Pagal Gymkhanas: "An Accident of History"
Sick of these quarantine times? Missing insti life? Feeling extremely indolent and slothful?
Come on a trip with us to stroll back in time and revisit some of the most quirky, remarkable and unforgettable incidents that have taken place in the history of our very happening campus. Hearty gratitude towards Professor Rohit Manchanda for recounting some of these amazing episodes through his book and acting as the inspiration behind these posts!
P.S.- The times right now, with the effectuation of social distancing, are themselves a history in making. Hoping that those crowded lecture halls, cramped messes, and jam-packed auditoriums don't get a place for wrong reasons in the history weeks of the future :(
#History_Week Day 1: Pagal Gymkhanas: "An Accident of History"
Pagal Gymkhana was an idea that our alumni Dr. Dinesh Mohan and Mr. Dunu Roy had filched from their old school. Describing their entry into the student’s gymkhana in 1965-66 as one of the “accidents of history”, both of them congruously espoused their respective roles. The previous year committee had got so disillusioned with the adamant attitude of the IIT administration, headed by the then formidable director Brig Bose, that nobody even wanted to contest for election. So, much to the displeasure of the seniors, both the trailblazers put their papers in and got elected unopposed.
Nevertheless, it was a truly fantastic team with Dr. Dinesh heading the social and cultural side and Mr. Ashok Modak steering the sports activities. Coming back to the Pagal Gymkhanas, it was a series of fun and frolic matches aimed at bringing out the child in each participant. Quoting Roy “They jelled so well that together they took on the Brigadier and the result is he came to the Pagal dressed as an Arab!”
Not to be outmaneuvered, the Pagal Gymkhana-2 also didn’t shy on exponentiating the ludicrousness and eccentricity and featured events like “donkey races” and Coca-Cola drinking contests. The intention was always to ignite the latent and suppressed joviality simmering within each IITian encumbered with academic loads and myriad burdens of college life!
Dubbed to be the strangest sports event, the festivities were launched by Professor TR Sarkari in an equally whimsical fashion by running around the main field with the Pagal Gymkhana torch. Described by the alumnus Dr. S. Dixit as “the first and the only donkey race anyone has perhaps ever seen”, the grandeur of these races dealt with no compromise with the style that resembled nothing short of Formula 1, complete with flag offs and everything! To ensure nothing is amiss, even betting stalls and a running commentary was organized. The donkeys were ridden by carefully selected students of short stature (jockeys) and some competitors even did complete the race!
At a phase when the institute was still endeavoring to carve a niche out for itself in both the technological and educational landscapes and striving to establish its identity, Pagal Gymkhanas germinated the seeds of cultural vivification and unleashed a huge pile of dormant talent waiting in IITB in all kinds of fields like theatre, debating, football, gymnastics, boxing, ham radio, electronic gizmos, aeromodelling, etc. Forging an image of IITB as slightly removed from just being studious nerds, there was so much bustle that attendance in classes of even the strictest professors collapsed, leaving people of those years to reminisce the Pagal Gymkhanas with earnest affection and ribald humor!