Coffee, crows and coir windows

Devlal Sahedevan | Batch of 1994

An ideal meeting place may not be where you might have had a coffee with friends, crows and a stray dog looking right into your eyes. It certainly is not the place where the chairs are wobbly, and the rough cemented floor is cracked. The coir-woven barricade never really stopped anything from flying in to give a quick quality check to what was in the food tray. To top it all, it had a fancy name that didn’t go very well with its rustic outlook: “Rendezvous”.

This French-inspired name and the events that took place inside this thatched house had very little in common. But nothing stopped the first few batches of IHM Kovalam from spending time inside its limited space and the crows that looked down upon them fearlessly. This was their cafeteria, their small world inside a slightly bigger world called IHM. This was their refuge from the boring theory classes, the tiring lab sessions and from the prying eyes of the instructors who believed in nothing less than perfection. Rendezvous had a fan base and they loved the dirty floor, the birds and cats and every other living soul in and around it.

I remember standing in queue for a cup of tea, standing with a cup of tea in another queue to get a seat, then joining the third queue to wash the teacup. In between managing queues, we talked, complained, laughed, and even completed an assignment that had to be put in during the next class. The breakfast was mostly scrambled eggs and two pieces of toast that would fit in on your palm perfectly. The big challenge was to eat it without having to share it with another dozen hands. Lunch portions were big enough to make you hungrier as soon as you finished eating it.

After every break, we always ran back to the class like we were being chased by an unseen demon. We had to because the teachers would always be on time to class and latecomers were punished. Some time we wondered if our teachers had mastered the art of illusion, thus making it possible for them to be in two places at the same time. They were always on time!

Inside Rendezvous, during the lunch break, we would assemble to unwind. Stories were spiced up and narrated, plots were unveiled, romances blossomed, friends made, and disputes settled. The stray dog was always happy to taste delicacies from different parts of the world and shared the same happiness with the crows that competed with it.

Sometimes a big steel plate would fall down from somebody’s hand, scare the dog and cause loud silly laughter from everyone. A teacher would peep out from the nearby housekeeping room and wonder why anybody would laugh when a plate fell down.

Rendezvous had a thatched roof and noisy students. It also had its place in the life of every kid who walked into that small campus without fully knowing what lay awaiting him or her. It was like this big banyan tree in the middle of a village where the crowd assembled for a reason. It stood surrounding us and taught us to love, respect, and share. The dirty floors suffered under our feet while we cursed over the journals and stomped our feet. The small cafeteria was a bee hive where a lot of future leaders put the finishing touches to the first step towards their dreams. The wobbly chairs got them bigger seats in bigger places where they continued to love, share and respect.

I miss Rendezvous. Don’t you!

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