It was the decade when youngsters rocked to the rhythms of ABBA and BoneyM, Bryan Adam’s ‘Summer of 69’ had just gone viral.
The ‘Class of 1987’ of College of Engineering, Trivandrum (CET), can perhaps rightfully lay claim to many firsts.
The fellowship of 450 ‘old students,’ who passed through the portals of the institution in 1987, was the first batch of engineering students selected through an entrance test in the State.
Then CET was a sprawling campus, with more of wilderness than students, teachers, vehicles or buildings. Often hostellers startled porcupines, wild hares, civet cats, snakes and roosting birds when they slipped out of the campus at night.
Then, mobile phones, satellite television and internet were still in the realm of science fiction.
It was the decade of Doordarshan, boxy cathode ray tube-based television sets linked to unsightly “directional antennas” set on top of long metal poles on rooftops, Asian Games, Ramesh Sippy’s ‘Buniyad’ and Ramanand Sagar’s ‘Ramayan’ (both popular television serials of the time). Students exchanged music cassettes and played them on portable stereo sets. DVDs, pen drives, desk top computers and laptops would arrive only a decade later.
A calculator was considered a luxury and engineering students carried T-scales to college, an instrument that accorded them an elevated status in the student community.
It was the decade when youngsters rocked to the rhythms of ABBA and BoneyM. Bryan Adam’s ‘Summer of 69’ had just gone viral and many remember the long queues in front of Sree Kumar and Sree Visakh theatres to watch ‘Extraterrestrial,’ ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and the ‘Star Wars’ science fiction trilogy.
Citizens had to wait interminably for cooking gas and land phone connections. People made money by booking cars and two-wheelers, luxuries they would never buy, to sell it for a margin to the few who could afford them.
In the 1980s, the CET had its share of good and bad news for newcomers. Organised ragging characterised campus life. For a fresher, it was a painful and humiliating coming of age ritual. Some looked forward to it. Most in the 1987 batch detested the practice. They formed apolitical unions, perhaps for the first time in the college, to oppose “organised ragging” “tooth and nail.”
The girl students set another “historical” precedent by creating a “sartorial revolution.” They popularised Salwar and Kameez, much to the chagrin of their parents and teachers. They argued that the North Indian dress offered them more liberty to make individual fashion and mood statements than perhaps traditional Kerala wear did. The dress also accorded them more freedom of movement.
After 25 years, the ‘Class of 1987’ is organising a reunion on July 28 and 29 in the city. The alumni association has urged its members to contact phone 94470 77464, 94425 27215, 94955 69022 for more details.
The alumni will revisit their campus, sit in their old classrooms, remember old pranks, jokes and embarrassments and pay respects to their retired teachers.