I hail from the city of Indore, and my parents had always wanted me to stay close to my hometown. When I was in my Class 9th, Indore had started garnering the new and famous Institutes for JEE coaching. I never really wanted to go away from my home for my JEE preparation, so I was at the institute in my city itself for the preparation. But when it came to choosing a college for the next four years of my life after JEE, I knew I had to go further away from the comfort zones of my home. No wonder, When I was filling JoSSA, the only thought in my mind was, “Ghar se duur kon konse acche IITs hai.” I remember my parents had made me fill IIT Indore in the counseling as well. I had surpassed those options owing to my rank and landed with IIT Delhi eventually, which I was so happy about. If you’d ask me how I ended up choosing my branch, I’d simply say I don’t know. I never had, nor do I have any interest in my core branch. I joined the institute mainly to get vast exposure and to be able to explore my curiosities and capabilities. IIT Delhi was already known for its campus culture, excellent environment, a well-connected place to the city, and a lot more. It had exactly what I was looking for!
I would also want to mention that I never thought I would get into an IIT in the first place. I had been a decent student and an introverted child in school but was never an all-rounder, unlike my brother, who is five years older than me. My brother was a guy who was bad at nothing. If there were five trophies on a shelf in my house, all of them would be his. He has been an excellent motivator for me, and the fact that he was great at stuff, including academics, kind of pushed me to work harder for my JEE.
In June 2018, when I joined the institute in my first year, I was scared of interacting with people. I was amid the thoughts like - I have never shared a room with another person; how would I live now? Delhi is a vast city and would ragging take place? Would the seniors be too strict? Would I end up lacking behind in the stuff? Now with all these thoughts in my head, I was exposed to what we call Hostel Culture. Babloos started conducting a ton of hostel meets with us from the end of our first week in college. “Hostel ko jeetana hai” was engraved in our hearts after those meets! After all these meets and the motivation built within us, even we all freshers used to gather together and encourage each other to get stuff done. All of this relieved me from the negative thoughts that I had prior in my mind, and instead, I started thinking about how good the seniors and my batch mates were. This was the time when I knew that I don’t need to be scared anymore.
With all of these meets, we were introduced to all the clubs and activities within the college, and I had decided that I would be trying out all I could in my first year. I had tried PFC events, Workshops for Hindi Samiti, FACC, and quizzing. I tried Lit as well, but one of its vast events coincided with another event, and I didn’t end up getting into Lit. I also wanted sports as a constant for my college life, so I started by playing volleyball and used to devote time to it every day after 6 pm. I chose volleyball as I used to play this sport back in my school days, and I was good at it already. I did try cricket in college, but I figured out I wasn't good at it as “Aadat toh Galli Cricket ka hi tha!”. I tried football as well, but we have crazy good football players at the institute, and I knew I wouldn’t stand a chance. Drama interested me too, and I really wanted to be part of a street play, but yet again, this event collided with the GD.
Now, this was all within my first semester, the core activities of the clubs weren’t started, but it was more of trying out various workshops and was an exploration period. At the start of the second semester in Jan’19, GC happened, and since I was one of the good volleyball players on the team, I had to train regularly and put in extra hours into it. By this time, I had also tried two dance workshops, and I’m not lying when I say I had the best experience of all the workshops in the two dance workshops that I attended. One of the primary reasons I enjoyed the dance workshop was because it was in no way as I had assumed it to be before joining it. I thought it would be easy and seniors would teach some simple dance steps, but one hour of the workshop was only the warm-up, and the real part of it started later. It was challenging, and the discipline I could see through the workshop fascinated me. I would also consider myself lucky as I was in the Karakoram hostel, and our hostel has been one of the best hostels for its dance culture. The dance culture is indeed very reputed, and many people involved in dancing at the institute would agree with that. It is not like only good dancers come to the hostel; it is about the discipline and self-work that hostel boys put into that makes it stand unique among others. I was and, in fact, am very close to my dance seniors, more like friends now. They are Naveen Sir, Pranav Sir, and Kriten Sir. All of these were part of Vdefyn, the western dance society of our institute. Now, all these seniors were crazy hard workers! They used to have their Vdefyn dance practices for 4-5 hours continuously, after which they used to take our dance practice sessions, and this dedication of theirs inspired us immensely. One of the significant third-year seniors at that time in Vdefyn was Ishaan sir, the flamboyant guy - “Thodese Magazine cover type key bande hai!”. At that time, he was one of the best dancers in the entire Delhi Dance Circuit. Having such a reputed person within our hostel made us feel like, “WTF, apne hostel mein hi itna bada banda hai” Now, the fourth-year seniors - Nimish Sir, Bandish Sir, and Arsh Sir, were the pillars of Vedfyn that time. Nimish Sir was once even awarded as ‘The Best Dancer in the Delhi Dance Circuit’. These three seniors were like professional dancers, and not kidding; they were like godly figures for us. The culture, The discipline, the seniors, and every single thing of the dance team at the institute excited me to be a part of it!
Now, At this point, I was into volleyball, I have given my dance auditions, and I really want to go for drama. I was in a dilemma for what to do next, and I shared this problem of mine with one of my dance seniors, and they explained to me that it wouldn’t be possible to manage something else along with dancing, and dance itself would require to devote a lot of time to it. It was that time when I decided I wanted to go ahead with dancing! You'd ask why dancing among all the things I had tried out. I’d say because, Even though we had really long dance practices, some would even be 6-hours long or even the whole night, I still found myself completely engrossed in it. I wouldn’t be bothered in the slightest by my phone or anything else and instead, be focused on what the seniors were explaining and see how my body moves in the mirror. I found myself in this state at no other activity that I had tried out. In fact, I had been at a phase where I was self-interrogating about how I find myself so engaged in no other art form than this one. I always thought about what new move I could make or what new I would learn about myself. I realized that dance has a deeper connection with me. I would also say that I was putting more effort and time into dancing, and I naturally got better at it; this also motivated me to choose dancing as I was excelling at it in some. An almost similar situation stayed for me with volleyball as well.
The volleyball matches in GC were to be held in mid-January’19 and GD by the end of January’19. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to manage volleyball along with dancing, but I had given enough effort to volleyball training and had to appear for GC. Prior I felt I did drain myself a lot practicing for the volleyball and GD together as I was doing so much stuff altogether for the first time in my life but, to be honest, it is just in that moment and time that you feel you are draining yourself, a few years down the line you don’t think that you drained yourself. Finally, GC happened, and our volleyball team didn’t perform well compared to other teams, and we lost. But maybe it was for a purpose, as my decision to go ahead with dance intensified, and I chose Dance as my home!
Interviewed by: Yamini Vijay Khajekar