and Suri, who graduated with distinction as electronics and communication engineers in the years 1988 and 1989, respectively, were unremarkable during their college days. “You typically remember students from the two ends of the spectrum. They weren’t toppers and they weren’t laggards. There are no highlights from their time here,” says Thomas. By all accounts, Nadella was quiet, studious and keen on studying abroad. Like the students of his time, he made friends within his own community and made the long, gruelling bus journey to Hyderabad in their company. Suri, his teachers and friends say, was hard-working, had a charming personality and loved music and movies.
The sun-kissed sprawl of block – 1, the first of five academic blocks where they would have attended lectures back in the 1980s, is now an administrative facility housing offices and faculty chambers. Most of the hostel cottages, each with four tiny double-occupancy rooms, in D Block, which housed both Nadella and Suri, are now reassigned to non-teaching staff. Instead, there are now high-rises with airconditioned studio apartments where students pay up to Rs 1,30,000 a year for food and lodging. A short walk from the campus, Tiger Circle, the central junction in Manipal, has seen fads come and go — from video parlours to hookah bars and play arenas. It now boasts of, students say, the most happening bar in town. “The bars of our time cannot hold a candle to the new establishments. But Manipal has never run dry,” says Anand H, 44, a civil engineer from Manipal who recalls the weekend revelry at Bacchus Inn, an old-timers’ favourite. “As students, we gladly mingled with the girls at Kasturba Medical College across the street and came back drunk in the wee hours of the morning,” he says.
Vishal Swara, Suri’s hostel roommate and close friend at Manipal, says we played gully cricket in front of the hostel cottages. “After the summer vacations, Rajeev would bring the latest English pop music records and we’d listen to those. We would watch all the new Hollywood releases at Udupi theatres. We read Archies comics, ate out and rode on my bike and had a lot of fun,” he says. Swara, Suri and their big group of Delhiite and Punjabi friends called themselves the “crabs” of Manipal, for their self-professed crab mentality. Swara is now the managing director of SLV Security Services, Gurgaon. He says he was in