BlogchatterA2Z ~ Of Yams and Yearbooks

It was the first week in college. I remember I was feeling quite hot after having walked back from the Insti after class at 1pm. The daily walking to and from the Insti in the August heat was taking a toll. Not having eaten anything after breakfast at 8 in the morning, I was also quite ravenous. As I walked into the mess, I was hoping that there would be a decent vegetable curry for lunch. Though I was not a fussy eater like another friend, I still wasn’t totally comfortable with the food. My tastebuds were still adapting to the peculiarity called mess food.

Taking the plate from the mess bhaiya, I sank into the first available chair and ran a critical eye on the mess table. There was dal, rasam and a bowl of dry aloo sabzi. My face lit up. Aloo sabzi was my favourite, and the one in the bowl looked delicious. Roasted with cumin, it was a perfect golden brown in colour. My heart did a little jig. I was finally going to lunch well. Even if the rotis were half-baked (as they usually were), the subzi would be enough to sustain me till dinner time. Picking up the serving bowl, I dumped a heap on my plate. Eagerly, I shovelled a spoonful into my mouth and immediately almost spat the whole thing out.

“This is no aloo!” Screamed my tastebuds.

As I gulped some water to wash away the taste from my mouth, looking at the mountain of that vile subzi on my plate, a senior sitting across leaned over and said, “It is yams!”. The sneaky mess cook would cook the yams in exactly the same way as potatoes to fool us. That day, I trashed food for the first time in my life. A friend did show a trick later to eat yams by dousing them in ketchup so that they kind of tasted like chips. However, my tastebuds revolted at eating that combination too.

From that day onwards, if any vegetable in the mess looked like potatoes, I would first take a trial bite before dumping the whole lot on my plate!


In BITS Pilani, every batch had its yearbook, compiled by the yearbook committee. The pattern of the yearbook used to be the same. It would be pictures of the students, details like IDs etc., and a few short lines about them. The students were organised according to their discipline. For people doing dual, like me, it was the first degree that counted. So my entry in the yearbook is with the batch I joined BITS Pilani with, not the batch I passed out ( a year later).

The short write-ups were what we had the most fun with. The whole wing would come together to create a write-up that would, on the surface, feel as if we were praising the student, but in truth, we would try to be roasting them.

A few years back, I dug out my yearbook to show it to my children. They were not impressed by the big hardbound book, full of black and white passport photos of people they had never met, and ran off to play. I was left behind, sitting on the bed, flipping through the pages. As I read through the write-ups, I chuckled at the references to individual idiosyncrasies and hidden references to boyfriends/girlfriends. How hard we had tried to be witty and how miserably we had failed. Plus, most of us looked awkward in our passport photos. Our faces still retaining traces of teenage gawkiness. Not to mention that most of us were anyway, certifiably nerds at that time.

The yearbook used to be a repository of memories. Most of us used to get our yearbooks signed by our friends and batchmates. In the hope that etching their names in the yearbook would etch that person too in our memory.

I sighed, seeing photos of friends who were once so dear to me. And whom I am now barely in touch with. I remembered the good bits, the laughter, the fun, the gossip, the teasing. When our whole lives were ahead of us, and the world waiting to be conquered by us. I don’t even know how or where some of them are. Will I be able to recognise them if I bumped into them in the street? I do not know the answer. For now, my memories would have to suffice.

My yearbook is in Dehradun, but hubby dearest has a soft copy of his yearbook in the dropbox. His copy of the yearbook was a great help in my attempt to write the A2Z of BITS Pilani.

This post has been written as part of #BlogchatterA2Z where all through the month of April I will be writing about BITS Pilani.


I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z.

Psst. My book “Xanadu: Three Souls Searching For Their Paradise” is now available on Amazon, do check it out!

17 thoughts on “BlogchatterA2Z ~ Of Yams and Yearbooks

  1. It’s so humorous the way you have described the food called “Yam”. I remember my mom cooking it as it was called zimikand and I found it disgusting even then. But alas with mom you had a choice of rejecting it and eating alternatives. But in mess we found a way to escape yam by choosing extras (aloo or anda).

    Memories of the college were forever captured in the yearbook. Such humorous write ups and the glossary at the end of it that helped with many titles in your blog posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lol, I’ve lived away from home for many years for education and then jobs, so I know that feeling of missing homemade meals. That ketchup trick does work by the way, and there’s also another one where we used to sprinkler age-old saviour the ‘bhujia’ over anything that tasted vile or rather tasted nothing at all. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The incidence of “Yams” in the very first week of hostel life was a natural training of adjustability in life is utmost essential requirement to lead in an efficient manner. Whereas the Year Book is a systematic collection of memories and is a superb document to be retained by the individuals.
    It’s a matter of happiness you are sharing your experiences in in an excellent form and keeping it as a soft copy.
    Dr. S. K. Nanda

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Since the beginning of this season you’ve spoken about being a nerd. You must listen to a lovely poem dedicated to nerds by Megha Rao.
    I also understand why your children ran off when you opened the yearbook and why you sat with it for hours together.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You know my dad recently met up with a school friend who he had known only for 2 years and hasn’t had any contact with in some 40 odd years. They spouses met too and they had such a good time! Throughout their meeting, I kept hoping they’d gel well 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I just brought back my year book from my Mom’s after moving back to India and during the lockdown, I was flipping through its pages and wondering about the witty intros that our pictures carried! It was a lovely memory of sitting down together to create them for us and our friends.

    I love roasted yams that my Mom makes, which I have learned to make now to the same taste as hers I do not remember the yam from the mess. Guess, I managed to avoid it without even being consciously aware of it I guess. There were a few other sabji’s I never served on my plate because they looked shady in the presentation!

    Liked by 1 person

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