If only we could travel back through time
Photo: Special Arrangement
DOWN MEMORY LANE: Some of the members of the 1959 batch of the PSG College of Technology, along with their Principal G.R. Damodaran (seated left on a chair), during the Silver Jubilee reunion 25 years ago. —
Though it could have been said in a different context, being together for five years, nurturing any number of dreams and ambitions, then getting into the maelstrom of life, facing the trials and tribulations with dreams dying first and fast and meeting five decades hence after being battered by circumstances and probably wisened by age is an experience that many of us can only dream of.
The 1959th BE Graduates of PSG College of Technology are such a fortunate lot. But not all. Of the total 99 (91 from Tamil Nadu, 4 from Karnataka, 3 from Kerala and 1 from Andhra Pradesh) of this batch, as many as 22 have passed away.
The whereabouts of six are not known. But as some of the alumni said in their 47th reunion that “we will continue to meet till reduced to one”, the rest are going to meet on July 15.
Of the 71 classmates still in contact, 12 are industrialists, 10 educationists, 25 worked in Government Departments, especially Electricity Board, 18 in private sector and six have migrated to United States.
“All of us are 70 plus. But still 14 of us are professionally alive while the rest are leading a retired life,” says A.V. Varadharajan, one among them.
Of course, tragedies have befallen some and eight of them have lost their spouses. While 25 persons continue to live in Coimbatore, 17 are in Chennai.
With professional colleges being so few in the country in the 1950s, studying Engineering was a Herculean task for many. “I was so poor that I could never even dream of becoming a BE but for the munificence of the founder Principal G.R. Damodharan,” recalls Mr. Varadharajan. These graduates have become virtually “who’s who” in the engineering scenario.
K. Thiagarajan, in his contribution to the souvenir called “If only we could travel back through time”, recalls the feats of ‘Table Tennis’ Shanmugham, and adventures of Vasudevan who kept a knife ready for self-defence as he was cycling from Coimbatore to Tiruchi.
He also recounts how Christopher Devapragasam, one of the first year teachers, used to dress elegantly. He sings paeans about the boys’ chemistry with the chemistry teacher D.K.P. Varadarajan.
The recollections regarding the participation in a public protest against the claims of Kerala for the border towns of Devikulam and Pirmedu and also about the indefatigable A.N. Ramachandran who went about collecting signatures for serving raw rice in the hostel canteen.
Mohandas, who later became the Director General of Police of Tamil Nadu, was the physics teacher for the batch. His magnetic presence in the dramas used to ensure “not only praises but also prizes” for the college, says Mr. Thiagarajan.
‘Annachi’ Shanmughasundram had the courage to borrow a cobra from snake charmer and wrap it around his neck in the style of Lord Shiva for a fancy competition.
Innovations of T.K. Subramanian bring out a broad smile. He had the guts to organise a debate with the provocative title “The problem for civil engineers is just a pastime for electrical engineers” (probably in the mould of Shakespeare’s King Lear -- as flies are to wanton boys, are we to gods).
When the alarm clock slipped from the table and crashed, he wrote a poem titled “An elegy on the death of an alarm clock”. Its punch line that came at the end read “even then you rang and died”. M.K. Natarajan, in his ‘Down the memory lane’, recalls the enlivening moments that the teachers had with this batch.
Be it Prof. Venkataraman’s lectures on projection of line with geometric models or the efforts of Mr. Christopher to keep the students under control or Lecturer Ganesh’s method to remember numbers provide an insight into the life and learning of the students of those times and the esteem which they accorded to their teachers.
He also points out how many of the students got alienated from Electrical branch to join Civil and Mechanical branches, thanks to the antics of a professor.
His memory of the Hostel Day in which the famous speech of Antony was translated by one of his classmates is full of wit without malice. When the actor was appealing to “Romans and countrymen”, the translator was saying “romamudayavargale (people with hair) and kattangale (country brutes) .”
He recalls with pride that probably they belonged to the only batch that had the privilege of doing manual work of digging the foundation for the construction of a stadium at the hostel, that instilled the values of hard work, dignity of labour and, above all, the impression that engineers are the nation builders.
The editorial committee of the souvenir feels that the Golden Jubilee Reunion is realistic in the sense that “our physical conditions still permit to exert ourselves to undergo the strain. In a way, the meet is important since it may be the last major meet,” it adds.
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Thanks To The Hindu From Page:http://www.thehindu.com/2009/07/13/stories/2009071350030200.htm