Last weekend (on the 7th to be precise) gave me an opportunity to visit my Engineering college i.e. Sardar Patel College of Engineering (or SPCE for short). For the uninitiated, SPCE, which is celebrating its 50th year in 2012, is one of the premier engineering colleges in Mumbai University. In fact, it has recently received autonomy status. Living in Mumbai and just a couple of stations away from Andheri, where SPCE is, I am guilty, and rightfully so, of not visting the college more often. The one occasion that presents itself is the annual alumni meet of the college, that generally happens on the second weekend of every new year. The alumni meet started in 2004 and I have attended it a couple of times so far. But have missed it, mostly due to my own laziness, the past couple of years. So this year, when the e-mail from the indefatigable Shashikant Banka from the SPCE Alumni Association landed in my inbox, I knew I had to go. Even though a post on Facebook (to check if any of my friends were interested in tagging along) failed to get a positive response, I then decided to do it alone.
Now since the best way of reviving past memories is to actually relive them, I decided to take the train and walk from Andheri station. The road from Andheri station to SPCE, of course, has changed beyond recognition over the past decade. The pillars of the still under-construction Metro line stand right in the middle of the road, which is now partially closed to traffic. Quite different from our days when a simple walk on that road in the evenings was maddening with the terrible honking of buses and auto-rickshaws around and the ever-growing numbers of pedestrians. Of course, some old landmarks are there e.g. Navrang theater (which I best remember when our Mech class, then in 3rd year, had gone to watch a supposedly soft-porn movie and came back bitterly let-down ;-). These, and other thoughts, kept flooding in my mind as I neared the Bhavan's campus. Outside the campus, Shetty's Chinese is still around and so is our dear ol' Gupta ji (albeit in a completely renovated form: It is also called differently, forgot the name though). Unfortunately, I did not see him around that day. But opposite to them is the Vrindavan restaurent, opened probably 2-3 years ago. The usual all-cuisine Udipi restaurent, the food tastes great (they had provided the dinner at the alumni meet). But I guess the current batches, which might be used to Vrindavan, might not fully understand the importance of Guptaji and Shetty's in those four years :). I then entered the Bhavans campus, which also looks different from a decade back. The road from the entrance to SPCE is nicely paved now. SP Jain has a well-maintained garden in front of it and the temple in the campus also looks more impressive. But one thing that has still not changed is the typical odour of birdshit that hits you when you near the SPCE building :). Especially, going at the time when I did i.e. just after sunset, the odour is just too strong to ignore. It was the same in 2000, it is the same in 2012 as well !! :)
Finally entered the SPCE building at around 6.45pm. The registration for the function was actually only till 6.30pm but I discovered that not too many people were around and the official part of the meet was some time away from starting. After a couple of cups of coffee and some chit-chat, I set out to re-discover the SPCE building. And the thing that struck me was that the basic building has not changed one bit over the past 12 years of so. Of course, most would know that the non-aided branches (i.e. Comps, Electronics, IT and the recently started Electronics and Telecom) have now been spun off into a new college i.e. Sardar Patel Instititute of Technology (SPIT) few years back and which houses itself in a brand-new building behind the SPCE building. Thankfully, the alumni meet was for both SPCE and SPIT !. As I roamed the workshop (looking much the same only with a few offices newly added at the rear end) and the main building, the memories kept on coming. The two walls at the main staircase reminded me of SPACE 1999 where we had put together a huge full-scale painting as part of the decorations. The various notice boards displayed the latest goings-on in the college, including an offer to students of the Akash tablet for around 1200 bucks !!. The quadrangle has been converted into a mini-auditorium with a steel frame overneath and fans hung from there. Sad to see that playing box cricket will no longer be possible there :). Much of the remaining building is as it is including, I believe, the paint on the exterior, all worn out and in desperate need of a re-coat. Could not get the time to go to the hostel though.
After the tour around college, got back to the quadrangle for the function. Will write about the alumni function itself in a follow-up post. Till then, keep reading and feel free to share it with your other SPCE friends and batchmates.
To be continued...