Saturday, December 16, 2006



Ever since I was declared socially unfit by my family in the year 2001 AD I have lived with the fact that I can never be one of those suave, smooth talking characters Shahrukh Khan normally plays on screen. Along with that came the realization that the chances of impressing village belles with my boyish charm or city girls with my retro/metro sexual demeanor were highly improbable. Diffidence and coyness have perpetually plagued me like two huge plaguing things. Needless to say I am yet to have a girlfriend though there have been times when I came close to having one. At least I would like to believe I was close to having one. Before I go any further let me state that the following chronicle of events is dedicated to all those friends of mine whose social awkwardness especially in front of the opposite sex have come to characterize the average IITian. My message for them: Fear not for you are not alone!

Much has written about the skewed sex-ratio in our institute. Various remedial measures have been suggested. Some are revolutionary, some pure drivel. A few over enthusiastic individuals have even gone as far as to suggest an unofficial “quota” ala the IIMs1. Obviously all these things won’t help. Girls have always found the JEE a needless waste of time and have found better avenues to channel their energies. Watching John Abraham movies or deciding which contestant to vote for in those grotesque reality shows are a few examples where they would rather invest their time. So any hopes of improving the ratio ought to be laid to rest.

The ratio undoubtedly has had a terrible effect on the societal skills of the average IITian. Little or no interaction between the sexes has lead to an amazing level of desperation and despondency among the students. Let me give you some examples of a few pick-up lines used by people to disastrous effects. Our man is at Spencer’s. He sees a hot girl and approaches her. The following conversation ensues.

Our Man: Hi.

Hot Girl: Hi.

Our Man: Can I have your phone-number? (readers keep in mind that this is the first meeting)

Hot Girl: Why? ( we must agree that this was a highly justified question)

Our Man: Ah well…Hmmmmm…. ( thinks hard for a great one-liner, fails, and duly returns to his Gumbal)

Well not all of us suffer from these sudden bouts of tonguetied-ness ( if there is such a word.) One of my friends happened to be completely misinformed about the residential origins of his object of interest. What followed was another memorable conversation.

Misinformed Friend: Hi

Object of Interest: Hi

Misinformed Friend: Are you from Bhagalpur?

Object of Interest: No. ( our friend finds himself in a difficult position, but notice how he bounces back from the brink)

Misinformed Friend who now knows he is misinformed: oh! Well…..but I am from Bhagalpur. Pleased to meet you. ( and departs while leaving the girl dumbfounded)

My personal experiences in this regard have been interesting to say the least. The recent one happened right after Lit-Soc dramatics. After all the plays were over, a few members of our dramatics team and me were making chit-chat outside the CLT. For some bizarre reason I happened to be explaining them the finer points of the Intellectual Properties Rights Policy of General Electric. Along came to join the group another member of our team along with his Swiss girlfriend. Now most of you will agree that being seen in the company of female exchange students have always been listed very high in the “51 Things I want to be seen doing in IIT2. The elated looks on my compatriots’ faces was proof enough of the restrained sense of jubilation they were currently going through. Now the topic of conversation has always been regarded as the fundamental moot point on which depends how long you would enjoy such exalted company. Everything’s fine if you have the right topic, say the experts. What the experts never explained in detail is how to know choose that elusive topic. Anyway, I decided to take the initiative and begin the conversation. A loud voice spoke to me in my mind, “Keep talking about IPR. That ought to impress her.” A smaller voice shot back,” Are you insane! Keep your mouth shut!”

I made the fatal mistake of listening to the louder voice and began “As I was saying, the Intellectual Property Rights division in GE ensures……..” No sooner where these words out, the pleasant countenance on the Swiss Miss’s face transformed in to a grimace. Realizing that the evening can be better spent she politely excused herself from the now thoroughly engrossing discourse on IPR by me. This was followed by an uncomfortable silence. I of course had apprehended by then from the looks on my friends’ faces that something was wrong. It didn’t take long for their restrained jubilation to transform into unrestrained fury. The next fifteen minutes were spent by me exploring the MSB at a very fast pace trying to save my bones at the same time. Moral of the story:

1. Don’t discuss anything remotely related to Intellectual Property Rights while in company of Swiss girls.

2. And always listen to the small voice!

A good vocabulary always helps. So please pick your copy of Barron’s and get going. To prove my point I do have yet another example. This happened during Saarang. A certain acquaintance mine asked a girl out for dinner. Now he knew her barely for a day3.So pat came the reply “You just met me and you have the audacity to ask me out!” Now this guy was known for his witty repartees and we all were expecting a sweep-her-of-her-feet reply. But that was not to be. He apologized and came back! As expected we confronted him angrily and asked him why he let us down in such a miserable fashion. To that he replied, “Hey, what does audacity mean?”

All these anecdotes might give the impression that most of our brethren are social disasters. But there have been instances when spunk has prevailed. It was the last day of Shaastra. I was conducting this terribly tiring lab visit for around 6 batches with fifteen people each. One of these batches had this breathtaking beauty who had come all the way from Shimla. The loveliness had such a captivating power (Do I sound like Keats here?) that all the voices in the head screamed. “Get her name! Get her name!” Now I am not the ‘going and getting the name’ type. Or else I wouldn’t be writing this article. So I couldn’t achieve much beyond gaping like an ape. The visit was almost over and she was about to leave when it struck me like a brick. A plan so simple yet so shrewd that you could put a beard to it and call it Shylock. I boldly went up to her and asked, “Excuse me, could you please give me five minutes and fill this feedback form for me”. Never in history had that piece of paper with those terribly boring questions been better used. Now this wasn’t the standard QMS form we are talking about but a highly inquisitive one we had specially got printed just for our event. In a few minutes I knew everything about her except her father’s salary and occupation. Name, number, email-id, address, everything.

Well, we can’t expect feedback forms to solve all our problems in life. But the point I am trying to make but have failed miserably to do so till now is that it’s not about getting phone numbers or going on dates. We need to understand that learning to handle a person of the opposite sex without appearing to be a sex maniac or a wooden toy is as important as any other aspect of campus life. I yearn for the day when my female friends (Ya, I actually have a few) stop remarking nonchalantly how desperate most IITians are and how they send endless requests for companionship in social networking forums. I yearn for the day when my friends will stop interpreting harmless ‘Hi’s from any girl as a proposition. And finally I yearn for the day when “Fraanship & Loveship” requests will stop emanating from the Orkut accounts of fellow IITians.

I make a plea. This plea is not for the people who date Stella Maris girls in the weekend or receive Friendship Day greetings from MCC girls. My plea is directed towards those innumerable faceless IITians who day after day send those hideous and revolting messages from their rooms to unsuspecting girls like the one below.

I am a smart guy studying IIT. I can solve fast differential equations. I won the inter-hostel contraception contest. My favourite book is Dan Brown(!). Will you be my friend? I promise to be a good friend and keep all your secrets(!!!)4

No civilized society can tolerate this for long. So please STOP! And if you can’t at least replace the first I with N!

1. Ya. Its true. Contrary to what Sharavites might have you beilieve.

2. A treatise often referred to in some parts of the institute.

3. Not an uncommon occurrence during Saarang.

4. Profile Source: