"The Quarantine has been so tough, you know. Not just the fact that the world is in a crisis, but also because my birthday would be ruined." It's so unusual to see people's birthday bash being spoilt because of something other than exams, right? Believe us, you do not want to mess with Monica Gel-- Vidushi Toshniwal on the 2nd of April.
"Since I'm from Kota, my life was already hard. You know, the competition there is for higher education. I had to leave my school in class VIII to register in a dummy school since I was managing multiple tuitions at the same time. Since then till I got into IIT, coaching institutes have been my second home. On top of that, I had stringent parents, so my journey to IIT wasn't very blah." (It's hard to get emotions over a call, but we're pretty sure she was trying to think of just one example of brown parents who aren't the living embodiment of Adolph Hitler).
"Basically, when I came here, I realised the one, perhaps only, perk of being from Kota is that there are a lot of people here who are from Kota as well. I immediately ended up having a big gang of people to hang out with, make trips with. I found many seniors too, who had also studied from Kota. Therefore, I was kind of set as far as the workings of the institute were concerned." Lucky you. "However, when I first came here, it took me about 2-3 months to fit in, get a feel of the hostel and independent life, figuring out how people were here."
"I remember some funny stuff about my first year. There was this inter-hostel event in the Music Club, and Zanskar won that, and my friend made a meme about it. He asked me to post it on the fresher's page on Facebook, and boy did that get people knowing me." At this point, she can't contain her laughter. "Till date, I can't figure out whether that incident made me famous or infamous, but I don't regret it because it was fun."
"I was a part of many clubs and activities in the first year, including Dramatics and FACC. However I recall how badly I got my first semester CGPA screwed up because of all the bakchodi I had been doing. Although I got its hit in the second semester and recovered." Yeah, been there done that. "I was also The Miss Fresher Civil 2016 and Best Fresher Himadri Hostel 2016. So my freshmen year was kind of a blast."
"In Dramatics, I took part in a lot of the events, and I was also a part of the institute team, Ankahi. I participated in Inter IIT and Rendezvous as a part of the troupe and till date think that it helped me a lot in my personality development. Outside of that, I had an enjoyable and exploratory journey from being an executive to the General Secretary of NSS."
Almost being modest now, "Initially, I had no intention or plan on being the General Secretary of NSS, the highest post in the society. Working with the team, I never had the feeling of leaving it and I was actually enjoying the work we did as I went from executive to secretary to Gen. Secy. And it feels nice to be at the position I am now after all the hard work."
She added further, "Although it wasn't my motivation, having a POR in the 4th year really helps you to connect with a lot more people at all levels of the institute. I always have wanted to connect more to people."
"Being the Gen. Secy. was not easy at first. The seventh semester got me in the middle of a lot of tasks like academics, 'job sem', DTP and more. If I look back, I feel the most development in me was in this semester, because it made me feel a lot more work-oriented and gave me a professional outlook in my life. Work became my new bakchodi. Also, since I was so work-focused, I got like a 10-grade point in all courses except one." Aah, we wish. "Now I'm so free, I miss those busy days."
It is true, Kota life is sad. When asked, "I rarely had any hobbies in my life before IIT, and I believe I've grown a lot personally in my time here. I owe it to the fact that I was inquisitive and explorative in my 4 years and have always experimented with what I can do, as anyone should really in college."
(Man this next part really made us question our choices in friends)
"Now that I think about it, I have an infinite number of people in my life who are associated with me in one way or another. I'm a people person, and my friend circles are giganta-normous. One of the drawbacks is that I have to spend a lot of money on birthday parties because – duh."
"I've done a lot of weird stuff in my college life. From spamming department groups on WhatsApp to floating a form titled 'Swayamvar of Vidushi' in the institute. I've been the exclusive uninvited guest to all marriages that have happened in the Nalanda grounds, with photographic proofs. A lot of people hate me for a lot of stuff too." She just can't control giggling at this point. "Once I was asked to work in Nescafe because I challenged the worker there that I could make Maggi faster than him since he always took so much time. And I did, so yay me. I used two Maggi masala packets, and he was furious, but I enjoyed the taste."
One can imagine the childish smirk on her face now.
"Also I recall, I never used to go home during vacations. Once I did, in my first semester, and I got bored in three days and returned to the campus after making some lame excuse at home. I've been to Manali with my friends without telling my folks about it. I've done a lot of crazy stuff, and I am proud of it."
"I still am unsure about what I want to do in life. Do I leave my job, do I pursue a career in research or maybe something else. I guess you never really know until you do." Clear signs of confused confusion audible now. "However, my understanding has been that your output should never be affected by the outcome. I guess it's important to keep exploring to no end."
"All in all, my journey in IIT has been the best experience of my life. I've seen friendships, love, hate, joy and mischief. I've enjoyed long early morning walks to eat Jia Sarai ke pohe and also had to fight both dengue and malaria." That escalated fast. "With all said and done, I would miss all this and would love to relive it all over again."
With that happy-sad note, the conversation ended. We were hopeful that this talk made Vidushi cherish her journey forever.
She tried it all, she tried her best, she tried things out, she didn't rest. And now this chapter's coming to an end, who knows where life might next her send.
P.S. It's her birthday today too. Happy Birthday Vidushi Toshniwal from the BSP team.