Newsletters-from Jamalpur, Cyberia, COFMOW & Gym
Hemant Kumar ’73
[When Ed SAM asked me for a newsletter, I was taken aback. So soon…? I appeared to have written one only a couple of months back. Then it dawned on me that though the autumn issue of SAM was delayed, the Club-Day issue could not. It also meant that before long, it would be Club-Day 2000. So, here I go…]
Let me start with wishing you all a very happy New Year. I am not so advanced in my approach as to advance the approaching millennium by one year and wish you all a ‘Happy New Millennium’. I reserve that for the Millennium-issue of SAM, on Club-Day 2001.
Being Senior Professor (Practical Training) has its share of woes. One such woe isthe responsibility of writing this newsletter one early morning in biting January-cold. Unfortunately there is no meteorological office at good-old Jamalpur or else we could have informed you if this is THE COLDEST January ever, or there have been colderones before. Tell you what. It isn’t really that cold. It is the chilly wind that makes it appear to be so.
One more woe associated with this post is that SCAs keep posing strange problems to you. Ed SAM posed a bizarre problem the other day. It so happened that a senior SAM from UK sent a £5 note to him by dak. He was wondering how to get it converted in Indian currency. Now, I was really foxed. Should the contribution in forex be declared to the Government of India? Well! I haven’t read the provisions of FERA, or even the newly instituted FEMA to really provide an answer. Those of you who have, may kindly advise. Had it been a ‘Million-pound Note’, I would have asked the Ed to read the story by the same name, and do the needful taking cue from that.
SCAs of ’98 batch have been going through the motions of the BIT-course under the collaborative programme. Mid-semester examinations were held at IRIMEE under the aegis of BIT/ Ranchi. At the time of writing this, they are at BIT/ Ranchi for their end-semester examinations. Rumour has it that one SCA has secured 23 marks less than the topper of BIT in mid-semester, and has been placed at 14th rank in the combined list. It is remarkable performance considering that some of the subjects were dealt with in quantum-doses – particularly where IRIMEE does not have the necessary faculty and has to depend on the visiting-faculty from BIT. With the system getting stabilised (it may take a while), I expect our boys (and girls too, if any) to do extremely well and come out tops in future.
Orissa cyclone had its reverberations in Jamalpur as well. One of our probationers belongs to the area that was devastated. To put it mildly, his property has been severely damaged. One SCA, belonging to Orissa, had gone home for DPs. He gotcaught, not in the cyclone, but in the aftermath as the trains got cancelled. He finally could reach back but it was nightmarish. His ancestral place is all washed-out, though, fortunately, there has not been any loss of life of immediate relations.
November/ December saw a spate of parties. The point to note was that there were no special occasions for most of them and they were there just for the heck of it. There was one party though, for which there was an occasion. It was the Husbands’ Night at the Officers’ Club, and was organised by the ERWWO. The theme this time was Rajasthan. Husbands were enthralled by Rajasthani welcome, Rajasthani décor, Rajasthani belles (they were hardly recognisable as the better-halves), Rajasthani folk-music and folk-dance and – hold your breath – a fashion-show even having questions on Rajasthan being posed to some of the participants - a la beauty pageant. Husbands also were required to come in Rajasthani dress, and they were asked to tie their ‘Saafa’ in presence of everybody, so that their bluff could be called if they had taken assistance in tying it on their heads while getting ready for the party. Believe me, it was great fun. Our sleuth reports that people had keenly watched every bit of TV footage which had anythingRajasthani in it, and had even engaged tutors for teaching how to tie the headgear. The result was that we had headgear of various areas of Rajasthan, and also of Haryana, Punjab, and even Andhra Pradesh. The party ended with Rajasthani cuisine - hot and delicious.
There were not one but two ‘Kavi Sammelans’ held in Jamalpur in rather quick succession. One was organised by the Workshop while the other by IRIMEE. Both were held in the National Institute, and the participation of general public as audience was considerable. Reputed poets of the area, including the railwaymen, were well received by the public. It was a debut for two SCAs of ’98 batch. It reminded me of the Kavi Sammelan of 1975 in which Kaka Hathrasi had also come, and the event was the talk of the town for a long time.
Second half of December saw an exodus of officers from Jamalpur. No, they were not transferred. They just felt like having an outing. Some went out to celebrate the arrival of the New Millennium (?) in Goa, some others went to other parts of the country. Some went up north, while some others went down south. I spent the New Year eve in a dreary rest house at Calcutta (no TV in the room). Calcutta had gone mad on the 31st December 1999 as well as on the 1st day of this year. Even though I am not a doctor, I could feel the madness in the maddening crowds at Chowringhee, New Market, Maidan, and Victoria Memorial, which was packed like a tin of Sardines. I believe the madness continues throughout the year, though it increases a bit onspecial occasions.
There was a limited-overs cricket match between ITC and Jamalpur Officers (SCAs included) at ITC, Munger. So what, if a Diesel Shed supervisor was also included? It was a foggy morning, and the fog lifted only after 11 o’clock. It was biting cold as well. Jamalpur team elected to field first to get warmed up. It so happened that by the time they warmed up, ITC had raised a big total (181 for 2 in 20 overs). In the process of warming up, Jamalpur had given 53 extras including 43 wides. Thereply of Jamalpur was 102 for 9 in 20 overs. The saving grace was that they outlasted the overs. Another point of interest was the extras given by ITC. They gave away 54 extras with some 37 wides. The Pakistan-Australia one-day which was being played at Gabba at the same time, provided some face-saving as the mighty Australia were 99 for 7 in about 28 overs. We were better than Australia in run-rate. Some SCAs who were not playing provided the much-needed vocal support. They were last seen asking for somethroat-lozenges and were hardly audible the next day in the class.
This winter hasn’t seen any weddings in the fraternity in Jamalpur, though people are still pinning their hopes on PM ’80, RNT’81, PS ’84. There hasn’t been any addition in any family (you don’t expect the older ones to contribute at this age, the not-so-old ones are being careful, and you have to give sufficient time to the newly-wed ones). There haven’t been any transfers out, or in either, though the transfer of our Director has been on the cards for some time now. The post has been up-graded to HAG. The orders can be expected any moment now. The CWM is reported to be eagerly awaiting his posting as DRM somewhere.
Their transfers would leave a vacuum in Jamalpur. I am sure there would be others who would fill up the same soon after. Isn’t it the way life has always been? Pondering over the question, it is bye for now!
Deepak Sapra ’92
These last few months before 2K saw a real spurt in Gymmies’ cyber activities. The numbers swelled, with the most popular e-mail domain for Gyms (65.4%) being HOTMAIL- why? Perhaps its real cool, that’s why !! Other popular Gymmie domains are yahoo.com, usa.net, toughguy.net, and a few unprintables.com.
It’s high time IR too caught up with the times- afterall, wouldn’t it be a positive feeling to have an address like email@example.com . Sceptics say that the way IR is going, it would be more appropriate to have indianrailways.soc addresses- afterall, IR is nowhere near a com org, more like a soc (ial service) org, always trapped in gov red-tape.
The people who kept the pail-sessions going in cyberia increased in number- among the seniors, Mr V.Narayanan ’57 (vsnl.net.in), Mr OFH Jung ’57 (yahoo.com), Mr P.Ramachandran ’59 (vsnl.net.in), firstname.lastname@example.org, kept the mailboxes filling. The middle ages were well represented by the troika from the 75 batch- Messers email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, bcbhattacharya@I_am forgetting_his_address.sorry. Also into the pail mode, though of a very socio-eco-politico type was Mr N.Bhattacharya ’76. And of a totally different type email@example.com. The 80s and the 90s were the noisiest of the lot, represented, among others, by firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, pananth29@ hotmail.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, sayantan@dilbert. iiml.ac.in .
The hottest event was the purchase of cars by many a cyber-sam. email@example.com started the riot by acquiring a Matiz, methodically citing 8kB worth of reasons why it was THE car to own, even on the rather nebulous concept of Varanasi roads. On a note of caution, he declared that he was not on the rolls of Daewoo and was still with IR. Following in his tracks were firstname.lastname@example.org and saibalbose@ hotmail.com , the former acquiring a SANTRO and the latter really going about it in style with a FORD IKON. email@example.com jumped on to the vehicular bandwagon by announcing his plans to buy a new bi-cycle, for expert advice on which, he was referred to Mr SN Jaiswal ’80. Mr Jaiswal, for the uninitiated, (and as the legend goes) had done a EC Project on a type of bicycle, which was highly appreciated by the EC guys, so much so, that they called him over to London for further details (this story I have heard as a part of gym folklore, if I am wrong, then sorry for it ). Contributing greatly to the flow of pail in cyberia , and in a league of it’s own, was the deadly troika from 75batch, mentioned earlier. The major point of debate, between the three of them, was who would kick the bucket first, thus giving the other two an opportunity to write obits that would one day be a part of SAM magazine !!!
Making good use of Gym’s increased cyber presence was sayantan@dilbert etc who did his e-commerce quiz research on the net- greatly fortunate to have a clientele like cyber-gyms. Noteworthy, and praise worthy, was the contribution of firstname.lastname@example.org. From Golf to millennium to Railways to Gaisal, he had an enlightened opinion on it all. He also had a few things to say on the 2000/2001 millennium debate. And did you, for example, realise, that on 19th November, 1999 most of us had livedthe last all-numbers-odd date of our life? The next such date was going to be 11th November, 3111 - only about 1111 years from today. I hope to be around, slightly old though?Amidst all this, it was heartening to note that no Gymmie got afflicted by the Y2K bug- there were a record number of m@ils on 1st Jan, so that settled it. email@example.com completed his Jamaican odyssey recently- even from faraway land, he was very regular with his dispatches.
SAM magazine got its second on-line issue at http://jamalpurgymkhana.tripod.com and it was fairly well received.
More issues that kept cyber-gyms busy- The need to rehabilitate Gym private employees who had been laid off was one of them- some sort of a consensus is developing on having a corpus sort of a thing, lets hope something concrete emerges.Free calendars are up for grabs- nice, good quality train calendars at that. This is to all those who send saibalbose@h? an email. A message was sent to cyber-gyms to try their hand at designing the Club Day cake- the response has been pathetic. It appears that the CD2K cake will be from Gym itself.
Finally to all of you- Interacting in cyberia is great fun, please join in. Get details at http://jamalpurgymkhana.tripod.com/ or mail me. See you in my mailbox....
The new millenium at COFMOW began with the arrival of D.L.Choudhry ’81 from Eastern Railway. With D.L.Choudhry’s posting, the strength of’81 batch swelled to 3 at COFMOW. However moments of rejoicing were short and Railway Board has sent the transfer orders for R.K.Mangla ’81 for Central Railway on the day this article is going for print.
The deft handling of the Ministry of HRD project by Mangla will be missed as much as his contribution to Sam, which he extended so well over the years, right from getting the magazine printed in the new format to getting the ads and contributing articles. But as the saying goes, COFMOW’s loss is Central’s gain.
D.L.Choudhry’s posting here proves that COFMOW has become popular amongst officers of Eastern Railway with Sh. AKP Sinha ’62, SH. SB Malik ’75 and S.Yagnik ’81 being the others to join from E.Rly. With D.L.Choudhry’s arrival, the demand for the ‘sine curve’ skit, that was the combined work of yours truly and DLC, have started pouring in. Sanjay Chadda ’81 is now seen more often at COFMOW hoping to get a glimpse of the work.
The end of the millenium saw Y2K bug biting COFMOW hard when Rly. Board ordered to set up a set up special monitoring cell to work round the clock for 60 works to monitor workshops and production units for the feared Y2K breakdown of CNC machines. It was for the first time that COFMOW worked round the clock. What happened to the predicted Y2K doomsday is history, but at the end of the day it was aptly dubbed “Hoax of the Millennium”.
The last year of the millennium also raised the hopes in the minds of COFMOW officers, when after several years, two Dy.CME’s, who were to do spade work for M&P for GM loco project worth almost 20 crores, were nominated by the Diesel Locomotive Works for training at GM plant. For years COFMOW has been purchasing costly imported machines without the concerned officers being permitted a chance of getting a feel of the machines in person. This prompted Vidya Bhushan ’78 to give the nickname ‘Halwai’ to COFMOW officers.
The work culture in COFMOW has changed markedly over a period under the able guidance of Sh.S.A.Singh ’61 and Sh.A.Bailjal ’63. With the office getting connected on LAN, the daily morning positions are flashed on the computer screens and cycle times for tenders have started tumbling down.
Hello your favourite Gym reporter is back even before you could say SAM Autumn Issue. I bring for you yet another loadfull of inside information.
The wonderful luck of Gymkhana continued this winter also as the billiards table got renovated. It now has a new British cloth and has got back its old sheen. The IG Secy took advantage of the situation and conducted bidding a la Americana for the first booking. Divya Mishra ’98 and Ashish Sharma ’98 got the prerogative, finally of cueing the first ball on the new cloth.
The quiet of Gymkhana (if it can be called so) was disturbed when the election GBM was conducted on the 17th of December. As usually happens, the elections were a riot (well not literally) with the Gymmies making themost fun out of the couple of elections. The 1998 batch was blooded with as many as six posts going their way. Their effervescent enthusiasm was very apparent as they set about understanding the mechanisms of their respective posts.
However what stalled them was their semester exams. Barely two days later the ’98 batch had to leave bag and baggage for Ranchi where they were to take their first end semester examinations. A coach was arranged for them and they had a thoroughly enjoying Ranchi Trip. Now that the results have been declared, it seems that Gymkhana’s first tryst with BIT has been quite successful.
This year will go down in recent history as a rare occasion with no New Year party with loud, boisterous music reveberating in Gymkhana and keeping the residents of Gymkhana marg awake the whole night. Since the firstee batch was in Ranchi on the New Year eve, and most of ’96 batch on leave, the Gym strength had down to a mere 2 members- an SCA and a probationer. However they kept the Gym flag flying in the Officers’ Club However, Gym got back into its own with the return of the SCAs and the final stages of the Billiards and Snooker tourneys got underway. The key matches were played and more often than not they had nail-biting finishes.
SPICMACAY Jamalpur Chapter got into act again. This time they were able to organise the recital of Sitar maestro Gaurav Mazumdar at the nearby Notre Dame Academy and again the same evening at Gymkhana. Mrs. & Mr. Nikhilesh Jain ’65 along with local Sams & Simis and other guests graced the programme at Gym. The programme was a big hit and was the talk of the town for some days.
Now that the SCA ’93 & ’94 batch probationers are in Gym, the strength has swelled to respectable proportions, enabling everyone to play, guess what, hockey. Yes, hockey has been revived in a big way due to the efforts of Mr.A.Mundiya ’78 who made unfailing appearances in the field and was instrumental in teaching everyone the basics. Now people have started enjoying it so much so that on occasions players have to return back due to lack of vacancy- a rare occurrence in these times. Also making a revival is Cricket- a proposed match against ITC spurring on the Gymmies to practise hard.
Seeing the new strong Gymkhana, the Cultural Secretary organiseda dumb charade. Participation was very enthusiastic. The contest was nail biting from beginning through end. The participants came out with some very original acting which was charming, if not comprehensible, all the time.
Preparations for Club Day have got on to full swing with the Cul Secy’s brainstorming sessions continuing late into the night with lots of arguments and even more cups of tea.
The latest change is not in Gym but can not help not affecting Gym life. I am talking of the change of guard at IRIMEE. Mr.Arvind Mathur ’62 who took over from Mr.Pradeep Kumar ’68 was given a hearty welcome in which he delighted all present with a few poetry recitals. Lets hope that Gym continues prosper as much, if not more, under his guidance. I’ll certainly keep you informed. But till then its Adieu.