How Has XLRI Changed In The Last 40 Years – Rewind, Repeat, And Relive

The story goes that, in the good old days of XL, students who used to be up at night working on their project spent their time scanning journals and reports for hours in the library. Wanting direction, they were not afraid to seek it from the professors, even at 2 AM in the night! Throwing pebbles at the windows of Fr. Ozzie, a legendary professor of XLRI, was not as rare as you might think. They used to call him down and discuss their findings until the wee hours of dawn! Such was the bond of professors and students, reminisces Fr. Ozzie, with a sparkle in his eye, and a satisfied sigh.

Father Oswald J Mascarenhas, or Fr. Ozzie as we fondly call him, is a man of myths, legends and stories! He has been with the XLRI name for ages now: Starting his journey here in 1977, he has seen and lived the golden days of XLRI. Those were the days of typewriters, books, no internet and small, tightly knit campus. No one better to rewind, repeat and relive the old and gold XLRI days than the man himself – the 15 min interview went on for two hours, and boy what a trip down memory lane it was!

It was a different time: 70s and early 80s meant that the campus had to make do with a lot less. The family was small, no more than a 100 people on campus. In those days, the batch did everything together: they played together, studied together, and of course, partied together! In addition, the professors were not just instructors and academic guides: they were part of the cohort, thick as thieves! Often, the entire batch used to trek to Dimna Lake with the professors to camp for the weekend. They chopped their own wood, built fires, carried groceries and cooked for themselves while bonding over good music and great conversation. “They sang and played themselves – we had some serious musical talent in those days, considering the fact that portable music systems were not commonplace back then. Guitars, bonfires, great food and cheap booze: the perfect ingredients for a time to remember!” says Fr. Ozzie!

This musical talent was also the birthplace of the XL’s famed Bodhi Tree Band – but earlier, they had a more colourful name: WAPITE – What A Pain in The Ears! They jammed late into the night, entertaining everyone with their sweet melodies, with the professors joining in! Legend has it, that we used to have a baby grand piano too! Gifted by Lady Ghandy, it was the pride of Fr. Tome Auditorium, and a constant feature of the musical revelry of the jams, played by the man himself – our very own Fr. Ozzie!

The romance was another defining feature of the XL life – the culture here was (is?) very inclined towards it! At that time, the girls used to live outside campus, and it was the duty of the boys to walk them back home. Those walks were the source of many stories. On campus, there was no dearth of couples, much like today! You could see memories being made in the library, on the pretext of projects, over sports, and while sharing a simple cup of tea! In fact, the romanticism was memorialised in the form of statues, cheekily christened as “The Scholars” in front of the XL Library: A girl coyly looking at her books, and the guy pretending to study, but obviously lost in the girl’s charm!

Were those days better? I cannot say, but it sure was an interesting era. It had a certain charm, a certain je ne sais quoi that does seem to be lost in the sands of time. I for one, would love to turn back the clock and visit the campus then, but had to be content sipping my tea, and listening to Fr. Ozzie, as he took me on one of the best visual journeys I ever experienced – Lost in his stories, lost in the nostalgia, lost in the warmth, and lost in the glory that was XLRI of the 80s!

This article was written as a part of Ensemble-Valhalla 2018’s Rewind.Repeat.Relive series. The management, cultural, and sports fest of XLRI is all set to be hosted between November 2nd and 4th, headlined by stars such as Amit Trivedi and Vipul Goyal on stage with the mic. Follow our social media profiles mentioned below to know more about our fest with our theme revolving around what shaped our history and how we can Relive those memories, with the touch of colour and lights.

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