a brand new menu.The major show being over,it's time for the sidekicks to join in.Enter maint council.

Maint. council has a strange way of dealing with things.Everything that's functioning in the hostel goes to their credit while all the rest of things that don't work well has to be the higher authorities.

Us:Most toilet flushes aren't working,why?
Them:We complained,they sent no one to do that until now.Keep your fingers crossed,and always take in enough water with you.The taps are untrustworthy.
Us:Gee!Thanks for the reaffirmation.

Us:And why aren't there any tubelights in the wings?
Them:You played cricket and broke them.We could either fine you or have no tubelights at all.What do you want?
Us:We want to play cricket again.

Us:What about the dysfunctional water cooler,the broken doors,the stationary lifts (that's hostel specific) infinitum...?
Them:One answer.Higher authorities.We have complained,no action till date.
Us:Are you here only to complain and do nothing.
Them:I thought you were doing that.Putting it that crudely,yes maybe you are right.But that's our job.
Us:You are doing a great job.Congrats.Thank you.

The crowd becomes thinner and thinner every moment.Boredom and expected answers being just a few of the reasons.So the rest of the people have a relatively easy time.Sports council comes up.

Us:Why haven't the grounds been prepared?
Them:We talked to the SAC people today and they said they would be sending the concerned people soon.
Us:Why did everything have to wait till today?Why didn't you do that earlier?
Them:Why don't you submit your assignments on time,your tutorials on date?Isn't this the same thing?Why have double standards?
Us:Now that you put it that way,things seem so much simpler.Sure,don't do anything.Just what you were elected for.

There are usual rantings about the lack of sports equipments,the irregularity in the issue of the sports gear and the pathetic quality of the stuff that's already there.But now it's all in good humor.

Comp. concil is next,and thankfully last.

Us:Why aren't the proxy servers working?
Them:Due to heavy bombardment on the subeth(0) network there is damage in the protocol which hampers data transfers and chokes network traffic.
Us:Come again please,in lay man terms.
Them:There is a problem.You are causing it.In fact if ever there is a problem it's dumb people like you who don't know anything about computers that cause it.We shall see what we can do about that.
Us:Why are you being so hot headed and heavy handed?
Them:CC instructions.In fact as soon as we became Comp secys. and SYSAD's the CC has reprogrammed us and we are presenting their agenda.And since all of you have signed CC policies,you cant do anything to stop us.Mu haa haa haa.
Us:Stop freaking us out.We are leaving man.

Everyone runs away.The GBM ends on a scary note.A rather abrupt one.Lots and lots of promises are made.Even if a miniscule fraction is incorporated till the next GBM we can call it a huge success.We are working on what questions to ask till then.You do the same and let us know the interesting ones.


GBM:General Body Meeting,an open meeting where the post holders of the hostel are asked questions based on their work till then.The very basis of democracy in IITB.
CC:Computer Centre.
PAF:Performing Arts Festival.The biggest dramatics event of the institute where 2-3 hostel team up to make a huge set in the OAT and perform a 40 minute play.Obviously the freshers are the ones who have to do the most of infra work :D
SysAd:System Admin.
SAC:Student's Activity Centre


Anonymous said...


You left out the grilling of the G-Sec! Your post did bring back fond memories though!

PS:H2 H2!

neha vish said...

Five years of undergrad and postgrad were relived through this post! :)

And I've been on both sides - I know exactly how it feels.

Dhar said...

Hilarious. Came here via DesiPundit

As Neha said, I too have been on both the sides and know how it feels.

Anonymous, totally agree with you: H2, H2. {H3 BKA}. :)


Mirage said...

Its a dog's life!

Nikhil said...

[anon] That's why it's the unedited version :) Ed. told me to add that,sadly it already was so long that things had to be subtracted not

[neha] :)

[dhar] Thanks. H13,H13 :D

[mirage] We should learn not to bitch about that :D