With all of the haps and mishaps in and around the REC campus, it was easy to lose sight of the goings-on around the world.
These were the rambunctious nineties, you know. There were just so many twists and turns to the tale, bedecked by a litany of explosive events and emotions, and enacted by awfully colorful personalities, that I wouldn't know where to begin!
1991 and 1992, will take the cake for being the worst years of the nineties, all-around.
In mid-1991, India was embroiled in a "balance-of-payments" crisis - an obscurantist way of saying, "we were totally screwed"! Our foreign exchange reserves had touched rock bottom, allowing us barely three weeks of imports.
It must have been insulting. We, apparently, had to air-dash two hundred plus metric tonnes of gold as guarantee to European banks, so that they could lend us money.
Rajiv Gandhi had just been assassinated by Sri Lankan militants that led to further political instability for years.
Small solace for Bachchan (or was it?) that, Rajnikant, his southern comrade, the dark-n-flamboyant-conductor-turned-sambhar-superstar (as magazines in India characterized anyone from the South; throw in some regionalism and xenophobia, sprinkle it with upper-class culinary contempt, and bake and ferment it into six hyphenated words that will elicit a few laughs from Greater Kailash and Cuffe Parade; if I had made it big, I would have been called the "'Ayyayyoo'-Idli-hogging-South-Madras-engineer" or something like that)...where is my sentence?! Let me start all over. Rajnikant was rising to the zenith of stardom, essentially remaking all of Bachchan's yesteryear hits.
In the fickle world of sports, the pathetic nineties had just started. The honeymoon from the World Cup and Benson & Hedges WCC victories of the eighties was decisively over, right after that last-ball six from Dawood Ibrahim's future sambandhi.
The less said about other sports the better. We blanked the medal tally for the third time in a row at the 1992 summer Olympics, precipitating a national crisis and a billion lamentations on print that destroyed half of Finland's forests.
By the time, we graduated from college in 1993, there was not much to look forward to. The nation was in a political cauldron, our finances were weak, the job scene was bleak, scams were breaking out at the frequency of soora thengais in a Madras temple...
Well...not everything was bad, though.
During the college years, we lived through a uni-channel, monochrome, Doordarshan situation. All that changed within a couple of years, when the cable boom brought the world to our living rooms. The rest as they say is "Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi".
So, what do you remember about the happenings during college? Events? Politics? Leaders? Sporting heroes? Movies?