Saturday, 14 October 2006

Ragging lessons

Note (2013): I had written this post 7 years ago, to share my own ragging experiences, that were not traumatising to me. Since then, I have heard and read numerous testimonies of people who have been through harrowing experiences in the name of ragging. I agree completely that ragging is a terrible menace there is no justification for it, and should not happen. I think that people who "rag" their juniors are persons with inferiority complex or lack of self-confidence and sometimes even psychopaths. They require support from mental health professional.

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There are broadly two kinds of persons in the world, I thought to myself. Those who live surrounded by transparent shells and life’s woes seem to touch them lightly, leaving them to live in their blissful ignorance, and those filled with angst, their sensibilities weighed down by the injustice of it all, every experience leaving a burning hole in their souls. Probably Sujit Saraf belongs to that second group, I thought to myself, as I read his article on Tehleka about effects of ragging he received at IIT Delhi twenty years ago.

Actually his description of ragging is quite funny:

We did many things in that one month that now appear harmless and amusing. We stood on benches in the dining hall and recited the national anthem; we crawled on all fours and barked like dogs; we brought cigarettes and Campa Cola for our seniors; we cleaned their rooms; we dropped our trousers so they could measure our penises; we formed human trains — each car holding the penis of the car in front — and whistled our way through hostel corridors; we simulated orgies; stripped naked; then wore underpants over our trousers to turn ourselves into comic book phantoms.
The impact of these experiences are summed up by Sujit as, “After so many years, I can list all these forms of ‘ragging’ dispassionately, but no one should be misled. Brutality and oppression remain just that, no matter the name used for them… Ragging is a case study for Freud, nothing more.”

If Sujit belongs to the second group, I probably belong to the first. While he seems to have been traumatised by that experience, his words brought back many happy memories for me.

The first time I encountered ragging was when I went to submit some form at MAMC near Delhi Gate. A pimply seventeen, I was suddenly pulled into a small door at the side of their auditorium. Soon my pants were around my ankles and I was asked to wank. It was slightly embarrassing to admit but I didn’t know what wanking meant!

I knew the words all right, they were used often by boys, but I had no idea that you actually did something. Probably I was too busy day-dreaming or reading or playing, and though it had been many years that I had “wet dreams”, I hadn’t ever thought much more about it. I did have some vague basic ideas of what fucking entailed and that was my sex knowledge. I don't think that I thought kissing caused a women to become pregnant, but probably I was not so sure about it.

My raggers screwed up their noses but were not too surprised, apparently they had seen other ignorant boys like me before? Any way, I was shown the simple practicality of wanking and let off. I won’t bore you with the details of my experiments with that knowledge later that day, but just for that lesson alone, the word “ragging” brings a smile to my face.

The other lesson came in Meerut a few months later, in the hostel. Fifty or sixty boys, running around naked and doing hundred little things like the ones described by Sujit above, was an opportunity for close observation of the variations in that small appendage that is apparently supposed to the centre of men’s lives – the penis. It was the best cure possible for all those anxieties about is it too small, is it too long, is too thin or thick or whatever, that seems to afflict many of us. It did cure me of those anxieties any way. After the first two times of being naked with other boys, any sense of humiliation or shyness disappeared.

It was fun and a way to look at things that earlier, I didn't have the courage to ask or think about.

The third lesson was about female sexuality. Fed mainly on Hindi literature, where sex is hardly ever mentioned directly, I had an idea that sex was something pleasurable for men that was “tolerated or suffered” by women. Both, male and female students of the medical college had their “anthems” full of obscenities, and it was the women’s anthem that opened the magic door for me – sex could be something desired even by women!

Probably I can come up with some more lessons that I received from ragging that perhaps today’s generation won’t care about. I am sure that today’s twelve year old knows much more about sex than what I knew at seventeen. If they don’t know, perhaps internet is better medium to learn than other guys slightly older than them through ragging.

My parents never spoke to me about sex and with friends, one spoke about it but that was more to experiment with words and our developing identities as men, but at least, I was shy about asking any real questions. Years later, when I tried speaking about sex to my teenage son, I soon realised that he already knew much more about it and probably I could have learned somethings from him! How times have changed.

I know that some persons were really traumatised by that experience. One of our classmates, she left the medical college and went back to Delhi to join some other course.

***

7 comments:

  1. Hey!When and what did you study in Meerut?Lovely new colour of your blog.Reminds me of delicious Cappuccino.

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  2. I did my middle school in Meerut.Nice to hear the inside story of ragging in the boy's hostel.My brother was quite traumatised on his 1st day at Anna Univ. but didn't discuss it.I personally think ragging should be banned.

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  3. I think it is all in the way you look at it at hindsight. Some people look at it positively and learn something from the experience, while others cannot get past the sense of humiliation that one feels during the experience.

    But dont you think there is a vague line somewhere? I mean, I understand for you, it was a "learning experience" since you got to know about "plumbing" and such, but there was always the chance that one of your instructors would go overboard and indulge in some contact of some sort that would probably leave you scarred for life. That last mentioned is what leaves people with a bad taste.

    I lived in a hostel and in a way, 12 of us freshers were cut off from the rest of the freshers group by a imaginary boundry line (a flight of stairs actually). No fresher would venture past the flight of stairs unless asked to by one of the seniors, not because they were told not to, but they'd rather not. So for the first three months, the magnificient 12 go to know the seniors pretty well. Sure their was some ragging involved, but after the first month, it was mostly friendly banter.

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  4. how irresponsible to write such a trivialising thing Sunil.....at best, ur ignorant of the damage and death ragging had caused to so many. what a shelfish way to exist in life, as long as i got to learn few tricks, its all ok, no matter how others suffer under it? social responsibility is very low in our part of the world no wonder we have one of the largest population of poor and dispossed in this country...as long as i get something who gives a damn about the rest...huh ? and these are the educated people ???? Achcha !!!!

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  5. Dear anonymous, I am sorry if it seems that I am trivialising other people's experiences - that was certainly not my intention. It is true that I didn't go much into it in this post and I was well aware that ragging did end up in huge amount of pain and problems for some persons, like my classmate who left medical college. Yet, when I write I try to be honest with me, and I think that I did write it honestly. Getting naked and other things, were no big deal for me, they didn't leave me any scars. This does not mean that I am negating their power to scar other persons!

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  6. Your experience is not even close to the one mentioned in the stop ragging blog. How can you even compare? You cannot expect everyone to be like you. You say, "This does not mean that I am negating their power to scar other persons! " but you are doing that! What the hell is this supposed to imply: "If Sujit belongs to the second group, I probably belong to the first. While he seems to have been traumatised by that experience, his words brought back many happy memories for me."

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  7. रैगिंग के नाम पर बेल्ट और रॉड से की छात्र की पिटाई: ग्रेटर नोएडा
    Read More TodayNews18.com https://goo.gl/O08oDj

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