Varanasi Again – 65: The corridors of the past

We walked past the atrium with the guard desk, or the reception, on our right side, the entrance to the corridor which housed the Preventive Medicine department and the Institute library at the end of it, on our left, and the main corridor of the institute, the spinal cord, the hollow bowel of the building which led to all the departments straight ahead. To the extreme right were the offices of the institute, including the Director’s, the Dean’s and the Registrar’s. This was one place we rarely visited, and prayed that we would not have to visit more than a couple of times during our stay in the college.

The main corridor on the ground floor housed a few departments, the most notable of which was the Anatomy department which is where our baptism into the field of medicine actually began. The dissection hall, or DH, or the hall of the dead, lay on the right side near the very end of this corridor. However, the absolute end of the corridor was reserved for another equally ghastly branch of medicine dealing with the dead – the Forensic medicine department.

Right in the middle of this corridor, on the ground floor as well as on the first and second floors, on the right side, lay the Institute Lecture Theatres, or ILTs as they were called. These ILTs were the places where the didactic lectures for the undergraduate students, read MBBS students, were held. The ILTs were designed like an amphitheatre, with the seats for the students at different levels and the instructor or the professor standing in the well, and reminded one of the Colosseum when one entered it for the first time, but that is where the similarity ended. They were quite spartan in their furnishings back in our times, the seats being wooden, and air-conditioning non-existent.

The medium of communication in the ILTs was a black, or green, board and chalk, and sometimes just the chalk flung like a missile at the napping student. And I must say our teachers had got quite the hang of it, having had to practice the art of chalk launching for generations. The missile, more often than not, landed with unwavering accuracy at the poor bummers head, or torso, wherever it was aimed, and always drew peals of laughter from the other, more observant students who had a good time at the expense of the poor sleep-deprived student. I must say I myself have been at the receiving end of such missiles for quite a few times when I dozed off during the lectures of anatomy, or physiology, or biochemistry.

Our Alumni function was proposed to be held in one of the ILTs, ILT-1 to be accurate, and we were all curious to see if the ILTs were the same or there were any changes in them since we last saw them. And as we turned the bend in the corridor, and entered into the lecture theatre we saw that the ILT had indeed been transformed, but not much. The structure, and the spirit of the classroom was the same, although a few cosmetic changes had been effected in the appearance of the room. The seats for the students were cushioned now, and the room air-conditioned. The blackboard had been replaced by a composite teaching appliance which had a green board (for use with the flying missile if one wished to do so) on one side, and a touch enabled computer screen on the other side. The computer screen could be used for presentations, or as a smart board to draw arduous diagrams which had the stupendous power to lull the students to sleep without fail.

To be continued …………………

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The Battle of Panchavati and Other Stories from Indian Scriptures
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By Divya Narain

Additional Professor in Plastic Surgery, doting father, loving husband, newbie author. Love travel and literature. Love reading religion, politics and history!

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