About Me

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The name is Selvamani.R. I was born in Rangoon, Burma now known as Yangoon and Myanmar respectively. I had my schooling in I.E.S. .Khalsa School there in Rangoon and came to Tamilnadu, India, did my Pre-University in Sir Thegaraya College,Chennai and M.B.B.S., in Madurai Medical College. Later did my Diploma and Masters Degree in the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, Egmore, Madras Medical College, Chennai.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I had a friend in 2nd year who was also from Chennai.. We will call him “N’.
My father and I went and saw him. As I was late for admission in hostel there was no vacancy in any room and I was allotted common hall in A Block.
When we entered the hostel there were many first year students and a lot of seniors were enquiring about them, with some restraint as they, like me, were accompanied by their fathers.
I said that I had come only to see N and they left me with a curious look.
But at last I was trapped by one senior..
We were horrified to look at the senior hostellers. Their dress - if you can call that -with raised lungies, with an inevitable cigarette perked in the corner of the mouth, the language they used -were a revolt.
Father left for Chennai on the same day.

Regarding ragging everybody was cautioning me that it is the worst part and all that.
But at that time I was more worried about the fact that I have to be parted from my parents for the first time in my life. I felt so homesick that ragging was of secondary importance.
N gave me very good advice on how to face the ragging. ‘Be polite. Don't try to avoid them by going outside and returning late to the hostel. They will wait for you and catch you and will only make it worse. The sooner you know them the better. Most of them will become good friends and some will even protect you’.

In a way I looked forward to ragging because I was sure that I would meet some of my schoolmates from Rangoon, Burma .
Almost all my school mates there had ambition to become doctors or engineers and were from southern part of Tamilnadu.
So I dutifully narrated my schooling in Rangoon and this I think took off the sting as they immediately became interested and asked for details about Burma.
Some used to call me “Hi, Burma" when they saw me again.

N took me to the then local stalwarts, who terrified the hostel but were his good friends- One of them immediately took to me saying that I resembled his sister's son and ordered me to call him "Mama' [ uncle] all the time. He also said that if I faced any difficulty in ragging I should tell the persons that he is my Mama and I have to be in his room shortly.
Well it escaped me from some tight situations. I called him Mama all through and he always responded by saying "Marumagane" [son-in-law as per term but here means nephew]. Both of them were [are] actually very good persons and became my best friends.

Almost all students, even his classmates believed that I was his true relation.
I also began to take advantage of it when the ragging became unruly.
I always said that my Mama wanted me to come to his room and I was already late. True, some seniors resented but they were not bold enough to call the bluff.

Sometimes very good questions were asked.
One of them was whether the dog in “His Master’s Voice” Record was male or female.
When I was first asked the Q, I was taken back.
As they repeated the Q and asked me to use my brain- which was on the blink- it dawned on to me that the dog was male.
When I replied so I was asked to explain and I said that as it is His Master’s Voice it was a male dog.
The other common Q was whether “The Illustrated Weekly” was a monthly or fortnightly or weekly magazine?
Silly as it may sound due to the tension many missed the answer.

When the ragging was in full flow in a room somehow it was made out that I was good in English and studied in a foreign English school.Soon a gent entered the room and asked "Where is that convent boy?".
On seeing me he immediately blurted out “I don't believe you studied in a convent"[I must have looked very impressive!!].
Then after asking some Questions [in English of course] he was convinced a bit and said that he will ask a difficult Q and if I answered it correctly he will leave me.
Then he said the following very fast-
“The first of the first is the first of you!
The first of the last is the last of you!
And in between or two OOs !
That is you! Am I right?”
Then he glared at me.
Even in that circumstance I tried to suppress my smile as it was kinder garden stuff in our school. The usual retort is “No. It is you." But I was afraid to say it as he might get angry. He misunderstood my silence thinking that I didn't know the answer and started to ask it again. But I stopped him saying that I know the answer.
So tell me he said.
I said it will be impolite to say it is you, sir!
He became very subdued, shook hands with me and left.
Others were perplexed.
They have seen him talking tip of tongue English before and the same prank being played on the freshers and to their knowledge nobody has answered it.
So they asked me and I explained it patiently.
After hearing it they said “Is that all? Was he making such show for this little thing?”

It seems others were not happy with his toppity English talk and thereafter whenever he started the prank with a fresher they will say in chorus “Tell him it is you!”

Ragging as they usually say is bad. May be it is. But for some, especially me, it was good.
Good in the sense that many seniors were actually very nice people.
Once the ragging was over they became good friends. Whenever they saw me they called me by name and enquired about my welfare, my studies and about my parents.
When my uncle visited me, about 6 months later, he was surprised to be guided by almost everyone he asked.
“Oh! That boy from Madras, who did his schooling in Burma-he is in room number 99!”
My uncle was very surprised and exclaimed that I was very famous, as everybody seems to know me very well.

I stayed in the common hall for only 2 days as I was allotted room 99. B, two years senior to me who was in room 99 came and saw me.
The custom in the hostel was that you couldn’t stay in the room without the senior’s permission.
After the usual questions he said that I could come and occupy the room the next day itself..
There I met “I” who was also in first year but in A batch.
There were only 2 cots and I had to sleep on the table at night.
“I” and I became thick friends sharing all and keeping no secret.
He knew about my economic state, my friends and was a gem of a friend.
The ‘was’ is because he is no more now.

I met him after a gap of 30 years when he came to Chennai from UK for his brother’s son’s marriage at Tambaram..
He visited my home with his brother.
When he introduced him to me I forestalled him saying his brother’s full name [first, last and middle !]..
He was very pleased and tapped his head saying ‘memory-memory’ as I used to astonish him a few times with my memory power in the hostel repeating word for word what I read in the textbooks.
My wife lamented saying that I was always talking about my hostel friends and even went and saw room 99 in the hostel recently.
Hearing this he laughed, cast a knowing look on me and said that he also went and saw the room the year before.
His sons who accompanied him said to him that they could understand him visiting the room but couldn’t understand why he wanted to see the toilets also!!
I said I missed that part!

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