Rajesh Kumar

Optimizing life, one day after the next

Waterloo Blues Part 1

16 Sep 2005

In the beginning, there was a tiny little boy who lived in a small little city called Vancouver. His nickname was 'Clueless' simply because if a time ever came when he would have any remote idea that could potentially be labelled a 'clue', that'd be the day when ants would start wearing panties to school everyday. Such was his level of cluelessness. But one fine day, our ace protagonist here, Mr. Clueless, joined a fine university known as the University of Waterloo to pursue his undergraduate studies. What's more, he chose an unimaginably splendid program known as Nanotechnology Engineering. That, my dear readers, is the day when all Gods agreed upon a common religion. Soon after, our protagonist lost his nickname and proceeded to live happily ever after.

Friends, Romans, country-men! My pompous intro here is no dainty build-up! It is an excerpt from an autobiography that is currently in the workings by Yours Truly, thank you. Just two weeks into this magnificent phenomenon we'll call Waterloo and I've already found my raison de vivre! I'm not surprised at all. It feels like a year already, and if it weren't for my newly found friends, I'd be content enough to pack up and go back home right now after all the excitement I've experienced. Today, being a lovely wet Friday and all, here, how about we give you, my patient reader, a brief run-up of what's happened in the last couple days?

Our story begins when we disembarked at Toronto on a beautiful Thursday evening. And we were lost. Lost beyond imagination. Even Milton would have had trouble disentangling himself. We rented a car and drove straight to Mississauga, a comparatively small city west of Toronto. Soon next day, we drove to the green city of Kitchener-Waterloo which took us a little over an hour and some fervid map-reading which was all fun and dandy. As we approached the campus, I was greeted as usual by my good enemy Mr. Paranoia: "Is this Waterloo? Or am I somewhere in the fields of Downtown Edmonton or like so?" And just at the right time, we saw the great big sign that read "Welcome to the University of Waterloo." We made a quick left turn, and lo and behold, we found ourselves inside a sprawling campus. My eyes spotted the school's motto which is what intrigues me most: Concordia cum veritate, or for the non-Latinos, "in harmony with truth." Harmony, indeed!

After a day-long training session to become a certified Resident Computer Consultant (RCC), we headed back to Mississauga to meet our distant family relatives. It was a good evening to re-attach, and while in the midst of family company, I began to wonder about how I was going to be doing in the next couple years…

The next day, Sunday, was spent at the marvelous town of Niagara. If you've heard any decent hype about Niagara and her adjoining falls, make no mistake! This place is none like anywhere else! Fabulous as Niagara is, the simply exquisite scenery of the falls will take your breath away beyond reach. It's a wonderfully lucid curtain of milk you'd want to reach out and touch, but can't. There's this special ride that will take you right beside the falls. And my, that was just beyond words. That night, I had one of the most peaceful nights ever.

The next day, Monday, we retreated back to our green little Mississauga. We tried to do some last-minute shopping for myself, but being Labor Day et all, all malls were disappointingly closed. I now had to do the undelightful shopping myself, a task I just wasn't looking forward to. It was not a pleasing proposition at all. Happy-go-lucky teenage boys like myself and shopping don't exactly get along too well. We either end up buying the wrong things or end up spending more money than we should've, or both.


That evening, my parents and I drove back to Waterloo. I had gotten my keys by then and we paid a bit of a field trip to my assigned cell in residence, aptly called Village 1. Fortunately, the wardens (our village dons), didn't address us by numbers. They realize we have a name, thank you. Then we walked back to the car, a sense of remoteness, detachment and empathy for myself rising from a knowledge that I wouldn't be boarding the car along with my parents. I could hear my tiny little microcosm—a microcosm that I had so painstakingly constructed around myself for eighteen long years—being smashed. A disturbance unparalleled, whether it was confusion or anguish, I couldn't tell. We said our final words. I made sure it was quick. Advises were given. Advises were taken. As my parents walked back to the car, I uttered a last faint bye somewhere from the depths.

I turned, prepared for whatever was to come. I was expecting to see the now familiar university building in front of me, but all I could see was solid blackness. I opened my eyes wide. My pupils refused to cooperate. More blackness. I couldn't tell. The light was blinding me.

It was at that precise time, that in a matter of moments, a flash of speedily moving lines, an unquestionable epiphany. Then and there, I witnessed a grand metamorphosis of a stooping ape into an erect man. Tears welled my eyes.

The truth was stark. I had left my boyhood behind.


Frosh week, or in more simplistic terms, orientation week, was a total blast. It was a full blown six-day event with a entire gamut of events from Scavenger Hunt, where I attempted to solve tough Calculus problems as bulky rugby players rammed into me, to Monte Carlo Night, where I engaged in some first-hand gambling at a game of fast-paced roulette. I was two pints short of becoming a millionaire that night, but alas, the moons of Jupiter weren't aligned to astronomical precision…

There was once a time when I was under the false notion that the task of cheering and cheer-leading was relegated to the beautiful blonde girls in short skirts with all sorts of feathery things in their hands. But, as I've recently discovered, is not the case with Waterloo. Anyone can be a cheerer. Heavens forbid, even good ol' me! If, for example, you accidentally muttered who are we? when in a group of ten or more fellow engineers, the following would immediately ensue in a rather loud and dissonant tune:

We are, we are, we are the engineerz
We can, we can, fix anything with gearz.

We work hard, we play hard
So come along with us.

For we don't give a damn
For any damn man
Who don't give a damn for us.

Apart from the fact that my tongue's dexterity was seriously damaged from all the repetitive assonance and euphony, the cheer quite nostalgically sounded like a rhyme I had learnt way back during the days of Montessori. No kidding. Come on! Just the last stanza alone will knock your socks off beyond modest wearing ability.

Speaking of cheers, I decided to come up with one myself, considering I'm in nanotech and everything. Here's how it goes (to the tune of Ba Ba Black Sheep):

I say Na, you say No.
Nano, cano, dano.

I say Naa, you say Noo.
Nano, mano, kabano.

I saayyy Noh, you saayy Nah.
No {Na No} No {Na No}.


I have to admit, my cheer-writing skills aren't quite the groovy type. As an enthusiastic and prospective engineer, I'll think I'll stop right here before I begin to unleash my superior poetic skills in the domain of Absolutely Nonsensical Cheers.

Well folks, that's all I can type in one sitting. You see, food no longer comes into my hands anymore.

Stay tuned for more spicy news straight from the gates of Waterloo, ON.

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