Posts Tagged ‘Hostel4’

01/26/2011 ~ New Madhouse Review – 2

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

http://johncheeran.blogspot.com/2011/01/madhouse-true-stories-of-inmates-of.html

By John Cheeran
Here is an awesome book.
Madhouse: True stories of the inmates of Hostel 4, IIT-Bombay is going to be a trendsetter. It puts together utterly common and uncommon moments from the lives of a group of students, achievers of some sort, for they cracked the JEE to get in to the IIT.
Though all the recollections in Madhouse are specific to one of the hostels in IIT Bombay – there are 9 others, including a ladies hostel (hostel 10) but you don’t have to be an IITian to enjoy these true stories on hostel food, ragging, pondies, phone, entertainment programmes (EPs), copying, girlfriends and other assorted adventures.
These stories cover a timeline of less than 10 years (roughly a period ranging from 1972-1985) out of IIT Bombay’s more than 50-year history.
It’s an unputdownable book, especially if you remain young at heart. Any reader should be able to recall more than one occasion from his student/hostel life similar to that Madhouse speaks about. These colourful tales do make you nostalgic of a time of infinite freedom and immense pressure to live up to parental expectations.
Madhouse shatters a few myths regarding how above average and brilliant the guys and girls who make the cut to the IIT are. May be, after reading these true accounts, you would feel that what a bunch of quirky, degenerate and spoilt characters are these people, with no qualms about flouting rules of all kinds.
Some of these tales are absolutely wacky. Bakul Desai (contributing editor and a successful businessman based in Hyderabad) wanted to bring an elephant to the campus for the H4’s EP (entertainment programme). An enterprising Bakul, in his desperation, went to Antop Hill and had a negotiation with underworld don Varadaraja Mudaliar for renting out an elephant without knowing who the guy was. Later Bakul tells how they invented ways to use the public coin phone in the hostel without inserting coins. I burst out laughing when he described the day when a telephone department official came with a big bag to collect all the coins from the phone box but only to be shocked when he opened the box by the sight of matchsticks, broken strings, crumpled computer cards, rubber bands, clips, pins and an assortment of wires made of steel, copper, plastic, a wad of chewing gum and a 50 paise coin in the middle of it.
Who thought IIT students could be so enterprising?
Most of the heroes and heroines of Madhouse have done well in life. Many here recount that they learnt more by bunking classes than from classrooms.
Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was a commie then at IIT Bombay has traveled quite distance to become BJP ideologue and now an advisor to Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee. Manohar (Manu) Parrikar is another H4 inmate who became BJP chief minister of Goa and now the opposition leader in the assembly.
Urmilla Deshpande (editor) and Bakul Desai (contributing editor) deserve a toast for putting together this book. It was Bakul who took the lead to get the project on track. Urmilla played her role as a sensitive editor to perfection by letting these stories speak by themselves without the writer in her taking over to shape them. She realized that in these stories style and content were inseparable. She should know having married an H4 inmate Hashish Koj La (Ashish Khosla).

Posted by johncheeran at 12:17 AM

01/26/2011 ~ New Madhouse Review -1

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

http://thebookloversreview.blogspot.com/2011/01/review-madhouse-true-stories-of-inmates.html

As soon as someone mentions IIT, it conjures  respect and awe but also at the same time we  imagine a non-interesting, studious and serious life. What many don’t know is the whackiest, weirdest fun is had in the hostels of IIT.  The life at IIT Hostel always intrigued me, since I am married to an IITan. Anyone who is married or has dated an IITan would agree that it is almost like a secret brotherhood, the stories and the fun or things that they have done in those years remain strictly between them. It is almost sacred and not for public sharing. One knows a wild time was had, weird nick names shared, whacky things done but it is never discussed with families.

Madhouse: True Stories of the Inmates of Hostel 4, IIT Bombay is a book that will give the reader an insight of what goes around these hostels. It is a compilation of all the ex-students of IIT Bombay who lived in Hostel 4. Starting from their ragging days to their graduation ex students have recalled memorable incidents of their life in hostel.  The compilation is specifically of IIT Powai, Hostel 4 passouts but the episodes will give the reader a fair insight into the life at IIT.  Happy stories, funny stories, laugh out loud stories the book has it all. Most of the stories though are from the students of 80s.

Reading the book made me realize why these men bond just so much, how friendships are made forever, why such elaborate efforts for a reunion are made whenever even a single friend comes visiting from abroad.  The shared experiences, the shared jokes, the shared past every time they meet come alive. Even as an outsider you can’t help but notice the bond of friendship, trust they share.

The book, as one reads it, one can figure out the tremendous effort that would have gone into getting stories from all the ex-students, considering most of them lead busy lives in different corners of the world.

Excellent initiative but honestly a book that would be enjoyed strictly by people who have lived in that hostel.

12/14/2010 ~ Madhouse reviewed… and enjoyed!

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/madhouse-is-a-candid-provocative-narrative/137422-40-101.html

'Madhouse...' is a candid, provocative narrative

11/29/2010 ~ Madhouse reviews and press

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Midday review “The baap of 3 idiots”

http://www.mid-day.com/whatson/2010/nov/201110-Madhouse-Hostel-4-IIT-Bombay-book-novel.htm

And various sightings…

11/14/2010 ~ Madhouse:True Stories of the inmates of Hostel 4

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

This book is available for preorder at: http://www.iitbombay.org/initiatives/hats/hostel4/madhouse-book-order

When my husband Ashish Khosla, once an inmate of Hostel 4 himself, told me a tale about one of his hostelmates going to lectures on a horse, I was not impressed. Though he is not given to flights of fancy, I thought he was perhaps making a lot of a single incident. Then he showed me the photograph. It had that unmistakable stamp of the early ‘80s in style and substance, and there was the white horse, and its rider, on their way to a lecture on organic chemistry. I realised that it was not a one-time event. I also commented then that it would be a fabulous book cover.

One thing led to another, and in March of 2010 I was given the privilege and frustrations of editing this book.

I have known IITans intimately through my life– my father, step-father, husband, boyfriends and many good friends. I made several good friends during the creation of this book. None of what I read and heard explains these guys, though. I still cannot tell whether they chose this gruelling and most prestigious of educational institutions because of the way they were, or they became that way because those five years they spent at IIT.

In spite of censorship (some language of course, and some entire incidents were left out due to the sheer indecency of the matter) it is quite clear that these boys – and they were boys then, indulged in very questionable behaviour. There was substance abuse, and it wasn’t the substances that were abused. There was people abuse – in fact abusing each other in picturesque and imaginative ways was a normal pastime. There was delinquency and there were criminal acts. Instincts of various nether levels were indulged endlessly and continuously. This book has chronicled many instances. It is my feeling that these memories are stronger than mundane ones of lectures attended or disciplines learned or even engineering degrees earned. In any case, these were more interesting to both listeners and narrators, and now, writers and readers.

There is something that I must make clear to the readers of this book. In spite of all the unsavoury behaviour, I must point out that these same rowdy and rude young men are now captains of industry, science and technology, some are prominent in the political and social arenas, and most are productive members of society. I say this as a reminder, because while reading about their early lives in their own words, a reader might, understandably too, forget this fact.

It is my feeling that in safe and tranquil IIT Bombay, these young men felt free to experiment physically and intellectually. The feeling of safety came from having made it into IIT – not an easy task. All they had to do now was make it through the next five years, and life after that could only be easy.  They were far from the rules and conditioning of their homes, thrown together with  some like and some utterly unlike themselves.  They had unbound and yet protected freedom that allowed them to find themselves. And they looked hard, and pushed themselves and their mates over and under and any which way they could beyond known boundaries.

I think such investigations, that might be thought of as foolhardy at best and immoral at worst, informed their morality. These men left IIT with a degree, and also with a self-made morality. Like the degree, that morality, though not conferred, resulted from a process. It involved hypothesis, argument, experiment, and conclusion. It is more personal, and more solid  than the societal rules and regulations that pass as moral code.

As a project this one was interesting to me in another way. Here was a large number of stories coming to me as they were remembered. One or two or three of the guys are good writers, and I had no trouble with their pieces, other than chopping down some unnecessarily verbose bits, or changing the sequence of the narration to make it more appealing to a reader, moving the twist to the end, emphasizing foreshadowing, deepening suspense. But some of these guys are not writers. They simply put down in words their memory and feeling about an incident with a few relevant and irrelevant details, and sent it off to me. These are the ones who taught me something about writing. In the beginning I would think, this story has meat, if only I write it in my own words. So I re-told the story, in my own “better” words. And every time I did that, I found that the whole feeling and content changed. I learned firsthand something I had struggled to understand for a long time – something I knew to be true in theory, but didn’t understand until this project: that style and content are inseparable. That by adjusting Raj Laad’s piece to make it sound more like me, I was in fact losing the voice of Raj Laad, of course, but also his perspective. And it was his perspective, in his words, which was the content of the piece – not the sequence of events . And I promised myself I would not convert all these pieces to fit an acceptable grammatical or linguistic correctness, and I would not make the stories into a homogenous list of rude and crude incidents in the lives of teenage boys from a certain hostel. I hope I achieved this.

(Excerpt: My introduction in the book.)

Madhouse and marathon dreams

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Two things happened to me in the last two months that changed the course of my life. (I had a birthday, but that didn’t change the course of my life – we go relentlessly on, birthday after birthday until we run out of them, so birthdays don’t count as life changers in that sense. Even a 47th.)

hostel4

So: First, I was co-opted to edit a book of memoirs of a bunch of guys from Hostel4 in IIT Bombay. I don’t really know if co-opted is the right word – this is something that happened so organically as to seem natural. I am surrounded by IITians, and have always been. Two fathers and husband, his friends who became mine over the years, and me thinking one day when he read out some his hostel stories from emails his mates wrote to each other, that they were universally hilarious or poignant, and would make a great book. As it turned out, they wanted it to be a book. And before long, and I really mean before long, we were headlong into a process that involved a publisher (Westland/Tranquebar), a contract, and a whole lot of work. I thought it impossible, but they wanted the book released by December 26th, which is their annual alumni day, and the publisher said, yes, if you give us a completed manuscript by July 5th. Yeow! Bring it on!

Why this looks like it will happen, and happen well, is that the writers of this book are amazing. The stories are pouring in, they are more often than not well written accounts of hostel life, of fellow students, professors, hikes, relationships, but most of all, and this is to me what really makes them worth reading, they are honest and straightforward.

My job is in a way hard, because there are all kinds of stories from all kinds of people and viewpoints and angles. I have to put them all together in a way that gives the book flow and form. But in a way, because of the content and the quality of the memoirs, if I do nothing more than clean up typos and put a title on it, this will be a book worth reading.

So for the last two months and the next two, I have put aside my next novel and a book of short stories which is due to my publisher in August to edit Madhouse – True Stories of the Inmates of Hostel4.


The second thing that happened to me is that my friend Jane, someone who I always thought a bit mad because she goes on very long runs at all times of day or night, gave me a book for my birthday. It’s called Born To Run. As strange coincidence would have it, or maybe it’s synchronicity, my walking partner Joanna had slowly started making our long walks together more run than walk. By the end of the book, I had this thought: I want to be a long distance runner. This is particularly odd for me – I have always hated running. Hated. And I know that at 47 I may never run more than five miles non-stop. But the idea sits in my brain like a little slow release endorphin capsule. My Vibrams (five finger shoes – they prohibit linking to their website)  make it possible to run without the dreaded “running” shoes – I was always afraid of them, thinking my foot would twist and then my leg would break off at the ankle if I ever ran. Nor are my lungs yet rid of all the nicotine I have enjoyed over the years (and boy, have I enjoyed every drag). But, who knows – the horizon is all the way there, and I haven’t run out of birthdays yet, and my legs work, and, till gravity has its way with me, I can keep trying. Better to try to run and not succeed than sit on a couch and fail for sure.

Happy Birthday all!

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