Government Medical College Chandigarh Old Students Association





And so it was – we were finally going on a Strike. It initially sounded like a great martyr event, something that would go down into the history of GMC (umm…it probably still did). For one thing, everyone was on strike for a variety of reasons. The senior most batch (that’s ours) was pushed into it more by cataclysmic events than by choice. Two batches junior to us were pre and post exam and so it served their strategic timing for leisure and they loved it. The new batches of kidos got time off from Anatomy and of course they were thrilled about it. 

Actually, my aim to write this article is to remind everyone of all the fun we had during those six weeks. Well, we the seniors had such a tough time, or at least we did a good job trying to show we were very perturbed. It was too much work trying to get the first year ‘futchas’ to raise slogans in a coordinated way, to make sure they yelled loud and clear; remember Jaswinder Jally (’91) even used to scare (oops – I meant chorus) them with a danda in his hand. To get everyone to the tambu was another hassle. To begin with, we had to get them out of their homes and then subsequently from places like Aroma, Sector 22 market, movie theaters, hair dressers, sector 17 etc etc. Jagdeep Babra (’91) had her share of fun by dutifully writing down the names of the bhookh hartaalis’ on the ever-expanding sheets in our tent. Her stress was evident from the fact that all so often she would shatter the hullabaloo around her by breaking into a quivering melody. And then biggest of all trying to decide who’s who in that strike Executive Committee. In the end everybody was everybody.

While we the seniors were busy “managing the higher things” there was a spate of activities in the junior batches. Barring a few who were forced to be a part of the ‘think team’, most were out for a gala time. And fun indeed it was. Nobody complains when there are no 7 AM classes with snorty lecturers and practicals to bear with. The mornings used to start with the usual ‘hi hello’ stuff and the customary “kaon aaya kaon nahin…” followed by an update form the committee. And then they were practically done for the day unless there was a mission for that day. By around 10 AM it was practically decided if the day would be another vellah day or some padyatra (or more correctly scooter/motorcycle yatra) or slogan day. And by noon it was obviously naptime and whatever was left of the miniscule crowd would lazily doze off on the durries in our tambu. By evening usually the four on the hunger strike that night would be the only one’s left in the stark isolation of oblivion with an occasional passing by pedestrian stopping to pay sympathy. Of course nobody enjoyed the episodic attendance check drills Puneet Tuli (’91) and I used to run followed by Majhail’s (’91) senti speeches (they certainly worked…at least for 24 hours).

The free time actually didn’t go waste. There was a flurry of new talent discoveries in our home crowd; there were discoveries or creations more to appease a certain section of our collegiate. The most remarkable was the overnight emergence of ‘palmistry gurus’. That’s a trick all guys know never goes wrong and girls are unanimously attracted towards the mystic maharishis. Its starts with holding the hand of the girl first and squeezing it in different directions and then… (…I mean who cares what you say later). It was astonishing to see so many of these palmists mushroom much to the agony of our ‘Casanovas’. Another art that everybody whetted was their expertise with cards. Card games became an extremely popular sport and spread like plague in that 15 x 15 square feet space and later spilled over into the sector 22 polyclinic parking lot, onto scooter and car tops. Had it not been for our Ethics Committee (led by Jassi of ’91 batch) we would have certainly had some bridge and poker maestros by now.

Since everybody had so much time it made sense to use it for fruitful purposes including satisfying culinary and cosmetic needs. Everybody had new hairstyle and beard styles. Surds were becoming cut surds and girls caught up with their manicures. The restaurants in sector 22 got their share of business boom as every body had all the time to eat. Of note were the snack shop in Aroma, Lahorian di hatti and the Verka milk bar. And of course how can we forget that Diwali. That official ‘Black Diwali’ was the first time in life I actually celebrated Diwali with so many friends. Our tambu was very strategically located right in the midst of all the pathaka rehriwalas (the temporary rehris that come up in Sector 22 during Diwali), and having made their dough, most of them did not mind donating the left over crackers to us late that night. For all of us who were there that night it was a memorable day.

While the ‘ranks’ were having their kind of fun the ‘generals’ were enjoying their travails too. It finally boiled down to the count of number of times we had tea with the Governor, the Administrator, the Secretary and so on.

A final word for all the Adonis and Venus pairs that found their soul mates during this strike and who amidst the stresses of the strike, prof exams, PG entrance and life in general have persevered and stuck through. There were more than a few who started their relationship and stabilized and strengthened their bonds over time. These blossoms of love added a unique charm to our tough days.

Nevertheless, no matter what we think about our strike, we undoubtedly did achieve a lot from it. It taught us lessons at every step, brought out so many facets of our personalities, gave me so many new close friends, joined us – split us – and then rejoined us and above all brought us all together and gave meaning to our identity as ‘GMCites’.

Hemender Singh

(Class of '91)




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