All journeys come to end, all shows have the final episode and all movies get a credit scene rolling. So here we are with the last post from "My Experiments With IITD": Batch of '20.
Sitting in the 'quarantine,' I finally decided to write this out—a short memoir of my life as a 'Bachelor' at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. Now I'm not sure if you will find this relatable or not, but well, here goes nothing.
So let's start with the background, I have spent the better part of my conscious life on this beautiful campus: from playing 'hide and seek' in the parking lot to 'poker nights' in B-49, Aravali. You see, my father is a Professor here, which, amongst other things, meant that I had never REALLY understood the apparent importance of such a 'reputed' institute. But as fate would have it, I did take a drop year (parental pressure much? ), and I DID end up in this very institution.
I still remember that day; my father used to drive an age-old Maruti Alto; I got off the car with him and walked into the registration hall, beaming with excitement: I was going to enter college, one of the most fun parts of anyone's lives. So I enter the final room, and this is a funny story that I am fond of, there was a set of Babloos stationed to help us, handing out our mentors' letters and all (by the way, choose your own' mentors,' boys, and girls; don't just take whatever they throw at you. Choose a circle that fits you well, decide what you want to do here, you can be anything, and you can do anything. This place is full of opportunities, don't miss out!). Detour, sorry, the Babloos, yes, I don't know if they were doing this with everyone, or was it that I seemed like a shy shut-in, but they ask me to choose which of the two BSW Reps stationed there was the prettier one. AND MAN WAS I FLUSTERED. I remember mumbling something about both of them being uncomparable, but yea, I did have a favourite, not that I followed through with this affection. After all, as I have mentioned, I had a goal in mind, to 'explore.'
Fast forward a few weeks, and I've finally gotten a grasp of the ever-confusing time table, charted out the LHC, made a new set of notebooks, and a few friends, albeit none from Aravali. Oh yea, I forgot, I was a day scholar attached with Aravali House. So I never had a 'ragging' scene (in my first year), nor did I get to fight for the bucket or peace at night. One could argue, I had it better than others, I would disagree, but I guess the grass is always greener on the other side?
To my credit, I did make some good friends from the hostel and otherwise, but that didn't happen until after seeing through the 'arrogant' perception that I always set myself out with. My ever-increasing list of 'goals' and my 'Rona' on my incapability to achieve them didn't help either. I have this hypothesis, though; my life has been alternating between years. Every odd year has been a clusterfuck of failures, and every even one has been a 'refreshing breeze' of bringing back my over-confidence, lucky for me, I guess?! Let's give you guys some context here (small rant incoming, will try to keep it short) As a Fresher, I failed my Department Change by 0.04, I did (a lot of) ECAs- FAILED majorly, didn't become a 'Rep,' got branded as an 'outsider'.... blah… blah. As Sophomore (inspiring music starts), I had finally cracked the academic system, leveraged that to make some friends who turned to become really good friends and they went (or at least tried) to become big shots on campus; had a fantastic time at RDV, got an opportunity for 'The ForEx' which I declined for RDV, duh (no, I'm kidding, Maitreya spread that rumour, don't believe it! I am a much more holistic person and not so shallow…. Or at least, I hope....), and I went for an EXCEPTIONAL foreign intern (Europe is dreammmmmm). A lot of you might have gone for their research internships abroad or were at least planning to (2 minutes' silence for all cancelled visas in 2020), and indeed it is an experience worth all the hype. My favourite parts of Europe were...………. obviously "I loved interacting with people from a different culture and learning from them" especially the lab receptionist
With a bloated tummy and a shit load of (Ethan)ol in my system, I crawled back to the hectic life of IITD. Imagine coming back from 8-hour workdays to 14, without weekends! I'd had a pretty good run until then: bright, vivid colours, fast past cinematography, and many celebrations. The only catch is, life HAS to suck, right? If this were a movie, now is when the uplifting music would turn for the dramatic. My pre-final year SUCKED, not just professionally, but personally also. You see, I always segment my life into a few parts: professional success, personal well-being, and interpersonal relationships. I didn't get any sleep, my lack of professional success was replaced by Caffeine, and the never-ending expectations from people DID NOT help the cause either. After all, this was an odd year, so…… (here goes) I bombed my intern interviews, I had screwed up my habit of studying thanks to all the poltu getting to my head, my GSec wasn't fond of me (my fault, but yea), and I bombed even more interviews up to the point where I quit trying. Then the infamous '#PKMKB' happened. If you don't know about it, you should be glad; it was an absolute shit show. Bunch of my friends and I decided to contest elections, bad idea! I know, but "what's the harm?", right? Wrong, huge losses! Crazy insecurities, under-confidence, opportunity cost, and lost reputation. The negative sentiment was so high that people (who were apparently 'extremely close') did some nasty things. It just goes to show how sad and desperate such elections, and even nominations had become. I would like to believe things have changed, especially with the pandemic's disruption, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Who's fault was it? How much of it was actually under my control? Could I have been smarter and altered the outcome?
These questions used to haunt me. But you know what, I've been like a very stubborn pest throughout my time here, so I applied for Rendezvous with motivation from my friends and some others threatening me of 'dire consequences' if I did not take back my application. And I pulled through. I'm just glad I had those people who helped me see this through, I went on trips with my friends, fostered better relationships with the people that mattered, became a part of the RDV org comm, and I managed to secure an internship with 'papa power.' Luckily my academic performance wasn't affected much, and I successfully completed my tenure as a Chief Editor. It was also the time when I had finally started getting some work as a freelance artist. Did I tell you I wanted to study Fine Arts and not Engineering? Let's keep that for another day.
I guess this is my biggest lesson, don't give up, just don't, it'll be hard, it will be VERY HARD, but you'll never taste sweet success if you give up. Also, do make friends, you cannot pull everything on your own, trust people, invest in those relationships, seek help and life will just seem to get better. And that is how I reached my final chapter; I had a good time at my 'jugaadu' intern, alternating between office hours and the best summer during off-hours with the craziest, most spontaneous bunch of fucktard friends. I realised my inclination towards a management consulting job during these few months. I loved the 'problem solving' and the corporate culture; I confirmed this is the niche that I want to be a part of…... Naah! Who am I kidding, this was possibly the only good job that a wannabe 'jack of all trades' like myself would be hired for. Now people think I am making this up, and I was always a Conslut, but I did reach this conclusion during my intern and threw away the GRE books. Oh, did I tell you I have also published journal research papers? That was the reason I thought I should not shun the idea of a master's. I'm a huge, colossal phattu after all; I need a backup ka backup ka backup always! To be entirely honest though, I loved academic research. Still, I guess the fact that I'd have to return to this very same institution to pursue an academic career (we don't have another Textile Dept in any IIT) was a huge turn-off. And with my father being a Professor, the grass was anyway greener on the other side, so corporate slavery it was!
By the time summer ended, the doom's day clock had started ticking. It was 'The job sem,' and man, was I lucky to get a good number of shortlists. My cases went well, and I finally got offers from three 'slot 1' consulting firms (subtle flex ), finally, ended up accepting BCG's offer. Everything was looking good, until my final semester, and possibly even my convocation was ruined by the COVID outbreak……
I remember, in a discussion, in one of those ever-lively NEN lectures; I got reprimanded for almost using a 'thought experiment' as an 'achievement catalog' for myself. So I'm trying real hard to ensure I DO NOT get close to it again, there was SOME truth to me being a prick .
You know, I always feel this, you can almost adjust to anything if you come alive from this soul-consuming IITD system. Looking back, are there things I would have done differently, I guess. Do I regret anything? I don't think so. My life here has been relatively fulfilling: I have explored to my heart's content, I was able to do things that I actually liked, and in the process, I made friends, few, but genuine (or so I'd like to believe). Life is a rollercoaster and that is what makes it so exciting, it is not something to be 'optimised', neither can it be. I came here as a person who hadn't realised the role of relationships or that of perceptions, and how all of this is so interconnected. And if there is one thing that I want all of you to take home now…. that will be the importance of persistence and good company: you can get through any obstacle with a cheerful memory if you can tick these two boxes for yourself, sure being damn smart and all is good, but I guess your nakama could be equally helpful too!
If we get further into the specifics, this could become a significantly longer piece, so let's just rest here. This piece has been a nice way to get some closure about one of the most important facets of my life, thank you for the opportunity.
This is Sumakesh Mishra signing off with his 'Experiments with IITD'! Cheers!
Interview by Priyanshu Gautam