Freshie Guide: Surviving Madras 101

Welcome to Madras 101! This course is designed to help our freshman students smoothen their transition into our campus, and more importantly, (hopefully) surviving the various challenges that one is faced with upon arrival into this wonderful city (ahem ahem).

First off, congrats on bagging a seat in ‘insti’, and more importantly, surviving in here long enough to read this. Every year, several hundreds of enthusiastic freshers roll into the city – in planes, trains and cars – only to be struck by a massive heat wave. Luckily, said heat wave which struck you didn’t get the last laugh. However, it is persistent, but fear not – thou shalt be prepared!

Madras – popularly portrayed in the film industry to be the home of handle-bar moustached heroes, the lively madisaar maamis, the girls in salwar kameez with long, often jasmine adorned plaits and quaint neighborhoods with small traditional houses – doesn’t exactly seem like hotspot of modernity. But fear not, we’re here to disillusion you of these ‘myths’.

By the time you leave Chennai, a lot of things will come to mind. The wide open beaches with wind in your hair, sand under your feet, and the crescendo of wildly crashing waves. The two large malls here, Phoenix and Express Avenue – your destination for every outing, a fascinating luxury when they opened two years ago. The greenery, not municipality planned, but ensuring that even the busiest, most crowded streets have shady trees blocking half the road. The auto drivers, always prone to take you for a ride (pun not intended) by charging you twice the meter rate if you are gullible enough.

Maybe you will even find it in you to look back sentimentally on the warm, muggy heat; in the four years in insti, one will need to find it endearing. Here are some tips to deal with the heat:

  1. Drink lots of water – The well known chant about needing to remain hydrated is no joke. One loses a lot of water as sweat, and dehydration isn’t noticed until the bad effects of it are really felt – headache, nausea etc.
  2. Keep your body cool – Lose body heat with cucumbers, watermelons, buttermilk, cold milk etc. Cardamom in your tea, fruits with vitamin C, mint and honey in milk are some other ways to keep cool.
  3. Wear cool, loose clothes – Don’t even attempt to look formal in fitting jeans. Invest in some pairs of shorts, cotton clothes, thin t-shirts, loose salwars and/or patialas. If one has to wear jeans, at least ensure that they’re loose.
  4. Buy a thin mattress – with a cotton sheet so that no excess heat is trapped.
  5. Learn to camp out in the library – the air conditioning in the library makes it a popular spot to hang out silently.
  6. Frequent washes – It helps to get a good face wash and regularly wash your face and neck with cold water. Bathing twice a day provides a lot of relief too.
  7. If you’re too desperate, take a trip to Delhi and come back – With temperatures touching 45 degrees Celsius, Chennai will start looking good when you return.

Before we bid farewell, we’d like to wish you the best of luck with this course, for this is the first ever grade you’re going to get in insti. Good luck for Quiz 1 on the day you set foot in insti.

PS- Maggus, this is going to be your first S. Make it count.

Disclaimer: To all our fellow Madrasis we’ve inadvertently offended, we live up to all the clichés too.

Disclaimer: The views are not to be construed in any manner as the official views of IIT Madras.
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Ramya Vijayram

A first year in the BT department who has an unhealthy obsession with dark novels and dark chocolate.