Monday, March 05, 2007

Yr 1:Panagarh ke Sholay

The first 2 years here have an extra burden attached to them other than the academics. Students get a choice between various sports, NSS( social service) and NCC( National Cadet Corps)...
Try-outs were allowed for any one sport/physical activity... I tried out for yoga in the first year and was rejected ( "You are over-weight...")although a year of the mess food has taken its toll now!. That gave me a choice between the Army and Air NCC , I chose the Army and the following weeks had drills in the sun, with a few sessions of weapon handling...
I guess the part people disliked most was the immaculacy in attire. Short hair, clean shaved faces, polished boots which bit at the ankles, and ofcourse the khaki coloured uniforms...
All these are alien concepts to most IITians since laziness is an ideal which we hold dear to our hearts and the lackadaisical attitude is one which stems from a self-assumed intellectual superiority.
So, most classes had the instructors shouting out mild insults and pointing out our imperfections in doing the simplest of tasks. Our parades were inefficient, our drills were a joke, and try as they might, not a single class went by without some idiot being pulled out because of a imperfect attire!!
But amidst all the bickering, the one thing most admirable was the patience and tolerance of the Army and Air Force officers. They were quite patient with us through most of the 'ordeal' (as most of us will put it!). At the end of the first semester, we had camp...
It was the first week of December and we were off to a much neglected military camp at Panagarh. When we got there, we were informed that thieves had gotten inside during the neglected years, and stolen the doors of all the toilets!! I mean, what kind of retards do that??
The result was opaque sheets of cellophane that hung outside each door to an unavoidable fate ( I really don't think anyone went 10 days without crapping!). This led to really hilarious and inventive ways to indicate an occupied loo... people whistled, sung, help the sheet tightly, threw their pants across the sheet...etc.
Platoon no. 1 got mess duty the first day, which meant that my first day would go well, or so i thought. Mornings were at 5 so that we fell in-line at 6. You could see a plume of your own condensed breath for 2 feet in the air in that chill. As we went for a jog with the instructors, cramps set in the unused muscles and wordless abuses were mouthed while panting for breath. When we sat nursing our aching limbs on the 2nd evening, we were informed that we have to present a 'cultural show' for the commanding officer on the last night of the camp. This meant that some of us would be spared most of the exertion so that we could sit back and relax... Even though it sounds like the ultimate solution to our problems, most people preferred to stick to the scheduled torture. I have to admit that i was amongst this majority for reasons of pure lethargic averseness to change. But that very evening, amidst the regular sessions of jokes, bug swatting and card games, we started comparing our camp life to Ramesh Sippy's 'Sholay'.
The result was an unanimous decision to make a skit based on this very concept... ofcourse this meant we could take time off for cracking jokes and incorporating them in our script, so, it was more than welcomed as an idea and the 13 of us got to work(if you could call it that!)
The result was clearly( by the response , we got from both the students and instructors) a rioting success :) The end of the camp gave all of us more familiar hand-shakes which would probably last for the rest of our stay here... and not to mention, back-aches.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Endsems (November, last week)
There are a lot of things which can't be understood till they are experienced. Examination stress in IIT is something like that.Especially, end semester exam stress. This is different from all the other types of examination stresses in other universities... you wanna know why?...weirdos..thats why..
It is the first time that your mom isn't there to feed you as you burn some midnight oil, here, your neighbour is drinking his early morning spirits! Nobody plays any loud music at home because you have your exams and the family can bear one week of no TV. Here your wing mates are staying up watching a movie since they don't have an exam the following day like you. For the first time in your life, nobody cares that you stood first in your school, almost everyone else did too during their days as well, and those who didn't are putting in extra effort since they are used to it. The competition isn't a part of life is what you breathe in every waking almost all things that you do, you are competing with some one better. Now you are on your own, the real test of whether all those years of parent-inflicted deprivation really meant something. If you want to beat the rest, you need to slog your ass off, if you want to take it easy, you will pay the price...
During those last few days of the semester, people really start discovering a place in the campus called the Central Library. You need to search for places to sit and study peacefully when such a huge edifice is filled with students hidden behind mounds of dusty books which are opened only on an annual basis!. That is an amazing fact, since this is Asia's largest library in any university, has more than 400,000 books and occupies the space needed to house at least a million more books!!
For almost all IITians this is training time for night-outs...a few years down the line and you will be able to stay awake indefinitely for long stretches and will crash on your bed after a week of no sleep. There are people who need to study just for 2 hours when you need to study for 7... there are people who have finished(gasp!) the syllabus, there are normal students and finally there are people who don't care! All this makes the examinations a melting pot for all sorts of academic capabilities. I still remember, having screwed up my ET paper in the mid-sems and doing fairly well in my a bloody B finally, but that was much better than what i expected :)
This is repentance time for all the classes you bunked and all the you-can-have-my-finger thoughts you gave to your professors. Almost everynight, you can still hear some poor damned soul crying out, "Why? why fail me?... "

Friday, November 10, 2006

Yr 1:Teacher Species...

If i could pluck out a single hair for everytime a professor made me feel so, i'd be bald 3 times over.
Considering the fact that ET was the subject that pestered us most through an agonising set of boring approximations and irrelevant details, we had to spend our waking time in class by analysing those who didn't, i.e the professors...
2 profs took our lectures on different days, one was the jovial type...more experienced about the limited aspects of teaching a subject that no one is keen to follow up(Cmon, you really wanna know why magnetostriction is useful?).So what followed was failed attempts at academic humour, e.g, "You are solving the problem using Norton's theorem, while the electrician can undertsand only voltages, so will you sit and teach him Norton's theorem in your room?"..silence..."hehe, no you won't!"Great Galaxy man!
The other was a shade younger( the first one was 60,while this man was 50, and younger isn't exactly a linear function), but infinitely more boring!...ofcourse he at least asked interesting GK questions which we enjoyed answering, e.g "give an example of a linear motion motor.." I shout, "MAGLEV!"...he looks up, smiles and says," good, correct"...and i can stay awake for the rest of the lecture!
A course in solid mechanics had put us all in a serious dilemma about our future in the technical field.The professor was a sure-shot cure for insomnia...i knew of ppl who had 5 cups of coffee in an attempt to stay awake , but failed to do so...i am feeling drowsy just recalling his lectures.
Mathematics is essential for engineering, which is probably why most students fail in the subject.One of the professors had a habit of repeating most of his lines twice, while another went so fast that a few of us decided to learn short-hand if we'd get around to writing legibly in his lectures.
In general, even though I've hardly covered all the professors. I can peacefully say that i haven't pointed out the "good profs".These are the professors who hardly take attendance since their classes will be attended anyway.They are that good.But its more fun to recall really stupid instances by these men and their mannerisms which would have us clutching our guts to prevent laughing out loud.
I almost forgot to mention this one last point though: all professors have abbreviated names, they even call each other by those abbreviations.This leaves us students confused about the real names of the professors.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Yr 1" What is to become of me?"


I could never act, just didn't have the "skills", so to speak...
So when they(Read: seniors), were conducting auditions for English Dramatics, i turned up with all hope of being laughed at....
i wasn't...but i wasn't selected either.
A few close friends however did get selected. They were now officially members prepared for this...English Technology Dramatics Society, also known as ETDS. There is another fixation here for the word Technology...we have the Technology market, which is like any other market, Technology Dance society, which doesnt involve dancing robots, but a bunch of people who cleared the JEE and thought that they had a rythm in their bodies...a myth i would like to clear...the hindi and bengali dramatics societies are also abbreviated as HTDS and BTDS (stupid....really stupid)
Anyway, over time all the guys at ETDS in my batch became really good friends, for various reasons... and i had to go to their rehearsal just once in all the 2 weeks that they practiced( the reason of my visit involved 2 mugs of beer, a first-time drinker who was my friend, and a lot of high speed monologue on his part...only in english)
The hindi and english dramatics societies are fresher they have just one fresher production...though the dramatics positions are fiercly competed for.
My batch guys ( and girls, some of which i didnt know, still dont) had chosen to act out a part of the famous "pygmalion"...
A keen interest in photography gave me special rights to photograph their play...
It involved some brilliant performances by
1.Abhas= Prof. Higgins....brilliant
2.Vijay= Col. Pickering....his clay pipe became the butt of all our jokes and we thought of handing it over to the next batch of juniors as a souvenir.
3.Toshe= Liza Dolittle....a famous line by her will follow shortly
4.Prateek= Nepomuck....except for him, everyone remebers his entry with both arms flailing wildly, shouting"Maestro!Maestro!"( btw, his original introduction on stage was going to be, "the hairy faced dick!")
There were a lot of other small roles which were done out nicely, but too numerous to mention. i hope none of these "roles" will take it to hard for not being mentioned.
Fun fact: IIT is probably the only place where one rehearsal is dedicated to "hooting practice"...concerned seniors come, sit in the audience while the rehearsal goes on the stage and ridicule the performances by making cat-calls and using profane language.
During the final performance however, hooting checks in the form of "Daku" were found lurking around( You'd rather crap green all over your pants before messing around with this guy!)
In a moment of frustration, the female lead(Liza), exclaims"What is to become of me?" the pregnant pause that follows an enlightened soul thought it best to lighten the mood by answering the question by a nonchalant, dry, "IITian".
What followed was a burst of stifled laughter...even on stage!

Nevertheless, the governors congratulated the actors by telling them that this was the best fresher's performance in years!

Yr 1:"YO RK!!!"

The halls here are named after important erstwhile citizens of the country as mentioned before...
Though you might think that this is a very good thing, the students here have their own variations of these names, the most common being abbreviations involving initials of these people.But some are worse, like Lala Lajpat Rai being addressed to as "lallu".
For celebrating the birthday of Dr.Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan( 5th sept), the students of RK hall organise a nice show at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose auditorium( by now i know that most of you must be worried about the administration's fixation with such names, but you havent yet seen/heard about the whole list!)
This show/performance can be very much visualised for most of the part by anyone...
just think of spectacled geeks, in checked shirts, dancing(trying to...)
but the other "attractions" are the eastern and western musical performances which are surprisingly very good...
The last item is a set of Rock songs(western musical...).This was very much a time by which most of us rock worshippers had been waiting for...pure, unadulterated, mushy crap.This is something i know is hard to imagine for most of you people outside the hallowed walls...a bunch of geeks head-banging as if there were no tomorrow. We drowned ourselves in the melodies of Iron Maiden, Creed,Bon jovi...a night i wouldnt forget it was my very first experience of a rock concert!
Near the end, all i remember is, us shouting "YO RK!" till our throats throttled in pain...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Yr 1:"you've come here to learn..."

No...that doesnt mean Extra Terrestrial.Its Electrical here teaches you that most problems in life have abbreviations, for eg.ET: electrical technology, ABC: prof A______ B____ C_________(can't take names..these people can steer my career towards hell!),DC: Disciplinary Committee, a.k.a Disco...etc
Well to get back, the first class after a really irritating and perspiration ridden registration was ET, Raman Auditorium(f-142). Huge class.Looking up at the high ceiling i was surprised since the fans were as old as the institue, but way above them, embedded in the ceiling, were a large array of Bose™ speakers...
"First of all, congratulations on clearing the JEE and getting admission to IIT Kharagpur"...the prof's loud voice echoes in the large room(thats because of the sound systems, he cant possibly generate that kind of decibel level!)
I'm sitting with rapt attention now...a few familiar faces alongside me.
Most Freshers have a common "look"....this is an attempt to portray(foolishly enough) the following
1.I am a "stud".
2.Don't mess with me!
3.I'm gonna teach all these people a thing or two about life
4.I'm a "Super Stud".
In a few wiser cases, an honest bewildered look is usually more prominent, the so called "stud"s feeling it too...all the time...
This attitude is not in the first few days the average fresher evolves to a smug looking fresher..still bewildered though.In those first couple of days, you feel you are "God"(with a capital G,and in quotes), and usually somewhere around the mid-semester exams you turn to atheism...unless you are truly God(now without the qoutes).
So as all us "stud" feeling idiots sat listening to what the strange fat man in front of us seemed to be saying with an accent that i'd become too familiar with(Bongla).He told us one thing which put all of IIT into a perspective that i still haven't been able to get out of my mind..."It is you who have come here to learn. We haven't come here to teach you...if you take the initiative, we'll definitly help you, buit there won't be any spoon-feeding."
After that peak, however, he couldnt speak on anything inspiring enough..just some gibberish about DC motors and transformers(DANG! i still remember the Star-Delta conversion in electrical circuits!)
But fortunately that atitude is prevalent in all things in this place, even the facilities provided are to our convinience..the care-taking staff is always helpful, be it the swimming pool, your labs..the attitude of these non-teaching people is what ensures that we don't develop any grudges towards administrative authorities (sometimes we still do...)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Yr 1:The Rainy Hell-hole...


The first idea about this place that any fresh student(and a few stale ones too)will get is that it is rustic...really rustic...infact it's so rustic that the next town you visit feels like a city...and any metropolis seems to be air-dropped from another planet...
As VK and myself arrived we got a look at one of the two things that make this speck of watercolour on a map famous..the railway platform...
we scrambled to the entrance as we saw the train pulling in...just ready with all our luggage...but the train didn't show any intentions of stopping...but it did..almost when we were sure we'd run out of the asphalt.
funfact:the length of the platform is more than 1km, don't ask me why,as all i know is that i hate it when the train stops as far away from the exit...bloody fools...just because they can..they'll put trains in series instead of parallel
All of those who arrived were stuffed in a joke of a bus..the heat had already numbed our senses..and the humidity...i never knew the human body could act like a wet sponge...
our luggage had a more comfortable ride..


I got off at what they said was Meghnad Saha(MS) hall of residence(i still don't know why they can't call the damn thing a hostel)..after the short(chuckle!) formality part i was alloted a room...far away...
All the hostels..sorry halls here have abbreviated names. the list is a bit like
Pajendra Prasad:RP
Patel/Azad/Nehru: PAN loop
Lala Lajpat Rai:LLR
Sarojini Naidu:SN--->female residents only
and so on...
my room was on the second floor...and my heavy trunk ensured that i couldn't take a second step easily...i got some help it wasn't all that bad.
i entered the room...and thought it was a broom closet,and i was told that the balcony can't be incorporated in my room either(for reasons of sanity,i wont elucidate much on the sanitation here!)
After 3 days i settled down(read:got a proper mattress)
The worst combination of weather is Hot and Humid...if u disagree..think of your underwear sticking up in places you can imagine..all soaked in sweat..yours, i hear a "UGH!"...exactly...
well..after the first day rained as if all of humanity neede a nice common shower..and i looked forward to what this place might have to offer...besides a degree or two

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Well this is simply a record of the weird experiences of any creature who spends atleast 4 years at the Indian Institute of Technology,Kharagpur....
even as i have started typing this,i realise that when the same points in an academic year come by year after year..i'll percieve them probably does anyone else too...but still there's never a dull day and for the first time in my life i've felt the need to record a bit of my obscure existence for posterity(those who will access the internet ofcourse)and as i'm getting bored with the preface myself, i'll start off to the real stories....