Fun, Fight and Parties (in College)
Fights in college are results of youthfulness of age and childishness of thinking. There could be varied reasons for physical flexing of muscles including parties, drunkenness, love, accidents and so on. However, there is one common thing that paves way to fighting, anger. Even the meekest could engage in fight if situation demands. Therefore, in Tibetan Buddhism, hatred is one of the Duksum (three Poisons) that destroys happiness.
My near eight years stay in Chennai wasn’t witness to just peaceful and smiling life of college students. Each year didn’t pass without news of fights. In most cases, I was the witness to fights. However, there were cases when I was more than a witness. The first history of Tibetan students involving in fights during college life was a tale told by brother Kalden, who was then working in call centre along with few of his friends. What we heard from his experiences turned real when he created the same story to be told to new students.
My First Fight
The first ever fight where I was more than a witness was at my own room, with a fellow Tibetan student of our batch from MCC. However, the fight was a result of positive debate on ‘what could be done to ensure helping new comers of Tibetan students to Chennai’. We never expected that our positive expression of views would turn into negative physical fight.
It was late evening, Kalsang Damdul, known popularly as K2 came to our room as usual. Friends would come and visit each other during free time mostly in the evening. He hailed from TCV Gopalpur School in Dharmsala and was even a prefect of the school. I was from Mussoorie and was captain of the school. Those who had been school prefects and captains are usually frank, outspoken and somewhat expressively straight-forward.
It was April 2007 and my first year was about to finish. This marks the beginning of new Tibetan students for the next calendar year for the college. I had volunteered in a meeting to help the new students along with others whose name appeared in contract. We discuss on how to assist the new students. Though his visit to our room wasn’t for talk on the issue, the topic popped up in the midst of general conversation. He was guiding me too much on how to help the new students when I was the one who volunteered for the work to help new students. As our conversation heated up, I snapped, “K2, if you know how to handle the issue, you should have volunteered to help the new students. Why you are talking too much on how to do things. I know how to do it”. Enraged at what I told him, he said without much thought, “If you are not board members of the association, you are finished”. I was angry at his statement. I was just elected few weeks ago in the executive of TSAM as Public Relations Officer and his statement was to say that he could have beaten or harassed me if I weren’t an office bearer of TSAM. I retorted bluntly, “Oh, you think I don’t have hands?” He stood up in an attempt to raise his hands on me. I readied with whatever I could to defend myself in case he hits first.
I hardly had experience of fight, but this time would be an experiment for me. He was slightly taller than me and would have advantage, so I wanted to concentrate on where I could hit him, below the stomach? As he raised his hands, I hit back in defense and the fight continued for few minutes. I hit him wherever I could while he didn’t fail in reciprocation. In few minutes friends thronged our room and separated us.
I found myself in the kitchen as they separated us. I looked from the kitchen and saw him with others who separated us. He was outside the room facing our door. I knew the constructions were going on and he could pick up any bricks from outside if he wishes. So I picked up knife from the kitchen and shouted “come inside, if you want to fight” and he said “come out, if you want to fight”. After several shouting of “come out and come in” we had to calm down on the advice of our friends. One of our roommate said, “We are from same batch, what is the need for this. Shake hands to each other and stop the fight”. I made the first move and said “K2 sorry for the fight. We are boys, we can forget and tomorrow will be different day” “What do you mean by different day?” he asked little perplexed over the last sentence of my word. “I mean we aren’t like girls. We fight when we are angry and that’s it. We forget thereafter”. I stood outside the door for some time as he left while friends looked on. After twenty minutes or so our neighbor girl student and friend, Tselha came and said “Phuntsok, K2 left an ice cream for you in our fridge, you can have it if you want now” “What? Why?” I don’t know may be for your mouth” she said, “For my mouth?” I checked on mirror and found that my lips had swollen a little. It appeared he hit on my mouth when we fought and it struck to my teeth leading to swelling of my lips. “Hey, I got my lips swollen a little” I said and they laughed. Ugyen, my roommate and K2’s friend went to Tselha’s kitchen to bring ice cream for me saying “Hey, take your ice cream. Free Ice cream for one single fight”. We are still good friends though we couldn’t see each other much.
The Second Fight
TSAM organizes a farewell gathering for the outgoing students in late February or first week of March every year. During one such farewell function at Mahabalipuram (also known as Mamallapuram), a fight ensued between the locals and us. Mahabalipuram is a town in Kancheepuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu which is around 60 km south from the Chennai city. It is an ancient historic town and group of monuments at the place has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. International and domestic tourists often throng the site for its monuments and beach scene.
It was in early March 2007 and I was PRO of the TSAM. My work was to collect the students for dinner and dance so that no one is left unattended in the event. As dance was about to began, very less number of students were on the floor. I went out to call each of them as the hotel rooms allocated to them were outside the hall and it was taking some time for them to collect to the dancing hall. However, I spotted a man outside calling me in his broken English, “Hey come here”. It was little foggy as Chennai was used to during such season and I couldn’t see him clearly. I didn’t give much damn about the call at first. But, he continued to call “Hello, come here”. I was foolish that I went to attend his call. In his broken English he asked as if he was the local policeman in charge of the area, “What are you doing here?” “Nothing” I replied, clearly evincing it’s none of his business. A drunkard he was, he raised his centre finger and said the worst thing I could have been let to hear. I was so irate for awarding such obnoxious words without any mistake on my part. I hit at his face with all the remaining strength I had from working all day long, preparing for the function. The fog was quite thick and I didn’t see he was in the company of other two drunkards. A reply came in the form of three hands on my head and face. I knew I am neither Kungfu master Jet-Li nor Jackie Chan to fight off three people at a time, so it didn’t take long before I ran away from the scene.
It was so strange that no people discovered our fight. When I run back to hotel where few students were dancing, it was so normal. For nearly 10-15 minutes, I engaged with them though I didn’t dance, but made some moves for the noisy music. I didn’t tell them I had a fight with those as things were very normal and didn’t want to disturb the party.
After nearly half an hour came a large group of mad people rushing towards our hotel room with sticks and some even hit big stones on the hotel building shouting “Wanhga” (meaning come out). I rushed down as we were dancing on the third floor, knocked every room where boys were allocated, to come out. “Hey some people are shouting at us. All the boys come out and girls stay indoors” I shouted and gathered a group. There was no way we could talk to them from the way they were approaching with stones. They were not here to talk, but to fight.
If we don’t go out, they would keep on hitting stones at the hotel where most of us were residing. The reception of the hotel room tried to stop the daring drunkard gangs, but wouldn’t help. Hence we had to let loose our people many of whom were having drinks. The fight was sort of tiny gang fight. Girls were watching from the windows of the hotels and shouting, while boys fought on their behalf. Each of us was handling the other side, and the fight nearly drove for almost half an hour. Mr. Tsultrim, who was a very meek and fully academic in nature, got the most beating as he didn’t hit back, but continue to say, “Ok sorry, just go back”. However, there was this giant man of us, Sonam Wangdue, who hit one local straight on the face with his hand, where his finger ring would definitely have carved an imprint on the local’s face. The fight came to a halt after hearing the beacon sound of police van that usually patrols the road around late night. We closed the entry door and went back for dance again. Some of them consoled me as I too was in the fight and got hit by the local gang. Nobody knew how and who started the fight. I kept quiet and didn’t say anything.
After few minutes, came some of our students who were staying little far from us in different hotel. Though we started dance by 11:00 late night, students would hardly come on time. Most of them would be enjoying drinks and some couples would be nearby the beachside for dating. But the dance would continue till 6 o’clock early morning. You could see few students knocking the floor even around 6 in the morning. Few weeks Later, I told my close friends how the fight ensued and they said, “So you are the main culprit behind this fight”.
The Thupten Choephel Incident:
Some local people, especially the jobless youth were good at intimidating as this is what they do normally. Thupten Choephel, my classmate who stayed in the same locality was once mocked by few who usually sit near the road to tea shop in Anandhapuram area of Anna Street. A short tempered he was normally, went straight to the teasers and picked up fight. After 20 minutes or so, a group of few man accompanied by teasers came to his room and beat him up.
I was told that, Kalsang Damdul, who was his roommate at the time tried to stop the fight by apologizing to the group, but they wouldn’t butch. They even hit on his nose and left after giving a warning. I heard the story nearly two years after the incident had occurred and couldn’t do anything, but laugh. They were time when we drink and talk about all the funny and uninvited things that happened to us.
The Ten-Dalha Incident:
One day Tenzin Dalha came rushing towards his room. He said he had come from a fight which ensued between him and three locals. He is a good fighter and managed at least the three opponents though he had never practiced Kung Fu or Karate. A staunch and keen photographer himself, he would often take picture as a Mass Communication student.
The incident happened when he was taking a picture of something that drew his attention. It was an old beggar drinking alcohol on the ground. Someone nearby told him in angry tone, “Why are you taking picture of him”. Dalha replied, “I am a journalist student”. The person neared him with two other guys and began to snatch the camera. Dalha couldn’t let the camera go and fought in defense. He fought as they pushed and hit him. In the midst of fight some people stopped them and Dalha, not wanting to worsen the situation left the scene. That’s when we saw him rushing towards his room. Beggars are very strange. They beg as they don’t have food to eat and home to sleep. But, we often find them drinking alcohols on the streets. I wonder whether they are begging for food or alcohol. We were taught to be kind and cultivate the kind-hearted habit in our school, and use it everywhere. But, I must think well before I could give money to beggars in the city. Dalha gets angry quite easy, but has a wonderful heart of helping the needy people. I happened to spent major part of my college life with him. I still appreciate his help to many students during college years specially those he did as General Secretary of TSAM. Even helping one Dhukar Kyi, a Mussorie Homes school student of MCC was his idea.
Ugyen Fight Incident: (The most unlikely Fight)
Ugyen is a calm student who doesn’t really get much into physical muscle-flexing except, during leisure time. He would often flex his muscles when we go to college ground and play football and basket ball tournaments. His nature of talking to his friends would easily evince the kind of person he is; a peaceful, steady and uncomplaining. Fighting is almost oblivious to this man.
On one occasion, I was at evening canteen, near the college library in campus reading some passages that was required to be understood for the coming semester exam. I received a call from one of our friend informing me something, unexpected. I received the call to hear, “Phuntsok, Ugyen had been injured due to fight, if you can just come”. “Sure, I will” said I and remained seated to where I was, continuing with the readings. Students passed by, some with the air of anxiety as exam was about to begin for them, and some walked relieved having done the paper. I just thought our friends were playing pranksters with me as we do sometimes, and ignored the request.
However, another friend of us who just passed by in the campus said, “Hey, there was a fight”. “Are you sure?” I asked to confirm. “Yes, nearby the route to Chodak’s room with a drunken man.” “Is it Ugyen?” “I don’t know but they said its one senior student.” His last words cleared my doubts as to who had fight with whom. The spot reminded me of Wangdak, a senior student and Wangden Kyap, our friend, who once had issue with the particular drunkard man. The story of Ugyen getting involved in fight shocked me. I was certain that he must not be on the wrong side.
I immediately called Ugyen to confirm about the incident with a sense of anxiety. As he picked my call, I said without waiting for his words, “Where are you?” “I am at Chodak’s room. I didn’t ask how the incident happened and rushed to see him. My room was nearby them. I first rushed to my room to change my clothes. However, my arrival at Chodak’s room was late as Ugyen had already been moved to a nearby private hospital.
There were other friends in the room so I asked about the incident. One distant witness said, “I saw the local man hitting at Ugyen with a broken bottle of Vodka. The front of the bike was also broken” The incident happened in the morning as Ugyen later described, when he was on bike on the way from Chodak’s room to buy some stuffs. The drunkard man just hit his bike without any issue. “I told him why he hit my bike, and he hit me” said Ugyen who tried to defend himself physically as the man picked up a bottle of vodka and hit him.
When friends nearby gathered, he fled the scene. One policeman came, but he couldn’t do anything. The police spoke to the family of drunkard man and didn’t catch the assailant nor helped the victim. I said we must do something because it wasn’t first time such attack happened to Tibetan students in the locality. Earlier, the same person attacked Wangdak and Wangden Kyap 2009 and 2010 respectively.
We were quite many at Chodak’s house, and all of us were good friends. I asked them before jumping into any decision, “Shall we all go together and fight him off or shall we report to police?” The enraged but considerate friends, most of whom were senior students said, “It is better if we inform police. Fighting wouldn’t help. It will create further tensions”. One friend said, “Police came and he left after speaking to the family of man who pleaded for their son”. I interrupted to finalize, “So, we shall complain to police for his arrest. At least we must ensure the culprit compensate Ugyen’s medical treatment. Because this is not first time, we must put an end to this”. Everyone agreed. “We must see how Ugyen was doing?” I continued and decided to go to hospital.
The remaining of us went to Hospital. I was shocked to see him dressed with bandages around his neck. He couldn’t speak loud enough as the injuries were paining his neck. I got deeply enraged as he was not just one of my best friends, but this was third such attack on us over the years by the same person. “How much the treatment cost you?” I asked Ugyen. “I don’t know, Chodak did all the payment and I had to be there for one more day”. He said. “Ugyen, don’t you worry, we will make sure at least he compensates you for the treatment you went through”.
“Who will accompany me to police station?” I asked my friends. All of us shouldn’t go; it wouldn’t sound good to go in large numbers at police station. I and two others would be fine, I thought. Two friends accompanied me and we took auto to Selaiyur police station, the nearest local police station in the area, which was just three minutes on auto from the hospital.
As I entered inside the police station accompanied by two friends, a policeman asked me “What is the problem”. “I came to file an FIR against an assailant in our locality”. “What happened?” asked the policeman further as others looked at us. They were some Indians also speaking to other police officials. “My friend was attacked by a drunkard man in day light and he fled. I want to file an FIR on victim’s behalf as he is in hospital”. “Sit and Wait” he told me. We sat along with few Indians who too came to complain.
After a while, a seated policeman opposite us called me. Again he asked, “What happened?” I repeated what I told earlier. He allowed me to write complain on a piece of paper. “Where is the person?” “He is in hospital”. “Who are you?” “I am his friend and I wanted the culprit to apologize and compensate all the medical bills incurred by the victim”. “Ok, write your number and we will call you once we catch him”. “Please make sure you catch him. He lives in our locality”. “You can leave; we will let you know once we have him”.
Two days passed, still no information on the culprit. One evening, I saw the culprit as I was walking around. I was surprised that the police were unable to or not catching him while we reported FIR two days ago. The next morning, I along with other friends headed to police station again. I told the concerned police officials to whom we spoke the previous day, “Sir, the man was roaming in our locality yesterday evening and you didn’t catch him?” “We searched, but couldn’t find him” “But, I saw him in our locality yesterday evening. You can go and check now”. He dispatched two policemen while we remained seated in the station awaiting the culprit. After nearly an hour, policemen came with a huge man resembling the culprit. They brought him in and ordered “Annda Wula Po (get inside there)”. “Who is he?” I demanded. “He is his brother”. “Why did you catch him? It wasn’t him” “We couldn’t find him. We took him so that his brother would follow him” “That doesn’t make sense. I need to speak to a higher authority”. “The boss is not available right now, you come tomorrow”. “If you don’t catch, I will go to court”.
I came out of the station pondering what to do further to bring the culprit to book. A local leader of our neighbor reached the station on his bike. He spoke something to the policemen, I had spoken to before. Since they spoke quite fast, I couldn’t understand. He then came out and spoke to me, “Why you want to go to court, it’s a waste of money”. “We don’t have money problem, we can afford. We have student association. If you are kind, you can help us refund the medical expenses” I said hinting not to mind into this mess. However, he continued, “Look, he doesn’t have money. He used to beat his own mother for money” “That’s not our problem. This is fourth time he attacked Tibetan students, not first time” I demanded. “Take this.” He took out five hundred notes to hand over to me. “Oh, it wouldn’t work. The bill was around 5,000 bucks” “I don’t have that much” “Thank you for your concern. Then you don’t need to help”. I went inside the police station and told one of the constables, “I will come tomorrow to meet your superior” and left the station.
Ugyen was still in hospital as he was advised to be. I visited him one last time to assure him of every effort to get refunded for his medical bills and prevent any such attacks against any of our student in future. I went to meet the senior official who wasn’t available. One of the civilian dressed policemen knew me. He whispered to his colleague in Tamil language which I understood barely. “He is the president of Tibetan Student Association” He said something to do with ‘Gemini Flyover’ which was partially audible. (I recalled the moment in November 22, 2012, when we staged a surprise protest at ‘Gemini Fly Over’, opposite United States Consulates (the protest wasn’t meant against United State Consulate) in the wake of increasing self-immolations inside Tibet against Chinese occupation. The shocked city commissioner office dispatched a group of city and suburban police to trace the number of Tibetan students in Madras Christian College where I was studying. The protest was considered intelligence failure on the part of police officials and all our records were collected from our college. I was called by dean while having lunch, “Tenzin, where are you?” “Sir, I am in campus only” “Come here right now its urgent” “Alright sir”. As I reached the dean’s office, there were four policemen in uniform with two in civilian dress. They were from suburban local police and also two from city commissioner’s office. As I approached dean, they looked at me carefully. The dean introduced me to them. “He is Tenzin, president of TSAM. He takes care of Tibetan students in Chennai, you can speak to him”. “Hi, Tenzin, this is (I forgot his name), I am from Chennai City Commissioner’s Office. Kindly let us know what your problems are. You staged unpermitted protest causing public problem. We understand your issues with China, but you should have asked for permission” He said. However, I replied, “I am really sorry about the protest. We understand your law and order concern. But what to do there was increasing number of self-immolations and we couldn’t control ourselves”. He said, “Write your names and address and also phone number.” “We already have actually done that in the marriage hall where we were detained yesterday”. “If you have any problems please let us know we will help. Please assure us you wouldn’t do such protest. We will permit you if you come for permission”. The dean cautioned me against such activities and advised me to be calm and concentrate on studies. He was such a wonderful man and I wouldn’t disobey his advice). It was him who was amongst the participant in the meeting.
I forwarded myself to the civilian police official and requested him to visit the victim, Ugyen, “Sir, if you don’t believe you can have a look. He was attacked with bottles on the neck. This is neck and people may die. It is a clear attempt to murder issue”. Upon my insistence, two of them came to visit Ugyen. I was satisfied that they came to have a look at the victim. We returned to the police station after the hospital visit by the police officials.
As we spoke, the senior officer came. They stood to salute him and I too stood up, but not to walk inside the office where he was about to take a seat. A policeman stopped me to allow himself inside and informed the officer about me. He then called me. I entered to speak to the senior officer. He asked before I could speak, “What happened?” I explained the whole story to the officer and he assured me, “Don’t worry; we will arrest him tomorrow itself. You come tomorrow” I was annoyed by the assurances of ‘tomorrows’ that hardly ends. But, I took patience to see what this officer, who speaks fluent English, had to do.
The next morning, I went to police station with friends, but he wasn’t available. It looked like police searched but couldn’t find him. I began to suspect, how he could escape out of police radar in these near six days of chase. I called two other friends of mine in the locality. “Hello, Chodak, can you and some guys check the house of the local leader who came to police station few days back? I think he must be sheltered there to avoid arrest”. “Sure” he said and I reiterated before cutting the call, “I want you to go now”. Without long, I received a call back from Chodak “Phuntsok, he is here with him” “Alright, stay there and don’t let him go anywhere. Also, just don’t say anything”. I alerted the policemen in the station “See, my friends are saying he is in our locality and you are saying he is not available. He is with my people at a local neighbor’s house, you can arrest” The policemen left on their vehicle and returned with the culprit. As the culprit was brought in, they ordered him to take out everything from his body. “Sit here” ordered one of the policemen in angry tone and took out his belt which they usually use to beat the detainees. “Please don’t beat him. Advise him. He even beats his own mother. This is unbelievable. All we want is refund for the medical cost and an apology, promising not to provoke us anymore”. “You go back; we will keep him here for the night. Other issues we will see tomorrow” said the inspector of the station.
The next day we all went together including our victim friend, Ugyen to see the new things that would unfold from our FIR on the arrested assailant. The local leader or councilor of our locality who won the last election on Congress ticket was also in the police station. I paid respect to him as I recognized him. The mother of the assailant sought the help of the local leader to secure her son’s release before he could be taken to court. The inspector called us in and ensured the refund for medical bills from the assailant or his family for causing damage to Ugyen’s life. “Sir, the medical cost was around 5,000 rupees, we have bills here. How come he comes with just 4,000?” I questioned. “See his mother doesn’t have that much to give. She gave what she has at this time” interrupted the local leader while police officials looked on. I looked at Ugyen’s face and said “Fine, but we hope he won’t repeat the mistake again”. But, I didn’t end the issue there. “Sir, I wanted him to sign on this paper” requested I to one of the police official in the station. In the paper was written ‘the assailant promises not to cause any unnecessary trouble to the Tibetan students in future’. The assailant signed on the paper and we left the station after finishing all the business. The assailant was kept in the station for other business. As we left the station, the local leader came out to speak to us. He said, “If you face any such problem in future, don’t go to police station directly. You can come to me and we can help you out”. “Oh, that would be much appreciated “I replied and left the scene.
Though, we didn’t get full refund of the medical cost, we are satisfied that we took on him at last, after four years of his interval attacks on us. Since then, he was hardly seen around. We found him once around the locality but, he sounds a changed man. He smiled at me and didn’t show any enmity feeling despite our police report. I hope he changed to a better man as he has a mother whom he used to beat. I also hoped he quit drinking as it was this habit of day drinking that led him to such abominable activities of time past, beating his own mother and harassing people on street.
The CBZ Bike Issue:
We often ride bikes without driving license. There were few senior students who had both bike and license. They were either working in call center or had good funds from their parents or relatives apart from scholarships. These people could afford to buy bikes. But in college friendship, hiring bikes from friends and riding it as if you are the owner is quite common.
I stayed in Chennai for nearly eight years since 2006 and never had opportunity to ride bike until 2013. I was in my final year in Master and my friend, Ugyen managed to have a third hand CBZ bike from one of senior student, who was previously working in call centre Company. I didn’t know whether he purchased or received it as a gift since the latter left Chennai permanently.
Ugyen, who stays nearby me under the same house lordship often keeps his bike unused when he leaves for work. Sometimes, he would keep his bike key with me and I would go to receive him at the railways station on his return from work. Local railway station is two kilometers away from our room and we always walk to reach the station. Those who owns bike has the luxury of riding it without toiling under sun to walk one or so kilometers from Anandapuram to Tambaram railway station. However, both Ugyen and I had one problem; we didn’t possess driving license though both of us knew riding. Chennai suburban police sometimes gets strict and stops vehicles both with and without helmet for document checking. This was the biggest worry though; we often managed to ride without check up.
However, the bike landed in big trouble one day when three of our friends went for tea early morning around 4:00 to satisfy their thirst. It was during dinner gathering of friends at the roof of our rooms, and we had almost finished all the hard drinks at our disposal. It was nearing 4:00 in the morning, and night long talks and gossiping on TSAM and other matters kept us all awake. Our eyes wouldn’t close for sleep. Few friends suddenly said, “Shall we go for tea?” “Oh, no we are tired, though not sleepy” said others who didn’t wish to leave for tea. However, the three of the group decided to go. Tenzin Rinzin, our friend asked for a bike and I borrowed them Ugyen’s bike. Ugyen was out of town at the time and kept the key with me. They went near Railway station, opposite to MCC college main gate for tea with three people on bike. In Chennai, tea is almost available throughout day particularly near bus or train stations. Tea makers would sell tea even at 4:00 in the morning. There would be a tea seller who also sells cigarettes at higher prices. I didn’t know the reason for the higher prices for cigarettes, but the given assumption is that since cigarettes shops weren’t available early morning, these tea vendors on cycle make it available. Or sometimes, it just happens that selling pieces of cigarettes from packet doesn’t garner much profit. So they charged higher prices for the pieces from packets.
The remaining of us continued with the talks and were about to go for a walk. It wasn’t morning jogging by health conscious people. We were sleepless and half drunkard group walking around the road, wasting energy and money for a short excitement. After nearly an hour or so, one of our three friends came to us in an anxious manner as if he had woken up from bad dream. “We got caught by a police” he said. “What?” responded one of our friends in disbelief “But for what did they catch you?” I asked. “One policeman was standing near the vendor and he approached to our bike as we stop for tea. Since, we were three on bike without helmet license I got nervous. I told two of them to run away. However, police sensing our move, asked me, “Why they run away?” “Then what happened?” “The police asked for license and registration of the bike with his stick almost on me. I left the bike and ran to avoid falling into police net” “Then the bike must be with the police right?” I asked, “Yes,” he said. “Oh, god I must get the bike back. Its Ugyen’s bike and if I can’t get it back it wouldn’t be good”.
Four of us went straight to the spot from where the bike was confiscated. However, we found a policeman on bike heading towards our direction as we headed towards the main road. He stopped us before we could stop to ask him about the bike. I knew it was him as he was looking for escapees from the scene of railway station. “Sir, please bike return panika (Sir, can you please return the bike?” I pleaded in broken Tamil. The constable wouldn’t understand or speak English so we had to try with their language. “Yaar Bike owner? (Who is the bike owner?) He asked instead. “Atha Bike, Ungale Friend, Sir. Friend yippo Walle la Poitingna. Na use Panitingla” (The bike belongs to my friend. He is out of station and therefore, I am just using it. Sir) I replied and pleaded again “Sir, please bike return Panika. (Sir, please return the bike). But he wouldn’t return. Instead he said “Yeda bike yippo Police Station Yeriak, (The bike is at police station). “Seri, Na Police station Ponu. (Fine, I will go to police station) I said and left to local police station at Seilayur in Camp Road.
As we reached police station, I asked the constable in charge at the station. “Sir, did you just receive a bike from your constable?” “No, we didn’t”. “Actually two of my friend rode my friend’s bike and a constable on duty near railways station confiscated it”. “Check outside” He said. We checked all the bikes that were outside the police station, but couldn’t find ours. I rushed again inside and told the policeman, “I couldn’t find our bike here” “I told you we didn’t receive any bike from our constable here”. I knew the constable wouldn’t lie to us. He speaks and understands English well therefore; I didn’t have to attempt local language. The constable on duty didn’t report the bike at police station, but rather must have kept with himself somewhere so that he could sweat our pocket.
Usually riding bike or any vehicles in the middle of night or early morning gets checked by police officials on the road. Vehicle thefts are often reported and police do check to verify the documents to see if driver of the particular vehicles belong the concerned person. I was quick in thinking about next step and therefore asked the official in the station. “Can you please check to see who is on duty around Railway station?” The considerate policeman assisted us without hesitation. He checked and even provided us the cell number of the official on night duty on the road. “Thank you so much sir” I graced him and left the station in search of him.
I called him from the number and he picked up. “Sir, Nah Da, Wori bike issue. Police station la Wandi tang. Anna, bike elle. Wori sir ungle number curte Tingla” (Sir, it’s me calling you about the bike. We came to police station, but bike wasn’t there) “Wah ga, Wah ga” (Come, come) he said. “Ne Yenga Yeri Ga?” (Where are you?)” “Ada, signal Waga, Segra Wahga” (I am at the signal, come fast). We rushed and found him at the signal.
We often get the best training in Tamil speaking from the auto, taxi drivers and those policemen who hardly speak English. Later, our college introduced compulsory learning of Tamil in the first year under graduate course by inserting General Course as Tamil in the semester. Speaking the local language could be easily learned from engaging with local people. For us, broken Tamil, mixed with English is enough to manage in the city. A celebrated actor of Tamil Nadu who is son-in -law of the state’s superstar Rajinikant, Danush once sang Kolavari (Tanglish song) which hit the music world. But, here in Chennai, we always do the ‘Kolavari’ daily to manage ourselves.
We again spoke to him, pleading for the return of the bike, but he wouldn’t butch. He revealed about the bike only when we decided to pay him some amount. Some constables are quite hungry for money even if they are salaried. He took us to a far away small-housed traffic police station 300 meters off from our college main gate, where he had kept our bike. The bike was with him from the moment he had confiscated it. I didn’t understand why he said the bike was at the police station. It was almost after 2 hours of running and pleading that finally settled the issue. He made me write a small report on how the bike was confiscated. But, was told I shouldn’t write I paid him 200 rupees. The hundred rupees we paid weren’t enough to quench his early thirst so had to pay hundred more. Since, I was writing in English and wrote about 200 rupees related sum in the report, he told me to delete it. I finally told him to write himself as he was guiding me to write the points in English. I finally gave up and told him “Ne Tamil la note pani, Nyiga English terile, Na Tamil terile” (You don’t understand English, I couldn’t write in Tamil, so you better write in your language). He wrote in Tamil by himself and asked me to sign. I did as he guided and asked for the bike key so that I could run home. I left the scene by zooming like Doom as soon as the bike key was handed over to me.
TSAM Fresher and Farewell Parties
TSAM Fresher and Farewell parties would be the only two occasions in a year when we really get to do craziest things for enjoyment amongst us. Most of the farewell parties coincide with Losar (Tibetan New Year) in February and the fresher parties, with His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday in July. We would often book two or three bus depending on students and go to a Farm House at Kelambakkam. The farm house would be the perfect spot for enjoyment; there is a swimming pool, lawn, a big hall and other spaces to indulge in dance. I enjoy everything at the farm house from dancing in the hall, swimming in the pool to playing games on the lawn ground. Any student who doesn’t drink and make use of these spaces must have come to watch what we are doing rather than enjoying themselves. A friend of mine once told me, “It was a boring day. I shouldn’t have come. I don’t dance, don’t drink and there is one thing I wish to do that is swimming, but I that don’t know how to swim. I spent whole day watching what others were doing. Cho (brother) Phuntsok, you do all the things and enjoyed a lot.
I do all the things at farm house during fresher and farewell gathering which I usually hardly do; dancing, drinking, playing cards, swimming and even smoking. These are the two occasions, I would unbelievably get crazy and some friends of us wouldn’t believe what I do at the party. I enjoy the moment when, time calls for it and live a normal live in normal times.
The fights are not just between Tibetan students and local people. At time, we pick up fights amongst us. The incidents of fight among the Tibetan students are mostly during Fresher and Farewell party. Fresher and Farewell party or gathering was to welcome the new students and to bid adieu to the graduates respectively in Chennai. The fights often come as unlisted program during the late night dance. The party itself had nothing to do with the fight, but certain childish and frustrating nature of student result in the ugly fight amongst students.
On some occasions, the fight was on account of girl. I don’t drink usually, but I do drink a lot during parties. I had never picked up fight in my inebriated condition. I always keep talking and joking, in my inebriated condition, making those around me lively engaged in enjoyment mood. I once told to an Indian-Tibetan friend during a party in my inebriated condition, “Sharukh Khan says, ‘My name is Khan, I am not terrorist, I would rather say, My name is Tenzin, I am not a Chinese” and everyone around her laughed to the hilt. This is what I appreciate most on myself.
The fights amongst us were so unnecessary, and I wouldn’t want such things to happen anytime in future. On some occasions, the fights get so deadly and ugly. Worse, I was once accused by an Indian, having involved in fight when I was actually the one amongst others who attempted to stop the fight. Since my clothes were drenched in blood, they thought I fought.
Fights amongst human on trivial issues were so unnecessary and childish. College students must avoid fight as it would sometimes lead to shortening of their life and wouldn’t serve the purposes of going for higher studies. Parties and funs are part of the college life which we must go through, but fight has its own places as profession. The wrestling and boxing are the best examples of fights to earn money and fame, not such fight that helps none.
The Campus Fun:
Being a MCCian (or ladies and gentleman of MCC as we are popularly known), and part of the college campus itself is immense fun. The 365 acre size of the campus filled with varied kinds of flora and fauna provides an immeasurable pleasure in just entering the campus itself, not to speak of being part of the campus for six long years. The college has all; man and women, young and old, students from different states of India and even abroad. It is perhaps the most romantic place I have ever visited. The inside of the campus temperature beats the temperature of the outside road. The campus is also often part of Indian Air Force’s practice spot. During class session one can often hear the buzzing sounds of the military helicopters flying over the campus. Tambaram also houses an Indian Air Force training facility.
The college provides a good space for early morning and evening walk. We might not find girls walking around after 6:30 pm in the evening as they had to be inside hall premises for their own safety as per college rules. But, during early morning you can find some health-conscious girls and boys jogging around football and basket grounds in the campus. The many huge football grounds and basket ground often allow students to enjoy the physical time out. I couldn’t enjoy these grounds much during my both Bachelor and Master years. I became sports freak when I was pursuing my one year Master of Philosophy course during which I enjoyed both basket and football games in the campus. Most of the Tibetan and North-East students enjoy football so much. There is also a football tournament known as ‘Mini-International’ which is being played in the campus ground with participants from different regions and countries. There are Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, African, Bhutanese, Nepal and other teams in the tournament. Tibetan students also partake in such tournament in the name of TSAM. Nagaland and Mizoram are perhaps the best players and often win the tournament against us. Huge number of students would turn up to watch the match. Tibetan students often support Nagaland whenever they are in final. I don’t know the reason, but it seemed natural affinity between Nagaland and Tibetan students. One of our Tibetan students named Dorjee Tsering (nicknamed Goh-go) had been college level player from MCC. His physique is perfect treat for college to be part of the college football team.
Our college often had a list of dates in the college calendar where students are given diverse opportunity of opening up to cheer. There is something called ‘Hall Day’ which is celebrated by all the hostels in the campus. There are three gents hall namely; Thomas, Heber and Seilayur halls. There are two halls for girls namely; Martin and Margaret halls. Each hall day is an opportunity for the hostel or resident students to enjoy among themselves in the most social life. It is devoid of academic activities. There would be dance and song competitions amongst the hall residents. Student like us who are non-resident of the campus can enjoy the moment to the hilt though shouldn’t have been part of the day.
One of the most exciting events is the DeepWood. Deepwood is the inter-collegiate Cultural Festival of the MCC where number of colleges would come to partake in the event. It includes rock song, dance, cat-walking, music et al competitions. This is the most hectic event for staff members of the college as they are the one who looks after all the programs along with college union society students. If you are good body or throat, it was time to shake your style. Tibetan students have most of the time been partaking in this event.
The College Romance
College relationships were hardly trustworthy. It works mainly on the outer beauties or the sexual whims of the two. Worse, it works on the availability of funds. For some girls, just a word of ‘I Love You’ was more than enough to kill their hearts. It would be difficult to kill the hearts of every girl with the same words. Sometimes saying so might end you up at the door step of college principal or a nearby police station. A relationship in college often ends up in splits or exchanges. Only few college students proved it to marriage. I wouldn’t want to bring those of few who either made it through college relationship or the majority of those who kept on splitting after every relationship.
Some Tibetan students come in pair for college admission. It appeared relationships were already planned in the last stage of their school life. When singles like us search for rooms with other roommates, the already-couples would be searching rooms for their own. It was true when then Education Minister of Tibetan Government-in-Exile, Mr. Thupten Lungrig said in his speech as chief guest during the 2nd All India Tibetan College Students’ Conference held at Sarah Tibetan Higher Studies in 2008, “We know how you all are doing in colleges and how many of you are staying as couples in colleges. This isn’t time to have family in colleges. There is time for everything. This is time to educate, not to hold family or household”. Some students would find their lovebirds after six months or a year in college and change their rooms for better relationships and comfort. Several couples would stay with their roommates and meet during holidays. Several couples could be found everyday walking together inside or outside college campus. Most of the Indian students could be found in the college campus meeting their lovebirds during break or lunch time or after college. Since most of them come from their own homes, their date at home was ruled out in the presence of their parents or relatives. Therefore, they would mostly enjoy in campus. Our college campus, though wasn’t created for such romantic pleasure, the environment inside provides natural space for romance. The campus is huge and filled with lots of trees. There were benches of stones everywhere for rest. One wouldn’t miss seeing couples seating on these and chatting. But, not every students chatting on those benches are couples. Sometimes, true and good friends between opposite sexes often enjoy the campus. There were those north-east, Bhutanese and Kerala students who had their loved ones in the same college. Some of the students had their love birds in other colleges.
I had several experiences of relationships, but all to the worst taste. My first relationship in college was when I made a call to a north-east girl of my college. I was in drunken state and we had a habit of teasing our close pals by calling them with pranksters. I asked one of my friends to call his friend and allow me to speak to her. It dates back to mid 2008. People wouldn’t believe me what I did in drunken state. Most of the vulnerable college girls were those who had already broken up with their boyfriends and were feeling emotionally lonely. I didn’t know if the girl I called was in the same category. I just called out of curiosity and to play pranks with her.
As I dialled the number the said lady attended the call, “Who is this?” The lady must have been the one whom anonymous calls were often received from other pranksters. “It’s me” I said, because I couldn’t be wasting cell balance introducing myself, “Who?” “Your friend, Nyima” I said. “I don’t know anybody by the name Nyima?” “Its fine, if you don’t know. But I know you well. We once met in college” “Which college you are from?” “Of course, from MCC, you are from journalism Department right?” “Yes, I am” “What you want” “I just want to talk to you” “Find someone to talk to you” “No, I want to talk to you only”. She cut the call. I thought she might have gotten annoyed. I didn’t call again. I let her rest for five minutes or so to think who could be the caller. I knew she must be thinking who gave her number to me. I spoke to my friend in the mean time. We were in hotel after completing our work outside Chennai. I dialled the girl again. She attended the call “Now what?” She responded in anger. “See, don’t cut the call please. My girlfriend broke me up and left me alone. I am emotionally frail and couldn’t do anything. Only girl can help in such situation to a broken-heart boy.” Since I was drunk at same time, she really thought I might have been dumped by girlfriend. “Then why you called me. You should have called your girlfriend” “I said she dumped me and how can you expect me to call her” “See, I don’t know you and nor do I want to get in between you two. So, please don’t call me again” “You are not getting between us. You are just helping to heal a solitary boy’s broken heart. Just talk to me. You are healing my heart”. “By the way you said you know me. Have I seen you before in the campus?” “No, you haven’t. But, I saw you many times because I followed you for quite long.” “Which department you belong to?” “Political Science” “Don’t lie” “I didn’t lie” “Which year?” “I won’t tell you this” “Why?” “I will tell you when I meet you in college” “Where are you right now?” “I am outside Chennai on some work and you?” “I am in Chennai” “Why? You didn’t go for holiday?” “No, I am with my friends in Adyar. Who gave you my number?” “I can’t tell you at this time” “Then I would cut the call” “Don’t cut the call, I will tell you once we meet each other”. “Why are you so interested in meeting me?” “Even I don’t know. It is very natural”. It was late night and only couples or ready-to-be-couples would be talking on phone like ghost during night. “Anyway, its late night and I am feeling sleepy” “Alright, good night” She cut the call without returning the same wish of good night. I kept her number as drunkard because I called her in my drunken state and wanted to keep the number to know if she ever calls me again.
I forgot to call her again, though I saved her number. My other works kept me busy and couldn’t give much attention to such things. Later, when I returned to Chennai for college continuation, I received a call from the number I saved in my cell as ‘Drunkard’. It took the whole ringing tone time to realize who the caller could be. It was past nearly a month and I didn’t expect her to call me again. I cut the call and thought for a moment. I was in the college campus and wouldn’t want her to see me if her attempt to call me was to see me. I didn’t call her back until I reached my room in Anandapuram. My return to Chennai in the year was hectic one. I had to search a new room in the locality for myself and couldn’t mind much about what I did when I was drunk. I was the only person in my room at the time. I got a single room for one thousand four hundred without kitchen and an unattached bathroom outside. I dialled number back as I reached room. But she wasn’t attending call. It appeared she was having class as it was already afternoon and evening class session had already began.
On the same night, she dialled me again. I received the call, “Hi” I said knowing well it was she. “Did you call me?” she asked, “Yes, I did, and you didn’t attend my call” “I was in class” “I understand”. “We didn’t have professor, when I received your call” “Then why didn’t you attend my call” I asked further, “Simply” she said. I was quite sure she was flattering me. “It’s fine”. We became friends as we spoke quite often on phone. College students like us often waste good sum of money calling on girls. That was quite usual in many. The call got over and it looked like her balance was over against my zero balance and I couldn’t call her back.
One day she asked to be met at the college campus. She asked me during one of the conversation on call, “So, who gave you my number?” “I told you I will tell you in person, not on call” She decided to meet me. I was cautious, if she would be the one who would come to meet me. Sometimes, girl pranksters would send other girls for meeting while the real one hide to see who the guy was they had spoken to on phone. She told me “Come near Maths Department building” “What? But you are from Journalism right?” “I don’t want to meet you near my department. I don’t feel comfortable”
The way to Maths department is filled with trees and it would surely hide our meet from others’ eyes. I wanted to see her. I went to her while on call searching for her location. As we saw each other a meter’s away distance, she blushed, but didn’t fail to ask. “Now, tell me who gave me number?” I don’t want to embarrass my friend who provided her number to me. At that time I was just drunk and wanted to do what a drunkard does. “What you want to do if I reveal the person who gave me your number?” “Nothing, just want to know. I know it must be your Tibetan friend. But I don’t know whether it’s my Tibetan classmate or someone outside my class” “I am afraid you might scold him” “No, definitely no” “How can I trust you. If you scold my friend he will be angry on me. It’s him, who helped me to reach you. I don’t want him to be pissed off against me” “Don’t worry” she said but suddenly she left as professor of her class came for lecture before I could say something.
Her question of ‘who gave you my number’ and my eschewing of answering the same but continuing the phone conversation finally led to an undeclared relationship. It was my first relationship in college after more than two years of college life and strangely it was a fixed one. She said once, “We must first try our relationship for six months” “Why?” I asked. “We wouldn’t know when we would break up” That surprised me, but I okayed it since I am new entrant in college relationship affairs. I hadn’t expected that my first call to a girl in my drunkard state for pranksters would end up in relationship. We really had good time for the six months. She was Christian and my house owner was a local Christian so we didn’t have much problem. She would often come to my room and asked questions relating to Indian Constitution, the paper which is additional to their main course of Journalism. Since I was from Political Science department it serves good to additional paper.
There was this problem on my part while in relationship with her. I was president of TSAM and couldn’t enjoy much open relationship. As a student leader, one must be an encouragement and epitome to other students. So my first college relationship with non-Tibetan student had been quite a tensed one, though I enjoyed in the most freed atmosphere. Since we were not staying as couples in the same house, we often end up speaking on phone. She stays in hostel and wouldn’t be allowed to be outside after 7:30 evening. I couldn’t meet her in college campus where more than hundreds of Tibetan students walk around daily in the campus.
On few occasions, we hanged out in Mahabalipuram beaches. She drinks and loves chicken so much. On the night we stayed at the hotel, a police on night duty knocked each doors of the hotel we were occupying. It was around 12 mid-nights when our door was knocked. I opened the door and found two policemen in uniform standing outside our door. “Any problem” I asked as I opened the door. “Are you alone?” the policemen asked “No, am with my girlfriend. “Call her” “She is taking bath” “No problems call her” I got scared as I didn’t know what he meant by call her even when she is in bathroom. “Baby, a policeman wants to have a look at you. Can you come out now?” She came out, draped in bathrobe. I didn’t know what made her state it but she said to the policemen before he could ask “We are in relationship and getting married soon”. He looked at her and then to me with little thought inside him. I intervened to say “We are from Madras Christian College. We came to beach to enjoy as we are having off for two days. We often come here” I showed them our college identity cards as we explained. The policemen left after checking our identity cards. There were other couples in our adjacent rooms standing outside their room after police check up. “Why they are coming in the middle of night?” he asked me evincing his disapproval of such invasion of privacy. “That’s what I am thinking. Let’s ask the reception. If something wrong is going on here we would also be dragged along” I said. I called upon the reception man to ask what made policemen to check the hotel. He explained, “There was a bomb blast yesterday in Bangalore and they are checking if any culprits are hiding around anywhere”. I couldn’t say anything against his reason as that was possible. But, the attack did really happen in the Karnataka state capital as I later learned.
On our return the next day, she said before she left to her hostel in the midst of rainfall ravaging our locality. “Thank you so much for the time. I really enjoyed”. This was both first and last time I took her for outing. She would often visit my room as I wasn’t allowed to her hostel which is reserved for girls. If she didn’t feel like going to college, her only destination would be my room or outing nearby shops. She once bunked her class and took me out for a restaurant. I didn’t know what made her bunk the class, but after ordering food she said, “Today is my birthday. So I took you out to treat you”. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t give anything to her.
One day on her visit to my room, she said, “I want break up” “What?” “I want break up” “But, why?” I asked. I didn’t know why she suddenly asked for break up. It was nearly six months since we entered into relationship. But to my surprise obliviousness she said, “It’s already six months. We made sure our relationship is for six months” “But you said its trial only”. “Yes, but I meant six months is over and I wanted to concentrate on my studies”. “Are you sure?” I asked before she could confirm, “Yes, am seriously sure”. I didn’t really understand. I had either failed the trial to her taste or she got no more interest in me. Whatever the undisclosed reason could be, she left me. But her way of breaking up was very smooth and without pending issue. I gifted her, a Tibetan drawing of eight auspicious signs with a white scarf wishing her good luck in whatever she wants to be in future. The north-east relationship got over in my room, facing south-west. It had after all been a respectful relationship which left no issues on our future course of life.
Other than that I couldn’t call my affairs as relationships. It was all mixed up like the English movie of ‘Friends’. It was difficult for me to differentiate whether I had relationships or affairs. You have girls who spent time with you, but wouldn’t be available when you really need them. However, they would appear to your door when you were all happy with what you were doing alone.
Some college students have very matured relationship with boundaries well understood. However, friends between two opposite sex is either very rare or if it continues for long might pave way for bonding. Shakespeare said once “A boy and a girl can never be friends forever”. It happened to me quite many times but all to no avail. However, friendship between opposite sex truly is first way to relationships. Wordsworh said, “Proposing a boy or a girl for friendship is nothing but indirectly say I Love you”. That is the reason when boys ask for a friendship with a girl; she would definitely suspect him to be asking for love or relationship. Natural friendships between opposite sexes in college are often most admirable. I had been through many natural friendships with well laid boundaries and they were all helpful even in enriching knowledge. In college, true friends enrich your knowledge and experiences. It would be difficult to realize your true college love into post-college marriage life. My college relationship life had been quite soar and bitter. Not just I became witness to many break-ups and cries of girls and boys, but I too became the victim of unsettled and untrustworthy relationships. I regret my college relationship to the hilt. Most often, college relationships were for time past. Moreover, it’s kind of show off to those who are singles. However, I would give thumbs up to those who had true relationships without affecting their studies, wasting time and money of their loved ones.
I often admire the Clintons, Bill and Hillary whose relationship began at Law School in Yale University in 1970 after multiple encounters in the school’s library. Their relationship later mushroomed into powerful political house in United States. It is an extant example of long lasting college relationship mushrooming into meaningful marriage. Now, Hillary, the Former first lady and ex-Secretary of State is likely to make her husband, Bill Clinton, the former President of the United State, as the first ever First Gentleman in the country’s political history. Can she or can’t she, I will wait eagerly to see…..
Excerpts from the book on college life entitled “My Name is Tenzin, I am not Chinese”
Pam D. Tenzin (Author himself)