A look back at college life

Thoughts, memories, and what it did to me

The IITG Landscape Credits: Miksham Lal

Ending

We live our lives in spaces, spaces that span our times, spaces that house our memories, and then we leave those spaces to move on to ones that we hope will be better. I’m almost done with my time here at IITG and I’ll be back home soon. It’s all coming to an end, and I start to realise I might not come here again. Actually, I’m quite happy I’m leaving. It’s a good time to leave. I feel positive and bright from within.

Time often makes you play the waiting game. It runs away when you want it to stay still, but doesn’t seem to tick at all when you want it to hurry up. The journey I’ve been through, from July 22 2011 to June 8 2015 in Northern Guwahati, was on a rugged terrain, so full of ups and downs, and the two-paced progress of time. Through this time, I have crossed a valley of emotions, the cliffs of confusion, the plains of dormancy and the high hills of ambition.

In Chennai — June 10, 2011

At IIT Madras for the Design Aptitude Test. An AIR of 6225 in the IIT JEE gave you few options — and I had to secure the best one I had with a qualifying test. By the end of June 2011, I was admitted to the Department of Design, IIT Guwahati. (notice the text size errors in the display!)


Journey

That’s how I used to look! — July 21, 2011

‘IIT Guwahati’, a navy blue signboard adorned with the circular IIT logo welcomed us, and so did the scorching heat and its dear friend, the humidity. It was a very ‘warm’ welcome, so as to say, highly in contrast to the pleasant and breezy, valley-like climate that we expected out of this place. It was going to be the first time for me out of my comfort zone, living in a completely new place, full of new people — and braving all cliches — full of new hopes and great expectations. Four years have passed since, and I go out instilled with a lot of replenished hope and confidence.


The Window

The reason I consider my undergraduate life so important — and it’s not necessarily related to learning —is because college life gave me the time to look into myself — it’s like I went on a soul searching adventure. We would be pursuing an academic degree and the courses it recommends, while we would end up doing a hundred different things on campus, some for sheer passion and most for mere enjoyment. But everyone in this phase goes through a realisation window — a window through which we can see images of ourselves doing different exciting things, meeting new interesting people and looking forward to the real life ahead. A window through which the comfort of our homes shifts to the chaos of the outside world. The time I took to get the guts to jump out of this window and understand myself, realise my strengths and weaknesses and my happinesses, and to be actually aware of what I am and what I love, has been the journey of these years.

Evans the Atom talking about dark matter — He also showed us exclusive pictures of CERN and the LHC!

First big experience in IITG
It was an honour to introduce, to over 1500 people, the lecture of Dr. Lyn Evans (Project Leader of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Switzerland) at the Lecture Series of Techniche ’11. I had done this a lot in school, and I also hosted the Typoday ’12 in DoD.

Typeface designed for Typoday displayed through candle lights

Still Typing — Typoday ‘13
I’ll consider this the most important event of the four years for the reason that this was when I started liking the department. And it was worth it. After Typoday, I’ve spent most of the time in my last two years in DoD!


Treasure Hunt

Conversations, happiness, genuine friends – these are important things in life that don’t cost a penny. It might just cost a bit of luck, to meet the right kind, and I was all in for paying any bit of it I had for good friends and useful conversations. Going on, I have made very few friends here, but few can mean a lot, if you find the right kind — the kind who understand you, and the kind you’d always want to be around, and the kind you’ll end up loving.

The flow of thoughts that kept running in my mind, and the speed at which perceptions have changed — college life has been quite amazing in that sense. Deep inside, I’m this ball of positivity and endless excitement, but I sometimes wear a dull-face and get lost in a sad silence. Thing is, I enjoy both.


The Circle of DoD

I’d say we got through most courses like formalities, especially with the common subjects in first year where everything seemed irrelevant and uninteresting — and I ended up a 5 pointer (no kidding!). Dragging my way through Design over the next 3 years was an easy ride that seemed very exciting towards the end, and I think I did decently to have managed to get job offers from Amazon and Microsoft. Spending time on projects in the Department of Design really opened up my thought process and allowed me to think deeper and look at the finer details.

We were often fed with the fact that the triangle of creativity, innovation and technology is balanced by the skill of design thinking. To be able to analyse and understand every factor and scenario that contribute to these innovations is the x-factor. Graphic Design and Interaction Design are so very important and critical in the present situation of technology and businesses and I was very glad that of all the courses in the IITs, this is what I was meant to do. And I couldn’t have asked for better.

The Design Circle
I used to be quite fascinated about the beauty of the campus right before I joined, and this was one of my favourite places. At the heart of the department, you could hear echoes if you stood in the centre of the circle. That’s me and my brother in the picture — he is as tall as me now!

It was something I really enjoyed doing, but the best part about it was the complete freedom with which we were allowed to work. I also had the time and freedom to travel to over 20 different cities in the country over the last four years. Talking about freedom and choice, I wrote a screenplay for a short film as my final semester project.

I sometimes had complaints about the profs not executing the courses well. Some did brilliantly though, and are worth mentioning: Prasad Bokil Sir, Sheetal Ma’am, Pradeep Sir and Sharmistha Ma’am — these are the people I’ll remember out of the department. Thanks a ton for being awesome!

Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island — Andaman, December 2013

Winning the Race
Unlike what most people talk about college, mine never felt like a race — I never felt the heat of competition or the pressure of academics. It wasn’t simple surely, but it wasn’t tough either. We sailed through! Pic: A running race with Rajeev and Dad in the Andaman Islands.


Companions in the Jungle

As Final Years at the Graduation Tea Party (with a lot of style!)— April 2015
Back in second year — Typoday ‘12

It took me a while before I made friends I really enjoyed being with — two very lovable, fun loving folks from DoD, Pankaj Kumar and Prakash Shukla — and fortunately enough I spent a whole month with them in Mumbai for my first internship (in an amazing branding studio while living in IIT Bombay). That was our first step into the world outside, and it was a majorly satisfying experience — I could now bear the heat, travel in jam packed local trains, spend like I was broke all the time, and live in a cramped double room (not for too long though, please!) Adding to the experience, I had made two friends who I know love me no matter what. (Raanjhanaa is our favourite movie btw!)

The Department Hero
Shuklaji as we lovingly call him, is a guy with a golden heart. This is a picture from the party we threw for him for the great work he did as the Placement Secretary of our batch. The best things about him were that he was a great storyteller and a popular and selfless batchmate.


Expect the Unexpected

I never found even a single person interesting enough to ask out on a date. None, in the four long years here. The image of college life we had back in the school days — obviously included a bike, a girlfriend, parties and an active social group. Instead we had flattened tyres on our cycles, backside-bashing for celebrations, and dogs and goats and cows were greater in number than the people in the girls’ hostel.

Prakash trying to annoy a cow. It didn’t work.

Cattle Community
IIT Bombay is quite reputed for many things — We also found out that the so called Infinite Corridor houses a full family of cows. If you happen to get selected to B Tech in Mechanical Engineering in IIT B, you have more than just profs to deal with! The scene is a little better in IIT G — dogs rule here!


Making music visible

I’ve had some wonderful times in the dance club we fondly call Cadence, and this included hours of endless practice and many more hours of travel to different parts of the country. I remember being very excited about going to an IIT mainly for the reason that the cultural fests in the campuses were the best in the country. I attended every college fest worth attending in India — and performed there! As a plus, I went to concerts for free, where I jumped my heart out — Javed Ali, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Mohit Chauhan, Vishal Shekhar, Salim Sulaiman and Lucky Ali. Our trips to Rendezvous-IIT Delhi, Nokia India Fest Goa, Spring Fest-IIT Kharagpur and Revels-Manipal IT — I’ll call these the best times I had every year.

This included a lot of days travelling, the odd frustrations, mafia game sessions, dance practices, parties, and loads of bonding time. Cadence was the part of college life where there was never a dull moment. I’ve seen different sets of people come through the club, and I’ll say I got the most happiness out of the lot in my last semester. I had come back to campus early from our second Goa trip and I went to receive them when they returned. They got out of the van and started sprinting towards me. One by one, each of them jumped onto me and hugged me. Definitely looked like they missed me a lot in the return journey, and I’ve always been telling them that that was my best memory!

Cadence — Electric Heels, Alcheringa ’15
Keval came up to me and told me it was going to be our last performance on the audi stage. I think we did okay to finish second. Never was the stage so full and colourful in all the four years. ‘Turn down for what!’

Dance Room, New SAC — April 30, 2015

The Photo Wall
Our juniors did something really nice for us on the last day of the 8th semester — they put up a collection of our best memories on the dance room wall. They gave us notes to write down testimonials for each other, and this was very special. In pic (from left): KK, Parek, Pagare, Aanchal, Rex, Keval, Gautham, Rajesh, Verma.


Lost

There were times when I was stuck to my lonely room in the central block of Umiam Hostel, where I just wanted to go back home and have everything come to me so easy. Most people in college I know have been through the phase where they over-analyse situations and question themselves about things like the definitions of happiness, and complex matters like the point of life. I was no different. I’m still known in the hostel famously as the ‘guy who always ran home!’ My parents and friends back home had given me a life of complete luxury and happiness, a happiness I didn’t need to be aware of, and to be in a space like this, confusing and mysterious at times, worst of it — alone — it sort of blew me up from the inside. I think the convenient but harmful luxury of having to stay in a single room does that to you — throws you into a bubble which takes a while to get out of.

I’ll be there for you!
I wonder what I would have done if there was no Friends! This was my favourite pastime and used to set my mood right no matter what. I’ve watched it over and over again. How you doin’?


Learning to Love

Living in a hostel, does one weirdly amazing thing to you — it makes you feel homesick. And that is the only sickness I wouldn’t mind having. What it did to me, was it made me miss what I already had. And like most satisfactions in life, you don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone! Overly loving parents, a home I wouldnt want to get out of, and a perfect life — I didn’t know how much all this meant to me, unless I missed it. And this feeling of missing something, is quite a teacher.

It ends up teaching you about what matters most to you, it helps you look back at what you already have, and really thank the people who matter, for all that they’ve been doing for you, and unconditionally will do. So I ask myself, am I good enough to earn this love, to enjoy every pleasure my parents give me selflessly? When you’re alone, and you can’t feel instant love, and your thoughts are all about your parents and family — that’s when it hits you — how much they mean to you. And how much you love them. I’d do anything to always see a smile on their faces.

C 303, Umiam Hostel
My room in the central block, carefully set up by mom and dad. Rajeev tried a bit too. Sorry folks, it was never this neat again! Mom selected yellow flowery curtains and a yellow chair and a yellow reading light! Coldplay would be amused.

Home Sweet Home
That’s how my mom used to welcome me back. She calls me Bangaru, and it means Gold in Telugu. I shouted at her one day for not calling me. (I just have to listen to her voice every day or I can’t sleep!)

Family Reunion
I missed Alcheringa in 2013 to be at this family reunion — KVSR Thatha’s 75th birthday. Thatha and ammamma are my best buddies. They have been calling me at 9 30 pm everyday for the last four years!

New Home
The Bagepally Family at the Gruhapravesham for Villa 18. Thatha prays for us everyday and believes that all of us will do good things one day. And Nanama’s Gutthi Vankaya Kura is super tasty!


3 letters

Back in 2011, my parents hosted this huge party when I got into college — I guess this thing about an IIT meant so much to them, and that felt special. I found that these three letters could probably be the most hyped in the Indian parental dictionary, but they did take joy in my achievement, if it ever was one.

IIT G was disappointing on certain levels — the people around aren’t as enthusiastic as you would expect, and there are so many frustrating aspects of this institution I won’t put light on here. But you just have to find your own trail and keep going on. In terms of opportunities, and as a door to the world, it’s a great place to be in, and the access to people, companies and events, is amazing.

At the Placement Cell — Some time in September 2013

Internship at Amazon!
The day we cleared the Amazon interview — this was the first I ever had to face, and it came as a surprise. These interviews take a long time, and to be selected at the first go was quite a relief. Luckily, I was going to spend the summer of ’14 in Hyderabad. On the low side, that summer turned out to be full of health issues and injuries.

There have been so many talented folks doing wonderful things on campus — special cheers to the people who organise Techniche and Alcher every year. I always used to look forward to September and February. Also, it’s nice to see a startup culture building — especially over the last few months of my time here, I’ve seen some great work coming out. Zaffingo is something worth mentioning. Some of my juniors created a format and platform for a college yearbook. One word, and my favourite one for them : Wonderful!

On the other side, I’ve seen so many people waste their time and do nothing with the time they had here — I don’t mean this academically, I mean it in terms of thoughts and the kind of outlook that people need to possess to go ahead in life and do something worthy of impact. They’ve wasted a good opportunity as the peace and calm of college will never come back in life. I expected everyone to be really exciting and intelligent, but I was met with disappointment a lot of times.

IITG is a great place — it’s beautiful, extremely well built, has it’s share of nice people, but only if there was some more history in the making, some more genuine interest and passion to dissolve this place in.

DoD — Class of ’15
These guys were my classmates and this was a set of unique and interesting people. Good luck everyone, wherever you may go. Fundae pelte rehna! (and use a bit of common sense some times!) — from 11020507

From DoD to the world outside
Shuklaji did a really nice thing for all of us after the Placement Season. He gave out cards to everyone with their designations and companies printed, and at the back of it was written — “Once a DoDian, Always a DoDian!” I’ll keep this one for a long time, no matter which other cards I lose!


Presenting Enroot at the Web Summit in Dublin — November 2014

Plants that bear fruits

A large chunk of my academic life here was spent on a project called Enroot, an experience that aims at adding value to locations, and permanence to the memories they hold. It made me understand the structure of a team, it taught me the basics of design and the nuances of understanding users of technology. We went through so many phases in this journey called Enroot — from a small idea to a hopefully big platform for experiences in the time to come. Anything and everything I know about design and startups and investors and the exciting world of tech, I know through Enroot. Locations and experiences were my favourite words for over a year, and to take it from a course project to a startup being exhibited in the biggest tech conference in Europe — we did okay! I always had the regret of not going to Europe for an internship, and Enroot took me to Paris, Dublin and Amsterdam for without doubt, the best travel experience of my four years. Enroot is such an important memory of college life, that I have planted in DoD and IITG forever.

Team Enroot
The guys you see in this picture were the most important people in the department for me. Lot of gratitude and love goes out to them, for teaching me so many things, in addition to all the fun we used to have. Kush, Shukla and Pradeep are very passionate people and I see them doing great things one day!

Disneyland Magic
It was a childhood dream to go to a Disneyland some day. The Disney Parks in Paris are best described with one adjective — magical. I was a child again for the many hours I was there, and it’s up there with some of the best days I’ve had. Buzz Lightyear, Aladdin, Cars, Nemo, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan — I saw all these stories projected onto the castle in a magnificent sound and light show!


Questions with not many answers

So, college life also asks you another intriguing, but cliched question — what is success? And I’ve heard and seen quite a lot of perceptions on this one. Success to most, is related to high degrees and money, some include fame, and very few remember satisfaction, though it might be quite obvious. We all want to be ‘successful’, oh, but without knowing what it means! It’s still quite the big one in the long list of very-important-words-of-life I’ll take some time to comprehensively understand. As of now, to me it means a few things:

  1. Having good people around, people who know what it is to love, and people who can always spark up an interesting conversation. Everytime I found such people, I felt successful.
  2. Crossing over the line, in time — be it coursework, deadlines or even booking tickets, everytime I did something on time and got over procrastination, I felt successful. However, I did fail a lot over the last four years!
  3. To be aware of my interests and to know where I want to go in life, and to do only what I want do till I’m old, even the dreams of it make me feel successful. Just by having the confidence that I will get there if I love what I do, I feel successful.

Money, fame, degrees are not part of this equation I have in my head, though all these are quite necessary to be happy. For me, people, time and passions contribute to success. And success is an extremely personal thing. I’d like to be successful only to my own self one day, and not for anyone who is free to judge.


The One with KK
We met way back in 2011 as confused, clueless freshers. I’ve never seen a person change as much as this idiot has in four years. Talking to him about films, philosophy, life, people…it sometimes feel like I’m talking to myself. Extreme, sensitive, but ambitious — if there’s anything I’ll miss from college, it’ll be the conversations with KK.

Friends back home
I love Hyderabad and one of the main reasons are my school friends. The summers went by playing cricket matches, watching movies, and driving out on night-outs. I’m so glad I’m going back home — I will get to spend time with all of them, and mom, dad and Rajeev. LFHS, will always be the best!


Morph

Slowly and steadily, the way I looked at life and people have changed, and the kind of things I wanted to do, have shifted between extremes. I’m a much more positive and confident person now, but there are glaring traits of an introvert that can still clearly be seen. I’ve faced so many situations that make me adjust and complain less. I’ve seen people who have so much less in life, but seem happier than me — Deka, in the Khokha market who cheerfully calls me Darling, or the Umiam security guard who was never seen without a smile, or the airport taxi driver who always tells me stories. These people have taught me the greatest lessons. I’m learning to see the little happiness in everything.

Mumbai — I hate you like I love you
This is what Pankaj and I had to deal with every single morning. Plus, a one hour journey in the locals to Currey Rd. everyday! Vada Pav and Lassi was our solace. But to be able to adust in any sort of situation — I’ll take that lesson. I love, and hate Mumbai!


Bright and Happy

I can now confidently voice opinions and talk about the crazy dreams and fantasies I have. I can be utterly crazy and chirpy, and I can also be totally silent and lost in thought. Some times, I am my own best friend, and that is a wonderful thing to be. Coming out of college life, the one good thing I have, is an added love for life. Most people undermine the already existent happiness in their lives and take it too easily. I have high expectations on the life ahead of me, and I have every guarantee that I will live it to the fullest. To skydive, to travel, to play, to read, to dance, to drive, to talk, to love — I have so much to do. College life hasn’t just been a coursework ladder, but a journey that’s moulded my thoughts in a lot of good ways.

The visions of the future are definitely very blurry, but the past and present have been so satisfying that I am sure something very bright lays ahead.
At the Microsoft New Hires’ Day — March 2015

Microsoft — the time ahead
This has been a company I have respected over time, and I use and love many of their products. It’s going to be exciting to work for MS as a User Experience Designer. We had a great party at the massive and beautiful MS IDC campus, and I love the place. From one campus to another! (can you spot me in the picture?)


So much to say

I have a hundred thousand more things to say, but college life spanned four long years — and that is a lot of time. Words can live over time, but time keeps moving, it’s the only thing that cannot cease. Every point in time, it does feel like the past has moved quickly, but in reality, we’re always moving on to something better.

I’ve met some wonderful people in this time, and though these times won’t come back, the goodness and the bonds we’ve shared will always stay in memory. Thanks for being a part of the different places I was able to travel to, the journeys that took me there, and the countless ones that await me. Goodbye IITG, you’ve been good!