Sukanya Mukherjee graduated in 2017 with a Masters degree in Mathematics. She can be remembered from her memorable performance in Stagecoach 2017 as the otherworldly (quite literally) Elvira and also for her penchant for acting in general. A self-professed foodie, those who know her can testify to her love for all the culinary delights that the world has to offer. Besides this, she is also a math wiz and can be found trying to (and successfully) solving complex math problems and other things along those lines- speaking of which, she also writes on occasion; there isn’t much she hasn’t tried her hand at. Here is what she has to say about her time at IIT Madras.
My most intimate experiences in life have revolved around food. On a rainy September evening, as I sit in my verandah with my fingers hovering over my keyboard, thinking of insti, the first thing I think of is the food. To avoid its overbearing recurrence in my recollection, let me just get done with reminiscing about it right away.
I would really like to be sitting in my spot (the corner couches which are ridiculously comfortable and easily the best seats) at CCD right now, sipping on Hazelnut Cappuccino and having Brownie with ice cream, with a book in my hand. I would love to get some chai from Ramu (Sharav Ramu, obviously) and walk in the avenues of insti – my favorite is Madras Avenue, especially at around 4:30 pm in the evening when the sky is a magical orange, and the roads are majestic in spirit and in sight. Really, I would trade diamonds (if I had any) to be eating the divine Biryani at Mummy-Daddy.
My idea of a healthy lifestyle began and ended with Andavar’s ‘Red Shine’ – the Strawberry banana shake- that sounds weird but tastes the best. The grape juice at Firstman Food Court (which has now shut, apparently due to hygiene reasons, aiyyo!) was pretty amazing too. And IRCTC lemon tea – yum. Also, I don’t think “Suprabha” is going to replace “IRCTC” ever. I would be remiss in omitting the fact that I’m friends with the Zaitoon folks (and CCD guys) on Facebook, so yeah – I went there quite often. Of course, there is also the Shopping Complex chaat, which was quite a walk to get to but worth it (I lost my cycle keys for a brief while in between; I lost a lot of things in insti actually, including my goggles, so we should probably rename this article ‘Through the lost goggles of a Graduate’).
Okay, now that this is out of the way and I’ve written quite a bit about it, I shall… not so smoothly, move on to other things.
I’ve had a great time at Insti; well mostly, anyway. Before mentioning all the other things that made my insti life great, I must mention that bit where a fellow student made life pretty miserable. Dealing with harassment isn’t easy, and it lasts much longer even after it’s over. Fear cripples, and so it did. And my plans of focusing on math in its entirety fell very short when I couldn’t get myself to go to the library without breaking down. My classmates and friends were immensely supportive, and I don’t think I’ve thanked them enough for it. Insti really did all it could in making sure I felt all right. It took some time for me to recuperate though, but I did. And I think the primary drivers of that were my family and the people I have known in Insti.
My happiest achievement will always be the amazing people in my life. Right from my very first day in insti, I have been incredibly lucky to have met varied individuals (the probability of not meeting great people in insti is quite low, so not much of a luck factor here) from all over the country and even the world, who all study different things – English Literature to Rocket Science; who are in different courses – BTech to Post Doc; who think deeply and opine frequently; who have inculcated in themselves the art of persevering through quiz weeks, submissions, midsems, endsems and still remembering that life is not centered around these cycles. Life is about the right balance, and figuring out what is important to you. And they don’t just say these things one evening on the HSB rooftop – they mean it.
I have befriended these people with all of my heart, and I know they will be my support system for a lifetime, and keep inspiring me forever. The most inspiring and admirable people are those who do what they believe in. IIT Madras is a hub of such people. This becomes even clearer, when set against the dark contrast of the outer world where people can, well, often be uninspiring.
I deeply value the days in which I did not know whom I would meet – but I was sure that it would be a friend who would enthusiastically tell me about the newest thing they’ve read in class or the latest simulations they’ve run or the projects that they are inclined to do. It’s a melting pot of ideas – and it doesn’t end at that – it’s a space of execution. How brilliant and rare that is, is something one only truly understands once they are away from it.
Besides the academics though; almost every week, I would have my senses rejuvenated by a soulful cultural performance at CLT. I had my first experiences with a lot of art forms here – including Kathakali, Carnatic music and EDM (free bowl tickets at Saarang, what)! This should hardly be surprising, as insti junta themselves are crazy talented. Be it Hindustani classical singers, flute players (Flutists doesn’t seem like a real word for some reason), Tabla peeps, dancers – whomever you’re looking for, you’ll find them here. On that note: special love and mention to the Thespian (now Drama) Club! We did some great plays – no modesty here – and I’m so glad I got to create them with all of you. I wish I could stay on for longer and do more theatre, but oh well. Time is limited. Ugh. But interestingly, the breadth of happenings is wide. Everything will not suit our boots (I don’t think that is a phrase, I just made it up) but the quintessential thing about insti life and life in general is to not get lazy about things and continue to explore.
Another important learning is that we must really put peace. Nothing is worth stressing about, and everything works out in some way or the other. This is easy to say and easy to write about- but most truths are easy simple things that we are looking to overcomplicate. If you’re sitting for placements or apping, the sheer stress of it can lead to failure (Mech pun – I got my engineering jokes in place). And that would be very counter-productive, wouldn’t it?
What is it about reflections that make us so preachy?
There were some really long hard days in insti – I have built up my ability to slog day and night in the third floor of the library; I have found myself awake at odd hours worrying about what now and what next while gorging off of Bourbon biscuits from the vending machines at Sabarmati; I have cycled through Delhi, Bonn and Madras avenues for hours in hope to get my head out of the rut; I have sat up reading long enough to have to go to Physiotherapy for back pain; I have been fairly stupid in my quest to get smarter.
Lastly, how can I not write about the deer and the monkeys when I am writing about insti? I also saw a giant boar in insti once, but people don’t believe me! Anyway. There are days now, when I walk with a packet of food in my hand and suddenly look out for monkeys – people think I am crazy but my reactions are legit. Sometimes, on half sleepy nights, at 3 am, two blackbucks would strut right in front and fight each other. How very magnificent! (Blackbucks are really arrogant though; it’s hilarious to see them showcasing their might to the uninterested deer junta). Sometimes, on half sleepy mornings, I would walk to the Vindhya mess, opening my eyes to the enchanting spotted deer – who were equally half sleepy – sitting and chewing on the lush green grass. It would be hard to believe how beautiful it all was, and I’d rub my eyes open a little more. It’s hard to believe it’s done now.
Then there were the days when I found magic – in calming walks, in meditative sittings at the temples, in insightful classes, in useless banter, in rehearsals, in people, in mallipoo, in coconut water, in long staring contests with the sea at Thiruvanmiyur beach, in what not. And all in all, the magic is what remains with me. Magic, countable but too much of a count to actually count photographs, Tamizh movies and songs in my hard disks! Nandri, Chennai, for being the beautiful Kanmani that you are.