The name was made keeping in mind the six participating members in the team, but do not let that fool you. There were eight pairs of hands on the table that day, tapping the keyboards in unison; the harmony just about right.
Hex, six members, right? Anubhav Singh, Sharnagat Thakur, Ayush Thakur (yes, we had two gods with us), Ritwik Raha, Snehangshu Bhattacharya and me, Aritra Roy Gosthipaty. Before we submitted the proposals, we were this group of six. Each team had to have one female member. This not only gave us the opportunity to know one hell of a junior, Sunita Sen but also made us realize what Anubhav Singh could do for his friends. Hex to Hept, unofficially.
Ritwik called and said, “Bhai shob shesh (we are doomed for life!)”. I knew exactly what had happened. I hung up on him and checked my WhatsApp messages- team Hexato has been selected for the final round in The Smart India Hackathon 2019 (software edition). The proposal that was to take us to Jaipur was building an application that could determine the scientific temper/literacy of a population. Ahh, now you know why Ritwik said that!
Oh shoot, I am late! Woke up an hour late for the meeting with our mentor. We were told about some Sayak Paul; Data scientist at DataCamp, he held workshops at Google Devfest Kolkata, worked in TCS research and development. So, by default, all the awkwardness had to come to play while meeting him. I rushed to college to meet him. I entered the room to find a man wearing a TCS hoodie, with chalk in one hand and duster in another. He wrote down some lucid equations to make others understand what it takes to be there where he is(just kidding), he made us understand fuzzy logic required for the application. Hept to Oct, huh?
Technology stacks allotted, time frame given, Sayak Paul took a bunch of students and turned them into professionals in no time. We had two weeks to make a stable build of the application and release the apk. We needed live data for our plots based on demographics.
T minus two days. Let us not get into the tantrums Snehangshu threw on our way from Kolkata to New Delhi, that is for some other blog altogether. On reaching New Delhi we were in hunt of some good food. From Afghani Kebabs to Aloo Tikkis we had it all. 21 hours at the clock and here we were at Dhaulakuan, ready to board the bus to Jaipur.
4 am Jaipur. Just the tea stall and the strays to welcome us. I enjoyed both, sipping on some masala tea and feeding the strays with biscuits. It showed 8 degrees. We came prepared for the hot Jaipur people talk about, sigh! Half an hour on the streets with winds stinging into the skin like sharp fangs, Ayush had to keep his morals aside and call the facilitator. Forty minutes later we were on a bus that took us to our nodal center. JECRC, our nodal center placed on the outskirts of Jaipur, was one of the most beautiful colleges I had ever been into.
Do not worry, no more beating around the bush. Fast forward to the 5 am alarm and me slapping Ritwik awake. I was the first to wake up. Went in all the rooms (the room we were allotted had three bedrooms, a hostel where the ‘s’ is silent) and asked them to wake up. We had to report at the center at 7. All the drowsy heads headed straight to the hall. Enormous hall, with decorated round tables. I saw everyone’s face lit up. Here it was, my first hackathon.
“You may begin”. Eight laptops on the table. Sayak da and Anubhav jotted down the workflow. We tagged along with our buddies in tech. Ritwik the UX guy had to pair with me, Sunita the JS lady paired with Sharnagat, Ayush the PY guy had to pair with Snehangshu by the law of last members left(I know, I know, even I was empathetic with Ayush).
First round: We were thrown out of our high grounds when we got to know that the design system that we had come up with was unclear to the judges. An app that could determine the scientific temper without any text in the app and the first question thrown at us was, “Where is text?”. I saw the frustration and pain in Ritwik’s eyes when we broke the design language.
Second round: “To be very frank, we are not being able to understand the designs”, another blow to the team. Scratched all humane colors from the application, and filled with yellow with a black border with a huge weight, messed the alignment. Oh and we were also to told include learning in the application. Snehangshu did not spare us too(fresh tantrums ki ninja technique).
“Yes!”, exclaimed Anubhav when the backend was finally making sense. The flutter application was finally in shape. In the meantime, Anubhav had made a web app which ran on a (drum rolls) JIO phone. “What are you guys up to?”, asked a man with a big smile. We made him understand the application and let him use it. “Best in-house demo so far”. Tears rolling from Ritwik, everyone was elated. I went out to sip on some nice coffee after hearing “the app is so intuitive”. Later we got to know that he was one of the juries. We were fortunate enough to talk to Mr. Prakash Javadekar, Human Resource Development Minister of India, later that day.
“Next winner, for the department of culture is Team Maverick”. Guess what had happened. The loudest claps were from our table. We were sad but paid respect to another team that had performed better than us. We wanted to see their project and our errors, but could not. They had beaten a team that made a flutter application, web application with a well-crafted API with live data plots and a dashboard too within 36 hours of coding.
After some sound sleep, we left the campus at 10 in the morning. We were going on a Jaipur tour that day. From the great Amber Fort, Jal Mahal and Nahargarh Fort, the trip was exciting and beautiful(Oh I so wanted to push Snehangshu off the top of a fort). The food was exquisite so was the ambience. Late at night boarded a bus to Delhi. You guessed it right, again a food hunt and some Aloo tikkis.
This is a note to all the members of HEXATO. Thank you for making the trip memorable. Cheers to all you crazy tech geeks. Until next time.