M a d h o u s e:
True Stories of the Inmates of Hostel 4 IITB
Madhouse is a collection of about 187 true stories, mostly hilarious, experienced by residents of H4, IIT-B in the time period of 1975 to 1985, many of whom are respectable captains of industry, IT czars, politicians, Godmen, Yoga gurus, mountaineers today. Anecodtes narrated in the book cover an entire gamut of topics ranging from academic gaffes, wild adventures, ragging, mess food, eccentric and quirky behaviour, gaali fights, endsems, cogging, bunking lectures, creative pranks and some wild sensations. Nostalgic and fun. Rightly described as a colourful recollection of anecdotes from a black-and-white era.
The H4 book is titled MADHOUSE-True stories of the inmates of Hostel 4, IITB and has been published by the reputed Westland Publishers and Tranquebar Press. (A Tata enterprise). 335 pages (93,515 words, 32 photographs, 1 illustration). Priced at INR 295. Backjacket conatins review blurbs from noted columnist & author Bachi Karkaria, commentator Harsha Bhogle, former world billiards champion Geet Sethi and ex CM of Goa and H4 alumnus Manohar Parrikar. Royalty earnings from the book will be earmarked for funding H4 HATS and further earnings from sale of discounted books (which IITBAA has ordered) will be contributed equally to fund ALL hostel HATS initiatives.
Edited by acclaimed author Urmilla Deshpande, wife of Ashish Khosla, C83, B. Tech Mech.
Contributing editor: Bakul Desai, C82, B. Tech ChemE, Hyderabad, India
Stories contributed by 42 different writers. Collaborative effort from approximately another 100.
Madhouse is the result of a group effort by:
~ The members of the H4Madhouse group -
Abhay Dandekar, Abhay Patil, Abhiram Ranade, Aditya Srinivasan, Ajay Marathe, Ajit Limaye, Late Ajit Shelat, Akbar Khan, Amol Mahajani, Anil Bansal, Anil Kamath, Arun Gupta, Arun Jethmalani, Arun Kaul, Arun Wankhede, Arvind Kher, Ashanka Sen, Ashish Khosla, Ashvin Iyengar, Bakul Desai, Balaji Raghavan, Benoy Desouza, Birjoo Mehta, Chetan Chitnis, Christopher Fernandes, Clarence Pinto, CR Seetharam, Darsh Maheshwari, Deb Mallick, Deepak Avasare, Deepak Patil, Deepak Shah, Deepak Tiwary, Deven Waghani, Dinar Bhatkar , Edgar Dias, Gaurav Jain, Girish Shrotri, Hari Narayanan, Harishankar Ramachandran, Hasmukh Tavadia, Hemant Shah, Hemendra Godbole, Hiren Malankar, Homi Byramji, Huzefa Mehta, Jamal Kothia, Jayant Kulkarni, Jayesh Shah, Jiten Apte, Keith Rebello, Kenneth Robertson, Ketan Kapasi, Kishorebabu Kamatham, KY Philip, Madan Mohan Rao, Mahavir Meghawat, Mahesh Khandeparkar, Mahesh Navani, Mahiuddin Laskar, Makarand Gokhale, Manjunath Pai, Manohar Parrikar, Milind Kurve, Mukund Karwe, Nandakumar Saravade, Nandkishore Gotarkar, Narendra Chaudhari, Neville Nagarwalla, Nikhil Tikekar, Nilesh Mehta, Nilesh Shah, Nishad Kelkar, Nitin Apte, Parag Joshi, Paresh Vora, Pinakin Patel, Pradeep Fulay, Pradeep Mittal, Pradip Chavan, Pramod C, Prashant Khambekar, Prashant Shah, Praween Napate, Raghunath Iyer, Rahul Shukla, Raj Laad, Rajan Rao, Rajat Bansal, Rajeev Jorapur, Rajeev Potnis, Rajendra Adhye, Rajesh Devi, Rajesh Valia, Rajiv Deodhar, Rajiv Samant, Rakesh Kapoor, Ramanik Satra, Ramesh Chauhan, Ranjit Patwardhan, Ravi Krishnaswamy, Ravi Prakash, Ravi Shenoy, Rohan Menezes, Rustom Sethna, S Ketharaman, Sachin Chavan, Sampath Kannan, Sandeep Shah, Sandeep Tarkas, Sandeep Vichare, Sandeep Vijayakar, Sanjay Chavan, Sanjay Jagdale, Sanjay Kohli, Sanjay Kshetramade, Sanjay Pol, Sanjay Tamta, Sanjiv Samant, Sanjiv Sood, Santosh Madbhavi, Satish Baliga, Satish Joshi, Satyen Harve, Shailesh Sabnis, Sharad Prabhu, Sharookh Lashkari, Shashank Shah, Shekhar Bhide, Shekhar Jain, Shirish Dharmadhikari, Shirish Karmarkar, Shobhan Mondal, Shrikant Sathe, Shyam Arora, Shyam Bhat, Shyam Thosar, Sid Nag, Sohag Desai, Somnath Sinha, Soumitra Banerjee, Srinivas Kethavarapu, Subodh Mhaisalkar, Subodhan Gadgil, Sudhanshoo Maroo, Sudhir Bapat, Sudhir Mohan, Suketu Pandya, Sunil Majgaokar, Sunil Nikhar, Sunil Patil, Sunil V M, Sunil Waghamare, Surendra Sharma, Sutanu Sarkar, Tarang Thakkar, Tushar Chitre, Vasant Joshi, Vasant Limaye, Vasant Prabhu, Vasudev Gharpure, Vasudevan Ramanujam, Vibhash Patel, Vijay Desai, Vijay Nagasamy, Vijay Shah, Vijay Sukhadeve, Vijay Topkar, Vikram Gupta, Vikram Modak, Vinay Deodhar, Vinay Sane, Vinayak Godbole, Viraj Anavkar, Virendra Patel and Vivek Kura.
~ Prof. Chetan Solanki for lending us some rare photos from his “Punctuations”, a book of photographs published by IIT Bombay.
~ Sushma Gawande for her help in compiling the photographs from “Punctuations”.
~ PRO Jaya Joshi for permissions and access to her archives.
~ Damayanti Bhattacharya, COO IIT Bombay Alumni Association.
~ Members of the Board of Directors of IIT Bombay Alumni Association for their patronage.
~ Ram Kelkar and the IIT Bombay Heritage Fund for their patronage and web support.
~ Shridhar Shukla for the use of his K Talk facility for international conference calls.
~ Shirish Waghulde for his legal advice.
~ Pratulbhai from DSKN Associates for advice on royalties and copyrights.
~ Ajit Ranade for his network of contacts.
~ Devdas Kamath for his advice, guidance and support.
~ The graduating class of 1985 for gifting this book to their batchmates on the occasion of their Silver Jubilee Reunion.
~ Hemant Patel for gifting this book to all HATS donors.
~ The student volunteers of SARC (Student Alumni Relation Cell) for publicizing this book on campus.
I know it’s a cliché, but I’m going to say it, because it’s true: My five years at IIT were the best five of my life. We were between fifteen and seventeen when we started at IIT, and when we left, still raw, we were barely over twenty. These were our formative years. We were incubated in the furnace of IIT and shaped in the crucible of H4. Away from the protected and sheltered homes of our parents, thrown into a company of formidable peers and left to fend for ourselves in a high pressure environment, we grew up within our new family. With them we learnt to smoke without coughing on the same day we learnt about induction motors. With them we shared rooms, meals, bidis, beers, Playboys, lecture notes, and even girlfriends.
Ours was a quiet and self-contained world without internet or mobile phones. TV was a single black and white channel, grey in its minimal fare. We had no personal music players, either walkman or iPod, we trudged instead to the lounge where we played LPs on our communal turn table. We listened to whatever was available, and not necessarily of our choosing. We collaborated on projects, hand drew and hand painted everything, those of us lacking artistic talent were the organizational part of the team. We went on group hikes and treks, produced plays, played sports, invented entertainment from gaali spats to anti-chess.
Ironically, we were all learning technologies, the lack of which resulted in this bonhomie in the first place. For many of us, our nearest and closest friends are from those privileged times where we co-existed in a happy equilibrium despite our different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Time and professional commitments have flung us far across the globe, yet we remain united and bonded by virtue of our growing up together in a mutually beneficial cocoon.
From thirty years ago I knew Jiten Apte, three years my junior and famous for his demonic laughter which could awaken the sleepiest residents in neighbouring H5. Jiten and I re-connected at IIT’s formation day on 10th March, 2009. He told me he was in touch with Deepak Patil aka Boss. Anyone in H4 between 1972 and 1985 knew Boss. He is an H4 legend. Tall, bearded and with straight long hair that hung on his shoulders, Boss dominated all the fun proceedings at H4. Except for veteran mess worker Ramchandra More and hostel dog Blacky, no one else was as well known to ten batches of students as Boss. Jiten put me back in touch with him. I wrote him an email, and cc-ed five mutual friends. Boss replied, and added five more to the list. Everyone wrote back adding more of us H4ites to this list. Within a week, almost a hundred emails were exchanged with more than a hundred recipients added to our list. This led me to comment, “This has become a Madhouse. Let’s set up a yahoo group.”
Hilarious anecdotes from the past were exchanged. We all felt that these priceless memories should become a book. The nature of the book was not spelled out. It was still notional. It could as well have been a yearbook for our private circulation. Sandeep Shah, aka Sandhya was in India on business, and he and various Madhouse members visited H4 to take some photographs for this book. Among the photos were mess workers from our times. Most of us have risen to positions of excellence and achievement in our professions in these last thirty years. But the mess workers, now old and frail were still doing what they were doing all those years ago. Waiting tables for batch after batch of students who left to pursue their careers. It was a heart rending moment for all of us, and led to the formation of HATS-Hostel Alumni Team Stewardship, started originally by H7 alumni. Nostalgic and tearful alumni set up an endowment to look after mess workers’ interests and address infrastructure needs of the hostel. HATS was launched with great fanfare in December 2009. The book idea was put on the backburner temporarily, but revived during this same December reunion.
1983 graduates Ashish Khosla, Sanjiv Sood, and Arun Jethmalani met in Delhi and they talked about, among other things, Urmilla Deshpande, Ashish’s wife. Her first book, A Pack of Lies(Westland/Tranquebar) had just been published. Her second, Kashmir Blues (Westland/Tranquebar) was in the works, and a collection of short fiction. We asked, and Ashish assured us that Umi would be glad to help with our book.
I spoke to Umi in late March 2010. As Ashish’s wife, Umi was both an insider as well as not. She read some of our stories when she found Ashish chortling away at them. After reading a few more anecdotes I sent her, Umi was clear about one thing. Fictionalizing the anecdotes would take away from their charm. All our anecdotes were special and priceless because they were true stories. The audacity of Arun Kaul riding horseback to lectures and tethering the beast in a cycle shed would be construed as a fictional account in the novel form. Umi strongly advocated that we leave the stories in precisely the form they occurred - a collection of anecdotes narrated by different people in different voices.
This idea found favour with most Madhouse members. Umi also reported to us that to her amazement and delight, her publishers were not only interested, but had agreed to deliver on our impossible deadline - December 2010 - to coincide with IIT’s annual alumni day. If, that is, we submitted our manuscript by the end of June. This sounded like a daunting task at first, but the looming deadline induced all Madhouse members, even the silent ones, to write their memories in earnest, which finally led us to a new problem. We now had two hundred thousand words – twice what we needed for the book. Many folks worked hard at different tasks - compiling stories, arranging them by topic, providing Umi with background information wherever required. Many stories were authenticated, and in the event of any minor conflicting versions, the least common denominator has been used. Where possible, we sought permission from people named in the stories. Many of them whom today are successful politicians, entrepreneurs, heads of companies, scientists, professors, spiritual gurus, ace mountaineers, even yoga instructors, laughed about unflattering or damning references from thirty years ago and even supplemented our stories with their own outlandish accounts. In just a few cases, we have substituted real names with fictitious ones though the stories are very real and true.
These stories cover a timeline of less than ten years out of IIT Bombay’s chequered history which is more than fifty years old. Accounts cover just a few hundred individuals out of more than thirty -five thousand people believed to have graduated from IITB. The incidents narrated formed a small part of an IITan’s life-the time spent in the hostel and time devoted to having fun as a release from the high pressure academic sessions. References to indulgence in smoking, drinking, reading pornography or about experimenting with birds and bees should in no way take away the reality that an average student pursued his academics diligently and achieved all he is today.
Lastly, there was a debate about how much of our profanity to allow into the book. The verdict was unanimous. This is a collection of true stories, and like all true stories, the truth about this facet should also be left un-tampered with.
The proceeds from this effort go to the HATS fund.
- Bakul Desai
Dogs and cats were common enough pets, of course, in H4 as anywhere else. But then there was Arun-organic-chemistry-Kaul who actually had a horse he found somewhere. He would go for lectures to the MB (Main Building) on his horse and would park it in a cycle shed. The horse was his pet as well as his transport.
Westland got an award for Madhouse from Indian Publishers Forum for best production.
- Mid-Day-Baap of 3 Idiots
- IBN Live-Candid provocative narrative
- Financial Express-The wonder years
- Deccan Chronicle-Madhouse musings
- The HIndu-Between the covers
- Hindustan Times-Escapades from IIT
- Bangalore Mirror-Unmasalafied book
- Hindustan Times-Book sold for 1 Lakh
- IANS Book of the week
- Times of India-Kaul on a horse
- Verve-Dream Debuts
- John Cheeran's blog
- Book Lovers' blog
- The Tribune-Collection of comic cameos
The book is also available at the following online book vendor sites apart from all leading book stores in India.
Shekhar Bhagwat buys first copy of Madhouse for Rs. 1 lac. Arun Kaul rides a horse again after 35 years
Bakul, Harsha & Deepak enjoy the fun Shekhar signs the Madhouse billboard.