Friday, November 18, 2005

Vignettes-II

Bakar

The literal meaning of bakar is, I suppose, meaningless or useless conversation. Or even, God forbid, gossip. But it is much more, and importantly, far from useless. It plays a major role in the overall development of the personality of the average NITTian. Or so we delude ourselves. As engineers-in-the-making, we are expected to be technically proficient. We are supposed to spend the majority of our time acquiring and practicing the various skills that will turn us into the technocrats of tomorrow. I’m now going to let you guys in on a big secret: we don’t do any of that. Instead, we spend quite a bit of our time earning bakar points. So, what exactly is bakar? If you ask me, it is the heart and soul of life in our college. It ensues when a minimum number of two NITTians meet and start talking. It can happen anywhere; in the mess, in the snacky/canteen, in the hostel, in front of the coffee shop, even while waiting for our turns in front of the shower cubicles (fancy name, isn’t it, for where we take our baths?). Anywhere. The intelligent reader will at once ask: what then, is so special about this? What distinguishes it from the ordinary conversation that two friends have when they meet? Frankly, I’m not too sure about that. There probably isn’t anything. But if there’s one thing I’d say that might be unique about this, um, phenomenon, it is that usually even passing acquaintances (and often complete strangers) end up talking for hours about pretty much everything under the sun. I guess they only need to be NITTians. My friends from other colleges who have visited have often remarked about this; the general lack of reserve seen in the junta here. The conversation can be about anything, from sex to sport to aliens to the question of sex with aliens for sport (I’m so proud of that little thing I just had to include it).

For example, one of our major sessions occurred about a week or so ago, when I sauntered into my friend’s room around midnight with the noble intention of chaating him. Halfway through the process (I was making excellent progress on obtaining his psychological portrait on the basis of the colour of his cycle), I was rudely interrupted by another friend who came in and made the profound observation that being a film star in India must be easy. This immediately started it. The group quickly swelled to six (NITTians have an uncanny instinct for detecting bakar; they can sense an ongoing session from incredible distances, sometimes even from the other wing of the hostel). That particular session lasted for 6 hours. We moved to the terrace at around four in the morning, drinking in the view (the Lapis terrace has one of the best views in the college) and also some, uh, liquids. Besides, it was wonderfully cool around that time.

Some topics covered in that particular session:
1.) Parameters of success in Indian cinema and, of course, the inevitable comparisons with Hollywood.
2.) Who is greater: Einstein or Newton (we finally decided, after much heated debate, that it was unfair to compare the two of them).
3.) Why our age seems to have no truly great scientists (except maybe for Stephen Hawking).
4.) Trying to build factual bases for legends (for example, the Brahmastra in the Mahabharat/Ramayan.). We had fun with this one.
5.) The question of the equality of the sexes (we finally decided that men and women complement each other, and need not necessarily be symmetric sexes, as far as ability is concerned. Each sex has a role to play, which is defined by evolution and the requirements for the propagation of the species).
I can almost hear the lynch mob.
6.) Trying to understand the nature of a somewhat eerie light that suddenly appeared on the banks of the lake.
7.) Trying to come up with a workable model of a condom that generates electricity during coitus. This was inspired by an IEEE conference that was held here a month ago, in which we engineers were exhorted to solve common problems that affect all of us. Started out as a joke, but the seriousness of our discussions is increasing with every session.

If all of that sounds very intellectual, then here’s an extract from that session that might clarify things:

The Sinister Case of the Sinister Light

N1: Hey, what’s that light over there?

(After much pointing and follow-my-finger exercises, the position of the light is established to everybody’s satisfaction).

N2 (he’s crazy about aliens): Maybe it’s the searchlight of an UFO.

N3 (shouting at the light): F**k you!! You hear that? I can see you! F**k you!

N4: You know, maybe all this time, the light’s been draining the life-force from us, while we were talking about it.

Nervous glances exchanged all round. It’s four in the morning. Reason and logic have long since made their exits. Accusing stares leveled at N3.

Me: You better apologize, man.

N3: WTF? Apologize? What do you want me to do, say sorry?

N1 (pointedly): The lake is deep, you know…. you could fall into it by accident…. and none of us here can swim.

N4: Um, actually, I can.

N1: We’ll send you to fetch help. Come on, man, do it.

N3 (at the light): Jeez, I can’t believe I’m doing this….Sorry! I didn’t mean it!

I live for this.

P.S. As for the cribbing about our non-existent love/sex lives, here’s the reason: the sex ratio of our batch is approximately .09. For the benefit of all Casio-deprived engineers and other arithmetically-challenged people, that’s about 11 guys to every girl. Seriously, need I say anymore?

50 Comments:

At 5:36 AM, Blogger desperado said...

bakar.....zinda rahe :)
well every engg college has it..
without it ..well life would be tough
n B.Tech in Bakar is better ..afterwhile this is wht we engg will do in future ;)

 
At 5:57 AM, Blogger sinusoidally said...

That was pretty funny. I think it a common representation of any college life. Engineering or non engineering. It was quite good though. :-)

 
At 6:10 AM, Blogger the Monk said...

dhruv&sinusoidally: yeah,i guess it is...thought i'd write abt it, what with it being such a major part of our lives here...

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger Spider Girl said...

There's nothing better than a good argument, er, discussion. Especially if it involves aliens. Or sex. :)

 
At 2:36 PM, Blogger Weary Hag said...

haha GREAT post! I can't really relate to the college/dorm experience, but this kind of holds true for the water cooler chats in the workplace as well!

I cracked up laughing at the actual conversation part ... very comical, and I'm sure, completely accurate!

 
At 8:00 PM, Blogger Dreamcatcher said...

I think the disamal ratio is what happens in every college - and no offence but in my experience the guys get really frustrated because of that. its pretty terrible in the IIT's and i think all engineering colleges.
and what you call 'bakar' would i think be equivalent to 'adda' in calcutta...talking about anything and everything.

 
At 8:48 PM, Blogger cherubic_chipmunk said...

gr8 post buddy-finally a very true representation of wat really happens inside the coll gates(which very much is on the contrary to wat ppl think of de nittians)...and hey the conversation part-man blieve it or not,v guys had a very similar one the other day...now thats truly more than a coincidence,aint it?
newayz mate happy hols...

 
At 4:17 AM, Blogger the One said...

Er .. beg pardon .. if one may, in a nostalgic nod to one's engineering days (which weren't as long ago as you might think), indulge in a little bakar of one's own ..

*puts on geek glasses*

The Sinister Light, one suspects, might have been the will-o'-the-wisp .. a spontaneous fire caused by the oxidation of methane gases released as a result of the decay of organic matter.

And one is intrigued by point 7 of the session. What engineering problem, if one may ask, is the accessory intended to solve?

And your batch has a sex ratio of 0.09? Lucky chap.

 
At 4:56 AM, Blogger Anjali said...

More on the aforementioned accessory

Is it intended to contribute to negative conditioning of some sort? Like those mice who got an electric shock everytime they misbehaved with the cheese?

 
At 4:57 AM, Blogger Obi Wan said...

We used to have similar sessions during our MBA days, especially when 6-8 of us used to collect in a common place to 'study' for the exam next day!!! My marksheet is a testimonial to the fact that whatever else we did, study we did not :-) But those bakch*#$i sessions(our term for bakar) really made life worth living. And so many years out of college, still do! Cheers!

 
At 5:00 AM, Anonymous tara said...

Hahaha! Good post.

Wanted to comment on the sex ratio bit. On campus, we had more or less the same ratio. But think of the poor gals who had to choose from a gamut of half-interesting men!

Quality over quantity any day i think.

 
At 6:35 AM, Blogger manjari said...

good post monk...cant imagine life without that right bit of juicy gossip...

 
At 3:20 PM, Blogger anuj said...

Bakar i nevr thought neone wud rite abt it. Well u hav touched the strings of an engineer. 2 years of college & i dont knw if i hav learned some technical crap or not .. but bakar yes .. and the zeal to master it grows day by day.

And yes its abt any topic under the sun. And i guess thts why this name .But they r gud in the sense tht at times they r serious and at times they r vague. but they r total fun.

and if long live engineers then long will live bakar.

 
At 12:26 AM, Blogger the Monk said...

the One: nope,not marsh gas...that's what immediately comes to mind, i know...this was something much simpler...nah, i think i'll let it be...u know, like the contents of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction... ;)
and abt the condom thing: it's just supposed to solve the electricity problem...and it'll be a boost for safe sex and birth control as well... think abt it...recharge your mob while making love!

 
At 4:30 AM, Blogger Canary said...

hmm.. reminds me of a fren hu used to say dat there are 2 kinds of creatures in engineering batches, males and non-males ! so much for MCP's.. :p

 
At 4:02 AM, Blogger Loonie said...

Gosh!! Sure you have a lot of patience duh! *yawn*..you actually sat there and listened to all this? *runs for life*

 
At 4:58 AM, Blogger Harashita R. R. Bajaj said...

nice one...we live it....thats what life is all about spl in hostel

 
At 6:08 AM, Blogger aria said...

LOL .. Nice one :)
Liked the term - bakar!
Guess its the part of college life everywhere.

 
At 8:12 AM, Blogger Dewdrop said...

Like they all said it, the bakar thing goes around in every institute. It also goes around on a corporate level in offices across the cubicles. Like I walked down the hallway this morning to get my cuppa coffee, I saw this girl at the corner cube tring to dry her wet umbrella. She goes 'its a lousy day out there, hate this rain' and there joined a few more folks from around supporting her and there started some nice 'bakar' :)

The incident from that night was hilarious:)

The gender disparity in engg college is a sad affair in India. Think talented potential females are just mot encouraged to enter in technical fields

 
At 10:23 AM, Blogger A Hairy Snail said...

LOL. Do post on the elctrifyung condom if you come with a solution. Sex, as we know it, will change.

 
At 11:37 AM, Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

But engineers are such a good catch! Are you sure your ratio figures are correct? Every woman I know wants to marry an engineer!

Thanks for coming by my blog. Yours is marvelous!

 
At 1:35 PM, Blogger San said...

hmmm this was rather an interesting post :) - bit of an eye opener for me to see what life in ur hostels are like.

Hope exams went ok.

 
At 3:45 AM, Blogger Mirage said...

No no no, i've heard enough 'bakar stuff' for one day!!

:D

 
At 10:24 PM, Blogger Heena ... said...

Well 'ello there...

Loved the post. But I have a random query... very very random query...

Why is it called a mess? I mean is it just unclean or messy or is it an abbreviation of sorts.
Hmm... Maybe the monk could enlighten me...

Oh yea, and the post was hilarious!

[Totally new here]
Heena

 
At 4:34 AM, Blogger . : A : . said...

Interesting inside perspective.

Thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting. Look forward to seeing you around.

 
At 6:45 AM, Blogger Guruprasad Kini (Guru) said...

LOL! Monk, dude - your Vignettes Series brings back old memories.
Looking back I realize that I have spent all 4 years of my college and hostel life in Bakar sessions (we used to call it "Gaaja" in Manipal). The most interesting part is: during those days, the Gaaja used to sound so very important, so very central to the cosmic scheme of things!
Long live Bakar marathons and the BCs!

 
At 9:54 AM, Blogger the Monk said...

Heena: i wondered abt that myself....i've asked around too....but nobody's got a satisfactory answer....i've looked it up on both answers.com and wikipedia, no mention of the etymology....
Guru:indeed...long live....

 
At 10:16 AM, Blogger Heena ... said...

Well you oughta find out... it's driving me nuts!

Sounds wierd when people always say... "Well, we're eating in a mess..." or " Why don't you join us in a mess!"

Drats... somebody owns us an explanation!

[Obviously having nothing important to be worrying about]
Heena

 
At 10:55 AM, Blogger CB said...

we call it 'farting' here..

 
At 10:49 PM, Blogger manuscrypts said...

we even used to have a 'bakar king' title for our internal cult fest....
meanwhile, an 'eleven point someone' wouldnt be a bad idea ... :)

 
At 3:50 AM, Blogger romantic by twilight said...

hey... first timer on your happening blog! way to go! neat post mortem ;)

 
At 4:06 AM, Anonymous pallavi said...

hahaha I am sure that was good timepass.. enlightening.. the topics.. i must say.. can be worth a good discussion.. must try it with friends.. when we are lost for gossip.. LOLOL

 
At 4:44 AM, Blogger romantic by twilight said...

hope u wouldn't mind... i'm linking student sermons to my blog... there is a pressing need to be sermonised, you see

 
At 4:49 AM, Blogger Aditi said...

been there done that...
maaan, i feel SO old:-(

 
At 5:09 AM, Blogger silentkiller said...

nice read.. 'farting' as karthik mentioned.

 
At 7:26 AM, Blogger the Monk said...

@loonie: not only did I listen to all of that, but I actively participated.....in fact, i take full credit for figuring out what that light actually was...u'll read abt it soon in the papers... ;)
@enemy of the republic: women want to marry engineers???well, none of them have informed us....
@sangeeta:yup, exams went fine...
@manu: eleven point someone?well, i've done a post on someone like that....check out the R. Vairamuthu post...
@shashi: do so by all means...i get paid for every blog i'm linked to, u know... ;)
@aditi: you're one year older than me...

 
At 11:27 PM, Blogger lilly05 said...

the monk, Thank you for visiting my blog. You have a very cool perspective on things. I laughed, I cried, I'll be back! :)

 
At 8:57 AM, Blogger Vijay said...

ha ha... bakar as always it is... hey, that UFO thing... even we had that discussion staring at the lake but that was sometime between 2000-2002... atleast someone explore and find it out...

 
At 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are good at it! Writing and Bakar...
:)

all i read here was "bakar" to the core!...

I am reminded of my college days... this is exactly what we did days and day, and nights and nights... on site visits, and at canteen, during classes and during out structural engineering classes... "bakar" ...only i dont think we gave it a name! But lovely... i enjoyed the post...

 
At 5:34 PM, Blogger perspective said...

You are good at it! Writing and Bakar...
:)

all i read here was "bakar" to the core!...

I am reminded of my college days... this is exactly what we did days and day, and nights and nights... on site visits, and at canteen, during classes and during out structural engineering classes... "bakar" ...only i dont think we gave it a name! But lovely... i enjoyed the post...

 
At 1:41 AM, Blogger Anirudh Shastry said...

Hey. you'd posted a comment in my blog. so this is in case you don't see the one there.

Nice blog. I heard about the 'shack' incident from some lapis guys(Arun-122, Aravind-123, Vivek-don't recall) Apparently, they'd been walking near it at the time and the sudden light had scared them out of their wits, and sent them running back to lapis.

 
At 7:11 AM, Blogger xtremely_insane said...

whoa. yeah, we all indulge in harmless,pointless banter.
i cant imagine college life without that. :)

 
At 8:38 PM, Blogger Camphor said...

.9 isn't bad. Mine has 13:1(and in Mech, 800 guys, 3 girls)- and that when Biotech has 1:1. :D Most of the rest of the college hates the Biotech dept.

lol@the conversation

 
At 10:03 AM, Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

I vote for Newton.

 
At 3:05 PM, Blogger the One said...

In reply to the questions regarding the origin of the word "mess" as in "officers' mess", it appears that the term is derived from the archaic French word mes, a portion of food, which itself comes from mettre, to put. Ultimately from the Latin mittere.

Incidentally the word was used to mean eating place centuries before it came to mean state of untidiness.

 
At 10:04 PM, Blogger the Monk said...

the One: Thank ye...will drop Heena a line...

 
At 3:27 AM, Blogger romantic by twilight said...

@ monk: that didn't seem monk-ish ;)

 
At 6:50 AM, Blogger Diabolical Angel! said...

Lol! Bakaar's a nice term!!
About the sex ratio, i can totally understand how terrible that must be coz although it's usually a "more guys less girls" situation, I'm stuck up in a class where we have 26 girls and 4 guys! And what's worse is that they're all gay...or atleast they look quite gay!

 
At 12:30 AM, Blogger Ashmi said...

oh!man...you stayed all night listening and talking things that don't mean a thing?...hats off to you or rather your patience...true sometimes we friends would also huddle in a big group and talk philosophical stuff or atleast pretend we're discussing serious stuff coz its high time we rise above the commonalities of college gossip.:-)...keep your bakar stuff alive coz i guess it drives away all monotony of everyday college life,right?

 
At 4:07 AM, Blogger Invisible said...

pretty much the same in all colleges i guess, especially the residential ones.
but in the college i went to, till this academic year, the sex-ratio was pretty much ok. but now all the premier engineering colleges can unite and crib about the same.

 

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