Under Lock and Key

Posted: March 15, 2013 by Jinkchak in RVCE, RVCE CSE, Short Stories
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

personalized-fairy-tale-book-lge-356x442There I was, back in September, 2009 AD – mounted on a wall in the main canteen of RVCE, along with others that resembled me, for, you see, we were all arranged in a rectangular grid with yours truly in the topmost row. Just like my companions, I was painted green all over and a unique number was imprinted on my door. However, only my two neighbours and I weren’t in possession of any locks whatsoever. Thus, our doors were free to rotate about their hinges and our innards were empty. Little did we know that our freedom would be short-lived and that we would join our captive companions in the not too distant future!

In order for you, reader, to understand who I am and why I say this, you need to sit down (if you aren’t already) and allow me to tell you a tale like none you have ever heard before.

live withoutAccording to the rules set down by the powers that be, students are forbidden from carrying mobile phones (yes, those gadgets you just cannot live without anymore) to class. Some choose to take this rule with a pinch of salt and I can’t say I blame them – they are so attached to their phones that one might wonder whether they had made a vow along the lines of “till death do us part”. There are others, however, who are extra-cautious and follow all rules to the letter and don’t carry their phones to college itself. A few like to live on the edge and hence, carry their phones to class just for the heck of it.

CELL PHONE LOCKER PICTURES 2What about those who carry their phones to college but do not wish to carry them to class? What about those who carry their phones to class until they receive rumours of an impending mobile-phone raid? Where do they keep their phones, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked. That’s where I come into the picture – say hello to your friendly neighbourhood Mobile-Phone locker!

Now that you possess adequate knowledge of my identity, allow me to proceed with my tale. Rewinding to that fateful day in September, 2009 AD – I was just beginning to enjoy my new-found freedom when I descried the author of the Jinkchak Blog moving towards the rectangular grid, of which I was a part. It was his first day at RVCE and he had bestowed upon himself the objective of finding a locker for his mobile phone – apparently, he didn’t want to take any chances with the authorities.

combo lock

godrejHe came up to the grid and after a moment of contemplation, he picked me to be the keeper, so to speak, of his most prized possession. He fastened my door with a 6-lever Godrej lock. Now, in my tenure as a locker, I had come across all kinds of locks – small and big Chinese locks; combination locks; fake locks; and small Godrej locks. But, I hadn’t come across a 6-lever Godrej lock till that fateful moment.

Music-music-31055637-1920-1200Without fail, he dutifully gave me his phone every morning for safekeeping, and retrieved it at the end of a day’s work. There would always be some phone or the other in the vicinity that hadn’t been kept in silent mode. So, all day long, my senses were filled with ringtone music and vibrations, the sources of which lay nearby. Oh! Without music, how very drab and boring my daily life would have been…apart from the conversations, but I’ll get to that later.

multipleYes, there were times when I was bestowed with the responsibility of storing more than one phone at a time. This scenario usually occurred when rumours as well as true horror stories of mobile-phone raids were floating around the campus. This was perhaps the only time when all day-scholars remembered my existence. During this auspicious occasion, I was often overloaded with phones, left, right and centre.

Even though I tried my utmost not to eavesdrop on conversations that took place in my vicinity, I couldn’t help overhearing them.

squad

One story was about a person (whom I’ll refer to as Bond James hereafter) who happened to be in a class that the mobile-raid squad had handpicked for raiding. Unfortunately, he received this piece of intelligence only when the squad paid a surprise visit to that class.

The leader of the squad said something analogous to: “All those in possession of phones, please hand them over. You know you are not supposed to carry phones to class. We’ve reminded you repeatedly. Please hand them over. We have a very particular set of skills – skills we have acquired over a very long career. If you hand over your mobile phone, that’ll be the end of it. We will not look for it, we will not pursue you. But if you don’t, we will look for it. We will find it and we will rusticate you.”

Bond James was literally trembling. He didn’t know what to do. A few students owned up. Others sat tight, assuming they were invincible. As the thought of surrendering crept into his mind, Bond suddenly saw the light at the end of the tunnel. As luck would have it, he was sitting in the first bench of the class. Luckily, the squad chose to first frisk the back-benchers.

This gave Bond ample time to put his plan into action. Trying his best to avoid calling attention to himself, he took his phone out of his pocket and slid it into the gap between his foot and the insole of his left shoe. (All the while, Bond could hear students being caught red-handed.) No sooner had he completed this feat than the leader came up to him and asked him to empty his pockets and his bag. Bond did as ordered, all the while trembling and hoping that he wouldn’t be caught red-handed.

Once the leader had completed his investigation of Bond’s belongings, he said “You look like you have something to hide, don’t you?”

“Nnnn..no, sir,” stammered Bond as beads of perspiration trickled down his forehead.

After a moment or two of silence:

“Well, consider yourself lucky this time. You may not be so lucky next time.” Saying that, the leader left Bond to gather his possessions and put them in their rightful places.

“Phew! That was a close call,” said Bond to himself.

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LostKeysOne cold morning in December, 2009 AD, I overheard a heated conversation between two individuals, which went something like this:

“I share this locker with you. I give you the only key I have, and all I ask you to do is keep it safe. And WHAT DO YOU DO? YOU GO AND LOSE IT! YOU LOSE THE ONLY KEY FOR THIS LOCK!!!” screamed one of them.

“I’m really sorry, dude. It was an honest mistake,” said the other one, almost in a whisper.

“MISTAKE!!! MISTAKE!!! ARE YOU KIDDING? HOW CAN YOU MAKE A MISTAKE? I wouldn’t have minded so much if you had made this mistake when our phones weren’t in the locker. BUT NOOO!! You just had to go and lose the key when our phones were inside that locker.”

“I told you I’m sorry. We’ll think of something.”

“Well. Think fast. I need that phone, you nincompoop.”

“Let’s break the lock.”

“People will think we are thieves.”

“Let’s do it when no one’s around. It’s a blessing in disguise that that locker is in the parking lot and not in this canteen. Breaking locks in the canteen is risky business.”

“Ok. You do it since you’re the one who lost the key.”

“Ok. I’ll do it.”

“Fine.”

And with these words, they parted ways.

I know not what events ensued. The next day, there was a group of students peering at a locker in the parking lot, near the entrance of the campus. It had been brutally disfigured and no one knew who the culprits were.

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facebook classfacebook class 3If memory serves me well, nothing much happened in the period between January, 2010 AD and around December, 2010 AD except for one noteworthy incident. There were students who carried their phones to class to take photos (and upload them to Facebook) and listen to music, besides messaging. In my owner’s class in the CS department, one of his comrades (whom I’ll refer to as Dalvik, for convenience) had taken another comrade’s (whom I’ll refer to as Spring, for convenience) phone and was browsing through the music playlist while a lecture was in progress in the class. Due to facebook class 4a slip of his finger, he hit the play button while traversing this list and which song should play at full volume but “Sheila ki Jawaani”! After fumbling with the controls for a few seconds, he turned off the music but the damage was already done. Everyone, including the lecturer, had heard it. Thankfully, the lecturer was good-hearted enough to smile and pretend that this incident had never occurred.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

sawIn the latter part of 2010 AD or the beginning of 2011 AD (I cannot recall which), the college authorities decided that it was about time that each department had mobile phone lockers. (Did I mention that the lockers in the canteen and the parking lot were being shared by all the students of all the departments of RVCE? No? Well, I’m mentioning it now.). Students were informed of this decision and were asked to remove their locks from the lockers in the canteen and the parking lot. I found out that I would be moving to the IS department and my friends in the parking lot would be moving to the CS department (my owner’s department). After having such a good rapport with my owner, I couldn’t bear to witness its conclusion. I waited to meet him for one last time.

A week after the announcement, the lockers in the parking lot were removed. Those locks that hadn’t been removed yet were sawn off. After all the lockers were free of any attachments, they were painted brown and moved to the CS department. I received intelligence confirming that my owner had chosen a new keeper for his prized possession as soon as these lockers were fitted in his department – apparently, he had another 6-lever lock.

I waited for him to retrieve his lock from me. Alas! He never turned up even when I was dismounted and carried to the IS department. Two weeks went by in a flash, and he still hadn’t turned up. The day on which the sawyers were to saw off the remaining locks, of which his was one, finally arrived. I later heard that he was extremely busy but I hoped that he would come before his lock was destroyed.

The sawyers began sawing off the locks, one by one. My turn was fast approaching. My owner still hadn’t turned up. It was finally my turn. His lock was sawn off and its remains were put into a plastic bag, along with the other degraded locks. I was free at last, though I didn’t feel quite as cheerful as I would have been in an alternate timeline. I was disappointed for his loss.

Soon, I was painted and mounted on a wall in the IS Department. I got a new owner. It was a new beginning in my life. One month went by before I spotted my previous owner. He went to the office adjacent to my location, to enquire about the condition of his old lock. He was given the plastic bag of locks from which he retrieved the remains of his once-dear lock, now in ruins. He took the remains and went away, completely oblivious of the fact that his old keeper was right behind him. That was the last time I ever saw him…

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beagle-boysBefore I bid farewell, let me recount to you an incident that occurred not too long ago, in the civil department. When students reach their final year in RVCE, they cease to be bothered with mobile phone raids – “Raids are only for juniors” is the general consensus.

However, there were a few who still preferred not to test their luck. This group included those who used lockers to prevent their phones from being stolen. One of them was a guy, fondly known as Ghajinikanth, from the civil department. He had recently purchased a Sony Xperia phone, and in order to thwart all attempts to steal his phone, he meticulously placed his phone in his locker in his department every day. One fine day, he went up to his locker as usual to retrieve his phone. What he saw left him flabbergasted! The door of his locker had severed all ties with its former location; in short, it had been unhinged. Ghajinikanth’s locker was wide open and his phone had vanished (into thin air)! Two other lockers nearby were in the same sorry state of affairs.

cell phone lostGhajinikanth scrutinized the vicinity for any suspicious characters lurking nearby, but apparently, the thieves were long gone with the loot. Ghajinikanth headed to the nearest police station to file a complaint and to block his number.

A few months have elapsed since then, and the phone hasn’t been recovered yet. What is RVCE coming to? Even lockers aren’t safe these days!! So much for abiding the rules and keeping phones in lockers…

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Lockers in the CS Department. Which number is yours?

Lockers in the CS Department. Which number is yours?

chinese lockNow and then, I get news about the lockers in the CS department. About a year ago (in January, 2012 AD) one of my previous owner’s friends attached a small Chinese lock to a locker. While he was attempting to open that lock, the key broke in half and a part of it still remains wedged inside the lock. Needless to say, the lock is still locked and that locker’s innards haven’t seen the light of day ever since. To this day, that lock remains untouched…

In other news, my previous owner seems to have a friend who is adroit at picking combination locks without trying all combinations.

On a different note, here’s a small piece of advice to CS Students: During your SEE (Semester-End-Exams), if your exam hall does not lie within the walls of the CS department AND if your exam is from 2 PM to 5 PM, then keep your phones anywhere but in your locker. If you do keep your phone in your locker, then ensure that you finish your exam at least fifteen minutes before 5 PM and then, rush (as if there is no tomorrow) to retrieve your phone, for if you do not, then rest assured that you will not see your beloved phone for the next day or two, and you owe it all to the fact that this department, for some reason unbeknownst to me, absolutely loves to shut its doors to humans as early as possible! Mark my words!

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I must not forget to mention the bizarre occurrence that took place in the first week of March, 2013 AD. The mobile phone squad paid a surprise visit to the 8th semester (yup, you read that right – it’s 8th semester alright) students of the Chemical Department. Well, there’s always a first time for everything. RVCE never ceases to amaze me!

Some new sources from the ECE department brought to my notice the following piece of news. One fine day in 2013 AD, an 8th semester student was walking with a gloomy look on his face. Every few minutes, he kept asking himself aloud, “Why? Why did this have to happen to me of all people? Do I deserve this?”

He had asked these supposedly rhetorical questions at least half a dozen times, when, out of the blue, he heard a voice ask, “What happened?”

On turning around and discovering that the owner of that voice happened to be another 8th semester student from his department, he took a deep breath before he said, “I lost my cell phone in a raid today.”

“Why do you even bother attending classes in 8th semester? To attend IPR? You’ve gotta be kidding…To lose your cell phone? Well, that makes more sense!”

“When did I say I went to class? The raid occurred in a corridor of our blessed department.”

“WHAT!!” cried the other student in astonishment. “ARE YOU SERIOUS?”

“Of course I am! Do I look like I’m in the mood for joking? I was just waiting to get a signature from my project guide and before I could say ‘Jack Robinson’, the mobile squad came to me and I don’t know what happened, but they confiscated my phone. It happened so quickly that I didn’t realize what had happened until they had left.”

“Holy crap! Look on the bright side. You can tell the squad to return your cell phone after you complete engineering, and that’s only a few months away! There’s no need to write apology letters or for numerous visits to the HOD.”

And with those words, they parted ways, wondering why RVCE chose to trouble them during their last few months at RVCE.

mobile raid

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It’s a shame that lockers are allotted on a first come, first served basis only and that each student of each department doesn’t get an individual locker. Since the credentials of the owners of the lockers aren’t tracked, many times, non-final-year students have to hope against hope that final year students choose not to leave their footprints behind in the form of their locks when they leave college. Unless, of course, the authorities saw off inactive locks occasionally, and that, again, requires some system of tracking. If RVCE doesn’t lift the ban on phones in classes (Personally, I don’t wish for this for the simple reason that I will be rendered useless if this ban is lifted) and if RVCE doesn’t provide more lockers (meaning that there is a scarcity of lockers in the future); then perhaps some personages who own those lockers might get the idea of leasing out those lockers to innocent students. We could be looking at a whole new era of racketeering right within RVCE. Oh! I shudder at the thought! What RVCE needs is a One Locker Per Child (OLPC) scheme, for we are all children at heart, aren’t we? Oh! Forgive me for allowing my imagination to run wild!

With that, I come to the end of my (fairy?) tale. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I had fun writing it. Who knew that a mobile phone locker like my good self could have such a long and eventful history?

I will never forsake these memories for anything in the world. And the thing is, after all these years, I still look back with wonder…

Certain as the sun
Rising in the East
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme

-Tale As Old As Time

“The ides of March are come. Aye, Reader, but not gone”And here’s wishing y’all a wonderful Ides of March!

Disclaimer: All images used in this article are the properties of their respective owners.

Comments
  1. a guy who didnt get to be secret agent for jickchak ECE operations says:

    as usual jickchak.. u forget ece.. y this bias against us.. in our dept cell phones wer raided from us(8th semester students) from corridors of our dept.. here is the joke which was heard aftr this incident
    stud1(8th sem): I lost my cell phone in a raid:(
    stud2(8th sem): y did u bother goin to class in 8th sem? to atend IPR? dont be kidding.. to loose ur cell phone would make more sense
    stud1(8th sem): wen did i say i went to class.. raid happened in corridors of our dept.. i was just waiting to get sign from my project guide
    stud2(8th sem): holy c**p 😐 buddy u can say give my cell after my engineering which is only few months more instead for apology letters and numerous visits to HoD :/

    after such a pathetic incident.. u forget to mention(or deliberately forget) in a post dedicated for cell phones or u dont have clue abt this(in which case i blame ur secret agents in our dept)

    • Jinkchak says:

      I can’t tell you how very sorry I am! I had no clue about this incident. I am grateful that you brought this event to my notice. I can assure you that if I knew about this incident earlier, I would never have “deliberately” forgotten to mention it. To show you how sorry I am, I have included your report of this “pathetic” incident in this article and I have also highlighted it in red. I do hope you will accept my apologies and if you have any other incidents to share, please do so by writing to my Facebook Profile (Rvce Cse) OR by writing to rvce.cs.b.2013@gmail.com

  2. […] solely to these lockers, which were memorable in their own right, is already available here: Under Lock and Key. You’d be surprised at how simple lockers could be the source of so many […]

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