The Mother of All Hangouts - Back Post!


"Mystery for first years,
Tashan for second years,
Relaxation for third years,
Realization for final years."
                                          - Shashank Venkat Raman, NITR Alumni

I recently saw this lovely YouTube video of REC (now NIT) Rourkela's tryst with the famed "Back Post".

What can you say about Back Post that has not already been said in words and moving pictures?


If AV Hall was a letdown (initially), Back Post was the mother of all letdowns. Now, the manner in which the seniors had built it up to be the Elysian Fields of the college afterlife, even a modern-day Super Mall would have been a sore disappointment. In our fertile imagination, we had dreamed of a place full of exquisite possibilities - foods and wines, seventy-two virgins, sixty-four arts, nonstop entertainment and relaxation.

In reality, it was all of four kutcha bunk shops and a set of moth-eaten wooden benches, that passed off as seats. That's it. So what was the big deal? What sends the alumni, till this date, into a state of frenzy, and makes them horripilate at the very mention of those two words?

Well, the chai and alu chop at Panda babu's was, arguably, the best in town; Mahesh ji with his Maggi noodles and lucrative borrowing schemes and Gupta ji with his delectable home-cooked (but stingily served) food, helped us survive through four years of pathetic mess food.

And then there were the shops that sold Handia (country liquor), laundry services, groceries, and other accouterments.

But were these reasons enough to make Back Post the King of all hangout places?

Hell, YES!

You can't measure the importance of Back Post by taking it literally, for it was more than just the sum of its parts. It was a living, breathing, world of it's own, where the lives and livelihoods of people with different psycho-social underpinnings collided, rather gracefully.

It was the adda where people licked their wounds after a tough day at office; where love affairs, strategies for elections, and preparations for vacations, pungas, and campus interviews, were designed and consummated. It was where the very mission of REC - to bring peoples from all over India together - was realized, perhaps, more than at college itself.

Maybe that's why the alumni think back to it, so fondly. Back Post was akin to the attractive courtesan that we had our secret rendezvous with - some torrid affairs and others more platonic ones - while we cheated on the straight-jacket spouse, that the college had become. The library, classrooms, and labs didn't stand a chance, against her vivacity and compassion.

Watch this beautiful video (courtesy: Mahesh Nagwan), relive your Back Post days, and share your experiences on Back Post or whatever was your best hangout at college.

12 comments:

  1. Never got a chance to visit this exotic place called" Back post- probably one of the wonders of Rourkela. However, had a virtual tour of the place via the vivid description of the place through this blog. Well depicted Brags!! It is surely iny list of places to visit during our 2018 reunion. Let's relive it all over again...

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    1. Thanks, Sangeeta! Sure looking forward to the Back Post visit -- more than anything else -- during the 2018 reunion.

      Judging from the video about the continuing simplicity and charm of this place, I don't think you will be disappointed!!

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  2. @Puttindies:
    When I am among the first to post a comment, I am on familiar territory:)).
    Sangi beat me to get the top slot-must be the outcome of her hard running practice.

    You have succinctly captured the flavours (ok flavors for you American dudes and dudesses) and ambience of BP.
    “In our fertile imagination, we had dreamed of a Back Post full of exquisite foods and wines, seventy-two virgins, sixty-four arts, and nonstop entertainment and relaxation”.
    Very fertile imagination indeed, I should say. “Foods & wines” is alright. But seventy-two virgins!! It would have been a tough ask for them to hold on to their virginity in those surroundings.

    I agree with you that Panda’s was incomparable when it came to aloo chop and chai.
    I remember my first visit to back post. It happened at a time when ragging was still on and I must have been among the first lot of freshers to get initiated to that heaven.
    I had just received a sound thrashing from the then so-called “Mr.REC” and was feeling despondent. Prior to this incident, I had created a bit of flutter among the second year and third year seniors from my state by taking on the establishment and trying to offer some resistance.

    There was this group of final years from TN that took a fancy for me. I was beckoned to a room in Hostel-2 where these guys amused themselves at my expense-but it was all good-natured banter. They were all pretty solid, decent guys and, I suspect, were part of the informal anti-ragging group. Well, they managed to cheer me up in a short while and then asked me whether I had ever been to BP. I said it was out of bounds for freshers. Then they took me there. I could see other seniors staring at me disapprovingly but I was safely encircled by this final year quartet so there wasn’t much these other wolves could do.
    We had the famous aloo chop and chai at Panda’s. After days of eating at the hostel mess, this simple dish seemed so divine.
    I have since eaten “aloo bonda”, “batata vada” etc. at various places including at home but, honest-to-God, nothing even remotely close to Panda’s aloo chop. Then there was the “bara” which was modelled after the south indian “medu vada”. Although it was nothing like the soft and crispy “medu vada”, it had its own unique sour flavor which, in combination with “kala namak” tasted great.

    I heard from someone that Panda had unfortunately passed away a few years after our batch passed out. To add to the tragedy, his young son also died after he got bitten by a dog. I am filled with a tinge of melancholy even as I write this. Makes you wonder about life.

    In summary, BP was the place where I had profound, intellectual & philosophical discourses with S.N & Brags who were my soulmates from time to time. There was something about the place that brought out the philosopher in you. I guess BP has had a role in shaping my personality and in who I am today.

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    1. Well said Krishna!! As is often happening in these essays, better than I had hoped to convey!

      You said it really well Krishna! While temporal things like the taste of burra and aloo chop were certainly initial draws to Back Post, what got the repeat audience was certainly that "spiritual" nature of Back Post, isn't it?

      Yeah...sad to hear about Panda Babu's family. But, I felt happy seeing the rest of their family.

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    2. So.. back post was this meditative place for many of you.. very well written Puttu and Krishna!!

      We all want to connect with others as social beings and looking for a forum..Backpost was that forum for you guys back then...wapp is now for all of us.

      For us gals, back then it was LH terrace. With a cup of chai in our hand and surrounded by friends who always there to listen to you no matter what mood you are in were some of the best times. Many therapy sessions, which boy after which gal, which boy misbehaved, who visiting who and how many times were some of our common talks.. and before we knew it, those moments of giggling, crying, laughing tied us together as friends for life

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    3. Arre yaar .. was about to respond belligerently to Puttu's sundry blogs on back post, Keshtu etc .. which we were never privy to ..

      As usual , your essay made me smile with your humorously exotic image of an ordinary hangout .

      The little details of moth eaten benches interspersed with images of 72 virgins and sixty four arts... not to miss out on the specific illustration of an apsara giving a massage !!! Delightful :))...

      But Krish and jolly's memories have changed the mood to melancholic nostalgia ! What is it about old happy memories , casting a pallor of gloom ? Or is it just me ? It's not like I am not having a happy life now .. but why does the memory of those idyllic , younger days bring in so much melancholy ?
      Is it the thought of life's transience .. nothing remains constant .. nothing is for keeps ..

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    4. I think it's best to stick to mindless comedy ..

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    5. Thanks for the feedback Rachna!!

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    6. ".. but why does the memory of those idyllic , younger days bring in so much melancholy ?
      Is it the thought of life's transience .. nothing remains constant .. nothing is for keeps .. "

      (surprised look)

      In the words of Rajnikant, "yes, yes!!"

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    7. "I think it's best to stick to mindless comedy .."

      "Yes, yes"

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  3. Kitne Admi The.. Kitne Chai The.. Kitne Ghante the .. Countless.. Adaa is lesser word.. If we had attendance register at Back-post, would have got honors every semester in attendance.. Behind back-post was a village that was servicing "aandiya" during summer times.. Had to stay healthy enough..so such anti-biotic was absolutely needed.. During certain holidays when not going home, back post was savior on food as mess was closed.. It became refreshing five star menu for those weeeksss.. Potol and Daal.. Pyaaz Fry and Omelette was bonus items..


    Backpost taught us more than what classroom taught.. Who gives credit in class without learning while backpost always was ready to give "Khaata" (pay it later.. In tamil "Gandhi Kanakku") after those tasty tea, aloo chop, kachaudi, etc.. Wah re Wah.. Chothu, Panda Babu, etc..

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    1. Lovely Abou! You are on a roll...Had the last say on all the blogs:-)))! Agree on Back Post's preeminence...and sorry for underplaying it ;-)!!

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