Home 2022 The Word is Grease

The Word is Grease

by Harish Acharya
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This was our fifth year.  Knowing that we’d disperse the following year, we maximized the fun aspect of our hostel and wing life – in the silliest of ways (looking back).  We all wore saffron lungis that year and most of us donned beards.  Raja shaved his head in a Mohawk – that’s Raja!

Alfred, that athletic footballer, returned from home one weekend with a pin in his nose. He had sawed off the one ‘leg’ of the pin and fit it perfectly around his columella. With his frizzy hair and his largish flared nose he looked like some tribesman from Africa.  Much to our amusement the pin became part of his jewelry whenever he was in the wing.

It just kept getting stranger and stranger.  The phrase “The word is grease” got coined (perhaps at the inter-IIT meet that year) and was used frequently in the wing especially while guys played bridge and somebody got finessed.

On the last day of MI 82, we were hanging out in the wing and Alfred put the ring on his nose.  With his saffron lungi and bare chest, he looked like a sadhu, and was promptly named ‘Grease Baba’.  One has to do something with a Baba, but what? Before long we were out on a procession from H8 A wing 2nd floor towards the Gymkhana where the concert was going on.  Alfred kept a straight serious face,  eyes rolled up as though in a deep trance, nose flared, pin on.

A veritable religious cult figure, flanked by his “disciples”, one of whom  held an umbrella over him for added effect.  There were guys in front of him clearing the path for the approaching holy man. And guys behind him all shouting alternatingly, “Grease Baba ki Jai!” and “The word is Grease!”  By the time we reached the Gymkhana grounds more of our hostel mates had joined and we had a good 15-20 people in our procession.  The non-IIT crowd looked bewildered and didn’t know if this was a prank or whether some crazy religious group had come to MI.

We proceeded to the Main Building. We still had our procession going strong with guys singing bhajans and the two chants in between with total enthu.

When we reached MB, Grease Baba was offered a chair.  Grease Baba looked very serious as he sat, as though in deep meditation, and we all played our part to keep it going.  By now we had attracted some of the local non-student folks around us too.  They must have thought that a religious figure had indeed come to the campus.  Two lads, perhaps about 10-12 years old, were standing next to me.  One asked the other as he pointed to Grease Baba, “Paai padaicha ka?” [Should we prostrate and touch his feet?”] I encouraged them.  As they approached him, Alfred realized what they were about to do. That embarrassment snapped him out of his trance and he stopped them.  It took two little kids and their innocence to put an end to this elaborate charade!

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1 comment

Bakul May 15, 2022 - 7:24 pm

Great recount Harish! I have vivid memories of Alfie and you guys creating a massive confusion during the rock concert at Mood Indigo.


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