I have been wanting to write about this incident which happened in my final year of engineering. It was the 7th semester exam time in hostel. Incidentally sem exam times are when our enthu levels are really high. Do not mistake me. By enthu levels I mean enthu levels to have fun. Enthu levels to study are usually at an all time low during semester times. Normal college days in hostel are just spent sleeping or watching movies endlessly but sem exams are the times when all of us make a sincere attempt to stay awake (the reason we stayed awake was to study which invariably never happened) and refrain from watching movies and hence ended up spending lots of time with each other. We used to stay awake till 4 in the morning pretending to study but gossiping and giggling and talking about everything except the course.
Anyway during the seventh sem exam time I dunno what came over our college management, but they decided that the hostels would have a coffee and tea vending machine. (similar to the ones we have in office) but not free of course (yeah our college was good but not that good). I wonder what they thought. Maybe they thought they could improve results by providing tea and coffee to the students.(preposterous idea. The only thing which could have improved our results would have been forging our mark sheets). Anyway it worked like this. We would have to get a 5 rupee token (a round gold colored coin) from the college stores, which we would have to insert into a slot and then select our option, keep the cup in the desired position and the machine would give us tea/coffee. like any other machine it would work at times and not work at times. Sometimes we would put the coin in and it wouldn’t react at all.
Anyway let me come to the night of November 26th 2006 2 a.m in the morning when five of us were pretending to study in the corridor. We had a paper called engineering ethics if I am not mistaken. An extremely dry paper. Now if one of us had a craving for tea invariably all of us would have it. So it all started off with me saying
Me: hey!! I am sleepy. Tea u guys?? U have tokens??
All friends in chorus: Yeah yeah. Lets go. Nothing seems to be entering our heads. maybe some tea will help. Tokens irruku.
I put in my token first and it got stuck half way and refused to go into the slot. I tried pushing it in but a major part of it stayed outside. In my frustration I banged the machine hard with my fist. I was trying to aim the coin but my fist slipped and I banged the machine a little above its slot and wonder of wonders it started pouring out the tea with the coin half outside. We couldn’t believe our eyes. My friend then tried to pry out the coin and it came out. We were thrilled. Our first free tea!!Another friend suggested that maybe I should give it another blow to see if it was a fluke or if it really worked. I gave it another blow at approximately the same spot that I had done before and voila!! There it was pouring out tea again. We were ecstatic, surprised and scared all at the same time. First emotion was obvious, second one was because we were surprised at the stupidity of the machine (we later went on and named the machine “Makku” or stupid in tamil). The third one was because a part of our conscience pricked since in our heart of hearts we knew what we were doing wasn’t ethical. (ironical that we had our ethics exam next!! Sheesh!!). next thing was maintaining the secrecy of the whole thing. In a hostel of 200 odd girls if the news spread we knew both free tea and the machine would vanish. So the five of us vowed that apart from ten final year girls (our gang) we wouldn’t tell anyone else. And all of us would use Makku only at night or when the machine was unattended to.
Among the ten that we revealed our secret to there were a few harishchandras who went “hey this is wrong man. Our parents give us enough money to buy what we need. Why do we need to steal tea?”. It was then that we split our group of ten into two parts. The RH gang and the HBP gang, abbreviations for Robin Hood (the non-harishchandras) and the Honesty is the Best Policy gang. The HBP’s believed that honesty is the best policy and even in times of adversity and poverty (read most of the times) we must be honest and get tea only after putting in the token. On the other hand we the RH (errrr. Yeah. I was part of RH) believed in stealing from the rich (the college management. We figured they were rich enough to provide a few teas to poor malnourished gals) and giving to the poor (us of course). So we stole shamelessly, relentlessly and on a daily basis, all the time being careful in maintaining the secrecy. We were criminals. Occasionally we would put in a coin (borrowed from the HBP’s of course. :P) just so that people wouldn’t suspect that we were free loading and we did most of these criminal activities at night when only our gang would be awake and “studying”!!
Despite maintaining secrecy the news somehow got out (C’mon!! When u take ten girls into confidence basically u are taking 10! girls into confidence because each girl will in turn tell 10 other girls and ask her not to tell anyone.). Eventually the boys hostel came to know and they started free loading too and a month later after the sem exams were over and we came back after our hols, Makku was gone. (Apparently only 5 coins had been deposited and 75 teas/coffees had been claimed and I guess the management smelt a fish!!;))
It was an amazing thing while it lasted and even now when I think of it, the incident always cracks me up. It happened one and a half years back but the incident remains as fresh as it was when it happened on nov 26th 2006. Of the original five who were present one is married, one is in bhuwaneshwar, three of us are here working for cognizant. We guys don’t meet often now and there are many thing which we will forget but the night of November 26th 2006 will always remain fresh in our minds and is not likely to be erased from our memories. I dedicate this post to Mug, Hems, Moti and Touch me not. (I have used the pet names which we used for them in college. I have already trashed my name. I wouldn’t want to do the same to them also!!)