Saturday, 15 March 2014

Arulmigu Kalasalingam college : a revisit

Arulmigu Kalasalingam Engg College between the hills
After 24 years, I finally visited my old college, Arulmigu kalasalingam College of Engineering, in Krishnankovil near Srivilliputhur. Nestled between two hills at right angles, with a much taller hill peaking in the distance, it was a gorgeous but remote spot, in 1986. I was part of the third batch - the college only started in 1984, under MGR's decision to open higher education to private managements.

First college building -with classrooms and labs
The first men's hostel was built just then and our batch were the first occupants : ragging was confined to the college campus, until our set became seniors and decided to do unto our juniors what we did not like being done unto us.

In 86, the college itself had only two concrete buildings and some sheds for electrical & mechanical engineering labs that it shared with the polytechnic. The computer lab was in the main building, but we were not allowed in until the fourth semester, when we wrote programs in Basic and Cobol!

Classes were taught in English to a majority of Tamil medium graduates, by teachers who had various levels of understanding and command of the subject. Books were cheap Indian reprints - I remember the Material Science book cost Rs. 20 or Rs. 30 and our Electrical Engineering books written by a purported librarian, BT Theraja.

Now there are several buildings, it is a deemed university, the roads are all macadimzed, a fleet of buses, several shops, and flocks and flocks of people - even though it competes with 500 colleges, most of them in and around cities like Madras : there were only 28 self-financing and 8 government colleges in 1990.

There is even an arts college nearby. The hostels have doubled in size and multiplied in number : sadly the view of the mountains is blocked by other buildings : thoughtless architecture, very poor aesthetic sense : but cheap and effective, like most things in democratic India.

Men's Hostel

There was one muddy basketball court, and we played cricket or volleyball in the hostel courtyard. On days when there was a powercut, we would go to a nearby well and take a shower from a pipe operated by a diesel-motor pump. I don't think this well exists, there seem to be buildings in that area.

People stared at my car - a 1998 Honda City as we drove in to campus around 5 pm - just as everybody was boarding  to leave the campus. There were no other cars on campus, only some motor bikes.

Hostel to the left, Mountains at the back

At the hostel, we were welcomed warmly by Mr Arumugam, Supervisor and the warden Mr Arun, especially when I mentioned I was an old student. The mess is now a multi storeyed building. It used to be a shed, where we ate 3 meals, played table tennis and watched television - Doordarshan, Rupavahini and a Tamil & English movie, every weekend.

Crowds loomed on the Krishnankovil - Watrap road. The number of buildings there startled me - there is a Kalasalingam institute of technology now, besides the university.

My room in the first year: then 24, now labelled 23.

The trees, the stores, the fleet of buses were a pleasant surprise. We woke up two students, from Theni, born in 1995!!!, in my hostel room - they havent changed a bit, except the trees have grown and there are fans in the rooms. The old wooden doors and the stone shelves remain the same.

Hot damn! We just soaked in the rain.....or showered from a farm pumpset

Krishnankovil village

Dinner in Srivilliputur
We had dinner in a hole in the wall Dinakaran restaurant in Srivilliputtur, near the temple chariot's parking shed. Fine ghee roast, veechu parotta, very friendly chit-chatting, waiters, eager to please and full of hospitality and generosity and kindness, who served 8 side dishes for my ghee roast!

Ghee roast with 8 side dishes - including salna and Bombay sambar

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