Apr 5, 2012

Confessions of an IITian

Two minutes. That was exactly the stoppage time. With innumerable number of baggage, I got down somehow before the train started moving. I looked up. Clear Sky. No clouds. I smelled the air. Nothing so special. Well, Roorkee it was. This was the place I was about to spend the better part of my next five years. In two rickshaws, we somehow fit the luggage and moved on towards our hotel, the heat constantly reminding me that it was gonna be really tough staying without an AC.

As long as my parents were here, I stayed with them in the hotel, except the last night, which I spent in my room. They had to leave early, so they came in the morning and woke me up. I hugged them and they started leaving in the opposite direction of the corridor as I went to the washroom. That image stayed imprinted in my mind for the next three months (till my mid semester break) and I believe, the urge to make them happy made me face the things I was about to in the near future.

The first few days of my hostel life were certainly pretty tough. The words 'No AC' would stay on my mind all the time, but there were other stuff that I had to go through as well. Having been born and brought up in Assam, I had thought that every IIT is like IIT Guwahati, where even first yearites get single rooms. Having to share a room didn't really seem like a good idea, but eventually, I must say, I enjoyed it quite a lot. And, yeah, the Indian toilets. As I had been using the western counterparts for over ten years, I had almost forgotten that they even existed. But, people do crazy stuff. There is a friend of mine who would visit the library every morning just to use the western toilets there.

This was also the first time I had to wash my goddamn clothes. Man, that is tiring. And the backache that I would get after washing the clothes collected over the week. Well, the fact that the washer-man came after some 10 days really saved me. Gotta say, I was so relieved after knowing that he existed.

I am very close to my Uncle and Aunt. The reason neither of them accompanied me during my admission was that they believed that I would be homesick soon, and that would be an appropriate time to visit me. True, roughly forty days into my college life, just after my first mid semester exams were over, I was pretty homesick, especially when I would see my friends from nearby areas rush off home. And that was when my Uncle visited me. It really helped me to feel better. And I would always cherish those three days he spent in Roorkee.

Back home, I had a pattern. Everyday, I would drink two cups of milk, one each in the morning and the evening. Not just any milk. High quality, thick, creamy milk. Although I had mentally prepared myself for not having the same here, it is interesting to note that my family members (most importantly my grandmother) were more affected that I was not getting what I usually loved having.

One more interesting thing comes to my mind. Whenever I would have noodles (or chow) back home, I would really be angry at my mother or my grandmother if I was given a spoon and not a fork. We do not have forks in the mess (I think they believe that we might turn into savages and start a fight with those pointy things). Now, the first time we were served noodles in the mess, I got reminded of my attitude. Weirdly enough, I couldn't help but smile at myself, and that was a sarcastic smile. The "mighty me" had been successfully conquered; by the world.

Being a big fan of Chelsea, I would hardly miss any of their matches. Back home, I would argue with my mother and grandmother to leave their soaps and let me watch Chelsea's match. And they would eventually give in. It was to such an extent that my mother could even recognize a bunch of the Chelsea guys (namely Terry, Lampard, Drogba, Malouda). In my hostel, we had a TV room. Now, during my initial days, when I would go to the TV room to watch a match, I would find that there would already be a bunch of guys watching some random B grade movie. That was another situation of me pitted against the world and there was no way for me to win. However, after a few more weeks, I learnt that the hub of football fans was actually Cautley Bhawan and I have never missed an important game since.

Our mess here is totally vegetarian. That did not suit my food habits even a bit. The food was not great either. But I sort of hung on, and tried to just accept the fact that the food won't be any better in the next five years. Oh, how good I felt when I went for my first mid semester break after spending some hundred days here. The food didn't improve over these semesters, but my taste buds did manage to die. In fact, when I recently found an insect in my food (that was a small one), I didn't bother to make a fuss because I just did NOT care anymore.

As a Bengali, I am expected to love fish. Well, as a child, I hated it. Considering I found it being cooked in my house everyday, I had developed a dislike very early in my life. It was to such an extent that my relatives would occasionally say that I did not deserve to be a Bong. After spending hardly two weeks here, I developed such a craving for the home made fish that I would even talk about it with my parents. At least that proved that I am indeed a true Bong!

Being in an IIT, there is a lot to do except academics. Two important groups I joined on campus are IMG and WONA. These were the places which made me 'not miss home' that much. And that would also be the reason why I actually look forward to coming back from holidays.

The first time I was coming back home, I met a gentleman (who works at the BSP) who asked me if I was a student of IIT Roorkee, as he had noticed that I got up at Roorkee. He went on to tell me about the respect he has for students from my college. That made me think, although I have had to adjust my lifestyle significantly, these are the compromises that students have been making over years, and who have achieved immense success in their lives. Almost two years into this institution, I am very proud of being a part of its 165 year long history.

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